Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing, plus there’s some college hoops on the schedule as well. You folks all know how these open threads work by now, so have at it.
The first day of the Winter Meetings came and went with little activity. At least aside from that big Giancarlo Stanton press conference, of course. There were a few low-profile signings and the usual array of rumors, yet most of the top free agents remain unsigned. That’ll change soon enough. Will the Yankees sign one of those free agents? Eh, hard to see it after Stanton.
“We have to do more. We have unfinished business,” said Brian Cashman following the Stanton press conference yesterday. “We have payroll space because we have more work to do. (The Stanton trade) fits because we still have room to accomplish all of our stated goals, but obviously it takes up some of that space, clearly.”
Yesterday we learned the Yankees have interest their 2008 first round pick, Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Pitching help was mentioned more than a few times after the Stanton press conference. Once again, we’re going to keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related rumors from the Winter Meetings right here, so make sure you check back for updates. All timestamps are ET.
- 5:18pm: The Yankees are working hard to add a starting pitcher, so says Aaron Boone. Boone is still new here. I don’t know if he’s just saying that to say it, or because the Yankees are moving down the line with a trade or free agent. Probably the former. [Kuty]
- 4:47pm: Brian Cashman has been talking to Frazier’s agent now that third base is open. [Bryan Hoch]
- 2:46pm: It is very possible the Yankees will add two starting pitchers. In all likelihood, they’d trade for a younger pitcher under control and re-sign CC Sabathia [Kuty]
- 2:31pm: The Yankees are one of several teams to check in with the Royals about lefty Danny Duffy. There is currently no traction with any team, though that can change quick. [Joel Sherman]
- 12:20pm: If you’re thinking about a Todd Frazier reunion in the wake of the Headley trade, Frazier has let teams know he wants a multi-year contract. [Brendan Kuty]
- 11:17am: The Yankees have traded Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for Jabari Blash. The deal clears Headley’s entire $13M salary. Here’s our post.
- 10:27am: The Yankees are trying to trade for a starter and have both Michael Fulmer and Patrick Corbin “on their radar in early talks.” Corbin will be a free agent next year. Fulmer is under control for another few years. [Bob Nightengale]
- 9:30am: The Pirates are willing to listen to offers for Cole, though they are not actively shopping him and they do not appear to be particularly motivated to trade him this week. [Buster Olney, Rob Biertempfel]
- 9:30am: It is “unlikely” Jacoby Ellsbury will waive his no-trade clause to leave the Yankees. He is no higher than fifth on the outfield depth chart, but hey, the Yankees look pretty good. I wouldn’t want to leave either. [Mark Feinsand]
- 9:30am: At some point between the Shohei Ohtani rejection and the Stanton trade, the Yankees expressed interest in Carlo Santana. That’s not happening now, obviously. [Ken Davidoff]
(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)
1:31pm ET: The Yankees have announced the trade. They get Blash from the Padres for Headley, Mitchell, and cash considerations. Mark Feinsand says the Yankees are sending $500,000 to the Padres. Jon Heyman says the two teams are splitting the $1M assignment bonus in Headley’s contract.
11:17am ET: The Yankees have cleared up more payroll space under the luxury tax threshold. According to Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. San Diego is taking on Headley’s entire $13M salary. It’s a straight salary dump trade. The Yankees also open a 40-man roster spot. Neither team has confirmed the deal.
For all intents and purposes, the Padres purchased Mitchell from the Yankees for $13M. That’s what it boils down to. Mitchell clearly has quality stuff, including a high spin curveball, though he’s been unable to find success in the big leagues the last few years — he has a 4.94 ERA (4.26 FIP) in 98.1 career innings — and had fallen way down the depth chart. The Yankees managed to attach Mitchell to Headley to dump Headley’s entire salary. That seems pretty good to me.
Furthermore, Mitchell is out of minor league options, meaning he can’t go to the minors without passing through waivers. He was on the 40-man roster chopping block as it is — I thought he might get the axe when the Yankees needed to clear 40-man space for their Rule 5 Draft protections last month — and there was little chance he’d break camp with the team next year. The Yankees might’ve lost Mitchell for nothing had they held on to him. Going to the Padres will be a good opportunity for him. Mitchell is a classic change of scenery candidate.
