Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: September 2011

Darvish. (Jeff Bottari/Getty)
Darvish. (Jeff Bottari/Getty)

The final month of the regular season has arrived, which means it’s time for another trip through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We’re now in September 2011. September usually isn’t a big month for rumors. Both the trade deadline and the August 31 deadline to acquire postseason eligible players are in the rear-view mirror, so September usually features a lot of speculation and looking ahead to the offseason.

The Yankees entered September 2011 with an 81-53 record despite the season long concerns about their rotation. They were 1.5 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East and 7.5 games up on the Rays for the wildcard spot. That was the last season of the single wildcard system. The Yankees made no notable moves at the trade deadline in 2011, and all they did in August was add some scrap heap relievers. Let’s dig into the MLBTR archives.

September 1st, 2011: List Of Teams Interested In Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish apparently intends to pitch in the Major Leagues next year and it would be surprising if he doesn’t draw interest from ten-plus teams … Here’s a list of which teams have been linked to Darvish in the last calendar year:

  • The Yankees have scouted him heavily.

It’s easy to forget now given all the success he’s had, but there were a lot of questions about Darvish back in the day. There were concerns about his slider and how it would translate to MLB with the different baseballs, things like that. The fact Hideki Irabu and Daisuke Matsuzaka fell so short of expectations didn’t help matters either. Darvish was viewed as a potential ace but not a sure thing.

The Yankees did reportedly place a bid for Darvish, though obviously they did not win. It was reported at the time that the Rangers blew everyone else out of the water. Whatever the Yankees bid, it wasn’t close. In hindsight, going hard after Darvish and letting CC Sabathia leave via his opt-out was the right move. It was not so obvious at the time. Darvish was an unknown and Sabathia had a Cy Young caliber season in 2011.

September 1st, 2011: Yankees Designate Ryan Pope For Assignment

The Yankees designated Ryan Pope for assignment, according to Mike Ashmore of the Hunterdon County Democrat (on Twitter). The 25-year-old right-hander was not on the Yankees’ active roster; the club had to designate him to create 40-man roster space for Jesus Montero and Scott Proctor.

Ryan Pope! He was the team’s third round pick in 2007, and the Yankees made him the first player ever drafted out of the Savannah College of Art & Design. (SCAD has had two other players drafted since then.) Pope flamed out as a starter in the minors but showed enough in relief to be protected from the 2010 Rule 5 Draft. Eventually the bullpen didn’t work out either. Pope became a minor league free agent after the 2013 season and has been out of baseball since. He has a 4.34 ERA in 512 career minor league innings, and he did make it as far as Triple-A.

September 3rd, 2011: Front Office Notes: Beane, Cubs, Epstein, Friedman

Three AL East general managers will likely be staying put, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link).  The Yankees and Brian Cashman are mutually interested in continuing their relationship

For a while in 2011 there was talk Cashman would either leave the Yankees because he was fed up with ownership going over his head — they panic signed Rafael Soriano during the 2010-11 offseason — or ownership would let him go for whatever reason. Whenever Cashman’s contract is up, there’s always talk he could leave or be let go, though I think that 2011 season was the first time I believed it was really possible. Before that it always seemed like pointless sports radio talk. It seemed possible then, but nope, he signed another three-year contract. And another one after that.

September 3rd, 2011: MLB Voids Contract Of Yankees’ Paniagua

THURSDAY: Major League Baseball has voided the $1.1MM contract of Yankees pitching prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua and suspended the right-hander for one year, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. MLB hasn’t specified — even to the Yankees — why Paniagua has been suspended, but “one-year suspensions are usually reserved for a player who presents false information to teams about his age or identity,” writes Badler.

The Paniagua saga went on for several years. He initially signed with the Diamondbacks for $17,000 in 2009, but MLB voided the deal and suspended him for a year because of falsified paperwork. While suspended, Paniagua added like 10 mph to his fastball, so the Yankees gave him $1.1M. Except that deal was voided and he was again suspended for a year after MLB found he was still using falsified documents. Once that suspension was over, the Cubs gave him $1.5M. The paperwork was legitimate that time. Paniagua was a significant prospect at one point, but not any more. He’s 26 and has a 3.75 ERA (4.06 FIP) in 62.1 relief innings for Chicago’s Double-A affiliate. Meh.

September 6th, 2011: Yankees Designate Lance Pendleton For Assignment

The Yankees designated right-hander Lance Pendleton for assignment, according to’s Bryan Hoch (on Twitter). Though active roster spots are plentiful this time of year, the move opens up a spot on New York’s 40-man roster for George Kontos, whose contract was selected from the minors.

Pants Lendelton! I saw him make his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. Three scoreless innings too. Pendleton was lost on waivers to the Astros in September 2011 but he only threw 4.2 innings for them. He spent the next season in Triple-A with the Rays and that was it. Out of baseball after 2012. Pendleton was a fringe prospect who kinda got hyped into something more, somehow. It was weird. He was like the Brady Lail of 2011.

September 7th, 2011: New York Notes: Cano, Johan, Reyes

Yankees GM Brian Cashman explained to John Harper of the New York Daily News why he was “very comfortable saying no” to the Mariners’ request to include Ivan Nova or Eduardo Nunez along with Jesus Montero in his offer for Cliff Lee last summer.  Montero’s stock is higher right now, but the debate remains open as to whether the Mariners should have chosen him over Justin Smoak.

To bad they can’t get a redo on that one, huh? The Yankees were a legitimate World Series contender in 2010 and Lee could have very well put them over the top. He would have changed everything. Remember, the Yankees lost to Lee and the Rangers in the ALCS. Imagine if they had him instead?

David Adams’ ankle supposedly threw a wrench into the trade, prompting the Mariners to ask for Nova or Nunez instead. There’s been speculation Smoak was the guy Seattle wanted all along, and once the Rangers put him on the table, they used Adams’ injury to back out of the deal with the Yankees. Who knows. Letting Nova or Nunez stand in the way of a Lee trade was not Cashman’s finest moment.

September 10th, 2011: Quick Hits: Red Sox, Iannetta, Santana, Willis

Andruw Jones has been playing all season with a small tear in his left knee, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.  The Yankees discovered the injury during Jones’ physical but signed the veteran outfielder anyway  (both Twitter links).

Andruw was awesome with the Yankees in 2011. He was their designated southpaw mashing fourth outfielder, and he hit .247/.356/.495 (132 wRC+) overall that season, including .286/.384/.540 (152 wRC+) against lefties. And he did this too:

Getting Mark Teixeira‘s face to do this …

Mark Teixeira

… was Andruw’s finest moment in pinstripes. He really was the perfect complement to Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. The 2012 season didn’t go too well. But 2011? That was awesome. Pretty amazing Jones played the entire year with some sort of tear in his knee.

September 11th, 2011: Yankees Designate Steve Garrison For Assignment

The Yankees have cleared a 40-man roster spot for Austin Romine by designating Steve Garrison for assignment, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Another blast from the past. I forgot all about Steve Garrison. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Padres during the 2010-11 offseason and he spent most of 2011 in Triple-A. Garrison did get to pitch in the big leagues that year though. He faced Smoak and Franklin Gutierrez on July 25th, and got them both to fly out. That’s it. That’s his entire MLB career. Nine pitches. Garrison spent last season in an independent league but does not seem to be active anywhere this year.

September 12th, 2011: Pedro Feliciano’s 2012 Season, Career In Question

Pedro Feliciano underwent surgery on his left rotator cuff last week, a procedure that will threaten the southpaw’s 2012 season, reports’s Bryan Hoch and Taylor Soper.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he “would be surprised if [Feliciano] pitched next year” and also noted that it would be difficult for Feliciano to recover from such an operation at age 35.

Blah, what a disaster the Feliciano signing was. At least it was only $8M, I guess. Feliciano did actually pitch in the Yankees’ organization in 2012 though. He was on a minor league rehab assignment following shoulder surgery and was preparing to join the big league roster in September, but he rolled an ankle covering first base in the minors, and that was that. Feliciano never threw a meaningful pitch for the Yankees. He did appear in 25 games for the 2013 Mets though, then spent 2014 in Triple-A with the Cardinals. Hasn’t pitch since.

September 16th, 2011: Martin Expressed Interest In Staying With Yankees

A month ago, Ben Nicholson-Smith identified Russell Martin as a non-tendered player who was contributing with a new team. If Martin gets his way, he’ll be with that new team in 2012 as well. The backstop told George A. King III of The New York Post that he’s interested in staying with the Yankees beyond the season.

Was non-tendering Russell Martin a thing? I don’t remember that being a thing. Keeping him seemed like a no-brainer. I guess the thinking was non-tender Martin and make Jesus Montero the starting catcher, but nah. Martin hit .237/.324/.408 (100 wRC+) with 18 homers in 2011 and he was great defensively. Non-tendering him would have been silly, even if the Yankees had Buster Posey v2.0 waiting in Triple-A. They could have tendered and traded him, if anything.

September 21st, 2011: Rosenthal On Moneyball

Yankees GM Brian Cashman admits that the Red Sox “were having a great deal of success with players of lesser ability,” adding, “I studied what they were doing to some degree, adjusted accordingly, brought the Yankees up to speed, brought us into the 21st century.”

I remember Cashman saying this was the reason they hired Joe Kerrigan as bullpen coach in 2006. Kerrigan had been Boston’s pitching coach for a number of years and Cashman wanted to pick his brain. After all their success in the late-1990s, the Yankees fell behind the times a bit in the early-2000s. A lot changed during the 2005-06 offseason. Kerrigan was hired and Billy Eppler’s pro scouting department was created, most notably.

September 23rd, 2011: Cashman We Tried To Drive Up Crawford’s Price

When the Yankees wined and dined Carl Crawford during last December’s winter meetings, most assumed he was their backup plan to Cliff Lee. Crawford agreed to a deal with the Red Sox before the end of the meetings and Lee eventually went back to the Phillies, but GM Brian Cashman told ESPN New York he was never really interested in signing the outfielder in the first place…

“I actually had dinner with the agent to pretend that we were actually involved and drive the price up,” said Cashman. “The outfield wasn’t an area of need, but everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford. And I was like, ‘I feel like we’ve got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except he costs more than $100 million less, with less experience.'”

The Yankees were connected to Crawford heavily during the 2010-11 offseason — there were even reports Cashman had dinner with Crawford’s agent at the Winter Meetings — and it never really did make sense. Gardner was coming off a very good first full season and they had Granderson and Nick Swisher as well. They didn’t need another high-priced outfielder. Turns out they were just trying to make sure the Red Sox or whoever else were going to pay top dollar for Crawford.

Cashman & Co. drove up the price for Jacoby Ellsbury the same way during the 2013-14 offseason too. Wait … dammit!

September 25th, 2011: AL East Notes: Reyes, Rays, Francona, Montero

The Yankees should give Jesus Montero a chance to catch the season’s last few games to see if he’s a viable option behind the plate, argues Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News.

I agreed with Mr. Bondy’s sentiment. The Yankees made it very clear that was not going to happen though. They called up Montero on September 1st in 2011 and he caught three games the rest of the season. He was lifted for a defensive replacement in two of the three games too.

