New York Yankees Rumors
The Yankees and Dodgers have far and away the game's highest Opening Day payrolls, but have had polar opposite results thus far. While the Yanks were supposed to be the team that failed to deliver performance commensurate with its big spending, they sit atop the AL East with a robust 29-18 record. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are buried seven games back in the basement of the NL West, sporting a 19-27 mark after a listless showing against the Cardinals last night at Dodger Stadium. Let's take a look at the latest on these clubs:
- It has been a comedy of injuries this year for the Yankees, with a steady flow of DL stints nevertheless failing to slow the team's winning ways. Last night brought more of the same, as two key players -- outfielder Curtis Granderson and starter David Phelps -- left the team's 9-4 drubbing of the Rays. MLB.com's Bryan Hoch had the story. Phelps, who was hit on the arm by a come-backer, appears to have escaped significant injury and is expected to make his next scheduled start. Granderson was not so lucky. After suffering a broken forearm on a hit-by-pitch during Spring Training, causing him to miss the first month and a half of the year, Granderson only logged 31 big league plate appearances before being struck by another inside pitch. This time, the ball broke a knuckle on his left hand. The preliminary word is that he will miss a minimum of four weeks. The path to a substantial free agent pay day is now murkier for the big left-handed bat, who is set to hit the market after the season. It seems unlikely, at this point, that Granderson will have more than half of a season of performance in his walk year. While he has been a consistent home run and stolen base threat for much of his career, teams will certainly watch closely to see whether his arm and hand injuries sap his power as he finishes off his age-32 season.
- For the Yankees, the loss of Granderson appears unlikely to warrant an immediate look outside the organization. As Hoch tweeted yesterday evening, the club seems set to turn to outfielder Brennan Boesch, who the Yanks nabbed in the late spring due in part to the fact that he still had an option year. He saw 45 unremarkable plate appearances early in the season, slashing .209/.244/.419, but was optioned in mid-May and has struggled to a .179/.343/.214 slash in limited action at Triple-A.
- A swirl of news around a manager is generally not a good thing, and that is certainly the case with the Dodgers' Don Mattingly. Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times explains that, with Mattingly taking on an increasingly combative persona, the skipper may be going down with a fight, but seems to be going down nonetheless. Team president Stan Kasten, along with GM Ned Colletti, expressed agreement with Mattingly's attempts to light a fire under the team. And Kasten did say that Mattingly's job was not at risk. But he also made clear that it would be if the team can't reverse its fortunes: "I do expect us to turn it around, and because of that, I expect Donnie to be here for a long time. There's another side of that, if things don't go well."
- Meanwhile, internal discord seemingly failed to die down after Mattingly recently called out highly-paid outfielder Andre Ethier. While Ethier expressed surprise and hurt at the public questioning of his effort and toughness, and said he had not even discussed the issue with Mattingly, the manager continued to see things differently. "Guys who play the game right, they don't have any problem with anything I'm saying," said Mattingly. "So I can't even come close to backing off things I said the other day. I feel exactly that way." But was Ethier right that the manager had not even talked about his comments with the player? "I'm getting old and my memory is going, but we definitely talked." Needless to say, this public feud only further reduces L.A.'s leverage should it look to move Ethier's big contract and so-far sluggish bat.
Epifanio "Epi" Guerrero, one of the key figures in the history of Dominican baseball, passed today at age 71. Guerrero signed a number of notable international talents (including Cesar Cedeno, Carlos Delgado and Tony Fernandez) while working in the Astros, Yankees, Blue Jays and Brewers organizations as a scout and coach during a career that began in 1965. Guerrero was one of the first scouts to be involved in the development of the academy system that gave countless young Dominican prospects chances at a professional career. We here at MLBTR extend our condolences to Guerrero's friends and family on his passing.
Here are some news items from around the baseball world...
