- Less than a year after the Yankees and Mets signed Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes to multi-year free agent deals, Joel Sherman of the New York Post doubts either team would make those signings again given how both stars underachieved in 2017. Injuries played a part in both players’ performance, of course, and there is still lots of time for Chapman and Cespedes to deliver on their contracts. In Chapman’s case, his relative struggles also haven’t kept the Yankees from leading the AL wild card race. With Chapman owed $60MM through the 2021 season, however, it’s still an ominous sign for the Yankees that this down year came in the first season of that deal.
- The Yankees are optimistic outfielder Aaron Hicks and reliever Adam Warren will return before the regular season, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Hicks, on the DL since Sept. 3 with a left oblique strain, will begin taking batting practice soon, manager Joe Girardi said. Warren has also been out since Sept. 3, with lower back spasms. Both players have been among New York’s best this year, but the club has piled up wins without them over the past couple weeks and now looks like a playoff lock.
- The Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays have seen Rays righty Alex Cobb up close in recent seasons, and they’ll be interested when he hits the market this winter, writes Cafardo. Cobb will also attract plenty of interest from outside the AL East as well, as he’ll be a good and more affordable alternative to a free agent ace.
Major League Baseball has announced punishment arising out of its investigation of mutual accusations of improper gamesmanship between the Red Sox and Yankees. Both clubs will receive undisclosed fines, with the latter said to be tagged with a lesser amount.
Those interested in reading more about the allegations can read about it in full right here. In essence, the Yanks claimed that their long-time rivals were improperly stealing signs with the aid of an Apple Watch and other technology. In turn, Boston accused the Bronx Bombers of taking advantage of YES Network cameras to the same end.
Commissioner Rob Manfred found that the Red Sox did wrongfully use technology in the dugout, leading to the discipline. He did also note that certain factors were present that warranted some leniency, including that the misstep took place without any involvement of ownership or the front office and that the club cooperated in ceasing the activity and aiding the ensuing investigation. While the league could not substantiate the allegations against the Yankees, they were fined due to a finding that the club had wrongly utilized a dugout phone in a prior season.
Some may charge that Manfred gave the Red Sox only a slap on the wrist after taking away the watch. But he did put Boston and the rest of the league on notice not to expect such treatment going forward. “[A]ll 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks,” Mandred stated in the announcement.
With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:
It isn’t official yet, but these
- Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
- Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
- Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
- Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.
Still In Limbo
- Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
- Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
- Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.
Kept By Other Means
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.
- Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
- Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
- Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
- Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
- Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
- Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
- Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
- Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
The 2017-18 international market has only been open for a little over two months, but Baseball America’s Ben Badler already has a preview (available to BA subscribers) of 10 notable prospects who will be available in the 2018-19 int’l class, which opens next July 2. Dominican shortstop Orelvis Martinez projects to have the largest bonus of this group, as the 15-year-old is expected to receive over $3MM from a team, with the Blue Jays reportedly favorites. The Jays have been active on the international front in recent years, most notably landing star prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Badler’s piece outlines which teams are connected to the other nine prospects, as well as details on the Rangers and Yankees potentially still lined up to sign well-regarded prospects in the current international class (or eyeing Shohei Otani this winter).
The Yankees have signed Dominican shortstop Ronny Rojas to a contract with a $1MM bonus, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. New York had been the front-runner to land Rojas dating back to July 2, the opening of this year’s international signing period. Rojas wasn’t eligible to ink a deal until his 16th birthday on Aug. 23.
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The Yankees entered July with $4.75MM available to spend on the international market and quickly signed a few touted prospects, yet they nonetheless increased their total to around $8MM after acquiring pool money in various summer trades. In the 6-foot, 170-pound Rojas, they’ll get a player whom both Baseball America and MLB.com rank as this year’s 11th-best international prospect.
Despite his young age, the switch-hitting Rojas already carries plenty of offensive polish from both sides of the plate, per Badler (subscription required and recommended), who notes that he has 15- to 20-home run potential and a chance to play either short or second base in the majors.
- Yankees righty Adam Warren landed on the 10-day disabled list yesterday, as the team announced, and Erik Boland of Newsday writes that he’ll need to rest for the next two weeks as a result of the current ailment. Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that he’s concerned about when he might be able to add Warren back into his bullpen, though the skipper said he’s still hopeful that Warren will make it back before the season ends. The 30-year-old Warren has been outstanding for the Yanks this season, logging 56 1/3 innings with a 2.40 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and a 44.3 percent ground-ball rate.
