The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins were burning the midnight oil as the two clubs are close to reaching an agreement for Jaime Garcia.
Nearly all of the trade rumors swirling around the New York Yankees on Saturday were about how they were making significant progress in a deal to acquire Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics. The two teams finding a suitable middle ground has stalled the move all week, but with the trade deadline approaching, talks have picked up.
Garcia, acquired by the Twins along with Anthony Recker on Monday from the Atlanta Braves, could be finding a new home by the deadline. In his one start with the Twins, against the A’s no less, Garcia went 6 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits and three walks which led to three earned runs. He also struck out seven. This was Garcia’s third straight quality start.
On the season he holds a 5-7 record with a 4.29 ERA and a 4.04 FIP while his strikeouts per nine sit at 6.9 and his BB/9 are at 3.3. He’s a solid back-of-the-rotation piece for the Yankees to be considering and would act more as an insurance policy than a huge acquisition.
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According to Jon Morosi, the two clubs have discussed Yankees number 22 prospect Zack Littell as compensation for Garcia. Per MLB Pipeline, “Littell’s pitchability may be more impressive than his stuff. He can’t overpower hitters but he mixes his pitches, pounds the strike zone and keeps the ball down, generating plenty of strikeouts and groundouts. He has a ceiling of a No. 4 starter, perhaps more if he can add more power to his pitches.” The 21-year-old right-hander is currently in Double-A Trenton and was a healthy scratch from his start on Saturday.
So where does that leave the Yankees in their talks with the A’s? Joel Sherman wrote that the deal seemed “between likely and inevitable” late Saturday evening. The rest of the competition for the Yankees to acquire Gray has seemed to have fallen off, with the Astros and Brewers being on the sidelines for awhile and the Braves not necessarily needing to make a move just yet. Ken Rosenthal places the Dodgers as the only real threat to the Yankees adding Gray right now.
For the Yankees, adding Gray on top of Garcia would give them a whole new look in their starting rotation, and if Masahiro Tanaka can pitch more like he did on Friday (8IP, two hits, one run, season-high 14 K’s), then the Bombers could really be in business for a postseason run. On the flip side of that, if Tanaka performs well the rest of the way and into October, the chances of him opting out this offseason definitely increase, which would make the need for someone like Gray, who is under contract through 2019, more intense.
And therein lies the A’s negotiating power. With Tanaka’s opt-out option, the Yankees could either pay the price now when the two clubs are on relatively even footing, or Oakland could take one hell of a roll of he dice and bank on Tanaka opting out and returning to the table in the offseason when the Yankees’ need will be even greater, and there will be more teams involved in the process.
For a few days now, the rumors swirling around these trade talks have revolved around outfielder and number five prospect Estevan Florial who is currently in A Ball. Baseball America ranked Florial, 19, number six in their power/speed combo rankings just a couple of days ago. Another potential option for this trade would be Jorge Mateo, New York’s number eight prospect, number seven on the power/speed rankings. This likely isn’t enough to complete a deal, but the Yankees would be holding on to Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, their top two prospects.
That’s with an even playing field. Imagine how much higher that asking price will be if Tanaka walks this winter.