Yankees cash in Estevan Florial trade chip in deal for intriguing Guardians hurler

It's not nothing!
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

Remember when the Yankees DFA'd Estevan Florial to clear a roster spot for Franchy Cordero? Tuesday morning's move feels slightly better, considering they'd informally ended Florial's Yankee career nine months earlier on that fateful Opening Day.

Somehow, the speedy center fielder went unclaimed after being lopped off the roster and rebounded to hit 28 homers with a .945 OPS at Triple-A Scranton. And yet, the Yankees still went to great lengths to keep him off the big-league field, telegraphing their intentions further with every Billy McKinney addition.

Florial got a September showcase after the season had, for all intents and purposes, ended. The Yankees didn't throw him a bone to give him a leg up on the center field competition for 2024, though. They took advantage of a dead spot in their schedule to give him one last showcase for the offseason, in hopes that a little exposure might lead to a minor move, rather than further cratering of his value.

And lucky Cashman! Such a deal manifested on Tuesday, when the Yankees shipped Florial to Cleveland in exchange for starter/reliever Cody Morris. This is unlikely to be the impact move of the remainder of the offseason, but less than a year after New York tipped their hand and tried to give Florial away for free, this isn't an insignificant turn of events.

Yankees trade Estevan Florial for Cody Morris of the Cleveland Guardians

Florial finished 2023 on the Yankees' 40-man roster, but with a deep, abiding need for pitching depth (and a big-league starter or two), he was extremely unlikely to reach Opening Day as a controlled member of the system.

Flipping him made all the sense in the world. Flipping him for Morris, who whiffed 30 in 15.1 innings at Triple-A Columbus in 2022 after recovering from a Teres Major strain, has to be a top-percentile outcome.

Morris struggled in the bigs in 2023, but started throughout his time in the minors and flirted with being stretched out last summer upon his demotion. Whether he's a starter -- as he was from 2019-2021 -- or a reliever has yet to be determined. Regardless of role, Morris has posted exceptional strikeout numbers during his ascent through the minors, and comes from an organization with a Yankees-like surplus of pitching depth (and a deep, abiding need for outfield power).

With Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham now in place, and Jasson Dominguez recovering, the Yankees are no longer desperate for impact lefties, now or in the future (Spencer Jones says hello, too). Florial fell out of favor long ago, and now he'll get an opportunity elsewhere, while the Yankees will get a live arm. Tough to be dissatisfied here.