Tag: Danny Espinosa

Yankees Sign Neil Walker Amidst Flurry of Moves

Walker in; Cave, Espinosa and Holder out.

With just 17 days on the calendar until the Yankees open in Toronto, Brian Cashman made one last free agent splash. The team inked infielder Neil Walker to a one-year major-league deal worth to $4 million plus $500K in incentives for plate appearances.

Walker, who slashed .265/.362/.439 (114 wRC+) in 111 games between the Mets and the Brewers, found himself unemployed deep into the offseason after a 2017 that saw him place 15th in fWAR amongst second basemen with at least 400 plate appearances. He did miss 36 games in 2017 after suffering a partial tear in his left hamstring suffered June 14.

“We had some talks early in the winter that didn’t quite work out, and we went down different avenues of what else might be out there after that, but fortunately, things circled back here, and I’m just happy to be here on a contending team,” Walker told reporters prior to Monday’s tilt with the Minnesota Twins in Tampa.

The 32-year-old looks to fit in a couple different places for the Yankees. As a switch-hitter, he provides balance to a lineup that is mostly dominated by right-handed batters. His defensive versatility is also quite useful, given that he suited up at third base, second base and first base last season. Walker’s contract also allows the Yankees to move on from him if youngsters like Miguel Andújar or Gleyber Torres start knocking down the door to the big leagues.

Walker likely opens the season rotating between third, second and first depending on platoon splits and how the rest of the team is performing. His stats showed a huge disadvantage against lefties last season, though his career splits show just a 10-point difference between his skills from both sides of the plate.

The veteran had been working out at “Camp Jobless,” the Spring Training camp for free agents created by the MLBPA in Bradenton, Fla., for the time that it was open. Aaron Boone told reporters that Walker could appear in a Grapefruit League game as early as Thursday.

The beginning of Walker’s Yankees career could mark the end for outfielder Jake Cave. Cave, who was slashing .158/.304/.211 in 19 at-bats this spring, was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for the Yankees’ incoming signing. Cave had been added to the 40-man after the 2017 season to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent. He had hit .305/.351/.542 with 20 homers and 56 RBIs, both career-highs, between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017.

Cave fell out of favor in Yankees camp because of the team’s outfield glut and the success of Billy McKinney in camp. The Yankees have 10 days to trade, release or outright Cave to the minors if he clears waivers. He has never been outrighted before, so he will not have the right to decline the assignment if he clears waivers.

Walker’s signing also affected the spring of Danny Espinosa. The Yankees released the veteran infielder, and immediately gave his No. 14 jersey to Walker. Espinosa, who was trying to catch on as a veteran stopgap infielder or bench player, was hitting .160/.276/.320 in 12 spring games for the Bombers. He did hit one home run, and drove in four. The move is likely to allow the 30-year-old to pursue an opportunity with a club that has more playing time available at the big league level.

In his career, Espinosa has a .221/.297/.378 slash line with 98 home runs and 316 RBIs since he debuted for Washington in 2010. He struggled badly in 2017, however, bouncing between three teams and slashing a meager .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and 31 RBIs.

Lastly, the Yankees reassigned infielder Kyle Holder to minor league camp. Nothing out of the ordinary here, as the 23-year-old is projected to begin the season at Double-A Trenton. Known for his glove mostly, the Yankees’ first round pick from 2015 showed some promise at the plate in 10 games in camp. In 17 at-bats, he slashed .471/.500/.647 with three doubles and three RBIs.

Holder hit .271/.317/.350 in 104 games with Class-A Advanced Tampa, then put up strong numbers (.333/.367/.511) in 11 Arizona Fall League games.

Tyler Wade Leaves Game With Left Wrist Injury

We can exhale: “ice but no tests” for Wade.

UPDATE (March 10 at 3:28 p.m.): The injury to Wade is not as serious as originally thought, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

Wade will likely miss a game or two. A great young player catches a lucky break with what would’ve been a devastating injury.

“I’m fine. Scary more than anything else. I’m glad I’m ok,” Wade said to Newsday’s Erik Boland.

Yankees second baseman Tyler Wade left Saturday’s game with an apparent left wrist injury after diving for a ground ball hit by José Reyes of the New York Mets. He came up grasping the left wrist with great pain on his face.

Wade was slashing .318/.385/.364 with two RBIs coming into today’s contest. He was replaced at second base by Kyle Holder.

The 23-year-old looked to be grabbing the lead in the competition to start at second base for the Yankees on opening day. He is competing with Gleyber Torres, Ronald Torreyes, Danny Espinosa and Jace Peterson for the job.

At this point, the Yankees have had no official comment on the injury.

Game 5: Green vs. Blue (Jays)

The Yankees head west to Dunedin.

The Yankees are back on the road, as they take on the Toronto Blue Jays at their spring complex in Dunedin. Chad Green will get the ball as a starter today, making his first spring appearance.

