Archive for Trade Deadline
Via Andrew Marchand: The Rangers called the Yankees and asked about Robinson Cano‘s availability earlier this season, but New York told them he wasn’t available and talks never got off the ground. We heard some unknown teams inquired about Robbie before the trade deadline.
Cano, 30, hit .314/.383/.516 (142 wRC+) with 27 homers in 160 games this season, his seventh straight year of at least 159 games played. The Yankees have already offered him a seven-year, $161M contract and figure to climb higher to get a deal done at some point this winter. A half-season of Cano is still worth a ton — Texas probably would have avoided a tiebreaker game if they had him instead of Mitch Moreland (with Ian Kinsler moving to first), for example — so the Yankees could have asked for quite a bit. Jurickson Profar for three months of Cano? Martin Perez? No reason to take anything less.
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees called the Nationals and tried to acquire right-hander Dan Haren just last weekend. The two sides never did get close to a deal. “We haven’t stopped trying to improve. We’ve always been open to different things, pursuing different things. It started all the way back in March, when all the injuries hit,” said Brian Cashman, who acknowledged the team is still looking for upgrades.
Haren, 32, has a 5.02 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 150.2 innings across 27 starts (and one relief appearance) this year, but he’s been much better in the second half: 4.06 ERA and 3.31 FIP. His fly ball (35.2% grounders) and homer (1.55 HR/9 and 13.3% HR/FB) rates would have been a big problem in Yankee Stadium. The rotation has fallen apart in recent weeks as Hiroki Kuroda hit a wall and Ivan Nova stopped pitching like an ace, so seeking an upgrade over the Phil Hugheses and David Huffs of the world is a wise move. Too bad they couldn’t swing anything.
The last week or so has been total hell on the Yankees bullpen. David Robertson (shoulder) and Boone Logan (biceps, elbow) are both banged up and Shawn Kelley (triceps) spent a few days on the sidelines as well. Joba Chamberlain has been forced into high-leverage work and that just isn’t a good idea. Mariano Rivera, who clearly isn’t the Mo of old right now, has been asked to record more than three outs three times in his last four appearances and figures to see even more multi-inning work before the season ends in 19 days.
Robertson is expected to rejoin the team this week — perhaps as soon as today — and hopefully that is the case, but you never know with the Yankees and their recent history of setbacks. Pretty much everyone has one. Logan’s test results will be reviewed by Dr. James Andrews and that’s never a good sign. The Yankees re-signed journeyman Mike Zagurski yesterday, which is an indication they are at least somewhat concerned Logan will not be returning anytime soon.
A trade in September is not something you see all that often, but New York swung one last night to acquire infield help in the form of Brendan Ryan. They should also consider trading for bullpen help at this point. Like Ryan, whoever they acquire at this point would not be eligible for the playoff roster since they weren’t in the organization on August 31st, but there probably won’t even be a playoff roster in a few weeks if Yankees don’t get help. Here are three bullpen arms on non-contending teams who could be available in a trade at this unusual time.
Burke Badenhop, Brewers
Milwaukee is one the very worst teams in baseball and they don’t have a whole lot of desirable tradeable chips — aside from untouchables Carlos Gomes and Jean Segura, that is — which is why their deadline sell-off featured only Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford changing addresses. The 30-year-old Badenhop was rumored to be on the block as well, but he ultimately stayed put and has a 3.60 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 60 innings this summer. He’s essentially a righty specialist — has held righties to a .251 wOBA while lefties have tagged him for a .377 wOBA (more walks than strikeouts too) — who limits walks (1.80 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%) and gets ground balls (51.6%) but doesn’t miss many bats (6.15 K/9 and 16.8 K%).
If used correctly, Badenhop can be a real weapon against right-handed batters in the later innings of a game. He pitched with the Rays last season and was pretty effective (3.03 ERA and 3.62 FIP), so the AL East and a postseason race and all that won’t be new experiences. Badenhop is only owed approximately $240k the rest of the season and, as an added bonus, he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2014. The Brewers took Grade-C prospects for K-Rod and Axford, who had much sexier track records than the sinker/slider guy Badenhop, so the cost shouldn’t be prohibitive.
