New York Yankees – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-04-07T03:00:02Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[That Time The Yankees Pursued Craig Kimbrel]]> 2020-04-07T01:17:03Z 2020-04-07T01:03:30Z Possessing an excellent closer is one of the many things the Yankees have become known for over the years. There was Dave Righetti, Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle decades back. And then there was John Wetteland, who was on the mound when the Yankees won the World Series in 1996. He formed a dominant late-game tandem with Mariano Rivera, who soon became the Yankees’ closer and evolved into perhaps the greatest reliever ever – someone who consistently shut opposing offenses down for almost 20 years. Now, the Yankees have yet another game-ending force in Aroldis Chapman, a two-time member of the team since it first acquired him in December 2015. But months before the Yankees swung a trade for Chapman, they went after another of the top closers in history in Craig Kimbrel.

Leading up to the trade deadline on July 31, 2015, the Yankees were said to be among the teams in hottest pursuit of Kimbrel, then a member of the Padres. New York held a six-game lead in the American League East at that point, thanks in part to the wonderful work of relievers Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson, but it wanted yet another bullpen weapon in Kimbrel. Then 27 years old, Kimbrel was fresh off an all-world run with Atlanta and in his first season in San Diego.

The Padres landed Kimbrel the previous offseason with the goal of pushing for contention, but the team instead endured more struggles. That wasn’t the fault of Kimbrel, who enjoyed yet another fine season. Despite interest from teams like the Yankees – who were reportedly unwilling to trade then-prospects Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird for the reliever – Kimbrel wound up spending that entire year with the Padres. They went on to win just 77 games, while the Yankees lost their division lead to the Blue Jays after the deadline and were ultimately knocked out of the wild-card round by the Astros (another team that looked into Kimbrel before the deadline).

The fact that the Kimbrel talks between the Yankees and Padres fell apart turned out to have a major impact on those two teams and more clubs. In November 2015, the Padres found a taker for Kimbrel in the Yankees’ hated rival, the Red Sox, who got him for a prospect package consisting of outfielder Manuel Margot, shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and lefty Logan Allen. Nobody from that group has made a significant on-field impact for the Padres (the jury’s out on Guerra, who’s now a reliever), but they did flip Margot for an outstanding bullpen arm in Emilio Pagan this past offseason. Prior to then, the Padres shipped Allen to the Indians last summer as part of a three-team trade that netted them high-end outfield prospect Taylor Trammell.

For their part, it’s fair to say the Red Sox would make the Kimbrel trade again. He was an integral part of their bullpen from 2016-18, all of which were playoff seasons and the last of which ended in the club’s most recent World Series championship. The Red Sox bettered the Yankees in each of those regular seasons with three straight AL East titles, but they elected to let Kimbrel (now a Cub) exit via free agency in 2019.

Speaking of the Cubs, they’re another team that has felt some impact from the Kimbrel non-trade between the Padres and Yankees. Having failed to reel in Kimbrel, the Yankees picked up Chapman from the Reds in December 2015. Chapman didn’t cost the Yankees that much (second baseman Tony Renda and righties Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham) because he was facing domestic violence allegations at the time. He served a 30-game suspension for that to begin the 2016 campaign. Then, with the Yankees not looking like a real threat to compete for a title, they sent Chapman to the Cubs in a deal for Gleyber Torres around that summer’s deadline.

Four years later, Torres is a standout middle infielder and an irreplaceable member of the Yankees’ lineup. He’s missed in Chicago, but Chapman did help them to their first World Series in 108 years a few months after they acquired him. As the saying goes, flags fly forever. Chapman returned to the Yankees in free agency during the ensuing offseason, though. And Kimbrel’s now a member of the Cubs, who signed him to a three-year, $43MM contract that hasn’t gone their way thus far. Where would he and Chapman be right now had the Yankees traded for Kimbrel a half-decade ago? Nobody can say for sure, but it’s one of the many interesting questions to ponder in this what-if scenario.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cone Discusses Previous Interview With Yankees]]> 2020-04-06T13:53:28Z 2020-04-06T13:53:28Z
  • It’s already known that the Yankees interviewed former Cy Young winner and current YES Network Analyst David Cone for their pitching coach vacancy before hiring Matt Blake last November, but Cone talked more about the interview process and another potential role that was discussed in an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Bob Klapisch. The pitching coach talks were “more exploratory” in nature, per Cone, but the two sides discussed a role in which he’d serve as a liaison between the club’s pitchers and the analytics department — utilizing his experience as a pitcher to help bridge the gap between data from the front office and implementation in a game setting. That role didn’t come together, clearly, but it’s nevertheless interesting both in a “what might’ve been” lens in addition to looking down the line at what could yet be in store if the two sides rekindle talks.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Re-Sign David Hale]]> 2020-04-04T23:20:43Z 2020-04-04T23:20:05Z TODAY: As it turns out, Hale was re-signed by the Yankees shortly after he was released.  He was initially let go in order to rework the specifics of his minors contract, and to incorporate a new opt-out date into the deal.  The new pact has a deadline set for five days prior to the beginning of the season, whenever that may be.

