Trade & Free Agent Notes: Cubs, Beltran, Red Sox, Gurriel

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

It has been three days since Yankees president Randy Levine told reporters any talk about selling was “nonsense,” and boy, it would be much easier to make a snarky comment right now had the Yankees not come back to win that game last night. Still, their postseason odds are 9.0% per FanGraphs, and that’s not good. Regardless of what Levine says, the Yankees have to seriously consider shifting focus from this season to the future before the trade deadline. Here are some miscellaneous trade notes, with one free agent note thrown in for good measure.

Cubs continue to scout Yankees’ bullpen

The Cubs had multiple scouts at Yankee Stadium over the weekend to see the Yankees’ big three relievers, reports George King. Chicago had scouts on hand to see those guys earlier this month too. While I’m sure the Cubbies would love to get their hands on Dellin Betances, my guess is they’re focusing on Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman given their need for a late-inning southpaw.

For what it’s worth, Buster Olney (subs. req’d) hears the Yankees will tell the Cubs they have to part with Kyle Schwarber to get Miller. Chicago doesn’t want to do that, but they have plenty of other prospects and young big leaguers though, so when the time comes to field serious offers, Chicago can make a very competitive bid. Other contenders like the Nationals, Rangers, and Giants figure to be involved too, which is good news for the Yankees. Hooray bidding wars!

Beltran willing to waive no-trade clause

Carlos Beltran is one of the few big name Yankees without full no-trade protection — he can block deals to 14 teams — and he told Brendan Kuty that if the team comes to him to ask for approval for a trade, he’d be willing to okay the deal. “If they came to me about it, we would have a conversation,” he said. “When the team is looking to trade you, there’s no other decision to make other than go.”

The Yankees received a bit of a scare earlier this week when Beltran left a game with hamstring injury — that’s after receiving a scare when he needed his knee drained a few weeks ago — but thankfully he is only day-to-day. There don’t figure to be many impact bats available at the deadline, so even with Beltran’s defensive limitations, I imagine he’ll generate a ton of interest. The Indians and Royals are two obvious fits. The Giants and Nationals could have interest too. Hunter Pence is out long-term with a torn hamstring, so right field is open in San Francisco. Ben Revere hasn’t hit all year, so the Nats could put Beltran in right and slide Bryce Harper to center.

Dombrowski willing to trade with Yankees

Dombrowski. (Rich Gagnon/Getty)
Dombrowski. (Rich Gagnon/Getty)

I wouldn’t count on this actually happening, but Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told Brian MacPherson he is open to making a trade with the Yankees this summer. “I have made trades within our own division,” said the longtime exec, “… and the only time I’ve generally done that is when one club is in it and the other club is not. In that way, if they get the best return on their value, they don’t really care. If they’re in it and we’re in it, probably the odds are longer.”

I definitely understand why teams shy away from intradivision trades, but when you take the plunge and decide to sell, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t consider all offers. I mean, teams don’t make trades unless they believe they’re coming out ahead, so theoretically an intradivision trade would make your roster stronger and a rival’s weaker. A Yankees-Red Sox trade — a big trade, I mean, not something like Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew — might get squashed at the ownership level. The prospect of losing a trade to your biggest rival is enough to make folks squeamish.

Yankees not believed to have much interest in Gurriel

Let’s end with a note about a free agent, not a trade. At some point soon the Yankees will hold a private workout for Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel at their Tampa complex, assuming it hasn’t happened already. Despite that, George King says the team’s interest level is “not believed to be high.” I would expect nothing less. Even if the Yankees have interest, they’re not going to say so publicly. There’s nothing to be gained by doing so.

Most see Gurriel as an impact middle of the order hitter, something the Yankees really lack. That said, he is already 32 years old, so he’s at the age where you’d expect his game to start to slip. You’re buying mostly decline years. Gurriel is a player you add if you’re a contender right now and are looking for someone to put you over the top. He doesn’t make sense for a rebuilding team that is years away from contention. The Yankees have the resources to avoid a long rebuild and the plan for the offense going forward can’t simply be “hope the prospects work out.” I get why teams would shy away from a 32-year-old with no MLB track record even if I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Game 78: The Final Home Game of the First Half

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Was that the best game of the season last night or what? That was so fun. This season has generally sucked, but games like last night make it all worth it. Baseball is still pretty dang cool.

