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New York’s trade for Frazier, Robertson stokes old Yankees-Red Sox rivalry

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People talk a lot about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but it hasn’t truly been a rivalry in many years. It’s been a decade since they finished within less than six games of each other in the standings. Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and everyone else who made this Boston-New York games interesting are retired. Heck, David Ortiz held up a “RE2PECT” sign when Derek Jeter retired. There’s no bad blood here anymore. To the extent people talk about this allegedly “bitter rivalry,” they’re engaging in early 21st century nostalgia.

But the trade Brian Cashman made for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle last night makes things a bit more interesting than it has been for some time.

On one level it changes things because it’s a signal that the Yankees, who have struggled of late after a surprisingly good first half, are truly going for it this year. That they would be wasn’t a given. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts, with young players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier getting used to the grind of a full season while New York’s well-stocked farm system matures. The idea: whatever happened this year was gravy, but true, sustained contention for the Yankees would be in the coming years, not in 2017.

While it may have been disappointing for fans, it would’ve been completely reasonable for the Yankees to smile at what they’ve done this year but to stand pat at the deadline, realizing that they’ll have better chances in the future. With Masahiro Tanaka eligible to opt out after this year and with CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda in walk years (and in Pineda’s case, injured) they need to address their rotation for the coming seasons. Those are long-term concerns, not immediate competitive ones, not necessarily amenable to a big splash. By making this trade, however, New York is signaling that it is, without question, shooting to make up the 3.5 games separating them and their rivals from Boston in 2017.

On another level, something about this trade gives us that 2003-2004 feeling in that, as the Yankees improved themselves, they also closed off a potential avenue for the Red Sox to do the same.

Boston has made no secret of its desire to fix its dreadful third base situation and over the weekend there were reports that they were interested in acquiring Frazier to do so. And, like almost every other team, they could stand to add relievers. By taking the best third baseman and arguably the best available bullpen arm in Frazier and Robertson, the Yankees made a bold, ready-for-storyline-based-columns move in the zero-sum competition with Boston.

I don’t expect all of this to translate into Varitek-Rodriguez-style face-shoving or Pedro Martinez-style bulletin board material, but it certainly makes the Red Sox-Yankees a a bit more interesting than it’s been of late. At the very least it should help tighten things up between the east coast rivals in the AL East and give those of us who remember the Boston-New York rivalry of the early 2000s something to talk about.

At least as long as the second place Rays don’t win 18 of 20 and bury them both. That would be a major bummer for us old guys and all the storyline writers, eh?

Mets trade Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers

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The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.

As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.

The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.

Corey Kluber exits game with right ankle sprain

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Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.

While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.