Tag: Matt Holliday

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

 

Free Agency Begins

It’s Thursday, November 2. The champagne has barely dried from the Houston Astros World Series celebration that Sports Illustrated predicted three years ago. But now, it’s time to fire up the Hot Stove.

That’s right – the offseason, and free agency, gets underway today. The Yankees are not expected to be big spenders due to their well-publicized goal of getting under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Their big winter will come after the 2018 season.

Here are the 2017 Yankees that are now free agents:

  • Matt Holliday, DH
  • Todd Frazier, 3B/1B
  • Jaime García, SP
  • Michael Pineda, SP
  • CC Sabathia, SP

That group does not include Masahiro Tanaka, who has until Saturday, Nov. 4 to decide whether he will exercise his player option or remain under contract until after the 2020 season.

Of the names listed above, I think CC Sabathia is the most realistic bet to re-sign with the team. Sabathia said after the season that he wanted to finish his career in New York, and could be had on a deal similar to Andy Pettitte‘s in 2013: 1 year, $12 million.

I think the team will also make a run to re-sign Todd Frazier, who really proved to be a fantastic leader during the run to the American League Championship Series. However, I think he will receive multi-year offers elsewhere, and that does not fit into the Yankees long-term plans to hand third base over to either Miguel Andújar or Gleyber Torres in the near future.

The Yankees have an incredible amount of depth, and will be able to fill holes from within their system. Plus, they are known to be pursuing Japanese SP/DH/OF Shohei Ohtani should he leave NPB to come to the MLB. If Ohtani is not available or signs elsewhere, expect the Yankees to target either Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn.

A glaring need is a left-handed reliever that is not named Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees used Chasen Shreve to the tune of a 0.2 fWAR season in 2017, but that may not be enough going forward. They may make a run at someone like Mike Minor, who posted a 2.1 fWAR season out of the Kansas City Royals bullpen in 65 appearances.

I’ll do my best to bring the latest Hot Stove info as it comes.

Aaron Hicks Placed on 10-Day DL With Oblique Injury

After departing last night’s game early, outfielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.

Hicks exited after running down a ball hit by Hanley Ramírez in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game. He was replaced in center field in the following inning by Jacoby Ellsbury. Hicks missed 39 games with a right oblique strain earlier this season.

To fill his roster spot, the Yankees pulled a bit of a head-scratcher. They recalled left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees will play at least Sunday’s game with a fourth outfielder named Ronald Torreyes or Matt Holliday. The Yankees have both Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade, each with some corner outfield experience, on the 40-man roster. They could be summoned to the big leagues without the 10-day rule applying because of injury.

Presumably, Ellsbury will start in center field while Hicks is absent.

Aaron Hicks Injury Forces Yankees’ Hand on Cave/McKinney

With Aaron Hicks going down with yet another oblique injury, the Yankees could find themselves in a tough situation that greatly affects their future.

There are still doubts regarding the effectiveness of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s bat. Clint Frazier begins his rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton on Monday. The next top Yankee outfield prospect, Estevan Florial, has yet to crack Double-A with Trenton.

With 40-man rosters, the Yankees could do nothing. But, they need another outfielder to back up Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Sure, they could recall Tyler Austin or Tyler Wade, who have experience in the outfield corners. Sure, they could ask Matt Holliday to don an outfield glove and pray nothing bad happens.

Or, they could look to their Nos. 19 and 24 prospects: Jake Cave and Billy McKinney, respectively. Cave, 24, leads the RailRiders in batting average with his .328 clip for the 2017 season. Plus, he is tied with Ji-Man Choi for the team lead in home runs with 15. He has started 28 games in center field for Scranton, as well as 24 in right field and 12 in left field. He has just one error in the outfield this season. At his age, Cave is eligible for the Rule-5 draft. He knows all about that process, having spent 2017 Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds. Cave was returned to the Yankees on April 5, 2016. Cave is also eligible for Minor League free agency after the season.

