Archive for the ‘Misc’
We’ve known for months that the Yankees would lose their longest-tenured, homegrown player this offseason. But as it’s turned out, Derek Jeter’s not not the organization’s only familiar face who’s moved on this winter. The Yankees lost some of their other longest-tenured, homegrown players when Zoilo Almonte reached free agency, Francisco Cervelli was traded to Pittsburgh, and Dave Robertson signed a contract with the White Sox.
It’s now kind of amazing now to look at which players stand as the longest-tenured Yankees who have never played for another organization. Based on the year they were acquired (without nitpicking about the precise date) here are the 10 longest-tenured, homegrown Yankees who remain in the system.
1. Ivan Nova
Signed: international free agent, 2004
Debut: May 13, 2010
The Yankees nearly lost Nova before they had a chance to really see what he could do. Back in 2008, Nova was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft, and the Padres picked him. Coming off a solid but uninspiring year in High-A, Nova got a little bit of a look in spring training, didn’t make the San Diego roster, and returned to the Yankees. The next year, he was added to the 40-man roster, and now he stands — with the next two players on this list — as one of the top three homegrown big leaguers in the organization. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but would otherwise have a rotation spot waiting for him in spring training.
2. Brett Gardner
Signed: amateur draft, 2005
Debut: June 30, 2008
One of the most talked-about drafts of the past several decades, the 2005 draft was mostly a bust for the Yankees. They thoroughly missed the boat on first-rounder C.J. Henry, and second-rounder J.B. Cox was too injured to ever reach his future-closer ceiling, but their third-round pick was one of their most successful of the decade. Gardner has outplayed his detractors to become a legitimate everyday outfielder, and the Yankees have rewarded him with a long-term deal through the 2018 season. By the way, despite being mostly a bust for the Yankees, that 2005 draft also yielded Austin Jackson, another of the Yankees best draft picks of the past decade.
3. Dellin Betances
Signed: amateur draft, 2006
Debut: September 22, 2011
That 2006 draft class was a great one for the Yankees. Ten picks made it to the majors and seven are still legitimate big leaguers in some capacity, but the only one who’s still with the Yankees is Betances. Slow to develop with a lot of bumps along the way, Betances could very well replace one of his draft-mates as the Yankees closer this season. The other members of that Yankees draft class to reach the big leagues: Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Zach McAllister, Colin Curtis, George Kontos, Mark Melancon, Daniel McCutchen, Dave Robertson and Kevin Russo.
4. Jose Pirela
Signed: international free agent, 2006
Debut: September 22, 2014
Signed out of Venezuela, Pirela built some prospect status as a teenager in the lower levels of the minor league system. As he climbed into the upper levels, though, he was moved away from shortstop, his offensive production faded and Pirela more or less fell off the prospect map. He hit his way back on the map with a couple of strong years in Double-A, a potent year in Triple-A, and finally a September call-up. Now with a spot on the 40-man roster, Pirela has a legitimate chance to win a big league bench job. And he’s still just 25 years old.
5. Austin Romine
Signed: amateur draft, 2007
Debut: September 11, 2011
Immediately after that successful class of 2006, the Yankees had a real letdown with the draft of 2007. Andrew Brackman was the first rounder, and the only others to actually reach New York were Brandon Laird and Romine. There’s a solid chance that, by the end of spring training, the Yankees won’t have anyone from that class left in the organization. Remarkably, shortstop Carmen Angelini — largely seen as a bust — is actually one of the more successful members of that class.
6. Jose Ramirez
Signed: international free agent, 2007
Debut: June 4, 2014
On the 40-man roster, with 10 innings of big league experience and his 25th birthday coming up in January, Ramirez is a longtime prospect who’s put himself in position to begin playing a legitimate role in the big leagues. Of course, that’s largely a matter of staying healthy, which has been an issue throughout his career. Once seen as a high-potential rotation prospect, Ramirez is now an interesting bullpen option. From a year when the Yankees didn’t add much lasting talent into the organization, Ramirez stands out as a possible exception. He could play at least some role in the immediate and long-term future.
7. Ali Castillo
Signed: international free agent, 2007
Doesn’t have a spot on the 40-man roster, and doesn’t have much chance of actually playing a role in New York, but Castillo remains one of the longest-tenured players in the organization. Signed out of Venezuela in late 2007, he’s been essentially an organizational utility man. He’s putting up nice numbers in winter ball this offseason, and he spent the regular season as the starting shortstop in Double-A Trenton. He signed a new minor league deal this fall. Could play a role in Triple-A this season, if only because the Yankees lack middle infield alternatives.
