Cole was acquired in an early-2018 cash trade, and made 28 appearances for the Yankees with a 4.26 ERA (4.92 FIP). Alberto did not appear in a game for New York as he was acquired head of the 2018 Rule 5 deadline.
CC Sabathia took an important step towards being ready for February’s Pitchers & Catchers reporting date, as the team announced Tuesday that he has been cleared by doctors to begin working out after an early-December angioplasty.
The veteran lefty had a stent inserted Dec. 11 after experiencing “acid reflux, heartburn and an increased amount of perspiration while riding an exercise bike,” according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. After a hospital evaluation, Sabathia “is said to have an excellent short-term and long-term prognosis.”
“We’re thankful for CC responding or reacting to the complaints he was having in such an intelligent way to make sure he got the care necessary, so there were no serious consequences,” GM Brian Cashman said.
The Yankees had put a pause on their trade negotiations surrounding Sonny Gray as they awaited confirmation that Sabathia was still on track for Feb. 13. Gray, as I’m sure you know, has generated trade interest from up to 11 different teams this offseason. Cashman had said that they might hold onto Gray in order to ensure they would be protected if Sabathia’s heart issue would delay his arrival in Tampa.
The prizes of the 2018–19 free agent class have been connected to the New York Yankees for what feels like an eternity. But, according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, only one of them is a fit in the Bronx: infielder Manny Machado.
“At no time all winter have I said that I’m looking for an outfielder,” Cashman told reporters from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. “The [Bryce] Harper stuff, I’m surprised you’re still asking.”
One thing he is looking for is a replacement on the left side of the infield for shortstop Didi Gregorius, Who is expected to miss at least the first half of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Machado, of course, is capable of playing both third base and shortstop at an elite level.
“I’ve had several conversations with Dan Lozano about Manny Machado,” Cashman said. “We are definitely focused in the marketplace on those areas of need. He obviously is available and solves that area of need. I’m not going to deny we’ve had a conversation or two.”
Jon Heyman of Fancred has indicated that the Yankees would go after Machado if he were willing to except a slightly shorter contract with a total value less than $300 million. The Yankees will be one of a few teams Machado meets on a tour of their cities. Two other teams that will meet with the 26-year-old are the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Yankees got dealt their first loss of the offseason Tuesday, as top starting pitcher Patrick Corbin agreed with the Washington Nationals on a 6-year, $140 million contract.
Jon Heyman of Fancred and Billy Witz of the New York Times indicated that the Yankees offer went 5-years, $100 million. Heyman further indicated that the Philadelphia Phillies, the third finalist for Corbin, offered a 5-year deal as well. The finances, however, are unknown at this moment.
By trading for fellow lefty James Paxton, Brian Cashman put the Yankees in a position where they did not have to overpay for Corbin. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, they’ll pivot to pursuing the following “Plan B” pitchers: Nathan Eovaldi, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn. They’re all former Yankees, and they’re all radically different pitchers with distinct contractual demands. The narrative is that the Yankees want the rotation wrapped up by the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas this coming weekend, so look for some activity there.
Corbin had never pitched for anyone but the small-market Diamondbacks in the NL West. His slider was among the most effective pitches in the majors, yet there was worry should that pitch dim in effectiveness or hitters became more attuned to laying off it. Corbin was just a few years removed from Tommy John surgery and a 5.15 ERA, and only in his 2018 walk year did he perform more like a top-of-the-rotation starter.
There was a lot to like and in a different day perhaps the Yankees would have ignored what gave them hesitation and provided whatever it took to get a deal done. But the Yanks felt they were stretching to go from four to five years in a potential offer, and so when agent John Courtright told them he could get six years, this version of the Yanks essentially said there was nothing more to discuss.
The Nationals had been aggressive late in their negotiations with Corbin. They added that extra year (and probably some extra money) and that’s what secured the lefty. He’ll be due $23,333,333 annually through the 2024 season. That will make Corbin the 11th highest-paid pitcher for 2019, with his Nationals teammates Stephen Strasburg ($38,333,334) and Max Scherzer ($37,405,562) placing first and second, respectively.
Gary Sánchez is not going anywhere. Despite rumors that the Yankees had talked to the Miami Marlins about flipping him for fellow backstop J.T. Realmuto, Brian Cashman insisted those ideas were “completely false”.
“We’re not talking Gary Sánchez with anybody, although I’ve been asked,” Cashman said to Jack Curry in an interview to be broadcast on YES Network on Monday. “By the teams that have asked, poll the people who have connections to those teams and they’d say we asked and were told that they aren’t moving Gary Sánchez.”
The Yankees certainly aren’t giving up on their 26-year-old catcher despite a disastrous 2018 that saw him bat just .186/.291/.406 (89 wRC+), lead the league in passed balls with 18 and place fifth with 45 wild pitches allowed. But, Sánchez was hampered by a groin injury that forced him to miss time on two separate occasions, and he had surgery on his balky left shoulder that could have caused him to alter his swing mechanics to manage pain.
