The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


A bunch of thoughts on a bunch of moving pieces12.19.14

Eovaldi2

Well, quite a bit has happened since I got on this airplane. Here are some quick thoughts about all of the Yankees pieces that have moved around in the past two hours or so:

Eovaldi11NATHAN EOVALDI

Two things that immediately jump to mind about the key piece coming to the Yankees in the Marlins trade:

1. He’s young. In that way, this reminds me very much of the Didi Gregorius acquisition. Yes, Eovaldi has plenty of warts – he gave up the most hits in the National League last season, he’s never had huge strikeout numbers despite his velocity – but he was born in 1990 and has 79 big league starts already. This guy is younger than Branden Pinder, who has some legitimate promise and was just added to the 40-man roster last month. Eovaldi is 24. Masahiro Tanaka just turned 26. Michael Pineda turns 26 in January. Ivan Nova will be 28 all next season. Suddenly CC Sabathia and placeholder Chris Capuano are the only members of the Yankees rotation who are in their 30s. And that’s to say nothing of Manny Banuelos, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and — eventually — Luis Severino. Just like at shortstop, the term “upside” actually applies to this Yankees rotation for 2015 and beyond.

2. He pitched 199.2 innings last season. That’s two-thirds of an inning more than Hiroki Kuroda pitched last season, and Kuroda led the Yankees in innings pitched by quite a bit. The Yankees have some obvious questions about rotation durability, but Eovaldi gave a bunch of innings and 33 starts last season. It’s true that a young arm could blow out under the weight of a heavy workload, but that’s an unavoidable hazard. The Yankees need someone who can provide some durability in the rotation, and Eovaldi has done it before.

Jones GARRETT JONES

Jones plays three positions: First base, right field and designated hitter. Those happen to be three positions where the Yankees face real uncertainty about durability and production.

This addition seems to be a safeguard for Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez, but it comes at the cost of roster versatility. Barring another move, the addition of Jones basically fills the Yankees bench John Ryan Murphy, Chris Young, Brendan Ryan and Jones. There’s no longer space for a Jose Pirela-type utility man (Pirela might win the second base job, but that’s not the same as having a guy that versatile on the bench).

So does this mean Ryan to backs up both shortstop and second base, Rodriguez backs up at third base, Jones backs up at first base, and a Jones/Young platoon backs up in the outfield corners?

GermanDOMINGO GERMAN

Here’s what the numbers show: The prospect coming to the Yankees is a 22-year-old kid who spent 2014 in Low-A with a 2.48 ERA, a 1.43 WHIP, 8.2 strikeouts per nine, and 1.8 walks per nine.

Here’s what Baseball America says: Just a few days ago, German was named the Marlins sixth-best prospect, and here’s what the magazine wrote about him in connection to today’s trade: “Pitchability isn’t German’s strength right now, but throwing strikes is. He has an easy delivery he repeats well to go with a loose, live arm that produces above-average life on a heavy sinking fastball that sits in the 91-96 mph range and touches 97. He’ll need to develop his secondary stuff to be a future rotation option in Miami.”

Here’s what an opposing team’s scout had to say: “Chance to be a back-end starter or potential bullpen piece. (In rookie ball in 2013), the fastball was 91-94 but needed strike control and polish. Excellent feel for the changeup (83-87) and wider break (on the) curveball (78-81) that needed to tighten. Interesting arm to acquire.”

PradoMARTIN PRADO

When the Yankees traded Shane Greene to get Gregorius, Billy Eppler called it robbing Peter to pay Paul. In that way, the Yankees today robbed Paul to pay back Peter. Instead of giving up a young starter to help the infield, the Yankees today gave up an infielder to add a young starter.

Barring another move for someone like Asdrubal Cabrera, the Prado trade leaves second base wide open for either Pirela or Rob Refsnyder, and the Yankees really do seem willing to let those two battle for the job. Doesn’t mean that will happen — if a guy like Cabrera can be acquired on a good deal, I”m not sure they would/should pass up the opportunity — but the Yankees are clearly opening the possibility that seemed to close when they acquired Chase Headley.

Prado was a nice fit for this team — he can play a lot of positions, and that’s nice for a team with so many questions in the lineup — but he wasn’t especially cheap, and trading him let the Yankees get younger in both the rotation and infield. I like Prado a lot, but I think there’s a chance Refsnyder can be just as good offensively while Pirela can be just as versatile (though probably not as good) defensively.

PhelpsDAVID PHELPS

Let me start by saying Phelps was one of my favorite guys on the Yankees roster. Not that he was a go-to source for anything — he’d always laugh at me when I’d try to get real information out of him — but we’re both from Missouri and found that common ground a long time ago before he ever reached the big leagues. When I grew a bit of a beard last spring and kept it through the season, Phelps gave me a hard time about it at every opportunity. I tried to return the favor by giving him a hard time about choosing Notre Dame over the University of Missouri. On a personal level, I liked having Phelps around, and I truly believed — and still believe — that he made some real strides just before that minor elbow injury last season.

