Tag: A.J. Cole

Greg Bird Activated; Ronald Torreyes Optioned to SWB

The Toe-Night Show moves to Scranton, at least for now.

We all knew Greg Bird was coming back today. Yankee manager Aaron Boone told Mike Francesa as much during Thursday’s off-day. He also mentioned that the team had not quite figured out who was going to be demoted to Triple-A when the slugging first baseman returned.

“It’s something that we’ve had a lot of conversations about,” Boone said before Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. “We are still mulling it over; we just met a little bit ago to work through things and what we think the best way to go is. It leads to a difficult decision, not a simple one, not an obvious one. It’s something, frankly, that we’re still kind of working through.”

That decision has been made, and it must not have been easy. The Yankees demoted fan-favorite utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and activated Bird as expected. Torreyes was hitting .339/.349/.435 with six doubles in 62 at-bats this season. His value came from his ability to hit for contact even without much playing time, as well as suit up at any non-first base infield position and even in the outfield corners.

It’s worth noting that last season, where Torreyes played in 108 games and Bird in just 48, that Bird had an OPS+ of 84 and Torreyes’ was just 81. Bird actually managed to contribute more offense despite having 166 fewer plate appearances. That’s because of Torreyes’ 153 hits as a member of the Yankees, a whopping 83.7% of them have been singles. Out of Bird’s 69 hits as a Yankee, just 47.8% have been singles.

Bird brings some badly needed lefty power to the Yankees lineup. Lefty hitters have only hit 18 home runs for the Yankees this year, and 11 of those have come from Didi Gregorius. When healthy, the 25-year-old Bird does quite well against lefties. His OPS is actually 69 points higher against southpaws than righties, which is impressive for a young player.

The Yankees choose to keep Tyler Austin and A.J. Cole around, who were my top candidates for a demotion upon Bird’s return. Austin will likely platoon at first until Bird is ready to play everyday, as well as get some at-bats as a designated hitter when the Yankees face a tough lefty. With the Yankees struggling to get consistent innings from Domingo Germán and Sonny Gray, it makes sense to keep an arm like Cole’s around in case of mop-up and/or long relief situations.

I wouldn’t expect Torreyes to be gone long, as the Yankees likely will not want to rely on Gleyber Torres as their sole backup shortstop. While the decision to send Torreyes down must’ve been tough, it makes the most short-term sense for this team. It’s not like they abandoned him on a deserted island. Torreyes had the most flexibility because of his minor league options and I see him continuing to contribute in the Bronx this season.

Ryan Bollinger Selected; Giovanny Gallegos Optioned

After stops in independent ball, Germany and Australia, Bollinger has made an MLB active roster.

After using both A.J. Cole and Giovanny Gallegos Tuesday night in Texas (and optioning the latter), the Yankees selected the contract of journeyman left-hander Ryan Bollinger to be activated for Wednesday’s series finale in Arlington.

Now, I mean it when I call Bollinger a “journeyman”. He was a 47th round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 as a first baseman. He slashed .174/.240/.217 in 25 plate appearances as an 18-year-old in the Gulf Coast League. His time in the Phillies organization did not last long, as he was released by the team July 15, 2010.

The next stop for Bollinger was the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League, where he threw five innings without allowing a run and also drew a walk in the only plate appearance he had for the team. Bollinger turned this 7-game stint with the ThunderBolts into a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox in October 2010.

Bollinger spent three years in the White Sox organization, making it as high as Low-A in the South Atlantic League at age-22. However, in the spring of 2014, Bollinger once again found himself cut by the White Sox organization. He bounced around the independent circuit in 2014, pitching for the Trois-Rivieres Aigles of the Canadian-American Association and the St. Paul Saints and Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association.

He then returned to Trois-Rivieres for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, where he appeared in at least 20 games while jumping between starting and relief. During the regular season in 2017, he pitched in the German Baseball-Bundesliga for the Munich-Haar Disciples. He went 10-1 with a filthy 0.76 ERA in 14 appearances. Then, he made another jump to a new league in 2017, taking his talents down under to the Australian Baseball League. In nine games (two complete games!) for the Brisbane Bandits, Bollinger went 5-1 with a 3.48 ERA and a 12.4 strikeouts-per-nine rate.

In the aftermath of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, the Yankees quietly signed Bollinger to a minor league contract on December 16, 2017. They assigned him to Double-A Trenton on Valentine’s Day 2018, a level he never reached in his previous stints in affiliated ball. He made three starts in Trenton, throwing 20 innings and allowing just 11 hits and three runs. That earned him two starts in Triple-A Scranton, where he allowed four earned runs on seven hits.

Ryan Bollinger had been scheduled to start today in Trenton, but instead will head to Arlington where he could make his long-awaited MLB debut after an incredible journey. Hopefully, the Yankees will have a solid lead and Bollinger can show his stuff. I’m going to guess Bollinger will be assigned No. 61, which was vacated by Gallegos’ optioning.

