Revisiting the MLBTR archives: December 2010

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

A new month begins today, which means it’s time for another trip through the MLBTR archives. We looked at November 2010 last month, so now we’ll dive into December 2010. The 2010-11 offseason was headlined by Cliff Lee’s free agency, plus contract talks with Derek Jeter and to a lesser extent Mariano Rivera. Those were the biggest stories.

December is a crazy hot stove month thanks mostly to the Winter Meetings. The 2010 Winter Meetings were in Orlando from December 6th through 9th. The 2015 Winter Meetings are next week in Nashville. I’ve been to both places for the Winter Meetings. Orlando is a gazillion times better than Nashville. As a reminder, we’re looking back at this stuff for fun, not to mock the MLBTR crew or anything. They’re great. Let’s get started.

December 1st, 2010: Yankees Re-sign Sergio Mitre

The Yankees have re-signed Sergio Mitre to a one-year, $900K deal, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN (via Twitter).  The right-hander could earn up to $200K more through incentives.  Mitre was entering his third year of arbitration eligibility.

Alright, starting with a bang. Mitre earned a World Series ring with the 2009 Yankees as a late-season swingman, then hung around as a tolerable long man (3.33 ERA and 4.69 FIP in 54 innings) in 2010. The Yankees re-signed him following that season, then traded him to the Brewers at the end of Spring Training. Then, after Milwaukee got tired of him, the Yankees brought Mitre back in a cash deal at midseason and he allowed nine runs in 4.1 innings. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since that season or anywhere since 2012. The Sergio Mitre Experience was something else.

December 2nd, 2010: Derek Jeter Rumors: Thursday

2:28pm: The Yankees informed Close today they’re willing to improve upon their three-year, $45MM offer to Jeter, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark.  Jeter’s side lowered their request, adds SI’s Jon Heyman on Twitter.

8:03am: Derek Jeter and his agent Casey Close reached out to the Yankees to set up Tuesday’s meeting in Tampa, report Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.  Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman attended for the Yankees.

Talks with Jeter’s camp finally got serious in early-December. Things got a little messy in November, with Cashman telling Jeter to look around and see what else the market had to offer. That was also when he told him he’d rather than Troy Tulowitzki. Anyway, the three-year, $45M offer ended up being close to the final number. The two sides weren’t far apart at this point.

December 2nd, 2010: Minor Deals: Gotay, Rays, Duckworth, Carlyle

The Yankees signed right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor league deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Carlyle, 32, spent the 2010 season in Japan after posting a 5.61 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in parts of six big league seasons.

Buddy Carlyle! I totally forgot he was a Yankee. He spent most of the 2011 season with Triple-A Scranton but did make a cameo in the Bronx, allowing four runs in 7.2 mop-up innings. Carlyle spent 2012-13 season bouncing around Triple-A before pitching quite well with the 2014 Mets (1.45 ERA and 2.65 FIP in 31 innings). He was hurt most of this season but did get the save for the Mets on Opening Day.

The Mets went to the World Series this season, you know. Bullpens are so weird.

December 2nd, 2010: American League Non-Tenders

YankeesAlfredo Aceves, Dustin Moseley

The Moseley non-tender made sense but man, the Aceves non-tender was really surprising at the time. He was pretty awesome for the 2009 Yankees (3.54 ERA and 3.75 FIP in 84 innings) but was limited to only 12 innings in 2010 due to back problems. His season ended in early-May. Aceves then broke his collarbone in a bike riding accident in November.

The Yankees were pretty desperate for rotation help during the 2010-11 offseason and, if nothing else, Aceves had the repertoire to start. Between that and his effectiveness in 2009, cutting him loose and getting nothing in return seemed insane. That the Red Sox picked him up and he had a fine 2011 season (2.61 ERA and 4.03 FIP in 114 innings) only made matters worse. That looked like a major blunder at the time.

Of course, Aceves’ back then continued to be an ongoing problem and he is borderline crazy, so he was never effective after that 2011 season in Boston. He had a 5.39 ERA (5.13 FIP) in 140.1 innings from 2012-14 — that includes a brief return to the Yankees in 2014 — and spent the 2015 pitching ineffectively in Mexico (6.10 ERA in 87 innings)

Letting Aceves go during the 2010-11 ended up to be not that big a deal — the Yankees found rotation help and won the division — but man, that was a very surprising move at the time. Then again, we didn’t know the extent of his back and attitude issues, so yeah.

December 3rd, 2010: Olney On Crawford, Berkman, Konerko

The Yankees are very much engaged in conversations with Crawford, though it’s unclear whether they have the flexibility to spend on him and Cliff Lee (Twitter links). The Yankees plan to set up a meeting with Crawford, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link).

This is right about the time Cliff Lee panic was starting to become a thing. Up until this point the Yankees had signed pretty much whoever they wanted, so we were all confident they’d land Lee, but the Rangers were making a strong push and Lee didn’t jump at New York’s offer, so there was some doubt about whether they’d actually land him.

As for Carl Crawford, the 2010 outfield was the productive Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson before his back-to-back 40+ homer seasons, and Brett Gardner coming off his strong first full season (112 wRC+). Jorge Posada was penciled at DH too, so there was no obvious spot the Crawford. The idea being tossed around was — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — sign Crawford then trade Gardner for a pitcher. That didn’t happen, thankfully. Gardner has massively outproduced Crawford since.

December 3rd, 2010: Rosenthal On Greinke, Lee, Rangers, Yankees

The Rangers’ main competition for Lee, the Yankees, could afford to have both pitchers in their rotation, but Rosenthal says “the Yankees don’t view a Greinke trade as realistic” since they “still have reservations” about Greinke’s ability to pitch in New York.

This was back when Zack Greinke was still with the Royals. They traded him to the Brewers that offseason and he later signed with the Dodgers. Does anyone still doubt Greinke’s ability to pitch in a big market? He had a 2.30 ERA (2.97 FIP) in three years with the Dodgers and had a 2.38 ERA in six postseason starts. Can we put this all to bed now? Okay, good.

December 5th, 2010: Cliff Lee Rumors: Sunday

The Yankees have yet to make a formal proposal to Lee and his agent Darek Braunecker is hoping to get a deal done in Orlando, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links).

I remember the outrage when we found out the Yankees had yet to make a formal offer to Lee, though in reality it was no big deal. The two sides had talked and talked. The Yankees just didn’t put a piece of paper in front of him to sign, which is the very last step in the process. It’s not like the two sides send formal offers back and forth. They talk it out, then draw it up. The hot stove can be a real bitch.

December 6th, 2010: Blue Jays, Yankees, Mariners Interested In Diaz

3:15pm: The Yankees and Mariners are interested in Matt Diaz as a possible platoon player. New York would mix Diaz in with Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse.

Five years later and we still talk about finding a right-handed platoon partner for Gardner and the other outfielders. The more things change, eh?

