The Yankees made 5 major moves leading up to and right before the trade deadline. Here are my thoughts:
July 27th - Acquired Andrew Benintendi (OF)
A move that I was whelmed by at the time for no fault of Andrew Benintendi. It was that I was hoping beyond my reasonable brain that the Yankees were going to be able to swing a trade for Juan Soto. Ultimately, that did not happen. However, it was a logical and sensible move by the front office.
In the 2022 season, Benintendi came to the Yankees while hitting .320/.387/.398 (.785 OPS/124 OPS+), +2.6 bWAR and was the lone All-Star representative for the Kansas City Royals. The Yankees- a team which is collectively hitting less than .250- were in desperate need of a high-average guy to help solve some of the hitting woes. Too often this year we've seen the Yankees leave runners on base. Even though the "Moneyball" philosophy says the walk is just as good as a hit, a walk has no chance to advance runners beyond one base at a time. Hits are better than walks. Walks are just better than outs.
So far- through 7 games- Benintendi has yet to do much of anything in the pinstripes as he's hitting a very very bad .050/.310/.050 (.360 OPS/13 OPS+). I'll hold further judgement on Benintendi for down the road, but for now I want to highlight one last thing:
In Benintendi's 7 games as a Yankee he's been put in batting in the order all over the place. His first game he batted 1st, then 6th, then 3rd, then 5th, then 6th, 6th again, and 5th again.
Baseball is a sport of routine. Put the guy in a line-up spot (which appears to be 5th or 6th) and let him stay there.
Also, Benintendi is a .300 hitter. In this line-up, he should not be hitting 6th.
August 1st – Acquired Scott Effross (RP)
Thus far, Effross has given the Yankees just 0.2 innings of work. He's thrown 11 pitches as a Yankee and allowed 1 hit. So, there is very little on-the-field performance to evaluate thus far. Good thing is that it matters little in the case of Effross. Personally, he was not a target of mine while going into the trade deadline, but that's because I did not foresee the Chicago Cubs trading a reliever who comes with an additional 5 years (post-2022) of control. That is why this deal was made.
Hayden Wesneski is a good prospect. He'll make the MLB and he'll be successful. However, the immediate need for the Yankees is relief help. Scott Effross helps to fix that problem for now and in the future. After this season, Chapman and Britton are off the books (and neither should be brought back). As is Chad Green, who they may sign on a 2-Year "recovery/prove-it" deal. Add in Michael King on the "recovering from injury" list too. Those 4 players make up a large part of what made the Yankees bullpen so good and of them who could come back in 2022 is (or should be) at most 2 (King and Green).
That right there is the crux of the deal. He was great with the Cubs this season (2.66 ERA/159 ERA+, 44.0 Innings, 50 Strikeouts) and will be a good bullpen piece for the Yankees over the next half-decade.
August 1st – Acquired Frankie Montas (SP) & Lou Trivino (RP)
The Yankees desperately needed a good starting pitcher to add to a staff- when healthy- that has: (1) Gerrit Cole, (2) Nestor Cortes Jr., (3) Luis Severino, (4) Jordan Montgomery, and (5) Jameson Taillon. And while that's not to mention other options like (6) Domingo German, (7) Clarke Schmidt, and (8) JP Sears. However, the world isn't perfect and that rotation isn't solid right now. Luis Severino is hurt, Domingo German has pitched just 12.2 innings this year, and Clarke Schmidt isn't stretched out to start games. Like I said, the Yankees needed another starting pitcher.
Frankie Montas comes with some worry. He's only pitched 100+ innings once (2021) in his career since he broke into the MLB in 2015. However, he has proven himself to be either an ace (in 2019: 2.63 ERA) or an above average starter (in 2022: 3.18 ERA, 104.2 Innings, 109 Strikeouts). He's also coming off of a little time away from a shoulder injury that he had experienced earlier in July, but it did not require an IL stint. The Yankees have stated they are not worried about it and he will be joining the team in St. Louis for his first Yankee start this weekend. (Unfortunately, his mother-in-law passed away and he went on the bereavement list.)
Lou Trivino is another solid relief piece who was struggling hard in Oakland this season (6.47 ERA, 32.0 Innings). Just last year he was much better (3.18 ERA/130 ERA+, 73.2 Innings) and he also was in 2020 (3.86 ERA/110 ERA+, 23.1 Innings). It just seems as though Trivino is a player who needed a change of scenery. So far, he's pitched 1.2 scoreless innings for the Yankees in 2 appearances since the trade. Trivino is another solid reliever- if he goes back to 2020/2021 form- under control for a couple more years which will help with the bullpen going forward (re: Scott Effross).
As for what the Yankees gave away, well it chipped again at that starting pitching depth as JP Sears (who was a hidden gem for the Yankees this year) went to Oakland. Obviously, Montas is the better pitcher but it does stink losing a nice left-handed arm like Sears. On that same note, the Yankees lost some deeper starting pitching, and left-handed pitching, depth as they traded away Ken Waldichuk. I'm convinced he'll be a very good player in the MLB. Those two are noticeable losses from the current team and the teams future. At least Montas will be around for 2023 as well.
