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Yankees trade reliever Wilson to Tigers

Two days, two trades for the New York Yankees during this year’s Winter Meetings.

Yesterday, the Yankees shipped the reliable Adam Warren and exuberant Brendan Ryan off to Chicago in exchange for the services of soon to be 26-year-old Starlin Castro. Today, they’ve traded reliever Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for righthanded pitching prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Cessa will be added to the 40-man roster.

Wilson was acquired in exchange for Francisco Cervelli last off-season, and cemented himself as the third option in the bullpen in 2015. He was actually more effective against righties (.216 BAA) than lefties (.236), but as those two numbers show, got both out with regularity.

In 61 innings, his SO-to-BB ratio was 3.30, his PWARP was sixth among all Yankees pitchers at 1.7 and his VORP sat at a solid 15.8.

Who the Yankees get:

Green, 24, is probably a bit closer than Cessa, 23, is to helping out in the major leagues, but both could realistically make it there relatively soon, given the revolving door at the back-end of the pitching staff. Both have been starting down in the minor leagues.

The Tigers acquired Cessa, their No. 10 prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, along with Michael Fulmer in a trade for Yoenis Cespedes last season. He can hit 95-96 mph with his fastball but will likely hover around 92-93 mph if he starts. He also features a solid changeup and a curveball. He was a bit erratic in Triple-A last season, with an 8.51 ERA in five starts with the Las Vegas 51s before settling down a bit in seven starts with the Toledo Mud Hens (5.97 ERA).

Green came in at No. 20 on the Tigers prospect list, and was a lot more stable last year than Cessa, going 5-14 with a 3.93 ERA in 148.2 innings. Like Cessa, his fastball is solid, but he needs to work on his secondary pitches, something Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild is very helpful with.

What it means:

Without Warren and Wilson, the Yankees are now left with no clear-cut No. 3 option in the bullpen behind Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, rather a handful of candidates to step up and take the job.  In order to replace him, the Yankees don’t necessarily need to find a lefthander, but they do need to find someone who can come close to posting that 1.7 PWARP.

There appears to be confidence in the organization that either Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgreen, Bryan Mitchell or James Pazos could eventually help fill in the role. If you’d have presented Joe Girardi that list in July, he’d easily go with Shreve, but his stumble to the finish line last season leaves plenty of questions. It’s unlikely he can survive that type of usage.

Before taking a line drive to the head, Mitchell’s stint in the bullpen had been going swimmingly, with just three runs allowed in 9.1 innings. There’s no way of knowing how the incident will affect him going forward, but he seems to be the most trustworthy of the bunch.

Lindgren, 22, flashed the raw ability to get hitters out in seven short innings, but he’s too young and too unpolished. Pazos might be a guy, but we didn’t really get a good look at him last year.

What happens next:

Well, for one, there might be more trades coming—maybe even some for relievers, or a starter.

The Yankees will likely take a dip in the free-agent reliever market to patch some holes. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, they’ve checked in on old friend Rafael Soriano. I ran through some possible signings here, though a few names (Lowe, Soria) are gone. Shawn Kelley might be somewhere to look, as well as Antonio Bastardo, who can really get lefties out.

It doesn’t seem incredibly likely the Yankees will look in-house for a pitcher to handle the seventh inning, though it’s not out of the question they are reluctant to add an arm from this free agent pool. A trade is most likely on the horizon for a starter, which would move CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova to the bullpen.

(Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

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