King: Yankees, Pirates Discussing Deal for Gerrit Cole

The Yankees may look to the trade market to fill in a gap in their starting rotation, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. On their radar: the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole.

King reports the Yankees are in contact with the Bucs about a deal that could include OF Clint Frazier and potentially more. King mentions that the Pirates would also look for “a pitcher ready to work in the majors,” which would imply someone like Chance Adams. There is no indication that a deal was close to done.

Cole had a down year for the Pirates, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9. The Yankees would likely try to buy low on Cole, who they drafted No. 28 out of high school in 2008. Cole did not sign, instead opting to pitch at UCLA. He became the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

Frazier has become a bit of an odd-man-out in New York. He was ticketed to take over left field once Brett Gardner‘s contract expired, but the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton made that seem less likely since both Stanton and Aaron Judge may see time in left field. He made his MLB debut July 1, and posted a .231/.268/.448 line with four home runs, 17 RBIs and a 30.3% K-rate to a 4.9% BB-rate.

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Adams is seen as one of the most MLB-ready arms in the Yankees system. Many fans clamored for him to be promoted in 2017 when the Yankees needed starting pitching reinforcements. Split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017, Adams pitched to a 2.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9. His command could use some work, and many think he could profile better as a reliever because he only averaged five innings per outing.

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This deal would allow the Yankees to grab a high quality arm in Cole with hopes that he rebounds toward his All-Star season in 2015. The 27-year-old would not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, like current Yankee RHP Sonny Gray. He would shore up a Yankees rotation that is relying on a big bounce-back season from Masahiro Tanaka, and young arms like Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.

Yankees Lose Six MiLB Players in Rule 5 Draft; Select One

As was expected by many baseball pundits, the Yankees lost four players in the Major League portion of today’s Rule 5 draft, and another two in the minor league portion.

RHP Anyelo Gómez went to the Braves, LHP Nestor Cortes to the Orioles, 1B Mike Ford to the Mariners and RHP José Mesa Jr. also went to Baltimore. RHP Yancarlos Báez was selected by Minnesota and C Sharif Othman was selected by Miami in the Triple-A phase of the draft.

By rule, these players must remain on the 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2018 season or must be returned to the Yankees. If they do remain on the roster for a full season, the team that selected them gets full rights, and can send players to the minor leagues as necessary.

The Yankees made one selection in the Minor League phase, taking outfielder Junior Soto from the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A roster. Soto got his first taste of full-season ball in 2017, playing for the Low-A Lake County Captains. In 52 games, he slashed .172/.208/.408 with 14 doubles and nine home runs. Plate discipline will be his biggest issue, given that he struck out 61 times compared to just six walks. He will start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Last year, the Yankees lost four players in the Rule 5 draft. The Padres ended up with C Luis Torrens, and stashed him on their active roster for the full season. RHP Tyler Jones was selected by the Diamondbacks, but was returned after not making their 25-man roster. LHP Caleb Smith was selected by the Brewers, then traded to the Cubs and finally returned to the Yankees. The Pirates selected LHP Tyler Webb, but he was sent back at the end of Spring Training.

Yankees Re-Sign Erik Kratz

The Yankees added to their catching depth Wednesday, inking veteran Erik Kratz to another minor league deal. There is no word if the deal carries an invite to MLB Spring Training.

Kratz originally came to the Yankees ahead of the postseason roster deadline of Aug. 31. He was added to the 40-man roster because of an injury to the other third-string backstop Kyle Higashioka. Kratz was perfect at the plate, hitting to a 1.000/1.000/1.500 slashline with two RBIs.

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The veteran was not on the postseason roster, though he traveled with the team during the ALDS and ALCS. The Yankees attempted to outright Kratz at the end of the season, but he declined the assignment and became a free agent. Kratz has previously played with the Pirates, Phillies, Blue Jays, Royals and the Astros prior to the Yankees.

Yankees Acquire Jabari Blash From Padres for Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell

Chase Headley is headed back to San Diego as the Yankees traded the veteran corner infielder back to the Padres alongside RHP Bryan Mitchell for 28-year-old outfielder Jabari Blash.

Neither team has confirmed the trade. The deal was first reported by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, and confirmed by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

The Padres will take on the full $13 million left on Headley’s deal, and likely did so after acquiring the high-upside arm of Mitchell. Mitchell is out of minor league options, and would have been exposed to waivers if he did not make the Yankees’ 25-man roster out of Spring Training.

