The Yankees are trying to add a bat, but the Mets keep taking lesser offers from other teams

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

Last night’s outburst notwithstanding, the Yankees have had a hard time scoring runs in the second half, and especially over the last week or so. They’ve scored no more than two runs in six of their last eight games, and since the All-Star break they are hitting .251/.316/.412 (91 wRC+) as a team. They’re averaging only 4.19 runs per game since the break. It’s not just Aaron Judge. Lots of guys haven’t hit.

The Yankees did try to get add some offense prior to last Monday’s trade deadline. They made a run at Lucas Duda — “The Mets just wouldn’t trade him to us,” said someone with the Yankees to Jon Heyman — and this week they tried to acquire Jay Bruce. Bruce was instead traded to the Indians last night in a pure salary dump. Cleveland took on the remainder of his $13M salary (roughly $4M) and sent the Mets a non-prospect.

Joel Sherman and Marc Carig report the Yankees were willing to meet the Mets’ asking price. They offered the two prospects the Mets wanted — there’s no word on who those prospects were, and I’m not really expecting the names to leak — but apparently the hangup was the money. The Yankees wanted the Mets to eat some of Bruce’s salary — Ken Rosenthal says they wanted the Mets to eat $1M — and the Mets opted to save money than receive actual prospects, so that’s that.

Bruce, an impending free agent, is hitting .256/.321/.520 (120 wRC+) with 29 home runs this season. The Yankees really need another left-handed bat and Matt Holliday‘s injury creates an opening at DH, so Bruce was an obvious fit for the offense. He wouldn’t have even had to change cities. The Yankees were reportedly on Bruce’s no-trade list, though I doubt he would’ve blocked a deal to a contender, especially when he wouldn’t have even had to relocate.

Anyway, the Mets opted for the salary dump and the Yankees still need offensive help. There are two ways to look at this. One, the Wilpons are cheap and petty, and would rather dump Duda and Bruce for payroll relief than trade them to the Yankees for actual prospects. The dynamics of a crosstown trade are complicated, though is it really that big a deal if Duda or Bruce helped the Yankees win? They’re impending free agents. Who cares?

And two, the Yankees should have upped the ante to make sure they got the bat needed. They could have offered more for Duda. They could have offered to take on Bruce’s salary. Heck, they could have claimed Bruce on trade waivers and backed the Mets into a corner. Their options would have been a) trade him to the Yankees for a prospect, b) dump him and his contract on the Yankees with no return as a waiver claim, or c) pull him back and keep him. I don’t see (c) happening. The Mets wanted to clear Bruce’s salary.

While I can understand the argument for overpaying to get make sure you get Bruce or Duda — the Yankees didn’t trade all those prospects to the Athletics and White Sox for nothing, after all — I don’t really agree with it. The money bothers me more than anything. You’re the Yankees, you got the pitching help you needed at the trade deadline, and these guys are rentals. Why not take on the extra cash to get a deal done? Then again, if you’re taking on Bruce’s entire salary, why are you giving up two actual prospects? There has to be some give and take here.

One thing to keep in mind: the Yankees are pretty annoyed with how the Bruce deal played out. They’re one of the quietest teams in the league when it comes to leaks, and yet, since Bruce was traded to the Indians, we’ve heard the Yankees met the asking price and offered two prospects. That’s coming from the Yankees, not the Mets. Why would the Mets leak something that makes them look bad? The Yankees aren’t happy so they’re letting this info out to make the Mets look petty, and hey, it’s working. Mets fans I know don’t like the straight salary dump.

Ultimately, Duda and Bruce were two of the better bats available, and the Yankees made offers for both. Could they have offered more? Yeah, of course, but at some point you have to stand your ground and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. There are other bats out there (Jed Lowrie, Daniel Nava, Curtis Granderson). The Mets didn’t want to trade them across town and that’s fine. That’s their right. It still leaves the Yankees short a bat, but at least they’re trying. Hopefully they pivot elsewhere and pick up another hitter soon, because they still need one.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Monday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is now only hours away, not days. The Yankees addressed their fifth starter’s spot yesterday by acquiring Jaime Garcia from the Twins, two weeks after addressing their bullpen by acquiring David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox. They also added a stray Todd Frazier along the way. My hunch is the Yankees are not done.

