Got a handful of notes:
- Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer told George King (subs. req’d) that RHP Ty Hensley participated in Instructional League after the season and will be ready to go for camp. “He looked like he was ready to go. He should be good for Spring Training,” said Oppenheimer. Hensley had surgery on both hips earlier this year.
- MiLB.com posted their Yankees’ farm system All-Star team the other week it’s basically a roster of the best performers in the organization. C Gary Sanchez and 1B Greg Bird headline the team for obvious reasons. Both mashed this summer.
- C R.J. Baker has been suspended 50 games for refusing to take an offseason drug test. The 29-year-old has been an organizational catcher for a few years now, spending a lot of time on the phantom DL and bouncing between levels, going wherever an extra backstop was needed.
Now, onto the stats:
Arizona Fall League (season is over, so these stats are final)
- OF Tyler Austin: 4 G, 4-12, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (.333/.438/.500) — left the league with a wrist injury
- UTIL Addison Maruszak: 10 G, 9-32, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 10 BB, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.281/.452/.344)
- 3B/C Peter O’Brien: 16 G, 12-63, 5 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 26 K (.190/.212/.413)
- OF Mason Williams: 22 G, 23-86, 11 R, 6 2B, 4 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 4 SB, 2 CS (.267/.330/.337)
- RHP Brett Gerritse: 9 G, 11.2 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 11 BB, 12 K, 2 HR,1 WP, 1 HB (9.26 ERA, 1.96 WHIP)
- LHP Fred Lewis: 11 G, 11 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 10 K, 1 WP (0.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) — probably going to get taken in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday
- LHP Vidal Nuno: 5 G, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 20 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 18 K, 1 HR (3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
- LHP James Pazos: 10 G, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 9 K, 2 WP (1.74 ERA, 1.94 WHIP)
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees have checked in on free agent right-hander Mike Pelfrey. The team is still looking for a number three-ish type starter even after re-signing Hiroki Kuroda. They’re going to hold a competition for the fifth spot in Spring Training.
Pelfrey, 29, had a 5.19 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 152.2 innings for the Twins in 2013, his first season following Tommy John surgery. At his best before elbow construction, he had a 3.66 ERA (3.82 FIP) in 204 innings for the Mets back in 2010. That’s probably his best case scenario. Pelfrey has the size (6-foot-7, 250 lbs.) and stuff (sinker averaged almost 93 mph this past season) that make you think he could be great, but he’s never lived up to the billing of being the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft. No harm in checking in. Hopefully he’s nothing more than a backup plan. · (14) ·
Via Chad Jennings: The Yankees are shopping spare outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in trade talks. Nothing is imminent and there are indications other clubs value him as nothing more than a fourth outfielder. His trade value is minimum at this point of his career.
Ichiro, 40, hit .262/.297/.342 (71 wRC+) with seven homers and 20 stolen bases in 555 plate appearances this past season, setting several career worsts. He is a man without a role — unless the Yankees trade Brett Gardner, which is always a possibility — thanks to recent Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran pickups. If the team can move him for some salary relief, even $2-3M, it’ll be a win. I mentioned to Moshe the other day that I was weirdly confident the Yankees would be able to trade Ichiro (Phillies? Giants?) and he basically laughed at me, just to give you someone else’s perspective. · (84) ·
Via Andy McCullough: The Yankees hired former Yankee Eric Hinske as a pro scout after the season, and he helped the team woo Brian McCann to New York. “He was here, he was involved” said Brian Cashman of Hinske. “He helped me with Brian McCann … because he played with Brian. So I appreciate Eric Hinske giving Brian McCann a lot of good advice about his experience here with the Yankees. He was a great resource for about 30 days.”
Hinske, 36, was with the team for “about the month” before leaving to join the Cubs as their first base coach. You probably remember him as a member of the 2009 World Series team after being acquired from the Pirates at midseason. Hinske actually played for the Diamondbacks this past season, but he was terrible (49 wRC+) and decided to retire after being released in July. Long before he helped the Yankees land McCann, Hinske advised Evan Longoria to sign long-term with the Rays. Sounds like he might have a future in a front office. · (26) ·
Via Andrew Marchand: The Yankees are planning to hold a competition between David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and Vidal Nuno in Spring Training for the fifth starter’s job. This isn’t much of a surprise — Brian Cashman said the team is looking to add two starters even though they lost three to free agency (Hiroki Kuroda has since returned, so they only need one more starter now). I was hoping they’d bring in some veteran competition, but alas.
