Schott: Close The Door On Yankees’ Season

The Bronx is burning.

With the trades of two top closers in less than a week, the Yankees are conducting what can only be called a fire sale and can close the book on the 2016 season.

The Yankees sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs last Monday and Andrew Miller to Cleveland on Sunday morning, and it wouldn’t be a shock if they end up facing off in the World Series.

Chapman was an obvious move because he is a free agent at the end of the season, whereas Miller had two years left on his contract after this season, and was making only $9 million per year.

Miller’s contract was a veritable bargain, as he is one of the fiercest lefties in the majors and a strikeout machine, with 77 K’s in 45 1/3 innings.

“It’s hard, especially on Miller, because we had him from last year, and had him under our control on a strong contract for two years,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman in a conference call on Sunday morning. He said he and Yankees ownership “completed a lot of tough discussions internally on a player that was very difficult to move.”

In order to “cushion the blow,” as Cashman put it, of losing Miller, they acquired veteran reliever and old friend Tyler Clippard from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Vicente Campos.

In one week, the Yankees went from having the best trio at the back end of the bullpen, with Dellin Betances and Miller setting up Chapman, to an ordinary one, with Adam Warren (acquired from Chicago in the Chapman deal) and Betances setting up Clippard.

Cashman looked at Miller and Chapman as assets that he knew he could use in trades if it did not look like they would contend.

“We’ve done a dance with the blessing of ownership, we exploited the market to make out future better,” said Cashman, who acquired top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres from the Cubs. for Chapman last Monday.

The Indians sent the Yankees four top prospects – outfielder Clint Frazier, left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield and right-handed pitchers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen – for Miller.

“We believe we’ve gotten a lot of high-end talent in this deal,” Cashman said of the trade.

Frazier is the centerpiece of the deal, as the 21-year old outfielder was the consensus top prospect in the Indians organization in midseason rankings this year, having been listed as baseball’s 21st-best prospect by Baseball America, 24th-best prospect by and 34th-best prospect by ESPN. He entered the season ranked 27th by, 44th by Baseball America and 72nd by ESPN.

In 94 combined minor league games in 2016 at Double-A Akron (89G) and Triple-A Columbus (5G), the 6-foot, 1-inch, 190 lb. outfielder batted .273 (99-for-362) with 58R, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 13HR, 48RBI, 13SB, a .350 on-base percentage and an .811 OPS. He was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star Game and appeared in the 2016 Futures Game in San Diego, going 2-for-3 with a single, double and a run scored. On July 25, he was promoted to Triple-A.

The other two pitchers, Heller, and Feyereisen, are both closers and could be on the brink of the majors.

Heller, 24, has spent time at Triple-A Columbus (28 games) and Double-A Akron (15 games). He is 3-2 with 12 saves in 13 chances and a 1.73 ERA (41.2IP, 23H, 8ER, 12BB, 48K, 2HR) in 43 relief appearances this season, holding batters to a combined .159 batting average with a 0.84 WHIP. He began the season ranked by Baseball America as having the “Best Fastball” in the Indians organization.

Feyereisen, 23, took over as closer at Double-A Akron when Heller was promoted, and he has five saves to go along with a record of 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA (40.1IP, 30H, 10ER, 20BB, 56K, 3HR, .205 opp BA) in 33 relief appearances this season. He was named to the 2016 Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team.

The 20-year old Sheffield was tabbed by Baseball America as the 69th-best prospect in baseball and the fifth-best prospect in the Indians organization in midseason rankings. For what it’s worth, prior to the season, Baseball America rated him with the “Best Slider” in the organization.

While all that sounds nice, Sheffield is only at Single A Lynchburg, meaning he still has a long path to the majors ahead of him. He was named to this year’s Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star Team, but is just 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA (95.1IP, 91H, 38ER, 40BB, 93K, 6HR) in 19 starts.

Cashman thinks that the Yankees fan base understands that they now have a lot of top talent ready to form the next generation of Yankees stars.

“The haul we would get that would bring back young talent that would excite out fan base and get us where we want to be in the future,” said Cashman.

Of course, nothing excited Yankees fans in the present like watching Miller and Chapman close games.

To see the best bullpen trio in baseball broken up within a week will be hard for many Yankees fans to accept, as they have closed the door on a season for the first time in over two decades.

About the Author

Get connected with us on Social Media