Gary Sanchez, meanwhile, has caught three games this week alone, and 13 of the team’s last 16 games overall. That tells you all you need to know about how the Yankees feel about Sanchez as a catcher compared to Montero as a catcher. Sanchez is not Yadier Molina or anything like that, but he is way better than Montero ever was behind the plate.

Saturday Links: Gurriel, Beltran, A-Rod, Forbes, Watson

Lourdes Jr. (Getty)
Lourdes Jr. (Getty)

The Yankees and Angels continue their weekend series later today, but not until 9:35pm ET. Blah. I hate Saturday night games, especially when they’re on the West Coast. Oh well. What can you do? Here are some links to help you pass the time.

MLB declares Gurriel a free agent

MLB has declared Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a free agent, reports Eric Longenhagen. He is the younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel, who signed a five-year contract worth $47.5M with the Astros a few weeks ago. Lourdes is a free agent but he’s not going to sign right away. Once he turns 23 in October, he will no longer be eligible for the international spending restrictions. He’s going to wait until then to sign to max out his earning potential.

Longenhagen and Ben Badler (subs. req’d) say reports on Lourdes are mixed. He’s a good athlete capable of playing an up-the-middle position, and while he has speed and power, his swing can get long. Gurriel has a lot of upside, but is also a bit of a project for a kid who will soon turn 23. He’s probably not someone who will zoom through the minors and be in the big leagues within a year. That’s fine. Talent is talent, and Lourdes has a lot of it.

Red Sox tried hard to land Beltran

According to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox “tried very hard” to acquire Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, though the Rangers swooped in with a better offer. I assume Boston would have played Beltran in left field, where they’ve had a revolving door pretty much all season. Or maybe Beltran plays right and Mookie Betts moves to left. I dunno. Who cares. Whatever.

The real question is whether the Yankees (and Red Sox, for that matter) would have actually gone through with the trade if the Red Sox had indeed made the best offer. Potentially losing a trade to your biggest rival is enough to make anyone squeamish. My guess is Brian Cashman and David Dombrowski would have been willing to go through with a trade, but the two ownership groups would not have signed off. This is much different than a Stephen Drew-for-Kelly Johnson swap.

Hal not ruling out a spot for A-Rod in Monument Park

During a radio interview last week, Hal Steinbrenner did not rule out the possibility of Alex Rodriguez one day winding up in Monument Park. He didn’t exactly endorse it, but he didn’t shoot it down entirely either. Here’s what Hal said, via Brendan Kuty:

“It’s a bridge to cross when we come to it, but he has done a lot for this organization, on and off the field,” Steinbrenner said. “And I’m talking about players way back, even (Mariners second baseman Robinson) Cano, who he was a mentor to. He’s done a lot for this organization on the field though the years, but also off the field that people don’t know about. He’s been a great mentor.”

A-Rod is, unquestionably, one of the greatest players in Yankees history, especially recent history. He’s among the all-time franchise leaders in a ton of categories, including homers (6th), OPS (7th), WAR (8th), OPS+ (10th), runs (10th), and total bases (10th). Alex also won two MVPs in pinstripes and was a major factor in the team’s most recent World Series title. If that’s not Monument Park plaque worthy, I don’t know what is.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Yankees among most valuable sports franchises

A few weeks back Forbes posted their annual look at the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The Yankees placed fourth, with an estimated value of $3.4 billion. That’s up 6% from last year. The Yankees are behind only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), Real Madrid ($3.65 billion), and Barcelona ($3.55 billion). The Dodgers are the second most valuable MLB franchise at $2.5 billion, so the gap between the Yankees and everyone else is significant.

Attendance dropped from 41,995 fans per game in 2014 to 39,430 last year, and again to 38,967 so far this year. That’s roughly 3,000 fewer fans per game since two seasons ago. The attendance decline was at least somewhat expected after Derek Jeter retired, though obviously the team’s less than inspiring play for much of this season has played a role too. That said, the Yankees are still raking in money through other avenues (YES, Legends Hospitality, etc.), and there’s no real end in sight. The team prints money.

Watson battling kidney failure

Going to close with some sad news: Bob Watson, former GM of the Yankees, is currently battling kidney failure, he told Chuck Modiano. He is on nocturnal dialysis and doctors told him he only has a few years to live. “I really wanted to be (at the 1996 World Series reunion last weekend), but my health won’t allow it. I am battling Stage 4 kidney failure. Not too many people know about it,” said Watson, who beat prostate cancer in the mid-1990s.

Watson, 70, had an incredibly productive playing career — he hit .295/.364/.447 from 1966-84, mostly with the Astros, but also with the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox — and he became the first African American GM in baseball history to win a World Series in 1996. Watson served as Yankees GM from October 1995 to February 1998, when he stepped down and took a position in the commissioner’s office. He bridged the Gene Michael and Brian Cashman eras. I’m sad to hear he isn’t doing well. Keep fighting, Bob.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: August 2011

Magic Wandy. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)
Magic Wandy. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

A new month has begun, which means it’s time again to scroll back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We’re now in August 2011, so the trade deadline has passed, and the Yankees did nothing. No trades at all despite their pitching needs and some roster holes created by injury. The natives were rather restless about that.

It didn’t help that the Yankees slipped behind the Red Sox in the standings in July. They were 65-42 and a game back of Boston for first place on the morning on August 1st, and the Yankees were looking more and more vulnerable with each passing week. August was an opportunity to add pieces through waiver trades that maybe weren’t available at the deadline. Time to get to the rumors.

August 1st, 2011: Rosenthal On Yankees, Wandy, Ubaldo, Bailey

Yesterday’s push by the Yankees to acquire Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez came from ownership, not GM Brian Cashman.  SI’s Jon Heyman wrote yesterday that the Yankees offered to pay $21MM of the $38MM left on Rodriguez’s contract, implying they feel that Rodriguez is worth less than $7MM a year.  Rosenthal says the Astros were willing to pay $2MM of Rodriguez’s salary this year (essentially all of it) “or $5MM if his [player] option for 2014 were exercised.”

