The Yanks have shown interest in Kendrys Morales, who’d be a pretty good fit, actually

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

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are among the teams to show interest in designated hitter Kendrys Morales early this offseason. He became a free agent a few days ago when he declined his half of the $11M mutual option in his contract. That’s not surprising. He’ll get more as a free agent. The Royals did not make Morales the qualifying offer, so he won’t cost a draft pick to sign.

Morales, 33, hit .263/.327/.468 (110 wRC+) with 30 home runs in 618 plate appearances last season. He put up a .290/.362/.485 (130 wRC+) batting line with 22 homers in 639 plate appearances the year before, when the Royals won the World Series. Morales is a switch-hitter, and throughout his career he’s had a tiny platoon split and been consistently excellent with runners in scoring position, if that’s your thing. I have some thoughts on this.

1. Something would have to happen with McCann first, right? As it stands right now, Brian McCann will be the primary DH for the Yankees next season. Gary Sanchez is entrenched behind the plate, so the only way to get McCann and his 20+ homer power into the lineup is at DH. Either that or they’d have to stick him at first base, and … no. Just, no.

McCann’s name has popped up in trade rumors for a few weeks now and reports indicate the Yankees will continue to entertain offers for their erstwhile catcher. The thing is, even if they find a trade to their liking, McCann is in total control here. He has a full no-trade clause and can shoot down any deal. I doubt McCann would approve a trade to rebuilding team, or a team he perceives as a non-contender, but who knows.

Also, Morales is not going to come to the Yankees if he feels he has to compete with McCann for DH at-bats. He’s also not much of a first base option either. He’s a bat-only player. The Yankees would have to move McCann first to clear way for Morales, or at least be far enough down the line with a McCann trade — that means knowing whether he’ll sign off on a deal — for Morales to be comfortable coming to New York.

2. Morales would add some nice lineup balance. The Yankees are in a weird place. Their lineup has been very left-handed heavy the last few years, but right now, most of their up-and-coming young bats are right-handed. Greg Bird is the only notable lefty. Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Clint Frazier are all righties. Should the Yankees trade McCann this winter, their best lefty power threat will be Didi Gregorius. I like Didi! But yikes.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

As a switch-hitter, Morales would help balance out the lineup and create matchup headaches for opposing managers. He could slot right in as the cleanup hitter behind Sanchez and ahead of … Starlin Castro, I guess. The Yankees only have one switch-hitter at the moment, Chase Headley, and he’s not exactly a big offensive threat. Morales would replace Mark Teixeira as the team’s middle of the order switch-hitter with power, and it’s hard to think he’d be anything but a huge upgrade over 2016 Teixeira at the plate.

3. Morales offers no defensive value or versatility. This is the biggest drawback. Morales is a DH. You could make him go stand at first base a few times a year during interleague play, but he’ll cost you runs. He’s a DH, plain and simple. That hinders roster flexibility. Sanchez couldn’t stay in the lineup on days he doesn’t catch, for example. We saw how much of a roster headache Alex Rodriguez created the last two years. Morales would be more of the same.

Also, it’s worth noting Morales is a negative on the bases too. He was never fast to begin with, but since shattering his ankle celebrating that walk-off home run a few years ago (remember that? ouch), you’ve been able to measure his home-to-first time with a sundial. It takes three singles to score the guy from first. You live with it if he mashes. Otherwise Morales will really clog the bases in a not good way.

4. He should come on a short-term contract. Two years ago Victor Martinez signed a four-year deal worth $68M, and Edwin Encarnacion is going to get something insane this offseason, so there is some precedent for a DH in his mid-30s getting a huge contract. Martinez and Encarnacion had established themselves as truly elite hitters at the time, however. Morales is pretty good. He’s definitely a notch or two below those guys though.

MLBTR projects a two-year deal worth $26M for Morales. Sounds about right to me, but what do I know. Point is, it’s really unlikely you’ll have to offer him a three or four-year contract to get a deal done this winter. A two-year contract should be enough. Maybe even a really rich one-year contract. Say one year at $15M with a vesting option based on plate appearances. Something like that.

The price is right with Morales. The Yankees could bring him in as short-term offensive help, build the lineup around him as the kids get comfortable, then cast him aside when those young players are ready to do the heavy lifting themselves. Sounds great! Chances are it won’t work out that way, but that’s life. Morales would create some roster flexibility issues, but he’s also add a middle of the order presence, and he’d be that on a relatively short-term contract. That’s a pretty good fit for the Yankees.

Cashman has already reached out to Aroldis Chapman and other free agents

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

At the GM Meetings yesterday, Brian Cashman acknowledged the Yankees have already reached out to Aroldis Chapman and a number of other free agents. We know they’re looking for “pitching, pitching, pitching” this offseason. “I’ve started making my phone calls to free agents. I’ve reached out to a number of them,” said the GM to Brendan Kuty.

Interestingly enough, the exclusive negotiating period did not expire until 12:01pm ET this morning. Cashman admitted reaching out to free agents during the exclusive negotiating period. Whoops. I’m sure there’s some kind of loophole or technicality that makes this okay, or maybe Cashman just misspoke, otherwise he might get a little slap on the wrist from MLB. The commissioner’s office doesn’t take too kindly to tampering.

Anyway, I can’t find exactly where I wrote this, but a week or two ago I said I get the feeling the Yankees will try to act quickly this offseason and get deals done before bidding wars begin. That’s a little risky because the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is coming and we don’t know what that means for free agency. The Yankees could roll the dice and assume nothing major will change.

Checking in with Chapman as soon as possible makes sense. The Yankees seem dead set on signing him and Chapman said he enjoyed his time in New York, so it’s good to reconnect early. This isn’t a CC Sabathia situation though. The Yankees put a mammoth offer in front of Sabathia on Day One of free agency back during the 2008-09 offseason. They let other clubs know they shouldn’t even bother.

Unlike Sabathia eight years ago, free agency offers alternatives to Chapman. There’s Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, most notably, but maybe Greg Holland works out, or the underrated Brad Ziegler finally gets some well-deserved respect. Also, this sort of stuff happens all the time. Teams reach out to free agents early in the offseason to let them know they’re interested. That doesn’t mean serious contract talks are underway.

Either way, I’m not surprised to hear the Yankees are already talking to Chapman and other free agents. That’s exactly what they should be doing. The wait for the new CBA might slow the hot stove down a bit — teams are going to want to know the rules before spending any serious money — but that doesn’t mean nothing happens behind the scenes. Now’s the time to get your foot in the door and start talks.

“I just want to bring in more talent,” said Cashman to Kuty. “It’s too early to say who’s going to do what. It depends how the winter goes. (Dellin Betances) finished the season as our closer. So until or unless I find something better, which is pretty hard to do, but so right now he’d be the closer if the season was starting today. But it’s not.”

Thoughts on the Yankees and their search for “pitching, pitching, pitching”

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

As of 12:01am ET this morning, free agents are able to negotiate and sign with any team. That’s fun! Too bad this free agent class stinks, especially if you need rotation help. I ranked the top 20 free agent starters for CBS yesterday and my list included Clayton Richard. Literally Clayton Richard. The free agent pitching class is that bad. Unfortunately, the Yankees are among the teams in need of arms.

“We’re going to go through everything. We’ve had our scouting meetings. The areas that we would like to focus on — the bullpen and starting pitching. I think the biggest focus will be pitching, pitching, pitching,” said Brian Cashman to Christian Red at a charity event last week. “All clubs know that we are a very open-minded, aggressive organization, open to any idea that serves us.”

Beyond free agency, there’s also the trade market, and I get the feeling we’re going to see a ton of trades this offseason. Not necessarily involving the Yankees, just in general. That’ll be fun. Trades are a blast. Anyway, I have some thoughts on the Yankees and their pursuit of “pitching, pitching, pitching” at the outset of free agency.

1. The difference between the team’s short-term and long-term needs is pretty fascinating. The Yankees were one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this past season. They averaged 4.20 runs per game, which ranked 22nd among the 30 teams. And that’s with Gary Sanchez being out of his mind for two months. Offense is a clear short-term need. At the same time, the Yankees are also light on impact pitching long-term. Masahiro Tanaka can opt into free agency next offseason, and top prospects Justus Sheffield and James Kaprielian are at least a year away, maybe more. The Yankees have young bats coming. Sanchez and Aaron Judge are in the big leagues, Greg Bird will be back next year, and Clint Frazier figures to arrive soon. They can solve their offense problem internally, at least in theory. The pitching is another matter. Assuming the emphasis on “pitching, pitching, pitching” is genuine, the Yankees are taking more of a long-term approach this offseason.

