The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Noel, Moreno, Castillo among Yankees’ minor league free agents

Rico Noel

Baseball America has released its annual list of minor league free agents, with 16 Yankees hitting the open market. None of these is a particularly big name, though five of them did spend time on the big league roster this season.

Diego MorenoRHP: Andury Acevedo (AAA), Scottie Allen (AA), Joel de la Cruz (AAA), Diego Moreno (AAA), Wilking Rodriguez (AAA), Cesar Vargas (AAA)
LHP: Jose De Paula (AAA), Aaron Dott (AA)
C: Francisco Arcia (AA), Juan Graterol (AAA), Kyle Higashioka (AAA)
INF: Cole Figueroa (AAA), Ali Castillo (AAA), Jose Rosario (AA)
OF: Ericson Leonora (Hi A), Rico Noel (AAA)

• Although five players from this list got to the big leagues this season, they played such small roles that Noel had the biggest impact as a pinch runner down the stretch. Moreno had one great game as a long reliever in Texas, but he finished the season with surgery before being removed from the 40-man. De La Cruz, De Paula and Figueroa each spent a few days plugging holes, but none had a particularly memorable or meaningful stint. De La Cruz came up early in the year and never even got in a game.

• Ultimately, there’s not much earth-shattering or surprising about this list. Castillo has had some nice years as a utility man, but there was never any indication that he was in the conversation for a call-up. Allen was acquired from Arizona in the Juan Miranda trade and never gained much traction. Higashioka‘s defense made him an on-the-radar prospect for a few years, but injuries and a lack of offense turned him into more of an organizational guy. Vargas had a nice year in Double-A, but he’s thoroughly overshadowed in this system full of upper-level relievers.

• So who might follow the Pat Venditte path, riding out his player development years with the Yankees before getting a better opportunity as a minor league free agent? One that stands out is Moreno. Obviously he got his first opportunity with the Yankees, but he might instantly move higher on the depth chart by signing elsewhere. He has velocity and secondary pitches, so he might be more than organizational depth. I suppose Castillo could land with a team woefully thin in the infield and get some sort of look as a second baseman who can play elsewhere, kind of a poor man’s Jose Pirela.

• Worth noting that the Yankees can still bring some of these guys back. Arcia, Higashioka, Acevedo, de la Cruz, Moreno and Rodriguez were each minor league free agents last winter and re-signed before they hit the open market. The Yankees have already re-signed catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who would have been a minor league free agent.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 3:46 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Notes from Girardi: Gardner, Tanaka, Sabathia, Refsnyder

Joe Girardi

At Yankee Stadium this morning, Joe Girardi participated in the Yankees’ annual USO event to put together care packages for members of the military overseas. I’m not sure how long the Yankees have been doing this, but I’ve been on the beat since 2009 and it certainly seems like Girardi and David Cone have been there every year.

Girardi’s father was in the Korean War, his uncle flew helicopters in Vietnam, and he’s always thrown his support behind military events like this one. Of course, having the Yankees manager available means inevitable baseball questions in the early stages of the offseason.

Here are a few comments from Girardi:

Brett GardnerOn playing Brett Gardner through a bad wrist late in the season
“You can look at it, he got hit in April I believe it was, and that’s when it first started. May, June, July were all great, and he comes out and has that day against Toronto. Obviously everyone is dealing with something and you try to balance. It’s like, all these things that come across my desk on a daily basis, you’re saying, ‘OK, is this guy healthy enough to play? We need him out there.’ Those are things that you have to balance. It wasn’t just Brett. There were a number of guys that we had to deal with during the course of the year. Pitchers that we had to deal with, position players. You just try to balance it the best way you can.”

On Masahiro Tanaka’s offseason elbow surgery
“He really didn’t have a lot of treatment on it, no. Guys just, sometimes adrenaline can get them through a lot of different things. Guys are used to feeling some things during the course of the season, and they play through it. That’s just the way it is. There’s a number of players at the end of the year that you don’t really hear a whole lot about (during the season) that go have surgery just to get some things tidied up (after the season). But it didn’t keep him from making a start. It was ever an issue. It never really came across my desk that he was having a lot of problems. It wasn’t what I expected at the end of the year. I didn’t go into the last week of the season saying I knew he needed surgery, because I didn’t.”

On the possibility of CC Sabathia not being in the rotation next year
“If he’s pitching the way he was at the end of the year, I don’t see that. I see him in our starting rotation. Obviously there’s going to be a number of people that are vying for those five spots. We have Tanaka coming off that little minor elbow surgery that he’s coming off of that we’re going to have to deal with a see where he’s at. We expect him to be back on time, but we were in a situation last year where we had to watch innings for certain guys, so if he’s pitching well, he’s going to be in our rotation.”

On the possibility of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base
“We’re going to have to see how the roster shakes out. I thought Ref did a pretty decent job at the and of the year for us, especially when (you consider) he didn’t play for 18 or 19 days, which was really pretty amazing. Lets just see how the offseason goes and we’ll go from there.”

On the idea of Brian Cashman being open to anything this offseason
“I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to improve the club. Sometimes it’s not necessarily through the free agent route, it can be through trade routes. We had some success in the trades that we made last year in acquiring Didi and acquiring Justin Wilson and how big of a role that they played in our club. I think we’re going to continue to look at that. Obviously I like the guys on our club. I love how hard they played for us, but the goal is to win and win a World Series. I think when you talk about that, you’ve got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club.”

On participating in the USO event for soldiers overseas
“It’s a way to give back and just to thank our soldiers for what they’re doing. The physical and mental stress that they go through on a daily basis to keep us safe is probably something none of us can really imagine. It means a lot. I remember getting care packages in the mail and how much they meant to me, so hopefully it touches their hearts and lets them know that we care. … I just hope they know that we’re thinking of them. The Yankee organization and the community around here is really thankful for what they do for our country. Like I said, I believe we live in the greatest country in the world. We’re safe here because of what they do and the time and the effort that they put in, all the hours and being away from home. We just want to say thank you.”

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 12:53 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Best of the bunch: Ranking baseball’s Top 40 free agents

ALCS Blue Jays Baseball

There are plenty of top free agent rankings out there. It’s all objective, of course, but the lists are interesting and provide a good look at the top talent available. If you want a few different opinions, they’re not hard to find online. As a starting point, here’s USA Today’s list of the Top 40 free agents. The list was put together by our good friend Joe Lemire. Here’s his ranking, along with some possible destinations for each.

Clubs extended a record number of qualifying offers to this year’s deep free-agent class, tethering draft-pick compensation to half of this offseason’s Top 40 Free Agents. Still, with Major League Baseball flush with revenue and teams in both large and small markets eager to improve, this winter’s bidding for top available talent will be vigorous.

