The offseason news cycle is starting to get underway for the Yankees after their disappointing ouster from the playoffs at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. The 2018–19 offseason is one that Yankee fans have been anticipating for years, ...
The Yankees have received one prospect back after losing him in the Rule 5 draft, as the Atlanta Braves returned right-hander pitcher Anyelo Gómez to the Yankees Tuesday. The Yankees assigned Gómez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Gómez began 2017 all the way down in Class-A Charleston, before working his way up to one appearance in September with the RailRiders. He had a 5-3 record, a stellar 1.92 ERA and dominating 11.1 strikeouts-per-9 rate. He put up those numbers in 38 games, with just one start (with Double-A Trenton).
The Braves were looking to use Gómez in the front-end of their bullpen. He struggled in seven Spring Training appearances, however, posting a 10.80 ERA in 8⅓ innings for the Braves. He allowed more than a hit per inning, and his walk rate was nearly 63% higher than in 2017.
The Yankees still have three other players who were taken in the Rule 5 draft who are vying to make their respective big league clubs: left-handed pitcher Néstor Cortés (Orioles), right-handed pitcher José Mesa (Orioles) and first baseman Mike Ford (Mariners).
If these players do not make the 25-man roster or open the season on the disabled list, they must be offered back to the Yankees. Otherwise, they must spend the entire season in the major leagues for the team to gain the ability to send them to the minor leagues.
One such example is catcher Luis Torrens, who was taken by the Cincinnati Reds and then traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2017 season. The Padres kept Torrens through an understandably awful .163/.243/.203 line in 56 games before optioning him to the Double-A San Antonio Missions March 14.
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.
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.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Jacoby Ellsbury is injured. Reported March 2 as a “mild oblique strain,” the 34-year-old outfielder has not played since March 1 at the Philadelphia Phillies because of the nagging injury.
Ellsbury was 1-for-10 in four Spring Training games before suffering the injury. He missed 29 games in 2017 because of a concussion suffered May 24 at Yankee Stadium. He was hitting .281/.349/.422 at the time of the injury, but finished the season with a .264/.348/.402 line.
With the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the ascendance of Aaron Hicks in the eyes of the Yankees, Ellsbury looked to be the team’s fifth outfielder in 2018.
The Yankees have not decided whether to fill Ellsbury’s roster spot with another bench player or a 13th pitcher. Aaron Boone mentioned Luis Cessa, Domingo Germán, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder as potential candidates if the Yankees decided to go with a 13th pitcher.
The additional bench spot could go to someone like Tyler Austin, who has had a fantastic spring but has no clear path to playing time. Austin was looking to break camp as the team’s backup first baseman, but the signing of Neil Walker cut those chances significantly.
Boone mentioned that the Yankees would not necessarily take another outfielder if Ellsbury is on the disabled list, which would also harm Billy McKinney‘s chances of heading north with the Yankees.
Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reported Monday that Boone will have the team’s 25-man roster for the opening series against the Blue Jays in Toronto set for the team’s March 26 exhibition game against the Braves in Atlanta.
The Yankees sent two Top 10 prospects down to minor league camp Sunday, as No. 4 third baseman Miguel Andújar and No. 2 outfielder Estevan Florial were reassigned to minor league camp.
Andújar, who is a member of the 40-man roster, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Prior to the Yankees’ trade for Brandon Drury, Andújar was the local favorite to break camp as the team’s third baseman. He is currently tied with outfielder Billy McKinney for the team lead in home runs this spring with four. He slashed .262/.273/.643 in 14 games prior to his demotion. The knock on Andújar is his defense, where his scouting report says “he still needs to polish some rough edges”.
Interestingly enough, the Yankees decided to expand Andújar’s defensive portfolio by having him play first base now that he is in minor league camp.
Florial, who is not Rule 5 Draft eligible until December 2019, was simply reassigned to minor league camp. He will likely open the season with Class-A Advanced Tampa or Double-A Trenton. The speedy outfielder impressed with his maturity for a player who just turned 20 this past November. He slashed .231/.333/.462 with three triples, three RBIs and two stolen bases in his 18 games in big league camp.
The Yankees are looking for Florial to work on making more consistent contact, given that he struck out at a 31% rate in the low minors last season. He has a plus arm, and the speed to stick in center field.
Jake Cave has found a new home in Minnesota, as the Yankees dealt him to the Twins for pitcher Luis Gil Friday. Cave had been designated for assignment March 12 to clear a 40-man roster spot for newly-signed infielder Neil Walker.
