The New York Yankees acquired Scott Effross from the Chicago Cubs as well as Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Oakland A’s. The two deals reconfigure their pitching staff on the major and minor league levels.
Frankie Montas- Along with Luis Castillo and (potentially) Carlos Rodón, Montas is one of the best starting pitchers on the trade market this year. He’s 29 years old and under team control through the 2023 season. He has overcome a myriad of arm injuries earlier in his career and has become one of baseball’s most durable, effective starters over the past few seasons. In 2021, he led the league with 32 starts and received down-ballot Cy Young votes. He last pitched for Oakland on July 26, so he should be ready to jump into the rotation as soon as his plane lands.
The right-hander’s most effective pitch is a split-finger fastball, which he uses to great effect against lefty batters. He throws several different fastball variations: two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter. He also has a slider he throws ahead in the count against right-handed hitters. With the exception of the two-seamer, all of his pitches generate good results. The Yankees often like to rework pitch arsenals when they acquire new hurlers, so it’s easy to envision them either eschewing the bad apple or tinkering with its shape.
Lou Trivino- Trivino is a 30-year-old right-handed reliever in his fifth MLB season. With the exception of pandemic-shortened 2020, he has thrown at least 60 innings every year since 2018. He remains under team control through the 2024 season. His 3.84 FIP is right in line with his career numbers, but he has given up a lot more hits than usual due to absolutely horrible batted-ball luck; his BABIP allowed is .451 this year!
Ignore that unsightly 6.47 ERA. It’s not representative of the pitcher Trivino has been for most of his career. Like many Yankee pitchers, he has adopted a new sweeping slider this season, which has been a great pitch for him. His two-seam/four-seam fastball combination has been less than stellar, but again, that’s exactly the kind of pitch mix the Yankees love to fix. The pitching coaches have a great track record of success working with similar pitchers over the past two years.
Scott Effross- Effross may be 28 years old, but didn’t reach the majors until 2021 so he won’t become a free agent for a very long time. In 58.2 IP over his MLB career, he has a 2.91 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 10.4 K/9, and has only surrendered four home runs. That’s essentially a full season’s worth of high-strikeout/low-walk/keep-men-off-the-basepaths goodness.
In a sense, Effross is a classic sinker/slider guy who mixes in a changeup against left-handed hitters. In other words, he relies on the Yankee front office’s favorite pitch mix. However, he relies on deception rather than velocity. His fastball only averages 90 mph, but he has an extremely low sidearm release point that creates deception. Sidewinders typically fare much better against same-side opponents, but he has actually dominated lefties over his career. Righty batters have a .283 wOBA against him, but lefties only have a .216 wOBA.
Ken Waldichuk- Waldichuk is a left-handed starting pitcher on the precipice of the majors. He rapidly rose up top prospect lists this summer by striking out basically everyone in Double-A and Triple-A. He has a bright future as a mid-rotation starter but probably would never have gotten the chance in New York, instead being held captive in long-relief limbo like Clarke Schmidt. FanGraphs currently lists him as the #36 overall prospect in baseball and now the top prospect in the A’s system, though he was probably the fourth or fifth best prospect in the Yankees organization. He’s the crown jewel of the Montas/Trivino trade.
JP Sears- Speaking of long-relief limbo, Sears impressed in spot starts for the Yankees this year, but he never would’ve gotten a real shot without an injury to a few established starters. He will have a chance in Oakland to show if he can take the ball every fifth day. He probably can, but he’s never going to be more than a backend starter/long reliever.
Luis Medina- Ever since signing as a teenager from the Dominican Republic, Medina has been the Nuke Laloosh of the Yankees’ system. He has triple-digit velocity, a wipeout breaking pitch, and a solid changeup, but averages 6.1 BB/9 over his minor league career that spans 361.1 IP. If the A’s can help him throw strikes, he has ace potential. However, it’s much more likely that he becomes an Albert Abreu type of reliever. He’s currently in Double-A.
Hayden Wesneski- The Yankees traded Wesneski straight up for Effross. He’s the classic Yankees pitching prospect: a low-velocity college arm drafted in the mid-to-late rounds who reached the mid-90s in the minors. He’s a legitimate starting pitching prospect but doesn’t look like he’ll be more than a backend starter. That kind of player doesn’t really have a place on a contending team like the Yankees, so he is ideal trade bait. Having spent all of 2022 in Triple-A, the Cubs could call him up relatively soon.
Cooper Bowman- Bowman is the lone position player involved in these deals. He’s a speedy middle infielder in the low minors. At this point, he’s little more than organizational filler. Though he steals lots of bases and has a keen eye, he strikes out a ton, doesn’t hit for much power, and has a .227 career batting average.
Montas, Effross, and Trivino Summary
The Yankees addressed their two biggest needs: a high-quality, durable starting pitcher and a pair of good relievers to bolster their battered bullpen. Furthermore, they retained their top four prospects: Anthony Volpe, Oswaldo Peraza (who they need to call up!), Jasson Dominguez, and Austin Wells. Compared to what the Mariners gave up for Luis Castillo, it seems like the Yankees got a similar caliber starter for a softer package.
It’s worth noting, though, that the team dealt all four of their best pitching prospects. Their updated organizational prospect list on FanGraphs is completely devoid of pitchers in the high minors. Their top remaining arms are Yoendrys Gómez (High-A), Drew Thorpe (2022 draft pick), Luis Gil (Tommy John surgery), Ron Marinaccio (already on the Yankees), Stephen Ridings (hurt), and Deivi García (ugh). There’s no room for prospect hugging in a playoff race and they should be more than satisfied with what they surrendered for Montas, Trivino, and Effross. However, they will have to find a way to replenish their arms throughout the minor league system.