The New York Yankees just lost a key bullpen piece in Michael King. King will undergo season-ending UCL surgery but will luckily avoid Tommy John surgery. Former all-star closer and Cincinnati Red Aroldis Chapman has heavily struggled this year, and so has 2021 breakout star Jonathan Loaisiga. This leaves the Yankees with only a few reliable bullpen arms.
Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star closer David Bednar would provide that elite-level arm in the back of the bullpen for the Yanks. In 45.2 innings, the right-handed reliever has a 2.96 ERA, 2.58 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP. He’s struck out a third of batters faced while having a walk rate below 8%, clocking in at 7.6%. Plus, he has a healthy 0.79 HR/9 rate. There is some slight concern with Bednar, particularly how he’s performed recently, but he’s still a talented arm.
The headliner of this deal is shortstop prospect, Oswald Peraza. Peraza’s .762 OPS, .337 wOBA, and 103 wRC+ might not initially jump off the page, but he’s heated up this summer. Since the start of June, he has hit .308/.384/.534 with a .400 wOBA and 143 wRC+. Now there are two red flags. The first is his 25.2% K-rate and the second is his .382 batting average on balls in play. While those aren’t great, Peraza is a plus defensive shortstop prospect with 20/20 potential. He’s considered a top 50 prospect for a reason.
The pitching prospect also heading to the Pirates is Ken Waldichuk. The southpaw has rocketed up prospect boards this season after putting up a 2.44 ERA, 3.13 FIP, and 1.11 WHIP in 70 innings with the Yankees’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. He’s struck out well over a third of batters faced (36.6%) while having a .77 HR/9. His 10% walk rate isn’t great but is decent enough given his K%. His four-seam fastball averages out in the mid-90s with considerable shape and carry through the strike zone. His change-up is elite, and both his slider and curveball are average offerings.
The third piece is right-hander Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt was formerly a first round pick by the Yankees in 2017. However, injuries have kept Schmidt from reaching his full potential. In his defense though, he’s been extremely effective at Triple-A, posting a 2.93 ERA, has struck out 30.2% of batters faced while having a solid 7.9% walk rate and 1.04 HR/9. Schmidt averages out in the mid-90s with his fastball and sinker while putting a ton of spin on each pitch. With nearly 3000 RPM on his curveball and over 2850 RPM on his slider, Schmidt has a good arsnel of pitches. He could slot into the Pirates’ rotation right now.
Is this a massive ask on the Pittsburgh Pirates end? Absolutely. Baseball Trade Values considered this a minor overpay, and I feel it is a sizable overpay. But the Pirates have all the leverage here. Bednar doesn’t even hit arbitration this off-season. His first round through arbitration comes in the 2023-2024 off-season. The Pirates have no rush to trade him and shouldn’t settle for anything less than an overpay. They dug in their heels to get a good deal for Daniel Vogelbach, and they’d only dig further in for Bednar.