Bombers get 4 players from Cleveland, including team's No. 1, 5 prospects
By Sam Blum
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees agreed to part with their second high-profile reliever heading into Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, completing a deal on Sunday morning to send left-hander Andrew Miller to Cleveland for four prospects.
The Indians sent outfielder Clint Frazier and left-hander Justus Sheffield, who were the No. 1 and No. 5 prospects on Cleveland's Top 30 list, as well as right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen to the Yankees. On the Yankees' updated Top 30 list, Frazier is No. 1 and Sheffield is No. 7. To fill the void on the Major League roster, New York traded for D-backs reliever Tyler Clippard.
"We needed to have an extreme return for us to complete and finalize," said general manager Brian Cashman, who got permission to make the deal from ownership after the loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. "We're very excited by what we got. But this is very difficult. A lot of tough discussions internally over a player that was very difficult to move."
Miller, who has excelled as a closer, went 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings for the Yankees this season. The 2016 American League All-Star served primarily as the Yanks' setup man this year, but he has recorded nine saves after recording 36 in 2015. He is signed through '18 and is set to earn $9 million in each of the next two seasons.
"I think it's just a situation of how we played recently, where this team was going, and what they think the future holds," said Miller, who came to the Yankees' clubhouse to collect his belongings. "They're entitled to that however they want."
Miller was woken up at 8:25 a.m. ET on Sunday by a phone call from Cashman, and he is the second back-end reliever the Yankees have traded after sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs earlier in the week. The moves leave Dellin Betances as the Yankees' closer.
Clippard is 2-3 with a 4.30 ERA this season for Arizona, and has one save. Clippard was drafted by the Yanks in 2003 and went 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts for New York during the '07 season. Minor Leaguer Vicente Campos was sent to Arizona in the deal.
Frazier and Heller will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Feyereisen will play for Double-A Trenton and Sheffield will go to Class A Advanced Tampa. Frazier, the No. 5 overall Draft pick in 2013, was hitting .276/.356/.469 with 13 home runs at Double-A Akron before a recent promotion to Triple-A Columbus. The 21-year-old has bat speed and raw power that are among the best in the Minor Leagues and suggest the ceiling of an All-Star.
The Indians and Yankees had been in contact regarding a late-inning reliever for a long time, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. There had been many deals discussed, including ones featuring Chapman before he was sent to the Cubs.
The Indians were willing to trade away pieces they viewed as key parts of their future for the opportunity to reach the postseason and make a run at a World Series title.
"It was a painful trade for us to make, because we're giving up guys that are going to have really successful Major League careers," Antonetti said. "… Cashman deserves a great deal of credit. He and his staff spent a ton of time on our system and they identified guys that are going to be really good players."
The Yankees are in fourth place in the AL East and there are four teams ahead of them in the chase for the second AL Wild Card spot.
When asked what his reaction was to management appearing to give up on the team's postseason chances, Yankees catcher Brian McCann was honest about the team's reality.
"We didn't play good enough," McCann said. "We're sitting here at .500. We knew that we needed to win, and we didn't do it."
The Yankees are confident that Betances will be an effective closer. He entered Sunday with a 2.50 ERA, pitching mostly in the seventh inning. McCann said the Yankees were so deep in the back end of the bullpen that they could have flipped a coin and any of them could have been the closer. Betances saved nine games last season, and he is getting the opportunity to fill the role full-time.
"I think he's going to be fine," Miller said of Betances. "I think if he's not the best reliever in baseball, he's definitely in the conversation with the top two or three."
Joe Girardi, who was a player for the Yankees and has managed the team since 2008, couldn't recall the last time the franchise was a seller at the Trade Deadline. He's not giving up on the season, even if the Yankees do make more trades before 4 p.m. Monday.
"I don't ever wave a white flag," Girardi said. "This organization never waves a white flag. Obviously we've made some trades that people can view it as that. I don't view it as that. And they better not view it in that room as that."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.