The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees bring back Chris Capuano

Capuano (2)A source has confirmed Jack Curry’s report that the Yankees have re-signed lefty Chris Capuano to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

Capuano pitched well for the Yankees last season, providing solid rotation depth late in the season. He made 12 starts with a 4.25 ERA, and it seems Capuano will come into spring training to provide a little rotation depth (maybe a place holder until Ivan Nova comes off the disabled list).

Another source has confirmed Capuano will show up in spring training to work as a starting pitcher.

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 at 1:08 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Random thoughts the morning after Chase Headley’s new deal

Chase Headley

A few random thoughts on this morning after the Chase Headley signing…

• Four years and $52 million is too much for Headley, but that’s what happens in free agency. The Yankees needed an infielder, and this is where the market set Headley’s value (actually, remarkably, his value seems to have been set a little higher than what the Yankees are paying). Headley’s a strong defensive player who’s generally stayed in the lineup despite his back issues. He’s a nice hitter, but certainly not a great hitter, and he’s never hit for much power outside of that standout 2012 season. For the money, I’m not entirely sure the Yankees are better off having Headley instead Jed Lowrie, but I do think this is the kind of overpay the Yankees are willing to make. They committed to Headley without committing to someone beyond his mid-30s.

• Yes, the Headley signing blocks Rob Refsnyder’s most obvious path to the big leagues, but does anyone really expect the Yankees lineup to stay fully healthy all of next year? Refsnyder turns 24 in March, he’s been playing second base for just two years, and he has just 77 games of Triple-A experience. He’s not even on the 40-man yet. Going back to the minor leagues out of spring training shouldn’t hurt his development, and it wouldn’t shut the door to the possibility of having him in a regular big league role by the end of the season. The Yankees absolutely had to get some additional infield depth of some sort. They essentially got the best infield depth possible on the market. Now, the key is, if something happens in the infield, they have to be willing to give Refsnyder his shot.

Derek Jeter, Chase Headley, Stephen Drew• During interviews yesterday, Headley made it clear that he turned down larger contracts to sign with the Yankees. I regularly get emails saying no free agents are going to want to sign with the Yankees because the Yankees are no longer a winning team. I understand the frustration that leads to such a belief — and I don’t remotely believe the Yankees are currently a favorite to compete for a championship in 2015 — but I don’t believe players look at the Yankees as a losing organization right now. Certainly not over the course of a multi-year deal. Time will tell whether those players are right or wrong.

• One thing I like about Headley: He’s a good fit for this atmosphere. He seems to handle pressure, he’s good with the media, and he seems confident enough to slide into a secondary role without feeling as if he’s been slighted. “I didn’t know how I’d like playing in New York just with all the other things that come with playing in New York,” Headley said yesterday. “But once you get here and you realize how well you’re treated, how much the fans care, how much the city cares, how well the Yankees family take care of you and your family, it was pretty obvious after a week or so that I was extremely lucky to get a chance to play in the pinstripes. So, I was surprised, but it didn’t take long to see why other players had spoke so highly of the organization.”

• With Headley, Didi Gregorius, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, the Yankees have at least five players who have a chance to be above-average defenders next season. I think Brian McCann could be as well if you factor in his pitch framing and the way he works with the pitching staff. Martin Prado at second should be just fine as well. If nothing else, the Yankees have made themselves a better defensive team.

Hiroki Kuroda• You know what the Yankees need to go with that defense? An actual pitching staff. That has to be the final piece of the puzzle. The Yankees really have no more glaring needs in their lineup. They could even consider their bench to be complete with John Ryan Murphy, Chris Young, Brendan Ryan and Jose Pirela. But the pitching still needs work. The rotation in particularly has taken a hit with the loss of Shane Greene. Most of the pitchers who seemed to fit the Yankees desire for rotation depth have already come off the board. I do wonder if Hiroki Kuroda could jump back into the picture at some point.

