Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: September 2012

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

Welcome to September. The final month of the regular season. The 2017 Yankees are currently fighting for a postseason spot, and five years ago the 2012 Yankees were doing the same. The 2017 Yankees feel like a team on the rise because of all the talented young players on the roster. The 2012 Yankees felt like a team in decline, with an aging roster and too many bloated contracts on the books.

The 2012 Yankees went into September with a 75-56 record and a two-game lead in the AL East. That lead was once as large as ten games. The Yankees went 18-22 from July 19th through August 31st, hence the disappearing division lead. Tensions were high. And now that we’re in a new month, it’s time for another entry into the MLBTR Archives series. Most September rumors are speculative or looking ahead to the offseason. That was certainly the case in September 2012. Let’s dive in.

September 5th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Steinbrenner, Cashman, Girardi

The Yankees have made it clear that they intend to reduce payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014. But Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders if Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner will change his mind if the team misses the postseason this year. Promising young pitchers such as Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos dealt with injuries in 2012, which will make it harder for GM Brain Cashman to build an affordable rotation.

Rosenthal was a year early. The Yankees did manage to win the division and go to the postseason in 2012 — they beat the Orioles in five games in the ALDS, then were swept by the Tigers in the ALCS — so they stuck to their guns and tried to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2014. Then they missed the postseason in 2013 and that was that. The Yankees blew up their austerity plan to sign Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka during the 2013-14 offseason.

I can’t help but wonder how things would’ve turned out had the Yankees stuck to the plan and not signed those guys, and gotten under the luxury tax in 2014. My guess is things would probably be worse than they are right now. They probably would have gone out and spent big on free agents after resetting the luxury tax rate, which means more onerous contracts on the books, and few prospects. Who knows. Maybe they’d have a ton more prospects and tens of millions in payroll space under the luxury tax. Whatever. What’s done is done. I don’t foresee the Yankees changing their plan again, regardless of what happens this year. They’re getting under the luxury tax threshold next year.

September 7th, 2012: Stark On Yankees, LaRoche, Phillies

Two National League executives had no reservations about spending on Cano. “Pay him what he’s worth,” one said. The other said Cano has a legitimate case for a $200MM extension.

I always wonder about the sincerity of comments like this. Did these rival executives truly have no reservations about paying Robinson Cano, or where they just saying that in an effort to bait the Yankees into a big contract for Cano’s decline years? I think they meant it, that Cano was worth paying top dollar to re-sign. These guys know whatever they say isn’t going to sway a team’s decision. A general manager who makes decisions based on what rival executives say to reporters won’t be a general manager for long.

September 13th, 2012: Rafael Soriano Likely To Opt-Out

There’s a good chance Rafael Soriano will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with the Yankees after the season and hit free agency early, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Soriano must choose between another year in New York with a salary of $14MM and opting out for a $1.5MM buyout and the uncertainty of the open market.

Opt-outs are the new thing in baseball — even mid-range free agents are getting them these days — and the only scenario in which they’re advantageous for the team is when the player has a good year, opts out, and they don’t get stuck with his decline years. How often does that happen? Very rarely. In most cases, when a player has a year good enough to use the opt-out, the team wants to keep him.

Anyway, the Soriano contract worked out about as well as the Yankees could’ve hoped, and all it took was Mariano Rivera tearing his ACL in a freak accident. Soriano was hurt and ineffective (4.12 ERA and 3.97 FIP) in 2011, didn’t use his opt-out, then was great as Rivera’s replacement (2.26 ERA and 3.32 FIP) in 2012. He used his second opt-out, landed a two-year deal with the Nationals, and threw 128.2 innings with a 3.15 ERA (3.38 FIP) with Washington. The Yankees used the compensation draft pick on Ian Clarkin. They paid $21M for 107 innings of 2.94 ERA (3.56 FIP) pitching and Clarkin.

September 13th, 2012: New York Notes: Collins, Mets, Yankees, McLouth

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Yankees offered Nate McLouth a minor league deal after he was released by the Pirates in June.  McLouth instead opted to go with the Orioles as he felt that he had a better shot of reaching the majors.  The outfielder is hitting .279/.350/.418 in 35 games for the O’s this year.

The Yankees did not have Brett Gardner for pretty much the entire 2012 season. He hurt his elbow making a sliding catch in April and didn’t return until late September. So, anytime an outfielder became available, the Yankees were said to be interested. It had been years since McLouth’s breakout 2008 season, and when the Pirates released him in 2012, he was hitting .140/.210/.175 (9 wRC+). Yeah.

McLouth landed with the Orioles and had a strong 55 games, hitting .268/.342/.435 (112 wRC+) with seven homers. There were a lot of “why didn’t the Yankees sign him?” questions because of that, especially since the O’s were the team chasing the Yankees down in the standings. The Yankees instead made the Ichiro Suzuki trade, and that worked out pretty darn well, so it’s hard to complain about missing out on McLouth.

September 16th, 2012: East Notes: Girardi, Nationals, Rays, Bay

GM Brian Cashman reiterated Joe Girardi will manage the Yankees next year, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Cashman was specifically asked, if in his mind, Girardi will be the manager regardless of what happens. “Yup,” was Cashman’s reply.

On the morning of this report, the Yankees were 82-63 and one game up in the AL East. They were 7-7 in September up to that point and had been alternating one-game leads with being tied with the O’s atop the division for more than a week. The Yankees had a ten-game lead vanish, though they never did fall out of first place. They were tied with Baltimore at their lowest point.

Needless to say, with that big fade in the second half, there were a lot of questions about Girardi and whether his job would be safe if the Yankees missed the postseason for the first time in four years. Cashman and Steinbrenner summarily shot it down at every opportunity. Girardi was their guy regardless of how the season played out. I still think that is the case now. I’m not certain of it, but I do think that’s the case.

September 19th, 2012: AL East Notes: Bundy, Pettitte, Kuroda

The Yankees still have some hope that David Aardsma could pitch this year, Sherman adds. They signed the reliever with 2013 in mind, knowing that most of this year would be spent recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Aardsma, who is somehow still only 35, did pitch for the Yankees in 2012. He got into one game in September, allowed a home run to J.P. Arencibia, and that was it. They released him at the end of Spring Training 2013. The Yankees signed Aardsma, rehabbed him hoping he would contribute down the line, and it didn’t happen. Aardsma spent the 2013 season with the Mets, where he had a 4.31 ERA (5.27 FIP) in 39.2 innings. He currently has a 2.01 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 22.1 innings for the Long Island Ducks.

The Yankees have tried a few of these “sign an injured pitcher, rehab him, and hope he helps” moves over the years. The Jon Lieber deal was, by frickin’ far, the most successful. Others include Aardsma, Octavio Dotel, Matt Daley, and Andrew Bailey. Those didn’t work out so well. Now these pitchers are getting guaranteed big league deals and 40-man roster spots (Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Nathan Eovaldi, etc.). The days of rehabbing a once successful veteran on a minor league deal are pretty much over.

September 20th, 2012: AL East Notes: Middlebrooks, Ichiro, Blue Jays

Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner are too similar to be the Yankees‘ corner outfielders in 2013, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. The Yankees hope to have Gardner back at full health next year, so Ichiro might have to sign elsewhere as a free agent. Davidoff won’t be surprised if Ichiro’s still unsigned in January.

Hah. The Yankees not only re-signed Ichiro to a two-year contract after the season, they then tripled down on the speedy leadoff type by giving Ellsbury a seven-year contract the following offseason. Their leaders in games played at each outfield position in 2014:

  • Left Field: Gardner (126 games)
  • Center Field: Ellsbury (141 games)
  • Right Field: Ichiro (119 games)

That trio started 64 games together in 2014. (Ichiro came off the bench a bunch to replace Beltran for defense.) Pretty sure having too many of the same type of player wasn’t a big concern back then. It’s cool to have some outfielders who can hit the ball out of the park now, isn’t it?

September 20th, 2012: Quick Hits: Upton, Greinke, Escobar, Managers

Derek Jeter told ESPN’s Rick Reilly (passed on by Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News) that he would potentially be open to playing for a team besides the Yankees once his current contract expires.  “Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes,” Jeter said. “It’s a business. People forget that.”  Jeter is under contract through the 2013 season with an $8MM player option for 2014; the shortstop turns 40 years old in June 2014.

There was never any chance Jeter would go play for another team, nor was there any chance the Yankees would let him go play for another team. The two benefited from each other tremendously. The Yankees enhanced Jeter’s personal #brand and Jeter did the same for the Yankees. Jeter shot this report down pretty quickly, but he did say it, and I remember thinking at the time it was an attempt to create some leverage for his next contract. And maybe it worked. Following the 2013 season the Yankees needlessly renegotiated that $8M player option into a $12M guaranteed year. O … kay?

