Manager & Coaching Staff Notes: Espada, Hairston, Ibanez

Espada and his new shortstop. (Elsa/Getty)
Espada and his new shortstop. (Elsa/Getty)

One week ago today we learned the Yankees had parted ways with Joe Girardi. And since then, we haven’t heard a peep about potential managerial candidates or interviews. Part of me wonders if we’re in for an out of nowhere hire. Know how Brian Cashman tends to make surprise trades with little to no rumors? What if the manager search happens in secret and one day they just announce a hire? That’d be something. Anyway, here’s the latest managerial and coaching staff news.

Espada joining the Astros

Yankees third base coach Joe Espada is now former Yankees third base coach Joe Espada. Espada will join the Astros as their new bench coach, reports Marly Rivera. Alex Cora, Houston’s former bench coach, is leaving to take over as Red Sox manager. Espada, whose contract expired earlier this week, also interviewed to be Cora’s bench coach in Boston.

Espada, 42, had been New York’s third base coach the last three years, and prior to that he worked in the front office as a special assistant to Cashman. It’s unclear whether the Yankees ever seriously considered Espada for their managerial opening. He’s young, he’s into analytics, he’s bilingual, and he’s already close to the young players in the organization. Seemed like a potential fit.

Hairston a managerial candidate

A few days ago it was reportedly Jerry Hairston Jr. is a potential managerial candidate for the Yankees, and now it is confirmed. Mark Feinsand reports Hairston is indeed in the mix. It’s no longer speculation or conjecture. Hairston played 16 seasons in the big leagues, including the second half of the 2009 season with the Yankees. He’s been working as a television analyst the last few years.

Hairston, now 41, has zero coaching or managerial experience. He grew up around the game — his father, grandfather, uncle, and brother all played in the big leagues — and he certainly spent enough time in the clubhouse as a player, though we know nothing about his skills as a manager. Is he a good communicator? How well-versed is he in analytics? How’s his feel for the game? The numbers may say one thing, but your eyes may tell you another. Is he adaptable? No one really knows.

Ibanez wants to stay with Dodgers

Rauuul. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Rauuul. (Leon Halip/Getty)

According Jon Heyman, the Yankees like Raul Ibanez as a managerial candidate, though word is he wants to stay with the Dodgers in his current front office role. Also, Heyman says the Yankees have a list of about 20-25 managerial candidates. Hooray for casting a wide net. Here’s my list of candidates, which runs 24 names deep.

The 45-year-old Ibanez has long been considered a future coach or manager because he’s a smart guy, he’s hard-working, and because he was such a strong leader and clubhouse presence during his playing days. Ken Davidoff wrote a good piece explaining Ibanez’s qualifications recently. At the same time, Ibanez has no coaching or managerial experience. I’m not sure I love the idea of bringing in a rookie skipper to work with this team.

Hal will discuss future plans with A-Rod

Now that the 2017 season over, so to is Alex Rodriguez‘s monster ten-year, $275M contract. The Yankees of course released A-Rod last year, though his contract ran through this season, so the team still had to pay him his $21M salary in 2017. Rodriguez spent the year as a part-time instructor with the Yankees and worked specifically with their young players, at least when he wasn’t doing television work with FOX or hanging out with Jennifer Lopez.

Anyway, according to Dan Martin, Hal Steinbrenner plans to reach out to A-Rod to determine the next step in their relationship. “Haven’t talked to him yet about his plans for next year … I will though. He seems to really enjoy working with our young players,” said Hal. I’m not gonna lie, I assumed the only reason the Yankees kept A-Rod around as an instructor was because they were still paying him this year, and they wanted to get something back from that investment. Now that his contract his up, will they really keep this going? We’ll see.

Front Office & Coaching Staff News: Cashman, Hairston, Paul

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

It has now been four days since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and we’re still waiting to hear who they’re considering for the job. I imagine we’ll hear something soon. It took the Red Sox eleven days to find a new manager. It took the Nationals nine days. It took the Yankees eleven days to replace Joe Torre with Girardi. The managerial search could be wrapped up by the end of next week. We’ll see. Here are some notes.

