New York Yankees Rumors

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

Chase Whitley Preliminarily Diagnosed With UCL Tear

Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley has received an initial diagnosis of a UCL tear after departing his start early last night, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. A Tommy John procedure is very much on the table, per the report, though the team will not rush to a decision.

Whitley, 25, has been a useful swingman for the club since coming up last year. While he posted an unsightly 5.23 ERA over his 75 2/3 frames last year (compiled in a dozen starts and a dozen relief appearances), Whitley put up 7.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 and drew much better ratings from ERA estimators.

His promising campaign last year has carried through to 2015, as Whitley stepped into a rotation void and has provided 19 1/3 solid innings. So far, he has registered a 4.19 ERA on the back of 7.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and a 49.2% groundball rate.

Whitley, who does not have much velocity, leans heavily on his slider. While he probably does not have a ton of upside, his early career effort suggests that he could settle in as a useful back-of-the-rotation starter and long reliever.

That kind of player obviously has function and value, as evidenced by the fact that the Yanks gave lefty Chris Capuano $5MM to return this winter. Capuano is set to return from injury soon, which draws some of the sting of the possible loss of Whitley. But with Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova still working their way back from injury, it would have been nice to have a full complement of depth on hand.


Heyman’s Latest: Tulo, Soriano, Correa, Garza, Segura, Mets

The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the YankeesGiants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.

Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…

  • The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
  • Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
  • Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
  • Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
  • Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
  • It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
  • The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
  • In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.

AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.


AL Notes: Correa, Hicks, Angels, Tanaka, Red Sox, Kazmir

Promotions are always interesting to keep an eye on this time of year, as teams look to balance future control and cost with developmental prerogatives and the needs of the MLB roster. One of the most-watched players, shortstop Carlos Correa of the Astros, will make his debut today at Triple-A after destroying the Double-A level at just twenty years of age. The next stop could be Houston, where the big league club playing well but dealing with a significant injury to Jed Lowrie. Meanwhile, the Twins have decided the time is ripe to give another shot at former top prospect Aaron Hicks, still just 25, who has struggled in his time in the majors but forced his way back with a .336/.415/.561 run through the highest level of the minors this year.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Angels, who have fielded a somewhat surprisingly unproductive lineup thus far, look in need of a bat, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. While GM Jerry Dipoto says that he expects at least some of the team’s group of established hitters to return to their usual contributions on offense, Fletcher says that the front office is ready and willing to pursue an acquisition over the summer. Given the team’s struggles against right-handed pitching, Fletcher opines that Brewers first baseman Adam Lind would make for a particularly sensible trade target. He ticks through a few other plausible options as the market begins to take shape.
  • Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is set to throw his first bullpen today since suffering a forearm strain, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted yesterday. At this point, it would seem to rate as a pleasant surprise if Tanaka is able to contribute more quality innings this year, though the club seems determined to give him every opportunity to return before pursuing more drastic options.
  • Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, the Yankees rotation has plenty of issues but still rates as the most complete outfit in the division. GM Brian Cashman continues to say that he believes Tanaka can stave off a Tommy John procedure. And as Sherman rightly notes, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova both appear on track to deliver useful arms in the relatively near future. If the club stays in position and has a need, of course, it should have no difficulty finding ways to add quality innings via trade over the summer.
  • The Red Sox staff, meanwhile, has been a source of near-constant hand-wringing and speculation for months. There are reasons to believe in improvement from the peripherals, as MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince explains, though as he notes the biggest reason for hope may lie in the club’s evident ability (and demonstrated willingness) to swing deals to add additional arms.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington continues to emphasize the organization’s commitment to delivering better results from its internal pitching options, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports“We knew we needed good pitching coming into the year to win games, and we still know that,” says Cherington. “I believe we’ll pitch better, and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already.” Cherington emphasized that he wants to see how things proceed with a new pitching coach (and new backstop duo) now in place. Regardless, as he notes, it would be hard to make a move now. “Not a lot of teams are in that (trade) mode,” said the Red Sox GM, “but there wouldn’t normally be this time of year anyway. We’re not really there yet. There’s not a lot of team-altering moves being discussed this early. Probably need a little bit of time on that.” In Lauber’s estimation, Cherington’s protestations notwithstanding, Boston must and will strike one or more trades and/or promote well-regarded lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for an infusion of talent.
  • One possible trade target for the Red Sox (and, of course, other teams) is Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Indeed, Kazmir’s strong recent track record and meager remaining commitment, to say nothing of the free-wheeling nature of Oakland GM Billy Beane, frame him as a popular source of trade speculation over the next few months. If the team decides to market him, which seems more and more plausible with each passing day for the 12-22 A’s, it will be fascinating to see what the 31-year-old returns in a trade.

AL East Notes: Pineda, Gausman, Red Sox

While Yankees GM Brian Cashman has had his fair share of misses in terms of acquiring impact starting pitching both via trades and free agency, last night’s 16-strikeout performance by Michael Pineda and the 26-year-old’s brilliant start to the season serve help to erase some of those previous whiffs from his record, writes Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Pineda has been every bit as good as Matt Harvey this season, Madden notes — the two have identical 2.72 ERAs — but with a fraction of the hype (though the 16 punchouts will likely balance some of that out). Manager Joe Girardi cited improvement in Pineda’s changeup, consistency in throwing strikes and improved maturity as reasons for Pineda’s breakout this season. Madden recalls both Cashman and his Seattle counterpart, Jack Zduriencik, calling the Pineda-for-Jesus Montero trade one of the toughest trades they’ve ever had to make, as each was parting with a potential future star. However, Montero’s future is questionable at best, as he’s moved off catcher and has yet to establish himself in the Major Leagues.

A few more notes from the AL East…

  • Chad Jennings of the Journal News also discusses the Pineda trade, recalling that at the time the deal was made, one talent evaluator told him that the safest bet in the trade was Montero’s bat. Every Yankees person to whom Jennings spoke back in 2012 said that it’d be several years before it was clear whether or not the Yankees had “won” the trade, and Jennings notes that that does seem to be the case now. Jennings spoke with Pineda who admitted that he’s done quite a bit of growing up in the past three years.
  • Orioles righty Kevin Gausman is currently on the disabled list and could be activated as soon as May 22, but when he does come off the DL, he’ll likely head to Triple-A and work as a starter, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Orioles manager Buck Showalter worries that Gausman has been underutilized coming out of the bullpen this season. Gausman himself told Encina that the team has said they don’t want him to finish the season with 40-50 innings and then have to jump into the rotation in 2016. As Encina notes, both Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are free agents at season’s end, which could pave the way for a rotation spot with Gausman’s name on it.
  • Though Red Sox manager John Farrell is still maintaining that there will not be changes made to the rotation, his stance appears to have softened a bit, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe“Not at the present moment,” Farrell said when asked if changes were planned. “Now, that’s always up for review. We’ll see how we continue to progress through the rotation for another turn.” Farrell was specifically asked about the possibility of moving Joe Kelly, who has yielded 21 runs over his past 21 2/3 innings, to the bullpen, but Farrell said such a change hadn’t been “closely discussed.” The Sox may want to get new pitching coach Carl Willis’ take on the rotation before making any decisions, Abraham notes.

AL East Notes: Pirela, Travis, Paredes, Red Sox

The Yankees are set to bring up second base prospect Jose Pirela, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be sorted in the middle infield, but the club has received scant production to date at both second base (Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit) and shortstop (Didi Gregorius). With the Yankees otherwise looking good atop the AL East, it is fair to wonder whether Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder will get extended early looks to help inform the club’s decisionmaking over the summer.

Here’s more from the competitive AL East:

  • Meanwhile, things are headed in quite a different direction at the keystone for the Blue Jays, who have received stunning production from offseason acquisition Devon Travis. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca explains, while Travis’s incredible start is obviously not sustainable, he has exhibited a series of skills — hitting the ball long and hard, and showing quality strike zone control — that bode well for his future. While Toronto obviously hoped he could become a long-term answer when it dealt for him, the club now has good reason to believe that he will be installed at second for years to come.
  • Another infielder off to a surprisingly hot start is Jimmy Paredes of the Orioles. As Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes, the 26-year-old has traveled a long road through five organizations to get to this point. Still a work in progress in the field, Paredes has shown real promise at the plate this year. With Jonathan Schoop still working back from injury and Manny Machado having missed significant time in each of the last two seasons, Paredes could be an important piece for Baltimore if the team hopes to stay in the playoff hunt.
  • Things have gotten bad in a hurry for the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford opines that losing Hanley Ramirez for any significant stretch would be a huge blow for Boston; while his injury does not appear to be as serious as it looked, any loss of production could be problematic in a tough division. Of course, the club has plenty of options in the outfield, and the bigger concern remains a rotation that has struggled badly. Though it is reasonable to hope that the results will begin to better match the underlying peripherals, Bradford says that the team does not have any obviously promising internal candidates to add quality innings in the near term.

AL Notes: Soria, Pirela, Jimenez

In Joakim Soria, the Tigers have found the top-quality closer they’ve lacked in the past several seasons, James Schmehl of MLive.com writes. Soria has been successful in all ten of his save chances this season while allowing just two runs in 11 2/3 innings. Over the past several years, the Tigers have leaned on the often unreliable Jose Valverde and Joe Nathan, with a strong partial-season performance from Joaquin Benoit in 2013 providing a few months of respite. The Tigers bullpen was a problem last year, and Schmehl notes that much of it is still shaky. But for now, their closer problem seems to be solved. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Jose Pirela‘s terrific hitting on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this weekend has the Yankees considering promoting him to the big leagues, Chad Jennings of the Journal News writes. Pirela, who’s returning from a concussion suffered in Spring Training, has had three or more hits in three straight games. Jennings notes that Gregorio Petit currently serves as the Yankees’ righty bench infielder, but that Pirela could provide more offense.
  • Infielder Luis Jimenez, who the Red Sox claimed from the Brewers this weekend, allows Boston to use their other bench players more flexibly, manager John Farrell says (via Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald). “Righthanded utility guy, we like the defense, particularly at third, if that comes into play,” says Farrell. “It gives us some more flexibility with Brock (Holt) and Daniel Nava, and hopefully a chance to get back to 13 position players.” Jimenez rates as a plus defensive third baseman and could prove to be a valuable backup for Pablo Sandoval. Jimenez can also play elsewhere in the infield.

Yankees Notes: A-Rod, Hamilton, Betances

Wednesday will mark the 100 year anniversary of Babe Ruth’s first major league homer, as Ray Cavanaugh of the New York Post writes. In 1915, Ruth, then playing for the Red Sox, took Jack Warhop deep to right in the top of the third inning. Ruth also pitched the complete game that day and reporters of the day were already picking up on his potential. Wilmot E. Giffin, journalist for the New York Evening Journal, said of Ruth: “When he is not pitching, they can use him for an outfielder and pinch hitter. In these days of efficiency he is the ideal player.” Here’s a look at the Yankees in 2015..

  • Alex Rodriguez deserves to cash in on his home run milestone, Bob Klapisch of the Boston Herald opines.  However, Klapisch hears from sources that the Yankees‘ hierarchy is convinced that they have an airtight case against paying A-Rod for his accomplishment.  Last night, GM Brian Cashman confirmed that the Bombers will not pay Rodriguez his home run bonus. Of course, the final determination will be made by an arbitrator if Rodriguez appeals.
  • Josh Hamilton‘s free agent deal stands as the worst contract ever, leaving Rodriguez’s ten-year, $275MM free agent pact with the Yankees in the dust, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The Yankees didn’t get their moneys worth on the whole but they did get something out of Rodriguez unlike the Angels who essentially gave Hamilton $105MM for two years.
  • Yankees homegrown talent Dellin Betances is the real deal for the Yankees, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes.  Through 13 appearances this season, Betances has yet to allow an earned run.

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Cashman Confirms Yankees Will Not Pay A-Rod Home Run Bonus

Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed long-standing reports that the club does not intend to pay Alex Rodriguez a $6MM “milestone” marketing bonus for his 660th home run, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.

“We have the right, but not the obligation to do something, and that’s it,” Cashman said. “We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract. So there is no dispute, from our perspective.”

Of course, the move was widely expected long before Rodriguez matched Willie Mays with a pinch-hit blast at Fenway. Though only $6MM is directly at issue, avoiding the payment would actually keep $9MM in the Yankees’ coffers because of the luxury tax that would come with it.

If and when a grievance is filed, the issue will be one of contract interpretation for a unique clause. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported key details of the clause back in February, writing that the provision permits New York to elect whether or not to “designate” various record-tying home runs as “milestones” — so long as the “decision is made in good faith and in accordance with the intent of the parties.” As I explained at the time, and as Cashman’s comments reflect, that language gives facial validity to the Yankees’ position.

Of course, an arbitrator will ultimately likely be left to decide the matter, and the MLBPA is “prepared to intervene on Alex’s behalf,” spokesman Greg Bouris said, via Steven Marcus of Newsday. I’d expect that the union and/or Rodriguez will look to explore all aspects of the matter, potentially including the Yankees’ knowledge of Rodriguez’s PED usage and the negotiations that took place at the time that the contract was agreed upon.


Yankees Notes: Luxury Tax, Pirela, A-Rod

MLB’s luxury tax has not kept pace with rising MLB revenues, Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs explains. The luxury tax threshold grew from $117MM in 2003 to $178MM in 2011, but held steady there for three years before a modest increase to $189MM in 2014, where it remains today. The threshold was once set at 90 percent of the average team’s revenue, but now it’s only 63 percent. That threshold has clearly disincentivized heavy spending for several teams. For example, the Yankees’ payroll has stayed roughly the same since 2005 (hovering at around $210MM-$220MM), even as their revenues have skyrocketed. The luxury tax appears, then, to be limiting player salaries, which means the MLBPA could try to change the system in the next round of CBA negotiations, perhaps aiming to have the luxury-tax threshold tied specifically to each year’s overall league revenues. Here’s more from New York.

  • The Yankees are closely watching infielder Jose Pirela as he continues his rehab assignment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes. Pirela suffered a concussion in Spring Training. “I think he is doing better,” says Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “It’s something that we have discussed about what we might possibly do with him or not do with him, but obviously I think at-bats are important. He was out a month.” Last offseason, Pirela appeared likely to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the Yankees’ second base job, although those plans changed when the team signed Stephen Drew. The 25-year-old Pirela hit a solid .305/.351/.441 at Scranton last season before making a good impression by going 8-for-24 in his first cup of coffee in the big leagues.
  • The Yankees ought to pay Alex Rodriguez his $6MM bonus for tying Willie Mays’ career home run mark, Steve Wulf of ESPN The Magazine writes. The team has kept its championship banner from 2009, a year when Rodriguez posted a .933 OPS in the regular season and hit six postseason home runs while taking PEDs. To deny A-Rod his bonus because of PED use would therefore be hypocritical, Wulf argues.
  • The battle between the Yankees and A-Rod will be an argument about whether Rodriguez’s milestone 660th home run is about him or about the number itself, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The Yankees’ position will be that the home run isn’t marketable because of A-Rod’s troubling legacy, while Rodriguez’s camp will say that the meaning of the number 660 (and the numbers 714 and 755) in baseball history and in American sports culture more broadly are bigger than A-Rod himself.