December 6th, 2010: Russell Martin Suitors

FRIDAY, 9:16am: The Yankees, who tried to trade for Russell Martin this week, are one of six teams interested in the 27-year-old free agent, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reports that the Yankees nearly sent Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers for Martin (Twitter links). In fact, the Yankees and Dodgers even exchanged medical records on Wednesday. 

Martin’s 2010 season ended in August due to hip surgery and there was a lot of concern about his health at the time. The Dodgers were unable to work out a trade then ended up non-tendering him earlier in December. The Yankees tried to make a trade for him (obviously) but the Dodgers didn’t want Cervelli. They chose nothing instead. Weird.

So, what happens if Cervelli-for-Martin deal goes down? Do the Yankees re-sign Martin following the 2012 season because they don’t have Cervelli waiting in the wings? Gosh, that would change everything. No Brian McCann, no Justin Wilson … I wonder where the extra money (and draft pick!) goes. I’m not sure you can definitively argue the Yankees would have been better or worse.

December 6th, 2010: Yankees Notes: Feliciano, Wood, Pettitte

The Yankees are interested in re-signing Kerry Wood, according to’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link). GM Brian Cashman says he isn’t interested in paying Wood “closer money.”

Wood was really awesome for the Yankees after coming over from the Indians at the 2010 trade deadline. He had a 0.69 ERA (3.39 FIP) in 26 innings and emerged as Joe Girardi‘s top setup reliever. Wood then allowed two runs in eight postseason innings. He ended up taking a steep discount to return to the Cubs (one year, $1.5M), which is admirable, and yet I still can’t help but feel like #CashmanFailed.

December 7th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Yankees, Giants, Astros, Marlins

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has some quotes from Yankees GM Brian Cashman, including praise for Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez acquisition and an explanation that Dustin Moseley was non-tendered because he was looking for something greater than what New York had offered, and New York didn’t want to go to arbitration.

Moseley was another one of those guys the Yankees seemed to like more than anyone realized. He wasn’t very good in 2010 (4.96 ERA and 5.99 FIP in 65.1 innings) and ended up hooking on with the Padres after the season. Moseley was pretty good for them in 2011 (3.30 ERA and 3.99 FIP in 120 innings) before tearing up his shoulder swinging a bat. He’s thrown 39 innings between MLB and the minors since. Stupid NL rules.

December 7th, 2010: At Least Seven Teams Checked In On Rich Harden

The Yankees, Twins, Rays, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mariners, and Rockies have checked in on free agent righty Rich Harden, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Morosi says some teams like Harden as a starter, others as a reliever.

Fun fact: Yesterday was Harden’s 34th birthday, meaning he was only 29 during the 2010-11 offseason. He had a 5.58 ERA (6.31 FIP) in 92 innings for the Rangers in 2010, but man, teams couldn’t resist the lightning in his arm. At his peak, Harden had some of the nastiest stuff you’ll ever see. Injuries, most notably a torn shoulder capsule, ruined his career.

I’m certain I wanted the Yankees to sign Harden during the 2010-11 offseason, even just to see what he looked like out of the bullpen, but it didn’t happen. He took a one-year contract worth $1.5M to return to the Athletics and was terrible in 2011 (5.12 ERA and 4.69 FIP in 82.2 innings). Harden hasn’t pitched at any level since. Injuries suck. This guy was as exciting as any pitcher in the game early in his career.

December 7th, 2010: Yankees Re-Sign Derek Jeter

The Yankees officially re-signed shortstop Derek Jeter to a deal worth a guaranteed $56MM, if he exercises a fourth-year player option.  A press conference is scheduled for this afternoon.

There it is. The two sides went back and forth in November but got serious and hammered out a deal in early-December. The deal was actually worth $51M over the first three years with a fourth year player option that included escalators for awards finishes. The Yankees and Jeter eventually tore up the option and replaced it with a new one-year contract.

Jeter rebounded to hit .297/.355/.388 (104 wRC+) in 2011, the first year of the deal, after putting up a .270/.340/.370 (93 wRC+) line and showing serious signs of decline in 2010. The Cap’n was even better in year two of the contract: .316/.362/.429 (117 wRC+) with an MLB leading 216 hits. Year three was marred by lower leg injuries (only 17 games).

The on-field production doesn’t necessarily match the salary but I have little doubt the Yankees got their money’s worth out of this contract. Jeter’s marquee value is unmatched. He helped sell a ton of tickets, a ton of merchandise, and who knows how many advertising dollars he generated.

December 7th, 2010: Yankees, Rangers Finalists For Mark Prior

Cliff Lee isn’t the only pitcher the Yankees and Rangers are bidding against each other on. Those two clubs are the finalists for Mark Prior, according to Tom Krasovic of AOLFanHouse (on Twitter). The 30-year-old right-hander has a connection to both clubs; he pitched in the Rangers’ minor league system last year and the Yankees selected him 43rd overall in the 1998 draft, but were unable to sign him.

Similar to Harden, Prior was interesting because of who he used to be, not who he was at the time. Prior had just turned 30 and had thrown literally one inning from 2007-10 due to ongoing arm problems, including multiple shoulder capsule tears. There was no logical reason whatsoever to think he could contribute to an MLB team at that point. And yet good, smart teams like the Yankees and Rangers wanted him.

December 7th, 2010: Cliff Lee Rumors: Tuesday

The Yankees are on the verge of making Lee a lucrative offer and are awaiting the go-ahead from Braunecker, according to Andrew Marchand of GM Brian Cashman says he’s ready to get serious.

There were a lot of rumors at this point saying Lee was sitting on multiple six and seven-year offers, none of which were apparently true. The Yankees and Rangers had emerged as the major suitors at this point with some other clubs (Angels and Nationals, mostly) on the periphery. The Phillies were lying in the weeds. This was day two of the Winter Meetings in Orlando and the Lee market was really starting to heat up.

December 8th, 2010: CC Sabathia Unaffected By Cliff Lee

Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia has the ability to opt out of the remaining four years and $92MM remaining on his contract after the 2011 season.  It’s been suggested that a Cliff Lee megadeal could prompt Sabathia to bail in search of more money or years, but he told George King of the New York Post, “It has no effect on me at all.”

As long as he stayed healthy, Sabathia was always going to opt-out of his contract following the 2011 season. And the Lee deal did affect him in a way. It set the market for an ace-caliber starter near this 30th birthday. Lee signed for five years and $120M guaranteed. The new value of Sabathia’s contract after his extension? Five years and $122M. Lee’s contract may not have convinced Sabathia to opt-out, but it did help establish the price.

December 8th, 2010: Seven Teams Interested In Octavio Dotel

Seven clubs are interested in Octavio Dotel, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (on Twitter, in Spanish). The Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Pirates and Yankees have inquired on the right-hander, Rojas writes.

Dotel was one of those guys we talked about the Yankees potentially signing every offseason, it seemed. He was 37 during the 2010-11 offseason and managed to hang around three more years. Dotel eventually signed a one-year, $3M deal with the Blue Jays that offseason and was traded to the World Series winning Cardinals at the trade deadline. He had a 3.50 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 54 innings that year. Not bad. Not bad at all.

