After a deathly quiet first day of the MLB Winter Meetings yesterday, the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres kicked things off for the meetings this week with the first trade. On Tuesday, New York traded third basemen Chase Headley and relief pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal.
Headley, 33, returns to the team where he spent much of his career. A second-round pick in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft, Headley spent the first seven and a half seasons of his MLB career in San Diego and became an icon of the Padres. Now he'll return to San Diego and serve as a veteran in the clubhouse and start at third base for. Padres team that is still in the midst of a rebuild.
Last season in New York, Headley posted a .273/.352/.406 slash line with a .329 wOBA, 104 wRC+ and 12 home runs. He finished the season with a 1.9 FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement. This season, he is set to make $13 million before he hits free agency.
More importantly for San Diego is the acquisition of Mitchell, which ESPN's Buster Olney reported is the incentive for San Diego taking on Headley's salary. The 26-year-old righty posted a 5.79 ERA, 4.20 FIP and 4.76 xFIP in 32 2/3 innings pitched last season. But San Diego is optimistic the move to the National League and a more pitcher-friendly ballpark could help him return closer to the 3.24 ERA in 2015.
Unloading Headley's contract is the greater reward for New York in this deal. The front office is still looking at adding starting pitching and after they added Giancarlo Stanton's contract to the payroll, the team wanted to find ways to shed some salary quickly.
By landing Blash, New York adds another right-handed power bat for its bench. Blash, 28, is a one-trick player with substantial power as his calling card with a 60-grade power tool. New York may keep him in the minors given its existing depth in the outfield, but that could change if they find a home for Jacoby Ellsbury.