September 21st, 2012: AL East Notes: Jeter, Yankees, Red Sox, Hamilton

Derek Jeter says that suggestions that he wants to play elsewhere are “comical,” and that he obviously wants to end career with the Yankees, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter).  Yesterday, Jeter seemed to imply that he would be open to playing for another club once his contract expires.  The shortstop is under contract for 2013 with an $8MM player option for ’14.

Like I said, Jeter shot it down pretty quickly.

September 23rd, 2012: Cafardo On Angels, Ross, Loney, Carp, Scioscia

Outfielder Cody Ross has three major-market teams – the Phillies, Yankees, and Red Sox – very interested in him.  Ross has made it clear that he would like to stay in Boston and Larry Lucchino said earlier this week that the club is beginning the process of keeping him for next season and beyond. 

This one is kinda weird. Ross was on a one-year contract with the Red Sox at the time. But apparently the Yankees wanted him even after trading for Ichiro? And the non-contender Phillies wanted him too? The Red Sox were in last place at the time, so I guess they could’ve looked to trade Ross late in the season. Maybe Ross meant those teams would want him when he became a free agent after the season? I dunno. The Diamondbacks signed him to a three-year deal worth $26M after the season and he played 177 total games for them due to injuries.

September 25th, 2012: Yankees Designated Justin Thomas For Assignment

The Yankees have designated left-hander Justin Thomas for assignment, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).  After the Red Sox removed Thomas from their 40-man roster in May, he was claimed by the Yankees and posted a 3.45 ERA, a 2.45 K/BB ratio and a 7.7 K/9 rate in 30 games (six of them starts) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

Thomas allowed three runs in three innings with the Yankees in September 2012, before getting dropped from the roster. He hasn’t played in the big leagues since. He hasn’t played anywhere since 2014. Thomas spent 2013 in Triple-A and Japan, and 2014 in Triple-A and Korea. There are so, so many of these “pitched in four games with the Yankees in September 20XX” relievers out there. Too many to remember. I remembered Thomas though, for whatever reason. I remember Mike Zagurski too.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: August 2012

Andruw & Pearce. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Jones & Pearce. (Rob Carr/Getty)

We’re a few weeks into August now, but better late than never, right? It’s time for another edition of our MLBTR Archives series, in which we look back at all the Yankees-related rumors and transactions from five years ago. On the morning of August 1st, 2012, the Yankees were 60-43 and 5.5 games up in the AL East. They had, however, lost nine of their previous 12 games.

The Yankees made two trades at the 2012 trade deadline, adding Ichiro Suzuki and Casey McGehee. They didn’t address their rotation even though CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte had spent time on the disabled list, and others like Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia earned demotions. August transactions are typically small and August rumors are usually retrospective. We usually hear a lot about what could have happened at the deadline rather than what might happen now. Anyway, time to jump back in time to August 2012.

August 1st, 2012: Minor Moves: Jack Cust, Dewayne Wise

The Yankees have also released outfielders Colin Curtis and Ray Kruml according to Collins. The 27-year-old Curtis hit .186/.250/.288 in 64 plate appearances with New York in 2010.

At one point the Yankees had Ray Kruml and Austin Krum in the farm system. Don’t ask me why I remember that. Both have been out of baseball for a while.

Curtis, meanwhile, is best remembered for his mid-at-bat pinch-hit home run a few years back. Brett Gardner was tossed for arguing balls and strikes, Curtis replaced him and inherited an 0-2 count, and socked his only career MLB home run off Scot Shields (!).

The Yankees released Curtis in 2012, he spent the rest of that season in an independent league, and that was that. Out of baseball since. I could have sworn I remember seeing something saying he’s started coaching at the college level, but I can’t seem to find anything now. I could be completely wrong.

August 2nd, 2012: Yankees Designate Ramiro Pena For Assignment

The Yankees have designated Ramiro Pena for assignment according to the transactions page at MLB.com. The move cleared room on the roster for the recently-acquired Casey McGehee.

Rakin’ Ramiro was always a personal fave because he could play the hell out of shortstop, though he couldn’t hit at all. Before getting called up for the first time, his best minor league season was a .266/.330/.357 line with Double-A Trenton in 2008. Pena cleared waivers and went to Triple-A, and has been bouncing around the minors ever since. He actually returned to the big leagues with the Giants last year, hitting .299/.330/.425 in 30 games as bench bat. Who knew? Ramiro is currently hitting .216/.256/.243 in limited time for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.

August 4th, 2012: West Notes: Giants, Chavez, Dodgers, A’s

Before the trade deadline, the Giants offered Nate Schierholtz to the Yankees in an effort to land veteran Eric Chavez, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  The Giants presumably pursued Chavez prior to acquiring Marco Scutaro, who has been plugged in at third base.  Chavez, 34, is hitting .269/.332/.486 with ten homers on the year.

Interesting! I do not remember this. Chavez was in the middle of a ridiculous season — he hit .281/.348/.496 with 16 home runs in 2012 — and the Yankees couldn’t really afford to trade him because Alex Rodriguez was banged up and they needed the help at third base. The Yankees were a first place team in 2012, remember.

Schierholtz was a personal favorite, so much so that I once wrote a post saying the Yankees should trade for him so he could take over right field once Nick Swisher left as a free agent. Schierholtz hit .257/.321/.407 with 21 home runs for San Francisco in 2012, including .287/.360/.466 against righties. Seemed like a potentially dangerous lefty platoon bat.

The Yankees never did acquire Schierholtz, obviously. The Giants traded him to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal at the 2012 trade deadline, then Philadelphia non-tendered him after the season. He bounced from the Cubs to Nationals to the Rangers to the Tigers after that. Detroit released Schierholtz from their Triple-A roster last year and he’s been out of baseball since.

August 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Derek Lowe

MONDAY: The Yankees have officially announced the signing in a press release and say they will use Lowe out of the bullpen. Their 40-man roster is now full.

Few signings have felt more inevitable over the years. Lowe was terrible for the Indians in 2012, throwing 119 innings with a 5.52 ERA (4.49 FIP), so they released him at midseason. The Yankees needed a long reliever and they’re a sucker for ex-Red Sox players, so they picked him up as soon as Cleveland cut him loose. In his first game as a Yankee, Lowe recorded a four-inning save. You can watch it here. (For whatever reason YouTube embedding is disabled.)

Lowe wound up throwing 23.2 innings with a 3.04 ERA (3.77 FIP) for the Yankees that year. He was on the postseason roster too, though that didn’t go very well (three runs in two innings). Lowe signed with the Rangers after the season, allowed 13 runs in 13 innings in 2013, then got released. He announced his retirement a few weeks later.

August 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Two Nicaraguan Lefties

The Yankees have signed Nicaraguan left-handers Corby McCoy and Luis Garcia, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.

Neither McCoy nor Garcia ever made it out of the Dominican Summer League. McCoy threw 91.1 innings with a 4.43 ERA from 2013-16 while Garcia had a 6.27 ERA in 51.2 innings from 2013-14. Nicaragua is not exactly a baseball hotbed — Dennis Martinez is far and away the best of the 14 big leaguers to come from Nicaragua — but teams continue to try to make inroads in the country. It’s a long process. For every Dennis Martinez there are hundreds of Corby McCoys and Luis Garcias.

August 19th, 2012: AL East Notes: Yankees, Red Sox, Hughes

Yankees GM Brian Cashman will soon have to decide where they stand on Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, who are both set to hit free agency after next season, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  When asked about how he views the two long-term, Cashman responded, “That is stuff I can’t answer at this stage. It is a two-way street. It is a negotiation for two sides. So it is all for another day.”

We’re all guilty of this, myself included. We look ahead and try to figure out where a guy fits long-term far earlier than necessary. In 2012, Hughes had a 4.19 ERA (4.56 FIP) in 191.1 innings and looked like a potential keeper. Then he threw 145.2 innings with a 5.19 ERA (4.50 FIP) in 2013 and that was that. There was talk about re-signing Mark Teixeira last year, and look how that turned out. General rule of thumb: unless you’re talking about an elite performer in his prime, don’t worry about re-signing someone until the decision has to be made.

August 21st, 2012: AL East Notes: Pettitte, Torrealba, McClure

Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte hasn’t ruled out the possibility of pitching again in 2013, writes Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “I definitely can’t tell you right now that I would say there’s no way I’m going to play,” Pettitte said. The 40-year-old left-hander, who signed a one-year, $2.5MM minor league contract in March, is currently rehabbing a broken ankle he suffered in late June and hopes to return before the season’s over.

