New York Yankees Rumors
The situation with Matt Moore's UCL injury is still up in the air, as the southpaw is waiting to have his MRIs examined by the Rays' team orthopedic physician, Moore told reporters (including MLB.com's Bill Chastain). Moore may test his elbow by playing catch in a few days, though isn't going to push it. "If there's any pain, it's not going to be something I'm going to try and work through," Moore said. "I think the goal is to get to a place where I don't feel pain. And if I can get to that in the next few days just playing catch, then it's a good sign to keep going. If not, then it's a sign in the [other direction]. I'm optimistic about playing catch."
Here's some more from around the AL East...
- The Yankees have been fined by Major League Baseball for tampering due to comments made by team president Randy Levine in regards to Mike Trout, The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin reports. The amount of the fine isn't known. Levine cited Trout last December when discussing why the Yankees didn't match the Mariners' 10-year contract offer for Robinson Cano, saying "If it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a 10-year contract, but for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense.” The Angels took exception to Levine's comments and asked the Commissioner's office to investigate the matter.
- Injuries to Mark Teixeira and David Robertson have left the Yankees thin at first base and in the bullpen, two positions that were thought to be lacking in depth going into the season. GM Brian Cashman reiterated to reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch) that the two positions would be "a developing story" through the season as the team didn't have enough budget space to acquire additional depth in the offseason. "We wanted to fix as much as we could, but acknowledged that we couldn't fix everything that needed to be addressed," Cashman said. "That's with the money we were in position to spend as well as the available talent. The better talent was really heavily in favor of the outfield rather than the infield."
- The Blue Jays' seeming halt on payroll looks to be an ownership response to how none of GM Alex Anthopoulos' big additions from the 2012-13 offseason have yet panned out, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Rogers Communications, the Jays' parent company, is essentially saying to Anthopoulos, in Griffin's words, "Show us that the group you brought in last year is as good as you said it was and maybe then we can talk about additions." Griffin also doesn't think the Jays will undergo an Astros-esque total rebuild since Rogers wants to keep the team competitive in order to maintain the Jays' strong viewership numbers on Rogers-owned media outlets.
- In AL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we collected some Red Sox Notes, and also learned that the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are three of the teams who are believed to be interested in Joel Hanrahan.
Free agent closer Joel Hanrahan will host a showcase for teams next week, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). In a second tweet, Crasnick lists the Mets, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays as teams that are believed to have interest in Hanrahan. He adds that somewhat curiously, he hasn't heard much buzz on the Tigers or Phillies being interested, though that could always change.
The 32-year-old Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired and bone chips in his elbow removed on May 16 of last season. He opened the year as Boston's closer after being acquired in an offseason trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates, but he allowed eight runs on 10 hits (four homers) and six walks with just five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before landing on the disabled list.
Prior to that season, Hanrahan had averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over a five-year stretch between the Nationals and Pirates. The Bucs acquired Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a deal that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to Washington, and Hanrahan blossomed into a two-time All-Star closer with Pittsburgh. Always one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, Hanrahan's 96.5 mph average fastball from his 2011-13 peak ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.
The changing rules and increasing number of extensions in the game are serving as a detriment to the Yankees, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Tighter rules regarding performance enhancing drugs are preventing players from performing well into their 30s, and many would-be free agents are locked up through their decline years and therefore unavailable to the Yanks in free agency. MacPherson looks at New York's misses in the draft over the years, pointing out that they'll need to turn that trend around if they're to improve a "crumbling foundation ... that can't be rebuilt the way it once was." Amazingly, he highlights that among Yankees position players with at least 20 plate appearances, only Yangervis Solarte is under 30 years of age.
Here's more out of the AL East...
- Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel looks at the story of how Yankees right-hander Shane Greene went from an unknown junior college arm to a big league pitcher. Yankees Florida area scout Jeff Deardorff had known Greene's family since Greene was nine years old, having lived down the street from them. Greene underwent Tommy John surgery his freshman year of JuCo, and afterward began asking Deardorff to watch him throw. Deardorff eventually conceded and was shocked to see his arm speed and velocity. He called scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to add Greene to the team's pre-draft workout, and the Yankees selected Greene in the 15th round having seen him throw just twice. McDaniel does an excellent job of telling Greene's story, and I would recommend taking the time to read the entire article.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington appeared on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show, and WEEI's Meredith Perri has some highlights. Cherington discussed John Lackey, his outfield and Jon Lester's extension process. Cherington said Lackey is understanding of the clause in his contract that will cause him to earn the Major League minimum next season after a serious arm injury and is one of the most accountable players in the game. Cherington expects Lackey to pitch beyond the 2015 season.
- The GM also said that recent salary hike for free agent pitchers has made the Lester negotiations more difficult, but there's always a chance for a deal to get worked out when both sides have interest -- which they do. Cherington does not, however, make it sound like a slam dunk: "...[W]e want Jon Lester to be here. We will work as hard as we can to try to make that work, but there’s things that other teams might do that we just won’t do."
- WEEI's Rob Bradford looks at Koji Uehara's incredible run as the Red Sox' closer, noting that statistically speaking, his time in the ninth inning stacks up with the best runs of the great Mariano Rivera's career. Bradford spoke with Rangers GM Jon Daniels about Uehara, with Daniels saying that Texas made a very similar offer to Boston's following the 2012 season, but Uehara elected for a fresh start in Boston. Daniels, unsurprisingly, calls Uehara a "tremendous bargain" for Boston.
Last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that several Blue Jays players were willing to defer their salary in order to help the team bring Ervin Santana on board, and it was later reported by Sportsnet's Shi Davidi that the group of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey were the five who were willing to do so. Last night, Rosenthal added to the story, reporting that Santana was so close to heading to Toronto that the MLBPA had already approved the deferrals. Rosenthal again speculates on the possibility of Rogers Communications imposing a payroll limit on the 2014 Blue Jays, which would help explain their quiet offseason (which was previously examined by our own Mark Polishuk). Elsewhere in the AL East...
- The Boston Herald's Gerry Callahan opines that while Jon Lester is clearly the No. 1 starter for the Red Sox, he's not elite and isn't worth the money he could make on the open market. Callahan writes that another team will "get stupid" with Lester, offering him something in excess of $130-140MM, and if talks get to that point, then Boston would be wise to emulate the A's or Rays instead of the Dodgers or Yankees, and let their high-priced star walk.
- In a second column from Rosenthal, he looks at a number of topics that also pertain largely to the AL East, beginning firstly noting that we shouldn't expect to see the Yankees pursue any outside help after injuries to Mark Teixeira or David Robertson. The Yankees feel that both injuries will be short-lived, and therefore aren't looking strongly at Ryan Madson and/or Joel Hanrahan, nor are they considering trades for first basemen.
- Also of interest to Yankees fans will be Rosenthal's look at the rise of Yangervis Solarte -- a minor league signing who has experience an unlikely rise to prominence in the Majors. Solarte's agents, Chris Leible and Peter Greenberg of the Legacy Agency, recall that their initial representation of Solarte was merely a favor to his uncle, Roger Cedeno. At one point this offseason, the Yankees dropped out of the bidding for Solarte, who was highly sought after. However, he was recommended by three different scouts, and Leible encouraged him by advising that his best ticket to the Majors was in a utility role.
- Rosenthal also looks at the long road back to the Majors for Evan Meek, who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles this offseason only after calling his former Pirates manager (and current O's bench coach) John Russell and asking for a look. He ultimately auditioned for seven or eight clubs, but chose to go to Baltimore.
- Lastly, Rosenthal notes that the extension for Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar was "almost certainly" his own call rather than that of his agents at Miami Sports Management. He writes that Escobar seems to prefer even minor levels of security and would rather have his new guarantee than risk waiting until free agency to sign, even if the outcome could have been something along the lines of Omar Infante's four-year deal with the Royals this offseason.
All remains relatively quiet on the compensation free agent front -- as you may have heard, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales remain unsigned, though each is now freed of the possibility of receiving another QO next year if they sign a one-year deal. While there have been rumblings that Morales could be approaching a contract, specifics remain unclear. Nevertheless, there is still a good bit of motion among some less-heralded names in the season's early going. Here's the latest:
- Free agent catcher Chris Gimenez, recently (albeit briefly) of the Rangers, has standing offers from three teams, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). The Rays, Athletics, and Rangers have all made offers, says Cotillo, while the Cubs also have interest.
