The narrative for the Yankees the last couple years has been clear: the team needs to get younger. Defined by bloated contracts and oft-injured veterans, the Yankees have missed the playoffs the past two seasons, in large part because of an aging 25 man roster and a lack of depth. Given this context, it is easy to think the Yankees did well in their three-for-two player trade, considering two of the players they received are pitchers under 25 years old. However, the Yankees sent a projected 2.5 Wins to Miami in exchange for 1.5 and a lottery ticket.
|2015 Project fWAR
Trading a two-win utility player for a 24 year old power-arm makes sense for most teams; the Yankees however are a unique case. Martin Prado amassed 2.5 fWAR but provided New York with depth at multiple positions thus saving roster space and salary. Prado also provided the Yankees with some stability, as Prado has played in 143 or more games in each season since 2012.
Heading into 2015, Prado would have been the opening day second baseman and a perfectly serviceable understudy to 37 year old Carlos Beltran who played in only 109 games in 2014. The Yankees now have a large question mark at second and a lack of depth in the outfield.
In the outfield, Chris Young is now acting as Beltran's understudy. Young is projected for a .228/.309/.398 slash line and a 97 wRC+. These projections are rather bullish, as Steamer does not take aging into account. The previous two seasons Young has not even amassed a full win (in total), and the 31 year old's defense continues to spiral downward.
Yankees prospect Robert Refsnyder or Jose Pirela may end up manning second for a majority of the season, but it would be unreasonable to think either (or both) would amass the value of Prado. Pirela has never been a highly touted prospect in the Yankee system and has only stepped to the plate at the major league level 25 times.
Refsnyder has raked in the minors since 2013, but he has yet to log a Major League at bat. Additionally, his defensive prowess is questionable, as he is trying to learn second base. Refsnyder is a natural outfielder, but it is unlikely he has the offensive capability to be an impact corner bat. As recently as last summer, Brian Cashman said Refsnyder would come up to the bigs as an outfielder at first, "if [Refsnyder] came up here, it would likely be in the outfield." Ultimately, he was never called up in September.
Nathan Eovaldi is a ‘power' pitcher who has yet to harness his big velocity into a devastating amount of Ks. In 199 innings last season, he struck out only 142, and in 106 innings in his rookie campaign of 2013, he struck out 78. Despite the lack of strikeouts, Eovaldi has been an effective pitcher. His 2014 ERA of 4.37 belies the 3.78 xFIP. The Yankees' trade for Brandon McCarthy was partially based on his peripheral numbers, which hinted that there was more talent than was being demonstrated in Arizona. Considering Eovaldi's rookie season, when he finished the year with a park adjusted ERA 10% better than league average, there seems to be something there.
On the other hand, Eovaldi struggles against lefties, and in just over 100 innings, he gave up ten home runs against left-handed hitters last year. The short Yankee Stadium porch in right field could be a detriment to Eovaldi, especially considering his deflated 6.6% home run per fly ball rate in 2014. Regressing that number to the league average of 9.5%, and considering the park effects moving from Miami to Yankee Stadium, it is not inconceivable he gives up 25-30 long balls next season, which will negatively affect his ERA and FIP.
Also part of the deal is Yankees draftee, David Phelps. Contrary to Eovaldi's decent xFIP when compared to his ERA, Phelps' ERA was pretty much in line with his xFIP, with an ERA of 4.38 versus an xFIP of 4.22. He projects as a league average starter in 2015 (per Steamer) and is certainly a step behind Eovaldi in terms of age and ceiling.
33 year old Garrett Jones was thrown into the trade by the Marlins, which is not surprising considering he is owed close to $8 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Jones was a league average hitter last season (99 wRC+), and his first base defense has been atrocious. The only plus for the Yankees in acquiring Jones is his durability. He has played in over 140 games every year since 2010, so theoretically he can pick up the inevitable Teixeira lost innings, though he cannot play anywhere beside first base.
The Yankees also received 22 year old Dominican prospect, Domingo German. German excelled in A ball last season, throwing 123 innings and striking out 113 batters. In the Futures Game this past summer, he pitched one inning and KOed both Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. He has a 95+ MPH fastball and an above average wipeout slider. German failed to appear on any top ten organizational prospect lists prior to 2014 but launched himself into the sixth position in the Marlins system per Baseball America. He will be a welcome addition to a Yankee system that lacks depth, but it will be several years before German impacts the New York club.
The question that remains is whether or not the upgrade from Phelps to Eovaldi is worth giving up the nimbleness of Martin Prado. Although it seemed a fait accompli that Prado would be dealt when Headley was signed, the Yankees are overlooking Prado's value in versatility. Even despite the ceiling of German, the Yankees come out on the short end of the deal. New York received durability in acquiring Jones, but at the expense of giving up a nice combination of durability and 2.5 Win player who could man multiple positions. Eovaldi over Phelps is definitely an upgrade, but on the whole, this trade makes the Yankees worse off for 2015. The Yankees have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, and 2015 could be more of the same. Perhaps in the long term they will end up winning this deal, but in the short term, New York comes up short.
All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
Steven Martano is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.