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A year later: Looking back at the Cervelli-for-Wilson trade11.12.15

Justin Wilson

One year ago today, the Yankees made their first major move of a busy offeseason.

It was last November 12 that Francisco Cervelli was traded to the Pirates for Justin Wilson. It was an early indication of Brian Cashman’s plan to use Major League players as trade chips, and it began a series of trades that significantly changed the big league roster.

At the time, the Yankees had too many catchers and not enough left-handed relievers. In the short term, the deal has worked incredibly well for each team. Cervelli became a good everyday player in Pittsburgh, while Wilson became a go-to seventh-inning reliever with the Yankees.

“I think one of our strengths of our team was our bullpen,” Joe Girardi said. “Cervy, if he was here, he would have gotten playing time, but then again, Brian McCann would have been our everyday catcher. So, I think it worked out well for both clubs. Justin Wilson was extremely important to us and was a big part of our strength. We felt if we had the lead after six innings, we were going to nail it down. And it wasn’t necessarily I couldn’t just shuffle those guys and put them in any order; they all did the job. So, it worked out well for both clubs.”

Here are the numbers.


Wilson: 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 74 games, 1.4 bWAR

His strikeouts went up a little bit, and he cut down on his walks quite a bit. Just like in Pittsburgh, Wilson was able to get both lefties and righties out (left-handed hitters actually had a higher OPS against him than right-handed hitters). His emergence basically made up for the disappointment of David Carpenter, and he gave the Yankees a three-headed monster in the late innings. Wilson appeared in just as many games as Dellin Betances, so his workload was significant.


Cervelli: .295/.370/.401 in 130 games, 3.1 bWAR

It’s not that the Yankees didn’t know Cervelli could hit like this. He hit .278/.348/.381 during his career in New York, and he hit .301/.370/.432 in his final season with the Yankees. He’d proven he could play at the big league level. But I’m not sure the Yankees knew Cervelli could hold up through 510 plate appearances. He had just 362 plate appearances in his past four seasons, and although some of that was because he was playing a backup role, some of it was because Cervelli really couldn’t stay healthy (he had a suspension in there as well).

John Ryan MurphyGiven the choice between a good seventh-inning reliever or an everyday catcher with a .370 on-base percentage, I imagine every team would prefer the catcher. For the Yankees, though, those weren’t the options. Had Cervelli stayed with the Yankees, he wouldn’t have played nearly as often as he did with the Pirates. He would have been a backup, getting roughly a third of the at-bats.

In reality, this two-player deal had a third important component.

John Ryan Murphy: .277/.327/.406 in 67 games, 0.5 bWAR

By trading Cervelli, the Yankees not only acquired Wilson, they also opened playing time for Murphy, who was terrific against lefties (.266/.314/.456) and got better as the season went along (.308/.368/.487 in the second half). At 24 years old, Murphy proved himself as a legitimate big league backup with potential to be an everyday guy in the future.

And 364 days after trading Cervelli, the Yankees traded Murphy.

Finding another team that valued their backup catcher as a potential everyday option, the Yankees again showed faith in their catching depth — especially the improvements of Gary Sanchez — and swapped Murphy for another young player with upside, this time acquiring outfielder Aaron Hicks. That trade for Hicks wouldn’t have happened had Murphy not had an opportunity to play, which wouldn’t have happened had the Yankees not traded Cervelli to open the playing time.

Associated Press photos

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Notes and links on Day 3 of the GM Meetings: Cashman talks trades11.11.15

John Ryan Murphy, Alex Rodriguez

Pulling a couple of quotes from The Associated Press, plus one passed along by a friend down in Florida, here’s Brian Cashman talking about today’s Yankees trades:

On the role of Aaron Hicks next season
“A young, exciting talent. We think he’s an everyday player. … At the very least, he provides us what we were getting from Chris Young the last two years, and at the very most he provides us a lot of flexibility depending on how the winter transpires.”

