Archive for October, 2012
Halloween with the Yankees • 10.31.12
Happy Halloween! My costume is … non-existent. I’m wearing jeans and boots, so I guess I could make the case that I’m a farmer for Halloween, but I think most of my press box friends would argue that such a costume is no different from my regular, day-to-day persona.
If the Yankees were planning to spend Halloween dressed as a team that has Ervin Santana in its rotation, they missed their chance. Today the Royals traded for Santana, sending a minor league reliever Brandon Sisk to Los Angeles to complete the deal. I don’t know much about Sisk. His numbers were pretty impressive this season, but I tend to think the Yankees could have easily trumped the Royals by offering a guy like Chase Whitley. Not sure the Yankees would have been legitimately interested in Santana, though, especially given that $13 million obligation.
Speaking of Halloween, here are a few costumes that might help the Yankees next season…
Curtis Granderson as
Pieced together using this year’s home run total, last year’s success against lefties, 2010’s playoff numbers, 2008’s diminished strikeout total and 2007’s speed and batting average.
Derek Jeter as a
With all of his bones perfectly intact.
Mark Teixeira as
Remember when Teixeira could do it all? Hit for average, hit for power, play world-class defense and produce like a perennial MVP candidate with no health concerns — the Yankees would love to see Teixeira in that costume again.
Andy Pettitte as
Young star in the 90s. Reinvented himself. Still wildly successful today.
Russell Martin as
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Two sides of one man: The calm and composed catcher on defense, plus the potent offensive threat at the plate.
Mariano Rivera as a
Frightening as ever, returning to haunt the American League one last time.
CC Sabathia as a
Sure he’s been cut open, but why shouldn’t that make him even better?
Ivan Nova as a
Literally, a Pirate. After a straight-up trade for Andrew McCutchen.
Robinson Cano as a
Who needs a high-paying contract? An eight-year deal making the big league minimum sounds awfully good to me! If Cano would just pretend to not be a superstar for one night, the Yankees might get their dream extension with their best all-around player.
Hal Steinbrenner as
Spending money at will. Consequences be damned.
Associated Press photo
Minor League Year in Review: High-A • 10.31.12
The Yankees only full-season affiliate to finish with a sub-.500 record, the Tampa Yankees were caught somewhere in between Low-A Charleston’s big names and Double-A Trenton’s steady results. There were some standouts in Tampa, but there were also a lot of partial seasons as elite players came and went throughout the season.
Slade Heathcott showed up late, J.R. Murphy left early and Tyler Austin made only a pit stop.
On this roster, you had to look for the flashes. And there were enough of them to make this group worth watching.
Player of the Year
LF Ramon Flores
He’s not one of the big three outfield prospects — Heathcott, Williams, Austin — but Flores deserves a spot in that next tier. He hasn’t hit for typical left-field power, but he’s shown an ability to hit for average, get on base and steal a bag. Because of the position he plays, and because of the other outfielders all around him, Flores is understandably overshadowed. He probably should be. His skill set isn’t a slam dunk to play at the big league level (I once heard him compared to Jose Tabata, and look at Tabata’s ups and downs). But after hitting just .207 in the month of April, Flores finished the year with a .302/.370/.420 slash line in Tampa. He moved up to Trenton at the very end of the season, and will almost certainly start next season in Double-A (probably in an outfield with Heathcott and Austin). First baseman Kyle Roller was Tampa’s biggest run producer, but Flores finished second in the league in runs while ranking Top 10 in on-base percentage, batting average, doubles, triples, total bases and stolen bases.
Pitcher of the Year
LHP Nik Turley
Blisters limited his workload early in the year, but Turley ultimately topped 100 innings for the first time and finished tied for the team lead in innings pitched. He also led the Florida State League with a 2.89 ERA before an end-of-the-year promotion to Trenton. Turley is a big guy — listed at 6-foot-6 — and he’s always been something of a project ever since the Yankees took him in the 50th round and coaxed him out of a commitment to BYU. Opponents hit .235 against him, and he went 7-2 with a 2.33 ERA after the All-Star break. Although the individual innings were limited, this wasn’t a bad rotation with Matt Tracy, Zach Nuding and Jose Ramirez, but it was Turley who most stood out from start to finish.
