Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: July 2012

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The calendar has turned over to July and it’s time once again to revisit the MLB Trade Rumors archives. Better late than never this month, right? Right. We’re now into July 2012 and, as always, July was chock full of trade rumors. The Yankees went into July 2012 with a 47-30 record and a five-game lead in the AL East. Going 20-7 in June got them there.

The record was shiny, but the Yankees were dealing with several significant injuries in July 2012. Brett Gardner (elbow) had been out since April and would miss basically the rest of the season. Both CC Sabathia (groin) and the un-retired Andy Pettitte (leg) were on the shelf as well. Pitching depth and another bat, preferably someone to get Raul Ibanez out of left field, were atop the shopping list. Time to dig into the archives.

July 1st, 2012: Yankees Acquire Chad Qualls

3:38 pm: The Yankees announced they have acquired reliever Chad Qualls from the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

Chad Qualls, the forgotten Yankee. He spent just a month in pinstripes, during which he allowed five runs and 13 baserunners in 7.1 innings. The Yankees were the sixth team Qualls had played for up to that point. Now he’s up to nine teams. The guy has spent 14 years in the league and is 40th all-time in appearances. Who knew?

July 2nd, 2012: Yankees Sign Luis Torrens

The Yankees have signed Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens for $1.3MM, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Torrens is ranked as the second-best international prospect in this July 2nd class.

That was the first year with the international bonus pools and Torrens was the team’s big signing. He wound up playing only 161 games in the farm system from 2013-16 due to injuries before the Padres popped him in the Rule 5 draft. Torrens, who turned 21 this May, is hitting .188/.261/.225 (32 wRC+) in a whopping 89 plate appearances this year. How is this good for his development, especially after all those injuries? I have no idea. It’s pretty obvious at this point San Diego is going to keep Torrens all year though. Such is life when a team has no concern for wins and losses.

July 4th, 2012: Yanks Have “No Intention Of Joining” Hamels Bidding

The Yankees are currently in wait-and-see mode despite injuries to both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, though they could make a move for a starter before the trade deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the team has “no intention of joining” the bidding for Cole Hamels unless the asking price diminishes dramatically, however.

Hamels was due to become a free agent after that season and he had been mentioned as a trade candidate for weeks. The Phillies were struggling — they were 36-44 on the morning of July 1st that year — and keeping the 28-year-old ace-like version of Hamels was far from certain. Me and I’m pretty sure every Yankees fan wanted him, even as a rental. Instead, the Phillies gave Hamels a six-year extension worth $144M three weeks after this rumor. That one has worked out pretty well from a cost vs. production standpoint. (FanGraphs values his production at $175.9M during the first four and a half seasons of that contract, for what it’s worth.)

July 4th, 2012: Yankees Claim McDonald, Designate Schwinden

The Yankees acquired Darnell McDonald from the Red Sox, the outfielder announced on his personal Twitter account. The Yankees claimed McDonald off of waivers, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger tweets. The team designated Chris Schwinden for assignment in a related move, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets.

McDonald’s four-game stint with the Yankees was a forgettable one. The Yankees claimed the right-handed hitting outfielder off waivers from the Red Sox, then started him against the Red Sox in Fenway Park against a bunch of left-handed starters. It would have been an amazing troll move if it worked. Instead, McDonald went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and dropped a fly ball that led to a run. He had to cut off his dreadlocks for those four games in pinstripes.

Silly outdated hair policy is silly and outdated.

July 10th, 2012: East Notes: Martin, Phillies, Blue Jays, Papelbon

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no plans to acquire a catcher despite Russell Martin‘s struggles, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. “We have our catching,” Cashman said. “I believe in Russell Martin, period.”

Russell Martin on the day of this rumor: .179/.310/.348 (80 wRC+).

Russell Martin from the day of this rumor through the end of the season: .242/.321/.456 (111 wRC+).

July 12th, 2012: Yankees Sign Ty Hensley

The Yankees have signed first-round draft pick Ty Hensley, reports Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA (Twitter links).  The two sides agreed to a $1.2MM bonus, below the recommended slot price of $1.6MM for the 30th overall pick. 

Sigh. This one didn’t work out too well. Hensley’s medical issues started right away. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-signing physical, hence the reduced bonus. From 2012-16, Hensley threw 42.1 total innings and had surgeries on both hips, surgery for a hernia, and two Tommy John surgeries. The Yankees lost him to the Rays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason and he won’t pitch this year as he rehabs from the second elbow reconstruction. Pitchers, man.

July 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Kosuke Fukudome

The Yankees signed Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league contract, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger reports (on Twitter). The outfielder is expected to report to New York’s Triple-A affiliate.

Holy smokes, I forgot all about Fukudome. He was a pretty big deal coming out of Japan back in the day, but he never could make it work in the big leagues. Fukudome hit .258/.359/.395 (102 wRC+) in nearly 2,300 MLB plate appearances, mostly with the Cubs, plus .276/.440/.378 (138 wRC+) in 39 Triple-A games with the Yankees in 2012. The Yankees picked him up to see what he could offer while Gardner was on the shelf. Fukudome is still active, you know. He returned to Japan in 2013 and he’s currently hitting .256/.364/.380 with seven home runs in 76 games for the Hanshin Tigers at age 40.

