Boy, have the Yankees had bad luck with outfield prospects beginning their careers recently. Billy McKinney, who replaced the injured Aaron Hicks on the active roster, has gone down after he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder crashing into the outfield wall in left field at Rogers Centre.
McKinney stayed in for one play after the injury, but was quickly lifted once it was clear that his throwing arm was compromised. The 23-year-old went 1-for-4 in his debut game, but did not come to the plate in his second game. He was replaced by Brett Gardner in left field.
The Yankees now have some very limited outfield depth with McKinney joining Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list. They have started to play Giancarlo Stanton more in left field, and can turn to Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes in an emergency situation.
After Wade and Torreyes, the situation becomes even more murky. Shane Robinson was in camp as a non-roster invitee, and there were impressive contributions from lower-level prospects like Estevan Florial, Trey Amburgey and Jeff Hendrix.
Before turning to any of their minor league depth, the Yankees certainly have to be rooting for one of Ellsbury, Frazier or Hicks to return from injury. For the time being, Stanton in left, Gardner in center and Aaron Judge in right will have to do.
To replace McKinney on the roster, the Yankees promoted 3B/1B Miguel Andújar from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders do not open their season until April 6, so Andújar might be best served on the big league roster anyway. Andújar slashed .267/.306/.622 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 Spring Training games this year. He is ranked as the team’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
By adding Andújar as infield insurance, Aaron Boone can have a little more liberty with his utility players.
The second Subway Series preview comes to Tampa today, as Matt Harvey and Luis Cessa square off on a beautiful Florida afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Cessa makes his third start of the spring, and will try to keep up with Domingo Germán in the competition to be the team’s sixth starter. So far in camp, Cessa has allowed five runs (four earned) through four innings of work. He missed his March 2 start due to a stiff neck, and Germán stepped into that role.
Giancarlo Stanton gets his third start of the spring in left field, with Aaron Judge playing on the other side of Brett Gardner in right and center field, respectively. Tyler Austin starts at first base today, with Greg Bird not listed on the lineup card as an available player. Tyler Wade looks to continue his strong audition for the second base job as he bats ninth and mans the keystone.
We’re likely to see some star-studded relievers today, with LHP Aroldis Chapman, RHP David Robertson, RHP Dellin Betances and RHP Adam Warren listed on today’s game notes.
- Clint Frazier spoke to the media this morning regarding his concussion. Marc Carig of The Athletic reported the outfielder has needed to be driven to camp beacuse of “scary” moments driving. “There’s a lot of positives that have come, but I’m not over the hump … I want all positives. I want no negatives,” Frazier said per ESPN’s Coley Harvey.
- Frazier ran, hit and threw today with Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has been out with oblique tightness, and has not appeared in a game since March 1.
- Amed Rosario – SS
- Juan Lagares – CF
- Brandon Nimmo – RF
- Phillip Evans – 1B
- Wilmer Flores – 3B
- José Reyes – 2B
- Travis d’Arnaud – C
- Tim Tebow – DH
- Zach Borenstein – LF
Matt Harvey – RHP
The Yankees have been hit with their first in-game injury of Spring Training, and the victim is outfielder Clint Frazier. Manager Aaron Boone told reporters today that Frazier suffered a mild concussion making a circus catch on the warning track at the Pirates’ Spring Training complex in Bradenton Saturday.
The winds were swirling that day, and Frazier made an incredible catch at the wall to rob a hit. But, “Boone said that Frazier mentioned a cloudy sensation” after hitting his head on the chain-link fence that covers an outfield scoreboard at LECOM Park, per Bryan Hoch.
Frazier proceeded to tell Boone that he felt better Monday, though he will likely be held out of game action until all of his symptoms subsided. Frazier is not the first Yankees outfielder to deal with concussion symptoms, as Jacoby Ellsbury missed 29 games with a concussion suffered May 24 crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium.
“He reminded me that he could turn on 96 [mph] right now,” Boone said to Hoch.
The 23-year-old is considered to have an outside chance at breaking camp with the MLB club after the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. So far in the spring, he is slashing .250/.400/.250 through two games.
It’s a very different looking Yankees lineup today as the team heads to Bradenton, Fla., to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Field.
Domingo Germán gets the start, looking to put himself on the map as a long-relief or sixth starter option for the team. He appeared in seven games last season, pitching to a 3.14 ERA (3.44 FIP) and an 11.3 strikeouts-per-nine rate. Combined between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he had an 8-6 record, 2.88 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts-per-nine rate.
Scheduled relievers for the Yankees are RHP Adam Warren, RHP Dillon Tate, RHP Jonathan Holder and RHP J.P. Feyereisen.
Only one of today’s starting position players started yesterday, and that is left fielder Clint Frazier. He moves from batting ninth to batting in the cleanup spot. Brandon Drury also makes his Yankees’ debut today after being acquired Tuesday from the Arizona Diamondbacks. No. 2 prospect Estevan Florial gets the start in center field after pinch-running yesterday.
