Yanks, back at .500, deal Miller to Tribe
No Runs DMC is down to D.
Dellin Betances has become the Yankees’ closer this week with the trade of Andrew Miller to the Indians Sunday following a deal earlier last week of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. Emblematic of the kind of weekend it was for the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Fla., Betances never got into a game.
There was no chance for a closer because the Yankees did not have a lead heading into the ninth inning. Heck, the Yankees had a lead for only one half-inning in the series as they were swept by the last-place Rays. The Yanks were flying high after the first two games of the trip in Houston when they reached a season-best four games over .500, but four straight losses pushed them back to par at 52-52.
Whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline, which is 4 p.m. Monday, was answered Sunday with the trade of Miller. The Chapman trade was a bit different because it involved a player who can be a free agent at the end of the season and who dismissed any talk of a contract extension. Miller, on the other hand, was signed through the 2018 season and had returned to the closer role he handled so well last year before moving aside for Chapman 11 weeks ago.
Just as was the case with Chapman, the haul general manager Brian Cashman received were four prospects, including one who is among the most highly touted young players on the rise, Clint Frazier, an outfielder rated 21st in Baseball America’s midseason rankings of top prospects.
The Yankees also received three pitchers, lefthander Justus Sheffield and righthanders Ben Heller and J. P. Feyereisen. While they are not necessarily running up a white flag on 2016, the Yankees are clearly looking much farther ahead than the current season.
It was nevertheless a sad day. Miller joined the Yankees as a free agent signing Dec. 5, 2014 enthusiastically and enjoyed his time in New York. The 6-foot-7 lefthander was a popular figure in their clubhouse.
“I loved my time here,” he told reporters Sunday. “It’s a first-class organization where I signed up to play. For me now, I get a chance to go to a team that is in the thick of it and has big plans for this year.”
Unlike the Chapman trade which included the return of pitcher Adam Warren to the Yankees, the players in the Miller trade do not present immediate help to the major-league roster.
Frazier, 21, was drafted in the first round by the Indians and was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft from Loganville, Ga., High School after being named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year.
In 94 combined minor league games in 2016 at Double-A Akron (89) and Triple-A Columbus (5), Frazier batted .273 (99-for-362) with 58 runs, 25 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 13 stolen bases, a .350 on-base percentage and an .811 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages). He was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star Game and appeared in the 2016 Futures Game in San Diego where he had a single and a double and scored a run in three at-bats. He was promoted to Triple A July 25.
Right-handed all the way, Frazier played for Class A Lynchburg in 2015 and was named a Carolina League Postseason All-Star for hitting .285 with 88 runs, 36 doubles, three triples, 16 homers, 72 RBI, 68 walks, 15 steals, a .377 on-base percentage and an .842 OPS in 501 at-bats. He led the CL in hits, doubles and total bases (233), while ranking second in runs and third in RBI. He was also named both the Carolina League Player of the Month and Indians Minor League Player of the Month in July.
Over his four minor league seasons, Frazier is a .278 hitter with 248 runs, 90 doubles, 16 triples, 47 home runs, 198 RBI, 43 stolen bases my a .360 on-base percentage and an .812 OPS in 391 games and 1,509 at-bats.
Sheffield, 20, was 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 19 starts totaling 95 1/3 innings for Class A Lynchburg and was named to this year’s Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star Team. In midseason rankings, he was tabbed by Baseball America as the 69th-best prospect in baseball and the fifth-best prospect in the Indians organization. Prior to the season, Baseball America rated him with the “Best Slider” in the organization.
Born and raised in Tullahoma, Tenn., Sheffield was originally selected by Cleveland in the first round (31st overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Like Frazier, he was also named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. Last year with Class A Lake County, Sheffield was 9-4 with a 3.31 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 26 starts covering 127 2/3 innings. His strikeouts ranked second in the Midwest League and he was named to the ML Mid-Season All-Star team. Over three minor league seasons, Sheffield has a 19-10 record with a 3.55 ERA and 260 strikeouts in 49 starts and 243 2/3 innings.