July 16th, 2012: Yankees Monitoring Outfield Market

The Yankees always seem to be pursuing pitching, but their front office officials aren’t overly concerned about the rotation, since C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are expected to return this summer. Instead, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, the Yankees are looking at the outfield market and have checked in on both Shane Victorino and Justin Upton.

Upton was only 24 at the time and he was in the middle of a down season with the Diamondbacks, hitting .280/.355/.430 (109 wRC+) overall. That came after a .289/.369/.529 (141 wRC+) batting line in 2011. Arizona traded him to the Braves after the season. I was all for Upton. I wanted him so bad. The Yankees were going to need a Nick Swisher replacement after the season and the desperately needed to add some youth to the lineup, so Upton was pretty much the perfect fit. Never happened.

Victorino, meanwhile, was hitting .261/.324/.401 (97 wRC+) for the Phillies at the time. He was an impending free agent and very much available. Philadelphia wound up shipping him to the Dodgers at the trade deadline for some mid-range pitching prospects who never amounted to much. I wasn’t a fan of pursuing Victorino. Seemed like he was only a marginal upgrade at the time. He hit .246/.316/.351 (88 wRC+) with the Dodgers after the trade, so yeah.

July 19th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Ankiel, Pierre, Wandy, Figueroa

The Yankees don’t have interest in Juan Pierre or Rick Ankiel, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links).  The Bombers’ search for outfield help will intensify with the news that Brett Gardner will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery, though Gardner’s agent Joe Bick says Gardner still hopes to return this season, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.

Oy vey. Pierre and Ankiel? Were they still a thing back in 2012? Apparently. Pierre was 34 at the time and hitting .307/.351/.371 (99 wRC+), which represented his best season in about five years. Ankiel was 32 and hitting .228/.282/.411 (81 wRC+) as a bench guy for the Nationals. No thanks.

July 21st, 2012: AL East Links: Orioles, Yankees, Victorino, Red Sox

The Yankees remain in contact with teams dangling bullpen pieces according to George A. King III of The New York Post, though Joba Chamberlain could be activated off the DL before the end of the month.

Ah yes, the good ol’ days when Joba would come back and fix the bullpen. He was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and his trampoline-related ankle injury at the time, and once he did rejoin the Yankees, he threw 20.2 innings with a 4.35 ERA (4.01 FIP). Pitcher struggles in return from elbow surgery. News at 11.

July 23rd, 2012: Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki

A legendary figure in Seattle will be changing uniforms, but won’t have to go farther than the visitors’ clubhouse to join his new team. The Yankees, who are playing in Seattle tonight, have acquired Ichiro Suzuki and cash from the Mariners in exchange right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, the teams have confirmed.

How many people showed up to Safeco Field that night with no idea Ichiro had been traded to the Yankees? Maybe half? Probably less, but you know there were plenty of folks who hadn’t heard about the trade. Imagine that. You go to the ballpark ready to watch the Yankees play the Mariners … and Ichiro steps in the box as a Yankee. That must’ve been weird.

Anyway, Ichiro was the Gardner replacement. The Yankees acquired him on two conditions. One, he would have to hit toward the bottom of the order. And two, he’d have to play left field rather than his usual right field. Ichiro agreed because he wanted to play on a contender, so the trade was made. He hit .261/.288/.353 (77 wRC+) with the Mariners before the trade and .322/.340/.454 (114 wRC+) with the Yankees after the trade. The trade was great! The two-year extension that followed … not so much.

As for the guys the Mariners got the trade, Farquhar gave them a few nice years as a setup man, though that didn’t last and he later wound up with the Rays. They released him yesterday. Mitchell never did pitch for the Mariners. He spent the rest of the season in Triple-A and was released in April 2013, and was pitching in independent ball by 2014.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Yankees, Hanley, Orioles

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he’ll engage the market for a third baseman, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  The Yankees will consider all third base options, including Chase Headley of the Padres, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). It seems unlikely that the Yankees would meet the Padres’ asking price for Headley, Heyman writes (on Twitter).

Heh. The Yankees had been after Headley for a while. That 2012 season was his monster season. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) with 31 home runs that season. He’s never come close to doing that again. The Padres declined to trade Headley was his value was at its peak, and they wound up settling for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula two years later. Womp womp.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Lester, Blue Jays, Aramis

The Yankees aren’t likely to pursue Aramis Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Ramirez was in year one — year one! — of his three-year, $36M deal with the Brewers at the time. He hit .300/.360/.540 (139 wRC+) with 27 home runs that year, so he could still rake even at age 34, but taking on two and a half years of his three-year contract? Nah.

July 25th, 2012: Phillies Notes: Wigginton, Lee, Pence Rollins

The Yankees considered pursuing Ty Wigginton, but the Phillies aren’t offering him up, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Any time you’re a bad team like the 2012 Phillies and you have a guy like Ty Wigginton, you have to hold on to him at all costs. He hit .235/.314/.375 (87 wRC+) with eleven home runs that year, then left as a free agent after the season. Definitely hold on to that guy. That’s what smart teams do. I’m glad Wigginton finally retired, by the way. I don’t think any role player has generated more “the Yankees should get this guy” commentary than Wigginton. Either him or Mark DeRosa.

