New York Yankees Rumors
The Yankees designated reliever Cesar Cabral for assignment after tonight's game, reports Marly Rivera of ESPN Deportes (via Twitter). Cabral, 25, had a rough outing, giving up three earned runs and failing to record an out before he was ejected for hitting his third batter of the inning.
Cabral only has 4 2/3 innings of MLB experience over the last two seasons. Across the minors in 2013, he posted a 5.40 ERA in 36 2/3 innings. Prior to that, he had spent his career in the Red Sox organization. In his best season as a reliever, 2011, he worked to a 2.95 ERA in 55 innings at the High-A and Double-A level.
12:19pm: Hanrahan isn't yet negotiating with anyone but is expected to start taking offers next week, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Some teams have requested to see Hanrahan's medicals.
FRIDAY, 11:24am: The Twins aren't one of the teams talking contract with Hanrahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. There is similarly "nothing brewing" between Hanrahan and the Mets, The Record's Matt Ehalt reports. The Astros, meanwhile, weren't at the tryout at all, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: Upwards of 20 teams were on-hand today to watch free-agent right-hander Joel Hanrahan's showcase at the University of Tampa today, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (More specifically, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that there were 16 to 18 clubs on-hand). Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Hanrahan's agents at Reynolds Sports Management are already discussing a contract with multiple clubs after what proved to be a strong audition.
Among the attendees, according to Heyman, were the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Royals, Rockies and Indians. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were in attendance as well, while MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers, too, were one of the clubs in attendance. Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com adds (also via Twitter) that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays were present.
Hanrahan appears to be ahead of schedule, Heyman writes, as he was throwing as hard as 93 mph despite being just 11 months removed from Tommy John/flexor tendon repair surgery. Scouts told Heyman that Hanrahan looked "fit and healthy," while another who attended told Cafardo (Twitter link) that Hanrahan "looked great." Wolfson's tweet also mentions that Hanrahan looked impressive.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan posted a 2.59 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 229 1/3 innings with the Pirates from 2009-12 before a trade that sent him to Boston last offseason.
Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron provides an interesting look at team age, weighted for anticipated playing time. The unsurprising result is that the oldest current MLB roster belongs to the Yankees. With the Red Sox and Blue Jays also falling in the top five, and the Rays landing in the top half with what Cameron calls a "sneaky old" roster, the American League East would appear to be the most veteran-laden division in the game.
- The loss of pitchers Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeremy Hellickson has exposed the fact that the Rays are thin on pitching depth in their system, says Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). Gammons notes that, despite having five of the first 79 picks in the 2010 draft and a whopping ten of the first 60 choices in 2011, the only major leaguer to have emerged from those additions is infielder Derek Dietrich (who, of course, has since been dealt for fellow infielder Yunel Escobar).
- Looking at the bigger picture for the Rays, the club is still looking for a location to target for a new ballpark, as the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reports. One possibility is to land in the city after which the club is named. "Tampa is obviously very, very attractive on the list," said club owner Stuart Sternberg, "and we expect to at some point, hopefully sooner, look there as well as some other parts of the region." The organization still needs to undertake "a full-out exploration" of possible sites in the area, including Tampa and St. Petersburg, Sternberg said. Tampa's current lease -- at the St. Petersburg-located Tropicana Field -- has often been noted as a significant hindrance for the team's spending capacity, and runs through the 2027 season.
- Injuries to the middle infield have not changed the Yankees' stance on Stephen Drew, according to principal owner Hal Steinbrenner. As MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom reports, Steinbrenner said that he is "pretty content with [the Yankees'] infield right now," especially given the early returns on some of the club's lower-profile offseason additions. "I'm happy with a couple of our Minor League free-agent signings -- [Yangervis Solarte] and [Dean Anna]. Jeter has been healthy. So far, I'm pretty content with where we are, but I will always analyze options." (Anna was actually acquired via trade, though certainly he was the same type of addition.)
- The Yankees are also enjoying the excellent early showing from Michael Pineda, who was picked up in a rare swap of highly touted young talent. (Jesus Montero, of course, went to Seattle in that deal.) Continuing a strong Spring Training run, in 12 innings over two starts, Pineda has allowed just two earned runs and has struck out 12 batters while walking only two. As Tony Blengino of Fangraphs writes, a full return to form for Pineda would be "basically unprecedented in baseball history," with the one notable exception of another outstanding young pitcher who returned from an early-career shoulder injury to post a Hall-of-Fame career: Jim Palmer.