That said, I’m not sure the Yankees were ever sure what to do with Phelps. They knew he could start, but it seemed they never really wanted to trust him with that job unless forced to do so. They knew his stuff might play up in short bullpen stints, but Adam Warren and Dellin Betances had jumped ahead of him in that pecking order. He was a useful piece for many jobs, but he never really had a specific job.

In that way, I can understand sacrificing him for a guy who’s nearly four years younger with nearly 200 more big league innings. I hope Phelps gets a chance to establish himself in Miami. I hope his young family is happy down in Florida. I hope he has a long career. I’m just not sure that long career was ever meant to happen with the Yankees.

ClaiborneGermenGONZALEZ GERMEN/PRESTON CLAIBORNE

I know almost nothing about Germen, and what I do know about him can be found on his page at Baseball Reference: He strikes out quite a few guys, puts a decent number of guys on base, and just turned 27 years old in September.

Don’t really need to know much about him to make this evaluation: The Yankees believe Germen is better than Claiborne.

Although he had a really, really good first month or so in the big leagues, Claiborne was never an overpowering bullpen arm and he was never a guy predicted to have a significant role in New York. I honestly thought he might be designated for assignment out of spring training this year, and I still think there’s a chance he’ll clear waivers and stick with the Yankees as Triple-A depth.

Purchasing Germen and designating Claiborne is clearly all about the Yankees trying to get incrementally better. I don’t think Claiborne was meant to play a significant role going forward, and I’m not sure Germen will either.

Associated Press photo

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Yankees officially announce trade for Nathan Eovaldi12.19.14

Eovaldi

Here’s the official announcement:

The New York Yankees today announced they have made a five-player trade with the Marlins, acquiring RHP Nathan Eovaldi, INF Garrett Jones and RHP Domingo German in exchange for RHP David Phelps and INF Martin Prado.

Eovaldi, 24, went 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA (199.2IP, 97ER) in 33 starts with the Marlins in 2014, establishing career highs in games started, innings pitched and strikeouts (142). In 83 career appearances (79 starts) with Los Angeles-NL (2011-12) and Miami (2012-14), the right-hander has gone 15-35 with a 4.07 ERA (460.0IP, 208ER) and 321K.

The Houston, Tex., native was originally selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and was acquired by the Marlins with RHP Scott McGough from Los Angeles-NL on July 25, 2012 in exchange for LHP Randy Choate and INF Hanley Ramirez.

Jones, 33, played in 146 games in 2014, hitting .246 (122-for-496) with 59R, 15HR, 53RBI and 33 doubles in his first season with the Marlins. In 854 career Major League games with Minnesota (2007), Pittsburgh (2009-13) and Miami (2014), the left-handed batter has hit .253 (703-for-2,780) with 335R, 174 doubles, 117HR and 383RBI.

Jones has hit at least 15HR in each of the last six seasons (2009-14), one of 16 Major Leaguers—and one of just four in the National League—to accomplish the feat. He has appeared in two career postseason games, both in the NLDS with Pittsburgh in 2013, going 0-for-2.

Born in Harvey, Ill., Jones has seen time at first base (468 games), right field (285 games) and left field (21 games) in his Major League career. He was originally selected by the Braves in the 14th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. Jones signed a two-year contract with Miami on December 10, 2013, extending through the 2015 season.

German, 22, spent the 2014 season with Single-A Greensboro, going 9-3 with a 2.48 ERA (123.1IP, 34ER) and 113K in 25 starts for the Grasshoppers. He led the team in strikeouts and tied for the team lead in games started, setting career highs in both categories. The San Pedro de Macoris, D.R., native has made 77 career minor league appearances (44 starts), going 20-10 with a 2.33 ERA (293.2IP, 76ER) and 286K. He was originally signed by the Marlins as a non-drafted free agent on August 8, 2009 and added to Miami’s 40-man roster on November 20, 2014.

Phelps, 28, went 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA (113.0IP, 55ER) in 32 games (17 starts) with the Yankees in 2014. In 87 career Major League appearances (40 starts) over three seasons with the Yankees (2012-14), he has gone 15-14 with a 4.21 ERA (299.1IP, 140ER). He was originally selected by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Prado, 31, was acquired by the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31, 2014 in exchange for minor leaguer Pete O’Brien and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. In 143 combined games with the Yankees and Diamondbacks in 2014, he hit .282 (151-for-536) with 62R, 26 doubles, 12HR and 58RBI. He played in 37 games with the Yankees following his trade, batting .316 (42-for-133) with 18R, 9 doubles, 7HR and 16RBI. Originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on February 13, 2001, Prado is a career .291 (1,075-for-3,691) batter with 78HR and 426RBI in 981 games with Atlanta (2006-12), Arizona (2013-14) and the Yankees (2014).

The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 40.

Associated Press photo

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The good news, the bad news, and the Yankees rotation12.17.14

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

The good news is, the Yankees added some rotation depth yesterday. The bad news is, it wasn’t by acquiring a front-end starter to make everyone feel better about the health concerns at the top of the rotation.

By re-signing Chris Capuano, the Yankees brought in an experienced lefty who pitched well in a fifth starter role last year. The good news is that he’s probably a little better than you’re thinking (his career numbers are nearly identical to the rock-solid results he put up with the Yankees last season), but the bad news is that the Yankees rotation still has an opening and is still crowded with uncertainty heading into next season.

