Yankees trade Lucas Luetge for 2 intriguing Braves prospects after DFA
Some teams who DFA big-league veterans eventually realize they can’t get anything in exchange for their ex-player’s services, and are forced to waddle back to the clubhouse with their tail between their legs and watch Eric Hosmer stagnate on the street corner.
Some teams, like the Yankees? They manage to get a fair deal, even when the claiming team — the Braves, in this case — knows they’ll get a free shot at Lucas Luetge once he hits the open market anyway. It’s science.
One week after his DFA to clear space for Tommy Kahnle, Luetge is officially headed to Atlanta in exchange for the Braves’ No. 23 prospect, reliever Indigo Diaz, and infielder Caleb Durbin, whose speed/power combination is a bit heavy on the speed right now.
The Yankees losing Luetge seemed inevitable as they approached several forthcoming 40-man roster crunches this year, and the fact that he’d survived so long should be seen as a badge of honor. That said, it remains surprising that Brian Cashman cut the cord on the 35-year-old this quickly for Kahnle, rather than wading into the regular season with the left-hander in the bullpen before seeking a trade (as was rumored last deadline before Jordan Montgomery ultimately departed).
Now, the Yankees will look for someone else to fill their veteran late-inning mop-up role, while hoping that Diaz becomes the second intriguing Atlanta bullpen arm swiped in as many weeks.
Yankees acquire Caleb Durbin, Indigo Diaz from Braves in Lucas Luetge trade
Luetge fought valiantly to make it back to the bigs (and with his childhood team, the Yankees), and managed to stick in the Bombers bullpen for two full seasons after reaching spring training in 2021 as a complete wild card. While you weren’t looking, he became one of the best pitchers in baseball at limiting hard contact in 2022 (100th percentile in hard-hit rate).
That said, he was mostly a “three-inning save” specialist and low-leverage hurler who cleaned up the messes of others until the end of his tenure. That’s valuable! But not irreplaceable.
Now, in his place, the Yankees get two intriguing talents, neither of whom require a 40-man spot. Durbin, the infielder, hit eight homers and OPS’d .724 across Low-and-High-A this past season, swiping 31 bags in the process. He’s likely to start at Hudson Valley, and we’re not the first ones to draw parallels between he and Cooper Bowman, the infielder the Yankees traded to Oakland for Frankie Montas.
Diaz? The right-hander out of Michigan State back in 2019 could turn into a real weapon.
His first post-pandemic season was impeccable (1.20 ERA, 83 Ks in 45 innings, 0.82 WHIP), and he followed that up with 63 more strikeouts in 49.2 innings at Double-A this past season. Diaz should start at Double-A Somerset this year, but expect him at Triple-A Scranton before long.
You may not get a valued commodity every time you have to turn over a roster spot, but the Yankees have made a pretty solid bet here instead of being left in the cold.
All you can ask for.