December 8th, 2010: Cliff Lee Rumors: Wednesday

The Yankees offered Lee a six-year deal worth $140MM, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). George A. King III of the New York Post hears that the team is comfortable offering between $137.5MM and $150MM.

This was the first time we heard details of a contract offer. The Yankees reportedly ended up making two offers: seven years and $150M or six years and $138M with a $16M player option, so King’s report was pretty much spot on. As a reminder, the Yankees did indeed make Lee the largest contract offer. The two largest offers, in fact.

December 9th, 2010: Andy Pettitte Rumors: Thursday

  • Brian Cashman spoke to Pettitte again on Wednesday, with the southpaw still on the fence about his decision, tweets Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.
  • According to’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter), Pettitte told the Yanks that pitching itself isn’t a problem, but following his groin injury, he’s not sure he can still do all the work necessary to pitch.

I love Andy Pettitte. Every Yankees fan does. But man, the “will he or won’t he retire” thing was so exhausting. It seemed like he was leaning in a different direction every other day. There were also rumblings Pettitte was waiting to see what happened to Lee, because if Lee didn’t sign with the Yankees, Andy was going to increase his demands. That never happened. Pettitte announced his retirement in February. His first retirement, anyway.

December 9th, 2010: Twins Would Consider Trading Slowey

The Twins would consider trading Kevin Slowey – especially if they re-sign Carl Pavano – reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman says the Twins have actually received inquiries on ace Francisco Liriano from the Yankees and others, but a team official can’t imagine moving the lefty.

At the time, Liriano was similar to Carlos Carrasco now. He was a year younger but also had an okay 3.62 ERA (112 ERA+) with dynamite peripherals in 2010: 24.9% strikeout rate, 7.2% walk rate, 53.6% grounder rate, and a 2.66 FIP. Liriano only had two years of control remaining, however. Not three plus two options like Carrasco does now.

I remember being a big fan of pursuing Liriano that offseason — I wanted him even if the Yankees signed Lee because they needed multiple starters — but didn’t expect it to happen. He remained in Minnesota, then wasn’t very good (5.09 ERA and 4.54 FIP in 134.1 innings) and got hurt in 2011. The same thing happened in 2012 (5.34 ERA and 4.34 FIP in 156.2 innings). It wasn’t until Liriano latched on with the Pirates in 2013 that he turned things around.

December 9th, 2010: Russell Martin Rumors: Thursday

Martin is weighing offers from the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and a mystery team, according to Marc Carig of the Star Ledger (on Twitter). The mystery team has proposed a multiyear deal.

Ah yes, the mystery team. They’re always very aggressive in the offseason but rarely seem to actually land a player. That must be annoying for mystery team fans.

December 9th, 2010: Cliff Lee Rumors: Thursday

The Yankees have just gone to a seventh year for Lee, tweets SI’s Jon Heyman.  With Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth getting deals of that length, it’d be hard to sign Lee without matching.  The Yanks’ previous offer was reported to be six years and $140MM, so this one could nudge Lee past C.C. Sabathia for the largest contract ever given to a pitcher.

And there’s the seventh year. The Yankees did lower the average annual value slightly, which seems to be their thing. Last offseason they agreed to the fourth guaranteed year for Chase Headley and Andrew Miller in exchange for a lower annual salary, which helps the luxury tax. I dunno, seems like the Yankees should use their financial might to do the opposite. Pay higher annual salaries to keep contracts short.

December 9th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Giambi, Upton, Crawford, Yankees

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Jack Curry of the YES Network that the team dined with Crawford’s representatives even though they weren’t interested in signing the outfielder. Curry suggests the dinner could have been a bluff.

Crawford had signed with the Red Sox at this point. It came out later the Yankees never really had interest in him. They were just involved to drive up the price for Boston and put some pressure on Lee’s camp, showing their many millions of dollars could end up elsewhere. The former may or may not have worked. The latter didn’t.

December 12th, 2010: Cliff Lee Rumors: Saturday

  • Sherman’s colleague, George A. King III writes that the Yankees will not increase their offer to Lee again. The Yankees have extended three offers, the longest of which is believed to be in the seven-year, $160MM range.
  • We heard on Saturday that some Yankees officials were expressing “a bit of skepticism” about the team’s chances of landing Lee.’s Buster Olney says the same thing today in his Insider-only blog. According to Olney, one Yankee exec told another team’s GM that he figures the odds of New York signing Lee are about 50-50.

This was the first time we heard a) the Yankees had three different offers on the table (though I’m guessing that’s not uncommon), and b) the Yankees express some doubt about landing Lee. Again, we were all in “the Yankees will sign whoever they want” mode at the time. For the first time, many Yankees fans were about to feel the burn of losing out on a top target.

December 13th and 15th, 2010: Phillies Sign Cliff Lee

The wait is over. In a surprising development that leaves two top American League teams empty-handed, Cliff Lee has signed a five-year, $120MM deal with the Phillies, the team announced today. The contract includes a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016 with a $12.5MM buyout, plus partial no-trade clause

The contract was officially announced on December 15th but word got out Lee agreed to sign with the Phillies late on the 13th. Here’s our post on Lee signing with the Phillies. The old comments were nuked when we switched over to Disqus a while back — we have the comments database file but restoring them would be a pain — but I assure you, it was pure rage, especially since the Red Sox had just made the Crawford and Gonzalez deals.

Anyway, this was a major shock to the system. The Yankees didn’t get the guy they so badly wanted — the last time that happened was 1991 with Greg Maddux — and the Phillies pretty much came out of nowhere at the 11th hour. New York’s rotation was underwhelming at best — it was Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Mitre, and the unproven Ivan Nova at that very moment — and while Lee alone wouldn’t have fixed everything, he would have been a major help.

Remember, the Yankees went to the ALCS in 2010 and were two wins away from returning to the World Series when they lost to Lee and the Rangers. The thinking at the time wasn’t “how do the Yankees get back to the postseason” like it is now. It was “they’re going back to the postseason because they always go to the postseason, and Sabathia and Lee would be an unstoppable one-two punch.”

The Yankees didn’t get the pitcher they wanted and suddenly they had a lot of money burning a hole in their pocket. Their austerity plan had not yet fully kicked in and the team was very willing to trade top prospects. They were in full blown win-now mode and the greatest win-now piece had just taken less money (and fewer years) to go elsewhere. Ouch.

December 13th, 2010: Yankees Have Some Interest In Jerry Hairston Jr.

The Yankees appear to have inquired on Jerry Hairston Jr., according to Marc Carig of the Star Ledger (on Twitter). The 34-year-old played second, third, short and all three outfield positions with the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees. 

Fun fact: Hairston was in left field when the 27th out of the 2009 World Series was recorded. Johnny Damon scored from second on Hideki Matsui‘s single in the third inning and pulled his calf. He was lifted after the inning and Hairston took over. Melky Cabrera got hurt earlier in the series, so if the Yankees didn’t win Game 6, chances are the Game 7 outfield would have been Hairston, Swisher, and the then-unproven Gardner.