Here’s a look at the Yankees starters in place — and the ones set to compete for a spot — as we move ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. As you might expect, with each one there’s some good news and some bad news.

Masahiro TanakaMASAHIRO TANAKA
Good news: Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidate through his first three months in the big leagues.
Bad news: Slightly torn elbow ligament suggests Tommy John surgery is a real threat as early as spring training.

MICHAEL PINEDA
Good news: Finally joined the Yankees staff with a 1.89 ERA last season.
Bad news: That stellar ERA came in just 13 starts because of another shoulder issue.

CC SABATHIA
Good news: Says he feels strong this winter; more than 200 innings in 2013 and a 3.38 ERA as recently as 2012.
Bad news: Coming back from knee surgery with a not-so-encouraging 4.87 ERA the past two seasons.

IVAN NOVA
Good news: Farm system success story had a 3.10 ERA (and an especially good second half) in his last healthy season.
Bad news: Had Tommy John surgery after just four starts last season; not expected to be ready for Opening Day.

CHRIS CAPUANO
Good news: Solid No. 5 starter with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the Yankees last season.
Bad news: Had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees got him in July.

Phelps (3)DAVID PHELPS
Good news: Was on a roll before a upper elbow injury (believed to be minor) pushed him to the DL last season.
Bad news: In three seasons has never quite established himself as a go-to member of the rotation.

ADAM WARREN
Good news: Coming off a terrific, breakout season with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
Bad news: Truly emerged as a one-inning setup man; has just three major-league starts on his resume.

ESMIL ROGERS
Good news: Showed flashes of promise late last year including a five-inning, one-run spot start in August.
Bad news: That promise has not consistently translated, leaving Rogers a 5.54 career ERA with four different teams before the age of 30.

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballCHASE WHITLEY
Good news: Long-time minor league reliever emerged with a 2.56 ERA through his first seven major league starts last season.
Bad news: Had a 9.00 ERA through his next five starts, falling out of the rotation and back into the bullpen.

BRYAN MITCHELL
Good news: Long touted for talent that exceeded his stats, Mitchell’s results were actually pretty impressive in his brief big league cameo.
Bad news: He’s still a 24 year old with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP through five minor league seasons; never with as many as 150 innings.

MANNY BANUELOS
Good news: One of the top pitching prospects in the system and one of the best in baseball before Tommy John surgery.
Bad news: Inconsistent with a 4.11 ERA and just 76.2 innings in his return from surgery last season.

JOSE DE PAULA
Good news: Hard-throwing lefty impressed the Yankees enough to land a major-league contract this winter.
Bad news: Has never actually pitched in the major leagues and has just 51.1 innings of so-so Triple-A experience.

Associated Press photos

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No Jeter, no Cervy, no D-Rob: A list of the longest-tenured current Yankees12.13.14

Ivan Nova

We’ve known for months that the Yankees would lose their longest-tenured, homegrown player this offseason. But as it’s turned out, Derek Jeter’s not not the organization’s only familiar face who’s moved on this winter. The Yankees lost some of their other longest-tenured, homegrown players when Zoilo Almonte reached free agency, Francisco Cervelli was traded to Pittsburgh, and Dave Robertson signed a contract with the White Sox.

It’s now kind of amazing now to look at which players stand as the longest-tenured Yankees who have never played for another organization. Based on the year they were acquired (without nitpicking about the precise date) here are the 10 longest-tenured, homegrown Yankees who remain in the system.

Nova  1. Ivan Nova
Signed: international free agent, 2004
Debut: May 13, 2010
The Yankees nearly lost Nova before they had a chance to really see what he could do. Back in 2008, Nova was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft, and the Padres picked him. Coming off a solid but uninspiring year in High-A, Nova got a little bit of a look in spring training, didn’t make the San Diego roster, and returned to the Yankees. The next year, he was added to the 40-man roster, and now he stands — with the next two players on this list — as one of the top three homegrown big leaguers in the organization. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but would otherwise have a rotation spot waiting for him in spring training.

Gardner2. Brett Gardner
Signed: amateur draft, 2005
Debut: June 30, 2008
One of the most talked-about drafts of the past several decades, the 2005 draft was mostly a bust for the Yankees. They thoroughly missed the boat on first-rounder C.J. Henry, and second-rounder J.B. Cox was too injured to ever reach his future-closer ceiling, but their third-round pick was one of their most successful of the decade. Gardner has outplayed his detractors to become a legitimate everyday outfielder, and the Yankees have rewarded him with a long-term deal through the 2018 season. By the way, despite being mostly a bust for the Yankees, that 2005 draft also yielded Austin Jackson, another of the Yankees best draft picks of the past decade.

Betances3. Dellin Betances
Signed: amateur draft, 2006
Debut: September 22, 2011
That 2006 draft class was a great one for the Yankees. Ten picks made it to the majors and seven are still legitimate big leaguers in some capacity, but the only one who’s still with the Yankees is Betances. Slow to develop with a lot of bumps along the way, Betances could very well replace one of his draft-mates as the Yankees closer this season. The other members of that Yankees draft class to reach the big leagues: Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Zach McAllister, Colin Curtis, George Kontos, Mark Melancon, Daniel McCutchen, Dave Robertson and Kevin Russo.

