The Yankees made their first move of the offseason on Saturday, albeit a small one, trading right-handed pitcher Nick Rumbelow to the Mariners for a pair of young minor league relievers: left-handed pitcher JP Sears and right-handed pitcher Juan Then.
The 21-year-old Sears was drafted out of The Citadel by the Mariners in the 11th round of the 2017 draft. In his final NCAA season, he led Division I with 142 strikeouts in just 95 1/3 innings. Those strikeout numbers were something of an anomaly, as his fastball tops out in the high-80s to low-90s range, according to MLB.com. Sears kept up the strikeouts in the minors this past season. He punched out 51 batters in a small sample size of 27 2/3 innings, giving him an eye-popping 16.6 strikeouts per 9 and a stingy 0.90 WHIP for Single-A Everett and Single-A Clinton.
Then, 17, was signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2016. He made 13 starts for the 2017 Dominican Summer League Mariners, racking up a 2.64 ERA over 61 1/3 innings. He walked just 6 percent of the batters he faced — an above-average number, especially for a minor-league pitcher his age — while only giving up three home runs on the year.
The Yankees drafted Rumbelow in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. Now 26, he’s amassed a 2.73 ERA over five minor-league seasons. In his only stint in the majors, he made 17 appearances, all in relief, in 2015. He went 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.