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With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:
Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)
- Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
- Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
- Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
- Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
- Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
- Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
- Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
- Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
- Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.
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The Yankees are working on a contract extension with general manager Brian Cashman, whose current deal expires at the end of October, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney. Reports have previously indicated that the longtime Bombers GM wasn’t in danger of losing his role despite the fact that the Yankees missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season this year.
Cashman, 47, has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, but this is the first time in his tenure — and the first time since 1992-93, as Olney points out — that the team has missed the playoffs in successive seasons. Nonetheless, Cashman’s strong standing with the Steinbrenner family and the organization’s overall success under his watch has him in line for a new contract.
The Yankees were derailed by a barrage of injuries to the rotation this season, as CC Sabathia missed most of the season with a knee injury, Ivan Nova underwent Tommy John surgery, Michael Pineda missed much of the year with a shoulder injury and rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka missed nearly three months with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The Yankees also saw disappointing returns on major free agent investments Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Lesser free agents such as Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Brendan Ryan also scuffled. Jacoby Ellsbury, the largest non-pitching acquisition of last offseason, provided a generally strong season, hitting .271/.328/.419 with 16 homers and 39 steals.
If he hangs up his spikes, as he is said to be weighing, Red Sox catcher David Ross should have plenty of avenues for non-playing jobs in the game, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. A former GM tells Mastrodonato that he considers Ross a close friend and would be more than happy to find a position for him.
Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:
- As the offseason begins for the Red Sox, GM Ben Cherington reiterated that the team needs to add depth in the rotation and in the lineup, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports. In particular, the club will emphasize left-handed-hitting options around the diamond.
- Apart from Brett Gardner, the Yankees generally lack attractive veteran contracts that could be dealt in a rebuilding scenario, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But while that makes little sense, neither would it be beneficial to spend top dollar on the high-end free agent market, argues Sherman. Instead, New York should continue to wield its financial muscle to make more incremental gains that maintain financial and roster flexibility — much as the team did on the trade deadline this year.
- One player who could meet that description is starter Brandon McCarthy. As Roger Rubin of the New York Daily news reports, the big righty is very open to a return to New York but is not exactly waiting with bated breath. “When the phone rings we’ll find out for sure,” said McCarthy, who added that he is willing to be aggressive in selling his services. “You don’t have to be the biggest name to be the first domino to fall,” he said. “You could be at the beginning or the end and at some slot in the middle. I’ve been focused on what I am doing, but soon it could be time to weigh what’s going on. I feel if I got the right offer, I’d be willing to sign early in the process.”
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that he needs to see how Alex Rodriguez looks on the field before determining his role next year, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports. But Girardi says that his expectation is that Rodriguez will take a regular role at third: “Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. In fairness you have to see where he is at. I can’t tell you what will happen, but we expect him to be our third baseman.”
- For the Rays, manager Joe Maddon hopes to stay on past 2015 but is in no rush to add onto his contract, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reports. Meanwhile, both utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Joel Peralta hope the team will exercise its options over them for the coming year, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. That is a foregone conclusion for Zobrist, of course, but Peralta ($2.5MM option with no buyout) is a more difficult call as he enters his age-39 season. His 4.41 ERA over 63 1/3 frames does not look very appealing, but Peralta did post a 3.40 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, and 2.54 SIERA on the back of 10.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.
Here are today’s minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…
- The Yankees have outrighted southpaw Josh Outman off the 40-man roster, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reports (via Twitter). Outman was designated for assignment last week. The left-hander posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.3 K/9 over 28 1/3 IP with Cleveland and New York this season, though he battled control issues, walking 16 batters in those 28 1/3 innings. Outman has a 4.43 ERA over 274 1/3 career innings during six Major League seasons with the Yankees, Indians, Rockies and A’s.
- With Outman’s situation now resolved, that leaves the Orioles’ Preston Guilmet as the only player currently in “DFA limbo,” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.
When asked if he’d return to the Yankees in 2015, Ichiro Suzuki told reporters (including NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty) via an interpreter, “That might be a question you shouldn’t ask right now.” Suzuki said he intends to continue his career, though other comments hinting at some clubhouse drama seem to imply that his time in the pinstripes could be over. “Obviously there’s a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can’t see, that goes on inside (the club),” Suzuki said. “But what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future. It’ll be somewhat of a support for me because of the experiences I had this year.”
Here’s some more Yankees news…
- While the Yankees will keep an eye on free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields, “the early industry vibe is the Yankees aren’t going to spend big money this winter,” George A. King III of the New York Post reports. It makes sense that the Yankees would take a step back after spending over $550MM on player salaries last offseason, though by the Yankees’ standards, what they consider “not big money” could still result in a significant cash outlay.
- Also from King, free agent shortstop J.J. Hardy is “the early favorite” to take over the shortstop job in the Bronx next season. Hardy will draw a lot of attention on the open market, though there’s also a chance he could stay in Baltimore — MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski made the point in August that the O’s could see Hardy as a long-term answer at shortstop if Manny Machado‘s injuries prevent him from eventually switching positions.