On the possibility of now trading Brett Gardner
“I have been hit on Gardy over the years quite often, and he hasn’t gone anywhere,” Cashman said. “I value Gardy a great deal. … He’s not an easy get.”

On trading Jose Pirela for Ronald Herrera
“It was a straight out roster deal. We got a prospect that is a performer, 20-years-old from Venezuela. He’ll drop into our Florida State League Tampa team or our Trenton Thunder team depending on how his spring training goes. He’s a four-pitch mix, strike thrower and for a 40-man roster guy in Pirela. I’ve got some roster crunches with some protection issues as well as some anticipated signing guys off the free agent or trades. Just a continuization of cleaning up my roster. I’m just trying to find a match with people on some of the guys at the back of my 40 and so we found one with San Diego. He’s a starter.”

And here are a few notes and links on this third day of the GM Meetings:

Andrew Miller• Ken Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks have talked to the Yankees about the availability of Andrew Miller, though it’s unclear whether those discussions have lead to anything meaningful. Could be little more than checking on the price tag. The Yankees and Diamondbacks have made a handful of swaps recently, so there’s some history there. Would be interesting to see what kind of deal it would take for the Yankees to move Miller.

• Mark Feinsand quotes a source saying the Yankees are considering a run at free agent starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. Feinsand also says Chen is seeking a deal of at least five years, “though six isn’t out of the question given the need for pitching around the league.” Chen turns 31 in July.

• From Rhett Bollinger, here’s the Twins’ assistant general manager talking about Aaron Hicks: “It was tough to part with him because he started to turn the corner last year, especially maturity-wise.” And here’s the assistant GM’s comment on John Ryan Murphy: “We think he’s going to hit. He’s got some power and he has a strong arm behind the plate.”

• Buster Olney says Darren O’Day is a pretty popular free agent this early in the offseason. Olney says O’Day already has offers on the table and will begin speaking with individual managers pretty soon. If the Yankees want another go-to late-inning reliever, O’Day could be a strong fit coming off a terrific four-year stretch and a career-best strikeout rate in 2015.

• Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has re-signed with the Mariners. Back from injury, Gutierrez put up surprisingly good numbers this season, including a .973 OPS against lefties. Could have been seen as a possible right-handed outfield solution for the Yankees, but that situation might have been resolved with today’s trade for Hicks.

• The Braves have re-signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski. He almost certainly would not have been a fit for the Yankees, though I do wonder if the Yankees will eventually add some sort of veteran catcher — at least on a minor league deal — just to give themselves some short-term insurance behind the plate.

Associated Press photos

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Cashman’s new go-to move: Acquiring big league talent with upside11.11.15

Brian Cashman

In the past 12 months, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has developed a signature touch on the trade market.

Reluctant to trade minor league prospects, and hesitant to add more aging veterans, Cashman has in the past year used existing pieces of the Major League roster to acquire young players who haven’t yet lived up to their potential in the big leagues.

That’s what he did in acquiring shortstop Didi Gregorius last offseason. It’s also what he did in a move for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, in a mid-season swap for second baseman Dustin Ackley, and to some extent in the trade for reliever Justin Wilson.* It’s what Cashman did today in a deal to acquire Aaron Hicks.

Two years ago, Cashman stuck to the old game plan of spending heavily on the free agent market. In the past year, he’s invested heavily in Andrew Miller and Chase Headley, but he’s mostly reshaped his team through the trade market, using expendable young talent to acquire other young talent. So far, the strategy has been a success.

Justin WilsonNovember 12, 2014
Pirates get: Francisco Cervelli
Yankees get: Justin Wilson

At the time, Cervelli was expendable because of young catching depth in the Yankees’ system, and Wilson was a former fifth-round pick with a couple of uneven years in the big leagues. It was a trade that worked well for each side as Cervelli stayed healthy and thrived in Pittsburgh, John Ryan Murphy stepped in and played well in New York, and Wilson emerged as a strong seventh-inning reliever for the Yankees.

