Analysis

Yankees: Revisiting the Nathan Eovaldi Trade

The Yankees traded some big pieces off their roster to acquire young flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi back in December of 2014. How did that trade work out?

Following the 2014 season and back-to-back years of missing the playoffs, the New York Yankees had one thing in mind with an aging roster: to get younger. We saw this with the trade for shortstop Didi Gregorius and the signing of free-agent reliever Andrew Miller, who the Yankees later dealt in 2016. 

Back in December of 2014, however, the Yankees made another major move to their roster, sending reliever David Phelps and third baseman Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins in exchange for young flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi, as well as veteran outfielder Garrett Jones and prospect Domingo German.

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How Eovaldi Worked out for the Yankees

This was probably the main piece of the deal, especially for the Yankees. Eovaldi, just 24-years-old at the time of the trade, had a fastball that was averaging 95.7 miles per hour, per Fangraphs. In that 2014 season with Miami, Eovaldi was just 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 199.2 innings, but his numbers go beyond that. Eovaldi’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) was a very solid 3.37, which basically says he was just getting unlucky with his mediocre base numbers.

Once Eovaldi got to the Yankees, the results were mixed. The righty had an amazing record of 14-3 in 154.1 innings, striking out 121. With that, however, his ERA remained mediocre, sitting at 4.20. Yet, Eovaldi still maintained an impressive FIP, this year at 3.42.

Fast forward one year into 2016, and things took a turn for the worst, where Eovaldi went 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 124.2 innings. He was assigned to the bullpen, where he sustained an elbow tendon injury. On August 12, 2016, the Yankees placed Nathan Eovaldi on the DL, and he eventually had Tommy John surgery. The Yankees released Eovaldi in late November of that year.

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German was in that Deal, Too?

This is a part of the trade that, at the time, was easily forgettable. German wasn’t a major prospect at the time of the trade and wasn’t on anyone’s radar until he really became a steady contributor to the team in 2018 and 2019. German’s first full year in the bigs was lackluster, as he spotted a 5.57 ERA in 21 games (14 starts) and 85.2 innings. That being said, his strikeout numbers showed signs of promise, as he K’d 102.

2019 was a year that started out bright but later took a nose-dive. German spotted a stellar ERA of 2.56 and went 5-1 in April, pitching in six games and starting five. From then on, his numbers regressed to a more believable state, and eventually, German finished the season at 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 143.0 innings. That’s not all to his disappointing end to the season, though, as German missed most of September and the playoffs with a domestic violence incident. He will be suspended the first 63 games of 2020, as well.

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Who the Heck is Garrett Jones?

Jones is one of those Yankees that can be easily forgotten, like Billy Butler or Jose Canseco (very similar players, I know). Jones was a veteran that spent 2009-2013 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and wound up in Miami for the 2014 season, where be batted .246 with 15 homers and 53 RBI. He got to the Yankees and really kind of flopped, to say the least.

In 57 games with the Bombers, Jones hit a lowly .215 with an abysmal .257 on-base percentage. He hit five home runs and drove in 17, so he didn’t have much of an impact. But hey, he did hit a game-winning home run in Seattle on June 2, so there’s that.

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So Whatever Happened to Prado and Phelps?

For David Phelps, he’s bounced around quite a bit since winding up in Miami. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2017, took 2018 off after receiving Tommy John Surgery, and split 2019 between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicago Cubs. All in all, though, Phelps has solid numbers for a middle reliever. Last season, Phelps had a 3.41 ERA in 41 games and 34.1 innings, striking out 36. He’s now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Prado retired following last season, where he batted .233 with two homers and 15 RBI. He ended his career with the Marlins, with his best season there taking place in 2016, where the veteran hit .305 with a .359 on-base percentage. He only hit eight home runs but drove in 75.

All things considered, this trade has kind of been a wash. Nathan Eovaldi never panned out to the pitcher the Yankees had hoped they were getting, and although German has shown flashes of brilliance, he’s still currently in some hot water following his domestic violence incident. Thankfully for the Yanks, both Phelps and Prado never turned out to be real big stars in Miami, although Phelps is still a solid reliever today. This was one of those trades where, even though the results weren’t exactly what you wanted them to be, there’s no harm and no foul.

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