Pirela  4. Jose Pirela
Signed: international free agent, 2006
Debut: September 22, 2014
Signed out of Venezuela, Pirela built some prospect status as a teenager in the lower levels of the minor league system. As he climbed into the upper levels, though, he was moved away from shortstop, his offensive production faded and Pirela more or less fell off the prospect map. He hit his way back on the map with a couple of strong years in Double-A, a potent year in Triple-A, and finally a September call-up. Now with a spot on the 40-man roster, Pirela has a legitimate chance to win a big league bench job. And he’s still just 25 years old.

Romine5. Austin Romine
Signed: amateur draft, 2007
Debut: September 11, 2011
Immediately after that successful class of 2006, the Yankees had a real letdown with the draft of 2007. Andrew Brackman was the first rounder, and the only others to actually reach New York were Brandon Laird and Romine. There’s a solid chance that, by the end of spring training, the Yankees won’t have anyone from that class left in the organization. Remarkably, shortstop Carmen Angelini — largely seen as a bust — is actually one of the more successful members of that class.

Ramirez6. Jose Ramirez
Signed: international free agent, 2007
Debut: June 4, 2014
On the 40-man roster, with 10 innings of big league experience and his 25th birthday coming up in January, Ramirez is a longtime prospect who’s put himself in position to begin playing a legitimate role in the big leagues. Of course, that’s largely a matter of staying healthy, which has been an issue throughout his career. Once seen as a high-potential rotation prospect, Ramirez is now an interesting bullpen option. From a year when the Yankees didn’t add much lasting talent into the organization, Ramirez stands out as a possible exception. He could play at least some role in the immediate and long-term future.

Castillo7. Ali Castillo
Signed: international free agent, 2007
Debut: NA
Doesn’t have a spot on the 40-man roster, and doesn’t have much chance of actually playing a role in New York, but Castillo remains one of the longest-tenured players in the organization. Signed out of Venezuela in late 2007, he’s been essentially an organizational utility man. He’s putting up nice numbers in winter ball this offseason, and he spent the regular season as the starting shortstop in Double-A Trenton. He signed a new minor league deal this fall. Could play a role in Triple-A this season, if only because the Yankees lack middle infield alternatives.

Phelps  8. David Phelps
Signed: amateur draft, 2008
Debut: April 8, 2012
In the first 10 rounds of the 2008 draft, the Yankees selected five guys who have reached the big leagues. Their top pick was Gerrit Cole (who wouldn’t sign and wound up with the Pirates years later), then they went on to draft David Adams, Corban Joseph, Brett Marshall and D.J. Mitchell. Those four played minor roles in New York, and it’s now 14th rounder Phelps who stands out as the key piece of that draft class. That draft class, by the way, is the one that just reached free agent status this offseason, so Phelps really has emerged as the last man standing (though catcher Kyle Higashioka has re-signed on a minor league deal).

Banuelos9. Manny Banuelos
Signed: international free agent, 2008
Debut: NA
Two years ago, it seemed Banuelos was knocking on the door to the big leagues and on the verge of taking a lasting spot in the Yankees rotation. Then he had Tommy John surgery and his steady climb was thrown off track. Now Baneulos is back to the doorstep of the big leagues, but taking that next step will be a matter of pitching effectively one year after an inconsistent season in Double-A and Triple-A. Banuelos still has an option remaining, so he doesn’t have to make the big league roster out of spring training. It remains to be seen whether he’ll live up to his lofty potential and become a rotation mainstay for years to come.

Flores10. Ramon Flores
Signed: international free agent, 2008
Debut: NA
There are a few other players from the international class of 2008 who are still hanging around, but Flores and Banuelos stand out as the ones with easily the most reasonable chance of actually playing a role in New York at some point (the others are not on the 40-man and not making much impact in system). Back in 2008, Flores got the 10th-highest bonus during the international signing period (he was a much bigger name than Baneulos at the time). If it seems lousy that the Yankees have so little impact from that international class, check out the other names who got top-20 international bonuses that year. Those young international guys always come with a high level of risk.

Associated Press photo

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Sorting through Yankees arbitration and non-tender candidates10.21.14

Michael Pineda

Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors announced it’s typically reliable salary predictions for the seven Yankees who are arbitration eligible this winter. The MLBTR predictions aren’t fool-proof, and they aren’t necessarily exact, but over time we’ve learned that they tend to provide a pretty solid expectation for what an individual player stands to earn through offseason negotiations.

So with these figures in mind, which arbitration-eligible Yankees are most likely to be non-tendered this winter?

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

No logical chance of a non-tender. Last year’s elbow injury cost the Yankees a full season from one of their top young starting pitchers, but it also made him significantly less expensive in his second year of arbitration. Despite the injury, the Yankees will gladly sign up for $3.3 million on a pitcher who could be at least a strong No. 3-4 starter with the potential to go on a run of near-ace-like production for several weeks at a time. The injury might keep them from considering a multi-year deal at this point, but one year at this price is surely a no-brainer.

