2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Saturday

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The trade deadline is creeping closer and closer. It’s less than 55 hours away right now, and so far the Yankees have made just one deal, the Aroldis Chapman swap. To be fair, it’s not like a ton of trades are happening around the league. There’s been one or two a day this last week, and none have been particularly exciting. Chapman’s been by far the best player traded this week.

Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s trade rumblings right here. Or try to, anyway. I’m going to be running around all day today, so I can’t promise prompt updates, but I’ll do my best. The Yankees tend to keep things close to the vest anyway. It’s not like the last few days have been full of rumors. Here are Friday’s rumblings and here’s what’s happening today. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:00am: Brian Cashman has been given the thumbs up to trade Ivan Nova, but not yet Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi. Ownership is still hanging on to that “this team can contend!” silliness. Hopefully it’s just posturing. [Joel Sherman]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees and Indians have discussed all sorts of trade scenarios, including some involving Carlos Beltran. Cleveland doesn’t have much payroll wiggle room though and that’s an obstacle. In my opinion the Yankees should be very willing to eat money if it means getting better players in return. Flex that financial muscle. [Jon Heyman]
  • 10:00am: Brian Cashman told the Giants very early on that they didn’t have the prospects to get Chapman or Andrew Miller. Harsh? Maybe. But it’s good to get that out there early rather than string the Giants along and waste everyone’s time. [Sherman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Nova hit hard, bats go quiet in 5-1 loss to Rays

I’ve seen more entertaining ballgames. Let’s put it that way. The Yankees dropped Friday’s series opener 5-1 to the Rays and the game was not terribly competitive. The Rays took a quick lead and New York never really came close to putting together a sustained rally. A blah game all the way around.

Bye Ivan. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Bye Ivan. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Nova, For The Last Time?
In what was possibly his final game as a Yankee, Ivan Nova couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning and he left jawing with home plate umpire Laz Diaz. To be fair, Diaz has been one of the worst umps in the game for years. Anyway, Nova got hammered Friday, and the damage would have been a lot worse than if not for some nice defense by Chase Headley and several great blocks by Brian McCann.

It took all of three pitches for the Rays to take a 1-0 lead, and after 12 pitches, they were up 2-0. Nova allowed first inning dingers to Logan Forsythe and Corey Dickerson, so he got the #obligatoryhomers out of the way early. He’s allowed a homer in 14 of his 15 starts this season, totaling 18 homers in 83.1 innings. That’s a 1.95 HR/9 for a guy who is supposed to be a sinkerballer. Not great, Bob.

The Rays scored their third run two innings later on what was ultimately scored a Didi Gregorius throwing error, but that had more to do with Starlin Castro flipping the ball too casually to second on a potential 4-6-3 double play, forcing Didi to rush the throw. Tampa should have had a runner on third with two outs after the double play. Instead they had a run home with a runner on second and one out.

Tampa’s other two runs came on back-to-back doubles in the fifth, and later a sac fly. They scored their five runs on six hits and three walks in 4.1 innings against Nova, and five of the six hits were for extra bases (two doubles, two homers, one triple). That’s pretty indicative of how hard they were hitting him. There were lots of rockets all over the field. Even the outs. It was not pretty. Nova’s location was awful, even by his standards.

The trade deadline is Monday, and based on everything we’ve heard the last few days, it seems inevitable that Nova will be traded before then. The pitching market is pretty wild right now — the Rangers trade for Lucas Harrell on purpose this week — so maybe the Yankees will get something more than nothing. Nova’s trade value wasn’t all that high and this game didn’t help matters.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

One Run, Again
For the 23rd time this season, the Yankees failed to score at least two runs Friday night. Those 23 games with zero or one run are the most in the AL and the third most in MLB, better than only the Mets and Brewers (24 each). The Yankees did have ten hits in this game, but all ten were singles. They are dead last in the AL with a .391 SLG as a team — that’s even sadder when you consider their home ballpark — are their ten games with no extra-base hits are tied for the second most in baseball. Only the Braves (14) have more. Yuck.

