Update: MLBPA extends deadline to settle Ohtani posting dispute

(Atsushi Tomura/Getty)
(Atsushi Tomura/Getty)

November 20th: The MLBPA has announced a 24-hour extension for talks. The new deadline is 8pm ET Tuesday. I suppose this means the two sides (three sides, really) are making enough progress that the union is willing to extend talks to make sure this gets done. So … good news?

November 16th: According to Jon Heyman, the MLBPA has set a Monday deadline to settle the ongoing dispute regarding Shohei Ohtani and the posting system. If MLB, NPB, and MLBPA can not come to an agreement in four days, Ohtani will not come over this winter, and will instead return to the Nippon Ham Fighters next season.

The posting agreement expired a few weeks ago, and MLB and NPB agreed to grandfather Ohtani in under the old agreement, meaning the (Ham) Fighters will set a $20M release feel. The MLBPA doesn’t like that though. They don’t want so much money going to the (Ham) Fighters and so little money going to Ohtani, hence the dispute. MLBPA’s approval is needed to finalize the posting system.

Because he is only 23, Ohtani is subject to the international hard cap, which will severely limit his earning potential. The Rangers and Yankees are said to have the most hard cap space available at $3.5M or so each. Furthermore, Ohtani can only sign a minor league contract, and will earn the league minimum next year. Ouch.

Of course, the MLBPA agreed to the international hard cap last year as part of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The union has been selling out its future members for years by agreeing to draft and international spending limits, and now there’s a star player who could’ve changed baseball’s salary scale and helped all MLBPA members, but can’t.

The MLBPA had their seat at the table. They could’ve rejected an international hard cap. We all knew about Ohtani last year. He was not a secret. MLB and the MLBPA knew he would come over at some point, yet the union agreed to the hard cap anyway. And if all the parties involved fail to come to an agreement by Monday and Ohtani has to stay in Japan next year, it will be the MLBPA’s fault.

Saturday Links: Profar, Ohtani, Stanton, Ellsbury

Didi and Profar in the WBC. (Matt Roberts/Getty)
Didi and Profar in the WBC. (Matt Roberts/Getty)

Monday should be a pretty busy day, folks. It is the deadline the MLBPA has set to hammer out the posting agreement for Shohei Ohtani. If a deal isn’t done by Monday, he’s going to stay in Japan next season. Also, Monday is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft. There’s going to be plenty of roster shuffling that day. Here are some other bits of news to check out.

Yankees interested in Profar again

Once again, the Yankees have some interest in former Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, reports Joel Sherman. Pretty sure this is the third straight offseason the Yankees have been connected to Profar. They’ve been trying to buy low on him since his shoulder problems started a few years ago. Interestingly, Sherman says Texas has interest in some depth arms at the bottom of New York’s 40-man roster, and a deal could be built around them. Huh.

Profar, 25 in February, missed both the 2014 and 2015 seasons with shoulder surgery. He’s hit only .227/.316/.315 (71 wRC+) since coming back, including .172/.294/.207 (40 wRC+) in 22 big league games in 2017. The Rangers sent Profar to Triple-A, where he hit .287/.383/.428 (116 wRC+) in 87 games. They did not give him a September call-up though, and Profar is reportedly preparing to file a grievance because the non-call-up pushed his free agency back a year.

Acquiring Profar would be very similar to acquiring Aaron Hicks. The Yankees would be betting on talent and a chance of scenery. Profar was a tippy top prospect not too long ago, he’s still only 24, he’s a switch-hitter, and he’s played basically every position other than pitcher or catcher. He is out of minor league options, so it’s MLB or bust. That’s one drawback. Ultimately, just stockpile high-end talent. If all it takes is some fringe 40-man roster arms, this is a no-brainer.

