The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Expecting significant turnover when non-roster invitations announced

Joe Girardi

People keep asking when the Yankees are going to announce their non-roster invitations to big league camp. My short answer is: I’m not sure, but it should be any day now. Last year, the Yankees announced their non-roster invitations on February 5, so that’s a year from tomorrow.

What I know for certain is that there should be quite a bit of turnover from last year’s group.

Last spring, the Yankees wound up inviting a total of 68 players to big league camp. They initially had 66 — counting the guys on the 40-man roster — then they added two more right before pitchers and catchers officially showed up.

Of those 68 players invited a year ago, 30 are no longer in the organization. Another four or five should not be considered locks for a big league invitation this spring. That means half of the guys invited to camp last year might not be back this year.

SabathiaSTARTERS
14 invited last year, 5 no longer with the team
Still in the organization: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino, Vicente Campos, Domingo German
No longer with the team: Chris Capuano, Chase Whitley, Jose De Paula, Scott Baker, Kyle Davies

Most of the rotation turnover involves depth options who played small roles last season (if they played a role at all). Of the returning starters, Campos might be more of a bullpen option at this point, and German might not get a big league invitation after his Tommy John surgery. We already know a few new starters who will be brought into camp this spring: Luis Cessa has a 40-man spot, Anthony Swarzak (if he’s going to be stretched out) should be there on a minor league deal, and surely Brady Lail will get an invitation after getting to Triple-A last season. I also assume minor league free agent Richard Bleier was guaranteed a big league invitation when he signed his minor league contract.

MillerRELIEVERS
20 invited last year, 10 no longer with the team
Still in the organization: Dellin Betances, Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody, Diego Moreno, Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren, Tyler Webb, James Pazos
No longer with the team: Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Chris Martin, Jose Ramirez, Danny Burawa, Andrew Bailey, Wilking Rodriguez, Jared Burton

The Yankees had a total of 14 right-handed relievers in big league camp last season, and only five of them are still with the organization. Of those five, Moreno is not on the 40-man and not necessarily guaranteed a big league invitation. From the other side, the Yankees brought six left-handed relievers to camp last spring and still have five of those. Still, that’s pretty significant turnover with only half of last spring’s relievers still in the organization. Obviously Aroldis Chapman will be there this year. So will relatively minor 40-man roster additions Kirby Yates and Tyler Olson, and prospect Johnny Barbato has been moved to the 40-man roster as well. We also already know veteran Vinnie Pestano will be there on a minor league deal.

SanchezCATCHERS
9 invited last year, 4 no longer with the team
Still in the organization: Brian McCann, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Eddy Rodriguez, Kyle Higashioka
No longer with the team: John Ryan Murphy, Juan Graterol, Francisco Arcia, Trent Garrison

Most significant change here is trading away Murphy and signing Carlos Corporan to a minor league deal. I suppose Graterol has basically been replaced by minor league free agent Sebastian Valle, and Francisco Arcia is essentially replaced by Francisco Diaz. We’ll see what over low-level organizational catchers gets a chance to come to big league camp to catch a few bullpens and maybe get some at-bats, but it’s basically the same old story. Always a lot of catchers brought to big league camp. Last year, the Yankees had to decide between Romine and Murphy for the backup role in New York. This year, it seems they’ll have to choose from Romine, Sanchez and Corporan.

CastroINFIELDERS 
15 invited last year, 8 no longer with the team
Still in the organization: Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, Cito Culver
No longer with the team: Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, Kyle Roller, Jose Pirela, Cole Figueroa, Nick Noonan, Jonathan Galvez

Because he’s on the 40-man roster, I suppose Bird will technically be allowed in big league camp, but he obviously won’t be doing anything. I’m also not sure Culver will be invited back after another disappointing season at the plate. It’s entirely possible the Yankees will have just five returning infielders from last year’s spring training roster. Among those lost are three guys who spent most of the season in the big leagues, so that’s a significant turnover. Obviously Starlin Castro will be taking Drew’s spot, and this winter’s transaction champion Ronald Torreyes will essentially take Pirela’s spot. We also know Dustin Ackley will be there, and minor league free agents Pete Kozma, Donovan Solano and Jonathan Diaz will be this year’s version of Figueroa, Noonan and Galvez. Question is, will the Yankees add a first baseman? Last spring, the team had Bird, Jones and Roller providing insurance at first. This year? Not much.

GardnerOUTFIELDERS
10 invited last year, 3 no longer with the team
Still in the organization: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin
No longer with the team: Chris Young, Ramon Flores, Jake Cave

One free agent, one trade and one Rule 5 pick have slightly thinned the Yankees’ outfield options, but that’s not an issue. The Yankees are still deep in the outfield and won’t have any problem finding enough outfielders to get through spring training. Aaron Hicks is taking over the platoon role, and Ben Gamel is basically a one-for-one replacement for Flores. There’s always a chance Cave will be back before the end of spring training, and Lane Adams will surely be invited if he clears waivers and stays with the organization. Worth wondering whether the Yankees will bring Austin back to big league camp, and whether they’ll see enough playing time to be worth inviting Dustin Fowler.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 2:40 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Key Yankees trios extend from the bullpen to the bench

Andrew Miller

When the Red Sox paid a hefty prospect price for Craig Kimbrel, effectively setting a high price for a dominant relief pitcher, the Yankees owed it to themselves to explore the market for Andrew Miller.

It was never particularly likely that Miller would be enough to fetch the sort of rotation upgrade the Yankees were looking for, but Brian Cashman wasn’t given much wiggle room with the payroll, and so he had to explore every alternative. I don’t think he really wanted to trade away Shane Greene, John Ryan Murphy or Adam Warren, but he ultimately decided the price was right. He had to check into the same thing with Miller.

In the end, I agree with what Nick wrote in this morning’s Pinch Hitter post. I think the Yankees ultimately made the right choice in keeping Miller. They simply weren’t going to get enough in return to make such a trade worthwhile.