- While it has been assumed that the Cardinals will part ways with Carlos Beltran after this season, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks both Beltran and the Cardinals could benefit from Beltran re-signing a short-term contract, provided the veteran was willing to take a hometown discount. While Miklasz has a point that Beltran is a surer thing to produce for a contender than youngsters like Oscar Taveras or Matt Adams, I would be surprised if Beltran returned to St. Louis in 2014. If the Cards were confident enough in their young talent to let Albert Pujols and Kyle Lohse go, they'll do with the same with Beltran.
- The Diamondbacks may not need to make any major moves before the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. The Snakes have depth at several positions and further reinforcements are coming as some injured players return from the disabled list. The only possible area of need could be at closer given J.J. Putz's elbow problems but GM Kevin Towers is "100% confident" that Putz will recover.
- The Mariners talked with Jesus Montero about a long-term contract before he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal, but nothing came of those conversations, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Earlier today, the M's demoted the 23-year-old to Triple-A.
- If MLB announces that an international draft will take place in 2014, Baseball America's Ben Badler notes that teams like the Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals or Reds (who are likely to pick near the end of that draft's first round) could be wise to exceed the spending cap on international prospects this year. Such teams would lose their 2014 or '15 international draft first-rounder for going over the cap, but it could be worth it to get a jump on the non-American/Canadian talent market.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo profiles some of the top corner infielders in the upcoming amateur draft, a list led by University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant.
- ESPN's Keith Law discusses draft prospects, minor leaguers and other moves from around the game in a live chat with fans.
- Andrew Cashner is making great strides as a starting pitcher for the Padres, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. Cashner has a 2.80 ERA in six starts for the Friars in 2013 after being limited to mostly bullpen work over his first three seasons due to injuries and concerns about his arm strength. If Cashner develops into a solid starter, it will obviously give the Padres a much greater return on the Anthony Rizzo trade from January 2012.
- The Rays' pitching depth is the envy of baseball, MLB.com's Bill Chastain writes, and that depth at the Major League level gives all their minor league arms time to properly develop into the club's next generation of rotation stalwarts.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will be sent to Triple-A Tacoma today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune. Catcher Jesus Sucre will be selected to join the big league club, and it appears Montero won't do much catching at Triple-A.
It was a blockbuster challenge trade of two extremely promising and valuable young players. Montero had 18 excellent big league games for the Yankees under his belt when he was sent to the Mariners in January 2012. The principal player coming to New York in the deal was soon-to-be 23-year-old righty Michael Pineda, who had averaged nearly 95 miles per hour on his fastball as a rookie, made the All-Star team, and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Young players of this caliber are rarely traded. Things went south quickly for Pineda, as decreased velocity in his second Spring Training start was a harbinger of a shoulder injury that would lead to surgery in May 2012. What's more, Pineda was arrested for a DUI in August of that year. Pineda continues to work his way back from the surgery, with the expectation of making his Yankee debut this year. Whether Pineda's rookie campaign was the high point in his career is anybody's guess.
Montero's first full season in 2012 was disappointing. Known almost entirely for his offensive prowess, he posted a .260/.298/.386 line in 553 plate appearances. Montero caught in 56 games, serving as DH in 78. In a full-time catching role this year, he did even less with the bat. As "a man without a position," as Divish puts it, the bar for Montero to become a regular designated hitter in the Majors is quite high. Oh, and the reported connection to Biogenesis doesn't help.
There were a couple of additional players in the Montero-Pineda swap. The Mariners acquired righty Hector Noesi, who hasn't impressed in 120 1/3 big league innings so far. The Yankees added prospect Jose Campos, rated their fifth-best by Baseball America prior to the season. Campos made only five starts last year in low A ball, missing most of the season due to a bone bruise or a small fracture in his elbow. The injury has Campos on an innings limit in the 85-90 range this year.
One year and four months after the exciting Montero-Pineda swap, the players involved in the trade are a mess across the board, which leads to today's poll: which pair of players do you prefer moving forward?
