Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: April 2011

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

A new month has arrived, so it is time once again to look back through the MLBTR archives. We’re now in April 2011, meaning the offseason is over. The Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee that winter, which was a big deal. You may have heard about it. They also signed Rafael Soriano, re-signed Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and lost Andy Pettitte to retirement. They needed rotation help and didn’t get it, or so we thought.

April is not a great month for trade and free agent rumors because it’s so early in the season. Teams are still in the process of evaluating what they have and figuring out what they need. There’s a lot of speculation in April. As a reminder, the purpose of this series is to have some fun looking back at what we were talking about five years ago. We’re not looking to make fun of the MLBTR crew or any of the reporters. Rumors are no fun if you look at them once then forget they exist, after all. Let’s dive on in.

April 2nd, 2011: Lame Duck General Managers

Brian Cashman, Yankees – The third longest-tenured GM in the game would seem to be on rocky ground after being over-ruled by ownership on the Rafael Soriano signing, but we heard afterwards that he still has the “full backing” of the Steinbrenners.

The Yankees won the World Series in 2009 and went to the ALCS in 2010, yet there were questions about Cashman’s job security heading into the 2011 season. Kinda crazy, huh? The Yankees lost out on Lee and ownership went over Cashman’s head to sign Soriano, leading to those questions. In fact, there was talk Cashman was ready to move on and find a new challenge himself.

Eventually Cashman signed another three-year contract — and then another three-year contract after that one — and even though the Yankees have played one postseason game in the last three years, his job seems as secure as ever. He’s pulling off this rebuild on the fly thing so far. Cashman is under contract through next season and I have a hard time thinking the Steinbrenners would put him in charge of this retool and not let him see it through.

April 2nd, 2011: East Notes: Simon, Red Sox, Feliciano, Mets

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Pedro Feliciano was “abused” by the Mets‘ use of him in recent years, tweets Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

Gosh that was such a silly thing to say. Any schmuck with an internet connection could log onto Baseball Reference and see Feliciano appeared in 86 (!), 88 (!!), and 92 (!!!) games the three years prior to his free agency. That doesn’t count all the games Feliciano warmed up but did not pitch. Yes, he was only a lefty specialist, but that’s an awfully heavy workload.

And yet, the Yankees signed him anyway. Cashman knew the risk and it blew up in the team’s face. It happens. To turn around and say it was because the Mets abused him made him sound like a sore loser. The Yankees didn’t get what they wanted so Cashman was looking for someone to blame. Lame. Feliciano was abused by the Mets. That’s fair to say. It’s not their fault the Yankees signed him anyway.

April 4th, 2011: New York Notes: Feliciano, Reyes, Harris

Pedro Feliciano told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork that he was upset to hear that Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested he was overworked last year (Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he was “abused.”). Feliciano maintains that he likes to pitch a lot and predicts he’ll strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets this year. Feliciano says he didn’t sign with the Mets because they weren’t willing to offer a multiyear deal.

What a sentence: “Feliciano maintains that he likes to pitch a lot and predicts he’ll strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets this year.” That was back when Davis was the new hotness — .264/.351/.440 (115 OPS+) with 19 home runs as a rookie in 2010! — and Feliciano still had a functioning shoulder.

April 6th, 2011: New York Notes: Pavano, Posada, Mets

Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com that the Yankees were considering Pavano last offseason, despite his injury-riddled stint with the club from 2005-08. “He’s resurrected his career,” Girardi said. “He’s pitched well for the Twins, and he’s given them innings. When we’ve faced him in the playoffs, he’s pitched well. The guy knows how to pitch. The big thing for Carl is he’s been healthy.”

The Yankees did briefly show interest in Carl Pavano during the 2010-11 offseason because a) they needed pitching, and b) he was coming off a season with a 3.75 ERA (4.02 FIP) in 221 innings. He was going to cost the team a draft pick though, which ultimately was the sticking point. That’s how desperate the team was for rotation help after losing out on Lee (and Pettitte) though. They were considering a reunion with Pavano. He went on to have a 4.30 ERA (4.10 FIP) in 222 innings for the Twins in 2011, by the way.

April 8th, 2011: Heyman On Marlins, White Sox, Jenks, Glaus

Before the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano, GM Brian Cashman told Bobby Jenks that he wasn’t offering any setup man $8MM. The Yankees signed Soriano for $35MM over three years, though Cashman advised against it.

