The New York Yankees sent pitching prospects Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears, and second baseman Cooper Bowman to the Oakland Athletics to get Frankie Montas. However, he didn’t come over alone: reliever Lou Trivino joined him in his trip to the Bronx.
On the surface, Trivino’s 6.47 ERA with the A’s made more than one fan question why he was included in the deal. However, the Yankees are confident they can “fix” him and help him return to being the pitcher he has always been, closer to his 4.01 career ERA.
“We see a lot of underlying data that excites us,” Brian Cashman said of Trivino, according to Gary Phillips of SI.com. manager Aaron Boone made a similar assertion, stating, “[We] feel like he’s having a little bit of a down year statistically, but we don’t think it lines up with what we’re seeing on some of the underlying things.”
Indeed, Trivino is being a victim of bad luck and some lousy defensive play in Oakland. He had a .451 batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, with the Athletics. However, he is sporting a career-high 53.1 percent ground ball rate, and Trivino is going from one of the worst defenses in baseball to a rock-solid unit.
The Yankees have Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Anthony Rizzo playing the infield regularly or semi-regularly. All of them are average or better, and if the Yanks decide to replace IKF with Oswald Peraza, the infield defense will improve even further.
The Yankees know he can be much better
Trivino also has a 28.4 K% and 8.6 BB%, extremely solid marks. Despite his elevated ERA, he had a 3.84 FIP, 2.92 xFIP and 2.89 SIERA in Oakland. In short, his ERA should be better (much better, in fact) than it is, but Oakland’s decimated roster didn’t put him in a position to succeed.
The Yankees have an elite pitching coach, very solid infield defense, and a winning mentality. Trivino will likely improve considerably in the Bronx.
Per SI, Cashman believes Trivino can be a “wipeout guy against right-handers,” at the very least. He has two more years of team control beyond 2022 at a reasonable rate, and has been very good in the past, with seasons with a 2.92 and a 3.18 ERA under his belt.
He also has postseason experience, with a 1.59 ERA over 5.2 playoff frames – meaning he’s prepared for the stretch run and October.
“He’s obviously been a very good reliever for [Oakland] on some playoff teams and playoff caliber teams,” said Boone. “So to get another veteran guy that we think will fit in nicely to our pen and just add to the depth, we’re excited about that, too.”