    APRIL 2: The Yankees have released righty David HaleChris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America reports. This move occurred before the institution of a leaguewide roster freeze.

    Hale signed yet another minor-league deal with the Yankees over the offseason. He has gone through numerous procedural moves with the club while moving onto and off of the active and 40-man rosters.

    Last season was a productive one for the 32-year-old. He threw 37 2/3 innings over twenty appearances in the bigs, working to a 3.11 ERA with 23 strikeouts against seven walks along with a 50% groundball rate. That represented Hale’s most extensive MLB action since 2015.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest News & Notes On Coronavirus & Baseball]]> 2020-04-02T15:58:57Z 2020-04-02T15:58:57Z We’re all pining for the return of baseball. It’d be nice to watch, especially in these trying times. More than anything, though, the start of play would mean that we’ve achieved some amount of control over the spread of the coronavirus — and, perhaps, that there’d be an end in sight to the suffering it has wrought. In the meantime, we join all those around the world in honoring the brave health care professionals, first responders, logistical employees, and others who are doing everything they can to sustain us.

    • The unfolding tragedy is particularly acute in New York, the present American epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Baseball is an afterthought. Any hope of playing it will depend upon addressing the broader public health need, as Yankees reliever Zack Britton acknowledges (via MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, on Twitter). “At the end of the day,” he says of talk regarding the scheduling of the 2020 season, “it doesn’t matter until the virus gets under control and cities and people are able just to go back to everyday life, let alone being able to go and watch baseball or us play baseball.” Getting to a point where the spread is manageable seems an obvious prerequisite for sports, even if played without fans. But the league and union are rightly thinking ahead and trying to plan to move back online as soon as possible. Britton says the sides have already begun considering potential neutral sites to stage games, potentially providing alternative venues that could be utilized as needed. The unnamed locations would have the sorts of playing, lodging, and other facilities required to make play possible.
    • We’ve seen many MLB players pitch in financially and otherwise. They’re also quite understandably thinking of the needs of their families. Veteran Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka has headed back to his native Japan with his wife and child while waiting for baseball to resume, Brendan Kuty of reports. Tanaka says he felt in “danger” in Florida, where the virus is a growing threat. He also chose against returning to the home he maintains in New York. (There is at least a touch of baseball-specific news on the Yankees’ pitching staff, as we covered here yesterday.)
    • Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak has revealed that one employee of the team has tested positive for COVID-19, as Mark Saxon of The Athletic tweets. The unnamed employee was not on hand at the club’s spring facility during camp; rather, he or she was stationed in St. Louis. MLBTR extends its best wishes for a quick and full recovery. Fortunately, that seems to be just what occurred for legendary former Cardinals and Angels outfielder Jim Edmonds. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes, Edmonds ended up in the hospital for pneumonia and ultimately tested positive for COVID-19. But he’s thankfully already on the mend.
    • It’s always worth highlighting the good acts that take place in times of crisis. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, the Rays have initiated some assistance to local charity Feeding Tampa Bay, promising $100K and another $150K in matching funds to help spur a food drive. The Feeding Tampa Bay executive director calls it a “tremendous gift.” Meanwhile Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy is the latest veteran player to make a sizable financial commitment. He’s giving $100K to a “family assistance fund” to assist minor-leaguers who support children or other family members. More on that initiative here.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On James Paxton, Yankees’ Rotation]]> 2020-04-01T19:30:20Z 2020-04-01T19:30:20Z Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake told reporters Wednesday that left-hander James Paxton is progressing well in his rehab from back surgery (Twitter links via Brendan Kuty of the New Jersey Star-Ledger). The left-hander went under the knife in early February, after which the Yankees announced a timetable of three to four months for his recovery. Paxton is throwing at his home in Wisconsin, and the club is optimistic about his recovery.

    As notably, Blake revealed that right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga would’ve factored “heavily” into the team’s rotation picture had the season begun on time. Absent Paxton, Luis Severino and Domingo German, it was clear that left-hander Jordan Montgomery was the team’s fourth starter (behind Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ). Loaisiga was one of many candidates vying for the fifth spot — a race that also included Mike King, Deivi Garcia, Luis Cessa and perhaps non-roster invitees such as Chad Bettis and Nick Tropeano.

    Loaisiga’s standing could be rendered moot with Opening Day pushed back indefinitely, as it appears increasingly likely that Paxton could be ready to suit up when (or if) the season does eventually commence. But it’s nevertheless telling that Loaisiga appears to have had a leg up on his competitors, as that could provide some insight into the organization’s contingency plans in the event of additional early-season injuries.