8. David Phelps
Signed: amateur draft, 2008
Debut: April 8, 2012
In the first 10 rounds of the 2008 draft, the Yankees selected five guys who have reached the big leagues. Their top pick was Gerrit Cole (who wouldn’t sign and wound up with the Pirates years later), then they went on to draft David Adams, Corban Joseph, Brett Marshall and D.J. Mitchell. Those four played minor roles in New York, and it’s now 14th rounder Phelps who stands out as the key piece of that draft class. That draft class, by the way, is the one that just reached free agent status this offseason, so Phelps really has emerged as the last man standing (though catcher Kyle Higashioka has re-signed on a minor league deal).
9. Manny Banuelos
Signed: international free agent, 2008
Two years ago, it seemed Banuelos was knocking on the door to the big leagues and on the verge of taking a lasting spot in the Yankees rotation. Then he had Tommy John surgery and his steady climb was thrown off track. Now Baneulos is back to the doorstep of the big leagues, but taking that next step will be a matter of pitching effectively one year after an inconsistent season in Double-A and Triple-A. Banuelos still has an option remaining, so he doesn’t have to make the big league roster out of spring training. It remains to be seen whether he’ll live up to his lofty potential and become a rotation mainstay for years to come.
10. Ramon Flores
Signed: international free agent, 2008
There are a few other players from the international class of 2008 who are still hanging around, but Flores and Banuelos stand out as the ones with easily the most reasonable chance of actually playing a role in New York at some point (the others are not on the 40-man and not making much impact in system). Back in 2008, Flores got the 10th-highest bonus during the international signing period (he was a much bigger name than Baneulos at the time). If it seems lousy that the Yankees have so little impact from that international class, check out the other names who got top-20 international bonuses that year. Those young international guys always come with a high level of risk.
Associated Press photo
Each year, at the end of the Winter Meetings, Major League Baseball sends a full list of the official transactions that occurred during the four days of meetings. Only moves officially announced are included on the list, but I’ll add some of the done deals that became public knowledge weren’t announced during the meetings.
Here’s a look back at the moves of the past four days.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 8TH
Chicago White Sox – Claimed C Rob Brantly off waivers from the Miami Marlins.
Cleveland Indians – Acquired OF Brandon Moss from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for 2B Joey Wendle.
L.A. Angels of Anaheim – Claimed OF Marc Krauss off waivers from the Houston Astros.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Claimed RHP Josh Lindblom off waivers from the Oakland Athletics.
Texas Rangers – Claimed LHP Scott Barnes off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
Toronto Blue Jays – Claimed 1B Chris Colabello off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9TH
Chicago Cubs – Acquired C Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Zachary Godley and RHP Jeferson Mejia.
Chicago White Sox – Acquired RHP Jeff Samardzija and RHP Michael Ynoa from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, 3B Rangel Ravelo and SS Marcus Semien.
L.A. Angels of Anaheim – Acquired C Drew Butera from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10TH
Chicago White Sox – Acquired LHP Dan Jennings from the Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Andre Rienzo.
Chicago White Sox – Signed free agent RHP David Robertson.
L.A. Angels of Anaheim – Acquired SS Josh Rutledge from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Jairo Diaz.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Acquired 2B Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for LHP Andrew Heaney.
Miami Marlins – Acquired RHP Dan Haren, 2B Dee Gordon and SS Miguel Rojas from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for C Austin Barnes, RHP David Hatcher, LHP Andrew Heaney and SS Enrique Hernandez.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Acquired LHP Antonio Bastardo from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for LHP Joely Rodriguez.
San Diego Padres – Signed free agent SS Clint Barmes.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11TH
Detroit Tigers – Acquired RHP Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Jonathon Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez.
Detroit Tigers – Acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Alex Wilson and LHP Gabe Speier from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for RHP Rick Porcello .
Miami Marlins – Acquired RHP Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach.
UNOFFICIAL TRADES (or announced after the meetings)
Boston Red Sox – Acquired LHP Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Allen Webster and another minor leaguer.
San Diego Padres – Acquired OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federowicz from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Joe Wieland, and RHP Zach Eflin.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Acquired SS Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies for a package o. minor leaguers that seems not quite finalize (or simply not completely confirmed).