The Yankees put two runners on base with one out in the first and didn’t score, because of course. Their 35 first inning runs are the second fewest in baseball. Only the Phillies have fewer. They have 34. Gross. Jake Odorizzi predictably settled down and retired 18 of the next 20 batters, and one of the two baserunners reached on an infield single. The Yankees finally broke through against the bullpen, scoring their run on a walk (Brett Gardner) and two singles (McCann, Mark Teixeira), but by then it was too late. I miss runs. Those are fun. This team isn’t. They’re boring.

Leftovers
Chad Green threw 3.2 shutout innings after Nova and honestly, I don’t think he looked as good as his pitching line (3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). He allowed some very hard hit balls that just so happened to be right at people, and only 35 of his 67 pitches were strikes. Green faced 15 batters and threw only five first pitch strikes. Six of the 15 saw a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count. I still really like Green’s arm. This was one of those games that looks much prettier in the box score than it did in real life though.

Headley had two hits and Castro had no hits. The other seven starters had one hit apiece, and Alex Rodriguez came off the bench to provide a pinch-hit single. It was A-Rod‘s first game action since last Friday. I wish I was joking. He just sat on the bench for an entire week. It’s pretty amazing the Yankees would rather play with what amounts to a 24-man roster than release him, eat the rest of his contract, and use the roster spot on someone else. They have to pay the rest of the contract anyway.

And finally, the Yankees are 8-6 since the All-Star break against a pretty tough schedule, and according to FanGraphs their postseason odds have dropped from 8.1% to 7.4%. That recent hot streak was a total mirage built on unsustainably great pitching. The trade deadline is Monday and hopefully the Yankees do the smart thing and don’t stop selling at Aroldis Chapman. This isn’t a postseason team. Not even close.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings. The bullpen page is pretty useful. The announcer page? Not so much. Anyway, here is the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Leftovers
The Yankees and Rays will play the second game of this three-game series Saturday evening. That’s a 6:10pm ET start for whatever reason. Nathan Eovaldi and Drew Smyly are the scheduled starters.

DotF: Fowler extends hitting streak in Trenton’s win

High-A Tampa manager Pat Osborn spoke to Randy Miller about a whole bunch of his players, so check that out. Buried within the feature are a few injury updates. Here they are as well as the rest of the day’s notes:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin is done for the season with “a little meniscus issue that he’s getting repaired,” according to Osborn. I assume the “getting repaired” thing means surgery. Sucks. The good news is Clarkin’s arm is healthy. He was still able to throw 98 innings after missing all of last season with an elbow injury.
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren is currently throwing off a mound, which indicates he might actually pitch in games again at some point this season. He threw seven innings with High-A Tampa in April before getting shut down with some sort of elbow problem. Lindgren has surgery to remove a bone spur last year, remember.
  • This year Yankees’ farmhands will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, the league announced (PDF link). Last year they were on the Surprise Saguaros. Scottsdale will have have Angels, Phillies, Mets, and Giants prospects as well. The AzFL rosters are usually announced in late-August. Someone should really send me a mailbag question about who the Yankees might send this year, wink wink nudge nudge.
  • Both OF Dustin Fowler (No. 9) and OF Blake Rutherford (No. 18) made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, so make sure check that out. Rutherford’s hitting .370/.430/.617 (182 wRC+) in his first 22 pro games. That’ll do, kid.

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 loss to Pawtucket)

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 23-for-59 (.390) with six doubles, five homers, 15 walks, and 14 strikeouts in his last 18 games
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-3, 2 K
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 53 of 89 pitches were strikes (60%) … tenth time in 19 starts he’s allowed one earned run or less
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — all seven pitches were strikes … this starts his 20-day rehab assignment clock … he’s currently on the MLB DL with a hand/nerve issue
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 14 pitches were strikes (71%) … 72/7 K/BB in 50 innings at three levels this year

[Read more…]

Game 102: Ivan’s final game as a Yankee?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Aside from one Spring Training with the Padres as a Rule 5 Draft pick back in 2009, the Yankees are the only organization Ivan Nova has ever known. He’s been with the Yankees since July 2004, when they gave him an $80,000 bonus as a 17-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic. Only Alex Rodriguez has a longer tenure in the organization among all players.

