- There’s still a wide market for Phillies reliever Pat Neshek, per Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (Twitter link). Among the teams in pursuit are the Brewers, Rays, and Yankees, but it seems there’s no favorite at the moment. While Tampa Bay has been tied mostly to southpaws, the team is also interested in righties such as Neshek, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick noted today on Twitter.
TODAY: Bird released a statement through his agent, saying that he is hopeful that the procedure will finally resolve what had been an “increasingly frustrating” situation with his ankle. He also expressed a determination to return to the majors this season.
YESTERDAY: Yankees first baseman Greg Bird will undergo surgery on his right ankle, manager Joe Girardi told reporters including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Per the skipper, Bird will be down for at least six weeks while recovering, but it isn’t clear just how soon he’ll again represent an option at the major league level.
While the news isn’t promising for New York, it had been anticipated by this point. Bird has struggled with ongoing ankle issues for much of the year, and was recently diagnosed with os trigonum syndrome. The organization will obviously take the long view here and hope the young slugger can fully put the ankle woes behind him.
Notably, the 24-year-old will continue accruing MLB service time for the duration of his DL stint — as he has been all year. He will have over two full years of service on his ledger at season’s end, even though he has played in just 65 total games in the majors.
This post was originally published on the evening of Tues., July 18, prior to the announcement of the trade.
9:59pm: Levine tweets that there are four players going to the White Sox in the deal. Sherman adds that the fourth player will be another prospect, so it doesn’t seem as though anyone else on the big league roster is in the deal.
9:27pm: MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that the White Sox would indeed take Clippard’s contract back in the trade as a means of offsetting some salary. Sherman tweets that there will be no cash considerations exchanging hands. Clippard is earning $6.125MM this year in the second season of a two-year, $12.25MM pact. About $2.5MM of that sum is still owed to the veteran reliever, so he’ll offset roughly one quarter of the nearly $10MM the Yankees are adding to the payroll by taking on the salaries of Robertson and Frazier.
9:04pm: Heyman tweets that the two teams are hoping to finalize a deal tonight, suggesting that well-regarded but lower-level prospects will likely be headed to the ChiSox in return.
8:01pm: The Yankees are indeed “pushing hard” for that trio, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, though he notes that the deal is not yet at the finish line.
7:52pm: The Yankees are “very close” to a deal with the White Sox that would bring Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to New York, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (on Twitter). Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago first tweeted that the Yankees were the “closest” team to landing that trio.
Notably, Frazier was announced as a healthy scratch by the White Sox tonight. A move to grab all three of those players would obviously be a significant upgrade for the Yankees’ roster, particularly the bullpen, but would also be important in that it’d keep Frazier (and possibly Robertson) away from the division-rival Red Sox. Boston was reportedly in talks with Frazier within the past hour, and there were some rumblings connecting Robertson to the BoSox as well.
While Frazier has been primarily a third baseman in his career, he does bring quite a bit of experience at first base to the table. That’s a clear area of need for the Yankees, who have seen injuries ruin the seasons of Greg Bird and Tyler Austin, while offseason acquisition Chris Carter has been twice designated for assignment and now cut loose back to the open market.
The 31-year-old Frazier is set to hit free agency at season’s end, and while his production this year hasn’t been up to par, he’s turned things on since the the calendar flipped to June. Over his past 37 games, Frazier has batted .234/.361/.508 with nine homers and eight doubles. For a Yankees team that has seen its first basemen bat a collective .208/.295/.391, even Frazier’s overall .207/.328/.432 batting line would be a marked improvement, but if he can sustain his recently increased production, it’d be a particular boon for manager Joe Girardi’s lineup.
The Yankees and Athletics are discussing possible trade scenarios involving first baseman Yonder Alonso, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. There’s no indication, at this point, that a deal is particularly likely to materialize, though it’s easy to see how the teams could line up.
Indeed, the potential match between Oakland and New York has long been speculated. But a firm connection had not previously been established. The former has had eyes on the latter’s farm system of late, Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday on Twitter, suggesting that the sides could see a potential path to a swap of some kind.