• Speaking of pitching: I still believe the Yankees when they say they’re not planning to get into the Max Scherzer bidding, but if they go another three or four weeks without signing a starting pitcher who they actually like, and Scherzer still out there as a big splash who fills a clear need, I do wonder if they could talk themselves into taking the risk — yet again — on a long-term commitment that carries obvious risk down the road. Not saying it will happen, only that I could imagine a scenario in which the Yankees ultimately bit the bullet and jump into the Scherzer sweepstakes.

• Interesting that the Yankees gave Headley pretty close to the same contract they weren’t willing to give either Dave Robertson or Brandon McCarthy. Of those three, I’d say McCarthy was the best fit — the Yankees have reached a point where they most desperately need a starting pitcher — but he was also the most obvious overpay (incredibly risky to give a guy with his injury history a four-year deal). I think Robertson would been a better investment on a four-year deal, but relievers tend to come and go, and before this offseason I’m not sure I would have been on board with such an investment into a bullpen arm, even one as good as Robertson. Free agency is all about picking battles, and when it came to spending roughly $50 million across the next four years, the Yankees prioritized Headley ahead of the two familiar and desirable pitchers.

• The top third basemen in the minor league system are Miguel Andujar, Eric Jagielo and Dante Bichette Jr. Andujar is still a teenager and won’t necessarily be blocked by the Headley contract, Bichette hasn’t shown enough consistency for the Yankees to really bank on him, and there are enough questions about Jagielo’s defense and strikeouts that the Yankees couldn’t let his presence standing in the way of a deal. That’s not at all to say Jagielo (or anyone else) won’t develop into a legitimate big league third baseman, but I don’t think the Yankees could say with confidence their farm system will be ready to fill the third base hole within the next four years.

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 at 10:36 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Monday night notes: Lowrie, Rios, Anderson, Motte, Kang

Chase Headley stole the headlines in the Yankees world today, but it was actually a pretty busy day for baseball in general. A few of the notable signings from today:

Jed Lowrie• Infielder Jed Lowrie — who might have been an infield alternative had the Yankees not signed Headley – agreed to a three-year, $23-million deal with the Astros. It includes a team option. Lowrie will presumably play shortstop at least in the first year of the contract. He’s certainly not going to play second base in Houston, which is where I assume he would have played had the Yankees signed him.

• A guy who seemed like a good buy-low candidate, left-handed starter Brett Anderson got a one-year, $10-million deal from the Dodgers. Buster Olney reports that he has another $4 million in possible incentives. The Dodgers are really taking some chances in building the back of their rotation, huh? Four years for McCarthy, now $10 million for Anderson. Yowza.

• For the about the same money as Anderson, Alex Rios agreed to a one-year deal with the Royals. So Kansas City went from Nori Aoki and Billy Butler to Rios and Kendrys Morales?

• One of a handful of available relievers with ninth-inning experience, Jason Motte took a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs. Still wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees add a guy like that — or even better — to add to their bullpen mix.

• As expected, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang was posted today, according to Mike Puma. While it seems uncertain that Kang can actually play shortstop in the major leagues, he has shown some power in Korea. Wonder if the Yankees might have taken a shot on him had they not gotten Headley.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 9:53 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees bring back Jose Campos; add more AAA infield depth

Obviously re-signing Chase Headley is the Yankees news of the day, but here are three minor league signings worth having on your radar.

Campos• A team source confirmed that the Yankees have re-signed pitching prospect Jose Campos. Acquired in the Pineda/Montero trade three years ago, Campos was non-tendered this offseason so that the Yankees could open a spot on the 40-man roster. Campos is still just 22 years old, and not so long ago he was one of the top pitching prospects in the system, but Tommy John surgery cost him all of 2014 and he’s pitched barely more than 100 innings since joining the organization. Brian Cashman has acknowledged the Yankees are also trying to re-sign Slade Heathcott, the other often-injured prospect who was non-tendered this winter.

• The same source confirmed that the Yankees have signed 27-year-old infielder Cole Figueroa to a minor league deal. Figueroa has played quite a bit of shortstop, third base and second base in the minor leagues, and he’s a career .285/.359/.378 hitter in Triple-A. He got a little bit of big league time with the Rays this year, and they used him mostly at second. Figueroa joins Jonathan Galvez (mostly a third baseman) and Nick Noonan (who the Yankees like at shortstop) as minor league free agents likely to fill out the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre infield next season.

