Hoch: Boone Asked About Using Aaron Judge in Center Field

The Yankees’ outfield in 2018 most likely will be a puzzle that rookie manager Aaron Boone will have to reshuffle day in and day out. That puzzle became a lot more interesting thanks to a report from MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch about 2017 AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.

That report reads:

While Brett Gardner is expected to serve as the Opening Day left fielder, there has been some discussion about having Judge or [Giancarlo] Stanton take reps in left field. Boone also recently asked the Yankees what Judge would look like in center field; Judge was drafted as a center fielder out of Fresno State University but moved to a corner spot as a professional.

Judge in center field certainly would not be an everyday situation, but it makes sense in certain scenarios. When the Yankees play in National League stadiums, it would allow Boone to play both of his gargantuan sluggers rather than being forced to rest one without the designated hitter. It would also allow the Yankees to give Aaron Hicks a breather without moving Gardner or inserting Jacoby Ellsbury into the lineup.

In his first full season, Judge was fantastic in right field. He was +9 in Defensive Runs Saved, and had an Ultimate Zone Rating of +6.1. This performance let him to be named as a finalist for a Gold Glove award in right field, though he eventually lost to the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts.

The 25-year-old has almost exclusively played in a corner-outfield spot since debuting professionally in 2014. He got back at his old position for eight games in 2015, and three in 2016 (all in Triple-A). In that 2016 season, he also started seven games in left field for the RailRiders. Every other professional inning has been spent in right field.

Mike Petrello of MLB.com wrote a piece detailing whether Judge or Stanton should get more repetitions in left field in Spring Training. He concluded that though the job is Gardner’s, Judge’s advantage in age (25 vs. 28) and sprint speed (27.7 ft/sec vs. 27.5 ft/sec) makes him a better fit than Stanton in left.

But, playing center field in the big leagues requires next-level athleticism. Come Spring Training, we may see Judge in center field, but he’ll have to show that he can really handle the position if he expects any playing time there in the regular season.

Kuty: Yankees, Todd Frazier Maintain Mutual Interest; Finances May Complicate Deal

There is still interest between the Yankees and infielder Todd Frazier, according to a report from NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty. He notes that the 31-year-old “has continued to speak with multiple clubs”.

Kuty spoke with two sources that knew of Frazier’s talks with the Yankees:

“The team’s mission to stay beneath the $197-million payroll luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season has kept the sides from speaking much this offseason, according to one of the sources,” Kuty wrote.

Frazier came to the Yankees prior to the trade deadline alongside right-handed relievers Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. Initially viewed by many as a throw-in, he provided a strong clubhouse presence and energy to the already successful Bronx Bombers. He anchored third base defensively, where Fangraphs says he saved 10 runs.

His career has been marked by a lower batting average, but a solid on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The Toms River, New Jersey, native slashed .222/.365/.423 in 66 games after coming to the Bronx. He added 11 home runs and 32 RBIs, and walked at a 14.5% rate. The postseason was not kind to Frazier, however, where he slashed just .186/.255/.302.

The Yankees certainly have a reason to stay in touch with Frazier, even though his desire for a multi-year deal is a difficult obstacle. With no changes to the current roster, the Yankees are looking at filling both second base and third base with young players who have never been full-time MLB starters. Regaining Frazier’s veteran presence would help younger players, while also taking the pressure off of them.

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“At the end of the day, I just want to play baseball. I would love to play for the Yankees. I would love to play for any team,” Frazier said to Kuty Dec. 16. “Like I said, we’ve been talking. My agency has been doing a heck of a job talking to a lot of teams for me. We’ve got a lot of great talks and hopefully at the end, something comes to fruition soon.”

Frazier, who has experience at first base, second base, shortstop, left field and right field also, indicated that he was willing to suit up at another position to help a team win. He was ranked as the No. 17 free agent by MLBTradeRumors, and predicted he would sign a three-year, $33 million deal with the New York Mets.

If his market does not develop for some reason, Frazier fits perfectly in the Bronx on a one-year deal. His veteran presence and willingness to play all over the diamond would be invaluable to the youthful Yankees squad.

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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:

AVG HR RBI OPS fWAR
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.

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:

W-L ERA K BB fWAR
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.

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