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Yankees trade Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Reds

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Good morning all. If you’re like me, you woke up to a somewhat surprising move from the Yankees today. About an hour or so after last night’s win, the team announced that they traded relievers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Reds for a player to be named later.

Moving Cessa is a bit perplexing, as it may mean more innings for the likes of Nick Nelson, Albert Abreu, and/or Brooks Kriske. Dumping Wilson isn’t surprising. He’s been ineffective and seemed like an obvious option to send packing in order to add space under the luxury tax threshold. In sum, this move appears to be a precursor for more things to come. The front office is trying to meet Hal Steinbrenner’s luxury tax demands while also buying at the deadline.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that we absolutely loathe the Yankees penny-pinching. The Yankees should never, ever, dump salary on a team like the Reds. The Reds! A small market team in Cincinnati. I don’t care that it’s only a couple of million dollars. It’s a sad reminder of how Hal operates this ballclub.

Cessa, 29, has a 2.82 ERA in 38.1 innings this season and a 3.64 ERA since 2019. He blossomed into a really nice low leverage reliever who ostensibly will be tested in higher pressure situations in Cincinnati. The Reds will have him for two more seasons after this one, too. He’s not a free agent until after the 2023 campaign.

The Yankees signed Wilson as a free agent this winter and clearly regretted doing so. He was supposed to be a sturdy middle relief option, but instead, he’s either struggled or been hurt. The lefty tossed 18 innings of 7.50 ERA ball for the Bombers this year. He has a $2.3 million player option for next season.

Per Cot’s, Cessa is due $383,871 the rest of the season, which will reduce the Yankees’ luxury tax payroll accordingly. Wilson’s AAV is $2.575 million, though he’s due $1,041,936 of his $2.85 million salary the rest of this year according to Cot’s. If you take the same ratio of remaining salary to actual salary applied to his AAV, the Yankees will save something like $940,000 in luxury tax payroll here. So between the two dealt: something around $1.3 million in luxury tax payroll savings this season.

So, not huge savings, but it does create a little more room for the Yankees to improve the roster. We’ll see what’s to come by Friday’s deadline.

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Game 85: Offense strikes early, Cessa bridges gap in win

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It probably shouldn’t have been close, but a win’s a win. The Yankees are 44-41 with tonight’s 5-4 victory over the Mariners in Seattle. It’s the team’s third consecutive win, and tomorrow, they can complete the series sweep.

The Yanks tallied all five runs in the first two innings against Yusei Kikuchi, only to go quietly the rest of the night. Early runs were just what the doctor ordered with a spot starter in Nick Nelson tonight, although the Yanks were going to need a lot of offense considering how scheduled starter Domingo Germán (scratched because of a root canal) has pitched of late. Especially when Nelson couldn’t complete the first inning and was dreadful. But thankfully, the unheralded Luis Cessa saved the day in long relief even as the Yankees’ offense cooled off.

Germán did get into this one later, only to make it interesting by allowing a three-run homer, but Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green slammed the door to preserve the lead and win. Here are the takeaways:

Game 39: Yankees easily beat O’s on Preakness Saturday

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This one was over early. Staked with a 5-0 lead after the 2nd inning, hopefully most of you were able to enjoy this beautiful Saturday evening at peace knowing that the Yankees would once again beat the lowly Orioles.

A 2-run single by Gary Sánchez (more on him later) gave the Yankees a 3 run lead before Domingo Germán even toed the rubber tonight. With this 8-2 victory, the Bombers are now a season high five games over .500 at 22-17 and have secured another series win, their 5th in a row. Here are the takeaways from tonight’s laugher.

The bullpen: A great stable of arms [2021 Season Preview]

Newbie Darren O’Day sure knew how to endear himself to a fanbase, huh? There clearly was some intent in that comment early this month. As you may recall, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash touted his stable of guys who throw 98 last year in response to the beef the Yankees and Rays had. It sounded a bit threatening after Aroldis Chapman threw some chin music to Mike Brosseau. Granted, the Rays got the last laugh. It’s a new year though, and this bullpen is clearly pretty good, as O’Day said.

The locks

Although Aroldis Chapman‘s high octane fastball is no longer unique among his peers, he’s still one of the league’s best closers. He’ll continue to blow his upper-90s heat by hitters in 2021, but that might not be his only big threat anymore. Sure, his slider has been effective at times in the past, but this year, Chapman plans to incorporate the splitter he teased last season. It’s looked pretty nasty in camp.

As tantalizing as that split looks, there’s one ultimate goal for Chapman this season: to record the clinching out of the World Series rather than end his year like the previous two postseasons. One last note: Chapman will serve a two-game suspension to start the season as a result of this aforementioned incident against the Rays last season.

Yankees non-tender Holder, re-sign Cessa and Heller, tender others

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So long, Jonathan Holder. He was the one player the Yankees non-tendered this evening. Don’t rule out some sort of reunion, but for now, he’s a free agent. Meanwhile, the Yankees came to agreements with Luis Cessa (reportedly $1.05 million) and Ben Heller (undisclosed). While the Yankees didn’t announce any contracts with its other arbitration-eligible players, it’s safe to say that all of them were tendered contracts. Yes, including Gary Sánchez. These players can still come to terms with the Yankees and avoid arbitration.

With Holder gone, the Yankees now have one open spot on the 40-man roster. Maybe they’ll announce DJ LeMahieu soon? We’ll see. Anyway, non-tendering Holder wasn’t a total surprise, but I definitely didn’t expect Heller to return. No details on Heller’s contract yet, but I’m sure it’s below the $700-800k that MLB Trade Rumors projected. As for Cessa: the $1.05 million agreement is below the $1.1-$1.3 million range estimated.

Around the league, there are a few players non-tendered who likely will interest the Yankees. Namely: Kyle Schwarber, David Dahl, Eddie Rosario, and Archie Bradley, among others. We’ll talk about them more in the coming days and weeks.

Earlier this week, we crowdsourced who the Yankees should non-tender tonight. There are some…interesting decisions made by some of you here. But the players with the most votes are those who you would expect.

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