C.C. Sabathia Rumors

AL Notes: Santiago, Sabathia, Iannetta

Blue Jays infielder Ramon Santiago will miss approximately ten weeks with a broken collarbone, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (via Twitter). The 35-year-old, 13-year big league veteran had been in the mix for a utility role with Toronto.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • Veteran Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia worked in the low 90s today with his fastball, a scout tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Feinsand notes that Sabathia is well ahead of his build-up last year, which turned out to be by far his worst season as a professional. New York would be grateful if Sabathia could simply produce as a league-average starter, though the former Cy Young winner obviously has greater upside than that even at age 34.
  • Angels backstop Chris Iannetta is working to improve his receiving this spring, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Iannetta says he was surprised to find that his framing numbers were sub-par. “I get really good reviews from umpires in what I do and how I work, and I see some discrepancies,” Iannetta said. “It’s disappointing. So my goal is to get as good as I can. Be in the top five, top 10, try to get better, see what the guys who do really well are doing mechanically.” Iannetta discusses in some detail how he approaches the dark art of manipulating balls into strikes, which has only recently been reduced to numbers (and translated into runs and wins). If he can show improvement in that department this year, Iannetta could have broad appeal as a free agent next winter given his above-average bat.

East Notes: Braves, Olivera, Span, Sabathia

In the course of a broader post, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported several opt-out dates for veteran Braves pitchers in camp on minor league deals. Lefty Eric Stults can exercise his clause on April 3, just prior to Opening Day, while Chien-Ming Wang does not have the right to make himself a free agent until July 1.

Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:

  • Though the Braves have had plenty of discussion with the representatives for Hector Olivera, the club is indicating that it will not spend a “huge” amount of money for the free agent infielder, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.
  • The Nationals will face an early-season challenge now that center fielder Denard Span is set to miss significant time after undergoing surgery for a “right core muscle” injury, as Chelsea James of the Washington Post reports. A “league medical official” tells James that the surgery is particularly concerning since it comes right on the heels of a December sports hernia procedure. The immediate effect of the injury is to provide a full-time audition for prospect Michael Taylor. Depending upon how it proceeds, it could impact Washington’s trade deadline needs and Span’s upcoming free agency.
  • Yankees starter CC Sabathia tells MLB Network Radio (audio link) that he is at “one hundred percent” health at this point. He expects his next outing to be live game action after throwing a simulated game today. Sabathia is just one of several high-variable starting pitchers in the New York stable. His ability to bounce back this year will go a long way not only towards determining the club’s short-term success, but also toward assessing the value the team can hope to return out of the $30MM in guaranteed money (and potential for $20MM more through a vesting clause) left on Sabathia’s deal.

AL East Notes: Rays, Orioles, Sabathia, Ramirez

Drew Smyly has been slowed by shoulder tendinitis this spring and may not be ready for the start of the regular season, but Rays manager Kevin Cash isn’t about to panic, Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune writes. Meanwhile, Nathan Karns, Burch Smith and Matt Andriese, who began camp competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, could be pitching for a second spot, if Smyly isn’t ready.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette sent his best starting pitching prospect, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, to the Red Sox in order to land Andrew Miller last season. If he had his druthers, that’s not neccessarily the deal he would have made, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.  “I offered about 50 other pitchers before him,” said Duquette. “It was required that we give up Rodriguez for Andrew Miller. We had to take a shot.” O’s manager Buck Showalter thought the deal was worth it for both teams, but Silverman wonders if Rodriguez could prove to be the next great ace in Boston.
  • CC Sabathia threw live batting practice this morning and remains on track in his recovery from right knee surgery, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “I haven’t had a setback and I’ve been feeling so good,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been able to participate in every drill and haven’t had where I’ve needed a day [off]. I feel good about how we’re going and the pace that we’re moving at.” The Yankees left-hander could make his Grapefruit League debut next week, if an upcoming two-inning simulated game goes well.
  • The Red Sox‘s decision to play Hanley Ramirez in left field is the biggest gamble a team is taking on a position switch, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • The AL East is wide open for the taking by any of the five teams, not because of its strength but because of its mediocrity, opines CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam. “I never thought I’d say this,” one talent evaluator told McAdam, “but you could make the case that the AL East is the thinnest division in the game.


