April 25, 2020
MLB Pro AP
After weeks of speculation and rumors, the Atlanta Braves finally agreed to a deal that would send Trevor Bauer packing. While the trading of Bauer was expected, it is his new team that might be a big unexpected.
Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the New York Yankees were a team few expected to compete in the American League East this season. Through the opening month of the season, the Yankees have proven to be a surprise team, beginning the year with a record of 17-9.
The Yankees take another step forward towards a “win-now” with a big George Steinbrenner-esque move.
The agreed upon deal is as follows:
Atlanta Sends: Trevor Bauer, SP MLB John Bauer, SP AAA (retained 2020) Antonio Morales, 3B MLB Michael Sharp, SS MLB Ron Foster, 1B AAA Gwinett (retained 2020)
New York Sends: James Tate, SP MLB Xavier Noonan, 3B MLB (IL) Robinson Rivera, RP MLB Mac Davis, RP MLB Max Fried, SP MLB (IL) Jaff Decker, OF MLB Austin Brice, SP AAA Derek Fletcher. 2B AAA Sranton Nick Schnell, RF A Charleston Matt Parker, SP A+ TampaAtlanta/New York Deal
The New York Yankees trade promising youth on the mound in James Tate and Robinson Rivera for what is seemingly a known commodity in Trevor Bauer. Tate (3-1, 3.72 ERA), a former top 50 prospect was brought to New York in the Nathan Eovaldi trade of last season. After a shaky 2019 season in New York, Tate dedicated himself to improvement in the off-season. He has shown terrific command and an ability to blow by hitters. Robinson Rivera was named MLB Pro’s #11 prospect prior to the 2020 season. His first month of big league action has been better than even anyone could have hoped. In 16 2/3 innings pitched, Rivera has struck out 33 batters, walking five, and allowing just eight hits. He possesses one of the best changeups in all of baseball. The only question surrounding Rivera is if his stuff is suited better for a late inning role than a spot in a rotation.
In addition to Tate and Rivera, Atlanta acquires three prospects (Derek Fletcher, Nick Schnell, and Matt Parker) who ranked among the Yankees top ten prospects. In order to balance salary, the Yankees also parted with Jaff Decker and Austin Brice. Additionally, while he will miss the 2020 season with an injury, a potential under the radar piece of this deal could be the left-arm of Max Fried. All together, 10 pieces move from New York to Atlanta.
In order to convince New York to part with those ten players, Atlanta traded a hefty package. For starters, Trevor Bauer is obviously the centerpiece. Inked last season to an extension through the 2028 season, Bauer will anchor the Yankees rotation. Prior to his time in Atlanta, Bauer pitched in Boston with the Red Sox for over three seasons. He will be familiar with the ballparks, but must find ways to remain consistent. His time in Boston was very shaky. Along with Trevor, comes John Bauer. A former top 5 overall pick, Bauer was a highly-regarded prospect who did not much big league success with the Braves last season. A five-pitch arsenal, Bauer will be asked to likely step in to the Yankees rotation. With Michael Sharp and Antonio Morales coming over in the trade, the Yankees will likely remove two of Paul Arrington, Rob Segedin or Ramon Ortiz from the lineup. Depth to the lineup could go a long ways to providing more runners on base for the likes of Abreu, Arai, and Velazquez.
–Why This Is A Good Trade For Atlanta–
This move finally ends the limbo the Braves were in. No longer questioning if a rebuild is right, they have forced their own hand. In doing so, they moved the lengthy deal of Bauer and added a combo in Tate and Rivera that are MLB starting pitchers at a league minimum price. Right alongside Brady Aiken, Atlanta has a formidable 1-2-3. The prospects Atlanta acquired all add to the stockpile the Braves acquired from Seattle last season. Moving Bauer also eliminates the worry of an injury and depreciating his trade value.
–Why This Is A Bad Trade For Atlanta–
While injury is a concern, moving Bauer in April does not allow other teams to become desperate. Perhaps a contender will go on to suffer an injury or will see that starting pitching is a “must upgrade” and perhaps the package that Atlanta could have received would have been even higher. Tate is a good piece, but is he an ace? Is Rivera a reliever or a starter long-term? Let’s also remember that Michael Sharp cost Atlanta two quality prospects just a few weeks ago. To include him, John Bauer, and others in the trade is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Taking on the contracts of Brice and Decker was needed to balance the trade, but it leaves Atlanta with two players that bring little to no value and are going to eat up salary and roster space for multiple years.
–Why This Is A Good Trade For New York–
With a veteran core of Jose Abreu, Arinori Arai, and Miguel Velazquez, the time to win is now. Bauer has seemingly shown better stuff and command since moving on from Boston and perhaps he’s better suited for the AL East now. He’s an ace, a workhorse, someone that can go toe-to-toe with any starting pitcher in baseball.
While Robinson Rivera was a highly-regarded prospect, outside of Tate, the other young players New York parted with are far from top 100 prospects in the league. With a top five pick in the draft, New York has already added Jake Fromm, a player better than any of the other prospects in this trade.
New York’s financial situations left them in a difficult place, they found a way to get creative and were able to land a big piece. If Bauer can get them to the playoffs, perhaps financial flexibility can be gained with postseason revenue.
Michael Sharp and Antonio Morales are lineup upgrades. Sharp’s defense prowess also helps immensely.
–Why This Is A Bad Trade For New York–
Does a hot April make the Yankees the team to beat in the East? Only if we just ignore the existence of the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, the Yankees benefit from playing the rebuilding Orioles a ton, but Boston and Tampa will pester the teams at the top all year. The Mariners and Angels likely will eat up one Wild Card spot and the Twins and Indians remain the favorite for the other. This doesn’t even get into the Houston Astros or any other team in the AL making a run at things.
How did the Yankees get this hot start anyways? Well, with solid pitching and a fantastic bullpen. Bauer is better than Tate and John Bauer has a chance to be productive, but losing Rivera and Mac Davis is a big blow to the Yankees bullpen. The ability of Rivera to get out of any jam will hurt the Yankees.
While Decker and Brice were bad contracts, what will Trevor Bauer’s look like three, four, five years from now? It’s a team that already is paying big money for many more years to the likes of Arai, Velazquez, and Tommy Joseph. Those four, plus Bauer, will make bringing in additional pieces extremely difficult in the future.
Also, what if Trevor Bauer struggles again the American League? It’s a league that has some incredibly talented lineups and will challenge Bauer on most nights. If he struggles at all, it’s a deal that could look incredibly lopsided.
-Takes From Around the League-
“Bauer is great, an ace for sure. But that contract is tough to look at. Not that he isn’t worth it now, but later on, those final years could hurt.”
“The trade is an utter disaster for the New York Yankees organization. Yankee fans will greatly regret seeing Robinson Rivera moved.”
“The Braves keep adding prospects, but how many are elite? Rivera might be, but between this and past trades, it’s a team that down the line will wish it kept Cabanas and Bauer.”