Category: News

Tyler Wade Will Make Big League Roster

After adjusting his swing, the 23-year-old has turned heads in Tampa.

All that offseason work with Albert Pujols has paid off for Yankees’ Swiss army knife Tyler Wade, who will make the team’s Opening Day roster in Toronto. Manager Aaron Boone made the announcement to reporters after Tuesday’s 6-to-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland.

Wade is maintaining a scorching-hot .316/.438/.447 line through 18 games so far this spring, appearing at second base, shortstop and third base. As we saw last season, Wade is also capable of playing all three outfield positions. Boone did say, however, that the team has no plans to put Wade in the outfield in a Spring Training game.

The 23-year-old aims to put a disappointing MLB stint in 2017 behind him, where he hit just .155/.222/.224 (17 wRC+) in 30 games. He got just 63 plate appearances, though, because his poor hitting forced him to the bench in favor of Ronald Torreyes when Starlin Castro went down with hamstring issues.

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The big story with Wade continues to be the offseason work he put in to overhaul his swing. Marc Carig of The Athletic profiled Wade’s decision to move up his offseason workout plan, and how private hitting coach Dan Koosed and Pujols helped him out.

“Try this along with that,” Wade said, recalling the exchanges, per Carig. “I kept my mouth shut and then I just sat there and I absorbed it all. Then, I asked questions. I asked why.”

So far, the results have been quite remarkable. Wade’s left-handed bat and speed provide stark contrast in a lineup packed full of right-handed power hitters. Despite the Yankees’ signing of Neil Walker, Wade will likely begin the season as the team’s starting second baseman, while also providing insurance at shortstop, third base and in the outfield.

“He’s got good talent, man,” Pujols told The Athletic’s Carig. “He has a lot of promise. He’s a good young little player. He works hard and I like that he asks a lot of questions. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. It’s pretty good to see that. You don’t see that in a lot of young players. Really good approach (with) what he has at the plate, what he wants to do. Really nice work ethic.”

That is high praise coming from a future Hall-of-Famer. Don’t expect Wade to put up Pujols-esque power numbers, but the changes from the past offseason are clearly paying dividends in Tampa.

Boone Announces Yankees’ Starters for First Four Spring Games

The spring slate starts Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

The Yankees officially open their spring slate Friday against the Detroit Tigers. Manager Aaron Boone has announced who his first four starting pitchers of the Grapefruit League are:

  1. Luis Cessa (Friday)
  2. Domingo Germán (Saturday)
  3. Jordan Montgomery (Sunday)
  4. Sonny Gray (Monday)

It is currently unclear how the rest of the starters will get involved beyond Monday’s matchup with the Phillies. The Yankees have to get starts for the rest of their rotation (Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia) while also making space for their prospects and relivers to get ready.

Boone also said that Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez will not play in Friday’s opener. Judge is still recovering from offseason surgery on his left shoulder. There is no announced medical reason for Gardner and Sánchez sitting out. Most likely to avoid putting too much stress on their bodies so early in the spring.

Cessa and Germán are likely competing to be the team’s sixth starter out of camp. Cessa posted a 4.75 ERA (5.69 FIP) in 10 games (5 starts) for the Yankees last year. He found himself on the Scranton Shuttle again for most of the season.

Germán made his MLB debut June 11 against the Orioles with 2⅔ innings of shutout ball. He wound up making seven appearances (mostly mop-up innings) with a 3.14 ERA (3.44 FIP) and a solid 11.3 strikeouts-per-nine rate. Germán figures to be in the rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Gray and Montgomery are simply working back into shape as parts of the Yankees rotation for the 2018 regular season. These four pitchers likely won’t go longer than two or three innings since it’s the early spring.

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.

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.

Jacoby Ellsbury Unlikely to Waive No-Trade Clause

A report by the New York Post’s George A. King III brings news many Yankees fans were hoping to avoid: Jacoby Ellsbury does not plan to waive his no-trade clause this offseason.

The news stems from a statement given by Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, to King Dec. 21 regarding the 34-year-old’s future with the Yankees:

“Jacoby likes New York, likes the Yankees and feels he is an everyday player,” Ellsbury’s agent Scott Boras said Thursday by phone. “The idea of moving isn’t in the mainstream for him.”

You can read the full piece here. Ellsbury would have to beat out Aaron Hicks to be the everyday center fielder next season. The two essentially traded hot streaks last season, though both struggled with injuries as well.

Here’s a comparison of their 2017 stats:

AVG HR RBI OPS fWAR
Ellsbury .264 7 39 .750 1.6
Hicks .266 15 52 .847 3.3

It’s not impossible to say that Ellsbury could overtake Hicks in Spring Training. Both have proven to be very streaky players, and the Yankees will likely go with the hot hand once they break camp. Former manager Joe Girardi sided with Hicks at the end of the 2017 season, but it remains to be seen what Aaron Boone does with center field in 2018.

Ellsbury suffered a concussion in late May 2017, and Boras said that his client “shouldn’t have come back as early as he did.” Hicks excelled in his absence, and that pushed Ellsbury into a fourth outfielder role.

After playing the first six seasons of his career in Boston, Ellsbury is sitll owed $68.4 million over the last three years of the contract he signed after the 2013 season. As a Yankee, he has a .264/.330/.386 line with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs over 520 games in pinstripes.

“He’s going to come in and compete to take his job back. There was a job that was taken from him during the regular season. I think that he had been playing really well for us until the concussion, and then that took him down for a period of time and then it took him a time to get back and find his stride,” said general manager Brian Cashman of Ellsbury at the 2017 Winter Meetings.

FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman had reported in recent days that Ellsbury would consider waiving his no-trade clause to “a select few teams”. He specifically named the San Francisco Giants, but later reported but the Giants were pursuing other options before engaging the Yankees on Ellsbury.

Ex-Yankee Dustin Fowler Sues White Sox Over Injury

Many Yankee fans will remember the gruesome knee injury suffered by ex-Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler June 29 at Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of Chicago. Fowler is suing the White Sox and the state agency that manages the ballpark for negligence, per the Chicago Sun-Times.

Fowler, who was traded by the Yankees to the Oakland Athletics in July, is suing because the team and agency failed to secure a metal electrical box attached to a railing down the right field line in the stadium. The outfielder suffered an open rupture of his right patellar tendon after colliding with the railing and electrical box. The injury left him unable to walk, and required him to be carted off the field.

The suit claims that the White Sox and the agency were aware of how unsafe the electrical box was, but did nothing about it. It also states that Fowler suffered “severe and permanent” internal and external injuries along with having to pay large sums in medical bills.

Fowler was injured in his MLB debut, and had to be removed from the game before getting his first plate appearance. He slashed .293/.329/.542 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 70 games with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders prior to his promotion to the big leagues.

He is expected to make a full recovery from his injury, and has already begun working out in Arizona. The A’s Spring Training facility is in Mesa, Arizona, though it is unclear if Fowler is working out there.

The Yankees were able to acquire RHP Sonny Gray from the Athletics in exchange for Fowler, SS/OF Jorge Mateo and RHP James Kaprielian ahead of the 2017 trade deadline. Fowler, Mateo and Kaprielian are ranked as the third, fourth and tenth-best prospects in the A’s system, respectively.

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.