Headley split time between third base and first base in 2017. He hit .273/.352/.406 with 12 home runs, 61 RBIs and stole 9 out of 11 bases. His hitting stats were torpedoed by his awful May, where he went just 14-for-85 (.165) with an OPS of .446. Headley spent the first eight years of his career in San Diego before being traded to the Yankees in 2014.

Mitchell simply ran out of time to prove himself in the Bronx. He has a live arm and a great curveball, but sometimes could control neither of them. In four years up-and-down with the Yankees, Mitchell has a 2-6 record and a 4.94 ERA. His command still needs work as his BB/9 is 4.0 and H/9 is at 10.5. In the pitchers’ park that is Petco Park, Mitchell may have a chance to thrive.

Blash is the return for dumping Headley’s salary on the Padres. He has big power upside, but also swings and misses a ton. In 99 MLB games across two seasons, Blash has slashed (lol) .200/.323/.336 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs. He has struck out at a 35.8% rate in the big leagues. He may be a quick 40-man roster casualty since the Yankees already have a plethora of outfielders.

The Yankees cleared out a 40-man roster spot with this trade, and opened up third base to a competition from within OR to a free agent signing. There are still more moves to be made, so stay tuned.

Thoughts Following Giancarlo Stanton’s Introductory Press Conference

Giancarlo Stanton is officially a Yankee, and put on the pinstripes for the first time in front of the media at a press conference from the Winter Meetings in Florida. It’s crazy, and completely unexpected, to have a player with the pedigree of Stanton in pinstripes. A lot was said, and I have some thoughts following up on the introduction of the Yankees’ newest slugger.

  1. I did not realize how unhappy Giancarlo was in Miami. From his Instagram post before the press conference to comments made at the conference, this “breakup” between Stanton and the Marlins was long overdue. Stanton cited the lack of direction in the Marlins organization while at the lectern. He said he was “very excited to be a part of the Yankees, and this winning environment and culture.” Stanton really did not hold back in his criticisms of his former team. He also did not seem to have much of a filter in speaking with the media. It will be important for him to be honest with reporters, but hopefully he will steer clear of trashing or insulting other teams or players.
  2. In a breakout session after the formal press conference, Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe said the 28-year-old has “no desire to opt-out” of his contract after the 2020 season. This seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse. As written, Stanton is under contract until 2027 at the earliest, with a $25 million team option ($10 million buyout) for the 2028 season. Stanton would be 37 years old by 2027, and in a perfect world, would still be a productive designated hitter for the Yankees. But, as was the case with Alex Rodriguez, players will decay over time. I think it’s premature to talk about Stanton opting out when he hasn’t even gotten in a full Yankee uniform. Should we reevaluate the opt-out next season? Probably. Now? Not necessary.
  3. I still have some questions about how Stanton, Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner all fit into the same starting lineup. Luckily, Stanton expressed today that he was willing to move around in the field in order to help the team. He told a panel on the YES Network that he would be willing to play left field, where he has not played since five starts there in 2010 with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. Stanton certainly has the athleticism to tackle left field, and will likely get looks there along with Judge during Spring Training.
  4. Starlin Castro might just be the unluckiest player in baseball. He gets traded out of Chicago right before they win the World Series, and then gets shipped out of New York as part of the transaction that turns them into a huge juggernaut. Castro likely never dons a Miami Marlins uniform, but rather will be flipped to another team that needs a quality middle infielder. Castro was an All-Star in 2017, and has experience at both shortstop and second base.
  5. Hal Steinbrenner said that the Yankees are not done making moves this offseason. But, I don’t expect them to make any moves near the magnitude of this trade. They are looking to shed a little bit more payroll by trading veterans Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley. Headley is an easier sell, given that he is a free agent after the season and owed just $13 million. The Yankees would have to eat substantial money to trade Ellsbury and his albatross contract. Plus, Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause in his deal, just like Stanton. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Ellsbury is “unlikely” to waive that no-trade clause. There are also rumors that the Yankees are seeing what returns they could get for trading promising young outfielder Clint Frazier. Frazier was the Yankees No. 2 prospect until he graduated by breaking the 130 at-bat plateau.
  6. Brian Cashman would not name a starting second baseman at this point in time. The Yankees will either try to sign a veteran for cheap, or allow one of their Younger players to win the position out of Spring Training. I think some combination of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade will man the keystone to start the season. Cashman also mentioned Gleyber Torres and Thairo Estrada. Torres is obviously the more attractive choice, but he managed only 96 plate appearances at Triple-A before injuring his elbow. I predict he’ll start the season in Scranton so that the Yankees are sure he’s fully recovered. Plus, the Yankees can gain an extra year of control over Torres if they wait to start his service clock like the Cubs did with Kris Bryant. If Torres debuts like Bryant did, the Yankees will be absolutely ecstatic.