Reliever of the Year
RHP Mark Montgomery
It’s worth noting that there has to be a separate category here for Montgomery. Turley was excellent while pitching nearly three times as many High-A innings as Montgomery, but the real star of this pitching staff might have been their closer. Montgomery built on his tremendous 2011 debut, and through 40.1 High-A innings, he struck out 61, walked 16 and allowed just 23 hits, none of which were home runs. Tommy Kahnle was nearly just as impressive with 72 strikeouts and 24 walks through 55 innings. Aaron Dott and Brandon Pinder were also good out of the bullpen. Hard to ignore a starter’s workload, but on this roster, the bullpen really shined.
RHP Jose Ramirez
This guy has been a legitimate prospect for quite a while, but injury and inconsistency made him such an uncertainty that Baseball American left Ramirez out of their Top 30 Yankees prospects this season. My friend Patrick Teale — who follows the lowest levels of the minor league system closely and as well as anyone — kept Ramirez among his Top 15 Yankees prospects, but even Patrick acknowledged that Ramirez had likely pitched his way out of rotation consideration and into the bullpen. Of course, that was before Ramirez delivered a 3.19 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 98.2 innings this season. He missed about a month with a strained lat, but his true breakout came in the second half when he had a 2.17 ERA with a .205 opponents batting average through 10 starts and three scattered relief appearances. Ramirez has a big fastball and a good changeup, and he truly pushed himself forward this season. I always consider Double-A a huge test, and that’s next for a guy who could establish himself as a legitimate rotation prospect for the not-so-distant future.
CF Eduardo Sosa
Given the outfield depth in the Yankees system, opportunities for borderline center field prospects are getting harder and harder to come by. But Sosa was given one this season. Slade Heathcott wasn’t ready to open the season, Mason Williams and Ravel Santana weren’t ready for High-A, and so Sosa was Tampa’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter on Opening Day. By mid-July, he’d been demoted to Charleston. Sosa hit just .237/.297/.307 in 241 High-A at-bats, and the results weren’t much better after he was sent down. He’d shown some life in the first half of 2011, but at this point it’s hard to put much stock into what was once considered an intriguing young player with good speed and a good glove. He’s still young — just turned 21 this year — but how many more chances is he going to get in this outfield-heavy organization?
CF Slade Heathcott
Two shoulder surgeries and two strikeout-heavy seasons were enough to create real doubt about Heathcott’s ability to truly capitalize on his enormous talent. The Yankees moved slowly with him this season, keeping him in extended spring training, then limiting his time in the outfield, but the results were as encouraging as anything Heathcott’s done as a professional. He hit .307/.378/.470 in 60 games with Tampa, and he’s since moved to the Arizona Fall League where he’s continued to produce. Heathcott still strikes out a lot, but his .374/.430/.516 month of August — when he had 10 stolen bases without getting caught — gave some idea of his lofty upside. The Yankees still need to see him get more than 300 at-bats in a season, but this year was a unmistakable positive, reviving Heathcotts status as one of the Yankees elite prospects.
Odds and ends
Very similar to his 2011 season, first baseman Kyle Roller hit .266/.357/.471, and this time he was tied for the organizational lead with 85 RBI. He was outstanding in the second half — .286/.371/.521 with 11 homers — and remains in that fringy prospect area as a guy who has produced without generating any buzz. He’s a first baseman, so the bat is really going to have to play up for him to get much of a look, but he hasn’t faded away and Double-A could be a significant step next season. … Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez and Anderson Feliz each hit their way to Tampa after opening the season with Low-A Charleston. Austin finished the year in Double-A, Williams wound up on the disabled list, and Feliz got just 67 High-A at-bats, but Sanchez wound up really hitting his stride in Tampa. After a rocky month of July, Sanchez hit .319/.354/.479 in the month of August, further establishing himself as an elite young hitter. … It didn’t carry over to Double-A, but Rob Segedin did hit .297/.362/.448 in 290 High-A at-bats. … I would love to see catcher Kyle Higashioka take off because he’s such a good guy, but he just hasn’t been able to hit. … Finally healthy again, former supplemental-round pick Jeremy Bleich had mixed results in 16.1 innings with Tampa. Next year could really define whether he’s still worth following. … Big right-hander Zach Nuding is getting extra innings in the Arizona Fall League after pitching to a 3.89 ERA with Tampa. There’s some thought that he might eventually land in the bullpen, but for now the Yankees are letting him start. He’s even working as a starter in Arizona.
