Yankees trade Adam Ottavino to Red Sox, open space for potential Brett Gardner return

Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

By Joe Pantorno

The New York Yankees traded reliever Adam Ottavino, prospect Frank German, and $850,000 to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash, as first reported by The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler.

This is just the second time since 1998 that the hated rivals have made a trade with each other. 

For the Yankees, this was a deal to create some financial relief as the organization approached Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold of $210 million. According to Spotrac, they had approximately $2 million to work with while also needing to create one more spot on the 40-man roster after re-signing DJ LeMahieu and acquiring starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. 

Ottavino is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million deal that would have paid him $8 million in 2021. However, $9 million would have counted against the Yankees’ cap based on the average annual value of his deal. 

That now leaves the Yankees with approximately $11 million to work with. 

In two seasons with the Yankees, Ottavino posted a 2.76 ERA with a 1.370 WHIP and a 12.0 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark. 

With the added payroll flexibility, the Yankees now have a clear path to reuniting with veteran outfielder Brett Gardner, who remains a free agent and reportedly wants to return to the Bronx, where he has spent all 13 of his MLB seasons.

While the Red Sox picked up some valuable late-inning help for their bullpen, they needed more to take all of Ottavino’s remaining money. They now have approximately $5 million in cap space left. 

The prospect, German, is a 23-year-old pitcher and a Queens native that was not ranked within the Yankees’ top-30 prospects by MLB Pipeline. He is 5-8 with a 3.56 ERA over two seasons in the lower levels of the minors.


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