    The 25-year-old Loaisiga has been plagued by durability issues himself, including last season, when a shoulder strain limited him to 80 2/3 innings between the minors and the big leagues. However, and Baseball Prospectus both ranked him among baseball’s 100 best prospects prior to the ’19 season. In a combined 88 2/3 minor league innings from 2017-18, he posted a 2.60 ERA with a 100-to-11 K/BB ratio.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rookie Radar: AL East]]> 2020-04-01T02:23:26Z 2020-04-01T02:23:26Z We’ve already run through the NL West, the NL East, the NL Central, the AL West and the AL Central in our look at some of the up-and-coming talent that figures to step into the Major League spotlight whenever play resumes. Let’s take a run through our final division, the American League East….

    Blue Jays

    Nate Pearson and his 100 mph heater are close to the big leagues, and the Jays hope their 2017 first-rounder will cement himself as a controllable top-of-the-rotation complement to Hyun-Jin Ryu. If multiple rotation needs arise, they can turn to southpaw Anthony Kay, whom they acquired in last year’s Marcus Stroman trade with the Mets. Right-hander T.J. Zeuch made his big league debut in ’19, and righty Tom Hatch, who came over from the Cubs in the David Phelps swap, dominated in six Double-A starts with his new org.

    As for position players, there aren’t as many names to monitor. Former top prospect Anthony Alford is out of minor league options and is facing an uphill battle as he vies for playing time in a crowded mix. Reese McGuire should be the backup to Danny Jansen.

    In the bullpen, Yennsy Diaz landed on the injured list prior to the shutdown due to a lat strain, but he’s already made his MLB debut and now has additional time to rehab. Julian Merryweather, the righty received when Toronto traded Josh Donaldson to Cleveland, is on the mend from Tommy John surgery and could make an impact in relief.


    Ryan Mountcastle, the Orioles’ 2015 first-rounder, has made it clear throughout his minor league tenure that he’s a force at the plate, but he’s also something of a man without a defensive home. Questions about his glove at multiple positions abound, but he slashed .312/.344/.527 in 127 Triple-A games as a 22-year-old.

    Baltimore will get a second look at Austin Hays, who soared through the minors to make his MLB debut barely a year after being drafted in 2016. Injuries tanked Hays’ 2018 season, but he had a huge September with the O’s in 2019 and should get a look as the everyday center fielder. Outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder Rylan Bannon could make their debuts in 2020, too. Bannon enjoyed a quality 120 wRC+ at both Double-A and a small sample in Triple-A last year.

    The Orioles’ rotation looks astonishingly thin, and at a certain point the O’s would likely prefer to get a look at younger options as opposed to journeymen like Asher Wojciechowski, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone. That could mean any of Dean Kremer , Keegan Akin, Michael Baumann or Zac Lowther will be tabbed for a big league debut.

    Former top prospect Hunter Harvey could eventually enter the closer mix if the team trades Mychal Givens and if his litany of injuries are in the past. Dillon Tate, the twice-traded No. 4 overall pick from 2015, debuted last year and will get a chance to establish himself. Any of Kremer, Akin, Baumann or Lowther could land here as well.


    Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo will be among the more interesting rookies to watch throughout MLB. Over his final four seasons in NPB, Tsutsugo hit .293/.402/.574 with 139 home runs, 116 doubles, five triples, a 15.1 percent walk rate and a 20.4 percent strikeout rate. He’ll see time at the infield corners, in left field and at DH. Also in the outfield will be Randy Arozarena, whom the Cardinals sent to Tampa Bay in the surprising swap that shipped top prospect Matthew Liberatore to St. Louis. He’s not regarded as an elite prospect, but it’s hard to ignore a .344/.431/.571 slash between Double-A and Triple-A.

    Two-way player Brendan McKay should make an impact at the plate and on the mound. The former No. 3 pick could eventually be joined in the rotation by fellow premier prospect Brent Honeywell, who’s on his way back from last March’s Tommy John procedure. Both are top 100 arms. Look for hard-throwing right-hander Peter Fairbanks to log some innings in the ’pen.

    Tampa Bay’s comically deep collection of infielders will make it tough to break onto the roster, but any of Vidal Brujan, Kevin Padlo, Lucius Fox, Taylor Walls or newly acquired Esteban Quiroz could push for a spot. Of the bunch, Brujan is the most highly regarded, ranking comfortably inside most top 100 lists.

    Red Sox

    Boston’s infield is mostly set outside of second base, which could make it tough for their top options to break into the Majors. Corner infielder Bobby Dalbec is the best of the bunch but could probably use a bit more time in Triple-A, where he slashed .257/.301/.478 in 123 Triple-A plate appearances last year. Rule 5 pick Jonathan Arauz (taken out of the Astros organization) and shortstop C.J. Chatham could compete for a bench spot. Young catcher Connor Wong, acquired in the Mookie Betts/David Price blockbuster, is blocked by Christian Vazquez but could end up in the big leagues if injuries arise.