Out of spring training, Tampa had the most boring roster in the Yankees system. The elite young players were down in Charleston, the top pitchers were up with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Tampa was kind of barren step in between.
Along the way, though, Tampa saw some of the system’s more intriguing performances. Montgomery seems to be a legitimate standout, Heathcott returned in a big way, and guys like Flores, Ramirez, Turley and Kahnle began to emerge from the shadows. That’s to say nothing of the mid-season arrivals of Williams, Austin and Sanchez.
This was not the most exciting or successful team in the system, but you couldn’t ignore it either.
Scroll down to the bottom of this article by Nick Cafardo, who writes that members of the Japanese media have said Hiroki Kuroda is “content” signing a one-year deal at this point in his career.
In the past year I became pretty close with one of the writers assigned to Kuroda, and several times he told me the same thing. In fact, he’s indicated that Kuroda prefers a one-year deal because it lets him exhaust himself in the course of a season without worrying that he’ll become a drain further down the road.
After his performance this season — punctuated by his short-rest start in the ALCS — a one-year deal with Kuroda would be a no-brainer for the Yankees, who would add a much-needed, proven arm without taking on any long-term risk. Kuroda seemed to enjoy New York, and if he’s up for a return, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees turning him away.
Associated Press photo
Soriano opts out; plus smaller roster moves • 10.31.12
As expected, Rafeal Soriano has opted out of his contract, choosing to cash in on his strong season as Mariano Rivera’s ninth-inning replacement. The Yankees can still offer Soriano a qualifying contract, which would net them draft pick compensation if and when Soriano signs elsewhere.
Two other moves…
• Third baseman Casey McGehee has elected free agency after being outrighted off the 40-man roster.
• Rule 5 pick Brad Meyers has been returned to the Washington Nationals. He spent all season on the Yankees 60-day disabled list.
Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to give the Yankees credit for this much: They always step up with things like this. Here’s the quick announcement from the team.
The New York Yankees today announced they will donate $500,000 to the American Red Cross to support the relief efforts in the Tri-State area associated with Hurricane Sandy.
“The damage and destruction to the Tri-State area caused by Hurricane Sandy is daunting, but we have seen the great resiliency of this region before,” said New York Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. “As a neighbor and community member, the Yankees embrace our role of stepping forward and assisting the American Red Cross, which comes to the aid of so many people through their tireless efforts.”
Something to consider while we wait for Rafael Soriano to opt out…
The Angels are reportedly interested in trading both Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Both have fairly expensive one-year options for next season, and that’s the reason the Angels are interested in getting rid of them. Picking up the options would mean paying more than they’re worth. Declining the options would mean losing players who still have value and getting nothing in return.
A trade would be good middle ground for the Angels.
Question is, would it be a good opportunity for the Yankees?
Clearly the Yankees need starting pitching, and both Haren and Santana have been good in the past (in the not so distant past, as a matter of fact). If the Angels are clearly looking to dump those contracts, then the prospect cost might not be especially high. Would the Yankees be better off with Haren or Santana under team control heading into next season?
Ken Rosenthal says it will be an “upset” if the Angels don’t trade at least one of them. Alden Gonzalez reports that there’s more of a market for Haren.
Last winter’s guide to this winter • 10.31.12
The current Yankees situation is quite a bit different than it was at this time last year. The team has a ton of soon-to-be free agents, more uncertainty about the pieces in place, and no standout upper-level prospect to dangle in trade talks. But in a lot of ways, every offseason includes some similar choices, and the Yankees decision makers haven’t changed, so we might be able to draw some expectations from the way the Yankees approached last winter.
Month-by-month, here are the Yankees key moves last winter, along with how each one ties to the decisions facing the Yankees this offseason.
The list starts with a move that was made exactly one year ago…
Last October: CC Sabathia’s contract extension
On October 31, just hours before Sabathia was sure to opt out, the Yankees agreed to extend his contract through 2016 with an option for 2017. The move kept the Yankees best pitcher under team control well into the future.
This offseason: With their best pitcher locked up, Yankees could entertain the idea extending their best hitter. Robinson Cano has a team option for next season — exercising it is the Yankees easiest decision of the winter — but does it make sense to look beyond 2013? Would Cano, and his representation, make such a move worthwhile for the Yankees?
