Tag: Aaron Judge

Yankees Sign Shane Robinson to Minor League Deal

The 33-year-old is just the second outfielder invited to Yankees camp.

The Yankees added another name to their crowded outfield mix Thursday, adding former Angel Shane Robinson on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The deal was first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

As the tweet illustrates, Robinson would make $950,000 if he’s on the big league roster. That is more than Aaron Judge will make in 2018, oddly enough. The 33-year-old saw 20 games in the MLB last season, slashing .194/.257/.194. He was a fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2006.

The signing of Robinson is just another depth move. The Yankees only invited one pure outfielder to camp (top prospect Estevan Florial), and a utility player (Jace Peterson). The surplus of outfielders at the big league level means Robinson would not get guaranteed time at Triple-A Scranton. It is unclear if Robinson has an opt-out in his contract related to his roster status at the end of Spring Training.

With the signing of Robinson, here is the current Yankee outfield depth:

  1. Jabari Blash
  2. Jake Cave
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. Estevan Florial
  5. Clint Frazier
  6. Brett Gardner
  7. Aaron Hicks
  8. Aaron Judge
  9. Billy McKinney
  10. Shane Robinson
  11. Giancarlo Stanton

Clearly, a lot of competition. That list doesn’t include guys like Peterson, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, who have all logged games in the outfield. Barring injuries, it looks like the MLB outfield is set. Robinson is likely competing for Triple-A playing time.

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.

King: Yankees, Pirates Discussing Deal for Gerrit Cole

The Yankees may look to the trade market to fill in a gap in their starting rotation, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. On their radar: the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole.

King reports the Yankees are in contact with the Bucs about a deal that could include OF Clint Frazier and potentially more. King mentions that the Pirates would also look for “a pitcher ready to work in the majors,” which would imply someone like Chance Adams. There is no indication that a deal was close to done.

Cole had a down year for the Pirates, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9. The Yankees would likely try to buy low on Cole, who they drafted No. 28 out of high school in 2008. Cole did not sign, instead opting to pitch at UCLA. He became the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.

Frazier has become a bit of an odd-man-out in New York. He was ticketed to take over left field once Brett Gardner‘s contract expired, but the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton made that seem less likely since both Stanton and Aaron Judge may see time in left field. He made his MLB debut July 1, and posted a .231/.268/.448 line with four home runs, 17 RBIs and a 30.3% K-rate to a 4.9% BB-rate.

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Adams is seen as one of the most MLB-ready arms in the Yankees system. Many fans clamored for him to be promoted in 2017 when the Yankees needed starting pitching reinforcements. Split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017, Adams pitched to a 2.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9. His command could use some work, and many think he could profile better as a reliever because he only averaged five innings per outing.

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This deal would allow the Yankees to grab a high quality arm in Cole with hopes that he rebounds toward his All-Star season in 2015. The 27-year-old would not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, like current Yankee RHP Sonny Gray. He would shore up a Yankees rotation that is relying on a big bounce-back season from Masahiro Tanaka, and young arms like Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.

Thoughts Following Giancarlo Stanton’s Introductory Press Conference

Giancarlo Stanton is officially a Yankee, and put on the pinstripes for the first time in front of the media at a press conference from the Winter Meetings in Florida. It’s crazy, and completely unexpected, to have a player with the pedigree of Stanton in pinstripes. A lot was said, and I have some thoughts following up on the introduction of the Yankees’ newest slugger.

