Category: Transactions

Heyman: Yankees Sign Danny Farquhar to MiLB Deal

The right-handed reliever suffered a brain hemorrhage on April 20, 2018.

The Yankees will be taking part in one of the more inspiring comeback stories of the 2019 season, as Fancred‘s Jon Heyman reports the Yankees will sign reliever Danny Farquhar to a minor-league deal. Mark Feinsand of reports the deal includes an invitation to MLB Spring Training.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage on April 20, 2018, which was the result of a burst brain aneurysm. He was rushed to the neurosurgical ICU unit at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He was later stabilized, but ruled out for the rest of the 2018 season.

The righty had only made eight appearances in 2018, allowing five earned runs in eight innings. He has a career 3.93 ERA (3.60 FIP) in 253 relief appearances over his seven-year career.

He already has one stint with the Yankees on his résumé, spending 27 days in the minors after a waiver claim in 2012. He made six appearances for Double-A Trenton and one for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre without allowing a run. On July 23, 2012, he was packaged with fellow right-hander D.J. Mitchell and sent to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

The 32-year-old will come into camp competing for a long relief role in the front of the bullpen, but could also provide valuable innings as a veteran for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In a perfect world, Farquhar’s stuff is still strong and he could fill the Adam Warren role coming out of camp.

Yankees in Agreement With Adam Ottavino

Dominant righty from Brooklyn fortifies an already powerful bullpen.

The second of Brian Cashman’s relievers appears to be headed to the Bronx, as The Athletic‘s Robert Murray reports the Yankees and Adam Ottavino are close to a 3-year deal in the $25 million range. Jon Heyman of Fancred reports the deal is for three years at $27 million total.

Ottavino was a top-10 pitcher in terms of fWAR for the Colorado Rockies in 2018, pitching to a 2.43 ERA (2.74 FIP) and striking out 12.98 batters per nine innings. The 33-year-old recorded 34 holds for the Rockies, as well as six saves. He recorded 32 of what Fangraphs calls “shutdowns,” which indicate the player’s performance in a certain game increased his teams chance of winning by 6%. Plus, he’s poised to make Yankees uniform history as the first player to wear No. 0.

The Yankees have prioritized relief pitching in each of the past few seasons, always looking to make things tougher on their opponents as it becomes later in games. Ottavino fits the Yankees pitching profile as he only throws his four-seam fastball 1.3% of the time. Ottavino relies on 5 pitches: Slider (46.8%), Sinker (41.9%), Cutter (9.8%), Four Seamer (1.3%), Changeup (0.2%).

This contract carries a $9 million average annual value, and that’s what matters in terms of the competitive balance tax. I have a feeling that Ottavino took less money in order to become a New York Yankee. He was born in New York, and was in the stands for David Wells‘s perfect game in 1998. Plus, he jumps from the altitude of Coors Field in Colorado into the fire of the American League East in the Bronx.

Ottavino now completes what could easily be called the most dominant back end of any bullpen in all of major-league baseball right now. With 27 days until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa, Yankees fans can feel good about their relief pitching corps.

Yankees Acquire Ronald Roman From Arizona for Tim Locastro

So long, Tim Locastro. We hardly knew you. After designating the 26-year-old for assignment in order to officially sign DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees dealt him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 17-year-old lefty Ronald Roman and cash considerations.

Locastro came to the Yankees from the Los Angeles Dodgers as the latter unloaded him ahead of the 40-man roster deadline in November. The Yankees gave up 2015 third-round pick Drew Finley and cash to acquire him. Locastro, who had become redundant with the signing of LeMahieu and the presence of Thairo Estrada in the minors, hit .279/.389/.409 (118 wRC+) for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Dodgers organization in 2018.

This is where things get interesting: Roman has yet to pitch in a professional game. The Diamondbacks signed him July 2 as soon as the new international signing period opened. All we know is that he’s a lefty, is 6’3″ and weighs 185 pounds. Roman, who hails from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, will likely start the 2019 season with the Yankees rookie affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.

I’d imagine the Yankees acquired cash from Arizona because they had traded cash to Los Angeles for Locastro in the first place. That would, I assume, make the two deals financially neutral.

Yankees Sign LeMahieu; DFA Locastro

Jan. 14: The Yankees have officially signed LeMahieu, and have designated utility man Tim Locastro for assignment to create a 40-man roster spot.

Locastro had been acquired right around the 40-man roster deadline in November in exchange for 2015 third-rounder Drew Finley. I would think the Yankees will attempt to sneak him through outright waivers to have him with the RailRiders in 2019. We’ll see.

The Yankees have agreed with a free-agent infielder on a contract, but it’s not the one people expected. Manny Machado, move over. Multiple reports from all over the baseball media landscape say the Yankees agreed with 30-year-old DJ LeMahieu on a 2-year, $24 million contract. The club has not confirmed.

Jack Curry at the YES Network was first on the news, and said the Yankees will use LeMahieu “as a versatile player around the infield. They will use him at second base, first base and third base.” He has played exclusively second base since 2015, but does have a few games at each of the aforementioned positions.

Like anybody who plays at Coors Field, LeMahieu received a ton of scrutiny for his home/road splits. In 2018, he hit .317/.360/.433 (85 wRC+) at home, and .229/.277/.422 (85 wRC+) on the road. But, he won a batting title in 2016 behind an overall .348/.416/.495 (130 wRC+) batting line.