Anyway, Hairston spent that half season in New York, signed with the Padres in 2010, played way too much (82 wRC+ in 476 plate appearances), then wound up signing with the Nationals. I liked the idea of signing Hairston as the bench guy — he played everywhere and had a .325 OBP from 2008-10, what more could you expect? — but understood he was probably going to go somewhere that offered more playing time. He had 376 plate appearances with the Nats in 2011, about twice as many as I hoped he’d get in New York.

December 13th, 2010: Zack Greinke Rumors: Monday

12:09pm: Royals GM Dayton Moore is “actively gauging” the trade market for Zack Greinke, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Moore “has focused on adding up-the-middle position players who are close to major league ready,” and the Yankees, Rangers, and Brewers are not considered among the best matches.

Brett Gardner‘s name has come up in talks between the Royals and Yankees, according to Crasnick. 

Gardner was the only player the Yankees had who fit the “MLB ready up-the-middle guy” mold. They had traded Austin Jackson in the previous offseason to get Granderson and Eduardo Nunez was hardly a top prospect. I don’t think the Yankees were ever serious about Greinke because they were concerned about him in New York, but, even if they did want him, they didn’t have the pieces to get him.

December 14th and 15th, 2010: Yankees Sign Russell Martin

The Yankees’ $4MM deal with Russell Martin is official now that he has passed his physical, according to’s Buster Olney (Twitter links).  With Jorge Posada moving into a designated hitter role next year, Martin should be the Yankees’ starting catcher.  Since Martin has less than five years of service time, he’s under team control for 2012 as an arbitration eligible player.

The Yankees and Martin agreed to the contract on the 14th and it became official a day later. Nowadays the Yankees keep things so quiet we go from rumor to reports of an agreement to a press release in a matter of hours. In November we heard the Yankees were planning to move Posada to DH and Martin was signed to be the starting catcher.

What we didn’t know at the time was the value of pitch-framing and stuff like that. Ben Lindbergh, a former Yankees intern, explained the team discovered the value of framing during the 2009 season, and it surely was a driving force behind the Martin signing. He was a top notch defensive catcher, the framing metrics loved him (as we later found out), and he had some pop.

Not many were thrilled with the Martin signing — he went from a 122 wRC+ in 2007 to 112 in 2008 to 87 in 2009 to 90 in 2010, after all — but, in hindsight, getting him for $4M (!) plus another year of control through arbitration was a damn steal. The Yankees were way ahead of the curve on the whole catcher defense/framing thing.

December 14th, 2010: Cliff Lee Signing: The Fallout

  • From Joel Sherman of the New York Post: “One Yankees executive likened what they now face as losing out on Microsoft stock and instead having to diversify the portfolio to keep it strong.”  The Yanks have added Russell Martin and will probably look into innings-eaters or reclamation project starters.  They’re also expected to add two relievers and a righty-hitting fourth outfielder.  So, they’ll spread the wealth.
  • GM Brian Cashman preached that “Plan B is patience.”  He feels that prices will go up with teams, and I assume agents, sensing blood in the water.  He’s also willing to wait until the season to make an acquisition.

I vividly remember fans taking the “Plan B is patience” line not well. After Lee signed with the Phillies, there were calls to fire everyone, to trade every prospect, to tear it down and rebuild, basically every nonsensical thing you could imagine. It was something else.

There was no obvious second free agent pitcher to target that offseason. The best free agent hurlers behind Lee were Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, and Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers during the exclusive negotiating period and never actually became a free agent. So spreading the wealth around and having patience was the best thing to do. It was the only thing to do, really.

December 14th, 2010: Yankees Re-Sign Mariano Rivera

The Yankees re-signed Mariano Rivera to a two-year deal, the team announced today. The contract will pay Rivera $30MM, according to Christian Red of the New York Daily News

Nice and easy. A painless negotiation. In November we’d heard the Yankees wanted to limit Rivera’s deal to one-year but eventually they gave in. Contracts talks with Rivera were pretty much the opposite of talks with Jeter, possibly because Rivera had shown few if any signs of decline. Jeter’s production took a big step back in 2010.

December 15th, 2010: Yankees Sign Mark Prior

It’s not Cliff Lee, but the Yankees have added a big-name pitcher. They signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal, the team announced today.’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the deal (on Twitter). Prior will earn $750K in the major leagues and could earn $750K more in incentives, according to Jon Heyman of (on Twitter).

A bunch of very original “World Series here we come!” remarks followed the Prior signing. The snark was laid on extra thick after the Lee signing. Prior threw 12 innings for the Yankees in their farm system in 2011 before getting hurt again. The Red Sox and Reds gave him chances in 2012 and 2013, respectively, but injuries continued to be a problem. Prior officially announced his retirement in December 2013. Sucks.

December 15th, 2010: Minor Deals: Yankees, Chulk, Van Every, Coats

The Yankees signed Doug Bernier, Buddy Carlyle, Neal Cotts and Gustavo Molina to minor league deals, the team announced.

We discussed Carlyle earlier. Bernier spent 2011 in Triple-A and never got called up. Cotts failed his physical in Spring Training and was released. Molina was on the 2011 Opening Day roster though. I kid you not. Cervelli fouled a ball off his foot in Spring Training and suffered a fracture, forcing him to start the season on the DL. Thanks to all the April off-days, Martin started 22 of the team’s first 24 games that year. Molina started the other two. He went 1-for-6 with a double before being sent to the minors when Cervelli returned in early-May. Forgotten Yankee Gus Molina.

December 15th, 2010: Yankees Rumors: Pettitte, Lefty Relievers, Lee, Martin

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says Carlos Zambrano is a “likely target” for GM Brian Cashman. Like new addition Mark Prior, Zambrano knows Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild from their time in Chicago.

This didn’t pass the sniff test. The Yankees needed pitching after losing out on Lee, but Zambrano had started to decline and he had shown throughout his career that he’s a loose cannon. The Yankees had already started emphasizing makeup to a high degree by this point and there’s just no way Zambrano was going to fit. He had a 4.82 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 2011 and has been out of baseball since 2013. Nope. Nope nope nope.

December 16th, 2010: “Heavy Action” On Bobby Jenks

WEDNESDAY, 9:07pm: It’s a good time to be a free agent reliever, and one of the biggest on the market (both literally and figuratively) is former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that there is “heavy action” on the right-hander, with both the Rays and Yankees showing interest. Jenks is not close to a decision, however.

Jenks was still a pretty big name at the time and he had better peripherals (2.59 FIP in 2010) than run prevention (4.44 ERA) numbers, plus he was a Proven Closer™, so teams wanted him. The Yankees didn’t sign him and got killed for it, especially after losing out on Lee. Boston eventually gave Jenks a two-year, $12M contract and he had 6.32 ERA (4.19 FIP) in only 19 innings during the contract because of serious back problems and off-the-field issues.

December 16th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Nady, Rangers, Felix, Gregg

The Yankees called the Mariners about Felix Hernandez and heard that he is absolutely not available, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link).

