On Losing: Tyler Wade
In the aftermath of the 40-Man Roster crunch from last Friday, the Yankees designated three players for assignment. The Yankees now have until this upcoming Friday to trade these players, and if not they’ll become unrestricted free agents.
Of those three DFA’ed players, the Yankees announced on Tuesday that they traded away Tyler Wade.
The New York Yankees today announced that they have traded INF/OF Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) November 22, 2021
What Did the Yankees Lose?
Tyler Wade was a member of the New York Yankees organization since they drafted him as a shortstop in the 4th round of the 2013 MLB First Year Player Draft. It took until 2016 for Wade to break into the Yankees Top-30 prospects (as evaluated by MLB Pipeline), finishing the year ranked 8th in the system. Wade would be the 101st prospect ranked on the Baseball Prospectus Top-101 going into 2017. Wade would make his MLB debut that season as a pinch-hitter/left-fielder and after spending 53 days (pre-September 1st) on the active roster he ran through his rookie eligibility. That started the service clock on Tyler Wade, who was then set to begin 3 years of arbitration starting with the 2021 season. However, for what I assume to be from reasons due to the shortened 2020 season, Tyler Wade’s first year of arbitration was moved to the 2022 season.
Over the course of 2017-2021 at the MLB level, Tyler Wade played in 264 games (starting 121) for the Yankees while hitting to a .212/.298/.307 triple-slash (.605 OPS/66 OPS+) with 6 Home Runs and 33 RBI’s alongside +0.3 bWAR and +0.5 fWAR. It should also be noted that Wade was predominantly used as a MiLB-to-MLB late-game defensive substitute for most of his Yankee tenure. This did shift a little bit in 2020 and 2021 as Wade was more frequently used as a starter, playing in 155 games while starting in 70 of them. During this time, Wade hit to a .228/.327/.316 triple-slash (.643 OPS/80 OPS+) alongside positive defensive numbers as an infielder/outfielder utilityman. Over the past two seasons Wade combined to a +1.0 bWAR and +1.1 fWAR.
Going into 2022 and Wade’s age-27 season, both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs’ Steamer projections expect Wade’s offensive numbers to drop a bit (he did have a .378 BABIP in 2021). They’re projecting a triple-slash somewhere between .230/.300/.340 and .240/.320/.360.
On the surface, Tyler Wade is a player that the Yankees should have kept around. A left-handed hitting, infielder/outfielder utilityman who is going to be making less than $1M through arbitration in 2022. He also had 2 years of MiLB options available to use. And there are definitely future scenarios where it would be frustrating to see that the Yankees traded away Wade…
Let’s say the Yankees cheap out on the shortstop market and instead sign a “stop-gap” shortstop like Andrelton Simmons. Never mind that he is a right-handed hitter, but he’s likely to sign a multi-year deal which would cost the Yankees much more money than Wade would’ve for an aging 32-year-old. Andrelton Simmons fits the prototype players that Brian Cashman said he was looking for: more athletic, more contract-driven, and better defensively.
However, Simmons has been going through a series of injuries/restrictions recently with 6 stints on the IL/restricted list since the beginning of the 2019 season. I honestly think that there are serious questions to consider if Simmons will be a better player in 2022 than Tyler Wade. He’s been given very similar offensive projections to only about +1 WAR of value.
I don’t think the Yankees are going to cheap out on the shortstop market.
While I have my own ideas about how to best work with the position, I see them getting one of the top players on the free agent market (Seager/Correa/Story). If that is to be true then Tyler Wade isn’t necessary. That’s because the Yankees have two infielders in Oswald Peraza (#3 prospect) and Oswaldo Cabrera (#16 prospect) who are both near the MLB level and could very well serve as that back-up shortstop role. If they keep around Gleyber Torres (obviously they will) then he can be the back-up shortstop and DJ LeMahieu can play second base.
Speaking of, with DJ LeMahieu on the team there isn’t much room for Wade. There are only so many spots on a roster, of which there are really only 13 available spots for position players. 9 starters leaves 4 guys on the bench. Add in a back-up infielder (LeMahieu), outfielder (likely to be Brett Gardner), and a back-up catcher, and you have to think: Is Tyler Wade the type of player you hold for that final spot? Maybe due to his infield and outfield versatility. Maybe because he is only going to make about $750,000 in 2022.
If it was me, I would’ve kept Wade around and I would have DFA’ed Chris Gittens instead. I’m not the New York Yankees though.
I liked Tyler Wade. I wish him all the best in Los Angeles when he’s not playing the Yankees.Embed from Getty Images