Cashman/Girardi friction started over the summer

According to Jack Curry and Joel Sherman, Brian Cashman‘s decision to recommend parting ways with Girardi has been brewing since the summer, when friction increased between the two. The decision was made after lots of smaller disagreements built up into one big problem. Cashman supposedly decided to recommend parting ways with Girardi even before the ALDS.

At some point after the World Series, Cashman figures to hold his annual end-of-season press conference, and I’m sure he’ll be asked about the friction with Girardi, and whether winning the ALCS or World Series would’ve saved his job. Either way, this was not a rash decision. It’s not because of the non-challenge in Game Two of the ALDS or anything like that. The relationship between the two had deteriorated over time, and when that happens, it’s time to make a change.

Hairston connected to managerial job

Jerry Hairston Jr., the former Yankee and big league utility man, is among those connected to the Yankees’ managerial opening, reports Ken Rosenthal. Hairston, now 41, played 45 games with the 2009 Yankees after coming over from the Reds at the trade deadline. He last played in 2013, and following that season, he joined the pregame and postgame crew on SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ regional network.

Hairston comes from a baseball family — his father, grandfather, uncle, and brother all played in the big leagues — so I guess he has that going for him. Still though, Hairston has no coaching or managerial experience, so he’d be a rookie skipper in New York. I know nothing about his communication skills or interest in analytics, and according to Sherman, good communication and an understanding of analytics are two top requirements for the next skipper.

Paul not a managerial candidate

Catching coordinator Josh Paul, who apparently has a lot of fans within the organization, is not a candidate for the manager’s job, reports George King. He could be considered for a coaching position, however. Paul has been with the Yankees since his playing career ended in 2008, and over the years he’s coached and managed in the lower levels of the farm system. He’s spent the last three years working with catching prospects. To wit:

Going from coaching and managing in the low minors to doing so at the big league level is quite a jump, though it wouldn’t be unprecedented. These days teams are hiring managers with no experience at all. I’m not sure the Yankees want to go that route, but if they find someone they consider the right man for the job, I don’t think they’ll worry too much about his background.

Yankees want to replace Denbo before Girardi

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees want to name a replacement for departed farm system head Gary Denbo before naming a replacement for Girardi. They have already interviewed four candidates for Denbo’s job and are likely to promote someone from within. Meanwhile, both Heyman and Sherman say the Yankees are likely to look outside the organization for a few manager. Here’s the list of candidates I put together for CBS.

Saturday Links: Coaching Staff, Qualifying Offer, Super Two

No one ever takes pictures of the third base coach. (Rob Carr/Getty)
No one ever takes pictures of the third base coach. (Rob Carr/Getty)

It has now been two days since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and we’ve yet to hear anything concrete about potential replacements. Just speculation. I suspect we’ll hear some news next week, once Brian Cashman holds his annual end-of-season press conference following the World Series. Here are some bits of news and notes to check out in the meantime.

Espada a candidate for Astros, Red Sox

According to Sweeny Murti, the Astros and Red Sox are considering Yankees third base coach Joe Espada for their bench coach openings. The Tigers also considered Espada for their managerial opening before hiring Ron Gardenhire. The ‘Stros lost bench coach Alex Cora to the Red Sox, who was named their manager. Current Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina is a John Farrell holdover, and he could be shown the door as Cora builds his staff.

Espada, 42, has been New York’s third base coach for three years now, and prior to that he spent some time in the front office as a special assistant to Cashman. As I said yesterday, Espada checks pretty much all the boxes associated with a modern manager. He’s young, he knows analytics, he’s upbeat, and he has a rapport with the front office (with the Yankees, at least). I’m not surprised two smart teams have interest in him for a coaching position.

