The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Considering bullpen depth ahead of Rule 5 decisions

Masahiro Tanaka

Tomorrow, some of the Yankees most interesting Rule 5 decisions will center on the bullpen. Brandon Pinder, Mark Montgomery and Danny Burawa are among the eligible prospects, and all three have at some point shown fairly significant big league potential. None of the three has truly established himself in the upper levels, though, and there’s a chance the Yankees could — A: Sneak all three through the Rule 5 draft; or B: Not miss any one of them even if they’re selected in the Rule 5. Adding any one of them would be a move to add bullpen depth, not necessarily to add an immediate bullpen arm.

Just how much bullpen depth do the Yankees have right now? Here’s what is essentially in place (or at least, what we can reasonably expect the Yankees to have in place):

Trades can change things. Injuries can change things. Plans falling through because of performance or some other unforeseen circumstance can change things. But right now, I think it’s reasonable to think these six pitchers will be in the Yankees bullpen next season. The seventh spot could go any number of directions, but these six seem like solid bets. 

Dellin Betances – Obviously.
Justin Wilson – Clearly.
Shawn Kelley – Still affordable in his final arbitration year.
Adam Warren – Always some chance of moving back to the rotation, but staying in the bullpen seems more likely right now.
David Phelps – Doesn’t it seem the Yankees are forever happy to pencil Phelps into the bullpen, realizing he could move into the rotation if forced into a change of plans? If we’re listing likely relievers, Phelps belongs.
Unknown new guy – Have to allow for this. The Yankees are almost certainly going to add a reliever at some point — either Dave Robertson or a replacement — so looking ahead, this bullpen spot will be occupied. Obviously plans can change, but determining depth without acknowledging a nearly inevitable addition seems goofy.

These are the guys who could most easily and immediately fill a bullpen opening depending on performance and depending on how the Yankees want to use each of these guys. Some could be immediate relievers. Some could be starters. Some could be cut loose to open roster spots.

Esmil Rogers/David Huff – Lumped together because there’s a solid chance neither one will be on the roster past the non-tender deadline. If either one is on the roster, he would likely become the favorite for that seventh bullpen job.
Preston Claiborne –
Seemed like a DFA candidate out of spring training, but helped out occasionally while shuttling to and from Triple-A.
Jose Ramirez – Expected to be healthy for spring training. Could legitimately make a run at a big league opening either out of spring training or early in the year.
Chase Whitley – A spot starter or long reliever, Whitley went unselected in last year’s Rule 5 draft, but he landed a 40-man spot during the season.
Bryan Mitchell – Yankees would probably prefer to keep him as rotation depth, but we’ve certainly seen other starters pitch well and force the Yankees to find a spot for them in the bullpen. This is basically how Phelps and Warren arrived.
Jose De Paula/Manny Banuelos – Lumped together because both seem most likely to open the season in the Triple-A rotation, and even if one of them ends up in the big league bullpen, what are the chances that both end up there at the same time? Really slim. Shane Greene – Surely he’s a starter, right? Listing him only in the name of being thorough. If certain pieces fall into place, the Yankees could certainly consider shifting Greene’s big sinker into the bullpen.

These guys will be around regardless of who’s protected or lost because of the Rule 5. The Yankes legitimately have some immediate bullpen depth that’s still not Rule 5 eligible.

Jacob Lindgren – Last year’s top draft pick. If he’s as good as advertised, he’s far more than a lefty specialist. In a perfect world, he could be what Andrew Miller was last year.
Nick Rumbelow – Probably the top right-handed relief prospect in the organization right now. Lots of strikeouts on the way from Low-A to Triple-A last year.
Tyler Webb – Another upper-level lefty. Like Rumbelow, Webb was drafted in 2013 and has already risen to Triple-A.
Nick Goody – Missed most of 2013 but got healthy this year. Finished the year in Double-A. Another college reliever the Yankees like.
James Pazos – Another college lefty who’s already moved into the upper levels of the minor league system. Very good Double-A numbers this year.
Unknown non-roster invitee — Worth remembering and considering the fact the Yankees will surely bring some relievers into camp on minor league and non-roster contracts (finalized after the Rule 5 draft). We’ve seen guys like this either make the team out of camp (Clay Rapada) or become options mid-season (Matt Daley).

