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Yankees Trade Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson to Reds; What it Means Ahead of Deadline

ST. PETERSBURG — The Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Yankees are making changes to their bullpen. 

New York dealt right-hander Luis Cessa and left-hander Justin Wilson to the Cincinnati Reds late Tuesday night in exchange for a player to be named later.

The trade was announced not too long after New York closed out a series-opening victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field, leaning heavily on their 'pen in a close game over the final few innings. 

Interestingly enough, Cessa and Wilson have been involved in a trade together before. The Yankees traded Wilson to the Detroit Tigers in the winter leading up to the 2016 season. In return, New York added Cessa and right-hander Chad Green, two hurlers that have been a constant presence in the Bombers' pitching staff ever since. 

Over six years with the Yankees, making his MLB debut in 2016, Cessa has posted a 4.17 ERA in 292 innings. Early on, the right-hander was making some starts, going through ups and downs as he began to develop at the big-league level. Once he was moved to the bullpen full-time in 2019, however, Cessa has blossomed in his role as a versatile reliever.

In the last two years alone, Cessa has pitched to the tune of a 3.00 ERA in 45 games, striking out 48 batters. In that span, he's made 13 appearances of two-plus innings in relief. 

Wilson, on the other hand, has been a disappointment in his second tour with the Yankees. The southpaw was signed this offseason to bolster the bullpen, but injuries and inconsistencies have turned him into more of a headache than a contributor.


The southpaw has permitted 15 earned runs to score in 18 innings this season (7.50 ERA), missing time due to two separate stints on the 10-day injured list.  

This time of the year is hard to predict when it comes to transactions, but odds are Tuesday night's move is a precursor to something else before Friday's Deadline. 

Trading these two relievers suddenly allows New York to open a pair of spots on the 40-man roster (possibly foreshadowing another move) while shedding some salary. Wilson is making $2.85 million this year—with a player option worth $2.3 million next season—while Cessa is due just over $1 million. Those financial implications give the Yankees a little more flexibility as they hover close to the luxury tax threshold. 

Plus, acquiring Pirates reliever Clay Holmes earlier in the week provides the bullpen with another controllable right-handed reliever, filling in for Cessa going forward. 

Surely more moves are on the way after this latest deal. The question is, how big will those trades be?


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