But keeping Miller has created an interesting situation for the Yankees, one which the value of one player is tied to him being a part of a larger group. Having Miller is one thing. Having a proven closer is great, but having an interchangeable late-inning trio is a real game-changer.

Here’s a look through a few interconnected trios on this Yankees team. Which would be most weakened by a single player getting hurt or having a brutal season?

ChapmanThe late-inning relievers – Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances

Obviously, this is the group that sparked this idea. The Yankees were awfully good last year with Justin Wilson as the third late-inning reliever. In theory, they should be a little better with Chapman in the mix, if only because it really gives Joe Girardi the versatility to use each of these guys in whatever role he deems necessary. Losing even one of these guys would significantly change the dynamic. Doesn’t matter which one. Playing with two dominant relievers instead of three brings less flexibility, less depth, and increases the likelihood of a lesser reliever handling a pivotal situation.

Who would be the fourth piece? Ideally, I guess it would be Chasen Shreve, but really it could be any one of the young relievers fighting for a job in spring training. Doesn’t really matter who it is, as long as someone steps forwards and sets himself apart as a guy who could capably plug a hole should one of these three be unavailable. Nick Rumbelow? Jacob Lindgren? Branden Pinder? James Pazos? Doesn’t matter who, but it would be helpful to have someone step up.

TanakaThe hold-your-breath starters – Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi

Luis Severino is young, CC Sabathia is old, and Ivan Nova is unpredictable – we’re well aware there’s not a particularly reliable starter on the Yankees’ roster – but I’m singling out the three above because they each carry some obvious injury concerns along with some obvious reasons for optimism should they stay healthy enough for 30-plus starts. Severino and Sabathia will also factor heavily into whether the Yankees have a good or bad rotation, but it’s Tanaka, Pineda and Eovaldi who stand out to me as the real difference makers. Either they’re good, or they’re basically non-factors.

Who would be the fourth piece? I guess that’s Nova, in that he’s the guy who would most likely step into the rotation should one of these three go down with an injury. Might also be Bryan Mitchell, who brings his own sort of wild-card quality. Impressive arm, but if the Yankees need him, can he use that arm to become an impressive Major League starter?

TeixeiraThe limited-flexibility hitters – Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Greg Bird

That’s limited defensive flexibility, the guys limited to first base or DH, and already this group is down to two. Even though Bird wasn’t expected to make the big league roster, his value to the Yankees was significant because he gave the team depth behind two of its most important and most volatile hitters. Sure, Teixeira is a good defender, but most of his value comes from his bat (all of A-Rod’s value comes that way). Having Bird in the mix brought some comfort, because it meant the Yankees had a clear contingency plan. Cutting this trio to a duo has left the Yankees vulnerable.

Would would be the fourth piece? That’s the big question, isn’t it? If Rodriguez were to go down, the fourth piece would probably be Carlos Beltran, with Aaron Hicks or one of the Triple-A outfielders stepping into right field. If Teixeira gets hurt, though, first base would most immediately fall to Dustin Ackley. If he can’t produce, the Yankees will have to either get creative — Brian McCann? Chase Headley? — or go looking for a trade partner.

EllsburyThe everyday outfielders – Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran

Ellsbury and Gardner are easily interchangeable because they’re similar players, but this group can be thought of as a trio because they share an immediate backup. Hicks is second on the depth chart in left field, center field and right field. If any one of the everyday starters goes down, it means more at-bats for Hicks (and more pressure on Hicks to finally live up to his potential as more than a platoon player). These three are also coming off uneven seasons in 2015. Ellsbury and Gardner started out incredible hot, but slowed drastically. Beltran started the season ice cold, but he spent most of the year as the Yankees’ most consistent hitter.

Who would be the fourth piece? Obviously it’s Hicks, but the wild card here might be Aaron Judge. In Hicks and Judge, the Yankees have two fairly young outfielders who the organization believes could become everyday players. If Hicks can’t improve upon his 2015 season, then the Yankees could eventually turn to Judge as the third piece of their regular outfield puzzle.

GregoriusThe left side of the infield – Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Starlin Castro

Aside from first base, these are the Yankees’ everyday infielders. But where they’re most interconnected at the moment is on the left side, where the Yankees have set Castro as the most immediate backup to both Gregorius and Headley. It’s a bit of a dice roll. Sure, the Yankees have guys like Donovan Solano, Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes who could fill in if necessary, but those are not everyday-type players. They have backup options at second base, which is the reason it would be so helpful to have Castro capable of playing shortstop and third. If one of these three goes down — or if Castro isn’t as versatile as hoped — the left side would be just as vulnerable as first base.

Who would be the fourth piece? The fourth piece that makes this sort of left-side combination work is a combo of Ackley and Rob Refsnyder. If those two weren’t available to handle second base, the Yankees couldn’t very well move Castro to third and short. Next in line if one of these three gets hurt, though? Maybe Kozma? At least he’s a high-end defender with experience.

HicksThe prominent bench players — Aaron Hicks, Dustin Ackley, Rob Refsnyder

Can’t really declare Refsnyder to be the final bench player just yet, but he seems to be as good a fit as anyone at the moment. Obviously the bench will also have a backup catcher, but that’s a pretty specific role. It’s these three who would best provide the Yankees with some versatility, giving Girardi an ability to keep his veteran players rested while giving Hicks, Ackley and Refsnyder somewhat regular at-bats. Last year’s offensive decline seemed to highlight the need for regular days off during the regular season. The bench could be a key piece of the puzzle this season.

Who would be the fourth piece? Out of spring training, I would guess either Slade Heathcott or Ben Gamel. Those two are not naturally fits at the moment because they’re left-handed, but an outfield injury would easily open an opportunity for one of those two (or Mason Williams, who’s coming back from a shoulder injury) to play a bench role. Otherwise, Torreyes stands out because he has options and can shuttle back and forth from Triple-A, playing a true utility role and letting the Yankees really mix and match with that 25th roster spot.