Over the last few days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) we learned the Yankees are still looking to add another starting pitcher even after picking up Garcia yesterday. A first baseman and a left-on-left matchup reliever are also on the shopping list, though they aren’t top priorities. We’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right up until the 4pm ET trade deadline, so keep it locked right here. All timestamps are ET.

  • 3:10pm: Sonny Gray will be a Yankee. It’s Gray and $1.5M in international bonus money for James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler, per reports.
  • 2:46pm: A trade! But a small one. The Yankees traded Yefry Ramirez to the Orioles for more international bonus money, the team announced. The deal clears a 40-man roster spot, which could be useful soon.
  • 2:40pm: The latest non-update: the Yankees and A’s are still talking about Gray. [Sherman]
  • 12:11pm: The Athletics are said to be “infatuated” with Mateo, for what it’s worth. [Sherman]
  • 11:55am: Apparently the A’s want 3-4 players beyond the Torres/Frazier tier for Gray. The two sides have agreed to some names but are still haggling about the others. [Heyman]
  • 11:48am: The Yankees and Athletics are gaining traction for a Gray trade, and it now seems more likely than less to happen. [Sherman]
  • 11:42am: The A’s initially wanted a Gleyber Torres/Clint Frazier package for Gray and backed away from that. They then wanted a Jorge Mateo/Estevan Florial package, but the Yankees won’t do that either. Huh. [Sweeny Murti]
  • 11:31am: The Braves’ interest in Gray has cooled, which is good news for the Yankees. One fewer suitor. Right now it seems the Yankees and Dodgers are the only teams on Gray, and the Dodgers seem to be focusing on Darvish. [Sherman]
  • 10:44am: The Yankees checked in with the Padres about Brad Hand yesterday, though it seems it was due diligence more than anything. Plenty of clubs are in on Hand. [Sherman]
  • 10:11am: The Yankees and A’s are “close enough to get over the hump” and complete a Gray trade today. The two sides still need to work some things out first. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees and Athletics made “zero progress” yesterday during Sonny Gray trade talks. Apparently the A’s have set their price and the Yankees have made their offer, and that’s where things stand. [Bob Klapisch]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees are still in touch with the Rangers about Yu Darvish, though they’re not making a hard push for him. The Yankees are not included in Darvish’s ten-team no-trade list, for what it’s worth. [Joel Sherman, Jon Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Sunday

Gray. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Gray. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

It’s crunch time. The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is only a day and a half away now, and already the Yankees have made two big trades and two small trades. They acquired Jaime Garcia from the Twins earlier this morning, in case you missed it. The Yankees have a new fifth starter, something they desperately needed.

On Friday and Saturday we learned the Yankees continue to discuss Sonny Gray with the Athletics, and both Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are off the table. The two clubs are talking about other prospects now, so that’s good. We’re again going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Make sure you check back throughout the day. All timestamps are ET.

  • 11:53am: The Yankees and Athletics are “optimistic something can get done” with Gray. Other teams are involved, but the Yankees remain the favorites. [Heyman]
  • 11:23am: Depending who you ask, the Yankees either are or are not involved in the Yu Darvish bidding. I get the feeling they’re not involved, but the Rangers are looping them into the conversation to increase their leverage. [Buster Olney, T.R. Sullivan, Jeff Wilson]
  • 11:00am: The Yankees are still in the mix for another starter even after this morning’s Garcia trade, and Gray remains their top target. “Still could work but hard deal to make,” said one report. [Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Passan]
  • 11:00am: Beyond a starter, the Yankees also have some interest in a first baseman and a left-on-left matchup reliever. I don’t think that’s a big priority though. Their top bullpen righties can get out lefties. [Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Scouting the Trade Market: Scott Feldman

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Starting pitching is the Yankees most obvious need at the moment, and they have given every indication that they will be buyers in the coming days. With Sonny Gray as the only true game-changing pitcher on the market, the focus has shifted somewhat to innings eaters.

Enter Scott Feldman.

It is worth noting, above all else, that Feldman is currently on the disabled list with a right knee injury. He’s eligible to return on August 2, though, and he threw a bullpen session last week; the expectation is that he will be activated as soon as possible. It is the Yankees dire need for a starting pitcher that has us looking at someone that isn’t full healthy at the moment – though, it isn’t unprecedented for a team in the midst of a playoff race to trade for someone on the DL.

Current Performance

Feldman spent 2016 pitching primarily out of the bullpen. He made forty appearances (five starts) for the Astros and Blue Jays, pitching to a 3.97 ERA (100 ERA+) in 77.0 IP. That was the first full-season that he spent in the bullpen since 2007, though, so the Reds brought him on-board to fill-out their rotation on a cheap one-year deal ($2.3 MM).

Despite his injury, Feldman has done more than provide a warm body in the Reds beleaguered rotation. The 34-year-old has pitched to the following line this year: 19 GS, 103.2 IP, 102 H, 34 BB, 86 K, 4.34 ERA (103 ERA+). He has pitched into the 7th inning in 8 of his starts, and was averaging just shy of 6 IP per start before he left his last start early due to the aforementioned injury.

Feldman’s strikeout (19.8%), walk (7.8%), and groundball (43.8%) rates are right around league-average, which is something of a turnaround for him. In years past, his walk and groundball rates were well above-average, while his strikeout rates were subpar. He has had success both ways, so it may not something to be terribly concerned with – but it’s something to keep in mind.

A potential issue is that Feldman’s platoon splits have been a bit start this year – he has held RHH to a .317 wOBA, but lefties have hit .266/.338/.464 (.342 wOBA) against him; he had similar issues in 2016, though that came in the bullpen and in a much smaller sample size. That’s not a good sign for someone that could be making half of his starts in Yankee Stadium. However, that does come in stark contrast to the rest of his career, as Feldman has a slight reverse platoon split (.322 wOBA vs. LHH, .329 vs. RHH) for his career.

Current Stuff

Feldman is essentially a three-pitch pitcher, with nearly 95% of his offerings coming in the form of his sinker, cutter, and curveball. He has never been a particularly hard-thrower, and his velocity has remained steadily around the low-90s for the better part of a decade. You can see his current velocity below:

feldman-velo

The dip in velocity in late-June into July has been attributed to his wonky knee, which is understandable; he was throwing 85 MPH sinkers in his last start prior to being pulled. Feldman is probably something of a junk-baller, to be sure, but he isn’t a soft-tosser, and all of his pitches move. Hopefully, the drop in velocity is due to his aching knee, and nothing else.

Feldman’s best pitch is his curveball, which has generated a 12% whiff rate, and sports a paltry .138 BAA. He locates it quite well, too, burying it at or below the bottom of the strikezone, and generating both swing-and-misses and weak contact. You can see that here:

(Statcast)

(Statcast)

Injury History

Feldman’s injury history is magnified due to his current injury, which is a bit more foreboding than the usual knee injury would suggest. He needed microfracture surgery for an injury to the same knee back in 2011, and he missed over 100 games as a result. There has been no indication that this current injury is related in any way, or that its severity could have been exacerbated as a result of the prior surgery – but it’s something that happened, and it’s the same body part.

Arm-wise, Feldman has been mostly healthy since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2003. He missed three starts in 2014 with biceps tendinitis, but that’s about it.

Contract Status

Feldman will be a free agent after this year, and is owed around $1 MM for the remainder of the season.

What Would It Take?

Mike laid out the expected cost for an average-ish rental when he discussed Jaime Garcia, and that’s worth checking out. The short version is a solid prospect or two, but nothing that’ll leave the fans up in arms.

That being said, Feldman is a special case due to his injury issue. There are already rumors swirling that he’ll end up being dealt before the waiver trade deadline instead, as teams wait for him to get healthy and prove that he can still contribute. Were the Yankees (or another team) to pounce now, throwing a bit of caution to the wind, the price would ostensibly be lower. Whether or not the Reds would make the deal now is another question entirely.

Does He Make Sense for the Yankees?

