The Yankees added more lefty bullpen depth, signing Danny Coulombe to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training. It’s unclear what the finances of Coulombe’s deal entail.
The 29-year-old debuted for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-game stint in 2014, then was sold to the Oakland Athletics in 2015. In four years for Oakland, he pitched to a 4.06 ERA in 130⅔ innings. Coulombe has held lefties to a .631 OPS in his career, which is solid for a lefty specialist.
The real interesting thing here is that the lefty has already pitched to the Yankees anti-fastball approach, and that could be one of the reasons the Yankees brought him in for a look in Tampa. Coulombe relies on 4 pitches: Slider (36.8%), Curve (28.9%), Four Seamer (19.5%) and Sinker (14.7%). That combination has not exactly yielded the best results, but the Yanks have very little risk bringing him in on a minor-league contract.
Coulombe, at this point, has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees added pitching depth Monday, as they inked lefty Rex Brothers to a minor-league contract that presumably includes an invitation to major league Spring Training, according to Fancred‘s Jon Heyman.
Brothers has a volatile combination of a huge velocity spike combined with a lack of command. He’s averaged 96.6 mph with his fastball and peaked just above 98 mph when he made one appearance for the Braves in 2018. Brothers, in fact, has seen his average fastball velocity creep up during each of the last few seasons.
But, the lack of command for Brothers is also impressive, having walked 9.7 per nine in 40⅔ innings between Double-A and Triple-A in the Atlanta organization. His most recent productive full season in the big leagues came in 2013 for Colorado, where he made 72 appearances and saved 19 games for the Rockies.
This is a classic low-risk, high-reward minor-league signing for the Yankees. If they can figure out how to guide Brothers’ great stuff more consistently into the strike zone, they could stumble upon an impressive reliever. At 31, he could still contribute some meaningful innings should his command issues be ironed out. In the end, however, Brothers most likely is a Triple-A depth arm to keep the young guys in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre from getting overworked. But, the Yankees pitching coaches are holding out hope he could still be special out of the Yankees bullpen.
Brothers likely will compete with Stephen Tarpley and some other yet-to-be-signed veteran lefty for the non-Aroldis Chapman lefty role out of the bullpen. We’ll see how well Brothers does once Grapefruit League action commences.
As was reported Dec. 12, the Yankees announced today that they signed veteran lefty J.A. Happ to a two-year, $34 million contract that includes a club option for 2021. That club option, worth $17 million, will vest and become guaranteed should Happ make 27 starts or throw 165 innings in 2020.
Of course, making that signing official required the Yankees to open up a 40-man roster spot to accommodate Happ. The team designated for assignment righty Parker Bridwell, who had been claimed off waivers earlier this offseason.
Bridwell made just five appearances in the major leagues, allowing 13 earned runs in just 6⅔ innings of work (17.55 ERA). Happ, on the other hand, made 11 starts for the Yankees to a 2.69 ERA and the team won nine of those 11 starts.
With no 40-man roster spot open, it’s clear that the Yankees were comfortable being spectators during the MLB portion of the Rule five draft from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
The Yankees lost one player in the MLB portion, Lost another five in the minor-league portion, picked one in the minor-league portion and then acquired another in a small trade with the Detroit Tigers. Here’s the recap:
RHP Nick Green
- Acquired by Yankees in 2016 Carlos Beltrán trade.
- Between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton (23 starts):
- 8-7, 3.32 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 1.357 WHIP
- Taken by Diamondbacks with the 12th overall pick.
The Diamondbacks must keep Green on the active roster for the entirety of the season or offer him back to the Yankees once he clears waivers.
- RHP Adonis De la Cruz (from SEA – Double-A Arkansas Travelers)
- 3-4, 4.71 ERA (2.80 FIP), 11.77 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, 1.27 WHIP in 34 games with Low-A West Virginia
Acquired via Trade:
- OF Tyler Hill (Selected by DET from BOS – Double-A Portland Sea Dogs)
- .254/.348/.312 (95 wRC+), 1 HR, 38 RBI, 27 SB in 124 games with A-Adv. Salem Red Sox
- C Chris Rabago (to KC)
- .071/.133/.071 (-43 wRC+), 0 HR/RBI in 7 games with Double-A Trenton
- RHP Gilmael Troya (to PHI)
- 2-0, 1.63 ERA (2.88 FIP), 12.80 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 1.11 WHIP in 15 games with Advanced Rookie Pulaski
- RHP Anyelo Gomez (to BOS)
- 0-1, 2.45 ERA (4.15 FIP), 9.82 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 1.36 WHIP in 7 games with Triple-A SWB
- OF Mark Payton (to OAK)
- .259/.368/.401 (120 wRC+), 6 HR, 25 RBI in 62 games with Triple-A SWB
- RHP Alexander Vargas (to CHC)
- 0-0, 2.25 ERA (3.45 FIP), 7.88 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 1.25 WHIP in 2 games with Triple-A SWB
The 2019 New York Yankees starting rotation is starting to come into focus, as the team has agreed with veteran left-hander J.A. Happ on a two-year, $34-million deal that would bring him back to the Bronx. The deal also contains a vesting option for the 2021 season based on innings pitched.
