Evaluating the Yankees’ Trade for Aroldis Chapman

Now that we love Aroldis Chapman with all our hearts, let’s evaluate this offseason’s blockbuster trade to see how the prospects the Yankees sent to Cincinnati are doing so far in 2016.

Over the last few weeks, the Yankees have really picked things up, winning six in a row and 13 out of 17. That surge in play has come, coincidentally, at about the same time as new closer Aroldis Chapman’s return form a 30-day suspension following domestic abuse allegations this offseason.

I’m not saying Chapman’s the reason the Yankees are winning, because he wouldn’t typically come in unless they are, but there might be something to be said for the confidence boost locking down the last three innings of a game gives the guys who are supposed to lock down the first six innings of said games.

The fanboy in me has quickly fallen for Chapman’s effortless 100 mph heat, and his outings have basically become must see TV around my house. It has been a blast to watch him pitch, and I can’t wait until I get to actually go watch him pitch live at the Stadium, hopefully for years to come. That’s right, I’m formally announcing my campaign for the Yankees to kick common sense to the curb and sign Chapman to whatever contract he demands. To quote the great Champ Kind from Anchorman, when this is all over, I want us to get an apartment together, Aroldis.

Anyway, the joy Chapman has brought Yankees fans got me wondering how the kids Brian Cashman gave up in the trade this January are doing over in Cincinnati. Cashman got himself a bit of a steal in this trade–a deal some gave the Yankees GM a very hard time about due to the fact that the team took advantage of Chapman’s looming legal situation to get the closer for pennies on the dollar–keeping all of the Yankees’ top prospects in the exchange. All Cashman had to send to the Reds was Caleb Cotham, Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis and Tony Renda.

Let’s go to the stats!

 

Caleb Cotham, RHP

 

Apr 30, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Caleb Cotham (54) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 30, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Caleb Cotham (54) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start with Caleb Cotham, because he’s the only one of these four who is playing at the major league level for the Reds at this point (this isn’t a dig. the other three aren’t expected to be yet). Cotham was drafted by the Yankees out of Vanderbilt University in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, and the now 28-year-old lefty made his major league debut last season against the Rangers on July 29.

Cotham ended up riding the shuttle back and forth to AAA for the rest of the season, but managed to get into 12 games with the big league club. “Cotham City” was not good, allowing 7 runs on 14 hits–including 4 home runs–in just 9.2 innings.

If you thought that was bad, buckle your seatbelt, because his tenure in Cincinnati has been an unmitigated disaster. Through the first two months of 2016, Cotham has pitched in 20 games, allowing 18 earned runs on 30 hits and 10 walks in just 22 innings. He’s now 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA, and is one of the biggest problem arms in a Reds bullpen that ranks worst in the league.

That’s not looking like a huge loss now, is it?

 

Rookie Davis, RHP

 

Feb 24, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds pitcher Rookie Davis poses for a portrait during media day at the Reds training facility at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Davis isn’t just a guy with a funny name that will continue to be funny until he’s no longer a rookie at the big league level (don’t worry, announcers won’t stop making “rookie” jokes until a few years into his career, but they’ll bring them back once he’s a grizzled veteran in ten years, because of the irony). The Yankees drafted him in the 14th round of the 2011 draft out of Dixon High School in North Carolina.

They liked his size (6’5”, 245 lbs) and his arm (92-94 mph fastball touches 96 mph), and that was enough for them. Davis was a bit of a fringe prospect until 2015, climbing steadily up the organizational ladder, and a big year at A+ ball got him promoted to AA Trenton last year.

So far with the Reds, Davis is looking like he might be the best player in the deal so far. The 23-year-old has made 6 starts at AA Pensacola, racking up a 4-1 record with a minuscule 1.59 ERA and an even smaller 0.853 WHIP. He’s not striking too many guys out (16 in 34 innings), but he’s keeping the ball in the park and only has 7 walks.

When it’s all said and done, Rookie might be Cincy’s big win from this deal. Also, we won’t have to hear John Sterling laugh at his name for the next ten years. Everybody wins!

 

Eric Jagielo, 3B

 

Apr 2, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Eric Jagielo (86) at bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 2, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Eric Jagielo (86) at bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jagielo was one of the Yankees’ three first round picks in 2013 (along with Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge). The 6’3”, 210 lb third baseman came out of the University of Notre Dame with a reputation for having an advanced big power bat and a questionable defensive repertoire. The Yankees drafted him with an eye towards replacing Alex Rodriguez at the hot corner, even though Alex has vowed to play until his ridiculous contract expires (wouldn’t you?).

Jagielo showed that power in his short stint with the Yankees organization, but battled through some injuries that limited his playing time and development. He hit 18 combined home runs across two levels in 2014, and was off to a really great start in 2015, before a knee injury ended his season after 38 games.

With the Reds, Jagielo has had a hard time finding footing in AA Pensacola. The 24-year old has struggled mightily, hitting just .170/.276/.274 with 2 home runs and 9 RBI in 38 games. Considering he was so good in AA Trenton the year before, I’d like to think these numbers are just a horrible slump, but I’ll be interested to see where Jagielo goes from here.

The book’s still out on him, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Tony Renda, UTL

 

Oct. 14, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Washington Nationals infielder Tony Renda plays for the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League game against the Scottsdale Scorpions at Salt River Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Renda strikes me as an odd player for the Reds to target in a deal for the best closer in the league, which leads me to believe he’s a bit of a throw-in. The diminutive utility man (he’s listed at 5’8″) played his college ball at UC Berkeley, but wasn’t drafted by the Yankees. He actually came over in a trade with the Nationals last season, when the Yankees were looking to dump flailing reliever David Carpenter.

Renda was assigned to AA Trenton, where he played fairly well. In 73 games after the trade, he hit .270/.328/.372 with 2 homers and 10 steals. The Yankees liked his versatility and his speed, but not enough to keep him when the Reds came calling.

Since the trade, Renda has put up some more similar numbers. In 43 games so far with AA Pensacola–apparently the place to be for former Yankees prospects–he’s hitting .282/.329/.417 with a homer and 11 steals, and the Reds seem to be grooming the 25-year-old for a super utility type role, as he’s played all over the infield and outfield so far in 2016.

I could see a guy like Renda making it to the bigs as a utility infielder, maybe like the Yankees’ own Ronald Torreyes, but he’s 25 and still in AA, so he better get going if he’s going to make an impact.

That’s it for the deal, YGYers. What do you think so far? Do you love Chapman like I do? Are you OK with giving up these four players to the Reds? Do you hate the whole trade? Let us know in the comments below!