Pettitte did indeed return late in 2012 and he did indeed pitch in 2013. That ankle injury, which was suffered when he was hit by a comebacker, was one of the reasons Pettitte decided to return in 2013. He felt he hadn’t gotten it all out of his system. Pettitte threw 185.1 innings with a 3.74 ERA (107 ERA+) in 2013. Here’s the full list of 35-and-older pitchers who threw 185+ innings with a 107 ERA+ or better in their final seasons within the last half-century:

  • Andy Pettitte: 107 ERA + in 185.1 innings in 2013
  • Mike Mussina: 131 ERA+ in 200.1 innings in 2008

That’s all. The Yankees have had some really impressive farewell seasons recently, huh?

August 27th, 2012: Yankees Acquire Steve Pearce

The Yankees have acquired Steve Pearce from the Astros for cash considerations, the teams announced. Pearce, who played for the Yankees’ Triple-A team earlier this year, will provide New York with a right-handed bat for the final month of the season.

Good ol’ Steve Pearce. I know I’ve written about his 2012 travels several times in previous MLBTR Archives posts, but it’s worth dropping it in here again:

  • March 27th: Released by the Twins.
  • March 29th: Signed minor league deal with the Yankees.
  • June 2nd: Traded to the Orioles for cash.
  • July 28: Claimed off waivers by the Astros.
  • August 27: Traded to the Yankees for cash.
  • September 29: Claimed off waivers by the Orioles.

Pearce played 12 games with the Yankees that season, went 4-for-25 (.160) with a homer, then went to the Orioles. Did he really play 12 games with the Yankees? Seems like ten too many. Pearce has managed to carve out a nice little career for himself since that wild 2012 season. He’s hitting .271/.345/.470 with 12 homers in 77 games for the Blue Jays this year. I was hoping the Yankees would sign him for the Chris Carter role, but alas.

August 27th, 2012: Yankees Designate Brandon Laird For Assignment

The Yankees have designated corner infielder Brandon Laird for assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The move creates roster space for Steve Pearce, who was acquired from the Astros today.

Back when the Yankees didn’t have much of a farm system, Laird was one of their better prospects even though he had questionable plate discipline and wasn’t much of a third base defender. His big year was 2010, when he hit .281/.336/.482 with 25 home runs in 138 games for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Laird played eleven games for the Yankees in 2011 and went 4-for-21 (.190) with four singles.

The Yankees dropped Laird from the 40-man roster in 2012, the Astros grabbed him on waivers, and he hit .198/.248/.406 with six homers in 46 games for Houston during their 2012-13 tank seasons. Laird is still active, you know. He’s in his third year as Shohei Otani’s teammate with the Nippon Ham Fighters. He’s hitting .234/.316/.495 with 29 homers this season, and has 102 home runs in three years with the (Ham) Fighters. Hit 39 last year. Huh.

August 28th, 2012: Dodgers Inquired On Sabathia, Teixeira

The Dodgers called the Yankees to inquire about the possibility of trading for CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Yankees told the Dodgers they had no interest in moving either player despite their substantial contracts (four years and $99MM remain on Sabathia’s deal; four years and $90MM remain on Teixeira’s deal).

Now this I remember. This came out three days after the big Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett (and Nick Punto!) to Los Angeles for salary relief and two pitching prospects that didn’t amount to much (Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa). Apparently the Dodgers asked about Sabathia and Teixeira first, and were told no.

The Yankees and Red Sox were in very different places at the time. The Red Sox were in the middle of a disastrous last place season and looking to unload Gonzalez and Crawford, both of whom had worn out there welcome. The Yankees, meanwhile, were a first place team and both Teixeira (.251/.332/.475 with 24 homers) and especially Sabathia (3.38 ERA and 3.34 FIP) were key contributors.

The Yankees could have freed up a lot of payroll with that trade, assuming Teixeira and Sabathia would’ve agreed to waive their no-trade clauses, which was far from a given. What would they have done with that free cash? I’m not sure. The notable free agents during the 2012-13 offseason: Michael Bourn, Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez, Nick Swisher, and B.J. Upton. Only Greinke’s deal worked out.

Given what we know now, yeah, the Yankees should’ve unloaded Teixeira and Sabathia. It was not nearly as clear cut back then. Sabathia was still an ace, Teixeira was still productive, and the Yankees were a bonafide contender. And even if they had unloaded them, I’m not sure 2013-16 would’ve been much better anyway. They could have turned around and spent the money on Hamilton and Jackson, and no thanks.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: July 2012

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The calendar has turned over to July and it’s time once again to revisit the MLB Trade Rumors archives. Better late than never this month, right? Right. We’re now into July 2012 and, as always, July was chock full of trade rumors. The Yankees went into July 2012 with a 47-30 record and a five-game lead in the AL East. Going 20-7 in June got them there.

The record was shiny, but the Yankees were dealing with several significant injuries in July 2012. Brett Gardner (elbow) had been out since April and would miss basically the rest of the season. Both CC Sabathia (groin) and the un-retired Andy Pettitte (leg) were on the shelf as well. Pitching depth and another bat, preferably someone to get Raul Ibanez out of left field, were atop the shopping list. Time to dig into the archives.

July 1st, 2012: Yankees Acquire Chad Qualls

3:38 pm: The Yankees announced they have acquired reliever Chad Qualls from the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

Chad Qualls, the forgotten Yankee. He spent just a month in pinstripes, during which he allowed five runs and 13 baserunners in 7.1 innings. The Yankees were the sixth team Qualls had played for up to that point. Now he’s up to nine teams. The guy has spent 14 years in the league and is 40th all-time in appearances. Who knew?

July 2nd, 2012: Yankees Sign Luis Torrens

The Yankees have signed Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens for $1.3MM, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Torrens is ranked as the second-best international prospect in this July 2nd class.

That was the first year with the international bonus pools and Torrens was the team’s big signing. He wound up playing only 161 games in the farm system from 2013-16 due to injuries before the Padres popped him in the Rule 5 draft. Torrens, who turned 21 this May, is hitting .188/.261/.225 (32 wRC+) in a whopping 89 plate appearances this year. How is this good for his development, especially after all those injuries? I have no idea. It’s pretty obvious at this point San Diego is going to keep Torrens all year though. Such is life when a team has no concern for wins and losses.

July 4th, 2012: Yanks Have “No Intention Of Joining” Hamels Bidding

The Yankees are currently in wait-and-see mode despite injuries to both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, though they could make a move for a starter before the trade deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the team has “no intention of joining” the bidding for Cole Hamels unless the asking price diminishes dramatically, however.

Hamels was due to become a free agent after that season and he had been mentioned as a trade candidate for weeks. The Phillies were struggling — they were 36-44 on the morning of July 1st that year — and keeping the 28-year-old ace-like version of Hamels was far from certain. Me and I’m pretty sure every Yankees fan wanted him, even as a rental. Instead, the Phillies gave Hamels a six-year extension worth $144M three weeks after this rumor. That one has worked out pretty well from a cost vs. production standpoint. (FanGraphs values his production at $175.9M during the first four and a half seasons of that contract, for what it’s worth.)

July 4th, 2012: Yankees Claim McDonald, Designate Schwinden

The Yankees acquired Darnell McDonald from the Red Sox, the outfielder announced on his personal Twitter account. The Yankees claimed McDonald off of waivers, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger tweets. The team designated Chris Schwinden for assignment in a related move, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets.

McDonald’s four-game stint with the Yankees was a forgettable one. The Yankees claimed the right-handed hitting outfielder off waivers from the Red Sox, then started him against the Red Sox in Fenway Park against a bunch of left-handed starters. It would have been an amazing troll move if it worked. Instead, McDonald went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and dropped a fly ball that led to a run. He had to cut off his dreadlocks for those four games in pinstripes.

Silly outdated hair policy is silly and outdated.

July 10th, 2012: East Notes: Martin, Phillies, Blue Jays, Papelbon

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no plans to acquire a catcher despite Russell Martin‘s struggles, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. “We have our catching,” Cashman said. “I believe in Russell Martin, period.”

Russell Martin on the day of this rumor: .179/.310/.348 (80 wRC+).

Russell Martin from the day of this rumor through the end of the season: .242/.321/.456 (111 wRC+).

July 12th, 2012: Yankees Sign Ty Hensley

The Yankees have signed first-round draft pick Ty Hensley, reports Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA (Twitter links).  The two sides agreed to a $1.2MM bonus, below the recommended slot price of $1.6MM for the 30th overall pick. 

Sigh. This one didn’t work out too well. Hensley’s medical issues started right away. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-signing physical, hence the reduced bonus. From 2012-16, Hensley threw 42.1 total innings and had surgeries on both hips, surgery for a hernia, and two Tommy John surgeries. The Yankees lost him to the Rays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason and he won’t pitch this year as he rehabs from the second elbow reconstruction. Pitchers, man.

July 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Kosuke Fukudome

The Yankees signed Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league contract, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger reports (on Twitter). The outfielder is expected to report to New York’s Triple-A affiliate.

