After a long night in which news slowly seeped out via Twitter over the course of the White Sox 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, the White Sox announced a blockbuster trade with the New York Yankees that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle to New York for prospects Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, and major league reliever Tyler Clippard.
Concurrent with the trade, general manager Rick Hahn also announced that heralded top prospect Yoan Moncada would make his debut with the team Wednesday.
Rutherford is the headliner here as far as the return. The 18th overall pick in last year’s draft was often linked to the White Sox in the weeks leading up to the draft. He was considered arguably the most polished high school hitter in that class, but fell because of bonus demands and a ceiling that isn’t considered quite as high as those who went ahead of him. As BP’s Greg Goldstein put it on Twitter, he has a solid all-around game but no standout tool. He’s an outfielder who’s played a lot of center early in his career but is likely going to be destined for a corner long term. He was No. 49 in BP’s Preseason Top 101 but didn’t make the recently released Midseason Top 50, however, he’s ranked as highly as No. 30 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, and was No. 36 on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100.
Clarkin is a left-hander who was a first round pick in 2013 and has yet to pitch above A-ball, primarily because of injuries. Entering this season he’s thrown only 178 innings in his career, but he’s had modest success in High-A through 75 innings thus far in 2017. Polo is a 22-year-old outfielder originally signed by Pirates in 2012 who came over to the Yankees for Ivan Nova last summer. He was on Colombia’s World Baseball Classic team this spring, and has split time between High-A and Double-A with the Yankees this season. He was not in their system’s Top 30, per MLB Pipeline.
The final piece is Clippard, who is decidedly not a prospect. The 32-year-old veteran has a 4.95 ERA with the Yankees in 2017 and is a free agent after this season. He was likely included solely to help balance out the salaries (the Yankees are taking on the entirety of the money owed to Frazier and Robertson), and to eat some innings for the Sox for the rest of this season.
Frazier and Robertson being traded wasn’t a surprise, but packaging the two together, in addition to Kahnle, was a bit of a shocker. Kahnle’s trade value had obviously increased exponentially since the start of the season and there had been some debate as to whether or not he was worth trading at peak value or hanging onto as a present and potentially future bullpen asset. Hahn said in a press conference Tuesday that the trade wouldn’t have happened without the addition of Kahnle, and given the volatility of relievers, as well as the suddenness of his ascension, it’s tough to blame the White Sox for selling highly.
Combining those trades with the call-up of Moncada (as well as reliever Brad Goldberg; sorry for overshadowing you, Brad!) is a logical choice as Moncada can take Frazier’s place on the infield at second base with Yolmer Sanchez and Tyler Saladino now splitting time at third base. It will be important, of course, to temper expectations as he adjusts to the majors once again after an extremely small trial last September.
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