Yankees trade Headley, Mitchell to Padres for prospect
New York addresses infield logjam, cuts payroll with move
The Yankees traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell and $500,000 US to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, giving New York added payroll flexibility and room for infield prospects.
New York received 28-year-old outfielder Jabari Blash, who made his big league debut in 2016 and has played in 99 big league games over two seasons.
A day after finalizing its acquisition of National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from Miami, the Yankees dealt with their infield logjam and cut a payroll that had risen to a projected $180 million US for luxury tax purposes. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is intent on getting under the $197 million tax threshold next year, and New York still may attempt to re-sign left-hander CC Sabathia or add another starting pitcher.
Headley, who turns 34 in May, lost his third base job and shifted to first when the Yankees acquired Todd Frazier last summer. While Frazier became a free agent, the Yankees appear intent on letting 21-year-old Miguel Andujar compete for third base in spring training. Trading Headley also could signal the Yankees may try to re-sign Frazier, a New Jersey native who relished playing in his home market.
Gleyber Torres, who turns 21 this week, could be a third base option or have a chance to take over at second following the trade of Starlin Castro to the Marlins in the Stanton deal.
Headley, returning to the team that selected him in the second round of the 2005 amateur draft, has a $13 million salary next season in 2018, which completes a $52 million, four-year deal. He receives a $1 million assignment bonus for getting traded, and his deal calls for $250,000 bonuses each for 475, 500, 525 and 550 plate appearances. The Yankees must make their $500,000 payment to the Padres by Jan. 10.
Homecoming could be short for Headley
He hit .273 with 12 homers and 61 RBIs this year and has a .264 average with 130 homers and 592 RBIs in 11 major league seasons with San Diego and the Yankees, who acquired him in July 2014 for infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-hander Rafael De Paula. Headley hit a career-high 31 homers and had an NL-leading 115 RBIs with the Padres in 2012.
His return to San Diego may be brief. Cory Spangenberg and Solarte can play third.
"I talked to Chase this morning and explained to him that we're going to look at the situation and figure out is there space for everybody? Is their opportunity for everybody?" Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. "I was very honest, telling him that we're going to talk to other clubs, as well."
Mitchell made his debut with the Yankees in 2014 and missed the first five months of the 2016 after breaking a bone in his left big toe while covering first base in spring training. He was 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA this year in one start and 19 relief appearances and 3-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts and one relief appearance at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Preller envisions the right-hander as a starter behind Clayton Richard, Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet, competing with Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin. Mitchell, who is out of options, is not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
Blash hit .213 with five homers and 16 RBIs this year for San Diego and .285 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs for Triple-A El Paso.
San Diego also acquired infielder Deion Tansel from Tampa Bay for infielder Ryan Schimpf.