Needing bullpen reinforcements, the Yankees hooked up with the Washington Nationals on a simple trade after Monday’s 14-to-1 drubbing of the Minnesota Twins. The Bombers acquired right-hander A.J. Cole from the Nats in exchange for cash considerations.
The Yankees plan to activate Cole for Tuesday’s matchup with the Twins. To clear 25- and 40-man roster space, the team designated fellow righty David Hale for assignment. Hale pitched two scoreless innings of mop-up duty Monday.
Cole had been designated for assignment by the Nationals April 20, so the Yankees likely claimed him off waivers and then arranged the trade with Washington. The 26-year-old has made four appearances (two starts) in 2018, with a not-so-great 13.06 ERA (10.51 FIP) and a 1.298 OPS against him. He was ranked as the Nationals’ No. 10 prospect prior to the 2016 season, per MLB Pipeline.
With injuries to Luis Cessa, Giovanny Gallegos, Ben Heller, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren, the Yankees found themselves down to just Jonathan Loáisiga (who hasn’t pitched above High-A ball) on the 40-man roster. Cole likely will slide into a role in the front-end of the Yankee bullpen, and could be a spot-starter should the Yankees need one.
Cole is still a pre-arbitration player, so he will make $555,300 for this season when on the MLB roster. He will make less than that if he ever goes to the minor leagues. He is out of minor league options, so the Yankees would have to designate him for assignment and hope to outright him off the 40-man to demote him.
Hale finds himself in DFA-limbo now. The Yankees have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors (if he clears waivers). By my research, he has never been outrighted before and also does not have the service time to decline an outright assignment. Therefore, my prediction is that Hale finds himself back with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre sooner rather than later.
With already questionable first base depth and a suspension to Tyler Austin looming, the Yankees have brought back a familiar face in Adam Lind. The veteran signed a minor league deal with the Bombers, and he will report to extended spring training in Tampa.
The deal was first reported and confirmed by SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Lind played in five Spring Training games for the Yankees, going 3-for-15 (.200/.250/.200) with no extra-base hits and one RBI. He played exclusively first base in the Grapefruit League, but logged 197⅓ innings in left field for the Washington Nationals in 2017.
Lind’s initial deal with the Yankees included an opt-out clause if he was not on the active roster by a certain date. Once the Yankees signed Neil Walker, Lind was released since it became apparent that he would not make the Opening Day roster. But, with an injury to Greg Bird, Austin’s suspension and the team’s offensive malaise, it made sense to bring Lind back.
The team has already begun to work out Miguel Andújar at first base, which shows how desperate they are for a solid first base option. Lind slashed .303/.362/.513 in mostly bench duty for the Nationals last season, and is a solid option against right-handed pitching.
Masahiro Tanaka gets the ball as the Yankees look to sweep a quick, two-game series from the Miami Marlins. With last night’s 12-to-1 win still fresh in their minds, the Marlins tab Jarlin García to counter Tanaka.
The Yankees pounded out 15 hits last night, and two of them were home runs for Didi Gregorius. Didi leads the team with five homers, while Aaron Judge swatted his fourth home run of the season last night as well. Those two joined Brett Gardner, Gary Sánchez, Tyler Austin and Miguel Andújar to collect multiple hits Monday.
Neil Walker is in the lineup tonight, taking over at second base for Ronald Torreyes. We have not seen Tyler Wade start a game since April 12 in Boston, and he could be sent out if Gleyber Torres is deemed MLB-ready in the near future.
- Greg Bird could head to Tampa as soon as next week to start getting into game situations. So far, there are no setbacks in his rehabilitation. It seems that he could get into rehab games within the next two weeks.
- Gleyber Torres will sit tonight during Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s game against Gwinnett after being removed from last night’s contest with back stiffness. That benching was precautionary, and the team still has a 12-hour bus ride to Scranton ahead of them once the game is over. Torres could be called up as soon as Wednesday and the team would still have six full seasons of control, though it appears unlikely a promotion would be that instantaneous.
- Tommy Kahnle was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to today’s game. RHP Luis Cessa was recalled from Triple-A Scranton to take his roster spot.