Thanks to that win, the Yankees have a chance to earn a split of this four-game series with the AL best Rangers this afternoon. Heck, the Yanks were pretty close to winning the first game of the series too before the rain interfered. This is the final home game before the All-Star break, so go out, get the win to split the series, then head to San Diego. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

We’ve got pretty much perfect weather in New York today. No clouds in the sky, temperatures in the mid-80s, not that humid. Couldn’t ask for a better afternoon for a ballgame. Today’s series finale will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Carlos Beltran (hamstring) feels better and is planning to hit today. I’m not sure if he’ll take batting practice or hit in the cage. He’s not in the lineup, but he did test the hammy with some baseball activities.

Rotation Update: The Yankees will call up Chad Green to make a spot start Sunday. CC Sabathia will start Monday instead, so he won’t have to hit or run the bases on his balky knee (and ankle) over the weekend in San Diego. As an added bonus, the starters get an extra day of rest. It’s also worth noting this means Masahiro Tanaka will start July 10th, the Sunday before the All-Star break, which makes him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game should he make the roster. I wrote about that this morning.

The Yankees and the 2016 All-Star Game

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Next Tuesday, MLB will announce the 2016 All-Star Game starters and reserves during a live ESPN broadcast. They’ll announce the entire roster — including the starting position players per the fan voting — with the exception of the final spot, which will be decided through the Final Vote ballot. You remember that, right? Of course you do.

The Yankees are not going to have a starting position player in the All-Star Game for the second straight year, which is no surprise. Their biggest “star” is currently being benched against righties. The Yankees definitely have some players deserving of an All-Star Game nod though, and not just because the rules say every team needs a representative.

In my opinion the Yankees have six players worthy of serious consideration for the All-Star Game. That doesn’t mean all six will get in. In fact, I’d bet on the Yankees only getting one or two All-Stars this year. Three tops. There are only so many roster spots, plus it’s not often a fourth place team sends six players to the All-Star Game. Here are the candidates.

Carlos Beltran

The recent hamstring injury could really throw a wrench into Beltran’s All-Star candidacy. He’s second among all AL outfielders in SLG (.570) — he’s four points behind Mike Trout — and ranks fifth wRC+ (137). His 19 homers are tied for fifth among all AL players, not just outfielders. Beltran’s defense drags down his WAR, though that doesn’t really matter. The All-Star Game has not yet morphed into the Highest WAR Game, thankfully.

Generally speaking six or seven outfielders are named to each All-Star team each year. Beltran won’t be among the three starters voted in by the fans — the starters will probably end up being Trout, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. based on the recent voting updates — and Ian Desmond will certainly be on the bench, leaving the last two or three spots for some combination of Beltran, Mark Trumbo, George Springer, Michael Saunders, and Nelson Cruz. (There could be some others in that mix too.)

On merit, Beltran belongs in the All-Star Game. He has the big power numbers and his track record sure doesn’t hurt either. The question is the hamstring. Right now it’s being called a day-to-day injury, but Joe Girardi said it is “worrisome” that the hamstring was still sore yesterday. If this lingers and causes Beltran to miss more than a few days or even land on the DL, it could put an end to his All-Star chances.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Masahiro Tanaka

You know, Tanaka really doesn’t get enough credit for being on the best pitchers in the league. I’m pretty sure it’s the elbow. Tanaka was an All-Star in 2014, when he was one of the best pitchers in the league, then he hurt his elbow and seemed to disappear from the great pitchers conversation. Even a big chunk of Yankee fans underrate him. Among qualified AL pitchers, Tanaka ranks …

  • Seventh in bWAR (2.6)
  • Fourth in fWAR (2.6)
  • Sixth in innings (104.2)
  • 11th in ERA (3.35)
  • Fourth in FIP (3.31)
  • Fifth in WHIP (1.06)
  • Eighth in K/BB (4.32)

And yes, that includes last night’s dud. Those games happen to everyone. Tanaka has been one of ten best starters in the league, meaning he’s absolutely worthy of All-Star consideration. Is he is a shoe-in? No, but he’s in the conversation. Will Tanaka actually get onto the roster? There’s usually seven or eight starters on the roster, so he might be able to sneak in.

