C.C. Sabathia Rumors

Sabathia Possibly Done For Season; Yankees Re-Sign Capuano

The Yankees will place left-hander CC Sabathia on the disabled list due to a right knee injury, and manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link) that “it’s a possibility” that Sabathia will not pitch again in 2015. As a result of the injury, the Yankees have re-signed Chris Capuano, who had briefly elected free agency, according to a team announcement.

The 35-year-old Sabathia exited yesterday’s contest due to knee pain after just 2 2/3 innings. If his season is indeed finished, he will end the year with a 5.27 ERA with 7.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 138 1/3 innings. It would also mark the second straight year in which a right knee injury ended Sabathia’s season early. He has one more guaranteed season remaining on his contract and will earn $25MM in 2016, but his 2017 vesting option for the same amount will become guaranteed if Sabathia’s left shoulder remains healthy in 2016. The only ways for the option not to vest are if Sabathia ends the season on the DL due to a shoulder injury, if he spends 45 or more days on the DL due to a shoulder injury or if he makes six or more relief appearances due to a shoulder injury.

For the Yankees, it further depletes the team’s rotation depth, although as Jack Curry of the YES Network noted earlier today (on Twitter) that Michael Pineda threw a bullpen session today and is slated to return to the rotation on Wednesday vs. Houston. Pineda, then, would join Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino in the rotation, with Capuano (and perhaps eventually Bryan Mitchell) serving as depth options.

Capuano, who turned 37 earlier this week, has pitched 33 innings for the Yankees in 2015 but struggled to a 6.55 ERA. He’s averaged 8.5 K/9 but also yielded 4.4 BB/9, hit three batters and served up five homers. Capuano has, somewhat incredibly, been designated for assignment and outrighted three times in the past month. As the Yankees announced, he technically rejected his most recent outright in order to sign a new Major League contract and expedite his return to the big league roster.

Injury Notes: Sabathia, Hardy, Wright

An update some some notable players who will be joining or leaving the disabled list…

  • C.C. Sabathia lasted just 2 2/3 innings in today’s start before leaving due to pain in his right knee.  The veteran lefty will at least be shut down for a while, though Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including MLB.com’s Grace Raynor) that he presumed Sabathia will need a DL stint “just because he walked off the field without even throwing another pitch.”  Sabathia underwent surgery on that same knee in 2014 and has been bothered by pain for much of this season, which could partially explain his rough 5.24 ERA over 135 2/3 innings.  The Yankees had planned to expand to a six-man rotation upon Michael Pineda‘s impending return from the DL, though those plans are on hold with Sabathia sidelined.
  • The Orioles announced that shortstop J.J. Hardy has been placed on the 15-day DL with a left groin injury, and he’ll undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.  Hardy, who also missed all of April with a strained shoulder, has hit only .220/.251/.313 in 353 plate appearances this season, his first under a three-year, $40MM extension signed last October.  Ryan Flaherty will likely handle shortstop duties while Hardy is out, though the O’s also have Paul Janish at Triple-A.
  • The Mets plan to activate David Wright from the disabled list prior to Monday’s game against the Phillies.  Southpaw Dario Alvarez has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Wright on the active roster, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.  Wright was originally placed on the DL in April with a strained hamstring but he was discovered to have the much more serious condition known as spinal stenosis.

AL East Notes: Jays, Sox, Holt, Sabathia

If the Blue Jays are in position at the trade deadline, the team may well have some extra cash to use. According to the math of Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, Toronto might reasonably expect to have $5MM to $8MM in free 2015 salary available to work with.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Red Sox held their breath last night as the left side of their infield was evaluated for injuries that appeared to have at least some possibility of being worse than they first looked. As Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports, however, both Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval are dealing with nothing more than bumps and bruises at this point.
  • Had either of those players gone down, of course, Brock Holt would have been a crucial component of the Red Sox‘ reaction. As Bryan Grosnick of Baseball Prospectus explores, Holt has (rather surprisingly) turned into an extremely versatile, useful big league player who makes it possible for Boston to carry an unusual bench arrangement.
  • The Yankees remain encouraged by how C.C. Sabathia is throwing the ball, even if the results have not yet been there, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. His right knee has felt good, and manager Joe Girardi sees a difference. “I’m just seeing better movement on his fastball,” Girardi said. “I’m seeing consistency in his changeup, it’s not cutting. His slider is better. I just think he’s locating a lot better and I think it’s because he’s healthy. It’s hard when you’re dealing with nagging injuries to go out there and perform at a high level.”

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.