The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Tanaka throws at Yankees’ minor league complex: “He looked good”02.17.15

Masahiro Tanaka

A quick update on the Yankees’ ace from The Associated Press in Florida:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka threw for 34 minutes on level ground in his first workout of the year at the New York Yankees’ minor league complex.

Tanaka missed 2½ months last year while rehabilitating a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, managed to avoid surgery and returned for two late-September starts.

After arriving from Japan, he threw at up to about 200 feet. He ended his session by using his delivery to make 16 level ground pitches at 60 feet.

Tanaka didn’t speak with reporters after the workout.

“He looked good,” teammate Ivan Nova said. “I’m sure he worked really hard. The way he handled it, unbelievable.”

Signed to a $155 million, seven-year contract, Tanaka went 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts. The Yankees say he has been throwing as part of his normal conditioning program in Japan.

NOTES: Nova might throw off a mound this week for the first time since elbow ligament-replacement surgery and appears on track to rejoin the team by June. He tore a ligament in his right elbow last April 19 during a game against Tampa Bay and had surgery 10 days later.

Associated Press photo

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Ivan Nova expects to be on a mound soon02.11.15

From The Associated Press in Florida:

Ivan NovaTAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova hopes to throw off a mound soon for the first time since elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

The 28-year-old right-hander threw from 120 feet on flat ground Tuesday at the Yankees’ minor league complex and appears on track to rejoin the team by June.

“To be honest, I feel like nothing happened,” Nova said. “I don’t feel any pain. I don’t feel any tightness. Everything is going well so far.”

Nova tore a ligament in his right elbow last April 19 during a game against Tampa Bay and had surgery 10 days later. Recovery time is usually 12-to-15 months.

“Just got to work hard, and it will pay off,” Nova said. “I hope I can be better than I was. That’s the goal.”

Nova is 40-22 in parts of five major league seasons and has a $3.3 million, one-year contract for this year, the same salary he earned in 2014. He is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

Nova is looking forward to seeing Alex Rodriguez, who is due to start workouts with position players on Feb. 26. Rodriguez served a one-season suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.

“He’s our teammate. He’s been a good teammate to me,” Nova said.

Associated Press photo

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Nova throwing off flat ground; optimistic about elbow02.03.15

Ivan Nova

Short little update from The Associated Press on rehabbing Yankees starter Ivan Nova.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova says his surgically repaired right elbow feels great and appears on track to rejoin the team by June.

Nova is throwing on level ground at the Yankees’ minor league complex. He tore a ligament in the elbow last April 19 during a game against Tampa Bay and had surgery 10 days later.

Recovery time is normally 12-to-15 months.

Nova is 40-22 in parts of five major league seasons and has a $3.3 million, one-year contract for this year, the same salary the pitcher earned in 2014. He is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

Associated Press photo

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With Scherzer off the market, do the Yankees need more pitching?01.19.15

Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

Has anything changed for the Yankees in the wake of Max Scherzer’s new deal with the Nationals?

Since the fall, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner created the public perception of fiscal restraint. With a bunch of big contracts (and big mistakes) already filling the payroll, the Yankees never positioned themselves as a favorite for Scherzer. Any thought to the contrary was based on past examples of the Yankees spending unexpected money for Scherzer-type players, but there was never any evidence that they were going to get involved this time.

In that way, nothing has changed. The Yankees weren’t supposed to get Scherzer, and they didn’t.

But with Scherzer off the market, the winter’s most popular “what if” scenario is off the board, leaving the Yankees with a rotation that is what it is.

Michael PinedaTop five starters
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Capuano
These five have been in place since late December when the Yankees completed the trade for Eovaldi. Three of these players are in their mid-20s, and one exception is on a one-year, stop-gap contract. Even so, there’s such injury concern at the top that this rotation seems unreliable at best.

Major League depth
Adam Warren
Esmil Rogers
Ivan Nova
According to plan, Warren and Rogers should be relievers this season, but each has been a starter in the past — Rogers worked as a starter this winter — and so they could provide immediate rotation depth in spring training. Nova is expected back from Tommy John surgery around June or so.

Minor league depth
Chase Whitley
Bryan Mitchell
Jose De Paula
Luis Severino
Whitley made 12 big league starts last season, but unless he wins a spot as a long man in the big league bullpen, he seems likely to land in the Triple-A rotation with Mitchell and De Paula (each of whom is currently on the 40-man). Severino is not on the 40-man and has just 25 innings above A ball, but he’s talented enough to potentially pitch his way into the mix. Can’t completely rule out guys like Matt Tracy and Zach Nuding, who could round out the Triple-A rotation, or a guy like Jaron Long, who’s likely heading for Double-A but made a huge impression last season.

CC SabathiaQuestion is: Is this enough? The top five looks perfectly good, but that’s only if its healthy. There are plenty of alternatives in the mix, but each one seems to come with significant uncertainty (about upside, about health, about ability to consistently start at the big league level). So if the Yankees want to upgrade their rotation — either adding talent up top or adding depth at the bottom — what are their options?

