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Yankees and Pirates Make Move for RHP Clay Holmes

Earlier today the New York Yankees announced that they have made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed reliever Clay Holmes. The Pirates in return have received infielders Hoy Jun Park and Diego Castillo.

Tweets and a Quick History on Clay Holmes inside.

Reaction to come.

 
The Yankees announced today that they have acquired RHP Clay Holmes from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for INF Diego Castillo and INF Hoy Park. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees returned replacement player C Rob Brantly to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 26, 2021

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Who is: Clay Holmes:

Clay Holmes is a right-handed reliever who has been with the Pittsburgh Pirates since he was drafted out of high school in the 2011 MLB Draft in the 9th round. He was a decent prospect in the Pittsburgh farm over the years, hanging around the mid-teen rankings between 2012 and 2018 according to Jonathan Mayo and MLB.com’s prospect pipeline. (More specifically: #19 in 2012, #15 in 2013, #17 in 2014, #16 in 2015, #11 in 2016, #21 in 2017, and #17 in 2018.) However, this decent prospect pedigree has yet to bring about positive results at the MLB level.

Over the course of 4 seasons (2018-2021), Holmes has pitched to a combined 5.57 ERA (76 ERA+, 4.71 FIP), 1.638 WHIP, and has 122 strikeouts to 89 walks over 119.2 innings. This has resulted in a career bWAR of -0.9. And in 2021 over the course of 42.0 innings Homes has shown the best marks of his career with a 4.93 ERA (84 ERA+, 4.06 FIP), 1.429 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts to 29 walks, of which has brought a -0.1 bWAR. Suffice it to say the Yankees are hoping to buy low on a pitcher who had high upside nearly a decade ago as a teenager who has yet to put it together in the MLB.

Though, to be fair he does have solid metrics according to Statcast including an xSLG in the 89th percentile and a Barrel% in the 91st percentile. However, he pairs this with being in the 10th percentile for BB% and is in the 2nd percentile for Chase Rate.

Finally, an important piece to consider is his injury history of which featured two 10-Day IL stints in 2019 (right triceps and left quadriceps) and his missing mostly the entire 2020 season with a right forearm strain. He also has Tommy John surgery in his past, coming back in 2014 while in the minor leagues.

Holmes, who was non-tendered by the Pirates after the 2020 season and re-signed on a minor league contract before the 2021 season by the Pirates, is in his final pre-arbitration year and can have 3 years of arbitration control from 2022 through the 2024 season.

 

My Quick Reaction:

On one end, Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office has had success with finding players that aren’t desired around the league and turning them into solid MLB players. (See: Gio Urshela, Jonathan Loaisiga, others) I also think that the Yankees have put themselves into a good situation to go after these types of players thanks to Matt Blake.

On the other end, the Yankees just traded away two players who are having very promising years at Triple-A (Hoy Jun Park, 1.042 OPS) and Double-A (Diego Castillo, 850 OPS). Both of them had similar prospect value over the years and were rebuilding their own value in a moderately crowded farm system of players with similar future value.

On one end, the Yankees traded away two players who have a combined 2.0 innings and 1 at-bat in the MLB for a guy with 100+ innings of work.

On the other end, the Yankees players that they’re trading away should’ve had more experience in the MLB (in my opinion Hoy Jun Park was robbed of playing time for no good reason) for a pitcher who has been a net negative over his injury-prone career in the MLB.

On one end, Clay Holmes entirely fits the Yankees mold: former prospect of some stature, recent injury history with concerns, underperforming in the MLB, high velocity pitcher with strikeout ability.

On the other end, this formula has not been working for the Yankees anymore.

I’m not excited about this move.

I was sad that the Yankees didn’t give Park a shot.

I’m even more sad that the Yankees have now given up on him.

I wish for the best with Holmes, but I’m imagining he won’t find a home here for long in the Bronx.

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