Friday, December 11, 2015
THE JUSTIN WILSON TRADE SHAKES THINGS UP
For the past five days I've been on Twitter searching 'Yankees' to keep up with the latest rumors and news and I, like a lot of Yankees fans, was surprised to see that GM Brian Cashman dealt Justin Wilson to the Tigers on Wednesday evening. My first reaction was a bit of excitement hoping they landed some quality prospects. They did land two prospects but at first glance, the return was a little anticlimactic.
Both Luis Cessa and Chad Green are young Triple-A pitchers that add depth to the upper levels of the minor leagues. Perhaps one will develop into a solid middle of the rotation guy, but who knows. What had me thinking was why did Cash trade their reliable seventh inning guy for two so-so prospects?
First and foremost the Yankees are attempting to get younger and they did accomplish that in the trade. Cessa is 23 and Green is 24. Cashman was quoted as saying; "I think they've got big arms, I think they're both close. I think they also both have upside and will get better." That's pretty good and Cashman also mentioned how the two youngsters have a combined 12 years of team control. That's very positive!
Cessa was one of the two prospects the Mets sent to the Tigers in the July deal for Yoenis Cespedes, posted a 2.56 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A last season, though he struggled down the stretch with a 6.97 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts. Green went 5-14 but posted a respectable 3.93 ERA at Double-A last season. He was 3-0 with a 1.70 ERA over his final eight starts however.
Before the names of the prospects were released, I was hoping for a Major League caliber arm. That wasn't the case, but it seems like both the youngsters bring upside with them and the Yankees were in search of young arms with zero to three years' experience. These two fit the mold.
What the trade does do is create a hole to fill in the bullpen. Chasen Shreve pitched very well for the first five months of the season before fading in September where he posted a rough 11.12 ERA over nine appearances for the month. He finished the year with 3.09 ERA over 59 appearances and never had an ERA over 2.70 prior to September. We also have to remember that Shreve had only made 15 big league appearances with the Braves in 2014 before being traded to the Yankees. With another year of experience, it appears he will be relied upon to be the shutdown lefty out of Joe Girardi's pen.
The Yankees also have 2014 top pick Jacob Lindgren, who was out for much of last year after having a bone spur removed from his pitching elbow. He made seven appearances with the Bombers last spring and struck out eight over seven innings while finishing with a 5.14 ERA in his limited work. Lindgren blew away the minor league competition to earn his call up less than 12 months after being drafted. He should also find himself right in the mix with Shreve and fellow lefty reliever James Pazos, who made 11 appearances with the big club in 2015 and did not allow an earned run over five innings.
I fully expect all three to make an impact one way or another in the Yankees bullpen over the course of the 2016 season. I'd imagine Shreve is guaranteed a spot in the pen and Lindgren and Pazos will fight for a spot, or perhaps both earn a chance to break camp with the club.
One of the biggest questions following the Wilson trade was is Brian Cashman going to continue to shop Andrew Miller? From the outside looking in it would seem like the smart move to hold onto him. However Cashman could use the fallout of the Aroldis Chapman domestic abuse allegations and the hole filled by the Wilson trade to his advantage.
He could play the "I can't afford to give up Miller" card and see if a team, like the Astros or the Dodgers, who had agreed to a trade for Chapman, would be willing to overpay for a top five or so closer. There is a good chance a team who is so close to getting over the hump would be willing to part with a little more than they'd like in order to get Miller and put them in the position to be a favorite to win the World Series.
If Brian Cashman is not overwhelmed, well, he will just sit back and watch Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller slam the door shut in the eighth and ninth innings for the Yankees.
The long term possibility could be to wait until July and see how the Yankees are doing and they could be willing to have a fire sale if they are struggling to stay in contention. Cashman could then use Miller and any other pitcher on the roster to help build for 2017 and beyond.
I personally am not hoping for any one particular thing to happen. Brian Cashman seems to be doing what he set out to do; get younger and get starting pitching. So far he has accomplished both, it just wasn't for any big name player. He has also kept the farm system, which finally has some serious talent, intact.
The wheeling and dealing has really just begun. As much as I love the regular season, I love this time of the year just as much. Let's see what else Cashman has up his sleeve! He said he's not done yet... and I believe him!
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