Here’s an open thread for the night. The Mets are playing tonight, ESPN will have the Twins vs. Indians in Puerto Rico, plus there is all the night’s NBA and NHL playoff action. Talk about anything that isn’t religion or politics right here. Thanks in advance.
8:06pm ET: The Yankees have announced the signing. Lind is heading to Extended Spring Training on a minor league contract.
6:15pm ET: Welcome back, Adam Lind. The Yankees have re-signed the veteran first baseman to a new minor league contract, reports Chris Cotillo. Lind will head to Extended Spring Training to get up to speed. He’s going to need a couple dozen at-bats before being a big league option.
Lind, 34, signed a minor league deal with the Yankees on March 7th, then requested his release a week later on March 14th, after the Yankees signed Neil Walker. He went 3-for-15 (.200) during Grapefruit League play. Lind hit .303/.362/.513 (122 wRC+) with 14 homers in 301 plate appearances for the Nationals last year.
Greg Bird is still a few weeks away from rejoining the Yankees following ankle surgery, and neither Walker nor Tyler Wade has hit much yet, so Lind could be useful at some point. This seems like a sign him, see how he looks, then go from there move. I’m not sure there’s a firm plan in place yet.
Estimated 2018 Yankees’ luxury tax payroll: $184.1M
2018 luxury tax threshold: $197 million
The 2018 season is now three weeks old. The Yankees have gotten off to an uneven start, to put it lightly, and they are currently 8-8 with a +3 run differential. On the bright side, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius remain pretty awesome. The Yankees have that going for them.
One number is going to hang over the Yankees all year: $197M. That is the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. Ownership and the front office is adamant the Yankees will get under the threshold this year — they’ve paid luxury tax every year since the system was put in place in 2003 — which would reset their luxury tax rate. Right now the Yankees are taxed at the maximum 50%.
As the season progresses, the Yankees’ payroll situation will evolve due to call-ups and midseason additions, possibly even contract extensions. Every change to the roster results in a change to the luxury tax payroll. Because getting under the $197M threshold this year is an important stated goal, we’re going to do our best to keep track of the payroll situation with this continually updated post. Here’s where the Yankees stand as of April 18th.
Compiling the luxury tax payroll point-by-point was getting tedious, so I decided to throw it into a spreadsheet. The last time I updated the payroll situation, I had the Yankees at $183.5M projected for the season. Now it’s $184.1M because of injury call-ups. A few other things about the payroll situation.
1. The call-ups are complicated. Pre-arbitration-eligible players on split contracts — the majority of the players on the roster, basically — get paid one salary at the Major League level and a different salary in the minors, and their luxury tax hits are pro-rated. Say, for example, a player spends 100 days in MLB and 86 days in the minors. His luxury tax hit is then 100 days of MLB salary plus 86 days of MiLB salary.
It’s important to note only minor leaguers on the 40-man roster count against the luxury tax payroll. Peterson and Robinson were never on the 40-man and in the minors, so their minor league salary is irrelevant for luxury tax purposes. Guys like Gleyber, Acevedo, Loaisiga are on the 40-man though, so their minor league salaries count against the luxury tax payroll. It’s not much, but every dollar counts.
2. Trades work in a similar way. Any player who comes over in a midseason trade — or even a waiver claim, for that matter — has their luxury tax hit pro-rated. If the Yankees were to trade for a player making $10M this season at the halfway point, they’d be charged with a $5M luxury tax hit. The math isn’t quite that neat in real life, but you get the idea. The Yankees figure to be active the trade deadline. They have money to spend and prospects to trade.
3. The disabled list provides no relief. Ellsbury’s salary doesn’t go away for luxury tax purposes just because he’s injured and hasn’t played. Players on the disabled list still count against the luxury tax payroll. It’s like they’re on the active roster. Ben Heller underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season — he didn’t throw a single pitch during the regular season — yet his full salary will count against the luxury tax payroll. Such is life.
4. There’s still lots of room under the threshold. Even with all the injuries and call-ups, and even with the potential bonuses looming, the Yankees are still way under the luxury tax threshold. That leaves them plenty of room for trades and plenty of room just to breath easy. They don’t have to sweat every call-up and every dollar spent, at least not right now. The Giants want to avoid luxury tax this year and they’re within $2M of the $197M threshold. They have no wiggle room. The Yankees have lots.
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Like it or not, the Yankees are going to get under the luxury tax threshold this season, and they are currently in good position to do so. They have room to cover injury call-ups and room to take on salary at the deadline. If you have any questions about the luxury tax payroll, or if you notice an error, shoot me an email at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com.
Baseball’s annual three-day amateur draft will begin in a little more than six weeks and, as always, MLB Network will broadcast Day One. Based on previous years, the broadcast will cover 74 picks on Day One, stretching from the First Round to Competitive Balance Round B. The Yankees will have two picks that first day.
