Yankees lose surprisingly legit prospect as 'player to be named' in Pirates trade

Wait, what?
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

At some point, the New York Yankees will attempt to salvage swingman JT Brubaker's career following his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.

Brian Cashman dealt for Brubaker on March 29, managing to withhold the details around the "player to be named later" until the verge of May. Rumor had it the prospect changing hands would be surprisingly significant, which had Pirates fans theorizing about MLB-ready relievers and scouring minor-league rosters.

As it turns out, the bullpen was far from the correct spot, but the significance of the return should never have been doubted.

The Yankees must believe in Brubaker's chances to make a full and effective recovery, because they've opted to thin out their high-upside infield depth by sending Keiner Delgado to Pittsburgh. Cashman has a lengthy track record of making the right surrender decisions (especially when he's got the Pirates on the phone), but this move feels more questionable than "Clay Holmes for Hoy Park."

Why did Yankees trade infield prospect Keiner Delgado for JT Brubaker?

Delgado, a decorated member of the Yankees' ridiculous 2023 FCL roster, becomes the second young talent to depart the system in as many months following John Cruz's inclusion in the Jon Berti swap. As of Opening Day, he ranked 20th on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Yankees prospect list, behind the top tier of potential future infielders, as well as names like Roc Riggio (18) and Jared Serna (19).

Brubaker, in his most recent full season with the Pirates in 2022, struck out 147 men in 144 innings, but carried a 4.69 ERA (his lowest mark in any of his three big-league campaigns). Hopefully, following a full recovery from the surgery that's wiped out his past year and a half, the Yankees will be able to harness his chase/whiff abilities while figuring out what exactly is preventing any of his pitches from displaying consistent effectiveness.

At the very least, the Yankees continue to deal from the proper timeline, sacrificing faraway talents while maintaining depth at the upper levels of the minors. This swap, though, feels more costly than necessary, though you can never have enough pitching (or make enough pitching trades with the Pirates).