Monday Night Open Thread

Earlier today, the BBWAA announced the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Andruw Jones are the notable first time eligible players. And I guess Omar Vizquel too. He’s going to get into Cooperstown despite being a career .272/.336/.352 (82 OPS+) hitter, isn’t he? Anyway, the notable ex-Yankees on the ballot are Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina, and Gary Sheffield. I hope Moose gets in this year.

Here is an open thread for the night. Falcons vs. Seahawks is the Monday Night Football game, plus the Knicks and Devils are playing. And there’s a bunch of college basketball on as well. Religion and politics are off-limits here. Talk about anything else.

Yankees announce 2018 Spring Training schedule

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Late Friday evening the Yankees announced their 2018 Spring Training schedule. Pitchers and catchers are due to report Tuesday, February 13th, and the first Grapefruit League game will be played Friday, February 23rd. Here are the key dates:

  • Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday, February 13th
  • First workout: Wednesday, February 14th
  • Position players report: Sunday, February 18th
  • First full squad workout: Monday, February 19th
  • First Grapefruit League game: Friday, February 23rd (home vs. Tigers)

The Yankees will make two trips to the other side of Florida next spring, including once to play the Mets in St. Lucie on Wednesday, March 7th. The Mets will visit Tampa three days later. That Yankees close out their spring schedule with an exhibition game against the Braves at SunTrust Park on Monday, March 26th.

All told, the Yankees will play 33 exhibition games next spring, including 16 home games at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. The various networks will release their spring broadcast schedules in a few weeks. All networks have been scaling back their spring coverage in recent years — those midweek afternoon games don’t get good ratings, apparently — but a good 20-25 of those 33 games should be televised.

Eventually the complete spring schedule will be available right here. Spring Training season tickets are on sale right now. You can buy them here. Individual spring game tickets will go on sale sometime in January. The Yankees open the 2018 regular season on Thursday, March 29th in Toronto. The season begins midweek now to accommodate extra off-days during the season.

Yanks trade Ronald Herrera to Rangers for pitching prospect

Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The Yankees have traded right-hander Ronald Herrera to the Rangers for lefty pitching prospect Reiver Sanmartin, the team announced. Similar to the Nick Rumbelow trade, this one is designed to open a 40-man roster spot prior to tonight’s deadline to set the roster for the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees now have four open 40-man spots.

Herrera, 22, came over from the Padres two years ago in the Jose Pirela trade. He threw 212.1 innings with a 3.22 ERA (3.27 FIP) at mostly Double-A and Triple-A the last two seasons, and did get into two games with the Yankees this year. Herrera allowed two runs in three innings in those two games. MLB.com did not rank him among New York’s top 30 prospects.

The 21-year-old Sanmartin turned pro in 2015 and posted a 2.45 ERA (3.06 FIP) with 19.7% strikeouts and 3.2% walks in 66 innings split between two Single-A levels this summer. MLB.com does not rank him among the top 30 Rangers prospects. Here’s a scouting report from Gerry Fraley last year:

After two years in the Dominican Summer League, Sanmartin has jumped to the Low-A South Atlantic League this season. Sanmartin, 21, has a small frame at 5 feet 10 and 160 pounds. He has a low-90s mph fastball that sinks and complements it with a good changeup. The key to Sanmartin’s success is his ability to repeat a good delivery and throw strikes. For the season, he has 44 strikeouts with only five walks in 50 2/3 innings. Good athlete and high baseball IQ.

Herrera was one of the most obvious candidates to lose his 40-man roster spot this offseason, so rather than designate him for assignment and put him on waivers, the Yankees were able to turn him into a lefty pitching prospect. Not a great lefty pitching prospect, but a lefty pitching prospect. Better than nothing.

Over the weekend it was reported the Yankees have interest in Jurickson Profar, and the Rangers in turn have interest in some of New York’s fringe 40-man roster pitchers (like Herrera). A Profar trade is still possible, of course, but the Rule 5 Draft roster deadline is tonight, and the Yankees can’t afford to wait around to clear roster spots.