Scott Feldman is a risk, and there’s no way to argue otherwise. He’s hurt, and will still be on the DL when the deadline comes and goes. The Dodgers took that risk with Rich Hill last year, and it was both good and bad – he wasn’t able to pitch for his first three weeks in the organization, but when he did, he was awesome. Feldman is not Hill, of course, but that is the sort of risk vs. reward analysis that has to be weighed.

Given his injury, I suspect that Feldman could be had for quite cheap right now; and, given the record of returns for similarly-skilled healthy pitchers, I don’t think he would’ve cost all that much to begin with. So what we have is a pitcher that has a track record of eating innings at a league-average-ish rate with a bit more risk than usual. And I think that risk is worth taking.

The Yankees may have to deal with innings limits for Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino, and their fifth starter is currently the personification of a shrug. Feldman offers insurance for those three spots, potentially, and shouldn’t cost all that much. Moreover, given his recent experience as a swingman/long-reliever, his acquisition could be made in conjunction with another trade, with Feldman transitioning back into the bullpen unless (or until) a need arises.

Feldman’s injury cannot be ignored, but if the cost is as low as history suggests, it’s a risk that’s well worth taking – I’d just hope that it went hand-in-hand with another acquisition.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Saturday

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

As of this writing, we are 54 hours away from the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have already made one big trade that is paying immediate dividends. They’ve won seven of nine games since acquiring David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier from the White Sox. The two bullpen arms in particular have been a big help. The Yankees still need a starter though. Big time.

Yesterday we learned Sonny Gray talks with the Athletics are at an impasse because the A’s keep demanding either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier. The Yankees insist those guys will not be traded. They could turn their attention to Cardinals rental righty Lance Lynn instead. We’re again going to keep track of the days Yankees-related rumors right here, so many sure you check back for updates. All timestamps are ET.

  • 3:30pm: Torres and Frazier are not the sticking point in Gray talks. The Yankees said no to those two, the A’s moved on to other prospects, and now the clubs are trying to find common ground. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • 1:32pm: Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees are looking for a starter and acknowledged they will take on money to facilitate a trade. Prospect cost is a biggest obstacle. [Hal Steinbrenner]
  • 11:31am: The Yankees continue to balk at the asking price for Sonny Gray, and if the price doesn’t drop, they’re prepared to move in a different direction. We’re going to hear lots of posturing like this from both sides over the next two days. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • 10:00am: The Giants are receiving trade interest in Jeff Samardzija and the Yankees are one of eight teams he can be traded to without his consent. There’s been speculation about a Jacoby Ellsbury for Samardzija bad contract for bad contract swap, but I can’t see that happening. The Giants could probably get prospects from another team. Pitching is in demand. [Andrew Baggarly]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Friday

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

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET next Monday, and already the Yankees have made one significant trade. They acquired Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox for three prospects (and Tyler Clippard) a week and a half ago. That one has paid dividends already. The Yankees have made two smaller trades (Tyler Webb for Garrett Cooper, Rob Refsnyder for Ryan McBroom) as well.

At the moment the Yankees are a half-game back in the AL East and 2.5 games up on a wildcard spot, so they’re very much in the race. Adding is the way to go. The White Sox trade answered any “buyer or seller?” questions. A starting pitcher is the obvious priority following Michael Pineda‘s injury, though another bat and a lefty reliever shouldn’t be ruled out either. We’re going to keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, so keep coming back for updates. All timestamps are ET.

  • 3:44pm: The Yankees had a scout (Brandon Duckworth!) on hand to watch Yu Darvish’s most recent outing, so if nothing else, they’re doing their due diligence. Darvish got hammered by the Marlins on Wednesday night (3.2 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 5 ). [George King]
  • 3:42pm: The Yankees have interest in Lance Lynn and the Cardinals have been scouting New York’s farm system. Lynn is a pure rental. Here’s my Scouting The Market post. [Derrick Goold]
  • 1:41pm: During talks with the Mets about Lucas Duda, the Yankees offered a similar relief prospect to Drew Smith, who the Mets acquired from the Rays in the trade yesterday. I wonder if that means Ben Heller or Jonathan Holder? Either way, since the Yankees were only offering a similar prospect, the Mets opted not to send Duda across town. [Sherman]
  • 12:00pm: Talks with the Athletics about Sonny Gray at an impasse because they’re asking for either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres, and the Yankees won’t include them in any deal. Oakland also likes Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, and Estevan Florial. Despite the impasse, the Yankees are still believed to be in the lead for Gray because they’re offering the strongest package. [Jon Heyman, Bob Klapisch]
  • 12:00pm: The Yankees are among the teams in the mix for Tigers lefty Justin Wilson. Tons of teams are after the former Yankee. I’d be surprised if the Yankees go all out to win a bidding war for Wilson after adding Robertson and Kahnle. [Anthony Fenech]
  • 12:00pm: The Yankees remain engaged with the Braves about first baseman Matt Adams, though a starting pitcher remains their priority. Atlanta is playing Freddie Freeman at third base in deference to Adams, which is crazy, but it’s not my problem. [Joel Sherman]
  • 12:00pm: There have been no recent talks with the Cubs about Bryan Mitchell. Chicago has liked him in the past and the Yankees are trying to clear up the back of their 40-man roster, though the two clubs haven’t touched base. [Sherman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

The Yankees reportedly checked in on Giancarlo Stanton and it’s not as crazy as you may think

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have checked in with the Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The two sides aren’t close to a deal and it’s unclear how serious the Yankees are about a potential trade. This could have been a due diligence thing. That said, the Marlins are selling and the team itself is in the process of being sold, so it stands to reason everyone is available. It never hurts to listen, right? Right.

Stanton, 27, is hitting .271/.356/.578 (137 wRC+) with 30 home runs this season, most among all non-Aaron Judge hitters in the big leagues. He’s right smack in the prime of his career and he’s averaged 45 home runs per 162 games since Opening Day 2014. The guy is a monster. He’s also owed $295M from 2018-27. Goodness. The contract includes an opt-out after 2020, though Stanton would be leaving $218M on the table by walking away. Opting out is far from a guarantee, even if he continues to stay healthy and play well.

There’s a few interesting angles to the reported Stanton interest. For starters, the Yankees seem to be pretty well set on the outfield corners going forward with Judge and Clint Frazier. They’re definitely set in right field. We know that much. The jury is still out on Frazier, as impressive as he’s been early in his MLB career. I suppose there’s also the designated hitter spot, though tying that up with a big money player signed long-term isn’t a great idea (See: Rodriguez, Alex).

Secondly, Stanton’s contract would hurt the team’s chances to get under the luxury tax threshold next season. The original 13-year, $325M contract came with a $25M average annual value and luxury tax hit. That’s not the luxury tax hit the Yankees would assume, however. They’d take on a luxury tax hit closer to $30M once you adjust for the timing of the trade, assuming they didn’t change the calculation in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement.

And third, the Yankees would have to give up some pretty damn good prospects to get Stanton. The Marlins are not going to take okay-ish prospects in a straight salary dump. It would be shameful. MLB should just fold the franchise if that happens. If the Marlins are going to trade Stanton, literally the greatest player in franchise history and someone who is still in the prime of his career, they’re going to do it because they get blown away with an offer.

My guess is the Yankees checked in because they check in on everyone, and hey, there’s always a chance the Marlins offer Stanton on favorable terms. You’ve got to ask to find out. That all said, what about looking at this through the Bryce Harper lens? Harper, another prime-aged superstar, will be a free agent after next season and the Yankees are expected to be very involved. Players that good and that young are hard to find. You go all-out to get them.

Harper is going to smash contract records and will almost certainly be the first $40M per season player in baseball history. He might get a $500M contract. It’s very possible. Compared to Harper’s upcoming contract, taking on Stanton at $295M from 2018-27 could be a downright bargain. Harper is the better player, but is he $10M+ per year better? Peak Harper and peak Stanton might not be so different, and peak Stanton is available right now (in theory).

I don’t think the Yankees have serious interest in Stanton right now. I think they made the call because they make every call. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t. Ultimately, I think the luxury tax plan and keeping the top prospects is too important to swing a Stanton trade right now. Harper will cost a ton of money, but it is just money, and the Yankees have plenty of it. They could wait a year to sign Harper for nothing but cash whereas Stanton costs money and prospects.