- Was Derek Jeter‘s 10-year, $189MM deal actually a bargain for the Yankees? CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa believes it was, given Jeter’s consistent production from 2001-10 and his immense off-the-field value to the organization in boosting everything from TV ratings to merchandise sales. Jeter’s deal also has a case as the best completed $100MM+ contract in baseball history — Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez topped Jeter in terms of WAR, but Jeter’s role as a franchise icon may trump those three in terms of overall value to his team.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman believes the 2014 season to have been a worst-case scenario, reports John Harper of the New York Daily News. When asked about the club’s poor performance, Cashman said, “I honestly believe if you repeated this season 100 times, you would not get this result.” Here’s more from New York and the AL East.
- Also from Harper, injuries were the biggest surprise for the Yankees. While some losses must be expected from an aging roster, the Yankees did lose most of their top veterans for some stretch of time. Growing fan apathy could affect New York’s offseason plans, especially with Derek Jeter‘s imminent retirement. Harper suggests the club re-sign David Robertson and Brandon McCarthy. Rather than target a shortstop like J.J. Hardy, the Yankees could look at Victor Martinez to provide punch in the lineup.
- It’s widely accepted that the Red Sox failure this season can be traced to an over reliance on prospects. John Tomase of the Boston Herald discussed a few other warning signs in his latest column. With the exception of a couple veterans, the club was complacent in spring training. Boston lacked the depth to deal with injuries and underpeformance. Poor leadership left youngsters like Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts under intense media scrutiny during their slumps, which likely exacerbated the problem.
- Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is ready to manage in the majors, writes Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. Lovullo is on the Astros list of potential managerial candidates, although it’s unclear if he fits their analytical approach. He’s interviewed for three separate posts in the past and could be busy this offseason. Lovullo’s resume includes playing in parts of eight major league seasons for seven teams, managing for nine years in the minors, and coaching for the Blue Jays and Red Sox.
Derek Jeter left today’s game with a hamstring injury, but the Yankees outgoing icon will play tomorrow in his final professional game. As the Jeter era comes to a close, New York will have to re-adjust to a familiar dilemma – what to do with Alex Rodriguez. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that Rodriguez is a symbol of “expense, uncertainty, and awkwardness” for the Yankees.
- Also per Sherman, Rodriguez is not interested in playing winter ball, which will make it hard for the Yankees to project his role in 2015. The former star is owed $61MM for his age 39 through 41 seasons. His presence, along with other expensive, injury prone players like Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira, will make GM Brian Cashman’s job difficult (assuming Cashman is extended, his contract is up on October 31). Retaining Chase Headley while also addressing rotation, bullpen, and outfield depth could be difficult due to Rodriguez’s contract.
- Joe Girardi believes Dellin Betances is ready to take over as the Yankees closer, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. David Robertson, the current ninth inning man, is a free agent at the end of the season. It’s thought the Yankees could extend a qualifying offer to Robertson and may pursue re-signing him to a multi-year deal. If those plans fall through the cracks, Betances represents an attractive alternative.
- Yoenis Cespedes is unsure if he wants to pursue a contract extension with the Red Sox, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Boston is dealing with a lot of fluidity with their future. Deciding the role of Cespedes will likely influence many of their offseason decisions.
Here’s the latest out of the game’s eastern divisions:
- Phillies hurler Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will have a chance to start next spring, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “The plan for him is to try to get him to the point where he’s a starter again and to put him in the mix for us next year,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said it remains to be seen whether he’ll earn a role. “I don’t know, but we have starter deficiencies and we have holes there and we’d like to put him in a position where he can at least compete for a spot,” Amaro explained.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies announced a significant front office change: assistant GM Marti Wolever, who ran the team’s amateur scouting efforts, will not be back next year. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, Philadelphia has had some positives but also some notable negatives in converting drafted players into big league production. Of course, some of the young players that Wolever brought in were ultimately dealt away before they were able to contribute for the Phils. More front office turnover could well be coming, says Zolecki.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco says that the club has flexibility due to its array of young arms, as Matt Ehalt of the The Record reports. “We’ll look at it and decide if we feel we can move one or more starters in a deal to fill out other areas on the team that are not as deep,” said Ricco. “It’s not a bad situation to be in. As you look around the league and see the injuries to pitchers, it’s a reminder of how many guys you do need.”
- While he remains undecided on his future, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda left the impression that he could be leaning away from playing in the big leagues next year. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, Kuroda spoke like someone who will need to be convinced to return: “Right now, I cannot imagine what the answer is going to be,” he said. “I’m just relieved I was able to finish the season without getting hurt. If — and this is a big if — there are such talks, then I’d have to ask myself and think deeply whether I’d be able to produce.” Soon to be 40, Kuroda has not been quite as excellent as he was over his first two years in New York, but has nevertheless been plenty productive with 199 frames of 3.71 ERA baseball.