Ohtani wants to hit and pitch

Not surprisingly, Ohtani wants to both hit and pitch whenever he comes over to the big leagues, reports Yahoo! Japan (translation via @NPB_Reddit). “Ohtani said he wants to play both ways in MLB. I plan to respect that wish,” said his agent. If you’re interested, Dan Szymborski put together statistical translations and ZiPS projections for Ohtani, which seem quite relevant. Here are the 2018 projections:

  • As pitcher: 3.55 ERA (119 ERA+), 10.4 K/9, +3.3 WAR in 139.1 innings
  • As hitter: .266/.328/.466 (112 OPS+), 12 HR, +2.2 WAR in 305 at-bats

That would be pretty incredible in his first year as an MLB player. And, for what it’s worth, ZiPS projects a 125 ERA+ and 121 OPS+ at Ohtani’s peak at age 27. That would be amazing. I think everyone has kinda assumed Ohtani will want to hit and pitch when he comes over, but now we know for sure. His agent confirmed it. We’ll see how it goes. Doing one thing well is hard enough. Doing both well would be rather remarkable.

Yankees checked in on Stanton

Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. (Eric Espada/Getty)
Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. (Eric Espada/Getty)

As expected, the Yankees have reached out to the Marlins to discuss Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, reports Jon Heyman. They also checked in back around the trade deadline. Stanton is the big trade commodity this offseason — Heyman says at least eight teams are involved, and I expect more to get involved before it’s all said and done — and so far the Cardinals and Giants have emerged as the most serious suitors.

The Yankees typically check in on everyone during the winter, especially any star players who become available. That doesn’t mean they’re seriously interested in acquiring Stanton. Would they take him if the Marlins make an offer that’s too good to be true? Of course. In that case you get Stanton and figure out where he fits later. That’s why you make the call. In case a favorable deal can be made. Otherwise this is just due diligence. The Yankees have more than enough outfielders as it is.

Ellsbury not yet asked to waive no-trade clause

According to Brendan Kuty, Brian Cashman confirmed this week that the Yankees have not yet asked Jacoby Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause. Last offseason they approached Brian McCann about waiving his no-trade clause fairly early. I assume that’s because there was legitimate interest in McCann at the trade deadline and serious interest again in the offseason, so there was a real chance of a trade. That probably isn’t the case with Ellsbury. Here’s what Cashman told Kuty:

I have not had any dialogue with Scott (Boras), haven’t even approached Scott, I guess it’s a similar situation. I think in both cases — in McCann’s case as well as if there is going to be something for consideration with Jacoby — I would make sure I would stay ahead of it and have to include anybody in the process on their side of it to make sure it’s handled the proper way.

“They have a full no-trade for a reason, and I would walk through that process with the highest level of communication and respect because of it. I haven’t connected with Scott at all, but I know he’s here somewhere, and I’ll make sure I’ll get a chance to talk to him before I leave just generally about everything Scott Boras related for the winter, and I’m sure we’ll also talk about Jacoby as well.

Cashman also said that, as of right now, Ellsbury is the fourth outfielder. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge are entrenched in the corners, and Hicks is the man in center going forward. “They were the best that we had (in the postseason), and so I think we would anticipate going (into 2018) that way again,” said Cashman. The Yankees are going to have to eat a lot of money to trade Ellsbury, but I think they’re more willing to do it right now than ever before, so I expect them to shop him around pretty aggressively. And when the time comes, they’ll ask about the no-trade clause.

Prospect Profile: Clarke Schmidt

(AP)
(AP)

Clarke Schmidt | LHP

Background
Schmidt, 21, grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Acworth, and he was one of the top pitchers in the state during his time at Allatoona High School. He struck out 100 batters and posted a 0.72 ERA in 55 innings as a senior, which earned him regional Pitcher of the Year honors. Schmidt’s older brother Clate played four years at Clemson and is currently a Tigers farmhand.

Despite his success at Allatoona, Baseball America did not rank Schmidt as one of the top 500 prospects for the 2014 draft, or as one of the top 43 draft prospects in Georgia. He went undrafted out of high school and followed through on his commitment to South Carolina, where he was teammates with current Yankees prospects Taylor Widener and Dom Thompson-Williams. Schmidt missed being Jordan Montgomery‘s teammate by one year.

As a freshman Schmidt threw 58 innings with a 4.81 ERA and a 55/20 K/BB across ten starts and eight relief appearances. Life in the SEC can be rough for a freshman hurler. After the season Schmidt played summer ball in the Coastal Plains League, where he made three starts and allowed 13 runs (eight earned) in 8.2 innings for the Florence RedWolves. Ouch.