Last November: Minor league contract with Jayson Nix
One of those moves that’s easy to overlook at the time. The Yankees wasted little time in giving Nix an invitation to big league camp — Nix would later say that the Yankees aggressive pursuit was one of the reasons he signed — and the move paid off in a big way when the Yankees lost faith in Eduardo Nunez and gave Nix their big league utility job. Nix could stick around to play the same role next year.
This offseason: In the past it was hard for Nix-type players to see a path from Triple-A to the big leagues with the Yankees, but that perception might have changed with guys like Nix, Chris Stewart, Dewayne Wise and Clay Rapada earning lengthy stints in the Bronx this year. With a thin outfield, aging players on the left side of the infield, and a recent willingness to give unproven relievers a chance, the Yankees roster doesn’t look as inpenetrable as it’s been in past seasons. That could make courting a Nix-type a little easier.
Last December: Freddy Garcia and Andruw Jones re-signed
The Garcia move technically happened in late November, but it didn’t become official until early December. The Jones move came a little before New Years Day. At the time, Garcia seemed like valuable rotation depth and Jones seemed to be a natural right-handed complement to the Yankees left-leaning outfield regulars. Of course, it’s telling that neither player landed on the postseason roster.
This offseason: Re-signing familiar faces could be a big part of the Yankees winter. Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, in particular, could be key to filling a rotation that’s currently full of holes. Mariano Rivera is also expected back, Russell Martin could be the Yankees best option at catcher, and left-handed-hitting veterans Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez could reprise their 2012 roles if the price is right. Of course, the Yankees have to wonder whether Ibanez or Chavez — or someone else, for that matter — is another Jones situation waiting to happen.
Last January: The night that defined the winter
A quiet winter got really, really loud on the night of January 13 when the Yankees agreed to trade for Michael Pineda and sign Hiroki Kuroda. It was a rotation makeover — it was supposed to be, anyway — in a span of a few hours.
This offseason: Given all the players and money coming off the books this offseason, the Yankees have little choice but to make a splash at some point. Hard to imagine a night like last year’s double dip, but the Yankees are in a position to do something. They have at least one opening in the outfield, at designated hitter and in the rotation. As Cashman showed with the Pineda trade, he’s often able to work below the radar to make moves that no one sees coming. Of course, this winter he’ll be looking for a deal that has nothing to do with April shoulder surgery.
Last February: Last-minute deals with Clay Rapada, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez
Three guys who were with the Yankees all season were not a part of the organization a week before pitchers and catchers officially reported to spring training (Rapada signed the day before camp opened). The lesson was simple: When it comes to the fringes of the roster, the Yankees will take their time.
This offseason: The Yankees are actually well positioned to take their time finding role players this offseason. In Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, they have two options for backup catcher. In Chris Dickerson, they have a ready-made fourth or fifth outfielder. In David Adams, Corban Joseph, Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte and Austin Romine they have Triple-A-ready prospects who could be pushed into a big league bench role right away. In Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and Juan Cedeno, they have guys with good Triple-A numbers who could be just-in-case big league options out of camp (kind of like David Phelps was last spring).
Associated Press photos
Teixeira and Cano win Gold Glove awards • 10.30.12
Mark Teixeira has won a Gold Glove. So has Robinson Cano.
The Rawlings Gold Glove announcement show is currently airing on ESPN2, and Teixeira was just announced as the American League winner at first base. Immediately after that, Cano was announced as the A.L. winner at second.
The Yankees just sent the following announcement with facts and figures:
The New York Yankees congratulate 1B Mark Teixeira and 2B Robinson Cano upon being awarded 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. It marks the third time in the last four seasons that the Yankees have had at least two Gold Glove winners in the same year (also Jeter/Teixeira in 2009 and Cano/Jeter/Teixeira in 2010).
Teixeira led qualifying Major League first basemen with a career-best .999 fielding percentage, committing just one error in 1,055 total chances during the 2012 regular season. It marked the best single-season fielding percentage by any Major League first baseman over the last three seasons (2010-12) and the 10th-best single-season mark at first base in the Modern Era (since 1900). Teixeira’s .999 also established the Yankees franchise record at his position, surpassing Don Mattingly’s .998 in 1994 (2E in 989 total chances).
