Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Star prospect Yoan Moncada is a free agent after Major League Baseball overhauled its rules regarding Cuban players, paving the way for a bidding war to sign the 19-year-old infielder, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports.
Players who present sworn affidavits to Major League Baseball stating they are residents of another country, have no intention of returning to Cuba and are not Cuban government officials can sign with major league teams immediately, sources said. MLB distributed a memo to teams Tuesday afternoon outlining the changes.
I’m not sure why we would care, since he’s going to sign with Boston.
So now, we could be at or nearing the point where Shields’ best contractual hopes are in line with the Yanks’ most logical levels of commitment. In fact, with so many teams locked into their current budget parameters, it’s not inconceivable that Shields might be dropping into Ubaldo Jimenez (four years, $50 million) and Ervin Santana (four years, $55 million) territory. And if that’s the case, the Yankees have the need and resources to pounce.
The need, actually, is obvious. Shields wouldn’t make the Yankees a clear favorite in the AL East, but is a player who, if we believe the sabermetricians, made a four-win difference for the Royals in 2014. And for whatever it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections see the Yankees as an 80-win team. Another four wins could be the difference between contention and mediocrity.
If you can get Shields for anything in the four year, $60M range, I think you’d have to do it. Even with the potential loss of a first round pick. Of course if the choice is Yoan Moncada or Shields, give me Moncada.
Monday, February 2, 2015
As spring training nears, the Yankees seemingly continue to formulate a plan on how to best use the returning Alex Rodriguez.
It seems the way they’ve chosen is to use him in a few places.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi plans to use Rodriguez at third base, designated hitter and will also see if he can play first base as well. Third baseman Chase Headley was re-signed to a four-year deal this offseason and Mark Teixeira remains ensconced at first.
“I think it’s only fair to see where he’s at physically,” Girardi told the New York Post. “We have to take our time and not make an evaluation too early in spring training, because he hasn’t played a lot in the last year-and-a-half.”
They should play him at shortstop so he can set the career record for homers by a shortstop. Then maybe they can throw him a $6M milestone bonus for the achievement..
Friday, January 30, 2015
The Yankees have signed journeyman pitcher Scott Baker to a minor league deal, according to a Baseball America report.
Baker pitched for the Rangers last season, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA in 17 relief appearances and eight starts. He had a 1.19 WHIP.
Baker spent the first seven years of his career with the Twins. There he went 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA as a starting pitcher.
Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. He missed the entire 2012 season and made just three starts in 2013.
Baker had an excellent stretch there for Minnesota from 2008-2011 before he required Tommy John Surgery in 2011 (4.4 WAR in 2008, 3.3 in 2009, 1.7 in 2010 and 4.3 in 2011), but he missed all of 2012 and nearly all of 2013 recovering from the surgery. He is a good warning that not every pitcher recovers fine from Tommy John Surgery. He was awful last year for Texas, but I assume that the Yankees are willing to bet that perhaps a little bit of that 2008-2011 talent resurfaces and he might be able to help in the rotation at some point this season.
The most likely scenario, though, is that he doesn’t start a single game for the Yankees this season.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
SENDAI – New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who missed two months last season due to an elbow injury, worked out ahead of his second big league season on Thursday.
Using the indoor facility of his former club, the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka ran sprints, practiced fielding and played catch — in which he mixed in some breaking balls.
“So far so good — including that (the elbow),” said Tanaka, who returned from a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow to make two starts at the end of the season.
I hope I can get over my fear that Tanaka’s elbow ligament is going to snap on every single pitch he throws this year, because it’s going to make it a bit harder to enjoy his starts. I guess this qualifies as good news anyway.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada no longer needs a specific unblocking license to play baseball in the United States, paving the way for Major League Baseball teams to pursue him with a contract most expect to shatter bonus records, government and major league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Recent changes by the Obama administration allow native Cubans who can prove permanent residence in a third country to receive a general unblocking license and avoid the sometimes-arduous application process for an Office of Foreign Asset Controls specific license, which was previously needed to do business in the U.S. Moncada, who left Cuba for Guatemala in August, has a permanent residency document, a Guatemalan National Identity Card and a statement from a Guatemala-based bank as proof of residency, sources familiar with his case told Yahoo Sports.
Any person who meets the requirements for a general unblocking license no longer will be issued a specific unblocking license, a Treasury Department official told Yahoo Sports, putting the onus on MLB to verify Moncada’s residency and allow teams to begin negotiating contracts with him. Moncada had been waiting for a specific license from OFAC since late September, sources said, the only holdup in an expected bidding war for his services.
MLB was drafting a letter to OFAC on Tuesday asking for a meeting in the near future to clarify the new regulations and potentially change league policy, which requires a specific unblocking license. Should a meeting take place soon, one league official estimated Moncada could be free to negotiate with teams within two weeks.
Remember that last piece I wrote a couple of hours ago?
Well, apparently the Baseball America article in that piece has led to a change in MLB policies. The Baseball America article claims that the U.S. government no longer required specific licenses, but MLB was still requiring them. Obviously, after it came out, people started drilling MLB about it and they said, “Okay, we’ll go with the current standard.”
So expect Moncada to be up for bidding soon - hopefully the Yankees can find a way to sign him. I’d give him up to a $45 million bonus (that’d be $90 million total, with the 100% penalty). Anything over that, I’d let another team take him, although I guess $50 million wouldn’t be too nuts.
Major League Baseball, not the United States government, is the reason that Yoan Moncada and several other Cuban players have yet to begin their careers.
