New York Yankees – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-11-22T13:03:58Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Release Jacoby Ellsbury, Designate Greg Bird]]> 2019-11-21T02:08:06Z 2019-11-21T01:21:11Z The Yankees have released outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and designated first baseman Greg Bird for assignment as part of a series of roster moves. The club has also designated left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. and added seven players – outfielder Estevan Florial and right-handers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure – to its 40-man roster. Ken Davidoff and George A. King III of the New York Post first reported the Yankees were considering releasing Ellsbury.

This brings to an end a hugely disappointing New York tenure for Ellsbury, a former star with archrival Boston who parlayed his success with the Red Sox into a seven-year, $153MM deal with the Yankees after 2013. Ellsbury was merely a decent to good contributor for the Yankees from 2014-17, and a series of injuries prevented him from taking the field at all over the previous two seasons.

The Yankees currently have a need in center field with Aaron Hicks on the mend from Tommy John surgery and Brett Gardner a free agent, so the fact that they’ve moved on from Ellsbury and eaten the remaining $26MM-plus on his contract speaks to how far his stock has fallen. Now, if the 36-year-old is going to continue his career, he’ll likely have to settle for a minor league pact with another organization.

Injuries have also been ruinous for the 27-year-old Bird, whom the Yankees once regarded as their first baseman of the future. Bird was tremendous during a 178-plate appearance debut in 2015, when the left-hander’s swing looked tailor-made for Yankee Stadium, but that’s the only regular-season excellence he has shown to this point. Bird missed all of 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgery and then hit a meager .194/.287/.388 in 522 trips to the plate from 2017-19. Thanks in part to foot problems, he totaled just 41 PA at the MLB level this season. At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another team trade for or claim Bird, who still has three minor league options left.

Cortes, 24, is also in the DFA pile with Bird. The southpaw, a two-time member of the Yankees organization and also a former Oriole, saw extensive MLB action with New York in 2019. While Cortes limped to a 5.67 ERA/5.57 FIP in that 66 2/3-inning span, he did amass 9.32 strikeouts per nine against 3.78 walks. Cortes also had a solid year at the Triple-A level, where he posted a 3.86 ERA/3.40 FIP with 9.53 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over 39 2/3 frames. He has a pair of minor league options remaining.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trade Candidate: Miguel Andujar]]> 2019-11-19T05:51:02Z 2019-11-19T05:49:51Z The Yankees entered the 2019 season expecting Miguel Andujar to continue establishing himself as one of the best young third basemen in baseball. It wasn’t an unrealistic thought on the Yankees’ part, as Andujar was then just several months removed from a 2018 rookie campaign in which he posted outstanding offensive numbers and seemed capable of hitting a double at will. But this past season ended up serving as a massive disappointment for Andujar, who battled right shoulder problems from the outset and barely factored into the Yankees’ 103-win outburst.

Andujar, owner of a sparkling .297/.328/.527 line with 27 home runs during a 606-PA rookie showing, fell from grace this season over 49 injury-affected trips to the plate. The 24-year-old batted a horrid .128/.143/.128 without a homer, and now it’s fair to wonder if he has walked to the plate as a Yankee for the last time.

General manager Brian Cashman has always advocated for Andujar, and that remains the case, but the executive revealed last week that Andujar – even after a nightmarish season – continues to garner plenty of trade interest. Cashman could easily swat away Andujar suitors, as he has consistently done, but unlike last winter, it wouldn’t be out of bounds to wonder whether the Yankees still have a place for him.

When Andujar’s shoulder troubles put an end to his 2019 in mid-May, there was panic because it didn’t seem the club had an obvious replacement on hand. But it turned out the little-known Gio Urshela was more than up to the task, as the 28-year-old slashed a jaw-dropping .314/.355/.534 and swatted 21 HRs with 3.1 fWAR over 476 PA. Was it a fluke from someone who had never even hit much in the minors? Perhaps. However, when Cashman was discussing the Yankees’ third base plans last week, he suggested the position will remain in Urshela’s hands going into 2020. If Urshela continues clinging to the role, is there any other obvious place to put Andujar – whose defense at third has generated poor reviews thus far? It’s debatable.

Cashman has stated the Yankees are open to trying Andujar at first base or in the corner outfield, but the club also has plenty of talent in those areas. Luke Voit, Mike Ford and even the semi-forgotten, injury-riddled Greg Bird represent options there. Even if you’ve given up on Bird (and who could blame you?), Voit and Ford make for a pair of effective major league bats who are affordable. In the corner outfield, meanwhile, the Yankees have the superstar tandem of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton with some potential mix of Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier as fallback choices. Would there be space for Andujar there? Maybe, especially as the free agent Gardner (if he re-signs) will likely be the Yankees’ go-to guy in center field with Aaron Hicks recovering from Tommy John surgery. And the Yankees could certainly rotate Andujar in at designated hitter, where they figure to also rely on a capable-looking cast consisting of Voit, Ford, Judge, Stanton, Frazier and catcher Gary Sanchez.