As both reporters noted, it seems that righty Sonny Gray would also make for a sensible target for New York, though it is unclear at this point whether he has been the focus of any discussions between the organizations. There’ll be loads of competition for Gray, but he would help fill a need both now in the future for the Yanks.
It’s quite a different situation with regard to Alonso, who has morphed into an offensive force this year. There are several other quality first basemen who’ll likely be available — Lucas Duda of the Mets and Matt Adams of the Braves perhaps representing the most obvious options — and few contenders that have a clear need at the position. That seems to leave the Yankees in rather a strong bargaining position.
- As many as 10 teams are still in the mix for Marlins righty David Phelps, tweets Nightengale. Phelps is indeed an attractive trade chip, though it’s unlikely that all 10 of those clubs are expressing serious interest and making competitive bids to acquire him. Nightengale names the Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Cubs, Rockies, and Rangers as the chief pursuers of Phelps.
MONDAY: The Yankees announced that Dr. Kremchek confirmed the diagnosis and will perform Tommy John surgery on Pineda tomorrow.
SATURDAY: Pineda will see Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati for a second opinion on Monday, and he could undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman.
FRIDAY: Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced devastating injury news to reporters today, revealing that Michael Pineda has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow (Twitter link via the YES Network’s Jack Curry). He’s seeking a second opinion, but Tommy John surgery has already been recommended.
Suffice it to say, the timing of Pineda’s injury could hardly be worse for the Yankees or for the player himself. Already rumored to be on the lookout for rotation help, the Yankees will now be without a right-hander that was one of their most productive starters for the season’s first two months. Pineda, however, has logged a 6.14 ERA over his past seven starts. It’s not clear exactly when the discomfort in his elbow began, but Curry tweets that he didn’t mention it to the team until a couple of days after his most recent start. The 28-year-old was just two and a half months from reaching free agency at a relatively young age for a pitcher.
Even with that poor stretch, Pineda’s season ERA sits at a respectable 4.39, and he’s averaged 8.6 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9 through 96 1/3 innings thus far in 2017. However, he’ll obviously miss the remainder of the season if he undergoes Tommy John surgery (as well as most of next year) and would still likely miss most of the remaining season if he undergoes an alternative treatment such as a stem cell procedure or platelet-rich plasma injection.
The best starter that was available on the trade market has already gone to the Cubs, as Jose Quintana was dealt in a surprising cross-city swap just yesterday. Sonny Gray is known to be available, and other options such as Gerrit Cole and Julio Teheran have been mentioned, though asking prices there figure to be extremely high. Rental options include names like Jaime Garcia, Trevor Cahill, Derek Holland and Jeremy Hellickson, though it’s possible that the Yankees simply stick with internal options as well. Cashman told reporters that top prospect Chance Adams “could be” an option in the rotation (via Curry), though for the time being they’ll call on Bryan Mitchell in Pineda’s spot and turn to Luis Cessa for their upcoming doubleheader.
- Olney lists Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Pat Neshek as five players that definitively will be traded prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. All of those players are known to be available, with the Athletics and Phillies at differing stages of a lengthy rebuilding process and the Tigers aiming to pare down payroll by moving short-term veterans. But, Olney’s strong characterization of the likelihood is nonetheless notable, especially since both Gray and Wilson are controllable beyond the 2017 campaign. The Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Yankees, Braves and Indians are among the teams in the mix for Gray, though likely not all to the same extent. Alonso, meanwhile, has reportedly had talks with the A’s about an extension, though Billy Beane’s rebuilding comments yesterday certainly lend credence to the notion that a trade could be the likelier outcome.
In Aaron Judge, the Yankees have a cornerstone right fielder. In Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have a cornerstone right fielder. The 6-foot-7, 272-pound Judge is radically different than the 5-9, 180-pound Betts, but the two American League All-Stars are among the majors’ premier players. To find out who’s the superior building block, Scott Lauber of ESPN.com polled two AL executives, three NL scouts and an AL scout. Each player ended up receiving three votes. One Judge supporter, an NL scout, said of the 25-year-old: “He has gotten shorter and quicker with his swing, more selective and disciplined. I understand that Dave Winfield has really helped him, as they are similarly tall and great athletes. Winfield talked to him about not striking out as much and thinking about RBIs, not home runs.” Meanwhile, an AL executive who prefers Betts, 24, reasoned: “Given the track record of Betts and positional value that likely tracks better during the aging curve, I’d lean in his direction slightly. There’s clearly more upside in Judge if he keeps up this pace and retains such elite value for a longer term of control. But if I had to take one tomorrow, I’d take Betts.”