Wandy was pretty good back then. He had a 3.60 ERA (3.50 FIP) in 195 innings in 2010 and finished the 2011 season with a 3.49 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 191 innings. The next year he had a 3.76 ERA (3.93 FIP) in 205.2 innings before falling apart in 2013. Adding Rodriguez would have been a fine move at the time, especially since the Yankees could have used another left-handed starter.

The larger point here is ownership taking the reins and trying to make a move over the head over the baseball operations department, which has happened before and will surely happen again. Ultimately, the Yankees were unwilling to take on much money and the deal fell apart. I’m curious to know what ownership was willing to send the Astros in the trade. I’m almost afraid to ask.

August 2nd, 2011: Olney On Bell, Yankees, Pirates

The Yankees are well-positioned to pursue the next starting pitcher who becomes available on the trade market, since they kept their top prospects this July. They also figure to pursue Weaver when he hits free agency after the 2012 season.

Weaver in this case is Jered Weaver, who wound up signing a long-term extension with the Angels a few weeks after this report. Jeff’s little brother had a 2.41 ERA (3.20 FIP) in 2011 and was still in the middle of his legitimate ace phase. His performance started to collapse in 2014 as his fastball disappeared. Imagine if the Yankees had him on the books right now. It probably would have taken a five or six-year deal to sign him as a free agent after 2012, so they’d still have him through next year or the year after. Yikes.

As for getting involved in the pitching trade market during the 2011-12 offseason, the Yankees did exactly that. They traded Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. The Yankees have come out ahead in that trade, but yeah, it hasn’t really worked out for anyone. Other starters traded that offseason include Derek Lowe, Jonathan Sanchez, Trevor Cahill, Mat Latos, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Gio Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, and Jeremy Guthrie. There’s a couple good ones in there, but the Yankees opted for Pineda, and given how good he was a rookie, I can’t say I blame them.

August 2nd, 2011: AL East Note: Bundy, Cervelli, Upton, Red Sox

The Yankees and Pirates almost agreed to a deal that would’ve seen Francisco Cervelli go to Pittsburgh in exchange for right-hander Brad Lincoln, reports George A. King of the New York Post.  King hears from a Pirates source that the trade “was very close but [the teams] couldn’t agree on the value of the players.”  Such a move would have given the Yankees room to call up Jesus Montero as both a backup catcher and as a potential DH platoon partner for Jorge Posada.  Brian Cashman said Montero could potentially be called up once the rosters expand in September.

There seem to be a lot of “the Yankees almost traded Cervelli” stories out there. They tried to trade him for Russell Martin in 2010, they offered him to the Pirates for Justin Wilson a year or two before the Cervelli-Wilson trade actually happened, and now we hear they tried to trade him for Lincoln. Huh.

Anyway, Lincoln was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, and by 2011 it was pretty clear he was not going to live up to that draft spot. He had a 6.66 ERA (5.49 FIP) during his MLB debut in 2010, and in 2011 he was an up-and-down spot starter. I’m guessing the Yankees were planning to try Lincoln in relief. He had a 3.76 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 119.2 mostly relief innings from 2012-13 before falling apart. Good thing this one didn’t happen.

August 3rd, 2011: Heyman On Hendry, Yankees, Astros

Yankees people don’t think Erik Bedard would last 20 minutes in New York. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Sunday that he’s happy to let Bedard’s arm respond to his critics.

Bedard allowed 22 runs and put 59 men on base in 38 innings with the Red Sox.

Goodfellas laugh

August 7th, 2011: New York Notes: Jimenez, Nova, Collins, Wade

Within the same piece, Blakeley goes on to discuss the Yankees’ July pursuit of Ubaldo Jimenez, saying that the organization feels Ivan Nova “is as good as this version of Jimenez.”

Blakeley is Gordon Blakeley, a longtime member of the Yankees’ front office. He left to join the Braves a year or two ago. Anyway, that comparison is not totally crazy. Ubaldo was signed through 2013 at the time. Here are his numbers and Nova’s numbers from the 2011 trade deadline through the end of the 2013 season:

Jimenez 424.2 4.45 4.17 21.3% 10.8% 42.0% 1.02 1.8 4.7
Nova 376.1 3.99 3.96 19.3% 7.4% 49.4% 0.96 5.6 4.9

See? Not crazy at all. At worse the two were comparable from the 2011 trade deadline through 2013, and at best Nova was far superior based on producing more WAR in almost 50 fewer innings. Plus Nova was making the league minimum and the Yankees would have had to give up other players to get Ubaldo too.

I wanted the Yankees to trade for Jimenez back in 2011. I really did. I was on the “send Montero to Colorado!” train. Good thing that trade didn’t come together for a few reasons.

August 8th, 2011: AL East Notes: Millwood, Posada, Lawrie

Jorge Posada is no longer the Yankees‘ regular DH and the final chapter of his career may be characterized by inactivity, writes Mike Bauman of

There are a lot of similarities between Posada in 2011 and Alex Rodriguez in 2016, aren’t there? Let’s list ’em:

  1. Neither was hitting. Posada was hitting so poorly in 2011 that he was demoted to ninth in the lineup while A-Rod has been so bad this season that he doesn’t even play anymore.
  2. Neither could play the field. Posada had to stop catching because of concussion issues. A-Rod had to stop playing third base because his hip surgeries sapped his mobility.
  3. Both were kept on the roster for off-the-field reasons. The Yankees did not release Posada in 2011 because he was a legacy Yankee. A-Rod has not been released because the team owes him a ton of money through next season.