Headley, who is entering the final year of his four-year contract worth $52M, hit .273/.352/.406 (104 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 2017. He moved from third base over to first, and was tentatively scheduled to start at third base again next year. Headley could be very streaky, his highs were very high and his lows were very low, but overall he was an okay player for New York. Nice guy, did whatever the team asked, etc.
The 28-year-old Blash is a former Rule 5 Draft who went from the Athletics to the Padres in the Drew Pomeranz-Yonder Alonso trade two winters ago. He’s a career .200/.323/.336 (84 wRC+) hitter with eight homers in 99 big league games, and his one standout tool is his huge raw power. Blash can do this to a baseball:
Blash has a minor league option remaining, though I get the sense he is not long for the 40-man roster. He was included in the trade because the rules say the Padres had to send the Yankees something, and Blash was it. If anything, maybe he’s another layer of outfield depth should the Yankees trade Clint Frazier for a pitcher? Even then, they still have Jake Cave and Billy McKinney on the 40-man. Jabari’s time in pinstripes may be short.
This trade definitely feels like a precursor to another move (or moves). The Yankees now have approximately $35M in payroll space under the $197M luxury tax threshold, though keep in mind they need to set some money aside for midseason call-ups and additions. Starting pitching has been most talked about, though I have to think the Yankees will dip their toe into the infield market now that Headley and Starlin Castro are gone. Would they really go with kids at second and third bases? Maybe! We’ll find out soon enough.
As part of MLB’s directive to rename all minor league teams sharing a name with their parent club, the High Class-A Tampa Yankees have been renamed the Tampa Tarpons, the team announced today. The Yankees retain ownership of the Tampa franchise, which plays its games at George M. Steinbrenner Field. It’s a rebranding only.
“We wanted to establish our own identity that connected us with the Tampa community and its baseball history,” said Tampa GM Vance Smith. The original Tampa Tarpons were a Class-D and later High-A minor league affiliate for several teams from 1957-87 before the franchise was relocated to Sarasota, so the name is being recycled.
MLB does not want minor league teams sharing a name with their parent club to avoid confusion. When someone says “Yankees,” they want people thinking New York Yankees and not Tampa Yankees. I know, it’s silly, but that’s the thought process here. MLB wants the New York Yankees to be the only Yankees, and the same for every other team.
As part of MLB’s directive, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees changed their name to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders back in 2013. Fans voted for the new name. The Staten Island Yankees are currently in the process of rebranding, though the fan vote was put on hold. It’s only a matter of time until the Pulaski Yankees rebrand as well.
Video of the Stanton press conference is embedded above. He also sat down with the YES Network afterward. So did Aaron Boone and Hal Steinbrenner. You can see those videos here. Everyone sure sounds excited and understandably so. What a fun day.
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Here is the nightly open thread. The Patriots and Dolphins are the Monday Night Football game, the (hockey) Rangers and Islanders are playing, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Talk about those games, Stanton’s press conference, or anything else right here, as long as it is not religion or politics. Have at it.
Monday: Bard will be the bench coach, Phil Nevin will be the third base coach, and Reggie Willits will be the first base coach, Boone told reporters today. Also, George King says Carlos Mendoza will be the infield coach and in uniform for games. It’s likely Marcus Thames will be promoted to hitting coach and Mike Harkey will be retained as bullpen coach as well, says King. The Yankees have not yet officially announced any coaching assignments.
Nevin, 47 in January, has coached and managed throughout the minors in recent years, and has interviewed for several big league managerial jobs as well. He managed the Triple-A Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) from 2014-16 before spending last season as the Giants’ third base coach.
Nevin and Boone were high school teammates, so those two have some history. (Nevin went to high school with Bret Boone, not Aaron. My bad.)