Shawn KelleySHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

A $3.5-million commitment was enough for the Yankees to cut ties with Matt Thornton back in August, so the possibility of a $2.5-million deal with Kelley shouldn’t be completely dismissed. It’s not pocket change. That said, Kelley’s been a nice find for the Yankees bullpen. A back injury slowed him down for a while this year, but his key numbers — strikeout rate, walk rate, WHIP, etc. — were actually better in 2014 than in 2013. He’s a pretty reliable strikeout pitcher, and a one-year commitment to a reliever like this seems just about perfect at this point. The Yankees have some solid arms on the way, and one more year of Kelley might perfectly bridge the gap. No compelling reason to non-tender him.

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

Pretty big salary jump for a guy who’s made 13 big league starts since 2011. But that’s the nature of the business with a player who’s coming back from a long-term injury and a bunch of time on the 60-day disabled list. Ultimately, a little more than $2 million should be a bargain as long as Pineda stays healthy. And if he doesn’t, it probably means another chance for a similar low-risk, one-year contract next winter. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Pineda will certainly be back, and even with the injury concern and time missed, there’s no reason to balk at $2.1 million for a pitcher with Pineda’s proven talent.

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

Probably the strongest non-tender candidate of the bunch. Obviously the Yankees like Rogers’ arm — and at times they got terrific production out of him during his brief Yankees tenure last season — but he’s ultimately a 29-year-old with a 1.56 career WHIP, 5.54 career ERA, and a large enough sample size to suggest those numbers are a reasonable expectation for next year. Even if $1.9 million isn’t a ton of money, a one-year deal with Rogers probably isn’t the best way to spend it. Not with better options — or at least similar options — already in the system. The 40-man is going to be tight, money could be tight, and it’s probably not be worth using either a roster spot or a couple million bucks to retain Rogers. If the Yankees had less pitching depth, the situation might be different.

David PhelpsDAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

It seems Phelps just made it past the cutoff for early arbitration eligibility. I’m sure the Yankees would like one more year at the minimum, but I’m sure they also realize that Phelps is a really nice fit for them in the immediate future. He’s proven capable of filling any role, and this Yankees pitching staff should have a need for a long man who can either slide into the rotation or move into a late-inning role if necessary. That’s Phelps. As he more thoroughly defines himself one way or the other — and as his arbitration price goes up with each passing offseason — the Yankees will have a choice to make about how much he’s worth, but at slightly more than a million dollars, Phelps is still a good fit at a cheap price.

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

You know, Cervelli has really developed into a nice catcher. He’s played like a high-end backup or a low-end (with upside) starter. And $1.1 million isn’t too much to pay for a guy like that. Even as the Yankees surely need to make a decision behind the plate — makes sense to make a move with either Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine — it would be a waste to simply non-tender Cervelli. Surely there’s trade value there, and even if the Yankees decide to cut him in spring training, arbitration-eligible players are never given guaranteed contracts, so the Yankees could move on a fraction of the price. Certainly worth signing a new contract, even if it’s also worth immediately trying to trade him.

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Could be a non-tender candidate despite having a pretty nice year. Huff walks quite a few batters, and he doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he had a 1.31 WHIP and a 1.85 ERA during his stint with the Yankees (granted, with a much higher FIP and xFIP). Ultimately, he was fine. Nothing about his season suggests he’s not worth a modest raise to $700,000. That said, the Yankees always treated him like a last-man in the bullpen, and his career splits don’t suggest a reliable lefty specialist. Solid year, fairly cheap price, but could be non-tendered just to open a roster spot for someone else.

Associated Press photo

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Salary predictions for arbitration-eligible Yankees10.20.14

Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi

These numbers are far from official, but the crew at MLB Trade Rumors — Matt Swartz in particular — has a strong record when it comes to predicting salaries for arbitration eligible players. Here’s what they’re predicting for this year’s arb-eligible Yankees:

IVAN NOVA
This year: $3.3 million
Next year prediction: $3.3 million

SHAWN KELLEY
This year: $1.765 million
Next year prediction: $2.5 million

MICHAEL PINEDA
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $2.1 million

ESMIL ROGERS
This year: $1.85 million
Next year prediction: $1.9 million

DAVID PHELPS
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $1.3 million

FRANCISCO CERVELLI
This year: $700,000
Next year prediction: $1.1 million

DAVID HUFF
This year: roughly $500,000 (slightly more than the minimum)
Next year prediction: $700,000

Associated Press photo

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Yankees could find rotation depth on their own roster10.17.14

CC Sabathia

In trying to break down the state of the Yankees organization, it’s hard to look at pitchers the same way we look at position players. The development is different. The roles are different. The number of jobs available is different.  It’s just … different. In trying to look at the state of the Yankees rotation, it seems best to start by looking directly at the current 40-man roster (before free agency) where no less than 12 rotation possibilities are already in place. Given the Yankees injury concerns, they’re going to need some rotation depth heading into next season. They just might be able to find that depth while staying in house.

THE OBVIOUS INJURY CONCERNS

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka – His elbow might be a ticking time bomb, but he’s also an ace-caliber pitcher. The Yankees know Tanaka might need Tommy John surgery at any moment, but they’ve done what they can to postpone that procedure, and a couple of healthy starts at the end of the year were enough to build some cautious optimism. Tanaka should be the Yankees No. 1 starter. But that depends largely on a tiny ligament in his elbow.