At some point soon, perhaps later this week, I’ll begin profiling draft prospects and potential draft targets for the Yankees. Here’s the draft profile I wrote about Aaron Judge back in 2013. The profiles will look similar again this year. That format seems to work well. Here are a few draft notes six-plus weeks out from the main event.
2018 Draft info
- Dates: Monday, June 4th through Wednesday June 6th
- Yankees first round pick: 23rd overall (full draft order)
- Yankees bonus pool: $6,115,100 (slot breakdown)
The Yankees will be in Detroit to play the makeup doubleheader on the first day of the 2018 draft, so that’ll be a nice and chaotic day. If MLB wants to draw more attention to the draft, they should hold it on a universal off-day, or at least at night with only day games scheduled. Maybe one day.
The draft order is mostly final. The only possible changes at this point are Competitive Balance Lottery picks potentially getting traded. Usually one or two change hands each summer. The Yankees have yet to trade for one, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t tried or won’t try this year. Those picks don’t have much value anyway. In a all likelihood the Yankees are locked into their current picks.
Yankees have scouted Wong
According to Kiley McDaniel, amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer was among those to watch Canyon Canyon RHP Jake Wong make a start earlier this spring. Wong allowed two hits and two walks in six scoreless innings that night. He struck out nine. As luck would have it, the internet has video of that start available:
Wong is the first player we’ve heard connected to the Yankees this draft season, and it is notable Oppenheimer watched him. The scouting director usually only goes to see the kids who get glowing reports and are firmly on the team’s radar. Then again, it’s entirely possible Oppenheimer was in Phoenix to scout other players, and decided to stop by to see Wong in action.
Latest draft rankings
In recent days Baseball America and FanGraphs have updated their 2018 draft prospect rankings. Baseball America’s list run 300 names deep at the moment. Eventually they’ll stretch it out to 500 names based on previous years. Keith Law (subs. req’d) and MLB.com haven’t updated their lists in a while. As always, MLB.com’s scouting reports are all free. Can’t beat it.
Generally speaking, the 2018 draft class is viewed as better and deeper than the 2017 draft class. There is not a clear cut No. 1 prospect, however. Florida RHP Brady Singer was the top guy coming into the spring, but his stock has since taken a hit. He’s had an uneven spring and he failed a pre-signing physical with the Blue Jays as their second round pick three years ago, which won’t help his stock.
The Yankees tend to favor college players early in the draft, but, as they showed with Blake Rutherford in 2015, they will jump on a highly regarded prep player who falls. Also, the Yankees are all about Southern California. Oppenheimer is a SoCal guy and he’s mined the area heavily during his tenure as scouting director. I see no reason to believe that will be different this year.
The Yankees have an off-day today, their third in the last six days thanks to the weather, and tomorrow night they start an 18 games in 18 days stretch with the first of four against the Blue Jays. Blue Jays, Twins, Angels, Astros, Indians. Fun!. Anyway, I have some thoughts on things, so let’s get to ’em.
1. A small lineup change I’d like to see: Flip Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Everyone is talking about dropping Stanton in the lineup — Aaron Boone was asked about it again last night and didn’t dismiss it entirely like he did last week — and I get it. I totally do. I think sliding him up a spot is the better play. As great as Didi Gregorius has been this season, he’s not going to scare me into pitching to Stanton. Sorry, love you Didi, but no. Aaron Judge is a monster though. A top five hitter in baseball in my opinion, someone who could legitimately have an impact on the way the opposing team pitches to the guys hitting in front of him. There aren’t many of those dudes out there. I’m a crazy person who doesn’t think the reigning NL MVP suddenly forgot how to play baseball. The home/road splits mean absolutely nothing to me — they’re eight-game samples! not even played consecutively! — and Stanton could snap out of it tonight. I still want him hitting in the first inning and I still want him getting a lot of at-bats because he’s one of the best hitters in the world. Judge is the only player on the team I expect to safely out-hit Giancarlo from this point forward and even that isn’t set in stone. The season is 16 games old. Sixteen! Before you drop the dude who hit 59 homers last season down in the lineup based on 16 games, flip him and Judge, and see what happens.
