Two weeks and one day ago, third base prospect Eric Jagielo slid into home plate and jammed his knee, forcing him to miss a few days. A few days turned into a DL stint, and, as we learned yesterday, Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee, which may require surgery. He’ll undergo more tests before deciding whether to go under the knife or attempt to rehab the issue. (I’m not sure how rehabbing “loose bodies” works, but I’m no doctor.)
The 23-year-old Jagielo was hitting .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine homers in 58 games for Double-A Trenton before getting hurt. The Yankees’ first of three first round picks in 2013 has swatted 27 home runs in 150 games since the start of last season, so the production is matching the scouting reports that touted him as a left-handed power hitter. Jagielo isn’t much of a defender, he’s a bat first guy, and his bat has been delivering.
It’s unclear how long those “loose bodies” will keep Jagielo out, but I think it’s safe to say it will be several weeks if not several months regardless of whether he has surgery or goes through rehab. In fact, Double-A Trenton manager Al Pedrique told Nick Peruffo that Jagielo is “going to be out for awhile.” Hopefully he can get healthy in time to play the last few weeks of the regular season before making up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League.
Either way, surgery or no surgery, Jagielo will be out for a while, and his injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees. (Obligatory: There is no such thing as a good time for an injury.) The trade deadline is just four weeks and one day away now, and Jagielo sure looked like one of the team’s best trade chips. A power prospect producing at Double-A in an age when offense is hard to come by? There figured to be plenty of interest in Jagielo despite his lack of a clear long-term position, especially since he’s a former first round pick. That pedigree has value.
The Yankees themselves will be able to use a young power-hitter in the near future, though, unlike Aaron Judge, Jagielo’s long-term fit with the Yankees is less clear. Judge will take over as the everyday right fielder once Carlos Beltran‘s contract is up. That’s the perfect world plan. Jagielo will … maybe play first base once Mark Teixeira‘s deal expires? Chase Headley is locked in at third base through 2018, and yeah I guess the Yankees could trade him to clear the position for a prospect, but Jagielo’s probably not going to stay at the hot corner long-term anyway.
A week or two ago we heard the Yankees have “sworn off” trading top prospects for rentals, which is something every team says at the trade deadline. The definition of “top prospect” is fluid though — you and I may consider someone like Jagielo a top prospect, but the Yankees may not, and vice versa. To me, Jagielo fits in that second tier of prospects, behind Judge and Luis Severino. The kind of prospect the Yankees should be willing to trade prior to the deadline to improve the MLB roster. The right rental player, as people like to say.
Now the Yankees won’t have that option. Jagielo’s injury takes him out of the trade chip equation — technically he can still be traded while hurt, but it’s not often injured prospects get traded these days aside from the occasional high-end pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — and gives the Yankees less ammunition leading up to the deadline. The injury is unfortunate for Jagielo’s development as a player and unfortunate for his trade value. The timing is real bad for the Yankees given their obvious needs on the mound and at second base.