JudgeThe big-name prospects – Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo

An outfielder, a catcher and a shortstop. One likely to open in Triple-A, one a possible favorite to open in the big leagues, the other almost certainly going back to High-A. These three really have nothing to do with one another, except that they’re the high-end prospects that signify some of the improvements within the Yankees’ farm system. If one of them falls flat or gets hurt, it would be a big-time blow to the organization which seems to be finally developing some everyday position players capable of having a real impact in New York.

Who would be the fourth piece? James Kaprielian seems to be generally accepted as the Yankees’ fourth-best prospect, and he’s an important piece of the puzzle because he’s the one best positioned to give the Yankees a standout pitching prospect (which they currently lack now that Luis Severino has graduated to the big leagues). A big year by Kaprielian could further change the perception of the Yankees’ farm system.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 11:54 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pinch hitting: Nick Kirby

Andrew Miller, Brian McCann

Today’s Pinch Hitter is a familiar name for this series. Nick Kirby led off the series last year, and he’s been a series regular the past few winters. Now 23 years old and living Manayunk, PA, Nick graduated from the University of Delaware last year. He roots for the Yankees because of his father, who is from Long Island, and he lists is current hobbies as sales/marketing, health and fitness, and baseball (not necessarily in that order).

For his post this year, Nick takes a look at one of the offseason trade chips who ultimately stayed put.

Andrew MillerThroughout the offseason, there has been constant chatter and speculation regarding the possible trade of Andrew Miller. Brian Cashman, who was asked on November 9 about Miller, did nothing to squash the rumors by saying, “We’re open to all ideas — as always. It doesn’t mean I’d do anything, but if the Dutch never asked the Indians for Manhattan you’d be living in New Jersey.”

I never understood this from the start. The reasoning behind the rumor was that Miller was under a team friendly contract and could possibly fetch a starter. What kind of starter were the Yankees really going to get for a 30-year-old closer? The asking prices for Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller were astronomical, so at best the Yankees would have been looking at a No. 2 starter, but more likely a No. 3. The last thing the yanks need is another average starting pitcher.

The thought was that this would make sense because Dellin Betances could be shifted to the closer role. That’s all well and good, but who would pitch the eighth in that situation? The seventh?

Once Adam Warren and Justin Wilson were dealt, the rumors died down for a bit, but after the Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman, they re-intensified. The Yankees could trade Miller and still have an elite one-two back end with Betances and Chapman.

It was a natural reaction to strengthen a weakness (the rotation), but strengthening a strength is another way to improve a club, and that’s what the yanks did with the pen. In reality, acquiring a No. 3 starter wouldn’t have accomplished much. Yes, it would have added pitching depth, but the Yankees already have six starters anyway.

Give me a super pen over another No. 3 starter any day.

Another reason, and maybe the most obvious, for keeping Miller, is that he was simply brilliant last year. Miller converted 36 of 38 saves while pitching to a 2.04 ERA on his to way winning the Mariano Rivera Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League. He is also a consummate professional who doesn’t care what inning he pitches. The man just wants to win, and he has an excellent chance to do that here.

But the biggest reason to keep Miller is Betances.

Betances has logged 174 innings over the past two years, and we saw it catch up with him toward the end of 2015. Betances was still effective, but he looked much more human during August and September then he did during the first half of last season. Betances threw more innings than any other relief pitcher last year, something that the Yankees are hoping to avoid this year. Keeping Miller will allow the Yankees to avoid using Betances for multiple innings at a time, and they can also give him extra days off when the starters can go seven innings.

Removing Miller from the bullpen would mean more innings for a pitcher who’s thrown more than any reliever over the past two seasons.

I understand and acknowledge that the Yankees have question marks in the rotation, and that Miller could have fetched a decent starter. However, the fact is that the Yankees now have a clear identity of a team led by a flame-throwing bullpen. The Royals used that identity to win the World Series last season, and if the yanks can catch a couple breaks and stay healthy, maybe they can do the same.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

On the 40-man: James Pazos

Jame Pazos

Because this has been a pretty prospect-heavy day to begin with, I thought we’d continue our look at the Yankees’ 40-man roster by diving into one of the system’s unheralded prospects. Last spring training, the Yankees invited six left-handed relievers into camp, and James Pazos was the least known of the group. This spring, it seems entirely possible — if not likely — the Yankees will bring seven left-handed relievers into camp, but this time Pazos will find himself in the conversation for an Opening Day roster spot. 

PazosJAMES PAZOS

Age on Opening Day: 24
Acquired: 13th round of the 2012 draft
Added to the 40-man: For a September call-up last year

In the past: Drafted out of the University of San Diego and signed for $100,000, Pazos came to the Yankees with a reputation as a “physical and aggressive” reliever, according to Baseball America. He’d worked out of the bullpen in college, and the Yankees never really tested him as a starter. A 2013 trip to the Arizona Fall League put him somewhat on the radar, and he followed that assignment with a strong 2014 season split between Double-A and Triple-A. He opened last season on the disabled list, but once he got going, Pazos put up big strikeout numbers in Triple-A, got a September call-up, and pitched his way onto the Wild Card roster.

Role in 2016: While Pazos has certainly risen up the ladder and put himself on the map, he’s still on a 40-man roster that has five other left-handed relievers (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and Tyler Olson). He also has Triple-A lefty Tyler Webb competing for attention and an opportunity. His strong big league debut certainly put Pazos in the conversation for a big league job out of spring training, but it seems unlikely that job will be handed to him without a fight. Beyond Chapman and Miller, my early guess at the lefty pecking order is something like this: Shreve, Pazos, Lindgren, Webb, Olson.

Best-case scenario: With a mid-90s fastball and a slider, Pazos has a pretty typical combination of bullpen weapons. And in the minor leagues, he’s shown a pretty typical combination of high strikeout totals to go with some high walk totals. The best-case scenario is also pretty typical of a young reliever: that he can keep the strikeouts and cut down on the walks. He held Triple-A lefties to only a .179 batting average last season, but he showed reverse splits when he got to the big leagues. Ideally, Pazos could show enough to make the Opening Day roster, start the season as a matchup lefty in the middle innings and eventually prove himself to be capable of handling later innings regardless of matchups.