Given the options in place, how many relievers do the Yankees really need to protect this winter? Pinder, Montgomery and Burawa each bring something to the table, but even if all three remain in the organization next season, they could all fall behind guys like Ramirez and Rumbelow for call-up opportunities. Is there room or need to protect all three? Is it worth thinking about a lefty like Fred Lewis when he’s coming off a down season and there are other lefties in the system?

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 3:41 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Looking back: Recent Rule 5 protection decisions

Bryan Mitchell

Tomorrow is the deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 draft. It leaves the Yankees with several curious decisions. I’d guess they could protect as few as one or two players and as many as, I don’t know, maybe four or five. Beyond Tyler Austin — who strikes me as the easiest choice for protection — they have a handful of relievers worth considering (Pinder, Burawa, Montgomery), a good bat (Roller), a couple of underperforming prospects (Williams, Culver), and a few upper-level starters worth at least some consideration (Nuding, Tracy).

It seems worth looking back at the most recent Rule 5 protection decisions and how those have played out so far.

Greene2013 protection: RHP Shane Greene, RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP Jose Campos, C Gary Sanchez, INF Dean Anna, OF Slade Heathcott

A year ago, the Yankees essentially chose to protect potential ahead of dependability. Campos and Mitchell made the list ahead of upper-level relievers Tommy Kahnle, Danny Burawa and Chase Whitley, and the result was a mixed bag. Mitchell emerged as a big league option, while Campos disappeared after Tommy John surgery. Kahnle was lost in the Rule 5 and pitched well in Colorado, Whitley slipped through and was a useful spot starter in New York, and Burawa went unclaimed only to leave the Yankees with a similar protect-or-not decision this winter. Anna wasn’t a typical Rule 5 protection decision. He was a trade acquisition, and immediately upon getting him, the Yankees put him on the 40-man to protect him. He provided exactly the short-term infield depth the Yankees needed. John Ryan Murphy kind of belongs here. He was brought up in September of 2013 because the Yankees knew they were going to protect him in the winter anyway.

Ramirez2012 protection: RHP Jose Ramirez, RHP Brett Marshall, LHP Manny Banuelos, LHP Francisco Rondon, LHP Nik Turley, OF Ramon Flores

Adam Warren would have been protected in the 2012 offseason, but he was called up for one start mid-season and was already on the roaster. So far, he’s the most significant of the 2012 class. Banuelos remains an interesting prospect, Flores played well when he wasn’t hurt this year, and Ramirez got some big league time this season (and could get more next year). Otherwise, Rondon and Turley were unceremoniously dropped from the roster, and Marshall got a few big league innings before being let go on waivers. The long-term impact of this group could hinge on whether Banuelos plays a significant role. Worth noting that everyone on this list still has an option remaining for next season.

Phelps2011 protection: RHP David Phelps, RHP D.J. Mitchell, INF David Adams, INF Corban Joseph, OF Zoilo Almonte

Essentially, Austin Romine fits here as well. He was called up in September because the Yankees needed an extra catcher, but that wouldn’t have happened had the Yankees not decided they were going to protect him a few months later anyway. Kind of amazing that everyone on this list got to New York, while only one is still in the organization. Mitchell played a small role before being traded in the Ichiro Suzuki deal; Adams was the regular third baseman and Almonte the regular left fielder for a little while in 2013; and Joseph played some first and second as a guy who shuttled back and forth from Triple-A. Phelps, of course, stands out as a guy who’s earned a role as a long reliever and occasional starter.

Betances2010 protection: RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Ryan Pope, 3B Brandon Laird, OF Melky Mesa

Mesa was added at the very end of the season to keep him from reaching minor league free agency. It’s not exactly Rule 5 protection, but it comes down to the same thing (either put him on the roster or risk losing him). Pope disappeared pretty quickly, Laird played a few games before being lost on waivers, and Mesa was an up-and-down extra outfielder for a couple of years before the Yankees released him about a year ago. The name that clearly stands out is Betances, who seemed like a lost cause for a while, then generated some attention again, then emerged as a bullpen standout.

