In what can be described as a jaw-dropping move by the organization, the New York Yankees will reportedly acquire third baseman Todd Frazier, as well as relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, from the Chicago White Sox for minor-league prospects Blake Rutherford and Ian Clarkin, as well as veteran reliever Tyler Clippard and prospect Tito Polo. The trade was first reported by Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM and 670 The Score in Chicago.

Earlier in the night, Frazier was a late healthy scratch from the lineup in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Originally, it was believed that the Boston Red Sox were the front-runners to acquire Frazier and Robertson, but the Yankees soon marched forward and gained tons of momentum.

Frazier, 31, has been linked to the Red Sox for weeks now, as the club has had a void at third base in 2017. However, the Yankees will acquire a player who is desperately in search of a new home, as he has slashed .220/.311/.454 since coming to the South Side in a three-team deal prior to the 2016 season. However, despite early season struggles in 2017, Frazier has found himself quite productive on the road. Frazier sports a .923 OPS away from Guaranteed Rate Field, compared to an abysmal .585 OPS at home. That’s a sign that a change of scenery would lead to a so-called “renaissance” for Frazier.

Robertson and Kahnle will both make a return to the Yankees’ organization, as Robertson was the team’s setup man from 2008 to 2014 and Kahnle was a 5th round pick for the club in the 2010 MLB Draft. Robertson has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in 2017 with a 3.05 FIP and 47 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched. As the closer for the White Sox, Robertson has saved 84 games for the club since he came to Chicago prior to the 2015 season. Meanwhile, Kahnle has found great success as a setup man, cutting his walk rate from over 6.5 to 1.8 in 2017, as well as pitching to a 2.50 ERA in 37 games, with 60 strikeouts over 36 innings and a 1.47 FIP. Both could be subject to middle-relief or setup scenarios in the Bronx.

Contractually, the Yankees will be receiving Frazier as a rental for the rest of the season. Frazier is in the final year of arbitration and is making $12 million this season before hitting free agency this off-season. Robertson, who signed a 4 year, $46 million deal with Chicago, will walk into free agency after the 2018 season. Kahnle is the only player with significant team control, as he is arbitration eligible starting in 2018 and will not be a free agent until the 2021 season.

Going to Chicago’s absolutely loaded farm system, Blake Rutherford was the Yankees’ first-round selection in the 2016 MLB draft at 18th overall. Rutherford signed to a franchise-record $3,282,000 signing bonus and has lived up to the expectations, cracking the Single-A roster in only his first full season and owning a .302/.364/.443 in 104 career games. He is ranked as the #3 prospect in New York’s system, as well as the #45 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America. Despite being drafted as a center fielder, many scouts believe that Rutherford will not stay, due to his skill and lack of direction to the big leagues in the Yankees’ system. Ian Clarkin, a left-handed pitcher and New York’s #17 prospect, was the team’s first round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft, but has yet to crack Double-A in his four years as a pro. Clarkin owns a 3.20 career ERA with in 52 games, including 50 starts, and boasts a respectable 7.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. He is projected a potential middle reliever or setup guy.

The only major league player going to Chicago, Tyler Clippard, will be sent packing for the third time in the past two years. Clippard, who has logged 661.1 innings as a reliever, signed a 2 year deal prior to 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but has derailed in 2017, as a 4.95 ERA has seen Clippard demoted within the Yankees’ bullpen ranks. Now, it is reported that Clippard will go to Chicago to offset the money from Robertson’s contract.

The final player going to Chicago will be outfield prospect Tito Polo, whom the Yankees acquired in the Ivan Nova trade as a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later). Polo has cracked Double-A, playing in 13 out of his 72 games in 2017 with Double-A. Polo slashed .293/.358/.446 between Single-A Advanced and Double-A, leading to a potentially rapid ascent to the major leagues. He was not ranked within the Yankees’ top 30 prospects.

The trade is a head-scratch-er to many, as the Yankees don’t have an exact need for Frazier, as he is, traditionally, a third baseman. However, rumors suggest that the Yankees could try him at first base, a trouble spot for the club in 2017. Previously, the club was in negotiations for Oakland Athletics‘ first baseman Yonder Alonso, but that deal seems to have fallen through, leaving the club to resort to Frazier. Despite Frazier confusing most, the acquisitions of Kahnle and Robertson will definitely fill a need in the bullpen, and maybe even produce a “super-bullpen.”

 

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