With his career winding down, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira took some time to sit down with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and reflect on his 14 seasons in the Majors. In an excellent Q&A, Teixeira discusses with Rosenthal the feeling of being traded on two different occasions, including an amusing story of a ruined cell phone on a fishing trip with former teammate David Dellucci that prevented him from learning about his trade to the Braves as quickly as he otherwise might have. The switch-hitting slugger candidly discussed his lone trip through free agency, stating that he “didn’t enjoy it at all” and also explaining how he very nearly signed with the division-rival Red Sox that winter before agreeing to terms with the Yankees. He also discusses the differences of being in a pennant race as an expected contributor and as a veteran role player. I’d highly recommend checking out Rosenthal’s piece, as it pulls back the curtain a bit on free agency and trades and also contains a number of interesting anecdotes from Teixeira.
Yankees infielder Starlin Castro suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain while running the bases Saturday and could miss the rest of the season, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch notes. Grade 1 strains are the least severe type of strain, but could require a two-week recovery time. The Yankees are likely to use Ronald Torreyes and Donovan Solano at second base in Castro’s absence. The Yankees promoted Solano today after a .319/.349/.436 season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The loss of Castro is a tough one for the Yankees, who are currently 3 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Castro has batted .273/.304/.439 in 593 plate appearances in his first season in pinstripes, but he’s been hot down the stretch, hitting .313/.333/.571 in August and .310/.328/.483 in September.
The 26-year-old Castro will, of course, remain under team control for the foreseeable future, with the Yanks paying him a total of $30MM over the next three years, plus either a $16MM 2020 option or a $1MM buyout, as per the terms of the pre-arbitration extension he signed with the Cubs in 2012.
The Marlins and agent Scott Boras appear unlikely to negotiate an extension for ace Jose Fernandez early in the offseason, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who reports the team could shop the right-hander as a result. Several of the majors’ high-payroll clubs, including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs, would have interest in acquiring and extending Fernandez, per Cafardo. The 24-year-old is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2018 campaign and has thrown a career-high 174 1/3 innings this season. Along the way, Fernandez has posted dazzling numbers – 2.99 ERA, 12.44 K/9, 2.84 BB/9 – which has been the norm since he debuted in 2013.
SEPT. 15: The Yankees have announced the signing of Butler to a Major League deal. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
SEPT. 14: The Yankees have reached an agreement to sign recently released Athletics designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). Heyman further specifies that Butler has signed a Major League contract with New York.
Specifics surrounding the deal aren’t known, but Butler can be had for nothing more than the pro-rated portion of the league minimum through season’s end following his release by Oakland. That means it’ll cost the Yanks about $50K to add Butler into the mix, presumably for the remainder of the 2016 campaign only.
Butler, 30, signed a three-year, $30MM contract with the A’s prior to the 2015 season – a move that paid very little in the way of dividends for Oakland. The longtime Royals DH struggled in both seasons he spent wearing green and gold, hitting a collective .258/.325/.394. While that production graded out as roughly average when factoring in the Athletics’ cavernous home park (99 OPS+), a league-average bat at the DH slot (and occasionally at first base) isn’t a positive outcome on a $10MM annual investment.
As Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues points out (Twitter link), however, the Yankees started light-hitting backstop Austin Romine at designated hitter tonight against a left-handed pitcher. Butler could give the Yankees a solid, low-cost option against southpaws for the remainder of the season, and they’ll be facing no shortage of left-handed opponents; Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the Yanks are slated to face lefties in seven of their next 11 games (Twitter link).
That said, it should be noted that a large reason for the decline in performance from “Country Breakfast” is the fact that his numbers against lefties have plummeted in the past two seasons. Butler crushed lefties at a .314/.393/.519 clip from 2007-14 despite playing his home games at the pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, but he’s managed only a woeful .226/.329/.358 line against lefties since signing in Oakland.
Few would’ve thought that the Yankees would be in this position at the non-waiver trade deadline when they parted ways with Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran in order to acquire prospects, but New York currently sits just two games back from an American League Wild Card spot. However, they just lost a right-handed option earlier today with the news that Aaron Judge has been placed on the disabled list due to an oblique strain, thinning out the club’s right-handed options at the plate. Of course, if the Yankees are able to close the two-game gap that currently faces them, Butler would be ineligible to join the postseason roster, having been added to the organization after the Aug. 31 postseason eligibility deadline.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
8:00pm: Judge has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 oblique strain and has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, the team told reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch).
9:17am: Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is unlikely to return from an oblique injury suffered last night, Sweeny Murti of WFAN reports on Twitter. Fellow young outfielder Mason Williams will be called up to take his place.
[Related: Updated Yankees Roster]
Judge, 24, made his highly-anticipated major league debut this year after a strong run at Triple-A. Over 410 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors, the massive slugger posted a .270/.366/.489 batting line with 19 long balls.
The first taste of the majors hasn’t been quite as smooth for Judge, who has whiffed 42 times in 95 plate appearances. His .179/.263/.345 slash leaves quite a bit to desire, though he has launched four big league homers.
Really, the early struggles aren’t of particular concern; it’s worth noting, too, that Judge needed time to adapt at Triple-A. And the injury isn’t likely to be a major problem. But it will prevent him from getting some more plate appearances under his belt, and could conceivably interrupt offseason training or winter ball plans.
It’s not clear that the injury will really impact the offseason plans of the Yankees, who likely already viewed Judge as a work in progress heading into 2017. GM Brian Cashman has already suggested that the club won’t look to add outfielders over the winter.
That approach is based in some part on the availability of other potentially useful players such as Williams, a former top prospect who only just turned 25. His prospect star has faded in recent years, with injuries playing a limiting role, so the move won’t come with much fanfare. This will be Williams’s second run at the majors — he had a nice, but very brief, call-up last year — and it comes on the heels of a 31-game stint at Triple-A in which he slashed .296/.313/.376.
- The Yankees have ordered an MRI for outfielder Aaron Judge after he came down with an oblique injury, Jack Curry of YES Network reports (Twitter links). It remains to be seen whether the 24-year-old will be able to make it back to finish out his late-season promotion. He has struggled thus far in the majors, with 41 strikeouts in 93 plate appearances, and New York will surely hope to get him as much work as possible to assess his readiness to contribute in 2017.
- Aaron Judge’s struggles notwithstanding, the Yankees won’t seek outfield help this offseason, GM Brian Cashman told Heyman. In addition to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Judge and Aaron Hicks, Cashman pointed out that the Yankees also have Clint Frazier and Mason Williams, commenting that players with Frazier’s level of talent can force their way onto the big league roster quickly. The GM also expressed confidence that Luis Severino can stick as a starting pitcher and talked about the rapid development of Gary Sanchez on the heels of the young catcher’s stunning late-season breakout.
- Chad Green won’t pitch again for the Yankees this season, but the rookie right-hander looks to have emerged relatively unscathed from a potential brush with Tommy John surgery, writes Chad Jennings of the Journal News. Green has a strained flexor tendon, but exams by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad revealed that there was no damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Green will spend the next several weeks rehabbing his flexor injury but is anticipating a normal offseason and plans to be ready for Spring Training. Acquired in the offseason trade that sent Justin Wilson to the Tigers, Green made his big league debut this season with the Yankees. While he posted very strong strikeout and walk rates (10.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9), the 25-year-old also had an issue with homers, surrendering 12 long balls in just 45 2/3 innings. The result was a 4.73 ERA, though metrics like xFIP and SIERA, which normalize a pitcher’s homer-to-flyball rate, feel that Green should’ve been in the 3.60 to 3.70 range in his brief sample.
- The Yankees heavily reloaded on blue chip minor leaguers with their deadline trades, and John Harper of the New York Daily News wonders if the club will try to deal from this newfound prospect depth to acquire a frontline starter this winter. Jose Fernandez may be the most available ace on the market, given that the Marlins may not have the money to keep him before he hits free agency after the 2018 season. Landing Fernandez would likely cost the Yankees Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, one of Jorge Mateo or Gleyber Torres and probably one more pitching prospect. It might take an even biggest prospect package than that to acquire Chris Sale given Sale’s club-friendly contract, while the Athletics’ Sonny Gray or the Rays’ Chris Archer are coming off down years and may be too risky for the Yankees given the prospect cost it would take to acquire them.
The Yankees will shut down rookie right-hander Chad Green for the season, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com. Green lasted just 1 2/3 innings in his start against the Orioles on Friday and was subsequently diagnosed with a sprained right UCL and a strained flexor tendon.
While New York is losing a valuable arm in the middle of the American League wild-card race, the good news is that Green doesn’t expect to undergo Tommy John surgery.
“From what I know now, it is not worst case,” Green said.
Green now joins Nathan Eovaldi as the second Yankees starter to succumb to a season-ending elbow injury. Eovaldi underwent a Tommy John procedure last month and will miss all of next season as a result.
Along with fellow righty Luis Cessa, Green was one of two pitchers the Yankees acquired from Detroit for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson during the offseason. Green was dominant this year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he logged a 1.52 ERA, 9.16 K/9 and 2.00 BB/9 in 94 2/3 innings. He wasn’t nearly as successful with the Yankees, though the 25-year-old still showed promise. In 12 outings, eight of which were starts, he posted a 4.73 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.