I remember reading somewhere that Cashman said he told J.J. Putz’s agent he would not give multiple years or big money to a setup man that offseason, which is why he came out and said he was against the Soriano signing. He told all these agents he wouldn’t do exactly what ownership did, so he had to make sure it was clear it was his superiors, not him. Cashman had relationships to maintain.

April 9th, 2011: Yankees Sign Carlos Silva

The Yankees have signed Carlos Silva, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter).  It is a minor league deal, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Yankees will be responsible only for the major league minimum if he is added to the big league roster, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

There were a lot of folks clamoring for Silva that offseason. He was only 31 and he had a 4.22 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 113 innings for the Cubs in 2010. Silva looked like he could help someone, especially a team with rotation questions like the Yankees. Instead, he sat out there in free agency drawing little interest. The Yankees signed him to this minor league deal, he threw 36 innings in the minors, then blew out his shoulder and never pitched again. (Not true: He threw two innings in winter ball in 2014. That’s it.) I have to think his medicals scared the crap out of teams that offseason.

April 9th, 2011: Quick Hits: Pedro, Martin, Archer, David, D’Backs

Pedro! He was 39 at the time and he had not pitched at all since the 2009 World Series, yet he wanted to make a comeback in 2011. It didn’t happen though. No one signed him and a few years later he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Pedro’s very last act on a baseball field was getting Brett Gardner to line out to second base to end the fourth inning of Game Six of the 2009 World Series.

As for Doug Davis … yikes. He made eight starts with the 2010 Brewers and managed to allow 36 runs and 79 base-runners in 38.1 innings. Davis was 35 and his PitchFX says his fastball averaged 84.4 mph in 2010. That was not going to fly in Yankee Stadium. The Cubs scooped him up and he allowed 38 runs and 87 base-runners in 45.2 innings in 2011. He never pitched again after that. The Yankees were desperate for pitching, but not that desperate.

April 13th, 2011: Heyman On Hamilton, Young, Felix, Royals

A rival GM says he’d trade Felix Hernandez to the Yankees for Ivan Nova, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero if he were running the Mariners.

You’re my kinda guy, rival GM. Remember, this was back in 2011, and heading into the 2011 season, Felix was 24 years old and he had just won the damn Cy Young thanks to 249.2 innings of 2.27 ERA (3.04 FIP) ball. Not only that, he had just signed a long-term extension in April 2010, so he was owed a total of $68M total from 2011-14. Felix was maybe the most valuable commodity in the game back then.

At the same time, that was a hefty prospect package. I am going to use this image once again:

montero

Montero was a super-elite prospect. Everyone knew he was going to hit. But hey, guys like Felix don’t come cheap, right? Baseball America (no subs. req’d) also ranked Banuelos (No. 41) and Betances (No. 43) as top 100 prospects heading into that 2011 season, so yeah. Nova was not a standout youngster or anything, but he was cheap and had a promising MLB debut in 2010. That package was three great prospects and a cheap young starter.

Needless to say, that trade would have been incredible for the Yankees and a total disaster for the Mariners even with Betances becoming one of the two or three best relievers in the world. Don’t forget to trade your prospects, folks.

April 13th, 2011: Quick Hits: Feliciano, Twins, Rendon, Oswalt

The Yankees were frustrated that the Astros never made them fully aware that Roy Oswalt was available last summer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Credit Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for acquiring Oswalt quietly and later denying the Yankees their primary offseason target, Cliff Lee.

The Phillies traded Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, and J.A. Happ for Oswalt at the 2010 trade deadline, and Happ was the headliner. He was only 27 and up to that point he had a 3.11 ERA in 217 big league innings. Of course, he also had a 4.50 FIP, and following that trade he pitched much closer to the FIP than the ERA.

A comparable package at the time would have been something like Nova, Eduardo Nunez, and Slade Heathcott. A cheap and servicable big league starter plus tooled up shortstop and center field prospects. Heathcott was only a year removed away from being a first round pick at the time though. Oswalt was pretty great for the Phillies after the trade and very good in 2011 before fading. If the Astros didn’t make it clear to everyone Oswalt was available, it’s a bad move on their part. You’ve got to create a bidding war.

April 14th, 2011: Yankees Will Look For Relief; Move Unlikely

Pedro Feliciano has a capsular tear in his left shoulder and may require significant surgery, Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters. There’s a strong possibility that the Yankees’ $8MM free agent signing won’t throw a pitch for them in 2011. Cashman says he’ll look for another left-handed reliever, but according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the GM’s expectations are low (all Twitter links).