- Red Sox hurler Jon Lester projects to be worthy of a six-year, $145MM deal in free agency, according to ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski. Other than sticking in Boston, Lester could draw interest from teams like the Cubs, Mariners, Giants, and Tigers, in Szymborski's estimation.
For some players, just getting the chance to play is the biggest hurdle. That certainly holds true for Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, whose journey out of Cuba and into Major League Baseball is perhaps more astounding than anyone realized. Jesse Katz of Los Angeles Magazine provides a narrative of Puig's unbelievable tale.
Here are a few notes from around the game:
- The Yankees come in at a surprising second in the early-season defensive shift count, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). As Olney notes, that kind of decision requires organizational commitment on every level, and two offseason infield acquisitions -- Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts -- played an important part in the first discussions involving players.
- Red Sox players view hurler Jon Lester as worthy of the kind of huge payday that the club's front office seems somewhat unwilling to give him, Olney adds. The view from the clubhouse is obviously not likely to drive a decision, but Olney notes that players are keeping a keen eye on how the team's ace is treated.
- For Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, the big issue facing the club is health, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports. He said that the team's bullpen depth at the minor league level is a strength, that the righty-heavy lineup was driven by having good options that happen to hit from that side of the plate, and that he was comfortable with the team's shortstop options -- especially with Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez available in the minors.
- The MLB blackout policy is harmful to the game's long-term development, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan traces the league's determined fight to maintain territorial blackouts and its connection to the local TV money that has had such a substantial impact on the MLB player market.
Needless to say, the season has gotten of to a rough start in terms of injury news. Offering some hope, perhaps, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper writes (answering a reader question) that two-time Tommy John patients have a better track record of recovery than is perhaps commonly thought. Here's the latest on a few situations around the league that have (or could have had) hot stove implications:
- Rockies starter Brett Anderson is expected to be out for a lengthy stretch with a broken index finger, as he will need four to six weeks to recover before rehabbing, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who has had more than his share of injury troubles in recent campaigns, will undergo surgery to have pins inserted in the finger, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Anderson was a major offseason acquisition for the Rockies, coming over in exchange for one-time top prospect Drew Pomeranz, who has been working out of the pen for the Athletics this year. Fortunately for Colorado, the team appears to have enough in-house options to cover in the meantime.
- Rays starter Matt Moore played catch today as he and the team assess whether the young lefty can avoid Tommy John surgery, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "Actually [trainer Ron Porterfield] said he threw okay," said manager Joe Maddon, "but I'm waiting to hear back from him what the final analysis is. Nothing yet. [Porterfield] said he turned it loose a little bit too, so we'll see. That was probably a good test for him. The word pain was not used. [Porterfield] told me he actually threw the ball pretty good."
- For the Phillies, starter A.J. Burnett intends to pitch through a hernia, and the team will finally welcome back reliever Mike Adams from the DL in the coming days, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Adams was a major free agent addition last year, but threw only 25 innings of 3.96 ERA ball last year before going down to a labrum and rotator cuff tear. Adams' contract contains a $6MM club option for 2015 that would vest if he throws 60 innings this year, but that provision will be voided if he is not available on Opening Day next year because of the shoulder issues (since they arose before the end of the 2014 season).
- With the Yankees dealing with multiple injuries and uncertainty in the infield, the obvious question is whether the team will revisit the possibility of signing Stephen Drew. John Harper of the New York Daily News argues that the team should do just that, noting that Drew can upgrade up the middle this year while providing value in any future years he signs on for. But Wallace Mathews of ESPNNewYork.com reports cites a source who says that there is "no way" the team will sign Drew or fellow free agent Kendrys Morales.
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia got good news today, as he learned that his left wrist issues do not appear to be serious, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported on Twitter. As fellow Herald reporter Scott Lauber reported later this afternoon, an MRI showed no structural damage that would warrant concern. The team has confirmed the reports while adding that closer Koji Uehara has no structural damage in his shoulder, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new, lengthy notes column in which he begins by examining the early scrutiny of MLB's new instant replay system. He points to a pair of blatantly missed calls on Saturday in which conclusive evidence was seen on TV broadcasts of the games but apparently not by the umpires at MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York. An MLB spokesperson confirmed to Rosenthal that one of those calls was blown and added that the system would continue to work on improvement. Rosenthal reminds that John Schuerholz, one of the architects of the system, said it would be a three-year roll out. However, he adds that MLB can't expect any patience from fans, players or managers when home viewers are able to make better judgments than the umpires at the Relay Operations Center.