The award is Teixeira’s fifth overall Gold Glove (2005-06 w/ Texas and 2009-10, ’12 w/ Yankees) and third as a Yankee. He is one of just four Yankees first basemen to win the award and one of three to earn the honor at least three times with the club. Other Yankees first basemen to win the award are Joe Pepitone (three-time winner, 1965-66, ’69), Chris Chambliss (one-time winner, 1978), and Don Mattingly (nine-time winner, 1985-89, ’91-94).
Cano, who led all American League second basemen with 726 chances in 2012, finished second in the league with a .992 fielding percentage while making just six errors. This marks his second career Gold Glove Award (also 2010).
He is just one of two Yankees second basemen to win a Gold Glove, along with Bobby Richardson, who won the honor in five straight seasons from 1961-65. Cano also holds two of the three best single-season fielding percentages by a second baseman in franchise history with his third-best mark in 2012 and his club-best .996 in 2010 (3E in 776 total chances). Snuffy Stirnweiss owns the second-highest single-season mark by a Yankees second baseman (.993 in 1948).
Since his debut in 2005, Cano has played in more games (1,197), made more starts (1,171) and played more innings (10,413.1) at second base than any other Major Leaguer. He has also tallied the most chances (5,891) and been part of the most double plays (788) at his position over the stretch.
AL: Matt Wieters
NL: Yadier Molina
AL: Mark Teixeira
NL: Adam LaRoche
AL: Robinson Cano
NL: Darwin Barney
AL: J.J. Hardy
NL: Jimmy Rollins
AL: Adrian Beltre
NL: Chase Headley
AL: Josh Reddick
NL: Jason Heyward
AL: Adam Jones
NL: Andrew McCutchen
AL: Alex Gordon
NL: Carlos Gonzalez
AL: Jeremy Hellickson and Jake Peavy
NL: Mark Buehrle
Associated Press photos
Minor League Year in Review: Double-A • 10.30.12
Trenton was back in the Eastern League finals this season. It got there on the strength of one of the league’s better pitching staffs, along with the league’s most powerful offense. The Thunder hit 162 home runs this season. No other Eastern League team hit more than 125, and half of the teams had fewer than 100.
There were a few more standouts on this roster than on the Triple-A roster, especially if you’re among the real believers in David Adams, Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa.
Player of the Year
RF Zoilo Almonte
Got off to a slow start in April, then missed a month with a hamstring injury, but Almonte ultimately built on the strides he made in Tampa in 2011. He hit .277/.322/.487 while playing mostly right field and a little bit of center. He had six homers at the end of June, then his 14 in the next two months. He still strikes out quite a bit and doesn’t walk very often, but there’s some real pop in his bat, and he’s secured a spot on the 40-man. After a strong showing in big league camp last spring, he could get a longer look next time around. There are holes here — and Tyler Austin is right on his heels — but Almonte has resurrected his prospect status at a time when the Yankees outfield is thin.
Pitcher of the Year
RHP Brett Marshall
With apologies to the out-of-nowhere performance by Vidal Nuno, it was Marshall who led the league in wins while finishing top six in innings and strikeouts. The sinkerballer was a sixth-round pick in 2008, underwent Tommy John surgery early in his career, and has finally put together back-to-back seasons of more than 20 starts. The results have been encouraging, and Marshall will surely jump to Triple-A next season with a chance to surpass Adam Warren as the first in line for a spot start or a long relief job in New York. He was the top prospect in a rotation that also featured minor league free agent Nuno — and his 2.45 ERA after a bump up from High-A — and lefty prospect Shaeffer Hall, who led the team in innings with a steady 3.67 ERA.
3B David Adams
It’s been a long wait for Adams, who had an ankle injury in early 2010 and never fully recovered until this season. The Yankees never gave up on him — they added him to the 40-man roster last winter, despite the fact he’d played fewer than 70 games the previous two seasons — and Adams delivered in a big way with a .306/.385/.450 slash line this season. In late July, he was moved from second base to third base, and in the Arizona Fall League he’s been playing both positions. If the bat continues to develop, he could be a legitimate backup plan should Alex Rodriguez continue to decline or Robinson Cano price himself out of the Yankees plans. For now, Adams is one of the more interesting prospects in the upper levels of the system. He’s finally healthy, and he’s producing.