Here’s the list of the most eligible domestic free agents — those with six or more years of major league service time, which doesn’t include other winter prizes like power-hitting first baseman Byung-Ho Park — as ranked by expected earnings:

Heyward1. David Price, Blue Jays LHP
A durable, left-handed, Cy Young-winning ace who’s only 30 and has a history of success in the AL East? Add in his heightened strikeout rate the last two years, and Price will command Max Scherzer money– or even more than the $210 million his former Detroit Tigers teammate pulled in last January.
Possible fits: Everywhere (especially Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs)

2. Jason Heyward, Cardinals RF
The lefty bat won’t ever be a clean-up power hitter–he’s only topped 20 HRs once–but his on-base skills (.353 career OBP), speed (three seasons of 20-plus stolen bases), his consensus best right field defense (two and soon-to-be three Gold Gloves) and especially his age (26) mean Heyward will be this market’s richest free-agent position player.
Possible fits: Cardinals, Tigers, Mariners, Angels

3. Zack Greinke, Dodgers RHP
Three seasons ago, he received six years and $147 million, with a midpoint opt-out that he just exercised, and then he became an even better, even smarter pitcher: 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA as a Dodger, capped by a 19-3 record and 1.66 ERA this season. He turned 32 last month and could match or exceed his last contract.
Possible fits: Dodgers, Cubs, Giants

4. Justin Upton, Padres LF
Upton is one of the two premium righthanded power bats on the market, but he’s steadier and younger than Yoenis Cespedes. Over the last seven years, he’s averaged 30 doubles and 25 homers with a .354 on-base percentage. He’s only 28 but will surely ask for a no-trade clause after being hounded by more rumors than anyone.
Possible fits: Giants, Rangers, White Sox, Tigers, Angels

5. Chris Davis, Orioles 1B
Davis has the most pure power of any available hitter. He’s led the majors in home runs twice in the last two seasons (53 in 2013 and 47 in 2015) but the problem was that sandwiched 2014 year, in which he batted .196 to go with 26 homers — can the signing club be sure that won’t happen again?
Possible fits: Astros, Orioles, Red Sox

6. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals RHP
He wasn’t the first overall pick that got shut down and isn’t the highest-paid right-hander in history — his rotation-mates claim those honors — but Zimmermann, 29, won’t be overlooked as a free agent, not with his 3.14 ERA, minuscule walk rate and roughly 200 innings per season.
Possible fits: Cubs, Giants, Blue Jays, Red Sox

Yoenis Cespedes7. Yoenis Cespedes, Mets OF
With the Mets, he had a 24-game stretch in which he bombed an unfathomable 15 home runs and batted .333 with a 1.275 OPS . . . before finishing the final 16 games with zero homers, a .218 average and a .606 OPS that was less than half the prior stretch. The strong-armed, 30-year-old outfielder gets hot and cold; he can mash 35 HRs but his on-base can also sink below .300.
Possible fits: White Sox, Giants, Tigers

8. Alex Gordon, Royals LF
The most overqualified No. 8 hitter in postseason history — well, since A-Rod in ’06 — Gordon is an on-base machine (.377 OBP this year) with gap power and some of the best left field defense in baseball history. He’ll be 32 by Opening Day but still will be coveted.
Possible fits: Mariners, Royals, Astros

9. Johnny Cueto, Royals RHP
In Royal blue, Cueto proved to be as mercurial a pitcher as there is, but that won’t discount his track record pitching for the Reds in a hitter-friendly ballpark. From 2011 through the ’15 trade deadline, Cueto had a 2.51 ERA in 121 starts
Possible fits: Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs

10. Jeff Samardzija, White Sox RHP
The tall right-hander picked the w
rong time for a career-worst season: a 4.96 ERA while allowing the most hits, earned runs and homers in the AL. A little of that can be explained by his new home ballpark–U.S. Cellular Field–but he’s a 31-year-old workhorse who will still be handsomely paid.
Possible fits: Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants

11. Ian Desmond, Nationals SS
The Nationals’ shortstop settled down from a train-wreck first half (.211 average, .589 OPS, NL-leading 20 errors) to have a more customary post-All-Star break (.262 BA, .777 OPS, seven errors). He just turned 30 and is, by far, the best shortstop available.
Possible fits: Mets, Padres, White Sox

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles12. Matt Wieters, Orioles C
The two-time Gold Glove catcher has only played 101 games the last two seasons because of injury and does not rate favorably by the advanced pitch-framing metrics, but Wieters, who’ll turn 30 in May, is a switch-hitter with power who, like Desmond, will benefit from being the top free agent at his position.
Possible fits: Tigers, Angels, Nationals

13. Mike Leake, Giants RHP
Leake put up league-average numbers while pitching most of his six seasons in Cincinnati. Perhaps most importantly, he’ll only turn 28 on his Nov. 12 birthday and has been healthy.
Possible fits: Giants, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays

14. Ben Zobrist, Royals 2B/OF
Zobrist does almost everything: switch hits, gets on base, plays every position, racks up WAR. The one knock is that he’ll turn 35 in May, and one wonders if age will diminish his versatility.
Possible fits: Yankees, Royals, Mariners

15. Daniel Murphy, Mets 2B
This is the portion of the list where the qualifying offer starts taking an increased toll on a player’s suitors. Is Murphy — even with his playoff heroics –worth a draft pick in addition to some $40-to-60 million? He bats lefty, is a .288 career hitter and clearly seems to have found more power in his swing, which could compensate for his defensive shortcomings.
Possible fits: Angels, Mets, Yankees, Rockies

16. Yovani Gallardo, Rangers RHPGallardo has made 30 or more starts in seven straight seasons and his 3.42 ERA in 2015 was a career best. There’s one red flag: his strikeout rate has declined three straight years from 9.0 per nine innings to 5.9.
Possible fits: Rangers, Blue Jays, Tigers

17. Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles LHP
The league took notice of Chen’s last two seasons, in which he had a 3.44 ERA in 62 starts while pitching in homer-happy Camden Yards. His walk rate was below 2.0 per nine innings each year, and he reliably took the ball 31 times per year.
Possible fits: Tigers, Red Sox, Dodgers

18. Howie Kendrick, Dodgers 2B
Kendrick is a right-handed version of Murphy–just without the playoff boon–in that he’s basically a one-tool player, which is hitting for average. In Kendrick’s case, he’s a .293 career hitter. He’s a year older than Murphy but a slightly better fielder.
Possible fits: Angels, Yankees, White Sox

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros19. Dexter Fowler, Cubs CF
Fowler eclipsed 150 games and 100 runs for the first time this season, as he continues to be a dynamic leadoff hitter–.363 career OBP and an average of 42 extra-base hits per season. He rates below-average defensively, according to advanced metrics, but he’s a switch hitter coming off a career-best 17-homer season.
Possible fits: Mets, Cubs, Tigers

20. Scott Kazmir, Astros LHP
Kazmir was dominant in Oakland (2.38 ERA) and less so after his trade to Houston (4.17 ERA), where his home-run rate nearly tripled. He’s a flyball pitcher who’d do well to stay in a larger ballpark. There’s a lot of wear and tear on his 31-year-old arm, but he’s not saddled by a qualifying offer.
Possible fits: Dodgers, Blue Jays, Padres, Royals

21. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners RHP
The nearly 35-year-old is a ground ball-inducing strike thrower who has a no-hitter and an All-Star berth on his résumé. Iwakuma’s qualifying offer makes it likely he’ll return to Seattle.
Possible fits: Mariners

22. Colby Rasmus, Astros OF
The lefty power hitter slugged a career-high 25 homers during the regular season before adding four in six postseason games. He’s probably better suited to a corner outfield spot but can man center, too, which could increase his value, although the Q.O. likely binds him to a return to Houston.
Possible fits: Astros

23. Denard Span, Nationals CF
Injuries ruined last season, but Span, who’ll turn 32 in February, is a solid leadoff hitter and centerfielder when healthy. He’s coming off core and hip surgeries, however.
Possible fits: Tigers, Mets, Mariners, Cubs

24. David Freese, Angels 3B
Freese, who turns 32 in April, will benefit from a weak third-base market in which he’s the only regular starter available. His 14 homers and .743 OPS were both a little below-average for what’s customarily a big offensive position.
Possible fits: Angels, Braves, Brewers

Estrada25. Marco Estrada, Blue Jays RHP
Estrada’s devastating changeup received plenty of exposure during his three postseason starts, in which he had a 2.33 ERA in 19 1/3 innings on the heels of a career year: 3.13 ERA in 181 innings with an AL-leading 6.7 hits allowed per nine innings. His QO may lead to a multi-year deal to remain in Toronto.
Possible fits: Blue Jays, Tigers, Giants

26. Ian Kennedy, Padres RHP
Kennedy’s career ERA (3.98) isn’t sparkling, but he misses bats–about a strikeout per inning over the last three years–with six straight 30-start seasons, which is serviceable mid-rotation fodder from the soon-to-be 31-year-old.
Possible fits: Royals, Orioles, Angels

27. Darren O’Day, Orioles RHP
It’s a deep free-agent class overall, but relief pitching is in short supply. The sidearmer O’Day, 33, is the best of the lot with a 1.92 ERA over the last four years with 68 or 69 outings per season. He dominates righties but has shown he can get lefties out at a respectable rate with a K/9 rate that surpassed 11 this season.
Possible fits: Mets, Red Sox, Tigers

28. Brett Anderson, Dodgers LHP
The injury prone lefty made 31 starts in 2015 after making 32 combined over the previous four seasons. He’ll only be 28 on Opening Day and, with the heavy sink on his fastball, he can be effective anywhere.
Possible fits: Dodgers, Blue Jays, Royals, Orioles

29. Joakim Soria, Pirates RHP
In his second full season after returning from Tommy John surgery, Soria had a 2.53 ERA and 8.5 K/9 over a combined 72 appearances with the Tigers (23 saves) and Pirates (11 holds). He’ll be 32 early next season and would be an asset in the back end of any bullpen.
Possible fits: Red Sox, Tigers, Mets

30. Gerardo Parra, Orioles OF
Parra will make a good consolation prize for a club that misses out on Heyward: he’s another left-handed bat who doubles as an exceptional fielder. Parra, who’ll be 29 in May, has a .326 career OBP and was off to a career-best start in Milwaukee last year (.328 average, .886 OPS in 100 games) before struggling after his trade to Baltimore.
Possible fits: Cardinals, Tigers, Mariners, Angels

Lackey31. John Lackey, Cardinals RHP
The veteran’s ERA (2.77) was a career-best, but like all of the Cardinals pitchers, his Fielding-Independent Pitching (3.57) indicated a strong boost from the terrific team defense. He turned 37 last month but still tallied strikeouts at rate commensurate with his career norms and will likely sign a two- or three-year deal with a contender.
Possible fits: Royals, Giants, Cubs, Dodgers

32. J.A. Happ, Pirates LHP
Happ was reinvented after joining the Pirates, pitching to a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts with more than a strikeout per inning. The previous four and a half seasons, however, were not nearly as good, so a signing team has to bank on hoping the reclaimed version of the 33-year-old shows up.
Possible fits: Pirates, Royals, Padres

33. Austin Jackson, Cubs CF
Jackson’s offensive production has slipped the past two seasons — both with a sub-.700 OPS — but he has gap power, some speed and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield. He’ll only be 29 on Opening Day.
Possible fits: Nationals, Reds, Rangers

34. Asdrubal Cabrera, Rays SS
Cabrera, who turns 30 this week, hits equally well from both sides of the plate, which is to say some pop (50 extra-base hits per year) with a .319 OBP and .421 slugging over the last five seasons — that’s more than 50 OPS points better than the average shortstop.
Possible fits: Padres, White Sox, Mets

NLDS Mets Dodgers Baseball35. Tyler Clippard, Mets RHP
The righty set-up man had largely been immune to relief pitching’s customary volatility until a poor September and October for the Mets, in which he had a 6.33 ERA over his final 22 appearances. His season strikeout rate fell from a 10.0 career K/9 to just 8.1 last season. That’s a mild concern, but he’ll only be 31 on Opening Day and will attract plenty of attention this winter.
Possible fits: Red Sox, Mets, Diamondbacks

36. Doug Fister, Nationals RHP
The 6-8 sinkerballer went from career-best season in 2014 (16-6, 2.41 ERA) to a career-worst campaign in 2015 (5-7, 4.19) that began with an injury and ended with a bullpen demotion. Fister, who’ll be 32 before spring training, may accept a one-year contract to rebuild his value before testing the market again.
Possible fits: Pirates, Blue Jays, Astros

37. Ryan Madson, Royals RHP
After missing three full seasons with multiple elbow surgeries, Madson returned to form, throwing the same 94-mph heat with a 2.13 ERA and the first sub-1.00 WHIP of his career. He’s now 35 but will still land a multi-year deal.
Possible fits: Astros, Twins, Mariners

38. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox SS
After Chicago declined his $10-million option, Ramirez, 34, became the second-best shortstop available even though his average, on-base percentage and stolen bases have declined two straight years. He plays more than 150 games every year, usually with 30+ doubles and 10+ homers while manning a capable short.
Possible fits: Padres, Mets, Twins

39. Mike Napoli, Rangers 1B
Napoli, 34, lost his ability to hit in Boston (.207 average, .693 OPS in 329 at bats) but revived his swing after a waiver trade to the Rangers (.295, .908 in 78 ABs) and showed he could man left field in some capacity. At the very least, the righty bat can be an effective platoon against lefty pitching who could play himself into more regular playing time.
Possible fits: Rangers, Rockies, Orioles

40. Steve Pearce, Orioles 1B/LF
Among all big leaguers with at least 350 plate appearances in 2014, Pearce led the majors in his rate of slugging extra-base hits (26 doubles and 21 homers in 383 PAs) for a robust .930 OPS; that was first season batting more than 200 times. In 2015, however, his OPS fell more than 200 points as he batted just .218. He’s a capable first baseman and leftfielder and, at his best, has power from the right side.
Possible fits: Orioles, Rockies, Rangers

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Notes from Day 1 of the GM Meetings: Murphy, Sabathia, Warren

This morning, the GM Meetings got started down in Boca Raton, Florida. I’m not there — it’s really too early in the offseason to expect a ton to happen there — but it’s been easy enough to keep up with some of the notes coming out the meetings. A few things worth having on the radar.

