Adam Ottavino throws pitch

Ottavino trade is a rare win-win deal for Yankees, Red Sox

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The Yankees and Red Sox do not trade with each other often. Adam Ottavino swapping pinstripes for Fenway Park is an historic moment.

Boston gets an above-average relief arm. Ottavino joins a bullpen which ranked 26th in Wins Above Average last season. The Yankees’ motivation for this deal was to free up cash, which will allow them to spend elsewhere. Perhaps this opens the door to absorb salary in another trade or to pay another free agent starter.

Both the Red Sox and Yankees have been active this winter. Boston has made lots of smart moves around the edges, signing Garrett Richards, Hunter Renfroe and Kike Hernandez.

The Yankees have taken on high-risk starters. They are poised to contend for a World Series berth once again. There are still holes to plug on this roster, however, and freeing up Ottavino’s $9 million salary might help them to do just that.

Boston is paying all but $850,000 of the money owed to the former Colorado reliever. The Red Sox are acquiring prospect Frank German in the deal. This is effectively buying a prospect, but with the added upside of Ottavino bouncing back from a rough 2020. If the veteran gets back to his 2019 self, Boston could get a decent prospect return at the deadline. Ottavino at his best is one of the better relievers in the sport.


Buying a prospect

Of course, it’s possible the Red Sox are in the playoff mix themselves and Ottavino is the foundation of their bullpen. These are the trades a rebuilding/retooling team should be making, particularly big-market ones. It’s very similar to the Giants’ trade for Zack Cozart and Will Wilson.

The Yankees are set up to delve back into the free agency pool. Could they split that $9 million over a couple of relief arms? Does it help them pay Masahiro Tanaka to remain a Yankee? Simply put, with the Yankees clearly operating on a budget, they had better uses for Ottavino’s salary. The Red Sox are the beneficiaries.

Yankees get flexibility. Boston gets a prospect. Both teams get what they want.

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