Felix was only 24 at the time. Hey, you’re never going to get Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano if you don’t ask.

December 16th, 2010: Yankees Rumors: Soriano, Hall, Garcia, Joba

The Yankees are not in on Rafael Soriano, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). They aren’t anxious to pay closer money for a pitcher who will set up for Mariano Rivera.’s Buster Olney agrees that the Yankees are not in on Soriano (Twitter link).

The Yankees were not in on Soriano … yet. A few weeks later Scott Boras more or less spooked ownership — losing Lee and the Red Sox’s big offseason gave him plenty of fuel — into panic signing Soriano.

December 17th, 2010: Yankees To Sign Pedro Feliciano

The Yankees have agreed to sign Pedro Feliciano, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link). MDR Sports represents the left-hander. The two-year deal will be for $8MM and include an option for 2013.

Feliciano blew out his shoulder in Spring Training and never did appear in a game for the Yankees. $8M for zero pitches is good work if you can get it. Feliciano did briefly resurface with the Mets in 2013, and he spent some time in Triple-A with the Cardinals in 2014, but that’s it. He didn’t pitch at all in 2015. The Feliciano signing was a disaster, but, on the bright side, it convinced the Yankees to stop paying top dollar for lefty specialists. At least until they gave Matt Thornton two years and $7M three years later.

December 17th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Angels, Greinke, Tigers, Gregg

The Yankees have spoken to the Astros about acquiring Jeff Keppinger for their bench, Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report. The infielder is available, but a trade does not appear close.

People still go nuts over Jeff Keppinger types. Those okay but not really good and super versatile types. Keppinger had a good year with Houston in 2010 (104 wRC+ in 527 plate appearances), didn’t get traded, then stunk in 2011 (88 wRC+ in 400 plate appearances). The Yankees, meanwhile, went into the season with Nunez and Ramiro Pena as their backup infielder options after fudging around with Hairston and Keppinger.

December 17th, 2010: Minor Deals: Antonelli, Parraz

The Yankees have claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz off of waivers from the Red Sox, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  The 26-year-old’s time in the Boston organization was rather brief as the club claimed him off of waivers from the Royals just three weeks ago.

Parraz was a middling prospect at the time and the Yankees grabbed him because they had very little outfield depth at Triple-A, unlike today. The Triple-A outfield at the time was Greg Golson, Chris Dickerson, and a potted plant. Parraz hit .289/.362/.440 (123 wRC+) with nine homers in 495 plate appearances for the Scranton Yankees then became a minor league free agent after the season. He’s bounced around the minors since but did not play at all in 2015.

December 17th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Hall, Wood, Jenks, Angels

The one-year, $1.5MM guarantee that Kerry Wood received from the Cubs isn’t close to the bids he received from the Yankees and Red Sox, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.  In fact, the Yankees would have bid $10MM over two seasons if the right-hander was interested.

Like I said, Wood took a sweetheart deal to go back to the Cubs. I wonder if re-signing Wood would have meant no Soriano signing. Probably not. That doesn’t seem like the kind of deal that would prevent anything else, plus there’s always room for another arm in the bullpen.

December 19th, 2010: Yankees Sign Luis Vizcaino

The Yankees have signed right-hander Luis Vizcaino to a minor league contract according to Marc Carig of The Star Ledger (via Twitter). If he makes the team, he’ll earn $750K.

The Viz! Vizcaino had an okay year with the Yankees in 2007, then left as a free agent — the Yankees got a draft pick for him (!) under the old system and used it on Jeremy Bleich — and both stunk and got hurt with the Rockies. The team liked what they saw out of him in winter ball and rolled the dice. Vizcaino then got hurt in Spring Training and was released. The Viz didn’t pitch at all in 2011, though, at age 41, he was still active in 2015. He had a 7.20 ERA in 20 innings for two teams in Mexico.

December 20th, 2010: Yankees, Mets, Others Considering Freddy Garcia

The Yankees, Mets, and others have asked for medicals on free agent starter Freddy Garcia, tweets SI’s Jon Heyman.  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News was first to report the Yankees’ request.  The White Sox have also checked in, tweets Feinsand’s colleague Andy Martino.  Heyman opines that Garcia is the best free agent starter left after Carl Pavano.

Man, I hated the idea of Garcia as a rotation option. All those arm injuries turned him into a junkballer and he had a 4.64 ERA (4.77 FIP) in 157 innings for the White Sox in 2010. I though he would be a total disaster in Yankee Stadium and the AL East. You can’t overstate how anti-Garcia I was at the time. This is your regular reminder that I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

December 20th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Pavano, Greinke, Soria, Pettitte

Greinke fired his agents at SFX after the Winter Meetings because he felt they were responsible for his not being traded, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff PassanPassan adds that SFX facilitated a deal with the Nationals, but the pitcher rejected it.  SI’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Royals sought Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez from the Yankees, but they weren’t convinced New York was right for Greinke.  The Royals also wanted Manuel Banuelos or Dellin Betances, tweets Joel Sherman.

The idea of Montero plus Banuelos (plus Nunez) for Greinke was preposterous at the time and is a total no-brainer in hindsight. Heading into the 2011 season Baseball America ranked Montero as the No. 3 prospect in baseball …

montero… and Banuelos as the No. 41 prospect (Betances was No. 43), and giving up that much for two years of a pitcher seemed crazy, even a pitcher as good as Greinke. Fans (and teams) seem much more willing to trade prospects for established big leaguers these days, thankfully. Do the Royals win the 2015 World Series if they trade Greinke for Montero plus Banuelos (or Betances) plus Nunez? Almost certainly not.

December 21st, 2010: Odds & Ends: Garcia, Yankees, Red Sox, Konerko

The Bronx Bombers also make their share of major deals and, as Ronald Blum of the AP notes (via the Miami Herald) the Yankees were hit with an $18MM luxury tax for their 2010 spending. The Red Sox were the only other team hit with a tax; they owe $1.5MM.

The Yankees have been paying approximately $20M in luxury tax for a few years now, give or take a few million bucks. It’s wasted money, I get that, but man I still hate that the Yankees haven’t increased payroll at all since the new Yankee Stadium opened. The luxury tax is working. The playing field is being leveled and the owners are getting richer.

December 22nd, 2010: Jeff Francis Suitors

The Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers, and Yankees have varying degrees of interest in free agent lefty Jeff Francis, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Crasnick named five interested clubs a month ago: the Pirates, Mariners, Brewers, Astros, and Rockies.  It appears that a few teams dropped out and others jumped in; this is the first we’ve seen of the Yankees’ interest.

In the week after Lee signed with the Phillies, the Yankees appeared to go into full blown dumpster diving mode with Garcia and Francis. They didn’t sign Francis — the Royals did and he was bad in 2011 (4.82 ERA and 4.10 FIP in 183 innings) — but the fact they were interested in guys like this, pitchers coming off injuries and bad years (Francis had a 5.00 ERA and 3.88 FIP in 104.1 innings for the 2010 Rockies), really drove home how desperate the Yankees were for pitching and how little the market had to offer.