Brian Cashman• Just as I say there usually is not much news coming out of the GM Meetings, Brian Cashman said today that foundations have been set a little earlier than usual this winter. “It hasn’t typically been busy GM meetings overall in years gone by,” Cashman said. “But it feels like the dialogue has been a lot more active throughout October than any year prior.” A few other general managers gave similar comments. Maybe we’ll see some early action this year.

• This comes as little surprise, but Cashman basically shot down the idea of going after an offensive-minded second baseman — cough … Daniel Murphy … cough — because the team already has two offensive-minded second basemen in Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder. “I think if we’re going to pursue something, we have two offensive-profile players already at that position,” Cashman said. “So if we did any changing there, it would be seeking more balance on both sides of the ball.”

• Regarding CC Sabathia, Cashman said he hopes to have Sabathia as a viable starting pitcher next season (which is basically what he’s said in the past). That said, Cashman added: “I’m not guaranteeing anybody anything.”

• Along those lines, Cashman said he plans to have Adam Warren arrive in spring training as a starting pitcher. That’s what the Yankees did last spring, even though at the time they weren’t necessarily planning to have Warren actually break camp as a starter. Of course they want that to be an option, though. Only makes sense to have Warren show up as a starter, if only so the beat guys can re-write our What To Do With Adam Warren stories. I think we can all write those in our sleep at this point.

• One baseball note from today that has really has nothing to do with the Yankees or the GM Meetings: top Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes was suspended after a second positive test for marijuana. Reyes is one of the biggest prospects in the the game, and he had been playing on the same Arizona Fall League team as the Yankees’ prospects down there.

• With Mark Teixeira and Greg Bird in place, the Yankees weren’t exactly in the market for a first baseman, so it’s no surprise that they didn’t win the bidding for Korean standout Byung Ho Park. Of course, wouldn’t have necessarily expected the Minnesota Twins to win that bidding either, but it’s the Twins who made the highest bid, reportedly at $12.85 million.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 8:23 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

State of the organization: Center field

Jacoby Ellsbury, Tony Pena

After a week away from this series, we’ll continue to look through the Yankees’ organization position by position, today moving into the outfield. Specifically, we’ll look at center field, where the Yankees are committed to a long-term contract but also have several alternatives rising through the farm system. It’s a position of considerable depth without much certainty following a disappointing season.

EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury
Signed through 2020; team option for ’21
Through the middle of May, Ellsbury was excellent. He wasn’t hitting for any real power, but he had a .412 on-base percentage with 14 stolen bases through 37 games. Hard to argue with that kind of table setting at the top of the order. On May 19, though, Ellsbury hurt his knee in Washington and was never the same. After missing a month and a half, Ellsbury returned just before the All-Star break and hit just .224/.269/.332 with seven stolen bases the rest of the way. He was bad enough that Joe Girardi kept him out of the starting lineup for the wild card game. New hitting coach Alan Cockrell said the knee remained an issue, but Ellsbury said several times that he felt fully healthy in the second half. He finished with the lowest OPS of his career, and FanGraphs pegged him as a 0.9 WAR player (after a 4.0 and 5.6 WAR the previous two seasons). Ellsbury’s struggles coupled with Brett Gardner’s bad second half left the Yankees without much production at the top of the order.

HeathcottNext in line
Slade Heathcott
There are a few different ways to think of the next-in-line center fielder. The second guy on the depth chart has to be Gardner, who could slide from left field to center field any time Ellsbury needs a day off. Gardner could also do that if Ellsbury gets hurt again, but the Yankees had a chance to do that this season and instead chose to keep Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams — when those two were called up — in their more familiar spot in center while Gardner played left. Either way, the Yankees have plenty of options in center field. Heathcott stands out because of his big league success this season, and because he seems to already fit as a fourth outfielder should the Yankees have room to carry another lefty. Williams is a good center fielder known primarily for his speed and defense (that sliding catch in Baltimore was a great introduction for those who hadn’t seen him play the field). Williams was good enough in the first two months of the season that he brought back some of the hope that he could be a pretty decent big league outfielder, but a should injury cost him much of the season.

FowlerDeeper in the system
Dustin Fowler
The Yankees have a long list of legitimate center field prospects, and almost all of them are left-handed. The upper levels have Heathcott, Williams, Jake Cave and Ben Gamel (even right-handed slugger Aaron Judge can play a little bit of center; and there’s something to like about less-touted Mark Payton). The lower levels have international standout Carlos Vidal (who had an .881 OPS with Pulaski) and fourth-round pick Jeff Hendrix (who stole 17 bases but didn’t hit much in Staten Island). In the middle is Fowler, a 20-year-old who hit .298/.334/.394 between Low-A and High-A before an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Fowler is not a huge name in the system — plenty of other center fielders mentioned here are considered bigger prospects — but the Yankees are challenging him in the Fall League for a reason. He’s doing enough to stay on the radar.

CaveWorth consideration
Jake Cave
With a lot of left-handed center fielders coming up from the lower levels, and a bunch of left-handed center fielders already on the big league roster or ready to play a role at the big league level, the Yankees find themselves with quite a bit of redundancy at the position. Although their skill level varies, most of the organization’s center fielders fit roughly the same skill set (built around speed and on-base ability). Ellsbury, Gardner, Heathcott and Williams are already on the 40-man roster, while Gamel and Cave are each Rule 5 eligible this winter. Is it really worth having six of those guys taking up 40-man spots? With Gamel, the decision of protection depends on how much the Yankees believe in his breakout Triple-A season. With Cave, it might depend on how much the Yankees put into a bad second half in Double-A. Is Cave really a threat to stick on a big league roster at htis point? Worth remembering that the Yankees protected Williams when he was coming off a much worse year in Double-A.

GardnerOne big question
Are the Yankees better off with only one of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner?
After the way they played in the second half, it’s easy to say that the Yankees are of course better off with only one of Ellsbury and Gardner on the roster. Keep one of them, put him in center field, bat him leadoff, and trade the other to fill a hole elsewhere. It’s a nice idea in theory, but how much are these two worth right now? Ellsbury is the bigger name, but he’s also the much bigger contract, which significantly impacts his trade value. Gardner is cheaper, but he’s also coming off an all-star first half and might be one of the better values on the roster (at his best, he’s been one of the Yankees better players). Would the Yankees get enough in return to be worth trading either Ellsbury or Gardner? How much value do the other upper-level center fielders have on the trade market?

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 5:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Griffey, Hoffman headline Hall of Fame ballot newcomers

Mariners Griffey Retiring Baseball

Here’s the annual ballot announcement from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A former American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, a pitcher for whom the National League’s annual outstanding reliever award is named and three recipients of the World Series MVP Award are among 15 new candidates on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot that is being mailed this week to approximately 475 voting members of the BBWAA.

Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.; right-hander Trevor Hoffman and infielders David Eckstein, Troy Glaus and Mike Lowell join 17 holdovers from the 2015 balloting in which pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz and catcher-infielder-outfielder Craig Biggio were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., the first time in 60 years that as many as four players on the BBWAA ballot were elected in the same year.

Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage to gain election. Catcher Mike Piazza polled 69.9 percent of the electorate in 2015 and fell 28 votes shy of the required amount for election. The only other players to be named on more than half the ballots were first baseman Jeff Bagwell (55.7) and outfielder Tim Raines (55.0). Players may remain on the ballot provided they receive at least five percent of the vote for up to 10 years. Prior to 2015, players remained on the ballot for up to 15 years if they received five percent of the vote. Two players remain of those that were grandfathered on the ballot: shortstop Alan Trammell (15th year) and relief pitcher Lee Smith (14th year).

Other players receiving sufficient support to remain on the BBWAA ballot for 2016 were pitchers Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina; first basemen Fred McGriff and Mark McGwire; second baseman Jeff Kent; third baseman-designated hitter Edgar Martinez; infielder Nomar Garciaparra and outfielders Barry Bonds, Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.

HoffmanGriffey was the unanimous winner of the AL MVP Award in 1997 with the Seattle Mariners, the highlight of a 22-season career in which he lashed out 2,781 hits, including 630 home runs, the sixth-highest total in MLB history. A 13-time All-Star who was the game’s MVP in 1992 at San Diego, Griffey won 10 Gold Glove Awards and seven Silver Slugger Awards. He led the AL in home runs four times and in 2005 was named the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year with the Cincinnati Reds. Griffey, who also played for the Chicago White Sox, drove in 100 or more runs eight times and scored 100 or more runs six times. He belted five home runs in the inaugural, five-game AL Division Series against the New York Yankees in 1995 and scored the winning run in the clinching game.

Hoffman’s 601 career saves and 856 games finished are second only to Mariano Rivera’s respective totals of 652 and 952. Major League Baseball established relief pitcher awards in honor of Hoffman (NL) and Rivera (AL) in 2015. Hoffman was named the NL Fireman of the Year by The Sporting News in 1996 and 1998 and won the NL Rolaids Relief Awards in 1998 and 2006. Hoffman, whose career spanned 18 seasons with the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers, finished in the top 10 of NL Cy Young Award voting four times and was the runner-up twice, in 1998 and 2006. The seven-time All-Star had 30 or more saves in 14 of 15 seasons from 1995 through 2009 and converted 41 consecutive save opportunities, a record since surpassed.

Eckstein played for five clubs in 10 seasons in the majors and participated in nine postseason series, including World Series championships with the Anaheim Angels in 2002 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. Eckstein, the MVP of the ’06 World Series, hit .333 with 17 hits and nine runs combined in his two World Series. Eckstein’s Angels teammate, Glaus, was the World Series MVP in 2002 when he hit .385 with three home runs and eight runs batted in as part of a postseason record of .321 with nine home runs and 16 RBI in 24 games. Of Glaus’ 320 career home runs, 47 came in 2000 when he led the AL.

Lowell, a .279 hitter with 223 home runs over 13 seasons, was the MVP of the Boston Red Sox’ sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series and also earned rings with the Yankees in 1998 and the Marlins in 2003. The four-time All-Star won a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award and ranks second all-time in fielding percentage for a third baseman with .974.

Other players new to the ballot brandishing World Series rings are outfielders Garret Anderson (2002 Angels), who was the 2003 All-Star Game MVP at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, and Jim Edmonds (2006 Cardinals), an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and four-time All-Star, and second baseman Luis Castillo (2003 Marlins), a three-time Gold Glove Award winner who led the NL in stolen bases twice.

Billy Wagner, whose 422 career saves rank second among left-handers, and fellow lefty Mike Hampton, the 2000 NLCS MVP, are also on the ballot for the first time along with catchers Brad Ausmus and Jason Kendall, catcher-first baseman Mike Sweeney, infielder Mark Grudzielanek and outfielder Randy Winn.

McGwire and Trammell are on the ballot for the last time.

Writers must return ballots by a Dec. 21 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2016, on MLB Network.

Roger ClemensThe ballot:
Garret Anderson
Brad Ausmus
Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Luis Castillo
Roger Clemens
David Eckstein
Jim Edmonds
Nomar Garciaparra
Troy Glaus
Ken Griffey Jr.
Mark Grudzielanek
Mike Hampton
Trevor Hoffman
Jason Kendall
Jeff Kent
Mike Lowell
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Mike Mussina
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Mike Sweeney
Alan Trammell
Billy Wagner
Larry Walker
Randy Winn

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 2:33 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

A year later: Replacing (or re-signing) Chris Young

Chris Young

It was exactly one year ago that the Yankees signed Chris Young to a $2.5-million contract filled with plate appearances bonuses. He delivered exactly what the Yankees needed with a .327/.397/.575 slash line against lefties. He had a bad month of August — and he hardly hit righties at all — but for the most part, Young brought exactly the right-handed balance the Yankees were looking for.

A year later, the Yankees outfield looks exactly as it did at this time last year: left-handed hitters in left and center, a switch hitter who needs a defensive replacement in right , and Triple-A depth that’s largely left-leaning. One significant change: Aaron Judge is a year closer to the big leagues. Smaller changes worth noting: Slade Heathcott is more proven, there’s a little more optimism around Mason Williams, there’s a little less optimism around Tyler Austin, and Ben Gamel is in the conversation.

Ultimately, though, the Yankees are right back where they were a year ago. They need a fourth outfielder, and they need right-handed balance. A year after signing Young to a once year deal, what can they do to replace him?

Young21. Just bring Chris Young back
He’s a known commodity, he was great against lefties last year, and he’s a good and popular guy in the clubhouse (one of the teammates CC Sabathia said he first talked to about his alcohol issues). If Young will come back on another one-year deal, he could play the exact same role with the Yankees happy with the same one-year results. That said, his success in this role this season could lead Young to go looking for a multi-year contract. It’s also worth noting that as an near-total-zero against righties, Young really doesn’t provide much depth beyond his platoon role. He’s not exactly a guy who can slide into an everyday job if necessary.

2. Find a right-handed outfielder on the free agent market
There are big-time outfielders available this winter — legitimate everyday guys in line for big contracts — but the free agent market also has a bunch of right-handed outfielders who could play the very same role Young played last season. Ryan Raburn, Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Rajai Davis, Steven Pearce, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes are among the available outfielders this winter, and it’s worth noting that MLB Trade Rumors, in its annual ranking of the top 50 free agents, ranked Young higher than any of the other straight platoon types other than Pearce (which is not definitive, of course, but gives some outside opinion suggesting the alternatives might be cheaper but perhaps less effective than Young).

3. Shake up the outfield with a splash and a trade
If the Yankees’ outfield is too left-leaning, the team could trade Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury, then use the money saves to sign either Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes as a potent right-handed bat for left field. It’s easier said than done — there’s little guarantee the Yankees could make a worthwhile swap involving those two outfielders, and the money saved likely would not completely cover a massive free agent splash — but it’s an idea worth noting. A hypothetical outfield of Ellsbury, Cespedes and Carlos Beltran would give the Yankees right-left balance while opening the possibility of carrying a guy like Heathcott as a fourth outfielder, with Judge ready to replace Beltran in a year. Again, this might not be possible unless the Yankees can find a good trade partner and ownership is willing to commit to yet another long-term contract for huge money.