Longtime Yankees stalwart Gene “Stick” Michael has passed away, the New York Post reports. Michael, who served the organization in a variety of capacities over several decades, was 79 years of age.
Michael was long a key figure around Yankee Stadium, playing and managing the Bronx Bombers before eventually moving over to the operations side. Following a stint as the Cubs’ manager, he took the reins as Yankees’ general manager before the 1991 season, with the club still reeling from consecutive sub-.500 finishes and disciplinary action against owner George Steinbrenner.
Though the Yanks took a few years to resume their winning ways, they finally returned to the postseason in 1995 — Michael’s last season as the GM. While he did not get to oversee the full blossoming of the roster he built from the GM seat, Michael remained in the organization in a scouting and advisory role.
Of course, many of the players installed during Michael’s tenure ended up leading the Yankees back to glory. As the Post notes, Michael was at the helm when the team gathered together the entire “Cour Four” — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada — that would go on to win the World Series in four of five seasons between 1996 and 2000.
Beyond his renown as a baseball man, Michael was seen as a passionate and caring figure on a personal level — as today’s outpouring of grief suggests and as Joel Sherman of the New York Post captures in a column. MLBTR joins those around the game in extending its best wishes to his family and friends.
5:00pm: Drellich tweets that Manfred has stated there’s no specific rule against sign-stealing. The punishment the Red Sox could face would be from illegal usage of technology in the dugout.
4:45pm: Evan Drellich of CSN New England tweets that Dombrowski said there is indeed an investigation looking into the Yankees. Newsday’s David Lennon tweets that when asked about the Red Sox’ allegations regarding YES cameras, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi replied bluntly: “No chance. We’re not doing it.” Girardi did acknowledge that all teams try to steal signs to some extent, though without going so far as to use technology to do so (Twitter link via Lennon).
4:30pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes that a league official confirmed Schmidt’s report to him and added that the league is preparing discipline against the Red Sox. The stealing of signs by a runner on second base (and relaying the upcoming pitch to the hitter) is not forbidden “so long as artificial means are not used,” per Nightengale. While MLB has allowed the presence of iPads in the dugout and bullpen, those league-issued devices don’t have Internet access and cannot stream live video.
Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner briefly addressed the issue today when speaking to reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch), telling the media: “It’s always been a game within a game, but the use of electronics takes it too far.”
4:14pm: In one of the more eyebrow-raising stories of the season, Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reports that MLB investigators have determined that the Red Sox used an Apple Watch and other technology to steal signs from the Yankees earlier this season. Furthermore, the Red Sox also filed their own complaint against the Yankees today, alleging that they use a YES Network camera for the exclusive purpose of stealing signs during games.
The Yankees filed a complaint about two weeks ago, according to Schmidt, providing the Commissioner’s Office with video that depicted a member of the Boston training staff receiving intel from his Apple Watch and relaying it to players on the field. More damning is the fact that Schmidt reports that the league has already confronted the Red Sox on the matter, and the team has conceded that their training staff did indeed receive information from video replay personnel, which was then relayed to players. The process had been in place for “at least several weeks,” per Schmidt.
The Red Sox reportedly told the league that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager John Farrell were not involved in the implementation of this process and weren’t even aware of the sign-stealing operation at all. Investigators have already interviewed the Red Sox’ training staff as well as outfielder Chris Young. Schmidt’s report also mentions that Brock Holt and Dustin Pedroia were seen on video receiving info from assistant athletic trainer Jon Jochim.
Asked about the story, Farrell told reporters that the Red Sox are “aware of the rule (that) electronic devices are not to be used in the dugout,” but said that it’s a league matter and offered no further comment (link via ESPN’s Scott Lauber).
It’s not clear what actions that commissioner Rob Manfred will take against the Red Sox, nor is there any word of whether an investigation of the Yankees will be launched based on Boston’s reported allegations. Manfred has previously stripped the Cardinals of multiple draft picks as punishment for illegally accessing the Astros’ proprietary databases, though certainly that was a different scenario and is not a direct comparison to the Red Sox/Yankees situation.
Manfred is at Fenway Park tonight and will meet with the media at 5:45pm ET, per Lauber, so there could very well be further details made available in the near future. In the meantime, I’d highly encourage those interested in the matter to read Schmidt’s column in full.