    Given the Red Sox’ paper-thin rotation, any of Tanner Houck, Matt Hall, Bryan Mata or Kyle Hart could find himself with an opportunity. Hart and Houck enjoyed nice seasons in the upper minors, while Hall, acquired in a minor swap with the Tigers, has elite spin and movement on his curveball (albeit with an otherwise pedestrian arsenal). Mike Shawaryn has been primarily a starter in the minors but moved to the ’pen last season. He made his MLB debut in that role but didn’t find success (22 runs in 20 1/3 innings). Righty Durbin Feltman dominated after being taken in the third round in 2018 but needs a mulligan after a terrible 2019 in Double-A.


    Don’t look for many position players of note, but the Yankees have a number of appealing arms percolating in the upper minors. Right-hander Clarke Schmidt has surpassed righty Deivi Garcia as the top pitching prospect in the organization by some accounts, but he only tossed 90 2/3 innings last year (topping out with 19 in Double-A) as he worked back from 2017 Tommy John surgery. Garcia’s diminutive size (5’9″, 163 pounds) has led to some skepticism, but he averaged better than 13 K/9 through 111 1/3 frames across three minor league levels last year.

    Those aren’t the only two options from which the Yankees can choose in the absence of Luis Severino, Domingo German and (depending on his recovery timeline) perhaps James Paxton. Righty Mike King made a brief debut (two innings) last season and has an excellent track record in the minors, though he was hobbled by a stress reaction in his elbow last season. Alliterative hurlers Albert Abreu and Nick Nelson both battled control issues in Double-A but are regarded as solid prospects who aren’t far from MLB readiness. If you’re looking for a reliever to watch, Brooks Kriske flirted with a sub-2.00 ERA and averaged nearly a dozen punchouts per nine innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Why Yankees Could Hold Off On Gleyber Torres Extension]]> 2020-03-31T05:34:27Z 2020-03-31T05:34:27Z
  • The Yankees aren’t known for doling out contract extensions, but if they’re going to lock up one of their own for the long haul, shortstop Gleyber Torres is a logical candidate. The 23-year-old enjoyed an especially impressive campaign in 2019, and he’s now entering his final season of pre-arbitration. That said, the Yankees are unlikely to try to extend Torres until they see how he fares as a full-time shortstop, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. While Torres has mostly played second base since his career began in 2018, he spent the majority of last season at short because now-Phillie Didi Gregorius sat out for a couple months while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Torres didn’t garner awful grades there, for what it’s worth, finishing with minus-1 Defensive Runs Saved, a minus-2.1 Ultimate Zone Rating and minus-3 Outs Above Average. Regardless of how adept Torres is in the field, it seems he’s someone the Yankees should want around at set prices for the foreseeable future. Even if that’s the case, though, there’s a leaguewide freeze on extension talks at the moment.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Luxury Tax Status Will Not Reset If 2020 Season Is Cancelled]]> 2020-03-30T23:10:07Z 2020-03-30T23:10:07Z While Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have officially reached a deal on a temporary re-working of the collective bargaining agreement, the details are still filtering out. One key element of the coronavirus alteration is the role of the competitive balance (“luxury”) tax.

    The CBT has played a notable role in structuring roster decisionmaking in recent years. Even those organizations willing to pay it from time to time have sought to avoid doing so in consecutive seasons. Repeat offenders pay heavier rates on their overages. Big-spending teams have come to recognize that dipping back under the bar to reset the luxury tax rate can make for massive savings.

    We have learned some details of the modified system (see here and here), including the fact that there’s no CBT obligation if a season isn’t played. (Otherwise, it’ll be handled on a pro-rated basis.) But that doesn’t mean that, in the unfortunate event of a cancelled season, every team would start with a clean slate in the 2020-21 offseason. Instead, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), the pre-2020 CBT status would carry forward.

    This news is directly pertinent to the three teams that incurred a luxury tax penalty in 2019: the Red Sox, Yankees, and Cubs. In the event of a season cancellation, they’d all head into the 2021 season without a reset. That could have major implications for the Boston and Chicago organizations, in particular.

    While the Yankees were planning to blow past the $208MM luxury tax line regardless, the Red Sox and Cubs were not. The Boston club — a two-time repeat payer of the luxury tax — had already moved below the 2020 mark and was clearly planning on a reset. The Cubs were sitting just above the threshold when Spring Training was suspended. Calculation depends upon the contracts added or removed during the course of the season, so the Cubs expected to have a chance to reevaluate as the campaign progressed.

    This bit of news may not end up mattering. If the 2020 season is played, the Red Sox will get their reset and the Cubs will still have a chance to adjust their payroll to dip under the luxury threshold — so long as there’s an opportunity to make trades, at least. Then again, the calculus would be quite a bit different than originally anticipated in a short-season format without a typical trade deadline period.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[The Yankees’ (Brief) History Of Contract Extensions]]> 2020-03-30T04:38:55Z 2020-03-30T04:38:55Z Twenty-eight different contract extensions were signed between teams and players between February-April 2019, and the Yankees were one of the many clubs that joined in on this rush.  Aaron Hicks was a season away from free agency at the time, though the outfielder chose to forego the open market in favor of a contract that paid him $64MM in new money through the 2025 season.  Right-hander Luis Severino inked a four-year, $40MM deal that covered his four arbitration-eligible years as a Super Two player, and the deal also contains a $15MM club option for the 2023 season, which would have been Severino’s first free agent year.