The Yankees have turned reclamation projects such as Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells into a 1.5 game lead over the Red Sox for first place in the American League East. They'll face the rival Orioles today as Hiroki Kuroda heads to the mound. Here's more on Kuroda and the Bronx Bombers for your Wednesday morning reading...
- Kuroda has quietly become one of the best free agent signings in Yankees history, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. Kuroda wasn't even the top Yankees headline on the day he signed, Costa notes, as that contract came on the same day as the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade. However, Kuroda's dominance on one-year deals with no long-term risk makes him an incredible value.
- The success of the non-Mariano Rivera members of the Yankees' bullpen will help Hal Steinbrenner come close to achieving his goal of getting under the $189MM luxury tax threshhold in 2014, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. David Robertson should have the first crack as Rivera's successor, but beyond his salary, the Yankees will have little in the way of payroll commitment in the bullpen. Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan all figure to be off the books, and the Yankees have solid in-house alternatives.
- David Adams is a rarity among the current crop of Yankees, writes Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, as he was drafted and developed by the organization rather than acquired via free agency or trade. Cacciola spoke with Adams and manager Joe Girardi about the 26-year-old's recent promotion.
The Yankees will now be partners in a new Major League Soccer franchise, as announced on MLB.com. "We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York -- and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy," stated Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. This isn't the Bombers' first foray into the world of soccer as they had a marketing partnership with Manchester United during their "YankeeNets" phase. Here's a look at tonight's other news from the American League East..
- Ben Francisco's days with the Yankees may be coming to an end, opines Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog. The 31-year-old outfielder has struggled to provide an impact in New York, hitting for just a .114/220/.182 line in 50 plate appearances so far this season.
- Jacoby Ellsbury has not played as the Red Sox would have hoped in his contract year, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber compares Ellsbury to Red Sox teammates Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, as both performed below expectations during their final seasons before hitting free agency. Ellsbury is off to a .241/.303/.335 start in a league-leading 208 PA.
- Lauber also discusses how the two-year, $10MM deal Jonny Gomes signed with the Red Sox has affected the outfielder. While Gomes has gotten off to a slow start in 2013, Lauber argues that the security of a multiyear deal has helped the 32-year-old focus on providing leadership to younger Red Sox players.
The latest minor moves...
- The Rangers plan to purchase the contract of lefty reliever Neal Cotts if tonight's game is played, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The 33-year-old hasn't seen big league action since 2009, but he's been dominant in 23 Triple-A innings this year. The Rangers already have an open spot on their 40-man roster for him.
- The Hanshin Tigers have a basic agreement with righty reliever Blaine Boyer, according to Sanspo (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Boyer, 31, pitched 15 relief innings for the Royals' Triple-A affiliate before exercising his out clause to pursue the opportunity in Japan.
- The Mariners signed 17-year-old Brazilian righty Daniel Missaki, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Badler notes that he was the youngest player in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
- The Athletics announced that first baseman Daric Barton cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, after he was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot for Chris Young. He's earning $1.1MM this year, which may have limited interest. Barton led the American League in walks as a 24-year-old in 2010, but has battled injuries since. He's still a walk machine at Triple-A, though, with a .422 OBP through 128 plate appearances.
- The Angels outrighted outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple-A yesterday, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Cousins had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Chris Nelson.
- The Yankees outrighted infielder Alberto Gonzalez to Triple-A yesterday, according to the International League transactions page. Gonzalez had been designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Reid Brignac.
- Three players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jon Rauch of the Marlins, Derek Lowe of the Rangers, and Michael Bowden of the Cubs. Rauch and Lowe figure to be released by their clubs in the coming days, while Bowden will have to decide whether to accept an outright assignment if he clears waivers.