Holy smokes, I forgot all about Fukudome. He was a pretty big deal coming out of Japan back in the day, but he never could make it work in the big leagues. Fukudome hit .258/.359/.395 (102 wRC+) in nearly 2,300 MLB plate appearances, mostly with the Cubs, plus .276/.440/.378 (138 wRC+) in 39 Triple-A games with the Yankees in 2012. The Yankees picked him up to see what he could offer while Gardner was on the shelf. Fukudome is still active, you know. He returned to Japan in 2013 and he’s currently hitting .256/.364/.380 with seven home runs in 76 games for the Hanshin Tigers at age 40.

July 16th, 2012: Yankees Monitoring Outfield Market

The Yankees always seem to be pursuing pitching, but their front office officials aren’t overly concerned about the rotation, since C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are expected to return this summer. Instead, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, the Yankees are looking at the outfield market and have checked in on both Shane Victorino and Justin Upton.

Upton was only 24 at the time and he was in the middle of a down season with the Diamondbacks, hitting .280/.355/.430 (109 wRC+) overall. That came after a .289/.369/.529 (141 wRC+) batting line in 2011. Arizona traded him to the Braves after the season. I was all for Upton. I wanted him so bad. The Yankees were going to need a Nick Swisher replacement after the season and the desperately needed to add some youth to the lineup, so Upton was pretty much the perfect fit. Never happened.

Victorino, meanwhile, was hitting .261/.324/.401 (97 wRC+) for the Phillies at the time. He was an impending free agent and very much available. Philadelphia wound up shipping him to the Dodgers at the trade deadline for some mid-range pitching prospects who never amounted to much. I wasn’t a fan of pursuing Victorino. Seemed like he was only a marginal upgrade at the time. He hit .246/.316/.351 (88 wRC+) with the Dodgers after the trade, so yeah.

July 19th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Ankiel, Pierre, Wandy, Figueroa

The Yankees don’t have interest in Juan Pierre or Rick Ankiel, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links).  The Bombers’ search for outfield help will intensify with the news that Brett Gardner will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery, though Gardner’s agent Joe Bick says Gardner still hopes to return this season, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.

Oy vey. Pierre and Ankiel? Were they still a thing back in 2012? Apparently. Pierre was 34 at the time and hitting .307/.351/.371 (99 wRC+), which represented his best season in about five years. Ankiel was 32 and hitting .228/.282/.411 (81 wRC+) as a bench guy for the Nationals. No thanks.

July 21st, 2012: AL East Links: Orioles, Yankees, Victorino, Red Sox

The Yankees remain in contact with teams dangling bullpen pieces according to George A. King III of The New York Post, though Joba Chamberlain could be activated off the DL before the end of the month.

Ah yes, the good ol’ days when Joba would come back and fix the bullpen. He was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and his trampoline-related ankle injury at the time, and once he did rejoin the Yankees, he threw 20.2 innings with a 4.35 ERA (4.01 FIP). Pitcher struggles in return from elbow surgery. News at 11.

July 23rd, 2012: Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki

A legendary figure in Seattle will be changing uniforms, but won’t have to go farther than the visitors’ clubhouse to join his new team. The Yankees, who are playing in Seattle tonight, have acquired Ichiro Suzuki and cash from the Mariners in exchange right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, the teams have confirmed.

How many people showed up to Safeco Field that night with no idea Ichiro had been traded to the Yankees? Maybe half? Probably less, but you know there were plenty of folks who hadn’t heard about the trade. Imagine that. You go to the ballpark ready to watch the Yankees play the Mariners … and Ichiro steps in the box as a Yankee. That must’ve been weird.

Anyway, Ichiro was the Gardner replacement. The Yankees acquired him on two conditions. One, he would have to hit toward the bottom of the order. And two, he’d have to play left field rather than his usual right field. Ichiro agreed because he wanted to play on a contender, so the trade was made. He hit .261/.288/.353 (77 wRC+) with the Mariners before the trade and .322/.340/.454 (114 wRC+) with the Yankees after the trade. The trade was great! The two-year extension that followed … not so much.

As for the guys the Mariners got the trade, Farquhar gave them a few nice years as a setup man, though that didn’t last and he later wound up with the Rays. They released him yesterday. Mitchell never did pitch for the Mariners. He spent the rest of the season in Triple-A and was released in April 2013, and was pitching in independent ball by 2014.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Yankees, Hanley, Orioles

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he’ll engage the market for a third baseman, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  The Yankees will consider all third base options, including Chase Headley of the Padres, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). It seems unlikely that the Yankees would meet the Padres’ asking price for Headley, Heyman writes (on Twitter).

Heh. The Yankees had been after Headley for a while. That 2012 season was his monster season. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) with 31 home runs that season. He’s never come close to doing that again. The Padres declined to trade Headley was his value was at its peak, and they wound up settling for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula two years later. Womp womp.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Lester, Blue Jays, Aramis

The Yankees aren’t likely to pursue Aramis Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Ramirez was in year one — year one! — of his three-year, $36M deal with the Brewers at the time. He hit .300/.360/.540 (139 wRC+) with 27 home runs that year, so he could still rake even at age 34, but taking on two and a half years of his three-year contract? Nah.

July 25th, 2012: Phillies Notes: Wigginton, Lee, Pence Rollins

The Yankees considered pursuing Ty Wigginton, but the Phillies aren’t offering him up, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Any time you’re a bad team like the 2012 Phillies and you have a guy like Ty Wigginton, you have to hold on to him at all costs. He hit .235/.314/.375 (87 wRC+) with eleven home runs that year, then left as a free agent after the season. Definitely hold on to that guy. That’s what smart teams do. I’m glad Wigginton finally retired, by the way. I don’t think any role player has generated more “the Yankees should get this guy” commentary than Wigginton. Either him or Mark DeRosa.

July 30th, 2012: AL West Notes: Greinke, Ryan, Rangers

The Yankees attempted to acquire Brendan Ryan from the Mariners, but Seattle turned them down, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan is one of many infield options the Yankees have considered this month.

Ryan hit .194/.277/.278 (61 wRC+) in 2012. I know he was a fantastic defender, but .194/.277/.278 is .194/.277/.278. How do you turn down an offer for that guy down when you’re a bad team? That was peak Jack Zduriencik. Overrate the hell out of marginal players based on sketchy defensive stats.

July 31st, 2012: Pirates, Yankees Swap McGehee, Qualls

The Yankees acquired corner infielder Casey McGehee and $250K from the Pirates for reliever Chad Qualls, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The end of the Qualls era. I was actually pretty excited about McGehee. The Yankees needed some third base protection because Alex Rodriguez was dealing with some nagging injuries, plus McGehee could play some first base, and his right-handed bat was a welcome addition to a left-handed heavy lineup. He then hit .151/.220/.264 (28 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with the Yankees and was released after the season. McGehee is currently hitting .299/.368/.493 for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, where apparently they juice the ball even more than MLB.

July 31st, 2012: Marlins Tried To Unload Carlos Lee

5:05pm: Two teams told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that the Marlins thought they had traded Lee to the Yankees today (Twitter link).  However, Lee wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause.  The sides were never close to completing a trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (on Twitter).

Hmmm. One side says the deal was in place, but Lee squashed it with his no-trade clause, the other says there was no deal. I lean toward the latter. I don’t think the Yankees had anything worked out. I guess they could have looked at Lee as DH depth? The guy hit .264/.332/.365 (91 wRC+) with negative defense and baserunning value that year. I’m a sucker for a good “this guy was almost traded to that team” story. This one is pretty lame.

Saturday Links: Otani, Draft Info, Mock Drafts, Old Timers’ Day

Otani. (Presswire)
Otani. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Orioles continue their weekend series later tonight, with a 7:15pm ET game. Boy, I sure do hate Saturday night games. Anyway, until then, check out Jorge Posada’s letter to his younger self at The Players’ Tribune, then check out these stray bits of news.

Latest on Shohei Otani

Earlier this week Jeff Passan posted a bit of an update on Nippon Ham Fighters ace/slugger Shohei Otani, the best player in the world not under contract with one of the 30 big league teams. Otani is only 22, which means he would be subject to the international bonus hard cap if he were to come over to MLB this offseason. Waiting until he’s 25 would allow him to sign a contract of any size. Anyway, the important details from Passan:

  • There is “significant skepticism” that Otani will come over to MLB this winter. Teams estimate his market value right now, at age 22, at at least $200M. Market value is not the same thing as earning potential, of course.
  • MLB is expected to be “vigilant to ensure the sanctity of the system is not made a mockery by extralegal payments,” meaning a team couldn’t give Otani a long-term contract shortly after signing him, thereby circumventing the hard cap.
  • AL teams believe they have an inside track to sign Otani because they can let him DH between starts. NL teams are wary of letting him play the outfield when he’s not on the mound.