Texas Rangers – Acquired LHP Ross Detwiler from the Washington Nationals for RHP Abel De Los Santos and INF Chris Bostick.
UNOFFICIAL SIGNINGS (or announced after the meetings)
Chicago Cubs – Signed free agent RHP Jason Hammel
Pittsburgh Pirates – Signed free agent LHP Francisco Liriano
Chicago Cubs – Signed free agent LHP Jon Lester
Houston Astros – Signed RHP Luke Gregerson
Houston Astros – Signed RHP Pat Neshek
Los Angeles Dodgers – Signed RHP Brandon McCarthy
New York Mets – Signed LHP Scott Rice
Boston Red Sox – Signed free agent RHP Justin Masterson
Kansas City Royals – Signed free agent 1B Kendrys Morales
St. Louis Cardinals – Signed free agent 3B/1B Mark Reynolds
Minnesota Twins – Signed free agent RHP Ervin Santana
Associated Press photos
For some national perspective on what happened these past four days in San Diego, here’s USA Today’s Bob Nightengale with a look back at the Winter Meetings:
SAN DIEGO – Los Angeles Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten crammed the suitcases in the trunk of his Mercedes-Benz, helped general manager Farhan Zaidi into the backseat Thursday, and opened the passenger door for President Andrew Friedman.
In a dizzying 14-hour period, the Dodgers made six moves, involving 19 players, with four different teams, and a free agent.
No wonder the biggest bags in Kasten’s car heading up the 405 freeway were the ones under Friedman’s eyes, while Zaidi was clinging to a box of tissues for his cold.
They were asked to predict how many hours of sleep they managed the entire week. They were too tired to even calculate, or it was too painful to reveal.
“Actually, that was a lot of fun,” Kasten said. “Just 24 hours ago, we were being criticized for not doing anything. Then, 24 hours later, we’re being criticized for doing too much.
“Come on, what do you want?”
The Dodgers certainly are making it apparent they want to win that first World Series since 1988 the old-fashioned way. They’re determined to build the team through trades and home-grown players, even if it meant trading away two of their most popular players, with outfielder Matt Kemp headed to the San Diego Padres and second baseman Dee Gordon to the Miami Marlins.
The Dodgers believe these could be the building blocks needed for a World Series team, but judging by the whirlwind of activity the last 24 hours at baseball’s annual winter meetings, just about every other franchise believes they are World Series contenders, too.
And we mean everyone.
“Given the steps we took last year, and the core talent we now have, we feel we’re ready to contend, too,” Miami Marlins president Michael Hill says. “You say it every year, but this time, there’s a belief in this club that this team is ready to compete.”
This is coming from a team that hasn’t had a winning season in five years and has not made the postseason since 2003.
Yet, after making three trades involving 12 players — picking up starters Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds and Dan Haren from the Dodgers along with Gordon — the Marlins have every right to believe they can win, too.
Really, of all the teams heading to the airport Thursday, the Colorado Rockies might have been the only team not touting their chances for the postseason.
You could have included the Minnesota Twins, but they spent $55 million on free-agent starter Ervin Santana just before they checked out. You don’t spend that kind of cash just to keep Torii Hunter company.
“Things happen,” Twins GM Terry Ryan says. “I don’t think anyone was talking about the Royals this time last year.”
Really, the Twins had to make a move just to keep up with everyone else in the American League Central. Every team in the division made at least a trade or signed a free agent, led by the Chicago White Sox, who are scaring the daylights out of everyone after acquiring ace Jeff Samardzija and closer David Robertson.
“We are putting something special together here,” said White Sox president Kenny Williams, whose club also signed free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche and left-handed reliever Zach Duke. “You can see the possibilities.
“This is exactly what we wanted.”
Certainly, the White Sox got the defending AL Central winner Detroit Tigers’ attention.
The Tigers responded Thursday by grabbing outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Boston Red Sox for starter Rick Porcello. They took a deep breath, and hours later, acquired starter Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds in a five-player trade.
The Tigers again have to be favored to win a fifth consecutive division title, but only this time, it will be without ace Max Scherzer.
Tigers president Dave Dombrowski revealed the Tigers no longer are in pursuit, officially dropping out Thursday.
The market for Scherzer may turn out to be the biggest mystery of the winter.