Heller, 24, was 3-2 with 12 saves in 13 chances and a 1.73 ERA in 43 relief appearances this season combined at Triple-A Columbus (28 games) and Double-A Akron (15). He held batters to a combined .159 batting average with a 0.84 WHIP. Heller began the season ranked by Baseball America as having the “Best Fastball” in the Indians organization.
The Wisconsin native was drafted by Cleveland in the 22nd round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.). In 150 games (including one start) over four minor league seasons, Heller has a 9-8 record with 31 saves and a 2.77 ERA in 172 1/3 innings. He has held opponents to a .193 batting average and struck out 226.
Feyereisen, 23, was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA, five saves and 56 strikeouts in 33 relief appearances and 40 1/3 innings for Double-A Akron this season and was named to the 2016 Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team. Another Wisconsin native, Feyereisen was was originally drafted in the 16th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. At the time, he was the top Division III prospect as rated by Baseball America. Over three minor league seasons, Feyereisen has an 8-4 record with 21 saves in 23 chances and a 1.80 ERA in 105 innings. He has totaled 136 strikeouts and held opponents to a .184 batting average.
The Indians will be Miller’s sixth club in his 11 major league seasons but on none was he more effective than with the Yankees. Originally drafted by the Tigers as a starter, he went to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera trade and then on to the Red Sox who converted him to a reliever and the Orioles before signing a four-year, $36-million deal with the Yankees.
Miller, 31, was 6-1 with nine saves and a 1.39 ERA in 44 outings and 45 1/3 innings with the Yankees this year and was named to the American League All-Star team. Among major league relievers this season, Miller is second in strikeouts (77), strikeouts per batter faced (.448K/1BF) and fourth in K/9.0IP ratio (15.29). In 2015, he won the Mariano Rivera Award as the AL’s top reliever after going 3-2 with 36 saves (in 38 chances) and a 2.04 ERA in 60 relief appearances totaling 61 2/3 innings. He posted an AL-best 14.59 K/9.0IP ratio, the second-best mark among MLB relievers, and ranked third among relievers in strikeouts.
He will be sorely missed.
The Yankees completed one other trade Sunday in re-acquiring relief pitcher Tyler Clippard from the Diamondbacks for pitcher Vicente Campos. Clippard, 31, was 2-3 with one save and a 4.30 ERA (37.2IP, 34H, 18ER, 15BB, 46K) in 40 relief appearances and 37 2/3 innings with Arizona this year. In 2015, he pitched for the Athletics and the Mets and combined for a 5-4 record with 19 saves and a 2.92 ERA in 69 games and 71 innings.
Originally selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Clippard was 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts as a rookie with the Yankees in 2007. Following the season, he was traded to the Nationals for pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo. A two-time National League All-Star (he was the winning pitcher of the 2011 game at Chase Field in Phoenix), Clippard has a 44-32 career record with 54 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 529 games, all but eight in relief. He is the only pitcher to appear in at least 69 major league games in each of the past six seasons.
Campos, 24, combined for a 9-3 record with a 3.20 ERA (121.0IP, 103H, 43ER, 38BB, 105K, 4HR) in 20 starts and 121 innings at Class A Tampa (10 starts, Double-A Trenton (9) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (1) in 2016. He came to the Yankees with Michael Pineda in the Jan. 23, 2012 trade from the Mariners for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. In 104 career minor league games (including 87 starts), Campos is 33-23 with a 3.67 ERA.
Pineda’s record fell to 5-10 Sunday as he gave up five earned runs, six hits and an uncharacteristic four walks (one intentional) with eight strikeouts in six innings. After Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer off lefthander Blake Snell (nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings) got the Yankees to 3-2 in the sixth, Pineda gave up two runs in the bottom of that inning on a two-out single to the 9-hole hitter, catcher Luke Maile, a .206 hitter.