New York Yankees Rumors

New York Yankees trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL East Notes: Craig, Smyly, Ellsbury, Saunders

It is by now well-documented that Allen Craig of the Red Sox has experienced a significant decline at the plate, leading to his outright off of the 40-man roster. But as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains, the fall-off has been so steep that it actually has historical dimensions. Looking at other players who posted consistently strong batting lines in their age-26 to 28 seasons, Speier shows that no other player has fallen as far as has Craig (62 OPS+) in the following two years. There could, of course, still be some hope of a turnaround given the complicated role that injuries in his struggles and the fact that he is still only 30.

  • Rays lefty Drew Smyly appears to be reconsidering the surgical route and could instead attempt to rest and then rehab his ailing left shoulder, ESPN.com reports. It’s not clear what precipitated the changed approach, but manager Kevin Cash says that the current plan may allow Smyly to return later this year. “We’re optimistic,” Cash said. “We’re hearing good things.” While any return to action would, at this point, presumably be rather late in the year — Smyly was just placed on the 60-day DL and would obviously require a lengthy resting and rebuilding process — the realistic possibility of a return could impact the team’s summer trade market plans.
  • The Yankees good news on Jacoby Ellsbury, who will not need surgery on his just-injured right knee, as Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reports“It is not anything that requires surgery so we are not holding anything that is doom or gloom,” said manager Joe Girardi. “We just have to see how he responds over the next few days and see what [team doctor Chris] Ahmad says.”
  • Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are still set to be without outfielder Michael Saunders for three to five weeks, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm reports. Saunders says he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee that arose out of his recent surgery to remove his meniscus. The Jays are still bringing up the rear in the division, of course, and will hope that Saunders can return to action sooner rather than later.

International Notes: Martinez, Fox, KBO

A few notes on the international prospect front…

  • The Giants were among the clubs to scout 20-year-old Cuban center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez in the Dominican Republic recently, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (All Twitter links). At this time, the Giants, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers and Dodgers are all in the mix for Martinez. One scout placed the lofty comp of a young Andruw Jones on Martinez, Sanchez adds, though clearly not every scout will be quite that bullish. Martinez is expected to work out for more clubs this week and is eligible to sign at any time.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted recently that the Twins are also among the teams to have scouted Martinez (and other Cuban prospects) as of late. Wolfson hears that as many as 17 teams watched Martinez work out late last week.
  • Sanchez hears that interest in Martinez and in Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox is picking up (Twitter links). Scouts love Fox’s tools, and the fact that he is already 18 years of age is actually a bonus in this instance, as he comes with more experience than most July 2-eligible prospects. Fox, unlike Martinez, isn’t eligible to sign prior to July 2.
  • Jung Ho Kang‘s early success with the Pirates will help pave the way for hitters from the Korea Baseball Organization to make the jump to Major League Baseball, opines C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports (video link). Manager Clint Hurdle recently revealed to Nitkowski that in Spring Training, he had some concerns about whether or not Kang would be able to handle the increased fastball velocity he’d encounter in Major League Baseball. As Nitkowski points out, that hasn’t been an issue for the powerful infielder to this point; Kang has seen 101 fastballs registering at 93 mph or faster, and he’s whiffed on just five of them in addition to going 9-for-18 on those that he’s put into play. Recent reports have indicated that Kang’s former Nexen Heroes teammate, Byung-ho Park, is hoping to jump to MLB himself next season.

AL East Notes: Heathcott, Ellsbury, Tanaka, Blue Jays

Let’s take a quick look in at the AL East:

  • The Yankees have called up outfielder Slade Heathcott after placing Jacoby Ellsbury on the 15-day DL, as Jack Curry of the YES Network tweeted last night. For Heathcott, the opportunity represents yet another step in a remarkable turnaround. The former top-100 prospect has impressed the organization this spring since losing his 40-man roster spot and re-signing to a minor league deal. As for Ellsbury, it’s only a knee sprain at the moment, but his recovery bears watching given his injury history.
  • Meanwhile, the Yankees got more promising injury news out of starter Masahiro Tanaka, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports on Twitter. The injured hurler will make a rehab start on Thursday at Triple-A, per King.
  • It’s time for the Blue Jays to look into dealing either Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion for pitching, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. While those sluggers continue to provide low-cost power production, Sherman argues that an arm is a more pressing need for the club. Unsurprisingly, GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that he was not inclined to move either player. It’s certainly hard to disagree that the team needs to bolster its staff if it wants to make a serious run this year, though for my money it still probably makes more sense to deal away prospects to make that happen. After all, the most likely contention scenario would be one in which Bautista and Encarnacion remained in Toronto, and either or both could always be dealt after the season to recoup any lost long-term value if things don’t pan out.