2. I’ve talked myself into signing Rich Hill. Both MLBTR and Keith Law (subs. req’d) project a three-year deal worth $50M or so, and that sounds about right to me. It’s an awful lot of money for a guy who a) turns 37 in March, b) has an extremely limited track record of excellence, and c) hasn’t thrown more than 120 innings since 2007. But in this market, getting a pitcher who has shown the ability to pitch like an ace for less than $20M a year is pretty damn good. The money isn’t really the problem though. The Yankees have a ton of it. It’s the years. The team that offers the third guarantee year is the team that will likely get Hill. Heck, at this point I wonder if a fourth year is what does the trick. This free agent class is so incredibly bad. If the Yankees are going to dip into free agency and spend real money, do it on the best available pitcher, and that’s Hill.

3. I am comfortable with the Yankees’ rotation depth. Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda are the clear top three starters at this point in whatever order. After that the Yankees have Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Bryan Mitchell, plus Chance Adams and Jordan Montgomery slated to start in Triple-A next season. There’s quite a bit of upside in that group, and also a lot of downside, of course. Severino was very kind to remind us this year that even the most talented pitching prospects can fall flat on their face. I feel pretty good that the Yankees have six of those guys though, all of whom are big league ready or close to it. Surely at least one of them will be able to establish himself as a full-time big league starter in 2017, right? Right??? I hope so.

No. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
No. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

4. If the Yankees aren’t going to extend themselves to sign Hill, the next best approach may be going after two or three risky starters. Reclamation project types. Brett Anderson, Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson … those guys all figure to come on one-year contracts and at least have a chance to pitch at an above-average level. A small chance, but a chance nonetheless. Those guys offer a smidge of upside, and if they do get hurt again, the Yankees can turn things over to that young rotation depth they have. I don’t like the idea of betting multiple years that Jeremy Hellickson or Ivan Nova has suddenly turned the corner. Aside from Hill, who himself is a pretty substantial risk, I think the best approach with this free agent class is going short-term with two or three veterans. The hard part is convincing them to take a one-year contract to rebuild value in Yankee Stadium and the AL East.

5. How much will the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement impact free agency? Part of me thinks teams are going to steer clear of free agents until the new deal is in place so this way they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. Last time the CBA was up, the Phillies rushed out and signed Jonathan Papelbon. Then under the terms of the new CBA, teams did not have to give up their first round pick to sign relievers the remainder of the offseason. Philadelphia gave up their first rounder for nothing. Everyone got a good laugh at their expense, but everyone learned their lesson too. I don’t think teams want to jump the gun. Free agency may be slow until the new CBA is in place. Trades could be all the rage early in the offseason, and I fully expect the Yankees to be in on the action.

King: Yankees planning to watch Greg Holland’s workout, because of course they should

(Jamie Squire/Getty)
(Jamie Squire/Getty)

According to George King, the Yankees will be among the teams on hand to watch former Royals closer Greg Holland throw for scouts in Scottsdale today. Holland, a free agent, is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. “He is back at it full steam,” said agent Scott Boras to Joel Sherman. “With the value of relief pitching being shown [in the postseason], he should be interesting.”

Holland, who turns 31 later this month, blew out his elbow late last season, one year before free agency, so the Royals non-tendered him. That’s basically what Nathan Eovaldi is going through right now. Holland had a 1.86 ERA (1.92 FIP) with a 35.2% strikeout rate in 256.1 innings from 2011-14 before slipping to a 3.83 ERA (3.27 FIP) with 25.4% strikeout rate in 44.2 innings in 2015, likely because his elbow was barking. I have some thoughts on this.

1. Of course Holland is worth a look. There’s no reason for the Yankees — or any other team, for that matter — to not go see what Holland looks like at his workout. Every club has scouts in Arizona. It’s not out of the way. Pop on by the workout and see what he looks like 13 months out from surgery. Even if you don’t sign him, it’s something for the ol’ information bank you can refer back to later.

(Coincidentally enough, the GM Meetings are in Scottsdale this week, so every team’s head honcho and his top lieutenants will be in the area. I’m guessing more than a few big wigs will stop by Holland’s workout if their schedules allow.)

Once upon a time Holland was a really great reliever, and there’s a chance he will still be a really great reliever after Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is pretty risky — the procedure itself may be routine, but the rehab sure isn’t — and it’s possible Holland’s days as effective big leaguer are over. It’s worth finding out though. Get eyes on him at the workout, and if he looks good, try to sign him.

Update: Eric Longenhagen says Holland was 88-91 mph during today’s workout. That’s down from his peak, though it’s not terribly surprising for a guy still building arm strength after major surgery. Sherman says the Yankees had scout Dan Giese and pro scouting director Kevin Reese on hand. (Yes, that Dan Giese and Kevin Reese.)

2. The Yankees could, in theory, offer him the closer’s spot. Holland is a former All-Star closer, and I have to think he’s looking to return to the ninth inning as soon as possible. That’s where the glory is, and, most importantly, that’s where the money is. Two relievers could have the exact same season, but the guy who does it as a closer will get more attention that the guy who does it as a setup man, guaranteed.

The Yankees are actually in position to offer Holland their closer’s job. I absolutely believe Dellin Betances could close. Zero doubt about it. I also believe Betances is most valuable in a setup role, where Joe Girardi is more willing to extend him a bit and use him in the game’s most important situation regardless of inning. Holland could close while Betances returns to the fireman role he’s filled so well the last few years.

Now, does it make sense to trust a dude coming off Tommy John surgery in the ninth inning? That’s debatable. I guess it depends how Holland’s stuff rebounds following elbow reconstruction and how he looks in Spring Training. I honestly don’t think any team will guarantee Holland their closer’s job. Not so soon after elbow surgery. Obviously some teams are better positioned to quickly move him into the ninth inning though.

The other problem is the Yankees will reportedly go after one of the top available relievers, presumably Aroldis Chapman. Holland will figure out for himself which team offers the greatest opportunity to return to closing. Getting stuck behind Betances and possibly Chapman (or Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon) on the closer depth chart might not be so appealing.

3. Signing Holland shouldn’t deter the Yankees from sign another top reliever. Holland should be looked at as a lottery ticket. He’s not someone you can count on to be a key part of your bullpen so soon after surgery. I don’t doubt his stuff or anything. The guy has nasty, nasty stuff.

We just don’t know how Holland is going to rebound from Tommy John surgery, especially short-term. That applies to every pitcher ever. Because of that, I think you have to view him as a lottery ticket. An extra piece of depth. And if Holland can help out at some point in a high-leverage role, great. That makes the bullpen even more dangerous.

The Yankees are reportedly going to be in the market for a top reliever and that shouldn’t include Holland. He’s essentially a reclamation project. The master plan should be Chapman or Jansen and Holland, not Chapman/Jansen or Holland. Go add that big lockdown bullpen arm, then add Holland on top of that. That’s the best way to go about this. Don’t count on him for anything. It should all be gravy.

The 2016-17 Offseason Calendar

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night, the Chicago Cubs took home their first World Series championship since 1908 with a thrilling 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven. The game went ten innings. It was definitely one of the best games I’ve ever seen. I don’t think that’s a stretch. That was an all-timer.

Anyway, now that the World Series and the 2016 baseball season are over, the offseason will officially get underway. There are a ton of important dates and deadlines coming up these next few weeks, plus some not so important ones as well. Here is the offseason calendar and what each of these dates means for the Yankees.

Today, November 3rd: Free Agency Begins, Sorta
As of 9am ET this morning, eligible players became free agents. They used to make players file for free agency, which was a total waste of time, but now it happens automatically. The Yankees only have two free agents this year: Mark Teixeira and Billy Butler. Totally forgot Butler was on the team, to be honest. Teixeira is retiring and I see no reason to bring Butler back. Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova, and Aroldis Chapman, the team’s other impending free agents, were traded at the deadline.

Saturday, November 5th: Option Decisions Due
In most cases, options decisions are due on the third day following the end of the World Series. A few contracts around the league specify a different date — usually much earlier than the normal deadline, not later — but not many. CC Sabathia‘s vesting option already vested, so the Yankees don’t have any option decisions this offseason. No club options, player options, opt-outs, nothing. Boring!

Monday, November 7th: Qualifying Offers, MiLB Free Agents, 60-Day DL, Awards
Next Monday will be a busy day. Lots happening. First of all, it’s the deadline for teams to tender their eligible free agents the qualifying offer, which is worth $17.2M this offseason. The Yankees don’t have any qualifying offer candidates. Butler’s not eligible because he wasn’t with the team all season, and Teixeira is retiring. Even if he intended to keep playing, the Yankees still wouldn’t make Teixeira the qualifying offer based on his play in 2017.

Also on this date, eligible players become minor league free agents. There will be many. A couple hundred around the league. Brian Cashman has already said the Yankees will added catcher Kyle Higashioka to the 40-man roster, preventing him from hitting the open market. Higashioka, Cito Culver, Gabe Encinas, and Evan Rutckyj are the most notable Yankees’ farmhands up for minor league free agency this winter. They’re far from the only ones though.

Next, all players on the 60-day DL must be activated by next Monday. The Yankees have six players on the 60-day DL: Nathan Eovaldi, Chad Green, Conor Mullee, Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, and Dustin Ackley. The team currently has six open 40-man roster spots, counting the Teixeira and Butler departures, so they have just enough room to activate the 60-day DL guys and add Higashioka.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty)
Sanchez. (Rich Gagnon/Getty)

And finally, MLB and the BBWAA will announce three finalists in each league for each of the four major awards. That is Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player. The announcements will be made during a live MLB Network broadcast. The Yankees actually have some awards candidates this year. Masahiro Tanaka should receive some Cy Young love, and Gary Sanchez is a serious candidate for Rookie of the Year, if not the favorite. MLB and the BBWAA already know who’s won each award. The finalists just create hype.

November 7th to 10th: GM Meetings In Scottsdale
The GM Meetings are intended to handle various off-the-field matters around the league, but in recent years we’ve begun seeing more and more deals struck during these four days. Last year the Yankees completed the Aaron HicksJohn Ryan Murphy trade at the GM Meetings, for example. I guess when you stick all 30 GMs in one place, deals are inevitable.

November 8th: The Start Of Free Agency, Gold Gloves Announced
Next Tuesday marks the beginning of true free agency. The five-day exclusive negotiating period ends at 12:01am ET Tuesday morning, allowing free agents to negotiate and sign with any team. This is not the NFL, NBA, or NHL though. There’s no salary cap, so players don’t rush to sign on Day One of free agency to make sure they don’t get left out in the cold when no one has cap space left. Like the regular season, MLB free agency is a marathon, not a sprint.

Also, the 2016 Gold Glove award winners will be announced during a live broadcast on ESPN next Tuesday. The Yankees have one Gold Glove finalist: Brett Gardner. He’s up against Alex Gordon and Colby Rasmus for the left field award in the AL. This is Gardner’s third time as a Gold Glove finalist. He’s yet to win.

November 10th: Silver Sluggers Announced
Uh, yay?

November 14th: Qualifying Offer Decisions Due
Players have one week to accept or reject the qualifying offer. For the first time last year, a few players actually accepted the offer. Rasmus, Matt Wieters, and Brett Anderson all took it rather than test free agency. I’m guessing we’ll see more players accept going forward now that someone took the plunge. Players who reject the qualifying offer will be tied to draft pick compensation as free agents. The Yankees won’t make any qualifying offers this winter, but on this date we’ll see who they’d have to give up a draft pick to sign.

November 14th to 17th: Awards Winners Announced
Rookies of the Year on Monday, Managers of the Year on Tuesday, Cy Youngs on Wednesday, and MVPs on Thursday. Monday and Wednesday are the big days for the Yankees. I don’t think Tanaka will win the Cy Young, but he should get a healthy amount of votes. Sanchez has a real chance to win Rookie of the Year though, despite not being called up for good until August. He was that good.

November 18th: Deadline To Protect Eligible Players From Rule 5 Draft
Usually the deadline is on the 20th, but because that falls on a Sunday this year, they moved it up to the 18th. Anyway, the Yankees have a lot of quality prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Such is life when you have a deep farm system. The Yankees actually got a head start on their Rule 5 Draft protection by calling up Aaron Judge and Ben Heller during the season.

Among the prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year are Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar, Luis Torrens, Dietrich Enns, Tyler Webb, Gio Gallegos, Rashad Crawford, and Domingo Acevedo. Mateo is lock to be protected and both Andujar and Acevedo are safe bets as well. Everyone else is pretty much up in the air. I think the Yankees will try to find 40-man roster room for Enns and Webb, but we’ll see.

Mateo. (Presswire)
Mateo. (Presswire)

As a reminder, teams must add eligible players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, so the Yankees will have to make room for these guys. Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s active 25-man big league roster all season, or pass through waivers and be offered back to their former team. Odubel Herrera and Hector Rondon are by far the biggest Rule 5 Draft success stories over the last five years.

