NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brian Cashman isn’t messing around.
The Yankees general manager pulled off another big move Tuesday, sending veteran third baseman Chase Headley and reliever Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash, Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported.
The most impressive part of the deal isn’t Blash’s 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame. It’s the fact that Cashman got the Padres to take all of Headley’s $13 million salary in 2018.
The move will push the Yankees even further below the $197 million luxury tax threshold next season, thus freeing them up to pursue high-end starting pitching this offseason or perhaps set them up to make gigantic splashes next offseason when such stars as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are expected to be free agents.
The trade also allows the Yankees to bring more of their highly touted prospects up from the minors. Gleyber Torres, who is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, could find himself starting at third base next season.
Or if the Yankees decide to move Torres from his natural position of shortstop over to second base to replace Starlin Castro, who was sent to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton trade over the weekend, they could promote Miguel Andujar from the minors. The 22-year-old hit .315 with 16 homers and 82 RBIs last season for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Of course, the Bombers could also fill the hole at third base with a veteran either through free agency or a trade. One possibility is to re-sign Todd Fraizer, but Sherman reported the Yankees are reluctant to offer him the sort of multiyear contract he is seeking.
Headley enjoyed a solid season with the Yankees in 2017, hitting .273 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs. The 33-year-old infielder, who was originally acquired from San Diego prior to the trade deadline in 2014, hit .262 with 43 homers and 191 RBIs during his three-plus seasons in the Bronx.
Mitchell, a hard-throwing right-hander, never really got going during his time with the Yankees, as he went 2-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 48 appearances, including nine starts, dating to 2014. However, the 26-year-old has a live arm and a manageable contract, which probably contributed to the Padres agreeing to take all of Headley’s money.
Blash, 28, hit .213 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 164 at-bats for San Diego last season.
New York is believed to be eager to acquire a young starting pitcher with a controllable contract, and reportedly is interested in Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Yankees also have their eyes on Detroit Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer, who is under club control for five more years, and Arizona Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin.