A few random thoughts on this morning after the Chase Headley signing…
• Four years and $52 million is too much for Headley, but that’s what happens in free agency. The Yankees needed an infielder, and this is where the market set Headley’s value (actually, remarkably, his value seems to have been set a little higher than what the Yankees are paying). Headley’s a strong defensive player who’s generally stayed in the lineup despite his back issues. He’s a nice hitter, but certainly not a great hitter, and he’s never hit for much power outside of that standout 2012 season. For the money, I’m not entirely sure the Yankees are better off having Headley instead Jed Lowrie, but I do think this is the kind of overpay the Yankees are willing to make. They committed to Headley without committing to someone beyond his mid-30s.
• Yes, the Headley signing blocks Rob Refsnyder’s most obvious path to the big leagues, but does anyone really expect the Yankees lineup to stay fully healthy all of next year? Refsnyder turns 24 in March, he’s been playing second base for just two years, and he has just 77 games of Triple-A experience. He’s not even on the 40-man yet. Going back to the minor leagues out of spring training shouldn’t hurt his development, and it wouldn’t shut the door to the possibility of having him in a regular big league role by the end of the season. The Yankees absolutely had to get some additional infield depth of some sort. They essentially got the best infield depth possible on the market. Now, the key is, if something happens in the infield, they have to be willing to give Refsnyder his shot.
• During interviews yesterday, Headley made it clear that he turned down larger contracts to sign with the Yankees. I regularly get emails saying no free agents are going to want to sign with the Yankees because the Yankees are no longer a winning team. I understand the frustration that leads to such a belief — and I don’t remotely believe the Yankees are currently a favorite to compete for a championship in 2015 — but I don’t believe players look at the Yankees as a losing organization right now. Certainly not over the course of a multi-year deal. Time will tell whether those players are right or wrong.
• One thing I like about Headley: He’s a good fit for this atmosphere. He seems to handle pressure, he’s good with the media, and he seems confident enough to slide into a secondary role without feeling as if he’s been slighted. “I didn’t know how I’d like playing in New York just with all the other things that come with playing in New York,” Headley said yesterday. “But once you get here and you realize how well you’re treated, how much the fans care, how much the city cares, how well the Yankees family take care of you and your family, it was pretty obvious after a week or so that I was extremely lucky to get a chance to play in the pinstripes. So, I was surprised, but it didn’t take long to see why other players had spoke so highly of the organization.”
• With Headley, Didi Gregorius, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, the Yankees have at least five players who have a chance to be above-average defenders next season. I think Brian McCann could be as well if you factor in his pitch framing and the way he works with the pitching staff. Martin Prado at second should be just fine as well. If nothing else, the Yankees have made themselves a better defensive team.
• You know what the Yankees need to go with that defense? An actual pitching staff. That has to be the final piece of the puzzle. The Yankees really have no more glaring needs in their lineup. They could even consider their bench to be complete with John Ryan Murphy, Chris Young, Brendan Ryan and Jose Pirela. But the pitching still needs work. The rotation in particularly has taken a hit with the loss of Shane Greene. Most of the pitchers who seemed to fit the Yankees desire for rotation depth have already come off the board. I do wonder if Hiroki Kuroda could jump back into the picture at some point.
• Speaking of pitching: I still believe the Yankees when they say they’re not planning to get into the Max Scherzer bidding, but if they go another three or four weeks without signing a starting pitcher who they actually like, and Scherzer still out there as a big splash who fills a clear need, I do wonder if they could talk themselves into taking the risk — yet again — on a long-term commitment that carries obvious risk down the road. Not saying it will happen, only that I could imagine a scenario in which the Yankees ultimately bit the bullet and jump into the Scherzer sweepstakes.
• Interesting that the Yankees gave Headley pretty close to the same contract they weren’t willing to give either Dave Robertson or Brandon McCarthy. Of those three, I’d say McCarthy was the best fit — the Yankees have reached a point where they most desperately need a starting pitcher — but he was also the most obvious overpay (incredibly risky to give a guy with his injury history a four-year deal). I think Robertson would been a better investment on a four-year deal, but relievers tend to come and go, and before this offseason I’m not sure I would have been on board with such an investment into a bullpen arm, even one as good as Robertson. Free agency is all about picking battles, and when it came to spending roughly $50 million across the next four years, the Yankees prioritized Headley ahead of the two familiar and desirable pitchers.
• The top third basemen in the minor league system are Miguel Andujar, Eric Jagielo and Dante Bichette Jr. Andujar is still a teenager and won’t necessarily be blocked by the Headley contract, Bichette hasn’t shown enough consistency for the Yankees to really bank on him, and there are enough questions about Jagielo’s defense and strikeouts that the Yankees couldn’t let his presence standing in the way of a deal. That’s not at all to say Jagielo (or anyone else) won’t develop into a legitimate big league third baseman, but I don’t think the Yankees could say with confidence their farm system will be ready to fill the third base hole within the next four years.
Associated Press photos
Chase Headley has done at least two interviews since re-signing with the Yankees, one with YES Network and one on a conference call with Yankees beat reporters. A few things he’s confirmed.
1. He turned down larger contracts to come back
Headley wouldn’t say how much, or which teams were involved, but he made it clear that there were larger offers on the table. He simply didn’t think there were better offers on the table. There were previous reports of at least one team willing to go four years, $65 million.
“There’s a lot of things that led to it,” Headley said. “First and foremost was a chance to win. I haven’t done that in my career, so I look forward to the chance here.”
2. He expects to play third base next season
This should come as no surprise at this point, but Headley said he did ask the Yankees about their plans for Alex Rodriguez, and the Yankees assured Headley that he is their third baseman. Rodriguez might play the position a little bit, but Headley clearly expects — and wants — to get the vast majority of his time at third base.
“I view myself as a third baseman and that’s where I feel like I help this team the best,” Headley said. “I obviously want to be the best teammate I can to all my teammates, so wherever I’m playing, I’m going to give everything I have. That was a conversation we had and I think the vast majority of my time will be spent at third base.”
3. He feels healthy this offseason
While a back issue has affected Headley in the past, he said he’s learned to manage the injury and feels good as he progresses through the winter toward spring training. Headley said he never felt like his back impacted him in the second half of last season; he thinks he can feel the same way throughout next season.
“The second half of (last) season at least, it didn’t give me any issues,” Headley said. “So I’ve been staying on top of it. I understand some of the things that are important for me to keep it healthy, some of the things I can do to try to manage it and stay on top of it. I don’t foresee it being an issue going forward. We were aware of it, but we felt like all of the clubs that we spoke with were made aware of the situation, and it wasn’t going to be a huge issue.”
Associated Press photo
Yankees make Chase Headley signing official • 12.15.14
Well that was quick. The Yankees have officially announced the deal. Here’s the press release:
Headley, 30, was acquired by the Yankees along with cash considerations from the San Diego Padres in exchange for INF Yangervis Solarte and RHP Rafael De Paula on July 22, 2014. In 58 games with the Yankees, he hit .262 (50-for-191) with 28R, 8 doubles, 6HR and 17RBI.
In his Yankees debut on July 22 vs. Texas, Headley hit a 14th-inning “walk-off” single, becoming the first player with a “walk-off” hit in his first game with the club since Roy Weatherly in April 1943 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first of three Yankees “walk-off” wins to end in a Headley at-bat (also a home run on September 4 vs. Boston and a fielding error on September 18 vs. Toronto).
The Fountain, Colo., native began the 2014 season with the Padres, batting .229 (64-for-279) with 27R, 12 doubles, 1 triple, 7HR and 32RBI in 77 games.
In 966 career games over parts of eight Major League seasons with the Padres (2007-14) and Yankees (2014), Headley has hit .265 (923-for-3,477) with 426R, 194 doubles, 13 triples, 93HR and 418RBI, while appearing in games at third base (731), left field (196) and first base (nine). He has collected at least one hit in 33 different Major League ballparks in his career, including each of the 30 current stadiums.
In 2012, Headley earned his first career Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, batting .286 (173-for-604) with 95R, 31 doubles, 2 triples, 31HR and an NL-leading 115RBI in 161 games with the Padres. His .976 fielding percentage as a third baseman was second-highest in the NL (424TC, 10E).
Headley was originally selected by the Padres in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. He owns a .967 career fielding percentage at third base (1,822TC, 60E), the best mark among active Major Leaguers at the position.
Associated Press photo
Yankees remodeled infield in place for 2015 • 12.15.14
The Yankees have significantly overhauled the infield in the past six months. Here’s a look at the four regular infielders from last year (plus their primary backups) along with the players projected to play each position next season. Is the Yankees 2015 infield going to be better than it was in 2014?
2014: Mark Teixeira (Kelly Johnson for 23 games)
2015: Mark Teixeira
Just like the catcher position, the Yankees are committed at first base, and they have to hope for better production from the guy who’s already in place. The Yankees — and Teixeira — believe that healthy and a normal offseason will be significant factors in keeping Teixeira’s power production relatively high. He slugged .474 through the end of June last season (a pretty high number in the current climate) but he slugged just .324 after July 1. Last year the Yankees didn’t have a real backup at the position. It seems Alex Rodriguez could play that backup role this year.
2014: Brian Roberts (Stephen Drew for 31 games)
2015: Martin Prado
Although there was a lot of mixing and matching at second base, it was Roberts who spent more time at the position than any other Yankee last season (Prado, Ryan and Solarte also had double-digit starts at second). In theory, Prado’s a solid bet to outperform Roberts’ .237/.300/.360 slash line. He hit .282/.321/.412 last season and has slugged below .400 only once since becoming a big league regular. If Prado can’t hit beyond Roberts’ numbers, Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela are waiting as young alternatives.
2014: Derek Jeter (Brendan Ryan for 19 games)
2015: Didi Gregorius
Although Gregorius hasn’t been much of a hitter in the big leagues, his .653 OPS last season was better than Jeter’s .617, and Gregorius is also considered a much better defensive player. The Yankees could try to get even more of an offensive boost by platooning Gregorius (who’s struggled against lefties) with right-handed-hitting Ryan, another good glove, questionable bat shortstop. By the way, kind of amazing just how many games 40-year-old Jeter was able to play last year.
2014: Yangervis Solarte (Chase Headley for 49 games, Kelly Johnson for 33)
2015: Chase Headley
Third base was supposed to be Johnson’s job last season, but he lost it to Solarte, who was eventually traded for Headley. As it turned out, Solarte had the most starts at third, but even he barely started a third of the games there. Headley surged after the trade to New York, and that came after Solarte’s numbers had seriously dragged following his standout first month and a half. In theory, Headley is a better defender and potentially a better hitter than what the Yankees had last season, but Headley’s also had back issues and he’s rarely hit for much power.
Associated Press photo
It’s Chase Headley’s turn in the spotlight.
As we start this week after the Winter Meetings, Sweeny Murti reports that Headley is close to a decision. Of course, we’ve heard that before — at one point he was expected to sign during the Winter Meetings — but now there seems to be little stopping him. With so many big pieces off the board, Headley actually stands out as one of the very best players available, and surely his market is pretty well established at this point.
In the wake of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston, Headley stood out as the top third baseman on the free agent market. He’s probably the top free agent infielder, and MLB Trade Rumors ranks him as the third-best player and top-ranked position player, period, currently on the market.
Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are more versatile, but last season Headley had a higher OPS than either of those two, and he’s also a strong defender at his position (a position that’s thin throughout the league). The free agent market really has played to Headley’s advantage with two third base candidates signing with the same team. It hasn’t hurt that those two signed relatively early, leaving plenty of teams still plugging holes and looking to spend. Headley’s in a good spot just days after the most frantic week of the offseason.
The Yankees have made little secret of their interest in bringing Headley back to New York, and Brian Cashman restated that interest on television last night. But when the offseason started, Headley seemed like a potential value signing. Now he might be an overpay waiting to happen. The alternatives should Headley price himself out of the Yankees comfort zone? Lowrie and Cabrera might not be ideal shortstops, but they could play second base and leave Martin Prado free to play third. Same for Gordon Beckham. David Freese seems readily available on the trade market. Ultimately, though, the infield options really are pretty slim.
The fact Headley has become one of the most desirable players on the free agent market isn’t necessarily a good thing for a Yankees team desperate for help in the infield,
Associated Press photo
When I flew to San Diego on Sunday, it seemed Chase Headley might be on the verge of making a decision and signing with a team. Now I’m flying back to New York four days later, and there’s no clarity on the market’s top remaining free agent infielder.
The Yankees are engaged, but they clearly haven’t pushed enough to get a deal done. Headley seems to make the Yankees better — if only because he makes them deeper — but the Yankees have made it clear this winter that they’re not willing to sign anyone at all costs.
“We’re very comfortable (with Martin Prado) at third,” Brian Cashman said. “We’re very comfortable with Prado at second and we’re very comfortable if we move Prado to the outfield. Obviously we’re very comfortable with what Headley provided for our team (last season) as well. We’re good to go as is, if that’s the way we go, but we’re exploring ways to make us better if there’s alternatives.”
Headley is now at the head of the class among free agent infielders, but is the gap as significant as it seems? While Headley is getting a ton of attention, and seems to have a shot at a four-year deal, there’s been very little attention paid to guys like Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Gordon Beckham — players who for the Yankees could basically fill the same role has Headley, except they’d be stepping into second base and freeing Prado to play third.
Asked whether Headley is significant better than the other infielders on the market, Cashman understandably wouldn’t comment.
“I wouldn’t say,” Cashman said. “(He is) pricier.”
Is it worth giving Headley significantly more years and money than some of the alternatives? Here’s a quick comparison:
30 years old (turns 31 in May)
Career OPS: .756
Last season: .243/.328/.372
The Yankees saw first-hand that Headley is a strong defender at third base, and he has at least mild experience at first base (has also played some left field, but that was a pretty long time ago). Career numbers are significantly inflated by a standout 2012 season that so far looks more like an outlier than a sign of things to come. Headley hit 30 home runs that year. He’s never hit more than 13 any other season.
29 years old (will play all next year at 29)
Career OPS: .740
Last season: .241/.307/.387
Not a particularly good defensive player, but metrics like him a lot more at second base than at shortstop, and the Yankees would hypothetically sign him to play second. Cabrera wasn’t great in 2014, but he’s had some pretty good seasons including two all-star selections, and he’s still fairly young. Although the Giants were tied to Cabrera earlier today — they wanted him to play third, basically an alternative to Headley — it now seems that Cabrera prefers to sign with a team that will play him at second.
30 years old (turns 31 in April)
Career OPS: .741
Last season: .249/.321/.355
Like Cabrera, Lowrie has generated some negative defensive reviews as a shortstop, but metrics have pegged him as basically average when he’s played second base or third base. He had a really good year in 2013, and despite diminished power numbers in 2014, his fWAR was still positive. I can’t help wondering whether Lowrie could be an immediate option at second base and slide back to shortstop if absolutely necessary (if Didi Gregorius were to get hurt or severely underperform, something like that). Offers some flexibility in emergency situations, and he’s apparently open to playing a position other than shortstop.
28 years old (turns 29 in September)
Career OPS: .681
Last season: .226/.271/.348
The eighth overall pick in 2008, Beckham was a fulltime big leaguer the very next season and was the White Sox regular second baseman until he was traded to the Angels last year. He’s never lived up to expectations, but he has occasionally hit for some power. Defensive metrics don’t love or completely hate him, and he has some experience at third base as well as second. Could he come to camp to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the second base job, and become a backup at second and third if he loses the competition?
Associated Press photo
Yankees strength coach Matt Krause was in Miami today to get an updated evaluation of Alex Rodriguez.
“He talked to (Rodriguez) maybe a month ago, maybe longer,” Cashman said. “And then he assessed him now. He’s working hard. Obviously he’s continuing to get ready for spring training, and he’s moving in the right direction.”
This was strictly a physical fitness evaluation, not an evaluation of baseball skills or performance.
“I know he’s weighing him in and stuff like that,” Cashman said. “Like all our players, he’s got a report weight that we’re hopeful they hit. He’s approaching that. He’s not at the spring training weight that we desire just yet, but there is progress, and he continues to tweak. Matt continues to tweak his conditioning program. They’re building a relationship. They don’t know each other, so that’s good (that they’re spending time together). This is not just Matt checking on Alex. He’s seeing McCann, Gardner, Ellsbury, all our guys. He’s going across meeting up with everybody.”
Winter Meeting progress
Without getting into specifics, Cashman said he remains engaged with a bunch of trade and free agent possibilities. He’s been talking to Chase Headley, but wouldn’t say whether there’s been progress between the two sides. Cashman did say the pitching market is “going to go fast,” and the Yankees are obviously engaged with various starters and relievers.
“I honestly can tell you that we’re patient,” Cashman said. “We’re not going to do something that we don’t feel comfortable with.”
For whatever it’s worth, Cashman said he’s not planning to meet with the media before he flies back to New York tomorrow, and he said that’s because he’s not expecting the Yankees situation to change between now and then. But you really never know. The Yankees are clearly in serious talks with a wide range of possibilities, it’s just unclear whether any of those talks are going to lead to something in the next 18 hours or so.
Potential bullpen additions
Cashman wouldn’t comment on a report that he’s shown interest in former Giants closer Sergio Romo, but he made it clear that he’s still open to adding another piece to the bullpen.
“If it’s the right guy, I have no problem signing a (reliever) to a major league deal,” Cashman said. “If it’s the right guy; if it fits with everything else we’re also trying to accomplish. We also have a lot of good young arms. It’s just, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. We have trade opportunities, so it can come in a lot of different ways whether it’s from within, whether it’s non-roster invite, major league signing from the free agent market, or trade. It’s tough to say right now.”
Today’s infielder trades
The Dodgers traded second baseman Dee Gordon earlier today, and the Phillies are said to be finalizing a Jimmy Rollins trade. Cashman acknowledged that he checked on the availability of both players. He asked about Rollins early in the offseason and was told only that the asking price would be higher than the Yankees would be willing to pay. No names were discussed, the Phillies just made it clear they would need a ton in return (might have been a kind way of telling the Yankees that Rollins wouldn’t waive his no-trade to play in New York).
As for Gordon, that conversation happened this week. “I just said, ‘If you see any fits, let me know,’” Cashman said. “They were down the tracks with (the actual trade to Miami). This was yesterday or two days ago when his name surfaced as a potential move.”
Tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft
Sounds like the Yankees won’t take anyone in tomorrow’s draft. They have three spots open on the 40-man, but Cashman clearly plans to add at least three more players this offseason.
“As of right now, I don’t think I’ll be active in the Rule 5 draft,” Cashman said. “But I know our guys want to talk to me about some things. The certain amount of roster spots that we have, and we have a certain amount of needs still to fill, so I think those roster spots can go quickly because of our needs. I’m not sure that Rule 5 is going to make sense for us this year because of that.”
Reaction to Boras
Earlier today, Scott Boras said that Max Scherzer would give the Yankees a World Series caliber rotation. Cashman laughed when he heard the quote.
“Good,” he said. “That means he likes the four we’ve got.”
Associated Press photos
Still late morning here in San Diego, and another key free agent just came off the market. Here are a few quick notes:
• Setting a baseline for predicting a Brandon McCarthy contract, Francisco Liriano has signed a three-year, $39-million deal with the Pirates. McCarthy and Liriano are each 31 years old, they’ve each had some injury issues in the past, and they’re both coming off a strong second half in 2014. I wouldn’t say they’re a perfect match, but they’re fairly close. MLB Trade Rumors ranked McCarthy 14th and Liriano 15th in its ranking of top free agents.
• According to Peter Gammons, there is optimism that Chase Headley will choose a team by the end of the day. The Giants and Yankees have clear interest in acquiring a third baseman, and they’re the team’s most often linked to Headley, but there’s some question of just how far either team is willing to go (and there’s some disagreement about whether a four-year, $65-million deal is actually on the table). At one point Headley seemed like a solid buy-low option, but his value has really climbed in this thin infield market.
• One potential source of infield depth is about to come off the market. Jim Bowden reports the Braves are close to a deal with Alberto Callaspo, who would presumably play second base in Atlanta. Not that Callaspo would have been a great fit for the Yankees, but I suppose he could have been a candidate to basically provide an experienced alternative to Jose Pirela off the bench.
• White Sox general manager Rick Hahn refused to comment on his team’s new deal with Dave Robertson because the signing isn’t official just year. Mark Feinsand reports that Robertson won’t take his physical until Wednesday at the earliest, so that deal won’t be finalized for at least another day.
Associated Press photo
Welcome to the Winter Meetings • 12.08.14
Several weeks ago, my parents were choosing the best time for a quick trip to New York. There were two choices, either the weekend before Thanksgiving or the weekend after. They chose after, and I told my boss that I needed a few days off while they were in town. Friday was my first vacation day in quite a while, and of course that’s when the Yankees offseason got rolling.
1. A replacement for Derek Jeter.
2. A fresh hole in the rotation.
3. A new arm in the bullpen.
It was either the best day for a vacation or the worst day, depending on your point of view.
Bottom line is this: In the past 72 hours, the Yankees roster has undergone a significant makeover, and these next 72 hours just might be the busiest of the offseason. It’s Day 1 of the Winter Meetings here in San Diego, Brian Cashman is flying in this morning, and the Yankees are still open for business even after Friday’s flurry of activities.
Here are a few random thoughts as the Winter Meetings get started:
• Got a few questions on Twitter and through email asking, essentially, why trade for a defensive shortstop like Didi Gregorius when the Yankees already have a defensive shortstop in Brendan Ryan? To me, the answer is all about upside and longevity. The Yankees could have gone with a stopgap solution like Ryan and/or Stephen Drew, but Gregorius gives them a legitimate long-term possibility, one far better than any shortstop the Yankees have who’s remotely close to the big leagues. He’s both an immediate solution and a future investment. The kid’s still just 24 years old, only a year older than John Ryan Murphy, but with nearly 200 games in the big leagues.
• Was Shane Greene too much to give for Gregorius? It actually seems about right to me. At no point before this year would Greene alone have been nearly enough to get a guy like Gregorius, but the Yankees sold high on Greene and bought (fairly) low on Gregorius. For the past two months or so, there’s been a lot of talk about just how thin the shortstop position has become throughout baseball. That makes even a limited young shortstop like Gregorius pretty valuable. Greene looked great last year, but this still seems like a worthwhile swap for the Yankees. Had to give up something to get something, and they badly needed the something they got.
• Four years for a reliever is awfully risky, but I’m not sure it’s any more risky than going six years for a starting pitcher or seven years for an outfielder. Money isn’t the big concern for the Yankees, years are the big concern, and Miller is signed through his 33rd birthday. Is he worth $9 million a year? Maybe not, but how many free agents are really “worth” their yearly salary? There’s a solid chance Miller will still be a good pitcher in four years, and that’s important.
• Stating the obvious here, but it’s going to be fascinating to see how the Yankees proceed with the rest of their bullpen. Brian Cashman hasn’t ruled out re-signing Dave Robertson, but I assume his demands are going to have to dip much closer to Miller’s contract for that to happen. A trio of Robertson, Miller and Dellin Betances would give the Yankees the best bullpen in the big leagues. Even if they don’t re-sign Robertson, I don’t think it’s out of the question that they might sign some other veteran to handle the ninth inning. Just seems like a nice way to divide the work. There’s a starter and a closer, with Miller and Betances to handle everything in between.
• The Yankees needed to sign a starting pitcher even before Friday’s trade. Now they absolutely have to sign a starting pitcher, probably two of them. The good news is, there are still a lot of starting pitchers out there. Cashman left open the possibility of moving Adam Warren back into the rotation. That could be interesting. Is he capable of being basically what Greene was capable of being?
• When the season ended, there was no doubt Chase Headley liked being with the Yankees and the Yankees liked having Chase Headley. Now it’s a matter of figuring out whether the two sides like one another enough to bridge the gap and get a deal done. Headley has become the top infielder on the market, but while the Yankees badly want another infielder, I’m not sure they’re willing to completely overpay for a player like Headley. He’s a nice fit, but he doesn’t hit for much power and he has a history of back problems, and that’s not a great combination for a long-term deal. How much difference is there between Headley, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera? If Headley’s market is soaring, why pay the premium when there are alternatives who might be just as productive?
• Good to see Marcus Thames is reportedly in line to be an assistant hitting coach for the Yankees next season. The organization likes him, and he was a good guy in the clubhouse back in 2010. Seems like a smart addition to the coaching staff. A lot of changes on the player development side this offseason, but the Yankees have some young coaches and instructors who they really like. Wonder if we’ll see more of them moved up into more prominent roles.
Associated Press photos
Random thoughts on this Friday morning • 12.05.14
It’s Friday, and I’m actually off the clock for about 72 hours. I’m taking a few vacation days to spend today and the rest of the weekend with my parents, who are visiting from Missouri. I’ll check back in on Monday — or late Sunday night — when I get to San Diego for the Winter Meetings. Until then, a few random thoughts.
• One sure indication that this free agent market hasn’t played out in the Yankees favor is the fact Chase Headley has gotten a ton of attention lately. He’s a nice player — great glove, does enough offensively, strong presence in the clubhouse — but we just reached the start of December and he’s the best infielder out there. That’s not a great thing for a Yankees team that would like to add not one but two everyday infielders this offseason. With that in mind, last year’s Martin Prado trade looks better and better. Can you imagine trying to find three everyday infielders in this market? If that were the case, wouldn’t the Yankees have to simply roll the dice with either Alex Rodriguez or Rob Refsnyder?
• Andrew Miller is really good, and between him and Dellin Betances, the Yankees could surely find a closer. But I still think if the Yankees do end up signing Miller — without signing Dave Robertson — they might go after a guy like Jason Grilli or Casey Janssen on a one-year deal to potentially handle the ninth inning. Closer is an unusual job, but it’s not necessarily the most important job in the bullpen. Find a one-inning guy who’s been there and done that, and use Miller and Dellin Betances to really shorten the game. Just an idea. I still think the better way to go is simply re-signing Robertson.
• Isn’t it a bit odd that the free agent rumor mill seems to have completely forgotten Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie? Stephen Drew’s name pops up occasionally in reports about the market’s lack of a standout shortstop, and Headley has gotten a ton of attention ever since Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval came off the market, but there’s been hardly a peep about Cabrera or Lowrie. Those two might not be shortstops, but in a market that’s thin on third basemen and second basemen, they can surely find an everyday job somewhere. Maybe even with the Yankees if dominoes fall the right way.
• Some talk earlier this week about the possibility of giving up the pursuit of Headley and simply giving Refsnyder a chance to play second base. How would the market have to develop for the Yankees to engage in similar conversations about letting Brendan Ryan play shortstop every day? He hardly played last season, but he carries a well-earned reputation as a defensive wizard. There are worse fallback options, I just what it takes for the Yankees to legitimately open that particular possibility.
• Six at least fairly interesting Yankees prospects who can play center field in Triple-A and/or Double-A next season: Eury Perez, Jake Cave, Mason Williams, Ramon Flores, Taylor Dugas and Adonis Garcia. That’s not to mention Ben Gamel, and even Jose Pirela got some center field time with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. Point is, the Yankees have a lot of center fielders in the upper levels, so many that I have no idea where exactly Slade Heathcott will play if he re-signs. Losing a first-round pick in a situation like this — ultimately non-tendered because of recurring injuries — is obviously no good, but at this point, I’m not sure Heathcott is a better prospect than a lot of guys just mentioned. Maybe he’ll be back, maybe he won’t, but I have a hard time disagreeing with the Yankees decision that they could no longer hold onto him at all costs. (By the way, all of this is to say nothing of Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge who will surely get most of the time in right field, and give the Yankees two more legitimate upper-level outfield prospects.)
• A quick checklist of topics for the first couple weeks of spring training: Don’t forget to ask about Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, Carlos Beltran’s elbow, CC Sabathia’s knee, Michael Pineda’s shoulder, Ivan Nova’s rehab, Mark Teixeira’s wrist, Tyler Austin’s wrist, Martin Prado’s appendix, Brett Gardner’s abdomen, and Alex Rodriguez’s … everything. Offseason injury updates usually fill a day or two down in spring training. They might take up all of February this time.
Associated Press photo