Wednesday, December 10, 2014
SAN DIEGO — While the likelihood of the Yankees seducing Max Scherzer or James Shields remains small, general maanger Brian Cashman failed to shut the door on the possibility the club will sign one of the free-agent starters.
“It’s not in my best interest to say,’’ Cashman said when asked if the Yankees were going to get in on the high-end starters after not spending money to retain closer David Robertson, to whom they didn’t make an offer.
So one day after watching Robertson sign a four-year deal for $46 million with the White Sox and leave the Yankees’ closer job vacant, the Bombers continue their search for a third baseman, a starter and bullpen help.
The hardest part of projecting what the Yankees could do this year is figuring out their mess of a rotation. While a front three of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia could be very good, they could also be hurt and/or ineffective. And who the hell is the fifth starter now after David Phelps, Adam Warren? Waiting for Ivan Nova to come back from ligament replacement surgery is probably not going to be a panacea as it takes time to get back to full strength, and we don’t necessarily even know exactly what a full-strength Ivan Nova actually is.
The Yankees probably need at least two starting pitchers, because their organization depth in the rotation is pretty crappy. Where will they find them? Who knows…
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
The White Sox have agreed to sign David Robertson to a four-year deal worth more than $40MM, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Robertson has been zeroed in on landing a four-year deal this winter and he found a team happy to give him one with a solid average annual value.
I guess the Yankees’ leverage wasn’t as good as they thought (by the way, when they say “in excess of $40 million,” they better mean close to $50, but I think it might very well be that the Yankees felt that Miller and Robertson were interchangeable and Miller didn’t cost a draft pick).
I get the logic behind this move, I really do, but man, it still is not a fun feeling.
It also sort of kills me that the White Sox are going for it so big right now (this signing, trading for Shark, signing LaRoche) in large part due to the fact that they have three star players signed to super affordable contracts, allowing them a lot of room to expand payroll - Chris Sale is one.
The other two, though, are 1. Jose Abreu, who the Yankees didn’t go after because, what? They wanted to keep DH open to rest guys? I seriously don’t know their motivation in not at least giving Abreu a look to drive his price up at the very least. The dude ended up signing for less than $12 million a year and the Yankees paid Carlos Beltran $45 million over 3 years at the same time and
2. Jose Quintana, who the Yankees cut (to be fair, unlike Abreu, no one here was saying, “No, not Jose Quintana!” And we complain about, like, David Adams being DFAed, so I’m not really saying that the Yankees screwed up so much as it was just an annoyingly bad break). .
Robertson always had trouble for some reason with the White Sox, so it is kind of funny to see him go pitch for them.
The Yankees are now down to just four players still on the team from the 2009 World Series Champions.
Thanks for a good Yankee career, David! I wish they had extended you before it got to this!
Monday, December 8, 2014
SAN DIEGO — The acquisitions of Martin Prado in July and Andrew Miller last week were, of course, designed to improve the Yankees.
But in each case the Yankees also saw players who would create depth to withstand defections and, perhaps, give them leverage in negotiations.
One of Brian Cashman’s selling points to ownership on taking on Prado not just for the rest of 2014, but also the two years at $22 million he is owed through 2016 was that players of Prado’s skill level would cost far more in free agency.
Prado does give the Yankees a lot of flexibility in how they go about filling the gaping holes they have on their roster. The more I think about it, the more I am ok with letting Headley go and giving Robert Refsnyder first crack at 2B, with Prado at 3B. On paper, it might cost the Yankees about two wins, but I just don’t like the idea of committing to Headley for four years given his age, his known back issues and his good but not great track record.
As for Robertson, I would love to see him back, but if the Yankees decide he’s not worth what it will take to sign him I’d be fine with them finding a stop-gap type like Jason Grilli to pitch the ninth so they can leverage Betances and Miller more optimally. I’m not sure I’d be as good with them anointing Miller or Betances as ‘the closer.’