• Finally, from Matt Eddy, the Yankees have also signed 25-year-old catcher Juan Graterol. Coming up through the Royals system, Gaterol has played just seven games above Double-A and he’s never played in the big leagues. Seems like little more than organizational depth. Purely a guess, but Graterol could join Francisco Arcia in Double-A, especially if the Yankees go out and sign a veteran to backup Gary Sanchez in Triple-A.

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 7:41 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Headley on his contract, his role, and his back

Chase Headley

Chase Headley has done at least two interviews since re-signing with the Yankees, one with YES Network and one on a conference call with Yankees beat reporters. A few things he’s confirmed.

1. He turned down larger contracts to come back

Headley wouldn’t say how much, or which teams were involved, but he made it clear that there were larger offers on the table. He simply didn’t think there were better offers on the table. There were previous reports of at least one team willing to go four years, $65 million.

“There’s a lot of things that led to it,” Headley said. “First and foremost was a chance to win. I haven’t done that in my career, so I look forward to the chance here.”

2. He expects to play third base next season

This should come as no surprise at this point, but Headley said he did ask the Yankees about their plans for Alex Rodriguez, and the Yankees assured Headley that he is their third baseman. Rodriguez might play the position a little bit, but Headley clearly expects — and wants — to get the vast majority of his time at third base.

“I view myself as a third baseman and that’s where I feel like I help this team the best,” Headley said. “I obviously want to be the best teammate I can to all my teammates, so wherever I’m playing, I’m going to give everything I have. That was a conversation we had and I think the vast majority of my time will be spent at third base.”

3. He feels healthy this offseason

While a back issue has affected Headley in the past, he said he’s learned to manage the injury and feels good as he progresses through the winter toward spring training. Headley said he never felt like his back impacted him in the second half of last season; he thinks he can feel the same way throughout next season.

“The second half of (last) season at least, it didn’t give me any issues,” Headley said. “So I’ve been staying on top of it. I understand some of the things that are important for me to keep it healthy, some of the things I can do to try to manage it and stay on top of it. I don’t foresee it being an issue going forward. We were aware of it, but we felt like all of the clubs that we spoke with were made aware of the situation, and it wasn’t going to be a huge issue.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 4:57 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Rob Refsnyder: A Yankees backup option all over the field

Refsnyder (Farmer)

Re-signing Chase Headley blocks the easiest big league pathway for the Yankees most advanced position prospect, Rob Refsnyder. Before Headley, Refsnyder was in position to make a serious run at the everyday second base job. With Headley, Martin Prado will move to second base and Refsnyder will — most likely — be left on the outside looking in.

That said, is anyone expecting this Yankees lineup to stay healthy next season? Prado’s defensive flexibility clears the way for Refsnyder to be essentially the backup plan at every position except shortstop and catcher. Here’s how:

First base – If Mark Teixeira got hurt, the Yankees could consider Kyle Roller for the position (good hitter but a poor defender) or they could think about Tyler Austin (primarily a right fielder who has yet to play at Triple-A). But they could also slide Headley to first base, push Prado back to third, and let Refsnyder handle second. Alex Rodriguez could also be a first base option, again setting off a series of dominoes that could open second base or DH at-bats for Refsnyder.

Second base – The most obvious way to land a spot in the big league lineup: if Prado were hurt, Refsnyder would naturally move back to the top of the pecking order. His greatest competition could come from within if Jose Pirela plays well enough to earn everyday consideration.

Third base – Again, a pretty obvious one. If Headley got hurt, the Yankees would presumably revert back to their fallback plan with Prado taking over third base and Refsnyder competing with Pirela for the second base job.

