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:

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.

Yankees Re-Sign CC Sabathia

UPDATE (Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. ET): The Yankees officially announced the signing on the day after Christmas via Twitter.

The Yankees locked up a pivotal part of their 2018 starting rotation Saturday, agreeing to a one-year, $10 million contract with veteran lefty CC Sabathia.

“CC feels there’s unfinished business to attend to,” agent Kyle Thousand of Roc Nation Sports told MLB.com. “There were competitive offers that CC was weighing, but in the end, CC wanted to come back and win a championship with the Yankees. He loves his teammates, the clubhouse and the moves the Yankees are making. He wants to bring home another championship to the Yankee fans.”

CC made it clear after the Yankees were eliminated in Game 7 of the ALCS that he wanted to return to the Bronx to finish out his career. He has not commented on his future in baseball beyond the 2018 season.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great,” Sabathia said after Game 7. “This is my home, and I want to see this thing through.”

Sabathia will simply need to pass a physical for the deal to be official. The 37-year-old was a huge part of the Yankees rotation in 2017, pitching to a 14-5 record and 3.69 ERA in the final year of the deal he signed prior to the 2009 season. He won a World Series with the Yankees that year, and has been crucial to the team ever since.

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The veteran brings expertise and consistency to the back of a Yankees rotation in need of a few more arms. With innings limits looming on young starters Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees will have to rely on the veterans like Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray to pitch well consistently.

The Yankees may continue their pursuit of another starting pitcher even with Sabathia back in the fold. The team has been linked in trade talks recently to Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin, Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer and Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole.

Yankees to Sign International Prospects Raimfer Salinas, Antonio Cabello

After the Yankees worked hard to acquire international signing bonus pool money to woo Shohei Ohtani, they have bestowed it on different recipients. Per Baseball America’s Ben Badler, the Bombers will sign international amateur outfielder Raimfer Salinas and catcher Antonio Cabello.

Badler said on Twitter that the amount of money each player signed for would not be published yet “out of respect for the requests of several Venezuelan players/families”. The Yankees had $3.5 million in signing bonus money that they needed to spend before next summer.

Salinas is 16 years old, and is ranked as the No. 10 international prospect for the 2017 class. Cabello is 17 years old, and ranked at No. 15 on the same Baseball America list. The two join OF Everson Pereira (No. 5), SS Ronny Rojas (No. 11), SS Roberto Chirinos (No. 20) and OF Anthony García (No. 28) as the six players on Baseball America’s top 50 prospects list now in the Yankees organization.

These players join a system that already boasts five prospects on MLB.com’s Top 100 list: INF Gleyber Torres, RHP Chance Adams, OF Estevan Florial, LHP Justus Sheffield and 3B Miguel Andújar.

The club has not confirmed the signings of Salinas or Cabello at this point.

Heyman: Ellsbury Could Waive No-Trade Clause To “A Select Few Teams”

UPDATE (Dec. 21 at 9:40 p.m. ET): Heyman is reporting now that the Yankees have indeed reached out to the Giants about Ellsbury, but that he is not at the top of their list for their vacant center field position.

The Giants do have an opening after dealing the aging Denard Span to Tampa Bay in a trade for third baseman Evan Longoria. Ellsbury would represent a downgrade statistically when looking at the 2017 season, but the Giants would be looking to catch lightning in a bottle.

The Yankees outfield could round into shape over the next few days, and may not include 34-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the veteran may be willing to waive his full no-trade clause to move to “a select few teams”.

In his piece, Heyman mentioned the San Francisco Giants specifically:

Jacoby Ellsbury was said early this winter not to want to waive his full no-trade clause, but word now is that he might consider waiving it for a select few teams, and the San Francisco Giants could be one of them.

Ellsbury could fit in as the Giants’ center fielder, whereas with the Yankees he seems destined to be the fourth outfielder, as Yankees people say they are going with Aaron Hicks in center field. Ellsbury lives in the Phoenix area, so the Giants’ spring home in Scottsdale would be a plus for him, too.