1. Spend big – There’s still one high-end starter on the market, and he has a history of success in the American League East. But if the Yankees weren’t interested in Scherzer, what are the chances they’ll become interested in James Shields? He’s already 33, so his next contract is likely to carry him into his late 30s, which seems awfully risky at this point.

2. Take a chance – Beyond Shields, the free agent market really doesn’t have a reliable starter still available. Instead, the Yankees could roll the dice on a small contract — perhaps even a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation — with a veteran starting pitcher who comes with serious warts. Johan Santana recently got some attention, but guys like Chad Billingsley, Roberto Hernandez and Chris Young are also still out there.

3. Sacrifice the farm – The Yankees clearly prefer to keep their top prospects at this point, but they don’t have to. Cole Hamels is clearly available and signed to a contract that seems perfectly reasonable compared to Scherzer, but it would likely take a massive package to get him. The Nationals are reportedly not pushing to trade Jordan Zimmermann, but he might be available. Is it worth giving up some of the future to add a pitcher for the present?

4. Wait and see – Nothing says the Yankees have to make a change right now. Last season, they managed to rebuild a rotation on the fly, and they could try to do the same this year if necessary. They could go into spring training with this group and adjust only if/when one of those top five starters goes down. If that doesn’t happen until May, they might have Nova ready to step in. If it happens in August, Severino might be ready.

Associated Press photos

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On the 40-man: Ivan Nova01.14.15

Ivan Nova

Up next in our one-by-one look at the Yankees 40-man roster is the starting pitcher who seemed to be coming into his own when he went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery last season. He’s still in his 20s, but his time with the Yankees could be running out if he doesn’t make a strong comeback sooner rather than later.

NovaIVAN NOVA

Age on Opening Day: 28
Acquired: International free agent in 2004
Added to the 40-man: Protected from the Rule 5 in 2009

In the past: It’s easy to forget this now, but the Yankees actually lost Nova at one point. Back in December of 2008, Nova had some solid prospect status, but he was deemed not ready for the big leagues, and so the Yankees left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. The Padres took him, decided they couldn’t keep him, and offered him back. One season later, Nova made his big league debut. Although he’s had some significant ups and downs in his career, Nova had a strong 2013 before lasting just four starts into the 2014 season.

Role in 2015: The hope is that Nova’s role will be back in the rotation sometime around June 1 (give or take a few weeks). Nova had Tommy John surgery in late April, and it typically takes pitchers about a year to really get going again, though many of them say it takes closer to two years to feel normal. If Nova can return in May or June, he’ll have more than half a season to add what might be much-needed rotation help. The Yankees can’t bank on Nova out of spring training, but they can hope to have him sometime in the first half.

Best case scenario: At his best, Nova’s been a really good starting pitcher. Not an ace, but a good and occasionally terrific pitcher. His last full season was 2013, a year in which he was temporarily sent to Triple-A, but returned to pitch so well that he finished the season with a 3.10 ERA. That’s his best-case scenario going forward. The hope is that he can maintain the highs, avoid the lows, and do all that relatively soon. A strong No. 2 might be overly optimistic, but a good No. 3 who occasionally delivers a dominant month seems reasonable as a high-end expectation.

Worst case scenario: Last season, Nova made four starts before coming out of a game with an obvious elbow problem on April 19. His ERA in those four starts was 8.27 (5.94 before the final start in Tampa Bay). The year before last, in 2013, Nova was bad enough in the first part of the season that the Yankees actually demoted him to Triple-A. He was terrific in the second half, but that first half serves as a reminder that Nova has yet to put together a full, consistent season. Now coming back from surgery, the worst-case scenario is one in which the lows are lower than ever and the results are even more erratic than before.

What the future holds: Although he still feels like a relatively young guy, Nova only has one more season of team control after this one. He’s older than Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi. He’ll be arbitration eligible this coming offseason, and after that, he’ll be eligible for free agency. THis season could go a long way toward determining whether Nova has a long-term future with the Yankees. He has part of 2015 and ideally all of 2016 to prove he’s worth a multi-year contract.

Associated Press photo

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Happening today: Filing for salary arbitration01.13.15

Ivan Nova, Joe Girardi

It’s kind of a non-event, but today’s a deadline worth acknowledging: today’s the day for players to official file for arbitration. Teams and players will exchange figures on Friday, and they’ll go to hearings — if necessary — early next month. But the Yankees very rarely actually go to arbitration with any of their players, so agreements are more likely to come together in the next few weeks.

The Yankees started this offseason with seven arbitration-eligible players. One was released (David Huff). One reached an early contract agreement (Esmil Rogers). Three were traded away (Francisco Cervelli, David Phelps, Shawn Kelley). And two were acquired (Nathan Eovaldi and David Carpenter).

So on this day to file for arbitration, the Yankees have four players to worry about. Here are the names, along with the typically rock-solid salary predictions from MLB Trade Rumors.

David Carpenter – $1.1 million
Made slightly more than the minimum last year, but the Yankees got him in his first year of arbitration eligibility. It seems that Carpenter will essentially replace Shawn Kelley, who’s projected to make $2.5 million this year, which will be his last before free agency. Carpenter has two more years of team control, and has been a really nice reliever the past two years in Atlanta.

Nathan Eovaldi – $3.1 million
Made slightly more than the minimum last year, but like Carpenter, Eovaldi is coming to the Yankees in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Through 460 big league innings, he has a 4.07 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 3.70 FIP. At this time last year, when Ivan Nova was in his first year of arbitration and got $3.3 million, Nova had 517 innings with a 4.04 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 4.09 WHIP. Fairly similar, hence the similar salary projection.

Ivan Nova — $3.3 million
Made the same amount of money last year, but Tommy John surgery really knocks down a player’s arbitration earning potential. In the short term, I suppose the injury should save the Yankees some money. As long as Nova comes back as a solid starting pitcher this season, he’ll still be a financial bargain even without the month of April.

Michael Pineda – $2.1 million
Made slightly more than the minimum last year, but he’s in line for a solid raise after a strong return to the big leagues. Amazing that he’s already in line for arbitration despite having just 41 big league starts, but time on the 60-day disabled list kept his clock turning when he wasn’t on the field. If he pitches as well as he did last year, he’d be a bargain at twice the price.

Associated Press photo

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Can the Yankees find enough rotation depth with what they already have?01.09.15

CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova

So the Yankees had their catching depth in place before the offseason started, they filled one outfield weakness with the early Chris Young signing, and they’ve built infield depth throughout the winter. They’ve also added a surprising amount of bullpen depth considering they’ve lost two key relievers along the way.

What’s left — assuming they really aren’t going to splurge at any point — is to possibly add some rotation depth between now and the start of spring training, but the free agent market hasn’t helped the Yankees in that regard. Injury prone Brandon McCarthy got a whopping four years, total wild card Brett Anderson got a whopping $10 million, and the decisions that led to Kenta Maeda and Hiroki Kuroda pitching in Japan this season robbed the market of two solid, mid-rotation possibilities.

Now the best non-Scherzer, non-Shields starter left on the market is who? Ryan Vogelsong? Chad Billingsley? Maybe the Yankees will break form and make a surprising run at Max Scherzer or James Shields, or maybe they’ll blow up the youth movement and trade for Cole Hamels, but right now neither of those seems overwhelmingly likely. Could happen, but it would require a change of course. At this point, the Yankees seem more likely to make a major splash with a young international player rather than an established big league veteran.

So where could the rotation depth come from? First, here’s what the rotation depth looks like right now:

Michael PinedaFIRST FIVE
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
CC Sabathia
Nathan Eovaldi
Chris Capuano
Same group that’s been in place since the Eovaldi trade. The good and the bad of this group is well documented.

TRIPLE-A
Jose De Paula
Bryan Mitchell
Chase Whitley
Matt Tracy
Zach Nuding
Something like this, anyway. Losing Manny Banuelos took away arguably the biggest name who seemed ticketed for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Can’t rule out the possibility of Luis Severino making a push for this group (but we’ll get to that in a bit). 

So where else can the Yankees find internal rotation depth. Here are three basic ideas that involve three specific players:

Adam WarrenAdam Warren — The “prioritize the rotation” approach
Basically, rob from the bullpen to give to the rotation. By going into camp with Warren getting stretched out and pitching on the same schedule as the five projected starting pitchers, the Yankees would give themselves an in-place sixth starter throughout the spring. Warren would be the immediate insurance should someone get hurt before Opening Day (which isn’t, you know, a crazy notion). Keeping him stretched out all spring would basically mean trusting that he could easily fall back into his bullpen role without really practicing it during the exhibitions. Could do something similar with Esmil Rogers.

Ivan Nova – The “trust the kids for a while” approach
There’s been no indication this offseason that Nova’s rehab from Tommy John surgery has fallen off the tracks. He could be ready in May or June, and if he’s still progressing toward a relatively early return, the Yankees could bank on Nova as the big boost while trusting guys like Mitchell, De Paula and Whitley to hold down the fort should a starting pitcher go down in April. Of course, putting much faith in Nova requires not only trusting the young guys, it also means trusting Nova’s elbow to be big league ready one year after surgery. Some pitchers say it takes more like two years to feel back to 100 percent.

Luis Severino – The “get really greedy” approach
Last season, the Yankees top pitching prospect started the season in Low-A and finished in Double-A, where he had a 2.52 ERA and 1.04 WHIP to go with 29 strikeouts in six starts. Severino was awesome, and even though he’s still really young — turns 21 in February — he just might be the kind of guy who could grab everyone’s attention in big league camp, push to open the year in Triple-A, dazzle at that level and be in the big leagues within a few months. The Yankees could bank on Severino’s talent, believing that their system is ready to provide more than a fill-in rotation stopgap here and there. In Severino, the Yankees could see a legitimate 2015 big leaguer, and maybe a really good one.

Associated Press photos

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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

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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