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 BeltrĂĄn
    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 BeltrĂĄn, 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 AndĂșjar *
  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 SĂĄnchez 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 SĂĄnchez 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 Maitån, 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.

Heyman: Yankees, Marlins Have Discussed Giancarlo Stanton

The Yankees and Miami Marlins have reportedly had discussions regarding a trade that would send the 6′ 6″, 245-pound OF Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The article from Heyman is a really interesting read simply because Stanton is such a dynamic and expensive player. The 2017 NL MVP hit .281/.376/.631 (156 wRC+) with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs in his age-28 season with the Marlins. Stanton is signed through 2027 (can opt out after 2020) with a club option for the 2028 season. He has $295 million due from 2018 onwards.

There is an obvious appeal to adding another power bat to the Yankees lineup. Pair Stanton with the likes of Aaron Judge and Gary SĂĄnchez and you have an impressively scary lineup. But, the Yankees are looking to get under the luxury tax threshold this offseason, and taking on Stanton’s salary would make that difficult.

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Heyman mentions that the Yankees would have to unload Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley and maybe even longest-tenured Bomber Brett Gardner to offset the cost of Stanton. With Jake Cave, Clint Frazier and Billy McKinney on the 40-man roster they would be able to offset the trades of Ellsbury and Gardner. Stanton would presumably start in left field since I would avoid moving Judge. Trading Headley would ensure that either Miguel AndĂșjar or Gleyber Torres would start the season at third base.

As good as this deal sounds, I do not think it’s worth it for the Yankees. They are better off keeping their veterans and letting other teams overpay for Stanton. The Marlins want whoever takes Stanton to pay the majority of his contract (Jon Morosi reported today that the Marlins would accept the Giants paying “at least $250 million of the $295 million left”).

Of course, these teams have already linked up on a trade this offseason. The Yankees traded 1B Garrett Cooper and LHP Caleb Smith to the Marlins in exchange for Michael King and international signing bonus pool money ahead of the 40-man roster deadline. The other connection is that the Marlins’ CEO is former Yankees SS Derek Jeter, and the Vice President of Player Development and Scouting is former Yankee Gary Denbo.

The Yankees are better off letting Gardner and Headley play out their contracts, trying to dump Ellsbury to free up a roster spot. Then, once their luxury tax number resets, they can go all-out on a free agency class that includes Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

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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 AndĂșjar (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 BeltrĂĄn Will Interview for Yankees Manager Job Wednesday

Well, it seems Carlos BeltrĂĄn 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.

Beltrån 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 BeltrĂĄn 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,” BeltrĂĄn 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, BeltrĂĄn 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. BeltrĂĄn 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 BeltrĂĄn 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 BeltrĂĄn 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.

Tyler Austin’s Last Stand

At age-26, and ranked as the team’s No. 14 prospect, Tyler Austin may be running out of opportunities in the Bronx.

Austin was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft, and debuted in 2016 (hitting the first of back-to-back home runs with Aaron Judge). He came up as part of the youth movement that captivated the league once the Yankees decided to become sellers at the deadline. Greg Bird was hurt, Mark Teixeira was retiring and Austin had his best chance to nail down the job.

He seemed primed to compete with the returning Bird for the starting first base job in Spring Training. Disaster struck next. On Feb. 17, 2017, Austin fractured the navicular area of his left foot, and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Yankees then signed veteran Chris Carter to a 1-year deal, and we know how well that turned out.

Austin dropped deep on the first base depth chart while injured. It took the team three weeks to promote him after his rehab assignment ended. His stock dropped so much that Carter and Matt Holliday started over him in those three weeks.

Despite hitting .300 after his rehab assignment ended, Austin struggled to a .154/.200/.385 line in four games before injuring his right hamstring. He missed a month, and found himself back in the minor leagues because the Yankees acquired Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers. Cooper himself got hurt in August, and Austin returned.

He homered against Boston’s Chris Sale August 19, which endeared him to Yankees fans again. But, his future became uncertain after the 2017 season ended. The Yankees could have traded him to open an important 40-man roster spot for a younger player. But, they decided to trade Cooper instead. Austin’s defensive versatility and career .361/.432/.722 against left-handed pitching most likely extended his Yankee tenure.

Now, Austin has full control of his own destiny. With games at first base, third base, left field and right field on his résumé, he will be competing with Chase Headley to be a backup corner infielder and right-handed platoon bat. Austin has a better defensive reputation than Headley, and the former can play at more positions. But, Headley is owed $13 million in 2018, and Austin has one more minor league option remaining.

It feels like Austin will have to wow his way onto the Yankees 2018 roster. His spot on the roster will rely on strong defense and good at-bats against left-handers. If he cannot do that, then we will not see much of him in the Bronx

 

MLB, MLBPA, NPB Agree on New 3-Year Posting Agreement

After much drama and a 24-hour extension, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Player’s Association and Nippon Professional Baseball finally reached a deal today on a new posting agreement.

Major League Baseball owners will vote to ratify the agreement next Friday, and players can be posted as soon as the deal is ratified. Per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, the vote to ratify “is expected to be a formality”.

The agreement will grandfather the two players who will be posted this offseason (Shohei Ohtani and Kazuhisa Makita). Their parent clubs, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Saitama Seibu Lions respectively, will receive up to a $20 million posting fee from the MLB club that signs their player.

The changes will take effect during the 2018-19 offseason. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Japanese clubs will no longer receive a flat posting fee from MLB teams when a player is signed. NPB teams will instead receive a percentage of the player’s deal based on the deal’s total value:

  • Minor league contract: 25 percent
  • Less than $25 million: 20 percent
  • Between $25 million and $50 million: 17Âœ percent
  • $50 million and above: 15 percent

Sherman also reported that players can only be posted from Nov. 1 to Dec. 5 , and must sign with a team within 30 days of being posted in the new agreement. NPB teams are unable to pull a player back once posted in the new agreement since they now receive a guaranteed percentage of their player’s new contract in America.

Ohtani and Makita could sign with a team as soon as Dec. 1.

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