It’s worth noting Tanaka is scheduled to make two more starts before the All-Star break, including one on Saturday, July 9th. That’s the Saturday before the All-Star break. The Yankees are six games into a 17 games in 17 days stretch to close out the first half, and I wonder if they’ll insert a spot sixth starter at some point to give the rotation members an extra day. If they do, Tanaka would instead start Sunday, July 10th, thus ruling him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game.

CC Sabathia

I think the last two starts may have doomed Sabathia’s All-Star Game chances. Two starts ago he was sitting on a 2.20 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 65.1 innings, ranking second in the AL in ERA. He was top ten in WAR even after missing two weeks with the groin injury. It’s close to impossible to keep a pitcher with those numbers out of the All-Star Game.

After those last two starts — Sabathia was really good for the first seven innings Tuesday, but the eighth inning happened — Sabathia now has a 3.17 ERA (3.65 FIP) in 76.2 innings. That’s still really good! But it’s probably not All-Star Game good, not even in the AL. Sabathia doesn’t have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title — he’d rank seventh in ERA if he did — so his lack of innings relative to other All-Star candidates will hurt him, plus he doesn’t rank among the top ten pitchers in anything (except hit batsmen).

Sabathia is going to make one more start before the All-Star rosters are announced and two more starts before the actual All-Star Game. A few extra pitchers are added to the roster each year as injury replacements and replacements for guys who pitch the Sunday before the All-Star break, so maybe Sabathia sneaks in that way. After these last two starts, I don’t think Sabathia gets in. That shiny near-2.00 ERA was his best chance to be an All-Star, and that’s gone.

Andrew Miller & Dellin Betances

I am certain at least one of these two is going to the All-Star Game. It’s definitely possible both are going, though Betances has had a few hiccups throughout the year, which could keep him out. There are generally six or seven relievers on each All-Star roster, and I have a hard time believing there are seven relievers in the AL more deserving than Dellinthis year.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Miller should be a lock for his first career All-Star Game. He’s not a closer, but his numbers are outrageous regardless of role. Miller is second among all relievers with 63 strikeouts (Betances leads with 67) and he’s fifth in WAR, though I’ve long been a believer in WAR underrating high-leverage relievers. Either way, Miller absolutely has All-Star numbers this year. If he doesn’t go the Midsummer Classic this year, when will he?

As for Betances, I think his track record (two-time All-Star) is going to help him, and I get the sense players around the league know how good he is, which could help. A big chunk on the roster is determined by the player vote, remember. Guys like Zach Britton, Sam Dyson, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Will Harris, Alex Colome, Roberto Osuna, Brad Brach, and Craig Kimbrel are also going to be in the mix for the All-Star bullpen. That’s a lot of competition! Maybe Betances will wind up on the Final Vote ballot.

Aroldis Chapman

The performance has been All-Star worthy, I’d say. Thirty-one strikeouts and four walks in 20 innings is pretty crazy. The problem is Chapman’s workload. The guy has thrown 20 innings because of his suspension. He’s 64th among all AL relievers innings, and he’s thrown literally half as many innings as most of the other All-Star worthy relievers. That lack of work is really going to hurt Chapman’s chances to go to the All-Star Game. He has the All-Star reputation and all that, but 20-something innings? Other guys have thrown way more innings and are more deserving. I can’t see Chapman getting in. He simply hasn’t pitched enough.

* * *

I suppose there’s a chance Brian McCann will sneak into the All-Star Game because AL catchers are so collectively terrible, but I feel like he’s been slumping a little too long to get in. (Last night’s game notwithstanding). Didi Gregorius has been awesome, but man, there are way too many good shortstop in the AL. Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts. There are your three AL All-Star shortstops from now through 2020. Sorry Didi. Not happening.

My not-so-bold prediction is the Yankees get two All-Stars this year: Beltran and Miller. Tanaka doesn’t make it and Betances falls victim to the bullpen numbers crunch. I think it’s much more likely Betances sneaks onto the roster than Tanaka, and I think it’s really unlikely Sabathia and Chapman make it to the All-Star Game at this point. Miller’s a lock. He’s been so outrageously good. Everyone else is a maybe, even Beltran because of the hamstring.

Holy cannoli! Yankees stun the Rangers with a six-run rally in ninth for a 9-7 victory

(Getty)

Wow! I already had a chunk of this recap written and had to erase a paragraph or two after that ninth inning. After a lackluster showing for the first eight innings, the Yankee bats slugged their way to a six-run inning in the ninth to win this game 9-7.

Not the best Tanaka start

After tossing a scoreless first, Masahiro Tanaka gave up a run in the second. He allowed a double to Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus later drove him in with an RBI single, making it 1-0 Rangers.

After the Yanks tied it with Chase Headley‘s homer, Masahiro¬†got into another jam in the third. He allowed back-to-back singles to Robinson Chirinos and Shin-Soo Choo to begin the frame. Ian Desmond worked a walk in a 3-2 count to get the bases loaded. In another full count, Tanaka threw a 87-mph slider that just kind of hung in the strike zone, and Nomar Mazara drove it into the gap for a three-run double. 4-1 Rangers. Fielder followed it up with a grounder that 1B Rob Refsnyder was able to reach but not pick up. Nomar Mazara raced to home to score another, 5-1 Rangers. That was one of the worst innings from Tanaka in this season.

In the sixth, Tanaka allowed another run – this time, a solo blast by the rising star Rougned Odor for his 15th of the season. 6-1 Rangers. By the time his outing was done, Masahiro had allowed six earned runs in 6.0 IP – not necessarily what you want to see from your ace. If you want to see the bright side, he did strike out seven while walking only one, which is good for padding on that xFIP. (But you know who has a good xFIP though? Michael Pineda with 3.36)

(Getty)

Little offense scattered throughout the game

With the team trailing 1-0, Chase Headley tied the game in the second inning with a solo home run. He got a 93 mph fastball on the inside corner and smoked it towards the right field seats for his fifth dinger of the year. Don’t look now but he’s now hitting for a .250 AVG and his OPS has crept up kind of close to .700 (.682 in reality). Keep it up and he actually might end up with a decent line.

The Yankees had a major chance in the bottom of sixth. Brian McCann led off with a walk and Starlin Castro singled to put two baserunners with no out. Rangers manager Jeff Banister summoned lefty Cesar Ramos to face Didi Gregorius. Gregorius *almost* grounded out into a double play but he was called just barely safe to make it runners on corners with one out. That made at least some difference – the next hitter, Headley, flied out deep enough to drive a run in, making it 6-2 Rangers.

Oh, meanwhile, Luis Cessa came into the game in the seventh to relieve Tanaka. After throwing a 1-2-3 seventh, he allowed a solo home run to Adrian Beltre on the first pitch of eighth. It was a Yankee Stadium cheapie that just cleared the right field fence. Aaron Hicks gave it a good try to rob it but he barely missed it – from the replays, the ball just sailed over his glove as he was in mid-air. The home run increased Texas’ lead to 7-2, which was insurmountable, right? That was about the only damage Cessa allowed – he pitched for 3 innings, allowed one run while striking out and walking two each. Not awful.

New York added another run in the bottom eighth with Brian McCann going deep for a solo shot to make it 7-3 Texas. The ball sailed just over RF Shin-Soo Choo’s glove and into the seats, a classic Yankee Stadium cheapie (again). But hey, a run! Bad news: YES Network cameras showed that he slowed down between first and second. It seemed like something was going on with his knee. Not good. Fortunately, he came into catch the next inning. I’m guessing things were alright. Well, you haven’t seen everything yet…

(Getty)

Rally! Win!

Former no. 1 overall pick Matt Bush was on the mound to start the bottom of ninth. He had come into the game in the bottom eighth and retired both hitters that he faced. In the ninth, however, he allowed a single to Refsnyder and walked Jacoby Ellsbury to make it a bit interesting. Bannister decided to hammer it down by bringing the closer Sam Dyson. That’s when all the fun began.

Brett Gardner, in a 1-1 count, hit a 95 mph fastball towards center to drive Refsnyder in, reducing the deficit to three runs. The next hitter, A-Rod, hit a sharp liner right at Rougned Odor for an out. That was quite dangerous with runners on second and first. Had both runners been off the base a bit further, it would’ve been a potential triple play situation. Instead of that, the Yankees got something else.