  1. I did not realize how unhappy Giancarlo was in Miami. From his Instagram post before the press conference to comments made at the conference, this “breakup” between Stanton and the Marlins was long overdue. Stanton cited the lack of direction in the Marlins organization while at the lectern. He said he was “very excited to be a part of the Yankees, and this winning environment and culture.” Stanton really did not hold back in his criticisms of his former team. He also did not seem to have much of a filter in speaking with the media. It will be important for him to be honest with reporters, but hopefully he will steer clear of trashing or insulting other teams or players.
  2. In a breakout session after the formal press conference, Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe said the 28-year-old has “no desire to opt-out” of his contract after the 2020 season. This seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse. As written, Stanton is under contract until 2027 at the earliest, with a $25 million team option ($10 million buyout) for the 2028 season. Stanton would be 37 years old by 2027, and in a perfect world, would still be a productive designated hitter for the Yankees. But, as was the case with Alex Rodriguez, players will decay over time. I think it’s premature to talk about Stanton opting out when he hasn’t even gotten in a full Yankee uniform. Should we reevaluate the opt-out next season? Probably. Now? Not necessary.
  3. I still have some questions about how Stanton, Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner all fit into the same starting lineup. Luckily, Stanton expressed today that he was willing to move around in the field in order to help the team. He told a panel on the YES Network that he would be willing to play left field, where he has not played since five starts there in 2010 with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns. Stanton certainly has the athleticism to tackle left field, and will likely get looks there along with Judge during Spring Training.
  4. Starlin Castro might just be the unluckiest player in baseball. He gets traded out of Chicago right before they win the World Series, and then gets shipped out of New York as part of the transaction that turns them into a huge juggernaut. Castro likely never dons a Miami Marlins uniform, but rather will be flipped to another team that needs a quality middle infielder. Castro was an All-Star in 2017, and has experience at both shortstop and second base.
  5. Hal Steinbrenner said that the Yankees are not done making moves this offseason. But, I don’t expect them to make any moves near the magnitude of this trade. They are looking to shed a little bit more payroll by trading veterans Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley. Headley is an easier sell, given that he is a free agent after the season and owed just $13 million. The Yankees would have to eat substantial money to trade Ellsbury and his albatross contract. Plus, Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause in his deal, just like Stanton. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Ellsbury is “unlikely” to waive that no-trade clause. There are also rumors that the Yankees are seeing what returns they could get for trading promising young outfielder Clint Frazier. Frazier was the Yankees No. 2 prospect until he graduated by breaking the 130 at-bat plateau.
  6. Brian Cashman would not name a starting second baseman at this point in time. The Yankees will either try to sign a veteran for cheap, or allow one of their Younger players to win the position out of Spring Training. I think some combination of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade will man the keystone to start the season. Cashman also mentioned Gleyber Torres and Thairo Estrada. Torres is obviously the more attractive choice, but he managed only 96 plate appearances at Triple-A before injuring his elbow. I predict he’ll start the season in Scranton so that the Yankees are sure he’s fully recovered. Plus, the Yankees can gain an extra year of control over Torres if they wait to start his service clock like the Cubs did with Kris Bryant. If Torres debuts like Bryant did, the Yankees will be absolutely ecstatic.

 

Reports: Stanton Would Accept Trade to Yankees

With the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes finally wrapped up (he signed with the Los Angeles Angels Friday), the focus now shifts back to the offseason’s other huge storyline: where will Giancarlo Stanton be traded?

Craig Mish of SiriusXM reported this week that the 2017 National League home run leader has included the New York Yankees in a list of teams that he would waive his no-trade clause to join. The Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers are on the same list. Stanton had recently been linked in trade talks with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, though both teams indicated Stanton would not waive his no-trade clause.

It’s unknown whether geography will play into Stanton’s eventual choice. From the teams he has chosen, it’s clear he wants to win. With the Miami Marlins slashing payroll at every corner, it’s only a matter of time until the 6’7″ outfielder finds himself on another ballclub.

Imagining Stanton in a lineup with Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez is a scary thought. Using 2017 numbers, that’s 153 home runs in the same lineup. It would take some maneuvering to find playing time for all the outfielders currently on the Yankees roster if Stanton were to come up north.

Acquiring Stanton would necessitate dumping the cumbersome contract of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is signed through 2020 and owed $63.4 million. Stanton, of course, is not cheap either. He is theoretically signed until his age-38 season (2028), with an opt-out following the 2020 season. He is still owed $285 million.

The Yankees would have to entice the Marlins to continue paying some of Stanton’s contract by including at least one prospect of decent value. After seeing that the Giants offered Joe Panik and three prospects not in MLB.com’s Top 100, the Yankees could easily make a better offer. That said, don’t expect to see Gleyber Torres headed to Miami in a trade for Stanton.

 

Baseball America Lists Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2018

To get the bad taste of Shohei Ohtani‘s spurning of the Yankees out of our collective mouths, here’s some good news about players the Yankees actually do have. Baseball America’s Josh Norris ranked the top 10 prospects in the Yankees system leading up to 2018.

Without further ado (* indicates player on 40-man roster):

  1. INF Gleyber Torres *
  2. OF Estevan Florial
  3. LHP Justus Sheffield
  4. RHP Chance Adams
  5. 3B Miguel Andújar *
  6. RHP Albert Abreu *
  7. RHP Jorge Guzman
  8. RHP Luis Medina
  9. SS/2B Thairo Estrada *
  10. RHP Domingo Acevedo *

One of the biggest knocks against the Yankees is that they cannot develop pitchers. However, this prospect list clearly indicates that the Yankees have some promising arms that could be MLB-ready soon. Sheffield is the most MLB-ready of the bunch, having hit 98 mph with his fastball and the best slider in the system. Norris listed the pitching depth as the system’s biggest strength.

The system’s biggest weakness? Catching. That won’t be a short-term problem since Gary Sánchez will control the starting catching job for years to come, barring anything unexpected. Their next best catcher is Kyle Higashioka, who went hitless in 20 plate appearances while Sánchez was injured in 2017. Higashioka did hit .338/.390/.797 in the minors in 2017, but in just 21 games because of injuries. Norris lists Jason Lopez and Saul Torres as the “next catching prospects,” but notes they “played at short-season Staten Island and Rookie-level Pulaski, respectively.”

