Cole was acquired in an early-2018 cash trade, and made 28 appearances for the Yankees with a 4.26 ERA (4.92 FIP). Alberto did not appear in a game for New York as he was acquired head of the 2018 Rule 5 deadline.
January 4, 2019: The Yankees have officially announced the Tulowitzki signing, and have designated RHP A.J. Cole for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot.
Cole made 28 relief appearances for the Yankees in 2018, mostly in a mop-up role. He had a stellar first few months, but the wheels fell off when he finished the season with a 8.40 ERA in August and September. All told, Cole finished with a 3-1 record and 4.26 ERA after his April 24 acquisition in a cash trade.
For Tulowitzki, the plan is for him to be the Opening Day shortstop should his health allow it. The Yankees internal options, namely Hanser Alberto, Thairo Estrada, Tyler Wade or a position shift for Gleyber Torres, were not deemed sufficient.
“I think the Troy Tulowitzki thing is about being open-minded and reactionary and making sure we’re exploring all options that present themselves,” Brian Cashman said during the introductory conference call. “I think this probably snuck up on a lot of people. We’re aiming high and we’re evaluating other options that present themselves, and Troy was a late entry into the available marketplace.”
For now, the Yankees will feature an all-righty infield of Miguel Andújar at the hot corner, Tulowitzki at shortstop, Torres at second base and Luke Voit at first.
January 3, 2019: According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Tulowitzki will be undergoing his physical with the Yankees today.
After his release from the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees attended 34-year-old shortstop Troy Tulowitzki‘s free agent workout in California. Now, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Yankees are in agreement with the veteran on a one-year, league-minimum contract, pending a physical.
Passan notes that Tulowitzki “is expected to play shortstop for the Yankees while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery,” and that the move does not remove the Yankees from the Manny Machado sweepstakes.
Tulowitzki was released by Toronto on Dec. 11, allowing him to become a free agent and sign with any of the other 29 teams. The Blue Jays still owe him $38 million through the end of the 2020 season, but the Yankees will be responsible for a $555K salary. He last played consistently in 2016, when he slashed .254/.318/.443 (104 wRC+) in 131 games for the Blue Jays. He managed to be a 3.0 fWAR player that year because of stellar shortstop defense. He missed all of 2018 because of bone spurs in both of his heels that required surgery.
At league-minimum, this seems to be a low-risk, high-reward move for the Yankees. They can easily cut bait with Tulowitzki if he’s unable to perform at a high enough level or if his ugly injury history shows itself again.
I’m intrigued to see what this means for Miguel Andújar. If the Yankees also sign Machado, it seems Andújar’s only path to playing time with the Bombers would come at first base, left field (unlikely) or at designated hitter. Of course, they could also use him as a trade chip to bring in a high-profile starting pitcher as well.
Yankees fans will finally get a glimpse of the future, as the team selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield on Tuesday morning. The team also recalled righty Domingo Germán in the same transaction. The Yankees clearly think both arms could help the team now that the RailRiders have been eliminated from the Triple-A playoffs.
Justus Sheffield, the Yankees No. 1 prospect, took a big step forward in the Yankees system in 2018, going 6-6 with a 2.48 ERA in 21 games (he entered in the second inning June 27 to allow A.J. Cole to have a rehab start) before being moved to the bullpen. The bullpen move was definitely not performance-based, but likely a way to simultaneously limit his innings and prepare him for a role at the big-league level. He owned a 2.45 ERA in 7⅓ innings across four regular season outings as a reliever. In three playoff outings, he posted a 3.60 ERA across five innings.
Domingo Germán appeared in 19 games for the Yanks, with 13 of them starts. He had an overall 5.68 ERA in 82⅓ innings, though his 3.52 ERA in relief clearly eclipses the 6.18 mark as a starter. He was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after a disastrous outing against the Mets on July 20, allowing four runs in just 3⅔ innings. A week later, he was placed on the MiLB disabled list with biceps tendinitis and ulnaritis. He spent a month on the DL before returning to rehab in the Gulf Coast and Florida State leagues – pitching to a 6.14 ERA in 7⅓ innings. In two playoff starts with Triple-A, Germán went 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA.
