Yankees officially out-smarted themselves with Red Sox-Adam Ottavino trade


The New York Yankees don’t seem to get it. Stop doing business with the Tampa Bay Rays and their former executives. It will never work out for you.

In the span of months, general manager Brian Cashman has done that twice. First, by trading Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox (led by former Rays exec Chaim Bloom) back in January before shipping Mike Ford to Tampa this month.

Admittedly, we initially thought the Otto trade wouldn’t blow up in the Yankees’ face, and we thanked Boston for giving us more payroll flexibility (though it was limited thanks to our billionaire owner). With Ford? We knew that was going to be a disaster, and it’s already looking like it.

But back to Ottavino, who’s enjoying a productive campaign with our division rivals. This was never a good idea, even though fans no longer felt confident in Otto’s abilities. Why was it bad business? Because he was still a good player, and we were helping the Red Sox bolster an area of need.

After a rough start to the season, the right-hander is right back on track. He owns a 2.81 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across 35 games (32 innings). His walks (19) are still a bit of a concern, but his strikeouts (38) are solid. He’s improved and is finding some consistency.

Wouldn’t it have been great if the Yankees had just kept Ottavino instead of making the Red Sox better and signing Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson, both of whom have barely pitched in 2021?

Once again, the Yankees have out-smarted themselves with the Adam Ottavino trade.

Just like when the Yankees thought they could out-Rays the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS when they started Deivi Garcia and quickly transitioned to JA Happ, they’ve done it again. They thought they could unload a regressing player to the Sox, when in reality there was no true sign of regression.

Otto had a poor 2019 postseason after appearing in 73 regular season games. Sure, it was concerning, but it’s not out of the question for a pitcher to flame out in October after such heavy usage. Then, in 2020, he only had two outings (out of 24!) that derailed his season — one on Aug. 20 against the Rays in which he surrendered three earned runs on two hits and a walk in 0.2 innings and then that nauseating relief appearance against the Blue Jays in Buffalo during which he failed to record an out (6 ER on 4 H and 2 BB).

Otherwise? The right-hander had 19 scoreless outings and only three others in which he gave up a single run. Maybe the Yankees felt they had to get rid of him after that Buffalo outing coupled with the fact he was hardly used in the 2020 ALDS, but one thing’s clear: there was no “regression.”

So the Red Sox capitalized on the Yankees’ short-sightedness and he’s now eating meaningful innings late in games for them. And he helped shut the door on two Boston wins over the Bombers this past weekend.

The first came on Friday night when he held onto the team’s 4-3 lead in the eighth after striking out Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit before getting Gleyber Torres to line out to center.

The second came on Saturday night in split-inning duty when he was brought in to clean up a bases-loaded jam that was created by Hirokazu Sawamura, who walked three straight batters after relieving Nathan Eovaldi. He got Luke Voit to ground out to end the inning, then shut the door in the ninth despite giving up a run on a walk and two hits. He ended up getting the job done when facing the Yankees’ best hitters.

How did that one end? He struck out Aaron Judge on his second-hardest thrown fastball of the year. Fitting.