Lucas Luetge was a true soldier for the New York Yankees. He was signed to a minor-league contract before the 2021 season and ended up finishing with a 2.71 ERA, 2.92 FIP and 1.25 WHIP with 138 strikeouts in 107 games (129.2 innings). Can't get much better value than that.
At one point he was a key member of the bullpen, taking high-leverage situations head-on from time to time and, more importantly, eating multiple innings at a time to preserve the rest of the bullpen.
But there's a reason Brian Cashman traded the left-hander before the start of the 2023 season. Even with good peripheral metrics, Luetge sometimes badly failed the eye test, so the Yankees figured it was time to capitalize on his value.
In the offseason, Cashman sent Luetge to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for infielder Caleb Durbin and pitcher Indigo Diaz. Durbin is having a sensation year, while Diaz has had his moments with room to improve. Either way, an absolute steal.
Why? Because Luetge was recently designated for assignment, went unclaimed, and ended back up with the Braves at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Yankees sold high on Lucas Luetge at the right time (sadly)
Luetge got DFA'd on May 30 after just nine games in which he recorded a 10.24 ERA, 6.08 FIP and 2.17 WHIP. He had three clean outings and was largely a mess for the other six. One could say the Braves pulled the plug far too early, but they had far too many relievers outperforming Luetge at the time.
Luetge missed over a month with biceps inflammation and didn't pitch from April 13 through May 19. He returned to throw back-to-back scoreless outings against the Marins and Dodgers, but then surrendered five earned runs on six hits and two walks in his next inning of work against the Phillies and A's.
Clearly, he hasn't been right either due to injury or his buildup following his recovery, and the Yankees currently dealing with that in their bullpen would be an even bigger nightmare because of all their pitching issues.
Meanwhile, Durbin and Diaz can potentially make an impact with the Yankees as early as 2024, depending on their progess, or be part of a larger trade package to import something of note at the deadline (or in the offseason).
Yankees fans wish nothing but the best for Luetge, who sadly seems to be back exactly where he was back in 2021 when he signed with the Yanks and returned to MLB for the first time since 2015.