Luis Medina will be nothing special. There are a plethora of guys who can throw 100 MPH (or faster) in the majors and minor leagues and we've been waiting to see if he's anything for years now. It was time to pull that plug. And, while I've heard of Cooper Bowman it goes to show I thought he was an outfielder. That's not a major loss either.
August 2nd – Traded Away Joey Gallo (OF)
Joey Gallo had to go. I have long stated that I have held and hold nothing against Joey Gallo the person. However, Joey Gallo the player...well, it's fair to say he wasn't any good as a Yankee. In 421 at-bats since the 2021 trade deadline, Joey Gallo struck out 194 times. That's a 46% K-rate. He combined that with 25 home runs (which isn't horrible) and a triple-slash of .159/.291/.368 (.660 OPS/85 OPS+). He was frustrating to watch day-in and day-out at the plate and while his defense was his "saving grace" this season, it was never anything spectacular. Personally, I'm done complaining about Joey Gallo. He's gone. He was terrible. That's it. See ya. (Which is not something we heard nearly enough after he was at the plate.)
The fact that the Yankees got anything out of Gallo is a shock. Heck, Clayton Beeter is now (after the trades of Waldichuk, Wesneski, and Medina) one of the Yankees Top-10 prospects according to the MLB Pipeline. I also can't do much more talking up of Beeter than I addressed in the trade thread itself, which you can read here if you are interested.
August 2nd – Obtained Harrison Bader (OF)
And, here it is. The kicker of all kickers. What was this trade?
Up until this point at the trade deadline, the Yankees were doing phenomenally. They kept around their top prospects (Volpe, Peraza, Dominguez) yet they were able to bring in a new left fielder, two new good relief arms, and a new starting pitcher to help keep everyone healthy and ready for the postseason. It was going great.
And then, Jordan Montgomery (3.69 ERA/104 ERA+, 114.2 Innings, 97 Strikeouts)- a more than solid starting pitching piece in the rotation- was traded for an outfielder who is currently on the IL while dealing with plantar fasciitis. Keep in mind, ERA+ undervalues Montgomery because he does not collect a ton of strikeouts and instead plays into the soft-contact/ground-ball pitching style. Also keep in mind that this outfielder- Harrison Bader- is a defensive-first center fielder who relies on his speed and quickness for his value. They traded a left-handed starting pitcher for a right-handed, injured, glove-first/speed outfielder. (Who they already have in Tim Locastro!)
Harrison Bader in his career has hit to a combined .246/.320/.409 (.729 OPS/99 OPS+) triple-slash with 52 home runs, 168 RBI's, and 55 stolen bases, over 523 games (1530 At-Bats). He's not a horrible offensive piece, but he's also nothing incredibly special. It is important to note he signed a 2-Year/$10.5 Million deal for 2022 and 2023 with the Cardinals before the season to buy out his final two arbitration years. Now, if he is able to come back healthy from injury this season, Bader would help the Yankees achieve two things:
He helps to solidify the Yankees defense up-the-middle of the field
He helps to put Judge back in right field
EXCEPT HE'S CURRENTLY HURT! My goodness, why does Cashman keep doing this? Hurt players are negatives assets to a team. Jeez. Cashman was played.
Now, I have a theory. Miami Marlins beat writer for MLB.com, Craig Mish, posted a tweet yesterday about the Marlins trade deadline and included the line, "Close on Pablo to NYY". I think Brian Cashman thought he nailed down a deal for Pablo Lopez at the last minute in a deal that would've likely sent Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and a couple prospects to Miami. (This is based off their reported ask from the Dodgers of Gavin Lux and three prospects.)
If we use my favorite trade tool, this is what a trade c22ould've looked like:
Yankees Get: Pablo Lopez (+49 MTV)
Marlins Get: Aaron Hicks (-25.6 MTV), Gleyber Torres (+10.1 MTV), Oswald Peraza (+22.8 MTV), Everson Pereira (+16.8 MTV), Austin Wells (+8.3 MTV), +$10M covered on Hick's contract ($2.5M per year from 2022-2025) = Total of +42.40 MTV
Personally, I don't find that to be unreasonable for a 26-year-old, All-Star starting pitcher who comes with 2 more years of cheap control after 2022. Plus, the Yankees already had second base covered in DJ LeMahieu and would have needed to find a center field replacement for Hicks. Thus, the Montgomery-Bader trade made sense: the Yankees had one too many starting pitchers and the Cardinals needed a pitcher and had a cheap outfielder available to give the Yankees better value than Hicks at a cheaper cost.
If that happened, I would be ecstatic.
I'm not impressed.
Now, one final note on the Montgomery deal: If it was a depth starting pitcher piece, it would've been a fine deal. Swap out Montgomery for Domingo German and Yankees fans would be excited. Swap him out with Luis Gil and you can understand it. Swap him out for Clarke Schmidt and I can understand what they are going for after getting some other good relief options. But, trading away a proven in Yankee Stadium, left-handed, starting pitching arm makes no sense to me.
Add Jordan Montgomery to the list of "players I liked that had good but unspectacular Yankees careers".