Michael Pineda – The Yankees finally got to see the guy they acquired years ago, and they liked what they saw. Sure, the pine tar situation was embarrassing, and there was yet another shoulder setback, but when Pineda was on the mound, he was terrific. He’s far removed from surgery, but that doesn’t mean health concerns don’t linger. Would be a strong No. 2, but again, that’s only if he stays healthy.

CC Sabathia – This could be the year his run of Opening Day starts come to an end. That said, if he gets to spring training healthy and reasonably effective, he might still get the nod in the opener if only because he’s still very clearly the leader of the staff (and this is a clubhouse that could be searching to leadership next season). Whether Sabathia will be anything more than a symbolic choice, though, remains to be seen. If he can at least be a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm, that would be helpful. There’s clearly a new ace in town.

Ivan Nova – Almost certainly will not be ready to break camp with the Yankees, but initial word about Nova’s recovery from Tommy John surgery has been nothing but positive. Still a long way to go, but Nova made it through the initial rehab steps with no problem. Tommy John has become a relatively routine procedure these days, but some pitchers say it takes close to two years to truly feel 100 percent. Timing suggests Nova could be back in the New York around early May. But how effective will he be?

THE REPLACEMENT STARTERS

Shane GreeneDavid Phelps – When the Yankees rotation went through a series of injuries last season, Vidal Nuno was technically the first replacement starter, but Phelps wasn’t far behind. He was solid, then he got knocked around one game, then he looked really good for about a month and a half before his upper elbow became a problem. Phelps should be arbitration eligible this season, and he might once again come to camp as a rotation candidate who could easily slip into a bullpen role.

Shane Greene – Phelps’ chances of winning a spot in the rotation surely took a hit when Greene showed up. Having made a strong impression in spring training, and having struggled in his brief big league debut, Greene wound up pitching like a rotation mainstay through the second half of the season. He had a 3.24 ERA before a six-run mess in his final start. Given the Nova injury, Greene could legitimately come to camp as a rotation favorite.

Chase Whitley – A career minor league reliever until the very end of 2013, Whitley moved to the Triple-A rotation, improved his breaking ball and got his first big league call-up as a replacement starter. He was a bit streaky — very good at first, pretty good at the end, plenty of rough outings in the middle — but Whitley joins the mix as a swing man who could start or work in long relief. Could also go to Triple-A as rotation insurance.

THE MINOR LEAGUERS

Bryan MitchellManny Banuelos – Once considered to be among the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, Banuelos needed Tommy John surgery, which slowed his ascent considerably. He missed all of 2013 and put up inconsistent results this year in Double-A and Triple-A. Banuelos has an awfully good arm, though, and being further removed from surgery surely helps his cause heading into his age-24 season.

Bryan Mitchell – For the longest time, Mitchell’s reputation was far better than his results. The Yankees regularly touted his potential, and that was enough to put him on the 40-man roster last winter despite a 5.12 ERA in High-A the year before. More so-so results followed in Double-A this season, but the Yankees challenged Mitchell with a Triple-A promotion and things seemed to take off. He got 11 innings in the big leagues and looked solid. Probably no more than rotation depth to open the season, but he’s among the most advanced young starters in the system.

Matt Tracy/Nik Turley – These guys aren’t on the current 40-man roster, but they stand out as Rule 5 eligible lefties had at least 60 Triple-A innings with mid-4.00 ERAs this season. Neither one was great next season, and there’s a chance both will be left exposed to the Rule 5 this winter — guys like Zach Nuding, Jairo Heredia and Caleb Cotham are in vaguely similar situations — but they’re potential rotation depth options who could be on the 40-man eventually (or could be added next year if necessary). Turley’s been on the 40-man before, and he in particular was putting up better numbers at the end of the year.

THE SOON-TO-BE FREE AGENTS

Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda – Of all the Yankees soon-to-be free agents, none has a future quite as uncertain as Kuroda. He turns 40 in February, and despite yet again providing some much-needed stability for the Yankees rotation, there seems to be a solid chance Kuroda will retire this winter. He could also come back, pitch elsewhere, or decide to pitch one last season in Japan. Kuroda left all options open at the end of the year.

Brandon McCarthy — Aside from Dave Robertson, there might not be an outgoing free agent who’s more interesting for the Yankees. McCarthy throws strikes and gets ground balls, he thrived during his three-month stint with the Yankees, and he seems like a strong fit in this unusual market. At the right price, McCarthy could be a strong choice for additional rotation depth (though he comes with injury concerns of his own).

Chris Capuano – Would be easy to dismiss Capuano as a non-factor going forward, and maybe that’s exactly what he’ll be. Two things to consider, though: 1. Capuano really was a pretty good No. 5 starter during his time with the Yankees, and he has experience as a bullpen lefty, which the Yankees don’t really have at the moment. Probably least like to return of anyone on this list, but he did his job during his time with the team.

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I’m not sure we have enough guys”09.12.14

Steve Donohue, Chase Headley

Joe Girardi’s pregame media session was basically just a medical report. It’s September, rosters are expanded, and the Yankees will actually have a pretty limited bench today because of the recent string of injuries.