December 5, 2014
Tigers get: Shane Greene
Yankees get: Didi Gregorius

At the time, Greene’s value was at an all-time high after a standout second half, and Gregorius was a former Top 100 overall prospect who had yet to stick as an everyday shortstop in the big leagues. The Yankees gave Gregorius the job without much competition, and he thrived in the second half while Greene fell flat after a red-hot start in Detroit. It took a three-team deal to get it done, but the Yankees might have found a long-term answer at short.

December 19, 2015
Marlins get: David Phelps, Martin Prado
Yankees get: Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Domingo German

At the time, Phelps was basically an Adam Warren-type while Prado was a good fit who was deemed replaceable at the right price. Jones and German were secondary elements — a veteran role player and a prospect — for the prize off Eovaldi, a then 24-year-old former Top 100 prospect who’d been solid but not exceptional in four big leagues seasons. Prado and Phelps were each useful and versatile players for Miami, but Eovaldi began to shine in mid-June, going 9-1 with a 3.43 ERA in his final 14 starts.

Dustin AckleyJuly 30, 2015
Mariners get: Ramon Flores, Jose Ramirez
Yankees get: Dustin Ackley

At the time, Flores and Ramirez had a little bit of big league time and they were going to run out of options at the end of the year (meaning they were basically big leaguers or bust going forward), and Ackley was a former second-overall draft pick who had disappointed offensively since making a pretty good first impression as a rookie. Flores got hurt before he could get in a big league game with Seattle, Ramirez pitched five times for the Mariners, and Ackley became an impact hitter down the stretch for the Yankees. With two more years of team control, Ackley could play a lasting role either as a second baseman or a utility man.

November 11, 2015
Twins get: John Ryan Murphy
Yankees get: Aaron Hicks

At this time, Murphy is an emerging backup catcher who could prove himself as an everyday option if given the chance, and Hicks is a former No. 14 overall draft pick whose numbers have improved year-by-year at the big league level. With the Twins, Murphy should have a better opportunity for regular playing time and a better chance to win an everyday job. With the Yankees, Hicks can immediately step in as a platoon player, and he could win everyday opportunities if he continues the improvement he’s shown in Minnesota.

* Just because it might come up: Dealing a prospect in the Manny Baneulos trade and acquiring a prospect in the Shawn Kelley trade weren’t quite the same thing. In each one, Cashman clearly focused on acquiring young talent instead of veteran talent, but those trades weren’t he the same idea of trading a piece of the big league roster for a young-but-still-developing player on another team’s big league roster.

Associated Press photos

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Five quick thoughts on the John Ryan Murphy for Aaron Hicks trade11.11.15

John Ryan Murphy, Jacoby Ellsbury

Well, this isn’t the blog post I expected to be writing today. The Yankees just traded a young, popular, cost-controlled catcher to the Twins for a young, emerging, cost-controlled outfielder. John Ryan Murphy is gone. Aaron Hicks has arrived. The trade has immediate implications for the big league roster, and it could have a lasting impact well into the future. A few quick thoughts on the Murphy-for-Hicks swap:

Hicks1. Murphy has everyday potential, but maybe not with Yankees
Throughout the minor leagues, Murphy made such defensive strides that he wiped out the idea that he was strictly a bat-first catcher who might have to play elsewhere. Given his first Opening Day opportunity, he made further strides at the big league level, finishing the year with a .308/.368/.487 slash line in the second half. He is, at the very least, a good young backup, but he really could become a big league regular kind of like Francisco Cervelli. With the Yankees, though, Murphy was blocked in every direction. He had Brian McCann’s contract in front of him with Gary Sanchez’s bat coming up behind him. Even if Murphy were going to reach his potential, there was always a chance the Yankees would not be able to take advantage of it. They sent Murphy to a team that can give him a better opportunity.