Next manager will have say on coaching staff

Not surprisingly, the next Yankees manager will have a say on the coaching staff, according to Jack Curry. That’s usually how it goes. When Girardi was hired during the 2007-08 offseason, the only holdover coaches were hitting coach Kevin Long and first base coach Tony Pena. All the other coaching positions changed and it seems possible, if not likely, that will happen again.

Like Girardi, every member of the coaching staff has an expiring contract this year, so they’re all free to look for opportunities elsewhere while the Yankees sort things out. In fact, Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees have already given teams permission to interview any of the coaches before their contracts officially expire (after the World Series). My hunch is Pena and bench coach Rob Thomson will stick around in some capacity — Thomson is a Yankees lifer and particularly good with the young players — though it wouldn’t surprise me to see all the other coaches head elsewhere, even assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames, who it appeared was being groomed for the main hitting coach job the last few seasons.

Naehring not interested in manager’s job

Yankees vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring is not interested in the now vacant manager’s job, he told Andrew Marchand. Naehring took over as Cashman’s right-hand man after Billy Eppler left to join the Angels. He has no coaching experience at all — Naehring has been working in various front offices since his playing career ended — so shifting down into the dugout would’ve been an interesting move. Naehring was never named as a real candidate for the managerial opening. It was just speculation given his relationship with Cashman. Now we can scratch him off the list.

Qualifying offer set at $17.4M

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

According to Tim Dierkes, the qualify offer has been set at $17.4M for this coming offseason. That’s lower than I expected. I thought it would be up over $18M. Heck, last year the qualifying offer was $17.2M, so it didn’t go up much. The qualifying offer is set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball, and I guess salaries didn’t go up much this season. That makes sense. Last winter’s free agent class kinda stunk. Yoenis Cespedes signed the only $100M+ contract, and it was only $110M.

Anyway, as I detailed in July, the Yankees only have one qualifying offer candidate this offseason: Masahiro Tanaka. If he opts out of the final three years and $67M left on contract — which most RAB readers expect to happen — then of course make him the $17.4M qualifying offer and get a draft pick, even if it is only a dinky fourth rounder. Todd Frazier is not eligible for the qualifying offer because he was traded at midseason, and even if the Yankees want to bring CC Sabathia back, they won’t make the qualifying offer because he’d take it and throw a wrench into the luxury tax plan. They’ll likely be able to sign him for less.

Super Two cutoff set at 2.123

The Super Two service time cutoff has been set at two years and 123 days this offseason, reports Dierkes. Players who qualify as Super Two go through arbitration four times instead of the usual three, which is their consolation prize for essentially having to wait an extra year for free agency. The Yankees do not have any players who will qualify as Super Twos this winter. Greg Bird is 70 days short of qualifying and he’s the closest. Bryan Mitchell would’ve qualified as a Super Two by six days had he spent the entire season in MLB, but he didn’t, so that’s that.

Thoughts after the Yankees part ways with Joe Girardi

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees will have a new manager next season. Yesterday morning the team announced they have parted ways with Joe Girardi, and “parted ways” is the best way to describe it. Girardi’s contract expired after the season, so he wasn’t fired and he didn’t quit. The Yankees are just moving on now that his contract is up. That’s how the Joe Torre era ended. Changing managers is a pretty big deal and I have some thoughts on all this, so let’s get to ’em.

1. I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again: I firmly believe managers and coaches have a shelf life. At some point their message and managerial style goes stale and it’s time for a change, and I think Girardi had reached that point with the Yankees. I thought he did last year, honestly. That doesn’t mean Girardi was a bad manager. His tenure in New York was a smashing success as far as I’m concerned. His worst season was 84 wins, and that was with rosters that had no busy winning 84 games in 2014 and 2016. It is entirely possible for the following two statements to be true:

  1. Joe Girardi is a very good Major League manager.
  2. Joe Girardi is not the right manager for the 2018 (and beyond) Yankees.

