By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — Make no mistake about the big seven-player swap between the White Sox and Yankees on Tuesday night: The trade had no chance of getting done without Chicago receiving 20-year-old outfielder Blake Rutherford from New York.
Rutherford was a first-round pick of the Yankees at No. 18 overall in 2016. He’s lauded for his top-rated bat speed and power potential.
“We loved him in the draft two years ago,” a high-ranking National League executive said. “Blake was on our board, but we never got a chance when he was taken at 18. He is a solid kid raised in California with great makeup and the ability to hit for both power and average. I have him as a .280-.300 hitter with the chance to hit 25 home runs in most seasons. Chicago got a good one, he may come fast for them.”
The White Sox held firm on demanding Rutherford, who was rated as the third-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and a top-40 prospect in the game.
“Blake Rutherford has been high on our evaluation list since he was taken in the first round by the Yankees as an amateur,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “In order to get the caliber of players we wanted to get, we had to include three talented veterans. We view Blake as a similar top-rated talent we have acquired in the other deals. He headlines this deal for us. We believe he will be an impact hitter who will stay in center field. We think he will bring a quality bat and quality defense.”
Rutherford hit .281 with two homers, 30 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 71 games at Class-A Charleston prior to the trade. He has 55 strikeouts and 25 walks in 304 plate appearances.
Rutherford will report to Class-A Kannapolis for the White Sox.
“I am beyond excited to join the Chicago White Sox organization and will be working hard to become the best person and player I can be,” Rutherford posted on his Twitter account while also thanking his friends, family and the Yankees organization.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.