“We called up eight people, and I’m not so sure we have enough guys to run out there,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate we’ve kind of been hit with some injuries, multiple guys, bang, bang, bang. But, as I said, you still put players out there, you still play the game, and you see things that happen like they did last night. Guys have to step up.”

Here are the basic updates:

Chase Headley
Pitch to the face
After last night’s hit by pitch, Headley stayed behind in New York so that he can be tested for a concussion.

“The tests came out good last night,” Girardi said. “No fractures. He had to get a couple of stitches. He’ll see the neurologist today and then determine what’s next. Hopefully he can join us fairly quickly.”

Girardi said it’s possible Headley will join the team this weekend in Baltimore, but he might not necessarily play this weekend.

Derek Jeter, Martin PradoDerek Jeter
Pitch to the elbow
Also hit by a pitch last night, Jeter is out of the Game 1 lineup and might be not be available for Game 2.

“He’s sore,” Girardi said. “He was pretty sore last night, so I’m not sure what we’ll have.”

Brett Gardner
Stained abdominal
Although he hasn’t done much in the past week, Gardner said he’s going to try to run and hit today. If that goes well, Girardi said he’s hoping to have Gardner in the lineup for Game 2.

“I’ll go through some of the things they want me to go through and see how it feels,” Gardner said.

Most of the discomfort comes when Gardner runs, he said. He’s not too worried about swinging, but obviously a lot of his game is based on running.

Carlos Beltran
Elbow bone spur
Still no clarity on whether Beltran will be able to play again this season.

“I think he was going to try to do something today if he can and it felt OK,” Girardi said. “(He’s going to) try to take some swings.”

Martin Prado
Strained hamstring
After last night’s pinch hit home run, Prado is in the starting lineup for the first time since Sunday. But Girardi cautioned that Prado’s not out of the woods yet. Last night wasn’t taken as proof that he’s over it.

“I think we have to watch him,” Girardi said. “There’s some concern still with that hamstring. We’re going to have to watch him.”

David Phelps
Elbow/triceps soreness
Activated off the disabled list this morning, Phelps will be available out of the bullpen for the doubleheader.

“I think 25-30 pitches is safe to say,” Girardi said. “You’d have to see if he threw an inning how he did before you sent him back out there. Give him a chance to build up a little bit. My inkling would be you use him an inning, maybe try to build him up that way, but sometimes you’re not afforded that luxury.”

MitchellA few other quick notes:

• Brian Mitchell will start Game 2. The Yankees had him throw a 50-pitch sim game a few days ago to stay sharp for this start. “He’s used to starting, so I don’t think 80 to 90 pitches is out of the realm for him,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he would prefer not to use any pitchers in both games, but he left open the possibility of using a lefty and possibly Dave Robertson in both ends of the doubleheader. “I’ll have to see,” he said.

• Orioles 1B/3B Chris Davis has been suspended 25 games after testing positive for an amphetamine. Davis released a statement in which he admitted using Adderall, something he apparently had permission to use in the past but not this year. The suspension will keep him out of the lineup through eight playoff games, assuming the Orioles go that far. “It’s disappointing any time a guy is suspended,” Girardi said. “I don’t know the details of it. You hate to see it in our game.”

• The Yankees flew to Baltimore after last night’s game. They got in late and had a late report time for today’s doubleheader. A lot of guys still hadn’t arrived when the clubhouse closed to media at 11:30. I don’t believe either team took batting practice today. Not all that unusual for a doubleheader, and certainly not in the Yankees situation.

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: “It didn’t work out well”09.10.14

Martin Prado

This weekend, it seemed Martin Prado was basically through the woods. He wasn’t moving especially well, but he returned to the lineup with three hits on Saturday, played a full game again on Sunday, and it seemed his left hamstring injury was at least healed enough to make him regular again.

But he’s since had three days off, which suggests he’s either more badly hurt than originally believed, or it’s simply no longer worth taking the risk of putting him in the lineup.

“As he went through the weekend, what we saw, there was concern,” Joe Girardi said. “There’s still concern. It’s just talking to the training staff and the doctors, their thoughts.”

Here are Prado’s thoughts:

“To be honest with you, the way I see it, I tried to play when the team needs me to play,” Prado said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to miss four or five weeks or six weeks, a month, after this season if we clinch or not. I don’t want to spend that time waiting for my legs to heal because I can use that time to get ready for next season. The way I see it, I tried to play like that, and it didn’t work out well. That being said, I have to worry about my health and not push back and make that worse.”

Prado said his hamstring “didn’t feel right” after playing in those two weekend games. He was tight and unable to move at 100 percent. Prado was planning to take batting practice today, but it’s not likely he’ll be available even as a pinch hitter.

“I don’t want him to do too much running, as I told him,” Girardi said. “I said, ‘Go through BP, take some BP, see how you feel and we’ll go from there.’ As I said yesterday, there’s a concern there. I don’t think he’s ready to go, but we’re going to let him take some BP.”