I think that’s what happened here. Brian Cashman came to the conclusion that while Girardi has been very successful overall in New York, it was time for a change because his style and approach had gone stale, and things weren’t going to get any better going forward. Girardi is pretty high-strung, you can see it in his face, and that wears on you after a while. It wears on everyone. And I don’t think you want to expose your young players to that sort of environment. That doesn’t mean Girardi is a bad manager. Not at all. It just means he’s not a good fit for the Yankees at this point in time, so Cashman recommended the change and ownership gave the green light.

2. Building on that last point, there wasn’t one thing that led to the decision to part ways with Girardi, I don’t think. I don’t think the non-challenge in the ALDS was the straw that broke the camel’s back or anything like that. That was a huge, huge screw up. But I don’t think that’s why the Yankees made the change. I think this is the result of several smaller things gradually building up over time. Joel Sherman wrote yesterday that Girardi and Cashman had become increasingly at odds over certain strategies and decisions, and Girardi’s intense persona only exacerbated things. Perhaps Girardi’s apparent lack of trust (or limited trust) in Gary Sanchez had something to do with it. Sanchez is far more important to the Yankees than any manager. That’s not a battle Girardi was going to win, assuming the relationship with Sanchez was enough of an issue for the front office to take notice. Anyway, like I said, I think Girardi being shown the door was the result of many small things adding up over time, and eventually reaching a point where it couldn’t continue. It happens. Often much sooner than ten seasons into a managerial stint too.

3. I was not surprised to see the Yankees and Girardi part ways. There had been enough rumblings these last few weeks about Girardi feeling burnt out and possibly stepping away to spend more time with his family that this always seemed possible. It’s not like the two sides splitting up came out of nowhere. I was surprised to hear both sides confirm this was a decision made by the Yankees. That I didn’t expect. If this marriage ended, I expected it to end because Girardi decided to walk away. I didn’t expect the Yankees to decide this wasn’t working out anymore. That caught me off guard. What happens if the Yankees win Game Seven of the ALCS and go to the World Series? Would that have changed anything? I don’t think it would have. This seems like something Cashman has been kicking around for a while, and this decision would have been made regardless of outcome. Maybe winning the World Series would’ve changed things? That’s probably the only way things don’t change. That didn’t happen though, so even though the Yankees got to within one game of the World Series in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Cashman decided to change managers. Tough. Not wrong, necessarily, but a tough business, this is.

4. Personally, I do not have a preference about the next manager. At least not right now. Maybe I’ll pick a favorite once some candidates emerge. I don’t know enough about any of the candidates — or who the realistic candidates even are at this point — to have a strong opinion either way. What I do think is the Yankees would want a young-ish manager not only open to analytics, but already familiar with them. And also someone who can keep the team a little more loose and even-keeled than the intense Girardi. I doubt they want a stopgap manager. They want a manager who will be around for a while and grow with the young players, you know? Here’s the big question for me: how much do the Yankees want to change the culture? Are they willing to really shake things up with an outside hire, which could mean more changes to the coaching staff? Or do they like their current mix and want to ruffle as few feathers as possible? Either way, because the manager and the front office work so closely these days, I expect the Yankees to bring in a manager who already has a relationship with Cashman. I doubt they’ll bring in someone who no knowledge of how the team operates and no experience in New York.

No one ever takes pictures of the third base coach. (Al Bello/Getty)
No one ever takes pictures of the third base coach. (Al Bello/Getty)