Billy McKinney, though he profiles as a corner outfielder, could still help the Yankees down the stretch. His .312 average puts him behind just Cave and Miguel Andújar for the best mark on the RailRiders. He, too, has shown a power stroke by clobbering 10 home runs in the International League. He has played both outfield corners regularly. At age 23, the former first round pick is Rule-5 eligible.

Both players have impressed at the highest levels of the minor leagues. A rebuilding team could be willing to take a chance on either player through the Rule-5 Draft since both have shown quality outfield defense and a talented left-handed bat. The Hicks injury essentially forces the Yankees to look at both Cave and McKinney as outfield options down the stretch. They may not trust Ellsbury, and certainly do not want to rush their No. 2 prospect, Clint Frazier, back from injury.

Protecting either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney allows them to keep a valuable future asset in the system while filling a current need on the MLB roster.

Red Sox 1, Yankees 5: Holliday Brings Labor Day Weekend Fireworks

Matt Holliday certainly made his presence known in his return from the disabled list.

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The veteran hit a crucial three-run home run to put the Yankees ahead for good in the sixth inning of Saturday’s matinee in the Bronx. He went 1-for-4 overall in the game. His homer pushed Masahiro Tanaka to his third consecutive victory on the mound.

“These are big games. I’m excited,” Holliday said. “I want to be part of this. I want to be part of this team. I missed being around the guys. I’m going to try to enjoy it.”

Chase Headley smacked his 10th home run of the year to open the scoring for the Yankees in the second inning. The score became tied when Eduardo Núñez scored on a Tanaka wild pitch in the top of the sixth. Holliday’s homer came next, then the Yankees added their final insurance run in the seventh on an infield single by Gary Sánchez.

The Yankee bullpen came in to pitch the final two innings once the starter was lifted. David Robertson and Dellin Betances cruised through the last six outs to net win No. 11 for Tanaka.

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The win did not come without a negative for the Yankees, however. Center fielder Aaron Hicks was removed from the game in the top of the seventh inning after robbing Hanley Ramírez with an impressive catch. Jacoby Ellsbury replaced him, and the injury was listed as “tightness in his left oblique”. He missed time with a right oblique injury earlier this season.


Box Score

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Sep 2, 2017 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston (77-59) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 1
New York (72-63) 0 1 0 0 0 3 1 0 X 5 10 0
W: Masahiro Tanaka (11-10) L: Drew Pomeranz (14-5)
Boston Red Sox
HITTERS AB R H RBI BB SO HR AVG
Eduardo Núñez – SS 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 .309
Andrew Benintendi – LF 3 0 1 0 1 1 0 .280
Mookie Betts – RF 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 .262
Mitch Moreland – 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .252
Hanley Ramírez – DH 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 .244
Rafael Devers – 3B 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .287
Christian Vázquez – C 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 .290
Jackie Bradley Jr. – CF 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 .263
Tzu-Wei Lin – 2B 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 .283
TEAM TOTALS 32 1 6 0 2 7 0
BATTING:
2B: Núñez (32)
BASERUNNING:
CS: Devers (1)
FIELDING:
E: Devers (7, throw)
New York Yankees
HITTERS AB R H RBI BB SO HR AVG
Brett Gardner – LF 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .261
Aaron Hicks – CF 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .265
Jacoby Ellsbury – CF 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 .245
Gary Sánchez – C 4 0 3 1 0 0 0 .274
Aaron Judge – RF 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 .276
Didi Gregorius – SS 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .292
Chase Headley – 3B 4 2 3 1 0 0 1 .278
Todd Frazier – 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .210
Matt Holliday – DH 4 1 1 3 0 0 1 .230
Greg Bird – 1B 4 0 1 0 0 3 0 .155
Ronald Torreyes – 2B 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .295
TEAM TOTALS 34 5 10 5 2 8 2
BATTING:
3B: Ellsbury (3)
HR: Headley (10), Holliday (17)
RBI: Headley (53), Holliday – 3 (54), Sánchez (78)
Boston Red Sox
PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Drew Pomeranz – LHP 5.1 8 4 4 2 5 2 3.36
Brandon Workman – RHP 1.0 2 1 1 0 2 0 2.37
Fernando Abad – LHP 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.82
Austin Maddox – RHP 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
TEAM TOTALS 8.0 10 5 5 2 8 2
PITCHING:
Pitches-Strikes: Pomeranz: 105-64, Workman: 16-11, Abad: 8-4, Maddox: 11-9
New York Yankees
PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Masahiro Tanaka – RHP 7.0 5 1 1 2 3 0 4.54
David Robertson – RHP 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.32
Dellin Betances – RHP 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 2.29
TEAM TOTALS 9.0 6 1 1 2 7 0
PITCHING:
WP: Tanaka
Pitches-Strikes: Tanaka: 97-66, Robertson: 13-9, Betances: 12-9

