Yankees trade bullpen arm Lucas Luetge for minor league talent

lucas luetge, yankees
Jul 22, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Lucas Luetge (63) throws fifth inning pitch against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees executed a trade on Wednesday evening, and while it wasn’t for a starting left-fielder, they did add a few minor-league prospects to the mix. The Bombers sent left-handed bullpen arm Lucas Luetge to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Caleb Durbin and Indigo Diaz.

Luetge is coming off two consecutive seasons of sub-3.00 ERA ball. He hosted a 2.67 ERA across 57.1 innings with the Yankees in 2022. He posted 9.42 strikeouts per nine with an 83% left-on-base rate and 35.3% ground ball rate. Given his efficiency, it is odd that the Yankees would move on from him now at such a cheap price point, but at 35 years old, they must be anticipating a significant drop-off.

His Steamer projections have him earning a 3.96 ERA next season across just 10 innings of action, so clearly, they have reason to believe his usage will decrease.

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The Yankees landed some solid minor leaguers in the deal:

Infielder Caleb Durbin is an intriguing prospect at 22 years old. Situated at second base, the right-handed hitter stands at 5’8″ and 175 pounds. He was the 427th overall pick by Atlanta during the 2001 June Amateur Draft, hitting .220 with a 30.6% on-base rate, one HR, and 15 RBIs in A+ ball last season.

He earned a 79 wRC+, playing 202 innings at second base, accruing one error and 19 double plays turned. In A-ball, he hit .249 with a 37% on-base rate, including seven homers and 47 RBIs across 73 games. He also contributed 28 stolen bases. While Durbin has a long way to go before he’s considered an MLB contributor, if he ever reaches that point, there is a bit of talent the Yankees can extrapolate on moving forward.

The Yanks also acquired Indigo Diaz in the trade, who currently features at the Double-A level. The 24-year-old pitcher was drafted in 2019 with the 817th overall picked by Atlanta. With Atlanta’s Double-A affiliate, he posted a 3.08 ERA, 11.42 strikeouts per nine, and a 75.8% left-on-base rate across 49.2 innings. He is an intriguing bullpen arm that could end up as a serviceable player down the road.

In 2022, Diaz started his first eight minor league games logging 19 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA, including three walks across 10.2 innings. He has a fastball that can run up to 98 mph and incredibly high spin rates. He does have command issues at times, but if he can improve that aspect of his game, he could end up with Scranton-Wilkes/Barre sooner rather than later. His ceiling seems to be a late-inning reliever, given his velocity, but there’s still a lot left to be desired.