 

Phil Nevin to Be Named Third Base Coach, Mike Harkey to Return as Bullpen Coach

The Yankees coaching vacancies are starting to work themselves out. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Phil Nevin will be named the Yankees third base coach, and that Mike Harkey will return as the team’s bullpen coach.

The hirings will likely be announced during Monday’s introductory press conference for newly acquired outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Multiple sources reported yesterday that Josh Bard would be named the team’s bench coach, and his hiring is expected to be announced at the same time.

Nevin is a 12-year MLB veteran, hitting to a .270/.343/.472 line with 208 home runs and 743 RBIs. He played all over the field, logging appearances at catcher, first base, third base and both corner outfield positions. He last played for the Minnesota Twins in 2006. Nevin also was the high school teammate of new Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

Nevin coached in the Detroit Tigers minor league system before joining the Arizona Diamondbacks to manage their Triple-A affiliate. He led the Reno Aces to a 227–205 record in his three seasons at the helm. The San Francisco Giants then hired him to be their third base coach under manager Bruce Bochy. Nevin will replace Joe Espada, who left the Yankees to become the Houston Astros‘ bench coach.

Harkey has served as the Yankees’ bullpen coach since 2016, and also served in the same role from 2008 to 2013. He, too, was hired by the Diamondbacks to serve as bullpen coach for the 2014 and 2015 seasons before being fired and returning to the Yankees. Harkey appeared in 131 MLB games as a pitcher, with a 36-36 record and 4.49 ERA.

With this news, the Yankees now need a hitting coach (and possibly an assistant hitting coach) to round out their coaching staff for 2018 and beyond. So far, the Yankees are not linked to any candidate in particular for these positions. They also have the option of bringing back Alan Cockrell and/or Marcus Thames, who both joined the Yankees’ staff after the 2015 season.

The Yankees previously announced that they will retain pitching coach Larry Rothschild on a one-year contract for the 2018 season.

Angels Have Reached Out to CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia‘s return to the Bronx may not be as obvious as most Yankees fans would like to think. George A. King III of the New York Post reported Sunday that the Los Angeles Angels discussed signing the veteran lefty.

Sabathia, 37, expressed interest in re-signing with the Yankees after his seven-year, $161 million contract signed in 2009 expired. CC pitched to a 14-5 record and a 3.69 ERA in the final season of his deal. Overall in pinstripes, he was 120-73 with a 3.75 ERA. He led the MLB in wins in 2009 and 2010, and was the ALCS MVP in 2009. He won his only World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

The Yankees were reportedly reaching out to Sabathia after failing to land RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani. Now, the Angels have Ohtani and are trying to snatch Sabathia from the Bombers, too. Sabathia would fit perfectly in the back of an already scary Yankees rotation.

If they are unable to re-sign Sabathia, the Yankees are reportedly in on RHP Alex Cobb. They also have been dangling the talented OF Clint Frazier as trade bait since they recently acquired reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with the Miami Marlins. The Bombers are reportedly asking for a top-line starter plus prospects for Frazier.

The Yankees also have starting pitching depth available in their minor league system. Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield are considered as close to MLB-ready as the Yankees have. They are Top 5 prospects in the Yankees system, and rated as Top 100 overall by MLB.com.

Rosenthal: Josh Bard Will Be Named Yankees’ Bench Coach

The Yankees checked another item off of their to-do list late Sunday, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that former catcher Josh Bard would be named the Yankees’ bench coach.

The Yankees have yet to confirm the hiring. The possibility of hiring Bard was first mentioned by the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff. Bard served as the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ bullpen coach for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he worked in scouting and also in the Dodgers’ front office.

Bard played in 586 MLB games, spending four years with the Cleveland Indians. He also spent time in San Diego, Seattle, Boston and Washington. Over his career, he slashed .254/.320/.385 with 39 home runs and 220 RBIs. He threw out an average of 21% of runners behind the plate.