Quick Hits: Tanaka, Sabathia, Royals, Cuba, Extensions

Yankees starters Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia are generating positive reports, team pitching coach Larry Rothschild tells Mark Didtler of the Associated Press (via the LoHud Yankees Blog). Tanaka has “felt good” while going through a normal winter progression, says Rothschild. The pair’s progress this spring will be critical for the Yankees. If Tanaka’s partially torn UCL or Sabathia’s balky knee are problematic, the club would seem a prime candidate to add pitching.

  • In the final analysis, the Royals‘ run with James Shields was an example of the team “beating the system,” according to Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. By selling high on Wil Myers to add Shields, Kansas City added the arm it needed before cashing him in for a new first-round pick through the qualifying offer system.
  • The Red Sox and Orioles have at least begun looking into the idea of playing a spring game in Cuba this year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. While it appears unlikely that will happen in such short order, it certainly hints at how quickly things could move in that arena.
  • Signing players to big extensions is obviously risky, and rarely works out in the way that many expect when a deal is struck. But that does not mean that they fail to deliver good value, or that teams are irrational in reaching them, Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus writes.

Rosenthal On The Yankees

For the first time in awhile, the Yankees are showing signs of youth and upside, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Per GM Brian Cashman, the club is deeper, flexible, younger, and more diverse. Rosenthal notes that Cashman is finally operating “from a position of strength,” and “no longer is in a box.” The Yankees have options moving forward besides depending on outspending the competition. Here’s more Yankees notes from Rosenthal’s column.

  • The Yankees have the prospect depth to trade for Cole Hamels if they wanted. However, Rosenthal cautions that Cashman may be reluctant to part with the depth he’s so carefully nurtured. A deal for Hamels might also start with newly acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, which would just create a new problem to solve (arguably a more difficult problem in my opinion). The Yankees had the pieces to add Johan Santana back when the the Twins were shopping him, but they kept their prospects and spent on C.C. Sabathia the following offseason. We could be in for some deja vu, especially with next offseason’s free agent market shaping up to be pitching rich.
  • While the club can turn to free agency rather than trade for Hamels, Rosenthal thinks they would have re-signed Robinson Cano last offseason if they wanted to make a $200MM investment. For that reason, a pact with Max Scherzer might be unlikely.
  • Cashman has three surprising trades this offseason, so guessing his behavior based on history might be misleading. The club could deal from its minor league catching depth, such as John Ryan Murphy or Gary Sanchez. Others such as Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, David Carpenter, and Brett Gardner are less likely to be offered in trade talks.

Sabathia To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery, Miss Rest Of Season

JULY 18: Sabathia will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on July 18 and miss the rest of the season, Cashman told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). While it’s bad news for the Yankees, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been, as the arthroscopic surgery is less severe than microfracture surgery.

Nonetheless, it’s tough to imagine the Yankees overcoming the loss of Sabathia, Ivan Nova and potentially Masahiro Tanaka for most of the season. The Yankees were likely already prepared for the loss of Sabathia, however, so it’s unlikely that this significantly alters their thinking as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

JULY 4: Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia has suffered a setback in his efforts to rehab a degenerative condition in his right knee and may now require microfracture surgery, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Krammer was among those to report. Manager Joe Girardi said that, at present, it is “fair to say” that Sabathia will likely not return this year.

Sabathia will pay another visit to Dr. James Andrews on July 14th for an assessment. [Surgery] is always a possibility when you have a degenerative knee,” said Girardi. “I’m not exactly sure if he was to have surgery what it would be, that’s yet to be determined.”

The malady is serious enough that Girardi was not willing to rule out the possibility that it could ultimately end the career of the soon-to-be 34-year-old. “I think it’s too early to predict that,” said Girardi. “But whenever you have degenerative issues that cause surgery or things like that, there’s always a little question there.” 

