Monday morning news and notes: 1/18/16

Happy Monday morning, everyone.

It has been a while since I’ve posted and I figured, why not start off with an entry talking about what other writers have written? We’ll look at some Yankees news, and some news from around baseball, so grab a cup of joe, sit back and relax.

Yankees Stuff

First up, Ken Rosenthal, in his column on Fox Sports, posted this morning at 8:00 a.m., expounded on the Yankees and Yoenis Cespedes. Amazingly, it’s January 18 and Cespedes has not been signed by anyone. Yesterday, Peter Gammons suggested that the Astros go in on Cespedes and today, Rosenthal suggested the Yankees trade Brett Gardner for a pitcher, then sign Cespedes.

Such a move would require a trade of left fielder Brett Gardner, who is under contract for three more seasons and owed $38 million. A Gardner deal, however, would be difficult to pull off this late in the off-season, and any pitcher the Yankees acquired for him would need to be inexpensive if the team also was signing Cespedes.

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Arbitration Update: Yanks Settle With Two, File Salaries With Four

The deadline for teams to come to terms with their arbitration-eligible players or submit salary figures for arbitration was yesterday, and the Yankees were able to reach new 1-year deals with 2 of their 6 eligible players.  They agreed to a 1-year, $4.3 million deal with Michael Pineda and a 1-year, $3.2 million deal with Dustin Ackley.  Those figures were right in line with the MLBTR projections.

They did not come to a deal with Aroldis Chapman, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and Didi Gregorius, although it was reported that both sides exchanged figures in all 4 cases.  The most notable figures were Chapman’s.  Via Jon Heyman, Chapman filed for $13.1 million and the Yankees filed for 9.  I’m sure they will agree to something in between and it won’t be a huge deal, but the idea that the Yankees move in and swung a trade for the best closer in baseball only to turn around and lowball him on his salary is pretty comical.  … Click here to read the rest

Should the Yankees Consider Justin Upton?

Justin Upton

Courtesy of Getty Images

(Editor’s Note- This post originally appeared on ESPN’s SweetSpot yesterday evening.  Thanks to the mothership for giving us a shout out)

The New York Yankees have yet to add any unrestricted free agents of note this offseason and have made it known that they are waiting until their big contracts come off the books until they go back into the high-priced free agent pool. They have managed to improve through trades for Starlin Castro and Aroldis Chapman, but not spending any money has left the team still weak in a few areas and with many questions.

There is, however, a free agent out there in his prime who could be exactly what the Yankees need to make another playoff push in 2016.

The top areas of concern may be the middle of the order and right-handed power. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran all turned back the clock in 2015 and were extremely productive when healthy.… Click here to read the rest

Thursday Morning Links: 1/14/16

Good morning, gang.  We’re going to go double efficient and use the intro space to touch on the Anthony Swarzak acquisition from yesterday.  Jon Heyman had it first and it’s a MiL deal with an invite to spring camp that becomes a $750,000 deal if Swarzak makes the MLB roster.  Swarzak has pitched to a 4.45/4.17/4.45 slash in 450+ Major League innings, most of them as a middle reliever.  Have to think he would serve in that role as a Yankee and he could have a twinge of extra value as a guy with starting experience.  Now onto the links.

– On Monday, Chad Jennings had some thoughts from Cash on positional plans for Castro, A-Rod, and Dustin Ackley this season.

– On Tuesday, SG of RLYW commented on the latest W-L projections for the 2016 Yankees.

– On Wednesday, Mike Axisa explained how the Yanks could use their bench flexibility to support a 6-man rotation.  That would actually be pretty cool, to see them start using the back end of the roster as a flexible spot determined by upcoming schedule and need.… Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Six Yankees File For Arbitration

Last night was the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to file, and as expected all eligible players on the Yankees did so.  Thanks to the recent acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, the Yanks are up to 6 arb-eligible guys.  Here’s the complete list with salary predictions courtesy of MLBTR:

There’s no doubt that the Yankees will come to terms with all of these guys in the weeks to come.  What will be interesting to see is whether they go the extra step and try to sign anybody to an extension.  They’ve got some worthy candidates in Pineda and Eovaldi, and I could see them working something out with Didi.  It would probably save them a few bucks compared to letting him go year-to-year for the next 3 years, especially if he continues to improve offensively.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees Fill 40-Man Roster With A 3-Player Trade

The Yankees have been cruising around with 2 open 40-man roster spots for a while, which is unfamiliar territory for them.  They filled those spots yesterday by making a 2-for-1 trade with the Dodgers, bringing in left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson and utility infielder Ronald Torreyes for upper-level MiL third baseman Rob Segedin.  There’s also a player to be named later or cash considerations that the Yankees will send along eventually to complete the deal.

