The Marlins have struck a deal to acquire first baseman Garrett Cooper and lefty Caleb Smith from the Yankees. New York will receive righty Michael King and $250K of international bonus pool money in the swap. A deal involving Cooper and another player was first reported by Robert Murray of Fan Rag (via Twitter); the dollar value was tweeted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Cooper, 26, is a right-handed hitter who made his MLB debut in 2017 after going to the Yankees in a mid-season swap. He turned in 45 productive plate appearances, slashing .326/.333/.488 despite not hitting any long balls and drawing only a single walk. Cooper was quite productive on the year in the upper minors, posting a composite .359/.423/.634 batting line in 350 total plate appearances.
Smith, who’s also 26, struggled in his first MLB action in 2017. But he showed a 93.6 mph average heater from the left side along with a 13.0% swinging-strike rate in his 18 2/3 frames. And he also pitched to a 2.39 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 98 innings in his first full attempt at Triple-A this year. For the pitching-needy Marlins, that’s a background worth taking a shot on.
The Yanks have been hustling to sort their 40-man roster in advance of today’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Cooper, clearly, was not seen as a significant part of the team’s future while Smith had perhaps been bypassed by other relief options. In King, the club will add a 22-year-old who just turned in 149 innings of 3.14 ERA ball at the Class A level — and won’t create any 40-man pressures for quite some time.
Meanwhile, the club has padded its international bonus availability as part of a possible push for Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. The Marlins reportedly had $1.74MM left to work with. But teams can only trade for 75% of their original pool amount. In the Yankees’ case, the team started with $4.75MM, meaning they are capped at $8.3MM total. And the organization had already boosted its pool to $8MM (a good portion of which it has already spent). As things stand, the Yanks have $3.5MM left to dangle for Ohtani or utilize on other international amateur talent.
The Marlins, meanwhile, are engaged in their own roster maneuvering this winter under new ownership. It’s not tough to see how a young lefty would fit. But the team is set at first with Justin Bour, who is deserving of near-everyday time after a breakout 2017 season. He handled lefties just fine when allowed the chance, though he could also stand to be paired with a right-handed hitter. And it’s still possible that Bour could be dangled in trades, though he’s plenty cheap as a pre-arb player. In any event, the Marlins are surely focused mostly on finding as much affordable and controllable talent as possible.