Yankees Call Up Five Players as Rosters Expand

September 1 has arrived, and the Yankees have made widely expected roster moves to take advantage of expanded rosters.

With suspensions to Gary Sánchez and Austin Romine looming, the Yankees selected the contract of Erik Kratz from Triple-A. The Yankees traded for him from the Cleveland organization Thursday as depth. The 37-year-old veteran was slashing .270/.359/.472 with 13 home runs for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate. In 225 MLB games, he carries a .200/.248/.362 line. Luis Cessa moves to the 60-day disabled list to open a 40-man roster spot for Kratz.

Matt Holliday returns from the disabled list now that rosters have expanded. The veteran went .229/.349/.257 combined on his rehab assignment at Class-A Advanced Tampa and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It becomes hard to figure where he will get at-bats, given the return of Greg Bird and resurgence of Chase Headley.

The Yankees reinforce the bullpen by adding Ben Heller and Bryan Mitchell. Heller has been fantastic for Triple-A, with a 2.88 ERA and a 13.1 K/9 rate. Mitchell worked as a starter in Scranton, but has pitched mostly in long relief with the big league club. Jordan Montgomery also rejoins the Yankees.

Notable names to stay in the minors are Miguel Andújar, Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade. Both Austin and Wade were optioned to Scranton less than 10 days ago, and cannot come back unless there is an injury. There is no word on whether they will be promoted once 10 days have passed. Andújar, who has been on an offensive tear (currently on a 15-game hitting streak, .333/.379/.531 at Triple-A) remains in the Minors presumably to get full-time at-bats, continue working on his third base defense and help the RailRiders win a championship.

Game 82: Look Who’s Back

Pitchers CC Sabathia and Adam Warren rejoin the team from the disabled list for this Independence Day matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Sabathia returns to go for his eighth win of the season. He hasn’t pitched since June 13, when he suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring. Prior to that outing, he had won five consecutive starts with a 1.11 ERA in that span. Sabathia has started twice against Toronto this season, and the Yankees have won both times.

Veteran lefty J.A. Happ gets the ball for the Blue Jays. This will be his 10th start of the season as he missed more than a month with left elbow inflammation. In his career, he carries a 6-2 record and 3.78 ERA against the Yankees.

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With the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby looming, Aaron Judge gets another day at designated hitter. Clint Frazier patrols right field in his place. Gary Sánchez remains in the lineup behind the plate, even in the day game after a night game. Ronald Torreyes gets yet another start at second base.


Starlin Castro was seen taking ground balls prior to the game. Joe Girardi also said he was getting cage work. He hopes to be back to attend the All-Star Game in Miami. That’s about the only good injury news the Yankees have gotten.

Greg Bird may need exploratory surgery to figure out what is wrong with his ailing ankle. Similarly, the Yankees still do not know what has been bothering Matt Holliday. What was first explained as food poisoning turned into a viral infection. The team is still waiting on a prognosis for Tyler Austin‘s hamstring strain.