The Yankees have a knack for holding rigged competitions in camp (Phil Hughes as fifth starter in 2010, the catcher situation in 2013) but I do think this one is wide open. Phelps might have a leg up because he has the most big league experience of the group, but if Pineda shows up to Tampa and blows everyone away, I bet he’d get the job. Same with Warren and Nuno. Either way, the odds are strongly in favor of all four of these guys being needed in the rotation at some point next summer. Getting through the year using only five starters isn’t something you can reasonably expect. · (86) ·
The Yankees have officially signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract, the team announced. The deal will pay him $148M over the seven years and includes a $21M club option ($5M buyout) for an eighth year, so the total guarantee is $153M. Ellsbury will be introduced during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
The 40-man roster is now full, so the Yankees will have to clear a spot when the Carlos Beltran deal becomes official. Given their glut of outfielders, Vernon Wells could very well get the axe. · (18) ·
I couldn’t help but laugh at the Mariners after their ten-year, $240M offer to Robinson Cano. That’s such an obscene amount of money for a guy already in his thirties – granted, he is the best at what he does and is arguably one of the top five players currently playing in the game. Plus, according to pundits, the Mariners organization felt that it was necessary to make a huge splash this offseason as their team has been idling in irrelevancy for several years now. Well, they certainly accomplished their goal of making a big splash.
Still, I can’t help but wonder whether the Mariners overestimated what would it would take to sign Cano. If the best Yankees offer was locked in at $175M as it evidently was — not to mention the fact that Cano was apparently feeling a bit snubbed due the team taking a hard stance with him after the Jacoby Ellsbury signing– I wonder if the Mariners could have stood their ground with a $200M deal and overcome whatever shortcomings their location presumably has. After all, that’d still be a $25M dollar difference between their offer and that of New York’s. Maybe Cano prefers playing in NY so much that he is willing to dismiss twenty-five million reasons not to go to Seattle. Then again, that’s a lot of money so maybe he wouldn’t have been able to resist.
In any event, if the Mariners honestly got the vibe that $200M wouldn’t get it done for them, they probably could have upped the ante to $225 and locked in there. By that point, there’d be a $50M gap between them and New York, assuming the Yanks didn’t change their mind and offer more which it seems like they were unwilling to do. I’m not sure how many folks would be able to turn down an offer that was that much more lucrative than another. The Yanks did Seattle a huge favor by stalling out around $175M and never really giving a super strong impression to Cano’s camp that they’d be willing to bridge the gap between what they were offering and what Cano was asking for. Maybe it’s an incorrect impression, but it never appeared as though the Mariners were willing to let Cano consider just how much better their initial offer already was to NY’s. It was as if their great offer was immediately not good enough despite the fact that there wasn’t another offer even remotely close. If $50M additional dollars doesn’t blow Cano away, maybe that would have been a strong indication that the cost isn’t worth the reward.
Instead, Seattle basically caved in overnight from what was already an excellent offer, and was content to bid against themselves even further. The Mariners increased their offer to ten years, $240M. Well, congrats, to them. They obtained Robbie’s services by outbidding the next highest bid by $65M! Not only does this strike me as a severe overpay, but it was probably an unnecessary one. Regardless of how Cano’s camp values his abilities, the fact is, at the end of the day he’s only worth as much as teams are willing to pay. Hypothetically, if the Mariners offered nine years, $225M, they’d still be showing a really strong interest him. They’d still be blowing New York’s offer out of the water, and I imagine they’d still have a strong chance of winning the bidding with a $50M dollar difference.
To Seattle’s credit, they now employ the best free agent available. The problem for them now is that their team, as it currently stands, still stinks. Even if Cano adds ten wins to their record single handedly, which is a stretch of the imagination, I don’t think that’s enough to make them a contender. They still have a lot of work to do to become relevant again, especially if they want to try and compete during Cano’s prime years. Along the same lines, as much as I would have loved to see Cano in pinstripes for the remainder of his career, I don’t regret for a second the Yankees not making a counter offer that extreme. Letting him go was a no brainer at that point.
Via Andy McCullough: The Yankees are receiving “significant interest” in Brett Gardner following the Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran signings. It’s unclear which teams have expressed that interest. New York is not shopping their incumbent center fielder, but they will listen to offers and are open to trading him. That goes for pretty much everyone.
Gardner, 30, hit .273/.344/.416 (108 wRC+) with 24 stolen bases in 145 games this past season while playing his usual stellar defense. He will become a free agent next winter and I think his trade value is similar to Norichika Aoki’s and Seth Smith’s, probably a bit higher since he’s a better defender. Aoki and Smith are both a year away from free agency as well and were traded this week for a five years of lefty reliever and one year of an ace setup man, respectively. As I said this morning, if some team wants to blow the Yankees away and offer a good starter for Gardner, great. Go for it. If not, keep him as a heavily used fourth outfielder. They have the leverage here. · (175) ·