The Yankees have cut back on Rodriguez’s playing time this season rather dramatically. They did the same to Posada in the second half of the 2011 season as well. He started only 20 of the team’s final 56 games that year, including only seven of 28 games in September. The key difference is the contracts. Posada was a free agent after that 2011 season while the Yankees are stuck with A-Rod through next season.

August 10th, 2011: Quick Hits: Tigers, Angels, Rhodes, Pirates

The Yankees have some interest in signing recently-released left-hander Arthur Rhodes to a minor league deal, according to George A. King III of the New York Post.

Arthur Rhodes was still pitching in 2011, huh? I guess he was. The Cardinals picked him up after the Rangers released him and he threw 8.2 innings for them. The Yankees were connected to Rhodes fairly often through the years and I never wanted any part of him. I’d seen him give up way too many back-breaking homers to the Yankees, most notably in Game Six of the 2000 ALCS …

… and Game Four of the 2001 ALCS …

… so yeah, I never wanted the Yankees to go near him. You don’t forget homers like that. I wanted the Yankees facing Rhodes, not employing him.

August 13th, 2011: Yankees To Sign Fifth Round Pick For $1MM+

The Yankees will sign fifth round pick Greg Bird for a signing bonus in the seven figures, reports ESPN’s Keith Law (on Twitter). MLB’s slot recommendation for the 179th overall pick is just under $132K.

The 2011 draft was the last draft before the bonus pools and Bird received the largest bonus the Yankees handed out that year ($1.1M). Only three players drafted and signed by the Yankees that year have reached MLB: Bird, Branden Pinder, and Matt Tracy. (Jon Gray and Nick Goody went back to school and were drafted again later.) The success of this draft class is all tied to Bird. If he returns from shoulder surgery and becomes an impact player, great. If not, the Yankees got nothing of value from this draft.

August 13th, 2011: Yankees Sign Scott Proctor

The Yankees have signed Scott Proctor to a minor league contract, reports Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News (on Twitter). He’ll report to their Triple-A affiliate early next week.

The one thing I’ll never forget about Proctor’s second stint in pinstripes was Game 162. That was the game the Rays made the huge comeback while the Red Sox collapsed in Baltimore, and ultimately missed the postseason. Proctor came out of the bullpen in the ninth inning of Game 162 and you could tell he was in there for the duration. The Yankees had clinched everything they could have possibly clinched, so Joe Girardi kept sending Proctor back out there, inning after inning. He threw 2.2 innings and 56 pitches before Evan Longoria hit his walk-off homer. Proctor was going to thrown 200 pitches if necessary.

August 14th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Swisher, Sabathia, Soriano, Garcia

There’s no guarantee Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia are Yankees next season, but Garcia projects as a Type B free agent, meaning the club figures to at least offer him arbitration.

Garcia did actually qualify as the Type-B free agent that offseason and yes, the Yankees offered him arbitration. Which he rejected! Ultimately the Yankees ended up re-signing Garcia, but had he gone elsewhere, they would have received the 54th pick in the draft as compensation (assuming my math is correct).

The 54th pick in the draft that year? A kid named Mitch Gueller, who I actually wrote up as a potential draft target. Gueller currently has an 8.10 ERA in Low-A ball. The best player taken between that 54th pick and the Yankees’ next pick (89th overall, Austin Aune) is Alex Wood, almost by default. Not much to see in the late supplemental first/early second round that year.

August 16th, 2011: Yankees Claim Raul Valdes

The Yankees claimed left-hander Raul Valdes off of waivers from the Cardinals, according to Bryan Hoch of (on Twitter). To create space on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved Jeff Marquez to the 60-day DL. They’re assigning Valdes to Triple-A and won’t need an active roster spot for him, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).

The Yankees called up Valdes that September and he allowed two runs in 6.2 innings as a lefty specialist. Forgettable Yankees don’t get more forgettable. Valdes is still pitching at age 38, you know. He currently has a 3.61 ERA in 77.1 innings as a starter for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. How about that?

August 19th, 2011: Yankees Claim Laffey, Designate Gustavo Molina

The Yankees claimed left-hander Aaron Laffey off of waivers from the Mariners and designated catcher Gustavo Molina for assignment, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).

Like Valdes, Laffey got a look in September and he allowed four runs in 10.2 relief innings. Laffey is exactly why you should teach your kids to throw left-handed. The guy has hung around the league since 2007 and he’s banked roughly $4M as a journeyman southpaw. And he’s got a good pension coming too. It’s good work if you can get it. Laffey is only 31 and he’s currently in Triple-A with the Nationals. He’s still got a few more years of call-ups ahead of him.

August 20th, 2011: Yankees, Other Contenders Scouting Rich Harden

Rich Harden has been drawing interest from several contenders, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Yankees were just one of the teams on hand to witness his dazzling start last night. Harden held a potent Blue Jays offense scoreless through seven innings while punching out 11 batters and allowing just two hits and four walks.

At this point Harden was already battling all those injuries and trying to hang on. Here’s that eleven strikeout performance mentioned in the blurb. Harden’s stuff still looked pretty good back then:

The Athletics never did trade Harden that year. Not at the deadline and not in an August waiver deal. He finished the season with a 5.12 ERA (4.69 FIP) in 82.2 innings and that was it. Harden got hurt the following spring and hasn’t pitched since. Baseball is cruel.

August 23rd, 2011: AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Darvish

The Yankees have scouted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish heavily, according to Sherman. Darvish, 25, “is coming” to the Major Leagues this offseason, according to one of Sherman’s sources.

The Yankees did make a bid for Darvish after the season, though we never did hear the amount. Reportedly it was well short of the $51.7M the Rangers bid to win his negotiating rights. I don’t think anyone didn’t want the Yankees to go after Darvish, who has been pretty much as advertised since coming over. He’s an ace and he misses a ton of bats. The Tommy John surgery stinks, but that’s an occupational hazard, not a character flaw.