Frank Francisco, Mets
Frankie Frank missed almost the entire season with bone spurs in his elbow and, according to Adam Rubin, there are some in the organization who think the 33-year-old had a “lack of urgency” during his rehab. He did return this past weekend and has pitched in two games, facing four total batters while allowing a single and recording a walk, a strikeout, and a ground ball. Francisco managed a 5.53 ERA (3.90 FIP) in 42.1 innings while missing time with oblique and elbow problems last season. He’s always been a high strikeout (career 9.92 K/9 and 25.6 K%), high walk (3.98 BB/9 and 10.3 BB%), low ground ball (34.4%) guy.
One team official told Rubin it is “certainly possible” the Mets will look to trade Francisco before the end of the season just to save some of the $715k they still owe him. That same official responded “Why wouldn’t we work something out with them?” when asked if they’d be open to trading with the Yankees. Francisco has late-inning/closer experience and will be a free agent after the season, plus the Mets would probably give him away at this point. Remember, we’re not talking about replacing Robertson or Kelley here. We’re talking about replacing Jim Miller or Matt Daley.
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Lindstrom, 33, has very quietly been one of the most effective relievers in baseball over these last three years. He has a 2.89 ERA (3.03 FIP) in 56 innings for the ChiSox this season and a 2.87 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 157 innings since the start of 2011. After coming up has a super-hard-thrower who didn’t always know where the ball was going, Lindstrom has scaled things back in recent years and now uses a mid-90s sinker/low-80s slider combination to generate a ton of ground balls (53.9%) and infield pop-ups (10.4%). Both his walk (3.70 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%) and strikeout (6.91 K/9 and 18.1 K%) rates have taken steps back this year, however.
As we saw firsthand last week, the White Sox are truly awful. Worst non-Astros team in the AL awful. They acknowledged that by trading away Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, and Matt Thornton at the deadline, so it stands to reason that Lindstrom would be available as well. He is owed roughly $355k through the end of the year with an affordable $4M club option ($500k buyout) for 2014 season in his contract. The Yankees need relievers, both right now and next season with Rivera and Joba (and Logan) due to become free agents, and Lindstrom is the kind of guy who can help both situations. He’s no bullpen savior, but if nothing else, he sure and the other two guys in this post would add useful depth — as opposed to the Daleys and Millers of the world who are just there because they’re warm bodies — to the bullpen down the stretch.
If there’s one thing we learned from Derek Jeter‘s injury this year, it’s that the Yankees have very little shortstop depth in the minor leagues. Especially at the upper levels. There’s nothing after the now-injured Eduardo Nunez, which is why guys like Reid Brignac, Chris Nelson, and Alberto Gonzalez found their way onto the team at various points of the season. They didn’t bring those guys in out of boredom. They were necessary because the farm system had nothing to offer.
That lack of shortstop — and really middle infield all together — depth will carry over to next season. David Adams and even Corban Joseph could step in at second base on an emergency basis, but it’s tough to consider either guy an everyday option. Finding quality infield depth to either put on the bench or stash with Triple-A Scranton should be a priority this winter, and frankly they could use some help right now with Jayson Nix out for the season and Nunez heading for an MRI today.
Bill Ladson reported yesterday that the Nationals are trying to trade 26-year-old Danny Espinosa, their starting second baseman since Opening Day 2011. He wound up in Triple-A back in June because he was awful and Ladson says the team isn’t even committed to bringing him back up when rosters expand in September. They’ve very clearly soured on him. Does it make sense for the Yankees to pursue a trade, either before the August 31st deadline (so he can be eligible for the potential playoff roster) or over the winter? Let’s look.
- Espinosa broke into the show in September 2010 and hit .242/.319/.408 (99 wRC+) with 38 homers and a 7.9% walk rate during his two full seasons from 2011-2012. He’s a switch hitter who did his best work against lefties (124 wRC+) while being a non-embarrassment against righties (91 wRC+).
