Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

MLB trade grade: Yankees dump Adam Ottavino’s salary on Red Sox

The Yankees wanted to get off Adam Ottavino’s salary by any means necessary. Curiously, the Red Sox ended up being the team willing to help them out.

Adam Ottavino is headed from New York to Boston in a trade that’s going to raise eyebrows across MLB. After all, the Yankees and Red Sox hadn’t made a deal since 2014 prior to Monday’s transaction.

In fairness, the on-field impact of this deal isn’t going to drastically change the fortunes of either AL East rival. The Yankees are sending Ottavino and Frank German to the Red Sox largely in an effort to create additional payroll flexibility this offseason. The inconsistent reliever was set to make roughly $9 million in 2021.

Brian Cashman and his front office clearly didn’t believe Ottavino was worth that price. That’s why he’s been moved to Boston along with German in exchange for a player to be named later. The identity of that future player won’t change the value of this transaction much. It’s already appropriate to question which side won the deal.

Who won the Adam Ottavino trade between the Yankees and Red Sox?

Yankees Get

Player to be named later

Red Sox Get

Adam Ottavino

Frank German


Yankees Grade: B

It’s hard to give New York’s front office credit for correcting what was a poor investment in free agency. Salary dumps aren’t nearly as common in MLB as they are in say, the NBA, but that’s what this was. The Yankees are serious about staying under the luxury tax in 2021 and offloading Ottavino’s salary buys the team valuable breathing space.

Don’t be surprised if the Yankees make a signing pretty soon after the Ottavino trade is formally completed. Brett Gardner or Masahiro Tanaka could find themselves in pinstripes again with the money previously allocated to Ottavino.

Parting with German is a relatively small price to pay for the privilege of moving one bloated salary. He’s got a live arm, but his struggles with control have prevented him from becoming an elite prospect to date. He’s effectively a lottery ticket for the Red Sox.

Red Sox Grade: C-

This isn’t a bad deal from Boston’s perspective, but they could have pushed to get a little bit more out of their bitter rivals. The Red Sox will hope Ottavino can bounce back in 2021 after a really ugly 2020 campaign. He might not be worth the $11 million they’ll need to pay him next season, but it’s also unlikely that he’ll become dead salary. It’s reasonable to think he’ll be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million.

The question is whether the combination of German and the $850,000 New York is sending Boston in the deal makes it a worthwhile move for the Red Sox. German has to eventually become a decent major leaguer for the gamble to pay off.

There’s certainly a chance he ascends to those heights, but the odds favor his career fizzling out in the minors before he makes an impact in the bigs. The Red Sox should have pushed the Yankees for a slightly better prospect. Someone already on New York’s 40-man roster would have represented a nice coup for Boston’s front office.

As it stands, they’ve done New York a sizable favor without getting a ton in return. The trade won’t damage Boston in the long haul, but it shouldn’t be regarded as a positive for the Red Sox.

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