Happ came to the Yankees in exchange for infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline. He pitched lights-out for 11 starts in pinstripes, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA (4.21 FIP) as the team captured their second consecutive home-field spot in the Wild Card game.
“He was a performer; took the ball every five days,” Cashman said. “He was a competitor, came as advertised, a real pro. He had a veteran presence within that clubhouse, knew exactly what was necessary and brought it every five days in the most competitive division in all of baseball and the world. He checks all the boxes on that side of it.”
The playoffs were a different animal, though. Happ made just one start, lasting two innings and allowing five earned runs in Game 1 of the American League Division Series in Boston. The big blow in that game was a three-run home run by J.D. Martinez.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic had reported earlier in the day that the two sides were in agreement on a deal with three guaranteed years, though he walked that report back to say they were simply gaining momentum.
Happ had also been courted by the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, both teams he has pitched for in the past. The Phillies were hesitant to give Happ more than two guaranteed years, and it appears his recent familiarity with the Bronx plus the prospect of the vesting option prompted his return.
The Yankees may not be done in their pursuit of a starting pitcher, as injuries and ineffectiveness typically rear their ugly heads over the course of a 162-game season. They learned that the hard way when Jordan Montgomery went down for 18 months after just six starts because of Tommy John surgery in 2018.
The team wound up getting 24 starts from Chance Adams, Luis Cessa, Domingo Germán and Jonathan Loáisiga combined, and the team went 12-12 in those games. Sonny Gray, who was acquired to anchor the top of the rotation, started in 12 Yankees losses and was demoted to the bullpen in favor of Lance Lynn after August 1.
“It doesn’t mean we would be out of the market altogether. Obviously the Paxton acquisition gave us the ability to be a lot more disciplined and patient,” Cashman said. “If we pull down another one it will put us in a much stronger position to feel better about the rotation. But that doesn’t preclude us to being open-minded about any options that develop over time.”
With the acquisition of James Paxton and agreement with Happ, the Yankees find their starting rotation in exponentially better shape than last year.
Just as most on the East Coast were winding down for the night, baseball’s Hot Stove heated up in a huge way from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees, Mets and Marlins had discussed a three-way deal where the Mets would acquire star catcher J.T. Realmuto from Miami, and in turn would send a starting pitcher like Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx.
Nothing was imminent, and SNY’s Andy Martino did report “there are ’10 other scenarios’ Mets are considering” in a trade for Realmuto. The Mets have been especially active on the trade market, and have been looking to upgrade the catcher position for a while now. Should they be unable to land Realmuto, they’re expected to pivot to free-agent Yasmani Grandal.
Jon Heyman of Fancred was the first to suggest that the Yankees, who insisted Gary Sánchez was their catcher for 2019, were connected to Realmuto for the sake of facilitating a three-way trade. The obvious advantage for the Yankees would be the chance to acquire a marquee starter like Syndergaard at a slight discount should they assist with the acquisition of Realmuto.
Martino also noted that the Yankees were “interested in Mets pitching, not necessarily limited to Syndergaard”. Other appealing pitchers include Jacob deGrom (of course, that’s unlikely), Steven Matz (under control for years but often injured) and Zack Wheeler (rental). The only named mentioned by reporters last night was that of Syndergaard, though the Yankees had scouted Wheeler at the 2018 Trade Deadline.
I’d expect the Yankees top chips like Miguel Andújar, Estevan Florial and more to be on the table if someone of Syndergaard’s quality is being discussed. Andújar is only being moved for someone that good. If talks were to pivot to someone like Matz or Wheeler, I’d be taking both Andújar and Florial off the table. Max Wildstein of Gotham Sports Network mentioned Chance Adams, Clint Frazier, Sonny Gray, Mike King and Jonathan Loáisiga as possibilities to be moved.
Martino said the Yankees were “pushing hard” to make a deal, though it’s unclear where the three teams left talks. The push for Realmuto will be intense, and it’s unclear if the Mets (and the three-team scenario with the Yankees) is the package they’ll accept.
The prizes of the 2018–19 free agent class have been connected to the New York Yankees for what feels like an eternity. But, according to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, only one of them is a fit in the Bronx: infielder Manny Machado.
“At no time all winter have I said that I’m looking for an outfielder,” Cashman told reporters from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. “The [Bryce] Harper stuff, I’m surprised you’re still asking.”
One thing he is looking for is a replacement on the left side of the infield for shortstop Didi Gregorius, Who is expected to miss at least the first half of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Machado, of course, is capable of playing both third base and shortstop at an elite level.
“I’ve had several conversations with Dan Lozano about Manny Machado,” Cashman said. “We are definitely focused in the marketplace on those areas of need. He obviously is available and solves that area of need. I’m not going to deny we’ve had a conversation or two.”
Jon Heyman of Fancred has indicated that the Yankees would go after Machado if he were willing to except a slightly shorter contract with a total value less than $300 million. The Yankees will be one of a few teams Machado meets on a tour of their cities. Two other teams that will meet with the 26-year-old are the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.