Tonight very well might be Nova’s final game as a Yankee. The trade deadline is Monday and reports indicate the Yankees are planning to trade Ivan one way or another. He’s going to be a free agent this winter and he’s not a qualifying offer candidate, so the team would rather get something for him now instead of nothing after the season. Nothing personal. It’s just a sensible baseball move.

Nova’s thrown 724.2 innings for New York since 2010 and he’s been almost perfectly league average (95 ERA+). He’s had some big time peaks and valleys along the way, no doubt about it, but for a low-profile international signing, Ivan turned out pretty damn good. It’s sort of weird tonight might be his last outing as a Yankee. Here’s the Rays’ lineup he’ll face and here’s the Yankees’ lineup that will back him up:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Ivan Nova

The weather in St. Petersburg doesn’t really matter. It’ll be a climate controlled 72 degrees or so inside Tropicana Field tonight. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Friday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

As you may have heard, a fake rumor was going around last night that Carlos Beltran had been traded to the Indians. Actually, it wasn’t a fake rumor, per se. It came from this MLB.com article with a bunch of trade suggestions, and Twins people put the deals up on the dang Target Field scoreboard. The internet was abuzz for a few minutes, but no, there was no Beltran trade. Not yet, anyway.

The trade deadline is less than 80 hours away now, and since the Aroldis Chapman trade earlier this week, things have been rather quite around the Yankees. That’s not all that uncommon. They tend to keep things close to the vest. You can read through Thursday’s rumors right here. There’s not too many of them though. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related trade rumors right here, so check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: The Rangers have remained in contact with the Yankees about Ivan Nova as well as Andrew Miller and Beltran. Possibly Michael Pineda too. Texas is short on pitching, and they just lost Prince Fielder to season-ending neck surgery, so they have a hole at DH too. [Joel Sherman]
  • 1:39pm: The Nationals are believed to be willing to trade Lucas Giolito for Andrew Miller, straight up. This seems like a leak designed to get someone else to blink. Who? I’m not sure. [Jon Morosi]
  • 1:56pm: Word is the Yankees would need “three times as much” as they received for Chapman to trade Miller. That doesn’t mean they want 12 players in return (duh), they want higher quality players. That makes sense. The Cubs got one postseason run from Chapman. Whoever gets Miller gets three postseason runs. [Jon Heyman]
  • 2:15pm: The Yankees would not trade Miller for Giolito straight up. I’m in the minority, but I agree with that. The Yankees are right to demand more. Giolito’s great, but he’s not some kind of generational talent, and his performance in the minors hasn’t matched the stuff. [Heyman]
  • 2:22pm: If the Nationals are willing to trade Giolito for Miller, they’ve yet to approach the Yankees about it. [Sherman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

7/29 to 7/31 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

(Getty)
(Getty)

Time for the final series before the trade deadline. The Yankees have already made one huge move by sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. Will they do anything else before Monday? My guess is yes. This group could look a lot different in a few days. The Yankees are in Tampa for three games against the Rays this weekend, by the way.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rays just wrapped up a West Coast trip in which they won four of nine games. They lost four of the final five games on the trip though. Tampa’s season completely raveled in mid-June. They were 31-32 on the morning of June 16th, and since then they’ve lost 29 of 37 games. Woof. No other team has lost more than 22 games since June 16th. The Rays are 39-61 with a -57 run differential overall. Only the Twins and the ain’t even tryin’ Braves have a worse record this season. The Yankees won two of three both times these clubs met earlier this season, including a series at Tropicana Field in late-May.

Offense & Defense

The Rays aren’t good at anything. Seriously. Below-average all the way around, even their vaunted pitching staff. Tampa is averaging only 3.95 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+. They have a 58 wRC+ as a team in high-leverage spots. Good gravy. The Rays are without OF Desmond Jennings (hamstring) and OF Mikie Mahtook (hand). Neither is expected back this series.

