The New York Yankees are going for it. They boosted their lineup and the backend of their bullpen in a trade Tuesday with the Chicago White Sox that’s sending slugger Todd Frazier and relief pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx.
Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago was first to report a deal was close, with multiple national reporters later saying the same. The White Sox announced it was a done deal shortly after their game with the Los Angeles Dodgers ended.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 19, 2017
The White Sox (38-52) were already in full rebuilding mode and this adds to their minor-league riches, as the Yankees send Chicago a package that includes outfield prospect Blake Rutherford (New York’s No. 3 prospect) and left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin (No. 19). Big-league reliever Tyler Clippard is also reportedly in the deal, as is outfielder Tito Polo.
Rutherford ranks No. 30 in MLB.com’s overall top prospect list. Getting him gives the White Sox five of the top 30 prospects, including No. 1 overall Yoan Moncada and No. 6 Eloy Jimenez, and 10 in the top 100. The White Sox, acting quickly once the trade became official, called Moncada up to the big leagues.
The third-place Yankees (47-44), a surprise contender this season, are trying to stay viable in the AL East as the rival Boston Red Sox (52-42) try to open a bigger lead atop the division. The Tampa Bay Rays (50-44) have recently surged into second place.
The deal gives the Yankees one thing they covet and one thing they need. The Yanks of recent years love having a potent backend bullpen. With Dellin Betances struggling as of late and closer Aroldis Chapman not quite his dominating self this season, the Yankees now have another pitcher with closer experience in Robertson. They’re familiar with Robertson after he pitched for them from 2008-2014, taking over as closer when Mariano Rivera retired. Kahnle, 27, also has a 2.50 ERA in 37 games this season out of the White Sox bullpen. Robertson is under control through 2018 and Kahnle is arbitration eligible in 2018, which gives the Yankees more controllable assets as they look to contend again next season.
Frazier, who is due to be a free agent at season’s end, has some pop in his bat (he’s hit 16 homers this season and 40 last year) but his .207 batting average might be a drain. Frazier can play first and third base, which is more important to the Yankees now that first baseman Greg Bird might be out the rest of the season.
There’s another advantage for the Yankees here too: The Red Sox were said to be interested in both Frazier and Robertson. So this move could, in theory, put twice as much pressure on Boston.
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