Cave found himself on the chopping block after a strong 2017 in the minors because of the Yankees’ outfield depth. He put up career highs in home runs (20) and RBIs (56), while slashing .305/.351/.542 in 103 games between Double-A and Triple-A. The 25-year-old, who is capable of playing all three outfield positions, was hitting just .158/.304/.211 through 10 games with the big league club in Spring Training.
The Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton and the emergence of Billy McKinney in Spring Training made Cave expendable. While the Yankees’ next true center fielder, Estevan Florial, is still a few years from the Bronx, they were clearly comfortable dealing Cave because of their belief in the upside of Aaron Hicks and in the consistency of Brett Gardner to back him up.
The return for the Yankees is 19-year-old right-hander Luis Gil. Gil signed with the Twins in 2015, and pitched for their Dominican Summer League team in 2015 and 2017. It is unclear why he did not pitch in 2016. Between those two seasons, Gil posted a 3.32 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 30 games (14 starts).
Gil is the second pitcher the Yankees have acquired with only Dominican Summer League experience under their belt. The Bombers traded Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners in November 2017 during their 40-man roster crunch for RHP Juan Then, who is now ranked as the Yankees’ No. 25 prospect.
The Twins designated 1B/DH Kennys Vargas for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Cave. Vargas was out of options, while Cave still has three remaining. Cave likely begins the season with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
After coming into MLB camp as a highly regarded non-roster invitee, No. 6 prospect Chance Adams was reassigned to minor league camp Thursday after giving up six earned runs in just 4⅔ innings pitched.
“It hasn’t been too great of a spring for me,” Adams said, per Bryan Hoch. “Just got to let it go, and I have to get better as the season goes on. Nothing really happens too good if you just dwell on what happens. Just got to be focused on the future and let the past go.”
Adams had a fantastic year in 2017 with both Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting an overall 15-5 record and 2.45 ERA in 27 total starts. The former college reliever has the upside to become a No. 3 starter, but needs to focus on harnessing his fastball command, per MLB Pipeline.
The 23-year-old’s time in camp ended with an unpleasant 11.57 ERA, with hitters batting .474 against him. Adams will now focus on returning to the RailRiders rotation in Triple-A, and being prepared if there is a need in the big league rotation or bullpen due to injury.
Many clamored for Adams to make his debut last season amid injury- and performance-related uncertainty in the Yankees’ rotation. The midseason acquisitions of Jaime García and Sonny Gray allowed the Yankees to keep Adams in the minors, however.
While the Yankees’ starting rotation may seem settled for the 2018 season, one baseball source told Newsday’s Anthony Rieber that the Yankees are continuing to monitor the market of right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb.
Rieber said that Cobb would fit with the Yankees “if his price drops enough and the Yankees can continue their quest to stay under the luxury-tax threshold”. He then cited the Yankees’ signing of Neil Walker to a $4 million one-year deal as an example of how low Cobb’s market would have to go for him to fit under the $197 million luxury tax number.
Cobb is the best starting pitcher remaining on the market after a remarkably cold offseason for players expecting high-value contracts. Lance Lynn recently agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, while Jake Arrieta inked a three-year, $75 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The issue with Cobb is that he declined the qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Yankees would have to “lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool” because the Yankees exceeded the luxury tax threshold in 2017.
The righty fits with the Yankees because he is a ground ball pitcher. In 2017, batters had a 47.8% ground ball rate against Cobb. That number, however, is a significant drop from Cobb’s last full season in the big leagues. Cobb had a 56.2% ground ball rate in 2014. Injuries prevented him from pitching in 2015 and he only made 13 starts (including rehab appearances) in 2016.
Behind incumbent fifth starter Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees do not have much starting pitching depth that is MLB-ready. Domingo Germán has impressed so far in Spring Training, and Aaron Boone mentioned him in the same sentence as Luis Cessa, Chance Adams and David Hale as potential sixth starters. The Yankees do not yet believe that Justus Sheffield or Domingo Acevedo are able to fill in just yet.
Adding Cobb would create an interesting situation in the Yankee rotation. The team could, conceivably, use an option year on Montgomery and have him spot start with the big league club to limit his innings and provide starting depth. But, you’re keeping an effective lefty starter who had a promising rookie year in the minors for part of the season to allow Cobb, who pitched his first full season since 2014 last year, to have a full-time rotation spot.
With the draft pick compensation and the fact that the Yankees have five starters already, I think adding Alex Cobb would create more headaches for the team than is necessary.