Goose Gossage Voices Disdain for Brian Cashman After Spring Training Ban

The ex-Yankees pitcher has a long history of inflammatory comments.

Yankees’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training tomorrow, but the media is focused on comments made by a man who hasn’t taken the mound for the Yankees since 1989: Hall of Famer Goose Gossage.

In separate comments made to NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty and the New York Daily News’ Amara Grautski and Mike Mazzeo, the 66-year-old took shots at general manager Brian Cashman in response to not inviting him to camp in Tampa as a special instructor.

“He would’ve been gone 10 years ago if George was still around,” Gossage said of Cashman to the NY Daily News. “He’d have been gone when he jumped out of that f–king airplane. Do you think he’s a good f–king baseball guy, really? He doesn’t believe in f–king coaching.”

Gossage told Kuty that he doesn’t “like Cashman,” and implied that Cashman would have been fired by late owner George Steinbrenner for skydiving in 2013.

“The Boss would have been on the ground waiting for him when he landed to fire him,” Gossage said, per Kuty. Gossage, of course, once referred to Steinbrenner as “the fat man upstairs” in 1982, so it would appear his opinion of The Boss has changed.

The comments are far from the first time that Gossage has stirred up controversy. He criticized how the team handled the small media circus surrounding prospect outfielder Clint Frazier‘s long hair prior to Spring Training in 2017. Outside of the Yankees organization, he called former Toronto Blue Jays right fielder José Bautista a “f–king disgrace to the game” in response to his dramatic bat flip against the Texas Rangers in the 2015 ALDS.

Gossage also criticized those who compared his performance to that of Mariano Rivera because Rivera, like most modern closers, only pitched one inning. “It’s totally different, so don’t even compare me here,” Gossage said to NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller. “[Aroldis] Chapman’s great. [Rivera] was great … for one inning.”

Gossage appeared in 319 total games for the Yankees, pitching to a 2.14 ERA and 151 saves. He won his only world championship with the team in his first season in pinstripes in 1978. He was voted into the Hall Of Fame in 2008, getting 85.8% of the vote on his ninth ballot.

“You’d have to ask Cash what the deal is with him. I spoke my mind. But you can’t do that anymore,” Gossage said to the Daily News.

Per Jack Curry of the YES Network, “some of the former Yankees” who have been invited to be special Spring Training instructors are Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Tino Martinez, Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano and Nick Swisher.

Rosenthal: Yankees Never Made Offer to Darvish

The righty secured a 6-year, $150 million deal with the Chicago Cubs Saturday.

The big free agent news of the day was the Chicago Cubs landing righty Yu Darvish on a six-year, $150 million deal. Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal, and then also noted the Yankees never made the 31-year-old an offer.

The Yankees had been connected with Darvish throughout the offseason. Multiple reports indicated the Yankees had some interest, but it did not progress to the point of a formal offer. Getting under the luxury tax threshold has been a priority for the Yankees, and Darvish’s $21 million tax hit proved too expensive.

Darvish began his career with the Texas Rangers, where he made 122 starts to a 52-39 record and 3.42 ERA (3.30 FIP). The Rangers traded him at the 2017 Trade Deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting prospects Willie Calhoun, A.J. Alexy and Brendon Davis in return. He had mixed results in Dodger Blue, posting a 3.44 ERA (3.38 FIP) in the regular season.

The postseason is where it all fell apart for Darvish. After wins against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs, the righty imploded against the eventual world champion Houston Astros. He gave up nine runs in 3.1 innings divided between two starts. Reports indicated the Astros had picked up on Darvish “tipping” his pitches, or giving away what he was going to throw next by some sort of mechanical inconsistency.

Darvish’s contract reportedly has a player option (or opt-out) after the 2019 season, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. No word has come out so far on how the money is structured in the deal. Reports also indicated that $126 million of the deal is guaranteed, with incentives making up the rest of its value. The Cubs invested in a very valuable piece in their rotation, while the Yankees avoided an expensive option that would put the luxury tax plan in jeopardy.

Yankees Sign Shane Robinson to Minor League Deal

The 33-year-old is just the second outfielder invited to Yankees camp.

The Yankees added another name to their crowded outfield mix Thursday, adding former Angel Shane Robinson on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The deal was first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

As the tweet illustrates, Robinson would make $950,000 if he’s on the big league roster. That is more than Aaron Judge will make in 2018, oddly enough. The 33-year-old saw 20 games in the MLB last season, slashing .194/.257/.194. He was a fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2006.