December 1st: Collective Bargaining Agreement Expires
Both MLB and the MLBPA are reportedly optimistic about getting a new CBA finalized this month, so that’s good. Free agent draft pick compensation is said to be one of the remaining major issues. There’s also talk the current rules may remain in place this offseason before a new system takes effect next offseason. Either way, this is a significant date. A lot can change on December 1st, so, from here on out, every date listed in tentative. The new CBA could change things.

December 2nd: Non-Tender Deadline
A whole new batch of free agents will hit the market this day. December 2nd is the deadline for teams to tender their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players contracts for the 2017 season. Anyone who doesn’t receive an offer becomes a free agent.

The Yankees have two obvious non-tender candidates this offseason: Eovaldi and Ackley. Both suffered major injuries this year — Eovaldi will miss the entire 2017 season as well — and there’s no reason to keep them around at seven-figure salaries. I suppose there’s a chance both will be released prior to the non-tender deadline to clear 40-man roster space for the Rule 5 Draft guys.

December 5th to 8th: Winter Meetings In National Harbor, Maryland
MLB is straying from their usual Winter Meetings sites this year and holding them outside Washington, DC, so that’s cool. They’ll be at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center a few miles south of the capitol. Neat. Anyway, the Winter Meetings are, by far, the busiest four days of the offseason. There are plenty of big trades and free agent signings during this week. Last year the Yankees made the Starlin Castro and Justin Wilson trades at the Winter Meetings. It will be a surprise if the Yankees don’t do something during these four days.

December 8th: Rule 5 Draft
The Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. Everyone heads home after that. There’s a pretty good chance the Yankees will lose someone in the Rule 5 Draft given their eligible players — Gallegos seems like a safe bet to get popped, for example — but I would bet against them making a pick simply because the 40-man roster figures to be full. You can’t make any picks if your roster is full. The Yankees haven’t made a selection in the Rule 5 Draft since taking Cesar Cabral and Brad Meyers in 2011. (Cabral was actually picked by the Royals and traded immediately to the Yankees in a prearranged deal.)

January 18th: 2017 Hall Of Fame Class Announced
Next summer’s Hall of Fame induction class has a chance to be huge. Jeff Bagwell (71.6%), Tim Raines (69.8%), and Trevor Hoffman (67.3%) are all on the ballot again after coming very close to being voted in last year. This is Raines’ last year on the ballot, so he should get a nice bump in his final year of eligibility. Players need to receive 75% of the vote for induction, and historically, when someone gets as close as Bagwell did last year, they get voted in the next year.

The class of newcomers to the ballot includes one prominent former Yankee: Jorge Posada. He’s the first member of the (groan) Core Four to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. Switch-hitting catchers who put up a .273/.374/.474 (123 wRC+) batting line with 275 homers and +40 WAR and five rings are Hall of Fame worthy to me, but what do I know. Other newcomers to the ballot include Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Vlad Guerrero. Hot damn. Here’s the entire 2017 Hall of Fame ballot.

Count 'em. (Getty)
Count ’em. (Getty)

Mid-January: Deadline To Submit Salary Arbitration Filing Figures
The exact date for arbitration-eligible players to a) file for salary arbitration (a formality), and b) exchange salary figures with the team have not yet been set, probably because the new CBA is not in place. These two dates are usually in mid-January and they’re close together. Like two or three days apart. Filing for arbitration is a nothing deadline. Everyone does it. No idea why the deadline still exists to be honest, but it does.

On filing figure day, the player and the team submit their proposed salaries to the arbitration panel. The player files what he believes he deserves and the team counters with what they feel the player deserves. Most arbitration-eligible players sign before this deadline. The Yankees signed all of their players before the filing deadline every year from 2008-15 before exchanging figures with Chapman, Eovaldi, Nova, and Didi Gregorius last year. That was a bit of a surprise.

Early-to-Mid-February: Salary Arbitration Hearings
Arbitration hearings are held throughout February, usually before Spring Training but some can bleed into the start of camp. The hearing itself can be ugly. The player explains why he deserves the salary he filed while the team explains why he deserves the salary they filed. The club details the player’s shortcomings. It’s not the most comfortable experience. The three-person arbitration panel then awards the player one of the two filing figures. Nothing in between.

It’s important to note the two sides can still agree to a contract of any size at any point prior to an arbitration hearing, even after filing salary figures. The Yankees exchanged figures with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, and Nova last offseason, but they managed to sign all four before going to a hearing. The Yankees haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang way back during the 2007-08 offseason. As always, if the Yankees do go to a hearing this year, I will be very surprised. It’s not their style.

Mid-February: Spring Training Begins!
Earlier this week the Yankees announced they will play their first Grapefruit League game on February 24th, against the Phillies. The rest of the Spring Training schedule, including reporting dates, will be announced next week. In previous years the Yankees have had their pitchers and catchers report 12-13 days prior to the first Grapefruit League game, which indicates camp will open somewhere around February 12th or 13th next year. Probably the 13th since that’s a Monday, but we’ll find out for sure next week.

March 7th to 22nd: World Baseball Classic
The 2017 edition of the WBC begins on March 7th with pool play in Seoul and Tokyo, and it ends on March 22nd with the Championship Game in Dodger Stadium. Dellin Betances is on the preliminary Team USA roster, though that doesn’t mean he’s on the team for sure. It’s just a preliminary roster. Gregorius (Netherlands), Tanaka (Japan), and Sanchez (Dominican Republic) are among the other Yanekes with a chance to be called into action in the WBC.

April 2nd: Opening Day
The Yankees begin the 2017 season on Sunday, April 2nd against the Rays in Tropicana Field. At least they won’t have to travel too far at the end of Spring Training, huh? The Yankees are actually going to play an exhibition game against the Braves at the brand new SunTrust Park on March 31st next spring. So the team has to go from Tampa for Spring Training to Atlanta for the exhibition game, then back to Tampa for the season opening series against the Rays. Could be worse.

Tuesday Links: Chapman, Jansen, CBA, GMS Field, AzFL

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Pretty soon — as in 48 hours or less — the 2016 World Series will be over the offseason can officially begin. The free agent class is pretty weak, so I think we’re going to end up seeing a lot of trades this winter instead. That’s cool with me. Trades are much more fun. Anyway, I have some news and notes to pass along, so let’s get to them.

Yankees will target Chapman over Jansen

No surprise here: Jon Heyman says the Yankees are planning to target Aroldis Chapman in free agency before Kenley Jansen. Those two as well as Mark Melancon will hit the open market in the coming days now that the World Series is close to being complete. This upcoming free agent class kinda stinks, but there will be three high-end relievers available. Competition for them should be fierce.

A few weeks ago we heard the Yankees are planning to target a top reliever in free agency. I figured that would happen following the Chapman and Andrew Miller trades at midseason. The Yankees had the opportunity to flip those two for high-end prospects, then replenish the bullpen with free agents in the offseason. They did step one, now they have to do step two. Chapman won’t cost a draft pick plus the Yankees know him from his time in New York, so it’s no surprise he’s their Plan A. I prefer Jansen, but whatever.

MLB, MLBPA optimistic about finalizing new CBA

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on December 1st, which isn’t all that far away now, and Joel Sherman hears MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to “very few key issues” so far. Both sides are optimistic about avoiding a work stoppage, however. “I’m optimistic as well. The good thing is everyone understands and appreciates the issues,” said union chief Tony Clark.

Apparently free agent draft pick compensation is a hot topic and many potential changes are being discussed, including eliminating the need to surrender a pick. The team that loses a qualified free agent would still receive a compensatory draft pick, but the signing team would get to keep their first rounder. Sherman also hears it’s possible the current rules could remain in effect this offseason before a new system kicks in next winter. As long as there’s no work stoppage, and I don’t think there will be, it’s cool with me.

Yankees renovating GMS Field

Yankee Stadium is not the only park getting a facelift this offseason. George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa is being renovated as well, the Yankees announced. The ballpark is getting $40M worth of upgrades that will bring new seating sections, a shaded cabana area, and a huge new gift shop. Construction started in August — High-A Tampa had to play all their postseason games on the road this year — and will be presumably completed in time for Spring Training.

“The renovations, which include an increased number of fan-friendly vantage points, social gathering spaces and shaded areas, will provide our guests with the modern amenities necessary for an exceptional game day experience. We are equally excited about furthering the Yankees’ commitment to the Tampa community and look forward to unveiling a beautiful facility for our fans to enjoy for years to come,” said Senior VP and CFO Tony Bruno in a statement. Neat. Here are renderings of the upgrades and construction photos, if you’re interested.

