Category: Transactions

Yankees Sign Happ; Designate Bridwell

The veteran lefty officially returns after an impressive 11-start introduction in 2018.

As was reported Dec. 12, the Yankees announced today that they signed veteran lefty J.A. Happ to a two-year, $34 million contract that includes a club option for 2021. That club option, worth $17 million, will vest and become guaranteed should Happ make 27 starts or throw 165 innings in 2020.

Of course, making that signing official required the Yankees to open up a 40-man roster spot to accommodate Happ. The team designated for assignment righty Parker Bridwell, who had been claimed off waivers earlier this offseason.

Bridwell made just five appearances in the major leagues, allowing 13 earned runs in just 6⅔ innings of work (17.55 ERA). Happ, on the other hand, made 11 starts for the Yankees to a 2.69 ERA and the team won nine of those 11 starts.

Rule 5 Recap: Yankees Lose Five in Minor-League Portion

With no 40-man roster spot open, it’s clear that the Yankees were comfortable being spectators during the MLB portion of the Rule five draft from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

The Yankees lost one player in the MLB portion, Lost another five in the minor-league portion, picked one in the minor-league portion and then acquired another in a small trade with the Detroit Tigers. Here’s the recap:

MLB Portion:

RHP Nick Green
  • Acquired by Yankees in 2016 Carlos Beltrán trade.
  • Between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton (23 starts):
    • 8-7, 3.32 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 1.357 WHIP
  • Taken by Diamondbacks with the 12th overall pick.

The Diamondbacks must keep Green on the active roster for the entirety of the season or offer him back to the Yankees once he clears waivers.

MiLB Portion:

  • RHP Adonis De la Cruz (from SEA – Double-A Arkansas Travelers)
    • 3-4, 4.71 ERA (2.80 FIP), 11.77 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, 1.27 WHIP in 34 games with Low-A West Virginia
Acquired via Trade:
  • OF Tyler Hill (Selected by DET from BOS – Double-A Portland Sea Dogs)
    • .254/.348/.312 (95 wRC+), 1 HR, 38 RBI, 27 SB in 124 games with A-Adv. Salem Red Sox
  • C Chris Rabago (to KC)
    • .071/.133/.071 (-43 wRC+), 0 HR/RBI in 7 games with Double-A Trenton
  • RHP Gilmael Troya (to PHI)
    • 2-0, 1.63 ERA (2.88 FIP), 12.80 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 1.11 WHIP in 15 games with Advanced Rookie Pulaski
  • RHP Anyelo Gomez (to BOS)
    • 0-1, 2.45 ERA (4.15 FIP), 9.82 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 1.36 WHIP in 7 games with Triple-A SWB
  • OF Mark Payton (to OAK)
    • .259/.368/.401 (120 wRC+), 6 HR, 25 RBI in 62 games with Triple-A SWB
  • RHP Alexander Vargas (to CHC)
    • 0-0, 2.25 ERA (3.45 FIP), 7.88 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 1.25 WHIP in 2 games with Triple-A SWB

Yankees Agree With J.A. Happ on Two-Year Deal

The 2019 New York Yankees starting rotation is starting to come into focus, as the team has agreed with veteran left-hander J.A. Happ on a two-year, $34-million deal that would bring him back to the Bronx. The deal also contains a vesting option for the 2021 season based on innings pitched.

Happ came to the Yankees in exchange for infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline. He pitched lights-out for 11 starts in pinstripes, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA (4.21 FIP) as the team captured their second consecutive home-field spot in the Wild Card game.

“He was a performer; took the ball every five days,” Cashman said. “He was a competitor, came as advertised, a real pro. He had a veteran presence within that clubhouse, knew exactly what was necessary and brought it every five days in the most competitive division in all of baseball and the world. He checks all the boxes on that side of it.”

The playoffs were a different animal, though. Happ made just one start, lasting two innings and allowing five earned runs in Game 1 of the American League Division Series in Boston. The big blow in that game was a three-run home run by J.D. Martinez.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic had reported earlier in the day that the two sides were in agreement on a deal with three guaranteed years, though he walked that report back to say they were simply gaining momentum.

Happ had also been courted by the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, both teams he has pitched for in the past. The Phillies were hesitant to give Happ more than two guaranteed years, and it appears his recent familiarity with the Bronx plus the prospect of the vesting option prompted his return.

The Yankees may not be done in their pursuit of a starting pitcher, as injuries and ineffectiveness typically rear their ugly heads over the course of a 162-game season. They learned that the hard way when Jordan Montgomery went down for 18 months after just six starts because of Tommy John surgery in 2018.

The team wound up getting 24 starts from Chance Adams, Luis Cessa, Domingo Germán and Jonathan Loáisiga combined, and the team went 12-12 in those games. Sonny Gray, who was acquired to anchor the top of the rotation, started in 12 Yankees losses and was demoted to the bullpen in favor of Lance Lynn after August 1.

“It doesn’t mean we would be out of the market altogether. Obviously the Paxton acquisition gave us the ability to be a lot more disciplined and patient,” Cashman said. “If we pull down another one it will put us in a much stronger position to feel better about the rotation. But that doesn’t preclude us to being open-minded about any options that develop over time.”

With the acquisition of James Paxton and agreement with Happ, the Yankees find their starting rotation in exponentially better shape than last year.

Ronald Torreyes Traded to Cubs for PTBNL/Cash

The Ronald Torreyes era is over. After 221 games, the Yankees announced today that they traded the versatile 26-year-old to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash consideration. He had been designated for assignment Monday when the Yankees claimed pitcher Parker Bridwell from the Los Angeles Angels.