The signing of Robinson is just another depth move. The Yankees only invited one pure outfielder to camp (top prospect Estevan Florial), and a utility player (Jace Peterson). The surplus of outfielders at the big league level means Robinson would not get guaranteed time at Triple-A Scranton. It is unclear if Robinson has an opt-out in his contract related to his roster status at the end of Spring Training.

With the signing of Robinson, here is the current Yankee outfield depth:

  1. Jabari Blash
  2. Jake Cave
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. Estevan Florial
  5. Clint Frazier
  6. Brett Gardner
  7. Aaron Hicks
  8. Aaron Judge
  9. Billy McKinney
  10. Shane Robinson
  11. Giancarlo Stanton

Clearly, a lot of competition. That list doesn’t include guys like Peterson, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, who have all logged games in the outfield. Barring injuries, it looks like the MLB outfield is set. Robinson is likely competing for Triple-A playing time.

Yankees Acquire Russell Wilson From Rangers

The Seahawks QB will be assigned to the Yankees Double-A affiliate.

Yes, you read that correctly. The New York Yankees have their franchise quarterback now, as they traded future considerations to the Texas Rangers for Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today. I’ve learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing Quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to be a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers.

– Official statement from Russell Wilson.

Wilson was drafted with the fifth pick in the 41st round of the 2007 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, but opted to attend North Carolina State for football and baseball. In 2010, the Colorado Rockies selected Wilson 140th overall. In 93 MiLB games, Wilson slashed .229/.354/.356 with five home runs between Low-A and High-A in the Rockies organization. He did not attend Spring Training in 2012 because he was drafted 75th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft.

“We’ve admired Russell’s career from afar for quite some time. This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

The QB spent the last few years around the Texas Rangers, who had selected him in the 2013 Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He attended their Spring Training camp in Surprise, Arizona, prior to the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Per a report from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Wilson will be assigned to the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Wilson is a four-time Pro Bowler at QB, and led the Seahawks to a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Since his debut in 2012, Wilson has thrown for 22,176 yards and 161 touchdowns, and has a 98.8 quarterback rating. In 2017, he led the Seahawks to a 9-7 record, though his team did miss the playoffs. He was extended by the Seahawks in 2015, signing a four-year, $87.6 million deal.

Yankees Sign Wade LeBlanc to Minor League Contract

The Yankees added lefty pitching depth Tuesday, signing veteran Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

 

Like the tweet says, LeBlanc will be able to opt out of his contract if he does not make the MLB team out of Spring Training. He will make $1 million if he ends up on the Opening Day roster.

LeBlanc, 33, debuted for the San Diego Padres late in the 2008 season. He pitched once for the Yankees in 2014, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. The team designated him for assignment just eight days after acquiring him off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In 2017, LeBlanc made 50 appearances out of the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He finished the season with a 4.50 ERA and a 7.1 strikeouts-per-nine rate. He was used in a versatile manner, making 20 appearances where he recorded more than three outs. His longest outing was 5⅓ innings April 10 against the Cincinnati Reds, when Tyler Glasnow could not escape the first-inning.

LeBlanc will be in camp to compete as a depth starter and long reliever. The Yankees bullpen is mostly set at this point, but things certainly change once the Grapefruit League gets revved up. He looks to profile as an Adam Warren-like pitcher, who can throw multiple innings in relief and also be ready to make an emergency start. It’s unclear if LeBlanc would consider remaining with the organization if he does not crack the big league roster.

The Yankees now have three players with non-roster invitee status this spring: LeBlanc joins Erik Kratz and Jace Peterson as veterans looking for a new club.

Harper: Gerrit Cole Trade to Yankees “Inevitable”

Despite news that the Houston Astros were checking in on Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, the New York Daily News’ John Harper cites an unnamed rival executive calling a trade of Cole to the Yankees “inevitable”.

Two important quotes:

“I think it’s inevitable they’ll get together on a deal,” a rival exec told me Monday. “The Yankees have the pieces and Pittsburgh needs to tear it down. They’ll find common ground.”

“They’re one of the few organizations that have the depth, at the big-league and minor-league level, to match what the Yankees can offer,” an AL scout said. “But (GM Jeff) Luhnow has shown he doesn’t want to give up top prospects if he can help it, so I’d still favor the Yankees.”