It goes without saying that the Yankees do not have to trade Andujar. He’s a potential offensive star who’ll make a relative pittance for the next couple years and isn’t even on track to reach free agency until after the 2023 season. But for a club that’s targeting starting pitching this offseason, it wouldn’t be stunning to see New York deal from a surplus (offensive talent) to land an arm(s) prior to 2020. If Andujar does indeed end up on the block, teams like the Pirates, Tigers, Rangers, Royals, Brewers, Marlins, Indians, Angels, Braves and Nationals are among those who could end up in pursuit. Cashman’s in the catbird seat, though, as he could simply retain Andujar in hopes of a bounce-back season if nobody makes an offer to his liking.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Notes: Andujar, Frazier ]]> 2019-11-15T07:24:08Z 2019-11-15T07:22:43Z
  • Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar was an offensive standout as a rookie in 2018, but a shoulder injury dragged down his production this year and ended his season in mid-May. However, according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Andujar’s adverse 2019 hasn’t diminished teams’ enthusiasm for the 24-year-old. “I’m definitely getting a lot of interest in Miguel Andujar,” Cashman revealed to Michael Kay and Don La Greca of 98.7 FM ESPN New York (audio link). That doesn’t mean the Yankees will trade Andujar, though the defensively challenged slugger has at least temporarily lost his hold on third. Cashman suggested Gio Urshela, who posted an out-of-nowhere breakout season as Andujar’s replacement, is the favorite to continue as the Yankees’ top option at the hot corner. With that in mind, the Yankees are at least considering trying to make Andujar a multi-positional player – someone who can also line up at first and/or in the outfield. Whether or not that comes to fruition, Cashman continues to regard Andujar as “an exciting young talent.”
  • Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier has been popular in trade speculation for years, though the club has held on to him despite a logjam in the grass. Could the Yankees finally part with Frazier this winter? Ken Davidoff of the New York Post discusses Frazier’s trade value with multiple anonymous executives, who unsurprisingly opine that the 25-year-old’s appeal has dipped somewhat. Defense has been a problem for Frazier, who spent a good portion of 2019 in the minors working to improve in that area. He did, however, collect a career-high 246 MLB plate appearances in 2019 and bat an adequate .267/.317/.489 with 12 home runs. Cashman admitted Frazier “took a step backwards” in 2019, though the exec’s encouraged that Frazier has “already proven he can play in New York.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Yankees’ Catchers]]> 2019-11-15T03:29:50Z 2019-11-15T03:29:50Z Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine have comprised the Yankees’ top two catchers over the past couple seasons. But now that Romine is a free agent, the alignment could change in 2020. However, the Yankees have shown interest in keeping that tandem together. They’ve discussed a new contract with Romine’s agent, Bill Rose of Moye Sports Associates, per Bryan Hoch of It’s unclear whether the two sides have made progress in their talks, but if an agreement doesn’t come together, the Yankees would be comfortable turning to the out-of-options Kyle Higashioka as their backup, according to Hoch.

    The soon-to-be 31-year-old Romine is part of a free-agent class of catchers that lacks clear-cut starters after Yasmani Grandal, Jason Castro, Travis d’Arnaud and Robinson Chirinos. Whether a catcher-needy team would sign Romine and give him a shot to start remains to be seen, though he has been a legitimately solid offensive backstop of late. Romine’s bat was borderline unplayable in the majors from 2011-17, but over the past two seasons, he slashed .262/.305/.471 across 505 plate appearances. Defensively, he threw out at least 26 percent of would-be base-stealers in each of those years, placing him around league average. Romine also graded well as an overall defender by Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric in 2018, but he did experience a significant drop-off in that regard this past season.

    If the Yankees do retain Romine, there’s no doubt he’ll continue playing second fiddle to Sanchez. While Sanchez has drawn heat from Yankees fans and some who cover the team – particularly for his struggles blocking pitches – general manager Brian Cashman lavished praise on the big-hitting 26-year-old at this week’s GM meetings, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Cashman acknowledged that Sanchez drew trade interest last offseason, but he doesn’t expect it to happen again this winter because teams know the Yankees aren’t going to deal him.

    “I think we have a distinct advantage by having Gary Sanchez as our everyday catcher,” Cashman said. “And I know many in the industry feel the same way by their attempts last year, these extremely smart teams trying to see if they can get their hands on him. They’re not going to ask this year because everybody saw the numbers behind the numbers from last year and they know what he’s capable of. They know he’s a huge difference-maker being able to run him out there behind the plate.”

    It’s hard to argue with Cashman, as Sanchez – despite whatever flaws he may have – is an effective player whose three remaining years of control and affordability (he’s projected to earn a reasonable $5.6MM in 2020) add to his appeal. Sanchez slashed .232/.316/.525 with 34 home runs in 446 PA in 2019 en route to 3.1 bWAR/2.3 fWAR. Injuries held Sanchez to 106 games, but he’ll try for a healthier 2020, and it seems like a guarantee that he’ll still be in a Yankees uniform then.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Market Interest In Madison Bumgarner]]> 2019-11-13T18:45:32Z 2019-11-13T18:45:32Z Though Madison Bumgarner did not hit the open market with as much fanfare as once seemed likely, he’s still a prominent part of the landscape for starting pitching. And it appears that strong early interest is coming together for the veteran lefty.