Worst-case scenario: Even though his overall results were pretty decent, Pazos had the same number of walks as strikeouts during his big league audition last season, and big league lefties actually knocked him around a little bit (they hit .273 against him). If Pazos can’t throw enough strikes or handle enough lefties, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees sticking with him for long. He doesn’t have to be a true matchup guy, but the Yankees are still going to prefer a left-handed reliever who can handle matchups when they arise. If Pazos can’t do the job, he could be quickly overshadowed by the other left-handed options fighting for opportunity and attention.

What the future holds: Because he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster until September, the Yankees never burned an option on Pazos last year. That means he still has three options years left, meaning the Yankees can shuttle him back and forth from Triple-A in 2016, 2017 and 2018 if they wish. Even if they never send him back to the minor leagues, they’ll have team control of Pazos through 2021. In other words, either because he pitches extremely well, or because he simply pitches well enough to be worth keeping around, Pazos could easily stick with the Yankees for several years. Of course, if he’s bad, the Yankees have plenty of alternatives and could move on quickly.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 6:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees trio finding its way into Top 100 prospects lists

Gary Sanchez, Antoan Richardson

With an MLB Network special, the crew at MLB Pipeline on Friday announced its Top 100 prospects. The announcement came just days after Baseball Prospectus revealed its Top 101 prospects. Lists like these are hardly definitive, but they’re always interesting and perhaps give some perspective on some young players we’ve talked about quite a bit this offseason.

It’s little surprise that Pipeline and Prospectus each included three Yankees — Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez — in their rankings. I’m guessing we’ll find the same trio whenever Baseball America announces its own list.

Worth remembering that both Luis Severino and Greg Bird got enough big league time last season to be ineligible for these prospect rankings, so that explains why you don’t see those names anywhere. Here’s a quick look at the Pipeline and Prospectus takes on where the Yankees’ top prospects fit within baseball as a whole.

Mateo Jorge milbMLB Pipleline
No. 30: Jorge Mateo
No. 31: Aaron Judge
No. 59: Gary Sanchez

This was the list announced on Friday, and MLB Pipeline had its top two Yankees ranked slightly ahead of some recent top 10 overall draft picks whose names might be familiar (Jon Gray, Dillon Tate, Carson Fulmer). Pipeline has Mateo ahead of notable shortstop prospects Raul Mondesi and Tim Anderson, each of whom was a top 20 overall selection by Baseball Prospectus. The Pipeline crew seems high on Sanchez, but we already knew that after seeing him ranked second on the Pipeline ranking of the top catching prospects in baseball.

As for raw tools, Pipeline singled out Mateo as being the fastest of all the top 100 prospects. Speed is one thing, “but he’s more than just a raw speedster,” Jim Callis wrote. “He has succeeded on 83 percent of his steal attempts as a pro and led the Minors with 82 in 2015, his first year in full-season ball.” Sanchez was named as “also in the running” for the best arm among position prospects, in the same conversation with third baseman Joey Gallo and outfielder Brett Phillips.

Considering Pipeline ranked the top three Yankees prospects within the top 60, I think you could make the case that, if the list were based on players with less than three months of big league experience — rather than prospects who still have rookie status — the Yankees would have five player in the top 100 with Severino and Bird joining the mix. That’s a strong core of young talent, even if all the pieces don’t show up in the current top 100 lists.

Aaron JudgeBaseball Prospectus
No. 18: Aaron Judge
No. 65: Jorge Mateo
No. 92: Gary Sanchez

After ranking Judge 49th last winter, Baseball Prospectus actually moved him up the list despite a disappointing Triple-A debut. BP has noted Judge’s impressive power potential, ability to play a solid right field, and pretty good approach at the plate (which comes with some inevitable swings and misses). BP seems a little more down on Sanchez and quite a bit higher on some other catchers. In their organizational prospect rankings, BP labeled Sanchez’s future as that of an average big league regular.

In a chat with readers, BP writer Craig Goldstein was asked about Sanchez being ranked behind four other catchers, particularly A’s catcher Jacob Nottingham (who didn’t make Pipeline’s Top 100 and ranked eighth among catchers on Pipeline’s positional list). According to Goldstein: “Sanchez has more power, but comparable hit tools and Nottingham has more value with the glove, as a short answer.” Also in the chat, Goldstein was asked by Judge ranked slightly below two other outfield prospects who landed in the teens. “(Judge is) a fine defender for a corner, with enough athleticism and arm for right field,” Goldstein wrote. “But the two guys named are potential impact defenders in center, which pushed them up the list.”

Asked, for some reason, to rank Yankees starter Luis Severino, Mets starter Steven Matz and Phillies starter Aaron Nola, Goldstein went with Matz followed by Nola followed by Severino. But he noted: “I’m gravely concerned I’m underestimating Severino.”

One other thing from Baseball Prospectus: In a post about 10 players who could jump into the top 100 next year, Yankees shortstop Wilkerman Garcia was singled out. Jeffrey Paternostro wrote: “A strong showing in the New York-Penn League as an 18-year-old (where he will be facing a lot of college arms) would thrust him into the national conversation as one of the better shortstop prospects in baseball.”

We’re still waiting for Baseball America’s top 100 list, but we already know one way in which it should be different from Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline: In its organizational Top 10 rankings, Baseball America had Judge listed third among Yankees prospects behind both Mateo and Sanchez. Both Prospectus and Pipeline consider Sanchez to be the No. 3 Yankees prospect, and Prospectus seems to have Judge

Last year, BA had Severino ranked 35th and Judge ranked 53rd. Obviously Severino has graduated, but I have to imagine Baseball America will find room for that familiar Yankees trio of Judge, Mateo and Sanchez on its own Top 100 list. I doubt they’ll extend beyond those three — James Kaprielian just doesn’t strike me as a Top 100 guy right now, especially such a limited pro debut — but I’m guessing the other three will be in the top 100 somewhere.

These lists don’t prove anything. They just give a glimpse from the outside looking in, providing some perspective of how a third party views the Yankees top prospects relative to the rest of baseball.

