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Red Sox trade for Adam Ottavino

A wild Red Sox-Yankees trade appears!

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

How’s this for a little Monday afternoon stunner? The Red Sox have made an addition to their bullpen in the most unlikely of ways, reportedly agreeing to a trade with the Yankees to bring in right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic was first to report.

We are still looking for the specific terms of the deal, but it sure appears this is a straight salary dump for the Yankees, who per Joel Sherman are also sending a prospect to Boston.

The prospect is Frank German, a right-handed pitching prospect.

I’m really not sure where to start with this because it is so shocking. The Red Sox and Yankees simply never make trades. The last time they connected for a deal was in the summer of 2014 when Boston sent Stephen Drew to New York, and prior to that the last trade was back in 1997. This is an extreme rarity. And it feels great. It’s hard to put too concrete a judgement on it without knowing the exact details, but by the sounds of it the Red Sox are flexing their financial muscles, which is what many of us have been asking for the last couple of years. Full credit to them, doing that to acquire a good reliever (albeit with some issues) and a prospect is fantastic. Again, we don’t know the details just yet, but the early indications are good.

As for Ottavino himself, he should slide into a late-inning role, which was a clear area of need for Boston. A former Northeastern pitcher, the righty is most known for his frisbee slider which has made him a great high-leverage reliever in the past. In 2020, the 35-year-old (he’ll be 35 all season) appeared in 24 games and tossed a total of 18 13 innings, struggling to the tune of a 5.89 ERA. The peripherals were a bit better, though, with a 29 percent strikeout rate and an 11 percent walk rate to pitch to a 3.52 FIP, which is almost exactly in line with his 2019 peripherals when he finished with a 1.90 ERA.

Ottavino is under contract through 2021 and is owed $9 million in AAV terms (which is what matters for luxury tax purposes; his actual salary in 2021 is $8 million), and thus could be a potential deadline trade piece if things go south for the team in the first half of the year.

In German, the Red Sox get a pitching prospect who was a fourth round pick by the Yankees back in 2018. Now 23 years old (he’ll turn 24 in late September, German pitched in High-A back in 2019, making 15 starts plus one relief appearance for a total of 76 innings that year. In that time he pitched to a 3.79 ERA with 82 strikeouts (25 percent rate) and 35 walks (11 percent rate). He was ranked number 32 in the Yankees organization prior to last season by FanGraphs, who wrote of him at the time as a current starter who experienced a velocity spike at the end of his college career, but is more likely to settle into a relief role at the major-league level.

As of this writing we still don’t know who and/or what is going back to the Yankees in this deal, but it’s not expected to be much as it’s been described as a salary dump for New York. Assuming nobody on the 40-man is going back — and the Yankees need to clear spots on their own roster for their recent acquisitions — then Boston now needs to clear three more spots to add Ottavino as well as Enrique Hernández and Garrett Richards. (Martín Pérez has to be added as well, but they cleared C.J. Chatham’s spot shortly after that move was reported and have not filled it as of yet.)

Update (12:42 PM ET)

The Yankees are kicking in $850,000. Let’s party.

Update (12:44 PM ET)

It’s a player to be named later or cash going back to New York. A major win for the Red Sox here.

Update (2:17 PM ET)

It’s official. Ottavino will take the 40-man spot created by the C.J. Chatham trade. Boston still needs to clear three spots for Martín Pérez, Enrique Hernández and Garrett Richards.