To make room on the roster for Sabathia and Warren’s reinstatements, the Yankees optioned right-handed pitchers Bryan Mitchell and Domingo Germán to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays
  1. José Bautista – RF
  2. Russell Martin – C
  3. Josh Donaldson – 3B
  4. Justin Smoak – 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales – DH
  6. Troy Tulowitzki – SS
  7. Steve Pearce – LF
  8. Kevin Pillar – CF
  9. Darwin Barney – 2B
New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Aaron Judge – DH
  3. Gary Sánchez – C
  4. Didi Gregorius – SS
  5. Chase Headley – 3B
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  7. Chris Carter – 1B
  8. Ronald Torreyes – 2B
  9. Clint Frazier – RF

Miguel Andújar Promoted to MLB, Holliday to DL, Carter to AAA

After earning his promotion from AA Trenton to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees No. 9 prospect Miguel Andújar is headed to The Show.

UPDATE (3:05 p.m. EDT): The team officially announced that Matt Holliday is heading to the disabled list with a viral infection. That clears an active roster spot for Miguel Andújar.

In the same announcement, the team also said that DFA’d first baseman Chris Carter had accepted his outright assignment to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Carter, in effect, replaces Andújar on the RailRiders’ roster.


After earning his promotion from AA Trenton to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees No. 9 prospect Miguel Andújar is headed to The Show. There are no reports on a counter-move, but Andújar himself tweeted from an airplane confirming his call-up.

Matt Holliday has not played since June 24 because of a debilitating allergic reaction. The most logical move would be to place him on the disabled list, retroactive to June 24. The Yankees were forced to promote No. 11 prospect Tyler Wade yesterday because of an injury to Starlin Castro.

Andújar’s hitting prowess prompted an invitation to Major League Spring Training, where he slashed .250/.276/.393 in 16 games. He started 2017 with AA Trenton Thunder, where he led the Eastern League with 52 RBIs at the time of his promotion to AAA. He continued to impress upon arrival in the International League, where he slashed .308/.379/.462 in seven games.

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Overall, his minor league slash of .312/.346/.491 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs makes the Yankees hope he can jumpstart their offense. With Chase Headley hitting .353 in his last 10 games, Andújar is not taking over the third base job. Andújar’s glove-work is also a bit shaky, as he has committed 11 errors so far in the minor leagues.

This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for updates as they come in.

Game 75: Keep the Momentum Going

As the Yankees struggle with more injury news, they look to build on last night’s win behind Luis Severino.

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The young righty looks to rebound from allowing a season-high six runs June 22 against the Angels. This start marks his second time facing the White Sox this season. He got the loss April 18, when he allowed four runs through eight innings. Through seven starts, Severino has yet to receive a loss on the road.

Tough lefty José Quintana counters for the White Sox. The Colombian has been linked to the Yankees through trade rumors for months on end, but has stayed put to become the White Sox ace. An All-Star last season, Quintana is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in June. He did not pitch when the two teams met in April.

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Brett Gardner gets the night off against the tough lefty. He is 2-for-7 (.286) lifetime against Quintana, but just 7-for-42 (.189) in his last 10 games. Rob Refsnyder starts in his place. With Starlin Castro on the DL, the Yankees promoted No. 11 prospect Tyler Wade. However, he will be on the bench in favor of Ronald Torreyes. Matt Holliday is still inexplicably sick, and Tyler Austin‘s hamstring is sore, so the latter is the designated hitter. Austin Romine starts at first base in his place.

Starting Lineups

New York Yankees
  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  2. Chase Headley – 3B
  3. Aaron Judge – RF
  4. Gary Sánchez – C
  5. Didi Gregorius – SS
  6. Tyler Austin – DH
  7. Ronald Torreyes – 2B
  8. Austin Romine – 1B
  9. Rob Refsnyder – LF
Chicago White Sox
  1. Yolmer Sanchez – 2B
  2. Melky Cabrera – LF
  3. José Abreu – 1B
  4. Avisaíl García – RF
  5. Todd Frazier – 3B
  6. Matt Davidson – DH
  7. Tim Anderson – SS
  8. Kevan Smith – C
  9. Adam Engel – CF