Last week we heard the 38-year-old Mendoza and 36-year-old Willits were under consideration for big league coaching jobs. Willits has been the organization’s minor league outfield and baserunning instructor for three years now while Mendoza has held a variety of minor league coaching and managerial roles since 2009, most recently serving as the minor league infield coordinator. Mendoza would give the team a Spanish-speaking coach. The Yankees seem to be going real young with the coaching staff next year, huh?
Sunday: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees will name former big league catcher Josh Bard their new bench coach. Ken Davidoff says Bard interviewed last week and was impressive. The Yankees have not confirmed anything as of yet, and there’s no word on any of the other coaching staff positions.
Bard, 39, was new manager Aaron Boone‘s teammate with the Indians in 2005. He spent the last five seasons in a variety of roles with the Dodgers, going from special assistant (2013) to scout (2014-15) to bullpen coach (2016-17). I suppose it’s possible, if not likely, Bard will take over catching instructor duties with the Yankees.
Last week both Boone and Brian Cashman said they weren’t necessarily looking for a bench coach with managerial experience despite Boone’s inexperience. They want who they believe is the right person rather than the most experienced person. Bard has some coaching and front office experience, but not much.
Bard will join holdover pitching coaching Larry Rothschild on the coaching staff. Boone still needs a hitting coach (and likely an assistant hitting coach), first and third base coaches, and a bullpen coach. Cashman admitted the coaching search could take weeks.
Even though the Yankees were not considered a slam dunk contender going into the 2017 season, there were plenty of reasons to be excited. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge were two of them. We were also looking forward to seeing some of the team’s top prospects make their MLB debuts at some point. Gleyber Torres and Chance Adams didn’t debut this year for different reasons, but plenty of others did.
Because so many things went right at the MLB level (Aaron Hicks breaking out, for example) and because the Yankees went out and made in-season upgrades (Todd Frazier trade), the Yankees did not have to lean heavily on any of their position player prospect call-ups. They came up, got their feet wet, and that’s about it. Time to review the four young position player prospects who made their MLB debuts this summer.
Andujar finally had that big breakout season in 2016, and after hitting .312/.342/.494 (126 wRC+) with seven homers in 67 games with Double-A Trenton to start 2017, the Yankees moved him up to Triple-A Scranton. Nine days later he was in the big leagues, replacing the ill Matt Holliday. Against the White Sox on June 28th, his first MLB game, Andujar went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. He also drove in four runs.
The Yankees sent Andujar back down the next day — he returned for a day as an injury replacement a few days later, but did not play — because their plan was to use him against the left-handed Carlos Rodon before bringing up a more permanent replacement. Andujar returned in September and appeared in three games, all as a late-inning replacement in blowouts. He went 4-for-8 with two doubles as a big leaguer while hitting .315/.352/.498 (132 wRC+) with 16 homers and a 13.6% strikeout rate in 125 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.
Andujar of course survived the 40-man roster purge last month and, more surprisingly, he was not included in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. That surprised me. A cheap, young, and talented MLB ready third baseman seemed like someone the Marlins would target in the deal, but nope. Third base is open long-term for the Yankees, especially now that second base is clear for Torres. Andujar needs to work on his defense, sure, but chances are he’ll get a longer opportunity to help the Yankees at some point next year.
Hands down, the worst moment of an otherwise wildly fun and exciting 2017 season for the Yankees was Fowler’s injury. The injury itself wasn’t particularly gory or gruesome, though the circumstances were awful. In literally his first inning as a big leaguer — Fowler was called up on June 29th, as the more permanent replacement for Andujar — Fowler crashed into the side wall chasing a foul pop-up at Guaranteed Rate Field, and blew out his knee.
Prior to the injury Fowler ripped up Triple-A, hitting .293/.329/.542 (138 wRC+) with 13 home runs and 13 steals in 70 games before getting called up. He is no longer with the Yankees, but the good news is that according to John Shea, Fowler’s rehab is progressing well and he is current working out at the A’s complex in Arizona. MLB.com ranks him as the third best prospect in Oakland’s system and their center field depth chart is very weak. Fowler is expected to be ready for Spring Training. I hope he wins the center field job in camp.