That offseason the Yankees focused on re-signing CC Sabathia and understandably so. Sabathia was awesome and he showed he could thrive in the tough AL East. The extension hasn’t worked out as hoped, and yeah, going after Darvish rather than Sabathia would have been a much better move based on what we know now. Back then it was very different. Sabathia was coming off another Cy Young caliber season.

August 24th, 2011: Yankees Claim Carlos Pena; Deal Unlikely

5:06pm: GM Brian Cashman told’s Bryan Hoch that a trade is “very unlikely” for the Yankees and that he’s “not optimistic” about making a deal.’s Carrie Muskat reports (on Twitter) that Pena isn’t going anywhere.

4:16pm: The Yankees claimed Pena, according to Jon Heyman of (on Twitter). That means every team in baseball other than New York and possibly Boston passed on Pena. It’s clear that the Yankees want Pena, according to’s Buster Olney, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Cubs remain reluctant to make a deal (Twitter links).

Hah, I forgot the Yankees claimed Pena. He was having a typical late-career Carlos Pena season in 2011, hitting .225/.357/.462 (121 wRC+) with 28 homers, a ton of walks (16.7%), and a ton of strikeouts (26.6%). I assume the Yankees wanted him as first base/DH insurance. The Cubbies went 71-91 that season and were 56-73 on the day of this report, and I’m not quite sure why they were unwilling to discuss a trade with the Yankees. Pena was on a one-year contract. Weird.

August 31st, 2011: AL East Notes: Red Sox, Orioles, Montero, Rays

The Yankees were also involved in trade talks for Gonzalez, according to’s Roch Kubatko. However, Baltimore president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail preferred the pitcher the Rangers were offering.

The Gonzalez referred to here is Mike Gonzalez, the southpaw reliever. He had some incredible years with the Pirates back in the day, but, by 2011, he was essentially a middle reliever and left-on-left matchup guy masquerading as a high-leverage pitcher. The O’s traded him to the Rangers for Pedro Strop that year and the Yankees instead cycled through the Aaron Laffeys and Raul Valdeses of the baseball world as they looked for a second lefty to complement Boone Logan. How thoroughly unexciting.

As great as he’s been, Yankees shouldn’t consider Beltran a qualifying offer candidate


With eleven wins in their last 16 games, the Yankees are a season-high four games over .500 and firmly on the winning side of the ledger. They’ve had a winning record for a grand total of eleven days this season, believe it or not. It would be even fewer than that without Carlos Beltran‘s brilliance. He’s been, by far, the Yankees’ best and most consistent hitter this season.

Even with those eleven wins in 16 games, the Yankees have gained only one game in the wildcard race. That’s all. One silly little game. They were five games back before this 11-5 stretch and they’re four games back today. The Yankees already traded away Aroldis Chapman and they should continue to sell at the trade deadline. And if they do, Beltran figures to be one of their more valuable chips. He’s a productive veteran bat who can help any contender.

The alternative is keeping Beltran, attempting to make a run in the second half, then making him the qualifying offer after the season when he becomes a free agent. That would net the Yankees a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft should Carlos sign elsewhere. This assumes the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t change or eliminate the qualifying offer system first. I don’t think that’ll happen though.

The qualifying offer sounds like a fine backup plan, but I don’t see Beltran as a candidate to receive one. Or at least I don’t think the Yankees should tender him the offer. It’s easy to understand why the Yankees would do so, but I see such a move as almost all downside for one big reason: Beltran will probably take it. The qualifying offer will be worth $17M or so, and who is offering that to Carlos as a free agent, even across two years? Teams are shying away from older, one-dimensional sluggers nowadays.

The Yankees have money even though like to pretend they don’t. Bringing Beltran back next season on an expensive one-year deal doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, especially with the way he’s hitting this year, but I see three problems with it.

1. He’s probably not going to hit like this again. Beltran is defying the odds this season. He’s hitting .309/.350/.554 (138 OPS+) with 21 homers in 95 games overall, and amazingly, I don’t think he’s had one slump all year. He just keeps hitting. It’s impressive. Now let’s look at a list of players comparable to Beltran since the 1961 expansion, meaning 39-year-old everyday outfielders who were above-average at the plate:

2004 Barry Bonds: 263 OPS+ (lol)
1970 Willie Mays: 140 OPS+
1985 Reggie Jackson: 135 OPS+
1991 Dave Winfield: 120 OPS+
2004 Steve Finley: 109 OPS+
2007 Luis Gonzalez: 104 OPS+

That’s the complete list. Six players since 1961 and Beltran’s about to make it seven. And remember, every single one of those guys except Gonzalez was allowed to use amphetamines, or greenies as they’re called in baseball circles. Greenies were banned in 2005, so 39-year-old outfielders can’t turn to them for that extra boost of energy.

Those are the players like Beltran right now, 39-year-old everyday outfielders. What about 40-year-olds? Beltran turns 40 in April, so if the Yankees bring him back next year, that’s what they’re getting, a 40-year-old outfielder. Here’s the list of everyday outfielders who were above-average at the plate during their age 40 season during the expansion era:

1971 Willie Mays: 158 OPS+
1999 Rickey Henderson: 128 OPS+
2007 Kenny Lofton: 105 OPS+

Three players and two of them were among the greatest players to ever live. Know what else is crazy? Only one other outfielder even had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title during their age 40 season since 1961. Jeff Conine did it in 2006, when he had an 86 OPS+. Heck, let’s drop the outfield part. Only eleven 40-year-old players have produced at a league average clip since 1961, and most of them had the benefit of greenies. Here’s the list.