The 2015 season was Schmidt’s breakout year. He threw 111.1 innings with a 3.40 ERA and a 129/27 K/BB as a sophomore and emerged as South Carolina’s ace. His first postseason start did not go well (4 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 8 K vs. Rhode Island) but the second was better (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K vs. Oklahoma State). The Gamecocks lost both starts. The second ended their season.

Schmidt’s junior year was outstanding. He threw 60.1 innings with a 1.34 ERA and a 70/18 K/BB while pitching through a minor oblique issue, and was as good as any college pitcher in his country. Schmidt was so good he was named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, which is essentially a candidates list for the Golden Spikes Award, the baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

Unfortunately for Schmidt, he left his April 20th outing against Florida with forearm tightness after throwing 84 pitches in 5.1 innings. Tests revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He had Tommy John surgery a week later — Mets team doctor Dr. David Altcheck performed the procedure — ending his college career. Schmidt went 15-9 with a 3.21 ERA and 254/65 K/BB in 229.2 innings at South Carolina.

Considered a likely first round pick before blowing out his elbow, Schmidt was ranked as the 32nd best prospect in the 2017 draft by Baseball America, and the 49th best prospect by MLB.com. The Yankees selected Schmidt with their first round pick, the 16th overall selection. He signed a few weeks later for an $2,184,300 bonus, well below the $3,458,600 slot value.

Pro Debut
Schmidt has not yet made his pro debut because of the whole Tommy John surgery thing. The last rehab update came in mid-September, when Schmidt told Brendan Kuty everything is going well. “Everything’s been great so far. I’m just excited to take the next step and to keep working,” he said. Schmidt told Kuty he started throwing three weeks prior to their conversation, so his rehab is right on schedule. (There haven’t been any updates on his rehab since, though that’s not unusual at all.)

Scouting Report
After sitting in the mid-to-upper-80s in high school, Schmidt gradually added velocity in college as he matured physically, and was comfortably sitting 91-93 mph and touching 96 mph before blowing out his elbow this year. His fastball is more of a running two-seamer than a four-seamer.

A hard mid-80s slider is Schmidt’s bread and butter and the reason he was drafted so high despite Tommy John surgery. He can vary the break on the slider — he can sweep it side-to-side or have it drop down out of the zone — so much so that it’ll sometimes look like a curveball. The slider was considered a big league out pitch before the elbow injury. Schmidt also throws a promising mid-80s changeup that was above-average on its best days.

There were two concerns about Schmidt heading into the 2017 draft. One, his delivery can be a little stiff and that will cause his command to waver at times. And two, he’s not the biggest guy at 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs., so there were questions about his durability. The Tommy John surgery means those questions will persist going forward.

Teams aren’t scared away by Tommy John surgery these days and one of the reasons the Yankees felt comfortable taking Schmidt is his makeup. He’s an absolute bulldog on the mound, and he’s drawn rave reviews for his work ethic and makeup for years. (He skipped summer ball in 2015 to be with his family after his brother was diagnosed with cancer.) The Yankees always target great makeup guys and Schmidt is no different. They were confident he’d work hard during his rehab.

2018 Outlook
These days teams give pitchers — especially young pitchers and prospects — closer to 14-16 months to rehab following Tommy John surgery. The days of a 12-month rehab are long gone. Given the timing of Schmidt’s surgery, it’s unlikely he’ll take the mound in an official minor league game until the various short season leagues begin in late-June. The Yankees will bring him along slowly in Extended Spring Training until then. The 2018 season will effectively be a rehab year for Schmidt. Get healthy, shake off the rust, and prepare to turn it loose in 2019.

My Take
I have trouble separating my opinion of Schmidt as a prospect with my opinion of the decision to use the 16th overall selection on an injured pitcher. Schmidt is a quality prospect, at least when healthy. I always worry about short-ish pitchers being home run prone, but otherwise he has a good fastball and a great slider, and the makings of a very good changeup. Add in his makeup and competitiveness and you’ve got a quality pitching prospect. No doubt.