Here are some more highlights from his article, which also contains notes on Jose Abreu, struggling offenses around the league and the Dodgers' interleague schedule...
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is the early front-runner for "first manager to get fired" due to the team's 4-11 start, but Rosenthal wonders what more Gibson can do with the pitching talent (or lack thereof) he has been given. GM Kevin Towers thinned out the rotation depth by trading Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg this offseason, and the loss of Patrick Corbin compounded those moves. Rosenthal wonders how long the Snakes can wait before recalling Archie Bradley.
- One executive said to Rosenthal that any American League team with a need in the infield will have added incentive to work out a deal with Stephen Drew in order to prevent the Tigers from signing him. The AL Central powerhouse is currently going with Alex Gonzalez at short, and the results have been less than stellar.
- Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda told Rosenthal (through his interpreter) that he's never considered retirement as heavily as he did this offseason. The most difficult factor for Kuroda wasn't the separation from his L.A.-based family -- they come live with him in the summer when his daughters are out of school -- but rather that he simply loves and misses Japan. Kuroda again left open the possibility of finishing his career back in Japan.
- Both the Angels and Twins have a need in the outfield with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, and both teams were interested in the recently DFA'ed Sam Fuld this offseason before he signed with the Athletics. Rosenthal reports that the A's will gauge trade possibilities for Fuld and wonders if the Halos and Twins could have interest.
- After signing a minor league deal in the 2012-13 offseason, Blue Jays right-hander Neil Wagner earned the pro-rated portion that deal's $525K salary while in the Majors last season. However, Toronto's pre-arbitration pay scale called for just a $506,250 salary in 2014, as it is based on service time rather than performance. Agent Jim Munsey and Wagner refused the deal, giving Toronto the freedom to renew Wagner's contract at $500K if they wished, which the team did. Said Munsey of the ordeal: "It's, obviously, disappointing that they cut Neil's pay after such a good season last year. And when we didn't agree to the pay cut, they cut it further in renewing him. Hard to cheer for that. ... The rules allow the Jays to reduce his pay. They also allow us to talk about that at arbitration." MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at teams' calculation of pre-arbitration salaries.
- Though the Rays' rotation has been ravaged by injuries to Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the team is planning on using internal options rather than pursuing outside help.
"Sometimes you have to look underneath the surface and I tend to agree it has a lot to do with youth sports and travel teams and multiple travel teams and kids pitching to win when they're really young and throwing too many pitches. I think the more recent epidemic curiously might be tied to what they're doing before they even get here professionally."
Of course, Moore's injury is not the only injury facing the Rays' rotation, either. Jeremy Hellickson opened the season on the disabled list, and Alex Cobb is now out as long as six weeks after being placed on the DL with an oblique strain yesterday, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Here's more from the AL East...
- The Mariners' decision to designate Shawn Kelley for assignment last Spring Training rather than pay him $935K has proven to be the Yankees' gain, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. Kelley was a vital part of the bullpen in 2013 and has stepped up for the injured David Robertson in 2014 thus far. Kelley's strong 2013 season is part of the reason that the Yanks didn't add a right-handed setup arm this offseason, writes Harper, as they believed the two-time Tommy John victim to be capable of handling the role of Robertson's primary setup man.
- Harper also looks at the predictably injury-riddled Yankees infield and opines that it's time for the team to call Scott Boras to get a deal done with Stephen Drew. As Harper points out, the Yankees ran out an infield of Kelly Johnson, Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte and Carlos Beltran last night, and patchwork mixes like that simply won't cut it. He suggests a two-year deal for Drew, to play second base and provide insurance for Jeter this season before taking the reins at shortstop in 2015.
- While much is made of Jon Lester's coming free agency by the Boston media, the Boston Herald's John Tomase writes that Jonny Gomes is also in the final year of his deal, and he spoke with the part-time Red Sox outfielder about that scenario. Gomes admits that it's difficult to play in a walk year due to the results-oriented nature of the game, adding that he knows being a good clubhouse presence won't necessarily get him a job next year. Tomase writes that ideally, Gomes' preference is to stay in Boston.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that Red Sox manager John Farrell isn't exactly thrilled with the early returns on baseball's instant replay system. "It's hard to have any faith in the system," said Farrell after being on the losing end of a pair of challenges this weekend. Saturday's call, in particular, looked to provide conclusive evidence in Boston's favor, but the umpires didn't agree. Said Farrell: "As much as they’re trying to help the human element inside this system, it seems like it’s added the human element at a different level."
