The best teams need to make the most of baseball trading deadlines. This would seem counterintuitive, as the best teams have the fewest needs. But if a team is really good, the hardest part is over: You know you’ll be playing in October. Once you get there trades are all about increasing your odds.
“Teams are trying to make a move that will make an impact,” Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman said via an interpreter on Monday, recalling his trade with the Chicago Cubs in 2016. “When I got there — where the team was and where the team was headed — they felt like they had a real shot at winning.”
The Cubs had the best record in baseball when they acquired Chapman in a trade with the Yankees. He estimated that Chapman would increase his chances of winning the World Series by 5 percent—a huge number for a single player, in fact. The Cubs won it all, with Chapman pitching in all but his post-season victory.
The Yankees of 2022 know where they are and know where they’re going. They will reach the 6 p.m. trading deadline on Tuesday with the best record in the American League — they were 69-34 before Monday’s game with the Seattle Mariners — and four new players to help out when it matters most. player.
On Monday he struck two deals, acquiring starter Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trivino from the Oakland Athletics, and reliever Scott Efros from the Chicago Cubs. Last week, he got left fielder Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals. In all, the Yankees left eight possibilities, including seven pitchers. Only one, JP Sears, has played in the majors.
Two pitchers sent to Oakland by general manager Brian Cashman were one of the Yankees’ top 10 prospects, according to MLB.com – Ken Waldichuk (fifth) and Luis Medina (10th). Montas, however, is in control of the team through the next season and gives the Yankees a top-level starter who can make a big impact in a post-season series.
“They have the full arsenal and weapons and stuff that you find in top-rotation caliber pitchers,” said manager Aaron Boone. “And he went out and proved that over the years, he was that kind of pitcher.”
The 29-year-old right-hander served an 80-game suspension in 2019 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He struggled the following year, but has averaged 3.30 earned runs in 51 starts over the past two seasons, with a mix of power pitches (96 mph fastball, plus a slider and splitter) that makes him effective against both left- and left-handers. and of the right hand.
Efros, 28, is not a hard thrower but has a similar assortment of pitches to handle hitters from both sides. As a right-handed cider with fastballs, sliders and changeups, he’s the kind of reliever who gets a lot of work done in the modern, bullpen-heavy postseason.
“In an ideal world, you want to create versatility – whether it’s the looks of the different, whether it’s the people who are really skilled at getting right-handed hitters for certain parts of the order, whether it’s the people who are really left-handed. specializes in getting, whether it’s a mix of that,” Boone said. “Sometimes different angles and different kinds of things are beneficial. We think Scott does a lot.”
Efros, who has a 2.66 ERA in 44 innings, has been more dominant this season than Trivino, who has a 6.47 ERA in 32 innings. But the Yankees attribute a lot of it to bad luck, and Trivino averages 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings—a better strike rate than any of his new teammates.
Add those three arms to Benintendi – a solid left fielder with plate discipline who hits for contact – and a pattern emerges. These are players who have the skills to make the difference in short series against good teams.
There are some reasons for concern. In early July, Montas had a swollen shoulder and needed a cortisone injection; He rested for two and a half weeks and has since made two starts for three innings and five innings.
The Yankees have another starter, Luis Severino, who is out with a shoulder problem of his own. He played the catch on Monday, which is encouraging, but far from the game.
“He gave me a thumbs-up,” Boone said. “Good start for the throwing progress.”
Still, the Yankees placed Severino on a 60-day injured list on Monday, meaning he may not be active until mid-September. He now has his replacement, bullpen reinforcements and a new left fielder as well. It’s been an impressive race for a team looking for their first championship since 2009 – a team that needed to be aggressive, and act that way.