Quick Hits: Martinez, Rusney, Difo, Tabata, Judge

One international scouting director calls Cuban center field prospect Eddy Martinez an “impact talent,” Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reports (Twitter links). McDaniel credits the 20-year-old with 70-grade speed and 50-grade raw power, joining other recent observers in expecting an eight-figure bonus for the youngster. Though we’ve heard suggestions that a signing could come quickly, McDaniel says it remains unclear whether he’ll wait until the next July 2 period kicks off. Martinez will, of course, be subject to international bonus pool restrictions regardless of when he signs.

Here are some more notes on prospects and promotions:

  • The Red Sox no longer have any good reasons to keep outfielder Rusney Castillo in Triple-A, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com opines. Stats and scouts suggest he is ready, says Edes, and the big league club could use an offensive boost. While the team still has more outfielders than it knows quite what to do with, even after outrighting Allen Craig, Edes says that should not get in the way of Castillo — particularly given the club’s huge investment in him.
  • The Nationals will make a surprising call-up of middle infield prospect Wilmer Difo, the team announced (and as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted earlier today). The 23-year-old broke out last year and earned Baseball America’s seventh slot on the club’s prospect list entering the season. As BA noted, Difo has ample tools, and finally put them to use in A ball in 2014. He had already earned a jump to Double-A this season, where he owns a .308/.339/.500 slash over 56 plate appearances. For now, it seems Difo will just get a taste of big league action while filling in for Jayson Werth, who needs to rest an injured wrist but has apparently avoided serious injury.
  • Outfielder Jose Tabata is headed back to the Pirates today, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Twitter. The 26-year-old once looked like a cornerstone player, but has struggled to maintain consistency in recent years and was ultimately outrighted last season. He has been impressive at Triple-A this year, however, slashing .352/.422/.396 with eleven walks against just eight strikeouts over 102 turns at the plate. Tabata is owed $4MM this year and $4.5MM next season under the early-career extension that he signed. Pittsburgh can also control him for three additional seasons through a series of club options.
  • Towering Yankees prospect Aaron Judge is putting up strong results against Double-A pitching and could be due for a move to the final level of the minors, ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand writes. Judge could be with the club as soon as early 2016, Marchand writes, and he’s not the only prospect making waves. Slade Heathcott, a former top prospect who lost his 40-man roster spot, is enjoying renewed success and has forced himself back into the Yankees’ plans. Said GM Brian Cashman of Heathcott: “He is a legitimate option for us at the major league level.”

Chase Whitley To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Whitley had previously been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but the team was said at the time to be weighing its options.

Other injuries on the Yankees roster led the 25-year-old Whitley to the team’s rotation, and he pitched reasonably well in four starts, tallying a 4.19 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 19 1/3 innings before succumbing to the injury. Whitley reportedly did not speak up about the pain in his elbow after initially feeling it, and the stats seem to bear that out. He allowed just one run in 12 innings in his first two starts before being torched for eight runs over his next 7 1/3 innings. Whitley’s final outing last just 1 2/3 innings. Surgery will likely keep him on the shelf through mid-summer 2016.

The Yankees are known to be thin on pitching depth as is, with Ivan Nova currently rehabbing from his own Tommy John (which he underwent in 2014) and Masahiro Tanaka currently on the DL, trying to avoid the same fate. Michael Pineda looks the part of a true No. 1 starter this season, but he’s had significant shoulder injuries in the past, so it remains to be seen if he can handle a full season’s worth of innings. CC Sabathia has been better than 2014 but still sports a 4.67 ERA, while trade acquisition Nathan Eovaldi has been serviceable, though not spectacular. Adam Warren has also struggled to an extent, and Chris Capuano‘s first start after opening the year on the disabled list did not go well.

The Yankees, then, may miss Whitley more than most would assume based on his limited track record. If nothing else, his absence thins out the teams depth and leaves them much more susceptible to additional injuries in the rotation, as the club’s Triple-A rotation is lacking in high-upside arms.


AL East Notes: Tanaka, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, Everth

The Yankees announced today that injured ace Masahiro Tanaka threw a 29-pitch bullpen session at Nationals Park. The bullpen session was the third for Tanaka, who has been on the disabled list for about three weeks with a forearm strain. The Yankees continue to be hopeful that Tanaka, who suffered a small tear in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament last year, will be able to avoid Tommy John surgery (or any other serious operation). Tanaka made two starts at the end of the 2014 season after coming back from the injury and pitched well in four starts prior to his injury in 2015.

Elsewhere in the AL East…

  • Rays manager Kevin Cash won’t name a closer now that Jake McGee is back from the disabled list, writes Troy Provost-Heron of MLB.com. Cash maintains that he’ll use Brad Boxberger (who has closed in McGee’s absence) and McGee in save situations, depending on matchups. Boxberger tells Provost-Heron that he’s ok with not being the team’s sole closer, as McGee helps deepen the bullpen and take pressure of the rotation. However, I’ll note that given Boxberger’s early dominance in the ninth inning, being downgraded to a timeshare or even back to a setup role could have significant impact on his arbitration earnings following the 2016 season. Were Boxberger to have amassed a pair of dominant seasons at the back end of the game, he’d have been in line for a hefty payday. Greg Holland, for instance, landed a $4.65MM payday in his first trip through the arb process. The usage of both McGee and Boxberger will have a strong bearing on how affordable they are for the cost-conscious Rays in the years to come, making their closer situation of particular interest. (As a side note to fantasy players, remember that you can follow MLBTR’s @closernews account on Twitter for consistent updates on closer/setup situations throughout the season.)
  • Just as the Red Sox‘ rotation has begun to show signs of improvement, the team’s offense has gone into the tank, observes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber feels that the team needs to drop Mookie Betts from the leadoff spot as the 22-year-old sorts out his struggles and, perhaps more importantly, call up the hot-hitting Rusney Castillo from Triple-A. Lauber opines that Castillo could deliver more consistently competitive at-bats against right-handed pitching than Shane Victorino, adding that additional rest for Victorino is the best way to keep him healthy at this point. The Red Sox, who lost 5-0 to James Paxton and the Mariners yesterday, have been particularly feeble against left-handed pitching.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com looks at a number of Orioles-related topics in his latest notebook. Kubatko notes that GM Dan Duquette told his colleague, MASN’s Steve Melewski, that there’s a “distinct possibility” that the team will select Chris Parmelee‘s contract from Triple-A, though as Kubatko notes, there’s no clear spot for the corner outfielder/first baseman on the roster. He also notes that catcher Steve Clevenger‘s defense has drawn rave reviews from Triple-A manager Ron Johnson. Baltimore optioned Clevenger to Triple-A, citing a need to improve his defense, and Clevenger has caught 12 of 34 base stealers (35%) this season.
  • Lastly, Kubatko wonders what will come of Everth Cabrera when he’s eligible to be activated from the disabled list. The team can clear a roster spot by optioning Rey Navarro, but they’ll also need a spot in the infield for Ryan Flaherty. Cabrera is out of options and can refuse his outright assignment but still collect his $2.4MM salary if the Orioles pass him through waivers, lending the possibility that a situation similar to that of Ryan Webb could come up in the near future.

Quick Hits: Brown, Martinez, Hamilton

Ollie Brown, known to the San Diego faithful as the “Original Padre” has died of complications from mesothelioma, reports Corey Brock of MLB.com. The outfielder was the first player selected by the Padres in the 1968 Expansion Draft. Brown hit 52 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Padres including 23 blasts in 1970. Brown was 71 and is survived by two brothers, a wife, a daughter, and five grandchildren. We at MLBTR wish to extend our condolences to Brown’s family and friends.

  • Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez could sign for $10MM, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The 20-year-old is subject to the international spending pool which could affect the bidding. Among the interested teams include the Braves, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. New York and Arizona may have an advantage since they’ve already exceeded their bonus pool. Chicago won’t be able to jump into the bidding until July 2nd. It was reported two days ago that Martinez could sign as early as next week.
  • While still with the Angels, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton repeatedly tried to reach out to owner Arte Moreno, writes Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Instead, Hamilton says his efforts were blocked by GM Jerry Dipoto and team President John Carpino. Hamilton attempted to contact Moreno regarding his poor performance last season and again after his offseason relapse. The embattled slugger is currently rehabbing in Double-A and could return to major league action soon. Los Angeles is responsible for most of the remaining $80MM on his contract.

Latest On Troy Tulowitzki

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is in a tight spot regarding Troy Tulowitzki, opines Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. While Tulowitzki did not specifically ask to be traded, he did not categorically state that he wants to remain in Colorado. For his part, Bridich did not deny the possibility of a trade.

There is no doubt that Tulowitzki is highly coveted around the league despite a minimum of six years and $113MM remaining on his contract. The star shortstop is off to a strange start to the season for Colorado. One has to wonder if the rumors are getting to him. He’s hitting .284/.292/.448 through 120 plate appearances. His plate discipline has disappeared. He’s swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone, whiffing more frequently, and he’s drawn just two walks against 29 strikeouts. His power output is also well below his career norms.

Last week, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs identified nine possible destinations for Tulowitzki. He referred to the Mets, Red Sox, and Yankees as the most likely bidders. The long standing connection with the Mets is challenged by their complex financial situation. Cameron suggests the Red Sox could include Xander Bogaerts as part of a trade. If that was the case, I suspect they might be in the best position to secure a deal. The Yankees certainly have the necessary money, but they’ve worked hard to reduce the amount of payroll committed to aging players.

Shaikin adds that the Dodgers would love to slot Tulo at shortstop with top prospect Corey Seager sliding over to third base. While they have the financial wherewithal and enough talented prospects to participate in a trade, it’s unlikely the Rockies would deal directly with their rich rivals. Instead, Los Angeles could attempt to play financial facilitator as part of a three-team trade. The Dodgers attempted to mediate the Josh Hamilton trade by including money for a prospect.

Cameron also explored a hypothetical trade package for the nine teams he identified. Tulowitzki’s contract probably has $50MM to $60MM of surplus value per Cameron, so he should elicit a sizable return. However, the $63MM signing of Yoan Moncada – not a top 10 prospect per all major outlets – indicates that the upper crust of prospects are probably off the table. In other words, no Mookie Betts, no Carlos Correa, and no Seager (among others).

Tulowitzki could return multiple second tier prospects. Cameron names Luis Severino and Aaron Judge as a possible package from the Yankees. The Mets could bundle Noah Syndergaard, Amed Rosario, and Steven Matz. Of course, these are just some hypothetical ideas. The Rockies could try to eat some money in exchange for a true elite prospect, or they might prefer a deep five or six player package.

 


Minor Moves: Burton, Blanton, Boscan, Mitchell

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, with the most recent at the top.

  • the Yankees have released righty Jared Burton, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets. Burton, formerly a regular in the Reds and Twins bullpens, has made a handful of appearances for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. The Yankees originally signed Burton to a minor-league deal with a series of opt-out dates, and they already released and re-signed him in March, so perhaps it’s not out of the question that they could re-sign him yet again.
  • The Royals have announced that they’ve selected the contract of veteran righty Joe Blanton. Blanton had an opt-out opportunity yesterday on his minor-league deal. He had been pitching for Triple-A Omaha, where he posted a 3.89 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings. The longtime Athletics and Phillies starter last appeared in the big leagues in 2013, when he posted a 6.04 ERA in 132 2/3 innings with the Angels. Blanton will work in long relief, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. The Royals also announced that they optioned righty Aaron Brooks to Omaha and placed lefty Brian Flynn on the 60-day disabled list.
  • The Pirates have selected the contract of righty Wilfredo Boscan, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. They also optioned utilityman Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Indianapolis and moved righty Brandon Cumpton to the 60-day disabled list. Boscan will, presumably, help the Pirates’ bullpen after yesterday’s 11-10 extra-inning loss, which required the Bucs to throw 261 pitches. The 25-year-old Boscan has a 2.87 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He has never pitched in the Majors.
  • The Angels have signed outfield Jared Mitchell and assigned him to the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, the Travelers have announced. The White Sox released Mitchell, a 2009 first-round pick, earlier this month. The 26-year-old has hit .226/.334/.381 in parts of six seasons in the minor leagues.
  • The Phillies have acquired infielder Jayson Nix from the Orioles for cash considerations, the teams have announced. Nix will head to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 32-year-old was hitting .167/.190/.198 in 100 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, and he struggled in brief stints in the big leagues last year with the Phillies, Pirates and Royals. In parts of seven seasons in the Majors, he’s hit .212/.282/.345. The move gives the Phillies infield depth after the recent promotion of Maikel Franco and their decision to have Cody Asche transition to playing outfield.
  • The Rays have signed former Pirates pitching prospect Kyle McPherson, Steve Kinsella of DRaysBay tweets. McPherson pitched 26 1/3 strong innings with the Bucs in 2012 after posting a 3.22 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and an extremely stingy 1.2 BB/9 in 67 innings in the high minors that year, but he had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and another elbow injury last season. He became a minor-league free agent last fall.

Injury Notes: Pence, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Fister, Ryu

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.

Here are some more injury notes from around the game:

  • Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
  • The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
  • The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.