The New York Yankees are reshaping their bullpen in the days leading up the trade deadline. One day after acquiring ground ball specialist Clay Holmes from the Pirates, New York sent righty Luis Cessa and lefty Justin Wilson to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later, the team announced.
For the Yankees, the trade is financially motivated more than anything. Trading Cessa and Wilson clears approximately $1.3 million off the club's luxury-tax payroll, and staying under the $210 million threshold this season is a stated goal. Following the trade, the Yankees have about $5 million in wiggle room under the threshold, which can be spent on other players.
With Cessa and Wilson gone, New York's bullpen current looks something like this:
- Closer: LHP Aroldis Chapman
- Setup: LHP Zack Britton, RHP Chad Green, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
- Middle: RHP Clay Holmes, LHP Lucas Luetge, LHP Wandy Peralta
- Long: RHP Sal Romano
The Reds have had bullpen problems all season. Going into Tuesday their bullpen ranked dead last in baseball with a 5.35 ERA and 29th with minus-0.2 WAR. Cincinnati has an MLB leading 74 "meltdowns," which are relief appearances that reduce the team's win probability at least six percent. Bullpen help was a must.
Cessa, 29, is a slider specialist with a 2.82 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings this season. He is the better of the two relievers going to the Reds in the trade and he's pitched in a variety of roles in his career, including long relief and occasionally setup duty. The Reds will be able to keep him as an arbitration-eligible player in 2022 and 2023.
The 33-year-old Wilson had a miserable second tour of duty with the Yankees, pitching to a 7.50 ERA in 18 innings around shoulder and hamstring injuries. He had a 3.26 ERA in 171 1/3 innings from 2017 to '20, however, and is experienced in high-leverage situations. Wilson's contract includes $2.3 million player option for 2022.
This is the second time Cessa and Wilson have been involved in the same trade. In Nov. 2015, the Yankees sent Wilson to the Tigers for Cessa and Green, who were prospects at the time.
Both the Yankees and Reds are chasing the second wild card spot right now. New York is 3 1/2 games back in the AL race while the Reds are 5 1/2 games in the NL.