LeMahieu’s best tool is his defense, having reeled in the National League Gold Glove award at second base in 2014, 2017 and 2018. His 12.9 defensive WAR component (per Fangraphs) was highest among qualified second basemen in all of baseball for 2018. He’ll be tasked with getting himself reacquainted with third base and first base in pinstripes.

This move gives the Yankees five infielders for four spots, which would be fine if the outfield wasn’t four players for three spots. With one designated hitter role, there will either be a ton of off-days or something’s going to happen before March 28. Injuries, regression or a surprise trade could throw things off.

One thing is certain, in my opinion: the Yankees aren’t paying LeMahieu $12 million per year to be a utility bench player. That’s the kind of money you pay someone to be out there just about everyday. I’d watch for some movement that would allow that to be the norm for the Yankees.

Yankees Ink Hutchison, Lipka to MiLB Deals

More depth on minor-league deals.

Jan. 11: The Yankees have officially announced the signings.

Both players have received invitations to Tampa for Spring Training, but will both likely start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Jan 10: The Yankees continue to add to their depth, signing right-hander Drew Hutchison and utilityman Matt Lipka to minor-league contracts, according to Gotham Sports Network’s Max Wildstein.

A 15th-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2009, Hutchison bounced around a ton in 2018. He pitched in 11 games for Philadelphia, then made nine appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Dodgers organization and finished the season with five starts for Texas. Overall in the big leagues, the 28-year-old had an ugly 6.75 ERA (6.42 FIP) and an abysmal 40.9% ground-ball rate. Hutchison likely will eat some innings in Tampa and spend most of 2019 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Lipka was a first-round pick of the Braves in 2010, and played all of 2018 with Double-A Richmond in the Giants organization. He hit .240/.329/.352 (91 wRC+) with four home runs and 30 RBIs in 123 games for the Flying Squirrels. He started at least one game at second base, third base, left field, center field and right field during the 2018 season.

It’s unknown at this point if either player has been invited to MLB Spring Training, though I’d imagine at the very least Hutchison will get an invite.

Yankees Re-Sign Britton; DFA Alberto

The Yankees secure the first of Brian Cashman’s two relievers.

Jan. 11: The Yankees have officially announced Britton’s signing on Twitter.

To clear a roster spot for Britton, they’ve designated infielder Hanser Alberto for assignment. He was acquired in a waiver claim from the Texas Rangers on Nov. 2. He was hitting .322/.366/.392 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 43 games for the Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican Winter League. Alberto lasted on the Yankees 40-man roster for two months and nine days.

Jan. 5: With the ink barely dried on David Robertson‘s two-year, $23 million contract with Philadelphia, the Yankees struck a deal to bring back reliever Zach Britton. The deal guarantees the first two years of the contract, a two-year team option after year two, or a one-year player option should the Yankees decline it.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report momentum towards a deal, and Jeff Passan of ESPN confirmed shortly after that an agreement was in place.

That contract has become somewhat of a Scott Boras specialty, having debuted these paired options in contracts for Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Yusei Kikuchi and now Britton. Britton will earn a $1 million raise from his final year of arbitration salary, and will remain in the Bronx for at least two seasons. From what I gather, the Yankees have the first choice on the two-year team option, and after that, Britton can either opt in for 2021 or test free agency again.

After coming to the Yankees in a Trade Deadline deal for prospects Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate, Britton pitched to a fantastic 2.88 ERA and stellar 77.8% ground-ball rate in 25 outings for the Yankees. With his impending free agency approaching, Britton fielded questions about a return to the Bronx, and he always seemed open to the idea.

The Yankees had always said they were looking at two relievers, and it will be interesting to see the direction they take as the market begins to heat up. They’ve been very connected to Adam Ottavino recently, but he would be an expensive piece for a bullpen already stocked with expensive pieces. I’m very into the idea of ownership going full Evil Empire and securing Ottavino, as well as Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado. They’re definitely going over the first luxury tax threshold, and they should make it worth it.

Yankees Sign Billy Burns to MiLB Deal

The 29-year-old is a switch-hitter with great speed.

The Yankees added to their outfield depth Friday, reportedly signing speedy 29-year-old Billy Burns to a minor-league contract. That report came via Michael Meyer of the Mets blog MetsMerized. Jon Heyman of Fancred confirmed the signing in a tweet Saturday.

Burns is a switch-hitter with experience in all three outfield positions. Of course, with his kind of speed, he’s played the majority of his big-league innings in center field. In 242 MLB games with Oakland and Kansas City, Burns owns a career .270/.308/.353 slash line with five home runs, 55 RBIs and 46 steals (75% success rate). That line is mostly buoyed by his stellar 2015, where he hit .294/.334/.392 for Oakland. Since then, he’s been a .233/.269/.293 hitter in the MLB.

The Atlanta-native played all of 2018 at Triple-A in the Royals organization, hitting .255/.314/.316 with four homers and 36 RBIs in 102 games. He saw a marked decrease in stolen base success, stealing 10 bases in 18 tries (56% success rate). Again, he saw the majority of his time in center field, with his next highest number of innings coming in left field.

Besides providing a third outfielder for the RailRiders, Burns will likely be in MLB camp as a non-roster invitee in the same role as Shane Robinson in 2018. Hopefully, he won’t be starting in a pivotal August series at Fenway Park. The Yankees showed how important outfield depth can be last year, and I would think signing Burns is just an initial step after losing their once formidable depth to trades, the Rule 5 draft and injuries. I’d imagine a plethora of similar signings

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