5. As for potential managerial candidates, I compiled a list over at CBS, so I’m going to refer you to that. My guess is bench coach Rob Thomson and third base coach Joe Espada are the two leading internal candidates. Thomson is a Yankees lifer who’s done a little of everything over the years, including work in the front office alongside Cashman. Recently both Girardi and Alex Rodriguez (during a postseason broadcast) brought up Thomson unprompted and praised him for his work with the team’s younger players. I mentioned Espada on Twitter yesterday and people freaked out, which I guess was predictable, but it’s kinda silly. Espada’s performance as a third base coach tells you nothing about his managerial qualifications. He checks all the modern manager boxes because he’s young (42), he’s upbeat, he’s very interested in analytics, and he has a good relationship with the front office (Espada was a special assistant to Cashman before joining the coaching staff). And he’s bilingual, which only helps. I’m telling you, Espada’s going to get serious consideration for the managerial job, and he should. He’s already very close with the young players on the roster, plus he’s a smart baseball guy with a well-rounded background. I’m sorry you may not like him because he got some runners thrown out at the plate, but Espada’s worth considering for the manager’s job. I think he and Thomson are the top internal candidates, with Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique a distant third.

6. Two things to keep in mind as the Yankees look for a new skipper. One, they’re not the only team looking for a manager. The Red Sox (Alex Cora), Mets (Mickey Callaway), and Tigers (Ron Gardenhire) have all hired new managers recently, but the Phillies and Nationals are still looking, so the Yankees will have some competition. And two, the Yankees’ job figures to be very desirable. Yes, you’re walking into a situation were you’re going to be expected to win the World Series right away, and that can be challenging. You’re also getting a) a great core of young big leaguers, b) a strong farm system with several top prospects on the cusp of the big leagues, c) a front office and ownership group willing to spend, and d) state of the art facilities in New York and Tampa. And you’re going to get paid well. What more could anyone want in a managerial job? The Phillies and especially the Nationals will give any prospective manager some negotiating leverage. At the end of the day, I think the Yankees have by far the most to offer among the teams still out there looking for a new manager. I don’t see them missing out on the guy they want because the decides another team is a better fit.

7. Might as well close with the obvious: Cashman is definitely coming back. As far as we know he doesn’t have a new contract in place, but ownership following Cashman’s recommendation and parting ways with Girardi confirms it. Hal Steinbrenner is no dope. He wouldn’t listen and act on the recommendation of a lame duck general manager if there was any chance Cashman wouldn’t be back. Cashman will continue to run the show and I think that is 100% the right move. What he’s done over the last two years or so has been pretty amazing. The Yankees went from old and expensive to young and a burgeoning powerhouse in a very short period of time. At this point, I trust Cashman almost implicitly, and if he feels Girardi had worn out his welcome and the Yankees need a new manager, then I believe him. If nothing else, I know a ton of thought and consideration was put into this decision. It wasn’t made on a whim.

Yankees part ways with Joe Girardi after ten seasons

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

The Yankees have parted ways with manager Joe Girardi. The team and Girardi confirmed the split this morning, with Buster Olney reporting Brian Cashman recommended a managerial change to ownership. Girardi’s contact expired following the season, so he technically wasn’t fired. The Yankees just aren’t bringing him back.

“I want to thank Joe for his ten years of hard work and service to this organization,” said Cashman in a statement. “Everything this organization does is done with careful and thorough consideration, and we’ve decided to pursue alternatives for the managerial position.

“As Hal Steinbrenner and I mentioned to Joe directly this week, he has been a tremendous Yankee on the field and away from it, as a player, coach and manager,” Cashman added. “He has a tireless work ethic, and put his heart into every game he managed over the last decade. He should take great pride in our accomplishments during his tenure, and I wish Joe and his family nothing but success and happiness in the future.”

Here is Girardi’s statement:

“With a heavy heart, I come to you because the Yankees have decided not to bring me back. I’d like to thank the Steinbrenner family for believing in me and giving me this wonderful opportunity. I would like to thank Brian Cashman and his staff for hiring me and always trying to improve the team. I would like to thank my coaches and support staff for their dedication to always trying to make the players better and get the most out of them. I would like to thank the training staff and the strength coaches for their tireless efforts of trying to keep the players on the field and healthy. I would like to thank the clubhouse personnel for making the clubhouse our home away form home. I would like to thank the players for the relationships that we have fostered over the last ten years but most important, how hard they played every day. I would like to thank Damon Oppenheimer and his staff for their hard work in trying to find us the best players available in the draft. I would like to thank the minor league staff for developing these young players. I would like to thanks Ben Tuliebitz for making our travel easy and always taking care of our families. I want to thank the media for always being fair with me and helping grow this wonderful game. Finally, I’d like to thanks the fans for their great support as a player, coach and manager and the lasting memories of their passion and excitement during the playoff games, especially the final six games which will remain in my heart forever.”

