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New York Yankees Rumors
Many teams have called on ace Cole Hamels, but so far one club has enticed the Phillies more than the others. Of the teams that have expressed interest in Hamels, the Yankees have come closer than anyone, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The Bombers have offered a package of prospects for the 31-year-old that at least has given the Phillies a baseline for future talks.
Trading Hamels, who pitched two strong innings in his spring training debut Friday against the Yankees, would help the Phillies kickstart their rebuilding efforts in earnest. However, they continue to insist that another team should take on the entirety of Hamels’ salary as well as part with top level prospects. Last month, Cafardo wrote that the Phillies seemed willing to wait it out for the right deal, perhaps even taking things up until the trade deadline.
The Red Sox have been heavily connected to Hamels this winter but Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported recently that talks have actually been dormant for weeks. Meanwhile, Cafardo hears that Cliff Lee could actually wind up changing uniforms before Hamels does.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, all via the Twitter account of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy …
- First baseman Mat Gamel will make another attempt at a comeback, this time with the Yankees, Eddy tweets. Now 29, the former Brewers prospect had been set to try for a return last year with the Braves, but was released after yet another knee injury. Gamel has not had a full season of action since 2011, when he was productive at Triple-A.
- Righty Chris Carpenter has inked a minor league pact with the Reds, per Eddy. The 29-year-old worked to a 4.73 ERA over 32 1/3 innings in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league last year. He has spent time with the Cubs and Red Sox previously, briefly cracking the bigs in both 2011 and 2012.
- After being released in late February, backstop Ali Solis has re-signed with the Dodgers, according to Eddy. The 27-year-old has just 11 MLB plate appearances to his name, and owns a .237/.266/.337 line in 404 Triple-A plate appearances.
- The Red Sox have signed veteran infielder/outfielder Joe Thurston to a minor league deal, tweets Eddy. The 35-year-old has a bit of big league experience, most of which came with the 2009 Cardinals when he hit .225/.316/.330 in 307 plate appearances. Thurston has spent the past two seasons playing in the Mexican League and the independent Atlantic League. He has a career .292/.356/.429 batting line in parts of 12 Triple-A seasons.
Rusney Castillo‘s strained oblique may cause him to miss a bit of Spring Training time, yet the injury isn’t considered to be particularly serious. Still, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford posits that this setback might convince the Red Sox to give Castillo some extra minor league preparation time at the start of the season and give the center field job to Mookie Betts. Castillo told Bradford that he would be open to being in the minors if the team felt it necessary, and his long-term contract makes him secure about his role in Boston’s plans. “Of course there is a degree of comfort in that that I’m going be here for a while,” Castillo said. “At the same time, if you don’t want to be in the minor leagues ramp it up and work harder to not be there.”
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) about the team’s release of Suk-min Yoon earlier today and Yoon’s subsequent return to the KBO’s Kia Tigers. Duquette confirmed that Yoon gave up the $4.15MM still owed to him under the Orioles contract in order to make the deal happen. “The good part of this is that this didn’t work, but we were able to correct the mistake, if you will, and we have that money available to invest in other players,” Duquette said.
- After a tumultuous year that has included Tommy John surgery, being drafted by the Blue Jays and then mentioned in trade rumors to acquire Duquette as Toronto’s new team president, Jeff Hoffman tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that he is looking forward to just “putting on a uniform again” once he’s finished his rehab work. Hoffman provides a progress report on his recovery from his surgery last May.
- After years of struggling to find reliable left-handed relievers, the Yankees look to have solved the problem with Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson all in the fold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Ironically, this comes at a time when there are only a few standout left-handed hitters amongst the Yankees’ AL East rivals, Sherman notes.
In his look at the game’s most untradeable contracts, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com rates Josh Hamilton of the Angels as the least desirable in the game. While that deal already had a reasonable stake to that label, Hamilton’s recent surgery and still-unresolved disciplinary matter definitely seem to take it to another level of difficulty. The Halos have rightly put the focus on Hamilton’s personal health and wellness, but the fact remains that the contract would be all but impossible to move at this point. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report that a decision on Hamilton could come as soon as next week and is anticipated to occur before the season starts. The league and union have disagreed on the proper suspension and/or treatment scenario, with possibilities ranging from a relatively short suspension to a full-year ban. The matter is now before an arbitrator, whose determination will decide the nature of the violation. If a material violation is found, per FOX Sports, commissioner Rob Manfred would have “broad authority to determine the length of Hamilton’s suspension.”
Here are some more notes from the American League:
- Good and/or bad 2014 campaigns changed the future outlook for many players, and Ben Lindbergh of Grantland evaluates the players whose campaigns most swayed projection systems. On the positive side, a host of American League bats saw nice bumps, including youngsters Mookie Betts and Joey Gallo as well as longer-tenured players J.D. Martinez, Steve Pearce, and Victor Martinez.
- The Tigers appear set to give a long look at backstop James McCann, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. Detroit needs to find out what it has in the 24-year-old, says Iott, with veteran Alex Avila having dealt with concussion issues and set to reach free agency after the season.
- Physical setbacks are an unfortunate but inevitable part of the spring, and two talented younger players have already suffered significant injuries. The Yankees have announced that catching prospect Luis Torrens will miss the season after tearing his right shoulder labrum. Torrens opened spring rated the ninth-best prospect in the New York system. Also, Mariners farmhand Ji-Man Choi will miss four to six months after suffering a fractured right fibula, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets.
David Ortiz told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s extremely excited to have Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in the Red Sox’s lineup alongside healthy versions of Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli. “It’s going to make a huge difference.” Ortiz said. “Last year we had the big struggle with injuries. Pedroia struggled with injuries. Nap struggled with injuries. Even myself toward the end, I had a wrist problem. When you have pretty much the center of the lineup going through all those injuries, it’s hard to recover from the struggles we had offensively last year. Hopefully that’s not the case now. Everyone is healthy now. And you’ve got more thunder coming into the lineup.” Here’s more from the AL East..
- Andrew Miller turned down a four-year, $40MM deal from the Astros to join the Yankees on a four-year, $36MM this offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. While he believed that the Astros are headed in the right direction, he thought it would take them time to realize their goals. Miller also told Cafardo that the rival Red Sox made an excellent offer, but the Yankees’ situation was just too good for him to pass up. It’s believed that the Red Sox topped out at $32MM over four years. Miller recently spoke with MLBTR’s Jeff Todd about his free agent journey.
- The Angels will turn to Matt Joyce in the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s issues, but Cafardo wonders if they could call the Red Sox about Allen Craig or Shane Victorino. He also posits that the Blue Jays could have interest in talking with Boston after Michael Saunders‘ injury.
- The Rays made the right move in releasing thrice-suspended 2010 No. 1 draft pick OF Josh Sale before he anything else went wrong, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Sale has run into a litany of problems over the last few years, including two suspensions imposed by MLB and one from the Rays. Of course, it also didn’t help that he had yet to play above Class A in five pro years.
- No one is expecting Johan Santana to revert back to his prime form, but scouts see the Blue Jays signing him as a smart, low-risk move, Cafardo writes. “He obviously isn’t the Santana of old, but I’m not sure there is a more competitive pitcher in the game, and he’s learned to pitch with less,” said one National League scout.
Let’s take a quick look in at the latest out of the AL East, featuring three front office figures:
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner disputes the notion that there is anything cheap about the way his club does business, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. As for Yoan Moncada, Steinbrenner explained: “For Moncada, that was just how far I was going to go for a player who is 19 years old and at least two years away from the majors with all the uncertainties that can happen with a prospect even that good. It was a hell of an offer. [The bidding] might have ended up at $35MM if I continued to be in it.”
- Generally, Steinbrenner indicated that he has every expectation of competing this year. “It would be horrible not to make the playoffs three years in a row,” he said. “We’d be embarrassed. So anything [as far as firings or restructuring] would be on the table, yes.” (Bracketed insert via original report.)
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos sat down with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca and covered a variety of topics. We already touched on some of his comments regarding the bullpen, but Anthopoulos also noted that minor league signee Wilton Lopez has a legitimate chance to earn a pen slot, explaining that he had tried to deal for Lopez in the past. Another minor league free agent expected to get a long look is first baseman Daric Barton.
- The Orioles have dealt away prospects in several notable deals under executive VP Dan Duquette, as Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. Duquette credits the organization’s creation of a deep system for enabling the use of prospects as trade chips when appropriate. Last year’s deal for impact reliever Andrew Miller probably has the highest likelihood of stinging in the long run, with Eduardo Rodriguez trending upwards with the Red Sox. “There is a case of yes, we gave up a really good prospect, but it was required for us to take a shot at the pennant,” said Duquette. “At that point of the season, I think you have to roll the dice and see if you can help your team advance.”
The Yankees feel they have a strong case that the team should not be obligated to pay Alex Rodriguez for a series of home run milestone bonuses included in his deal with the club, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Rodriguez’s contract provides that he can earn $6MM for reaching each of five career home run tallies, starting with his 660th, but the club is said to have begun developing a legal strategy to avoid any such pay-outs.
The reason for the club’s confidence is apparent in the new details on those clauses provided in Heyman’s report. Rather than simply promising Rodriguez the sum if and when he hits the necessary home run, the language provides that the club need not “exercise its right to designate” a home run as a milestone if that “decision is made in good faith and in accordance with the intent of the parties.”
As I explained in detail a while back, it already was at least plausible to think that the Yankees could craft an argument that the marketing bonus pay-outs should be invalidated. That the actual deal language seems to contemplate scenarios where a bonus would not be paid would appear to lend significant credence to such an attempt. Of course, Rodriguez is also promised another $61MM for the next three seasons.
Of course, as Heyman notes, this matter is not likely to be resolved quietly unless the sides agree to some sort of settlement. Particularly given the contract’s reference to the “intent of the parties,” any kind of formal dispute would seem quite likely to involve testimony from Rodriguez, his agent at the time of the deal, Scott Boras, and top Yankees brass. Indeed, Heyman indicates that Rodriguez’s camp has already sought to engaged Boras regarding obtaining his testimony, with the super-agent rebuffing those initial advances. And, of course, the MLBPA would again be in a difficult position but would almost certainly seek to uphold the marketing provisions.
Adding to the complexities is the fact that Rodriguez apparently is not currently retaining an agent. Sources tell Heyman that Rodriguez has “parted ways” with Dan Lozano, the representative he had hired to replace Boras.
Andrew Bailey decided to stay with the Yankees because he was treated so well last year, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The former closer is still working his way back from shoulder surgery in the summer of 2013. “For [the Yankees] to put the time, effort, and investment into myself, I wasn’t going to look anywhere else to go,” said Bailey, who has now tossed five bullpen sessions and hopes to be ready to compete for a job out of camp.
A few more bullpen-related items from around the league…
- Left-hander Phil Coke is still holding out for a Major League deal in the neighborhood of Craig Breslow‘s one-year, $2MM contract with the Red Sox, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Coke has been connected to a number of clubs, including the Rangers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Royals, over the past two weeks, but the Rangers’ interest has reportedly waned, and Miami is said to be interested only in a minor league deal. Last year, the 32-year-old posted a 3.88 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 58 innings with Detroit. ERA estimators such as FIP (3.98), xFIP (3.79) and SIERA (3.55) felt Coke was at least as good, if not better than that mark would suggest.
- If the Blue Jays pick up another reliever, it will not be one of the names left on the open market, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “If we were to add right now, I don’t see it being in free agency,” GM Alex Anthopoulos told Davidi.
Earlier this morning, the Red Sox reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, landing the 19-year-old switch-hitter with a $31.5MM signing bonus that will cost the team $63MM due to the 100 percent luxury tax it faces for exceeding its international bonus pool. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted shortly after the agreement was struck that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to go to $27MM. Here are some more details on the tail end of a free agency that resulted in the largest signing bonus an international amateur has ever received…
- The Dodgers never actually made a formal offer for Moncada, GM Farhan Zaidi tells Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though general terms were discussed, the GM explained that Los Angeles weighed other considerations that tempered its interest: “There’s a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation.”
- Steinbrenner was “not the reason” that the Yankees didn’t go higher for Moncada, Matthews tweets, reversing his earlier report (see below).
- The Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers were the three finalists for Moncada, tweets Sherman. However, the Dodgers may have offered the most money, but it came with a price; L.A. was willing to go to $35MM on the condition that Moncada wait until July 2 in order to sign. Doing so would have given the Dodgers unrestricted spending next period, giving them a shot at all the top prospects on the market without the Yankees and Red Sox to compete against. It’s also been reported that Yadier Alvares can’t sign before July 2, so the Dodgers likely could have made a run at both.
- Indeed, Sherman tweets that the Dodgers are waiting until the new signing period begins on July 2 to spend significantly, and they plan to be very aggressive when that time comes.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman badly wanted to sign Moncada, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, but he couldn’t convince owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend any more than the reported $27MM figure. The GM told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that New York was asked to make its best offer yesterday. He was subsequently informed that it was not sufficient.
- There was “a feeling from some” that Moncada wanted to end up with the Yankees, but the team simply viewed it as too risky to spend $60-70MM on a prospect, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York (All Twitter links). The Yankees feel that they can buy a proven Major Leaguer with that type of money in the future, and the Red Sox ultimately valued him more, Marchand adds.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the Padres were also considered finalists along with the four teams mentioned by Sherman. One team involved in the bidding, Passan adds, was so confident in Moncada’s abilities that they believed him to be capable of jumping directly into the Majors. Instead, he’ll head to the lower levels of Boston’s minor league system.
- Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links), the Brewers‘ interest in Moncada was sincere. GM Doug Melvin believes that he was the first of any GM to submit a formal offer, but the team learned quickly that they wouldn’t be able to sign Moncada
- Ben Badler of Baseball America notes (Twitter links) that some of the biggest winners in this scenario are Hector Olivera and next signing period’s crop of international amateurs. As Badlery points out, Olivera is being pursued by a number of teams who were also interested in Moncada, but the Red Sox aren’t involved in his market. Moncada signing with Boston means that Olivera didn’t lose a suitor. As for the rest of the international amateurs, they and their trainers are rejoicing, Badler says. The Red Sox were already over their bonus pool, so Moncada signing with them prevents another team (e.g. the Dodgers or Brewers) from going over their pool, giving the next wave of players another suitor.
The Pirates are studying the NBA’s Warriors to see if there’s anything they can learn from Golden State’s success, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. “I read an interesting article a while ago on the Golden State Warriors, how they get maximum production with their players,” says manager Clint Hurdle. “They’re actually playing less, and they’re playing better collectively as a group.” A member of the Pirates’ front office recently did a study on the Warriors, with the Pirates trying to determine whether they can glean an advantage by somehow optimizing playing time for their roster. As Stark notes, though, it’s likely tricky to figure out how playing time in the NBA correlates to playing time in the Majors. Here are more notes.
- There were plenty of high-profile starting pitchers available on this year’s free-agent market, but the Yankees‘ main starting pitching acquisition was 25-year-old Nathan Eovaldi, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes. That’s not the sort of acquisition the Yankees are known for, but Eovaldi feels he fits in well with them. “The Yankees are rebuilding in a way,” he says. “A lot of guys are leaving, and we’re starting to get a lot more of the younger guys coming in here, too.” Eovaldi began working on a splitter near the end of last season, and he and the Yankees hope that pitch can help him boost his strikeout totals, which have been relatively low despite a terrific fastball.
- It’s well known that the Cubs have an outstanding core of hitting prospects, but it’s tough to project how far that core will actually take them. Baseball America’s Matt Eddy aims to figure that out by comparing the Cubs’ top young hitters to other exceptional groups of prospects from the past. Some of those groups (those of the 2006 Diamondbacks, 2011 Royals and 2004 Brewers) didn’t produce obviously exceptional results in wins and losses, although at least the Royals and Brewers would probably argue that they’re happy with how the intervening years unfolded. The other two great prospect groups (the 2007 Rays and 1992 Braves) helped produce great results by any standard, even if the Braves’ subsequent run was fueled largely by pitching that was already in the big leagues at the time.