Otani, by the way, has been hampered by a nagging ankle issue this season. He has yet to pitch and only recently did he return to the lineup as a designated hitter. He’s hitting .407/.469/.815 with five doubles and two homers in eight games so far.

My guess — and this is only a guess — is Otani will not come over to MLB this winter. I think he’ll instead announce his intention to come over next offseason, allowing teams to get their international bonus money situation in order. Right now, just about every team has agreements in place with Latin American players for July 2nd, leaving them no money for Otani over the winter. We’ll see.

Latest Mock Drafts

With the draft two days away, the consensus right now is the Twins will select Vanderbilt RHP Kyle Wright with the first overall pick. That allows California HS SS/RHP Hunter Greene, the unanimous No. 1 prospect in the draft class, to slip to the Reds with the second pick, or maybe even the Padres with the third pick. Anyway, here are the latest mock drafts and their Yankees’ picks:

In the FanGraphs write-up Eric Longenhagen notes the Yankees have had “special assistants” in to see Rogers, though I should note that isn’t unusual for any player under first round consideration. Baseball America says the Yankees have been “linked to college arms all spring, but (they) also could go for the right college bat.” MLB.com links them to California HS 1B Nick Pratto (RAB profile) in addition to Canning and Rogers.

(Self-Promotion: I posted a mock draft at CBS that is little more than educated guesswork, so check that out. I’m not going to tell you who I have the Yankees taking. No, I’m not above begging for clicks.)

(Matthew Ziegler/Getty)
(Matthew Ziegler/Getty)

Swisher, Boucher to represent Yankees at draft

Last week MLB announced the representatives for all 30 teams for Monday’s draft broadcast on MLB Network. Nick Swisher and Denis Boucher are representing the Yankees. Here are every team’s representatives. Swisher is Swisher. He played for the Yankees from 2009-12 and was very productive. He’ll go down as one of Brian Cashman‘s greatest trades. Also, when Swisher left as a free agent, the Yankees used the compensation draft pick to select Aaron Judge. That trade is the gift that keeps on giving.

Boucher has been with the Yankees since 2010 and he more or less runs their amateur scouting in Eastern Canada. His MLB playing career was brief (1991-94 with the Blue Jays, Indians, Expos) and since then he’s worked to grow the game in Canada. Boucher has coached Canadian Olympic teams, in the World Baseball Classic, and a bunch of other international tournaments. He’s also been involved in developing Canada’s youth baseball program. Certainly not a household name, but Boucher has done a lot to promote the game north of the border. Pretty cool the Yankees are rewarding him with a trip to the draft.

Also, I should note MLB has announced four prospects will attend the draft Monday: Greene, Rogers, Kentucky HS OF Jordon Adell (RAB profile), and Alabama HS OF Bubba Thompson (RAB profile). Would be kinda cool if the Yankees picked a kid actually at the draft, no? Judge and Ian Clarkin were there for the 2013 draft, remember.

Yankees announce Old Timers’ Day roster

Old Timers’ Day is Sunday, June 25th this year — two weeks from tomorrow — and a few days ago the Yankees announced the list of attendees. Here’s the press release. Most are the usual suspects. Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Paul O’Neill, Ron Guidry, etc. The guys we see every Old Timers’ Day. The most notable first time Old Timer is Jorge Posada. He’s the first member of the Core Four (groan) to attend Old Timers’ Day. Neat.

Also, during the Old Timers’ Day festivities, the Yankees will hold a special ceremony to honor new Hall of Famer Tim Raines. Raines is going into the Hall of Fame as an Expo (duh), but he was an incredibly productive platoon outfielder with the Yankees from 1996-98. Rock hit .299/.395/.429 (120 wRC+) with 18 homers and 26 steals in 940 plate appearances those years, his age 36-38 seasons. Pretty awesome.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: June 2012

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

The trade deadline is inching closer and closer, and now that we’re in June, it’s time for another trip through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. June is typically when trade chatter starts to pick up, and usually we see a few deals as well. For the most part though, the month of June is about laying the groundwork. Scouting players, seeing who’s available, that sort of thing.

On the morning of June 1st, 2012, the Yankees were 27-23 and in third place in the AL East, only 1.5 games back of the Rays and Orioles, who had identical 29-22 records. The Yankees closed out May with six wins in eight games. At that point of the season, the Yankees had already suffered three major injuries: Michael Pineda (shoulder), Brett Gardner (elbow), and Mariano Rivera (knee). There was no real shortage of needs. Let’s jump into the MLBTR archives.

June 1st, 2012: Yankees Eyeing Matt Garza

Matt Garza interests the Yankees more than other potentially available starters, so GM Brian Cashman could pursue the right-hander this summer, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The Red Sox could also pursue Garza, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com notes (on Twitter).

I remember being all about Garza in the weeks leading up to the 2012 trade deadline. He was only 27 at the time, and he was coming off a 3.32 ERA (2.95 FIP) in 198 innings in 2011. Plus he was under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013. It was a chance to get a high-end starter with AL East experience in the middle of his prime.

The Yankees and many other teams reportedly remained engaged with the Cubs about Garza — the Cubbies went 61-101 that season and were clear sellers — though all the trade talk was put on hold when he left his July 21st start with elbow stiffness. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with a stress reaction and shut down for the season. Good thing the Yankees didn’t make a deal in June, huh? I was very much on board with going after Garza before the injury.

June 2nd, 2012: Orioles Acquire Steve Pearce, DFA Bill Hall

The Orioles have acquired first baseman Steve Pearce from the Yankees and designated utility man Bill Hall for assignment, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter).  The Yankees will receive cash considerations in return, tweets Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.

A quick recap of Steve Pearce’s 2012 season:

  • March 27th: Released by the Twins.
  • March 29th: Signed minor league deal with the Yankees.
  • June 2nd: Traded to the Orioles for cash.
  • July 28: Claimed off waivers by the Astros.
  • August 27: Traded to the Yankees for cash.
  • September 29: Claimed off waivers by the Orioles.

That couldn’t have been fun for Pearce. Imagine if the recent Ruben Tejada trade plays out the same way. The Yankees trade a superfluous Triple-A depth player to the O’s in early June, then he inexplicably hits .258/.339/.482 (127 wRC+) the next three seasons.

June 7th, 2012: AL East Notes: Reyes, Rundles, Blue Jays

The Yankees have signed 22-year-old Dominican right-hander Manolo Reyes, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.  The contract is worth $600K but is contingent on Reyes obtaining a visa and passing an MLB investigation into his identity and age, as Reyes has already served one year-long suspension due to problems with his paperwork.  Reyes was originally signed by the Braves in 2009.

Manolo! Reyes threw extremely hard. He was one of the hardest throwers in the farm system at the time, routinely hitting 99-100 mph. He also had no idea where the ball was going. Reyes was with the Yankees from 2013-16, and during that time he had a 4.14 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 87 total innings, none above High-A ball. He walked 65 (16.3% of batters faced) and struck out 90 (22.5%). The Yankees released Reyes last year and, as far as I can tell, he hasn’t hooked on anywhere since. They paid him a $600,000 bonus plus however much in annual salary for 87 Single-A innings. It’s good work if you can get it.

June 9th, 2012: Yankees Not Looking For Outfield Help

Left fielder Brett Gardner has played just nine games this season due to a right elbow strain, and today he suffered a setback that will likely keep him out through the All-Star break. Despite that, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including Chad Jennings of The Journal News) that he hasn’t looked into trading for outfield help just yet.

“I haven’t been looking,” said Cashman. “That doesn’t mean that (it’s out of the question). Now you’ve passed the draft, people will be more interested in having conversations. I have not had any conversations with anybody about anything.”

Gardner hurt his elbow making a sliding catch in April and it just wasn’t getting any better. He eventually had surgery in July and was able to return very late in the season. The injury pushed Raul Ibanez into left field on a nearly full-time basis before the Yankees swung the trade for Ichiro Suzuki. Eight different players started a game in left field for New York that year:

  1. Raul Ibanez: 65 starts in left
  2. Andruw Jones: 41
  3. Ichiro Suzuki: 26
  4. Dewayne Wise: 9
  5. Jayson Nix: 9
  6. Brett Gardner: 8
  7. Eduardo Nunez: 3
  8. Chris Dickerson: 1

Don’t forget Darnell McDonald either! He played one game in left field during his four days as a Yankees, though he did not start. The Yankees got a .241/.312/.415 (92 OPS+) batting line from their left fielders that season, which was a) not that awful considering the personnel, and b) their least productive position. The 2012 Yankees could score some damn runs.

June 13th, 2012: Ben Sheets Throws For Team

Righty Ben Sheets threw for scouts today in Monroe, Louisiana, MLBTR has learned.  Scouts from the Phillies, Braves, Yankees, and Angels were in attendance.