Associated Press and MILB.com photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 2:59 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees and beyond: Uncertainty looms over any farm system

Slade Heathcott, Brian McCann, Chris Young

The whole point of the Pinch Hitter series is to bring fresh voices and new opinions to the blog. If everyone writing a guest column came from my perspective and shared my opinions, the whole exercise would be useless, so I intentionally look for ideas and viewpoints that are different from my own, and I like to find a few with which I disagree completely.

This morning’s post falls into that category. I think the premise is fair, I just don’t think it’s an issue specific to the Yankees.

Here’s where I agree with Ray’s Pinch Hitter post: The Yankees don’t have a system to absolutely count on for sustained success. Luis Severino might flame out, Greg Bird might never be the same, Jorge Mateo might not develop as hoped, and the rotation might not have enough reinforcements to get through 2016 (much less carry the Yankees into the future). Slade Heathcott is injury prone, Aaron Judge strikes out a lot, James Kaprielian is inexperienced, and Bryan Mitchell’s results have never matched up with his raw stuff.

Those are flaws.

But those flaws are the reality of prospects in any organization.

With very few exceptions — even the Twins’ phenom Byron Buxton showed some holes last year — you can find uncertainty and problematic shortcomings throughout any list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. You can even find flaws if you narrow the list to the top 20 prospects in baseball. Injury concerns, performance concerns and inexperience are not simply a problem for the Yankees’s system; they’re an unavoidable reality of player development.

Any time we talk about prospects, we’re talking about uncertainty. For my own analysis, I try to mitigate that uncertainty a little bit by placing limited emphasis on low-level prospects – a player needs to reach Double-A before I start putting too much stock into his potential – but even upper-level guys can flame out for one reason or another. Baseball players are flawed, prospects are especially flawed, and I think it’s problematic to views those flaws from an extreme angle: it’s overly optimistic to ignore the flaws, and it’s overly pessimistic to focus on them entirely.

A response to a few points from this morning’s Pinch Hitter post:

Aaron Judge“The Yankees lack minor league talent on the cusp of long-term Major League success”

This is one of the central points of Ray’s argument, and I would counter with this:

If prospect rankings were based on players with less than three months of big league experience, not players who have exhausted their rookie eligibility, then the Yankees would almost certainly have five of the top 100 prospects in baseball, and four of those would be on track to open this season in Triple-A or the big leagues (with Bird haven’t obviously graduated last season, but now facing a year of rehab).

That’s awfully good in terms of “on the cusp” talent.

The second half of Ray’s sentence is a little more difficult to define. Which prospects are on the verge of “long-term Major League success,” and how do we distinguish those with staying power from the guys who will inevitably get injured or fall flat?

In other words, how do we know Bird will keep hitting in the big leagues when Jesus Montero did not?

Well, we don’t know, and that’s the way it goes. Baseball America’s annual Top 100 lists are littered with incredibly high-end prospects — universally praised throughout the game — who did nothing in the big leagues. Ten years ago, Delmon Young was as can’t miss as you could get. He became little more than a role player. The other top five prospects that year were Justin Upton, Brandon Wood, Jeremy Hermida and Stephen Drew. To complain that Judge isn’t a sure thing to have longevity is to forget that none of these guys is a sure thing.

The Yankees have talent ready to step into the big leagues, and that’s a huge step forward for this farm system. None of them is a sure thing, but it’s a pretty good group, and it’s significantly better than a few years ago when the Yankees were leaning on David Adams, Zoilo Almonte and Preston Claiborne to provide minor league depth.

Luis Severino“Baseball is littered with pitchers who started out strong and never lived up to their expectations”

This is 100 percent correct, and it was used to make a point about Severino’s uncertainty. But again, that’s more a criticism of prospects in general, not a condemnation of Severino in particular.

Examples given to represent unrealized potential — David Clyde was forced into a pretty extreme situation — each showed their talent was legitimate. If Severino proves to have the ability of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Dontrelle Willis or Steve Avery, the Yankees will be thrilled. Talent is the only thing a team can bank on. Beyond that, it’s always a dice roll when it comes to staying healthy and having a career lasting beyond a two- or three-year peak. The guys who play at that level for years and years become Hall of Famers. That’s an impossibly high standard for determining whether a prospect is succeessfulu or not.

A guy like Severino is far more than “dollar store depth.” Even if his career plays out at a replacement level, his current value is far beyond that. Some other names mentioned this morning:

• Rob Refsnyder’s defense is questionable, but he’s still considered one of the better young second base prospects in the game.

• Aaron Judge strikes out a lot, but he also draws raves for an approach that’s well beyond that of an all-or-nothing slugger.

• James Kaprielian hasn’t done anything beyond college, but that’s because he was just drafted a year ago. Have to let his career play out a little bit before making any sort of concrete analysis of his future impact.

• Gary Sanchez’s prospect stock isn’t simply the product of one good season. That one good season was validation of the prospect stock that stayed with him through his disappointing years.

• Slade Heathcott has trouble staying on the field, and that’s why the Yankees aren’t banking on him. It’s also why it’s a good thing they have redundancy after redundancy at the same position.

• Miguel Andujar’s unimpressive High-A numbers came as a 20-year-old, making him one of the youngest in the Florida State League, where his second half showed significant improvement.

• Luis Cessa isn’t a game-changing prospect, but that’s the only reason he was available for the cost of a late-inning, left-handed reliever. The fact the Yankees are thin on upper-level rotation depth is both acknowledged and accepted. No one is touting the Yankees’ farm system on the strength of its upper-level starting pitchers.

John Ryan Murphy, Alex Rodriguez“Adam Warren and John Ryan Murphy, that’s a steep price for two guys that could be ‘meh’”

No doubt. But I would argue that there are probably fans in Chicago and Minnesota saying Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks were a high price to pay for players who could be ‘meh.’

Some of the players the Yankees have acquired these past two offseasons have carried some of the same risk-reward that comes with minor league prospects. That’s intentional, and it’s strategic. Have to give something to get something, and that’s what the Yankees have done in surrendering Warren, Murphy, Shane Greene, Francisco Cervelli, David Phelps and Manny Banuelos.