Maybe Beltran will be one of those outliers. Should the Yankees bank on that? I don’t think so. You needn’t look beyond New York’s roster for examples of an older player being productive one year and a liability the next. Mark Teixeira‘s and Alex Rodriguez‘s declines are a big reason why the Yankees have spent only those eleven days in first place.

2. The roster construction will be a mess again. The Yankees are stuck either playing Beltran in right field or sitting A-Rod on the bench at the moment. It’s not a great situation at all. It’s almost like a 24-man roster. The roster construction is so bad right now. The Yankees lack flexibility with the bench and DH spot, and if they bring Beltran back, that will continue.

I suppose they could release A-Rod to clear up the logjam, but I’m sorry, I’m going to have to see that to believe it. As long as there are home run records to be chased — Alex is four away from 700 and 18 away from tying Babe Ruth — there’s money to be made and tickets to be sold. Let’s face it, the Yankees might need all the attendance and ratings help they can get next year. A-Rod puts butts in the seats.

(Free Adams/Times Leader)
Judge. (Free Adams/Times Leader)

3. The Yankees need to start getting younger. The Yankees currently have four legitimate outfield prospects in Triple-A: Aaron Judge, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave. All four are among the 25 best prospects in the organization. That doesn’t include Cesar Puello, a former top prospect who is playing extremely well in Triple-A after being picked up as a minor league free agent. It also doesn’t include Aaron Hicks in MLB or Dustin Fowler and Billy McKinney in Double-A.

The Yankees have a lot of impressive young outfielders at the upper levels of the minors and that’s awesome. They should be thrilled to have so many young options, and in the cases of Judge and Williams, high upside options. The Yankees need to start making room for these guys and bringing Beltran back doesn’t accomplish that at all. In fact, it’s gotten to the point now where the Yankees need to think about clearing two outfield spots next year to make room for these guys. Let Beltran go and trade Brett Gardner. That sort of thing. (I’m guessing they’re stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury.)

* * *

This would all be rendered moot if Beltran declined the qualifying offer, but I think the chances of that are so small. Beltran said at the All-Star Game that he wants to play two more years, so he’s not thinking about retirement, and who’s going to give up a draft pick to sign a 40-year-old outfielder or DH, let alone offer close to $17M? If the Yankees make the qualifying offer, accepting it would be Beltran’s best shot at gainful employment next year.

There’s too much downside to bringing Beltran back next season — he’s likely to decline, the roster will be inflexible, the young outfielders will be blocked, etc. — for the qualifying offer to be a serious consideration. Hopefully the Yankees realize this and decide to cash in on Beltran’s big season by trading him for a prospect or two at the deadline, rather than keep him and lose him for nothing after the season. Or worse, bring him back in 2017. This is a classic example of letting a player go a year early rather than a year late.

Heyman: Yankees have not ruled out re-signing Chapman

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have not ruled out re-signing impending free agent Aroldis Chapman after the season. He’s said to have enjoyed his time in New York. My guess is he’ll enjoy the city of the highest bidder too, whatever it may be. It doesn’t sound as though the two sides have had any contracts talks yet.

Chapman, 28, has a 3.00 ERA (2.07 FIP) with 27 strikeouts and somehow only three walks in 18 innings this year. Doesn’t it seem like it should be more than three walks? It feels like he goes to a three-ball count on everyone. Anyway, Chapman returned from his suspension in early May, and if the Yankees continue to slip out of the postseason race, he’ll be a prime piece of trade bait. I have some thoughts on this.

1. So what’s it going to take to re-sign him? Reliever salaries have exploded so much that non-closers like Darren O’Day are now getting $8M a year. Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50M contract with the Phillies is the reliever record and I’m sure Chapman is aiming to break that. It’s not unrealistic. Chapman is outstanding and there’s been five years worth of inflation since Papelbon signed his deal.

Five relievers have had contracts worth $12M+ per season: Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, and Papelbon. Chapman’s going to look to join that group and understandably so. Between his age, his historically great dominance, and his unprecedented velocity, he’s very much in position to command that sort of salary. Could four years and $56M be in the cards? David Robertson got four years and $46M two years ago, remember. An extra $2.5M per year seems reasonable.

2. Are the Yankees willing to carry two high-priced relievers? The Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold in the near future and it looks very doable. Most of the big contracts will be off the books within two years, and the threshold figures to rise with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I have to think it’ll climb over $200M. How could it not with the way payrolls are growing these days?

The Yankees already have one expensive reliever in Andrew Miller, who is making $9M a year. Conservatively assuming Chapman gets $12M a year, that’s going to be $21M tied up in two relievers, who might combine to throw 130 innings. Granted, it’ll be 130 high-leverage innings, but still. If they’re trying to get under the luxury tax threshold, spending big on relievers isn’t the smartest idea, not when there are so many other holes on the roster.

I think the only way the Yankees will re-sign Chapman is if they trade Miller first, which is certainly very possible. They were willing to move him this past winter, so even if they don’t trade him at the deadline, they could look to deal him in the offseason. Trading Miller and re-signing Chapman is a perfectly sensible baseball move, especially since Miller has greater trade value than Chapman thanks to the two extra years of team control.

3. What about a trade-and-sign? This gets talked about every year but very rarely happens. Trade away your big name impending free agent, then re-sign him after the season. It’s simple! Except the player has a say in things, and as soon as you trade him away, your odds of re-signing him go down because he gets a taste of life elsewhere. That’s what happened with the Red Sox and Jon Lester. Loyalty is for suckers.

The Yankees certainly could look to trade Chapman then re-sign him. The Orioles did that with Sidney Ponson a few years back, and the Braves do it with Kelly Johnson seemingly every year, so it happens. I don’t think Chapman would come back on any sort of discount though. Once he hits free agency, the Yankees will have to outbid everyone else to get him. A trade-and-sign is possible. It’s just a very tough maneuver to plan and execute. Everything changes once you trade a guy away.