Miller. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Miller. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Manager Kevin Cash stacks the top of the lineup the same way pretty much every game: 2B Logan Forsythe (113 wRC+) leads off, SS Brad Miller (104 wRC+) bats second, and 3B Evan Longoria (135 wRC+) bats third. Longoria’s power has come back this year, it seems. He’s hit 23 homers in 98 games this season after hitting 22 and 21 homers the last two years. DH/OF Corey Dickerson (93 wRC+), UTIL Steve Pearce (147 wRC+), and 1B Logan Morrison (85 wRC+) occupy the rest of the middle of the order.

CF Kevin Kiermaier (90 wRC+) and RF Steven Souza (88 wRC+) are the other notable regulars. OF Oswaldo Arcia (87 wRC+) and OF Brandon Guyer (110 wRC+) get platoon duty while C Curt Casali (54 wRC+) is the primary catcher. C Luke Maille (30 wRC+) is the backup. IF Tim Beckham (93 wRC+), the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, is finally carving out a role as a part-time player. Imagine if the Rays had taken Buster Posey, the consensus top prospect in the 2008 draft, instead of Beckham. Everything would be different.

Tampa is not a good defensive team. In fact, that’s partially by design. They accepted defensive downgrades at first (Morrison) and short (Miller) as well as behind the plate (Casali) in an effort to add offense. It hasn’t really worked. Kiermaier is an outstanding defender in center and Longoria’s really good too. Souza and Forsythe are fine. That’s about all there is to say about that. Miller has a knack for hilarious errors, just FYI.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY)
Two pitchers reportedly on the trade block will be on the mound tonight. Unless they’re traded within the next few hours, of course. Odorizzi, 26, has a 4.10 ERA (4.14 FIP) in 21 starts and 118.2 innings so far this season. His strikeout (22.5%), walk (7.2%), and grounder (37.2%) rates are the same as always, though he has been more homer prone (1.37 HR/9) this year than in the past. Odorizzi has a pretty big reverse split this year, which is not unusual for him. His best pitch is a nasty mid-80s splitter, which he uses to neutralize lefties. A low-to-mid-90s four-seamer sets it up. Odorizzi also throws a mid-80s cutter/slider hybrid and a soft low-70s curve. The Yankees have seen Odorizzi once before this season, when he flirted with a no-hitter. Starlin Castro ended up hitting a two-run bomb to spoil things. The Yankees won that game despite being one-hit.

Saturday (6:10pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. TB) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (vs. NYY)
It’s probably not a good thing when you trade a legitimate ace and two years later the main piece in the return has a 5.42 ERA (4.44 FIP) in 19 starts and 111.1 innings. The 27-year-old Smyly has battled injuries and inconsistency since coming over in the David Price deal, and this summer he’s been both fly ball (32.4%) and homer (1.70 HR/9) prone. His strikeout (23.5%) and walk (6.3%) rates are good though. Both lefties and righties have hit him hard this season. Smyly is a four-pitch southpaw, using a low-90s four-seamer and a mid-80s cutter to set up his low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. The Yankees saw Smyly back in April and, naturally, he held them to one run in seven innings.

Babyface Snell. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Babyface Snell. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Sunday (1:10pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TB) vs. LHP Blake Snell (vs. NYY)
Coming into the season the 23-year-old Snell was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. The Rays selected him years ago with the compensation pick they received for losing Brad Hawpe (!) as a free agent. That was back in the old Type-A/B free agent days. Snell has a 3.05 ERA (3.12 FIP) in eight big league starts and 44.1 innings. His walk rate (11.4%) is a tad high and his strikeout (20.7%) and grounder (42.2%) rates are close to average. He hasn’t given up many homers at all (0.20 HR/9) and his platoon split is negligible. Snell sits in the mid-90s with his heater, and his array of offspeed pitches includes a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. He uses each of his three offspeed pitches at least 12% of the time too, so he throws everything. The Yankees saw Snell back in April — that was his MLB debut — and scored just one run in five innings.

Bullpen Status

The Rays have a bullpen with relievers in it. Some are good, some are bad. Their closer was an All-Star because the rules say the Rays needed an All-Star. That about sums up the state of Cash’s relief crew. Boring. Generic. Here’s the bullpen.

