Frankie Montas wanted to be let loose. When the A’s started their selloff in earnest this offsesaon, he seemed like a lock to finish up elsewhere. Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt, fellow rotation stalwarts, have been gone. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have been shipped out. Montas (together with Sean Murphy and Ramón Laureano) appeared more likely to be subsequent, however then the season began, and there he was, nonetheless atop the Oakland rotation.
He’s finished all the pieces Oakland might presumably ask of him this season, to the tune of a 3.18 ERA in 19 begins. In the meantime, the A’s have the second-worst document in baseball, forward of solely the woeful Nationals. Montas will attain free company after the 2023 season, one other 12 months during which the A’s will seemingly be removed from the playoff dialog. He had a short damage scare, lacking two turns with shoulder irritation, however he’s returned to the sector and made two begins with out incident. A method or one other, the A’s have been going to maneuver him.
The Yankees, for his or her half, stormed to the very best document in baseball however would nonetheless like beginning pitching assist. Gerrit Cole is nice and Nestor Cortes has been a revelation this 12 months, however the group of pitchers behind them has been uneven. Jordan Montgomery began sturdy, however he’s been homer-prone of late. Jameson Taillon is regular however a step under Montas results-wise, and will probably be a free agent after this 12 months. Luis Severino just hit the 60-day IL, pushing a possible return even deeper into September. The combination outcomes have been strong, however you possibly can see why the group needs extra certainty given the issue of cleanly upgrading their lineup.
The results of Oakland’s surplus and New York’s want is a logical commerce: in the present day, the A’s despatched Montas and reliever Lou Trivino to the Yankees in trade for a smorgasbord of prospects. Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears, and Cooper Bowman comprise a deep and proficient prospect return. Eric Longenhagen can have a separate piece that delves deeper into the specifics of every participant, however I’ll lay them out on the finish of this text for the sake of posterity.
First, let’s discuss Montas. He’s a fantastic slot in entrance of a revitalized New York infield. The Yankees have top-of-the-line defensive infields within the majors this 12 months, thanks largely to the contributions of offseason acquisition Josh Donaldson. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, one other offseason acquisition, has been roughly common total however uneven at shortstop, although uneven is an enormous enchancment from final 12 months’s tire fireplace. Donaldson’s acquisition additionally signifies that New York can run out an alignment with DJ LeMahieu at second base, which places three defenders on the infield who vary from strong to plus.
I wouldn’t describe Montas as a sinkerballer, however he definitely will get his justifiable share of grounders. He mixes a four-seamer and sinker in roughly equal measure, which retains hitters off-balance, however that’s not a fantastic plan except your infielders can do one thing with the grounders. Now that they will, Montas makes a variety of sense to me in New York. Extra strikeouts than common, fewer walks than common, and the flexibility to show right into a groundball pitcher when applicable: Montas is solely good throughout the board, and provided that the Yankees can have perused his newest medical reviews, they clearly suppose he’s a superb wager to remain on the sector.
In the meantime, Trivino is greater than only a throw-in. His horror-movie .451 BABIP is obscuring what would in any other case be one other strong however unexciting season. He has a five-pitch arsenal that primarily boils all the way down to fastball/cutter/slider and he persistently misses bats with that blend. Regardless of the grim outcomes to this point, he appears to be like like a strong center reliever. I don’t suppose batters will proceed to hit line drives 40% of the day without work of his fastball, which hasn’t modified in form or velocity in comparison with his simpler years. A brand new sweeping slider (or “whirly,” in the event you’re actually into New York names) will probably be proper at dwelling within the Yankees bullpen. If nothing else, he’s a superb wager to ship common efficiency in medium-leverage conditions, which is a priceless ability in opposition to the stacked lineups the group will face within the playoffs. Regardless of not too long ago turning 30, he’s additionally beneath group management for some time, with two extra journeys by means of arbitration remaining. He’s not a positive wager to supply, but when he’s the fifth-best reliever in your group, it means you’ve gotten a wonderful bullpen.
When you’ve gotten the division locked up like New York does, your deadline trades ought to have a watch on the playoffs. Should you’re attempting to work out the methods the Yankees might fail in October, inconsistent pitching looks like the most definitely state of affairs. There are sufficient query marks that you would think about just a few accidents, just a few drained arms, and out of the blue Aaron Boone trusts precisely one among his starters. A method you possibly can repair that’s by assembling a lockdown bullpen — in the present day’s Scott Effross commerce, which we’ll have extra on later, represents a step in that course — however one other method you possibly can repair it’s by getting extra good starters. Montas was the very best out there possibility after the Luis Castillo commerce; if I have been operating the Yankees, he would have been my primary goal in the present day. Throw in Trivino, and the Yankees are making good strides towards that lockdown bullpen as effectively.