3B/LF Rob Segedin
Aside from Dellin Betances continuing to struggle after his demotion from Triple-A, and Graham Stoneburner’s injury-shortened season, there was no overwhelming, start-to-finish letdown on the Trenton roster. The disappointments that stand out to me are Segedin and J.R. Murphy, two high draft picks who jumped from High-A to Double-A midseason without inspiring results. Murphy never really got rolling this year, but Segedin had been terrific before the promotion. He hit .297/.362/.448 in Tampa, but only .188/.253/.279 with Trenton. He had similar trouble making the jump from Low-A to High-A last season, so maybe a return to Double-A will ease some of those concerns next season, but he’s never hit for much power considering he’s limited to the four corners.
CF Melky Mesa
By the end of the year, guys like Mark Montgomery, Tyler Austin and Ramon Flores were adding some prospect muscle to the Trenton roster, but their seasons were more clearly defined in the lower levels. The one true Trenton prospect who made it all the way to New York this season was Mesa, the toolsy center fielder who has the arm, glove, power and speed to be a legitimate big league outfielder. Question is, can he make enough contact to be a viable player? Mesa hit 23 home runs this year, the second-most in the minor league system, nine of which came in a month in Triple-A. In Trenton, he struck out 75 times in 88 games, but he also hit .277/.344/.464. He’s actually cut down on the strikeouts, which is a positive sign, and there’s enough athleticism to dream about what he could be if he put it all together.
Odds and ends
No clue what to make of it, but Addison Maruszak really emerged with a standout season as Trenton’s regular shortstop. Before this, he’d always seemed like a kind of organizational utility man, but this season Maruszak hit .276/.330/.457 while spending time at every infield position and eventually settling in as Trenton’s regular at short. He’ll have to repeat those results to really secure a spot on the radar, but his was an unexpectedly intriguing season. … Along those same lines, utility man Jose Pirela bounced back from a rough 2011, moved away from shortstop, and hit .293/.356/.448 while playing mostly second base and left field. … The minor league system’s home run leader was Trenton first baseman Luke Murton, who hit 25. … The Yankees have already re-signed speedy outfielder Abe Almonte, who’s still clinging to a little bit of prospect status after hitting .276/.350/.392 and leading the organization with 32 steals. … Following a promotion from Tampa, top relief prospect Mark Montgomery had 38 strikeouts and six walks in 24 innings with Trenton. … For most of the year, the standout in the Trenton bullpen was Kelvin Perez, who allowed 47 hits through 71.1 innings.
Combine this group with the guys likely to repeat Triple-A next season, and the 2013 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster could be loaded with intriguing young players who could legitimately help in the big leagues if an opportunity presents itself. The bigger prospects are still a step or two lower, but there are some potentially helpful players on the verge in the Yankees organization.
What’s surprising is how quickly the starting pitching depth has taken a hit. That seemed to be an overwhelming strength when this season started, but now upper-level rotation depth thins out quickly after Marshall and Warren. There are some interesting bullpen arms rising quickly, but the setbacks to Betances and Manny Banuelos have really hurt.
The important thing to take from Trenton’s season might be the development of guys like Almonte and Adams, and the late-season arival of Austin and Montgomery.
Associated Press photo of Mesa
A few mid-day notes and links • 10.30.12
Just a few things floating out there and worth knowing…
• Randy Levine has said Yankee Stadium survived yesterday’s storm with minimal damage. There are some broken windows, no flooding, and the electricity is working.
• Joel Sherman offers five players the Yankees should look into this offseason: Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Jeff Keppinger, A.J. Pierzynski and Scott Hairston. All five make some sense, but I tend to think Hunter is the best fit if only because he wouldn’t cost anything in terms of young players and would probably be open to a fairly short-term deal. Beltran is the best of the bunch, but if the Yankees are trying to get younger and cheaper going forward, dealing for one year of a 36-year-old with bad knees seems risky. The short-term upside is big, but such a deal would obviously depend on the cost.
• The Dodgers are reportedly willing to discuss trades for Andre Ethier. With the Yankees in obvious need of a right fielder — and with a left-handed bat fitting so well at Yankee Stadium — it’s easy to make the connection between the Dodgers and Yankees as possible trade partners. Of course, Ethier is also signed through 2017 (with a vesting option for 2018) so that’s a big-time commitment if the Yankees were to get involved. Hard to ignore the fact his splits vs. lefties are horrible.
• The Pirates outrighted three players off their roster, including former Yankees minor leaguers Dan McCutchen (part of the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade) and Eric Fryer (part of the Eric Hinske trade).
• Jim Leyland is coming back to Detroit to manage one more year.