There have been rumors circulating the last few weeks that Girardi was feeling burnt out and was ready to step away to spend time with his family, though this wasn’t his decision. The Yankees decided to move on based on Cashman’s recommendation. The Yankees have only had two managers over the last 22 seasons, unbelievably.

Over the last few days and weeks there have been some rumblings that Girardi’s relationship with the players wasn’t great, and it stands to reason Cashman was concerned that relationship could deteriorate further. With an excellent young core ready to win now, the Yankees don’t want any trouble in the clubhouse. That goes without saying.

Girardi, 53, just completed his tenth season as Yankees manager. The team went 910-710 (.562) under his watch and never won fewer than 84 games in a season, which is pretty remarkable considering how messy some of those rosters were from 2013-16. Girardi managed the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title and three AL East championships.

Girardi leaves the Yankees in fifth place on the franchise’s all-time wins list behind Joe McCarthy (1,460), Joe Torre (1.173), Casey Stengel (1,149), and Miller Huggins (1,067). He is also fifth in winning percentage among those with at least 500 games managed for the franchise.

I have had more than my fair share of complaints about Girardi over the years, mostly based on his rigid bullpen use and managerial style, though he is a good man and was a good manager. The Yankees have an exciting roster with lots of good young talent and more on the way. Now it’s time to find the right man to lead them.

Tuesday Links: Sabathia, Girardi, Mets, Judge, Tate, Abreu

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Thanks to wins in Games Three and Four of the ALDS the last two days, the Yankees will play for a spot in the ALCS tomorrow night. What a fun season this has been. I hope it never ends. Anyway, here are some stray links to check out now that we all have a chance to catch our breath a bit during the off-day.

Sabathia still wants to pitch in 2018

Over the weekend CC Sabathia reiterated to Jon Morosi that he plans to pitch in 2018. He said this back over the winter too, but at 37 years old and with a balky knee, he could’ve changed his mind at some point during the season. And heck, maybe the Yankees will win the World Series and Sabathia will decide to ride off into the sunset as a champion. That’d be cool, as much as I’d miss CC.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, I am totally cool with bringing Sabathia back on one-year contracts for pretty much the rest of his career, Andy Pettitte style. He showed this year that last season’s success was no fluke. The new Sabathia is here to stay. Between the perpetual need for pitching depth and Sabathia’s leadership role in the clubhouse, bringing him back is a no-brainer. And why would Sabathia want to leave? The Yankees are good and fun, and he lives here year-round. The going rate for veteran innings dudes (Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, etc.) is one year and $10M to $12M these days. Maybe Sabathia gets $15M because he’s basically a legacy Yankee?

Mets have discussed Girardi

I had a feeling this was coming. According to Mike Puma, the Mets have internally discussed pursuing Joe Girardi should Girardi and the Yankees part ways when his contract expires after the season. Terry Collins was essentially pushed out as Mets manager after the season, and the team is looking for a new skipper. Also, as George King writes, Girardi has given some indications he could step away after the season to spend more time with his family and avoid burnout.

While we should never rule out Girardi going elsewhere or simply stepping away to be with his family, these two reports struck me as plants from Girardi’s camp as a way to build leverage for contract talks. The best thing for Girardi would be the Nationals and Dusty Baker having trouble finding common ground for an extension, because then he could use them as leverage too. I think Girardi wants to come back — who’d want to leave given how well set up the Yankees are for the future? — and I think both Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman want him back. The chances of a reunion seem quite high to me. Maybe as high as 95/5.

