Acquired RHP Zack Littell and LHP Dietrich Enns from New York Yankees in exchange for LHP Jaime Garcia. [7/30]
Though lacking in overpowering stuff, Littell knows how to work a lineup. Pitchability, feel, sequencing, tempo, and command—Littell gets it. The repertoire: four-seam fastball (87-91 mph), two-seam fastball (88-90), curveball (73-75), changeup (83-86), and slider (83-86). Littell has continued his low-minors success at Double-A, posting a 2.05 ERA and 52/8 K/BB ratio in 44 innings since a mid-June promotion.
While there isn't much separation in velocity, he's whiffed nearly 30 percent of Eastern League hitters while walking just 4.6 percent, and his previous stints at high Single-A included a 17-2 record and 2.13 ERA in 139 innings. Littell is a sum-of-all parts type of pitcher with an advanced feel for pitching, many different avenues to get hitters outs, and a quick working pace. He projects to be a back-of-the-rotation starter with a swingman/long relief fallback. —Javier Barragan
It’s unusual to be able to acquire a four-pitch lefty prospect with a great track record of success for a mid-rotation starter rental, but Enns qualifies. Owner of a career 1.87 ERA in the minors and a 1.81 ERA in parts of two seasons at Triple-A, Enns just keeps getting guys out, and it’s pretty easy to see why. He’s got a fastball that sits in the low 90s with quality movement and command, and will mix in a slider, curve, and change that are all at least fringe-average pitches. With some deception in his motion, minor-league batters just haven’t been able to pick the ball up and drive it.
He’s obviously not going to be this good in the majors, but some of it should still work, even if he ultimately ends up paring down and focusing on one or two of the off-speed pitches. The downside is that Enns is already 26, owing to a string of injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2014. Until his return in 2015, he was mostly used as a reliever, and he’s shown both durability problems over the course of the season and in-game stamina problems. He very well could end up as a fastball/slider short reliever, and he would project pretty well in that role, too.
Enns might’ve been called up down the stretch last year, but instead he was moved to relief and then shut down for innings management. A poorly timed shoulder injury this April caused him to miss out on being part of the cavalcade of Yankees going through the back of the rotation and long relief roles, and now that he’s back healthy and pitching well they’ve moved on to acquiring more solid, proven veteran options. He’s a very good fit for what the Twins like in a pitcher, and should have some solid years as a fourth starter or in the bullpen, assuming he finds a role in which he can stay healthy.—Jarrett Seidler
Acquired LHP Jaime Garcia and cash from Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP Zack Littell and LHP Dietrich Enns. [7/30]
Garcia was acquired by Minnesota on Monday, made his Twins debut (and recorded a win) on Friday, and was traded to the Yankees on Sunday. Short but sweet, that Jaime Garcia Era in the Twin Cities.
From the time they got Garcia from the Braves to the time they traded Garcia to the Yankees, the Twins' playoff odds fell from 17.1 percent to 9.7 percent, taking them from the fringes of Wild Card contention to clear-cut sellers, at least in the front office's view. Minnesota salvaged a weird situation by pulling off a nice bit of arbitrage, hanging onto Garcia for less than one week and basically using him to turn 19-year-old rookie-ball pitching prospect Huascar Ynoa into a pair of high-minors pitching prospects. Ynoa may have more upside, but he's a teenager and non-premium prospect several years from nearing the majors. With the Twins finally reaching the end of a long rebuilding process they valued MLB readiness, and Littell and Enns could get to the majors by 2018.
In an unexpected twist, the Twins are covering all but around $200,000 of Garcia's remaining salary after taking on all but around $200,000 of his salary in the initial deal with the Braves, meaning Minnesota paid $4 million or so to swap Ynoa for Littell, Enns, and one Garcia start. As if Garcia's one-week stay in Minnesota wasn't strange enough, the Twins covering salary for the Yankees wraps it up nicely with a bow on top (and perhaps gives New York enough payroll flexibility to pursue more costly pitching help).
From the Yankees' point of view, they traded two mid-level prospects from a stacked farm system and would have faced tough calls on projecting Littell and Enns with 40-man roster spots, so the price paid for Garcia is reasonable. He's no longer the frontline starter he was for the Cardinals before an assortment of arm problems, but Garcia is a solid mid-rotation veteran with ERAs and DRAs in the mid-4.00s who has shown surprising durability this year and last year. His strikeout rate is decent, he's one of the most extreme ground-ball starters in baseball, and the 30-year-old left-hander is a good fit for a playoff-bound team desperate for rotation stability. —Aaron Gleeman