2. The Yankees managed to lose Tommy Kahnle (shoulder) and Luis Cessa (oblique) to the disabled list yesterday. Kahnle got hurt, Cessa was called up to replace him, then Cessa got hurt. That’s after Aaron Hicks and his replacement, Billy McKinney, got hurt in the span of two days earlier this season. It’s been that kinda year with injuries. I suppose the good news is the shoulder issue might explain Kahnle’s velocity/effectiveness issues. The bad news is that this is a shoulder injury and shoulder injuries are always trouble. Aroldis Chapman went down with a shoulder issue early last year and we were saying all the same things — this explains his performance, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda — and when he came back, he still struggled. He was demoted from the closer’s role and it wasn’t until September that he got back to being the Aroldis Chapman of old. I’m on the Cessa bandwagon and I was looking forward to seeing what he could do in short relief. Now he’s presumably going to miss a few weeks. Sucks. The Yankees are down to two healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues: Jonathan Holder and Jonathan Loaisiga. Loaisiga is a Single-A kid and not an MLB options. Pretty soon the Yankees might have to dip into their non-40-man roster pitching depth. It seems like they’re losing a player a series this year.
3. I’m not sure what to think about Brandon Drury responding “all the time” when asked whether he ever went up to the plate with blurred vision. That seems … unwise. Low-end fastballs these days are 90-91 mph and believe me, even an 80 mph fastball can do serious damage if you don’t duck out of the way in time. I just can’t imagine going up to the plate with blurred vision. It’s so dangerous. At the same time, Drury is a career .270/.319/.447 (96 wRC+) hitter in over 1,000 plate appearances, so more or less league average. If he did that with blurred vision at least part of the time, what’s he going to hit with proper vision? It’s hard enough to hit with 20/20 vision. Doing it with blurred vision seems stupid, frankly. Stupid and dangerous. And yet, I can’t help but wonder whether getting this taken care of will allow Drury’s offensive game to blossom because, you know, he’ll actually be able to see the baseball.
4. Big fan of the 6:35pm ET starts. I’m not sure they’ll last long-term given how empty the ballpark has been at first pitch — if you work in the city, getting to the ballpark in time for first pitch can be tough even for a 7pm ET start — but I love the early starts. It’s only a half-hour, but the difference was noticeable to me. These last two games were over at 9:30pm ET or so. How often does that happen? Less waiting around before the game and more time to do whatever after the game. (I’ve been able to watch a good amount of playoff hockey the last two nights thanks to the early starts!) The goal of these early starts is attracting more families and younger fans, the crowd that needs to be home earlier than everyone else, and I’m not sure it’s working. The park has been pretty empty at first pitch in the three 6:35pm ET games so far. If the Yankees scrap it, I wouldn’t blame them. I selfishly hope they go forward with more early starts. It’s nice to get the show on the road a little earlier than usual.
5. Derek Jeter didn’t show up to Yankee Stadium for either of the two Marlins game and I don’t blame him one bit. He said it would be awkward. I think it would better be described as a no-win situation. Had Jeter shown up to Yankee Stadium, he would’ve been asked who he wants to win, and there’s no good answer to that question. Do you say the Marlins and upset literally millions of Yankees fans that adore you? Or do you say the Yankees and alienate a Marlins fan base that might already be too far gone? Coming to the two games and ducking the media would create it’s own set of problems too. There was just no good that could come from Jeter showing up to Yankee Stadium for the two Marlins games this week. I’m sure he’ll be at Marlins Park when the Yankees show up in August. Right now, it’s a little too early to show up to your old stomping grounds when the team you bought and dismantled looks so hopeless.
6. Love the new mound visit rule so far. The game flows so much better. I’m still trying to learn the rules though. I was under the impression that a mound visit by the catcher (or another position player) meant the next visit in the inning would necessitate a pitching change. That is not the case. Last Wednesday, during the ninth inning against the Red Sox, Gary Sanchez went to the mound twice to talk to Chapman, then pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a trip as well. I guess only the second visit by a coach requires a pitching change? Also, visits in extra innings roll over. I thought it was just one visit per extra inning. Instead, if you don’t use the extra mound visit you get in the 11th, you can still use it in the 12th. Overall though, the rule change seems to be working well. Just wish the rules had been a little more clear. I didn’t realize the catcher could make multiple visits in an inning without necessitating a pitching change.
7. The weather has really stunk so far this season. Not just with the Yankees either. The Twins and White Sox had three straight games snowed out over the weekend. As of Sunday, already 21 games have been postponed this season, four fewer than the entire 2016 season. (There were 39 total postponements last year.) Starting the season in March certainly didn’t help matters. It’s easy to say MLB should play lots of April games in warm weather cities and in ballparks with a dome or a retractable roof, but it’s not quite that simple. Those teams don’t want home games stacked early in the season. It means fewer home games later — attendance is always better in the summer months, no matter where the team plays — and more road games down the stretch. Cold Aprils will continue to become the norm in this part of the country and it’s something MLB will have to cope with eventually. Retrofitting existing ballparks with a retractable roof will be costly. Requiring all new parks to have a roof, retractable or otherwise, seems like a good idea, though given the way these things usually go, taxpayers will foot the bill. Players don’t like the idea of regularly scheduled doubleheaders, which would allow MLB to start the season later. Another solution: Shorten the season to something like 144 or 154 games, and start in mid-to-late April. The owners won’t want to give up the home dates though. Hopefully this is an anomaly year and the weather won’t be so bad in Northeast and Midwest in the future. That doesn’t seem like a viable long-term plan though, just hoping the weather is better. Eventually MLB will have to figure out a way to make April baseball more playable.