I just didn’t love the decision to select an injured pitcher that high in the draft though, not with other perfectly healthy and equally talented college starters still on the board. (Florida righty Alex Faedo and Oregon lefty David Peterson were selected not long after Schmidt.) Based on various post-draft interviews with scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, it seems Schmidt was Plan B. The Yankees were originally targeting players who came off the board before their pick, and when they weren’t available, they went with Schmidt because they knew they could sign him below slot and spread the savings around.

I know Tommy John surgery has a very high success rate, and I know Schmidt’s rehab is going well so far, but elbow reconstruction is a significant risk. There can be complications or setbacks, his pre-surgery stuff might not fully return, all sorts of stuff can happen. The pre-surgery version of Schmidt was a very good prospect. Will he be the same guy after he completes his rehab? The Yankees believe so. I think it was too big of a risk at that point in the draft. It’s not like Schmidt was a consensus top five draft prospect they were able to steal. They took him about where he was expected to go when he was healthy, except he wasn’t healthy.

Thoughts on the Yankees’ pursuit on Shohei Ohtani

(Getty)
(Getty)

The offseason is in full swing. The other day, Shohei Ohtani’s NPB team the Nippon Ham Fighters announced that they will post their two-way player/phenom to the Major Leagues.

Ohtani will be a special case. You know the deal. He is uber-talented on both sides of the ball and has the potential to be great as a pitcher and hitter in the MLB. Because of his skills, marketability, etc. the Yankees are expected to go hard after him and many experts have predicted Ohtani will head to Bronx. Wouldn’t it be nice?

However, even if the Yankees are objectively favored to be his destination, many things have to go right in order for the marriage to happen. And even if things work out, there are question marks that will only be answered by time. Here are few thoughts on things to be addressed assuming Ohtani gets successfully posted and the Yankees are in strong contention for him (duh).

1. Could the two-way talent become a sweet poison?

The skills Ohtani has shown as a 23-year old are insane. 2017 was a down season because of his injuries, but take a look at how well he did in 2016, his MVP season. As a pitcher, he went 10-4, 1.86 ERA with 174 K/45 BB in 140 IP while allowing only 4 home runs (!). As a matter of fact, he hit way more than that. On the plate, he hit .322/.416/.588 (1.004 OPS) with 22 HRs (41 extra-base hits) in 323 AB’s. For a player to excel like that on both sides of the ball is utterly insane. Again, we’re not talking about a guy who just merely helped the team out. He was a superstar on both facets of the game. The Fighters had a Corey Kluber and Freddie Freeman morphed into one player.

Now, it’s no secret that Ohtani wants to continue being a two-way guy in the MLB. He certainly has the potential and tools to be very good at both. Because Ohtani has been seen as a special talent since he was drafted by Nippon Ham, the team took care of him quite differently than other NPB players. Having to practice and play two different positions can take a toll on body. In the NPB, Ohtani was a weekly starting pitcher and hit DH two or three times a week. From 2014-16, he racked up more than 140 IP each season and from 2013-2017, he had more than 200 plate appearances in every season but one.

I don’t know how much that workload contributed to his injury troubles in 2017, but he started out this season with a thigh injury and recently, he underwent an ankle surgery (but is expected to be ready for the Spring Training). Now, it’s not great when you hear a 23-year-old get hampered by lower body issues. You just hope that they don’t turn into something long-term. Though he should be 100% and ready to go come Spring Training, these injuries at this stage of his career should serve as a cautionary guideline on how to handle him going forward.

2. How much would a team be willing to work around him?

This is something that will probably be talked about on and off for years. Never in recent ML history has a team had to adjust their roster and usage based on one player. Ohtani – and whichever club that would acquire him – could be a pioneer in something a bit more complicated.

I think this will play a big part in how a team can sell themselves to Ohtani. Remember, the initial contract is not a huge factor in signing him. He will choose a team that is the best fit for him and that club would most likely tell him that they will do this and that to accommodate his playing interests.

Let’s go back to the injury aspect though. It is worth noting that an ankle trouble for someone at Ohtani’s age is troubling – especially considering that he pitches and bats. Both of those activities require a lot of use of lower body (as does athletics in general) and it’s conceivable that the stress of all those motions have caught up to Ohtani’s ankle and caused him to miss the 2017 World Baseball Classic and beyond. It is quite possible that his lower body troubles don’t suddenly end after the surgery he went through. It is reasonable for teams to feat that Ohtani’s ankle problem could reoccur later on and bring that up to him when proposing their plan.