Boone Logan emerged as the primary lefty in 2010 — he held lefties to a .190/.286/.215 (39 OPS+) batting line with 33.0% strikeout rate in 40 innings that year — and the Yankees wound up cycling through a ton of scrap heap options to find a second lefty during the 2011 season. Aaron Laffey, Raul Valdez, Steve Garrison, the works. None stood out. Now they have Andrew Miller and Chasen Shreve, with Aroldis Chapman on his way back. And James Pazos in Triple-A. Once upon a time the Yankees struggled to find quality lefty bullpen help. Now they have it in spades.

April 14th, 2011: Minor Deals: Mattingly, Mariners, Yankees

The Yankees have signed 24-year-old right-hander Reinier Casanova.  The Cuban-born hurler defected following the 2009 season.

Casanova allowed 12 runs and 31 base-runners in 19 minor league innings in 2011. He was released after the season and has not pitched anywhere since as far as I can tell. Lots of Cuban guys are coming over and getting really nice contracts. Lots more leave their families behind in Cuba and never get very far in baseball.

April 14th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Marte, Pinto, Torre

Speaking of the Yankees bullpen, Cashman says that the overuse of relievers under the watch of Joe Torre was not his fault, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.  In fact, the GM says that he told relievers to be truthful with Torre and his staff when they were asked about their availability to pitch.

That was doomed to fail. You want players to be truthful but they never are. They all want to play tired and hurt and whatever. That’s just the way these guys are wired. Leave it to the players to tell the manager they need a day to rest and most of them won’t say anything. It’s up to the manager to make those decisions. Joe Girardi has shown he is very good at that with his bullpen. Now they’re going to ramp up the rest for the position players.

April 17th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Millwood, Hughes, Martin

Earlier today, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told the press that the club had planned to send Phil Hughes to Triple-A to work through his troubles, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.  Hughes ultimately convinced the Yankees that that wouldn’t be the best course of action for his “dead arm”.

Hughes was awesome as a setup man in 2009 and solid as a starter in 2010. He had a 4.19 ERA (4.25 FIP) in 176.1 inning that season and was only 24, so he looked like a guy who was emerging as a rotation fixture. Phil’s velocity was way down early in that 2011 season …

Phil Hughes velocity… and there was talk of sending him to Triple-A, especially with Bartolo Colon looking so good in long relief and forcing his way into the rotation conversation. The Yankees put Hughes on the DL with what they called arm fatigue shortly after this report, and he was on the DL until mid-July, so it was not a short-term stay. His velocity never really did get back to normal the rest of the season either. (He was in the bullpen at the end of the season, hence the late-season bump in velocity in the graph.)

Looking back, this seems like a classic example of a pitcher feeling a bit of a hangover following a huge bump in workload the year before. Hughes threw 111.2 total innings in 2009 then 176.1 innings in 2010, so it was an increase of 64.2 innings. His career high was 146.2 innings way back in 2006. Hughes rebounded and had a nice 2012 season, but that 2011 campaign was a lost cause.

April 18th, 2011: Heyman On Young, Emaus, Rays, Wilson, Melky

Alex Rodriguez worked out with Melky Cabrera this offseason and “begged” the Yankees to sign the outfielder to no avail.

This was a pretty big deal for a while because Melky had a good start with the Royals — and ultimately a strong full season — after being released by the Braves the year before. The Javy Vazquez reunion didn’t work out and it hadn’t yet become clear Curtis Granderson was truly #cured and a legit power hitting monster, so people wanted Melky back. The cries for Melky were even louder during his time with the Giants in 2012, but then he got popped for performance-enhancing drugs, and everyone lost interest. It’s pretty clear now keeping Gardner and trading Cabrera was the right move.

April 20th, 2011: Minor League Signings: Lawrence, Place, Salome

Right fielder Jason Place, released by the Red Sox in Spring Training, was signed by the Yankees.  Place was drafted 27th overall in 2006, one spot ahead of Daniel Bard.  18 of the 44 first-rounders from that draft have yet to play in the Majors, Place among them.

Place was a pretty big deal back in the day — aren’t all Red Sox prospects big deals at some point? that’s the way it goes — but he wasn’t much of a prospect by time the Yankees signed him. They needed an outfielder for the lower levels and he was available. Place hit .178/.210/.317 in 27 minor league games in 2011 and has been out of baseball since.

