With the MLB trade deadline about two and a half weeks away, the Yankees are sure to be making their calls around the league and inquiring on major league talent that will help rejuvenate the team over the next few months. While many parts of the roster are under-performing, the Yankees are always calculated in the positions in which they look for immediate improvements.
As with all trades, there is a price to pay for certain talent. For teams that are contenders, that often means parting ways with some minor league players to improve the major league roster. Last year, they dealt away 8 prospects, 7 of whom were pitchers, to enhance the makeup of the big-league roster. With nearly a year of time passed, we look back into those trades and check in on where those former Yankee farm hands are now in their career.
Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees, for RHP Chandler Champlain, LHP T.J. Sikkema and RHP Beck Way
RHP Chandler Champlain: Drafted 9th round in 2021, Overall Pick: 273
Champlain is now pitching in AA with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, where he has a 8.18 ERA in three starts since being called up on June 20, 2023. Opponents have a 1.072 OPS against him and currently has 9 strikeouts and 6 walks. Champlain is currently the Royals #24 overall prospect in their top 30.
LHP T.J. Sikkema: Drafted CB-A in 2019, Overall Pick: 38
Sikkema was placed in AA following the trade last year and got roughed up a bit in his second half with the Naturals. He was 0-5 in 8 starts last season, throwing 32.2 innings while posting a 7.44 ERA. This year he has been a little better, as the Royals have moved him to the bullpen. He has appeared in 19 games, throwing 48.0 innings with 47 K and a 4.88 ERA. This puts him at 8.81 K/9 and 4.69 BB/9. Sikkema is currently un-ranked in the top 30 list.
RHP Beck Way: Drafted 4th round in 2020, Overall Pick: 129
Way was placed in High-A after the trade to the Royals, maintaining his level with where he was with the Yankees in Hudson Valley. In High-A, Way was very good, starting seven games and pitching 35.2 innings. He threw 47 strikeouts, had a WHIP of 1.15 and an opponent’s BA of .189, while posting a 11.86 K/9. He was promoted to AA to start the season and is pitching to an 8.54 ERA with opponents hitting a .945 OPS off him. Way has made two appearances out of the bullpen in July as the Royals organization tries to find where he can best help the club. Way is the Royals #10 overall prospects by MLB.com.
Chicago Cubs traded RHP Scott Effross to New York Yankees for RHP Hayden Wesneski
RHP Hayden Wesneski: Drafted 6th round in 2019, Overall Pick: 195
Wesneski was traded to the Cubs and assigned to AAA Iowa where he made four starts before being called up to the big leagues. His MLB debut came against the Cincinnati Reds, where he went 5 innings striking out 8 with two hits in front of a crowd at Wrigley. The Cubs have hoped he will regain this success, as he has had a difficult first half of his major league career. He has posted a 7.27 K/9 and a 2.23 BB/9 in his 15 appearances for the Cubs, 10 being starts, 5 out of the bullpen. While Wesneski is no longer considered a prospect, due to hitting the inning quota, he was ranked as the Cubs #5 prospect in their preseason top 30.
Oakland Athletics traded RHP Frankie Montas and RHP Lou Trivino to New York Yankees for LHP Ken Waldichuk, LHP JP Sears, RHP Luis Medina and 2B Cooper Bowman.
LHP Ken Waldichuk: Drafted 5th round in 2019, Overall Pick: 165
Waldichuk was the headliner in this deal and made 4 starts for AAA Las Vegas before getting called up to the bigs. In those 4 starts, he struck out 21 and walked 3 in 18.2 innings. With Oakland in 2022, he made 7 starts, posting a 4.93 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 10 walks. Opponents had an OPS of .781 against him in those 7 starts. In 2023, his BB numbers are up, with 44 in 72 innings at the all-star break. He currently holds a 6.63 ERA with opponents hitting a .950 OPS against him now. Waldichuk was the Athletic’s #2 preseason prospect and #76 in the MLB Top 100, before expiring his rookie status this year.