The concern doesn’t end at his ankle either. There’s also the pitching workload. Typically, Ohtani’s had to pitch only once a week with 6 days of rest. In the MLB, starting pitchers get four or five days of rest before they go back to the hill. If a team wants to accommodate Ohtani’s two-way wishes, it means that they have to give him a good amount of rest time in between his starts AND have to find time for him to hit. That is a lot of physical demand, especially in 162 games (an NPB season lasts 146 games, with every Mondays off). That tells me that, if a team wants to keep Ohtani healthy and have him pitch and hit, they would have to run the roster a bit unorthodox than other teams. It will lead to some headaches, I would imagine.

For what it’s worth, that will make it much harder for NL teams to pursue him. If they promise him a hitting gig, it would mean that he has to go out and field. Being a pitcher and DH can be strenuous enough but pitch + hit + field? Lordy.

3. Prospect

Let’s take a different look at Ohtani – him as a prospect instead of a guy who’s expected to produce big time right away. He may not dominate right away in the majors. He is young, he just came off a season hobbled with injuries, and he will have to get acclimated to a whole other league. However, a healthy Ohtani could be as nasty as anyone. I’m sure you’ve seen a share of Ohtani pitching videos by now, but here’s a reminder of how deadly he can be:

Ohtani will be 23-years old on the 2018 Opening Day. That’s the age where a lot of young ML players either reach the show or start settling in. Aaron Judge reached to the bigs at age 24, for instance. Ohtani can grow more by getting ML experience, which is an exciting thought.

Now, what am I trying to say? I’m saying that you can see him as an exciting potential ML’er that can make an impact right away but can improve significantly after a few seasons. Now, it’s also reasonable to expect some growing/adjustment pains as well. It would be neat if he performs like a superstar from the game one, but it’s never easy to just come over to a different league and do that.

As exciting as he is, Ohtani does come with certain flaws. For instance, he struck out for a 27.3% clip at the plate in 2017. That number would most likely increase in the MLB. Also as mentioned, there are question marks with his health, which certainly impacted his pitching performance in ’17 (19 walks allowed in 25.1 IP). The greatness might not come right away and, frankly, it doesn’t have to. It’s perfectly normal for guy like him to take some time to blossom in the MLB.

Ohtani has already put his skills and potential into action in the NPB with monstrous performances. All that needs to happen – much easier said than done – is for him to do the same in the MLB. Ohtani has the potential to be a big part of the core of a team’s future. Think of how much the Yanks are counting on guys like Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, etc. going forward. Ohtani could be one of them.

4. Are the Yankees going to get him anyways?

The Yankees have their share of history bringing in Japanese talents. Because of that, it’s easy to assume that they are one of the very likely destinations for Ohtani. In their recent history, the Yanks went all-out to convince Masahiro Tanaka to sign with the team with video presentations, etc. I’m sure they’ll do at least the similar for Ohtani as well.

However, you never know what goes behind the curtains. Ohtani would not cost a lot of money for any team thanks to the CBA rule, which means, hypothetically, a small-market club like the Rays could sign him without financial hitch if they somehow can appeal to him. Remember, the big factor to signing him is how much a club can sell themselves to him. The Yankees are obviously very charming but so are many other clubs. One thing that goes well for them and other AL clubs is that Ohtani wants to hit and they can plug him in a DH role regularly. Good luck to NL teams trying to get him convincing him that he can try to hit regularly without having him to field.

On a personal note – I remember the Daisuke Matsuzaka saga in the winter of 2006. The rumored posting fee to get to talk to him was $25 million and it seemed a lot at the time. The Yankees were interested and, of course, that was around the amount that they bid to the Saitama Seibu Lions. However, the Red Sox blew everyone out of the water by giving an unprecedented $50 million bid. That was shocking to many. And sure, the Matsuzaka and Ohtani situations are quite different, but my point here is that anything could happen when all 30 MLB teams are in play.

This Ohtani situation is something truly unique. Whatever happens and however he pans out as a player, it’s a good bet that the next month or two will be talked about for a long, long time.

2018 Draft: Yankees hold the 23rd overall pick

(Getty)
(Getty)

This is probably something I should’ve covered a few weeks ago, but that pesky postseason run got in the way. Better late than never, I guess. Anyway, the Yankees hold the 23rd overall selection in the 2018 amateur draft. They went 91-71 this season and had the eighth best record in baseball in 2017. The Tigers hold the No. 1 pick and the Giants hold the No. 2 pick because Pablo Sandoval hit a walk-off homer in Game 162. True story.

The Yankees have not picked as low as 23rd overall since back in 2013, when they selected Eric Jagielo with the 26th selection. Jagielo was the first of New York’s three first round picks that year. They selected Aaron Judge (32nd) with the compensation pick for Nick Swisher, and Ian Clarkin (33rd) with the compensation pick for Rafael Soriano. The Yankees held the 16th (James Kaprielian), 18th (Blake Rutherford), and 16th (Clarke Schmidt) overall picks from 2015-17.

Last year slot money for the 23rd overall pick was $2,702,700. Slots are expected to increase again this year, as always. They rose approximately 5% from 2016 to 2017. The college and high school seasons are still months away from starting, so it’s basically impossible to know who the Yankees could target with that 23rd pick. Baseball America did, however, put together a super early 2018 mock draft last month. Here’s the Yankees’ pick:

23. Yankees

The rising Yankees still lack a consistent first baseman, and Triston Casas—MVP of the 18U World Cup—has the power to make Yankee Stadium look small.

PICK: Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage School, Plantation, Fla.

Hmmm, a non-elite high school first baseman in the first round? Doesn’t sound very exciting. Unless you’re talking Prince Fielder power or Eric Hosmer athleticism and makeup, the history of first round high school first baseman is really ugly.

Anyway, our 2018 Draft Order Tracker page is now live. You can access it at any time via the Resources pulldown menu at the top of the site. It’s pretty bare bones right now because nothing exciting has happened in free agency yet. That’s change soon enough, so make sure you bookmark that page and check back often.

DotF: Justus Sheffield exits final AzFL start with an injury

LHP Justus Sheffield was removed from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League start after two innings as a precaution after taking a line drive to his left thigh. The video is above. That’s going to leave a bruise. The AzFL season ends Thursday, so that was his final start. Tough way to end the season, but a good season it was. Here are some other minor league notes:

  • Randy Miller spoke to a scout who saw all seven players the Yankees sent to the Arizona Fall League this year, so check that out. The six actual prospects the team sent to the AzFL received strong reports. (Sorry, RHP Andrew Schwaab.)
  • Danny Wild spoke to RHP Cody Carroll about his career to date, and the things he’s working on in the AzFL. Carroll throw very hard. The goal now is to improve his secondary stuff and command.
  • LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 5), RHP Albert Abreu (No. 6), and SS Thairo Estrada (No. 10) all appeared on last week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. The AzFL is usually very hitter friendly. Glad to see the Sheffield and Abreu are doing well out there.

Arizona Fall League

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 17 G, 24-68, 12 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 19 K, 2 BB, 1 CS, 2 HBP (.353/.397/.426) — lotta strikeouts for the contact guy
  • OF Estevan Florial: 16 G, 15-59, 11 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 10 BB, 24 K, 2 SB, 2 CS, 1 HBP (.254/.371/.339) — started great, but he’s hit the skids the last week or two … he’s in a 4-for-32 (.125) rut at the moment
  • SS Kyle Holder: 10 G, 14-40, 4 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 CS, 1 HBP (.350/.386/.525) — had a great second half and a great AzFL … I think next year will be a big year for him
  • 1B/OF Billy McKinney: 16 G, 17-57, 8 R, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 11 BB, 13 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP (.290/.391/.455) — so far he’s played nine games at first base, six in left field, and one at DH
  • RHP Albert Abreu: 5 G, 5 GS, 22.2 IP, 15 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 12 BB, 23 K, 3 HR (3.18 ERA and 1.19 WHIP) — at one of his recent starts, Jonathan Mayo had Abreu at 92-96 mph with his fastball, 88-91 with his changeup, and 80-82 with the curveball … Mayo also mentioned Abreu as a possible top 100 prospect in a recent mailbag
  • RHP Cody Carroll: 8 G, 10.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 16 K (0.00 ERA and 0.56 WHIP) — lights out
  • RHP Andrew Schwaab: 8 G, 9.1 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 6 K, 1 HB (6.75 ERA and 1.93 WHIP)
  • LHP Justus Sheffield: 5 G, 5 GS, 20.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 22 K, 3 WP (3.10 ERA and 0.84 WHIP)

[Read more…]

Saturday Links: Otani, Minor League Free Agents, 2018 ZiPS

(Getty)
(Getty)

The offseason has been slow-moving so far, so here are some bits of news and notes to help you pass the time. Hopefully something exciting happens soon.