There are obviously better options for filling out those final 2 roster spots, but with the Yankees not showing any willingness thus far to play in the deep end of the free agent pool this wasn’t a bad Plan B .  Olson is a 26-year-old converted starter who actually made the Opening Day roster for the Mariners as a reliever last season.  He wasn’t very good (5.40 ERA, higher BB rate than K rate in 13.1 innings pitched) and then he struggled a bit upon returning to Triple-A before getting worked back in as a starter at the end of the season.  … Click here to read the rest

Gary Sanchez: Average Defensive Catcher?

Gary Sanchez

Today, Baseball Prospectus announced their new defensive statistics for minor league catchers. Catcher defense has always been very hard to measure, especially at the minor league level. Here’s what they’re able to give us:

  • Controlling the running game (Swipe Rate Above Average, SRAA, and Takeoff Rate Above Average (TRAA)
  • Blocking (Errant Pitches Above Average, EPAA)
  • Framing (Called Strikes Above Average, CSAA)
  • Total (FRAA)

Missing here is the dark matter of catcher defense: game calling, sequencing, psychology, etc. However, this is overall pretty comprehensive. So where does Gary Sanchez rank?

  • Running Game: 0 runs
  • Blocking: 0 runs
  • Framing: +3.0 runs
  • Total: +3.0 runs

This is remarkable in how boring it is. Sanchez was a league-average Triple-A catcher in 2015. Given his hitting talent, that is a big deal. An average defensive catcher was worth something in the 1.5-2 win range alone in 2015. If he were to hit something conservative like .252/.320/.453, which is what Chris Young hit last season, we’re talking about a 3.5-4.0 win player.… Click here to read the rest

Quick Hit: Girardi Names Chapman The New Closer

Joe Girardi was on YES’ “Yankees Hot Stove” show last night with Bob Lorenz and Jack Curry, and he talked a lot about how he plans to utilize his group of new players this season.  Obviously everybody knows what the big story is in there and Joe didn’t waste any time addressing it.  He came out and said that Aroldis Chapman will be the closer going into Spring Training this year, with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances serving as co-primary setup men.

Not exactly earth-shattering news in and of itself, but noteworthy in that the announcement was a major deviation from Girardi’s strategy last year when there was the Betances/Miller closer competition.  As Curry pointed out, Joe waited until May of last season to officially declare Miller the closer.  This season he’s making the call over a month before pitchers and catchers report.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the decision.  It was assumed that Chapman would be taking over the closer role the minute the Yankees traded for him.  … Click here to read the rest

Roster Moves: Yankees Sign 2 More MiLers, Trade For A Pitcher

The replenishment of organizational depth continued yesterday, as the Yankees made a flurry of small moves.  They signed infielder Jonathan Diaz and right-handed pitcher Tyler Jones to MiL deals and acquired righty reliever Kirby Yates from the Cleveland Indians for cash.

Diaz is a 30-year-old Minors lifer with a pretty wild .227/.352/.295 career tripleslash who has played primarily second base and shortstop, although he can also be used at third and fake it in the outfield.  Jones is a 26-year-old Milwaukee native with a 3.81 ERA and 294 strikeouts in 250.1 career MiL innings pitched.  I imagine Diaz will serve as the Triple-A bench infielder while Jones could see time in both the Trenton and SWB bullpens this season.

Yates has pitched over 50 MLB innings over the last 2 seasons for the Rays and was basically given to Cleveland a few months back.  His ERA and FIP numbers aren’t great in the show, but he does boast a 25.4% K rate and his MiL strikeout numbers were even better.  … Click here to read the rest