Yankees Claim Hanser Alberto Off Waivers From Texas

The 26-year-old joins the Yanks as infield depth.

The Rangers tried to sneak out-of-options infielder Hanser Alberto through outright waivers, but failed as the Yankees pounced with a waiver claim on the 26-year-old. Alberto is hitting .381/.435/.548 in his first 11 games for the Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican Winter League.

In parts of three seasons with the Rangers, Alberto hit .192/.210/.231 (9 wRC+) with defensive appearances at all four infield positions. It’s an ugly stat-line, but he did manage to hit .330/.346/.452 (106 wRC+) with seven homers and 58 RBIs for Triple-A Round Rock Express in 2018.

This move adds infield depth to the Yankees on the heels of Didi Gregorius‘s recent Tommy John surgery. Alberto is regarded as a strong defender, relatively young and cheap. I have a feeling the Yankees will try to sneak Alberto through outright waivers between now and the beginning of Spring Training. The team could use some veteran infield depth in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

At Triple-A, the Yankees are at risk of losing Rey Navarro and Gio Urshela to minor league free agency. Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres appear to be anchored in the major leagues, and Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade appear to have the inside track for bench roles in the big leagues. If Alberto does make it through the winter in the Yankees organization, he’ll compete for the utility infield bench spot and for a starting role with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Alberto has been added to the Yankees 40-man roster, which now sits at 37 players.

Baseball America Ranks Yankees Top 10 Prospects

Could be a few future Baby Bombers on this list.

The Yankees are using the off-season to plan for 2019 and beyond as they look to contend for their 28 World Series title (and hopefully more) over the next couple of years. Baseball America (subscription required) has unveiled their list of the top 10 prospects in the Yankee system who will help the team bring some more titles to the Bronx.

Here’s the list:

All scouting grades and arrival projections via MLB.com. Asterisk indicates 40-man roster player.

1. LHP Justus Sheffield*
  • Drafted: 2014, 1st (31) – CLE | Traded to NYY in July 2016
  • 2018 stats: 7-6, 2.48 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 (MiLB) | 0-0, 10.12 ERA, 0.0 K/9, 10.1 BB/9 (MLB)
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2018
2. OF Estevan Florial
  • Signed: March 19, 2015 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: .283/.377/.422, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 48 BB, 92 K
  • Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 70 | Arm: 65 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2020
3. RHP Jonathan Loáisiga*
  • Signed: Sept. 13, 2012 – SF | Feb. 2016 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: 6-1, 2.89 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 (MiLB) | 2-0, 5.11 ERA, 12.0 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 (MLB)
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2018
4. OF Everson Pereira
  • Signed: July 2, 2017 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: .263/.322/.389, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 15 BB, 60 K
  • Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2022
5. C Anthony Seigler
  • Drafted: 2018, 1st (23) – NYY
  • 2018 stats: .266/.379/.342, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 14 BB, 12 K
  • Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2022
6. RHP Mike King
  • Drafted: 2016, 12th (353) – MIA | Traded to NYY in Nov. 2017
  • 2018 stats: 11-5, 1.79 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2019
7. RHP Deivi García
  • Signed: July 2, 2015 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: 5-4, 2.55 ERA, 12.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2021
8. RHP Roansy Contreras
  • Signed: July 2, 2016 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: 0-2, 2.42 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2022
9. OF Antonio Cabello
  • Signed: Dec. 22, 2017 – NYY
  • 2018 stats: .308/.427/.522, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 27 BB, 40 K
  • Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 65 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2022
10. RHP Albert Abreu*
  • Signed: Aug. 5, 2013 – HOU | Traded to NYY in Nov. 2016
  • 2018 stats: 4-6, 5.20 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 4.0 BB/9
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
  • Projected arrival in MLB: 2019

Ellsbury, Frazier, Heller, Montgomery Activated From 60-Day DL

The Yankees quietly activated OF Jacoby Ellsbury, OF Clint Frazier, RHP Ben Heller and LHP Jordan Montgomery from the 60-day disabled list one day ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline Thursday. The Yankees 40-man roster now stands at 36.

Ellsbury went through an extensive list of injuries in Spring Training, and never took the field for the Yankees in the regular season. On August 6, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Frazier was limited to 283 plate appearances from High-A, Triple-A and the MLB because of multiple concussions. He hit .265/.390/.353 (113 wRC+) in 15 big league games in 2018. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Heller underwent Tommy John surgery April 6 and missed the entire 2018 season. In 19 MLB games with the Yankees in 2016 and 2017, the righty was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. By all accounts, he should be ready for Spring Training in 2019.

Montgomery made six starts for the Yankees in 2018 before he, too, required Tommy John surgery. He was 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA before disaster struck. He’s expected to return at some point towards the end of the 2019 season.