This will be Bollinger’s first major league contract, so he will have the standard three option years. Therefore, he’s likely joining the folks on the Scranton Shuttle.


Giovanny Gallegos scattered two hits in two innings of scoreless mop-up relief in Tuesday’s 6-to-4 loss to the Rangers. He’ll head back to Triple-A Scranton where he’ll await his next turn on the shuttle.

Yankees 10, Royals 1: Sonny Shines, Offense Powers 8th Straight Series Win

Even with a “B” lineup on the field, the Yankees crushed the Kansas City Royals with ease in Sunday’s series finale at Kauffman Stadium.

With Clint Frazier and Gary Sánchez stashed on the bench, the Yankees still showed off plenty of power capability. Tyler Austin led the charge, smacking his 7th and 8th homers of the season off Royals’ starter Eric Skoglund. Austin leads all MLB rookies in home runs, which is quite impressive for a player who was not even supposed to make the Opening Day roster. Austin drove in four runs total on the day.

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The ninth inning also turned into a mini-Home Run Derby, where Miguel Andújar hit an impressive home run to the opposite field. Austin Romine, who somehow is hitting .326 after today’s game, then followed with an absolute bomb to center field. Sánchez’s absence was never felt as power was abundant.

Aaron Hicks tripled in a run in the fifth, and Brett Gardner drove in a run with an infield single in the eighth. Ronald Torreyes scored in the eighth also on a wild pitch.

Sonny Gray was the real star of Sunday’s game. The righty dominated the Royals, throwing eight stellar innings of one-run ball. He scattered four hits, walked one batter and struck out five. Gray did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, The Royals scored their one run in the eighth when Hunter Dozier singled, moved to second on an Alex Gordon groundout and then scored on a Jon Jay single.

“I thought his stuff was great and the slider was a really good pitch for him,” Aaron Boone said. “When he’s ahead [in the count], he has the weapons to put people away. That was clear today. The stuff is elite. That’s why we were so optimistic about him even when he was going through some struggles.”

A.J. Cole came in to pitch the ninth inning, getting a fly out and two strikeouts.

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Rehab Update:

Neither Greg Bird nor Billy McKinney played for any minor league affiliates today. Bird is reportedly headed to Triple-A to join the RailRiders for their series opener in Pawtucket on Monday. No word on McKinney, who could remain in Trenton or move to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with Bird.


What’s Next:

Masahiro Tanaka opens up the Yankees’ next series in Texas, where he will face Bartolo Colón and the Rangers.

David Hale Elects Free Agency

After being designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for outfielder Clint Frazier, RHP David Hale has elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment with the Yankees.

The Yankees picked Hale up on a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training this past offseason. In two appearances with the Yankees, Hale gave up two earned runs in five innings of mop-up relief.

Hale previously declined an outright assignment April 30 after being designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins. The Twins claimed Hale off waivers after the Yankees designated him for assignment after the acquisition of A.J. Cole. Hale appeared once for the Twins, giving up four runs in three innings against the Cincinnatti Reds on April 27.

Yankees Acquire A.J. Cole; DFA David Hale

The Cole train makes a stop at the 161st Street–Yankee Stadium station.

Needing bullpen reinforcements, the Yankees hooked up with the Washington Nationals on a simple trade after Monday’s 14-to-1 drubbing of the Minnesota Twins. The Bombers acquired right-hander A.J. Cole from the Nats in exchange for cash considerations.

The Yankees plan to activate Cole for Tuesday’s matchup with the Twins. To clear 25- and 40-man roster space, the team designated fellow righty David Hale for assignment. Hale pitched two scoreless innings of mop-up duty Monday.

Cole had been designated for assignment by the Nationals April 20, so the Yankees likely claimed him off waivers and then arranged the trade with Washington. The 26-year-old has made four appearances (two starts) in 2018, with a not-so-great 13.06 ERA (10.51 FIP) and a 1.298 OPS against him. He was ranked as the Nationals’ No. 10 prospect prior to the 2016 season, per MLB Pipeline.

With injuries to Luis Cessa, Giovanny Gallegos, Ben HellerTommy Kahnle and Adam Warren, the Yankees found themselves down to just Jonathan Loáisiga (who hasn’t pitched above High-A ball) on the 40-man roster. Cole likely will slide into a role in the front-end of the Yankee bullpen, and could be a spot-starter should the Yankees need one.

Cole is still a pre-arbitration player, so he will make $555,300 for this season when on the MLB roster. He will make less than that if he ever goes to the minor leagues. He is out of minor league options, so the Yankees would have to designate him for assignment and hope to outright him off the 40-man to demote him.

Hale finds himself in DFA-limbo now. The Yankees have 10 days to trade, release or outright him to the minors (if he clears waivers). By my research, he has never been outrighted before and also does not have the service time to decline an outright assignment. Therefore, my prediction is that Hale finds himself back with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre sooner rather than later.