Scherzer wants at least $200 million, considering Jon Lester just received $155 million from the Chicago Cubs. Yet, deep-pocketed teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are publicly declaring they’re not interested.
The Red Sox, heartbroken when Lester chose the Cubs over a return to Boston, spent all of 10 minutes in mourning. They filled their rotation by acquiring Porcello, signing Justin Masterson, and agreeing in principal in a deal with Arizona for Wade Miley that will be announced this weekend. The three new pitchers will earn almost the identical salary that Lester will earn this year ($25.8 million) with the Cubs.
The moment Lester made up his mind, it sprung everyone into action. There were 12 trades that went down, involving 44 players. There haven’t been these many trades at the winter meetings since 2006.
“A lot of times, one move can set a lot of things up,” Dombrowski told USA TODAY Sports. “And once the Lester decision was made, that sort of set off everybody making moves.
“People were very, very aggressive.”
And yet there are the Yankees, sitting a little too quiet these days, with everyone waiting for that bombshell.
“I can’t predict what the Yankees are going to do,” says Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, “but I can tell you that a guy like Max fits into their starting rotation to develop a World Series (club).”
All it costs is money.
Someone will shell it out. They always do.
It just may take a while for the trade carousel to stop before anyone has a chance to spend it.
Associated Press photo
We’ve always known it would take a special kind of guy to replace Derek Jeter. Well, the Yankees are going to try to replace him with a knight.
During an introductory conference call this afternoon, Didi Gregorius explained that his Twitter account refers to him as “Sir” because he was actually knighted in 2011 following the Netherlands win in the IBAF World Cup.
“Some people actually call me Sir Didi and everything,” Gregorius said. “I don’t really mind if they just call me Didi.”
Well that’s good of him. Honestly, Gregorius seems to understand that, around Yankee Stadium, the title of The Captain carries more weight than the title of knight.
“Jeter is still Jeter,” Gregorius said. “Everything everybody is going to talk about is Jeter. But for me, I’m learning and there just to play the game, so just trying to focus on the game and trying to win every game, that’s what I can say. Not worrying about what’s going on around.”
Still just 24 years old, Gregorius is known for his defense, and the Yankees believe he can be a better offensive player than he’s shown the past two years in the big leagues hitting .241/.314/.368.
“Honestly, I need to improve on everything,” Gregorius said. “For me, I don’t want to lack in work thinking I know everything. I honestly am working hard. People say your defense is really good, but I don’t think it’s really good. If I think, mentally, it’s really good, then I have to stop working on it, but for me, I’m still working on everything because everything, I continue to learn everything. Maybe it will come around and tell you something, and you keep that in your mind and it helps you take a groundball easier or whatever.”
Gregorius said he’s already started hitting back home in Curacao. In fact, he said he feels ready for spring training to start already. As for the way he’ll be treated — not as a knight, but as the replacement for legend — Gregorius said he’s not worried about it.
“Have to wait until I get there,” he said. “Then I’ll find out how (the fans) are going to treat me, but I have some good comments on Twitter saying, just be you, don’t worry about what other people are saying, blah, blah, blah, so I think they are supporting without even knowing how I play the game when I go over there. So I think I have the fans’ support.”
Associated Press photo
A source has confirmed Joel Sherman’s report that the Yankees have signed 25-year-old infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league contract. The former Giants first-round pick once drew comparisons to Chase Utley — left-handed-hitting second baseman with a tendency to hit a bunch of line drives — but his bat never developed quite as hoped or expected. Noonan got a little bit of big league time in 2013, but he hit just .237/.282/.303 in Triple-A this season.
Although he’s spent more time at second base, the Yankees see him as a legitimate shortstop. In fact, I’ve been told the Yankees believe he can play the position pretty well, and Noonan’s still young enough that the team plans to give him regular at-bats and a legitimate look in spring training.
Purely my own speculation, but if you’re speculating about next year’s Triple-A roster, Noonan might not be a bad pick as the regular shortstop (depending on the way other things shake out, of course). He also adds some depth at second base and has some experience at third.
This isn’t a signing meant to really generate much buzz, but the Yankees need infield help beyond the big league bench, and Noonan helps fill that void with at least some hope for upside and potential.