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The Yankees Starting Pitching - The Now (briefly), The Near Future and the Distant Future
We’ve been telling ourselves that the Yankees rotation is a strength all offseason. It very well could be, but it’s tenuous, especially following the Gregorious-Greene trade (and I’m not a huge fan of Greene). Even with CC relegated to a mid/end of the rotation starter, the Yankees rotation has serious elite level potential. When they were healthy, Tanaka and Pineda were top tier pitchers, Tanaka was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball when he was actually pitching.
Unfortunately, they were not healthy. Pineda still carries concerns over the sturdiness of his shoulder and Tanaka is pitching with a compromised elbow. Phelps is OK as a back end starter, he might even be an above average 4th starter. No one is really sure what CC is anymore, It’s possible that he could pull a Mussina and reinvent himself as a crafty (actual) lefty. But he’s likely going to be more of a left-handed Phelps.
Even though I didn’t have a ton of faith in Greene’s ability to repeat his 2014 success, moving him opened up a huge hole in the rotation, not just in the fact that he was one of the 5 projected rotation members, but that he was also the only dedicated starter without any recent or pertinent health issues.
Nova will return at some point to bolster the rotation, and he could be anywhere from the #2 he has teased in the past to the AAAA starter he has confounded us with as well. Where it was important that the Yankees sign an established MLB starter before, it is now nearly as important that they sign 2. They have Whitley, Warren, Esmil Rogers and Jose De Paula but (spoiler) none of them are guys you want making a ton of starts.
Even if they do, with the health question marks surrounding the rotation, it is nearly certain that the Yankees will have to dip into their MiL depth. So let’s take a look at what’s available:(Click Comments to read more)
Friday, December 5, 2014
The Yankees and Andrew Miller have agreed to a four-year, $36MM contract, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. Miller is a client of Frontline Athlete Management.
The 29-year-old Miller (30 next May) broke out in a huge way in 2014, pitching to a 2.02 ERA with an eye-popping 14.9 K/9 (an AL record), 2.5 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 62 1/2 innings for the Red Sox and Orioles. He went on to throw another 7 1/3 shutout innings with an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in the postseason as well. Miller will pair with Dellin Betances — an electric breakout story himself — at the back of the Yankee bullpen, giving manager Joe Girardi a pair of dominant late-inning options.
This probably means David Robertson is gone, which sort of stinks, but CAIRO projects them almost identically for next year.
FIP: Fielding-independent pitching
RAR: Runs saved above replacement level using RA
WAR: Wins above replacement level (RAR divided by 10)
When you see that, and you factor in that the Yankees will likely be spending less on Miller and will gain a compensation pick when Robertson signs elsewhere, this is a pretty solid move. If they do bring back Robertson as well, they could have a really nasty back-end of the bullpen, but I can’t see that happening at this point.
It was a treat to see Robertson come up as a non-prospect and become a truly magnificent reliever, and I’m sad that he’s likely gone, but it’s pretty hard to justify paying him what he’s looking for. I wish the Yankees had tried to extend him prior to the season when they may have been able to keep him at a more reasonable committment, but they didn’t and here’s where we are now.
Last year was Miller’s first truly dominant season, but his stuff is top-shelf, and he’s got a great prospect pedigree. He’s also a completely different pitcher now as a reliever than he was when he was a struggling starter. I don’t know that he carries more risk to be ineffective than any other pitcher, really. So I’ll give the Yankees a lukewarm thumbs up here, only because of my emotional attachment to Robertson. As a pure baseball move, I can’t find fault with this if this is the going rate for a high-end free agent reliever.
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.
It’s a three-team deal with the Tigers and D-backs. Detroit is getting starting pitcher Shane Greene from the Yankees and Arizona is getting starting pitcher Robbie Ray and a minor leaguer from Detroit.
According to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti, general manager Brian Cashman tried to acquire Gregorius at last year’s Winter Meetings but was unsuccessful.
This trade really doesn’t make sense for Detroit, as they specifically targeted Robbie Ray in the Doug Fister trade just last year and now they’re flipping him for Shane Greene? Weeeeird.
