Another day, another Red Sox acquisition. And it's safe to say -- no one saw this one coming.
In their fourth addition to the major league roster in the last 10 days, the Red Sox acquired veteran righthander Adam Ottavino and pitching prospect Frank German for either cash or player to be named later.
The Sox are absorbing all but $850,000 of the $8 million remaining on Ottavino's deal, which runs through the 2021 season. Absorbing that full amount also, in essence, "bought'' the Red Sox German, listed as the Yankees' 24th best prospect.
Ottavino is scheduled to make $8 million in salary in 2021, but for CBT (competitive balance tax purposes), his 2021 salary is $9 million
The trade is unexpected for two reasons:
- It's the first between the two long-time rivals since the Sox shipped Stephen Drew to the Yankees in exchange for Kelly Johnson in 2014. Prior to that, the last deal between the teams took place in 1997, when the Red Sox sent Mike Stanley to New York. "I wasn't as concerned in going through it with what it meant for the Yankees,'' said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. "We were really just looking at how it fit our objectives. And I think that's important, even if it is the Yankees. It's very hard to be great if you're too busy worrying about everybody else; we have to worry about ourselves.
- The trade enables the Yankees to cut payroll -- something they don't aim to do often -- with the Red Sox helping them toward that goal. The Yankees are determined to remain under the CBT payroll limit of $210 million and were inching perilously close to that number. They would still like to re-sign veteran outfielder Brett Gardner and this move gives them greater flexibility toward that goal.
Ottavino, 35, is no stranger to Boston, having pitched at Northeastern University. He also expressed an interest in signing with the Red Sox as a free agent after the 2018 season, but that idea never really gained any traction.
He had a poor 2020 season with the Yankees (2-3, 5.89 in 24 games), but his first season with the Yankees was far better. He was 6-5 with a 1.90 ERA in 73 games while striking out 88 in 66.1 innings.
Ottavino's ERA skyrocketed in large part because of a poor outing against the Blue Jays in which he allowed six runs without recording an out. Minus that appearance, Ottavino's ERA was 2.98.
"Really under the hood,'' offered Bloom, "everything looked very similar to 2019 and I think you can see that in a lot of his peripheral numbers. The ERA's inflated from a couple bad outings and in a nine-week season, if you're a reliever and you have a blow-up outing, your ERA is not going to recover from that. But that doesn't mean that that one game should make us look at someone any differently.
"The stuff was still in place. A lot of things in terms of stuff, in terms of execution and in terms of the outcomes you can predict -- those were all in place. So that's really encouraging as we look to 2021.''