The U.S. has an embargo against Cuba, which means Cuban nationals must be regarded as “unblocked” by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before they can work for a U.S. company.
Moncada, though, has already met the government’s requirements to be able to begin his career. Moncada has permanent residence in Guatemala. Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s “general license,” which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.
The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC. That goes beyond what the government requires from Cuban players to be able to begin their careers, and with some players waiting six months to receive their licenses, MLB’s policy has added a significant bottleneck for those players.
Obviously, this seems like a bit of a cause for concern since the Yankees need Moncada to become eligible during the current international free agent signing period, which ends June 15th.
That said, Yoan Lopez went through this and ended up signing, so I think this just delays things. Lopez started his process about two weeks before Moncada started his, so I imagine Moncada will become eligible soon. Unless, of course, there is some vast conspiracy to keep the Yankees or Red Sox from signing him. That seems unlikely.
Monday, January 26, 2015
The frayed relations between the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez are bound to be front and center when their one-time superstar reports to spring training next month with the goal of not only making the team but of cashing in on the marketing bonuses tied to his move up the ladder toward the all-time home run record.
As the Daily News first reported Saturday, the Yankees have declined to meet with Rodriguez as he attempts to mend relationships with Major League Baseball and prepares to re-enter the game following his season-long drug suspension, and are preparing for a battle to nullify the marketing bonuses that are separate from the remaining $61 million on A-Rod’s player contract.
Rodriguez, who has 654 career home runs, needs to hit just six more to tie Willie Mays’ 660 and become eligible for a $6 million bonus. The marketing deal also calls for him to receive $6 million if he ties Babe Ruth (714), another $6 million if he ties Hank Aaron (755) and yet another $6 million if surpasses Barry Bonds (762) to become baseball’s all-time home run king.
The Yankees, however, now view the marketing bonuses as worthless and invalid, according to sources, the result of Rodriguez’s suspension for violating the game’s collectively bargained drug policy and his scorched-earth attack on baseball and the Yankees. The club plans to do battle with its onetime superstar over paying the bonuses, and is prepared to fight Rodriguez if he files a grievance with the Players’ Association.
On the one hand, this sounds idiotic by the Yankees because it’s only drawing more negative attention to them for what is likely to be just an additional $6 million. An additional $6 million that could possibly not even come into play if A-Rod is not physically ready to play baseball. The guy is coming off an entire year’s layoff and he has had multiple hip injuries and he’s 39 years old. It is not hard to believe at all that he might not be able to be the Yankees everyday designated hitter this season, in which case he might not even get the six home runs needed to pass Willie Mays.
On the other hand, since this is a separate marketing deal, the Yankees have an actual chance of winning this fight. They can’t void his playing contract, but they at least have a real chance of successfully arguing that his steroid use has made this marketing deal valueless.
Going back to the first hand, though, if I’m A-Rod’s lawyer, I use this case to basically put the Yankees into the pillory through discovery. Do you really think that the Yankees had no idea that A-Rod was using steroids? Why would they want to open themselves up to the negative PR for a measly $6 million? If the other milestones were to ever actually come into play, the Yankees should be thrilled, since that would mean A-Rod is actually healthy and producing at a high level.
I imagine, though, that this is more a matter of the relationship between the Yankees and A-Rod being so toxic that the Yankees would gladly drag themselves through the mud if it meant damaging A-Rod in any way (granted, I do believe that it legitimately does gall them to pay him $6 million for a meaningless event).
The Yankees’ drafts have been solid the last two years, with the three late first round picks from 2013 ranked 2nd, 6th and 8th in the system and all are at least meeting expectations so far, with RF Aaron Judge strongly beating them. Rival clubs kept pushing me to move up 2014 2nd rounder (the first Yankees’ pick) LHP Jacob Lindgren up the list; he should be a fixture in the late innings for the club very soon. The depth here is outstanding and is a function of solid drafts, an influx of international signees and some recent trades that added depth to the 40 FV group.
With this bulk process in mind, the Yankees have the most short-season clubs of any other organization: two in the DSL, two in the GCL and two more in Pulaski and Staten Island. With that many roster spots to fill, the team can sign as many players as they want and not be forced (like many teams are) to avoid signing multiple high profile players at the same position that are at the same level. Yankees officials joked that making their Low-A Charleston roster is much more difficult now, with one comparing it to being a top recruit for Alabama’s football team, but struggling to get on the field because they’re so deep with touted players.
I’ve been updating a grid with the updated rankings for each system and the Yankees are the deepest team in all three subsections of the Others of Note section, along with having the most 40 FV players and are just a couple short of having the most 45 FV players. Tampa Bay is the only other team with close to this kind of depth, but the Yankees have two top-end talents (RHP Luis Severino and RF Aaron Judge) that the Rays can’t match, which helps separate the Bombers from Tampa Bay and other deep systems. Right now, I have the Yankees as the 10th best system in baseball, but with the bulk of high upside young talent and five of the top six prospects likely returning to next year’s list making it better than 50/50 that they’ll be even higher next year.
Interesting read by Fangraphs about their evaluations of the Yankees minor league system. FV, by the way, stands for “Future Value.” 40 and above typically means you have a legit shot at making the Majors. Tanaka, for instance, is a 70.
And yes, as others have already noted, this massive article does appear to need a little bit of editing, as there are some sentences that just don’t make sense due to missing or confusing words. One notable one being “To give you an idea of how much Lindgren in his junior season at Mississippi State, I saw him pitch as a sophomore and he was so generic that I didn’t even pull out my camera to get a couple pitches to refer back to later.”