Norris opines that the Yankees’ system is trending downwards, but that is only because of trades and graduations to the big leagues. When talents like Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery are no longer “prospects,” it’s easy to see how the system takes a hit.

Be sure to read through the whole post on Baseball America (linked above), as Norris projects the Yankees 2021 lineup and also lists which players have the best tools in the system.

Heyman: Yankees, Marlins Have Discussed Giancarlo Stanton

The Yankees and Miami Marlins have reportedly had discussions regarding a trade that would send the 6′ 6″, 245-pound OF Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The article from Heyman is a really interesting read simply because Stanton is such a dynamic and expensive player. The 2017 NL MVP hit .281/.376/.631 (156 wRC+) with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs in his age-28 season with the Marlins. Stanton is signed through 2027 (can opt out after 2020) with a club option for the 2028 season. He has $295 million due from 2018 onwards.

There is an obvious appeal to adding another power bat to the Yankees lineup. Pair Stanton with the likes of Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez and you have an impressively scary lineup. But, the Yankees are looking to get under the luxury tax threshold this offseason, and taking on Stanton’s salary would make that difficult.

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Heyman mentions that the Yankees would have to unload Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley and maybe even longest-tenured Bomber Brett Gardner to offset the cost of Stanton. With Jake Cave, Clint Frazier and Billy McKinney on the 40-man roster they would be able to offset the trades of Ellsbury and Gardner. Stanton would presumably start in left field since I would avoid moving Judge. Trading Headley would ensure that either Miguel Andújar or Gleyber Torres would start the season at third base.

As good as this deal sounds, I do not think it’s worth it for the Yankees. They are better off keeping their veterans and letting other teams overpay for Stanton. The Marlins want whoever takes Stanton to pay the majority of his contract (Jon Morosi reported today that the Marlins would accept the Giants paying “at least $250 million of the $295 million left”).

Of course, these teams have already linked up on a trade this offseason. The Yankees traded 1B Garrett Cooper and LHP Caleb Smith to the Marlins in exchange for Michael King and international signing bonus pool money ahead of the 40-man roster deadline. The other connection is that the Marlins’ CEO is former Yankees SS Derek Jeter, and the Vice President of Player Development and Scouting is former Yankee Gary Denbo.

The Yankees are better off letting Gardner and Headley play out their contracts, trying to dump Ellsbury to free up a roster spot. Then, once their luxury tax number resets, they can go all-out on a free agency class that includes Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

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Carlos Beltrán Will Interview for Yankees Manager Job Wednesday

Well, it seems Carlos Beltrán simply does not want to stay away from the game of baseball. Multiple sources, with Steve Phillips being first, indicated that the recently retired outfielder will interview for the Yankees managerial job.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic then reported that the interview will be Wednesday morning.

Beltrán retired after winning his only World Series ring with the Houston Astros this season. He finished his career with a .279/.350/.486 line, 435 home runs, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He was a 9-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover winner and 2-time Silver Slugger winner. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1999.

The future Hall-of-Famer saw his usually steady performance dip in 2017, batting .231/.283/.383 while still mashing 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. He got just 21 plate appearances in the postseason, going 3-for-20 with two doubles. His veteran presence was far more important to the team, however.

It seemed like Beltrán was interested in managing immediately, when he told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the Yankees job would intrigue him:

“You’re talking about the New York Yankees. You’re not just talking about any team in baseball. Not taking anything away from any other organization, but the Yankees are a team that anyone would love to put on that uniform and manage that ballclub,” Beltrán said.

He certainly seems to check the boxes of what Brian Cashman would like to see in the Yankee dugout next season. At age-40, Beltrán can easily relate to players since he was on an active roster last season. He is bilingual, and has been consistently considered a fantastic communicator with the media. Beltrán also went out of his way to have his locker next to Aaron Judge’s when they were on the same club.

The only flaw with Beltrán is that he is a coaching novice. He has always been a clubhouse guy, but that does not necessarily translate to a managerial job. He’ll have to impress in his interview to make it to the next round.

After playing in the Bronx from 2014 to 2016, we could just see Carlos Beltrán back in pinstripes in 2018. Time will tell.

Shohei Ohtani’s Agent Gives All 30 MLB Teams Quiz to Test Suitability

Teams looking to land Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani have to do a little bit of homework, as his agent distributed a memo to all 30 Major League Baseball clubs asking them to explain why they would be the best fit for the 23-year-old.

From the Associated Press:

The memo from Nez Balelo, co-head of CAA Baseball, was distributed to all 30 teams by the commissioner’s office late Friday along with materials for the Dec. 1 vote on a new posting agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. If the deal is approved, the 23-year-old is expected to be put up for bid later that day or the following day.

