The Chance Adams era has ended in the Bronx, as the former top prospect has gone out rather unceremoniously. The Yankees dealt the 25-year-old to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for 21-year-old minor-league infielder Cristian Perez.
Pérez was signed by the Royals out of Venezuela in 2015. The 21-year-old played in High-A in 2019 for the Royals organization, slashing .252/.290/.285 (68 wRC+) for Wilmington in the Carolina League. Pérez strikes out at just an 11.3% clip, though he has not shown a penchant to walk (4.7%) or hit for power (.033 ISO).
Adams will be the answer to a Yankees trivia question forever, having been designated for assignment Dec. 18 to clear the 40-man roster spot needed to officially sign Gerrit Cole to his record-breaking contract. Ranked as the Yankees No. 2 prospect by MLB.com in 2017, Adams was one of the pieces that Brian Cashman was hesitant to trade to Pittsburgh for Cole before his eventual move to Houston.
Adams’ prospect status hit its peak in 2017, where he blossomed in the upper minors as a starter. In 27 starts between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the right-hander put up a stellar 2.45 ERA and recorded 135 strikeouts in 150⅓ innings.
An offseason procedure to remove bone chips from Adams’ right elbow resulted in a significant loss in velocity. His minor-league stats and eventual big-league cup of coffee did not show the fastball that was graded as a 65-level pitch in the past. Adams made one start for the big-league team in 2018, debuting with five innings of three-run ball at Fenway Park.
Since that debut game against the Red Sox, Adams has pitched exclusively in relief in the majors. The results have been poor thus far, with a meteoric 8.68 ERA (6.85 FIP) in 28 innings of mostly low leverage relief. Batters have put up a 1.082 OPS against him.
However, Adams serves as a useful reclamation project for a non-contending team like Kansas City. He will be cheap and under team control through the 2024 season. Baseball Savant ranks his fastball spin rate in the 87th percentile, and curveball spin in the 94th percentile. The building blocks are there for a better pitcher than what we’ve seen from Adams to this point.