    The Phillies have “checked in” on Bumgarner, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link), who notes the potential interplay between the Phils and their division rivals from Atlanta. The Braves are known to be interested in the hurler, who grew up not far from Atlanta in Hickory, NC.

    Those aren’t the only eastern seaboard teams considering Bumgarner. The Yankees also intend to reach out to MadBum’s reps, New York GM Brian Cashman tells John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Of course, Cashman has already made clear he’s interested in other, even bigger free agent fish. And he emphasized that point to Shea, stating that the Yanks will look at the full field.

    That’s an important point to bear in mind more generally as we gauge early indications of market interest. With a market as full of good options as it is full of needy teams, we’re hearing of a lot of broad explorations on both sides of the balance. Teams are trying to get a sense of price tags. And there’s a balance for players and their agents as well. Most any pitcher would prefer to draw a nice run of early bidding to waiting around and hoping that demand remains strong. It’s better to be Nathan Eovaldi or Tyler Chatwood than Dallas Keuchel, generally speaking, as recent free agent experiences are concerned.

    Bumgarner isn’t likely to be a market darling in the nature of Eovaldi or Chatwood. But neither is there reason to think he’ll end up facing the Keuchel conundrum. Bumgarner isn’t the monster he once was on the mound, and he now carries a notable injury history, but he just turned 30 years of age and was still capable of spinning 207 2/3 innings of 3.90 ball in 2019.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Brian Cashman Discusses Gerrit Cole, Yankees Offseason]]> 2019-11-12T03:45:44Z 2019-11-12T03:45:44Z Yankees general manager Brian Cashman addressed a variety of topics this evening at the GM Meetings. Chief among them was the starting pitching market. Cashman confirmed to reporters (including Andy Martino of SNY) that the Yankees will engage with Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg this offseason. Cashman added, though, that the club has a significant amount of money already on the books (via Erik Boland of Newsday) and will also explore the trade and lower-tier free agent markets (reports James Wagner of the New York Times).

    Clearly, Cashman and his front office are open to whatever opportunities may present themselves and aren’t locked into any specific means of improving the roster. Nevertheless, it’s still notable that the Yankees will engage with the market’s top arms. Cole, in particular, will come at a hefty cost. MLBTR forecasted an eight-year, $256MM deal for Cole, who stands a good chance of securing the offseason’s largest contract. Unsurprisingly, Cole’s camp figures to come out shooting even higher, with ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) estimating agent Scott Boras’ initial ask will exceed $300MM. While Cole doesn’t ultimately figure to command a price quite that high, bringing him in will no doubt require a franchise-altering outlay.

    Signing Cole would certainly require that the Yankees exceed the $208MM luxury tax threshold, as they did in 2019. Cashman added that ownership hasn’t mandated the payroll remain south of the luxury tax (via Martino), although he stopped short of definitively declaring they would pay the penalties for the second consecutive year. The club’s luxury tax estimate already sits at almost $210MM, per Cot’s Contracts, before accounting for any offseason expenditures.

    Cashman also addressed the status of three of New York’s own free agents. He confirmed reports the club has engaged with representatives for Brett Gardner (via Wagner), and added that New York remains in touch with reps for Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances. MLBTR forecasted a Gardner reunion while projecting Gregorius and Betances to wind up elsewhere, although it’s plausible they bring one or both of the latter back.

    Clearly, the situation remains in flux at these early stages of the offseason. Cashman didn’t commit to pursuing any specific players and expressed a willingness to evaluate all potential areas of player acquisition, as one would expect. The Bombers will cast a wide net as they look to fortify their roster in hopes of defending their AL East crown, including at least monitoring the very top of the market.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Multiple Teams Pursuing Zack Wheeler At Outset Of Free Agency]]> 2019-11-12T02:13:42Z 2019-11-12T01:33:54Z 7:33pm: The Mets also remain interested in exploring a multi-year arrangement with Wheeler, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). It’s not evident how serious that possibility is — let alone whether there’s any potential for a pact to come together before Wheeler formally reaches the open market.

    We’ve seen plenty of on-again/off-again chatter of a deal with Wheeler over recent months. When the Mets acquired Marcus Stroman, it was generally supposed that the club was going to move on from Wheeler, though the door stayed open when he wasn’t dealt over the summer. With obvious budgetary restrains and other needs, it still feels like a longshot.

    Meanwhile, those prior trade talks also came up in reporting today. Andy Martino of tweets that the Mets spoke with teams right up until the deadline passed, with the Astros pushing hardest and the Yankees, Rays, and Athletics also involved.

    That’s mostly of historical interest, though it could offer some clues for free agency. Indeed, the Houston organization is already engaged with Wheeler’s reps, per Heyman (via Twitter). The ’Stros talked shop with Jet Sports today. We can only presume that the outfit’s major free agent starter came up in conversation, among other things.

