It was no secret that the Yankees coveted a difference making starting pitcher ahead of Tuesday’s 6 PM ET trade deadline to fortify the rotation heading into postseason play. They swung for Luis Castillo but ultimately lost out to Seattle for his services over the weekend – on Monday evening Brian Cashman reeled in the next best arm in the market by acquiring right-handed hurler Frankie Montas along with reliever Lou Trivino from Oakland in exchange for hurlers Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears and infielder Cooper Bowman. The moved allowed the Yankees to open up two additional spots on the 40-man roster.
The 29-year-old Montas, who has another year of team control, has been rumored to be part of trade packages for the better part of a year now, but Oakland finally pulled the trigger on moving him for what many around the industry view as a solid return. Montas was sidelined in early July with a shoulder injury, but he has shown no lingering issues from that IL stint and has put together another strong campaign for the Athletics, going 4-9 with a 3.18 ERA – he’s fanned 109 and walked just 28 over 19 starts this season. Montas has proven to be ultra-steady in his six seasons with Oakland and his fastball-slider-splitter repertoire figures to bring a strong presence behind all-stars Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes in the Bombers rotation.
Trivino along with Scott Effross, who was acquired in a trade with the Cubs earlier on Monday, will add reinforcements to a Yankees bullpen that has been hit recently with injuries and inconsistency from often reliable options. The 30-year-old Trivino has an ugly 6.47 ERA to go with 10 saves for Oakland this season but has held righties to just a .211 batting average over the course of his five big league seasons, all with the Athletics.
The headliner going back to Oakland here is Waldichuk, who was the Yankees top-pitching prospect and appeared to be very close to big-league ready. The southpaw seems to have ironed out the command issues he faced a bit last year; the 24-year-old has fanned 116 and walked just 33 while holding the opposition to a .191 average and a 2.71 ERA between Double and Triple-A this season. Waldichuk, who is slated to be Rule 5 eligible this winter and would have had to be added to the 40-man roster, represented the Yankees at the MLB Future’s Game over al-star weekend and is viewed by many evaluators around the league as one of the more polished pitching prospects in the game. I would certainly expect Waldichuk to make his major league debut before the season ends.
Right-hander Luis Medina has been talked about in Yankees circles for quite a while now, but he just has not been able to fulfill the early and lofty expectations that were placed at him when he first flashed state side. Medina just turned 23 and spent essentially the last full calendar year at the Double-A level with Somerset. There were flashes of brilliance that were often followed by ones to forget and that remains the question, is Medina a starter or a reliever? Medina has fanned 81 batters in 72 innings but has also walked 40 and allowed 46 hits over that span. Still, Medina flashes an upper-90’s heater with improved secondary stuff while opponents hit just .179 against him this season. He is certainly an intriguing, high-upside arm that at the worst could be a high-leverage reliever in very short order.
The 26-year-old Sears has been a strong swing-man option for the Yankees both in the big leagues and at the minor league level after making his MLB debut earlier this season. The southpaw allowed just five earned runs over 22 innings for the Yankees over seven appearances in his rookie season. Sears has been part of the Scranton Shuttle throughout the campaign and has posted a 1.67 ERA and 0.72 WHIP with 55 strikeouts in 11 appearances at Triple-A. I would expect Sears to stick around in the big leagues for Oakland following the trade.
Bowman was the Yankees fourth round draft selection last summer out of Louisville and has spent his entire first full-season of pro-ball at High-A. The second baseman has hit just .217 but has flashed some pop with eight homers and his ability to draw 55 walks in 361 plate appearances has resulted in a .343 on-base mark despite his poor average. Being on base for Bowman is key because he can do damage on the base paths; he has swiped 35 bases in 41 attempts. Bowman has played the bulk of his time at second base but has also seen some time at shortstop in order to increase versatility.
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