- Joel Hanrahan is among the few intriguing relief arms still available, and the righty is preparing for a showcase in a few weeks, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. The Mets are one of the teams that are expected to take a close look at Hanrahan, says Ackert, while her colleague Andy Martino tweets that the Yankees have also been monitoring the 32-year-old.
- A host of other players remains available, as reflected in MLBTR's list of the 2014 free agents. Among the names that could draw interest are Francisco Cordero, Ryan Madson, Freddy Garcia, Yorvit Torrealba, and Jamey Carroll. Also, of course, several options are still in DFA limbo. Vin Mazzaro of the Pirates is due for action today. Otherwise, Frank Herrmann (Indians), Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays), Hector Noesi (Mariners), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), and Mike Baxter (Dodgers) are all candidates for new homes.
The Twins have acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees in exchange for left-hander Miguel Sulbaran, tweets Twins director of baseball communications Dustin Morse. Nunez has been assigned to Triple-A Rochester.
The 26-year-old Nunez is a career .267/.313/.379 hitter in 827 Major League plate appearances and batted .260/.307/.372 last season. Once considered a potential heir to Derek Jeter, Nunez has failed to distinguish himself offensively or defensively in the Major Leagues. Though he's never graded out well defensively, metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 gave Nunez staggeringly bad reviews in 2013, pegging him at -28 runs and -40.7, respectively, in a small sample of 608 1/3 innings at shortstop.
Infield depth isn't the Twins' strong suit at this point, with light-hitting Pedro Florimon filling the role of everyday shortstop while prospect Danny Santana continues to develop in the minors. However, while Nunez's bat could be an improvement over Florimon, the aforementioned defensive woes don't make him a clear upgrade; Florimon is regarded as an excellent defender at shortstop. He could potentially find his way to the big league roster in the event of an injury to Florimon or utility infielder Eduardo Escobar.
The 20-year-old Sulbaran was acquired from the Dodgers last July in exchange for Drew Butera. He didn't crack Baseball America's list of Top 30 Twins prospects, nor did he appear on the MLB.com's Top 20 list of Twins prospects. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that Sulbaran showed up to camp this spring overweight, which presumably didn't do much for his standing with the team. Sulbaran has a career 3.15 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 239 2/3 minor league innings.
While much has been made of CC Sabathia's decline over the past year, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes that it doesn't matter if Sabathia is a true "ace" anymore. Feinsand points to promising starts from Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda in opining that the Yankees can be just fine with Sabathia as a contributor who takes the ball every fifth day. He adds that Sabathia's second start would be perceived a lot differently were it not for one seeing-eye single as well.
Here are some more links pertaining to the game's Eastern divisions...
- MLB.com's Anthony DiComo tweets that he doesn't get the sense that the Mets are all that interested in Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or any other free agent closers (e.g. Kevin Gregg). Likewise, Matt Ehalt of the North Jersey Record hears from a source that the Mets' plan is to look at internal options for help at this time (Twitter link).
- Cork Gaines of Rays Index examines the Rays' roster and points out that it's not going to change dramatically over the next few years. While there's a strong likelihood of a David Price trade next offseason, much of the team is controlled through at least the 2016 season. Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce are exceptions to that rule, but each is controllable through 2015. It's unlikely, Gaines writes, that the Rays will feel pressured to make any big additions next winter, with the possible exception of the bullpen.
- Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi head to Kansas City to square off against the team that traded them, MLB.com's Dick Kaegel points out. Kaegel, who feels the trade has worked for both clubs despite Shields' impending free agency, spoke with Odorizzi, calls the opportunity to return to Kansas City alongside Myers "special" and says he's looking forward to the experience.
