- Yankees release outfielder Jared Mitchell, Eddy adds. The 27-year-old, a former first-round pick, was off to a .250/.337/.361 start in 83 plate appearances at Double-A. He’s never managed to develop any consistency at the plate in a seven-year minor league career.
The Yankees have claimed righty Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds, per an announcement from New York. It appears that he was placed on outright waivers to clear a 40-man spot.
Somsen, who’ll soon turn 27, was greeted roughly in his first two major league appearances. But he’s shown some promise in the minors, including a 19-inning run at Triple-A this year in which he’s allowed just four earned runs on ten hits with a strikeout per frame against seven walks.
Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran can block trades to 15 clubs under the terms of his limited no-trade clause, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, who explores the possibility of a deal involving the veteran. Among the teams to which Beltran could be dealt without consent are the Indians, Nationals, Royals, Cardinals, Rays, Tigers, and Dodgers, per the report.
Of course, it’s far from clear whether New York will end up entertaining such a move. The club has moved back to within striking distance in the AL East already, and there’s plenty of time left before the deadline.
Parting with Beltran wouldn’t necessarily mean abandoning hope for the present season, Olney suggests. Shipping him out would free up opportunities for highly-regarded young players such as Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge. They could be expected to provide value now while helping prepare for bigger roles in 2017 and beyond.
It’s fair to wonder just how much trade value Beltran would carry. On the one hand, he recently turned 39 and is a subpar outfielder (especially if one credits Defensive Runs Saved). On the other, he’s a highly respected veteran who is currently running out a productive .274/.299/.522 batting line, largely matching his overall production levels from last season (about 20% above league average).
Salary will certainly play a role, too, as Beltran is owed a healthy $15MM this season before reaching free agency at year’s end. Whether or not the market is receptive to that overall package remains to be seen, but presumably the Yankees won’t make a move unless they receive some kind of interesting return (barring a full-blown collapse in the next two months). That’s especially true given the uncertainty of Hicks and Judge as well as the fact that aging sluggers Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez come with their own blend of health, age, and performance questions.
The Mets have at least “some curiosity about” Padres first baseman James Loney, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Loney’s representatives at the Legacy Agency are expected to contact the club today to see if there’s a fit.
While Loney remains under control of the Padres, he’s reportedly able to opt out of his contract if a major league opportunity arises with another organization. As I explained this morning in breaking down New York’s options with Lucas Duda sidelined, Loney looks to be one of the most viable targets for the club.
Playing at Triple-A to open the year, Loney owns a .333/.368/.417 slash over 155 plate appearances with two home runs and just ten strikeouts to go with his nine walks. That’s not a terribly surprising batting line for the 32-year-old, who is a somewhat atypical hitter for a first baseman. Over his decade of major league experience, Loney has slashed .285/.338/.411, relying on average and low strikeout tallies to make up for a lack of pop.
Loney has also generally graded out well with the glove, though defensive metrics viewed him as a slightly below-average performer at first in each of his last two major league seasons. He also won’t require any kind of payroll hit beyond the league minimum, as the Rays released him this spring when trade partners failed to materialize. Tampa Bay remains obligated for his $8MM salary.
With San Diego rostering both Wil Myers and Brett Wallace, it doesn’t appear as if the Padres will be motivated to move Loney up to keep him in the organization. Wallace is hardly untouchable, but his salary is guaranteed and he’s capable of playing third base. On the other hand, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has noted on Twitter, San Diego would have the option of elevating Loney if another team offers him a big league job, which also means the club could potentially extract some trade value.
The Mets will, no doubt, consider alternatives. The left-handed-hitting Loney wouldn’t make much sense on the roster when Duda returns, after all, and it’s probably worth at least checking to see if there’s a better match elsewhere. As covered in the above-linked post, there are a lot of possibilities out there, though ultimately a low-risk fill-in would make plenty of sense.
One hypothetical candidate, Nick Swisher of the Yankees, does not appear to be a fit. Sherman notes that the Mets don’t have interest in the veteran, who has continued to post meager numbers at Triple-A.
- Alex Rodriguez will return from the 15-day DL on Tuesday, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told reporters (including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News). A-Rod was rumored to be set for activation this weekend but Girardi chose to wait until after the Yankees’ Monday off-day to give the veteran slugger extra time to fully recover a hamstring strain.
- The Hill-to-Boston scenario is also explored by ESPN’s Buster Olney in his latest subscription-only column, and he also opines that Yankees setup man Andrew Miller would be a great fit for the Giants. Miller is signed through 2018 so San Francisco would gain a long-term bullpen piece to guard against any of all of their top relievers (Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo) leaving in free agency this winter. Miller’s availability could depend on whether or not the Yankees are still in a pennant race themselves, though Olney notes that New York has enough elite bullpen depth to shop Miller or Aroldis Chapman even if the club is in contention.
- Southpaw Phil Coke has been outrighted by the Yankees after he was designated for assignment on Tuesday, Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog tweets. Coke wasn’t effective in his six innings over three appearances on the year, though he did show that he’s still capable of delivering his fastball at around 93 mph. The veteran bounced around last year after a five-year run with the Tigers ended followiing the 2014 season. He’ll accept the assignment, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets.
The Yankees announced that they’ve signed left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to a minor league contract. The Pro Star Management client will report to the club’s Triple-A affiliate, according to the team.
Cotts, 36, recently opted out of a minor league pact with the Angels. The 10-year Major League veteran had been throwing well with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake, posting a 3.29 ERA with 13 strikeouts against three walks in 13 2/3 innings. Last season, he split the year between the Brewers and Twins after signing a one-year, $3MM contract with Milwaukee and posted a combined 3.41 ERA in 63 1/3 innings while holding opposing lefties to a .186/.243/.330 batting line. Injuries kept Cotts out of the Majors from 2010-12, but since returning with the 2013 Rangers, he’s posted a cumulative 3.03 ERA with 186 strikeouts against 63 walks (six intentional) in 187 innings of work.
The Red Sox announced today that they’ve placed right-hander Carson Smith and left fielder Brock Holt on the 15-day and 7-day disabled lists, respectively. Smith is dealing with continued soreness in his right elbow, and Holt has what the Sox termed a “mild” concussion. In that duo’s place, right-hander Noe Ramirez and catcher Blake Swihart have been recalled, although the Sox’ press release announcing the moves referred to Swihart as a catcher/left fielder, so presumably he will continue the outfield work he began at Triple-A in his latest big league stint. That’d mean that Swihart could platoon with outfielder Chris Young in Holt’s absence, and Swihart’s presence also will allow manager John Farrell to be a bit more liberal in terms of pinch-hitting for either Christian Vazquez or Ryan Hanigan in late situations. Swihart gets the call over high priced outfielder Rusney Castillo, who remains at the Triple-A level with a .263/.315/.316 slash line through 124 plate appearances.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Blue Jays president of baseball operations Mark Shapiro said to hosts Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on Sportsnet 590 The FAN this morning that he remains confident in manager John Gibbons despite a “disappointing” start for the reigning AL East champions (via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). “To spend time around Gibby is to be incredibly confident in his leadership and to recognize that he’s part of the solution,” said Shapiro. “We feel that he’s a guy who’s consistent. He is strong. He is tough. He is committed, and I feel like he’s the right guy to help guide us through the challenges that we’re facing now.” Rather than focus on potential changes to the field staff, the Blue Jays are instead already having internal discussions about trades and other roster changes, said Shapiro. It’s still rather early to expect significant trades, of course (as White Sox GM Rick Hahn recently noted when revealing that his club has already had talks with other teams), but the groundwork that goes into a trade can often be the product of months of effort.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney opines (Insider subscription required) that while the Yankees have a chance at playing October baseball this season, their focus should be on improving the 2017 club without completely tearing down the 2016 product. That, he writes, means playing Aaron Hicks regularly even if it costs Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez some at-bats. Olney, in fact, believes it’d be wise for the Yankees to explore the idea of trading Gardner to a contender for prospects as a means of getting Aaron Judge some playing time in the Majors later this summer. Other contributing pieces that could be moved without significantly tanking the club’s chances, he continues, are Brian McCann and one of Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller. The Yankees currently sit at 18-22, last place in the division, although there’s clearly time to turn things around, and they’ve won seven of their past 10 games.
- Yankees prospect Ty Hensley is lost for the season due to a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, reports Chad Jennings of the Journal News. The 2012 first-rounder has seen a once-promising career decimated by injuries to this point, as hip surgery cost him the entire 2013 season and he missed all of 2014 due to the aforementioned Tommy John procedure. Jennings doesn’t state that Hensley needs a second Tommy John surgery, and the specific nature of the setback isn’t entirely clear, but Jennings does note that both GM Brian Cashman and VP of player development Gary Denbo have confirmed that Hensley will miss the 2016 campaign. Now 22 years of age (23 in July), Hensley hasn’t pitched since 2014 and has pitched in just 16 games since being drafted, posting a 2.98 ERA with 54 strikeouts against 18 walks in 42 1/3 innings.
- Entering the day in last place in the AL East, the Yankees need to seriously consider prioritizing future improvements over their 2016 prospects, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney argues (Insider link). Olney ticks through a variety of ways — including allocation of playing time and weighing trades — that New York can and should shift its focus to 2017, suggesting a sort of realistic re-tooling rather than any kind of full rebuilding project.