2. Hicks brings right-handed platoon with potential for more
One year before the Yankees took Murphy in the second round, the Twins took Hicks with the 14th overall draft selection. He has long been touted for his five-tool potential, but he’s fallen short of those lofty expectations up to this point. That said, Hicks has gotten noticeably better year after year, and this season he hit .307/.375/.495 against lefties. At the very least, it seems Hicks is ready to replace Chris Young as the Yankees’ right-handed platoon outfielder. If he continues to develop, he could play his way into something even more. In the short-term, he fits as a role player, but he just turned 26 and has four years of team control. This swap could be as simple as the Yankees deciding a backup catcher is easier to find than a young, switch-hitting outfielder with plenty of team control.

3. This trade could impact other trade possibilities
An immediate reaction to the Yankees trading for an outfielder: this makes it easier to trade Brett Gardner. Yes, it certainly does. If the Yankees believe Hicks can be an everyday player — and Brian Cashman has said as much — then they could swap Gardner (or Jacoby Ellsbury, if possible) for either a pitcher or a second baseman or a money-saving prospect. Hicks makes that possibility a little easier, but it doesn’t make it a sure thing. It’s pretty easy to imagine Hicks fitting on a roster with Gardner, Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Makes it easier to trade Gardner, but doesn’t necessarily make it inevitable. The deal also impacts another Yankees trade chip, because it likely makes it more difficult to trade Sanchez. The Yankees could have dealt Sanchez and committed to a McCann/Murphy combination for the foreseeable future. Now, trading Sanchez would leave the Yankees thin behind the plate.

4. Sanchez is suddenly in the big league mix (but so is Romine)
The Yankees just traded a catcher, and they also happen to have a high-end catching prospect who made massive strides this season and got to the big leagues for the first time. He also happens to be currently crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League. Trading Murphy clearly makes it easier for Sanchez to get to the big leagues early next season, perhaps as early as Opening Day. Cashman said today that he’s open to that idea, but he’s not committed to it. The Yankees still have Austin Romine on their roster, and he’s a reliable defensive catcher who has some big league experience and had a bit of a bounce-back year in Triple-A this season. He’s suddenly back in the picture as a backup possibility should the Yankees decide Sanchez needs a little bit more minor league seasoning.

5. It feels a lot like last offseason already
Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the Yankees trading Cervelli for Justin Wilson. In the past year, Cashman has shown a willingness and ability to make unexpected trades using pieces of the big league roster. He’s also shown a willingness to take a shot on players who are still young and haven’t yet lived up to their potential in the big leagues. That’s what he did with Didi Gregorius, it’s what he did with Nathan Eovaldi, it’s what he did with Dustin Ackley, and now it’s what he’s doing with Hicks. Murphy is a year and a half younger than Hicks, and Hicks has one less year of team control, so this move on its own doesn’t make the Yankees younger. But it does open the possibility to get younger if Hicks replaces Young and Sanchez replaces Murphy.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees send John Ryan Murphy to Minnesota for Aaron Hicks11.11.15

Well, this changes things considerably. Here’s the announcement from the Yankees:

MurphyThe New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired OF Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for C John Ryan Murphy.

Hicks, 26, hit .256 (90-for-352) with 48R, 11 doubles, 11HR and 33RBI in 97 games with the Twins in 2015. The switch-hitter batted .307 (31-for-101) with 6HR off left-handed pitching last season and has hit .272 (62-for-228) with 10HR in his career off left-handers.

The Long Beach, Calif., native has appeared at all three outfield positions in his career, playing 226 games in centerfield, 21 in right field and 10 in left field, posting a .995 fielding percentage as an outfielder (657 total chances, three errors). In 2015, he had nine outfield assists and made just one error in 254 chances (.996 fielding pct.).

Hicks was originally selected by the Twins in the first round (14th overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut with Minnesota in 2013 and is a .225 (184-for-819) career batter with 20HR and 78RBI in 247 games.