Good gravy. That wasn’t a bad loss in the “oh man that’s a gut punch” sense. That was a bad loss in the “how do you get blown out at home by a team that’s not even pretending to be competitive???” sense. The Yankees lost Tuesday night’s game 9-1 to the not even trying Marlins. What a miserable game.
I was running around a bit and I only caught part of the game on television and part of the game on radio, so I can’t talk about it too intelligently. (Not that I usually do that anyway!) So, rather than a full recap, here are some points on one of the uglier losses of the season. This was bad.
1. The defense continues to be an issue. The Yankees were charged with two errors — their AL leading error total is up to 15 in 16 games — and it really could’ve been four or five errors. Every infielder could’ve had one. The most egregious error was Didi Gregorius throwing away a ball in the first inning, allowing two runs to score. (One run would’ve scored on the play anyway.)
Tyler Austin had two catchable balls clank off his glove — they were the kinda plays a big league first baseman should make — but was only charged with one error. (To be fair, he also made a real nice diving stop along the foul line as well.) Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar couldn’t reel in potential ground outs. I’m willing to overlook Didi’s error. He’s awesome and sound defensively.
Everyone else? Nope. Errors can be dumb and they are not the best way to evaluate defense. The Yankees’ error total does, in my opinion, accurately reflect how shaky they’ve looked in the field so far this season. Routine plays are not being converted into outs and they’re paying the price. They’re paying the price in runs and extra pitches. The defense has to be tightened up. They’re better than this.
2. Andujar is heating up. Remember last year when the Yankees scored in the ninth inning a bunch of times to keep their no shutout streak alive? They weren’t shutout until their 90th game last year. On Tuesday, they had their first real “score in the ninth inning for no reason other than to preserve the no shutout streak” moment of the season. Miguel Andujar hit his first MLB home run! To the video:
3. Blown opportunities. I have no problem tipping my cap to the opposing pitcher when the situation calls for it. Sometimes a dude has a good game and you get shut down. It happens. Jarlin The Marlins did not pitch particularly well in this game. Five walks in five innings? Plus a bunch of hitter friendly 2-0 and 3-1 counts? Nah. The Yankees let Garcia off the hook more than Garcia earned his five shutout innings. I’m not tipping my cap this time.
Back-to-back walks in the first? Giancarlo Stanton hits into a double play and Gregorius grounds out. Back-to-back walks in the third? Stanton pops up a 3-1 pitch and Gregorius grounds out on a half-swing. A walk, a single, and another walk to load the bases in the sixth? Walker and Austin struck out. The Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Stanton heard all the boos because booing him is the cool thing to do now, but the entire offense stunk.
4. Leftovers. Judge’s hitting streak came to an end at 12 games. Oh well. He did walk twice though. His on-base streak is up to 13 games … Masahiro Tanaka’s defense did him no favors in the three-run first inning, but the J.T. Realmuto three-run homer to put the game out of reach is all on him. He’s allowed at least one dinger in every start this season, including Spring Training … Luis Cessa, who was called up to replace the injured Tommy Kahnle, got hurt. So it goes.
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and Bullpen Workload page. I’m not going to bother to embed the win probability graph. It’s lopsided. Duh. The Yankees have yet another off-day Wednesday — a scheduled one this time — then they’ll open a four-game series with the Blue Jays on Thursday. CC Sabathia and Aaron Sanchez are the scheduled starters for the opener.
Not surprisingly, SS Gleyber Torres was held out of the lineup today after leaving last night’s game with back stiffness. Aaron Boone told Bryan Hoch it’s not serious and Torres is tentatively scheduled to return to the lineup tomorrow. Triple-A Scranton has a 12-hour bus ride coming up after tomorrow’s game. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees play it extra safe and sit Gleyber tomorrow too.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (8-4 loss to Gwinnett)
- RF L.J. Mazzilli: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
- CF Shane Robinson: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K
- DH Mike Ford: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
- SS Abi Avelino: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K — went 11-for-24 (.458) during his seven-game hitting streak
- LHP Josh Rogers: 5 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 1/7 GB/FB — 63 of 92 pitches were strikes (68%) … allowed three runs total in his first two starts and 12 innings
- RHP Anyelo Gomez: 0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K — eight pitches, four strikes … he left the game with the trainer, so that’s no good