July 30th, 2012: AL West Notes: Greinke, Ryan, Rangers

The Yankees attempted to acquire Brendan Ryan from the Mariners, but Seattle turned them down, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan is one of many infield options the Yankees have considered this month.

Ryan hit .194/.277/.278 (61 wRC+) in 2012. I know he was a fantastic defender, but .194/.277/.278 is .194/.277/.278. How do you turn down an offer for that guy down when you’re a bad team? That was peak Jack Zduriencik. Overrate the hell out of marginal players based on sketchy defensive stats.

July 31st, 2012: Pirates, Yankees Swap McGehee, Qualls

The Yankees acquired corner infielder Casey McGehee and $250K from the Pirates for reliever Chad Qualls, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The end of the Qualls era. I was actually pretty excited about McGehee. The Yankees needed some third base protection because Alex Rodriguez was dealing with some nagging injuries, plus McGehee could play some first base, and his right-handed bat was a welcome addition to a left-handed heavy lineup. He then hit .151/.220/.264 (28 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with the Yankees and was released after the season. McGehee is currently hitting .299/.368/.493 for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, where apparently they juice the ball even more than MLB.

July 31st, 2012: Marlins Tried To Unload Carlos Lee

5:05pm: Two teams told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that the Marlins thought they had traded Lee to the Yankees today (Twitter link).  However, Lee wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause.  The sides were never close to completing a trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (on Twitter).

Hmmm. One side says the deal was in place, but Lee squashed it with his no-trade clause, the other says there was no deal. I lean toward the latter. I don’t think the Yankees had anything worked out. I guess they could have looked at Lee as DH depth? The guy hit .264/.332/.365 (91 wRC+) with negative defense and baserunning value that year. I’m a sucker for a good “this guy was almost traded to that team” story. This one is pretty lame.

Scouting the Trade Market: Trevor Cahill

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

After Tuesday’s seven-player trade, the Yankees loudly announced they were buyers. The trade solved many of their issues, but they still have a hole in the back of their rotation with Michael Pineda lost for the season after Tommy John surgery.

A veteran innings eater who can more reliably provide solid innings than Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa appears to be the logical next move for Brian Cashman. One pitcher who could not only eat those innings but potentially do so effectively is Trevor Cahill, the journeyman starter with a 55.1 percent career groundball rate who is currently with the San Diego Padres. On a cheap one-year deal, the 29-year-old righty has a 3.14 ERA (3.22 FIP) in 57 1/3 innings over 10 starts for one of the worst teams in baseball.

Let’s dive into the Friars’ top rotation piece at the present:

Current Performance

In the middle of 2015, it looked like Cahill’s time as a starter was kaput. He’d been dealt to the Braves and had thrown 26 1/3 well-below-average innings before Atlanta DFA’d him. He’d made just three starts and had a 7.52 ERA in 15 total games.

But his career turned when he joined the Cubs late in the season. Used exclusively as a reliever, Cahill became a strikeout machine for the first time in his career while still keeping the ball on the ground as a sinkerballer. He pitched to a 2.61 ERA (4.10 FIP) in Chicago while upping his strikeout rate significantly. This came through an adjustment in his motion and upping the usage of his curveball and changeup.

Cahill turned down teams looking at him as a reliever and took a cheap one-year contract with the Padres, who gave him an opportunity to start and play near his hometown of Oceanside, Calif. It’s paid off big time.

In his 10 starts, he’s been able to translate his strikeout numbers from the bullpen into consistent success in the rotation. He has a 29.5 percent strikeout rate, up more than 10 percent from his last full season as a starter. His 8.3 percent walk rate is near the lowest mark he’s posted as a starter. He’s maintained a GB-to-FB ratio above two for the last three seasons and most of his career, making him ideally suited for a hitter’s haven, let alone one of the largest fields in the league at Petco Park.

Cahill is a true five-pitch pitcher. His four-seam fastball and sinker sit in the low-90s with the sinker being his primary pitch, thrown 37 percent of the time (the lowest rate of his career). Off-speed, he turns to his low-80s, high-70s knuckle curveball, a mid-80s changeup and a mid-80s slider. Each of his pitches has been relatively effective this season, especially the curveball, which rates as one of the best in the game. Check out how he’s able to get swings and misses on all his pitches.

His home/road splits are something of which to be wary. He has a 5.01 ERA away from Petco and you have to wonder whether his solid HR/9 numbers would slide even more at Yankee Stadium. His strikeout and walk rates have mostly held up away from home.

Injury history

Cahill comes with a bit of a checkered injury past. He’s already spent time on the disabled list with two separate injuries. First, he missed 10 days in April with a back strain. He then lost over 1.5 months with a shoulder strain. He’s spent 60 total days on the DL this season. He also missed time in 2013 with a hip contusion.

If you’re looking for positives, the injuries and subsequent missed time could be a blessing in disguise. He hadn’t thrown more than 65 2/3 innings since 2014, so it was unlikely he’d be able to handle 200 innings like he used to.

What would it take?