Murphy, 24, hit .277 (43-for-155) with 3HR and 14RBI in 67 games (43 starts at catcher) for the Yankees in 2015, spending the entire season at the Major League level for the first time in his career. He ranked third among AL catchers in batting average (min. 100AB) behind the Orioles’ Steve Clevenger (.287) and the Rays’ John Jaso (.286). He was originally selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and hit .267 (70-for-262) with 4HR and 24RBI in 115 games at the Major League level with the club.

The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 38.

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Five quick thoughts on the Jose Pirela trade11.11.15

CORRECTION Yankees Blue Jays

The Yankees just made their first relatively minor trade of the offseason, opening a 40-man roster spot by swapping utility man Jose Pirela for 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Ronald Herrera. Pirela was pretty popular among prospect followers — he was a minor league success story as a guy who nearly disappeared and played his way to the big leagues — but he never solidified himself in the Majors, and the Yankees ultimately swapped a utility man without a set role for a young kid without a sure future. A few thoughts on the trade:

Jose Pirela1. I’m not sure the Yankees were ever sure what to do with Pirela
He basically fell off the prospect radar, then hit his way back into the mix, but it was still unclear how exactly Pirela fit in the Yankees’ big league plans. In theory, his versatility and right-handed bat fit their needs, but would he hit enough to play the outfield corners? Was his glove good enough for the infield? Shortstop was scrapped long ago, so he could never be the lone utility man. Pirela has raked in Triple-A and in winter ball, but he was underwhelming when he got a big league look this season (and Rob Refsnyder is clearly the priority at second base). I think there’s a chance Pirela can go play a utility role somewhere — might even hit enough to be a low-end everyday guy — but I never got the sense the Yankees were sold on him.

2. Don’t dismiss the 40-man roster crunch
When the offseason started, I actually thought Pirela might be a DFA candidate. Not because the Yankees dislike him, but because the 40-man is jammed with guys who more clearly have the potential for long-term impact. Essentially, the Yankees absolutely had to find ways to open 40-man roster spots. I’m sure there are still some DFA or non-tender announcements coming, but if the Yankees want to add free agents and protect Rule 5 candidates, they’re going to have to make moves like this to create room. If the Yankees didn’t think Pirela was the right fit for their bench, they needed to move him for someone who wouldn’t fill a roster spot. They did that.

3. Right-handed balance and versatility are still issues
Look at the Yankees’ 40-man roster as it stands today. It has only two players who’ve shown any real versatility (Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan), and it has only three right-handed hitters who aren’t catchers (Ryan, Refsnyder and Alex Rodriguez plus three switch hitters). With Tyler Austin coming off a rough Triple-A season and Aaron Judge unlikely to play a bench role at this point, Pirela was really the only in-house option for a right-handed fourth outfielder. He was unlikely to fill that role anyway, but taking him out of the mix really leaves the Yankees in need for another right-handed bat and additional depth a multiple positions. Who’s the backup third baseman right now? Ryan and then who? Cito Culver?

Herrera4. There’s upside in hard-throwing Herrera
I asked one scout for a brief scouting report of Herrera. Here’s what I got in return: “Can command three pitches (with) potential for a solid Major League breaking ball. Up to 95 (with the fastball).” So he throws hard, throws strikes, got to Double-A this year and doesn’t turn 21 until May. Obviously he’s not a Top 10 type prospect, but heading into 2014, Baseball America noted his “exceptional control” with the “makings of a solid big league starter.” At the time, BA ranked him 17th in the Oakland system (he was then traded to the Padres). He’s a fastball, curveball, changeup pitcher who’s worked almost exclusively as a starter. Unproven 26-year-old utility players don’t have a ton of trade value. What the Yankees got in return is young potential without much certainty.

