Report: Yankees Sign RHP Scott Baker To MiL Deal

Via Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed right-hander Scott Baker to a MiL contract.  There’s been talk for a while on whether or not they would add some cheap potential rotation depth, and Baker fits that mold perfectly.

Baker, now 33, was a consistent 2-3 WAR pitcher for the Twins from 2007-2011.  He suffered an elbow injury and had TJS in 2012 and has never regained his form since then.  He’s pitched a total of 95.2 innings over the last 2 seasons, 1 with the Cubs and the other with the Rangers, and has had a FIP around 5.00 and precious few strikeouts during that time.

If you want to put a positive spin on this, you could point out how his IP and K numbers were better in 2014 than in 2013, but it’s difficult to see Baker being much of a contributor this year.  He’ll get his work in during ST and make a few appearances.  He’s a good emergency arm to have around in Triple-A if he stays there after spring camp, but nothing more.  …

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Tanaka Update: He Says “So Far So Good” For The Elbow During Offseason Workouts

Tanaka Workout

Courtesy of Kyodo

We’ve heard pretty consistent information on CC Sabathia‘s offseason rehab and workout programs, but precious little on Masahiro Tanaka and what he’s been up to.  That changed recently when Kyodo Sports in Japan did a quick story updating his offseason workout progress.

Tanaka has been back in Japan working out with some of his former Rakuten Golden Eagles teammates, and according to the article he has been running, doing fielding drills, and playing catch.  Those throwing sessions have included breaking balls, although it goes without saying that these sessions are a fraction of the intensity level of a real bullpen session or actual game throwing.

When asked about how everything was going, Tanaka said “So far so good — including that (the elbow),”  He also said he’s not planning on changing his approach now that he’s pitched in MLB and teams have had a chance to face him and scout him firsthand.

“Whether I’m the ace or I’m used in different roles within games, I’m always thinking I’m going to win, so I’m not going to change anything I do.”

The concern level for his UCL is going to be sky high all season, but for now this is all good news.  …

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Yanks Put 3 In Scout.com’s Top 100 Prospects

There’s another top 100 prospects list out, and the Yankees did a little better on this one.  Scout.com posted their top 100 yesterday afternoon, and while the Yanks did not put anybody in their top 50, they did have 3 representatives in the 51-100 section.  Luis Severino was 51st, Aaron Judge was 57th, and Greg Bird was 96th.

Severino’s inclusion and team-high ranking on this list goes to show how widely spread the opinions on him are, and once again exemplifies the high level of subjectivity and personal bias that goes into each and every one of these rankings.  Everybody has their own thoughts, their own criteria, and that’s what makes this type of stuff fun and interesting to follow if nothing else.

For the sake of comparison to Law’s list, Scout.com’s top 5 was Bryant, Correa, Buxton, Lucas Giolito, and Francisco Lindor.  Addison Russell was 8th.

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Quick Hit: Yanks Put Judge And Bird In Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects List

The Keith Law prospect extravaganza rolls on today as he unveiled his top 100 MLB prospects list a little while ago.  The Yankees were represented by 2 players on the list: Aaron Judge at #23 and Greg Bird at #80.

The full write-up and list is Insider-only (of course), but here’s what Law had to say about Judge:

“He showed outstanding plate discipline and ability to make contact in his first full year in pro ball while giving glimpses of the huge raw power you’d expect from someone of his build…

… He’s an above-average defender in right, faster than you’d expect, with the arm to profile there and the potential to post strong triple-slash numbers if he can make that one big adjustment.”

And on the Birdman:

“Bird’s swing is very short to the ball, and he accelerates his hands quickly for hard contact to all fields, rarely putting the ball on the ground because he squares it up so frequently.