December 22nd, 2010: Yankees Interested in Johnny Damon

The Yankees are interested in bringing Johnny Damon back to New York and are discussing a potential reunion with him, according to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. Davidoff reports that the Yankees are open to bringing the 37-year-old back as a part-time left fielder and DH. Though the sides have had multiple conversations about possible deals, Damon would ideally like more guaranteed playing time.

The Yankees let go of Damon at just the right time. He had a great year in 2009 (122 wRC+) but his performance slipped with the Tigers in 2010 (107 wRC+). Between that and his bad defense, Damon was a below-average player overall at that point. As far as we know talks between the Yankees and Damon never did get serious during the 2010-11 offseason, so he landed with the Rays, where he had a 108 wRC+ as their primary DH in 2011.

December 23rd, 2010: Odds & Ends: Yankees, Blanton, Garza, LaRoche

The Yankees have “had internal chats” about signing Manny Ramirez, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network.  Curry rates the odds of Ramirez in pinstripes as even slimmer than those of the Yanks signing Johnny Damon, which Curry says “is also unlikely.”

I remember being pro-Manny at the time. The Yankees didn’t have an obvious place to put him — the outfield was full and Posada was set to play DH — but he had just hit .298/.409/.460 (140 wRC+) with nine homers in 90 games for the Dodgers and White Sox in 2010. It was never going to happen though. Manny joined Damon with the Rays and was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs for the second time just a few days into the season. He hasn’t played in MLB since.

December 28th, 2010: Soria Wouldn’t Block Trade To Yankees

The Royals have looked firm this offseason in their unwillingness to ship off Joakim Soria. The All-Star closer, on the other hand, appears comfortable with migrating to another market and, more specifically, to New York. In an interview with the Mexican paper Vanguard (link in Spanish), Soria told Roberto Espinoza that he doesn’t give much weight to the no-trade clause in his contract, which reportedly allows him to block trades to the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cardinals, and Cubs.

“I didn’t put it there, my agent did, as a strategy,” Soria said. “But if the Royals decide to trade me to New York I would gladly go to play with the Yankees or any other team… I repeat, I would not block a trade to the Yankees. I like to play baseball and I would play with any team.”

Whenever we find out a player includes the Yankees in his no-trade clause, people also say he doesn’t want to come to the New York. That’s not always the case though. Players routinely include big market clubs in their no-trade clauses to create leverage. Those are the teams that can pay to get the player to accept a trade. They can guarantee an option or work out an extension, something like that. It’s just leverage, it has nothing to do with not wanting to play somewhere.

Anyway, Soria was ridiculously good at the time (2.01 ERA and 2.76 FIP from 2007-10) but the Royals kept him that offseason, he had a down 2011 season (4.03 ERA and 3.59 FIP in 60.1 innings), then blew out his elbow and missed the entire 2012 season following his second Tommy John surgery. Soria left as a free agent after that season and Kansas City ended up getting nothing in return for one of their top trade chips at a time when they were knee deep in a rebuild.

December 30th, 2010: Rangers, Yankees, Indians Interested in Bartolo Colon

Bartolo Colon‘s work in the Dominican winter league has continued to draw the attention of major league teams, and the 37-year-old starter sounds eager to sign. According to an AP story out of Santo Domingo, Colon told reporters in the Dominican Republic yesterday, “Texas, Cleveland, and the Yankees are interested in me” (link in Spanish).

Ah yes, more so-called dumpster diving. Colon, who did not pitch at all in 2010 and threw only 257 ineffective innings from 2006-09 (5.18 ERA and 5.02 FIP) due to arm trouble, joined Garcia and Francis in the ewww they really might sign him? pile in the post-Lee world. But he was throwing well in winter ball — Tony Pena was his manager — and the Yankees liked what they saw, so they picked him up. Garcia and Colon combined to give the Yankees a 3.82 ERA in 311 innings in 2011. Friggin’ wild, man.

Yankees split $1.05M in postseason money, issue 59 full shares

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Earlier today MLB announced the 2015 postseason shares for each team. The World Series winning Royals split a pool of $25.2M or so and issued 58 full shares plus several partial shares. The Mets split $16.8M. Not a bad consolation prize, I’d say.

As the wildcard game loser, the Yankees received a postseason pool of $1,048,262.24. They issued 59 full shares plus 15.98 partial shares. Each full share is worth $13,979.99. That’s not all that much in baseball dollars but it’s a nice chunk of change for one night of work in real world dollars.

The players vote on postseason share distribution and I’m not sure how they divvy it up among guys who, for example, rode the bullpen shuttle all summer. For those guys this is a really nice payday. The coaching staff and trainers get shares as well.

A record $69.8M was split between the ten postseason teams this year. You can see the full postseason pool breakdown right here.

Monday Night Open Thread

Earlier today Ken Rosenthal reported the Red Sox have agreed to sign ex-Yankee Chris Young to a multi-year contract. He’s an extreme pull hitter and Fenway Park will be a good fit for him. Young was awesome as the fourth outfielder this year but the Aaron Hicks trade all but assured he wouldn’t be returning to the Bronx. The Yankees grabbed Young off the scrap heap in 2014 and he gave them a .257/.326/.465 (116 wRC+) batting line with 17 homers and 2.2 fWAR in 435 plate appearances for the low low price of ~$4M. Pretty cool. So long, CY.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Ravens and Browns are meeting on Monday Night Football, plus the (hockey) Rangers and Islanders are playing as well. There’s also some college basketball going on too. Talk about those games, Young signing with the BoSox, or anything else here.

Heyman: Yanks have inquired about Shelby Miller, Braves want Luis Severino

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are among the teams to call the Braves about right-hander Shelby Miller. Atlanta asked for Luis Severino in return, which is what I’d do. Heyman says that was merely a request and the Yankees are not seriously considering dealing Severino for Miller.

Miller, 25, had a 3.02 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 205 innings this past season, his first with the Braves after coming over from the Cardinals in the Jason Heyward deal. The Braves got Miller to emphasize his slider and cutter a little more and the result was more ground balls and fewer home runs. Fewer pitches squared up, basically.

MLBTR projects Miller to earn $4.9M next season, his first of three trips through arbitration. He can’t become a free agent until after 2018. The Yankees are looking for young pitching they can control beyond 2017 and Miller fits the bill, albeit slightly. He only has that one extra year of team control.

The Braves have been after Severino for a while. The two teams talked about a potential blockbuster trade last year that would have brought Heyward and Andrelton Simmons to New York, and we know Severino was part of those talks. New GM John Coppolella, a former Yankees intern, recently told Dave O’Brien they made a “strong run” at Severino.

“We made a strong run last year with the Yankees at Luis Severino, and we didn’t get the deal done last year, and now he’s off-limits this year. I mean, if you feel like you have a chance to get special talent, you can’t shy away from it. You’ve got to really jump at it and take that plunge. We were not sure that we could get these sorts of players, (the Simmons trade) was such a good opportunity for us that we wanted to seize it once it was available to us.”