Closer: RHP Alex Colome (2.27 ERA/3.17 FIP)
Setup: LHP Xavier Cedeno (3.62/2.40), RHP Erasmo Ramirez (3.90/3.56)
Middle: RHP Kevin Jepsen (5.77/5.44), LHP Enny Romero (5.58/5.16)
Long: RHP Matt Andriese (2.70/2.91), RHP Dylan Floro (4.15/2.56)

Jepsen couldn’t get anyone out when we saw him in Minnesota a few weeks back. He’s since managed to land in Tampa. Romero throws very hard and Erasmo is kind of a multi-inning fireman reliever. Cash is pretty creative with him. Cedeno is a true left-on-left matchup guy who Cash uses for full innings for some reason. I dunno.

Like the Yankees, the Rays had an off-day yesterday. They were coming back from their West Coast and the rules say you have to have an off-day when flying west to east. Their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get. Same with the Yankees, but check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway.

Mailbag: Sale, Miller, Didi, Cabrera, Beltran, Hicks, Guerra

Got 16 questions for you in the mailbag this week. 16! You’re lucky I like you. The RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address is the best way to send us stuff.

Sale. (Todd Warshaw/Getty)
Sale. (Todd Warshaw/Getty)

Brian asks: Currently, the Yankees can’t offer the best package for Chris Sale. But if the Yankees immediately trade Chapman, Miller and Beltran for the best prospects they can get for them, and then flip some combination of those new prospects and their current prospects, do you think the Yankees could land Sale? Do you think the Yankees should do that?

Brian obviously sent this question in before the Aroldis Chapman trade, which has changed the farm system dynamic quite a bit. The White Sox are said to be seeking a package of five top prospects for Sale, which probably means they’ll take four top prospects plus a fifth piece. I assume they left themselves some wiggle room to come down a bit from the initial ask.

The Yankees could make a substantial offer right now. For example: Jorge Mateo or Gleyber Torres, plus Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and a lesser fifth piece. That’s quite an offer. An elite shortstop prospect, an MLB ready-ish starter, an MLB ready-ish outfielder, an MLB ready-ish catcher, and a fifth guy. I’m not saying the Yankees should do that, but they could put that on the table. The White Sox would have to think long and hard about that one.

As awesome as Sale is, I’m not sure it makes sense for the Yankees to do that. I’m not saying it’s an unreasonable package, just to be clear. That’s about what I think it’ll take to get it done. It’s just that, given where the Yankees are right now, they need as much young talent as possible. Sale is awesome. Top five starter in the game and he’s signed cheap through 2019. The problem is that’s a win now move and the Yankees aren’t a win now team.

Justin asks: I keep hearing that Miller’s trade value won’t ever be higher… Other then one less season of control and also barring injury and performance decline, shouldn’t he have similar value next season?? Relievers are always needed this time of year.

Similar value, but not the same value. These next few weeks are pretty valuable. They’re the difference between getting Andrew Miller for three postseason runs rather than only two postseason runs. Should the Yankees hold on to Miller through the deadline — that’s what I think will happen — he’s still going to have sky high trade value in the offseason. Still more than Chapman did at the deadline. He’ll just be slightly less valuable than he is right now. Getting that extra postseason run from a guy like Miller is huge. Elite relievers have more impact in the postseason than they do the regular season because the built-in off-days allow them to pitch pretty much every single game.

Anonymous asks: It seems like more and more people have recently been attacking didi up in the zone or even up out of it. Is this nothing, a problem he has always had or a new found weakness opponents are exploiting?

Hmmm, I hadn’t noticed this. I remember last year when Greg Bird came up it was painfully obvious teams were attacking him with high fastballs. I haven’t noticed that with Didi Gregorius. Let’s look at Didi’s numbers on pitches in the upper third of the strike zone and above (via Baseball Savant):

% Pitches AVG ISO Exit Velo
April 32.7% .238 .143 88.3
May 34.1% .148 .000 84.9
June 27.9% .250 .200 89.6
July 29.9% .333 .095 84.6
Didi’s 2016 31.0% .236 .101 86.7
MLB AVG 30.7% .227 .145 86.4

Looks like this may be nothing. Gregorius has not seen more pitches up in the zone recently — if anything he’s seen fewer, though I think that’s just the normal month-to-month randomness that exists in baseball and not a sign teams are changing their approach against Didi — and his results are more or less league average. He doesn’t hit for as much as power on high pitches, and that makes sense to me. Based on what I’ve seen the last year and a half, Gregorius definitely strikes me as a low ball hitter.

