Yankees Have Discussed Nathan Eovaldi Trade with Pirates
Add Nathan Eovaldi‘s name to the Yankees trade rumor mill. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates believe Eovaldi could bolster their starting rotation.
Unlike the 44-45 New York Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates are within striking distance of the postseason.
The Yankees dropped the series opener against the Red Sox Friday, thus falling to 8.5 games behind the division-leading Orioles and 5.5 lengths short of the American League’s second wild card. Meanwhile, the Pirates are only 2.5 away from bumping the Mets and Marlins below the playoff bubble.
With the team’s varying situations, the Pirates are focused on solidifying their major league squad while the Yankees are flirting with a sell-off at the August 1 trade deadline.
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So it makes sense that the Buccos are willing to take a flyer on Eovaldi, despite the 26-year-old pitcher’s hair-pulling inconsistencies as a starter. (Seriously, how do you throw 101 mph with three offspeed pitches and still get pummeled into a bullpen demotion?)
All of Eovaldi’s numbers have been hitter-friendly this season: 5.11 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 104 hits and 19 home runs given up in 98.2 frames.
But should the Pirates make an offer to the Yankees, Biertempfel mentions three possible names — Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams or Steven Brault — that could find their way into the Bronx. Let’s examine the trio of pitchers:
1. Kuhl, 23, RHP (33-16 record, 2.79 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 6.0 K/9 in 438 career minor league innings) – MLB.com ranks Kuhl as the Pirates’ No. 16 prospect. Out of all three, Kuhl currently has the highest-graded fastball (60 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and largest inning total. The durable righty is pegged as a future middle-of-the-rotation candidate:
"“[Kuhl pitches] with an outstanding sinking fastball. His secondary stuff — a slider and a changeup — continue to develop and both could be Major League-average pitches when all is said and done. Kuhl has proven to be very durable, topping 150 innings in each of his two full seasons of pro ball. He has the chance to be a mid-rotation starter who logs a lot of meaningful innings for a big league rotation.“"
2. Williams, 24, RHP (3.29 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 1.33 WHIP in 372.1 minor league innings) – Williams falls lowest of the group on Pittsburgh’s prospect rankings at No. 24. He’s a ground-ball pitcher who features a sinking fastball and unpolished secondary pitches. Williams entered the 2016 season with a career 1.63 GO/AO ratio in the minors, which MLB.com believes will better suit him for a major league bullpen role:
"“[Williams’] fastball is only a tick above average, but can [eventually] play up to a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale because of its sink. His slider will also flash above-average at times and he effectively mixes in a fringy changeup and curveball. His ability to mix pitches not only leads to weak contact, but he’s improved his strike rate incrementally every year since he entered pro ball. Williams’ sinker-slider combination very well could end up in the bullpen, but his makeup, durability and penchant for putting the ball on the ground give him a chance to start.“"
3. Brault, 24, LHP (2.53 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 0.3 HR/9 in 387.1 minor league innings) – Boy, that homer-per-nine rate sure does jump out at you. Brault has surrendered only 11 dingers in nearly 400 innings. Listed as the Pirates’ No. 17 prospect, the left-hander has been deemed major-league ready with the potential to round out a club’s rotation:
"“Brault uses a combination of athleticism, deception and a feel for pitching more than pure stuff to get hitters out. His fastball grades out as average, but plays up because it sinks and he commands it well. He’s simplified his breaking ball, going to a slider that is effective. … He’s all the more effective because he pounds the strike zone. Brault’s ceiling might be somewhat limited, with a No. 4 or 5 starter career ahead of him. But he’s also a pretty good bet to reach that ceiling, and in the near future.”"
The 23-year-old Kuhl is the prize here. If Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could pry him away for just Eovaldi, consider it the steal of their trade season. Realistically, though, acquiring Kuhl would likely necessitate another piece going to Pittsburgh when considering Eovaldi’s decreased value.
Even the Yankees could get their hands on Brault, it’d be a great addition that would add minor league depth behind a starting staff that has just one southpaw, veteran CC Sabathia.
In a one-for-one swap, however, Williams would be the most reasonable return from the Pirates, who would be getting “Nasty” Nate for the remainder of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Eovaldi is arbitration eligible for the final time next year before becoming a free agent in 2018.
Next: Most Likely Trade Destinations for Aroldis Chapman
Kuhl or Brault would be a dream return for the Yankees in an Eovaldi trade. But even if the Yankees can’t get one of the pair and must look elsewhere, it’s time to move on from “Project Nate,” just like the Marlins did two offseasons ago.