The report from Harper comes as Astros’ owner Jim Crane told reporters that his team is pursuing “a high-end starter”. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported the same day that the Astros checked in with Pittsburgh on Cole. The Astros and Pirates reportedly discussed outfielder Derek Fisher as a return, The Pirates are aiming higher at top prospects Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley.

Reports linking the Yankees to the Pirates have died down in recent weeks, since Brian Cashman told Neil Huntington that top prospect infielder Gleyber Torres is off-limits. The Yankees have also been connected to the Pirates’ versatile utilityman, Josh Harrison. In his column, Harper suggests Cashman would make the deal if it were to be Clint Frazier and someone like Chance Adams for Cole.

Though the Yankees already have five starters on their roster, it would appear as though they would like to add one more quality arm heading into Spring Training. They have been linked to other controllable young pitchers in the trade market like Arizona’s Patrick Corbin and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Plus, they have kicked the tires on free agent Yu Darvish.

Since they can field a rotation with their current personnel, Brian Cashman does not need to overpay for pitching. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordon Montgomery already represent an intimidating pitching staff. That said, expect Cashman to pounce if the deal is right.

Heyman: Yankees Check in With Orioles on Machado Again

The Yankees need a third baseman, and may be trying to fill that hole with a three-time All-Star. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Bronx Bombers once again engaged the Baltimore Orioles in trade talks on 25-year-old third baseman Manny Machado late last week.

Heyman’s column, dated Jan. 5, reads:

The New York Yankees, apparently excited about the idea they could make their excellent winter even better and more star-studded, were back in contact with the Baltimore Orioles regarding Manny Machado this week, sources say…

The Yankees actually may have the best chance of several contenders to land Machado, but word still is that the Orioles haven’t been tempted by anything they’ve heard from anyone regarding the superstar infielder.

Machado will be a free agent after the 2018 season, and teams are weary of giving up premier talent without some assurance that he would consider signing a long-term extension wherever he ends up. He has already expressed interest in moving back to shortstop, the position where he played until being blocked in Baltimore by J.J. Hardy. Nevertheless, Machado won Gold Gloves at the hot corner in 2013 and 2015.

Offensively, Machado struggled in 2017. He managed to slash just .230/.296/.445 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs in 83 games before the All-Star break. He did not get any help from a .239 BABIP rate. The second-half was much improved, where he hit .290/.326/.500 and added another 15 home runs. All told, he put together a .259/.310/.471 (102 wRC+) line with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs.

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The Orioles are said to want at least two MLB-ready pitchers in any trade package for Machado. For the Yankees, that would mean someone in the category of Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield or one of Domingo Acevedo/Albert Abreu. The Yanks have been pushing Adams as their top trade chip, hoping to keep the higher upside guys like Sheffield, Acevedo and Abreu. There are also reports (one from Joel Sherman) that the Orioles “actually like [Jacoby] Ellsbury a little,” though any trade would be complicated by his no-trade clause.

Though it would not be wise to count Brian Cashman out for any deal, it does not appear to be worth it for the Yankees to give up premier talent within their own division for only one guaranteed year of Machado. They appear comfortable with letting Miguel Andújar compete for the starting job out of Spring Training, and are keeping tabs on free agents like Todd Frazier and Eduardo Núñez.

In a perfect world, Andújar or a veteran on a 1-year deal hold down the hot corner in 2018, and Machado puts on the pinstripes for 2019. But, if it turns out that the Yankees do not need Machado, they can focus on signing top-level starting pitching or fill whatever holes may come up during the course of the season.

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Yankees to Sign Jace Peterson to MiLB Deal

The Yankees have reportedly made another depth signing Friday, inking former Atlanta Braves infielder Jace Peterson to a minor league contract, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The deal presumably includes an invitation to MLB Spring Training. The club has not confirmed the signing.

Peterson, 27, was drafted with the 58th overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He debuted with them three years later, ironically enough as an injury replacement for former Yankee and current Padre Chase Headley. He was a piece in the trade that sent outfielder Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves to the Padres prior to the 2015 season. Peterson was non-tendered by the Braves after the 2017 season.

Here’s a look at his 2017 stats:

Year Age Tm G PA AB H HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2017 27 ATL 89 215 186 40 2 17 3 27 48 .215 .318 .317 .635

Fangraphs measured Peterson at -0.4 fWAR for his 2017 contributions. As a non-roster player, he is looking to prove to the Yankees organization that he deserves a spot in the system as a lefty-swinging utility player. He had suited up at all seven non-pitcher/catcher positions for the Braves over the past two seasons. Plus, his experience as a player with starting experience in the big leagues should prove valuable in a clubhouse full of younger players.