    2:29pm: Zack Wheeler technically has another three days to accept or reject his $17.8MM qualifying offer from the Mets, but there’s never been a realistic scenario in which he takes the one-year deal. The right-hander is widely considered to be among the four best pitchers in free agency this winter — No. 3 behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, by many accounts — and should have little trouble cashing in on a lucrative multi-year pact. To that end,’s Jon Morosi reports that the Angels, Padres and White Sox are among the teams that have shown early interest in Wheeler. Other clubs have surely checked in already and will continue to do so, of course.

    Wheeler, 29, has come all the way back from a lengthy absence stemming from 2015 Tommy John surgery. He’s made 60 starts over the past two seasons and saw his fastball velocity tick up to a career-high 96.7 mph average in 2019 — the second-hardest mark of any free-agent starter on the market (behind Cole).

    Wheeler had a rough handful of starts at the beginning of each of the past two seasons, but over his past 55 starts combined, he’s worked to a 3.47 ERA (3.27 FIP) with 9.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 349 2/3 innings. Beyond the high-end velocity, Wheeler possesses above-average spin on his heater and curveball, and he’s excelled in terms of minimizing hard contact against him (90th percentile average exit-velocity among MLB starters, per Statcast).

    Each of the three listed teams is a natural fit for Wheeler, though that’s true of the majority of rotation-hungry teams in the league. While the likes of Cole and Strasburg will be wholly ruled out by many clubs due to their expected $30MM+ annual salaries and over the next half decade-plus, Wheeler is quite likely someone most teams will view as affordable — even if he’s at the top end of their budget. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman quotes one team executive expressing a similar sentiment, calling Wheeler the best arm of the market’s second tier (beyond Cole and Strasburg) and adding “and everyone pretty much will believe they could afford him.”

    Beyond the listed teams in Morosi’s report, it’d be a surprise if the Phillies, Twins, Braves, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals (if Strasburg departs), Dodgers, Blue Jays and others aren’t in play for the righty. Wheeler could draw the most widespread interest of any free agent on the market this winter and will probably be connected to a dozen or more additional teams between now and the time he finally puts pen to paper.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Three Teams Exceeded 2019 Luxury Tax Threshold]]> 2019-11-11T21:40:05Z 2019-11-11T21:40:05Z The Red Sox, Yankees, and Cubs were the three teams to exceed the luxury tax threshold in 2019, as Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times noted over the weekend. MLBTR has confirmed that is the complete and final list of organizations identified by Major League Baseball as owing competitive balance obligations.

    Each of those clubs exceeded $206MM in 2019 payroll, as calculated by Major League Baseball pursuant to the rules governing the competitive balance tax. Generally, the CBT calculation looks to the average annual value of player contracts while also accounting for bonuses and other payroll-related expenses. The CBT threshold rises to $208MM in 2020 and then to $210MM in 2021.

    Last year, the Red Sox and Nationals surpassed the spending threshold and paid taxes. The D.C. organization managed to duck under the line but could again be in that tax bracket if it spends to defend its World Series title. The Red Sox are expected to try to duck under the limbo bar in 2020. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have now gone two straight years without paying after a five-season streak of tax bills.

    Precise calculations aren’t yet available, but Cot’s on Contracts has estimates of the complicated CBT tabulations. Their figures show both the Nats and Dodgers over the line, though obviously those organizations were able to sneak in just below. The Astros and Phillies appear to have been the next-biggest spenders, though both were a fair sight shy of any tax bills.

    The Cot’s figures allow us to make some rough estimates of the actual amounts due. The Red Sox will pay the most, as they were the only team to incur tax liability for consecutive seasons, thus raising the rate. With an estimated payroll of just under $240MM, the Boston org will pay 30% on their first $20MM in overages and 42% on the rest, resulting in an estimated bill of just under $12MM.

    The Cubs also ran up a tab that came in just shy of the $240MM mark by Cot’s reckoning. They are not a repeat luxury level team and therefore pay the base rate of 20% for the first $20MM and 32% for the next $20MM in salary over the threshold. That would result in a liability of a little under $8.5MM. Cot’s credits the Yankees with $234MM of spending for CBT purposes. Since the Bronx Bombers spent a year shy of the luxury line, they also get first-time treatment and would stand to owe just over $6.5MM.

    None of the three teams came close to topping $246MM in payroll, at which point they’d not only have faced a bigger tax rate on further spending but also would’ve seen their top draft pick moved down the board ten spots. But the trio does still face some ongoing impact beyond the money owed. Inking a free agent who declined a qualifying offer will cost a bit more in compensation than it would have otherwise — specifically, $1MM in international amateur bonus pool spending capacity along with the team’s second and fifth-highest draft picks. The rules also suppress the level of compensation available to teams that lose QO’ed free agents after exceeding the luxury line, though none of these three clubs issued qualifying offers this offseason.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees To Name Carlos Mendoza Bench Coach]]> 2019-11-12T03:44:42Z 2019-11-11T20:36:27Z The Yankees are engineering a change in their bench coach position, according to Sweeny Murti if WFAN (Twitter link). Carlos Mendoza will slide over from his infield coach role to take over for Josh Bard, who has been relieved of his duties.

    In other news involving the staff under manager Aaron Boone, the Yankees are expected to bring on Matt Blake as pitching coach and Tanner Swanson as catching coach. Both hirings were previously reported;’s Jeff Passan reported Blake’s addition (Twitter link), as we previously covered, while Brandon Warne of Zone Coverage tweeted that Swanson was hired away from the Twins.

    Mendoza had worked in his prior role for the past two seasons and obviously impressed the organization. The 39-year-old never cracked the majors as a player but now seems in line for a lengthier tenure as a coach. Bard initially stepped into the bench coach role at the same time Mendoza and Boone first joined the Yankees. The former big-league backstop previously spent time with the Dodgers organization, including one campaign as bullpen coach, after the end of his playing career.

    The rest of the staff will remain in the same positions, it seems. Mike Harkey will return as bullpen coach, Phil Nevin and Reggie Willits stay on as third and first base coach, respectively, while Marcus Thames will come back as hitting coach (reports Bryan Hoch of It isn’t clear if the organization will bring in a new infield instructor to take over the role vacated by Mendoza.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Yankees Notes: Givens, Galvis, Lefty Hitting, Spending]]> 2019-11-10T00:11:00Z 2019-11-10T00:11:00Z Some items from the Bronx…

    • The Yankees “tried hard” to land Orioles reliever Mychal Givens at the trade deadline, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports.  The right-hander was a popular figure on the rumor mill last July, with such clubs as the Indians, Dodgers, Braves, Phillies, and Nationals all reportedly showing interest in acquiring his services.  It isn’t any surprise that the Yankees were also involved given how New York is constantly looking to reinforce its already strong bullpen, and it isn’t out of the question that the Yankees could ask about Givens again this winter.  The 29-year-old is under team control for two more seasons (and projected to make $3.2MM in arbitration this winter), though Givens is coming off the worst of his five big league seasons.  Givens posted a 12.3 K/9 and 3.31 K/BB rate over 63 innings but his ERA ballooned to 4.57, due in large part to a lot of problems keeping the ball in the park (1.9 HR/9).
    • Sticking with Sherman’s piece, he wonders if the Yankees could perhaps try to land both Givens and Jonathan Villar from the Orioles in a package deal that would also address another team need — a lack of left-handed hitting.  Interestingly, Sherman writes that there is some strategy behind this lineup imbalance, as the Yankees have preferred to deploy right-handed bats with opposite-field power rather than actual left-handed hitters, as lefty bats can be more easily hampered by defensive shifts.  If the Bronx Bombers did decide to add more pop from the left side, however, Sherman feels the best possible solution would be switch-hitting superstar Francisco Lindor, if the Indians made him available in a trade.  Beyond Villar, Sherman lists a few other players (old friend Didi Gregorius, Freddy Galvis, Tucker Barnhart, Jason Castro) who could be signed or acquired in trades to add left-handed balance to either the lineup or bench.  In Galvis’ case, Sherman reports that he was the Yankees’ second choice as shortstop depth last offseason before they landed Troy Tulowitzki.
    • The Yankees’ decision to exercise some financial restraint has drawn criticism from some fans and pundits, particularly since the club has now gone 10 full seasons without a World Series title.  As Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards observes in a look at the last 20 years of Yankees spending, the franchise made a gigantic payroll spike in 2003-2004 (up into the $200MM-$240MM range, around three times as much as the average payroll) that possibly “outstripped what might have been reasonable compared to their revenues and financial status, and that staying at around $240 million reflected a necessary correction.”  The Yankees’ average payroll increase hasn’t matched the rest of the league’s overall increase over the last decade, however, even while the Yankees franchise has increased its revenues.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Domingo German]]> 2019-11-09T05:30:58Z 2019-11-09T05:18:17Z Yankees right-hander Domingo German enjoyed a quality 2019 season before it ended in undignified fashion in late September. German went on administrative leave under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence Policy, thus preventing him from participating in the Yankees’ playoff series against the Twins and Astros. Although the league still hasn’t interviewed German, a resolution to his case should occur “in a matter of weeks,” not months, Ken Davidoff and Dan Martin of the New York Post write.

    As is always the case with a player involved in a domestic issue, it’s up in the air whether his team will welcome him back. However, the Yankees are the same club that acquired closer Aroldis Chapman from the Reds in December 2015 when he was amid serious domestic troubles of his own. The league ultimately suspended Chapman for 30 games to open the 2016 season. Now, regardless of whether the Yankees keep German, he could face a ban to start the 2020 campaign after sitting out the last couple weeks of 2019.