April 23rd, 2011: Quick Hits: Figueroa, Mock, Martin, Mets

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand that the Yankees tried to acquire Russell Martin via trade in each of the last three seasons (Twitter link). Cashman got his man this winter, signing him as a free agent after the Dodgers non-tendered him.

At some point word got out the Yankees offered Frankie Cervelli for Martin during the 2010-11 offseason, but were declined. The Dodgers then non-tendered Martin and got nothing in return at all. Not ex-Dodgers GM Ned Colletti’s finest moment. Cervelli, if nothing else, was a cheap backup option at that point of his career. Los Angeles instead cut Martin loose for nothing. I do not understand.

April 25th, 2011: Quick Hits: Bautista, Jeter, Clevlen, Astros

Yankees GM Brian Cashman to Derek Jeter in a November 30th meeting: “You said all you wanted was what was fair. How much higher do we have to be than the highest offer for it to be fair?” That’s from Ian O’Connor’s source; the ESPNNewYork.com writer has a new book out next month on Jeter.

The Jeter-Cashman barbs were slowly starting to leak out around this time. Heck, they’re still leaking out. Last year we learned Cashman told Jeter he’d rather have Troy Tulowitzki. Cashman was the bad cop during contract talks, it seems. Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine were the good cops.

April 28th, 2011: Heyman On Lincecum, Cano, Votto, Weaver, Dodgers

Similarly, there’s no reason to think the Yankees would let Robinson Cano leave in the prime of his career.  The Bombers have options for 2012 and ’13 at $14MM and $15MM, respectively, and will obviously exercise them. Look for the Yanks to get a deal done with the second baseman, but only after the Scott Boras client files for free agency.

Yeah the Yankees would never let a homegrown superstar leave as a free agent. What a silly thing to think.

Encina: Yanks pursued Miguel Gonzalez before he signed with White Sox

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)
(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

According to Eduardo Encina, the Yankees pursued right-hander Miguel Gonzalez before he signed a minor league deal with the White Sox last week. The Orioles released Gonzalez at the end of Spring Training and saved about $4M of his $5.1M salary for the season. They tried to bring him back on a minor league deal, but no luck.

The Yankees, like every other team in baseball, are in perpetual pursuit of rotation depth. Ivan Nova is currently the sixth starter and I guess Luis Cessa is the seventh starter in the wake of Bryan Mitchell‘s toe injury. The Triple-A Scranton rotation is Chad Green, Kyle Haynes, Anthony Swarzak, Tyler Olson, and a Nick Rumbelow/Tyler Webb piggyback, so says Shane Hennigan. Uh, yikes.

Gonzalez, 31, has a reputation for being a Yankees killer, but that was based on 2012 and nothing else. He has a career 3.79 ERA in 80.2 innings against the Yankees, postseason included, but it was a 2.18 ERA in 20.2 innings in 2012 and a 4.35 ERA in 60 innings thereafter. Besides, signing a guy so you don’t have to face him anymore never made much sense to me.

Jeff Sullivan wrote a really great post looking at why the Orioles may have released Gonzalez despite their rotation issues, and from the looks of things, his stuff hasn’t come back following last year’s elbow and shoulder issues. He was never a huge stuff guy anyway, so his margin of error was small to start with. Gonzalez probably isn’t a big league caliber pitcher if his stuff doesn’t bounce back following the injuries.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a bad minor league deal, and bringing Gonzalez aboard as Triple-A fodder would have been perfectly reasonable. The White Sox probably offer a great path to big league playing time at this point though — or at least Gonzalez thinks they do — so to the ChiSox he went. Chicago is pretty good with reclamation project arms.

If the Yankees do continue to look for rotation depth, free agent options include Tim Lincecum, Kyle Lohse, Roberto Hernandez, and Chad Billingsley. Not much to see there. Generally speaking, when guys still don’t have a job even after the season starts, there’s usually a pretty good reason. The Yankees figure to stick with what they have in-house.

Sherman: Yankees tried to trade for Tyson Ross last July

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees tried to trade for Padres right-hander Tyson Ross prior to the trade deadline last July. The Yanks and Pads were reportedly discussing a deal involving Jorge Mateo and Craig Kimbrel before the deadline, and it’s unclear if Ross was included in those talks as part of a blockbuster deal, or as part of a separate trade entirely.

