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White Sox land Blake Rutherford in seven-player deal with Yankees

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Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Todd Frazier heading to New York

Chicago White Sox v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Unlike the White Sox-Cubs trade that was only broken by wetbutt23, the seven-player deal the White Sox struck with the Yankees unfolded in a classic #hugwatch fashion. It started with Todd Frazier being a healthy scratch, it expanded when Bruce Levine broke the inclusion of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, and it wrapped up after the game when the White Sox revealed the seventh and final player.

When the smoke cleared:

  • White Sox get: Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard
  • Yankees get: Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle

But it’s probably easiest to split this into two deals. The first?

  • White Sox get: Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo and Tyler Clippard
  • Yankees get: Frazier, Robertson

Thanks to the size of the salary involved, the White Sox couldn’t expect a whole lot for Robertson. Thanks to the size of the salary and the lack of overwhelming demand at a corner spot, less could be expected from Frazier.

The package they netted is headlined by Clarkin, a supplemental pick (33rd overall) out of high school made by the Yankees in 2013. His pro career hasn’t yet gotten on track thanks to a variety of injuries — ankle (2013), elbow (2015, no surgery) and meniscus (2016, surgery). Despite the wear and tear, he’s still just 22 years old, and has posted a 2.61 ERA with matching peripherals over 72 13 innings at High-A Tampa this season. MLB.com called him the Yankees’ 19th-best prospect, although it’s a great farm system.

Polo, another 22-year-old who has spent the bulk of the year in Tampa. He doesn’t rank in their top 30, but he’s had a nice year. He’s hit .298/.358/.446 between Tampa and a couple weeks at Double-A Trenton. He does a little bit of everything, but while he’s stolen 25 bases in 31 attempts this year, the speed may not make him a center fielder if his routes in the World Baseball Classic behind Jose Quintana were any indication.

Clippard is a way for the White Sox to absorb some cash in the deal, as he’s working on the remainder of a $4.25 million salary in 2017, the back half of a two-year contract. He’s had a rough season, carrying a 4.95 ERA and a 4.98 FIP thanks to walk and home rates that have climbed too high for comfort. He’s not going to replace Robertson or Kahnle, but he adds a body to a bullpen that has already lost six relievers who factored prominently into preseason plans, and seven if/when Anthony Swarzak is dealt.

As an early prep pick who is trying to get past early injuries, Clarkin is intriguing in a Yency Almonte-like way, but the return for Robertson and Frazier would seem fairly light. However, if the White Sox pulled this off ...

  • White Sox get: Rutherford
  • Yankees get: Kahnle

... Hahn would be investigated by law enforcement, because the White Sox effectively acquired a top-50 prospect for Gordon Beckham (who netted Almonte, who netted Kahnle). A lot of White Sox fans — Lil Jimmy in particular — wanted to see the Sox pick Rutherford instead of Zack Collins in the 2016 draft. Here’s what Jimmy said at the time:

Summing up, Blake Rutherford is very good. Maybe All-Star good. He will certainly be better than any pitcher on the board at No. 10. Frankly, I am surprised to hear talk of him being available there. The way he handles himself, in the batter’s box and in the field is that method and manner of a player far beyond his years.

Rutherford fell to the Yankees with the 18th pick, and he’s been as good as advertised at A-ball Charleston, hitting .281/.342/.391 with doubles power and good plate coverage (22 walks, 55 strikeouts over 304 plate appearances). He ranks 30th on MLB.com’s prospect list and 36th on Baseball America’s midseason re-ranking. MLB.com says:

Rutherford is a rare talent who has the chance to hit for plus average and power. He has a smooth left-handed stroke with plenty of bat speed, recognizes pitches well, shows signs of patience and uses the entire field. While he currently employs a line-drive approach, he has big raw power and will tap into it once he adds some loft to his swing.

Rutherford entered pro ball as a solid runner and a center fielder, but he should slow down as he starts to fill out and most scouts believe he'll wind up on an outfield corner.

And BA says:

Rutherford made plenty of hard contact in his pro debut and projects as a four-tool player. He’s athletic and rangy and center field, but his arm is below-average and could push him to left field. He also has the potential for plus power, with some scouts putting future 60 grades (on the 20-80 scouting scale) on both his hitting ability and power. Scouts laud his smooth lefthanded swing and ability to cover the plate. He’s an average runner, but jumps and instincts will help him stay in center field as long as possible.

This continues a pattern of the White Sox drafting conservatively (Collins, Carson Fulmer, Jake Burger) and acquiring upside from outside (Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito, Luis Robert, etc.). Rutherford also follows Jimenez in adding another dose of well-rounded hitting and athleticism to the organization’s outfield depth chart.

Balance out the deals, and as long as you weren’t holding out hope that somebody would get more desperate for Robertson, it seems like Rick Hahn did pretty well in leveraging an outstanding half-season from Latham’s Kahnle.

As for Frazier, his absence opens up a spot for you know who...

And we’ll have more on that later.