Oh man, I loved Ben Sheets. His 2004 season is one of the best pitching seasons no one talks about. Injuries completely ruined his career — he threw 119.1 innings from 2009-11, all in 2010 — but when he was young and healthy, he was dominant. Dude was tough as nails and his curveball was as pretty as it gets:

The Yankees never did sign Sheets that year. He wound up hooking on with the Braves and throwing 49.1 innings in nine starts with a 3.47 ERA (4.11 FIP). I have absolutely zero recollection of Sheets in Atlanta. He never pitched again after that. Sheets is still only 38, you know. He’s basically the same age as John Lackey.

June 14th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Quentin, Swisher, Nunez

The Yankees don’t consider Carlos Quentin as a fit for their needs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  The Yankees would want to fill left field with someone “speedier” than Quentin, which probably also means someone more defensively capable (Quentin has a career UZR/150 of – 9.1). 

I didn’t love the idea of Quentin, but I understood it. The Yankees needed a left fielder in the wake of Gardner’s injury, and Quentin was hitting .421/.542/.921 (290 wRC+) on the day of this report. That was small sample size noise though. Quentin didn’t make his season debut until May 28th after having knee surgery in March. He finished the season with a .261/.374/.504 (146 wRC+) line and 16 homers in 340 plate appearances.

The two biggest reasons I wasn’t a fan of trading for Quentin were his defense and his injury history. He was a brutal outfielder, especially after knee surgery. One of the few players who was as bad or worse than Ibanez. And the guy got hurt all the time, partially because he was so prone to getting hit by pitches (127 HBP in 834 games). Only three times in nine MLB seasons did he play at least 100 games. The Padres never did trade Quentin. They signed him to a three-year extension in July instead. He played 132 games during the three-year deal.

June 15th, 2012: Yankees Like Dempster; Dodgers Eyeing Garza

Several contenders, including the Yankees and Dodgers, covet Dempster, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Unlike Garza, Ryan Dempster was an impending free agent in 2012, so the Cubs pretty much had to move him. He was having a good year too. A 2.11 ERA (3.28 FIP) through 12 starts and 81 innings following his start on the day of this report. The Yankees stuck to their guns and didn’t trade for any rotation help in 2012. They won 95 games and rode it out with what they had.

Dempster, meanwhile, was traded to the Rangers at the deadline for a package that included Kyle Hendricks. Dempster with the Cubs: 2.25 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 104 innings. Dempster with the Rangers: 5.09 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 69 innings. Reminder: don’t pay for outlier performance at the trade deadline. This was Dempster’s final start with Texas:

That game, Game 162 in 2012 to decide the AL West, was easily one of the most fun and exciting non-Yankees games of the last ten years. As long as you weren’t rooting for the Rangers, that is.

June 15th, 2012: East Notes: Blue Jays, Phillies, Braves, Soler

The Braves were right there with the Cubs and willing to spend $30MM on Jorge Soler, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB.com.  The White Sox and Yankees, meanwhile, had bids that fell between $25MM and $30MM.

The Yankees tried and failed to sign Soler, which has become a bit of a pattern with the top Cuban prospects over the years. Soler was billed as the ultra-talented superstar in waiting, as all young Cuban players are, and five years later, he’s basically the next Jose Guillen. Lots of power, too much swing and miss, awful defense. I remain absolutely stunned the Cubs were able to trade him straight up for one year of Wade Davis. How?

June 18th, 2012: Quick Hits: Padres, Phillies, Drabek, Vlad

GM Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Yankees haven’t pursued contract extensions for Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson, but aim to keep both players long-term (Twitter link).

Welp.

June 20th, 2012: Astros Will Listen On Wandy Rodriguez

The Astros will listen to offers for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, and teams are watching the left-hander in anticipation of the July 31st trade deadline, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Yankees, Giants and Blue Jays had representatives in attendance for Rodriguez’s start against the Royals last night, Morosi reports.

The Astros were still in the National League at the time, and there was a lot of concern Rodriguez, a finesse southpaw on the wrong side of 30, wouldn’t be able to cut it in the so-called Junior Circuit. He had been a solid pitcher for a while though:

  • 2009: 3.02 ERA  and 3.54 FIP in 205.2 innings
  • 2010: 3.60 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 195 innings
  • 2011: 3.49 ERA and 4.15 FIP in 191 innings

On the day of this report, he had a 3.29 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 95.2 innings. He finished the season with a Wandy-esque 3.76 ERA (3.93 FIP) in 205.2 total innings and was traded to the Pirates at the deadline. Wandy bounced around a bit at the end of his career, and his final big league appearance was a one-inning, seven-run disaster in this game:

That was a fun game. I didn’t realize it effectively ended Wandy Rodriguez’s career.

June 20th, 2012: Yankees To Sign Omar Luis

4:23pm: The left-hander will obtain a $4MM bonus, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. He has five pitches, including a fastball that ranges from 86-92 mph, and a competitive approach.

Luis was the last Cuban player the Yankees signed before the new international bonus pools kicked in on July 2nd. He might have been the last player they signed before the bonus pools period. Anyway, Luis was a total dud. He had a 4.80 ERA (5.11 FIP) with nearly as many walks (75) as strikeouts (86) in 99.1 lower level innings before being released following the 2015 season. He’s been out of baseball since. Also, his $4M bonus was later reduced to $2.5M after the Yankees saw something they didn’t like in his physical. A swing and a miss, this was.

June 26th, 2012: Yankees Claim Danny Farquhar Off Waivers

The Yankees have claimed Danny Farquhar off waivers from the Athletics, the team announced. Oakland designated the right-hander for assignment over the weekend.

How often does a player go from waiver claim to trade bait within a month? That’s what happened with Farquhar. The Yankees grabbed him on waivers, he spent a few weeks with Double-A Trenton (11 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K!), then he went to the Mariners in the Ichiro deal. Farquhar has carved out a nice little career for himself as a middle reliever/sometimes setup guy. Grabbing a dude on waivers then trading him for a future Hall of Famer the next month is some video game roster building stuff. I’m pretty sure I’ve done that in MLB: The Show a few times over the years.

June 28th, 2012: Zack Greinke Rumors: Thursday

“A couple of teams,” including the Yankees, feel that Greinke may not be suited for pitching in a large market, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  Greinke did tell the Yankees he would pitch for them when he was in the process of being dealt from the Royals to the Brewers. 

Does anyone still believe this “Greinke can’t handle a big market” nonsense? I hope not. That ridiculous assertion was made by people who really have no idea what social anxiety disorder, something Greinke battled way back in the day with the Royals, actually is. He had a 2.30 ERA (2.97 FIP) in three years with the large market Dodgers, including a 2.38 ERA with a .186/.217/.310 batting line against in six postseason starts, all while pitching with a monster contract. Not sure he can handle the spotlight, you guys. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a truly great player — Greinke’s going to end up a borderline Hall of Famer when it’s all said and gone — be more unfairly characterized as Greinke.

June 29th, 2012: Yankees Claim Schwinden, Designate Farquhar

The Yankees claimed right-hander Chris Schwinden off of waivers from Cleveland, the Indians announced. The Yankees designated Danny Farquhar for assignment in a related move, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (on Twitter).

My favorite part of these MLBTR Archives posts is being reminded of players I had completely forgotten about, like Schwinden. This was a one-month stretch of his life in 2012:

  • June 2nd: Claimed off waivers by Blue Jays from Mets.
  • June 6th: Claimed off waivers by Indians from Blue Jays.
  • June 29th: Claimed off waivers by Yankees from Indians:
  • July 5th: Claimed off waivers by Mets from Yankees.

Hopefully he got some airline miles and hotel points out of that. Schwinden appeared in one game as a member of the Yankees organization, allowing four runs in four innings in a spot start for Triple-A Scranton. He’s been out of baseball since 2014, though at least he got to get a taste of the show with the Mets in 2011 and 2012.

June 29th, 2012: Quick Hits: Thome, Blue Jays, Oliver, Orioles

As the Phillies look for a place to move Jim Thome, the Rays and Yankees are not interested, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). 

JIM THOME. Man, that would have been fun. Because Ibanez was playing so much left field in the wake of the Gardner injury, the Yankees had an opening at DH, and they rotated players in and out at the position all season. Seventeen different players saw time at DH in 2012. 17! Among them were — and I’m not joking — Ramiro Pena and Melky Mesa. They could have used Thome at DH. Jimmer Jammer was with the Phillies as a bench bat at the time, and they later traded him to the Orioles, where he hit .257/.348/.396 (102 wRC+) with three homers in 115 plate appearances. That was the final chapter of his should-be Hall of Fame career. The Yankees ended it in the ALDS that October.

Friday Links: Top 100 Prospects, Mock Draft, Jeter, Luxury Tax

Montgomery. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Montgomery. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

The Yankees and Astros continue their four-game weekend series with the second game later tonight. Here are a couple of strays links to check out in the meantime.