With the regular season coming to a close, we can see with MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker that there were dozens of waiver claims made this season. While many of the players involved in these transactions didn’t crack a big league roster or didn’t stick following their claim, a handful provided legitimate value to their new clubs. Let’s take a look at some of the better pulls…
- Sam Fuld (Claimed by Twins from A’s on April 20): Fuld was acquired by the Twins simply because they needed depth in center field, but he provided quite a bit more than depth. Fuld batted a very solid .274/.370/.354 in 195 PA with the Twins and provided value both on the bases and in the outfield. He was traded back to Oakland on July 31, netting the Twins Tommy Milone. The 27-year-old Milone has struggled so far in Minnesota, but the team gained four years of control of a potential back-end starter in the deal.
- Hector Noesi (Claimed by White Sox from Rangers on April 25): Few expected Noesi to hold down a rotation spot in Chicago for the whole season, but he’s done just that. The 27-year-old, who was a castoff from the Mariners after struggling to a 6.13 ERA in parts of three seasons, made just three appearances with the Rangers before being DFAed there also. In Chicago, he’s turned in a 4.39 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 37.7 percent ground-ball rate in 160 innings. He may not be an elite arm or even a long-term piece, but he’s provided some stability and soaked up innings, and there’s value to that for any club. Noesi is controlled through 2017 if the Sox are so inclined.
- Moises Sierra (Claimed by White Sox from Blue Jays on May 3): Chicago’s outfield depth took a hit with the injury to Avisail Garcia, and Sierra has helped fill some of the void in a part-time role. He hasn’t been an elite bat, but he’s provided above-average offense with a .280/.316/.423 and also played solid defense in right field. He’s yet to reach arbitration eligibility, and he remains under control through 2019, so he could serve as a bench piece in future seasons.
- Esmil Rogers (Claimed by Yankees from Blue Jays on July 31): Rogers’ struggles in Toronto were long bemoaned by Blue Jays fans, particularly because he was acquired in a deal that sent Yan Gomes to the Indians. The Yankees claimed him with little fanfare, but he’s given them five solid innings in a spot start and 19 2/3 innings of solid relief. The end result is a 3.28 ERA and a strong 22-to-8 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 frames for the Yankees. While he might not be a long-term piece (he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $1.85MM this year), he did provide a positive contribution to a Yankee pitching staff that was still hoping to make a run at the time of his acquisition.
- Jordan Schafer (Claimed by Twins from Braves on Aug. 3): Once a top Braves prospect, Schafer’s second tenure with the club that drafted him didn’t go all that well, but the Twins again claimed him in need of outfield depth. Schafer has faredwell in Minnesota, slashing .285/.345/.362 with 15 steals in 20 attempts. He can be controlled through 2016 if the Twins wish to retain him as a fourth outfielder, which seems likely, as he earned a modest $1.09MM in 2014.
- Matt Thornton (Claimed by Nationals from Yankees on Aug. 5): Thornton pitched well in the Bronx after signing a two-year, $7MM deal with the Yankees, but his salary made him expendable to the Bombers, who let him go to the Nats on this waiver claim. The veteran lefty has rattled off 11 1/3 scoreless innings over 18 appearances with the Nats and is controlled through next season at $3.5MM.
- Jerome Williams (Claimed by the Phillies from the Rangers on Aug. 10): Williams struggled mightily with both Texas clubs after finding success as a swingman with the Angels from 2011-13, but he rediscovered himself in Philadelphia. He’s given the Phillies eight starts and 51 1/3 innings of 2.45 ERA ball with 6.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45.7 percent ground-ball rate. With the Phillies toiling at the bottom of the NL East and Williams set to hit free agency at season’s end, the overall benefit may seem trivial, but he’s provided stable innings for the Phils and rebuilt some of the stock that his struggles in Houston and Arlington tarnished.
- John Axford (Claimed by Pirates from Indians on Aug. 14): Axford’s bid to reestablish himself with the Indians fell short, as he quickly lost the closer’s gig and walked 30 batters in 43 2/3 innings with Cleveland. The Bucs claimed him in hopes of lowering that walk rate, and they’ve succeeded. Axford has given the playoff-bound Bucs 10 2/3 innings of a 1.69 ERA in relief, and perhaps more importantly, he’s turned in a tidy 12-to-4 K/BB ratio in that time. He appears to have manager Clint Hurdle’s trust, as he’s worked the seventh inning three times, the eighth inning six times and the ninth inning three times in his 12 appearances as a Pirate. They’ll have the option to retain him via arbitration this offseason, though a raise on his $4.5MM salary may be too steep.
While these waiver claims vary in nature — some provide a long-term bench piece while others have provided short-term boosts — each has been of some benefit to their current club. That brings me to the question…
The Pirates have claimed right-hander Chaz Roe off waivers from the Yankees, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 27-year-old Roe was designated for assignment by New York last week. Charlie Morton was placed on the 60-day DL in order to make room for Roe on the 40-man roster.
The Yankees acquired Roe from the Marlins on Aug. 31 this season, and the righty went on to make three appearances in pinstripes, yielding three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts against three walks in a two innings. Roe split the 2013 season between the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate and big league club last year, with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
This season, Roe enjoyed a strong campaign at Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins organization, posting a 3.66 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief.