Yankees not interested in Daniel Murphy, seeking “more balance” at second base

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

As soon as Daniel Murphy started smashing home runs in the postseason, it was inevitable the former Mets second baseman would be connected to the Yankees this offseason. They have a need at the position and Murphy put on a show, and this is a “what have you done for me lately” business, so the dots would soon be connected.

After arriving at the GM Meetings yesterday, hipster Brian Cashman told reporters the team is not interested in Murphy as a free agent. They want “more balance” at second base, which is a nice way of saying better defense. From Mark Feinsand:

“I think if we’re going to pursue something, we have two offensive-profile players already at that position,” Cashman said, speaking in broad terms when asked about Murphy. “So if we did any changing there, it would be seeking more balance on both sides of the ball.”

“Like anything else with roster management, if there’s opportunity to upgrade and have a more balanced out defense/offense profile, great,” Cashman said. “If not, we feel encouraged by what we saw in September.”

The Yankees have Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley penciled in at second base right now — they’re said to be “leaning toward” using those two next year, but the offseason is young — and they’re basically younger and cheaper versions of Murphy, right? They don’t make contact like Murphy but all three guys are offense first players with suspect defense.

The Mets slapped the qualifying offer on Murphy and I can’t see giving up a first round pick to sign him. Maybe the Yankees would swoop back in later in the offseason after they give up their first rounder for a top free agent — say, Jason Heyward or Zack Greinke — and revisit signing Murphy if his market collapses, but that seems unlikely. Both the signing a top free agent part and Murphy’s market collapsing part.

I’m not a huge believer in Refsnyder but I do think it’s time to give him a chance to sink or swim. He’s going to be 25 in March and his brief cameo in September went well. I wouldn’t call it likely, but it’s possible Refsnyder and Murphy are both ~110 wRC+ hitters next year with shaky glovework. Murphy is a solid player who would make many teams better. Given the cost and their available internal options, I don’t see him as a great fit for the Yankees.

Sherman: Yankees looking to buy low on Jurickson Profar

Profar and Gary Sanchez are AzFL buddies. (Presswire)
Profar and Gary Sanchez are AzFL buddies. (Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have asked the Rangers about the availability of infielder Jurickson Profar, who was once arguably the best prospect in baseball. He’s been beset by shoulder injuries the last two years, including a labrum tear that required surgery in February, so the Yankees are looking to buy low.

Profar, 22, is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, though he is limited to DH duty because he hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing. He’s hitting .239/.321/.435 (95 wRC+) in 12 games but the numbers don’t really matter. Keith Law (subs. req’d) saw Profar recently and said his “bat speed is totally intact” after the shoulder injury.

I answered a question about Profar in last week’s mailbag and the short version of my answer is yes, the Yankees should absolutely look to buy low on him if possible. I just don’t think the Rangers will move him while his trade value is so low. They hung onto him through the injuries, might as well wait to see what happens when his shoulder is at full strength, right?

“We are not looking to trade him,” said Rangers GM Jon Daniels to Sherman. “We held onto him this long. We are pretty optimistic his shoulder is fit. The mindset is to wait and see where he is. We believe he will get back to his value, which was one of the best young players out there.”

Sherman says the Yankees have interest in Profar as a second baseman, which might now be his ultimate long-term position if the shoulder injuries limit his ability to make throws from the left side of the infield. The Yankees are set at shortstop for the time being, but they do have a need at second base, at least until Rob Refsnyder shows he can handle the job.

Missing two full years at such a young age scares me — those are two lost development years Profar can’t get back — but I still love the idea of buying low on Profar. Even if his days at shortstop are over, he’s still incredibly young — younger than Kris Bryant! — and he projects to have big offensive value while adding nifty defense. No mystery why the Yankees inquired, right?

Reports: Yanks are “shopping everyone,” including Miller

(Tim Bradbury/Getty)
(Tim Bradbury/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are very active on the trade market early this offseason. At the very least, it appears they are gauging interest in all their players. “Sounds like the Yankees are shopping everyone,” said one executive to Rosenthal, “with the exception of (Luis) Severino.”

Jon Heyman hears Andrew Miller‘s name is being circulated, though it’s unclear how serious the Yankees are about moving him. Heyman says the asking price would be a pretty high as well. A top of the rotation starter or a significant package of players. Miller doesn’t have a no-trade clause and had forearm problems this year, remember.

“We’re open to all ideas — as always,” said Cashman to Heyman when asked about Miller’s availability. “It doesn’t mean I’d do anything but if the Dutch never asked the Indians for Manhattan you’d be living in New Jersey.”

I can’t help but imagine a scenario in which the Yankees trade Miller for a stud pitcher — Heyman speculates the potentially available Stephen Strasburg might be a match — then flip some prospects for Craig Kimbrel to take over as closer. That would be pretty damn sweet. Too good to be true, really.

On paper, this is one of the best free agent markets in years, though the Yankees seem likely to be more active on the trade market due to limited roster and financial maneuverability. They don’t have a ton of open roster spots and they didn’t shed any big contracts after the season. It’ll take a payroll bump to add a significant free agent.

Last offseason the Yankees surprisingly traded Shane Greene and Martin Prado in separate trades. I mean, we all know pretty much anyone can be traded at any time, but I can’t imagine many folks expected Greene and Prado would be moved. The Yankees needed rotation help and they need infield help, yet they still dealt away a starter and an infielder.

“I’m open to anything. I’m always open to anything. I’m not afraid,” said Cashman to Rosenthal. “You have to be pretty aggressive and open to trade a good young pitcher under team control (Greene), a left-handed prospect (Manny Banuelos), or a guy like Prado who fits you like a glove.”

Cashman acknowledged he doesn’t “anticipate Severino, (Greg) Bird, and (Aaron) Judge being traded,” but again, he wouldn’t rule anything out. I wouldn’t either. The Yankees tend to run a very tight ship too. Moves often come out of nowhere. “I’m open to having dialogue, no matter what. Dialogue is a good thing,” added the GM.

The GM Meetings take place this week in Boca Raton, and while some deals may go down, historically this week has been more about laying groundwork and having preliminary talks. The idea of the three-team Curtis Granderson trade was first broached at the GM Meetings back in November 2010, but the deal itself wasn’t completed until a few weeks later at the Winter Meetings, for example.

I looked at the Yankees’ trade chips last week. An extra starter like Michael Pineda or Ivan Nova seems like a candidate to be traded, though who knows. The Yankees have pitching depth but they could use more quality pitching, if that makes sense. Also, second base and bench help figures to be on the agenda. We’ll see.

Yankees well-stocked with trade chips heading into the offseason

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Over the last 12 months the Yankees have changed the way they do business. We’re used to seeing them throw money at their problems. They’ve been doing that for decades. Trades were the focus last offseason though, and whenever a need arose during the season, the Yankees called someone up from the minors. It was … different.

The Yankees have limited flexibility this winter. The roster is pretty full thanks to guaranteed contracts and whatnot, and with so little money coming off the books, there’s probably not much payroll space to work with either. Not unless Hal Steinbrenner approves a payroll increase, which he’s been hesitant to do over the years.

Trades again figure to be the focus this offseason. That allows the Yankees to both navigate their roster and payroll limitations while attempting to improve the team at the same time. They don’t all have to be blockbuster trades, of course. Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius was a low-key move that paid big dividends for the Yankees in 2015.

So, with trades again likely to dominate the winter months, let’s sort through the team’s trade chips and figure out who may be on a move.

The (Almost) Untouchables

As far as I’m concerned, the Yankees do not have any untouchable players. They have some players I wouldn’t trade unless the return is significant, but that doesn’t make them truly untouchable. Wouldn’t you trade, say, Luis Severino for Jose Fernandez? I know I would. The group of almost untouchables includes Severino, Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Aaron Judge, and Andrew Miller. That’s all of ’em in my book.

The Untradeables

The Yankees have several players who they couldn’t trade even if they wanted to due to performance or contract or something else, or in some cases all of the above. Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia headline this group. None of them are worth the money they’re owed and they all have full no-trade protection as well, so the Yankees would have to get their permission to move them.

There’s a second tier of big contract players who are not necessarily untradeable, but who would be difficult to move for various reasons. Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley, and Masahiro Tanaka fit here. Teixeira and Beltran are entering the final year of their contracts, so they’d be short-term pickups, but they both have no-trade protection and have indicated a desire to stay in New York.

McCann, even while in decline, is still one of the better catchers in baseball. Maybe not top five anymore, but certainly top seven or eight. He’s got another three years and $51M left on his contract, and paying a catcher $17M per season is not something most teams can afford. Headley’s contract isn’t bad — three years and $39M is nothing — but he was below-average on both sides of the ball this season.

Tanaka is an interesting case. It seems like he’s neither as good nor as bad as many people think. Is he an ace? On his best days, yeah. But a 3.51 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 154 innings this year suggests he is more above-average than elite. Tanaka is also owed $22M in both 2016 and 2017 before his opt-out comes into play. He just had elbow surgery and teams are well aware his UCL is a grenade with the pin pulled. How in the world do you value him?

The Yankees could try to move any and all of these players. It’ll be tough though, either because their performance is down, their contracts are exorbitant, or they have no-trade protection. They’re untouchable, but in a different and bad way.

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

The Top Chip

Among the established players on the roster, Brett Gardner has by far the most trade value. It also helps that he doesn’t have a no-trade clause. (Gardner gets a $1M bonus if traded.) Gardner is owed only $39.5M over the next three years and he remains above-average on both sides of the ball. Even with his second half slump, he still put up a .259/.343/.399 (105 wRC+) batting line with 16 homers and 20 steals in 2015.

The Yankees can market Gardner as a two-way leadoff hitting center fielder to teams looking for outfield help but unable to afford top free agents like Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes. He’s affordable, he’s productive, and he’s a high-character guy who’s shown he can play and win in New York. Teams absolutely value that stuff. Getting a player of Gardner’s caliber on a three-year contract would be a major coup.

The real question is why would the Yankees trade Gardner? He’s arguably their best all-around player. They could move him to free up an outfield spot for, say, Heyward, but I think that’s unlikely. I also don’t think anyone in the minors is ready to step in and play left field regularly. Gardner is the only veteran on the team with actual trade value though. That’s why we’ll hear his name a lot this offseason.

The Top-ish Prospects

Beyond Judge, the Yankees have a few other high-end prospects they could trade for big league help, most notably Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo, and Rob Refsnyder. Greg Bird is technically no longer a prospect — he lost his rookie eligibility late in the season — but we can lump him in here too because he’s not exactly an established big leaguer yet. The elimination of the Pete Incaviglia Rule means the Yankees could trade James Kaprielian and any other 2015 draftees this winter, if they choose.

Sanchez and Mateo are the team’s best young trade chips among players who could actually be made available. (I don’t think the Yankees would trade Bird but I would in the right deal.) Sanchez is stuck behind McCann and John Ryan Murphy, and his defense probably isn’t up to the team’s standards. Mateo is an excellent prospect, but Gregorius is entrenched at the MLB level, and the Yankees are loaded with lower level shortstop prospects. They already offered Mateo in a trade once, remember. (For Craig Kimbrel at the deadline.)

The Yankees refused the trade Refsnyder this summer — the Athletics wanted him for Ben Zobrist — but they also refused to call him up for much of the year. It wasn’t until very late in the season that he got an opportunity. Refsnyder’s defense is improving but it is still an issue, and the truth is it may never be good enough for the Yankees. That doesn’t mean they’ll give him away though.

Second tier prospects like Eric Jagielo, Tyler Wade, Rookie Davis, and Jordan Montgomery could all be trade bait, though that’s true every offseason. The second tier prospects usually don’t bring back a whole lot unless there’s a salary dump involved. Either way, we can’t rule them out as trade chips.

The Outfielders & Relievers

The Yankees are very deep in Triple-A left-handed hitting outfielders and relievers. Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave make up the crop of lefty hitting outfielders. Relievers? Gosh. There’s Chasen Shreve, Branden Pinder, Caleb Cotham, Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody, James Pazos, healthy Jacob Lindgren, and I guess even Bryan Mitchell. He’s part of this group too, although he can start.

These are obvious positions of depth and the Yankees can and should use them in trades this offseason, if possible. The problem is they don’t have a ton of trade value. The Yankees already traded a lefty hitting outfielder (Ramon Flores) and a Triple-A reliever (Jose Ramirez) this year. The return was busted Dustin Ackley. So yeah. Heathcott and Williams have been both hurt and ineffective in recent years while Gamel lacks a track record of top end production. They have trade value, no doubt, but don’t expect them to headline any blockbusters.

The Spare Arms

The Yankees have a lot of pitchers but not a whole lot of pitching, if you catch my drift. The rotation ranked 19th with a 4.25 ERA and 15th with a 4.04 FIP this past season. Right smack in the middle of the pack. The Yankees have seven potential starters in place next year: Sabathia, Tanaka, Severino, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, and Adam Warren. That group is a mixed bad of upside and mediocrity, I’d say.

Of the final four pitchers on that list, I’d say Nova has the least trade value because he was both hurt and terrible last year. Also, next season is his final year of team control before free agency. Eovaldi and Pineda are the embodiment of that “upside and mediocrity” group. They’re so obviously talented. But the results? Eh. Not great this year. Both are under team control for another two seasons, which is a plus.

Warren has proven himself as a very valuable member of the pitching staff. He’s basically a high-end version of Ramiro Mendoza. He can start or relieve and is very good in both roles, and he’s durable with a resilient arm. No injury problems at all since being drafted. Warren is under control another three years and the Yankees rejected the trade that would have sent him to the A’s with Refsnyder for Zobrist.

Personally, I don’t think the Yankees are in position to deal away pitching depth given some of the injury concerns in the rotation, but I thought that last year and they traded Greene anyway. As it turned out, they were planning to trade for another pitcher (Eovaldi) and bring in a low cost veteran for depth (Chris Capuano). They also had Warren waiting. The same could happen this year.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Best of the Rest

There’s three players on the roster we haven’t covered. The best of the bunch is Murphy, a young and cheap catcher with defensive chops, a promising bat, and five years of team control remaining. I can’t imagine how many calls Brian Cashman has fielded about Murphy over the last 18 months or so. He’s really valuable and not just in a trade. To the Yankees too.

Justin Wilson is what every team looks for in a reliever: he throws hard and he misses bats. Being left-handed is a bonus. He struggles with control sometimes, and that’s why he’s only a reliever and not a starter or something more. Wilson has three years of control remaining, so his trade value is less than last offseason, when all it took to get him was an injury plagued backup catcher two years away from free agency. (What Francisco Cervelli did after the trade doesn’t change anything.)

Ackley is the third player and he doesn’t have much value. Flores and Ramirez. There’s his trade value, even after a strong finish to the season. Those 57 plate appearances with the Yankees didn’t erase his 2,200 plate appearances of awful with the Mariners. Given his versatility, Ackley is more valuable to the Yankees as a player than as a trade chip. I think the same is true of Wilson as well.

* * *

Last offseason taught me that pretty much no one is safe from trades other than the guys with no-trade clauses. I did not at all expect the Yankees to trade Greene or Martin Prado or even Manny Banuelos. Those were surprises. I would be surprised if the Yankees traded guys like Severino and Gregorius and Gardner this winter, but hey, anything can happen. Surprises are fun. The Yankees are well-armed with trade chips this winter. All shapes and sizes.

Heyman: Wei-Yin Chen a possible target for Yankees this offseason

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

According to Jon Heyman, Orioles left-hander and impending free agent Wei-Yin Chen is a possible target for the Yankees this offseason, along with Jeff Samardzija. Although he’s only been in the big leagues for four seasons, Chen’s contract allows him to become a free agent before reaching six years of service time. That’s common for guys who played overseas.

Chen, who turned 30 in July, had a 3.34 ERA (4.16 FIP) in 31 starts and 191.1 innings this season. He has averaged a 3.72 ERA (4.14 FIP) and 176.2 innings per year during his four years with the O’s. The rate stats — Chen’s walk rate (5.2%) was great this year but his strikeout (19.3%), grounder (40.5%), and homer (1.32 HR/9) rates were below-average — suggest he’s a classic mid-rotation type.

The Orioles are going to make Chen a qualifying offer and he’ll reject it, because he will easily clear $15.8M guaranteed this offseason. (He’s a Scott Boras client.) My guess is he gets something in the three-year, $39M (Francisco Liriano) to four-year, $48M (Ervin Santana) range. I tend the underestimate free agent contracts, so maybe something like five years and $80M (Anibal Sanchez) is more realistic.

Chen is unspectacular but he is a quality pitcher who would improve most rotations. The Yankees do have seven starters either under contract (Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia) or team control (Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, Adam Warren, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda) next season, but pitching depth is never a bad thing. Tanaka, Sabathia, and Eovaldi all have some level of injury concern right now.

My thinking is the Yankees are unlikely to forfeit their first round draft pick for anything less than a player with high-end skills — Jason Heyward or even Samardzija, who’s an ace on his best days, for example. Chen’s a very good AL East proven pitcher, and there is value in reliability, but I wonder if the Yankees will to shoot higher this offseason. They have a lot of mid-to-back-end starters as it is.

Then again, Chen could be the “second” signing. For example, the Yankees could give up their first rounder to sign Heyward, then only give up their second rounder for Chen. That would allow them to trade someone like Pineda to fill a need elsewhere. That’s how the Yankees tend to operate — if they’re going to forfeit a pick, they might as well forfeit two or three. It’s better than giving up your first rounder every winter.

I like Chen. There’s nothing sexy about him but he’s reliable and has been relatively healthy throughout his MLB career. Well, his arm has been healthy. He had some oblique and knee trouble in 2013. The Yankees are not shy about bringing pitchers into the AL East — Eovaldi last offseason, for example — but Chen’s experience in the division has to be a plus, right?

The 2015-16 Offseason Calendar

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

Thanks to a yet another miraculous comeback, the Royals won the 2015 World Series last night. It is their first championship in three decades, since their Don Denkinger aided 1985 title. The Royals seemed to expose every single one of their opponent’s flaws this postseason.

Now that the baseball season is over, the offseason officially gets underway today. There are a lot of important dates and deadlines coming up over the next few weeks, plus some not so important ones as well. Here’s a list of the various offseason dates and what they mean for the Yankees.