To clear a 40-man spot for Sheffield, Clint Frazier was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It’s an unfortunately lost season for Frazier, who came to the Yankees alongside Sheffield from Cleveland in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade. The 24-year-old appeared in just 69 games combined between the majors and minors because of concussion issues. Frazier had started a rehab assignment with Tampa on August 12, and then did not play again until August 30. He went 2-for-5 in those two games, and was set to join Double-A Trenton in the Eastern League playoffs before the concussion symptoms returned. Across all levels, he finished the season batting .298/.387/.531 with 11 home runs and 26 RBIs.
It remains to be seen with the next step is for the outfielder, since he has too much service time to be assigned to the Arizona Fall League. I’d have to imagine he’ll play some winter ball in the Caribbean to make up for lost games. Yankees fans have to be hoping he’ll be back to his old self by next February.
THE BRONX – Monday night, the Yankees could only tally three hits and made three errors all while being unable to score even three runs as they fell in a 6-to-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
A Ronald Torreyes triple, Gleyber Torres two-run home run and Luke Voit single were the only knocks the Yanks could muster of a trio of White Sox pitchers. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Voit, A.J. Cole and Shane Robinson each committed their first errors of the year, with each coming at a critical juncture.
Torreyes hit his triple in the third, but he ran on contact on a ground ball to shortstop hit by Aaron Hicks and was thrown out at the plate by Tim Anderson. Big Toe was at the center of another field rally in the seventh-inning, after leadoff walks to Torres and Neil Walker were wasted when Kyle Higashioka fouled out on a 3-1 pitch before Toe bounced into a killer 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Masahiro Tanaka took his fifth loss of the season, pitching seven innings on 98 pitches and allowing for earned runs on 10 hits and one walk. He recorded seven strikeouts, though his season ERA inflated to 3.97.
Tommy Kahnle made his seventh August appearance in the eighth inning, which marks his highest number of appearances in a single month this season. He recorded a scoreless inning with one strikeout. Cole, who seems to find himself working in increasingly high-leverage situations, allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit with one strikeout (unfortunately, there was a wild pitch and it allowed to run to score).
The Yankees need to win these games against bad teams like the White Sox, especially since the Red Sox are starting to hit a bit of a slide and the Yankees can gain some ground in the division. Losing happens, but it’s especially frustrating when losing happens on a night where you commit three errors against a team that came into last night’s game 28 games under .500.
Lance Lynn (1-1, 3.81 ERA with NYY) looks to be a prize his stellar first start with the Yankees, which came August 6 in Chicago where he allowed just two hits and a walk through 7⅓ shutout innings. He’ll be facing well traveled veteran James Shields (5-15, 4.59 ERA), who will be making his 11th start at the new Yankee Stadium. He is 12-16 with a 4.08 ERA in 33 career starts against the Yankees.
MIAMI – Lance Lynn cruised until the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday evening in Miami, before crumbling after being forced past 100 pitches and eventually allowing five earned runs.
After five scoreless frames, three singles and a three-run home run spelt doom for the clearly laboring Lynn, who was given the hook after 110 pitches and four runs allowed. Tommy Kahnle entered with one out and promptly allowed an RBI double to score the fifth run of the inning, which was charged to Lynn.
An RBI infield single by Giancarlo Stanton brought the Yankees to within two runs, but that’s all they got in the top of the seventh-inning off of Marlins relievers Adam Conley and Tayron Guerrero. This slight deficit led to one of the most confusing decisions made by Aaron Boone all season.
Boone called upon Chance Adams as a long-reliever in the bottom of the seventh, forcing a 24-year-old rookie into a role he has not filled in close to two full seasons. Adams had been called up earlier Wednesday to replace the injured Aroldis Chapman, who had gone on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left knee. Things didn’t go great for Adams in his 1⅔ innings, where he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks. He did not record a single strike out, and his ERA in the major leagues skyrocketed to 8.10. By the time A.J. Cole was called in to rescue the Yanks, they were already down by six.
What Boone said after the game was frustrating to many Yankee fans: he would’ve gone to Chad Green if the Yankees were only down by one. That’s right, the Yankees manager decided to wave the white flag to the Miami Marlins down by two. It might’ve been the product of scoreboard watching, since both of the teams competing for the lead in the wildcard standings (Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners) both lost Wednesday night. Still, the decision to go from one of your better high-leverage relievers in favor of the guy who was supposed to start for your Triple-A affiliate just hours earlier is kind of baffling.
Oh, well. It feels incredibly frustrating but the reality is that the Yankees didn’t gain or lose ground in the wild-card race anyway.