Ross, 28, has emerged as one of the better pitchers in all of baseball the last few years. He had a 3.26 ERA (2.98 FIP) in 33 starts and 196 innings last season with great strikeout (25.8%) and ground ball (61.5%) numbers, but a poor walk rate (10.2%). Among the 78 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title in 2015, Ross ranked 11th in strikeout rate, third in ground ball rate, and 77th in walk rate. His peripherals are on the extremes.

Here’s some video from last season so you can get a look at Ross’ ridiculous two-seam fastball/slider combination:

The Padres have baseball’s third longest postseason drought — they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006, only the Mariners (2001) and Marlins (2003) have longer droughts — and last year they attempted a quick fix that saw GM A.J. Preller build an imperfect roster full of big names. They were way too right-handed heavy and way short on defense. I’m pretty sure ownership told Preller to go all-in. Either way, it didn’t work.

San Diego didn’t trade anyone away at the deadline last year, but they did move some pieces over the winter, most notably Kimbrel, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko, and Yonder Alonso. They’ve reportedly been listening to offers for their entire rotation — they’re supposedly pushing James Shields and Andrew Cashner more than Ross — and have set a high price for Ross. That makes sense. He’s good and under team control through 2017.

The Yankees were looking for controllable pitching all winter and it’s easy to understand why. Luis Severino is the only one of their six big league starters who can not become a free agent within the next two years. Ross does not satisfy the “controllable behind 2017″ requirement but he is very good and would help any team win in the short-term. And who knows, maybe the Yankees would be able to flip Ross for a young controllable arm at some point.

The Padres don’t figure to be any good this season — for what’s it worth, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus project San Diego to win 74 and 76 games in 2016, respectively — which means Ross will be involved in a ton of trade rumors this summer. He could easily be the best player traded this July. If the Yankees had interest last year, I assume they’ll still have interest again this year. As always, the question is whether the price will be right.

Heyman: Yanks may look to add veteran middle relief help

"Joe, we need to talk about your nicknaming style." (Presswire)
“Joe, we need to talk about your nicknaming style.” (Presswire)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees may look to add a veteran reliever or two before Opening Day to improve their middle relief situation. The club has no shortage of bullpen candidates but very few have actually pitched well in Grapefruit League play. This spring was a chance for some of those shuttle relievers to stand out, though none of them really did it.

The out of options market doesn’t have much to offer. The Yankees could wait to see what Article XX(B) free agents become available in the the coming days. Article XX(B) free agents are players with at least six years of service time signed to minor league contracts. They get a $100,000 bonus if they’re sent to Triple-A and an automatic June 1st opt-out. Those who don’t make the team are usually released in the spring though, like Chris Denorfia.

Among this year’s Article XX(B) relievers are Burke Badenhop, Matt Belisle, Craig Breslow, Chris Capuano, Brian Duensing, Casey Janssen, Franklin Morales, Peter Moylan, Edward Mujica, Bobby Parnell, Manny Parra, and Jamey Wright. Quite a group there. Some have already been released (Janssen, Parnell) and some are actually going to make their team’s Opening Day roster (Mujica), so the availability varies.

Do any of those guys seem worth the trouble? Badenhop and Belisle could be serviceable, and Parnell could be interesting now that he’s further away from Tommy John surgery, otherwise I’m not sure I’d give any of those guys a big league roster spot over the shuttle relievers. There’s always something to be said for accumulating depth. I just see these Article XX(B) guys as warm bodies to soak up innings, not have a real impact.

The trade market is always pretty active at the end of Spring Training, though I wonder how many teams legitimately have an extra reliever to spare. Very few, I’m sure. In fact, the Yankees might have the most bullpen depth to offer in trades than any other team in baseball given all the shuttle relievers. I’m guessing Brian Cashman will get some calls about the team’s Triple-A bullpeners, if he hasn’t already.

Right now I don’t expect the Yankees to make a move for bullpen help. It’s not a huge priority. If anything, I could see Cashman & Co. trading a reliever, perhaps for a new utility infielder. The bullpen is certainly a position of depth, and hey, you can’t keep everyone, so trading an extra arm to fill a need elsewhere only makes sense.

Cashman: Yanks continue to look for “potential castoffs” to fill-out roster

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

With Opening Day less than two weeks away and the final few roster spots still unsettled, Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees continue to look for “potential castoffs” from other teams to fill out their roster. They offered Ruben Tejada a minor league deal last week after he was released by the Mets, for example.

