Saturday Links: Midseason Prospect Lists, Miller, Gurriel

The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)
The Judge and the GM. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Indians continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Four Yankees make BA’s midseason top 100

The Baseball America crew released their midseason top 100 prospects list yesterday. The entire piece is free. You don’t need a subscription to see the list or the write-ups. Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada sits in the top spot (groan) and is followed by Cardinals RHP Alex Reyes and Phillies SS J.P. Crawford in the top three. The Yankees have four players on the list: SS Jorge Mateo (No. 19), C Gary Sanchez (No. 36), OF Aaron Judge (No. 42), and RHP James Kaprielian (No. 99).

Both Mateo and Judge have climbed the rankings since BA’s preseason top 100 — Mateo was No. 26 and Judge was No. 76 coming into the season — though at least part of that is due to the graduation of prospects ahead of them. Still nice to see such a big jump for Judge. Sanchez stayed in the same spot (No. 36) and Kaprielian makes the midseason top 100 after not making the preseason top 100. He did that despite his elbow injury. It should be noted 2016 draftees were not eligible for the midseason top 100. OF Blake Rutherford will definitely be in the top 100 mix next spring.

Two Yankees make BP’s midseason top 50

Baseball Prospectus released their midseason top 50 prospects list earlier this week as well, and again, it’s free. It’s not behind the paywall. That’s always cool. Crawford, Moncada, and Dodgers LHP Julio Urias sit in the top three spots in that order. Players selected in the 2016 draft are not eligible for this list either.

The Yankees landed only two players on BP’s midseason top 50: Judge (No. 25) and Mateo (No. 29). Judge dropped a few spots while Mateo climbed many spots from the preseason top 101. Judge was No. 18 before the season and Mateo was No. 65. Sanchez was No. 92 before the season, so the BP crew is lower on him than BA. Jumping from No. 92 before the season into the top 50 at midseason is tough to do.

Miller atop Cubs’ wish list

According to Jon Heyman, Andrew Miller is believed to be atop the Cubs’ wish list as they look for bullpen help. That’s no surprise. Miller is awesome and signed to a favorable contract, plus Theo Epstein had him with the Red Sox too, so I assume there’s still some affinity there. The Cubs also would like Dellin Betances but “wouldn’t even ask,” says Heyman. Why not ask? You’re not doing your job if you don’t ask.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

In a separate piece, Heyman says someone with the Yankees put the chances of a Miller trade at “less than one percent.” That could just be posturing though. Also, apparently the Nationals made an offer for Miller over the winter. That makes sense, though we didn’t hear about it in the offseason. The Dodgers and especially the Astros were the two clubs most connected to Miller over the winter. The Yankees wanted Lance McCullers Jr. from Houston, but no dice.

Gurriel done with private workouts

Free agent Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel finished his private workouts with teams this week, reports Jesse Sanchez. Gurriel did indeed work out with the Yankees at some point. I know this because he posted it on Instagram. (Journalism!) Sanchez says Gurriel worked out with the Astros, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, and Padres in addition to the Yankees. I’m surprised it wasn’t more teams.

With the workouts over, I assume Gurriel and his agents will shift into contract negotiation mode. I really have no idea what to expect. I could see him getting big money (five or six years at $12M+ annually) or just a moderate short-term deal (three years at $10M per year). His age (32) and the usual concerns associated with the transition to MLB complicate things even though Gurriel has mashed everywhere he’s played.

Red Sox get Ziegler

Late last night the Red Sox picked up reliever Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks for two low level prospects, both teams announced. This is good for the Yankees if you’re on #TeamSell. It’s simple supply and demand. The supply of available relievers has now shrunk by one while the demand, as far as the Yankees are concerned, is unchanged. They weren’t going to trade with Boston anyway. The Red Sox took an available late-inning reliever away from the Cubs, Nationals, Rangers, Dodgers, Giants, and whoever else. Now the Yankees just have to, you know, sell.

King: White Sox asked about Gary Sanchez this week, but asking price was “far too high”

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to George King, the White Sox asked the Yankees about top catching prospect Gary Sanchez earlier this week, but talks didn’t progress far because the asking price was “far too high.” The ChiSox just lost Alex Avila to a hamstring injury and are looking to stay in the wildcard race. Also, Sanchez would be a long-term solution behind the plate.

Sanchez, 23, went into last night’s game hitting .281/.321/.487 (132 wRC+) with nine homers in 55 Triple-A games. He missed a few weeks earlier this season after taking a foul tip to the thumb and suffering a fracture. Sanchez spent one day in the big leagues a few weeks ago, serving as the DH against the White Sox, coincidentally enough. Anyway, I have three quick thoughts on this.