Speaking of minor league moves, here are a few familiar names heading elsewhere on minor league deals:
• Outfielder Antoan Richardson has signed a minor league deal with the Rangers. Richardson was a bit of a surprise September call-up last season, but he played pretty well in his part-time role and will be remembered — if he’s remembered at all — as the guy who scored the run on Derek Jeter’s game-winning RBI to cap the Captain’s career at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have such outfield depth at this point that there was really little reason to bring Richardson back next season.
• Another short-term Yankees call-up, Scott Sizemore, is reportedly likely to sign a minor league deal with the Marlins. Unlike Richardson, Sizemore might actually have fit the Yankees as a non-roster invitee to spring training. He can play second and third, and he can hit lefties well enough to play a platoon role if necessary.
• Left-handed starter Nik Turley has signed with the Giants. Turley was on the Yankees 40-man roster at this time last year, but he was hurt in spring training, which prompted the Yankees to release and ultimately re-sign him. He’s always been a solid prospect when he throws strikes, but walks have hurt him, and he had nearly as many walks (43) as strikeouts (44) in Triple-A last season.
Just a few random thoughts after these past four days in San Diego:
• This happens every winter, and it’s remained true this offseason: It’s hard to find a major free agent contract that feels like a safe investment. Brandon McCarthy’s four-year deal stands out as being especially risky, but I also think it’s crazy Justin Masterson got more than $9 million or that Victor Martinez got so many years or that Kendry’s Morales got a pretty significant contract. It’s the nature of the beast in free agency — big names are never bargains on the open market — and here’s what I keep thinking about while the Yankees stay reluctant to make such a signing: Some teams can convince themselves to take one or two such risks, but the Yankees already have so many bad contracts on their roster, I can’t blame them not wanting to take yet another risk like that. Can’t fix a bad contract problem by signing more bad contracts — that’s just digging the hole deeper and deeper — but avoiding free agency requires help from within, and I’m not sure the Yankees are in a position to get enough of that either.
• Maybe I’m naive, but I honestly believe the Yankees when they create the impression that they entered this offseason with no intention of going after Max Scherzer. That said, I can’t help wondering if this winter has played out in such a way that the Yankees wind up talking themselves into making a huge Scherzer investment. Not sure it would be the right choice — again, it’s hard to fix a bad-contract problem by signing another bad contract — but if the Yankees can’t find a bargain, they might end up going after the best player on the market.
• Scott Boras said on Wednesday that Stephen Drew is open to playing second base next season. In fact, Boras made it sound as if Drew might be close to a deal to play second. That seems odd to me. I thought Drew looked really good at second last season, but after all the talk about the thin shortstop class in the big leagues right now, doesn’t it seem that a solid defender like Drew should have little trouble finding a shortstop job (even if it’s a one-year deal to reestablish himself)? The fact he could sign as a second baseman seems to say a lot about the league’s depth at that position as well. Hard to find good up-the-middle infielders these days.
• Speaking of infielders, I’ve alluded to it a few times, but I honestly think the Yankees would be better off giving a contract to a versatile and less-expensive guy like Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie or Gordon Beckham rather than investing heavily into Chase Headley. In theory, staying away from Headley should give the Yankees a little extra money to spend on pitching, and either Cabrera or Lowrie would give the Yankees a break-glass-in-emergency option at shortstop — not remotely ideal defensively, but guys who could do it in an absolute pinch — while Beckham could basically see an opportunity to compete for the starting second base job while falling into a bench job if he can’t win the gig.
• About a week ago, I remember having a conversation about the Dodgers, wondering when they were finally going to strike. Well, that happened this past week, and now we’re waiting for the Orioles to do something. The Yankees have at least made some minor moves here and there, and they’ve found two significant replacements in Didi Gregorius and Andrew Miller, but the Orioles remain remarkably quiet immediately after finishing with the second-most wins in baseball. The Orioles climbed to the top of the American League East, but are they going to be able to stay there? Even without making a move, though, they might still be better than the Yankees right now.
• Obviously the Yankees can’t be happy about the Red Sox rebuilding, and they have to recognize the fact the Blue Jays have put together a really strong lineup, but there are a few moves that have gone the Yankees direction. Getting Jon Lester out of the American League seems like a good thing – especially considering Boston seemed to be his second choice behind Chicago – and it can’t hurt that Howie Kendrick (who seemed to always kill the Yankees) is in the National League now.