Kip asks: There has been a lot of talk previously on how great A-rod is as a coach for younger players. If the Yankees decide to sell does it make more sense to have A-rod being on your bench and helping the kids rather than cutting him and adding an additional shuttle arm or utility bench guy which doesn’t really factor much when you aren’t planning on being competitive this year?

Alex Rodriguez has long had a great reputation for helping young players and being a mentor. It’s impossible to quantify that but I do think he has a real positive impact on the kids. Playing what with amounts to a 24-man roster stinks though. A-Rod doesn’t play much and it’s not like he can even play the field late in a blowout. The roster construction is so bad right now.

Rosters expand in a month, at which point the Yankees a) can more easily carry Alex, and b) figure to call up some prospects. Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Ben Gamel will be up at the very least. Maybe Judge too. I’d like to see A-Rod stick around to work with them, so yeah, I’d ride it out with the 24-man roster in August. If we were in April rather than August, then forget it. Give me the roster spot over the mentorship.

James asks: Do teams every include a conditional PTBNL when trading a rental player? Something like “if the team receiving Chapman is unable to resign him team gets x player from the Yankees”

I’ve never heard of that happening but I’m sure it has happened somewhere along the line. Players to be named later have to be named within six months, so if you trade a guy for one of those conditional PTBNLs at the deadline, that gives the team until January to re-sign him. But! Why wouldn’t you just agree to re-sign him and not make it official until, say, February, to skirt the PTBNL agreement? I guess that could ruin working relationships.

Makaikai asks (short version): Is there a limit on how many perks teams can provide for their minor league players, such as better travel and lodgings and food?

Nope and this has long been considered a spot where a team could give themselves a possible competitive advantage. Spending a little more on things for minor leaguers such as a nutritionist or better travel or better equipment could help players develop better and improve morale. It could also help you lure minor league and international free agents, as well as tough to sign draft picks.

Why hasn’t a team done this? Mostly because owners don’t like to spend money. So few minor leaguers actually make it, remember. Shelling out extra cash for a nutritionist or a better bus for your Single-A team when only one or two guys on the roster will actually stick in the big leagues isn’t enough of a reward, I guess. Also, the MLBPA doesn’t care about minor leaguers, only their members (40-man roster players). They’d rather see the owner spend that $200,000 on a 40-man roster player than a new minor league bus. (I have no idea how much buses cost. Does $200,000 sound right?)

Gleyber. (Tim Holle/Brevard County Manatees)
Gleyber. (Tim Holle/Brevard County Manatees)

Craig asks: Ok, with Torres and McKinney, where do you think the Yankees’ farm system ranks now?

The Yankees might have a top ten system right now. Back half of the top ten, but top ten. Somewhere around eighth or ninth or tenth. Maybe a touch lower. They’ve got five no doubt about it top 100 guys (Torres, Mateo, Judge, Sanchez, Blake Rutherford) and one other fringe top 100 guy (James Kaprielian), plus several big time risers (Miguel Andujar, Chance Adams). The 2014-15 international class is starting to arrive too. The Yankees have impact prospects at the top of the farm system and depth in the low minors. If that’s not good enough to be a top ten system, I’m not sure what else it’ll take.

Greg asks: With the addition of Torres at Tampa, are the Yankees creating a current logjam at SS/2B? Is there enough room at the various teams to find full-time spots for everyone?

It’s definitely not ideal having so many players splitting time at shortstop and other positions, but at the end of the day, you take the talent and sort it out later. Torres has never played a position other than short in his career, and my guess is he’s going to get a crash course at second base a la Mateo fairly soon. The kid just got traded and is still learning the staff and everything, so they’re giving him some time to catch his breath right now.