Nova2009 protection: RHP Ivan Nova, RHP Romulo Sanchez, RHP Hector Noesi, INF Eduardo Nunez, INF Reegie Corona, INF Kevin Russo, OF Austin Jackson

Protecting seven players was pretty aggressive, and predictably, it was a mixed bag of production. Within a few weeks of being added to the roster, Jackson was traded to Detroit in the Curtis Granderson deal. A few years later, Noesi got some big league time only to be included in the Michael Pineda deal. Sanchez was a bust, Corona never got to New York, and Russo played a small utility role off the bench. In terms of New York impact, the big names here are Nova and Nunez. Nova was nearly lost in the Rule 5 a year earlier — he was selected but didn’t stick — and he’s since proven himself to be a nice big league starter when healthy. Nunez was the Yankees top upper-level infield prospect for years, but he never proved himself as anything more than an inconsistent bench player.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 12:49 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

What did we miss? Duke, Swisher, Butler, Sandoval, Bleich

It’s always a bit strange to spend a day away from everything during the offseason. I briefly checked my phone yesterday afternoon half expecting a massive Yankees trade and a huge signing and maybe some sort of unbelievable quote from Hal Steinbrenner, but it seems that Tuesday was pretty quiet. On the morning after, here’s a quick look at what we missed.

David Robertson• Are you looking for good news? Is your name Dave Robertson? Yesterday the White Sox signed left-handed reliever Zach Duke to a three-year deal worth $15 million. Granted, Robertson just turned down more than that for one year, but it still seems to say a lot about the relief pitching market. If one strong season is enough to land Duke that contract, how much is Robertson reasonably worth?

• Want to bring Nick Swisher back to the Bronx? Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Indians are looking into swapping Swisher for a different bad contract. The problem for the Yankees is that Swisher doesn’t really fit anywhere for them — unless the Yankees could include in the deal either Mark Teixeira (whose numbers were quite a bit better than Swisher’s last year) or Carlos Beltran (whose slash line was also quite a bit better, and whose age might not make him the kind of trade target the Indians are looking for) in the deal.

• The Yankees are in the market for a third baseman (and so are the Red Sox). Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday that Pablo Sandoval is talking to both the Red Sox and Giants about a five-year deal worth $80-90 million. Makes some sense that Chase Headley — who seems to be the Yankees top third base target — might wait for Sandoval to set the market before signing.

• As we already saw with the Victor Martinez deal, teams are willing to pay for offense. Turns out, teams are willing to pay even for offense that’s declining considerably. After a .702 OPS as a pure designated hitter, Billy Butler has reportedly signed a three-year deal with the Athletics. It seems Oakland is banking on a bounce-back from a guy who’s still in his 20s.

• Looking for another international free agent on the market? Kiley McDaniel reports that Cuban second baseman Andy Ibanez has gotten to the Dominican Republic to begin the process of coming to the States. Baseball American has profiled Ibanez as more of a prospect than an instant big leaguer.

• The Pirates announced a bunch of minor league signings, including former Yankees pitching prospect Jeremy Bleich. Once a supplemental-round draft pick, Bleich’s career was thrown off track by injuries. Moved back into the rotation, he had a pretty solid year in Double-A this season.

• This will matter for a few Yankees games next season: The Mets announced the new Citi Field dimensions. Probably good news for new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long.

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 9:42 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

After Monday’s moves, can the Yankees do anything similar?

Brian Cashman

Three big moves in baseball yesterday: 1. The Marlins massive contract extension with Giancarlo Stanton; 2. The Blue Jays five-year deal with Russell Martin; 3. The Cardinals-Braves swap of Jason Heyward for Shelby Miller (and others). Three very different types of moves. Are the Yankees in position to make their own version of any one of them?

1. Fully commit to a player in his prime

That’s what the Marlins did with Stanton, and I guess it’s kind of like Derek Jeter’s 10-year deal from more than a decade ago. Miami basically tied its future to one guy, and if the Stanton contract works out like the Jeter contract, the Marlins will be thrilled.

Today, though, the Yankees don’t have anyone like that. Closest they have — homegrown everyday position player with a track record — might be Brett Gardner, and the Yankees already locked him into an extension (a very non-Stanton extension). Right now, the Yankees really don’t have anyone worth an extension. Michael Pineda? Ivan Nova (if he hadn’t just had Tommy John surgery)? Could have made a case for Dave Robertson, but he’s a free agent now. And even those possibilities wouldn’t be a franchise-defining deal like the Stanton contract.

2. Overpay to fill a specific need

That’s what the Blue Jays did with Martin. Five years at $82 million for a guy who, last time he was on the market, had to go searching for a two-year deal? It’s a great situation for Martin, and it’s a roll of the dice for the Blue Jays, who clearly see a small window of opportunity.

The Yankees might actually be on the verge of doing that very same thing in their search for an infielder. If things get desperate, how many years and how much money would they be willing to give Chase Headley? What kind of risk are they willing to take in finding a new shortstop? Clearly the Yankees are trying to avoid another decade-long mistake — and they’re more aware than most that long-term deals can become big-time problems — but with two huge holes in the infield, the Yankees might have another overpay in the works.

3. Swap need-for-need at the big league level

That’s clearly the Braves/Cardinals trade. Atlanta needed a starter. St. Louis needed a right fielder. So the swap happened. To a much smaller extent, the Yankees just did the same thing in trading Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates to left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.

If the Yankees are going to make a big trade this winter, this might be the kind of swap that makes the most sense. They might not be able to pull off something at this level, but a typical prospect-for-veteran trade seems to be the kind of thing the Yankees would like to avoid at this point. They’re clearly trying to integrate more homegrown talent, and trading away Luis Severino, Aaron Judge or Greg Bird would go wildly against the goal (though a Gary Sanchez trade might make some sense for the right player). Ultimately, the Yankees have some major-league pitching (Shane Greene, David Phelps, Adam Warren) that they could deal for the right bat. Could also trade Gardner in the right situation.

Just a heads up, I’ll be out of town all day for a funeral, so this might be it for the blog today. I’ll try to check in and update if news starts to break, but my guess is that my focus will be elsewhere. Stay warm out there, folks!

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman raising awareness for homeless youth

Brian Cashman has done this before, and he’s doing it again, sleeping on the streets to raise awareness about homeless kids. Rock solid cause, and good work by the Yankees GM. Here’s the press release with details.

Brian CashmanNew York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and New York City Football Club Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti will sleep on the streets of New York City as they join more than 750 leaders in sports, entertainment and business in a nationwide Sleep Out for homeless youth on Thursday, November 20.

This nationwide movement of solidarity will raise awareness for the plight of kids on the street and will begin in New York with a Candlelight Vigil in Times Square at 6:00 pm at the pedestrian plaza on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets. The Vigil will feature inspirational performances by Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Capathia Jenkins.

“Covenant House is a place where homeless youth not only find a safe place from the streets, but also a place where kids who have had a tough start in life get a second chance,” Cashman said. “Covenant House provides job training, education and long-term housing — everything that homeless young people need to turn their lives around.”

“There are thousands of homeless youth in New York City, which is difficult to understand,” Pernetti added. “Covenant House gives young people a safe place to sleep, a shower and food — all the immediate care that they need when coming in off the streets. The organization then works with each youth on a plan for his or her future. I encourage everyone to sleep out or support one of the sleep out participants on November 20.”

“We’re honored to have Brian, Tim and all of these selfless sports and business leaders sleeping out as a unified, powerful voice for our kids at Covenant House,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan. “All of these leaders are selflessly using their amazing gifts to bring hope to the 1,900 kids who are in our shelters each night.

“November 20 will be a night when Brian, Tim, and people who care about kids all across the country will raise candles of hope during a National Candlelight Vigil and then sleep on the streets in solidarity with homeless kids,” said Ryan. “No one is saying sleeping out for one night is comparable to what homeless kids go through. But our Vigil and our Sleep Out will raise awareness and funds needed to save the lives of kids who are right now living and dying on our streets. It will be a powerful night of hope for our kids.”

Other executives who are sleeping out for the youth at Covenant House include Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman, owners of The Meatball Shop restaurants; Gail Grimmett, Sr., Vice President for Delta Airlines; and employees from the leading luxury home builder, Toll Brothers, who will have Sleep Out teams in Atlantic City, New York, Orlando, and Philadelphia.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 9:01 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

ICYMI: Greg Bird named Arizona Fall League MVP

Might have slipped your notice this weekend, so it’s worth pointing out again: Yankees first base prospect Greg Bird was named Arizona Fall League MVP on Saturday. He hit .313/.391/.556, while leading the league in home runs and runs scored. He was second in hits, RBI and total bases.

Bird’s always shown a pretty advanced and patient approach at the plate, but his explosive Fall League seemed to be a continuation of a power surge he showed during the regular season.

“I like to stay in the big part of the field,” Bird said during the televised interview above. “Stay up the middle. Just get a pitch I can handle and kind of go with it. I think I’ve learned that that pitch can come early rather than late sometimes. I think in the past I would get a little passive, but it’s always a learning process.”

Would he alter that approach if and when he gets in front of Yankee Stadium’s short porch?

“I think the last couple of years has been good for me as far as that goes,” Bird said. “Our Low-A team in Charleston, the wind blew in from right a lot of times, so you really had to not let that affect you. I just try not to think too much about any of that. Just go out and stick with my approach. It’s worked so far, so I’m going to stick with it.”

As I’ve written several times, it’s risky to make too much of Fall League numbers. Just a few years ago, another Yankees first base prospect, Eric Duncan, was named Fall League MVP — and he was in the Fall League with guys who were on their way to being legitimate superstars — but Duncan’s career stalled when he got to Triple-A and he never reached the big leagues. It’s up to Bird to keep this success going. He’s likely to open next season back in Double-A, but he could certainly be in Triple-A by the end of the year, and he could be on the big league radar by 2016.

“It would be an honor,” Bird said. “It’s always an honor to put on the pinstripes, (but) I don’t look too far down the road. I’m just looking forward to next spring training now, and getting ready for next year.”

Here’s a Jim Callis breakdown of the top prospects and top performances in the Fall League. He singles out Bird and Aaron Judge from the Yankees. If the video above isn’t working — the embed code has been hit-and-miss for me — then you can follow that Callis link to see the same interview.



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 6:01 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Will Manny Banuelos be worth the wait?

Manny Banuelos, Pete O'Brien

After the arrival of Masahiro Tanaka, the emergence of Luis Severino, the return of Michael Pineda, and the debut of Shane Greene, all other young Yankees starting pitchers are kind of a blur right now. They exist, certainly, but they’re a bit undefined.

Bryan Mitchell seems ready to help, but to what extent? Jaron Long had a great year, but is that sustainable? Ian Clarkin is healthy, but he’s still years away.

Somewhere in that blur is the Manny Banuelos, the once elite Yankees pitching prospect who was supposed to have a big league rotation spot locked up by now. He’s not exactly a forgotten man, but Banuelos now carries an unusual blend of buzz and skepticism; experience and uncertainty.

Banuelos“He is still in the stage of where you have to watch him,” assistant GM Billy Eppler told Baseball America. “But he will be ready to roll in spring training. He will come in and compete for a job.”

Now two full years removed from Tommy John surgery, Banuelos could finally emerge as a big league option next season. Not so long ago, he was considered one of the very best left-handed pitching prospects in baseball. He’d pitched to a 3.59 ERA as a 20-year-old in Double-A, he’d jumped up to Triple-A and more than held his own, and he’d grabbed everyone’s attention with a few eye-opening performances in big league camp.

Then he had Tommy John surgery in 2012, missed all of 2013, pitched with a heavily controlled workload in 2014, and now he’s fast approaching his 24th birthday. He has fewer than 75 innings of Triple-A experience and has yet to make his major-league debut.

Speaking to Baseball America, though, Eppler said a lot of the same things that Mark Newman said at the end of the regular season. The Yankees were happy with the way Banuelos was pitching at the end of this season. His velocity was sitting in the low 90s and touching the mid 90s. He got stretched out a little more in instructional league after the season.

So what to expect from Banuelos next season?

Assuming they’re all healthy, the Yankees have Tanaka, Pineda and CC Sabathia locked into rotation spots for next season. They’ve also left no doubt that they’re planning to add at least one starting pitcher this winter, which would fill four-fifths of the rotation. Plus Ivan Nova is coming back at some point. Shane Greene pitched so well last season, he would surely be the favorite for that fifth spot until Nova’s return, and David Phelps seems in place for his usual swingman role.

That puts Banuelos in a group with Mitchell, Jose De Paula and Chase Whitley as sixth-starter candidates who are on the 40-man but likely heading back to Triple-A to open the season. Any one of those guys could win a big league job if the dominoes fall just right, but I doubt the Yankees will go into spring training expecting to carry any one of them. Any one of them would have to earn a spot with a combination of performance and opportunity.

It’s time for Banuelos to get a look, but he’ll have to define himself to earn a job.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 2:59 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Early afternoon notes: Stanton, Martin, Heyward, Vizcaino

Three pretty significant moves that should be on your radar today.

Stanton• After much discussion the past few days, it seems the Giancarlo Stanton extension is in place. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is essentially done. It will pay $325 million over 13 years, but that’s only if Stanton doesn’t take his opt-out after five years (maybe six years, it’s not clear). Stanton will get the no-trade clause that Miami has been reluctant to give in the past. Yowza, that’s a big contract.

• Former Yankees catcher Russell Martin is heading to Toronto. Peter Gammons reports that the Blue Jays have signed Martin to a contract similar to the one the Yankees gave Brian McCann. In case you’ve forgotten, McCann got five years, $85 million (plus a club option). Ken Rosenthal says Martin’s deal is five years, $82 million.

• Pretty big trade in the National League. Right around noon, the Cardinals and Braves announced a swap that’s sending right fielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis. The Cardinals also get hard-throwing reliever Jordan Walden, and they’re sending pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves. This weekend, Bernie Miklasz speculated about the possibility of the Cardinals trading for Heyward (including Miller as a possible trade chip in the deal), and earlier today Derrick Goold wrote about the emergence of Jenkins in the Arizona Fall League. If you’re looking for hard-hitting analysis, my St. Louis friend Cory just texted me and said “I like it,” so there ya go.

• One less significant move, but one that should hit home a bit: On Sunday, the Cubs traded reliever Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for second baseman Tommy La Stella. Not a huge move, but it’s on our radar because Vizcaino was the top Yankees prospect involved in the Melky Cabrera/Boone Logan/Javier Vazquez trade back in 2009.


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 12:34 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The task ahead: Now take care of the big stuff

Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi

Middle of November, and the Yankees have already handled a lot of the small things. What they’ve done so far:

1. Made a decision at catcher. Traded away Francisco Cervelli to open a spot for one of their young guys.

2. Found a left-handed reliever. Added hard-throwing lefty Justin Wilson to fill an obvious void in the bullpen.

3. Settled on a right-handed outfielder. Brought back Chris Young to bring balance to the outfield and power to the bench.

One way or another, those three things had to happen this winter. The Yankees couldn’t go into spring training with five catchers on the 40-man roster, they couldn’t go all winter without an experienced lefty, and they couldn’t ignore the need for a right-handed bat to fill time in the outfield. Done, done, and done.

It’s a solid start. It’s also small potatoes compared to what’s ahead. So what’s left for the Yankees to do? The big things, of course. As this third week of November gets started, here are six things the Yankees still have to do. You’ll notice the to-do list is twice as long as the completed list.

Derek Jeter, Josh Harrison1. Find a shortstop. This is the penalty for not developing a shortstop during the past decade or so. The Yankees have to pick from a bunch of less-than-ideal solutions. They could (maybe) give up a ton of talent for a young everyday guy. They could give up less young talent to trade for an obviously flawed but experienced shortstop. They could sign a free agent hitter who can barely play shortstop, or they could sign a free agent shortstop who can barely hit.

2. Add another everyday infielder. This is the penalty for giving Alex Rodriguez an ill-advised 10-year deal. The Yankees technically have a starting third baseman (Rodriguez) and starting second baseman (Martin Prado), but because they can’t count on Rodriguez for anything, they have to find someone else to play ahead of him. Chase Headley seems to be the favorite for this spot, but he might also wait until Pablo Sandoval signs elsewhere so that he adds some leverage.

3. Build some rotation depth. This is the product of late year’s flurry of injuries. The Yankees might actually have a pretty good rotation already in place, but Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow is a ticking time bomb, Michael Pineda’s shoulder is a concern, CC Sabathia’s knee is surgically repaired, Ivan Nova’s coming back from Tommy John, and Shane Greene has a half-year of experience. The Yankees seem likely to stay away from the top starters on the market, but Brandon McCarthy might fit on the right deal.