Brett Gardner• Obviously there’s also some lingering concern about Brett Gardner’s abdominal issue. When he had something similar earlier this season, Gardner missed just one game. This time, he hasn’t played since Friday. “He’ll be out a few more days at least because that can become something that’s fairly serious,” Girardi said. “We’re giving him a few more days and we’ll go from there.”

• Masahiro Tanaka will throw a bullpen on Friday and he’ll pitch in some sort of game at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa on Monday. The Yankees will be in Tampa for a Rays series that day, so it makes sense to send him to the complex.

• David Phelps has a bullpen today and seems likely to be activated on Friday. “Our hope is to bring him back maybe when we go to Baltimore,” Girardi said. “He threw a simulated game, and our hope is to bring him back in Baltimore. He would be in the bullpen, a guy that I could use an inning, inning-plus, then I’d have to give him some days off after that.”

• Brandon McCarthy will start the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. The second game’s starter will depend on who’s available. Girardi mentioned Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Esmil Rogers as possibilities. “We could use a bullpen day if we have to,” Girardi said.

• Francisco Cervelli took batting practice on the field today. He’s been out with severe headaches.

• How does Girardi approach these final 20 games knowing most of baseball considers the Yankees to be realistically out of the playoff race? “It’s happened before,” he said. “It’s very difficult, but it’s happened before. You can only control the things you can control, so go control them. And then worry about where you fall later.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: Tanaka moving closer to big league return09.09.14

Masahiro Tanaka

There’s a chance Masahiro Tanaka has just one more hurdle to clear before rejoining the Yankees rotation.

Tanaka pitched a three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game this afternoon and declared his arm stronger and healthier than it was two weeks ago in Detroit. He’ll next throw a typical between-starts bullpen before pitching either another simulated game with the Yankees or possibly an instructional league game in Tampa (presumably on Sunday).

After that, a big league start is a legitimate option.

“I think that’s possible to look at, yeah,” Joe Girardi said.

Last time Tanaka threw a simulated game – August 28 at Comerica Park – he complained the next day about soreness and fatigue. That’s when Tanaka’s throwing program was temporarily suspended, creating real doubt about whether he would return this season. Today there seems to be far more hope than doubt.

“Definitely I was throwing stronger, harder than in Detroit,” Tanaka said. “Not overly worried (that it will be sore tomorrow). A bit concerned just because of what happened in Detroit, but when I was throwing, it was completely sort of different. A different feel than what I was feeling in Detroit versus today, so I think I’ll be OK tomorrow.”

Throughout this process, Tanaka has always sounded like a guy who knew his stuff wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. But today, his tone was different.

“I do (feel ready),” he said. “But I’d probably build up a little bit more pitches before actually going into a competitive game.”

Girardi said he thought Tanaka was better in every way compared to the Detroit sim game. He said the velocity was better, command was better, and the offspeed pitches were sharper. Tanaka faced Chris Young, Antoan Richardson, Zelous Wheeler and Austin Romine.

“Really good,” Young said. “I’m not really sure how the (velocity) is supposed to look or anything like that, but I know his split-finger was just as good as ever and his breaking ball was just as good as I’ve ever seen it. I had the opportunity to face him earlier this year (with the Mets) so I knew what I was getting myself into standing in the box. He looked amazing. He didn’t give up a hit, and we’re all out there trying, for sure. We’re not just standing in. We’re trying to have competitive at-bats and give him as much of a real game situation that you can. He was locked in and made some great pitches.”

Brett Gardner• When Brett Gardner had an abdominal issue in Cleveland earlier this year, he missed just one game. This time, he’s missed three games already. “He has an abdominal strain,” Girardi said. “We’re not sure exactly when we’ll get him back. He does feel better. He’ll see the doctor again tonight and then we’ll try to make some decisions on when he’ll start doing some baseball activities. … I’m not sure when we’ll get him back. It is a concern of mine. We’ll continue to talk to the doctors, measure how he feels and how he’s improving and go from there.”

• Gardner’s been perhaps the Yankees most consistent hitter this season. Their hottest hitter of late has been Martin Prado, and Prado’s also out of the lineup. His hamstring is still bothering him. “There’s concern about him playing on that, where he could really make it worse in his hamstring to where it becomes a serious issue,” Girardi said. “It’s still bothering him. Even though I told him to guard it — and he did a good job — there’s concern.”

• Girardi said there was no real setback from Prado playing the previous two games, it just hasn’t gotten better. “It’s the same,” Girardi said. “But there’s concern.”

• David Phelps will throw a side on Wednesday and it seems entirely possible — if not likely — that he’ll be activated for Friday’s double header. “Everything feels great,” Phelps said. Although he could be activated Friday (that’s purely my own speculation based on the timing of his side), Phelps said he’s not expecting to start one of those games.

• I only saw him for a moment as he was walking through the clubhouse, but Francisco Cervelli is definitely back with the Yankees. I never saw him in the clubhouse during those games when he was shutdown with the recurring headaches. The fact he was around today would seem to be a good sign.

• Although he’s gotten into three games and taken one at-bat, this will be Young’s first start since coming to the Yankees. “Not too many people know I’m over here yet,” Young said. “A few people still think I’m with the Mets. I don’t think the word’s gotten around town yet. Tonight I could change that.”

Associated Press photos

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