May 26, 2024

Following the Yankees’ acquisitions of Juan Soto, Trent Grisham, and Alex Verdugo through trades, it became evident that Estevan Florial had no future with the team. Despite being consistently overlooked in favor of other outfielders like Billy McKinney, Franchy Cordero, Aaron Hicks, Willie Calhoun, Greg Allen, or Jake Bauers on the depth chart, Florial’s prospects with the Yankees seemed bleak. To address this, the Yankees traded Florial to the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for right-hander Cody Morris. While this may seem like a low-profile deal, it has the potential to benefit both teams.

Florial, in need of a change of scenery, could find more playing time in Cleveland, increasing his chances of a breakout, especially if he can improve his consistency against breaking balls. On the other hand, Morris presents the Yankees with a valuable depth arm to fill the void left by the Juan Soto trade. At 27 years old, Morris, with just one season of service time, offers a cost-effective and controllable option for the Yankees in 2024 and 2025.

Cleveland Guardians v. Minnesota Twins

Morris possesses a diverse pitching repertoire, including a four-seam fastball averaging 95.2 mph, a cutter, a changeup, and a curveball. Despite a disappointing 6.75 ERA in the past season, the small sample size of eight innings and his previous success in Triple-A with a 3.74 ERA in 33.2 innings suggests he has untapped potential. Morris has demonstrated a strikeout ability, with 32 strikeouts in 31.2 major league innings since 2022, but his control issues (5.12 walks per nine innings) and susceptibility to home runs (1.71 per nine innings) are areas for improvement.

Analysis of Morris’s pitch performance reveals that his fastball and cutter, despite their high usage, have not produced optimal results. Inefficiencies in spin efficiency and command have been identified as limiting factors. However, the Yankees, known for their expertise in pitching optimization, may be able to enhance Morris’s fastball effectiveness, potentially through a pitch mix change.

The Yankees may also benefit from Morris’s versatility, as he could contend for the fifth starter position in spring training, given his starting experience. Despite Florial’s talent, the Yankees seemed unconvinced of his ability to reduce strikeouts and evolve beyond a fifth outfielder role. As Florial seeks a consistent position elsewhere, the Yankees hope to have found another valuable asset for their pitching staff in Morris.

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