Six Yankees on BA’s latest top 100 list

The Baseball America crew released an updated top 100 prospects list this week, which is designed to “reflect the graduations of players who are no longer prospect-eligible and to tweak the rankings based on feedback we have received from scouts and coaches who have seen the prospects this year.” White Sox IF Yoan Moncada is atop the list. Six Yankees farmhands made the top 100:

2. SS Gleyber Torres (Preseason: 5th)
33. OF Clint Frazier (Preseason: 39th)
37. OF Blake Rutherford  (Preseason: 45th)
85. LHP Justus Sheffield (Preseason: 91st)
99. LHP Jordan Montgomery (Preseason: Not ranked)
100. RHP Chance Adams (Preseason: Not ranked)

OF Aaron Judge ranked 90th before the season and has since graduated to the big leagues. SS Jorge Mateo (85th) and RHP James Kaprielian (87th) both made the preseason list but have since dropped off. In a supplemental piece (sub. req’d), the Baseball America crew says Mateo fell out of the top 100 because he simply isn’t performing. He’s hitting .220/.270/.315 (67 wRC+) while repeating High-A ball. Kaprielian fell off because he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Duh.

I can’t say I ever expected to see Montgomery crack a top 100 prospects list, so it’s pretty cool he was able to sneak on. He’s walked a few too many in his brief big league time (11.7%), which is not uncommon for young pitchers. Otherwise Montgomery appears to have all the ingredients necessary to be a back-end starter long-term. Those guys are really valuable during their cheap pre-arbitration years. Montgomery has thrown 28.2 MLB innings so far, so he’s about four starts away from clearing the 50-inning rookie limit and graduating to MLB. This will probably be the only top 100 list he makes. I’m guessing he’s fine with that.

Keith Law’s mock draft v1.0

Keith Law (subs. req’d) released his first mock draft of the year earlier this week, and he has the Twins taking Louisville 1B/LHP Brendan McKay with the No. 1 pick. California HS SS/RHP Hunter Greene, the consensus top prospect in the 2017 draft class, is expected to slip to the Reds with the second overall pick. Lucky them. Law has the Yankees taking California HS 1B Nick Pratto with their first round pick, No. 16 overall. From Law:

Pratto seems to have separated himself as the best pure hitter among the high school crop this year, though high school first basemen taken high don’t have the greatest track record either.

Here’s my Pratto write-up. On paper, Pratto fits the Yankees. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has a known affinity for Southern California players, and the Yankees also have a thing for advanced high school bats. They pounced when Rutherford fell into their laps last year. Back in the day, before the bonus pools took the fun out of everything, they paid Greg Bird and Tyler Austin overslot bonuses when their polished bats slipped into the later rounds. The 2017 draft is a little more than five weeks away now.

Loria tried to trade for Jeter with Expos

Jeet & Vlad. (Nick Laham/Getty)
Jeet & Vlad. (Nick Laham/Getty)

Here’s a fun old trade rumor. According to Steven Marcus, Jeffrey Loria ordered general manager Jim Beattie to call the Yankees and make a trade offer for Derek Jeter back in 1999, when Loria owned the Expos. The offer: Vladimir Guerrero for Jeter. Fun! Here’s more from Marcus:

“Mr. Loria really wanted Jeter,’’ said Beattie, a former Yankees pitcher who now is a scout for the Blue Jays. “I kept telling him it wasn’t going to happen and he said, ‘Well, you have to make the call.’ I called (Brian Cashman) and at a point I said, ‘Jeffrey is really interested in Jeter.’ Cash said, ‘No, we’re not going to trade.’ I said, ‘I understand that. Just for conversation and I’m not even sure we would do this, would you trade him for Guerrero?’

“There was silence on the other end. He said, ‘Would you do that?’

“Cash said, ‘That’s a crazy offer, but I’m just not going to trade him. He is a franchise player for us and we’re not going to trade him.’ You could try to trade for him, but they weren’t going to trade him. Yeah, there was an effort.’’

This happened during the 1999-2000 offseason. Jeter, then 25, hit .349/.438/.552 (156 wRC+) with 24 home runs in 1999, in what very well might have been the best season of his career. Vlad was about to turn 25, and he’d hit .316/.378/.600 (139 wRC+) with 42 homers in 1999. This would have been the mother of all blockbusters. Young superstar for young superstar. Carlos Correa for Mookie Betts. Corey Seager for Kris Bryant. Something like that.

Jeter is a no-doubt Hall of Famer and chances are Vlad will get in at some point as well — he fell 15 votes short of induction this past winter — though you can understand why the Yankees said no. They’d just won their third World Series title in the past four years, and Jeter was the face of the franchise. Also, shortstops like Jeter are harder to find than corner outfielders like Guerrero. Still, fun! Loria is a native New Yorker who has made it no secret he admires the Yankees. It’s no surprise he tried to acquire their franchise player once upon a time.

Yankees projected to cut luxury tax bill

According to Ronald Blum, the Yankees are projected to cut their luxury tax bill by nearly $20M this season. Calculations from the commissioner’s office put the team’s luxury tax bill at roughly $9M right now, down from the $27.4M they paid last year. The Yankees are taxed at the maximum 50% rate, so that combined with the $195M threshold suggests their payroll for luxury tax purposes is $213M right now.

Keep in mind the luxury tax payroll is subject to change based on call-ups and send downs, as well as any midseason trades. The Yankees could very well end up buying at the deadline, which would increase payroll. And heck, they could also end up selling again should they fall out of the race. Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances would be their top trade chips, and dealing them would save more luxury tax. The team’s goal is, of course, to get under $197M luxury tax threshold next year, once the monster Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia (and Tanaka?) contracts are off the books.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: May 2012

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

We’re in a new month, which means it’s time to once again go back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. Five years ago was May 2012. May is kind of a weird month for trade rumors. There are very few free agent rumors, and at this point of the season, teams are still evaluating their rosters and internal depth options. They’re not yet aggressively pursuing outside help.

The Yankees went into May 2012 with a 13-9 record and a +18 run differential, which had them right behind the 15-8 Rays in the AL East. Michael Pineda, their prized offseason pickup, had already been lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Hiroki Kuroda, the other prized offseason pickup, got off to a slow start in pinstripes — “He’s just another NL pitcher!” was a thing that was said at the time — before turning it around. Let’s dive into the May 2012 archives, shall we?

May 2nd, 2012: Yankees Sign Adonis Garcia

9:21pm: Garcia signed a one-year minor league contract worth $400K according to Marc Carig of The Star Ledger (on Sulia).

4:16pm: The Yankees have signed Cuban outfielder Adonis Garcia, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. The 26-year-old became a free agent in February and drew interest from a number of teams.

Adonis! I didn’t realize he received such a large bonus. Well, large by normal people standards, not by baseball player standards. Garcia was in the farm system from 2012-14 and spent most of his time with Triple-A Scranton, hitting .286/.329/.429 (110 wRC+) in 844 plate appearances. The Yankees released him following that 2014 season.

The Braves have a thing for ex-Yankees, so they scooped up Garcia, and a few weeks later he was their starting third baseman. The Yankees signed him as an outfielder and he reached the show as a third baseman. Garcia hit .273/.311/.406 (90 wRC+) last year and was basically replacement level due to his defense: +0.9 fWAR and +0.2 bWAR. Atlanta is still running him out there at the hot corner while they wait for a long-term option to emerge.

May 3rd, 2012: New York Notes: Rivera, Chamberlain, Harvey, Bay

Joba Chamberlain has been transferred to the 60-day DL, the Yankees announced today.  In corresponding moves, Jayson Nix has been called up from Triple-A and Eric Chavez has been put on the seven-day DL due to a possible concussion.

And thus begins the Jayson Nix, Ballplayer™ era. It all started with a Chavez concussion. The Yankees had signed Nix to a minor league contract over the winter — it was one of their very first offseason moves, so they were in a hurry to sign him, apparently — and he wound up playing 161 games and getting 505 plate appearances with the Yankees from 2012-13. Basically a full season’s worth of playing time, at a variety of positions. Nix hit .239/.307/.340 (78 wRC+) with +1.2 bWAR and +1.2 fWAR during that time. He hasn’t played in MLB since 2014 or anywhere since 2015. With all due respect to Nixie, Ronald Torreyes is much more fun utility guy.

May 4th, 2012: Mariano Rivera Suffers Torn ACL

THURSDAY: Rivera told reporters that he plans to return to baseball, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News“I am coming back. Write it down in big letters. … I’m not going out like this,” said the closer.

WEDNESDAY, 11:40pm: Mariano Rivera appears to have suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after tonight’s 4-3 loss in Kansas City.  Rivera suffered the injury while chasing a fly ball during batting practice earlier today, a pre-game ritual that Rivera has undertaken throughout his entire career. The ace closer will consult with doctors tomorrow in New York and, if the initial diagnosis is confirmed, Rivera will miss the rest of the 2012 season. 