Peterson joins catcher Erik Kratz as the second player reportedly coming to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Undoubtedly, the Yankees will continue to bring outsiders and younger players into camp as they construct their team for the 2018 season.

Hoch: Boone Asked About Using Aaron Judge in Center Field

The Yankees’ outfield in 2018 most likely will be a puzzle that rookie manager Aaron Boone will have to reshuffle day in and day out. That puzzle became a lot more interesting thanks to a report from MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch about 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.

That report reads:

While Brett Gardner is expected to serve as the Opening Day left fielder, there has been some discussion about having Judge or [Giancarlo] Stanton take reps in left field. Boone also recently asked the Yankees what Judge would look like in center field; Judge was drafted as a center fielder out of Fresno State University but moved to a corner spot as a professional.

Judge in center field certainly would not be an everyday situation, but it makes sense in certain scenarios. When the Yankees play in National League stadiums, it would allow Boone to play both of his gargantuan sluggers rather than being forced to rest one without the designated hitter. It would also allow the Yankees to give Aaron Hicks a breather without moving Gardner or inserting Jacoby Ellsbury into the lineup.

In his first full season, Judge was fantastic in right field. He was +9 in Defensive Runs Saved, and had an Ultimate Zone Rating of +6.1. This performance let him to be named as a finalist for a Gold Glove award in right field, though he eventually lost to the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts.

The 25-year-old has almost exclusively played in a corner-outfield spot since debuting professionally in 2014. He got back at his old position for eight games in 2015, and three in 2016 (all in Triple-A). In that 2016 season, he also started seven games in left field for the RailRiders. Every other professional inning has been spent in right field.

Mike Petrello of MLB.com wrote a piece detailing whether Judge or Stanton should get more repetitions in left field in Spring Training. He concluded that though the job is Gardner’s, Judge’s advantage in age (25 vs. 28) and sprint speed (27.7 ft/sec vs. 27.5 ft/sec) makes him a better fit than Stanton in left.

But, playing center field in the big leagues requires next-level athleticism. Come Spring Training, we may see Judge in center field, but he’ll have to show that he can really handle the position if he expects any playing time there in the regular season.

Kuty: Yankees, Todd Frazier Maintain Mutual Interest; Finances May Complicate Deal

There is still interest between the Yankees and infielder Todd Frazier, according to a report from NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty. He notes that the 31-year-old “has continued to speak with multiple clubs”.

Kuty spoke with two sources that knew of Frazier’s talks with the Yankees:

“The team’s mission to stay beneath the $197-million payroll luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season has kept the sides from speaking much this offseason, according to one of the sources,” Kuty wrote.

Frazier came to the Yankees prior to the trade deadline alongside right-handed relievers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. Initially viewed by many as a throw-in, he provided a strong clubhouse presence and energy to the already successful Bronx Bombers. He anchored third base defensively, where Fangraphs says he saved 10 runs.

His career has been marked by a lower batting average, but a solid on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The Toms River, New Jersey, native slashed .222/.365/.423 in 66 games after coming to the Bronx. He added 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, and walked at a 14.5% rate. The postseason was not kind to Frazier, however, where he slashed just .186/.255/.302.

The Yankees certainly have a reason to stay in touch with Frazier, even though his desire for a multi-year deal is a difficult obstacle. With no changes to the current roster, the Yankees are looking at filling both second base and third base with young players who have never been full-time MLB starters. Regaining Frazier’s veteran presence would help younger players, while also taking the pressure off of them.

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“At the end of the day, I just want to play baseball. I would love to play for the Yankees. I would love to play for any team,” Frazier said to Kuty Dec. 16. “Like I said, we’ve been talking. My agency has been doing a heck of a job talking to a lot of teams for me. We’ve got a lot of great talks and hopefully at the end, something comes to fruition soon.”

Frazier, who has experience at first base, second base, shortstop, left field and right field also, indicated that he was willing to suit up at another position to help a team win. He was ranked as the No. 17 free agent by MLBTradeRumors, and predicted he would sign a three-year, $33 million deal with the New York Mets.

If his market does not develop for some reason, Frazier fits perfectly in the Bronx on a one-year deal. His veteran presence and willingness to play all over the diamond would be invaluable to the youthful Yankees squad.

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