4. Look for more versatility
The Yankees need for right-handed balance extends beyond the outfield. They have a left-handed catcher, a left-handed shortstop, potentially a left-handed second baseman — if Dustin Ackley is the regular at the position — and a left-handed young first baseman, who’s basically the second-string guy at both first and designated hitter. Given the fact Gardner and Ellsbury don’t necessarily need everyday platoon partners, the Yankees could see their fourth outfielder as more of a utility man who can provide a right-handed bat at multiple positions. Ben Zobrist, for example, is a switch hitter who can play almost anywhere. Martin Prado is, in theory, a trade candidate who could play the outfield corners as well as second and third. Enrique Hernandez is often cited as an ideal target (though his availability is uncertain). Could Raburn once again play some third base if necessary? Could Pearce? In house, Jose Pirela looms as a corner outfield possibility with enough flexibility to help out elsewhere.

5. Find a stopgap and bank on Aaron Judge
Essentially, dismiss the outfield balance problem as a short-term thing not worth a significant investment or reaction. The Yankees have problems a one-dimensional outfielder can’t solve, and they have more than enough outfield depth already in place. Ellsbury and Gardner don’t necessarily need platoon partners anyway, so why focus on that as a significant issue? The Yankees need to get younger, and an easy way to do that is to pave the way for the team’s top position prospect to take a big league role by the middle of the season. Don’t put anyone on the roster who might block his path. Let Heathcott or Pirela or some waiver claim head into spring training as the fourth outfielder — maybe even Rob Refsnyder in some sort of utility role — and bank on the idea that Judge is the player who will — sooner than later — bring right-handed balance to the outfield and right-handed production to the lineup.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 11:50 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Rosenthal: Yankees “open to anything” on the trade market

Didi Gregorius

With a 40-man roster that’s nearly full, a lineup without any overwhelming holes, a rotation that already goes six or seven deep, and a bullpen that’s lost no one from this past season, the Yankees are not a team with much wiggle room. Aside from a couple of bench players and maybe a relief pitcher, a fairly viable 2016 roster — almost identical to the one used this season — could be pieced together using the guys already under contract.

Only three free agents came off the roster last week, so there’s not a ton of salary coming off the books, and much of those savings will ultimately go toward arbitration raises.

In other words, unless the Yankees are going to significantly increase spending, general manager Brian Cashman is going to have to get creative if he’s going to make significant changes this winter.

Makes sense, then, that Ken Rosenthal is reporting some chatter within in the industry of Cashman shopping basically everyone, “with the exception of (Luis) Severino.” That quote about Severino comes from one of the baseball officials who told Rosenthal that Cashman is exploring most any and all trade possibilities.

Nathan Eovaldi“I’m open to anything,” Cashman told Rosenthal.

This is pretty standard for Cashman this time of year. He talks often of casting a wide net, which means checking on a wide range of possibilities. In recent years, he’s spent heavily on top-of-the-market free agents (Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka), but he’s also done a lot of work on the trade front, especially last year when he made deals for a new shortstop (Didi Gregorius), a new starting pitcher (Nathan Eovaldi), a bench player (Garrett Jones), and three Opening Day relievers (Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Chasen Shreve). Add in the late-spring trade for Gregorio Petit and a full 28 percent of the Opening Day roster had been acquired in trades from the previous five months.

Here’s the 2015 Opening Day roster broken down according to the way players came to be under contract for last season:

Trades since the previous season (7): Gregorius, Eovaldi, Wilson, Carpenter, Shreve, Petit, Jones

Offseason free agent signings (4): Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, Andrew Miller, Chris Young

Contract purchased in the offseason: (1): Chris Martin

Drafted by the Yankees (4): Brett Gardner, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, John Ryan Murphy

Previously signed to ongoing contract (7): Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka

Acquired in a previous trade/claim (2): Michael Pineda, Esmil Rogers

More than half of last year’s Opening Day roster had not been under contract the previous Opening Day, and of those new guys, only four were signed (even half of those had been originally acquired through a mid-season trade the year before. Cashman has shown a willingness to make unexpected and unusual moves to shuffle some pieces, and we could see more of that this winter.

“You have to be pretty aggressive and open to trade a good young pitcher under team control (Shane Greene), a left-handed prospect (Manny Banuelos) or a guy like (Martin) Prado who fits you like a glove,” Cashman told Rosenthal. “We still are. If we can find matches to make us better as we go forward, we’re all ears.”

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Week in review: Cockrell, Thames step in as hitting coaches

Brett Gardner

With the World Series coming to an end on Sunday, this week was the start of the full baseball offseason. And the Yankees got started making some early moves, including the promotion of Alan Cockrell and Marcus Thames to be the team’s hitting coach and assistant hitting coach.

“My philosophy really will vary from hitter to hitter,” Cockrell said. “Throughout a lineup, you’re going to have different roles and different things expected from different hitters. To have any one particular philosophy, I don’t think I adhere to that. I adhere to each and every individual and what their role is in helping us try to win a ballgame on any given night. It’s not a blanket philosophy that I’m going to bring, but hopefully more of a team philosophy.”

In his introductory conference call, Cockrell dropped one bit of news: turns out Brett Gardner spent the entire season playing through a wrist issue. He got cortisone shots for it a few times, but Cockrell said he eventually couldn’t get any more injections. That might explain his second half decline (which was more like a plunge).

Cockrell also said Jacoby Ellsbury’s knee injury was a more significant issue than anyone let on.

“It’s tough to hit if you don’t have legs,” Cockrell said. “And it’s tough to hit if you don’t have your hands. … I think it probably was a bigger thing than either of those guys let on.”

One positive note from Cockrell’s conference call: he believes Dustin Ackley can maintain the offensive improvements he showed late last season. It was a relatively minor mechanical change, Cockrell said, that turned Ackley into an impact hitter down the stretch.

“He was able to actually be in a position to let his skills play,” Cockrell said.

CC Sabathia• A month after checking himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center, CC Sabathia spoke publicly through Good Morning America and a pair of newspaper interviews. He said he drank heavily in the final weekend of the regular season, reaching a point at which he felt he had no choice but to leave the team and seek help. He said he had been dealing with alcohol addiction since 2012.

• Brendan Ryan accepted his half of a mutual option, meaning he’s under contract at $1 million to be the Yankees’ backup shortstop next season. The defensive specialist should be a right-handed alternative to Didi Gregorius, while having the ability to play some second, third and even first base.

• The Yankees made a series of moves to prepare their 40-man roster.