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mike had a pretty good breakdown of what you can expect a rental starter to cost in his breakdown of Jaime Garcia‘s trade value. Make sure to check that out here.

With Cahill, his cheap contract could make a small difference compared to other rentals. Signed for $1.75 million in the offseason, he has less than $1 million left on his base salary. He earns $250,000 for start No. 15, 20 and 25 this season and he’ll earns a $250,000 bonus if he is traded.

Even with the incentives, he’s one of the cheaper players on the market because of his prove-it contract. The Padres can presumably ask for a slightly larger return than he would normally get, although his injuries could limit his market.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

Surely. A 29-year-old rental with strong strikeout and groundball rates at Yankee Stadium? Sign me up. Like with Garcia or any rental, the Yankees would get a close look at him for the last few months of the season with eyes towards perhaps re-signing him in the offseason.

You obviously can’t overlook his injuries, but his numbers indicate that a team trading for him could catch lightning in a bottle for the stretch run. His experience in relief makes him slightly more attractive for a team with playoff dreams.

Trade Deadline Rumors: Starter, Verlander, Alonso, Duda, Reed

(Duane Burleson/Getty)
(Duane Burleson/Getty)

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is now only eleven days away and the Yankees have already made one big move, acquiring Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox. I get the feeling they’re not done. That doesn’t necessarily mean a blockbuster is coming, but I don’t think the Yankees are going to stop here. Anyway, here’s the latest from the trade rumor circuit.

Yankees still looking for a starter

Not surprisingly, the Yankees are still looking for rotation help, reports Ken Rosenthal. They’re casting a wide net. Controllable guys and rentals. They’re all in play. Michael Pineda is out for the season and I don’t think the Yankees want to continue running Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa out there every fifth day. You don’t go out and make that trade with the White Sox only to skimp on the rotation, you know?

“I’m going to stay engaged. We are going to remain careful buyers. We want to maximize our present while protecting (our) future,” said Cashman to Meredith Marakovits following the White Sox trade. Unless the Yankees budge on their unwillingness to trade close to MLB prospects, it’s hard to think they’ll land a high-end controllable starter. And that’s okay. They could really use one of those guys, but I am totally cool with keeping the top position player prospects. Build around bats. Even after trades and graduations, the Yankees still have plenty of depth in the farm system to land a useful starter.

“No indication” Yankees are after Verlander

There is “no indication” the Yankees are after (former?) Tigers ace Justin Verlander, reports Jon Morosi. Detroit is very bad this season (43-50) and there’s been plenty of talk they will sell at the trade deadline. Verlander, 34, has a 4.54 ERA (4.25 FIP) in 20 starts and 117 innings this season, though just last year he was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting thanks to a 3.04 ERA (3.48 FIP) in 227.2 innings.

Including the remainder of his $28M salary this year, Verlander is still owed roughly $70M through 2019, and his contract includes a $22M vesting option for 2020 based on Cy Young voting. Morosi says the Tigers are willing to eat some money to facilitate a trade, but how much? I doubt it’ll be a ton. I feel like there’s way too much downside here. Verlander was great just last season, sure, but he’s entering his mid-30s and has a ton of innings on his arm. Trading for mid-30s past prime Verlander feels like an old Yankees move.

Yankees talked Alonso, Duda, Reed, Neshek

Before the trade with the ChiSox, the Yankees were talking to the Athletics about Yonder Alonso, and to the Mets about Lucas Duda and Addison Reed, report Morosi and Mark Feinsand. They were also in the mix for Pat Neshek, per Rosenthal. I suppose the Yankees could still go after Reed or Neshek because there is no such thing as too many good relievers, but it seems very unlikely with Robertson and Kahnle on board. Alonso and Duda? There’s no need for those guys now. Not unless someone gets hurt.

With Greg Bird out for most of the rest of the season, it only made sense for the Yankees to explore the first base trade market. Ji-Man Choi and Garrett Cooper had some success this month, though Cashman wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t looking for upgrades. One thing to keep in mind: the Yankees were pretty much the only team with a need at first base (or DH). There was plenty of supply (Alonso, Duda, Matt Adams, Justin Bour, etc.) but very limited demand, so they were able to let the market come to them, then take the most favorable terms.

Reed. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty)
Reed. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty)

A’s scouting Low-A Charleston

In a crazy coincidence (nope), the A’s have had a top scout watching Low-A Charleston recently, according to Rosenthal. There’s no need for Alonso now. Sonny Gray is still out there though. With Blake Rutherford traded, the best prospect on Charleston’s roster is outfielder Estevan Florial by a mile. Others of note include catcher Donny Sands, infielders Diego Castillo and Hoy Jun Park, and righties Nick Nelson, Freicer Perez, and Nick Green.

Unlike the White Sox trade, I have a hard time believing the Yankees could swing a deal for Gray using a Single-A kid as the center piece. Gray is too in demand for the A’s to take someone that far away from the big leagues as the headliner in a trade. Oakland can and will insist for a closer to MLB prospect and the Yankees will probably decline. That said, the A’s have made some weird trades lately, and if the Yankees can get a deal done for Gray with a Low-A kid fronting the package, they should jump all over it. Prospects that far down in the system aren’t close to helping at the MLB level and they’re so risky because they still have so much development left ahead of them.

Yankees were “in strong” for Quintana

Before he was traded to the Cubs, the Yankees were “in strong” for lefty Jose Quintana, according to Feinsand. “They were quietly deep in it,” said one executive. Rosenthal hears the Yankees did make an offer for Quintana, and Cashman told Brendan Kuty the White Sox asked the Yankees for players similar to the ones they received from the Cubs. So I guess that means an elite prospect (Gleyber Torres?), a very good pitching prospect (Chance Adams? Justus Sheffield?), plus two lesser pieces.

It was reported following the White Sox trade that the Yankees offered Rutherford to Chicago for Quintana, though the rest of the package is unknown. If Rutherford was the headliner, then it’s easy to understand why the ChiSox passed and went with the Cubs’ package. I think the Yankees were willing to give up a really nice package to get Quintana, but even then they would set a limit and not increase their offer. I guess that’s why Quintana is a Cub now. For shame. He really would have been a nice get from a pure “he’s a good pitcher” perspective.

Yankees acquire Frazier, Robertson, Kahnle from White Sox

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Any question about whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers has been answered. Tuesday night the Yankees swung their largest trade deadline deal in several years, finalizing a seven-player trade with the White Sox that brings Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson to New York. Tyler Clippard, Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo are going the other way. Both teams have announced the trade. It’s a done deal. Officially official.

“Those are all guys who can help us accomplish what we’re trying to,” said Brett Gardner, who texted Robertson after the trade, to Bryan Hoch following Tuesday’s game. The Yankees are assuming the remainder of Robertson’s contract, which isn’t bad by any means. He’s owed the balance of his $12M salary this year plus $13M next year. Frazier is a rental and Kahnle will remain under team control through 2020 as an arbitration-eligible player.

Frazier, 31, is hitting .207/.328/.432 (103 wRC+) with 16 home runs in 81 games this season, and while that doesn’t sound exciting, it’s a massive upgrade over what the Yankees have been getting from first base this year. Joe Girardi confirmed Frazier will play both first and third bases, and I’m sure he’ll be in the lineup everyday. Also, Frazier is an A+ clubhouse dude. He’s great with young players and in general. The Yankees value that.

Robertson and Kahnle will help a bullpen that has been way too shaky this season. Kahnle, 27, was originally selected in the fifth round by the Yankees in the 2010 draft. They lost him to the Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and he eventually made his way to the White Sox. Kahnle has been unreal this season. Dude has a 2.50 ERA (1.47 FIP) with 42.6% strikeouts and 5.0% walks in 36 innings. He’s been better than Robertson.

The 32-year-old Robertson has a 2.70 ERA (3.05 FIP) in 33.1 innings with 35.6% strikeouts and 8.3% walks, so typical David Robertson stuff. Welcome home, D-Rob. He and Kahnle are going to give the bullpen a huge shot in the arm. The Yankees are — and this isn’t hyperbole — replacing one of the worst relievers in baseball this season (Clippard) with one of the best (Kahnle). And then getting Robertson on top of that.

The big piece going to the White Sox in the trade is Rutherford, New York’s first round pick in last year’s draft. The 20-year-old outfielder is hitting .281/.342/.391 (112 wRC+) with two home runs in 71 Low Class-A games this season. That’s pretty good for a 20-year-old kid in full season ball, though maybe not quite what everyone hoped coming into the season. Either way, Rutherford remains an excellent prospect.

Polo and Clarkin, both 22, are decent prospects and nothing more at this point. Clarkin was one of the Yankees’ three first round picks in 2013, so once upon a time he was a pretty big deal, but he hasn’t really been the same since missing the entire 2015 season with an elbow issue. Polo came over from the Pirates in last year’s Ivan Nova trade and projects as a fourth outfielder. He’s very likely to play in MLB at some point.

Clippard was thrown into the trade as a way to offset some salary, and also clear a 40-man roster spot. (The Yankees still have to clear two more 40-man spots.) Clippard started the season in the Circle of Trust™, but he’s been getting bombed the last few weeks, forcing the Yankees to use him in lower leverage spots whenever possible. He has a 4.95 ERA (4.98 FIP) in 36.1 innings this year. Yuck. Addition by subtraction.

Now that it’s crystal clear the Yankees are going to add pieces at the trade deadline, they figure to buckle down and look for a starting pitcher. Michael Pineda is done for the season and running guys like Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa out there every fifth day isn’t a good idea. I don’t think the Yankees will trade top prospects for a someone like Sonny Gray, necessarily, but I do expect them to search around for a veteran innings guy.

Scouting the Trade Market: Jaime Garcia

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

The trade deadline is roughly a week and a half away now, and already the big pitching trade candidate has been moved. Jose Quintana is a Chicago Cub and the focus has now turned to Sonny Gray. There are plenty of other pitchers on the market too. None have the track record of Quintana or the upside of Gray, but there are pitchers out there ready to be dealt.

Among them is Braves southpaw Jaime Garcia, an impending free agent having an okay season (4.33 ERA and 4.25 FIP in 106 innings). The Braves are not absolutely miserable this season — they came into today 45-46 with a -35 run differential — though they are still rebuilding, and a free agent-to-be like Garcia is a prime piece of trade bait. Does he make any sense for the Yankees? Let’s break it down.

Current Stuff

The just turned 31-year-old Garcia is pitching like his usual self this season in that he’s getting a ton of ground balls (54.7%) and an average-ish number of strikeouts (18.2%). His walk rate (9.0%) is a tad high, though remove the intentional walks and it’s a more manageable 8.1%. That’s right in line with last season (7.7%). Garcia wasn’t very good last year (4.67 ERA and 4.49 FIP) but he was great the year before (2.43 ERA and 3.00 FIP).

Generally speaking, Garcia is a true five-pitch pitcher with two low-90s fastballs (four-seamer and sinker). His go-to secondary pitch is a fading low-to-mid-80s changeup. He also throws a low-80s slider and a loopy mid-70s curveball. The curveball is his least used pitch at 6.4% this year. Garcia throws everything else at least 11% of the time. Here’s some video:

There really has been very little change in Garcia’s stuff since Opening Day 2015. He’s averaging 91.5 mph and topping out at 94.3 mph with his fastballs, he’s throwing the same number of breaking balls and changeups, and his grounder and swing and miss rates are all holding steady. That’s good. Garcia has been same guy for three years now. His performance has fluctuated wildly, though that’s more location relation than stuff related.

Injury History

Garcia’s injury history is very ugly. He’s had Tommy John surgery (September 2008), rotator cuff surgery (May 2013), and surgery to treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (July 2014) among all sorts of other nagging issues. Garcia threw only 220.2 innings total from 2012-14 while with the Cardinals. (Weirdly, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak ripped Garcia in 2014 for having his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery.)

The injury history is very scary but, to Garcia’s credit, he has been completely healthy since returning from the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in May 2015. He hasn’t missed a start since. That said, the best predictor of future injury is past injury, and Garcia has had several major arm problems and major arm surgeries in his career. Every pitcher is an injury risk. Garcia is much riskier than most given his injury history.

What Would It Take?

Garcia is a rental and I suppose the Braves could argue he’s a qualifying offer candidate likely to sign a free agent contract in excess of $50M, meaning they want something back equal or greater to the supplemental first round pick they would receive in the offseason. That seems like a real stretch though given his performance and injury history.

Mark Feinsand says a dozen teams have expressed interest in Garcia and that doesn’t surprise me. Pitching is always in demand and Garcia is solid enough despite the injury risk. Ground ball lefties are always a hot commodity. Here are some rental veteran starters who have been traded in recent years:

  • Ivan Nova: Traded for two top 20-30 organizational prospects (Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley).
  • J.A. Happ: Traded for a top 15 organizational prospect (Adrian Sampson).
  • Dan Haren: Traded for two non-top 30 organizational prospects (Elliot Soto and Ivan Pineyro).
  • Mike Leake: Traded for an organizational top ten prospect (Keury Mella) and a young big leaguer (Adam Duvall).
  • Scott Kazmir: Traded for an organizational top ten prospect (Jacob Nottingham) and an organizational top 20-30 prospect (Daniel Mengden).

The Braves will presumably push for a Leake/Kazmir package while interested teams counter with a Haren package. Leake had a much longer track record of being a league average innings eater. Kazmir had an ugly injury history like Garcia, but also a much better recent performance. Nova and Happ were having terrible seasons at the time of their trades, and Haren was a veteran guy at the end of the line.

The Kazmir trade feels like the best benchmark to me even though he was lights out with the Athletics (2.38 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 109.2 innings) before being traded to the Astros. Kazmir was an injury risk then like Garcia is now, and both offered the potential for above-average performance. And maybe the Kazmir trade is a reason to stay away from Garcia. Kazmir had a 2.38 ERA (3.16 FIP) before the trade and a 4.17 ERA (5.19 FIP) after the trade.

Anyway, using the Kazmir trade as a benchmark, we’re talking about a top 10 and a top 30 prospect for Garcia. Not all farm systems are created equal, however. A top ten prospect in the Yankees system is at worst a borderline top 100 guy. The Astros had a very strong farm system at the time of the Kazmir trade, though it wasn’t as good as New York’s is now. A Yankees equivalent to Nottingham and Mengden is something like Billy McKinney and Ian Clarkin.

As unexciting as Garcia may be, I think there will be enough competition for him that the price gets driven up and the Braves wind up acquiring two pretty nice prospects for him. The Yankees have a lot of nice prospects. So many that they’re probably going to end up losing some for nothing in the Rule 5 Draft and on waivers through various other 40-man roster moves in the offseason. Turning some of those guys into a rental starter like Garcia seems worthwhile.

Does He Make Sense For The Yankees?

(Daniel Shirey/Getty)
(Daniel Shirey/Getty)

The Yankees have needed another starter pretty much all season even though there was really no way to squeeze another starter into the rotation. Michael Pineda‘s injury takes care of that. There’s an opening in the rotation and Garcia would a fine — albeit unexciting — stopgap. Ground ball heavy lefties will always have a place on the Yankees pitching staff thanks to the Yankee Stadium short porch.