Fan Confidence Poll: November 20th, 2017

Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE
Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS

Top stories from last week:

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 nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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Weekend Open Thread

Another slow day at the ol’ hot stove office. You’ll have to forgive me for not getting excited about that Ryon Healy-for-Emilio Pagan blockbuster the other day. I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen this winter. Maybe next week. Here are two links to check out:

Friday: Here’s an open thread for the night. The (hockey) Rangers, Knicks, and Nets are all in action, plus there’s college basketball on as well. Talk about those game or anything that isn’t religion or politics right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. There is a baseball game on today! The Arizona Fall League Championship Game will be played at 3pm ET on MLB Network and MLB.com (here’s the stream). The Scottsdale Scorpions did not make the Championship Game, so no Yankees prospects are playing alas. The Islanders and Devils are both playing, plus there’s a bunch of college football and basketball on as well. Have at it.

Sunday: Once again, this is the open thread. The (hockey) Rangers, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, plus there’s college hoops and all the day’s NFL action. Talk about whatever here.

Yankees trade Rumbelow to Mariners for two minor leaguers

Sears. (Post and Courier)
Sears. (Post and Courier)

The 40-man roster cleanse has begun. This afternoon the Yankees announced they have traded Nick Rumbelow to the Mariners for minor league pitching prospects J.P. Sears and Juan Then. Sears is a lefty. Then is a righty. The trade opens up a 40-man roster spot.

Rumbelow, 26, returned from Tommy John surgery earlier this year to throw 40.1 innings with a 1.12 ERA (1.89 FIP) for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. He allowed eight runs in 15.2 big league innings as an up-and-down arm in 2015. The Yankees added Rumbelow to the 40-man roster a few weeks ago to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent.

The 21-year-old Sears is the better of the two prospects coming to New York. The Mariners selected him with their 11th round pick in this year’s draft, and he threw 27.2 relief innings with a 0.65 ERA (1.45 FIP) and 46.4% strikeouts in his pro debut. MLB.com ranked Sears as the 21st best prospect in Seattle’s system before the trade. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Sears attacks hitters with a fastball that sits 87-90 mph but plays above its velocity due to the deception created by his low-three-quarters slot, and because he knows how to effectively change hitters’ eye levels while pitching to both sides of the plate … Neither his slider nor his changeup are particularly advanced, with scouts pegging them as average offerings … Sears earns plaudits for his competitiveness on the mound, and his track record as a strike-thrower in college speaks for itself.

The 17-year-old Then is a recent international signee who made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League this year. He threw 61.1 innings with a 2.64 ERA (2.90 FIP). I can’t find anything about the kid at all. He wasn’t a high profile signing and it’s tough to find info on kids this far down the minor league ladder. Then is very much a low level minor league lottery ticket.

The Yankees are very deep in right-handed relievers and they figured to unload one (or more) prior to Monday’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, which is why Rumbelow was moved. Rather than let him go for nothing as a minor league free agent, the Yankees were able to flip him for two prospects. Neat.

Update (10:22pm ET): Baseball America posted their trade analysis. Here’s their scouting report on Then:

The Yankees added yet another high-upside righthander to their stable of similar pitchers. Then signed out of the Dominican Republic in July 2016 for $77,000 and was one of the most impressive pitchers in the DSL this summer, going 2-2, 2.64 with 56 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. Scouts who saw Then this year saw a pitcher with smooth, clean delivery that produced 90-94 mph fastballs as well as two offspeed pitches—a changeup and a curveball—that project as above-average offerings in the future.

Well then. Or should I say well Then? Kyle Glaser says Then was “maybe the highest upside pitcher” in Seattle’s system before the trade. Even though he is 17 and a mile away from the big leagues, Then is a pretty nice get as the second piece for a guy like Rumbelow.

Saturday Links: Profar, Ohtani, Stanton, Ellsbury

Didi and Profar in the WBC. (Matt Roberts/Getty)
Didi and Profar in the WBC. (Matt Roberts/Getty)

Monday should be a pretty busy day, folks. It is the deadline the MLBPA has set to hammer out the posting agreement for Shohei Ohtani. If a deal isn’t done by Monday, he’s going to stay in Japan next season. Also, Monday is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft. There’s going to be plenty of roster shuffling that day. Here are some other bits of news to check out.

Yankees interested in Profar again

Once again, the Yankees have some interest in former Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, reports Joel Sherman. Pretty sure this is the third straight offseason the Yankees have been connected to Profar. They’ve been trying to buy low on him since his shoulder problems started a few years ago. Interestingly, Sherman says Texas has interest in some depth arms at the bottom of New York’s 40-man roster, and a deal could be built around them. Huh.

