The Yankees made another splash after a long period of quiet, swinging a three-team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays. The bounty for the Yankees is versatile infielder Brandon Drury.
Robert Murray of FanRag Sports first reported that the Yankees were sending prospect second baseman Nick Solak to the Rays. Colleague Jon Heyman followed up minutes later reporting the Yankees would end up with Drury. The deal was completed with the Diamondbacks receiving outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays and prospect righty Taylor Widener from the Yankees.
The Yankees created a 40-man roster spot for Drury by designating outfielder Jabari Blash for assignment. Blash came to the Yankees in the Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell trade.
Drury had been a target of the Yankees since the Winter Meetings because he is cost-controlled and can play many positions. He hit .267/.317/.447 (92 wRC+) with 13 HR and 63 RBI in 135 games for the Diamondbacks in 2017. Drury is a pre-arbitration player and will make close to the league minimum in 2018. He also has two minor league options remaining.
The infield competition becomes tighter with Drury in town. Second base and third base are open positions, with prospects Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar and Tyler Wade fighting against veterans like Drury, Ronald Torreyes, Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa. Manager Aaron Boone has not ruled out breaking camp with two rookies at those positions, but the acquisition of Drury makes it look like only one spot will be filled that way.
Solak was ranked as the Yankees No. 8 prospect last season on the back of a .297/.384/.452 slash with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Solak was drafted in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft. He is ranked as the Rays’ No. 15 prospect.
He played outfield in college and is still working on a transition to second base. “He has the quickness and reliable hands for the position, though he doesn’t have the smoothest actions and some scouts believe he’s destined for center field,” reads an MLB.com scouting report.
Widener becomes the Diamondbacks’ No. 4 prospect. In 27 starts for High-A Tampa, Widener pitched to a 7-8 record and a 3.39 ERA. He struck out 129 batters compared to 50 walks, and opponents hit just .206 against him.
“Widener picked up velocity in his introduction to pro ball, as his fastball soared from 90-93 mph to 93-97. His mid-80s slider can be a wipeout pitch at times but lacks consistency. To prepare him for starting, the Yankees had him focus on refining his work-in-progress changeup during instructional league, with terrific results,” reads his MLB.com scouting report.
The Yankees have had good results with their returns in three-team deals with the Diamondbacks. That was how Didi Gregorius came to the team, as the Yankees dealt right-hander Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers for their shortstop. They also acquired Curtis Granderson from the Tigers with some help from the Diamondbacks.
But, they did have the disastrous Randy Johnson trade in 2005, where the lefty had a 4.37 ERA in just two seasons in the Bronx.