With Aaron Boone managing the Yankees, many thought that the role of bench coach would be filled by someone with prior managerial experience. Bard was teammates with Boone in 2005 with the Indians.

The Yankees played up the managerial experience of pitching coach Larry Rothschild during Boone’s introductory press conference. Rothschild managed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 to 2001 to a 205–294 record.

As the Winter Meetings begin, the Yankees are still looking to replace or re-hire most of their coaching staff. Third base coach Joe Espada left the Yankees to take over Alex Cora‘s role as the Houston Astros‘ bench coach. Last year’s bench coach, Rob Thomson, left the Yankees to take on the same role with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yankees to Acquire Giancarlo Stanton From Marlins

The reigning 2017 National League Most Valuable Player will almost certainly be suiting up in the Bronx in 2018. The New York Yankees have acquired OF Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins in exchange for 2B Starlin Castro, RHP Jorge Guzman and IF José Devers. The deal is currently pending since all players involved must pass physicals.

Neither club has confirmed the deal. The Yankees will take on $265 million of the remaining $295 million on Stanton’s contract. He can use a player option to opt out of his deal after the 2020 season.

The team plans to rotate Stanton with Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner in between the two corner outfield positions and designated hitter role. Stanton hit 59 home runs in 2017 en route to being named NL MVP and Hank Aaron Award winner. His slashline was .281/.376/.631, and also tallied an MLB-leading 132 RBIs.

The Yankees bought low on Castro, trading RHP Adam Warren and UTIL Brendan Ryan to the Chicago Cubs to acquire the young infielder. In his Yankees tenure, Castro hit .283/.317/.442 with 37 home runs and 133 RBIs. He was limited to just 112 games in 2017 because of a recurring hamstring issue. The Yankees will have Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres and Thairo Estrada in camp to compete for the starting job at second base.

Guzman was the Yankees No. 9 prospect, pitching to a 2.30 ERA and 11.9 K/9 for Short Season-A Staten Island. Guzman came to the Yankees alongside Albert Abreu in the trade that sent Brian McCann to the Houston Astros. Devers got his first taste of minor league action at age-17 this year with the Dominican Summer League Yankees and Gulf Coast League Yankees East club. He hit .245/.336/.342 with one home run and 16 RBIs combined in Rookie ball. He is the cousin of Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers.

Though they were not actively pursuing Stanton at first, the Yankees were one of four teams that he would waive his no-trade clause to join. The other teams were the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. Stanton vetoed trades to the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals earlier this week. It appeared that general manager Brian Cashman had the opportunity to acquire Stanton for cheap, and took advantage.


Recent reports indicate that the Marlins are already taking calls on Starlin Castro, and will look to flip him to another contending team. The New York Mets have reportedly shown interest in Castro already. The 27-year-old is owed $22.71 million guaranteed through 2019, with a $16 million team option ($1 million buyout) for 2020.

Reports: Stanton Would Accept Trade to Yankees

With the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes finally wrapped up (he signed with the Los Angeles Angels Friday), the focus now shifts back to the offseason’s other huge storyline: where will Giancarlo Stanton be traded?

Craig Mish of SiriusXM reported this week that the 2017 National League home run leader has included the New York Yankees in a list of teams that he would waive his no-trade clause to join. The Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are on the same list. Stanton had recently been linked in trade talks with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, though both teams indicated Stanton would not waive his no-trade clause.

It’s unknown whether geography will play into Stanton’s eventual choice. From the teams he has chosen, it’s clear he wants to win. With the Miami Marlins slashing payroll at every corner, it’s only a matter of time until the 6’7″ outfielder finds himself on another ballclub.

Imagining Stanton in a lineup with Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez is a scary thought. Using 2017 numbers, that’s 153 home runs in the same lineup. It would take some maneuvering to find playing time for all the outfielders currently on the Yankees roster if Stanton were to come up north.

Acquiring Stanton would necessitate dumping the cumbersome contract of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is signed through 2020 and owed $63.4 million. Stanton, of course, is not cheap either. He is theoretically signed until his age-38 season (2028), with an opt-out following the 2020 season. He is still owed $285 million.

The Yankees would have to entice the Marlins to continue paying some of Stanton’s contract by including at least one prospect of decent value. After seeing that the Giants offered Joe Panik and three prospects not in MLB.com’s Top 100, the Yankees could easily make a better offer. That said, don’t expect to see Gleyber Torres headed to Miami in a trade for Stanton.

 

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