Green was a revelation out of the bullpen last season. He finished the season with a stellar 5-0 record and 1.83 ERA (1.75 FIP). He struck out 13.4 batters per nine, while walking just 2.2. He comes into camp stretched out as a starter, though manager Aaron Boone noted “a lot would have to happen” for him to end up in the rotation.

Marco Estrada gets the ball for the Blue Jays. The 34-year-old had a disappointing season in the final year of the two-year, $26 million contract signed after the 2015 season. In 33 starts, he finished 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA (4.61 FIP) with 8.5 K/9, 9.0 H/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Not what you want from a guy making $14.5 million.

After his walkoff heroics last night, Miguel Andújar gets the start at third base and bats second. A ton of middle/utility infield candidates in the lineup today as well, with Danny Espinosa at second base, Jace Peterson at designated hitter and Ronald Torreyes at shortstop. Lastly, we get to see another start from Billy McKinney (this time in left), and Shane Robinson shifts to right field.

Today’s scheduled relievers for the Yankees are RHP Brady Lail, RHP David Hale, RHP J.P. Feyereisen and RHP Raynel Espinal.

Blue Jays’ Lineup:

  1. Devon Travis – 2B
  2. Yangervis Solarte – 3B
  3. Josh Donaldson – DH
  4. Justin Smoak – 1B
  5. Randal Grichuk – RF
  6. Russell Martin – C
  7. Steve Pearce – LF
  8. Kevin Pillar – CF
  9. Aledmys Díaz – SS

Yankees 8, Phillies 3: The First Blowout!

The Yankee offense had no difficulty finding the big hit Sunday afternoon in Clearwater, as they cruised to an 8-to-3 victory over their hosts, the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Bombers jumped out with a three-run first inning on the back of a Danny Espinosa double that cleared the bases. They added on in the fourth with a Ronald Torreyes sacrifice fly.

That 4-to-0 lead was in jeopardy in the bottom of the fourth. After a dominating first inning of work, Justus Sheffield struggled with his command in the second. A walk and a hit batter put him into trouble, and he paid for it. Odúbel Herrera plated one on a sacrifice fly, then Maikel Franco followed with a towering home run that spelled the end for Sheffield.

The Yankees offense then became the Jeff Hendrix show until the end of the game. He hit a grounder that Phillies first baseman Logan Moore could not handle, which allowed two to score. He then tacked on another RBI single in the eighth inning. The final run for the Yankees scored on a Rashad Crawford sacrifice fly. All in all, it was impressive to see how strong the Yankees lower prospects are.

A combined effort between Jordan Montgomery, Sheffield, Wade LeBlanc, Cale Coshow, Raynel Espinal and Giovanny Gallegos held the Phillies to just four hits, while striking out 12 batters.

The Yankees return to George M. Steinbrenner Field Monday for their first night game of the spring, as the Phillies will head east from Clearwater for another tilt against the Yankees in Tampa. Sonny Gray is scheduled to get his first in-game work of the spring. He faces fellow righty Ben Lively of the Phillies.

Game 3: Gumby’s Back

From one Pennsylvania team to the next.

It’s game three of Spring Training, and we get to see a real starting pitcher for the Bombers today. Jordan Montgomery makes his first start against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.

Montgomery is tasked with keeping the Yankees’ spotless spring record intact (although he’ll only throw two innings maximum). It was just last year that Montgomery was a revelation and forced his way North as the team’s fifth starter. The 25-year-old, drafted out of the University of South Carolina in 2014, went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA (4.07 FIP) in 29 starts for the team. He’s all but guaranteed to be in the rotation again, but the team will keep a watchful eye on his innings to avoid injuries.

His counterpart is another young starter with incredible talent: right-hander Aaron Nola. He was the seventh overall pick of the same draft where Montgomery was taken (Gumby went in the fourth round), and he debuted the following season at age-22. He impressed last season with a 3.54 ERA (3.27 FIP) and 9.9 K/9 rate at age-24. He, too, is set to be a huge piece of a young and talented Phillies rotation.

Some veterans have made the trip to Clearwater, as the lineup shows. I think a few things deserve highlighting: Gleyber Torres is starting at shortstop, even though the big-league availability is second base. Danny Espinosa is at the keystone, while Ronald Torreyes moves to third. There is a battle for that utility infielder spot. Lastly, the center field competition plays out with Jacoby Ellsbury in the field and Aaron Hicks at the designated hitter spot.

Scheduled relievers for the Yankees today are LHP Justus Sheffield, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Cale Coshow and RHP Raynel Espinal.

Phillies’ Lineup:
  1. Roman Quinn – CF
  2. J.P. Crawford – SS
  3. Nick Williams – LF
  4. Odúbel Herrera – DH
  5. Maikel Franco – 3B
  6. Andrew Knapp – C
  7. Tommy Joseph – 1B
  8. Dylan Cozens – RF
  9. Pedro Florimón – 2B

Yankees 4, Pirates 1: McKinney Wins It

The outfielder-turned-first-baseman hits the Yankees’ first homer at a perfect moment.