Go back to the Montero trade. Same thing.

I think it’s pretty easy to see what Brian Cashman is trying to do with these trades, and right now, his track record is pretty encouraging. What’s the last young player the Yankees traded away who became a key piece of another team? Ian Kennedy (to some extent)? Mark Melancon (eventually)? Melky Cabrera (with some enhancement)? For the most part, Cashman gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to trades. His track record is pretty good.

And there’s something to be said for the fact Cashman has been able to make an enormous number of trades in a short period of time. Young players have value beyond what they do on the field. Their value on the trade market can be just as important, and even if a guy like Greene never becomes a long-term fixture in the big leagues, he will have provided value. The Yankees have been able to wheel and deal these past two years, and through it all they’ve held onto most of their high-ceiling prospects.

Ray asked which of the Yankees’ young, controllable players could bring back a reasonable haul to fill a weakness. Well, already there have been a lot of examples to match that description. The ability to make that sort of trade has been a strength and not a flaw of the Yankees’ system.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 11:51 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pinch hitting: Ray Marcano

Bryan Mitchell, Dalton Pompey

Today’s Pinch Hitter is Ray Marcano, a long-time journalist who has done “everything from running a sports department to leading the internet operations for a major newspaper publisher.” Ray is now Editor of FanBuzz.com and teaches digital media at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Although he got to as many Yankees games as he could when he lived in New York, Ray wrote that he now settles for watching just about every game on TV.

For his post, Ray looks at the Yankees farm system and sees nothing but cracks in the foundation. Sure, the Yankees’ system is touted as being much improved, but do those accolades really mean anything? Is this system really ready to help in the big leagues? Ray’s not so sure.

Greg Bird, Kurt SuzukiYankees fans have been excited about the team’s prospects because several services believe the farm system is on the upswing.

Heading into last season, Baseball America ranked the Bombers 18th with just two top 100 prospects in Luis Severino and Aaron Judge. Baseball Prospectus ranked the Yanks 21st with Judge as the only top 100 prospect.

As last season came to an end, FanGraphs’ September 2015 rankings had the Yankees significantly better, at No. 6.

Now the 2016 rankings are starting to trickle in, and both MLB Pipeline and Baseball Prospectus say the Yankees have three top 100 prospects in Jorge Mateo, Judge, and Gary Sanchez.

While the services may agree on the top prospects, the team’s relative farm system strength is still up for debate. There’s a huge difference between six and 21. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? I think our Yankees are closer to the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus 2015 team rankings for one good reason — the Yankees lack minor league talent on the cusp of long-term Major League success.

We hear the Yankees being lauded for building Major League depth, which is sort of like saying you have a lot of depth at your local dollar store. Sure, there’s a lot to choose from, lots of bubbles and shiny things, but there’s not a lot of quality.

That kind of sums up the state of the Yankees Major League ready talent.

The quality could include Severino, but baseball is littered with pitchers who started out strong and never lived up to their expectations. You could build a fantastic “could have been great” staff with Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Dontrelle Willis, Steve Avery and David Clyde. You could throw out those names and easily come up with more. I, like other fans, am hoping Severino becomes that long-term, top-of-the-rotation, injury free starter we so need.

Greg Bird could be another quality piece, and it looks like he could be Mark Teixeira’s heir apparent, but Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer looked like studs during their brief cameos, too. Hopefully, the scouts who rave about Bird are right and his shoulder injury doesn’t completely derail his potential.

Behind that, there’s a ton of dollar-store depth.

Rob RefsnyderRob Reysnyder? If Cashman had faith in him, he wouldn’t have parted with a valuable pitching piece (Adam Warren) and $39 million of the Steinbrenners’ money to trade for Starlin Castro.

Aaron Judge? Show me something beyond being an amazing physical specimen who’s strike out prone.

James Kaprielian? He’s their best pitching prospect now and that’s flat out scary because outside of some nice college numbers, he hasn’t done anything.

Gary Sanchez? He’s back on the upswing, but does one recent, solid AAA season make him can’t miss (again)?

Slade Heathcott? He’s got mad skills — I’ve always liked him — but he’s as fragile as a pair of cheap sunglasses.

Everyone else falls in “give me a break” category because they haven’t had enough sustained success to make them anything more than trade chips.

Given this, you can see why the Yankees are preaching minor league depth. It’s because they can’t preach minor league quality, which is far different. Sure, they can dip in their system for guys that can come up with a few days at a time, but, outside of Bird, and maybe Sanchez and a healthy Heathcott, they’re desperate for pieces that can be full-time, Major League replacement average producers.

What, too negative? Ask yourself these questions:

Who’s the back-up third baseman? The choices are Castro, a guy that’s almost never played there before; or, in the minor leagues — ah, nobody. I’ll be stunned in the Yankees don’t stash a former Major Leaguer at AAA who can play third in a pinch. Otherwise, their most advance third base prospect is Miguel Andujar, a 20-year-old who has a career .259 average in the low minors.

When — not if — starters start dropping faster than the stock market, who are the replacements? Bryan Mitchell? Spare me the “great tools” talk, the only thing he’s done is get lit up. (Last year’s 6.37 ERA so inspires confidence). Luis Cessa (a converted third baseman), the supposed better arm picked up from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade? Check out some of Cessa’s recent ERAs in AAA: 8.51 in the Pacific Coast League and 5.97 in the International League. So he has the ceiling of … Bryan Mitchell??

Who are the long-term options in the outfield? The Yankees have a ton of names, but besides Judge, who’s lusted after for his power potential, is there one minor leaguer who the Yankees would hold on to at all costs? One word: No.

That’s why the Yankees will have to continue doing what they’ve done lately — trade major league talent for young talent to fill positions of need. They’ve been pretty good at it so far. The Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi trades worked well last year. I’m not crazy about the Castro and Aaron Hicks deals; Adam Warren and John Ryan Murphy, that’s a steep price for two guys that could be ‘meh.’