“A lot of meetings with the staff, a lot of discussions of ways to go,” said the GM to Meredith Marakovits (video link). “Engaging other clubs about potential castoffs or available players on their end to make sure you measure them against what you already have in camp. (We have) a lot of extra meetings about that 25th spot, moreso than people could ever imagine. You always spend so much time discussing who’s the final piece to a puzzle that’s never finished.”

Right now the Yankees have four open roster spots: the backup catcher, a backup third baseman, and two relievers. Rob Refsnyder seems to have a leg up on that final bench spot, but who knows. Four years ago it seemed Frankie Cervelli had the backup catcher’s job locked down, then bam, he was in Triple-A and Chris Stewart was a Yankee. Things can come together quickly.

I didn’t see many appealing targets on the out of options market, though there are definitely a lot of veteran players around the league on minor league contracts that include an opt-out at the end of Spring Training. That would be an interesting list to see. Here are all the players on minor league deals. I wonder if someone like Grant Green, A.J Griffin, or former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang has an end-of-camp opt-out date.

Over the last few seasons the Yankees have acquired players like Stewart, Vernon Wells, Gregorio Petit, and Lyle Overbay in the week leading up to Opening Day. (They also traded away Eduardo Nunez.) All of those guys except Stewart were brought in to help cover for an injury. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that this season. The Yankees have some depth but don’t want to have to use it.

Yankees offered Ruben Tejada minor league deal before he signed with Cardinals

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

I missed this the other day: According to Brendan Kuty, the Yankees offered former Mets infielder Ruben Tejada a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Mark Feinsand says Tejada rejected the deal because he was holding out for a Major League contract. The Cardinals signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.5M over the weekend.

Tejada, 26, opened last season as a utility infielder before taking over as the Mets starting shortstop in the second half. He hit .261/.338/.350 (95 wRC+) overall and played his usually solid defense. Tejada broke his leg on Chase Utley’s infamous NLDS take-out slide, though he had completed his rehab and was playing in Grapefruit League games before the Mets cut him loose.

The Mets released Tejada to save money — they only had to pay him $500,000 of his $3M salary — and it’s no surprise the Cardinals scooped him up. They recently lost Jhonny Peralta for half the season and didn’t have a steady fill-in. The only way the Yankees were going to get Tejada was by claiming him and his $3M salary off waivers. Once he became a free agent and St. Louis could offer their starting shortstop job, it was over. No other team had a chance.

Here is our Scouting the Market post on Tejada. The Yankees are currently looking for a true backup third baseman — Rob Refsnyder has done a nice job in his limited time there this spring — and bringing in middle infield depth is never a bad idea. Tejada can legitimately play short. Always nice to have a guy like that in reserve should injury strike.

For now the Yankees figure to carry Refsnyder as their backup third baseman and use Starlin Castro as their backup shortstop. Pete Kozma, Donovan Solano, Jonathan Diaz, and Ronald Torreyes are among the infield options they’ll have stashed in Triple-A. Hopefully they don’t need any of them. Unfortunately, chances are they will. That’s baseball.

Out of options market doesn’t appear to have much help for the Yankees

Lyons. (Presswire)
Lyons. (Presswire)

Each year at the end of Spring Training, there is always a flurry of minor trades as teams finalize their Opening Day rosters. Most of those deals feature out of options players, the guys who have to go through waivers to be assigned to the minor leagues. Rather than lose them for nothing on waivers, teams trade those guys for whatever they can get. Cash, a middling prospect, whatever.

The Yankees have three out of options players: Dustin Ackley, Ivan Nova, and Austin Romine. Ackley and Nova will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity. Romine is battling for the backup catcher’s spot and could very well end up out of the organization before the start of the regular season. Over a hundred players are out of options this year and the majority have Opening Day roster spots locked up. Very few are actually available.

The out of options market appears to have less to offer than usual this year. I mean, the out of options market is not a gold mine or anything, but usually there’s one or two useful players without roster spots. Not this year. As a result, there are very few out of options players who make sense for the Yankees. With an assist from MLBTR, here are five out of options players of potential interest.