    The status of German may help inform the Yankees’ offseason plans, as he was one of the team’s most effective rotation options in 2019. The 27-year-old pitched to a 4.03 ERA/4.72 FIP with 9.63 K/9 against 2.45 BB/9 across 143 innings. The Yankees look like a team in need of starting help right now, and the problems in their rotation will become even more acute if they’re unwilling or unable to pencil German into the group for at least the beginning of next season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Yankees, Didi Gregorius]]> 2019-11-08T03:53:04Z 2019-11-08T03:46:41Z
  • The Yankees decided against issuing a one-year, $17.8MM qualifying offer to Didi Gregorius, leaving’s Andy Martino wondering if the shortstop’s days in the Bronx could be over.  One industry source describes the chances of Gregorius returning to New York in 2020 as “a very close call,” especially since Martino notes that Gregorius and his representatives believe they can find a multi-year deal in free agency.  Even after an injury-shortened down year, Gregorius is still the best shortstop option on the free agent market; MLBTR ranked him 12th on our list of the winter’s top 50 free agents and predicted he’d land a three-year, $42MM contract.  It’s worth noting that this deal would work out to less in average annual value than the one-year cost of the QO, so it isn’t out of the question that the Yankees could still try to bring back Gregorius for multiple years, though at a smaller hit to their 2020 luxury tax number.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Yankees To Hire Matt Blake As Pitching Coach]]> 2019-11-08T01:22:11Z 2019-11-08T00:56:24Z The Yankees will hire Matt Blake as their new pitching coach,’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  Blake is being hired out of the Indians front office, as he was promoted to the role of Cleveland’s director of pitching development just two days ago, after working as a pitching coordinator and assistant director of pitching development for the previous three seasons.  Blake also has past ties to the Yankees, as he worked for the Bronx Bombers as an area scout before heading to Cleveland.

    At only 33 years old, Blake will provide the younger and more analytic-based approach that the Yankees were seeking to find as they looked to replace longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  Of the four known candidates for the job, three (with former Yankees star David Cone as the outlier) were younger names in their 30’s without much any direct coaching experience on an MLB staff.  University of Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter and Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs were the two other names linked to the Yankees’ search.

    It’s difficult to say the Yankees pitchers exactly struggled last year, as both New York’s starters and relievers ranked in the top half of the league in most major statistical categories despite some key names (Luis Severino, Dellin Betances) lost to injury for virtually the entire season.  However, a lack of reliable innings from the rotation quickly became an issue in the ALCS, as the Yankees leaned hard on their bullpen and ultimately came up short to the Astros in six games.

    It will be up to Blake to modernize the Yankees’ handling of their arms, and it perhaps isn’t surprising that New York hired someone from a Cleveland organization that has excelled at developing homegrown pitching in recent years.  Indians manager Terry Francona recently praised Blake’s work in preparing young hurlers such as Jefry Rodriguez, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale, with the latter two making their Major League debuts in 2019.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yankees, Brett Gardner Discussing New Contract]]> 2019-11-07T17:28:33Z 2019-11-07T17:25:01Z The Yankees and Brett Gardner have already begun talks about a new contract, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. A new arrangement between the two sides would bring Gardner back to the Bronx for at least a 13th season.

    Gardner, 36, had a career year at the plate in 2019, hitting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 26 doubles, seven triples and 10 steals (in 12 attempts). The power surge should likely be taken with a grain of salt, thanks to the supercharged ball that led to record-setting home run levels throughout the league, but Gardner still demonstrated that there’s life left in his bat and once again displayed a quality approach at the plate (9.5 percent walk rate, 19.5 percent strikeout rate).

    A reunion between the two sides has long looked plausible, but the recent revelation that Aaron Hicks will miss a substantial portion of the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery only increased the likelihood of a new deal. With Hicks shelved and Jacoby Ellsbury more than two years removed from his last MLB appearance, the Yankees have a clear need in center field. The free-agent market features little in the way of enticing options at the position (beyond Gardner himself), and Gardner was motivated enough to stay in New York last winter that he took what amounted to a $3MM pay cut to return to do so. Given all that context, it’s hardly a surprise to see the two sides proactively begin negotiations.

    Gardner isn’t the burner that he once was on the basepaths and in the outfield, but he still remains a quality defender that is capable of handling center field work. He logged 820 innings in center in 2019, plus another 348 in left field, drawing positive marks for his glovework on the whole (+5 Defensive Runs Saved, +3.0 Ultimate Zone Rating, +2 Outs Above Average).

    Gardner checked in at No. 32 on MLBTR’s Top 50 free agent rankings this week. As noted within, Gardner’s outstanding season and the thin market for center fielders could seemingly combine to get him a two-year deal elsewhere, but a one-year pact — and a raise on this year’s $7MM salary — to return to the Yankees seems likeliest.

    As currently constructed, the Yankees have roughly $158.5MM committed to 10 players for the 2020 season. Add in another $35.9MM of projected arbitration salaries (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) for another 10 players plus a handful of pre-arbitration players to round out the roster, and the Yankees are looking at a payroll around $198MM before making any additions. They’re already at or over the luxury line as it is — luxury payroll, unlike actual payroll, is calculated based on contracts’ average annual value and also includes money for player benefits — though that doesn’t seem likely to be a major roadblock with regard to Gardner.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees]]> 2019-11-06T18:57:18Z 2019-11-06T07:35:40Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams.  Click here to read the other entries in this series.