With their new ballpark set to open in 2017, the Braves are in the middle of a massive rebuild and are still going through the tear down process. It’s hard to believe this same team won 96 games in 2013 and had all sorts of young talent on the roster. Heyward, Simmons, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel … all gone now.

The Braves have been emphasizing young pitchers in all of their trades, arguably too much. The attrition rate seems way to high to put all your eggs in that basket, but that’s just me. Beyond Severino, the Yankees have young arms like James Kaprielian, Ian Clarkin, and Bryan Mitchell to offer. My guess is the Braves are looking for something better in return for Miller.

Early free agent prices may mean second and third tier pitchers aren’t fits for Yankees

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Yesterday morning the first significant free agent came off the board when Jordan Zimmermann agreed to a five-year contract with the Tigers. The deal, which is still pending a physical, is reportedly worth $110M. The Winter Meetings are only a week away now, so the markets for other big name free agents will surely heat up soon.

Aside from Zimmermann, several other free agents have already signed this offseason, but they’re mostly second or third or even fourth tier types. All of the half decent catchers (Alex Avila, Chris Iannetta, Geovany Soto) have signed, plus several pitchers have inked new deals as well. Rich Hill went from an independent league in August to a one-year, $6M deal with the Athletics in November. What a world.

The Blue Jays have signed two starting pitchers already. They re-upped Marco Estrada for two years and brought back J.A. Happ for three years. The contracts have similar average annual value: Estrada gets $13M annually while Happ gets $12M per year. Clearly the Blue Jays are hoping their performances in 2015 — Estrada was great the entire year, Happ was great after being traded to the Pirates — are the new normal and not outliers.

“Mediocre pitching is $30M minimum,” said one executive to Ken Rosenthal, and the Estrada and Happ deals back that up. Go back to previous offseasons and you have guys like Jake Peavy ($24M), Bronson Arroyo ($23.5M), and Scott Feldman ($30M) in that salary range. That’s just the market now. The game is flush with cash and the players are getting their piece of the pie. Heck, you can argue they’re getting less than they deserve.

Anyway, the Yankees could use some rotation help this offseason, if nothing to add innings and more certainty. Right now they have a lot of bodies but I’m not sure you can count on anyone to take the ball and pitch well every fifth day 30+ times in 2016. There are too many health concerns, not mention high variance performances. This is the quintessential boom or bust rotation. No doubt about it. It’s not hard to see this group as a dominant strikeout staff or a bottom ten staff.

The Yankees didn’t have much money come off the books after the season, meaning they’re not going to shop at the very top of the market. I wouldn’t ever rule out a David Price or Zack Greinke signing, but I don’t expect it either. The team has been scouring the trade market, offering up guys like Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller for young arms, but so far nothing has come from it. Getting pitching is hard, even in this low offense era.

Those early Estrada and Happ contracts show that if the Yankees avoid the top of the market and don’t trade some of their good players for controllable arms, they’re going to get stuck paying inflated prices for middling free agent arms. Inflated probably isn’t the right word, the market is the market, but they’ll end up paying a price that doesn’t really fit their payroll. They had $20M come off the books and Happ types are running $13M annually.

There’s also the multi-year aspect of this. Everyone is looking forward to next offseason, when Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran come off the books and the Yankees have some more money to spend in free agency, but going two or three years for a guy like Happ chews up some of that money. Heck, Happ’s salary would have essentially replaced Beltran’s. That’s the cost of meh pitching nowadays.

Without a payroll increase, the Yankees look to be best off trading for cheaper arms than paying a premium for a middling starter. If payroll’s not going up, then veteran depth arms on one-year contracts are probably the best free agent targets outside of Price or Greinke. I’m not quite sure whom that could be — Doug Fister? Mat Latos? Bartolo Colon? — but not many of those guys really move the needle. Hiroki Kuroda was the exception.

Maybe the market will come down a bit later in the offseason. That’s usually how it works. A few players are left unsigned in January and end up signing smaller contracts than expected. It happened to James Shields last year, and to Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez the year before. (Three cautionary tales, eh? Probably wasn’t a coincidence they were unsigned in January.) There are usually some bargains to be found in the weeks leading up to Spring Training. Perhaps a depth arm can be found there.

Either way, the Estrada and Happ signings are a reminder the inefficiency of free agency covers everyone, not just the top tier players. The second and third tier guys — Estrada and Happ are firmly third tier guys, right? — aren’t cheap either. Getting pitching won’t come cheap, but if the Yankees are going to go out and get some, they’re better off paying big for top free agent or giving up valuable pieces in a trade. Giving a lot of cash to a low-end arm sounds so very unappealing.

The Bullpen Shuttle: The Mainstays [2015 Season Review]

Cotham. (Presswire)
Cotham. (Presswire)

Over the last few years the Yankees have gotten pretty good at finding useful arms in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Some become bonafide studs (17th rounder David Robertson), some become solid contributors (14th rounder David Phelps), some become trade chips (15th rounder Shane Greene), and some provide short-term help (17th rounder Preston Claiborne).

Coming into the 2015 season, the Yankees had a bunch of these mid-to-late round arms either at the Triple-A level or ready for it. They had no shortage of interesting relievers in the upper levels of the minors. That’s for sure. So, to take advantage of those arms, the Yankees employed a bullpen shuttle this year, calling up and sending down fresh arms as necessary. The transactions were almost daily. Here are the five relievers who rode that shuttle more than anyone.

Caleb Cotham

A variety of injuries have hampered Cotham throughout his career, limiting him to 315.2 innings from 2010-14 even though he worked as a starter. The team’s fifth round pick in the 2009 draft started the season with Double-A Trenton because there was simply was no room for him at Triple-A. Cotham’s old for a prospect — he turned 28 earlier this month — so other guys were the priority.

After bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A for much of the summer, Cotham finally earned his first MLB call-up on July 29th, taking the place of Chris Capuano after Capuano allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Rangers. Cotham made his big league debut that night and struck out four of seven batters faced in 1.2 innings.

Cotham spent August going back and forth between Triple-A and MLB as part of the shuttle before getting called up for good once rosters expanded in September. He pitched well enough in the final month of the season, allowing three runs in six innings across ten appearances. At one point it appeared Joe Girardi was using Cotham as his No. 4 reliever behind Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson.

Cotham flashed some good stuff during his brief MLB stint — PitchFX says he featured a low-to-mid-90 heater and upper-80s slider — and finished with a 6.52 ERA (6.55 FIP) in 9.2 MLB innings. Blame a four-run, two-homer, two-inning dud against the Twins on August 17th for most of that. Cotham struck out eleven and walked one in his 9.2 innings in pinstripes.

Because he has a lengthy injury history and is the oldest of the shuttle relievers, I think Cotham is in danger of losing his 40-man roster at some point this offseason. But, if he manages to stick around into the 2016 season, he’ll again be an up-and-down arm, helping chew up innings whenever necessary.