1. Chris Martin was released and his contract sold to play in Japan.
2. Andrew Bailey’s option was declined, and he refused an outright assignment to Triple-A, making him a free agent.
3. Sergio Santos and Diego Moreno were activated from the 60-day disabled list and removed from the roster (Santos elected free agency, Moreno was sent outright to Triple-A). Domingo German, Jacob Lindgren, Chase Whitley and Mason Williams were activated from the 60-day disabled list and kept on the roster.
4. To keep him from reaching free agency, prospect starter Vicente Campos was put back on the 40-man roster.

• In a few minor league moves, first baseman Kyle Roller was released while catcher Eddy Rodriguez was re-signed.

• Catcher Gary Sanchez and pitcher Chaz Hebert were selected as participants in the Fall Stars Game, which is kind of an Arizona Fall League showcase of sorts.

• A record 20 free agents received qualifying offers, including former Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy (who spent the past two and a half seasons with the Padres). As expected, the Yankees did not make any qualifying offers.

• Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Paul O’Neill were recognized at the 21st annual Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit dinner in Manhattan. Speaking of Rodriguez, he was beaten by Prince Fielder for the Comeback Player of the Year award.

• The Rays and Mariners made the first significant trade of the offseason, with the Rays acquiring shortstop Brad Miller. Although there are questions about his defense, Miller is the current favorite to be the regular shortstop in Tampa Bay next season. The Rays gave up rookie starting pitcher Nate Karns in the deal.

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, November 8th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Looking for Yankees fits on the free agent market

Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman

As of today, the free agent market has opened to all teams. The five-day exclusive negotiation window has closed, so teams are free to being making bids on anyone who’s out there. Listed by team, here are the players whose contracts expired or had options declined, putting them on the open market this offseason. Which players could fit for the Yankees?

Wei-Yin ChenAtlanta BravesRoss Detwiler, Edwin Jackson, Peter Moylan, A.J. Pierzynski

Not much here for the Yankees to fall in love with. The Braves had some success using Moylan as a right-handed specialist out of their bullpen, but the end result was just 10.1 innings in 22 appearances. Next.

Arizona DiamondbacksDavid Hernandez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

This was Hernandez‘s first year back from Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t particularly good, but before the injury he had a 1.12 WHIP with a 3.09 FIP and 10.8 strikeouts per nine. Maybe he’s a buy-low bounce back candidate? Doesn’t turn 31 until May.

Baltimore OriolesWei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, Gerardo Parra, Steve Pearce, Matt Wieters

Two names stand out here. The first is Chen, the left-handed starter who’s been pretty good and occasionally very good with the Orioles these past four years. He could bring some stability to the rotation without costing the money and the years required to bring in one of the bigger names. The other potential fit is O’Day, the side-arming reliever who’s been absolutely excellent in Baltimore and significantly improved his strikeouts this season. If the Yankees want to sign a potential impact reliever rather than trade for one, O’Day might be the best option out there.

Boston Red SoxCraig Breslow, Rich Hill

The Red Sox weren’t very good this year, and they aren’t exactly giving the free agent market much to think about. Hill was surprisingly great down the stretch, and the Yankees are familiar with him. He’d be great for a look on a one-year deal, but his strong finish might be enough for him to get a Major League contract somewhere (probably not with the Yankees).

RamirezChicago Cubs – Trevor Cahill, Chris Denorfia, Dexter Fowler, Dan Haren, Tommy Hunter, Austin Jackson, Jason Motte, Fernando Rodney

Brutal in Seattle this season, Rodney did have a kind of resurgence after he landed in Chicago, and he led the league in saves as recently as 2014. Would be a buy-low gamble on a guy who’s almost 40, so probably not worth it with any sort of significant commitment. Motte, Hunter and Cahill are also kind of wild-card bullpen possibilities. Motte went to Iona College up in New Rochelle, so that’s something.

Chicago White Sox – Matt Albers, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Jeff Samardzija, Geovany Soto

Almost immediately after the wild card game, the Yankees were connected to Samardzija. He’s been a steady source of 200-plus innings the past three years, and at his best, he’s a legitimately dominant pitcher (kind of reminds me of Michael Pineda in that way; extreme highs with so-so lows). For the Yankees he could be an innings eater with potential for me, and his disappointing season in Chicago might keep his cost down. If the Yankees trust Ramirez enough to put him at second base, he could also serve as shortstop depth, but that seems like a longs hot to me.

Cincinnati Reds – Burke Badenhop, Sean Marshall, Manny Parra, Brayan Pena, Skip Schumaker

Another group of so-so relievers and guys who don’t fit the Yankees very well. Badenhop doesn’t strike out many guys, but he’s been alright at times, just seems like too many in-house guys could provide the same thing.

RaburnCleveland Indians – Mike Aviles, Gavin Floyd, Ryan Raburn, Ryan Webb

Couple of potential right-handed utility guys. Problem is, Aviles isn’t nearly the hitter he used to be, and Raburn isn’t nearly as versatile as he used to be. If the Yankees still think Raburn could play a little infield — especially first and third — he could be a nice fit as a right-handed hitter who’s had a lot of success against lefties. At the very least, he could fill the Chris Young platoon role. If he’s strictly an outfielder, which he might be, his value goes down, but he’s still a pretty good bat in the right situations.

Colorado Rockies – Kyle Kendrick, Justin Morneau

I’ve always really liked Morneau, but he doesn’t fit the Yankees at all, and Kendrick hasn’t been very good for a few years now. Not much coming out of Colorado to catch the Yankees’ eye.

Detroit Tigers – Alex Avila, Rajai Davis, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Nathan, Alfredo Simon, Randy Wolf

Plenty of guys on this list could play a right-handed platoon role next season, including Davis, who’s hit .296/.351/.448 in his career against lefties. He was only OK against them this year, though. Still the kind of guy who could plug that hole if some more potent options fall through.

Houston Astros – Scott Kazmir, Oliver Perez, Chad Qualls, Colby Rasmus, Tony Sipp, Joe Thatcher

Left-handed relievers and a left-handed outfielder don’t fit the Yankees at all, but a left-handed starter might. Kazmir actually wasn’t nearly as good with Houston as he had been in Oakland, but he’s still an interesting pitcher in a market pretty deep in starters. For whatever it’s worth, he has a 5.04 ERA in 25 career innings at Yankee Stadium. Going to be interesting to see where he fits in this market.

Ben ZobristKansas City Royals – Johnny Cueto, Jonny Gomes, Alex Gordon, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, Alex Rios, Chris Young, Ben Zobrist

Depending on which direction the Yankees want to go, though could absolutely find a fit among the Royals free agents. Cueto could be a high-end addition to the rotation, Madson could be a veteran fit for the bullpen, and both Rios and Gomes are right-handed outfielders who could play a platoon role. Most interesting possibility, though, might be Zobrist. He’s a switch hitter who can play basically anywhere. In some ways he’s an ideal fit — a second baseman who could play elsewhere if necessary — but he’s also 34 years old. Are the Yankees willing to come to yet another guy into his late 30s?