As for the Yankees, this is getting a very strong value for Shane Greene, who had a great rookie season but whose minor league numbers never suggested that he would be as good as he was in his first year as a Yankee, suggesting perhaps that there was a crash coming. Gregorius is a very good defender with such good range that it should help whoever the Yankees pair him with at second. In addition, there are signs that Gregorius’ is not as bad of a hitter as he has shown in the Majors so far. As Marc Simon pointed out, Gregorius was one of just 34 Major Leaguers with a hard hit rate of 20% or greater last season. That’s a good sign for a hitter (he was right behind Giancarlo Stanton). Plus, as a lefty he should do well with the short porch at Yankee Stadium (his first Major League at-bat was a home run at Yankee Stadium).
Good move by Cashman, although it highlights that the Yankees now really need another starting pitcher, possibly two even.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Now, however, the Headley fever seems to have cooled, especially since the Pablo Sandoval deal with the Red Sox—five years, $95 million—seems to have stiffened Headley’s resolve to get a five-year deal of his own. According to a baseball source I spoke with Tuesday, the Yankees are not willing to give Headley five years, considering his age (31 in May), so-so offensive production the past two seasons, and lingering lower back problems, which could lead to surgery at some point over the length of a five-year contract.
This could all be posturing, of course, in the hopes that Headley will back off on his demands. Or it could be that the Yankees are seriously considering an influx of youth in their infield.
The source, who has intimate knowledge of the team’s inner workings, said the Yankees are exploring the possibility of using Martin Prado at third, where he has played most of his big league games, and giving young Rob Refsnyder every opportunity to win the second-base job in spring training.
“There are a lot of people in [the Yankees’] organization who want to give Refsnyder a shot,” the source said. “They think he’s [their] best hitter.”
No way in hell I go to five years on Headley. Refsnyder does appear to deserve a chance, and CAIRO thinks he’s ready to hit passably well at the MLB level in 2015 (.251/.320/.385). Sadly, that line may actually make him the Yankees’ best hitter. If he hits his 65% CAIRO forecast of .261/.337/.412 he is almost at Headley’s baseline.
Even if Refsnyder’s not their best hitter (and it’s not fair to ask a rookie to provide the kind of dynamic game-changing offense that TPBG™ provides), Refsnyder at least provides some intrigue and is a player I would find interesting to watch on a team that has become increasingly difficult to watch. His glove is likely still a work in progress and he may not hit right out of the chute, but I would be fine with the Yankees taking a chance on him.
Hopefully if they do so, they’re willing to be patient with him if he exhibits any growing pains.
The Yankees non-tendered outfielder Slade Heathcott, and pitchers Jose Campos and David Huff prior to Tuesday’s deadline, making them free agents, reports the New York Post.
I’m a bit surprised that the Yankees non-tendered Heathcott and Campos, but without knowing what their medical reports look like I’ll assume they know what they’re doing. I’ll ignore the fact that they could have kept them both for less than one-fourth of what they will be paying Esmil Rogers to provide replacement level innings, because that makes it harder to assume that they know what they’re doing.
As for Huff, I expect him to be in pinstripes again at some point during the 2015 season.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Sportsnet.ca: Yankees Avoid Arbitration With Esmil Rogers
I was on the fence with whether the Yankees would non-tender Esmil Rogers, as they definitely seemed to be a fan of him after they picked him up and he certainly has some talent, so it is not a huge shock that they avoided arbitration with him and re-signed him to a deal for $1.48 million (roughly half of which is guaranteed), but it is still a bit of a surprise, especially since that means that there is one less 40-man roster spot available for other moves.
The Yankees have a bunch of decisions to make today.
Teams have until midnight to offer new deals to unsigned players. The Yankees six players eligible for salary arbitration. If it doesn’t offer one of them a contract, he would become a free agent.
Some of the Yankees’ decisions are easy — of course they’ll offer Michael Pineda a contract. But what about relievers David Huff and Esmil Rogers, two players they might consider replaceable?
The six Yankees eligible for arbitration are:
I am guessing they will tender everyone but Huff and Rogers.