Frazier, 31, is hitting just .207/.328/.432 with 16 home runs and 44 RBI in 2017, but was an All-Star as recently as 2015 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. The Toms River, New Jersey native is known for his prolific power and should help lengthen an already deep Yankees lineup. With Chase Headley manning the hot corner, Frazier is expected to move across the diamond to first base, where he has 94 career games under his belt.
Robertson, more widely known as “D-Rob” to Yankees fans, spent the first seven seasons of his career in New York, earning an All-Star nod in 2011. He initially pitched in various roles in the bullpen, but ended up establishing himself as Mariano Rivera‘s setup man. Following Rivera’s retirement, Robertson became the closer and racked up 39 saves for the Yankees in 2014. During his first stint in pinstripes, Robertson earned the nickname “Houdini”, as he’d escape jams he oftentimes put himself in.
Prior to the 2015 season, Robertson signed a four-year contract with the White Sox and has more or less been the same reliever he was in New York. He currently sports a 2.70 ERA in 31 appearances, with 47 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. He’ll likely get some chances setting up Aroldis Chapman as long as Dellin Betances continues to struggle.
As for Kahnle, the 27-year-old is having the best season of his young career, sporting a 2.50 ERA and an impressive 8.57 SO/W ratio. If his name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the Yankees drafted him in the fifth round of the 2010 amateur draft, but lost him to the Colorado Rockies in the Rule 5 draft.
This trade is interesting for a few reasons. First, it wasn’t the Yankees who were originally reported to be closing in on acquiring Frazier and Robertson. It was the Red Sox. For the first time since the signing of Mark Teixeira, it seems like the Yankees swooped in to not only add to their team, but to prevent the Red Sox from adding to theirs. Still within striking distance in the AL East, it’d be fascinating to see the Yankees make up ground with Frazier and Robertson leading the way.
Second, this trade isn’t as “win-now” as it seems. Yes, Frazier is a free agent at the end of the year and yes, the Yankees traded their third best prospect and perhaps a future All-Star in Rutherford. But Robertson’s contract runs through 2018, and Kahnle hasn’t even gone through arbitration yet. Adding Robertson and Kahnle to a bullpen which already features Adam Warren, Chad Green, Betances and Chapman is ridiculous. It’s a championship-caliber bullpen, and perhaps the best in baseball…when everyone is pitching up to their potential, that is.
Third and finally, this trade proves that the Yankees view themselves as legitimate contenders this season. Despite cratering to third place in the division over the last few weeks, they still hold a Wild Card spot and have played better since the All-Star break. They’re also getting healthier by the day, with Starlin Castro and Matt Holliday back from the disabled list and Aaron Hicks nearing his return as well. With this trade, the Yankees addressed their hole at first base and significantly upgraded the bullpen, leaving them perhaps just one starting pitcher away from having everything they need to make a serious run down the stretch. And who knows? Maybe that starter is Chance Adams.
It obviously hurts to lose a prospect like Rutherford, but the Yankees were always going to have to give something to get something. And in reality, they gave very little, considering they not only improved this year’s team, but next year’s as well.