What an awful day that was. Rivera took a misstep chasing after a fly ball during batting practice and blew out his knee on the Kauffman Stadium warning track. Here’s the video:

I remember being in denial. “He’ll be fine, he just rolled his ankle or something,” I said to myself as Mo clutched his knee in pain. After the game we found out it was a torn ACL and that his season was over. It felt like the Yankees’ season was over! Rivera was so important to their success over the years that he seemed irreplaceable. The security blanket was gone. Those easy, stress-free ninth innings would turn into nail-biters. No one could do what Mo did!

There’s a lot of unnecessary panic in baseball, I’ve learned. The Rivera injury was a legitimate panic-inducing moment.

May 4th, 2012: Quick Hits: Rivera, Yankees, Contracts

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears that the Yankees will not aggressively pursue a reliever in a trade in the wake of Rivera’s injury (Twitter link). They are confident in David Robertson and Rafael Soriano in the late innings.

No surprise here. I mentioned this last week in the Adam Eaton post. Any time a team suffers a major injury, they always come out and say they will replace the player from within. No need to go outside the organization! They don’t want to look desperate because that only creates more problems. Suddenly prices will go up.

Robertson had his insane breakout year in 2011 and Soriano was a Proven Closer™, meaning the Yankees would be in good shape. Robertson actually got the first chance to replace Rivera. Not Soriano. His first save chance was a typical Houdini act — one hit and two walks in a scoreless innings — but the second was a disaster. Robertson allowed four runs, including three on a Matt Joyce homer, to turn a 1-0 ninth inning lead into a 4-1 loss.

Robertson hit the disabled list with an oblique strain after that, pushing Soriano into the closer’s role. He kept it the rest of the season. Soriano went 42-for-46 in save chances the rest of the way and had a 2.26 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 55.2 innings. That’s when #untuck became a thing.

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

Robertson served as Soriano’s setup man and was excellent. Even without Mo, the Yankees had a dominant setup/closer tandem. That ninth inning success pushed Soriano to opt-out of his contract after the season. He hooked on with the Nationals and the Yankees used the compensation draft pick on Ian Clarkin.

The Rivera injury was bad. Don’t get me wrong. Losing an elite closer would be a devastating blow to just about every team. The Yankees were able to survive and thrive thanks to Soriano, who had a so-so first season in pinstripes in 2011. Some guys just need the adrenaline rush of the ninth inning to be at their best, I guess.

Soriano, by the way, announced his retirement this past winter. He last pitched in 2015, allowing four runs in 5.2 innings with the Cubs.

May 7th, 2012: Rosenthal On Ethier, Santana, Blue Jays, D’Backs

A scout tells Rosenthal that Andy Pettitte “does not look close to ready” and will need several more minor league starts before he’s ready to return to the Yankees.

May 7th: A scout says Pettitte “does not look close to ready.” May 13th: Pettitte allows four runs in 6.1 innings in his return to the big leagues. Eh. But! May 18th: Pettitte strikes out nine in eight shutout innings. I guess he needed that one last tune-up start to get ready.

In his return to baseball, Pettitte pitched to a 3.22 ERA (3.40 FIP) in nine starts and 58.2 innings before a comebacker broke his leg at the end of June. Blah. It was a great story before it got cut short. Andy did return in September to make three starts (three runs in 16.2 innings total) and he made two postseason starts too. Three runs in seven innings against the Orioles in the ALDS, then two runs in six innings against the Tigers in the ALCS.

That broken leg pushed Pettitte to come back in 2013 though. Andy said initially he thought he would get it all out of his system in 2012 and go back into retirement, but, after the injury, he wanted to give it another go. Pettitte made 30 starts with a 3.74 ERA (3.70 FIP) in 185.1 innings in 2013. He tossed a complete game in his final big league start.

That 2013 season was pretty crummy overall. But at least we got some very memorable farewells out of it between Pettitte and Mo.

May 12th, 2012: Yankees Claim Justin Thomas Off Waivers

The Yankees have claimed left-handed reliever Justin Thomas off of waivers from the Red Sox, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger confirms (via Twitter).  The move was first reported by Maureen Mullen of CSNNE.com (via Twitter). 

The never-ending search for reliable lefty relief led the Yankees to Thomas, who wound up spending most of the season in Triple-A. He got a September call-up and allowed three runs in three innings. He hasn’t pitched in the big league since. Thomas ended up in Japan in 2013 and Korea in 2014. He’s been out of baseball since.

May 17th, 2012: Yankees Claim Matt Antonelli

The Yankees have claimed infielder Matt Antonelli off of waivers from the Orioles, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger tweets. Antonelli, who was designated for assignment four days ago, will report to Triple-A.

The Yankees went a little waiver crazy in mid-May. Antonelli was a former first round pick and top prospect with Padres who, by this point in time, was on his fourth organization in the previous three years. Antonelli never did play for the Yankees. He appeared in 15 games with Triple-A Scranton, went 12-for-61 (.197), then was released in July. Antonelli played a handful of Triple-A games with the Indians in 2013 before retiring. At least he made it to the show, appearing in 21 games with the 2008 Padres. I remember being excited about this pickup, thinking he could be a late bloomer. So much for that.

May 18th, 2012: Oswalt Worked Out For Phillies, Red Sox

11:48am: Rosenthal reports (on Twitter) that neither the Yankees or Tigers are in the mix for Oswalt at this time. The righty intends to sign soon, possibly within the week, and pitch in MLB by mid or late June, Rosenthal tweets.

The Yankees were connected to Oswalt every year from roughly 2006-14. Either at the trade deadline or free agency. That sound about right? At this point Oswalt was 34 and coming off a solid season with the Phillies, throwing 139 innings with a 3.69 ERA (3.44 FIP) in 23 starts. And yet, no one signed him during the 2011-12 offseason.

Eventually Oswalt signed with the Rangers at midseason, people were mad the Yankees missed out, then he threw 59 innings with a 5.80 ERA (4.23 FIP) for Texas, and people were less mad the Yankees missed out. That was pretty much it for Oswalt. He allowed 31 runs in 32.1 innings for the Rockies in 2013 and has not pitched since. Oswalt went from finishing sixth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting to dunzo in 2013.

The Yankees, meanwhile, never did bring in any rotation reinforcements in 2012. Not even after losing Pineda to season-ending shoulder surgery. They got Pettitte back and that was it. They stuck it out with what they had in-house, and hey, it helped get them to the ALCS.

May 25th, 2012: Minor Moves: Maine, Hernandez, Lindsay

The Yankees will sign right-hander John Maine to a minor league deal, Evan Drellich of MLB.com tweets. The Red Sox recently released the 31-year-old, who has missed considerable time with shoulder injuries. He posted a 7.43 ERA in 46 innings with the Rockies’ top affiliate in 2011 before signing with the Red Sox this January.

John Maine! Okay, so maybe I was wrong about the whole “they never brought in any rotation help” thing. They tried. Maine never did pitch for the Yankees though. He spent the season with Triple-A Scranton, throwing 79.2 innings with a 4.97 ERA (3.96 FIP). The Yankees cut Maine loose after the season, he hooked on with the Marlins, and actually got back to MLB in 2013, allowing ten runs in 7.1 innings in Miami. He did not pitch in the show at all in 2011 or 2012 before resurfacing in 2013. The Marlins released Maine at the end of April 2013 and that was it. He’s been out of baseball since. The Yankees haven’t had to go out and sign a veteran starter hanger-on like Maine this year because of their farm system depth. If anything, they have more starters than rotation spots at the upper levels.

May 29th, 2012: Yankees Claim Ryota Igarashi

The Yankees claimed right-hander Ryota Igarashi from the Blue Jays, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (Twitter links). The Yankees transferred right-hander Brad Meyers to the 60-day disabled list to create 40-man roster space for Igarashi, who will report to Triple-A.

Igarashi was a bit of a big deal back in the day. The success of Akinori Otsuka had teams scouring Japan for bullpen arms. The Mets gave Igarashi a two-year, $3M deal in December 2009, then he threw 69 innings with a 5.87 ERA (4.41 FIP) from 2010-11. So it goes. Igarashi spent most of the 2012 season in Triple-A with the Yankees, throwing 36.2 innings with a 2.45 ERA (2.07 FIP). They called him up twice in shuttle moves and he allowed four runs in three innings.

By the way, Igarashi is still active. He returned to Japan following that 2012 season and has been there since. So far this season Igarashi, now 37, has allowed two runs in 13 innings with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The Yankees went through a lot of random relievers in 2012. We haven’t even gotten to Chad Qualls and David Aardsma and Derek Lowe yet.