This is more of a “problem” than a problem. In a perfect world everyone would play their natural position every day until they couldn’t do it anymore. Shortstops tend to be great athletes, so moving them around to different positions isn’t as big a deal. And of course, there’s going to be some attrition. Players will have to share shortstop in the low minors, but they time to get to Double-A and Triple-A, there will be fewer bodies to compete with for playing time. Not everyone will make it.

Daniel asks: Do you think Hal/Levine pushed for Warren as a second piece to “stay competitive”? Could the Yankees have gotten stronger secondary pieces if they didn’t insist on a major league reliever in the deal? Thanks!

That’s what has been reported, that one of the reasons Hal Steinbrenner signed off on the trade was the inclusion of Adam Warren, who could step in to replace Chapman as a trusted reliever. It’s silly, but it is what it is. And nah, I don’t think they could have gotten better secondary pieces by not taking Warren. Warren’s not a nobody. It’s not like they were going to get Torres and Eloy Jimenez instead. That alternative probably would have been some other okay-ish prospect, maybe not even one as good as Billy McKinney. That trade went so much better than I ever could have imagined that I feel sorta silly wondering how it could have been even better.

Rick asks: I see the Yankees just promoted Oswaldo Cabrera to Pulaski from the GCL after just 7 games (.455/.471/.818). When can I start getting excited about this 17 year old?

Whenever you want! The Yankees signed Cabrera for only $100,000 last year, so it wasn’t a high profile signing. The Yankees do have a good track record at find quality players on the cheap though. Both Severino and Mateo signed for under $300,000 back in the day, you know. Ben Badler (sub. req’d) gave a mini-scouting report on Cabrera in a chat a few weeks back:

He’s a good player and a nice signing by the Yankees for $100,000 … Not super tooled-up guy, but he’s a smart, instinctive player who’s been a consistent performer against live pitching going back to last year with quick hands at the plate and good bat-to-ball skills. Definitely a sleeper to watch.

Oswaldo is supposedly the younger brother of Yankees farmhand Leobaldo Cabrera, though I’m not sure that’s accurate. The internet tells me the hometowns listed on their MiLB.com pages are 430 miles apart. For now I’m in the information gathering phase. Cabrera’s been tearing the cover off the ball for weeks now, and like I said, the Yankees have a great track record finding cheap talent internationally. And if Badler calls him a sleeper, I’m paying attention.

Brian asks: Now that we know that Prince Fielder is done for the year, do the Rangers match up at all for a trade for Beltran at DH?

Oh sure. The Rangers match up for pretty much any kind of trade. They have all sorts of talent to offer. I hadn’t made the Carlos Beltran connection following the Fielder injury. That’s a good fit. Fielder wasn’t hitting at all (63 wRC+) so Beltran would be an enormous upgrade at DH.

Right now Texas seems content with rotating players in and out at the position, including Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo. Shin-Soo Choo (back) is expected to return fairly soon too. Their priority has to be pitching at this point. The staff has been decimated. If they come asking for Beltran, the Yankees should be all ears even with this recent hot streak.

Well, they brought him in to break records ... (Elsa/Getty)
Well, they brought him in to break records … (Elsa/Getty)

Nick asks: Assuming he didn’t drastically improve down the stretch, I’m curious what Ellsbury would get on the open market as a free agent after this year. Headley type money?

Alex Gordon is roughly the same age as Jacoby Ellsbury and he signed for four years and $72M over the winter. That’s coming off a season in which he hit .271/.377/.432 (122 wRC+) in 104 games around a groin injury. Ellsbury’s hitting .267/.331/.372 (90 wRC+) this year, so yeah, I don’t think Gordon money would happen. Chase Headley got four years and $52M. Maybe split the difference between Gordon and Headley and call it four years and $62M? That sounds about right. That’s compared to the $84.4M Ellsbury will actually earn the next four years. Meh. The money itself doesn’t bother me. It’s all those years. Seven years for a 30-year-old speed guy!

Anonymous asks: So, yeah, Aaron Hicks. What happens next?