1. So the Yankees asked for one of the lefties, right? I’m guessing the Yankees asked the ChiSox for one of their three left-handed starters, meaning Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, or Carlos Rodon. When a team asks about one your top prospects, you ask about getting one of their best players in return. That’s how this usually works. Sale and Quintana are presumably off-limits and I’m sure the Yankees knew that. They were probably asking for Sale or Quintana, and willing to “settle” for Rodon. He’d satisfy their need for young pitching controllable beyond 2017.

2. What else do the White Sox have to offer? The White Sox don’t have a great farm system, especially with Tim Anderson now holding down the shortstop position in the big leagues. Carson Fulmer, the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, has a 4.76 ERA (4.11 FIP) with a 13.0% walk rate in Double-A this year. His stock is down because concerns about his high-effort delivery and imprecise command are manifesting themselves in pro ball.

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 White Sox prospects, for your perusal. I don’t see anyone — or even a combination of multiple players — worth giving up Sanchez to get. Maybe I’m just a raging homer. If nothing else, that prospect list shows why the Yankees (probably) focused on the White Sox’s lefty starters. What else do they have to offer? Brett Lawrie? No thanks.

3. Sanchez is the most “untouchable” prospect the Yankees have. As far as I’m concerned, the Yankees do not have an untouchable player in their organization. They don’t have a young franchise cornerstone like Mike Trout or Francisco Lindor, and they don’t have a truly elite prospect like Lucas Giolito or Dansby Swanson. Those guys should be untouchable. Not players like Sanchez or Didi Gregorius or Aaron Judge.

That said, it would be tougher to part with some players than others, and Sanchez is one of them as a Triple-A catcher with a chance to hit in the middle of the order. Those guys are hard to find. Trading Judge would make more sense because the Yankees have a ton of outfield prospects in Double-A and Triple-A. Trading Jorge Mateo would also make more sense because he’s only in High Class-A and the Yankees have a whole bunch of other quality shortstop prospects. They only have one Sanchez though. Outfield and shortstop are positions of depth. Catcher isn’t.

* * *

Austin Romine‘s surprisingly competency as Brian McCann‘s backup has bought the Yankees some time. They’ve been able to leave Sanchez in Triple-A so he can continue to work on his defense. He is clearly the catcher of the future, and his path to the job is pretty clear. Sanchez figures to spend next year as McCann’s understudy before taking over as the No. 1 guy in 2018 or 2019. Trading him shouldn’t be off the table, but the Yankees are right to set the price high.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: July 2011

The Summer of Ubaldo. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
The Summer of Ubaldo. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

It’s a new month, which means it’s time once again to take a trip back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We’re now in July 2011, which means the trade deadline is approaching. It was a busy month for sure. July always is. The Yankees went into July 2011 with a 48-31 record and a 2.5 game in the AL East. Their Cliff Lee-less patchwork rotation was getting the job done.

Despite their record though, the Yankees were dealing with some injuries prior to the trade deadline, and the middle of their bullpen was looking a little leaky. Also, rotation help was still a priority because no one know how Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia would handle the second half as their workloads grew. The Yankees were a surprise first place team looking to stay in first place. Let’s go back through the rumor mill.

July 1st, 2011: Olney On Deadline Plans For AL Teams

The Yankees are convinced their internal pitching options are better than what’s available on the market right now. A Rafael Soriano setback would put them in the reliever market.

Soriano did suffer a setback in May, but by July his rehab was going well. He returned on July 30th, the day before the trade deadline, and pitched well enough the rest of the way (3.33 ERA in 24.1 innings). Soriano was the team’s midseason bullpen addition that year. The Yankees never did trade for a reliever — they brought in a bunch of scrap heap guys throughout the season, which every team does every year — and really, they didn’t need too. Soriano joined David Robertson and Mariano Rivera in the late innings, and Boone Logan became Joe Girardi‘s trusted lefty. The bullpen was solid. Better than that from the seventh inning on.

July 4th, 2011: Yankees Sign Miguel Andujar

The Yankees signed Dominican third baseman Miguel Andujar, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 16-year-old obtains a $700K bonus.

Kind of a big deal, no? That $700,000 bonus was the second largest the Yankees gave out during the 2011-12 international signing period, behind only the $2.5M they gave Cuban lefty Omar Luis (d’oh). Andujar has not zoomed through the minors, but he did reach Double-A this year, and he’s having a breakout season: .297/.350/.459 (135 wRC+) with ten homers in half a season. He’s still only 21 and has blossomed into one of New York’s best prospects.

July 5th, 2011: AL East Notes: Orioles, Jeter, Lackey

Derek Jeter, who returned to the Yankees‘ lineup from the disabled list last night, told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he’s unhappy with his first half performance and intends to improve “everything” in the second half.

