The Yankees have traded left-hander Stephen Tarpley to the Marlins in exchange for minor league third baseman James Nelson and cash, the two teams announced. In order to open a spot for Tarpley on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw Brian Moran was designated for assignment. Tarpley was designated for assignment last week when the Yankees finalized their deal with Brett Gardner.
Tarpley, 26, came to the Yankees organization in the 2016 trade that sent Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh, but he’s only logged 33 2/3 innings of action in the Majors. Most of that workload came in 2019, when he pitched to an ugly 6.93 ERA with a 34-to-15 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings.
Control was clearly an issue for Tarpley this past season, as in addition to his 15 walks, he plunked two hitters and unleashed five wild pitches. But he hasn’t had that type of issue finding the zone throughout his minor league tenure and has generally been a successful reliever in the upper minors. Tarpley pitched to a 1.76 ERA in 46 Double-A innings (albeit with less impressive marks of 7.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9) and is also the owner of a career 2.88 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 65 2/3 Triple-A frames. His gaudy ground-ball tendencies haven’t carried over to the Majors just yet, but Tarpley has routinely run up grounder rates north of 60 percent in Double-A and Triple-A. The lefty has a pair of minor league options remaining as well, so the Marlins can shuttle him between New Orleans and Miami as they see fit over the next two seasons.
Nelson, 22, was Miami’s 15th-round pick back in 2016. The Cisco College product turned in a big age-19 season in the Class-A South Atlantic League when he slashed .309/.354/.456 with seven homers, 31 doubles and three triples against older competition. But the past two seasons, both of which have come with Miami’s Class-A Advanced affiliate in Jupiter, have been nightmarish. Nelson has racked up 723 plate appearances but has sub-.300 marks in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage: .222/.273/.290.
The 31-year-old Moran is the older brother of Pirates third baseman Colin Moran. He made his MLB debut at the age of 30 this past season, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts through 6 1/3 frames. Moran has solid numbers in Triple-A, where he’s averaged better than 11 strikeouts per nine innings in parts of five seasons, so perhaps another club in need of some left-handed relief depth would place a speculative claim if the Fish try to pass him through outright waivers.