They go up against righty Nick Kingham of the Pirates. He split 2017 between High-A Bradenton and Triple-A Indianapolis, pitching to a 3.95 ERA and a 7.1 strikeouts-per-nine rate. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Kingham has yet to crack the big leagues.
- Josh Harrison – 2B
- Gregory Polanco – RF
- Starling Marte – CF
- David Freese – 3B
- Jordy Mercer – SS
- Sean Rodriguez – LF
- Bryce Brentz – DH
- Eric Wood – 1B
- Ryan Lavarnway – C
The most wonderful time of the year has arrived as the Yankees kick off their Spring Training schedule with a matchup against the Detroit Tigers.
Luis Cessa gets the ball first for the Yankees as he looks to win a job as the team’s sixth starter. That role would certainly land him in the minor leagues to start the season, but a team’s sixth starter is truly an important role. Cessa pitched to a 4.75 ERA (5.69 FIP) in 36 innings for the big league club last season.
This game features a few regulars, including Giancarlo Stanton‘s debut in pinstripes. Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez were announced to be out of this game earlier in the week. Today’s lineup is quite strong, and features young talents like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar and Clint Frazier.
I doubt we’ll see any remnants of the beef between the Tigers and Yankees from last season. It will be interesting, however, to see how Austin Romine and Miguel Cabrera interact given their fisticuffs last season.
- Martin – CF
- Castellanos – RF
- Cabrera – DH
- Huffman – LF
- Candelario – 3B
- Hicks – C
- Espinal – 1B
- Amarista – 2B
- Kozma – SS
Pitcher: Carpenter – LHP
Despite news that the Houston Astros were checking in on Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, the New York Daily News’ John Harper cites an unnamed rival executive calling a trade of Cole to the Yankees “inevitable”.
Two important quotes:
“I think it’s inevitable they’ll get together on a deal,” a rival exec told me Monday. “The Yankees have the pieces and Pittsburgh needs to tear it down. They’ll find common ground.”
“They’re one of the few organizations that have the depth, at the big-league and minor-league level, to match what the Yankees can offer,” an AL scout said. “But (GM Jeff) Luhnow has shown he doesn’t want to give up top prospects if he can help it, so I’d still favor the Yankees.”
The report from Harper comes as Astros’ owner Jim Crane told reporters that his team is pursuing “a high-end starter”. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported the same day that the Astros checked in with Pittsburgh on Cole. The Astros and Pirates reportedly discussed outfielder Derek Fisher as a return, The Pirates are aiming higher at top prospects Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley.
Reports linking the Yankees to the Pirates have died down in recent weeks, since Brian Cashman told Neil Huntington that top prospect infielder Gleyber Torres is off-limits. The Yankees have also been connected to the Pirates’ versatile utilityman, Josh Harrison. In his column, Harper suggests Cashman would make the deal if it were to be Clint Frazier and someone like Chance Adams for Cole.
Though the Yankees already have five starters on their roster, it would appear as though they would like to add one more quality arm heading into Spring Training. They have been linked to other controllable young pitchers in the trade market like Arizona’s Patrick Corbin and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Plus, they have kicked the tires on free agent Yu Darvish.
Since they can field a rotation with their current personnel, Brian Cashman does not need to overpay for pitching. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordon Montgomery already represent an intimidating pitching staff. That said, expect Cashman to pounce if the deal is right.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
CC Sabathia‘s return to the Bronx may not be as obvious as most Yankees fans would like to think. George A. King III of the New York Post reported Sunday that the Los Angeles Angels discussed signing the veteran lefty.
Sabathia, 37, expressed interest in re-signing with the Yankees after his seven-year, $161 million contract signed in 2009 expired. CC pitched to a 14-5 record and a 3.69 ERA in the final season of his deal. Overall in pinstripes, he was 120-73 with a 3.75 ERA. He led the MLB in wins in 2009 and 2010, and was the ALCS MVP in 2009. He won his only World Series with the Yankees in 2009.
The Yankees were reportedly reaching out to Sabathia after failing to land RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani. Now, the Angels have Ohtani and are trying to snatch Sabathia from the Bombers, too. Sabathia would fit perfectly in the back of an already scary Yankees rotation.
If they are unable to re-sign Sabathia, the Yankees are reportedly in on RHP Alex Cobb. They also have been dangling the talented OF Clint Frazier as trade bait since they recently acquired reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with the Miami Marlins. The Bombers are reportedly asking for a top-line starter plus prospects for Frazier.
The Yankees also have starting pitching depth available in their minor league system. Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield are considered as close to MLB-ready as the Yankees have. They are Top 5 prospects in the Yankees system, and rated as Top 100 overall by MLB.com.
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):
- INF Gleyber Torres *
- OF Estevan Florial
- LHP Justus Sheffield
- RHP Chance Adams
- 3B Miguel Andújar *
- RHP Albert Abreu *
- RHP Jorge Guzman
- RHP Luis Medina
- SS/2B Thairo Estrada *
- 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.