If I was being asked to finish this sentence before 5:30 PM this afternoon, my honest answer would have consisted of three words, with none of those being traded, to, or Yankees; unless cash considerations were involved.
This assessment is not a knock on Holmes by any means as I was as surprised as pretty much everyone that Clay had been non-tendered by the Pirates back at the beginning of December; and was as hopeful as anyone-aside from maybe Gary- that he was signed to a Minor League Deal less than a week later. You see, in my eyes Holmes was always one of those guys that seemed to just have so much unlocked potential; first as a starter in the Minors, and then ultimately as a reliever when push came to shove in his last three years with the Pirates.
I mean, just look at his production in May of this year. 11 appearances across 10 innings of work, 0 earned runs and 10 strike outs to 3 free passes. The guy was literally untouchable for a full month of baseball. Unfortunately from Holmes the calendar would flip, and along with it, his production. Over the past two month of games, Clay has posted a 7.45 ERA, a 1.865 WHIP and walked (18) almost as many batters as he has struck out (20). So, obviously not very good; which is why his number being called after Adam Frazier, and before names like Richard Rodriguez, Tyler Anderson and Chris Stratton was a bit of a surprise. And, on the surface so was the return; especially the first name I saw mentioned coming back from the Yankees.
Diego Castillo is a player I first remember looking at as a possible part of the return in the Jameson Taillon trade this past offseason, as well as a guy I have decided to keep my eye on since then. In 58 games this season, the 23 year old Castillo (#22 Prospect On Fangraphs)-who plays everywhere on the infield except first base-has impressed at Double A-Somerset; putting up a .277/.345/.504 slash line, with 11 home runs and a 127 wRC+.
Meanwhile, the other prospect in the trade is someone I became familiar with due to the fact that he has spent most of his time this year in Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with the RailRiders, where my college friend is a broadcaster; and I have been known to tune in a time or two to the games on the MiLB App. Shout out to Adam Marco.
Prior to the start of this season Hoy Jun Park was a decent, glove first middle infielder; finishing the 2019 season season in Double A-Trenton with a .272 AVG and three homers. And truthfully, he remained that way through the first 10 games of the season as well, before he received the promotion to the RailRiders. Now in his last 48 games, he has become a somewhat hard hitting super utility player, who has slashed .327/.475/.567 with 10 bombs and walks just as much as he strikes out-20.6% of the time.
So, we all know what happens next? Holmes finally unlocks that untapped potential and becomes the perfect set up man at the back of the Yankees bullpen. Probably not, but I truthfully hope the best for him.
As far as the return for the Pirates, saying I am impressed may be an understatement. Sure, Park could revert back to the pre-May, 18th, 2021 version of himself, which is not necessary a terrible thing, and Castillo may not live up to his Fangraphs ranking or his 40+ Future Value.
However, on paper, this is a clear win for General Manager Ben Cherington and the entire Pirates Front Office.