IF Cristhian Adames, Rockies
2016 ZiPS: .284/.327/.386 (78 wRC+), 7 HR, 10 SB, +1.1 WAR
Why? Utility infielder Daniel Descalso took a pitch to the hand and broke a bone last week, clearing a bench spot for Adames. He’s a 24-year-old switch-hitting infielder who came up as a shortstop and also has experience at second and third bases, making him a candidate for that last bench spot. Adames has no power, but he’s had decent contact rates throughout the minors, and he has a reputation for being a strong glove man. He’s basically a taller, switch-hitting version of Ronald Torreyes. The Descalso injury creates a need for the Rockies though, so Adames figures to stick around in Colorado for a little longer.

LHP Tyler Lyons, Cardinals
2016 ZIPS: 3.98 ERA (3.89 FIP), 20.7 K%, 5.1 BB%, +1.4 WAR
Why? The Yankees drafted Lyons with their tenth round pick in 2009, but he opted to return to Oklahoma State for his senior season, then the Cardinals grabbed him in the ninth round in 2010. Lyons, 28, has starter stuff — four and two-seamers right around 90 mph, low-80s slurve, low-80s changeup — but no rotation spot. He doesn’t have a bullpen spot either since it is “more likely than not” the Cardinals will carry Rule 5 Draft pick Matt Bowman into the season, according to Adam Rubin.

The Yankees don’t have any room in their rotation either, but they definitely have room in the bullpen, and Lyons could be another long man who serves as rotation insurance. He’s handled heavy workloads and shown the ability to bounce back quickly, so his arm is pretty resilient, and that’s a plus. If the Cardinals can’t squeeze Lyons onto their roster, I suspect more than a few teams will come calling.

RHP Neil Ramirez, Cubs
2016 ZiPS: 2.94 ERA (3.34 FIP), 27.4 K%, 9.9 BB%, +0.5 WAR
Why? Right now the Cubs have eight relievers for seven bullpen spots, and it looks like the last spot will go to either Ramirez or veteran lefty Clayton Richard. Ramirez was limited to 14 innings last year by shoulder problems and Richard signed a $2M contract over the winter, so yeah. Safe to say Richard is the favorite for that spot right now.

Ramirez, 26, is an ultra-rare four-pitch reliever. He lives in the 91-95 mph range with his two and four-seam fastballs, and he also throws a mid-80s slider and an upper-70s curveball. As a result, Ramirez has had a minimal platoon split in his career, and he misses an awful lot of bats. The shoulder trouble is a concern, as is the elbow inflammation he dealt with in 2014, so he’s risky. If healthy though, Ramirez could be a nice little middle innings weapon.

RHP Michael Tonkin, Twins
2016 ZiPS: 3.88 ERA (3.72 FIP), 20.9 K%, 6.5 BB%, +0.4 WAR
Why? Tonkin might throw too hard for the Twins. Okay, fine, that joke is outdated, but it does appear the Twinkies don’t have room in the bullpen for the 26-year-old Tonkin and his mid-90s gas. J.R. Graham, Ryan Pressly, Alex Meyer, and Ryan O’Rourke are his competition for a bullpen spot. Tonkin spent most of last season in Triple-A and he owns a 3.35 ERA (4.07 FIP) in 53.2 big league innings over the last two seasons.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Tonkin makes sense for the Yankees given their shuttle relievers. He’s not much different than, say, Branden Pinder or Nick Goody. They’re all fastball slider guys, except Pinder and Goody have options and Tonkin doesn’t. Adding another arm to the stable is never a bad idea, but Tonkin can’s start like Lyons and he doesn’t offer four pitches with a history of missing bat like Ramirez. He’s just another guy.

RHP Steven Wright, Red Sox
2016 ZiPS: 4.58 ERA (4.50 FIP), 16.3 K%, 7.1 BB%, +0.8 WAR
Why? As with Lyons, the knuckleballing Wright could be another long man/rotation insurance plan. He wasn’t all that good last year, but the good thing about knuckleballers is their resiliency. They can throw three innings today, another two innings tomorrow, then three innings two days after that. That’s a nice trait to have in a long man. Two problems: 1) the Red Sox probably aren’t eager to trade with the Yankees (and vice versa), and 2) the Red Sox aren’t going to move Wright as long as Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee is acting up. Stocking up on rotation depth is always a good idea. It’s just hard to think Wright would ever actually be available to the Yankees.

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The Yankees have some open spots in the bullpen and that last bench spot is up for grabs, but unfortunately the out of options market doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. Lyons and Ramirez are the two most interesting out of options players in my opinion, and it’s not impossible they stick with the Cardinals and Cubs come Opening Day. There’s nothing here that is clearly better than what the Yankees already have in house.