- Derek Dietrich – LF
- Miguel Rojas – SS
- Starlin Castro – 2B
- Justin Bour – DH
- J.T. Realmuto – C
- Brian Anderson – 3B
- Tomás Telis – 1B
- Cameron Maybin – CF
- J.B. Shuck – RF
The Yankees bullpen took a hit Tuesday, as right-hander Tommy Kahnle was placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. The move was made retroactive to yesterday, so Kahnle is eligible to be activated next Thursday.
“We’re hoping that this is something that we can knock out with a few days of rest,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said to Bryan Hoch. “That’ll unfold over the next 24 hours and days ahead. We’re at least optimistic that it is a minor situation.”
Fellow right-hander Luis Cessa was scratched from his scheduled start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and joins the team’s bullpen prior to tonight’s matchup with the Miami Marlins.
Kahnle had been seeing a dip in his velocity, though the team and Kahnle attributed that to mechanical issues. But, an MRI showed the tendinitis, and the Yankees believed it would be better to allow Kahnle to rest and rehabilitate for at least 10 days. So far this season Kahnle has a 6.14 ERA (5.68 FIP) in 7⅓ innings pitched for the Yankees.
The injury bug has struck again, as veteran lefty CC Sabathia had to leave Friday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles after four innings and 58 pitches with “right hip soreness”. The team announced the injury, and that Sabathia would undergo an MRI on his injured hip.
Tommy Kahnle replaced Sabathia in the fifth inning. CC gave up three solo home runs (two to Manny Machado, the other to Chris Davis) in his four innings. After an inning-ending strikeout of Anthony Santander, it looked like the lefty was limping during his walk off of the field.
The Yankees will likely recall either Luis Cessa or Domingo Germán if Sabathia must go on the disabled list.
The Yankee outfield depth issue became a bit more comfortable for the team Tuesday, as they announced the acquisition of Trayce Thompson off of waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees transferred right-handed pitcher Ben Heller to the 60-day disabled list.
In 151 big league games, Thompson has a career line of .233/.310/.445 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs. His biggest asset to the Yankees is the required athleticism to play center field. With tons of injuries to Yankees outfielders, Thompson provides an extra depth piece.
Manager Aaron Boone told reporters that Thompson will be assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but that the team would re-evaluate after Wednesday’s series finale against Tampa Bay.
Boy, have the Yankees had bad luck with outfield prospects beginning their careers recently. Billy McKinney, who replaced the injured Aaron Hicks on the active roster, has gone down after he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder crashing into the outfield wall in left field at Rogers Centre.
McKinney stayed in for one play after the injury, but was quickly lifted once it was clear that his throwing arm was compromised. The 23-year-old went 1-for-4 in his debut game, but did not come to the plate in his second game. He was replaced by Brett Gardner in left field.
The Yankees now have some very limited outfield depth with McKinney joining Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list. They have started to play Giancarlo Stanton more in left field, and can turn to Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes in an emergency situation.
After Wade and Torreyes, the situation becomes even more murky. Shane Robinson was in camp as a non-roster invitee, and there were impressive contributions from lower-level prospects like Estevan Florial, Trey Amburgey and Jeff Hendrix.
Before turning to any of their minor league depth, the Yankees certainly have to be rooting for one of Ellsbury, Frazier or Hicks to return from injury. For the time being, Stanton in left, Gardner in center and Aaron Judge in right will have to do.
To replace McKinney on the roster, the Yankees promoted 3B/1B Miguel Andújar from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders do not open their season until April 6, so Andújar might be best served on the big league roster anyway. Andújar slashed .267/.306/.622 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 Spring Training games this year. He is ranked as the team’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
By adding Andújar as infield insurance, Aaron Boone can have a little more liberty with his utility players.
Well, this isn’t ideal. The Yankees’ PR Twitter account announced Friday that Opening Day center fielder Aaron Hicks has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right intercostal muscle strain. Outfielder Billy McKinney has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his spot on the active roster.
There’s no clear evidence as to when in last night’s season opener Hicks suffered his injury. Hicks went 2-for-4 with two strikeouts against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday. He spent most of 2017 as the Yankees’ primary center fielder, slashing .266/.372/.475 (127 wRC+) with 15 home runs in 88 games. He did spend extended time on the disabled list in 2017 with a nagging oblique injury.