Yankees Agree With Brett Gardner on One-Year, $7.5 Million Deal After Declining Option

The longest-tenured Yankee will be back in pinstripes in 2019.

The longest-tenured member of the Yankees will be back in pinstripes for 2019, as the team announced they have agreed to terms with Brett Gardner after declining his $12.5 million club option for the 2019 season. He will be paid a $2 million buyout since the team declined his option.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect at the end of the season,” Gardner told MLB.com, “but being able to come back and rejoin this special group of guys we have in place, continue my career in a Yankees uniform — and hopefully finish it in a Yankees uniform — it means a great deal to me.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported on Twitter that Gardner will earn $7.5 million in 2019. At the moment, it is unclear if he will earn any incentives for playing time or other milestones. The 35-year-old hit .236/.322/.368 (90 wRC+) with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in the final guaranteed year of the contract he signed with the Yankees in 2014. He saw his playing time shrink down the stretch as he fatigued yet again in the second half as the team swung a last-minute trade for Andrew McCutchen from the San Francisco Giants.

Gardner went 0-for-8 with three walks in five postseason games for the Yankees in 2018. He started in center field for Game 2 and Game 3 of the American League Division Series against Boston.

Gardner technically will get $9.5 million because of the buyout, but the team will only face a $7.5 million luxury tax hit because the buyout quantity was guaranteed to be paid from the last contract. Therefore, it was in the average annual value of the old contract as a sunken cost.

With free agency beginning in earnest Friday evening, it’s important to look at Gardner’s role for the 2019 season. I get the feeling that he won’t be a full-time player. Gardner’s abilities as a defender, baserunner and veteran leader can certainly help this team be better next year. Aaron Boone can also manage his workload to avoid the second-half burn out that we often see from him.

“We have some unfinished business. It was tough to sit back and watch the rest of the postseason this year,” Gardner said to MLB.com. “It was a great learning experience for us. We have a young team and had a great season, but we came up short of our goal.”

The most important part of this move is that it reinforces the once formidable outfield depth in New York. The 2018 Yankees got outfield appearances from Jace Peterson, Shane Robinson, Tyler Wade and Neil Walker because of injuries and trades. The team really can’t rely on Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier because of their injury histories. Top prospect outfielder Estevan Florial needs more development, and depth guys like Ryan McBroom, Mark Payton and Zack Zehner probably aren’t options yet. Who does that leave? Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. That’s a pretty solid starting outfield.

But, then again, the Yankees had a similar situation in 2017 and swung a trade for Stanton. This team could still go out and make a big splash for someone like Michael Brantley or Bryce Harper. Point is, the Yankees got caught with their pants down when all of their outfield depth suddenly dried up in 2018. I think this is a smart baseball move for a team with more additions to make before Spring Training opens in February.

Hot Stove Notes: Gardner, Harper, Machado, Robertson

Our first round of Hot Stove Hot Takes are here.

With the World Series (painfully) behind us, free agency and Hot Stove are both officially underway. As of 9 a.m. yesterday, all players eligible for free agency are officially on the market. Players can only negotiate with their old team until Friday at 5 p.m. before the real madness starts. Teams must also decide whether they will extend the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to those eligible free agents by that same deadline. Those that get offered the qualifying offer will get 10 days (until November 12) to decide whether they will accept or decline. Teams that sign a player who declined the qualifying offer receive compensation in the form of draft picks and/or international bonus pool money from that player’s new team.

It’s been one day, and there’s already some headlines swirling around Yankees Universe:

  • The Yankees have until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to determine the fate of Brett Gardner and his club option for the 2019 season. The team will either pay $12.5 million to pick him up for 2019, or decline the option and pay him a $2 million buyout. “I’d love to come back here, man,” Gardner said after the season-ending loss to Boston in the ALDS. “I’ve been here for a long time. My agent [Joe Bick] and I have a great relationship with Cash and the rest of the front office. I’m sure when the time is right, we’ll sit down and talk about that.” The 35-year-old saw his offensive production drop to a .236/.322/.368 (90 wRC+) line but also proved he can still play elite outfield defense. If I had to guess, I think the Yankees decline the option but look to retain Gardner as the team’s fourth outfielder.
  • The Bryce Harper headlines are here, folks. Andy Martino of SNY reported the Yankees are “not expected to pursue free agent Bryce Harper” because “The early feeling is that Harper simply doesn’t fit”. On the surface, that seems to torpedo the offseason plan of backing up a dump-truck for Harper and Manny Machado (more on him to come). But, remember what I wrote above. The Yankees would be clearly tampering if they expressed interest in Harper during the exclusive negotiation period. Also, it would kill the Yankees’ negotiating leverage to come out for Harper this early. This reminds me of how Cashman handled Johnny Damon‘s free agency in 2005: where he claimed Bubba Crosby would start in center field… until he didn’t.
  • Now, to the Manny Machado news. Also from SNY’s Martino, the Yankees are apparently “lukewarm” on the idea of a Machado pursuit. The optics and results of Machado’s postseason apparently “cost him some enthusiasm in the offices at Yankee Stadium,” per the report. I can see how that would be true, especially since Machado clearly cleated multiple first basemen on purpose and was called a “dirty player” by multiple players and analysts throughout the playoffs. As with Harper, this is some early-offseason posturing for a team that’s not even allowed to negotiate with the player in question. With Didi Gregorius slated to miss most of next season, I think the Yankees are going to have significant interest in Machado. But, this is a business based on negotiation and Cashman has to play his cards properly.
  • David Robertson, who officially became a free agent yesterday, wrote a short guest post for MLB Trade Rumors about his decision to represent himself without an agent during his second foray into free agency. Namely, he decided he knew his desires for a contract best and also indicated the decision did not stem from a disagreement with his agent. The whole statement is definitely worth a read.

Boras: Ellsbury Will Be Healthy to Start 2019

Can the 35-year-old STAY healthy for 162 games?

Jacoby Ellsbury collected $21.1 million during the 2018 season despite not suiting up past a March 24 Spring Training matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays. Injuries cost him the entire season, and he lost a chance to provide value when the Yankees’ seemingly formidable outfield depth suddenly disappeared from the organization.

With a nagging oblique issue and August 7 hip surgery behind him, Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, told George A. King III of the New York Post that the 35-year-old has his eyes set on Tampa.

“He got the right doctor and the right surgery, and I fully expect him to be ready [for spring training],” Boras said before Game 3 of the World Series, per King.

Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees in the 2013 offseason and has hit .264/.330/.386 with 39 home runs and 198 RBI in 520 games across four seasons. If you include missing all of the 2018 regular season, Ellsbury has missed 290 of a possible 810 games since signing in New York. That would be a .358 batting average, but unfortunately that’s not the metric we’re looking at. Missing 36% of your team’s games is just ridiculous for the amount of money he’s being paid.

Ellsbury suffered a concussion May 24, 2017, that setback his season and allowed Aaron Hicks to take over the starting job in center field. Ellsbury’s spot with the Yankees relies on his health in 2019, and the Yankees’ decision with Brett Gardner. Gardner has a pending $12.5 million club option, or $2 million buyout for the 2019 season.

With everyone assumed healthy coming into 2019, the outfield picture will feature Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Gardner (I think the Yanks decline his option, and bring him back for cheaper), Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

I would imagine Hicks, Judge and Stanton maintain their spots in the outfield/designated hitter rotation from last season. That leaves left field and the fourth outfield spot open to competition, and also assumes the Yankees make no significant offseason moves. Bryce Harper is the sexiest pick to fill the left field spot, though there are also rumblings of a position change for Miguel Andújar that would allow Manny Machado to fit into the puzzle as well.

What’s the simplest thing Ellsbury can do? Show up in Tampa in great shape, and stay healthy in order to help the team. He’s owed a little over $47.2 million through 2021 (assuming the Yankees buy him out), and the Yankees would love to squeeze some value out of him.

Nightengale: Yanks ‘Front-Runners’ for Manny Machado

We’re only two games into the World Series, and the Yankees have already been connected to one of the marquee free agents who is currently suiting up for the Los Angeles Dodgers: shortstop Manny Machado.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Yankees are apparently the “front runners” to land the star shortstop. He also noted the Philadelphia Phillies will be interested and that the Dodgers are likely uninterested in resigning the infielder.

Machado was the premiere rental option on the trade market in July, and the Yankees tried their best to pry the star infielder away from the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles settled for a six-player package from the Dodgers promptly after Machado made his last appearance in an Orioles uniform at the 2018 All-Star Game.

The 26-year-old slid into the spot vacated by the injured Corey Seager, and hit .273/.338/.487 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI over the final 66 games of the regular season. Despite declaring his intention to only appear at shortstop in the 2018 season, he also started 16 games at third base for the Dodgers.

There has been a lot of talk about Machado’s on-field demeanor, but Nightengale says the Yankees are still willing to put up “at least $300 million for the mercurial star”.  A pursuit of Machado made plenty of sense at the 2018 Trade Deadline, when the Yankees looked to supplement an already powerful lineup. Now, with Didi Gregorius slated to miss significant time with Tommy John surgery, Machado could slot in at his preferred position and cost the Yankees nothing but money (albeit a lot of money).

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