Profar, 25 in February, missed both the 2014 and 2015 seasons with shoulder surgery. He’s hit only .227/.316/.315 (71 wRC+) since coming back, including .172/.294/.207 (40 wRC+) in 22 big league games in 2017. The Rangers sent Profar to Triple-A, where he hit .287/.383/.428 (116 wRC+) in 87 games. They did not give him a September call-up though, and Profar is reportedly preparing to file a grievance because the non-call-up pushed his free agency back a year.

Acquiring Profar would be very similar to acquiring Aaron Hicks. The Yankees would be betting on talent and a chance of scenery. Profar was a tippy top prospect not too long ago, he’s still only 24, he’s a switch-hitter, and he’s played basically every position other than pitcher or catcher. He is out of minor league options, so it’s MLB or bust. That’s one drawback. Ultimately, just stockpile high-end talent. If all it takes is some fringe 40-man roster arms, this is a no-brainer.

Ohtani wants to hit and pitch

Not surprisingly, Ohtani wants to both hit and pitch whenever he comes over to the big leagues, reports Yahoo! Japan (translation via @NPB_Reddit). “Ohtani said he wants to play both ways in MLB. I plan to respect that wish,” said his agent. If you’re interested, Dan Szymborski put together statistical translations and ZiPS projections for Ohtani, which seem quite relevant. Here are the 2018 projections:

  • As pitcher: 3.55 ERA (119 ERA+), 10.4 K/9, +3.3 WAR in 139.1 innings
  • As hitter: .266/.328/.466 (112 OPS+), 12 HR, +2.2 WAR in 305 at-bats

That would be pretty incredible in his first year as an MLB player. And, for what it’s worth, ZiPS projects a 125 ERA+ and 121 OPS+ at Ohtani’s peak at age 27. That would be amazing. I think everyone has kinda assumed Ohtani will want to hit and pitch when he comes over, but now we know for sure. His agent confirmed it. We’ll see how it goes. Doing one thing well is hard enough. Doing both well would be rather remarkable.

Yankees checked in on Stanton

Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. (Eric Espada/Getty)
Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. (Eric Espada/Getty)

As expected, the Yankees have reached out to the Marlins to discuss Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, reports Jon Heyman. They also checked in back around the trade deadline. Stanton is the big trade commodity this offseason — Heyman says at least eight teams are involved, and I expect more to get involved before it’s all said and done — and so far the Cardinals and Giants have emerged as the most serious suitors.

The Yankees typically check in on everyone during the winter, especially any star players who become available. That doesn’t mean they’re seriously interested in acquiring Stanton. Would they take him if the Marlins make an offer that’s too good to be true? Of course. In that case you get Stanton and figure out where he fits later. That’s why you make the call. In case a favorable deal can be made. Otherwise this is just due diligence. The Yankees have more than enough outfielders as it is.

Ellsbury not yet asked to waive no-trade clause

According to Brendan Kuty, Brian Cashman confirmed this week that the Yankees have not yet asked Jacoby Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause. Last offseason they approached Brian McCann about waiving his no-trade clause fairly early. I assume that’s because there was legitimate interest in McCann at the trade deadline and serious interest again in the offseason, so there was a real chance of a trade. That probably isn’t the case with Ellsbury. Here’s what Cashman told Kuty:

I have not had any dialogue with Scott (Boras), haven’t even approached Scott, I guess it’s a similar situation. I think in both cases — in McCann’s case as well as if there is going to be something for consideration with Jacoby — I would make sure I would stay ahead of it and have to include anybody in the process on their side of it to make sure it’s handled the proper way.

“They have a full no-trade for a reason, and I would walk through that process with the highest level of communication and respect because of it. I haven’t connected with Scott at all, but I know he’s here somewhere, and I’ll make sure I’ll get a chance to talk to him before I leave just generally about everything Scott Boras related for the winter, and I’m sure we’ll also talk about Jacoby as well.

Cashman also said that, as of right now, Ellsbury is the fourth outfielder. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge are entrenched in the corners, and Hicks is the man in center going forward. “They were the best that we had (in the postseason), and so I think we would anticipate going (into 2018) that way again,” said Cashman. The Yankees are going to have to eat a lot of money to trade Ellsbury, but I think they’re more willing to do it right now than ever before, so I expect them to shop him around pretty aggressively. And when the time comes, they’ll ask about the no-trade clause.