Nick Goody

The 24-year-old Goody was New York’s sixth round pick in the 2012 draft. He was expected to be a quick-moving reliever, but his career was put on hold due to Tommy John surgery. He threw three innings in 2013, got hurt, then threw 31.1 innings after returning in 2014.

Goody. (Presswire)
Goody. (Presswire)

The Yankees had Goody start the season with Double-A Trenton this year because that was the appropriate level for him given his experience and rehab and whatnot. And he dominated. Goody had a 1.73 ERA (2.21 FIP) with 59 strikeouts and 14 walks in 41.2 innings for the Thunder before getting bumped up to Triple-A Scranton in early-July.

On July 30th, Goody was called up to the big leagues for the first time, replacing Cotham on the roster. (Like I said, these transactions were almost daily.) He made his MLB debut that night, getting one out, then he pitched again the next day, allowing a run in an inning against the White Sox. One day later, Goody was back in the minors. So it goes.

Goody was called up on two other occasions in August — he threw one inning each time then was sent back down — before coming up when rosters expanded in September. He didn’t pitch a whole lot in the season’s final month. Only 2.1 innings across three appearances. Goody allowed three runs in 5.2 big league innings total in 2015.

After throwing 62.1 innings in the minors (1.59 ERA and 2.06 FIP), it seemed like the Yankees wanted to take it easy on Goody in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, so he was a just-in-case arm in September. He’s a low-90s fastball/low-80s slider guy with a history of missing bats (career 35.0 K% in the minors) who figures to get a greater opportunity to help the Yankees in 2016.

Chris Martin

Unlike the other guys in the post, the Yankees did not draft Martin. They acquired him from the Rockies in a cash deal last offseason. He replaced Gonzalez Germen on the roster, who replaced Claiborne. Simply put, the Yankees felt Germen was better than Claiborne, and Martin was better than Germen, so the moves were made. Incremental upgrades are still upgrades.

Martin, 29, is unlike the other guys in this post in another way as well: he was on the Opening Day roster. It became obvious pretty early on the Yankees liked Martin more than we realized. He struggled a bit in Spring Training but still made the team, then was literally the first reliever Girardi used this season. Martin struck out the side in order on Opening Day: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson.

Girardi continued to use Martin regularly the rest of April, even asking him to pick up a save on a night the main relievers were unavailable. He pitched well for the first few weeks as that first reliever outside the Circle of Trust™. Martin wasn’t in the Circle yet, but you can tell he wasn’t far outside either. Opponents hit .167/.222/.214 with 13 strikeouts and two walks in eleven innings against Martin in April.

The first few days of May were rough and Martin eventually landed on the DL with an elbow issue. He returned three weeks later and was immediately optioned to Triple-A Scranton. After four appearances there, he returned to New York, allowed five runs in 3.1 innings across three appearances, then was sent back to Triple-A. He was officially on the bullpen shuttle.

Another elbow injury caused Martin to miss four weeks in July and August — he developed a staph infection from a big bite on his hand and it spread to his elbow — but he got healthy in time to return to the Yankees in September. He allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks in 4.2 innings and six appearances down the stretch. Martin never was the same after that first elbow injury.

All told, Martin had a 5.66 ERA (3.67 FIP) in 24 appearances and 20.2 innings with the Yankees this past season. (He had a 3.18 ERA and 3.02 FIP in 28.1 Triple-A innings as well.) He worked out an agreement with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan a few weeks ago and asked the Yankees for his release. The (Ham) Fighters sent the Yankees $750,000 for their trouble and Martin signed a two-year, $1.7M contract. Good for him.

Pinder. (Presswire)
Pinder. (Presswire)

Branden Pinder

No shuttle reliever threw more big league innings or was called up more times than Pinder this season. Pinder, 26, was added to the 40-man roster last offseason thanks to Rule 5 Draft eligibility, and he was called up six (!) different times in 2015. He was called up once in April, once in May, once in June, once in July, then twice in August, the second time for good through the end of the season. Gosh.

Pinder was the team’s 16th round pick in 2011 and he made his MLB debut on April 15th, throwing a scoreless inning against the Orioles. He pitched mostly low-leverage mop-up innings — this extra innings loss to the Blue Jays is the notable exception — so, weirdly, his signature moment of the season was a double. Pinder batted for himself in a blowout game against the Braves and doubled into the left-center field gap. Check it out:

Hey, the guy’s a 1.000/1.000/2.000 career hitter. That works out to a 747 wRC+. Not too shabby. Pitchers love to brag about their hitting and I’m sure Pinder wore out the other guys in the bullpen after that double. I know I would.

Anyway, Pinder made 25 appearances and threw 27.2 innings during those six call-ups this summer. He had a 2.93 ERA (4.72 FIP) with 25 strikeouts and 14 walks. PitchFX measured his fastball in the mid-90s and his slider in the mid-80s. The swing-and-miss rate on his slider was a healthy 17.4%.

It’s tough to evaluate Pinder’s performance because he went up and down so many times, but, based on how often he got the call, he appears to be at the front of the shuttle line. He’s still on the 40-man roster, and he is older than most others on the shuttle, though I think his spot is safe this offseason. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a lot more of Pinder next year.

Nick Rumbelow

Rumbelow’s climb up the minor league ladder was much quicker than the other guys in this post. The 24-year-old was the team’s seventh round pick in the 2013 draft, he dominated four levels of the minors in 2014, then started the 2015 season with Triple-A Scranton before getting called up to the show in late-June. Rumbelow allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning against the Phillies in his MLB debut on June 23rd.

Even with that relatively late first promotion, the Yankees managed to call Rumbelow up four different times this past season. Once in June, twice in August, then once again when rosters expanded in September. His most notable inning of the season came on September 15th, when he inherited runners on the corners with one out in a one-run game, then struck out Steven Souza and Evan Longoria to escape the jam.

Unfortunately, Rumbelow served up a two-run home run to Nick Franklin to blow the lead and eventually take his first career loss in the next inning. The Yankees and Girardi were hoping one of the shuttle relievers would emerge as a reliable option in September but it never did happen. Rumbelow got chances — he threw six innings across seven appearances in the final month — but didn’t force the issue.

Rumbelow pitched to a 4.02 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 15.2 big league innings and 17 appearances with the Yankees this summer, striking out 15 and walking five. He also had a 4.27 ERA (2.72 FIP) in 52.2 Triple-A innings. Rumbelow uses a mid-90s fastball to set up his low-80s slurvy breaking ball and surprisingly effective mid-80s changeup. Opponents swung and missed at the change 19.5% of the time. That’s really good.

Like Goody, Rumbelow is quite young and he has a history of missing bats (career 28.9 K% in the minors), so his place on the 40-man roster is pretty safe. I think he has the best chance among the guys in this post to develop into a late-inning reliever who works high-leverage innings. That doesn’t mean he’ll be that guy in 2016, but I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of Rumbelow next year.

Fan Confidence Poll: November 30th, 2015

2015 Season Record: 87-75 (764 RS, 698 RA, 88-74 pythag. record), lost wildcard game

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Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?