Torreyes had grown into a fan favorite since joining the Yankees in 2016 because of his energy and ability to produce as a bench player. He proved exceedingly useful in 2017, when he started the first month of the season at shortstop to allow Didi Gregorius to recover from a shoulder injury. Overall as a Yankee, he hit .281/.308/.373 (80 wRC+) with four home runs and 55 RBIs. He suited up at second base, third base, shortstop and right field for the Yankees.

Though he made a ton of contact, Torreyes provided little value with his offense. He walked 23 times in three seasons (3.8%), and only picked up extra-base hits in 6.4% of his plate appearances. He graded out as an average baserunner, but had little value as a pinch-runner since he only stole four bases in his time as a Yankee.

The real reason Torreyes was dealt appears to be his price tag. He is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this winter. I think the Yankees were planning to non-tender him if they did not find a destination by this Friday’s deadline. MLB Trade Rumors projected he would make $900K in his first go-around. The Yankees have way cheaper options for the utility-man bench role (Hanser Alberto, Thairo Estrada, Tim Locastro Tyler Wade, etc.) and Torreyes became the odd man out.

I’m expecting Toe will get a big hand at Old Timer’s Day at some point down the road. Only time will tell if Chicago is his final destination this offseason, as Torreyes has bounced around in the past. The Yankees acquired Torreyes along with lefty Tyler Olson in January 2016, but he got claimed by the Angels off waivers a week later. A week after that, the Yankees claimed him back from Los Angeles and the rest is history. For now, he’s a Cub. In February, we’ll see where he’s suiting up for Spring Training.

Yankees Claim Parker Bridwell; DFA Ronald Torreyes

The Yankees have added another pitcher to their roster, claiming righty Parker Bridwell off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. To make room for Bridwell on the 40-man roster, fan-favorite Ronald Torreyes was designated for assignment.

Bridwell was a ninth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of Hereford HS in Texas, and went to the Angels in an April 2017 cash trade. In his one full season in 2017, Bridwell owned a 10-3 record and 3.64 ERA (4.84 FIP) in 21 games (20 starts). He was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake as the 2018 season opened, and was called up for a few days in April. He spent about a month on the Triple-A disabled list, was active for about another month and then was out for the rest of the year with an elbow injury. The Angels had designated him for assignment November 20 as they cleared their 40-man roster. In 2018, Bridwell made five appearances (6⅔ IP) and allowed 13 earned runs, which was good for a 17.55 ERA (12.91 FIP). For Triple-A Salt Lake, he made six starts and allowed 27 runs in 28 innings (8.68 ERA).

Torreyes became a fan-favorite in the Bronx because of his high energy, aggressive hitting style and ability to produce off the bench. Fans enjoyed his high batting average, despite the majority of his hits being singles. Over his three seasons in New York, he hit .281/.308/.374 (80 wRC+) with four home runs and 55 RBIs. The Yankees have seven days to trade or release Torreyes, or he can be sent outright to the minor leagues and off the 40-man roster should he go unclaimed on outright waivers.

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Yankees Acquire Tim Locastro From Dodgers

The 40-man roster is now full.

The Yankees swung a minor trade Wednesday, acquiring outfielder Tim Locastro from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for RHP Drew Finley and cash considerations. Locastro was added to the 40-man roster, which is now at 40 players.

The Dodgers had designated Locastro for assignment to clear 40-man roster space and got something back for him. The 26-year-old saw just 15 plate appearances with the Dodgers, spending most of his time with Triple-A Oklahoma City. In the MLB, he hit .182/.357/.273 (91 wRC+). He stole four bases and was not caught once.

For Oklahoma City, he hit .279/.389/.409 (118 wRC+) and stole 18 bases in 20 opportunities. Not a huge power guy, but clearly plays the speed game well. He suited up at first base, second base, left field and center field in 2018. He’s also logged time at shortstop and in right field. He still has two minor-league options remaining, and will not be arbitration eligible until 2022.

Finley was the Yankees’ third-round pick in 2015, and he repeated in Short-Season A-ball for the third consecutive season in 2018. He was promoted to Low-A Charleston in 2016, but got hurt and his rehab assignment in Staten Island turned into a permanent assignment. In 16 games in 2018, he had a 2-4 record, 7.24 ERA, 10.9 K/9 and 6.6 BB/9.

Yankees Acquire Jefry Valdez From Colorado for Jordan Foley

The Yankees dealt an arm eligible for this year’s Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night, announcing they shipped RHP Jordan Foley to the Rockies for RHP Jefry Valdez.

Valdez signed with Colorado out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He spent all of 2018 in Short-Season A Boise, pitching in 27 games to a 5.82 ERA, 11.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. It seems his command is good, but he might throw a few too many strikes. He allowed a ridiculous 12.7 hits per nine for Boise, which would explain the high ERA. He’s a three-pitch pitcher, featuring a 90-92 mph fastball, 79-81 mph changeup and an 82-85 mph slider according to Baseball Census. Valdez has been assigned to the Yankees’ Short-Season affiliate in Staten Island.

Foley, 25, was a fifth-round pick of the Yankees in the 2014 draft out of Central Michigan University. He spent the entirety of 2018 with Double-A Trenton, pitching in 37 games (2 starts) with a 2.98 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. The Yankees assigned Foley to the Arizona Fall League, and he didn’t do so great. He allowed 20 earned runs in 19⅔ innings, and walked an astounding 8.7 batters per nine innings. Despite being Rule 5-eligible, Foley was not added to the Rockies 40-man roster. Foley has been assigned to the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate, the Hartford Yard Goats.

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