Posted on December 12, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After making the Giancarlo Stanton trade official, the New York Yankees were quick to make their second significant trade of the offseason. On Tuesday, the Yankees agreed to send third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. From New York’s perspective, the trade is intended to give them payroll flexibility and keep them under the luxury tax threshold after adding Stanton’s salary to their books.
The Padres have agreed to take on all $13 million of Headley’s salary in 2018. That leaves the Yankees roughly $27 million under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million. Thus, the Yankees still have a little money to spend without having to pay the luxury tax.
Dealing Headley creates also creates a second vacancy in New York’s infield. The Yankees also have an open spot at second base after sending Starlin Castro to Miami in the Stanton trade. The Bronx Bombers have not yet indicated how they will fill either vacancy. At second base, it’s possible that Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade can fill-in until top prospect Gleyber Torres has recovered from Tommy John surgery and is ready to make his big league debut.
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Things at less clear at third base. Many have been quick to conclude that the Yankees will attempt to re-sign Todd Frazier, who the Yankees acquired over the summer. But with just $27 million left to spend this winter, the Yankees may not be able to afford Frazier and sign a starting pitcher, at least not without making another salary dump trade.
Miguel Andujar could also be an option for the Yankees at third base. Andujar was 4 for 7 during a cameo with the Yankees last summer. He’s considered one of the top third base prospects in all of baseball. There are some questions about his defense at the hot corner. But there’s no doubt he has the arm strength needed to play the position. He also has plenty of upside as a hitter. Andujar could certainly benefit from additional seasoning in the minors. But there’s a chance he could be New York’s opening day third baseman in 2018.
Blash, meanwhile, probably doesn’t figure into New York’s plans for 2018 aside from providing minor league depth. The Yankees have a crowded outfield after acquiring Stanton. Also, Blash has been unable to establish himself in the majors over the last couple of seasons.
As for Headley, this trade means a homecoming for him. He spent seven and a half seasons in San Diego before he was traded to the Yankees in July 2014. The 33-year old Headley has one more year on his contract before he becomes a free agent, so his return to San Diego could be short-lived.
The Padres figure to make Headley their everyday third baseman. They’re also hoping he provides veteran leadership on an otherwise young team. If the Padres are out of contention next July, he could also turn into a viable trade chip. In Mitchell, the Padres get a pitcher who has been inconsistent over the past four seasons in the majors. He likely fits best in the San Diego bullpen but could provide rotation depth if necessary.
For the Yankees, this trade is little more than a salary dump, albeit a successful one. Meanwhile, the deal is a little more puzzling from San Diego’s perspective. Headley will be helpful in 2018 but he won’t turn the Padres into a playoff contender. They’re also taking on a lot of money that could be used elsewhere for a player who won’t be in San Diego that long. Unless they can flip Headley for something substantial later on, this trade doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Padres.