  • Today, November 2nd: As of 9am ET, eligible players become free agents. The Yankees had only three players hit free agency: Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young. That’s all. Young has said it is “too soon” to know whether he wants to re-sign with the team.
  • Wednesday, November 4th: Option decisions due. Most of them, anyway. Some contracts specify a different date. The Yankees have two option decisions: Andrew Bailey and Brendan Ryan. The Yankees hold a $2M club option for Bailey and I can’t imagine they’ll pick that up. He’ll remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player if the option is declined. As for Ryan, the team holds a $2M club option and he holds a $1M player option. I expect the Yankees to decline their option and Ryan to exercise his. He’s likely looking at a minor league contract if he tries his hand at free agency.
  • Friday, November 6th: Lots of stuff happens Friday. First of all, it’s the deadline to make eligible free agents a qualifying offer, which is a one-year contract worth $15.8M this offseason. Here’s my qualifying offer primer. The Yankees don’t have any qualifying offer candidates. No extra draft picks next summer. Bummer. Secondly, it’s the deadline for teams to activate players off the 60-day DL. The Yankees have six players on the 60-day DL: Domingo German, Jacob Lindgren, Diego Moreno, Sergio Santos, Chase Whitley, and Mason Williams. They also have 39 guys on the 40-man roster, so even with the three free agents, the Yankees will still have to clear two 40-man spots by Friday. Santos is an obvious roster casualty. Chris Martin, Austin Romine, and Bailey are candidates to be the other. And third, eligible players become minor league free agents at 5pm ET. There will be many.
  • Saturday, November 7th: End of the five-day exclusive negotiating period. Free agents are free to sign with any team as of 12:01am ET this coming Saturday. This isn’t the NFL or NHL or another salary capped league, however. Players rarely sign on the first day of free agency. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • November 9th to 12th: GM Meetings in Boca Raton. This is usually to handle business matters and whatnot, but in recent years there have been more transactions completed at the GM Meetings. If nothing else, a lot of groundwork gets laid.
  • November 10th: Finalists for the major awards announced at 6pm ET. Alex Rodriguez is a bonafide Comeback Player of the Year candidate, and that’s about it. The Yankees don’t have any other major award candidates. Also, the Gold Glove winners are announced at 7pm ET. Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, and Didi Gregorius are among the finalists at their positions.
  • November 12th: Silver Slugger awards announced, if that’s your thing.
  • November 13th: Last day for free agents to accept or reject the qualifying offer. No one has ever accepted the qualifying offer and there’s not much of a reason to think that will change this year, though we need to see who gets one first. Players who decline the qualifying offer will be tied to draft pick compensation.
  • November 16th to 19th: Major awards announced.  Rookies of the Year on Monday, Managers of the Year Tuesday, Cy Young Awards Wednesday, and MVPs Thursday. All announcements are at 6pm ET, live on MLB Network.
  • November 18th to 19th: Quarterly owners’ meetings in Dallas. Official business stuff. Other than maybe an interesting quote or two, nothing fun ever really happens here.
  • November 20th: Deadline to set the 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft. (Also the deadline to set Triple-A and Double-A rosters for the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.) Among the Rule 5 Draft eligible players this offseason are Jake Cave, Rookie Davis, Ben Gamel, Johnny Barbato, Tony Renda, and I believe both Abi Avelino and Miguel Andujar. It’s tough to know for sure with the international guys because we rarely know the exact date they signed.
  • December 2nd: The non-tender deadline. All pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players must be tendered a contract by this date, otherwise they become free agents. Santos is an obvious non-tender candidate but he’ll probably get cut to clear a 40-man spot early in the offseason anyway. Bailey is another non-tender candidate. A new batch of free agents will hit the market this day.
  • December 7th to 10th: Winter Meetings in Nashville. Historically, this is when the most hot stove activity goes down, though there have been more major moves in the weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings the last few years. Both Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury signed the week before the Winter Meetings two years ago, for example. Still though, this is a hectic week. Well, Monday through Wednesday is hectic. It calms down Thursday.
  • December 10th: Rule 5 Draft, which unofficially ends the Winter Meetings. Everyone heads home after that. The Yankees haven’t selected anyone in the Rule 5 Draft since Cesar Cabral and Brad Meyers back in 2011, and it appears 40-man roster space will be at a premium this offseason, so I wouldn’t expect any selections this year either. Also, the Yankees won’t be able to protect all their Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects — nor should they! — so they’ll probably lose a few players.
  • January 6th: Hall of Fame voting results announced. Here’s the list of players who will appear on this year’s ballot. Ken Griffey Jr. is the most notable newcomer and I think he’s the only lock to get in this winter, though Mike Piazza keeps inching closer. He received 69.9% of the vote last year. Players need 75% for induction. The most notable ex-Yankees on the ballot are Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, and Gary Sheffield.
  • January 12th: Deadline for eligible players to file for salary arbitration. A formality. The Yankees have nine arbitration-eligible players this winter, including Santos and Bailey. Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and Gregorius are the team’s most notable arbitration cases this offseason.
  • January 15th: Deadline for eligible players and their teams to file salary figures for arbitration. The Yankees tend to sign all of their arbitration-eligible players before salary figures are filed.
  • February 1st to 21st: Salary arbitration hearings. The Yankees haven’t gone to a hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang back in 2008 and I have no reason to think they’ll go to one this offseason.

The Yankees have not yet announced their Spring Training reporting dates — no team has but they should start rolling in soon — though camp will open sometime in mid-February, as always. The club opens the 2016 season on Monday, April 4th, at home against the Astros in a wildcard game rematch. A whole lot is going to happen between now and then.

Report: Korean third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang asks to be posted this offseason

(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)
(Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

Third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang has asked his club, the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization, to make him available to MLB teams via the posting process this offseason, reports Yonhap. The two sides were set to continue talking in recent days and weeks.