Outfield corner — A lot like third base, the Yankees could easily shift Prado to left field or right field should either Brett Gardner or Carlos Beltran get hurt. That would open second base for Refsnyder. It’s also possible Refsnyder himself could move into right field, where he played in college, though the Yankees seem to prefer him at second. That said, if an outfielder gets hurt, moving pieces to involve Refsnyder wouldn’t be a no brainer considering the Yankees upper-level outfield depth. They could consider a corner-outfield platoon of Chris Young and Ramon Flores, or they could hand a corner job to a guy like Austin or Aaron Judge if those two are putting up huge numbers.

Center field — A lot of moving parts here, but basically the same idea as above. If Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt, Gardner would presumably slide from left field to center field, in which case the Yankees would have a corner outfield opening, which they could fill with Prado, which could open second base for Refsnyder. Again, the Yankees would have to choose that route ahead of several upper-level outfield prospects who seem close to big league ready.

Obviously there’s not a catcher scenario that really creates a pathway for Refsnyder. There’s not much of a shortstop opening either because Prado’s never been much more than emergency shortstop. If there’s a short-term shortstop opening, though — some minor injury to either Brendan Ryan or Didi Gregorius — the Yankees could possibly decide to carry Pirela as their backup shortstop for a week or so (similar to what they did with Yangervis Solarte for a little while last season) and bring up Refsnyder to play an infield role off the bench.

Photo from the Scranton Times-Tribune

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 3:34 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees make Chase Headley signing official

Well that was quick. The Yankees have officially announced the deal. Here’s the press release:

Chase HeadleyThe New York Yankees today announced they have signed switch-hitting 3B Chase Headley to a four-year contract extending through the 2018 season.

Headley, 30, was acquired by the Yankees along with cash considerations from the San Diego Padres in exchange for INF Yangervis Solarte and RHP Rafael De Paula on July 22, 2014. In 58 games with the Yankees, he hit .262 (50-for-191) with 28R, 8 doubles, 6HR and 17RBI.

In his Yankees debut on July 22 vs. Texas, Headley hit a 14th-inning “walk-off” single, becoming the first player with a “walk-off” hit in his first game with the club since Roy Weatherly in April 1943 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first of three Yankees “walk-off” wins to end in a Headley at-bat (also a home run on September 4 vs. Boston and a fielding error on September 18 vs. Toronto).

The Fountain, Colo., native began the 2014 season with the Padres, batting .229 (64-for-279) with 27R, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 7HR and 32RBI in 77 games.

In 966 career games over parts of eight Major League seasons with the Padres (2007-14) and Yankees (2014), Headley has hit .265 (923-for-3,477) with 426R, 194 doubles, 13 triples, 93HR and 418RBI, while appearing in games at third base (731), left field (196) and first base (nine). He has collected at least one hit in 33 different Major League ballparks in his career, including each of the 30 current stadiums.

In 2012, Headley earned his first career Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, batting .286 (173-for-604) with 95R, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 31HR and an NL-leading 115RBI in 161 games with the Padres. His .976 fielding percentage as a third baseman was second-highest in the NL (424TC, 10E).

Headley was originally selected by the Padres in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He owns a .967 career fielding percentage at third base (1,822TC, 60E), the best mark among active Major Leaguers at the position.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 1:55 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees remodeled infield in place for 2015

Chase Headley

The Yankees have significantly overhauled the infield in the past six months. Here’s a look at the four regular infielders from last year (plus their primary backups) along with the players projected to play each position next season. Is the Yankees 2015 infield going to be better than it was in 2014?

TeixeiraFIRST BASE
2014: Mark Teixeira (Kelly Johnson for 23 games)
2015: Mark Teixeira
Just like the catcher position, the Yankees are committed at first base, and they have to hope for better production from the guy who’s already in place. The Yankees — and Teixeira — believe that healthy and a normal offseason will be significant factors in keeping Teixeira’s power production relatively high. He slugged .474 through the end of June last season (a pretty high number in the current climate) but he slugged just .324 after July 1. Last year the Yankees didn’t have a real backup at the position. It seems Alex Rodriguez could play that backup role this year.