But what other choice do they have? They flirted all winter with trading Brett Gardner or Andrew Miller — two of their three most valuable, cost-controlled players (Dellin Betances is the other) — because they had to. They’re the only ones who could bring back controllable young talent that can help at the major league level now. If the farm system could produce that, they wouldn’t even look at that possibility.

But the farm system couldn’t, and is still a ways away from being able to produce the type of high end players so they can hold on to proven pieces. And get ready for this fans. Who on that team is a young controllable player who can bring back a reasonable haul to fill a weakness?

To get some young outfield help, they may have to move Betances, because at least they have a ton of relievers who look like they can do the job.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Next week: Miller, McCann to receive Thurman Munson Awards

Andrew Miller, Brian McCann

Now that we’re a week away, here’s a reminder that this year’s Thurman Munson Award honorees include former Yankees starter Jim Abbott as well as current Yankees Andrew Miller and Brian McCann. Here’s the full press release with details for those interested in attending:

The 36th Annual Thurman Munson Awards, which remember the late, great Yankees captain and catcher, will be presented at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Tuesday night, February 9, 2016, and the honorees announced are: former New York Yankee “No-Hit” pitcher Jim Abbott, who has been an inspiration to people with disabilities, will be joined by current Yankees battery mates — relief pitcher Andrew Miller and catcher Brian McCann — New York Mets National League champion closer Jeurys Familia, and 1986 Mets World Series champion ace reliever Jesse Orosco. The AHRC New York City Foundation, which assists children and adults with disabilities, benefits from the gala.

Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend her 36th consecutive benefit, having been involved since its inception. The Thurman Munson Awards Dinner has raised more than $14 million for programs that serve New York City children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Michael Kay, the “Voice of the Yankees” on YES Network and ESPN Radio 98.7 FM host, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner call 212-249-6188 or email jennifer@emgbenefits.com. Tickets may be purchased on line at www.ahrcNYCfoundation.org/events.

The Thurman Munson Awards are presented for success and inspiration on the fields of play, and community outreach off the field.

Andrew MillerThe AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 15,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.

Abbott was born September 19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan without a right hand. Overcoming all odds, his inspirational career included: All-America hurler at Michigan; won the Sullivan Award in 1987; pitcher for the Gold Medal Olympic Team in 1988; and threw a 4-0 no-hitter for the New York Yankees versus Cleveland (September 4, 1993). Jim played for 10 seasons on 4 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999. Abbott has worked with The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities.

A native of Gainesville, Florida, and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Andrew Miller succeeded the legendary Mariano Rivera as the Yankees closer in 2015, and recorded 36 saves to help vault the Bombers to a post-season berth.

A veteran of 10 major league seasons, the left-handed reliever signed a four-year contract with the Yankees during the last off-season after enjoying successful stints with both the Orioles and Red Sox. Equally effective against both lefties and righties, Miller emerged as one of the best relievers in baseball after Boston moved him to the bullpen in 2012. The imposing strikeout artist first signed with the Detroit Tigers.

Active with the Yankees “Hope Week” community outreach during his first season in New York, Miller has also supported the “Strike 3 Foundation” in its research for children with cancer, and Charity Day for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, a foundation that supports victims of terrorism.

Brian McCannA native of Athens, Georgia who played nine seasons for the hometown Braves, McCann enjoyed a significant bounce back campaign in his second year with the Yankees, socking 26 home runs and knocking in 94 RBI in 135 games as one of the key players in the Bombers lineup. A veteran of 11 major league seasons, McCann has amassed 1,293 hits, 225 home runs and 830 RBI as one of the top backstops in the game.

For two seasons, McCann has actively participated in the Yankees “Hope Week” community outreach program. He created the Brian McCann Home Run Challenge to impact the lives of children battling cancer and has been involved in the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research as well.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Familia emerged as one of baseball’s ace relievers last season in helping lead the Mets to their first National League Championship in 15 years. Assuming the closer’s role with gusto, the right-handed hurler saved 43 games, tying a team record. He had a tidy 1.43 ERA in his fourth season in New York. In the post season, Familia notched two more saves in the NLDS against the Dodgers, retiring all 16 batters that he faced. He continued that excellence in the NLCS against the Cubs, recording three more saves to vault the Mets into the Fall Classic.

Familia’s son, Jeurys, Jr., was born to fiancée Bianca Rivas on June 12, while he saved a win against the Atlanta Braves. The youngest son of a gas station attendant, Familia is greatly devoted to his family and built a house in his native Dominican Republic that he has been saving for since he signed with the Mets. Familia has participated in many of the Mets community outreach programs, including “Amazin’ City,” when he visited the Museum of Natural History with students from the Leonardo da Vinci School (Corona); and the Military Softball Classic with members of the Armed Forces at Citi Field, just to name two.

Jesse Orosco ranks first on MLB’s all-time leader board in most games pitched during a career which spanned 20 years. He saved both the final game of the NLCS against Houston, and the World Series against Boston, ending both games with a strike out, to vault the Mets to their second world championship. He also was a World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Orosco was the first and only relief pitcher to get three wins in one playoff series against the Astros.

Earlier this year, The Mets, Major League Baseball and Stand Up to Cancer visited Mt. Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital in Manhattan to spend time with pediatric cancer patients. MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred was joined by Mets legend Jesse Orosco, Hall of Famer and former Mets pitcher Tom Glavine and everyone’s favorite mascots Mr. and Mrs. Met.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 8:58 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

On the 40-man: Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

Continuing to profile every player on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, we’ll next move on to one of the team’s recent youth-with-upside acquisitions. There’s little doubt Nathan Eovaldi has a big arm, but his numbers are generally fallen short of what’s expected from a guy who can reach the upper-90s with decent control. This is one more example of the uncertainty that fills the current Yankees rotation. 

