This spring, right-hander Nick Nelson was a candidate to have a breakout season in the Yankees' bullpen.
Eight months later, he was used as a way to open space on New York's 40-man roster, shipped to Philadelphia in a trade.
The Yankees dealt Nelson and catching prospect Donny Sands to the Phillies in exchange for infield T.J. Rumfield and left-hander Joel Valdez on Friday, the team announced.
Nelson and Sands departing means the Yankees freed up two slots on their 40-man roster. That number jumped to five when New York designated outfielder Clint Frazier and infielders Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade for assignment.
All those moves in mind, the Yankees were able to add infielder Oswaldo Cabrera, right-hander Ron Marinaccio, outfielder Everson Pereira, right-hander Stephen Ridings and left-hander JP Sears to the Major League roster.
Friday evening marked the deadline for teams to protect players from next month's Rule 5 Draft.
Nelson ended up posting an appalling 8.79 ERA over 11 appearances (two starts) with the Yankees this season. Given a few different opportunities early in the season, Nelson never figured it out at the big-league level, relegated to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the vast majority of the summer.
Over 29 games pitched in Triple-A, Nelson posted a 3.81 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 52 innings. Perhaps the Phillies will be able to unlock some of Nelson's untapped potential in 2022 and beyond.
Meanwhile, Sands was recently added to the 40-man roster, but is also packing his bags. The catcher split the 2021 season with Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining to hit .261/.326/.466 (89-for-341) in 94 games.
The two players New York acquired in the trade are low-level minor leaguers that are both 21 years old. Rumfield is a former 12th-rounder that made his professional debut in 2021, hitting .250 (19-for-76) over 27 games with Low-A Clearwater. Valdez pitched to the tune of a 1.63 ERA in 15 starts in the Dominican Summer League this year.
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