Spring Training got off to a pretty ridiculous start for the headliner in last summer’s Andrew Miller trade. First the Yankees made a spectacle of Frazier getting a haircut to conform to the team’s hair policy rules. Then there was a flat out made up story that Frazier asked to wear Mickey Mantle’s No. 7, which required an apology from Suzyn Waldman. The damage had already been done though. Clint became the new media whipping boy.
Anyway, Frazier opened the 2017 season with Triple-A Scranton, where he got off to a bit of a slow start, but he eventually picked it up and hit .256/.344/.473 (123 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 74 games before being called up on July 1st. Frazier replaced Andujar, who replaced Fowler, who replaced Andujar, who replaced Holliday. Got all that?
Frazier’s big league debut — and his first few weeks in pinstripes, really — was quite eventful. He went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer in his first MLB game, and in his first 15 games, Clint went 17-for-56 (.304) with five doubles, two triples, and three homers. That’s ten extra-base hits and seven singles. One of those three homers was a walk-off three-run shot against the Brewers on July 8th.
Frazier stayed in the lineup on an everyday basis because Holliday was hurt, Hicks was hurt, and Jacoby Ellsbury was largely ineffective. He wound up on the disabled list himself on August 10th, after tweaking his oblique during batting practice. The injury kept Frazier out until mid-September, and when he returned, he was largely a bench player who played in blowouts. All told, he hit .231/.268/.448 (82 wRC+) with four homers in 142 MLB plate appearance.
Like Andujar, Frazier somewhat surprisingly wasn’t included in the Stanton trade, so he remains in the organization. The Stanton trade does create some uncertainty about Frazier’s long-term role, however. In Judge and Stanton, the Yankees now have two of best corner outfielders in baseball, so where does Frazier fit? Triple-A depth/injury replacement? DH? Make him fake center field long-term? Trade bait? I’m not sure, and the Yankees might not be sure right now either.
Oh, and by the way, Frazier initially wore No. 30 after being called up, though he gave it up when David Robertson was reacquired. His new number? No. 77. I have no idea whether that is a troll move following the Spring Training nonsense, but I’m going to pretend it is.
The players in this post are listed alphabetically, but it all started with Wade. He was the first in the parade of prospect debuts. Wade started the season in Triple-A before being called up on June 27th. He debuted the day before Andujar, who debuted the day before Fowler, who debuted two days before Frazier. That was quite a week. Arguably the four best non-Gleyber position player prospects in the system made their MLB debuts in the span of five days.
Unlike the other guys in this post, Wade did not make his debut as a starter. He came off the bench. Wade hit .313/.390/.444 (135 wRC+) with five homers and 24 steals in 71 Triple-A games before coming up, and his first taste of the big leagues came as a pinch-hitter. He pinch-hit for former teammate Rob Refsnyder against future teammate Tommy Kahnle. Wade worked a seven-pitch walk against Kahnle that sparked the go-ahead rally. Too bad the bullpen blew that game.
Wade started in left field the next day and went 1-for-5 with a double, his first MLB hit. He started the next day at second base and went 1-for-4. He started in right field the day after that and went 0-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Three different positions in three days in his first three starts as a big league ballplayer. You can do that when you have the athleticism to make plays like this:
One of those 26 games came against the Rays on July 27th, in a rare start. Wade had a brutal game, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a double play. Two of the strikeouts and the double play came in the late innings with either the tying or go-ahead run in scoring position. Ouch. At least the Yankees won. Wade finished the season with a .155/.222/.224 (17 wRC+) batting line in his 63 big league plate appearances, and a .310/.382/.460 (136 wRC+) line in 85 Triple-A games.
As with Andujar and Frazier, Wade was not included in the Stanton trade, so he remains in the organization. And depending what the Yankees do the rest of the offseason, it’s entirely possible Wade will go into Spring Training with a chance to win the starting second base job. I imagine it would be between Wade, Torreyes, Torres, and the journeyman infielder the Yankees will inevitably sign to a minor league deal. I like Wade. His MLB stint this year was terrible, no doubt about that, but he has some skills and can be a nice contributor as soon as next season.