Judge named BA’s Rookie of the Year

(Abbie Parr/Getty)
(Abbie Parr/Getty)

A few days ago Baseball America named Aaron Judge their 2017 Rookie of the Year, which should surprise no one. They give out one award for all of MLB, not one for each league. Baseball America has been giving out their Rookie of the Year award since 1989 and Judge is the second Yankee to win it, joining Derek Jeter in 1996. From their write-up:

“You watched him in the minor leagues and you saw the raw power and athletic ability,” one pro scout told BA during the season. “You saw a big swing and high strikeout numbers. Then you have to ask yourself does he have the ability to make adjustments and shorten the swing. The answer was yes.’

“If anybody says they expected this I would have to call them a liar. Nobody in their right mind expected this.”

The last few Baseball America Rookies of the Year include Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, Jose Abreu, Jose Fernandez, and Mike Trout. Judge is for sure going to win the AL Rookie of the Year award — he’d be the first Yankee to win that since Jeter — and he should win unanimously. The real question here is the MVP race. I see way more people explaining why Judge shouldn’t win it (his slump) than why Jose Altuve should win. Kinda weird.

Tate removed, Abreu added to AzFL roster

Dillon Tate has been removed from the Scottsdale Scorpions roster with Albert Abreu taking his place, the Arizona Fall League announced. Also, Chris Gittens was removed from the roster as well. I’m not sure why Tate was dropped from the roster, but it could one of countless reasons. He could’ve gotten hurt. The Yankees could’ve decided to shut him down after Instructional League. The Yankees may think those innings would be better spent on Abreu. Who knows.

Abreu came over in the Brian McCann trade and he threw only 53.1 innings around elbow and lat injuries this year. He finished the season healthy though, and is obviously healthy enough to go to the AzFL, so he’ll be able to squeeze in some more innings there. That’s good. Abreu has an awful lot of upside, maybe the most of any pitcher in the system. As for Gittens, he was removed because Billy McKinney was added to the AzFL roster, and he’s going to start playing some first base there. Only so many first base roster spots to go around, so Gittens gets dropped.

King: Gary Denbo leaving Yankees to join the Marlins

Denbo. (NY Post)
Denbo. (NY Post)

According to George King, vice president of player development Gary Denbo is indeed leaving the Yankees to join Derek Jeter and the Marlins. Today is his last day with the Yankees. Denbo will be named Miami’s director of player development and amateur scouting, according to King. That sounds like a lot of responsibility. Director of player development and director of amateur scouting are two separate (and very demanding) jobs for pretty much every team.

This of course has been rumored for a while now. Jeter and Denbo go back a long way — Denbo was Jeter’s first managers in the rookie Gulf Coast League after he was drafted — and the two are very close. I had a feeling Jeter would try to lure Denbo to the Marlins, not only because of their relationship, but also because Denbo has done a great job in the farm system. His work speaks for itself.

Since replacing longtime player development head Mark Newman with Denbo in October 2014, the Yankees have gone from having an unproductive farm system to producing legitimate stars in short order. How much is a result of Denbo’s impact and how much is just the randomness of baseball? It’s hard to say, exactly, but it reflects very well on him.

I suppose the good news is that even though Denbo is leaving, he did help develop a new young core in his three years as the farm system head. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino are all All-Star players and both Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres (and others) are knocking on the door too. Denbo is leaving behind a nice core.

There’s no word yet on who will replace Denbo, though that’ll happen soon enough. Keep in mind Denbo had plenty of assistants, so it’s not like the farm system will be rudderless in the interim. The Yankees could promote from within to replace Denbo — that’s how they replaced Billy Eppler two years ago — or grab someone from outside the organization.

Mark Feinsand reports the Marlins have not yet requested permission to talk to any other Yankees executives — there’s been talk special assistant Jim Hendry could join Denbo in Miami — though I have to think that’s coming eventually. I’m curious to see which Yankees prospects the Marlins target going forward. You know Denbo has some personal favorites in the system.