Los Angeles Angels – David Freese, Chris Iannetta, Matt Joyce, Matt Latos, David Murphy, Shane Victorino, Wesley Wright

Now that he’s hitting strictly from the right side, I guess Victorino could be a platoon outfield candidate, but it’s also been a few years since he was a particularly good hitter. Freese could be a right-handed corner infielder with some power, but he’s surely going to get an everyday player’s contract, and the Yankees don’t have everyday at-bats to give him.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Brett Anderson, Zack Greinke, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins

The Yankees don’t have a set second baseman, and Kendrick is an awfully good player. That’s an obvious possibility, but he’s also 32 years old. How long would the Yankees have to commit? Clearly Greinke is one of the top players in this entire free agent market, but are the Yankees going to give him the contract it will take to sign him? Seems unlikely right now.

Miami Marlins – Don Kelly, Jeff Mathis, Casey McGehee

A left-handed utility man, a backup catcher, and a corner infielder who hit .198 this season? Yuck. If McGehee and Kelly want to come on board as minor league free agents, great (especially McGehee, who could play third in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as a little depth). Otherwise, not much to like here.

Yoenis CespedesMilwaukee Brewers – Kyle Lohse

Became a really good pitcher in his mid-30s, but Lohse had a 5.85 ERA at age 36 this year. With so many solid starters available, Lohse doesn’t move the needle very much.

Minnesota Twins – Blaine Boyer, Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing, Torii Hunter, Mike Pelfrey

With his retirement, Hunter took himself out of that right-handed outfielder conversation. What’s left coming out of Minnesota are mostly middle-inning relievers, thought Boyer has been pretty decent the past couple of years. Still not the kind of signing that would do much to shorten games for the Yankees.

New York Mets – Jerry Blevins, Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, Juan Uribe

Could make a pretty decent case for at least three of the Mets’ free agents as guys who would fit with the Yankees. Murphy can play second base, third base and first base — and outfield if necessary — and his left-handed swing might thrive at Yankee Stadium (but he’s a pretty brutal defender). Clippard last late-inning experience and could give the Yankees another strong right-handed option in the bullpen (but his numbers definitely took a hit this season). Cespedes stands out as one of the best right-handed power bats on the market (but the Yankees would probably have to trade either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury to have room for him).

New York Yankees – Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Chris Young

Here’s the Yankees’ own group of free agents (these lists don’t count guys like Andrew Bailey who were outrighted off the roster and chose free agency that way). Regardless, the only player from this group who seems to fit the Yankees going forward is Young, who did very well well in his platoon role this year. He’s basically either return or be replaced. The Yankees still need a right-handed outfield option.

Upton JustinOakland Athletics – Edward Mujica, Barry Zito

Relievers are typically difficult to predict from year to year. Two years ago, Mujica was an all-star with the Cardinals. Now it’s unclear whether he would even be an upgrade over the Yankees’ unproven young relievers.

Philadelphia Phillies – Chad Billingsley, Jeff Francoeur, Aaron Harang, Cliff Lee, Jerome Williams

This is basically a list of bullets dodged. If Billingsley would come to camp on a minor league deal, great. If not, he’s less predictable than any of the Yankees current unpredictable starters.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Antonio Bastardo, Joe Blanton, A.J. Burnett, J.A. Happ, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, Sean Rodriguez, Joakim Soria

The Yankees are looking for right-handed versatility, and Rodriguez is a righty who can play basically everywhere (but I’m not sure he plays anywhere particularly well). Versatility is his greatest attribute. Soria stands out as another right-handed reliever with late-inning experience who could give the Yankees another go-to guy. He was pretty good this year. He turns 32 in May.

San Diego Padres – Clint Barmes, Josh Johnson, Shawn Kelley, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Morrow, Bud Norris, Justin Upton

Obviously there’s a lot to like about Upton as a source of right-handed power in an outfield corner. The Yankees could certainly use a bat like that, but he’s going to cost a lot of money, and the Yankees would have to trade an outfielder just to make room for him. Barmes is basically just another version of Brendan Ryan. If this were a few years ago, this would be a pretty nice prospect list.

IwakumaSan Francisco Giants – Jeremy Affeldt, Marlon Byrd, Alejandro De Aza, Tim Hudson, Mike Leake, Tim Lincecum, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Vogelsong

This market actually provides quite a few right-handed platoon outfield options, and Byrd is another one. He had an .820 OPS against lefties this year and could play the role Young played this season. Leake, who turns 28 later this month, also stands out as a relatively young rotation possibility who might not break the bank like some bigger names.

Seattle Mariners – Joe Beimel, Franklin Gutierrez, Hisashi Iwakuma

To suggest Iwakuma could be another version of Hiroki Kuroda feels like connecting dots because they’re both Japanese, but I think there’s more to it than that. Iwakuma has a pretty steady track record, and he might be available on a fairly short-term deal. He could add some stability to the Yankees’ rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Belisle, Jonathan Broxton, Randy Choate, Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Villanueva

Could make a case for Reynolds as a right-handed backup at first and third (though the Yankees probably don’t have room to carry that type of player if it’s not Alex Rodriguez). Could also look at a guy like Broxton as a strikeout guy for the middle innings (but he’s definitely not what he used to be). The name that stands out, obviously, is Heyward because he’s a really good player who’s still in his mid-20s. If they can move Gardner, would the Yankees be willing to go 10 years with Heyward?

PriceTampa Bay Rays – Asdrubal Cabrera, John Jaso, Grady Sizemore

In some ways, Cabrera is another version of Zobrist in that he’s a switch hitter who could be the Yankees’ regular second baseman while occasionally playing other positions (really, just shortstop and third base). Of course, Cabrera’s bat has declined a bit and he really doesn’t have a much experience beyond shortstop and second base, so his versatility is a little more theoretical than proven.

Texas Rangers – Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Mike Napoli, Ross Ohlendorf, Drew Stubbs, Will Venable

Add Stubbs to the list of right-handed outfielders. He didn’t hit much against lefties this year, but he’s hit them in the past. Also, add Gallardo to the list of potential starting pitchers who could add some high-end potential to the rotation. I really like Ohlendorf, but I’m not sure he’s any better than the young relievers the Yankees already have.

Toronto Blue Jays — Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada, Jeff Francis, LaTroy Hawkins. Maicer Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki, Mark Lowe, Dioner Navarro, Cliff Pennington, David Price

At the trade deadline, I thought the Yankees might be tempted to give either Luis Severino or Aaron Judge in a deal for Price, but that didn’t happen. Will they now give the contract it will take to get him off the free agent market? He’s the top dog this winter. Estrada is also coming off a really nice year. Actually, Kawasaki might fit as a Triple-A shortstop option, but that’s a really minor possibility.

Washington Nationals -- Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Casey Janssen, Nate McLouth, Denard Span, Matt Thornton, Dan Uggla, Jordan Zimmermann

If the Yankees hadn’t found Didi Gregorius — and if Gregorius hadn’t put together such a nice second half — the Yankees might have been in the market for Desmond. Instead, his disappointing season will surely be someone else’s dilemma. Two better fits from the Nationals might be either Fister or Zimmermann, either of whom would be a nice addition to the Yankees’ rotation (Fister especially if he’ll take a one-year deal).

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Saturday, November 7th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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