5. Could see this as a vote of confidence in Refsnyder
When the Yankees summoned their first wave of September call-ups, I’d heard the team actually considered Pirela to be higher on the second base depth chart than Refsnyder. It was Pirela who’d been the better Triple-A hitter, and Pirela got a second base start on September 7, a full two and a half weeks before Refsnyder began to get a look. At some point, obviously, the Yankees decided to give Refsnyder a shot, and he made the most of it. Now, it seems the Yankees ended the season sold on Refsnyder as the better in-house option. Their infield remains thin, but Refsnyder’s still in the mix.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees sent Pirela to San Diego for 20-year-old pitcher11.11.15

Here’s the announcement from the Yankees:

PirelaThe New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired RHP Ronald Herrera from the San Diego Padres in exchange for INF Jose Pirela.

Herrera, 20, went 8-7 with a 4.08 ERA (145.2IP, 148H, 73R/66ER, 42BB, 104K, 10HR) in 26 combined games (25 starts) between Single-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in the Padres organization in 2015. The right-hander was acquired by San Diego from Oakland along with OF Jake Goebbert in exchange for OF Kyle Blanks on May 15, 2014.

Originally signed by the Athletics as a non-drafted free agent on December 11, 2011, Herrera owns a 23-24 record and 3.79 ERA (415.1IP, 446H, 210R/175ER, 100BB, 296K, 25HR) in 82 career games (74 starts) over four minor league seasons.

Pirela, 25, hit .230 (17-for-74) with 1HR and 5RBI in 37 games with the Yankees in 2015. He missed the first month of the season on the concussion disabled list following an injury suffered during a spring training game on March 22 in Port St. Lucie. In 64 combined minor league games—including his rehab assignment—with Single-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he hit .310 (76-for-245) with 3HR and 23RBI. The Venezuela native made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 2014 and was originally signed by the club as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2006.

The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 38.

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Cashman: Still hard to see room for Bird on next year’s roster11.11.15

Twins Yankees Baseball

The Yankees have had a few weeks now to get a sense of the trade and free agent markets. By all accounts, Brian Cashman is willing to get creative in adjusting his roster and making improvements — which suggests he’s looking for unusual and unexpected angles — but this much has not changed: It’s still hard to find a spot for Greg Bird.

Cashman told reporters at the GM Meetings last night that he still doesn’t see any way for the Yankees to carry Bird on a roster that also has Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. It simply doesn’t leave enough wiggle room or create enough flexibility, and it might not create enough at-bats for a still-developing player like Bird.

“From Day One here it’s just been about doing my job, whatever that is,” Bird said after the Yankees were eliminated in the wild card game. “Now it’s just, I’m going to take some time off and get ready for next year. Whatever my job is next year. I’ll worry about that then.”

Orioles Yankees BaseballThis comes as no surprise. Cashman said last month that he did not expect to have room for Bird, Rodriguez and Teixeira on the same roster next season. The Yankees did it for a while this year, but that was mostly after Teixeira got hurt. Without that injury, it’s hard to say how long Bird’s call-up might have lasted. He might have been sent back to Triple-A to wait for September had Teixeira not been hurt just five days after Bird’s arrival.

It was easier to carry Garrett Jones as a backup first baseman because Jones could play the outfield. Cashman has essentially ruled out the possibility of Bird — or Teixeira, for that matter — playing any position aside from first base.

“I don’t think so,” Cashman said. “No. Going into it, I would say no.”

Teixeira and Rodriguez have two of the least tradeable contracts on the Yankees’ roster. Rodriguez has two years left on his deal (plus all the extra baggage that makes his situation unique). Teixeira has just one year left and might have some trade value, but he has a no-trade clause and has said many times that he has no plans to ever waive it. He has a home in Connecticut and no desire to leave (and he actually put up a better slash line with better defense than Bird this season).

With a backup catcher and backup shortstop in place, the Yankees currently have two bench jobs available. One could go to Rob Refsnyder as a platoon second baseman, and the other could go to a right-handed outfielder. At this point, the Yankees almost certainly would have to move some pieces around and add defensive versatility elsewhere to envision breaking camp with Bird on the roster alongside Teixeira and Rodriguez.

