Chance Adams was overlooked in all of the Gerrit Cole hoopla yesterday. Understandably so, of course. To make room for Cole on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated Adams for assignment. The team now has seven days to trade or place him on outright waivers.
In all likelihood, Adams will have a new team come Christmas. Someone will take a flier on the 25 year-old righty, whether by trade or waiver claim. I wouldn’t expect him to slip through waivers, though if he did, he’d have to accept an assignment to the minor leagues.
Adams is a Statcast darling; his fastball and curveball spin rates stand at the 87th and 94th percentile of the MLB, respectively. Yet, he’s been unable to find big league success. In 33 innings with the Yankees across 2018 and 2019, Adams owns an 8.18 ERA and 7.07 FIP.
Back in 2017, Adams was one of the Yankees’ more well-regarded prospects. He made 27 starts, 21 of those in Triple-A, and recorded a 2.45 ERA and 3.70 FIP in 150 1/3 innings pitched. Having just turned 23 in August of that year, the righty was on the brink of a major league call up. Thanks to that strong campaign, he was a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball.
Ever since, Adams hasn’t been the same pitcher. He made his major league debut in 2018, but as you can tell from the previously cited numbers, hasn’t impressed. Moreover, the success he had found in the minors dried up. Adams’ control floundered and he gave up homers at a higher rate than ever before in 2018, leading to an ERA and FIP nearing 5 for Scranton. Granted, Adams had always flirted with high walk rates in his minor league career, often sitting around 9 percent. But in 2018, that reached just a hair under 12 percent. And the home runs? 1.27 per nine innings after never having a minor league campaign higher than 0.70.
These newfound struggles appear to have been a result of velocity loss after having bone spur surgery in advance of 2018 . He went from throwing 93-95 to 91-92. This year, Adams suffered more of the same results-wise in his third different year at Triple-A. Too many walks and too many homers resulted in too high ERA and FIP marks. Once again, his fastball sat in the low-90s.
Now, Adams is in limbo. He’ll assuredly have a new taker by next week, and maybe a chance at an extended big league look. The Yankees’ 2015 fifth rounder still has a minor league option remaining too, so a new team would obtain some roster flexibility with him. Further good news for any prospective club: Adams has reportedly regained velocity as reported by WFAN’s Sweeny Murti nestled deep into a Cole article earlier this month. Sounds like work with pitching coordinator Sam Briend has paid off.
Even with some solid underlying Statcast numbers, a reported uptick in fastball velocity, and some ex-top prospect sheen, don’t expect the Yankees to get much in return for Adams. I’m sure they’ll swing a trade between now and the end of the DFA window, but the Yankees don’t have much leverage. It’s a good opportunity for another team to buy low on Adams. A change of scenery along with regained fastball zip could be good for Adams too.