Back in 2016, when it was evident the New York Yankees would not be making the playoffs after the 2015 version of the team was embarrassed in the AL Wild Card Game the year before against the Houston Astros, general manager Brian Cashman orchestrated a mini fire sale at the trade deadline.
One of the deals we thought, at the time, immediately benefitted the Bombers was the Andrew Miller swap with the then-Cleveland Indians. The veteran lefty was one of the best relievers in the game at the time, and the Yanks received a haul as Cleveland was hoping to further its World Series push.
- Cleveland Receives: Andrew Miller
- New York Receives: P Justus Sheffield, OF Clint Frazier, P Ben Heller, P J.P. Feyereisen
Somehow, looking back on this deal following Clint Frazier’s release two weeks ago, it’s clear this was a loss for the Yankees when it should’ve been a colossal win.
Frazier was the last of the bunch to remain in pinstripes and his tenure was easily the most disappointing. The Yankees didn’t see a shred of short- or long-term positive returns here.
Meanwhile, Cleveland got one of the best and most versatile bullpen weapons in the game. But perhaps the most upsetting part of this when you look back is that the 2017 Yankees, who came within a game of the World Series, really could’ve used Miller over these spare parts that offered nothing.
The Andrew Miller trade was a loss for the Yankees. End of story.
In 2017, Miller was an All-Star yet again, finishing with a sterling 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 57 games (62.2 innings). Think Miller piggybacking CC Sabathia in that ALCS Game 7 in Houston would’ve kept the game closer? We sure do.
The bullpen wasn’t a weakness that season for the Yankees, but it was certainly taxed deep into October because the starting rotation, for about the sixth year in a row, was inadequate and provided to eat enough innings to take pressure off the relievers.
Now, back to who the Yankees received in this four-for-one swap.
Sheffield was the centerpiece in the James Paxton trade with the Mariners, which ended up being a wash for the Yankees since the left-hander was injured for pretty much all of 2020 (he made just five starts). He even dealt with some ailments in 2019, which limited him to 150 innings of work, which likely wasn’t what New York was hoping for when acquiring a potential No. 2 arm. Paxton then left after 2020 to re-sign with the Mariners before requiring Tommy John surgery.
Frazier never found a place on the roster, both to his fault and the organization’s. We’ve talked enough about him as of late for you to have the necessary intel there.
Heller appeared in 31 games for the Yankees and maintained a 2.59 ERA, but he was never emphasized. It was always garbage innings for the right-hander, and he was eventually gone by way of release after the 2020 season.
And finally, Feyereisen. This one’s the most disappointing. The right-handed reliever became a reliable contributor in 2021 … but not for the Yankees. He was traded to the Brewers back in Sept. of 2019 for international bonus pool money and minor leaguer Brenny Escanio, who just logged his first professional season. He might be good, which would be cool, but the Yankees could’ve used Feyereisen’s relief help in 2021, and could’ve eventually sold much higher. Now he’s on the Rays (2.45 ERA in 34 games), and will be owning us for the foreseeable future. We don’t make the rules.
You’d think one player would work out for you in a lopsided swap like this, but there was a bit of mismanagement in regard to these assets, and we can’t help but label this once-upon-a-time blockbuster a big L for the Yanks.