Trade Notes: Cubs, Gallo, Tigers, Fulmer, Norris, Reyes


The draft is now over, which means teams will soon shift their focus to the trade deadline. The way things are going right now, the Yankees are much more likely to be sellers than buyers this summer. We’ll see what happens. Here are some miscellaneous trade notes, both past and present.

Cubs scouting Yankees’ top relievers

According to George King, the Cubs had a scout at Yankee Stadium last week taking a look at New York’s big three relievers. The Cubbies already know those guys are awesome. They’re just doing their due diligence. Chicago could really use a shutdown lefty reliever, and I’m guessing they’d prefer Andrew Miller to Aroldis Chapman. Miller is under contract two more years and is willing to pitch in any role. Also, Theo Epstein and Miller have a connection dating back to their time with the Red Sox.

I’ve already written about the Cubs as a possible trade partner a few times (here and here) and something tells me I will end up writing about them a few more times before the trade deadline. As always, it’s going to come down to what Chicago is willing to give up in a trade. We’ve already heard they won’t trade Kyle Schwarber straight up for Miller. Javier Baez and Jorge Soler were involved in trade rumors all offseason, so I imagine they’re available.

Rangers won’t trade Gallo for Miller

From the “no duh” rumor mill: the Rangers are unwilling to trade third base masher Joey Gallo straight up for Miller, reports Jon Heyman. The Rangers have the best record (40-25) and worst bullpen ERA (5.12) in the AL, so yeah, a reliever or three figures to be on their trade deadline shipping list. It’s the glaring need right now. Manager Jeff Banister has to hold his breath each time he signals for a reliever.

Texas GM Jon Daniels has a history of making big moves at the trade deadline, and no team will have more bullpen help to offer than New York, so I expect to see a ton of Rangers-Yankees rumors these next few weeks. I can’t help but wonder if the Yankees will push for Jurickson Profar. They’ve had interest in him in the past, and it appears the Rangers have no place to play him. That’s the kind of talent the Yankees should be targeting, anyway.


Tigers were unwilling to part with top prospects for Miller

Prior to the Justin Wilson trade in December, the Yankees and Tigers were discussing a Miller trade, reports Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal says Detroit was not willing to move their top prospects, specifically righty Michael Fulmer and lefty Daniel Norris, so nothing happened. The Tigers then shifted their focus to Wilson, and that trade eventually came together.

This jibes with everything we heard about the Miller trade talks over the winter. The Yankees wanted high-end young pitching in return. They talked to the Astros about Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez, for example. Fulmer and Norris are cut from a similar cloth. When it comes time to take offers for Miller again — I imagine the Yankees will listen even if they’re unwilling to sell — I assume they’ll again prioritize young power arms.

Yanks didn’t offer Mateo for Reyes

Remember a few weeks back when we heard the Yankees reportedly offered the Rockies shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo for Jorge Reyes last year? That didn’t pass the sniff test at all. As it turns out, the report was wrong. Tracy Ringolsby says the Yankees did not offer Mateo for Reyes, but Mateo’s name did come up during talks about a larger multi-player trade. That makes much more sense.

I wonder who else the Yankees could have been targeting in such a deal? The Rockies don’t exactly having pitching to spare — Jon Gray had not made his MLB debut at that point, and I can’t imagine Colorado was willing to trade him anyway — and the Yankees had no other massive needs since Reyes would have presumably replaced Stephen Drew at second. Maybe Mateo and stuff for Reyes and prospects? I have no idea what it could realistically be otherwise. Intrigue!

Nathan Eovaldi says he’s open to a long-term deal with the Yankees


According to Andrew Marchand, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi said he is open to signing a long-term contract with the Yankees. Assuming the price is right, of course. “It would depend on what they offered,” said Eovaldi to Marchand. “I love it here.”

Eovaldi is one of the most important players on the roster right now. He’s only 26 and he’s pitching as well as he has at any point in his career. He’s also just a year away from free agency. The Yankees have to start thinking seriously about his long-term future if they haven’t already. (I’m sure they have.) Is Eovaldi most valuable long-term as a trade chip or in the rotation?

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a right answer. You could make a very good argument for trading Eovaldi and a very good argument for keeping him. In fact, let’s do both really quick:

Nathan Eovaldi pros and cons

That about sums it up, right? The fact the upcoming free agent pitching market is terrible is a double-edged sword. Teams will be looking for pitching in trades and the Yankees have a pretty good pitcher to offer. Supply and demand, baby. At the same time, it also means it’s going to be pricey for the Yankees to build their own pitching staff.

Right now I am on team #ExtendEvo. I think power pitchers this young are hard to come by, and it helps that he’s already proven to be coachable (learned the splitter) and had some success in New York. If another team had Eovaldi and put him on the trade block — or he was available as a free agent — wouldn’t we want the Yankees to go after him? Of course we would.

At the same time, the Yankees have to listen to trade offers. It’s only smart. Someone might blow you away with an offer and the Yankees need all the young talent they can get. We know the Cubs have some interest. I could see the Giants, Rangers, Tigers, Astros, Pirates, White Sox, and Nationals all getting involved in Eovaldi talks too.

So far this season Eovaldi has a 3.71 ERA (3.53 FIP) in ten starts and 60.2 innings. His strikeout (22.9%) and ground ball (54.3%) rates are both career highs at the moment, as is his swing-and-miss rate (9.3%). There are plenty of reasons to like Eovaldi long-term and also some reasons to remain skeptical. No doubt about it. The fact he is at least open to an extension with the Yankees is a positive.