I’m guessing he’s a goner come Monday. He’s started the last six games and seven of the last eight, and I bet he starts at least two games this weekend, if not all three. This feels like a last gasp “you have to show us something now or we’re getting rid of you” stretch. Based on the way he’s talked about him the last few weeks, Joe Girardi has clearly run out of patience with Hicks. The Yankees have a bunch of Triple-A outfielders they could try in his place, so it’s not like they’re short on alternatives. Barring a huge weekend, I think Hicks gets traded somewhere by Monday’s deadline, probably a rebuilding team like the Phillies or Athletics.

Casey asks: I am not entirely sure how the August trading and waivers works, but could you go through some of the Yankees that could work in an August trade. Like Mark Teixeira if he starts hitting? Chase Headley? Anybody else?

To make a trade in August, you have a put a player on trade waivers. If he gets claimed, you can pull him back, but you can only trade him to the claiming team. If he goes unclaimed, you can trade him anywhere. Every good player with a reasonable contract will get claimed. Andrew Miller? Insta-claimed. The Mets will claim Miller to block the Nationals from getting him, for example.

Guys like Teixeira and Ellsbury, who have massive contracts not at all in line with their production, will go unclaimed. If someone claims Ellsbury, I think the Yankees would let him go and stick the other team with the contract. Brett Gardner stands out as a possible August trade candidate. Maybe Starlin Castro? I think Beltran would get claimed in a block move, ditto any halfway useful arm. I wouldn’t call August trades rare, but they are uncommon. I’d be against the Yankees doing something next month.

Brian asks: I’ve seen rumors that the Brewers are fielding calls on 31-year-old rookie Junior Guerra, who’s having a good season for a bad Milwaukee team (6-2, 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Good target for #TeamBuy? And do the Yankees and Brewers match up well for a trade?

That’s an interesting one. Guerra is old even by late bloomer standards. A year ago he had a 3.39 ERA (3.11 FIP) as a swingman in Triple-A with the White Sox. This year he has a 2.85 ERA (3.80 FIP) as a starter with the Brewers. The one thing Guerra has going for him that makes me think he’s not a total fluke is a nasty splitter. Check it out:

How do you value a guy like this? Guerra’s a 31-year-old rookie who is suddenly pitching like a rock solid mid-rotation (or better!) starter. Yeah, he’s got five years of team control left, but he’s also approaching the age where you’d expect him to begin to naturally decline. Guerra had a bunch of injuries earlier in his career, and he’s pitched basically non-stop since 2011. Spring Training to the minors to winter ball to Spring Training to the minors to winter ball to Spring Training … like that.

The Brewers are rebuilding so I’m sure they’ll take prospects for Guerra — anything this guy gives them is gravy, why wouldn’t they listen to offers? — and the Yankees have a lot of those. Finding a match won’t be tough. The question is how do you value him. The Yankees plucked Vidal Nuno out of an independent league and traded him for a half-season of an established big leaguer, but Nuno was also 25, not 31. This is a tough one.

Chris asks: Has any player participating in the World Baseball Classic suffered a more career-altering injury than the wrist injury Teixeira suffered in 2013? Tex’s 2012 wasn’t up to his usual standards, but the wrist injury cost him pretty much all of 2013 and lingered through most of 2014 as well.

I will admit to not doing exhaustive WBC injury research, but I do remember ex-Yankee Luis Ayala blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery during the first WBC back in 2006. Here is the Washington Post’s story on the injury:

Though doctors believe Ayala sustained the injury while making his six pitches to Team USA slugger Alex Rodriguez, he did have pre-existing elbow concerns. Ayala underwent surgery in October to remove a bone spur in his right elbow, and though he had been declared healthy by team doctors, the club twice petitioned Major League Baseball to prevent him from pitching in the tournament.

Of course it’s A-Rod’s fault. Anyway, Ayala had a 2.75 ERA (3.68 FIP) from 2003-05, then had a 3.19 ERA (4.37 FIP) with his new elbow ligament after coming back in 2007. He then slumped to a 5.01 ERA (4.49 FIP) from 2008-09, spent 2010 in the minors (6.42 ERA), then resurfaced with the Yankees in 2011. Ayala’s still pitching, you know. He has a 3.12 ERA in 40.1 innings in the Mexican League this season.