Balelo’s memo asks for a team to evaluate Ohtani’s talent as a pitcher and as a hitter; to explain its player development, medical training and player performance philosophies and facilities; to describe its minor league and spring training facilities; to detail resources for Ohtani’s cultural assimilation into the team’s city; to demonstrate a vision for how Ohtani could integrate into the team’s organization; and to tell Ohtani why the team is a desirable place to play.

Each team was asked to provide its answers in both [English and Japanese] as soon as possible. Clubs were told not to include any financial terms of a possible contract.

The Yankees obviously will get this information back to Balelo and Ohtani in short order. They already planned to use former outfielder Hideki Matsui to help recruit Ohtani, as well as current RHP Masahiro Tanaka.

Ohtani has expressed interest in continuing to be a two-way player after he completes his move to the United States. This would, presumably, give an American League team an advantage in signing him since they could give him a proportion of at-bats as the designated hitter. In his five seasons in Japan, Ohtani played 62 games in the outfield, primarily in right field (57 games).

Both corner outfield spots are occupied for the Yankees. Brett Gardner is signed through the end of the 2018 season (with a $12.5 million club option for 2019) in left field. Aaron Judge will be renewed at league minimum, and won’t be eligible for arbitration until the 2020 season in right field, barring an extension. Ohtani has no experience in center field, and Aaron Hicks (who won’t taste free agency until 2020) has already been named the starter there.

That makes Ohtani’s place on the Yankees roster obvious: starting pitcher and designated hitter. If the Yankees are able to get Ohtani, they should continue to pursue a starting pitcher like CC Sabathia. Ohtani is used to pitching once a week in Japan, and a six-man rotation would help ease his transition to pitching once every five days.

The Yankees also do not have an obvious candidate for the everyday designated hitter. Matt Holliday most likely will not return after his .202/.300/.371 line in the second half. Using Ohtani as a DH would be less intensive than playing him in the already-crowded outfield. The team is likely planning to rotate players through the DH spot if Ohtani signs elsewhere.

New York has the second highest amount of available international signing bonus pool money to sign Ohtani at $3.5 million. The Texas Rangers lead them by a slight margin at $3.535 million. Each has had success signing a Japanese player in recent years, with the Rangers signing Yu Darvish and the Yankees inking Tanaka.

Because of his age, Ohtani is considered an amateur and must be signed to a minor league contract. That means he is a cheap commodity with a very high upside. The team that signs him will get control of six major league seasons if they do not agree on an extension.

Across his five seasons in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani is batting .286/.358/.500 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs. As a pitcher, he has a 42-15 record, 2.52 ERA and 10.3 K/9 rate. He is expected to be posted shortly after the Dec. 1 vote by MLB owners to ratify the new posting agreement between MLB and NPB.

Tyler Austin’s Last Stand

At age-26, and ranked as the team’s No. 14 prospect, Tyler Austin may be running out of opportunities in the Bronx.

Austin was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft, and debuted in 2016 (hitting the first of back-to-back home runs with Aaron Judge). He came up as part of the youth movement that captivated the league once the Yankees decided to become sellers at the deadline. Greg Bird was hurt, Mark Teixeira was retiring and Austin had his best chance to nail down the job.

He seemed primed to compete with the returning Bird for the starting first base job in Spring Training. Disaster struck next. On Feb. 17, 2017, Austin fractured the navicular area of his left foot, and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Yankees then signed veteran Chris Carter to a 1-year deal, and we know how well that turned out.

Austin dropped deep on the first base depth chart while injured. It took the team three weeks to promote him after his rehab assignment ended. His stock dropped so much that Carter and Matt Holliday started over him in those three weeks.

Despite hitting .300 after his rehab assignment ended, Austin struggled to a .154/.200/.385 line in four games before injuring his right hamstring. He missed a month, and found himself back in the minor leagues because the Yankees acquired Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers. Cooper himself got hurt in August, and Austin returned.

He homered against Boston’s Chris Sale August 19, which endeared him to Yankees fans again. But, his future became uncertain after the 2017 season ended. The Yankees could have traded him to open an important 40-man roster spot for a younger player. But, they decided to trade Cooper instead. Austin’s defensive versatility and career .361/.432/.722 against left-handed pitching most likely extended his Yankee tenure.

Now, Austin has full control of his own destiny. With games at first base, third base, left field and right field on his résumé, he will be competing with Chase Headley to be a backup corner infielder and right-handed platoon bat. Austin has a better defensive reputation than Headley, and the former can play at more positions. But, Headley is owed $13 million in 2018, and Austin has one more minor league option remaining.

It feels like Austin will have to wow his way onto the Yankees 2018 roster. His spot on the roster will rely on strong defense and good at-bats against left-handers. If he cannot do that, then we will not see much of him in the Bronx