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Keith Law Ranks Yankee Farm System 20th In MLB

This is super late, but Keith Law of ESPN released his organizational farm system rankings yesterday.  He had the Yankees 20th out of 30 teams, which may seem a bit low to us Yankee fans.  The full article is Inisder-only, but this is what Law had to say about the NYY farm:

“The Yankees’ system still has more talent than production, as several key prospects continued to have trouble staying on the field, but a very strong 2013 draft class and a blowout year on the international front have the system trending up again.”

If you recall, 20th is exactly where Law had the Yankees last year.  I’d argue that a system that got a tremendous full season from Aaron Judge, monster years from guys like Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Rob Refsnyder, a bounce back year from Tyler Austin, American pro debuts from high-upside young players like Mateo, Molina, and Palma, and has more pitching depth than people might give it credit for is already trending up and deserving of a higher rank than 20th.  …

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Update On The Moncada Situation: The Wheels Are In Motion, Things Are Happening Even As We Speak

Not sure too many people saw the update to yesterday afternoon’s Yoan Moncada unblocking post, so here’s the full update as of early last night.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the policy requiring native Cubans to apply for and receive a specific unblocking license before they can be let into the United States has been changed by the US Treasury Dept.  Because he had already met the criteria required for the general unblocking license, Moncada has now been declared eligible to enter the US to play baseball, at least as far as the US government is concerned.

The burden now falls on MLB to verify Moncada’s identity and residency paperwork before officially declaring him a free agent.  MLB had been hiding behind the specific license policy as a way to avoid that responsibility and delay Moncada’s entry into the country, for reasons we’ll never be told but I assume I already know.  According to Passan’s report, MLB was working yesterday to set up a meeting with the US OFAC to go over the specifics of the policy change.  …

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Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes.  According to this report by Ben Badler, the holdup in getting him unblocked and eligible to sign does not reside with the US Dept. of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as many believed, but rather with MLB itself.

“Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s ‘general license,’ which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC…

“MLB issued the following statement to Baseball America on Sunday: ‘MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.’

Except, by the OFAC guidelines, Moncada has met the criteria of the general license to be considered unblocked, and he is not alone.

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Tuesday Morning News And Notes: 1/20/15

We’ll get back to the prospect-y goodness in a bit, but here’s a quick recap of what else was going on in Yankeeland yesterday:

– The top story of the day everywhere was the announcement of the Max Scherzer contract.  It’s 7 years and $210 million, or actually 14 years/$210 million when you factor in the 50% deferral.  Kudos to the Nats for being shrewd enough to pull that off, although something tells me if the Yankees tried to sign Scherzer for that exact deal with the sole purpose of shrinking the AAV it wouldn’t be allowed.

But whatever.  Good for Washington.  They have an absolute Murderer’s Row of starting pitchers now.  The Yankees said they were out on Scherzer the whole time and they were telling the truth.  One less stud pitcher they have to worry about in the AL.

– On the topic of stud starting pitchers, the Yankees have “inquired” about Cole Hamels according to Ken Rosenthal, but are not seriously trying to acquire him.  …

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Yanks Make Quick Work Of Remaining Arb-Eligible Cases, Re-Sign Pineda, Eovaldi, And Carpenter To 1-Year Deals

The Yankees have a reputation for quickly negotiating deals with their arbitration-eligible players before they even have to go to arbitration.  They showed why it’s a well-earned reputation yesterday by going full Lloyd Christmas and re-signing their 3 remaining arb-eligible guys in a matter of hours.

As first reported by Chad Jennings, they agreed to a 1-year/$2.1 million deal with Michael Pineda.  And as first reported by Andy Martino, they agreed to a 1-year/$3.3 million deal with Nathan Eovaldi and a 1-year/$1.3 million deal with David Carpenter.  Add in the Nova re-up earlier in the week and everybody got what they were projected to get by MLBTR with the exception of Carpenter, who came in 200k over slot.  Good for him.

The arb guys are taken care of, the Drew signing has been made official, and the 40-man roster is filled to the brim.  I’m starting to think the Yankees might be done making roster moves.

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