Yankees trade Adam Ottavino to Red Sox, open space for potential Brett Gardner return

Adam Ottavino Yankees
Adam Ottavino has been traded by the Yankees to the Red Sox.
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees traded reliever Adam Ottavino, prospect Frank German, and $850,000 to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash, as first reported by The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler.

This is just the second time since 1998 that the hated rivals have made a trade with each other. 

For the Yankees, this was a deal to create some financial relief as the organization approached Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold of $210 million. According to Spotrac, they had approximately $2 million to work with while also needing to create one more spot on the 40-man roster after re-signing DJ LeMahieu and acquiring starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. 

Ottavino is in the final year of a three-year, $27 million deal that would have paid him $8 million in 2021. However, $9 million would have counted against the Yankees’ cap based on the average annual value of his deal. 

That now leaves the Yankees with approximately $11 million to work with. 

In two seasons with the Yankees, Ottavino posted a 2.76 ERA with a 1.370 WHIP and a 12.0 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark. 

With the added payroll flexibility, the Yankees now have a clear path to reuniting with veteran outfielder Brett Gardner, who remains a free agent and reportedly wants to return to the Bronx, where he has spent all 13 of his MLB seasons.

While the Red Sox picked up some valuable late-inning help for their bullpen, they needed more to take most of Ottavino’s remaining money. They now have approximately $5 million in cap space left. 

The prospect, German, is a 23-year-old pitcher and a Queens native that was not ranked within the Yankees’ top-30 prospects by MLB Pipeline. He is 5-8 with a 3.56 ERA over two seasons in the lower levels of the minors.