The Yankees have acquired right-handed starting pitcher Lance Lynn from the Twins for first baseman Tyler Austin and minor-league right-hander Luis Rijo. Fancred’s Jon Heyman and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman first broke news of the deal on Monday evening:
Sources: Tyler Austin goes to twins— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 30, 2018
Lynn, who was an impactful reliever on the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series championship team, likely will begin his Yankees career in the bullpen for a team that already has a fully-stocked rotation with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and the newly-acquired J.A. Happ. Though Gray has posted a 3.44 ERA and 1.26 during July, Lynn provides New York with some extra protection for the back of the rotation if Gray has a recurrence of his first-half struggles.
Though Lynn went into the offseason as one of the top free-agent starting pitchers on the market, he’s struggled this season after signing with the Twins — the first new organization he’s played for since being drafted by the Cardinals in 2008. Lynn, who has a 3.54 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over seven major-league seasons, has posted career-worst numbers in virtually every category this year. Over 20 starts (102.1 innings), he has a 5.10 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 100 strikeouts, and 62 walks.
Austin, the Yankees’ Opening Day first baseman this year, didn’t have much of a role in New York going forward, and he became particularly expendable over the weekend after the Yankees acquired right-handed-hitting first baseman Luke Voit from the Cardinals. In 132 major-league plate appearances this season, Austin has posted a .223/.280/.471 slash line with eight homers. Heading into play on Monday, he had a .247/.311/.495 line with five homers over 106 plate appearances at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The acquisition of Austin may increase the chances that the Twins decide not to re-sign Joe Mauer following this season, though Austin could also be a cheaper (and likely more effective) replacement for DH Logan Morrison while spelling Mauer at first like Morrison has this year. With the acquisition of Austin, it will be interesting to see how the Twins handle Morrison the rest of the way — he’s signed to a one-year deal but has a club option for 2019 that vests at 500 plate appearances.
The 19-year-old Rijo has posted a collective 2.77 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and three walks in 39 innings over seven appearances (five starts) split between High-A Tampa, Short-Season Class A Staten Island, and Advanced Rookie Pulaski this season. He was not ranked among the Yankees’ top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Though they’ve had one of the strongest pitching staffs in the majors this year — particularly in the bullpen — the Yankees obviously weren’t content with the group they had heading into the stretch run. Since last Tuesday, they’ve added Lynn, Happ, and Zach Britton while subtracting Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren as well as minor-leaguers Giovanny Gallegos and Caleb Frare.