“Any baseball player would dream of playing in the majors,” said Hwang to Yonhap. “And I have been working hard to realize that dream myself. I’ve already signed on with an American management company … I wanted to keep a low profile, but when articles on (teammate Ah-Seop Son) mentioned my name, I decided to go public, too.”

Hwang, 28, is a right-handed hitting third baseman who is known for his power and bat flips. Here is one of his better bat flips (skip to the 0:46 mark if you’re impatient):

Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. Hwang spent time with three teams earlier in his career — there are ten teams in KBO now but there were only seven when Hwang first broke in — before finally finding a home with the Giants in 2010. Here are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

2007 19 -9.5 Hyundai 63 171 19 48 6 0 2 12 2 2 5 33 .300 .323 .375 .698
2008 20 -8.2 Woori 117 333 27 73 10 1 1 18 10 7 16 56 .239 .279 .288 .567
2009 21 -7.3 Woori 133 608 86 152 27 5 18 63 30 15 55 100 .284 .349 .453 .802
2010 22 -6.0 2 Teams 94 352 41 69 14 3 6 40 18 7 32 73 .225 .303 .350 .653
2011 23 -5.4 Lotte 117 458 62 115 18 4 12 68 12 6 40 78 .289 .360 .445 .805
2012 24 -4.3 Lotte 133 504 42 122 19 1 4 51 26 8 38 81 .272 .335 .346 .681
2013 25 -3.5 Lotte 128 559 70 134 29 3 7 56 22 11 49 78 .274 .350 .389 .738
2014 26 -2.9 Lotte 128 550 66 156 33 3 12 76 17 10 53 86 .321 .388 .475 .864
2015 27 Lotte 144 596 95 155 41 2 26 97 11 10 48 122 .290 .350 .521 .870
All Levels (9 Seasons) 1057 4131 508 1024 197 22 88 481 148 76 336 707 .280 .343 .417 .761

So far Hwang has only had one big power season, and he attributes his 2015 power spike to a new offseason training regime designed to add muscle. It’s worth noting his strikeout rate jumped from 15.0% from 2012-14 to 20.5% in 2015. That suggests some approach changes as well. It seems Hwang is swinging for the fences more often.

Inevitably, Hwang will be compared to Jung-Ho Kang, who was a smashing success for the Pirates this year. Kang was a consistent 20+ homer guy in Korea and he swatted 40 dingers in 2014. He struck out in 21.2% of his plate appearances in his final season in KBO, so his strikeout rate was in line with Hwang’s. Of course, he also hit way more homers too.

Our Sung-Min Kim tells me Hwang is considered a natural third baseman with a strong arm. He has played some shortstop in the past but works exclusively at the hot corner these days. Plenty of teams have scouted Hwang this year and the consensus is his plate discipline and approach are a bit worrisome, though that seems to be the case for all foreign position players.

The Giants do not have to post Hwang this offseason — MLB’s posting agreement with KBO is like the old posting system with NPB, meaning a blind bid and then a 30-day negotiating window — but they have incentive to do so because he will qualify for international free agency next offseason. They could either post him now and get gobs of money or lose him for nothing next year.

Kang is the first Korean position player to successfully transition to MLB through the posting system, and because of his success, I’m sure teams will spend some extra time evaluating Korean position players. There are 29 clubs right now who wish they had pursued Kang more aggressively. Hwang could benefit from Kang’s success simply because there figures to be more attention paid to position players in KBO now.

The best third baseman on the free agent market this offseason is David Freese, so yeah. Hwang figures to generate some interest. The Yankees have Chase Headley at third base, though they are said to be seeking a right-handed bat, so I suppose it’s not impossible they could trade Headley and bring in Hwang to play third. Unlikely? Oh sure. But not impossible. The Yankees will surely explore every option.

Given the lack of alternatives, I doubt the Yankees would have much trouble finding a taker for Headley, especially with only three years and $39M left on his contract. That’s nothing these days. I doubt the Yankees pursue Hwang this offseason, but he is an option that exists.