ORLANDO, Fla. — The Yankees finally found a way to shed Chase Headley’s contract. General Manager Brian Cashman, looking to reduce the team’s financial obligations for 2018, packaged Headley, the young pitcher Bryan Mitchell and $500,000 and sent all of it to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday for Jabari Blash, a 28-year-old minor-league outfielder.
Headley was due $13 million in 2018, the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract, a figure the Yankees considered too much considering his level of production. In three years and part of a fourth in the Bronx, Headley had a .339 on-base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage.
Headley began his career with the Padres in 2007 and led the National League with 115 runs batted in in 2012, the year he hit a career-high 31 home runs. Since then, he has never hit more than 14.
Mitchell, 26, pitched in 48 games for the Yankees, including nine starts, since 2014, posting an earned run average of 4.94. He is likely to have a bigger role with San Diego.
Headley’s departure could open the door for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier, a popular third baseman who was an integral part of the team’s run to the American League Championship Series in October. Gleyber Torres, the Yankees’ top prospect, has a good chance of making the major league roster next year, either at third base or second.
The Yankees traded Starlin Castro, their second baseman for the past two seasons, in the deal for Giancarlo Stanton last week. Like Headley, Castro represented a significant salary commitment — roughly $22 million over the next two seasons. The Yankees added about $265 million in commitments through 2028 in the Stanton deal (if he does not opt out in three years), but even before Tuesday’s trade with San Diego, they were on target to remain below the $197 million payroll threshold for luxury tax purposes.
According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, which tracks major league payroll tax estimates, the Yankees were floating at about $183 million for next season — comfortably below the tax threshold.