PradoSECOND BASE
2014: Brian Roberts (Stephen Drew for 31 games)
2015: Martin Prado
Although there was a lot of mixing and matching at second base, it was Roberts who spent more time at the position than any other Yankee last season (Prado, Ryan and Solarte also had double-digit starts at second). In theory, Prado’s a solid bet to outperform Roberts’ .237/.300/.360 slash line. He hit .282/.321/.412 last season and has slugged below .400 only once since becoming a big league regular. If Prado can’t hit beyond Roberts’ numbers, Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela are waiting as young alternatives.

GregoriusSHORTSTOP
2014: Derek Jeter (Brendan Ryan for 19 games)
2015: Didi Gregorius
Although Gregorius hasn’t been much of a hitter in the big leagues, his .653 OPS last season was better than Jeter’s .617, and Gregorius is also considered a much better defensive player. The Yankees could try to get even more of an offensive boost by platooning Gregorius (who’s struggled against lefties) with right-handed-hitting Ryan, another good glove, questionable bat shortstop. By the way, kind of amazing just how many games 40-year-old Jeter was able to play last year.

HeadleyTHIRD BASE
2014: Yangervis Solarte (Chase Headley for 49 games, Kelly Johnson for 33)
2015: Chase Headley
Third base was supposed to be Johnson’s job last season, but he lost it to Solarte, who was eventually traded for Headley. As it turned out, Solarte had the most starts at third, but even he barely started a third of the games there. Headley surged after the trade to New York, and that came after Solarte’s numbers had seriously dragged following his standout first month and a half. In theory, Headley is a better defender and potentially a better hitter than what the Yankees had last season, but Headley’s also had back issues and he’s rarely hit for much power.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 12:59 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Chase Headley re-signs with Yankees for four years

Chase Headley

The Yankees have their third baseman.

A team source has confirmed Chase Headley has agreed to a four-year deal worth “in the range” of $52 million. The source said the deal is basically done, but it’s still pending a physical and some contract language. I believe it was first reported by Jon Heyman.

When Headley went into the offseason, he made it clear that he enjoyed playing for the Yankees, and the Yankees clearly liked him. The team has made little secret that it wanted Headley back, it was just a matter of finding common ground on the contract.

Now that Headley is on board, the Yankees will shift Martin Prado back to second base, keep Alex Rodriguez penciled in as the regular designated hitter, and Rob Refsnyder will fall into a sort of depth position. He presumably could still fight for a big league job in some capacity, and Prado’s flexibility suggests Refsnyder could be essentially a backup plan at nearly every position except shortstop and catcher.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 11:25 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Headley in the spotlight the week after the Winter Meetings

Joe Girardi, Chase Headley

It’s Chase Headley’s turn in the spotlight.

As we start this week after the Winter Meetings, Sweeny Murti reports that Headley is close to a decision. Of course, we’ve heard that before — at one point he was expected to sign during the Winter Meetings — but now there seems to be little stopping him. With so many big pieces off the board, Headley actually stands out as one of the very best players available, and surely his market is pretty well established at this point.

In the wake of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston, Headley stood out as the top third baseman on the free agent market. He’s probably the top free agent infielder, and MLB Trade Rumors ranks him as the third-best player and top-ranked position player, period, currently on the market.

Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are more versatile, but last season Headley had a higher OPS than either of those two, and he’s also a strong defender at his position (a position that’s thin throughout the league). The free agent market really has played to Headley’s advantage with two third base candidates signing with the same team. It hasn’t hurt that those two signed relatively early, leaving plenty of teams still plugging holes and looking to spend. Headley’s in a good spot just days after the most frantic week of the offseason.

The Yankees have made little secret of their interest in bringing Headley back to New York, and Brian Cashman restated that interest on television last night. But when the offseason started, Headley seemed like a potential value signing. Now he might be an overpay waiting to happen. The alternatives should Headley price himself out of the Yankees comfort zone? Lowrie and Cabrera might not be ideal shortstops, but they could play second base and leave Martin Prado free to play third. Same for Gordon Beckham. David Freese seems readily available on the trade market. Ultimately, though, the infield options really are pretty slim.

The fact Headley has become one of the most desirable players on the free agent market isn’t necessarily a good thing for a Yankees team desperate for help in the infield,

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 11:12 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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