Sabathia is under contract through 2016 for a guaranteed $53MM, including a $5MM buyout for a 2017 vesting/club option. But the remaining $20MM on that option becomes guaranteed if Sabathia does not suffer a left shoulder injury which causes him to end the 2016 season on the DL, spend more than 45 days on the DL in 2016, or make more than six relief appearances in 2016.

With the Yankees now seemingly unable to bank on a return to the hill from Sabathia, to say nothing of rotation mates Michael Pineda (who is still inching ahead in his rehab program) and Ivan Nova (out for the year after Tommy John surgery), the club’s need for starting pitching becomes all the more pronounced.


Quick Hits: Prospects, Hoyer, Sabathia

Though Byron Buxton has only played in six games this season due to a wrist injury, the Twins outfielder still sits atop Baseball America’s midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport.  Twenty-two of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player on the list, and the Cubs stand out with three players in the top seven — Kris Bryant at #2, the newly-acquired Addison Russell at #5 and Javier Baez at #7.

Here’s some news as we kick off the final week before the All-Star break…

  • Jed Hoyer discussed several Cubs topics with David Kaplan and David Haugh on their podcast this morning, including how the general manager believes the offseason will be a busy one for his team.  “I expect us to be far more active this winter than last winter,” Hoyer said.  “We have money to spend and I expect teams looking for offense to call us.”  (Hat tip to Kaplan’s Twitter page.)
  • C.C. Sabathia‘s career is at a crossroads with the news that the veteran lefty might require microfracture surgery on his right knee.  Given Sabathia’s declining numbers and 2017 vesting option, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription needed) wonders if the Yankees would be better off if Sabathia retired.
  • The week’s minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • While the A’s are seemingly going all-in with the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, Giants GM Brian Sabean could see upgrades as a lost cause given how his team has struggled recently, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Shea opines that Sabean isn’t keen on trading prospects for 2014 given that he’ll have a number of roster holes to fill next season thanks to possibly departing free agents.

New York Notes: Sabathia, A-Rod, Myers

C.C. Sabathia received a stem cell injection in his right knee last week and will be out of action until at least July, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Cashman said he has checked in with teams about trade possibilities and while “nothing has materialized,” Cashman “will keep an eye out to see if something does.”  Three-fifths of the Bombers’ regular rotation is currently injured, with Ivan Nova out for the season and Michael Pineda on the DL until mid-June at the earliest.

Here’s the latest from the Yankees and Mets in this roundup of Big Apple baseball news…

  • Alex Rodriguez told advisers last summer that he was considering retirement rather than go through a lengthy battle with Major League Baseball over his record PED suspension, reports Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.  A-Rod was convinced to fight his suspension, however, after consulting with Desiree Perez, a New York nightclub manager affiliated with Jay Z and who also played a role in Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.  Rodriguez may have been motivated to listen to Perez in part because, as the article states, he would like to become a player agent, possibly with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.
  • Back when Wil Myers was still a Royals prospect, Kansas City offered him to the Mets for a trade package of Jonathan Niese and Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  Myers, of course, ended up being the centerpiece of the five-player package the Royals sent to the Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.  It’s an interesting what-if to ponder for both the Mets and Royals; Myers would’ve given the Amazins a cornerstone player in the outfield, but at the cost of two quality young arms.  For K.C., Shields was the better win-now move, though he had only two years of team control and Davis has become a relief pitcher.  Wheeler is controllable through the 2019 season while Niese’s five-year contract has club options that could’ve extended the deal through 2018.
  • Also from Martino, he looks at some trade possibilities for the Yankees and Mets this summer.  The Mets looked at LaTroy Hawkins, Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour over the winter and could explore trading for veteran closer help, plus shortstop could still be a position the Mets are looking to upgrade.  As for the Yankees, they could also use shortstop help but acquiring a big name could be awkward given the awkwardness of benching Derek Jeter during his final season.  A move for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius makes sense for both New York clubs.
  • Particularly in the wake of the Sabathia news, the Yankees also need starting pitching.  Martino writes that while the Yankees may not have the prospect depth to attract a major trade chip, their financial resources could help them take big contracts off the hands of losing teams.  Possible trade candidates in this vein could be the Diamondbacks’ Bronson Arroyo or the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey (if Toronto falls out of the race, that is).
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Paul Swydan criticizes both the Mets front office and manager Terry Collins for some transactions and personnel moves that Swydan feels “have left the Mets in an all-too-familiar middling position.”

East Links: Pastornicky, Braves, Sabathia, Mets, Sox

Dan Uggla‘s role with the Braves is becoming increasingly smaller, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes that Tyler Pastornicky will be given the opportunity to serve as Atlanta’s everyday second baseman. Pastornicky has just two hits in 17 at-bats this season but has a solid Triple-A track record. Should he falter, the Braves also have Tommy La Stella waiting in the wings at Triple-A, though his strong OBP (.379) has been accompanied by a notable power outage, as he’s slugging just .328 with a .039 ISO. More from the game’s Eastern divisions…

  • Within that same notebook piece, Bowman notes that the Braves will utilize a six-man rotation at least through next week. Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t like the idea, but the team feels it has little choice with six starting options that are throwing so well. The manager did concede that the six-man grouping might help later in the year by limiting the workload on Alex Wood and Gavin Floyd.
  • The Star Ledger’s Jorge Castillo reports that CC Sabathia‘s visit to Dr. James Andrews confirmed that there’s no structural damage in his knee. The Yankees are hopeful that Sabathia will be able to return as soon as he is eligible to help an injury-plagued pitching staff.
  • Bud Selig isn’t concerned over reports that partial Mets owner Saul Katz is looking to sell his shares of the team, writes Christian Red of the New York Daily News
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports asked Red Sox chairman Tom Werner if the team is committed to using a Will Middlebrooks/Xander Bogaerts tandem on the left side of the infield and was told “for the moment” (Twitter link).

AL Notes: Orioles, Rodney, Sabathia, A’s Catchers

We just looked at the latest from the AL Central; here are some notes from the rest of the American League:

  • The Orioles will not discuss contract extensions during the season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “We’re not going to be exploring any extensions during the season,” said Executive VP Dan Duquette. “… Once the season starts, I think it benefits the team and the players and the fans to keep the focus on the field and the players on the field.” While star center fielder Adam Jones was inked to a mid-season extension back in 2012, Duquette explained that was a different situation since “we started that discussion during the winter, and it extended into the season.” The team is not presently in talks with any of its current crop of pending free agents, Duquette said. While shortstop J.J. Hardy had been linked to contract chatter during the spring, he and fellow free-agents-to-be Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis will seemingly be allowed to test the open market. (MLBTR’s Steve Adams just took a look an early look at the free agent case of Markakis.)
  • Mariners closer Fernando Rodney said today that he wanted to stay with the Rays but never received a contract offer, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link). Rodney added that he received two-year offers from the MetsOrioles, and Indians, in addition to a one-year offer from the Yankees, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, Rodney ultimately went to Seattle for two years and $14MM.
  • Yankees hurler C.C. Sabathia is headed to see Dr. James Andrews, tweets Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, though thankfully the issue is in his knee rather than his left elbow. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes, the visit is viewed as precautionary, as a recent MRI showed no structural issues. “The best-case scenario is, CC gets the knee drained, rests for five days and gets a couple of bullpens under his belt and he takes the start after he comes off the DL,” said GM Brian Cashman. “That’s the best-case scenario. I’m not saying that’s the scenario we’re dealing with yet, but that’s the best.” The club will hope that proves to be the result, as its rotation is already dealing with several notable injuries. Needless to say, any ongoing issues with Sabathia would only further enhance New York’s starting pitcher needs at the trade deadline.
  • The Athletics have gained more production from the catching spot than any other American League club through the combination of Derek Norris and John Jaso, writes John Hickey of Bay Area News Group. Heading into today’s action, the platoon pair had combined for an impressive .338/.419/.507 triple-slash. Indeed, that line has actually been good enough to vault the A’s catching unit into the league lead by measure of fWAR, with a healthy 1.9 wins above replacement through just 184 plate appearances. Both players came to Oakland through trades involving the Nationals, with Norris a piece in the Gio Gonzalez trade and Jaso heading down from the Mariners in the three-team Michael Morse deal.