David Robertson4. Re-sign or replace Robertson. This is a direct reaction to Dave Robertson turning down the largest single-season salary ever given to a relief pitcher. The Yankees could certainly move Dellin Betances into the ninth inning, but that only leaves an opening in the eighth inning. What the Yankees need is rotation depth well beyond a closer. They had that this year, and they could have it again by re-signing Robertson or by essentially replacing him with someone like Andrew Miller or Luke Gregerson.

5. Hire a hitting coach. This wasn’t a problem when the season ended. It became a problem early last month when the Yankees decided to fire Kevin Long, who they’d long touted as one of the very best hitting coaches in baseball. After a disappointing offensive season, Long was let go in hopes that a new voice and new approach might spark new, improved results. But at this point, it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite for the gig. The Yankees need to fill another opening on the coaching staff as well to replace Mick Kelleher.

6. Make Rule 5 decisions. This is the big minor league decision of the winter. But by the end of this week, the Yankees will have to decide which eligible prospects need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. Tyler Austin seems to be the easy pick, but the other candidates are fairly complicated. Are Brandon Pinder, Mark Montgomery or Dan Burawa ready to pitch in the big leagues? Given all the outfielders already in place, should the Yankees risk losing Mason Williams to some other team’s bench? Is Kyle Roller’s bat worth protecting?

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 8:59 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Week in review: Roster construction underway

Francisco Cervelli

This was the week of the GM Meetings, which usually means a lot more smoke than fire. The Yankees, though, were fairly busy.

Most significant of the Yankees moves was the Wednesday decision to trade Francisco Cervelli to Pittsburgh for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. The Yankees had too much catching depth and not enough left-handed arms in the bullpen.

“Power arm,” former Yankees catcher and current Pirates catcher Chris Stewart said of Wilson. “Can be erratic at times, (but) when he’s on, pretty dominating. He’ll be a good addition to their bullpen.”

By getting rid of Cervelli, the Yankees opened a spot on their bench for either John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine. Murphy seems to be the heavy favorite, despite the fact Romine is out of options.

By adding Wilson, the Yankees found a missing piece for their bullpen. Doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of carrying one of the team’s young, left-handed prospects, but Wilson does give the Yankees a more proven commodity for that role.

Rob Thomson, Chris Young• It was exactly a week ago that the Yankees finalized and officially announced their one-year deal with Chris Young. At the GM Meetings, Brian Cashman made it clear that Young will be the Yankees fourth outfielder and likely takes them out of the outfield market the rest of this winter.

• No surprise at all that this week started with Monday’s announcement that Dave Robertson turned down the Yankees qualifying offer. Three years since the system was put in place, baseball has yet to have a player actually accept a qualifying offer. Cashman acknowledged that he’s since met with Robertson’s agent and there’s still interest in bringing Robertson back on a multi-year deal.

• Cashman said this week that shortstop is the Yankees priority this offseason. The team also needs another infielder, plus some pitching depth in both the rotation and bullpen, but finding a new shortstop is at the top of the to-do list. The Yankees have talked with Scott Boras about Stephen Drew, and they’ve been linked to various trade possibilities, but there are no truly ideal options out there.

• A smaller name was signed to a major-league contract when the Yankees gave left-handed starter Jose De Paula a spot on their 40-man roster. The former Padres and Giants minor leaguer has never pitched in the big leagues, but he throws hard and could provide rotation depth (or possibly another bullpen option from the left side).

• Dellin Betances finished third and Masahiro Tanaka fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, but no Yankees appeared on any of the ballots for either Cy Young or MVP. Joe Girardi got one third-place vote for Manager of the Year.

• Still no hitting coach in place. Girardi said the Yankees are in no rush, and Cashman said the team is still sorting through candidates. For a while it seemed the Yankees might fill the position quickly. Now it seems it could take a while.

• Some significant international news this week: Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda pitched five shutout innings against a group of big league all-stars, Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada held a work out in front of various scouts — including some from the Yankees — and it was announced that Korean infielder Jung-Ho Kang is unlikely to be posted until after the Winter Meetings. Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang is expected to be posted on Monday.

• The Arizona Fall League wrapped up, and several Yankees prospects finished with exceptional numbers. Greg Bird won the league’s MVP award, Aaron Judge capped a standout professional debut, and Tyler Austin’s bat stayed hot after a strong second half. Austin missed the final week with a knee injury that’s not believed to be serious.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, November 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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