Yankees Complete Ivan Nova Deal With Pirates

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Back on Aug. 1, the Yankees agreed to send Ivan Nova to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for two players to be named later. Nearly a month later, the deal is complete.

As the clock neared 4pm on August 1, the Yankees were hard-pressed to find a taker for 29-year-old starting pitcher Ivan Nova. Then at the last minute, they struck a deal with the Pirates, agreeing to acquire two PTBNL so that the scouting department could do their due diligence in plucking an acceptable exchange from the Bucs.

Well, we now know the two prospects headed back to the Yankees are outfielder Tito Polo (No. 27 ranked prospect in the Pirates system), and left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley (No. 17 prospect).

Interestingly enough, the 5-foot-9 Polo, who just turned 22, and tore through Low-A, was the main asset acquired of the two youngsters regardless of their adjunct rankings.

Though Polo’s power numbers have hit a proverbial wall since moving to High-A Bradenton, .276/.351/.346 over 247 at-bats; when you combine his Low-A and High-A stats, Polo accounts for 16 home runs and 37 steals in 109 games.

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Tarpley, 23, was originally a third-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 and was dealt to the Pirates for Travis Snyder last season.

In 100 innings at High-A, Tarpley is 6-4 with a 4.32 ERA, 90 Ks, and only 37 walks. A groundball pitcher with three useful pitches, Tarpley projects as a back-end of the rotation type guy, or at the very least, a relief pitcher in the vein of Phil Coke in his prime.

To many Yankees’ fans dismay, Nova has been terrific since donning the black and gold. Over his first five NL starts, Nova’s posted a 4-0 record, with a 2.87 ERA, and 22 Ks in just over 31 innings pitched.

While Nova’s always held a decent amount of potential, it simply didn’t translate to enough consistency while in New York (4.99 ERA in 191.1 innings pitched since returning from Tommy John surgery).

The one caveat of this entire trade is that the better Nova pitches for the remainder of the season, he may eventually price himself out of the Pirates’ ambition. An upcoming free agent, Nova could look for a 3 or 4 year, $40 million type agreement.

As for the Yankees’ dilemma, both Polo and Tarpley will be Rule 5 eligible in 2017. So if either isn’t added to the 40-man roster, they could simply be picked up by another team, because as it stands, neither look ready to keep a Major League roster spot for the entirety of 2017.

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Regardless of what happens down the line, unloading Nova, who was always destined to become a free agent for a pair of top 30 prospects, is another win for Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.