In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Keith Law blasted the North Carolina State coaching staff's decision to let Carlos Rodon throw 134 pitches in a start on Friday night. Rodon is expected to be one of the top picks in June's amateur draft, yet Law felt the southpaw's promising future was being risked by a coaching staff desperate to reach the NCAA tournament.
Here's some news from around the Majors...
- If Alfonso Soriano doesn't retire at season's end, he'd like to play through 2016, preferably as a member of the Yankees, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Insider-only link). If he has a tough season this year, however, Soriano will retire. The veteran outfielder is in last year of his contract and has previously discussed retiring after 2014, as Soriano's health will also factor into his decision.
- Bobby Abreu is hitting .500 in Triple-A and is "the best hitter Las Vegas has got by far," a talent evaluator tells Mike Puma of the New York Post. Since Abreu can opt out of his minor league deal on April 30, the Mets will have to make a decision soon, and they could free up a roster spot by moving one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.
- The Brewers have a dozen players making the Major League minimum salary (or slightly above), and this influx of cheap, young talent helps the smaller-market club afford the six $10MM+ salaries on the payroll, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.
- Scheduling and tougher PED testing/penalities are two factors for increased injuries this season, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Travel during both the regular season and Spring Training has become more arduous at a time when players' bodies might not be recovering as quickly due to a lack of performance enhancers.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
The possibility exists that at some point this season, the Red Sox could field a lineup, along with a good chunk of their rotation and bullpen, that is comprised almost exclusively of players and pitchers who have played only for Boston, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Thanks to the club's emphasis on homegrown talent, injuries/days off for David Ortiz, A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, and Mike Napoli could make this idea a reality sometime this summer. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Two winters ago, the Red Sox were able to find success by overpaying free agents on an average annual basis while avoiding long-term deals, but they're mistaken if they think they can do the same with Jon Lester, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Boston reportedly offered the standout pitcher a four-year, $70MM contract extension before the start of the season.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com agrees that the Red Sox are making a mistake in their handling of the contract talks with Lester, as the southpaw has no real reason to take such a relatively below-market extension. Such a deal would also likely not sit well with the MLBPA, which Lester recognizes. "I don't want to be the guy where you sign a deal and then a guy like [Felix Doubront] comes up and says (sarcastically), 'Thanks Jon for helping me out.' That's the tough part," Lester said. "You've got to balance what makes you happy and still have to take into account where the Players' Association is, you have to take into account the market and what's fair, and then you do what makes you happy. If you're a little bit below market value and it makes you happy, who cares? If you're astronomically below market value, then that's where you need to look at it."
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes that the Yankees are the best bet to sign free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan. The former Pirates closer is set to audition for teams on Thursday in Tampa, Florida. The Mets, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, and Rays are also said to be among the teams with interest in the 32-year-old.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the Rays and their ability to keep their young players under team control. Of course, those type of deals aren't offered to all good young players, and not all accept it, not wanting to trade off larger future earnings for security. Right-hander Alex Cobb and outfielders Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers are among the young notables who don't have long-term pacts.
MLB officials plan to discuss the Michael Pineda pine tar incident with the Yankees, though a suspension isn't expected, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reports. Pineda had what Kuty describes as a brown, oily substance on his hand during Thursday's start against the Red Sox, but league spokesman spokesman Pat Courtney notes that the right-hander was never seen applying a foreign substance, and the Red Sox never raised the issue. A couple more Major League notes on a slow night at MLBTR:
- The rotating cast for the closer's job in Oakland has continued despite the club's acquisition of Jim Johnson this offseason, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. The A's have had eight different pitchers lead the team in saves over the past 13 seasons. Manager Bob Melvin says he "can definitely see" Johnson regaining the role, however.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy says Pablo Sandoval has assured him that his contract situation hasn't been a distraction in the season's early going, according to a report from Alex Espinoza of MLB.com. Sandoval is hitting just .143/.265/.238 thus far. He's scheduled to become a free agent after the season, but extension talks with the Giants have reportedly been shut down.