    Another extension came after the season, as the Yankees worked out an agreement with Aroldis Chapman that would see the closer decline his opt-out clause in favor of a three-year, $48MM extension that essentially added an extra year (and another $18MM) onto the final two seasons of Chapman’s previous contract.

    Three extensions in less than a year is a pretty notable amount of business for any team on the long-term front.  In the Yankees’ case, however, it counts as an absolute flurry given how rarely the Bronx Bombers have engaged in such internal long-term deals.  New York’s three extensions in 2019 came on the heels of only six extensions in the previous 18 years.

    The reason for this lack of extension action is simple — it was against team policy.  “I just don’t believe in contract extensions, and that’s throughout the organization, no matter who it is,” managing partner Hal Steinbrenner told the Associated Press and other reporters in 2010.  “Hopefully nobody takes that personally. It’s just business.”

    Between the time Steinbrenner officially became the Yankees’ control person in November 2008 and the start of 2019, his anti-extension stance stayed almost completely intact, with two exceptions that somewhat mirrored the Chapman and Hicks situations.  C.C. Sabathia also had a contractual opt-out decision following the 2011 season, though he and the Yankees worked out a new deal that gave the southpaw five years and a guaranteed $122MM to overwrite the previous four years and $92MM remaining on his previous contract.  Prior to the 2014 season, Brett Gardner (like Hicks) was also just a year away from free agency before New York locked him up for a four-year, $52MM extension.

    Beyond the Sabathia and Gardner contracts, however, that was it on the extension front.  As Steinbrenner noted, the “no matter who it is” edict even stretched to the likes of Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter, who both reached the open market before eventually (and, in Jeter’s case, not without some contentious words) re-signing with New York.  Even general manager Brian Cashman’s last three contracts have only been signed after the GM’s previous deals had expired.

    Why would the team take such a hard line?  In short, the Yankees always wanted as much flexibility as possible in deciding their future moves, since they had the financial resources to immediately pivot to a better option in free agency or the trade market if such an upgrade was available.  Whereas other teams pursued extensions as a way of locking up young talent into their free agent years or at least getting some cost certainty through arbitration years, such concerns simply weren’t on the Yankees’ radar given their free-spending ways.

    Of course, the franchise has become somewhat more cost-conscious in recent years, which likely explains the Bombers’ openness towards extensions in 2019.  After 15 years of overages, the Yankees finally ducked under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold during the 2018 season, allowing them to reset their penalty clock for 2019 (when they surpassed the threshold again).  Though New York didn’t go to the extremes of other big-market clubs like the Cubs or Red Sox in limiting or eliminating their luxury tax payments, the Yankees saw value in getting under the tax line once, plus they had the additional bonus of being able to cut their tax bill while still remaining competitive since so many of the club’s young stars seemingly broke out at the same time.

    With the CBT penalty reset, the Yankees had the freedom to explore a tactic like signing Severino through his arbitration years.  The deal was seen at the time as very canny, given that Severino seemed to be a burgeoning ace, and thus in line for an escalating arb price tag.  In Hicks’ case, he may have had extra motivation to sign an extension given how the restrained 2017-18 and 2018-19 free agent markets left a lot of players settling for below-market deals or having long waits on the open market.  Hicks could have preferred the security of just remaining in New York, and his price was apparently satisfactory enough for the Yankees to make the long-term commitment to a player they obviously wanted to retain.

    The early returns on both deals, however, haven’t been good.  Injuries limited Hicks to only 59 games in 2019 and he underwent Tommy John surgery last October, putting him out of action until at least June (though he might not miss any game time at all, given the delayed start to the season).  The news was even worse for Severino, who tossed just 12 innings last season due to injuries and then underwent a Tommy John procedure of his own in late February.  The righty now won’t be back on the mound until early in the 2021 campaign.

    It isn’t yet clear if the disastrous starts to both of these extensions may have once again made the team wary of such longer-term deals, or if Steinbrenner and the Yankees front office still consider the process to be sound — after all, there’s still plenty of time for Hicks and Severino to make good on their deals.  Since big-picture concerns likely inspired the club’s decision-making towards those extensions in the first place, it’s safe to assume that inevitable changes to the sport’s financial structure will also impact the Yankees’ future approach more so than a pair of Tommy John surgeries.

    Both baseball and the world at large are gripped with the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, plus there’s also the fact that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the players’ union is up in December 2021.  With these factors in mind, it isn’t a stretch to say that the way baseball does business could be vastly different two years from now, which could leave the Yankees and several other teams hesitant about committing any more long-term money until things can be figured out.

    Working out an extension for, say, Aaron Judge seems to pale in comparison to such matters.  But, when trying to guess whether or not New York will (once the roster freeze is lifted) seek out multi-year deals for the likes of Judge, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, Miguel Andujar, or any number of other players, it’s worth noting that the Yankees generally don’t extend players very often, and it wouldn’t be a shock if they return to their old wait-and-see approach.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Option 4 Players To Minors]]> 2020-03-27T00:43:44Z 2020-03-27T00:43:44Z The Yankees pared down their roster Thursday, optioning three pitchers – Deivi Garcia, Mike King and Ben Heller – as well as infielder Thairo Estrada to the minors. The club sent Garcia to Double-A Trenton and the rest to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

    Garcia and King may be the most intriguing names in this quartet. It wasn’t long ago that both pitchers were competing for season-opening roles in the Yankees’ banged up rotation. But if the coronavirus does delay Opening Day until June or later, injured left-hander James Paxton figures to begin the year in the Yankees’ starting staff. That would give them a complete five-man rotation with Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery complementing Gerrit Cole.

    While Garcia and King aren’t ticketed for season-opening roles in New York, the pair could find themselves in the majors soon enough. The two undoubtedly count among the Yankees’ best farmhands, with Baseball America ranking the 20-year-old Garcia as their No. 3 prospect and placing King, 24, at No. 13.

    Estrada, also 24, made his MLB debut in 2019 and batted .250/.294/.438 with three home runs in 69 plate appearances. He played both middle infield positions and both corner outfield spots during that brief stint.

    Heller, whom the Yankees acquired from the Indians in the teams’ 2016 trade centering on Andrew Miller, has totaled just 25 1/3 major league innings thus far. He underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, thereby sidelining the 28-year-old for all of that season and for the majority of last year.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Aaron Hicks Begins Throwing Program]]> 2020-03-25T22:10:10Z 2020-03-25T22:10:10Z Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks has been cleared to begin a throwing program, manager Aaron Boone told reporters Wednesday (Twitter links via Bryan Hoch of Boone didn’t provide a further timetable on Hicks, but it’s a notable step in the 30-year-old’s recovery from last October’s Tommy John surgery.

    As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne noted when looking at how the postponing of Opening Day impacts the Yankees, Hicks’ recovery timetable was expected to be eight to 10 months, which would put him in line for a return anywhere from June until August. Depending on when (or if) the season is able to commence, it’s possible that Hicks could return to the lineup without having missed much time at all.

    That’d be a notable boost for the Yankees; while many have lamented the seven-year, $70MM contract signed by Hicks immediately before back injuries caused him to begin the 2019 season on the IL (and before his elbow required surgery), it’s worth remembering just how strong Hicks’ 2017-18 seasons were. During that time, he slashed .255/.368/.470 with 42 home runs, 36 doubles, three triples and 21 steals through 942 plate appearances. In the field, he totaled 4 Defensive Runs Saved, a 5.7 Ultimate Zone Rating and was at least average, per Statcast’s OAA metric.

    Boone also noted that lefty James Paxton, on the mend from back surgery, is continuing a throwing program at his Wisconsin home. All appears to be well on that front — or, at least, no setback or negative updates were provided — which bodes well for an on-target return to the mound. The Yankees announced he’d be sidelined three to four months when he underwent back surgery in February.

    As for right fielder Aaron Judge, Boone offered little in terms of timeline but gave what’s sure to be a frustrating update for fans when he revealed that the slugger’s collapsed lung could date all the way back to a diving attempt in the outfield last September. “It’s probably something that’s impossible to know for sure, but I would believe that it’s all interrelated,” said Boone. Judge will be re-evaluated in a “few weeks” after his cracked rib has had more time to heal, tweets Brendan Kuty of the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

    Darragh McDonald <![CDATA[Extension Candidates: AL East]]> 2020-03-24T02:45:36Z 2020-03-24T02:45:36Z There’s no baseball in the present, which has many fans turning to the past, as broadcasters are helping us addicts get our fix by filling the air with classic games from days gone by. But what about the future? Which players are logical fits for contract extensions for the days yet to come?

    We’ve already checked in on the NL East, NL Central and NL West. Now it’s time to switch over to the Junior Circuit and check in on the AL East.

    Blue Jays

    The youth movement is in full effect north of the border, as the team currently has no position players on the 40-man roster who have reached their 30th birthday. That means there are extension candidates up and down the line. From the team’s perspective, they would surely love to lock up their young core players of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, all of whom have less than a year of service time and are therefore at least two years away from arbitration. However, since all three are the sons of retired big leaguers who made millions during their playing days, they might not be as motivated as some other players to sign away years of free agency in exchange for the security of having guaranteed money in the bank.

    One promising youngster without a famous lineage is catcher Danny Jansen. The team could have some desire to lock him up if they think he’s their catcher of the future. But does the team still believe that after his lackluster offensive numbers in 2019?

    On the pitching side, the most promising young arm is prospect Nate Pearson, who hasn’t even made it onto the roster yet. We’ve seen some recent extensions given to players before their MLB debuts, such as Luis Robert, Evan White and Eloy Jimenez, but none for pitchers just yet. One wild card is Ken Giles. The 29-year-old has been lights out since leaving Houston and is one year away from free agency. But because of injury concerns, perhaps the right deal could give him enough peace of mind to forgo the open market.


    The Orioles are about as full into rebuild as a team can be. And the path out of the AL East basement seems to be long and arduous. But one way to brighten the light at the end of the tunnel would be to lock in some quality players for the happier days down the road. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of guys that currently meet that description.

    The team had four players produce more than 2.0 fWAR in 2019. Two of them are now on different teams (Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Villar). And another, Trey Mancini, is suddenly in an uncertain position after recently undergoing surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his colon.

    That leaves only hurler John Means, who had a fantastic breakout season in 2019. And since he’s about to turn 27 and is two years away from arbitration, he might want to lock up some cash while he can. But from the team perspective, Means might not be worth betting on at this stage. His 2019 ERA of 3.60 was nice, but FIP and xFIP are less bullish, pegging him at 4.41 and 5.48, respectively. It would be prudent for the Orioles to be patient and see if he has the ability to find repeat success.


    The cash-strapped Rays are big fans of the extension, having signed 11 of them in the decade that just ended. Since they almost never reel in big fish in free agency, Charlie Morton notwithstanding, extensions are the best way for them to get bang for their buck and keep talent on the roster. Just a few weeks ago, they were reportedly discussions extensions with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows.

    As for Glasnow, he finally had his long-awaited breakout in 2019. He just reached arbitration as a Super Two and could conceivably make some decent money with four trips through arbitration. The club would surely prefer to put a cap on his earnings ceiling if they could. And since Glasnow struggled through his first few years in Pittsburgh, he might welcome the security of guaranteed cash to insure himself against those struggles returning. But because of injuries, he only logged 60 2/3 innings last year. He still hasn’t proven he can maintain his abilities over a full season. Until he does, that limits his leverage in negotiations.

    As for Meadows, he had a tremendous season in 2019, putting up the kind of classical power numbers that should reward him well in arbitration. As long as he can stay healthy and repeat them. But since arbitration is still two years away, perhaps a compromise could be worked out wherein he gets more money now but sacrifices the top end of his earning power.

    In terms of other guys, there are a whole whack of them that the Rays could try to nail down before they start getting paid real money. The list includes Joey Wendle, Willy AdamesRyan Yarbrough, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and a big batch of relievers. But of course, with the Rays, there’s always a decent chance they’ll just trade a guy as soon as they get uncomfortable with his cost.

    Red Sox

    After trading away Mookie Betts and David Price and then losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, it might feel like the Red Sox are a hollowed-out husk. But there’s still a lot of talent on the roster that they should want to keep around. And now that they’ve accomplished their goal of getting under the luxury tax barrier, they should have some room on the payroll to actually do it.

    Andrew Benintendi recently signed a two-year deal. But he will still have one arbitration year remaining after that. That means he would hit the free agent market as a 28-year-old, potentially lining himself up for a nice payday, unless the Sox pay him first. Eduardo Rodriguez just had his best season and could also reach free agency at 28. He’s making $8.3MM in 2020 and still has one more pass through arbitration remaining. With Price and Sale gone, and Eovaldi’s injury history, it could make sense to keep Rodriguez around for a few more years for some rotation stability.

    Rafael Devers won’t even get into arbitration until after this season. And since he’s only 23, he could bank some cash, give away a few free agent years and still reach the open market before he turns 30. Alex Verdugo is just a bit older but has one more year of team control than Devers. If Boston believed in him enough to make him the centrepiece of their return for giving up a franchise player like Mookie Betts, they must believe he’s capable of helping them down the road.


    The big-spending Yankees of old seem to have returned, after they blew way past the luxury tax for 2020. But you can never rule out another dump truck of money coming around the corner. They’re the Yankees, after all.

    They already struck gold with the first time they signed DJ LeMahieu. He somehow managed to have his best offensive output during a season in which he turned 31, and after leaving the friendly confines of Coors Field. Last month, it didn’t seem like anything was imminent. But that doesn’t mean a deal couldn’t be reached at some point this year to prevent him going on the block. James Paxton is also just one year away from free agency. But given his persistent injuries, would the Yankees bet on him in a big way?

    Of course, the 6’7″ elephant in the room is Aaron Judge. The delayed start to the season is giving him a chance to convalesce and approach full health. The slugger will make $8.5MM in 2020 and still has two passes through arbitration remaining before he hits free agency as a 30-year-old. Will the Yankees shell out the big bucks to keep the fan favorite around? Or does his injury history give them pause? Gary Sanchez is in a similar position, but just a few months younger than Judge and with a slightly smaller salary at $5MM.

    In the pre-arb department, Gleyber Torres is the shining star. He is sure to reach arbitration after 2020 as a Super Two, meaning he’ll have four chances to get a raise through arbitration unless the Yanks can fork over enough to get him not to. Since he’s on pace to reach the open market at 27, he could give up a few free agent years and still become a free agent at a relatively young age.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Giancarlo Stanton’s Calf Injury]]> 2020-03-23T19:33:47Z 2020-03-23T19:33:47Z Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has continued to rehab his injured calf during the coronavirus hiatus. Since last we checked in, it seems he has made significant progress.