- The various defensive metrics have all rated Espinosa as above-average at second (+16 DRS, +14.5 UZR, +20 Total Zone) and no worse than average at short (+4, +5.0, +7) in parts of four big league seasons. His playing time at short is limited (335 innings) because of Ian Desmond, so sample size and all that.
- Espinosa is 38-for-52 (73%) in stolen base attempts as a big leaguer and 61-for-86 (71%) in his minor league career. He’s been almost exactly league average in terms of non-stolen base base-running, like going first-to-third on a single. That kinda stuff.
- Espinosa is right on the Super Two bubble. If he comes up in September, he’ll qualify. If he stays down, he won’t. Either way, he can’t become a free agent until after the 2017 season and has at least one and likely two minor league options remaining.
- Espinosa has been an absolute disaster at the plate this season. He hit .158/.193/.272 (23 wRC+) in 167 plate appearances before being sent to Triple-A Syracuse, where he’s hit .215/.2717/.289 (58 wRC+) in 297 plate appearances. Ghastly.
- Even when productive, Espinosa was always a high-strikeout player. He whiffed in 27.0% of his plate appearances from 2011-2012 and 27.1% of his big league plate appearances overall. In Triple-A this season, it’s a 33.0% strikeout rate. Contact from either side of the plate is not his strong suit.
- Espinosa’s recent injury history is grim and he makes matters worse by playing hurt all the time. He had a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder late last season and a fracture in his right wrist (caused by a hit-by-pitch) earlier this year. A thumb issue has been bothering him in the minors of late. Espinosa spent 16 days on the DL for the wrist immediately before being sent down and that’s it. Played through everything else.
Obviously the various injury problems could be the root cause of Espinosa’s terrible year at the plate. You almost hope they are because then at least you have an explanation. If he was perfectly healthy and performing like this, it would be much bigger red flag. I understand the whole tough guy/playing through pain thing, but Espinosa has done himself a disservice these last two seasons. We’re not talking about a sore finger or a banged up knee here. If he needs surgery for the shoulder or wrist or whatever, his team (Nationals or otherwise) should get it taken care of ASAP this offseason.
Anyway, Espinosa represents a buy low opportunity right now. His recent performance has been terrible and Washington doesn’t seem eager to keep him around, which is exactly when you want to pounce. Maybe they can get him for pennies on the dollar, a la Nick Swisher a few years ago. Swisher’s poor year and clashes with then-manager Ozzie Guillen all worked to the Yankees advantage. Espinosa is in a similar situation. Three years of Jed Lowrie, another true switch-hitting middle infielder with injury problems, cost a big league reliever in a trade when he went from the Red Sox to the Astros last year. That seems like a decent reference as far as trade talks for Espinosa, but it’s not a perfect match.
The Yankees need to prioritize middle infield depth this winter and Espinosa offers both roster flexibility and some upside. Upside in the sense that he could return to his 2011-2012 form and become an everyday player who provides average offense and above-average defense at a hard to fill position. If he’s just an up-and-down spare infielder going forward, that’s okay too. The Yankees need one of them. Espinosa is not a savior. In a perfect world he’s an eighth or ninth place hitter who hits the occasional homer, steals the occasional base, and makes all the plays in the field. It boils down to this: Espinosa is a 26-year-old middle infielder with another four years of team control who put together back-to-back 3+ WAR seasons before an injury filled 2013. That’s someone the Yankees should go after while his stock is down.
Following last night’s loss to the Blue Jays, the Yankees have a 7.8% chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. Incredibly long odds with 31 games to play, no doubt about it, but it is doable. Considering it is Mariano Rivera‘s final season, the Yankees should have a little extra motivation to improve their roster as much as possible and make a serious run at the postseason.
Although the trade deadline passed almost a month ago, teams can still swing waiver deals at any time, even in September. The only problem is that a player must be in the organization (minors or Majors) by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster. There are no loopholes or exceptions, in the organization this Saturday or no postseason roster. That gives the Yankees less than five days to make any final moves and have those players be part of a potential playoff roster. There’s also the whole “the sooner you get them the more games they’ll play and help you” thing to keep in mind.