McKinney impressed with his power in Spring Training after being added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. He slashed .167/.340/.524 with five homers and 13 RBIs while seeing time in the outfield corners and first base. He picked up a first baseman’s glove again for the first time since high school with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. McKinney showed his first round promise last year between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing a combined .277/.338/.483 with 16 home runs and 64 RBIs between the two levels.
This injury complicates things slightly for rookie manager Aaron Boone. Luckily, he has a lot of versatility that he can deploy with his bench. I think we might see a bit of Tyler Wade in the outfield now, with Neil Walker sliding to second base and Tyler Austin getting more reps at first base. Brett Gardner likely slides into center field to replace Hicks.
Of course, Giancarlo Stanton can also play left field, though the plan with that was to limit his time out there to games against tough left-handed pitchers. McKinney can play both outfield corners as well.
The news out of Tampa continues to be promising about Jacoby Ellsbury, whom Brian Cashman said needed “40-50 at-bats” before he would return from an oblique injury suffered early in Spring Training. Even with all of his faults, Ellsbury’s ability to play center field would greatly help the Yankees.
The battle for the Yankees 25-man roster has come down to its final participants, with the Yankees announcing that 1B/OFs Tyler Austin, Billy McKinney and RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Ben Heller to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That leaves Luis Cessa (who can’t get optioned mid-start, I guess), Domingo Germán and Jonathan Holder for the final spot on the Yankees roster.
Austin showed his power this spring. He tied with Miguel Andújar and McKinney for the team’s home run lead with four. Outside of the dingers, Austin slashed .235/.333/.618 in 16 games. His lifetime .361/.432/.722 line in 44 at-bats against left-handed pitchers will be his calling card this season, as he will likely get promoted to face teams like the lefty-heavy Red Sox.
McKinney came out strong this spring, but finished in a little bit of a lull. The former first-rounder slashed .161/.381/.548 with the aforementioned four home runs in 18 games. The corner outfielder continued the work at first base that he started in the Arizona Fall League. McKinney likely gets a chance in the majors if there’s an injury to one of the outfielders.
The situation for the two pitchers optioned is a bit of a different story. The Yankees will cycle through their pitchers with minor league options remaining to keep them fresh.
Gallegos appeared in eight games, pitching a total of 7⅓ innings. He allowed three runs in that span (3.68 ERA) and struck out 12 batters to six walks. He’s going to form a part of the RailRiders bullpen, and will cycle up to the bigs when a long reliever is needed.
Heller appeared in seven games, pitching 10⅔ innings. He gave up eight runs, but only five of them were earned. That gave him a less-than-stellar 4.22 ERA, which was inflated by allowing three earned runs in his last outing against the Tigers March 20. Heller, like Gallegos, will be going up and down all season.
The Yankees have received one prospect back after losing him in the Rule 5 draft, as the Atlanta Braves returned right-hander pitcher Anyelo Gómez to the Yankees Tuesday. The Yankees assigned Gómez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Gómez began 2017 all the way down in Class-A Charleston, before working his way up to one appearance in September with the RailRiders. He had a 5-3 record, a stellar 1.92 ERA and dominating 11.1 strikeouts-per-9 rate. He put up those numbers in 38 games, with just one start (with Double-A Trenton).
The Braves were looking to use Gómez in the front-end of their bullpen. He struggled in seven Spring Training appearances, however, posting a 10.80 ERA in 8⅓ innings for the Braves. He allowed more than a hit per inning, and his walk rate was nearly 63% higher than in 2017.
The Yankees still have three other players who were taken in the Rule 5 draft who are vying to make their respective big league clubs: left-handed pitcher Néstor Cortés (Orioles), right-handed pitcher José Mesa (Orioles) and first baseman Mike Ford (Mariners).
If these players do not make the 25-man roster or open the season on the disabled list, they must be offered back to the Yankees. Otherwise, they must spend the entire season in the major leagues for the team to gain the ability to send them to the minor leagues.
One such example is catcher Luis Torrens, who was taken by the Cincinnati Reds and then traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2017 season. The Padres kept Torrens through an understandably awful .163/.243/.203 line in 56 games before optioning him to the Double-A San Antonio Missions March 14.