You can read the full article here. Ellsbury slashed .264/.348/.402 in 112 games in 2017, missing 29 games due to a concussion suffered in May. Prior to the concussion, he was hitting 30 points higher, and lost the starting job in center field to Aaron Hicks while on the disabled list.

Signed after a 2013 season where he hit .298/.355/.426 with nine home runs, 53 RBIs and 52 stolen bases with Boston, Ellsbury has largely failed to live up to his seven-year, $153 million contract. So far, his line with the Yankees stands at .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs, 198 RBIs and 102 stolen bases (80.3% success rate).

The current Yankee depth chart has Ellsbury slated to be a very expensive fourth outfielder. Brian Cashman has already said Hicks will start the season in center field, Brett Gardner seems anchored in left field and the towering combination of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will patrol right field. There will not be many designated hitter opportunities available either, since Judge/Stanton will likely hold that spot while the other is in right field.

Ellsbury really wants to play out the rest of his contract in New York, where the earliest he can be a free agent is after the 2020 season. He would be 36 at that time, and would certainly be paid the $5 million buyout of his 2021 team option. The Yankees would have to eat a fairly hefty chunk of his salary in order to move him to another team. Plus, Ellsbury has to approve any trade.

Olney: Yankees Interested in Diamondbacks’ Corbin

The Yankees’ search for a starting pitcher has hit the desert, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the Bronx Bombers have checked in with the Arizona Diamondbacks about left-handed pitcher Patrick Corbin in trade talks.

Corbin is just one of many MLB-ready starters that the Yankees are reportedly kicking the tires on. They also have looked into the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole and Detroit Tigers’ RHP Michael Fulmer, per reports.

Reports that the Yankees are interested in Corbin come as a bit of a surprise. His contract, if not extended, has the least control when compared to the other pitchers that the Bombers are connected to. He will be able to become a free agent after the 2019 season, when Cole is controlled until after 2020 and Fulmer until 2023 (if neither signs an extension this offseason).

The lefty had a phenomenal finish to his season. After starting the year with a 6-9 record and 4.71 ERA prior to the All-Star break, he finished the season with a stellar second half. In 15 games (14 starts), Corbin pitched to a 8-4 record and 3.26 ERA to close out the 2017 campaign.

Corbin also has the worst career stats in comparison to the aforementioned Cole and Fulmer:

Corbin 45-47 4.12 651 223 9.6
Cole 59-42 3.50 734 203 15.9
Fulmer 21-19 3.45 246 82 6.6

The Yankees may be attracted to Corbin’s 50 percent ground ball rate from the 2017 season, which was six points higher than the league average of 44 percent. His 2017 rate was a bit of a drop from 2016, where he posted a 54 percent grounder rate. But, as his ground ball rate dropped, his ERA also dropped from 5.15 to 4.03 from 2016 to 2017.

There is also a possibility that the Yankees see a flaw in Corbin’s mechanics that they think their coaching staff could fix. That was reportedly one of the reasons they traded for SS Didi Gregorius, who coincidentally also came from the Diamondbacks.

Trading for Corbin would essentially be betting that second-half Corbin is the real pitcher. Those statistics came in a shorter sample size, and he actually walked more hitters and struck out fewer after the break.

I think the Yankees are simply doing their due diligence in checking in on Corbin. While he showed promise in the second half, he would be too much of a risk in the rotation of a win-now team in the American League East.

TB Times: Yankees Have Checked In on Rays’ Archer, Longoria

As the Yankees look to put finishing touches on their roster for the 2018 season, they have checked in with a division rival on two of their best players. The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reports that the Yankees have reached out to the Tampa Bay Rays to check in on RHP Chris Archer and 3B Evan Longoria.

It’s no secret the Yankees would love another starting pitcher, especially a top-flight arm like Archer. The Yankees also have a hole at third base after trading Chase Headley back to San Diego. Both players would be interesting fits in the Bronx.

Archer would help upgrade the Yankees starting rotation without question. The 29-year-old pitched to a 4.07 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 11.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in a league-leading 34 starts for Tampa Bay. The ERA seems inflated, but his 42.0% ground ball rate would play perfectly in Yankee Stadium. Archer also would join a staff that already has Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, which would mean that he would not have to be the ace. He is owed just $14.08 million guaranteed for the next two seasons, with club options for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Longoria is more of a longshot to become a member of the Yankees. He has been the face of the Rays franchise for years, but 2017 was another year of decline for the 32-year-old. He slashed .261/.313/.424 with 20 home runs, and struck out at a respectable 16.1% rate. Advanced metrics indicate Longoria may have been unlucky, netting just a .282 BABIP rate. Longoria has been a Yankee killer, slashing .273/.347/.494 with 35 home runs and 104 RBIs in 168 games against the Bombers. He can still pick it at third base, checking in with +11 DRS and a +3.2 UZR at the hot corner in 2017. Longoria’s problem is his contract, where he is still owed $81 million guaranteed through the 2022 season. Brian Cashman would have to convince the Rays to eat some of that money before accepting a deal.

As the Yankees aim to get under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million for the 2018 season, they could upgrade their team by trading with Tampa Bay. Chris Archer would fit perfectly, while Evan Longoria would require further maneuvering of contracts (could Cashman salary dump Jacoby Ellsbury on the Rays?). There is no indication that a deal is in the works between the two American League East teams. But, Rays’ general manager Erik Neander has apparently said he “isn’t philosophically opposed to trading with other AL East teams,” per Topkin’s column.

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.

King: Yankees, Pirates Discussing Deal for Gerrit Cole

The Yankees may look to the trade market to fill in a gap in their starting rotation, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. On their radar: the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole.

King reports the Yankees are in contact with the Bucs about a deal that could include OF Clint Frazier and potentially more. King mentions that the Pirates would also look for “a pitcher ready to work in the majors,” which would imply someone like Chance Adams. There is no indication that a deal was close to done.

Cole had a down year for the Pirates, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9. The Yankees would likely try to buy low on Cole, who they drafted No. 28 out of high school in 2008. Cole did not sign, instead opting to pitch at UCLA. He became the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

Frazier has become a bit of an odd-man-out in New York. He was ticketed to take over left field once Brett Gardner‘s contract expired, but the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton made that seem less likely since both Stanton and Aaron Judge may see time in left field. He made his MLB debut July 1, and posted a .231/.268/.448 line with four home runs, 17 RBIs and a 30.3% K-rate to a 4.9% BB-rate.

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Adams is seen as one of the most MLB-ready arms in the Yankees system. Many fans clamored for him to be promoted in 2017 when the Yankees needed starting pitching reinforcements. Split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017, Adams pitched to a 2.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9. His command could use some work, and many think he could profile better as a reliever because he only averaged five innings per outing.

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This deal would allow the Yankees to grab a high quality arm in Cole with hopes that he rebounds toward his All-Star season in 2015. The 27-year-old would not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, like current Yankee RHP Sonny Gray. He would shore up a Yankees rotation that is relying on a big bounce-back season from Masahiro Tanaka, and young arms like Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.

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.

Yankees Re-Sign Erik Kratz

The Yankees added to their catching depth Wednesday, inking veteran Erik Kratz to another minor league deal. There is no word if the deal carries an invite to MLB Spring Training.

Kratz originally came to the Yankees ahead of the postseason roster deadline of Aug. 31. He was added to the 40-man roster because of an injury to the other third-string backstop Kyle Higashioka. Kratz was perfect at the plate, hitting to a 1.000/1.000/1.500 slashline with two RBIs.

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The veteran was not on the postseason roster, though he traveled with the team during the ALDS and ALCS. The Yankees attempted to outright Kratz at the end of the season, but he declined the assignment and became a free agent. Kratz has previously played with the Pirates, Phillies, Blue Jays, Royals and the Astros prior to the Yankees.

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