Brian McCann, coming off a bit of a knee scare after homering in the eighth, got a 97 mph fastball right in his wheelhouse to hit a game-tying solo homer Against the power-hitting, pull-happy lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium, I don’t think Dyson could have located it any worse. Just take a look:

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.26.26 PM

The inning was already nuts and the Yanks weren’t done partying yet. Only with one out, Starlin Castro, he of 4.0% walk rate, worked a five-pitch walk to get on base. Gregorius, who is actually having a decent season with a bat (.290/.320/.425 after the game), swung at a first-pitch changeup and didn’t miss any of it – he hit it right above the right field fence for a walk-off two-run homer. 9-7 Yankees. That was a heck of a roller coaster ride of an inning.

a look of pure joy (Getty)

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings. As you may see from the WPA chart, tonight was a bit nuts.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees and Rangers wrap up this series Thursday afternoon. Michael Pineda and A.J. Griffin will be the starters.

DotF: Judge, Austin, Cave lead Scranton to another win

The daily notes:

Triple-A Scranton (11-2 win over Syracuse) they faced former RailRider RHP Jaron Long … they’ve averaging 5.55 runs per game this month

  • LF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K — 23-for-63 (.365) with nine homers, 14 walks, and 16 strikeouts in his last 17 games
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-6, 1 R, 1 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles and four homers in his last six games
  • CF Jake Cave: 3-4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Luis Severino: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1/5 GB/FB — 73 of 100 pitches were strikes … allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in the first inning, then cruised the rest of the way
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K — eleven of 17 pitches were strikes … 11/3 K/BB in 6.2 Triple-A innings so far
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — ten of 14 pitches were strikes … 22/12 K/BB in 21 innings here
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 12 of 19 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 77: Avoiding No. 40

(Getty)
(Getty)

Every once in a while I go back and compare teams to the 1998 Yankees, who were so obscenely good it doesn’t seem real even though I watched them with my own eyes. That team went 114-48, and they suffered their 40th loss in Game 140. I’m not joking. They were 100-39 at one point. The Red Sox went 92-70 in 1998 and finished 22 games behind the Yankees. Ridiculous.

Anyway, tonight the 2016 Yankees are trying to avoid their 40th loss of the season. In Game 77. This 2016 team is a wee bit off the pace from that 1998 squad, huh? Heck, even the 2013 Yankees didn’t suffer their 40th loss until Game 88. Can the 2016 Yankees delay that inevitable 40th loss another day? Maybe! Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Much nicer weather today than the last few days. The sun is out and the chance of rain is down around 5%. There should be no problem getting the game in tonight. This evening’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Carlos Beltran (hamstring) is still sore and remains day-to-day. Joe Girardi said it is “worrisome” he’s still feeling it. This is fine. … Mark Teixeira has some soreness in his knee, which is why he’s out of the lineup.

Yankees holding 1996 championship team reunion on August 13

The 1996 Yankees are my favorite Yankees team of all time. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. Sure, the 1998 and 2009 teams were awesome, but that 1996 squad was my first World Series championship team. I was still a kid and baseball had just crushed my soul for the first time in the 1995 ALDS. Not team will compare to the 1996 Yankees to me.

Earlier today the Yankees announced they will hold a ceremony honoring the 20th anniversary of 1996 Yankees on Saturday, August 13th. A total of 32 members of that 1996 team will be in attendance, including Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Wade Boggs, Paul O’Neill, Tim Raines, David Cone, Jimmy Key, Jim Leyritz, and Joe Torre. But not Kenny Rogers. He wasn’t invited. (I don’t know if that’s true, but he won’t be there.)

Here is the press release with the full list of attendees. The Yankees are playing the Rays, who didn’t even exist back in 1996, that weekend. Here’s the schedule of events:

  • Friday, Saturday 12th (7pm ET): First 15,000 fans receive a 1996 World Series replica trophy.
  • Saturday, Saturday 13th (1pm ET): 1996 Yankees reunion ceremony.
  • Sunday, Saturday 14th (1pm ET): Mariano Rivera Monument Park plaque dedication ceremony.

That is going to be a pretty awesome weekend. I’m sure the cynical folks among us will say the Yankees are doing all this because attendance is down and the 2016 team stinks, but this has been in the works for a while. The 20th anniversary of the 1996 Yankees was always going to have a special day, as it should. They’re going to do this again in 1998, 1999, and 2000 too.

We had an entire Retro Week dedicated to the 1996 Yankees earlier this season, so go back and check that all out if you haven’t seen it. And even if you have seen it, read it again.