That logic holds for subsequent 12 months, too. The Yankees determine to be combating for the American League East crown once more subsequent season. Plugging in a wonderful starter will make that combat simpler, and because the mantra goes, there’s no such factor as a foul one-year contract. As an additional advantage, Montas represents one of many few apparent spots for a Yankees improve. I suppose they may signal a marquee shortstop this offseason, and re-signing or changing Aaron Judge is of utmost significance, however “simply add a top-25 starter” is without doubt one of the surest methods to enhance an already-deep group with out making any of your current gamers redundant (cough Joey Gallo cough).
The price for that improve is substantial. Waldichuk is a quick riser who Eric likens to Reid Detmers, a four-pitch starter with enviable fastball form. He peppers the highest of the zone with it, making up for its middling velocity with exceptional journey and a misleading supply. Should you’re attempting to time that up, good luck adjusting to the wipeout slider and quickly creating changeup. We’ve got him thirty sixth on our up to date Top 100 prospects list as a 50 FV, and we’re hardly alone within the scouting neighborhood: even with out dominant velocity, he appears to be like like a future main league distinction maker. He slots in as Oakland’s new prime prospect.
Medina is one other 50 FV member of our Prime 100, although Eric pegs him as a future multi-inning reduction ace slightly than a starter in the long term. He tops out above 100 mph with a vicious fastball (albeit with below-average motion), and enhances it with a hammer curve and a rapidly-developing changeup. He makes use of these two secondaries with equal frequency, and each have seemed sharp this 12 months. That’s an enviable set of pitches, one that will look proper at dwelling on the prime of any rotation within the majors in the present day. There’s only one downside: his command might charitably be described as inconsistent. He’s strolling 13% of the batters he faces (5 per 9 innings) in Double-A, proper consistent with his efficiency there final 12 months. Loud stuff is all effectively and good, however with out the flexibility to persistently spot his pitches for strikes, it’s laborious to think about him sticking within the majors as a starter. His uncooked expertise is so overwhelming that he might seemingly hack it as a reliever proper now, however Oakland will certainly give him extra time to determine his command as a starter. The upside right here is large if Medina can begin finding extra persistently.
Sears (40 FV) is Medina in reverse. His fastball doesn’t overpower and he doesn’t have an apparent third pitch behind a strong slider. He’s posted spectacular strikeout numbers within the minors over the previous two years, however the pitch information deserves skepticism; certainly, he’s been below-average in that respect in 22 innings of main league work this 12 months, largely as a reliever. That’s okay, although, as a result of he has wonderful command. His stroll charges are persistently superlative, which supplies him a excessive flooring; he’s merely not going to stroll himself out of many ballgames. I feel that profile will play up in Oakland’s spacious foul territory, although it won’t work effectively within the skinny air of Las Vegas, for no matter that’s price.
Bowman is the least-heralded of the prospects heading to Oakland. A fourth-round choose in final 12 months’s draft, he seemed strong in a short cameo with the Tampa Tarpons. He’s treading water in Excessive-A to this point this 12 months, however in an unpleasant method: he’s each strolling and hanging out fairly incessantly, however with no ton of energy, which makes me suppose the walks aren’t sustainable. He was an honorable point out on our preseason Yankees prospects list. We predict that he’ll stick at second base, and that his compact swing mechanics will make him a contact-driven, averageish hitter, although this 12 months’s elevated strikeout numbers are definitely worrisome. File him beneath the “thriller field” class: we’ll simply must see extra to know what he’ll grow to be.
Even when Bowman is simply window dressing, that is an enviable haul for Oakland. Three possible main league pitchers, all of whom are performing within the minors this 12 months, will carry much more to the group over the following 5 years than Montas would have. Is that largely the fault of Oakland’s possession, who mandated a sell-off? Indisputably. However contemplating the place they’re in, restocking their farm system with top-level pitching is a wonderful determination in my eyes.
As for the Yankees, I might have most well-liked to carry Castillo in, however that horse has already left the barn. Waldichuks and Medinas don’t develop on timber, however the Yankees have confirmed adept at creating mid-level draft picks and worldwide signees into affect pitching prospects and ultimately affect main leaguers. Cashing in a few of these prospects to enhance the foremost league group proper now makes a variety of sense. It’s affordable to imagine that improvement pipeline will proceed to supply arms, and the Yankees are superb proper this prompt. Waldichuk, Medina, and Sears would possibly make the 2023 group higher, however their worth largely comes from what they could produce additional sooner or later. There are different methods to get that future worth: the Yankees might signal affect main leaguers, or develop extra prospects, or commerce from their still-solid hoard of nice younger gamers. However there’s just one method to complement the 2022 group: buying and selling for somebody like Montas.
For me, that makes this a layup. Would the Yankees have most well-liked to commerce one fewer participant within the deal? Clearly. Would they’ve most well-liked a greater reliever to Trivino because the throw-in? Most definitely. But when it was this or nothing, I’d simply make this deal, and I might need even supplied one other prospect to shut issues if vital. Flags fly eternally, in spite of everything.