EovaldiNATHAN EOVALDI

Age on Opening Day: 26
Acquired: Traded from Miami in December 2014
Added to the 40-man: Added on August 6, 2011 for his big league debut

In the past: An 11th-round pick in 2008, but by the end of 2011, Eovaldi was ranked as a Top 100 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com. He was traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins in the 2012, and he’s now pitched more than 600 Major League innings before his 26th birthday. Although he throws extremely hard — fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s — Eovaldi has never put up overwhelming strikeout numbers. Last season, though, he began to show improvement with his offspeed pitches, especially a work-in-progress splitter, which helped him to the highest strikeout rate of his career. Although Eovaldi ended the season with an elbow injury, he was deemed healthy enough to pitch in the division series had the Yankees advanced.

Role in 2016: Starting pitcher. It’s hard to get more specific than that. Eovaldi has a spot in the rotation basically locked up. Where he fits in that rotation basically ranges from No. 2 to No. 5. He’s either a guy with a big fastball who made sustainable strides late last season, or he’s a guy who gives up a ton of hits and can eat innings as long as he stays healthy. In between is really just a bunch of uncertainty. The elbow issue from last season adds an additional wrinkle.

Best-case scenario: From June 20 through his final start on September 5, Eovaldi pitched to a 3.43 ERA through 84 innings. He had at least seven strikeouts in each of his final four starts, something he’d one only once in his previous 23 starts. The Yankees have worked with Eovaldi to use his high-90s fastball more effectively while making his relatively new splitter more consistent. Best-case scenario is that he stays healthy and uses his offspeed stuff well enough to become an improved strikeout pitcher who doesn’t have to pitch to contact quite so often (would also be nice if he could keep his pitch count down and get deeper into games). Eovaldi has a big-time arm. The best-case scenario is that he builds off last year’s second half to finally become big-time pitcher just in time for the Yankees to lock him into a reasonable contract extension.

Worst-case scenario: Tommy John surgery some time around July 1. That’s the nightmare scenario, right? Essentially, the Yankees traded for three years of team control with Eovaldi, but if last year’s mild elbow issue was a sign of things to come, a mid-season surgery could basically leave the Yankees with only a year and a half of Eovaldi’s services. If that’s how it plays out, his relative youth won’t matter. He’ll be just another guy with a big fastball and an arm that couldn’t hold up. And the Yankees will have to make a tough decision about whether to bring him back in 2018.

What the future holds: Really hard to tell with Eovaldi. Despite a decent amount of big league time, he still seems to be a work in progress. The Yankees have two more years of team control, and those two years will probably determine whether he gets a long-term contract or becomes little more than a footnote. Eovaldi could pitch his way into real staying power, or he could pitch his way out of the picture entirely. This season and next season should determine what his future holds in New York.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 6:06 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

What’s next? Looking for fallout from the Greg Bird injury news

Alex Rodriguez, Greg Bird

Shoulder surgery for Greg Bird, and just like that, his season is over before it began. Eventually, this lost season will leave the Yankees with a difficult choice for 2017, but first, it leaves them without their anticipated short-erm depth at first base. There’s an impact here that goes well beyond Bird. And it starts with…

Mark Teixeira

He’s still the Yankees’ starting first baseman, and that’s not going to change as long as Teixeira is both healthy and productive. That was true before the Bird injury, and it’s still true after the Bird injury. The top of the depth chart hasn’t changed, but there’s now more importance on Teixeira staying healthy and productive. The question of the moment is who should handle first base when Teixeira needs a break. Some of those at-bats might have gone to Bird on a back-and-forth shuttle from Triple-A, now it seems all of those at-bats might go to…

Dustin AckleyDustin Ackley

Primarily a second baseman and outfielder in pro ball, Ackley actually spent much of his college career at first base (he’d hurt his arm in high school, and his Baseball America college scouting report actually pegged him as a decent defender at first). Multiple times this offseason, Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have each pegged Ackley as the backup first baseman on the big league roster. It’s an idea that should work for occasional duty, but what if Teixeira is hurt and the team needs a full-time replacement. Surely, Bird would have filled that void. Without him, maybe the Yankees could jump into the free agent market to consider someone like…

Pedro Alvarez

A big left-handed hitter who’s still on the free agent market after hitting 27 home runs with the Pirates last season. The Yankees could jump in to sign Alvarez as a backup everyday player, but Cashman has essentially ruled out such a signing unless Alvarez is willing to take a minor league deal. The Yankees didn’t think they had room to carry Bird on their big league roster, so how why would they see room for Alvarez? The same is true for a guy like Justin Morneau. Unless someone is willing to take a minor league deal, it’s hard to see the Yankees making a run at them. So what’s the current market for…

Ike Davis

Non-tendered after a disappointing season that ended with hip surgery, Davis is still out there, but it’s been a while since those encouraging seasons with the Mets. Maybe he’s reached a point of having to accept a minor league deal. Even if he has reached that point, would he see the Yankees as his best opportunity? Not impressed by Davis? Well, the rest of the list doesn’t get much better. Maybe Casey McGehee gets bonus points for being able to play third base and perhaps platoon with Ackley if necessary? Is Corey Hart a better alternative? Dan Johnson? If the Yankees are shopping in the minor league market, they’re going to be limited to the bargain bin. Someone has to play first base in Triple-A, though, and apparently it won’t be…

Tyler Austin

I assumed the Bird injury would be an opportunity for Austin, who seems crowded out of the Triple-A outfield and could get a fresh opportunity at first base. Cashman, though, shot down the idea while talking to Brendan Kuty. If the Yankees don’t want to give Austin a shot at first base in Triple-A, then there’s not really a go-to in-house option (might have been Eric Jagielo, but he’s gone; so is Kyle Roller). So if the minor league free agents aren’t appealing, and there’s not an in-house alternative waiting in the wings, could the Yankees revisit the possibility of…

Alex Rodriguez

This is probably a long shot, and there’s absolutely no indication the Yankees are even considering — all they’ve said since the end of last season is that Rodriguez is strictly a DH — but that was easier to say when the Yankees had a full-time first baseman and a first base prospect waiting in Triple-A. There’s no indication the Yankees have changed their minds, but what if they get to spring training without adding someone? What if A-Rod walks in and says he wants to chip in? Doesn’t seem likely, but the situation has certainly changed.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 3:15 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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