Jeter missed a month with a calf strain in the middle of the 2011 season. He hit .260/.324/.324 (78 wRC+) in 293 plate appearances before the injury and .331/.384/.447 (128 wRC+) in 314 plate appearances after, so yeah, Jeter did improve “everything” after he returned. I don’t remember him playing that well after the injury at all, do you? I was surprised when I saw the numbers.

July 7th, 2011: Mets Listening On Carlos Beltran

The Yankees aren’t interested in Beltran, though the Red Sox are a possible fit given the low level of offensive production Boston has received from its right fielders this year. Mets GM Sandy Alderson says “it’s still a little bit early” to make deals, since the Mets are “relevant” in the race for playoff berths.

The Mets dealt Beltran to the Giants for Zack Wheeler a few weeks later and the Yankees almost certainly could have gotten him for Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances at the time because they were equally excellent prospects and much closer to MLB. That said, a Yankees-Mets trade of that magnitude probably wasn’t happening. Besides, the outfield was full (Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher), plus Jorge Posada was locked in at DH. The Yankees could have found playing time for Beltran if they really wanted to though.

July 7th, 2011: Yankees Have Interest In Sean Burnett

The Yankees have expressed interest in Nationals lefty reliever Sean Burnett, though the two clubs have not yet had any discussions according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (Twitter links). Craig Heist of WTOP 103.5 FM in Washington originally reported the rumor. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the Yankees have discussed Burnett internally, but Washington has not yet made him available (on Twitter).

True story: Sean Burnett is somehow still only 33. Feels like he should be pushing 40 by now. He was a pretty big prospect with the Pirates back in the day — he was No. 25 on Baseball America’s 2003 top 100 list, right between John Van Benschoten and Scott Hairston — but injuries derailed his career. Burnett found success with the Nationals as a reliever and pitched to 2.81 ERA (3.48 FIP) with Washington from 2009-12.

Despite big time interest from many teams, the Nationals hung onto Burnett until he became a free agent following the 2012 season. They didn’t get prospects or a draft pick for him. The Angels signed Burnett to a two-year, $8M deal prior to the 2013 season, the same deal the Yankees gave Pedro Feliciano, whose injury had them exploring a trade for Burnett in the first place. Baseball is a flat circle.

July 9th, 2011: Quick Hits: Yankees, Riggleman, Fernandez, Orioles

Alex Rodriguez may need knee surgery that could keep him out a month, and Joel Sherman of The New York Post hears that the Yankees will consider outside options to fill in at third base (Twitter link). Their first choice is to use in-house candidates Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird.

A-Rod ended up missing about a month and a half following knee surgery, and the Yankees rolled primarily with Nunez and Eric Chavez at third base in the meantime. They never made a trade. The team’s third basemen hit .243/.286/.319 during A-Rod’s absence. Yeesh. The Eduaric Chavunez plan didn’t work out too well.

July 10th, 2011: Cafardo’s Latest: Bell, Kazmir, Kendall, Aramis

The Yankees, Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Phillies are a few other teams monitoring Bell.

The Padres never did trade Heath Bell at the deadline. They let him walk as a free agent after the season and took the two draft picks instead. Back then you got two draft picks, including the signing team’s first rounder, when you lost a top free agent. Now you get a dinky supplemental round pick. Don’t forget to trade your elite rental relievers, folks, especially if you know you’re not contending and don’t plan to re-sign them.

July 13th, 2011: Heyman On K-Rod, Sabathia, Fielder, Beltran

Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia “has done some selling on the Yankees” to his friend Prince Fielder.  Heyman doesn’t take this as a sign the Yankees are interested in Fielder as a very expensive designated hitter, but rather an indication that Sabathia expects to stick around with the club after this season.

I definitely remember a “sign Prince, dump Teixeira” movement back in the day. Fielder hit .299/.415/.566 (160 wRC+) with 38 home runs in his final season with the Brewers, and he was only 27 too. Teixeira was 31 years old in 2011 and he hit .248/.341/.494 (124 wRC+) with 39 dingers. Replacing Teixeira with the younger Fielder made sense in a world where contracts and positional needs don’t exist.

Instead, the Yankees rotated players in and out of the DH spot in 2012 while Prince took a nine-year, $214M deal from the Tigers. That contract has gone horribly wrong, though the Tigers were able to unload it on the Rangers two years later. Since Fielder signed that contract, he’s been worth +7.0 fWAR and +7.2 bWAR. Teixeira is at +5.6 fWAR and +8.0 bWAR during the same time. The Yankees can wave goodbye to Teixeira after the season. Fielder still has $24M coming to him per year from now through 2020. Zoinks.

July 13th, 2011: Yankees Notes: Romero, Jimenez, