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The Yankees’ playoff chances may hinge on a game of catch that will take place today at Yankee Stadium. General manager Brian Cashman confirmed to George A. King III of the New York Post that Masahiro Tanaka will throw today for the first time since a slight UCL tear was discovered in the righty’s throwing elbow. If Tanaka feels good after his session, he’ll continue his rehab process with an eye towards a return in September. If he doesn’t feel right, Tanaka may have to undergo Tommy John surgery and could be in jeopardy of missing the entire 2015 season.
Here’s some more about the Bronx Bombers…
- The trainer for Christopher Torres, a 16-year-old Dominican shortstop, made a complaint to the commissioner’s office claiming the Yankees backed out of an agreed-upon $2.1MM bonus with the youngster, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. The Yankees claim no deal was ever reached, while Torres’ trainer says that by not informing Torres of their decision until June, the shortstop was left unsigned with no teams had room left in their international budget. Badler goes into great detail about the case and the gray area created when teams agree to sign international players months in advance of the July 2 signing period, which is against MLB rules but is very common around the league.
- The Phillies asked for Aaron Judge in exchange for Marlon Byrd, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Needless to say, the Yankees balked at giving up Judge, who was drafted 32nd overall in 2013 and is ranked by MLB.com as the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system.
- With the Yankees struggling at the plate and facing questions at third base and DH for 2015, Newsday’s David Lennon writes that Alex Rodriguez would’ve been a useful piece on the roster right now. Had A-Rod worked out a 125-150 game suspension last August instead of appealing and ending up suspended for all of 2014, he would already have been eligible to return, Lennon notes.
- Also from King’s piece, Rusney Castillo‘s private workout with the Yankees will take place on Friday. The Cuban outfielder also has an upcoming session with the Mariners, and he has already worked out for the Phillies and Red Sox. King hears from sources that Castillo could sign for between $35-45MM, which is a step up from the $25-35MM we last heard was Castillo’s likely price range, though given the heavy interest in his services and the big-market teams involved, it isn’t surprising his price tag is going up.
The Red Sox decided to sell last week after it became clear the odds were against them contending, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes in a long piece on the team’s deadline moves. “No matter how we think the team should be playing or could play over the last 60 games or so, the math was against us,” says Sox GM Ben Cherington. “And if we’re really serious about building another team and trying to become as good as we can as quickly as we can, well, what do we need to find out the rest of the way to do that?” Abraham adds that the Red Sox discussed potential trades with 26 of the 29 other teams, ultimately dealing Jon Lester, John Lackey, Stephen Drew and Andrew Miller. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- One player the Red Sox didn’t discuss was Giancarlo Stanton, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. The Marlins were bidders for Jon Lester, but they offered a collection of prospects, and the Red Sox did not attempt to pry Stanton away. Of course, from the Marlins’ perspective, dealing an established star like Stanton might have defeated the purpose of trading for another established star in Lester, particularly since Lester is eligible for free agency after the season.
- When Esmil Rogers entered the game for the Yankees Sunday, he became the team’s 29th pitcher this season, a franchise record, as Katie Sharp of It’s About The Money tweets. That group includes injury cases (Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda etc.), barely used relievers (Bruce Billings, Chris Leroux, Wade LeBlanc, Jim Miller, Cesar Cabral, Jeff Francis) and even former infielder Dean Anna.
- The Pirates sat out of the trade deadline for the second straight year, but the trading season isn’t over, notes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Bucs made two waiver trades in 2013, acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd, backup catcher John Buck, and first baseman Justin Morneau. After a quiet July trade deadline in 2014, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Pirates dip into the waiver trade market again.
- Pedro Alvarez has lost his job as the Pirates’ starter at third base, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Bucs aren’t likely to move him to a different position (probably first base) until after the season, however. The Pirates acquired infielder Jayson Nix Sunday as an additional option at third, although Josh Harrison will likely receive most of the available playing time there.
- Major League Baseball should consider moving the non-waiver trade deadline to some point in August, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The presence of the second Wild Card causes many teams to consider themselves contenders in late July, leading to few sellers on trade market. Athletics GM Billy Beane says that he approves of the current July 31 deadline but adds that there haven’t been many sellers in recent years. Giants GM Brian Sabean, meanwhile, believes the deadline should be changed.
- Players who appear likely to clear waivers and become candidates for August trades include Josh Willingham of the Twins, Alex Rios of the Rangers and Carlos Quentin of the Padres, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. That could mean there could be a reasonable market for teams looking for outfielders, especially if Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Drew Stubbs of the Rockies also clear. John Danks of the White Sox and Scott Feldman of the Astros (who pitched a complete game today) are among the starting pitchers likely to clear.
- The Dodgers and Brewers had the most interest in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, Heyman tweets, noting that Benoit is unlikely to clear waivers.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Joe Kelly first found out that John Lackey was traded to the Cardinals on Twitter and, 15 minutes later, learned he was part of the package heading to the Red Sox in return, writes Rob Harms of the Boston Globe. “Hectic,” Kelly said of the deadline’s personal impact on him. “It’s something that happens in baseball, and, like I said, it could happen to anyone. When I got the news I was definitely shocked and surprised, but I found out it was Boston, and I figured it was one great baseball town to another. So definitely looking forward to it.” More out of the AL East..
- Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman says that if he waited until the winter to deal David Price, the return would have been somewhere between “a good bit less to dramatically less,” writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. While some see their haul for the ace pitcher as light, Topkin says that in reality, they were pleased to get as much as they did.
- There’s no reason for Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to stop wheeling and dealing now, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox already have shipped out 11 of the 25 players who were on their World Series roster only nine months ago, but Lauber is dreaming big and thinking of names like Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Sale.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal breaks down the questions the Red Sox still need to answer in the aftermath of their recent roster maneuvers.
- The Yankees are helping Martin Prado through his “strange” transition to a new team and new position, writes Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger. Prado hadn’t taken a single practice fly ball in right field this season even though that’s his new spot. The veteran mostly played third base and left field while with the Braves and Diamondbacks.
- While he knows that he has “very big” shoes to fill, Drew Smyly is excited to be a member of the Rays, Topkin writes.
- Jim Johnson is now free to sign with any club after his release by the A’s Friday. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes the Orioles maintain a high level of interest in signing their former closer to a minor league deal, but are not the only team pursuing the right-hander.
- Johnson will throw a side session for the Orioles tomorrow in Sarasota in front of rehab pitching coordinator Scott McGregor, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
The Yankees bullpen has emerged from Mariano Rivera‘s shadow to carve out their own place, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “Those two guys, they are amazing,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said of Dellin Betances and David Robertson. “If they’re facing, in the seventh or eighth, a guy throwing 100, and then Robertson comes in at 91 with cutters and curveballs, it’s difficult timing.” More on the Bombers..
- Before acquiring Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks on Thursday, the Yankees inquired about the Mariners’ Dustin Ackley, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. However, those talks ended when the M’s asked for minor league right-hander Bryan Mitchell because the Yankees view the 23-year-old right-hander as a rotation candidate either this year or next.
- Robertson continues to lock up saves and Yankees GM Brian Cashman should lock up the closer, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The Yankees broke their long-standing rule of not extending players beyond their current contracts when they inked Brett Gardner to a four-year, $52MM deal during spring training and that’s looking like a smart move now. Now that Robertson has proven himself to be a strong closer, the Bombers should make sure he’s there for the long haul.
- The Yankees‘ acquisition of Prado means that they can be more patient in getting Carlos Beltran back from injury, writes Roger Rubin of the Daily News.
We’ll take a look at every division in baseball, but it’s hard not to start here. The division is always fun to watch, and it was full of intrigue in 2014. Here’s what took place over the last month or so, culminating in a whirlwind today:
- Acquired third baseman Danny Valencia from Royals in exchange for righty Liam Hendriks and catcher Erik Kratz
- Acquired first baseman Brett Wallace from Orioles in exchange for cash considerations
- Acquired lefty Andrew Miller from Red Sox in exchange for lefty Eduardo Rodriguez
- Acquired utilityman Jimmy Paredes from Royals in exchange for cash considerations
- Acquired cash considerations from Blue Jays in exchange for first baseman Brett Wallace
- Acquired lefty Drew Smyly, infielder Nick Franklin, and shortstop Willy Adames from Tigers and Mariners in exchange for lefty David Price
- Acquired infielder Kelly Johnson from Yankees in exchange for infielder Stephen Drew and cash
- Acquired lefty Eduardo Rodriguez from Orioles in exchange for lefty Andrew Miller
- Acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and 2015 compensatory draft pick from Athletics in exchange for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash
- Acquired righty Joe Kelly and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig from Cardinals in exchange for righty John Lackey, lefty Corey Littrell, and cash
- Acquired player to be named later from Cubs in exchange for lefty Felix Doubront
- Acquired lefty Edwin Escobar and righty Heath Hembree from Giants in exchange for righty Jake Peavy
- Acquired infielder/outfielder Martin Prado from Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Peter O’Brien
- Acquired infielder Stephen Drew and cash from Red Sox in exchange for infielder Kelly Johnson
- Acquired lefty Chris Capuano from Rockies in exchange for cash
- Acquired third baseman Chase Headley and cash from Padres in exchange for infielder Yangervis Solarte and righty Rafael De Paula
- Acquired lefty Jeff Francis and cash from Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later
- Acquired righty Brandon McCarthy from Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno
- Acquired lefty David Huff from Giants in exchange for cash
The Yankees were somewhat quiet buyers, the Red Sox were incredibly loud sellers, and there were multiple inter-division deals. It was decidedly not business as usual in the AL East, but plenty of business was done … except, that is, in Toronto.
Despite long being rumored to be looking for additions to the rotation, bullpen, and/or infield, the Blue Jays (as they did in free agency) largely stayed quiet. Several players actually expressed frustration with the inactivity, but GM Alex Anthopoulos said that clubs were asking for big league players in return and that nothing ended up making baseball sense. He indicated that the August market could hold some possibilities, but at this point, it seems likely that the Jays will sink or swim with their current alignment.
The Orioles, likewise, were known to have a rather similar list of possible needs, and were expected mostly to pursue new arms. Baltimore ultimately did just that, steering clear of a starting pitching market filled with big swaps but ultimately landing the most sought-after reliever who remained available. It cost the club one of its better prospects — Rodriguez, probably the best pre-MLB player to change hands today — but will give the team a high-leverage weapon as it tries to hold onto precious wins. But as with Toronto, if the team comes up just short in a year in which the division seems so tantalizingly open, it will be fair to ask whether one more piece would have made the difference.
The Yankees took something of a different approach, adding a bevy of potentially useful veterans who struggled in the season’s first half and were playing on fairly sizable contracts. Among them, only the most recent addition — Prado — comes with team control beyond the present season. Buried by by other, larger deals, the Prado swap not only completes an infield makeover for this year but also gives the team plenty of flexibility moving forward.
Reaching the bottom of the division, one finds some fairly atypical selling clubs. The Rays, of course, have been roaring back on the field, even if the playoff picture largely remains the same. Perhaps the failure to climb the ladder drove the club’s decision to move this year’s biggest trade chip in Price. While the return does not feature the kinds of prospects that one might have expected, it delivered plenty of long-term value back to Tampa. And it left the club, notably, with plenty of talent still in the fold for 2014. A nice run from Smyly, and perhaps even a late-season boost from Franklin, could play a role in continuing the Rays’ rise in the standings. None of the teams ahead of them appears poised to run away with things, but it will be interesting to see how the clubhouse responds to the trade.
In a series of moves that were every bit as bold as Tampa’s big stroke, the Red Sox parted with the club’s two best pitchers, two other members of the World Series-defending, Opening Day rotation, a dominant set-up man, and a just-signed veteran shortstop (and what a journey it’s been for Drew). But this was no traditional roster blow-up; instead, Boston returned mostly big league pieces that changed the team’s makeup dramatically but gave notice that it intends to contend next year. Adding power bats to the corner outfield and young arms to the current and near-future rotation — the team now has an impressive array of young arms and other prospects — the Red Sox look primed to add yet more more pieces in free agency and aim for another title run. GM Ben Cherington said that the team will be a player for veteran pitching in free agency, and reports even indicated that the team could have its sights set on a reunion with Lester. It remains to be seen whether Boston would have been better served by pushing its clock further back and perhaps bringing in more upside, but if Cespedes and Craig can return to their 2012 levels of production, Boston will be right back in the thick of things in 2015.
Roberts, a long-time division rival of the Yankees after spending his entire career in Baltimore prior to 2014, signed a one-year, $2MM deal as a free agent in the offseason. He struggled at the plate in his lone season in Yankee pinstripes, slashing .237/.300/.360 with five homers and seven stolen bases.
Roberts was among the league’s top second basemen last decade, but injuries derailed many of his would-be peak years. He’s undergone hip surgery and hamstring surgery in recent years in addition to dealing with concussion symptoms. In his career, the switch-hitter is a .276/.347/.409 hitter with 97 homers and 285 stolen bases.
The Yankees acquired infielder Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. The D’Backs will receive catching prospect Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later or cash considerations and are not contributing cash to the deal, tweets MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. The Yankees have now officially announced the deal.
Prado, 30, is hitting .270/.317/.370 in 436 plate appearances for Arizona this year while playing mostly third base. He was a major piece of the January 2013 trade that brought Justin Upton to the Braves. Shortly after the acquisition, Prado signed a four-year, $40MM extension with the D’Backs. He has about $3.6MM remaining this year, and $11MM in each of the 2015 and ’16 seasons.
Minutes before this trade, the Yankees acquired Stephen Drew from the Red Sox for Kelly Johnson. On July 22nd, the Yankees added third baseman Chase Headley. Drew will play second base, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, while it’s not exactly clear how Prado will be employed.
O’Brien, 24, is hitting .267/.312/.593 with 33 home runs between High-A and Double-A in 413 plate appearances. Baseball America ranked him 23rd among Yankees prospects prior to the season, praising his power but questioning his defense.
3:17pm: Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets that the Yankees will pay nearly all of the nearly $5MM that remains on Drew’s deal. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Drew will play second base for the Yankees.
The 31-year-old Drew was linked to the Yankees for much of the offseason but elected to wait until midseason before signing a one-year deal worth the pro-rated verstion of the $14.1MM qualifying offer which he rejected. His return to Boston hasn’t gone well, as he’s slashed just .176/.255/.328 in 145 plate appearances. D
rew’s bat has picked up over the past two weeks, as he’s hit .267/.377/.511 with a pair of homers, but the overall numbers still look grim. He seems likely to see time at some combination of second base and third base, with Derek Jeter still manning shortstop. Drew is a free agent at season’s end and cannot receive a qualifying offer.
2:20pm: The Yankees announced that Scott Sizemore has been released to clear room on the 40-man roster.
The 28-year-old Rogers has allowed 16 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings this season (6.97 ERA), but he posted a superior 4.77 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate in 137 2/3 innings for the Jays in 2013. Toronto had designated him for assignment last week.
12:57pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that nothing is close, via Twitter.