After the team's loss of Eric O'Flaherty to injury, the Braves appear likely to trade for a lefty reliever before the trade deadline, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). A trade is unlikely to occur anytime soon, however, since the deadline is more than two months away. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Reid Brignac has mixed feelings about recently being traded to the Yankees, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily news reports. The Rockies designated Brignac for assignment in favor of DJ LeMahieu. "It’s one of those business type things in baseball that happens. I understand some of it, so that’s fine," says Brignac. "But to be traded for by the Yankees is a great experience and I’m very excited to get started and help this team continue winning, because that’s what this team does." The Yankees believe Brignac is better suited to an infield bench job than Alberto Gonzalez, who they designated for assignment to clear space for him.
- The Giants' recent series against Blue Jays was the first time many of Melky Cabrera's former teammates had seen him since the previous August, when he was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, Richard Griffin of The Star writes. At that point, Cabrera left without addressing his teammates. But Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt sounded neither particularly excited nor upset to see Cabrera again. "For me, it didn’t bother me. When you see him . . . I gave him a hug in the weight room. I said, 'Is it good.' He said, 'It’s great, man.' Then we walked away," said Affeldt. "It might have been more awkward for him than it was for us. The reality is that we were out there trying to win a game." Cabrera is hitting .283/.319/.376 after signing a two-year, $16MM contract with the Jays in the offseason.
With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.
- The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells -- all of whom are 34 or older -- the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
- The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
- The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
- The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
- Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.
- The Padres signed outfielder Mike Wilson to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com's transactions page. The former Mariners prospect hit .239/.343/.452 for Triple-A Tacoma last year. He has 27 career big-league at bats.
- The Braves have signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel to a minor-league deal, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Beimel missed 2012 due to injury. He pitched 25 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2011, posting a 5.33 ERA with 6.04 K/9 and 3.20 BB/9.
- The Twins will sign outfielder Jordan Parraz and assign him to Double-A, MLBTR has learned. Parraz, 28, hit .141/.230/.321 in 78 at bats for the Braves' Triple-A affiliate this season.
- The Marlins have signed infielder Gil Velazquez, Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel reports (on Twitter). Velazquez, 33, has a career .245/.307/.327 line in the minors. He played in the Yankees' farm system earlier in 2013 before being released.
- The Yankees have signed third baseman Josh Bell to a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of CLNSRadio.com reports. Bell has hit .195/.223/.265 in 272 career big-league at bats. He received 55 at bats for the White Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte in 2013 before being released.
Braves lefty Eric O'Flaherty has a torn UCL and will likely need surgery, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). GM Frank Wren tells O'Brien (also via Twitter) that the Braves are unlikely to make an immediate trade to replace O'Flaherty in the bullpen, noting that Wren doesn't expect other teams to trade top relievers this early in the season. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Mets have not yet discussed the possibility of acquiring first baseman Daric Barton, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says (on Twitter). Sherman writes (also via Twitter) that a Mets employee says the team will likely at least consider Barton, however. The Athletics designated Barton for assignment Saturday afternoon. Mets first baseman Ike Davis has struggled terribly this season, posting a line of .160/.245/.267.
- Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury might be distracted by his impending free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald suggests. Lauber quotes Mike Napoli, who discusses how pressures from friends and family during a contract year can take a player out of his comfort zone. "I could see where guys, because of that free agent year, if you start off rough, it’s like you want to do so good that you’re overdoing it," Napoli says. Shane Victorino says that he hasn't noticed Ellsbury overburdening himself, however. Ellsbury is hitting .247/.312/.346 so far this year.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner says this season has been "amazing" so far, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports. "I didn’t but into the doomsday scenario that many people did. Because I knew that we had some good kids at Triple A. But more importantly, I knew that the guys we got in the offseason were veterans," Steinbrenner says. "[T]his is what you expect veterans to do." Newly-acquired veterans Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay have played key roles in the Yankees' 27-16 start.
- Steinbrenner tells McCullough he won't address manager Joe Girardi's contract until after the season, but Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News argues that Girardi deserves a new contract now, given his performance as the team has struggled with injuries.