The Yankees head to Baltimore for a four-game series (of course it includes a doubleheader) starting Friday night with the return of CC Sabathia from the disabled list, who was inactive for 11 days because of right knee inflammation. He’ll face off against right-hander Alex Cobb in the series opener, who has a 1.55 ERA in his last four starts (which includes his August 1 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium).
It’s Players’ Weekend when the Yanks are in Baltimore, so expect those uniforms with nicknames on the back as well as some flashy equipment since MLB is holding their uniform and equipment rules in abeyance for now.
CHICAGO – The Yankees desperately needed to beat up on a bad team after suffering four brutal losses in Boston this past weekend. They got their wish Monday night against the White Sox in Chicago.
Lance Lynn put together another excellent pitching performance, throwing 7⅓ innings and allowing just two hits and one walk. He racked up nine strikeouts and seven ground outs. Lynn’s performance is especially exciting to the Yankees since he’s taking the rotation spot of Sonny Gray. A.J. Cole mopped up the last five outs, allowing one hit and one walk.
The Yankees offense finally broke out to the tune of 10 hits and seven runs behind their stellar pitching. White Sox starter Dylan Covey retired the Yankees in order in his first time through, but would not be so lucky the second time around. In the fourth inning, Giancarlo Stanton worked a one-out walk, which was followed by a Didi Gregorius double. Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres did their jobs next, each knocking RBI singles into center field for the Yankees first two runs of the evening.
Greg Bird should have knocked a three-run home run over the centerfield wall, but it ended up being a 405-foot fly out after the center fielder Adam Engel robbed him on a fantastic play.
In the fifth, Kyle Higashioka and Brett Gardner singled with one out. With Higashioka on third and Stanton at the plate, Covey threw a pitch catcher Kevan Smith could not handle which allowed the Yankee backstop to score. It was ruled a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Gregorius lined an RBI single into left field to score Gardner.
The eighth inning saw a power display from Yankee infielders. Gleyber Torres turned around a 95 mph fastball for his 18th home run of the season with one out, then Neil Walker crushed a 429-foot shot on the first pitch after a two-out walk to Miguel Andújar.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria got creative with his pitching in the top of the ninth inning, turning to corner infielder Matt Davidson. It was his third appearance on the mound, and he had yet to allow a hit or a run. He managed to strike out Stanton on a 71 mph curveball, but he did allow his first hit of the season to Hicks. The Yankees did not score off Davidson.
THE BRONX – Masahiro Tanaka was not as sharp as his complete game shutout in his previous start, but his six shutout innings certainly did the job Tuesday night against Baltimore.
Miguel Andújar homered in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach after the Yankees loaded the bases. Giancarlo Stanton was drilled, Didi Gregorius singled and Aaron Hicks walked. After Gleyber Torres popped out to second base, Greg Bird lifted a sacrifice fly to center field. The next batter was Andújar, who drilled a 2-1 fastball 410 feet out to left field.
The Yankees got their scoring started in the first off Yefry Ramírez. Brett Gardner and Gregorius walked, then Torres adjusted well on a 3-2 slider to ground it up the middle for an RBI single. In the third, Gardner singled, Stanton reached on a fielding error by Tim Beckham after Gardner stole second. On a 1-1 fastball, Gregorius dumped a bloop single into left that scored Gardner.
After a hairy first inning where he drilled Jace Peterson and walked Adam Jones, Tanaka pitched quite well. He scattered a few hits and one more walk while collecting eight strikeouts. A great start against a bad team, but a win is a win so you know the Yankees will take it. Especially on a night where the Phillies beat the Red Sox.
A.J. Cole had a bit of a hiccup, allowing three runs (two earned) in 1⅓ innings. He made a 6-0 game into a 6-3 game, which isn’t great if you’re trying to rest the high-leverage guys. Austin Wynns singled, Beckham walked and then Peterson doubled to score both. Dellin Betances entered next, and a fastball of his clanked off the glove of Kyle Higashioka for a passed ball. Things got worse as Higgy’s throw got away and allowed Peterson to score. It was originally ruled a throwing error by the catcher but a check of the box score today shows it to be a missed catch error by Andújar.
Things calmed down in the ninth inning, as Aroldis Chapman struck out the side on 13 pitches.
Sonny Gray (8-7, 5.08 ERA) looks to put together a third consecutive strong start against counterpart Alex Cobb (2-14, 6.08 ERA), who is clearly not living up to his 4-year, $57 million offseason deal so far.