Billy McKinney gets a big moment under his belt early in Spring Training by belting a go-ahead three-run home run to win the Yankees’ matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Bombers opened scoring in the fourth with clutch hitting from an unlikely source: non-roster catcher Erik Kratz. Danny Espinosa and Ronald Torreyes walked, then Kratz singled to right field to score Espinosa for a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates responded with a monstrous solo home run by Gregory Polanco in the fifth inning off right-hander Dillon Tate. That was the extent of the Pirates on the board, however, as their other six hits amounted to nothing.

The score remained knotted at one until the ninth. Jace Peterson walked, Miguel Andújar singled and then McKinney launched his first homer (and the Yankees’ first homer) of the Spring out to right field.

Jonathan Holder pitched around a 1-out double by Cole Tucker in the bottom half of the frame to secure the Yankees’ second victory of the spring.

Next up: the Philadelphia Phillies at their complex in Clearwater.

Tigers 1, Yankees 3: Undefeated

The Yankees start off Spring Training on the right foot.

The Yankees are off to a great start this spring, grabbing a 3-to-1 win over the Detroit Tigers in the season opener.

The first inning was the only one where Yankees pitching tripped. Leonys Martín led off with a single for the Tigers, then moved to second on a deep fly ball from Nicholas Castellanos. After a groundout, Martín came into score on a Chad Huffman single. That run off Luis Cessa was all the Tigers got. After Cessa, Ben Heller, David Hale, Brady LailCale Coshow and Giovanny Gallegos combined for seven shutout innings.

The Yankees’ offense struck in the sixth inning. Tyler Wade led off with a hustle double, then moved to third on a balk during Kyle Higashioka‘s at-bat. Higashioka walked, Danny Espinosa then was hit by a pitch. Jake Cave drove Wade in on an RBI groundout, and then Jorge Saez finished the job with a two-run single to score Higashioka and Espinosa.

Both sides played a clean game with the exception of a fielding error by Wade at shortstop.

Tomorrow brings another game (isn’t baseball season great?) for the Yankees. Domingo Germán gets the ball at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla., to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Per NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty, notable names making tomorrow’s trip are: Frazier, Florial, K. Holder, Andújar, Wade, Austin, Espinosa, Drury, German, Warren, Tate, J. Holder, Kratz.

Yankees Acquire Brandon Drury From Diamondbacks in Three-Team Deal

The Yankees get the infield insurance they wanted since the Winter Meetings.

The Yankees made another splash after a long period of quiet, swinging a three-team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays. The bounty for the Yankees is versatile infielder Brandon Drury.

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports first reported that the Yankees were sending prospect second baseman Nick Solak to the Rays. Colleague Jon Heyman followed up minutes later reporting the Yankees would end up with Drury. The deal was completed with the Diamondbacks receiving outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays and prospect righty Taylor Widener from the Yankees.

The Yankees created a 40-man roster spot for Drury by designating outfielder Jabari Blash for assignment. Blash came to the Yankees in the Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell trade.

Drury had been a target of the Yankees since the Winter Meetings because he is cost-controlled and can play many positions. He hit .267/.317/.447 (92 wRC+) with 13 HR and 63 RBI in 135 games for the Diamondbacks in 2017. Drury is a pre-arbitration player and will make close to the league minimum in 2018. He also has two minor league options remaining.

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The infield competition becomes tighter with Drury in town. Second base and third base are open positions, with prospects Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar and Tyler Wade fighting against veterans like Drury, Ronald Torreyes, Jace Peterson and Danny Espinosa. Manager Aaron Boone has not ruled out breaking camp with two rookies at those positions, but the acquisition of Drury makes it look like only one spot will be filled that way.

Solak was ranked as the Yankees No. 8 prospect last season on the back of a .297/.384/.452 slash with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Solak was drafted in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2016 MLB Draft. He is ranked as the Rays’ No. 15 prospect.

He played outfield in college and is still working on a transition to second base. “He has the quickness and reliable hands for the position, though he doesn’t have the smoothest actions and some scouts believe he’s destined for center field,” reads an MLB.com scouting report.

Widener becomes the Diamondbacks’ No. 4 prospect. In 27 starts for High-A Tampa, Widener pitched to a 7-8 record and a 3.39 ERA. He struck out 129 batters compared to 50 walks, and opponents hit just .206 against him.

“Widener picked up velocity in his introduction to pro ball, as his fastball soared from 90-93 mph to 93-97. His mid-80s slider can be a wipeout pitch at times but lacks consistency. To prepare him for starting, the Yankees had him focus on refining his work-in-progress changeup during instructional league, with terrific results,” reads his MLB.com scouting report.

The Yankees have had good results with their returns in three-team deals with the Diamondbacks. That was how Didi Gregorius came to the team, as the Yankees dealt right-hander Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers for their shortstop. They also acquired Curtis Granderson from the Tigers with some help from the Diamondbacks.

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But, they did have the disastrous Randy Johnson trade in 2005, where the lefty had a 4.37 ERA in just two seasons in the Bronx.