Barring a surprise return from Michael Pineda, David Phelps, or Vidal Nuno, the Yankees are as healthy as can be now that Derek Jeter has returned. Any help will have to come from outside. We already know they need to replace Phil Hughes in the rotation, but they could use more help than just another starter. Here are the club’s non-rotation problem areas — “problem areas” isn’t the right term, but you get the point — and a handful of potential trade targets.
The additions of Curtis Granderson, Alfonso Soriano, and Alex Rodriguez have helped the offense in a huge way. It’s crazy, who knew adding three above-average bats to the lineup would help? New York could still use some more punch though, particularly behind the plate. That won’t happen of course; the best solution there is more Austin Romine and less Chris Stewart. DH is a prime spot for an upgrade, however.
Last week we heard the Yankees were monitoring Justin Morneau and yesterday Jon Morosi reported Kendrys Morales has been claimed off waivers by an unknown team. Both guys make sense for the Yankees at this point — Morales would be the better fit as a switch-hitter — since they could take over at DH with Granderson shifting to right field full-time. Any self-respecting contender would have Ichiro Suzuki and his 77 wRC+ (37 wRC+ since the All-Star break) glued to the bench.
We still don’t know who claimed Morales, so the Yankees may or may not have had a chance at him. Morneau cleared waivers earlier this month and is there for taking though, and since the Twins aren’t planning to make him a qualifying offer after the season, it’s unlikely he will require a big return. Same with Morales, really. Salary relief and an okay prospect seems to like a logical return for less than five weeks of a flawed no-defense slugger.
There isn’t a team out there that couldn’t use another bullpen arm or two. The Yankees have plenty of setup man depth once Preston Claiborne returns, but they could use another left-hander to complement Boone Logan. Someone better than David Huff, anyway. Remember, they have a ton of games left against the Red Sox and Orioles. Having another southpaw to matchup with Chris Davis and David Ortiz and whoever else sure would be nice.
Javier Lopez of the Giants would have been perfect — dominates lefty hitters and has pennant race/World Series experience — but he was recently claimed off waivers by an unknown team according to Jon Heyman. I seriously doubt the Yankees are that unknown team; it would surprise me if he made it through the entire NL unclaimed. Paul Hoynes reported San Francisco was seeking a top pitching prospect for Lopez before the trade deadline anyway, so who knows if he was even acquirable.
Other potentially available lefty relievers include impending free agents Mike Gonzalez (holding lefties to a .331 wOBA), Darren Oliver (.447), and Oliver Perez (.302). Perez has stunk of late and the other two have not dominated same-side hitters this year as they have in the past. Aside from Huff and the injured Nuno, New York’s only internal option is the untested Cesar Cabral. Hard to see that happening, but who knows. Phil Coke came out of almost nowhere to dominate in September 2008. If the Yankees don’t make any moves between now and August 31st, that’s the kind of surprise performance they’ll need to contend in September.
Via Buster Olney: The Yankees are not discussing a possible waiver trade involving Justin Morneau with the Twins. Darren Wolfson hears New York is monitoring the slugger though, and they figure to do that right up until August 31st. Players have to be in the organization by that date to be eligible for the playoff roster, no exceptions.
Morneau, 32, cleared trade waivers earlier this month according to Mike Berardino, so he can be dealt to any team now. He’s owned approximately $3.5M for the rest of the year and will become a free agent for the first time this winter. The lefty-swinging Morneau is hitting .269/.322/.434 (107 wRC+) with 15 homers overall this season, but he’s been a monster in August: 158 wRC+ and seven homers.
The Yankees could use Morneau as a powerful part-time first baseman/part-time DH down the stretch, and fitting him onto the roster won’t be too big of an issue with September call-ups looming. They should probably focus on adding a starting pitcher (Dan Haren?) more than a bat right now, but every little upgrade matters at this point. Morneau would be useful in some capacity.
When the Yankees surged early in the year, they did it largely on the backs of the pitching staff. Hiroki Kuroda was pitching like an ace, CC Sabathia hadn’t fallen apart, David Phelps came on strong, and Phil Hughes pitched very well in a number of his starts (though got creamed in others). Even Andy Pettite had pitched well, and when he got hurt the Yankees got pretty competent performances in his absence.
This is no longer the case. Since the Yankees tumbled out of first the pitching staff has performed considerably worse, leaving the Yankees in fourth place and six games back of the Wild Card. Worse, they have no games remaining against five of the eight teams ahead of them in the AL standings. If they’re going to fight their ways back into this they need a 1995-esque run, which means running the board against AL East opponents.
The Yankees have addressed one area of weakness, finding a platoon partner for Lyle Overbay in Mark Reynolds. That should give them some additional firepower against lefties, which they sorely need. Yet it won’t be enough on its own. They need plenty of other help to leapfrog four teams and slide into the second Wild Card slot. The pitching staff represents one area where they could make a solid improvement.
Earlier today we learned that Phil Hughes is willing to pitch out of the bullpen next year. My only question is, why wait? Hughes’s 4.97 ERA ranks 43rd out of 46 qualified AL starters. He’s averaging a hair more than 5.1 innings per start. His woes also didn’t start this year. Since his return to the rotation in 2010 he ranks 49th out of 63 qualified starters in ERA. Things have gone downhill since then, as he ranks 39th out of 42 since 2011.
The problem is that the Yankees don’t have a viable replacement at the moment. Adam Warren could perhaps fit the bill, but he’s still an unknown at this point. Brett Marshall hasn’t exactly earned a spot with his AAA performances. Vidal Nuno is on the DL, as is David Phelps. Michael Pineda would have been nice here, but chances are we won’t see him pitch again this year. If the Yankees want to make such a transition, they’d have to look outside the organization.
A couple of well-known pitchers have cleared waivers in the last few days. First is left-hander Erik Bedard, the last remaining Astro earning more than $1 million. His overall season doesn’t look much better than Hughes’s, so that could be an exercise in futility. The other name is quite a bit more interesting: Dan Haren.
Like Bedard, Haren has struggled this year. His 4.82 ERA is actually higher than Hughes’s. Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. Haren actually had a 6.15 ERA through his first 15 starts, but then went on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. That must have been truly bothering him, because he has been downright phenomenal since his return on July 8th: 2.30 ERA in 43 innings, meaning he’s averaging over six innings per start. Opponents are hitting .191/.250/.283 off him, and he’s struck out 42 while walking just 10.
For their part, the Nats are in a much worse position than the Yankees. They might have fewer teams between them and the second Wild Card (just two), but they’re also 9.5 games back of it with 42 games left to play. Their only chances against teams ahead of them (Atlanta notwithstanding, because that’s simply not happening) come with the last two series of the year, against St. Louis and Arizona. Oh, and they’re under .500 120 games into the season. If they can get even a C prospect and salary relief for Haren, they might as well try.
For the Yanks, the time has come to grasp at straws. That’s exactly what the Mark Reynolds acquisition represents. They’re looking at what’s available and adding where they can. Adding Haren, and moving Hughes to the bullpen, should help shore up both aspects of the pitching staff. They could jettison its weakest member, Joba Chamberlain, in hopes that Hughes not only performs better, but can become a reliable part of the setup crew, as he was in 2009.
(As an added bonus, if the Yanks get this done before the doubleheader Tuesday, both Haren and Hughes are lined up to pitch. That would work out better than having to call up Marshall [assuming David Huff gets DFA'd to make room for Reynolds today].)
Via Joey Nowak: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees are still in the market for third base help even after Alex Rodriguez returned. “We will be looking into [August trades],” said the GM. “We had to get through [Monday] because obviously there’s always a domino effect. Are you going to have Alex? Are you not going to have Alex? That certainly affects what your needs are and what you’re looking for and, ‘Should you stop looking?’ But we’ll continue to see what’s available. I don’t know if anything’s going to be there for us or not.”
Michael Young has somewhat surprisingly cleared trade waivers according to Ken Rosenthal, so he can now be dealt to any team as long as he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause. It wouldn’t make sense for the Yankees to go out and add a rental player like that at this point — the time for that type of move has come and gone. They should be looking for a more long-term solution at third base though, and at several other spots as well. Those kinda players are rarely traded in August, however. August trades are usually band-aid moves as contenders look for that one final piece.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees made the Phillies two offers for Michael Young prior to yesterday’s trade deadline. They first offered right-hander Tommy Kahnle while assuming the $5M left on Young’s contract before offering a different (unnamed) prospect, but both were rejected. The Yankees also asked about Carlos Ruiz but were told he wasn’t available.
Both Young and Ruiz are prime August waiver trade bait as Philadelphia continues to fall out of the race. The Yankees are pretty high up on the waiver priority list, at least relative to their primary wildcard competitors, but both Young and Ruiz would have to pass through the NL and about a half-dozen AL teams before New York had a shot at them. Here’s how August waiver trades work, if you need a reminder. It’s doable but complicated.
There was one thing the Yankees could not afford to do before yesterday’s non-waiver trade deadline: nothing. And that’s exactly what they did. They did nothing. They checked in on this guy and that guy, but ultimately they did nothing. Ownership brought in Alfonso Soriano last week and that’s it. They did nothing.
“It wasn’t a deep market at all,” said Brian Cashman soon after the 4pm ET deadline. “What I was offering obviously wasn’t good enough for the opposing teams. What the teams were suggesting to me wasn’t good enough from my perspective … We will have to contend with what we have right now unless we can find ways to improve it. And obviously right now that’ll come from within and off the disabled list.”
As the first 107 games told us, what the team has right now is not good enough to contend. Not even close, really. They’re seven back in the division and three back of a wildcard spot with three teams ahead of them. Yeah, there are 55 games left to play, but that is a major uphill climb. A climb that required some reinforcements if the team was serious about contending during Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Instead, we get more excuses about how the market wasn’t favorable.
What Cashman neglected to mention, of course, is that the current market is the result of the team’s prior (non-)moves. They purposefully downgraded the lineup over the winter and got burned when the regulars started getting hurt, and now they’re desperate. Teams know this — they no doubt smell the blood in the water — and the prices get jacked up. Add in the fact that there are more contenders and fewer sellers, and you’ve got a recipe for exorbitant trade deadline prices. If they wanted help, they had to overpay. Even Corey Black for Soriano was an overpay considering Soriano said he would only accept a trade to New York. The Cubs had zero leverage and still extracted a decent prospect.
The Yankees had plenty of chances to improve the team during the offseason/free agency and passed, in part because of the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold next year. They had a chance to improve before the deadline — both right at the deadline and in the weeks and months leading up to it — and passed. Now they have to try to improve during the August waiver period, which won’t be easy despite their relatively high waiver priority. They keep painting themselves into a corner and further limiting their market, which is no way to go through life.
At some point Cashman and the rest of his management henchmen have to come out and take some sort of responsibility for the roster and stop blaming the market. It was their conscious decision to address every need with an aging veteran player who had something left in the tank if you squinted your eyes real hard and believed in the magic of a pinstripes. No one forced that on them. There’s nothing wrong with taking a flier on a veteran for a platoon job or bench spot or whatever, but at some point it became the Yankees’ only method of team building. That’s just silly.
The Yankees could not afford to do nothing at the deadline. They either had to go all-in and add pieces or wave the white flag and trade away some players. They did neither and made zero progress as a franchise — they’re no closer to contending or rebuilding. They’re just an overwhelmingly mediocre club that will need an unprecedented amount of farm system success to make their sub-luxury tax threshold plan work. The trade deadline changed nothing, but this coming offseason there have to be more than cosmetic changes. The Yankees need to overhaul their team-building philosophies.