Category: News

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.

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.

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.

Aaron Boone Officially Named Next Yankees Manager

UPDATE (Dec. 4 at 4:07 p.m. ET): The Yankees officially announced the signing on Twitter. The release indicates he will get a three-year deal with a team option for 2021. He will speak to the press Wednesday.


It seems that the great search has now ended: Aaron Boone will be the next manager of the New York Yankees per a multitude of reports. The first reporter on the scoop was the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden.

The Yankees interviewed six candidates in the “first round” of interviews, and a second round was announced initially to interview with general manager Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner family in Tampa. But, news leaked yesterday that Cashman would make a “recommendation” to ownership in lieu of a second round of interviews.

The Yankees interviewed:

    1. Carlos Beltrán
    2. Aaron Boone
    3. Hensley Meulens
    4. Rob Thomson
    5. Eric Wedge
    6. Chris Woodward

Thomson has since left the organization to become the bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. Sources reported that Meulens will assume the role of bench coach for the San Francisco Giants, his current club. It is unclear if Beltrán, Wedge or Woodward will have any role with the Yankees after not getting the manager’s job.

Boone is well-known throughout baseball for hitting a walkoff home run in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series to send the Yankees to the World Series. Of course, as the story goes, he broke his leg playing basketball during the offseason and was replaced by Alex Rodriguez.

Boone hit .263/.326/.425 (93 wRC+) with 126 home runs and 555 RBIs in his 12-year (1,152-game) career. He has no previous coaching experience, but spent eight years working at ESPN as an analyst after his retirement.

The only coach confirmed to be on the staff for 2018 is pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

 

 

Al Pedrique Named Oakland A’s First Base Coach

The Yankees will have another managerial opening to fill, as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Al Pedrique has left the club to become the first base coach for the Oakland Athletics.

Many assumed that Pedrique would get an interview for the Yankees managerial job since he managed many of the team’s young prospects in Scranton. However, he was never contacted for the position. Pedrique became the manager of the RailRiders in 2016, and he led them into victories in the International League Governor’s Cup and Triple-A National Championship Game. In 2017, the RailRiders lost in Game 3 of the Governor’s Cup to the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays).

Pedrique became the interim manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 when Bob Brenly was fired midway through the season. He led that team to a 22-61 finish in the National League West. He then coached in the Houston Astros organization, serving as minor league field coordinator, third base coach and bench coach. In 2014, he joined the Yankees organization as the manager of the High-A Tampa Yankees.

The native of Venezuela had a 3-year major league career, batting .247/.298/.298 with one home run and 36 RBIs in 174 games with the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers.

Yankees fans got to know Pedrique since he was heavily featured in the YES Network series Homegrown: The Path to Pinstripes. The series gave viewers the opportunity to see how Yankees prospects were progressing in the minor league system.

Baseball America Lists Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2018

To get the bad taste of Shohei Ohtani‘s spurning of the Yankees out of our collective mouths, here’s some good news about players the Yankees actually do have. Baseball America’s Josh Norris ranked the top 10 prospects in the Yankees system leading up to 2018.

Without further ado (* indicates player on 40-man roster):

  1. INF Gleyber Torres *
  2. OF Estevan Florial
  3. LHP Justus Sheffield
  4. RHP Chance Adams
  5. 3B Miguel Andújar *
  6. RHP Albert Abreu *
  7. RHP Jorge Guzman
  8. RHP Luis Medina
  9. SS/2B Thairo Estrada *
  10. RHP Domingo Acevedo *

One of the biggest knocks against the Yankees is that they cannot develop pitchers. However, this prospect list clearly indicates that the Yankees have some promising arms that could be MLB-ready soon. Sheffield is the most MLB-ready of the bunch, having hit 98 mph with his fastball and the best slider in the system. Norris listed the pitching depth as the system’s biggest strength.