LHP JP Sears: Drafted 11th round in 2017 (by Seattle Mariners), Overall Pick: 333
JP Sears was a little bit of a silver bullet for the Yankees in 2022. After being acquired via trade in 2017, Sears made his way up the Yankees system and cracked the major league team. He made his MLB debut with the Yankees on April 11 against the Blue Jays pitching a scoreless inning. Sears went to AAA Las Vegas following the trade but was then called up to the Athletics soon after. He would go 3-3 in 9 starts, with a 4.69 ERA and an opponent’s OPS of .803. In 2023, Sears currently holds a 1-8 record, but is pitching to a more reasonable 3.88 ERA. He is posting his best MLB K/BB rate with 4.04 and pitching to an OPS against of .701.
RHP Luis Medina: Signed IFA by Yankees, July 8, 2015
Luis Medina was perennially a hovering top 10 prospect for the Yankees before he was traded to the Athletics. Medina only reached as high as AA Somerset with the Yankees and was assigned to the AA Midland RockHounds following the trade. He finished the 2022 season in Midland making 7 starts with an unfortunate 11.76 ERA. Opponents were teeing off on Medina, as they put up a 1.053 OPS, with Medina’s H/9 at 15.24. In 2023, Medina began in AAA Las Vegas, making 3 starts with 16 strikeouts and 15 walks. The A’s soon called him up to Oakland and made his debut against the Angels. He gave up 7 ER while striking out 6 in Anaheim before being sent back down to AAA. Since then, he has been called back up and returned to the A’s rotation while trying to steady his performances.
2B Cooper Bowman: Drafted in the 4th round in 2021, Overall Pick: 122
Bowman had a .698 OPS in High-A Hudson Valley at the time of the trade to the Athletics. He hit for a .591 OPS with the A’s High-A affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts. Bowman has started the 2023 season in AA Midland where he has improved his production, posting a .809 OPS to go along with 19 SB in 33 games. Bowman is not currently in the Athletics top 30 list.
Organizational Pitching Depth:
The organization has had a knack for drafting pitchers and developing them into tradable pieces. The Yankees have stockpiled some good arms in the system, mostly centralized around the 6-15 area of their prospect rankings. There is always a tendency to “hug” some prospects, hoping they “pan out” and to reach the major leagues with the Yankees. History has shown, especially from last year’s deadline, that the Yankees have been active in trading using these players as core pieces of trades. Even with the rotation as is, some of these top 10 prospects may not have a clear-cut opening into the top 5 in the next year or two. The Yankees have a handful of guys who are “expendable”, after compiling so much pitching depth in recent years.
The way the organization has constructed its pitching rotation plays into the overall strength in the depth of the position. Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon are the recipients of lucrative and long-term deals. Luis Severino may be seeing his time with the Yankees coming to a close as an impending free agent. Domingo German will be FA eligible in 2025, Nestor Cortes in 2026, and Clarke Schmidt in 2028. (And, lest we forget, Frankie Montas is FA eligible after this season). Technically, their entire pitching staff is under team control for the next season and a half. Other guys like Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez are chomping at the bit to earn more time in the Bronx.
Prospects to Watch:
The Yankees hold a handful of minor league players who could headline some trade packages. Young arms like Will Warren, Richard Fitts, or Yoendrys Gómez may be on the table. Drew Thorpe would be someone the Yankees may prefer hanging onto, but they could part ways with him if his inclusion were necessary for a certain player. Clayton Beeter, the return from last year’s Joey Gallo trade, is another name that may surface in trade talks. Beeter has been great at AA this year and is finding his footing in AAA. He must be put on the Yankees 40-man this off-season as he will be Rule 5 eligible. This is a pivotal and telling time for the Yankees to decide on his future in the organization. While not all these pitchers may end up as starters and they could find value in the bullpen, the math simply does not work out for all of them to join the Yankees staff and a trade is the most reasonable way to clear up some room.
The Yankees have prided themselves on stockpiling their pitching talent in the minor leagues. This has allowed them to use it as a point of strength when it comes to filling holes at the major league level. Not everyone may agree with how some Yankee prospects pan out or the ones that do not contribute to the major league team. Regardless, the Yankees gain great value in these players. If you want to see some of these pitching prospects in person for a Yankees affiliate team, you better try to see them quickly after the all-star break. If you wait too long, there’s a chance they could be pitching on the other side of the country.