• Said it over and over again this winter, and I’m even more sure of it today: The success or failure of the Yankees lineup is going to have much more to do with players already in place than anyone who might be added between now and Opening Day. The Yankees aren’t going anywhere if they don’t get production out of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Who else would they add to somehow make up for those three? I just can’t imagine a move to make that would do enough to make up for McCann, Beltran and Teixeira repeating their 2014 production. Can they be a year older and still get better? I have no idea, but the Yankees have to hope it can happen.
Associated Press photos
While most of the baseball world was focused on San Diego, former Yankees captain Derek Jeter made a fairly quiet trip to Hamilton College on Wednesday to join their Great Names at Hamilton guest speaker series. Jeter participated with his friend Harold Reynolds, the former second baseman who now works as an analyst for MLB Network.
Consider it a bit of a distraction at the end of a busy week (or not at all busy week, depending on your perspective).
• Asked about handling the media in New York, Jeter said: “There’s two things you can always say to the media: one is, you have no comment. There’s no follow-up to that. The second thing I think most people get in trouble with, they’re afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’ If you ask me a question and I say, ‘I don’t know,’ how are you going to follow it up?”
• Asked about his professional life after baseball, Jeter said: “In some sense, it’s like the minor leagues again. I’m very good at knowing what I don’t know, if that makes sense. And I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than me, which is not hard to do. I continue to learn. … I’m the first to say there’s a lot of things I need to learn. I’m not afraid to look stupid or sound stupid.”
• Asked about his personal life after baseball, Jeter said: “I’ve always had another dream, actually, of having a son or daughter and coaching their Little League baseball or softball. I don’t know enough about the other sports to do it, but baseball or softball and picking all the worst kids in the league and putting them on my team and just making sure they have fun.”
• With this link, you can check out video of Jeter’s pre-event press conference at Hamilton.
Associated Press photos
When I flew to San Diego on Sunday, it seemed Chase Headley might be on the verge of making a decision and signing with a team. Now I’m flying back to New York four days later, and there’s no clarity on the market’s top remaining free agent infielder.
The Yankees are engaged, but they clearly haven’t pushed enough to get a deal done. Headley seems to make the Yankees better — if only because he makes them deeper — but the Yankees have made it clear this winter that they’re not willing to sign anyone at all costs.
“We’re very comfortable (with Martin Prado) at third,” Brian Cashman said. “We’re very comfortable with Prado at second and we’re very comfortable if we move Prado to the outfield. Obviously we’re very comfortable with what Headley provided for our team (last season) as well. We’re good to go as is, if that’s the way we go, but we’re exploring ways to make us better if there’s alternatives.”
Headley is now at the head of the class among free agent infielders, but is the gap as significant as it seems? While Headley is getting a ton of attention, and seems to have a shot at a four-year deal, there’s been very little attention paid to guys like Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Gordon Beckham — players who for the Yankees could basically fill the same role has Headley, except they’d be stepping into second base and freeing Prado to play third.
Asked whether Headley is significant better than the other infielders on the market, Cashman understandably wouldn’t comment.
“I wouldn’t say,” Cashman said. “(He is) pricier.”
Is it worth giving Headley significantly more years and money than some of the alternatives? Here’s a quick comparison:
30 years old (turns 31 in May)
Career OPS: .756
Last season: .243/.328/.372
The Yankees saw first-hand that Headley is a strong defender at third base, and he has at least mild experience at first base (has also played some left field, but that was a pretty long time ago). Career numbers are significantly inflated by a standout 2012 season that so far looks more like an outlier than a sign of things to come. Headley hit 30 home runs that year. He’s never hit more than 13 any other season.
29 years old (will play all next year at 29)
Career OPS: .740
Last season: .241/.307/.387
Not a particularly good defensive player, but metrics like him a lot more at second base than at shortstop, and the Yankees would hypothetically sign him to play second. Cabrera wasn’t great in 2014, but he’s had some pretty good seasons including two all-star selections, and he’s still fairly young. Although the Giants were tied to Cabrera earlier today — they wanted him to play third, basically an alternative to Headley — it now seems that Cabrera prefers to sign with a team that will play him at second.
30 years old (turns 31 in April)
Career OPS: .741
Last season: .249/.321/.355
Like Cabrera, Lowrie has generated some negative defensive reviews as a shortstop, but metrics have pegged him as basically average when he’s played second base or third base. He had a really good year in 2013, and despite diminished power numbers in 2014, his fWAR was still positive. I can’t help wondering whether Lowrie could be an immediate option at second base and slide back to shortstop if absolutely necessary (if Didi Gregorius were to get hurt or severely underperform, something like that). Offers some flexibility in emergency situations, and he’s apparently open to playing a position other than shortstop.
