With Spring Training slated to start in a few weeks, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has kicked his roster maneuvering into high gear with a pair of trades aimed at clearing space on the club’s 40-man roster and salary to make a few more additions without breaching MLB’s $210 million luxury tax.
After re-signing AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu and former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to new deals, the Bronx Bombers needed to open up two spots to make room on the 40-man roster, so Sunday they swapped four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Jameson Taillon.
The oft-injured 29-year-old missed all of the 2019 season with his second Tommy John surgery, but a recommendation from former teammate Gerrit Cole and Taillon’s $2.25 million salary were factors that made the right-hander a risk worth taking.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes that the Yankees are taking a rather big risk with a rotation after Cole that includes three pitchers in Kluber, Taillon, and Luis Severino who pitched a grand total of one inning last season, along with Jordan Montgomery (who had Tommy John surgery in 2018) and Domingo German (suspended the entire 2020 season for domestic violence).
New York made another move with an unusual trading partner on Monday, dealing reliever Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox along with minor league prospect Frank German for a player to be named later.
The primary motivation for the deal was financial, as the Yankees clear $8.15 million of Ottavino’s $9 million salary. The Brooklyn native was signed to a three-year contract in 2019 to provide depth to the New York bullpen, but after an effective first season (6-5, 1.90 ERA), the right-hander struggled (2-3, 5.89 ERA) and was used only once by manager Aaron Boone in the 2020 playoffs.
According to Spotrac, the Yankees have slightly under $11 million under the luxury tax and the space freed up by the Ottavino deal could allow them to bolster their bullpen with free agents and/or re-sign veteran outfielder Brett Gardner.