Of course, given the two players ahead of him, there’s certainly a strong chance Bird could be a injury replacement sooner rather than later. Even without a clear opening in front of him, Bird said he finished this season satisfied knowing he’d taken his first step toward proving himself at the big league level.

“Definitely,” Bird said. “Just to be able to come up and be a part of this is the biggest accomplishment for me. Just to help out. I just really respect these guys and they motivated me throughout this whole thing, really. Just seeing the work they put in, what they go through every day. That’s really what motivated me.”

Associated Press photos

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Notes and links on Day 2 of the GM Meetings11.10.15

Chris Young

A few notes and links from this second day of the GM Meetings in Florida:

• According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Red Sox are among the teams interested in signing outfielder Chris Young. He would presumably be a fourth outfielder and possible platoon partner for Jackie Bradley Jr. Could also be an attempt to raise the asking price should the Yankees want to bring him back. The free agent market offers quite a few right-handed outfield alternatives, but Brian Cashman said he’s still in the market for Young as well. “Would we like to have him back?” Cashman said. “Of course. You couldn’t ask him to be any better.”

• Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees are among the teams interested in trading for former top prospect Jurickson Profar. Makes sense, of course, because the Yankees could use some upper-level infield depth and Profar stands out as an amazing buy-low opportunity as he works his way back from shoulder injuries. Of course, buying low would be the key to a Profar deal, and there’s no indication the Rangers are ready to sell low. Question is, what’s Profar worth after missing so much time?

• We knew Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman would be a part of the trade rumor mill this winter. Now Jon Heyman reports that Mark Melancon is also in that mix, with teams apparently very open to dealing closers this offseason. The Yankees are apparently open to the idea of trading Andrew Miller, but that seems to be more about checking into every possibility rather than pushing Miller out of the mix. “I think you have to weigh: does whatever we do make us better?” Joe Girardi said this morning. “And if we feel it makes us better, I think we have to do it. Yes, (the bullpen) was a strength of our club. Those guys pitched extremely well and were dominant and if we had the lead after six innings, we won ball games. If we feel it would improve our club, I’m sure we’ll try to make a deal.”

• Would the Yankees like to trade for one of the Mets’ young starters? Of course, but what are the chances of the Mets pulling the trigger on something like that? “That will never happen,” Cashman said.

• Late last night came the heartbreaking news that former big league pitcher Tommy Hanson has died at the age of 29. Details of what exactly happened seem a bit spotty, but Hanson was ultimately in a coma after what was labeled “catastrophic organ failure.” Not so long ago, Hanson was one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he had some really bright moments. With his death, we’re learning that he was also wildly popular among teammates. Sad news. Back when I lived and worked in Scranton, it was impossible to follow minor league baseball without knowing Hanson’s name.

Associated Press photo

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Gardner, Gregorius and Teixeira shut out in Gold Glove Awards11.10.15

Didi Gregorius

The Yankees had three Gold Glove finalists this season, and they went 0-for-3.

1. Yoenis Cespedes beat Brett Gardner in left field.

2. Eric Hosmer beat Mark Teixeira at first base.

3. Alcides Escobar beat Didi Gregorius at shortstop.

Go through the advanced defensive metrics on FanGraphs and it’s clear all three Yankees finalists had a legitimate claim to the award. All defensive metrics seem to be fairly flawed, but they paint a bit of a picture, and Gregorius was better than Escobar — just barely — in many of those statistics. He had the highest UZR among American League shortstops (again, just barely ahead of Escobar), and the eye test certainly suggested Gregorius was pretty darn good after the first month or so.

Left field is perhaps the most interesting vote. Cespedes has an overwhelming advantage in the metrics, but he also spent a third of the season in the National League. Gardner had a negative UZR, which just seems weird and against points to some of the questions about those advanced defensive metrics.

Associated Press photo

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