28 years old (turns 29 in September)
Career OPS: .681
Last season: .226/.271/.348
The eighth overall pick in 2008, Beckham was a fulltime big leaguer the very next season and was the White Sox regular second baseman until he was traded to the Angels last year. He’s never lived up to expectations, but he has occasionally hit for some power. Defensive metrics don’t love or completely hate him, and he has some experience at third base as well as second. Could he come to camp to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the second base job, and become a backup at second and third if he loses the competition?
Associated Press photo
Here’s an image you’ll all enjoy: When the Rule 5 draft ended, a swarm of executives, scouts and reporters gathered into the Grand Hyatt lobby, where the entire baseball industry seemed to be buzzing about the Dodgers restructured infield, or the Red Sox rebuilt rotation, or the Marlins surprisingly active winter.
In the middle of all that activity, Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler leaned quietly against a wall and spoke for about three minutes without saying much of anything. There was noise all around, but the Yankees were basically silent.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any specific reaction,” Eppler said. “You know what’s available in the marketplace. As simple as it sounds, a name gets removed. Sometimes it’s a name you’re pursuing. Sometimes it’s a name you’re more watching. But I wouldn’t say there’s any specific reaction that takes place. You just understand that the marketplace changes.”
Teams arrived here in San Diego waiting for the pitching market to start moving, and that’s happened in a big way these past 48 hours or so. Jon Lester came off the board, and that opened the floodgates. Brandon McCarthy got a four-year deal — despite only once throwing more than 171 innings in a season — and Justin Masterson got more than $9 million despite a terrible season in 2014. Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Mat Latos, Dan Haren, and Alfredo Simon were all traded.
The Red Sox have rebuilt their rotation in a matter of hours, meanwhile the Yankees have lost more starting pitching than they’ve gained in the past week. They got the shortstop they needed, but it cost them Shane Greene.
“We robbed Peter to pay Paul,” Eppler said. “So in that scenario, obviously we’d like to shore up wherever we can. Regardless of position, just working for an overall better club; improving the club. Whether that’s on the runs-scored side or the runs-prevented side, I think you have to be open to either.”
There are still valuable pieces available, but it seems Ervin Santana is on his way to Minnesota, leaving the free agent rotation market awfully thin beyond Max Scherzer and James Shields. With a new focus on player development, would the Yankees move top prospects to land some of the bigger names on the trade market? We’ve been hearing for days that Chase Headley is on the verge of a decision, but when is that actually going to happen?
“There are still players in the marketplace that are attractive to us regardless of the position that they play,” Eppler said.
Of course, finding attractive and helpful players hasn’t been the Yankees problem this offseason. Getting them at a reasonable cost has been. And today — while the rest of the baseball world was buzzing — the Yankees were quietly heading back home.
“I honestly can tell you that we’re patient,” Brian Cashman said. “We’re not going to do something that we don’t feel comfortable with. That doesn’t mean that there’s not frustration at times during the process that as you’re waiting for that wave to break the right way, it stinks waiting. But I think we have the patience necessary to wait on it. We’re in San Diego, so I’ll use a surfing analogy. If we see the right wave, we’ll get on the board and ride it. Otherwise we’ll just sit and wait for the next wave to come. I think that’s how our winter has gone.”
Associated Press photo
With back-to-back free agent signings in November, the Red Sox significantly restructured their lineup.
With a burst of three moves in the past 24 hours, they’ve now rebuilt their rotation.
After missing out on Jon Lester, the Red Sox got aggressive here at the end of the Winter Meetings. Yesterday they put a deal in place to acquire Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks. This morning, they used their outfield depth to acquire Rick Porcello from the Tigers (with Yoenis Cespedes going to Detroit). Now comes word from Buster Olney that the Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent starter Justin Masterson. Bob Nightengale says the Masterson contract is worth roughly $9 million.
Just like that, the Red Sox have an actual rotation. They started this offseason with only two starters in place, but they now have something like this:
1. Clay Buchholz
2. Rick Porcello
3. Wade Miley
4. Joe Kelly
5. Justin Masterson
Is that enough pitching to go with a lineup that now includes Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval alongside David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Rusney Castillo?
Associated Press photo