    The 2019 season didn’t end in ideal fashion for the Yankees, but there is no debating that they posted one of the most impressive years of any team in baseball. A litany of major injuries threatened to torpedo their campaign from Day 1, but the club seldom faltered in the face of that overwhelming adversity. Instead, the Yankees plugged in one surprisingly effective cog after another en route to 103 victories – the third-highest total in the game – and their first AL East title since 2012. The Yankees once again made easy work of the Twins in the ALDS, but just as New York has toyed with Minnesota in October, Houston has done the same to the Bronx Bombers. The Astros eliminated the Yankees for the third time since 2015, cutting them down in a six-game ALCS. Now, general manager Brian Cashman has to continue trying to figure out how to get his team over the Houston hump and back atop the sport.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Option Decisions

    Free Agents

    The offseason is only in its infancy, but Cashman has already gotten a couple key orders of business out of the way. For one, there won’t be any question as to who will be closing games for the Yankees in 2020. The Yankees were facing the departure of star closer Aroldis Chapman, who had a chance to opt out of the last two years and $30MM left on his contract, but the two sides prevented that from happening last weekend. New York added a third year and $18MM to Chapman’s deal, giving him a pact worth $48MM over three seasons. It’s a reasonable deal for the Yankees, as Chapman – despite the series-losing home run he allowed to Houston – remains one of the majors’ premier relievers. Considering Chapman’s lengthy track record of excellence, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see him break Wade Davis’ average annual value record for a reliever ($17.33MM per annum) had he gotten to free agency, but the Yankees managed to retain their game-ending southpaw for less.

    Turning to the position player side, Cashman had noteworthy calls to make at shortstop and at designated hitter/first base the past few days. And he may have opted to say goodbye to two of the Yankees’ most recognizable players in shortstop Didi Gregorius and slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Gregorius is a revered Yankee who was one of the league’s elite shortstops from 2017-18, but he fell flat this year after sitting out the first few months while recovering from Tommy John surgery. As a result of the underwhelming production Gregorius mustered, the Yankees decided not to issue him a $17.8MM qualifying offer. He’s now on the open market without draft compensation weighing him down.

    Whether to qualify Gregorius looked like the type of decision that could have gone either way, whereas it’s no surprise the Yankees pulled the plug on Encarnacion’s $20MM option in favor of a $5MM buyout. Encarnacion remains a serious home run threat and a formidable offensive player, but for a soon-to-be 37-year-old with no real defensive value, his option was unpalatable.

    Now that Gregorius and Encarnacion aren’t on the Yankees’ roster anymore, it’s fair to wonder what the team will do to replace them. It’s entirely possible they’ll re-up either or both if their markets don’t materialize as hoped. But if not, the Yankees are seemingly in the luxurious position of having ready-made replacements on hand. They could slide budding star second baseman Gleyber Torres to short to replace Gregorius, thus leaving the keystone to versatile infielder DJ LeMahieu. Alternatively, if the Yankees want to make their latest enormous offseason splash on the trade market, they could at least inquire on the Indians’ Francisco Lindor or the Rockies’ Trevor Story. Finding a way to trade for either, albeit at would surely be a sizable cost in assets, would enable the Yankees to keep Torres at second and continue to move LeMahieu around the infield.

    The Yankees may need LeMahieu at first and/or third, as there’s an argument their options there aren’t incredibly trustworthy. Third baseman Gio Urshela had an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2019, but is it sustainable? And the player he replaced, Miguel Andujar, missed almost the entire season with a shoulder injury and wasn’t exactly a source of defensive brilliance as a rookie the previous year. The Yankees may be able to live with Andujar’s defensive shortcomings if he regains form at the plate, especially if they can rotate him in at DH on occasion, but who’s to say he’ll be the same hitter in 2020?

    At first base, the Yankees have a pair of sluggers – Luke Voit and Mike Ford – who look capable of holding down the fort (that’s assuming the Yanks abandon their long-running dreams of a Greg Bird breakout and don’t make any other moves like bringing back Encarnacion). Voit’s coming off an injury-wrecked season in which he tailed off badly toward the end, though, and the 27-year-old Ford has just 163 major league plate appearances to his name. LeMahieu would continue to make for nice insurance at both corners, then, though how often he lines up there could depend on whether there’s a Gregorius re-signing or a different middle infield acquisition.

    Are there any other splashy scenarios in which the Yankees could give their infield a boost? Sure, they could sign Anthony Rendon to play third base for $200MM-plus or maybe even Josh Donaldson for something in the vicinity of $60MM-$80MM. But if the Yankees, who are always mindful of the luxury tax, are going to spend an exorbitant amount on a free agent, it seems more likely to be a pitcher than a position player.

    Meantime, it wouldn’t be remotely surprising to see the Yankees re-sign outfielder Brett Gardner, their longest-tenured player, to what should be another relatively affordable short-term contract. The 36-year-old stuck around on a $7.5MM guarantee last offseason and then proceeded to record one of the most productive seasons of his career. Gardner also showed he’s still capable of manning center, which is hugely important for a New York team whose starter, Aaron Hicks, recently underwent Tommy John surgery. With Hicks set to miss a large portion of 2019, the Yankees need a viable center fielder to slot in alongside corner options Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier and, if he re-signs, Cameron Maybin. Free agency’s not teeming with appealing possibilities, though, and trading for Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte may not make sense with Hicks due back in several months and under team control for the long haul. With that in mind, it seems realistic to expect Gardner back in the Bronx in 2020.