Otani will be posted this offseason

Yesterday the Nippon Ham Fighters announced they will indeed post Shohei Otani for MLB teams this offseason, according to the Japan Times and the Kyodo News. It’s important to note the (Ham) Fighters have only announced their intention to post Otani. He hasn’t actually been posted yet. MLB, MLBPA, and NPB are still haggling over the posting agreement. From the Kyodo News:

“Everyone in our ballclub accepts his thoughts,” said Hideki Kuriyama, manager of the (Ham) Fighters, at a press conference yesterday. “It’s not just me, but everyone in the ballclub believed in what he can do. I never lost doubt and I was sure he can do it. I spent the past five years just believing in that.”

Otani recently hired Nez Balelo of CAA, an MLBPA certified agent, which could help settle the posting squabble between MLB, MLBPA, and NPB. The union knows Otani is in good hands now — Balelo is a veteran agent who has experience representing Japanese players (Nori Aoki, Junichi Tazawa) as well as big name players (Ryan Braun, Adam Jones) — and can be sure he is completely aware of the situation. Once the posting stuff if sorted out, Otani will be posted. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.

16 Yankees become minor league free agents

Earlier this week a whopping 572 players became minor league free agents across baseball, according to Matt Eddy. Sixteen of those 572 players are Yankees. Or were Yankees, anyway. Here are the 16.

  • Pitchers (8): RHP Colten Brewer, LHP Daniel Camarena, RHP Juan Jimenez, RHP Tyler Jones, LHP Joe Mantiply, RHP Jose Pena, RHP Eduardo Rivera, LHP Eric Wooten
  • Catchers (4): Wilkin Castillo, Kellin Deglan, Eddy Rodriguez, Wes Wilson
  • Infielders (3): 3B Dante Bichette Jr., IF Cito Culver, IF Donovan Solano
  • Outfielders (1): Mason Williams

Bichette and Culver are the most notable names here as former high draft picks, and Williams was once among the organization’s very best prospects. Brewer and Camarena are the best prospects right now, though neither comes particularly close to cracking the organization’s top 30 prospects list. Or even the top 40 list. Solano and Williams are the only two of those 16 players who played in the big leagues with the Yankees.

Also, according to Eddy, the Yankees have re-signed LHP Chaz Hebert, who was due to become a minor league free agent this winter. The 25-year-old southpaw had a breakout 2015 season, throwing 134 innings with a 2.55 ERA (3.11 FIP) at three levels. Then he blew out his elbow and missed the entire 2016 season and the first half of 2017 with Tommy John surgery. Hebert got back on the mound late this year and will back in the fold next year.

Yankees top 2018 AL ZiPS projections

A few days ago Dan Szymborski used his ZiPS system to put together way-too-early 2018 projected standings. ZiPS right now pegs the Yankees for 92 wins and first place in the AL East next year. In fact, those 92 wins are the most among all AL teams — the 90-win Astros are second — and second most in MLB overall behind the 96-win Dodgers.

New York of course had a gigantic payroll in 2017 as it typically does, but what people haven’t completely noticed about this team is that it got far more of its wins from inexpensive, young talent than the good Yankees teams typically do. The last time the team won a World Series, it got 9.7 WAR (17 percent) from players making less than a million bucks. In 2017, that number was 25.9 WAR (49 percent).

Of course, there is still an entire offseason to go, so every team’s roster can and will change before Opening Day. As things stand right now though, the Yankees are set up well going into next year thanks to their young core and some nice veteran complementary players. It’s entirely possible they could go into next season even bigger favorites to win the AL East depending how the offseason plays out.