“Without question, [the shoulder injury] was definitely a factor in irritating him this year,” Cashman said. “Obviously more so that we expected, since he had to have surgery. We look forward to him coming back and being what we saw a little in the postseason, and what we saw from him in the previous years.”
Those previous years have been incredibly productive, with Sánchez hitting .284/.354/.568 (142 wRC+) in 175 games running from 2016 to 2017. He became a lightning rod for criticism when he was thrown out at first base after a fielding miscue in Tampa Bay, and it appeared Sánchez was not hustling. It turns out he had been nursing a groin injury for weeks, and aggravated it while attempting to sprint to first base.
Sánchez did come out and hit two home runs off David Price in game two of the ALDS, which ended up being the only game the Yankees won in that series. The Yankees hope that the surgery and offseason rest will allow Sánchez to come to Tampa ready to prove his doubters wrong.
All pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players were tendered contracts by the Yankees by the 8 p.m. ET deadline Friday.
The team and players did not have to reach specific figures by that deadline, but the Yankees were required to at least extend an offer. Players and teams must have exchanged arbitration figures by Jan. 11, 2019, and then hearings will run from Feb. 1 to Feb. 20. Players who are not yet eligible for arbitration (less than three years service time) typically agree to their 1-year split-level deals in early-March. The Yankees agreed to deals with all of their arbitration eligible players ahead of the deadline last year.
Here’s everyone eligible for arbitration this year with their 2018 salary and 2019 projection from MLB Trade Rumors:
- RHP Dellin Betances
- 2018 salary: $5.1 million
- 2019 projection: $6.4 million
- 1B Greg Bird
- 2018 salary: $582K
- 2019 projection: $1.5 million
- RHP Sonny Gray
- 2018 salary: $6.5 million
- 2019 projection: $9.1 million
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2018 salary: $8.25 million
- 2019 projection: $12.4 million
- CF Aaron Hicks
- 2018 salary: $2.825 million
- 2019 projection: $6.2 million
- RHP Tommy Kahnle
- 2018 salary: $1.3125 million
- 2019 projection: $1.5 million
- LHP James Paxton
- 2018 salary: $4.9 million
- 2019 projection: $9 million
- C Austin Romine
- 2018 salary: $1.1 million
- 2019 projection: $2 million
- RHP Luis Severino
- 2018 salary: $604.975K
- 2019 projection: $5.1 million
The two players closest to being non-tendered, in my opinion, were Gray and Gregorius. Gray was awful in 2018, and Brian Cashman is determined to trade him this offseason. Didi Gregorius is set to miss at least the first half of 2019, though the Yankees could work with him on a myriad of contract options as this is his final year of arbitration.
Everyone else, with the exception of the guaranteed contracts for Aroldis Chapman, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Giancarlo Stanton and Masahiro Tanaka, has less than three years of service time and will have their split-level deals revealed later on. They get paid one salary for MLB service and a much smaller one for the minor leagues.
Much was made of Patrick Corbin‘s visit to the Philadelphia Phillies, which included a viral image of the lefty photoshopped into a Phillies uniform on the scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. It turns out that Philly isn’t the only stop for Corbin, however, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported he’d be in New York to meet with the Yankees (and not the Mets) Thursday.
Corbin is widely regarded as the best starting pitcher available on the free-agent market, after finishing tied for fourth among qualified starters in all of baseball with 6.3 fWAR. By that metric, only these guys were better:
- Jacob deGrom (8.8)
- Max Scherzer (7.2)
- Justin Verlander (6.8)
- Patrick Corbin (6.3) | Gerrit Cole (6.3)
That’s a pretty good group of pitchers to be associated with. Corbin’s ground-ball rate has been comfortably above the MLB average since his debut in 2012, and an increase in strikeout percentage turned him into a top-5 pitcher in baseball.
Per Fangraphs’ pitching value system, Corbin had the best slider among all qualified pitchers in the MLB. In fact, since he’s started to throw that pitch more, his fWAR has increased at a similar rate. Corbin relies on 5 pitches: Slider (40.9%), Sinker (29.5%), Four Seamer (19.1%), Curve (9.4%), Changeup (1.1%).
“I don’t think I’ve seen a slider like that since Steve Carlton,” said Rick Schu, San Francisco Giants assistant hitting coach, to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “I mean, it just disappears.”
The question comes down to whether the Yankees will out-bid the Phillies for Corbin, or if Corbin will accept a competitive offer that will fulfill his dream of pitching in pinstripes. MLB Trade Rumors ranked Corbin as the third-best free agent in their annual Top 50 ranking, and predicted the Yankees would ink the southpaw to a six-year, $129 million contract.
“I know the Yankees have had some interest in the past, and there were a lot of rumors this winter that got my family excited,” Corbin said to Nightengale. “It would have been cool. You just want to go where you’re wanted, and every team will have an opportunity. I would love to be on a contending team for sure, but we’ll see what happens.”
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Corbin also met with the Washington Nationals earlier this week. It’s unclear if the lefty plans to meet with any other teams.