Yanks trade Ronald Herrera to Rangers for pitching prospect

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Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The Yankees have traded right-hander Ronald Herrera to the Rangers for lefty pitching prospect Reiver Sanmartin, the team announced. Similar to the Nick Rumbelow trade, this one is designed to open a 40-man roster spot prior to tonight’s deadline to set the roster for the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees now have four open 40-man spots.

Herrera, 22, came over from the Padres two years ago in the Jose Pirela trade. He threw 212.1 innings with a 3.22 ERA (3.27 FIP) at mostly Double-A and Triple-A the last two seasons, and did get into two games with the Yankees this year. Herrera allowed two runs in three innings in those two games. MLB.com did not rank him among New York’s top 30 prospects.

The 21-year-old Sanmartin turned pro in 2015 and posted a 2.45 ERA (3.06 FIP) with 19.7% strikeouts and 3.2% walks in 66 innings split between two Single-A levels this summer. MLB.com does not rank him among the top 30 Rangers prospects. Here’s a scouting report from Gerry Fraley last year:

After two years in the Dominican Summer League, Sanmartin has jumped to the Low-A South Atlantic League this season. Sanmartin, 21, has a small frame at 5 feet 10 and 160 pounds. He has a low-90s mph fastball that sinks and complements it with a good changeup. The key to Sanmartin’s success is his ability to repeat a good delivery and throw strikes. For the season, he has 44 strikeouts with only five walks in 50 2/3 innings. Good athlete and high baseball IQ.

Herrera was one of the most obvious candidates to lose his 40-man roster spot this offseason, so rather than designate him for assignment and put him on waivers, the Yankees were able to turn him into a lefty pitching prospect. Not a great lefty pitching prospect, but a lefty pitching prospect. Better than nothing.

Over the weekend it was reported the Yankees have interest in Jurickson Profar, and the Rangers in turn have interest in some of New York’s fringe 40-man roster pitchers (like Herrera). A Profar trade is still possible, of course, but the Rule 5 Draft roster deadline is tonight, and the Yankees can’t afford to wait around to clear roster spots.

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