    Let’s shift to catcher, where Gary Sanchez is coming off another year in which he drew fan and media ire for his strikeout tendencies at the plate and his defensive troubles behind it. Could the Yankees now try to deal Sanchez and look for an upgrade? Possibly. But where would they get this upgrade? Sanchez is hands down a better choice than every free agent but Yasmani Grandal, who’s four years older and looks likely to command a guarantee worth more than $60MM. And unlike last offseason, there’s no J.T. Realmuto on the trade market. What does that mean? Expect Sanchez back in pinstripes next year, possibly with Kyle Higashioka as a backup to replace free agent Austin Romine.

    And now we arrive at the pitching staff, a source of frustration for Yankees fans in 2019. The Yankees had to go through almost the entire year without their ace, Luis Severino, whose shoulder and lat injuries held him to 12 regular-season innings. The good news is that he should be ready to lead their starting staff again in 2020, while James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka will continue to provide a pair of nice complements. But what about the rest of the rotation? There’s no more CC Sabathia, who called it a (Hall of Fame?) career. Meanwhile, unless they swap him for another bad contract, the Yankees are probably stuck with the aging J.A. Happ for the last season of a two-year, $34MM pact. There’s a chance they may never get another pitch from 2019 standout Domingo German, whose season ended in September when he landed on administrative leave under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence Policy. Deivi Garcia’s the organization’s No. 1 prospect, though he’s still just 20 and has thrown a mere 40 innings at the Triple-A level (where he posted a 5.40 ERA/5.77 FIP this year). Jordan Montgomery (a 2018 Tommy John patient) and Jonathan Loaisiga could be wild cards, but the Yankees might be pressing their luck by locking either of them into rotation jobs.

    Frankly, if the Yankees want to go into Evil Empire mode and try to steal a high-priced free agent from the rest of the league, the rotation seems like the place for it. There happen to be a couple aces on the table in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, but whether the Yankees would crush the $200MM mark for the former and go well above $150MM for the latter is in question. While it’s well-documented that the Yankees have coveted Cole in the past, it’s worth noting they haven’t reeled in a free agent for anything close to the type of money he’s about to receive since they re-signed Alex Rodriguez to a $275MM deal entering 2008. George Steinbrenner was still alive at that point. That doesn’t mean today’s Hal Steinbrenner-run Yankees won’t sign Cole, Strasburg or at least someone like Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner or Hyun-Jin Ryu, but it would be difficult to call the Yankees favorites in any of those cases.

    It may be easier to envision a trade for a starter coming together, considering Cashman has swung deals for the likes of Paxton, Happ, Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn over the past couple years. Would he do it again, this time for someone like Corey Kluber or Matthew Boyd? It’s doubtful anyone but a Cole or a Strasburg would suffice for a high number of Yankees fans, but with Severino back at full strength, there’s a case the team doesn’t have to pick up a true front-line type before next season.

    Regardless of how the Yankees fill out the rest of their rotation before next year, the offseason heavy lifting in their bullpen already appears to be done with Chapman staying in the mix. The Yankees doled out a combined $66MM in guarantees to Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino in free agency last winter. For the most part, those signings have worked out well so far. Those two will be back, while Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green (if he doesn’t fill an opener role next season), Luis Cessa and Loaisiga are among holdovers who could or will join them.

    At this point, the main concern centering on New York’s bullpen is whether its relationship with longtime force Dellin Betances is over. The Yankees showed they could succeed in 2019 without the four-time All-Star, whom shoulder problems stopped from making his season debut until Sept. 15. Betances retired both batters he faced that day in Toronto, but he suffered a partial left Achilles tear while hopping off the mound at the end of the inning. That brought a quick and cruel close to a Murphy’s Law season for Betances, and it was especially inopportune during a contract year. However, the injury’s not so severe that it will hinder the soon-to-be 32-year-old from faring somewhat nicely on the open market. MLBTR has Betances in line for a $7MM guarantee, and with the tax-minded Yankees paying close attention to every penny nowadays, they may deem that too expensive for a reliever coming off a lost season.

    As always, the Yankees will be one of the game’s most fascinating teams to watch this offseason. Are they a sleeping giant that could swoop in for Lindor, Cole or maybe even both? Perhaps. On the other hand, the Yankees are talented enough that they could mostly stand pat in the coming months and enter 2020 in better shape than just about everyone else. The avenue they take will depend on how much much Steinbrenner’s willing to spend on a roster that exceeded the luxury tax this year and already looks as if it’s on pace to breeze past the $208MM threshold for next season. Unless Steinbrenner’s OK with outspending the second penalty bracket ($228MM) or even the third ($248MM), this might not be a particularly eventful winter in the Bronx.