Last night the New York Yankees dealt 4 prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. The 4 prospects the Yankees dealt are AAA pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, AA outfielder Jose Tabata, and AA pitcher Phil Coke and George Kontos.
Nady gives the Yankees the right handed bat they so desperately need with the injuries to Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada. Marte fills the left handed releiver role in the Yankees bullpen, possibly spotting Mariano Riviera in certain save situations allowing Riviera to remain injury free throughout the pennant race.
The Pirates get 3 pitching prospects and 1 hitting prospect, but my first impression after hearing about the trade was "is that all they got? Only one of the four, Tabata, was ranked among the Yankees top 10 prospects by Baseball America.
Here's what ESPN's Keith Law had to say about the deal:
The best sign in this deal is that the Pirates didn't place some ridiculous value on finishing over .500 this year and breaking their streak of losing seasons. Instead, they broke with the Dave Littlefield pattern of never bringing down their trade demands and failing to flip players for prospects at the trade deadline and consummated a deal. Whether or not it was the best deal available -- one front-office exec told me tonight that he felt that the return was "a joke" -- at least it's a completed deal and a sign that the Pirates are serious about rebuilding. For the Yankees, they give up two players unlikely to ever pitch for them, a good right-handed reliever in a year when they have a few of those, and a problem child with a big upside, which isn't much to give up when you're playing for right now.
And a few quotes about each of the prospects the Pirates received:
The one player going to Pittsburgh with major league experience is Ross Ohlendorf, who projects as a good late-game short reliever, perhaps a closer but at least a solid setup man. I see no reason he couldn't pitch for the Pirates right now, and the difference between him and Marte for the rest of the season will be less than half a win, and could easily be zero.
George Kontos and Phil Coke are fringe prospects at best, and neither would have ever played for the Yankees. Coke is left-handed with a fringe-average fastball and a big slow-roller curveball that gets some swings and misses in AA; which works well in the minors but would limit him to sixth-starter duty in the majors.
Kontos has a little more stuff, working at 90-92 mph with a sharp, downer slider, but he has some violence in his delivery, poor command, and no movement on his fastball.
The return for the Pirates hinges on whether Jose Tabata turns into anything at all. Among the game's top prospects if we're only considering his ability, Tabata has great hand-eye coordination and good bat speed, and I think he'll hit for power down the road despite his short stature because he makes solid, hard contact. Or, at least he made solid contact before mailing in his 2008 season, one in which he earned multiple unofficial suspensions for his behavior and took a lazy approach to at bats, swinging right through 90-mph fastballs down the chute. There's a high probability that Tabata never amounts to anything in the majors, but a year ago, the Yankees wouldn't have dreamed of including him in a deal like this, so the Pirates are buying low on him much as the A's bought low on Josh Donaldson.
I have seen Tabata play at AA-Trenton and have not impressed. But, then again he's 19 years old, so he has time to develop and mature into man.
But I do agree with the one front office exec who Law quotes in his article-"it's a joke". The Yankees win this deal for now. Does anyone feel the Pirates deal will result in any solid major league players in the prospects they received?
The next question is: are the Pirates done? There is a rumor that the Braves are hot after Jason Bay, but apparently it was shot down. I would hope the return for Bay is much better than the Nady/Marte deal if I'm a Pirates fan.
The Pirates called up Steven Pearce to take Nady's spot on the 25-man roster. He should start in RF for the Pirates.