The system’s biggest weakness? Catching. That won’t be a short-term problem since Gary Sánchez will control the starting catching job for years to come, barring anything unexpected. Their next best catcher is Kyle Higashioka, who went hitless in 20 plate appearances while Sánchez was injured in 2017. Higashioka did hit .338/.390/.797 in the minors in 2017, but in just 21 games because of injuries. Norris lists Jason Lopez and Saul Torres as the “next catching prospects,” but notes they “played at short-season Staten Island and Rookie-level Pulaski, respectively.”

Norris opines that the Yankees’ system is trending downwards, but that is only because of trades and graduations to the big leagues. When talents like Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery are no longer “prospects,” it’s easy to see how the system takes a hit.

Be sure to read through the whole post on Baseball America (linked above), as Norris projects the Yankees 2021 lineup and also lists which players have the best tools in the system.

Shohei Ohtani Informs Yankees He Will Sign Elsewhere

The Yankees will not come away with one of the biggest prizes of the 2017-18 offseason, as Shohei Ohtani‘s representatives informed the Yankees that he will sign elsewhere.

Reports indicated that Ohtani was working to narrow the field of teams that he has interest in. The San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the two LA teams are listed as favorites at this point. An exception to the “small market, West Coast” skew is reportedly the Chicago Cubs, per the Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino.

The Yankees supposedly impressed Ohtani with their pitch, but the presence of Masahiro Tanaka and the bright lights of New York City likely dashed this plan. The Mets, Red Sox and Twins are the other teams reportedly out of the chase for the Japanese two-way star.

Intrigue surrounds Ohtani since he has the potential to be a full-time two-way player at the MLB level. The 23-year-old slashed .286/.358/.500 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs in 403 games. As a pitcher, he had a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA, 624 strikeouts and 200 walks in 85 games (82 starts).

The Bombers will now likely shift their focus to re-signing LHP CC Sabathia, or looking for other starting pitcher options on the market. They will also have to re-purpose the international signing bonus pool money they accrued in the hopes of landing Ohtani. They will likely target Kevin Maitán, the top prospect among the Braves players released as penalty for breaking of international signing rules. The other target would be RHP Kazuhisa Makita, who was posted by the Seibu Lions.

Todd Frazier: “It’d Be Great to Come Back” to Yankees

Todd Frazier, one of the key pieces of the Yankees’ 2017 postseason run, expressed his interest in a return to the Bronx in an interview broadcasted on MLB Network Radio.

 

The 31-year-old came to the Yankees as a piece in the trade that also brought Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson to the Bronx ahead of the 2017 Trade Deadline. Frazier solidified defense at third base, and contributed 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 66 games down the stretch. He was, however, a rental player, and became a free agent following the conclusion of the World Series.

Frazier conceivably fits in the Bronx next season, but only on the right deal. A one-year deal with a value around $15 million would let Frazier hold down third base and some designated hitter at-bats in 2018. But, Frazier is likely to be enticed by multi-year deals and a higher annual value from a team looking for power and solid defense.

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Plus, Frazier does not really fit into the Yankees long-term plans. Miguel Andújar (No. 5 NYY, No. 91 MLB) has shown an MLB-ready bat, with defense starting to round into shape. Gleyber Torres (No. 1 NYY, MLB) looks to recover from his elbow surgery last season to claim a spot on the big league roster. Chase Headley, who moved to first base part-way through 2017, is still signed for $13 million in 2018 and showed he can still contribute (1.9 fWAR).

As important as Frazier was, a reunion between him and the Yankees seems unlikely because their third baseman of the future (or his placeholder) is already with the team.

Prospect rankings via MLBpipeline.

Carlos Beltrán Will Interview for Yankees Manager Job Wednesday

Well, it seems Carlos Beltrán simply does not want to stay away from the game of baseball. Multiple sources, with Steve Phillips being first, indicated that the recently retired outfielder will interview for the Yankees managerial job.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic then reported that the interview will be Wednesday morning.

Beltrán retired after winning his only World Series ring with the Houston Astros this season. He finished his career with a .279/.350/.486 line, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He was a 9-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover winner and 2-time Silver Slugger winner. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1999.

The future Hall-of-Famer saw his usually steady performance dip in 2017, batting .231/.283/.383 while still mashing 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. He got just 21 plate appearances in the postseason, going 3-for-20 with two doubles. His veteran presence was far more important to the team, however.

It seemed like Beltrán was interested in managing immediately, when he told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the Yankees job would intrigue him:

“You’re talking about the New York Yankees. You’re not just talking about any team in baseball. Not taking anything away from any other organization, but the Yankees are a team that anyone would love to put on that uniform and manage that ballclub,” Beltrán said.

He certainly seems to check the boxes of what Brian Cashman would like to see in the Yankee dugout next season. At age-40, Beltrán can easily relate to players since he was on an active roster last season. He is bilingual, and has been consistently considered a fantastic communicator with the media. Beltrán also went out of his way to have his locker next to Aaron Judge’s when they were on the same club.

The only flaw with Beltrán is that he is a coaching novice. He has always been a clubhouse guy, but that does not necessarily translate to a managerial job. He’ll have to impress in his interview to make it to the next round.

After playing in the Bronx from 2014 to 2016, we could just see Carlos Beltrán back in pinstripes in 2018. Time will tell.

Shohei Ohtani’s Agent Gives All 30 MLB Teams Quiz to Test Suitability

Teams looking to land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani have to do a little bit of homework, as his agent distributed a memo to all 30 Major League Baseball clubs asking them to explain why they would be the best fit for the 23-year-old.

From the Associated Press:

The memo from Nez Balelo, co-head of CAA Baseball, was distributed to all 30 teams by the commissioner’s office late Friday along with materials for the Dec. 1 vote on a new posting agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. If the deal is approved, the 23-year-old is expected to be put up for bid later that day or the following day.

Balelo’s memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani’s talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; to describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani’s cultural assimilation into the team’s city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team’s organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.

Each team was asked to provide its answers in both [English and Japanese] as soon as possible. Clubs were told not to include any financial terms of a possible contract.

The Yankees obviously will get this information back to Balelo and Ohtani in short order. They already planned to use former outfielder Hideki Matsui to help recruit Ohtani, as well as current RHP Masahiro Tanaka.

Ohtani has expressed interest in continuing to be a two-way player after he completes his move to the United States. This would, presumably, give an American League team an advantage in signing him since they could give him a proportion of at-bats as the designated hitter. In his five seasons in Japan, Ohtani played 62 games in the outfield, primarily in right field (57 games).

Both corner outfield spots are occupied for the Yankees. Brett Gardner is signed through the end of the 2018 season (with a $12.5 million club option for 2019) in left field. Aaron Judge will be renewed at league minimum, and won’t be eligible for arbitration until the 2020 season in right field, barring an extension. Ohtani has no experience in center field, and Aaron Hicks (who won’t taste free agency until 2020) has already been named the starter there.

That makes Ohtani’s place on the Yankees roster obvious: starting pitcher and designated hitter. If the Yankees are able to get Ohtani, they should continue to pursue a starting pitcher like CC Sabathia. Ohtani is used to pitching once a week in Japan, and a six-man rotation would help ease his transition to pitching once every five days.

The Yankees also do not have an obvious candidate for the everyday designated hitter. Matt Holliday most likely will not return after his .202/.300/.371 line in the second half. Using Ohtani as a DH would be less intensive than playing him in the already-crowded outfield. The team is likely planning to rotate players through the DH spot if Ohtani signs elsewhere.

New York has the second highest amount of available international signing bonus pool money to sign Ohtani at $3.5 million. The Texas Rangers lead them by a slight margin at $3.535 million. Each has had success signing a Japanese player in recent years, with the Rangers signing Yu Darvish and the Yankees inking Tanaka.

Because of his age, Ohtani is considered an amateur and must be signed to a minor league contract. That means he is a cheap commodity with a very high upside. The team that signs him will get control of six major league seasons if they do not agree on an extension.

Across his five seasons in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani is batting .286/.358/.500 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs. As a pitcher, he has a 42-15 record, 2.52 ERA and 10.3 K/9 rate. He is expected to be posted shortly after the Dec. 1 vote by MLB owners to ratify the new posting agreement between MLB and NPB.