- In the wake of today's agreement between the Red Sox and Ryan Roberts, ESPN's Buster Olney recalls that multiple scouts told him during Spring Training that the Sox would need to add a third baseman if they weren't planning on promoting Garin Cecchini (Twitter link). Boston added Roberts today after Will Middlebrooks hit the disabled list.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis might make sense for the Yankees, Newsday's Anthony Rieber writes, suggesting that the Yankees could give up a hard-throwing reliever like Dellin Betances for him. While Mark Teixeira is out with a hamstring injury, Davis would be a good replacement for the Yankees since his left-handed power would play well in their ballpark, Rieber argues. Until the Mets deal Davis, Rieber says, they aren't maximizing his value by keeping him on the bench. Here are more notes from the American League.
- Catcher George Kottaras, who recently agreed to a minor-league deal with the Indians, will make $950K if he's on the big-league roster, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Kottaras can also receive as much as $50K in incentives based on games played. He can opt out of the deal on April 30 if he isn't added to the roster by then.
- Brian Omogrosso's agency, MCA, says (via Twitter) that the pitcher is drawing interest from the Yankees, Rangers and Blue Jays after pitching at a showcase Friday in Arizona. The White Sox recently released Omogrosso. He appeared in 37 1/3 innings for them in the past two seasons, posting a 5.54 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.
Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50MM contract now stands as cautionary tale to all teams thinking making a significant investment in their closer. That puts the Yankees in an interesting position with David Robertson, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Robertson's reps want him to be paid like a closer even though he is just rising to the job now and the Yanks want to treat him like a set-up man. But, because this is his walk year, the Yanks have to make a long-term decision on him in the near future. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Rays Executive VP Andrew Friedman knows the importance of building through trades, orchestrating 53 deals and acquiring 74 players since taking over after the 2005 season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times sifted through all of them to identify the Rays' best six deals over that stretch.
- More from Topkin, who notes that the two-year extension for shortstop Yunel Escobar isn't necessarily a sign the team has given up on prospect Hak-Ju Lee, but an opportunity to maximize value in Escobar, who could end up being traded at some point. The Rays continue to believe that Lee has considerable upside, but last year's severe knee injury caused understandable pause.
- The new deals for Escobar and pitcher Chris Archer will help to sustain success for the Rays organization, writes Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune. “The runway of talent and maintaining a good core group of players is something that’s really important,” Friedman said. “We always talk about how, first and foremost, our goal is having as good of a 2014 season as we can, but also about sustaining it, and these two moves (last) week put us in a better position to sustain it than a week ago.”
- The Yankees are looking to their new big contracts to save them while the old ones break down, writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has been placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury, the club announced today. Needless to say, that is not the start to the year that he or the team had hoped for as the 33-year-old works back from wrist surgery. The injury has revealed some roster issues in New York, which will move Kelly Johnson from third to first for the time being and call up catcher Austin Romine to take the open active roster spot. While the team was surely uninterested in carrying three backstops, the move was dictated by 40-man constraints. As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes on Twitter, the Yankees have no infielders among the portion of the MLB roster that is not already active, meaning that the team would have had to remove another player to make room for Russ Canzler or another minor league call-up option. Here's more from the American League:
- Though Jon Lester and the Red Sox have tabled extension talks for the time being, owner John Henry says he remains hopeful that a deal will be struck, WEEI.com's Meredith Perri reports. "It won't be easy to come to a deal," said Henry, "but we're going to work very creatively, both sides, and hopefully there will be a deal." But Henry cautioned that the team would not spend at all costs to keep the 30-year-old lefty. "It's not surprising that given where the market is right now, it's just something we haven't been chasing the market this way," said Henry. "Some teams have. Jon wants to come back. ... We're going to do as we did with [Dustin Pedroia] last year -- everything we can to bring him back. He's an important part of this club, but we're not going to do what some clubs might do."
- The recent extension of Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is another move towards stability in the team's core, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Having already locked up Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, but not starter Justin Masterson, Cleveland now has added price certainty and control over that group and maintains control over 16 players on its current 25-man roster through at lest 2016.
- Speaking of Kipnis, I asked MLBTR readers last night how his new deal stacks up to the similar extensions just reached by the Braves with Andrelton Simmons and the Cardinals with Matt Carpenter. As of this moment, Simmons is leading the way with just under 40% of the vote, with Kipnis (32.25%) and Carpenter (28.06%) also getting significant support.