Torres, Tate selected for Fall Stars Game

Gleyber Torres and Dillon Tate were selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Star Game, the league announced. Here are East and West rosters. Torres is the best prospect in the game according to MLB.com’s top 100 list. He’s hitting .313/.421/.656 (187 wRC+) with three homers, six walks, and five strikeouts in nine AzFL games so far. Tate has a 3.86 ERA (5.24 FIP) in 9.1 relief innings with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The Fall Stars Game is more of a prospect showcase than a true All-Star Game. They pick the biggest names each year regardless of their AzFL performance. Also, they don’t disrupt pitching schedules, which is why Tate and not James Kaprielian was selected to the roster. Kaprielian’s not scheduled to pitch the day of the game. The Fall Stars Game is this Saturday at 8pm ET. It’ll be broadcast on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com. It’s a good time.

Thursday Notes: Beltran, Blue Jays, IFAs, Qualifying Offer

(Vaughn Ridley/Getty)
(Vaughn Ridley/Getty)

There are, at most, ten more baseball games left this season. It could be as few as six. That stinks. The offseason is fun in it’s own way, but nothing is better than actual games. That’s why we all watch. Anyway, make sure you check out MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees post. Nice little rundown of what could happen this winter. Here are some other news and notes.

Blue Jays had interest in Beltran

The Blue Jays had interest in Carlos Beltran prior to the trade deadline, reports Gerry Fraley. Toronto skipper John Gibbons confirmed the club considered a run at Beltran this summer. “Beltran was a guy we even talked about. We saw him over the years with the Yankees and what a great hitter he was, a clutch type performer,” said Gibbons prior to the start of the ALDS.

The Red Sox also reportedly tried to acquire Beltran prior to the deadline, and just like with Boston, it’s unclear whether the Yankees would have actually gone through with an intra-division trade with the Blue Jays. Toronto’s farm system is not nearly as good as the Red Sox’s, though I’m sure the two sides could have found a match if they really set their mind to it. The Blue Jays scored eight runs in the five-game ALCS — five of the eight came in Game Four — and they clearly needed another bat. Beltran would have been able to help. No doubt.

MLB pushing for international draft

To no surprise whatsoever, MLB is pushing for an international draft as part of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with MLBPA, reports Buster Olney. MLB has wanted an international draft for years now — it’s a way to keep costs down for owners, that’s the only goal here — but the union has yet to give in. I wonder if this will be the year though. Here are some more details from Olney:

Under the terms of MLB’s initial concept, the new international draft system would start in March of 2018, with a 10-round draft held over two days. As the new structure evolved, with terms grandfathered into the process, the minimum age for draft-eligible players would be 18 years old by 2021 … As part of baseball’s proposal, MLB would operate facilities in the Dominican Republic, where international draft prospects would be invited to live to develop their skills and education before becoming eligible.

Two things. One, those kids are going to have to wait two more years to get their payday, no matter how large or small it may be. That sucks. Right now they can sign at 16. Under this proposal they have to wait until they’re 18. And two, this is yet another incentive for teams to be bad. Bad clubs already get the largest draft bonus pools and protected picks. Now they’ll get access to the top international talent without worrying about other clubs offering more money.

This proposal — thankfully that’s all this is right now, a proposal — is great for the teams and owners. They’ll save money and also get two extra years to evaluate these kids before deciding whether to sign to them. It stinks for the players, who have to wait to get paid and risk having their skills erode before they can cash in. You have no idea how many kids sign at 16 only to then fill out physically and lose the electric athleticism that got them paid. An international draft is inevitable. Hopefully MLBPA doesn’t relent this CBA and we get a few more years of true free agency.

Qualifying offer system could change with CBA

The qualifying offer system may also be revamped with the new CBA, reports Joel Sherman. The QO isn’t going away, but the MLB and the MLBPA may make it so players can not receive the QO in consecutive years. That means the Orioles wouldn’t be able to get a draft pick for Matt Wieters this offseason since they gave him the QO last offseason, which he accepted. Something like that.

I can’t imagine MLB and MLBPA will ever completely severe ties between the draft and free agency — they don’t want rich teams to have access to the best free agents and first round talent — so this might be the next best thing. If this proposal goes through, you might see some more players sign one-year contracts so they can go back out on the market with no draft pick attached. I think most guys will look to grab the largest payday as soon as possible though. Being set for life financial is pretty cool, I hear.