The question is are the Yankees open to trading prospects for a rental when they’re slipping out of the race, or would they rather stick in-house with the kids? Bryan Mitchell started last night and Luis Cessa starts tonight. Brian Cashman said Chance Adams could get a shot at some point too. The thing is, those kids have workload limits, and pitching is one of those things you’d rather have too much of than not enough.

There’s also this: Garcia would be auditioning for a rotation spot next year. Aside from Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees have no idea what next season’s starting rotation will look like, and Garcia is one of those lower cost free agents they could target to fill out the rotation and stay under the luxury tax threshold. The trade would give the Yankees and their staff a chance to evaluate him up close. That’s not nothing.

For me, Garcia makes perfect sense for the Yankees. He shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire, he wouldn’t tie up long-term roster or payroll space, and there’s at least a chance at excellence. You probably won’t get it, but Garcia has had some very good seasons in his career. In a 12-start sample, who knows what’ll happen? If the Yankees are going to go after a rental starter rather than a long-term piece like Sonny Gray, Garcia may be the best option.

The Yankees are reportedly in on David Robertson again, and Todd Frazier too

Frazier. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)
Frazier. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is two weeks from today and already things are starting to heat up. Jose Quintana went to the Cubs last week, and yesterday the Nationals addressed their bullpen issues by acquiring Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Athletics. The draft is in the rear-view mirror and the All-Star break is over. Teams are getting serious about fixing their roster problems.

According to Jon Heyman the Yankees had scouts in Chicago over the weekend and they’re believed to have some interest in White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier and closer David Robertson. Apparently the Yankees are focused more on Robertson than Frazier at the moment. Heyman says the Red Sox also had a scout on hand and are after both players as well. Hmmm. Anyway, let’s talk this rumor out.

1. Does it pass the sniff test? Yeah, for sure. I always start here because there’s so much nonsense out there that it’s worth taking a step back to figure out what’s real and what’s a stretch, but this one definitely makes sense. The Yankees are said to be looking for a third basemanChase Headley has picked it up at the plate the last few weeks, but still — plus Frazier can also play first base as well. That position has been a black hole all season. Robertson? The Yankees need all the bullpen help they can get, this weekend’s performance in Boston notwithstanding.

2. Frazier would be an upgrade, though maybe not a big one. I get the sense many folks consider Frazier a near star caliber player and big time slugger. He’s good, but he’s not that. Not close, really. He’s hitting .207/.328/.432 (108 wRC+) with 16 home runs in 81 games this season. That’s good. It’s not great and it’s not awful. That’s more or less what the Yankees hoped to get from Chris Carter, right?

Now, that said, Headley is hitting .258/.342/.369 (92 wRC+) overall this season, and first base has been so bad that eight different players have started at the position. The Yankees are at the point that they’re scouring Triple-A for guys like Garrett Cooper. That’s never good. Frazier has played 94 games and 740.1 innings at first base in his career, including four games this year. He’s familiar with the position and the Yankees could stick him over there.

The 31-year-old Frazier is a semi-local kid from Point Pleasant, plus he’s a pure rental who will be a free agent after the season, so he shouldn’t cost a ton of acquire. Would he be an upgrade? Yeah, he would, especially at first base despite being a flawed low-average hitter. Is it worth paying a big price to get him? I don’t think so. Not with other first baseman like Lucas Duda, Yonder Alonso, and Justin Bour out there and able to provide more thump.

Robertson. (Stephen Brashear/Getty)
Robertson. (Stephen Brashear/Getty)

3. This isn’t the first time the Yankees have had interest in bringing Robertson back. The Yankees have tried to bring Robertson back to New York several times since letting him leave as a free agent three years ago. They claimed him on trade waivers in August 2015 and you don’t do that unless you’re willing to take on the contract. The Yankees also spoke to the White Sox about Robertson this past offseason.

The 32-year-old Robertson has been dynamite this season, throwing 33.1 innings with a 2.70 ERA (3.05 FIP). Tons of strikeouts (35.6%) and not an unmanageable number of walks (8.3%). Typical Robertson. He’ll make you sweat at times but he gets the job done more often than not. Every bullpen in baseball has room for this guy. He’s an upgrade for everyone, including the Yankees, who could use a Seventh Inning Guy™.

The White Sox and Nationals reportedly agreed to a Robertson trade back during Spring Training, so he’s definitely available. That deal fell apart because the two sides couldn’t agree on the financials. From Bob Nightengale:

The White Sox are shopping him, the Nationals need him, and they nearly completed a deal for him before spring training. The Nationals, according to executives with direct knowledge of the deal, were to send 19-year-old left-hander Jesus Luzardo and minor league infielder Drew Ward to the White Sox for Robertson, with the White Sox eating about half of the $25 million remaining in his contract. But the deal got hung up over money.

Luzardo went to the A’s in yesterday’s Doolittle/Madson trade. The Yankees equivalent to Luzardo and Ward would be something like Domingo Acevedo and Billy McKinney. The high-upside starter and promising bat with some production issues. It’s not a perfect equivalent but it’s in the ballpark. We’re not talking Justus Sheffield and Gleyber Torres here. Two good, not great, prospects.

The Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax threshold next season and Robertson, who is making $12M this year and $13M next year, would make that more difficult. Then again, if the White Sox eat half the money as they reportedly agreed to do with the Nationals earlier this year, it would be much more tolerable. A pro-rated $6M Robertson this year and a $6.5M Robertson next year is pretty good. That’s Tyler Clippard money. Geez, now I got myself all excited.

4. Are the Yankees just trying to drive up the price for the Red Sox? It would not be the first time the Yankees have done this. Most notably, Brian Cashman wined and dined Carl Crawford during the 2010 Winter Meetings just to make the Red Sox sweat. Crawford was cool with it because it put more money in his pocket. The White Sox would be thrilled to pit the Yankees against the Red Sox in a Frazier/Robertson bidding war, even a phony one.

My guess is the Yankees have limited interest in Frazier because they’re hoping to get Greg Bird back and don’t consider Frazier a big enough of an upgrade on Headley to justify trading prospects for a rental. I do think their interest in Robertson is real and they want to bring him back. They’ve tried too many times the last few years for me to believe they’re just driving up the price for Boston. Robertson is still very good, he addresses a need, and he already knows the ropes around here. That’s pretty big.

* * *

Cashman recently said the Yankees will be “careful buyers” at the trade deadline and do believe they will be very protective of their top prospects. I don’t think it’s lip service. Does that mean someone like, say, Clint Frazier will be completely off limits? Nah. They’d make him available in the right deal. They’d be stupid not to. Frazier and/or Robertson is not that deal though. Those are guys the Yankees could acquire using that army of mid-range prospects they have in the farm system.

Saturday Links: Bour, Trade Value, Conlon, Rasmussen

Bour. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Bour. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Later today the Yankees and Red Sox will continue their four games in three days series with the second game at Fenway Park. That’s a 4pm ET start. Until then, here are some links to check out.

Bour trade talks only “cursory”

According to Buster Olney, trade talks between the Yankees and Marlins about first baseman Justin Bour have only been “cursory, non-specific.” Olney says the Marlins have let teams know they’re open for business while Jon Heyman reports the club has no intention to trade its affordable core players. That sounds like posturing to me. They’re willing to trade them but say they won’t in an effort to build some leverage.

Bour, 29, is hitting .289/.367/.556 (136 wRC+) with 20 home runs in 77 games this season, plus he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2020. He put on quite a show in the Home Run Derby before getting knocked out by Aaron Judge. On one hand, Bour would be an enormous first base upgrade for the Yankees, and he’d provide a DH option going forward should Greg Bird ever get healthy. On the other hand, something about trading prospects for a 29-year-old late bloomer at the bottom of the defensive spectrum doesn’t sit well with me.

Three Yankees make FanGraphs’ trade value series

Over the last week Dave Cameron has posted his annual trade value series, in which he ranks the top 50 players in baseball by trade value. It’s not just about performance. It’s about performance and years of team control, things like that. Bryce Harper is obviously excellent, though he doesn’t make the top 50 because he’ll be a free agent after next season. Anyway, three Yankees make the top 50, and they’re the young cornerstones of the franchise.

6. Aaron Judge
12. Gary Sanchez
35. Luis Severino

Judge is behind Carlos Correa, Mike Trout, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and Francisco Lindor in that order. I have no problems with that. Judge is awesome and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season, though he’s only been this for half-a-season. Those other guys have done it for a full season, at least. Sanchez is the highest ranked catcher and Severino is the 12th ranked pitcher, which is pretty great. Last year there were no Yankees in the trade value series. Now there are three, including two in the top 12.

O’s fourth rounder now a free agent

Jack Conlon, a fourth round pick by the Orioles in this year’s draft, is now an unrestricted free agent, according to both Jim Callis and Hudson Belinsky. The O’s saw something they didn’t like in Conlon’s physical and declined to sign him. They didn’t even make him the minimum offer (40% of his slot value), which is why he’s now a free agent. MLB.com ranked the Texas high school right-hander as the 175th best prospect in the draft class. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Conlon can pitch at 92-95 mph with life on his fastball and back it up with an 81-84 mph slider on days when his mechanics are in sync. His changeup lags behind his other two pitches, though it has some fade and he shows some feel for it. He has a classic pitcher’s build at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds that bodes well for his durability. Conlon lacks consistency, however, because he has a rough delivery with effort and a head whack.

There haven’t been any reports connecting Conlon to the Yankees (or any other team), and they might never come. This might be one of those situations where we skip straight to the signing announcement. I’m certain the Yankees will look into signing Conlon because hey, it’s not often you can pick up a decent pitching prospect for nothing but cash, though the failed physical is an issue. The Orioles are notoriously tough with their physicals, so maybe it’s nothing. Then again, it could be a serious arm problem, so much so that spending money on him isn’t worth the increased risk.

Also, I should note the Rays did not sign Oregon State right-hander Drew Rasmussen, the 31st selection in this year’s draft, also because something popped up in his physical. There are conflicting reports out there about his current status. Some say he’s a free agent because the Rays didn’t make the minimum offer while others say the Rays did make the minimum offer, and Rasmussen will return to school for his senior season rather than become a free agent. Who knows.