MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees firmly committed to their chase of a postseason berth on Tuesday, agreeing to a trade with the White Sox that addresses two significant areas of need by importing infielder Todd Frazier and right-handers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson.
New York parted with right-hander Tyler Clippard and three prospects, including outfielder Blake Rutherford, the No. 30 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Left-hander Ian Clarkin and outfielder Tito Polo also went to the White Sox. Rutherford was New York's first pick in the 2016 Draft.
"It should tell [our players], 'Hey, we're in this,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We need to continue to play and play hard, and play better than what we've done. But it should be a pick-me-up in there that, hey, there's a lot of people who believe in this club."
General manager Brian Cashman had said the Yankees would be "cautious buyers" in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and he believes they have upgraded by adding Frazier's power at the infield corners and the strikeout ability of Kahnle and Robertson to their power bullpen. The Yankees hold the second American League Wild Card spot and trail the Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the AL East.
The Yankees and White Sox were in contact earlier in the month regarding left-hander Jose Quintana, who was shipped to the Cubs last week for a four-player package. Those discussions increased Chicago's familiarity with the Yankees' system, laying the groundwork for what was consummated on Tuesday.
"We made the determination that bundling these three players together was the best way to maximize our return on any transaction," said White Sox GM Rick Hahn.
By adding Rutherford, the White Sox now have 10 of the game's Top 100 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. It's another trade in what has been a dramatic rebuild for Chicago. Just last week, the White Sox acquired outfielder Eloy Jimenez (Pipeline's No. 8 overall prospect) and right-hander Dylan Cease (No. 63) from the Cubs in the Quintana deal. And over the winter they brought in infielder Yoan Moncada (Pipeline's No. 1 prospect) and right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 11) from Boston in the Chris Sale trade, and right-handers Lucas Giolito (No. 28) and Reynaldo Lopez (No. 36) from Washington as part of the Adam Eaton swap. The activity wasn't limited to trades, either, as the White Sox also signed 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert. He's ranked as the No. 23 prospect in baseball and received a $26 million signing bonus in May, which represents the second-largest bonus ever given to an international amateur, behind only Moncada, who got $31 million from Boston two years ago.
In a subsequent move as a result of the trade, Moncada -- who was hitting .285/.381/.452 for Triple-A Charlotte -- was promoted to the Majors.
"We have a lot of work to do, both in player development and to continue to acquire similar such players to keep this process moving," said Hahn. "In terms of what we've been able to do since December, last Draft or wherever you want to draw that line, we're pleased. But at the same time, we know we have more work to do."
The deal represents a homecoming of sorts for Kahnle and Robertson, products of the club's system, while Frazier grew up in Point Pleasant, N.J.
"I rooted for the Yankees. I just love baseball," Frazier said. "My first [game] was at old Yankee Stadium. I remember the upper deck was shaking, and to call New York my home now is surreal."
Frazier, 31, has a .207/.328/.432 line this season with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 81 games. He's been better lately after a slow start, though, hitting .234/.361/.508 since the start of June. He has primarily played third base but also has experience at first -- two positions where the Yankees have struggled to find consistent production this year.
A two-time All-Star, Frazier once took the field with Derek Jeter as a Little League World Series champion, and he attended Rutgers University. He can be a free agent after the season.
"He's a power presence," Chase Headley said. "He's a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He's done a lot of great things. I think he's just another cog that they have to figure a way to get out. He's definitely going to help us."
Frazier has played 94 Major League games at first base, where the Yankees have had eight players start this year. Girardi has not yet decided how he will deploy Frazier and Headley, saying, "It's something that we need to sort through."
Robertson is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA, and has converted 13 of his 14 save chances. He figures to help a bullpen that has experienced a Major League-leading 18 blown saves, with closer Aroldis Chapman suddenly having difficulty generating swings and misses.
"I hope I can get back there and help them win some ballgames," Robertson said. "It's easy. I know everyone who's over there, so it will be like going back home."
A Yankee from 2008-14, Robertson made his only All-Star appearance in 2011. He compiled 39 saves for the Yankees in 2014, the first year after Mariano Rivera retired, before signing a $46 million deal with the White Sox prior to the 2015 season. He is under contract through 2018.
"It may take a day or two to get over the awkwardness, but once he kind of settles back in, it's going to be like he never left," said reliever Adam Warren.
The flame-throwing Kahnle was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft and is 1-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 37 appearances, striking out 60 against just seven walks in 36 innings. He was taken by the Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and dealt to Chicago two years later.
Because of his incredible strikeout-to-walk ratio, Kahnle has become one of the more dominant setup men in baseball. And given that he has three seasons of team control beyond this one, he might be the key to the deal despite having a lot less name recognition.
"This season's been pretty wild," Kahnle said. "Last year, too, was pretty crazy at the beginning. This year, definitely -- I felt like I've figured it out. I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing."
For Chicago the prize is Rutherford, who was hitting .281/.342/.391 in 71 games at Class A Charleston. The 20-year-old netted a $3.2 million signing bonus and was a 2017 South Atlantic League All-Star. Rutherford ranks Chicago's No. 6 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Clarkin, 22, was a first-round pick in 2013 but has been slowed by injuries; he was 4-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) at Class A Tampa. He was New York's No. 19 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and he now ranks as Chicago's No. 18 prospect. Polo, 22, was hitting .307/.369/.455 at Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year.
In the last three years, Clippard has bounced from the Nationals to the Athletics to the D-backs to the Yankees. He was 1-5 with a 4.95 ERA in 40 appearances and said that it was "gut-wrenching" to leave the organization for a second time.
"It's a good trade for the Yankees, for sure. I understand why," Clippard said. "I still felt like I had plenty of good bullets in there and could help this team win."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Although he is unlikely to provide a helpful batting mark, Frazier could be a terrific source of home runs and RBIs now that he has hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium as a home park and belongs to a lineup that ranks third in the Majors with 490 runs scored. The 31-year-old is hardly the only winner from this deal, as top prospect Yoan Moncada will be called up to the White Sox on Wednesday. With solid power and elite speed, Moncada has the skills to make an impact in shallow leagues immediately. Sticking in Chicago, the South Siders may struggle to produce a mixed-league-worthy closer after dealing both Robertson and Kahnle. Newly acquired righty Clippard has the most ninth-inning experience on the White Sox, but he's posted a 13.06 ERA since June 13. As for the two relievers headed to New York, both Robertson and Kahnle are expected to settle into middle-relief roles on a Yankees squad that employs Chapman and Dellin Betances.