The Red Sox are “moving closer” to a deal with the White Sox that would send third baseman Todd Frazier to Boston, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). Both the Red Sox and archrival Yankees, who are 2.5 games behind AL East-leading Boston, sent scouts to Chicago on Sunday to observe Frazier and teammate David Robertson, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman. However, it seems the teams have different motives. While the Red Sox are more interested in landing Frazier than Robertson, it’s the other way around for the Yankees, per Heyman.
If the White Sox move Frazier prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the soon-to-be free agent’s unlikely to bring back a big return, with Nightengale suggesting he’d net the White Sox a “fringe prospect.” Moreover, Chicago would probably have to eat some of the remaining $5MM-plus left on Frazier’s contract, adds Nightengale (on Twitter). The 31-year-old would offer an acquiring team a competent everyday player, though, as he’s in the midst of his sixth straight respectable full season. Overall, the slugger has hit .210/.330/.483 with 16 home runs in 330 plate appearances. Those numbers are clearly superior to the production the Red Sox have gotten from their slew of third basemen, who have batted a woeful .234/.292/.327 with seven homers in 494 PAs.
While Frazier to Boston may be “almost inevitable,” as Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network reported Saturday, there are other third basemen on the Red Sox’s radar, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets, with a source describing their search as “wide open.” One other possible candidate could be A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, whom the BoSox have been scouting, Crasnick relays (Twitter link). Heyman lists the Padres’ Yangervis Solarte and the Marlins’ Martin Prado (previously reported) as other possibilities.
Lowrie began his career in Boston, which selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft and dealt him to Houston in 2011 for reliever Mark Melancon. Now 33, Lowrie hasn’t seen significant action at third base since 2015, when he was still with the Astros, but his bat would bat be an upgrade over what the Red Sox’s hot corner choices have offered this year. The switch-hitter has slashed .273/.340/.448 with nine homers in 365 trips to the plate with the A’s, who are rebuilding and have no real reason to keep the $6.5MM man around through the season. With a $6MM club option (or a $1MM buyout) for 2018, Lowrie could be more than a rest-of-season stopgap for Boston, though the club might only need a Band-Aid at third with highly touted prospect Rafael Devers creeping closer to the majors.
Solarte, 30, carries even more team control than Lowrie. He’s due a guaranteed $6.5MM through 2018 ($2.5MM this season, $4MM next) and has two affordable club options after that ($5.5MM in 2019, $8MM in 2020). Also a switch-hitter, Solarte has slashed .268/.349/.425 with 10 long balls in 289 PAs this season. However, a strained oblique has kept him out of action since June 20.
While Lowrie to Boston would be a homecoming of sorts, the same would apply to Robertson going to New York. The Yankees drafted Robertson in 2006, in Round 17, and he developed into a shutdown reliever with the club a few years later. Robertson was so effective as both a setup man and closer with the Yankees that Chicago handed him a four-year, $46MM contract as a free agent in 2014.
Even though the Yankees let Robertson depart, they “always have” been bullish on the right-hander, a source told Heyman. His $12MM salary this year and $13MM guarantee in 2018 aside, any bullpen-needy team would love to have Robertson, who’s amid the best of his three seasons in Chicago and has posted a 2.78 ERA with 12.8 K/9 and 3.06 BB/9 over 32 1/3 innings. Robertson is the closer for the White Sox, but he’d return to his old setup job with the Yankees and form what would figure to be an elite game-ending trio with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Robertson would also fill a seventh- or eighth-inning role with the Red Sox, who have an all-world closer in Craig Kimbrel.
- The Yankees will be buyers at the deadline, but will be cautious, not wanting to sacrifice too much future value in exchange for immediate upgrades, says Rosenthal. One team that matches their needs well is the Athletics, who have help at first base (Yonder Alonso) and on the mound (Sonny Gray and a number of relievers).