    In comments to Meredith Marakovits on YES Network, Yanks manager Aaron Boone indicated that Stanton is more or less back to full speed. (Via’s Bryan Hoch, on Twitter.) Per Boone, Stanton would “probably be ready to go” if spring contests were still on the schedule.

    It remains to be seen just when Stanton will actually have a chance to re-take the field. But it’s certainly good to hear that he has improved so much even without any need for urgency.

    Stanton had been expected to miss Opening Day but will now be expected to suit up when the sport finally restarts. Of course, that presumes he’ll be able to avoid any further injuries while working out during the layoff. Stanton dealt with a series of maladies in 2019, ultimately appearing in only 18 contests.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[How The Delayed Season Impacts The Yankees]]> 2020-03-23T23:39:57Z 2020-03-21T02:54:47Z One of today’s innumerable sad realities is that the coronavirus will shorten or, in a worst-case scenario, wipe out the 2020 Major League Baseball season. We’re all hoping the world will get back to normal as soon as possible, though the calendar could turn to June or July before MLB’s Opening Day rolls around. The only bright side for baseball is that will give injured players across the majors more time to heal and perhaps play a full season, however long it lasts. Few teams (if any) stand to benefit more from the delay than the reigning American League East champion Yankees, who entered the spring among the game’s World Series favorites but have suffered one key injury after another in recent weeks.

    Before the sport was forced to shut down and put off its March 26 opener, there were serious questions about how the Yankees’ roster would look for Game 1. Their rotation took a pair of massive hits with injuries to their two best Gerrit Cole complements, Luis Severino and James Paxton. Even with a truncated season likely, there’s no shot we’ll see Severino in 2020. After all, the flamethrowing right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery less than a month ago. But the outlook is much more hopeful for the oft-injured Paxton, who had back surgery in the first week of February. Paxton’s not expected to take the hill again until May or June; under conventional circumstances, that would have meant missing at least a month-plus of the season. Now, if Paxton’s recovery stays on course, he could be in line for either a full slate of games or something close to it.

    A whole year of Paxton would be a boon for New York, though a late start to the season won’t be fully positive for its rotation. Righty Domingo German’s set to miss the first 63 games of 2020 as a result of a domestic violence suspension. So, even if we see far fewer games than usual, he’ll probably have to serve out that entire ban. A reasonably healthy Yankees starting staff would still be in better shape than most, though, with Cole, Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery as their top five.

    On the offensive side, the Yankees are facing a slew of injuries. That’s especially true for their outfield, which may have gone without any of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks on a typical Opening Day. That’s a lot of firepower. Judge has been limited by upper body issues and even a collapsed lung for weeks, while a calf problem has slowed Stanton this spring. But the longer we’re deprived of baseball, the better the two sluggers’ chances are of being ready from the get-go. The same applies to Hicks, who underwent Tommy John surgery last October. The belief then was that Hicks would return to action in eight to 10 months. Should that timeline hold up, he may be able to debut sometime in June at the earliest.

    The health of Judge, Stanton and Hicks will obviously affect other hitters on the Yankees’ roster. For instance, how much center field will Brett Gardner play if Hicks is around for most of the year? How much action will Stanton see at DH, and if he racks up a lot of time there, will it eat into at-bats for Miguel Andujar, Luke Voit and Mike Ford to a significant extent? Will Clint Frazier, who still has a minor league option remaining, begin the season as a reserve on the Yankees’ roster or as a starter in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre?

    It’s fair to say the health of the Yankees at the outset of the season could also impact the rest of the American League. The more high-end contributors return for them by Opening Day, the better the Yankees’ chances are of winning the AL East. That, of course, damages the hopes of division rivals in Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto. And if the Yankees are healthy enough to position themselves to grab home-field advantage in the AL playoffs, it would bolster their odds of fending off the rest of the league and capturing their first pennant and maybe their first World Series since 2009.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Provide Update On Aaron Judge Injury]]> 2020-03-20T18:42:15Z 2020-03-20T18:42:15Z Yankees star Aaron Judge was limited this spring by a mysterious upper body ailment that was ultimately diagnosed as a stress fracture in his rib. Today, the team updated his outlook, as’s Bryan Hoch reports (Twitter link).

    It turns out that Judge was not only suffering from the rib issue but also pneumothorax (collapsed lung). Fortunately, that latter issue is now fully resolved.

    Today’s CT scan revealed “slight improvement” in the rib. No doubt the team will continue to take a cautious approach befitting the unusual injury and unusual broader situation. Judge is due to be checked again in a few weeks’ time.

    For the time being, Judge is continuing to work out and receive treatment at the team’s spring facilities. With the lung issue no longer a concern, Judge has been cleared to fly, though his immediate plans aren’t clear.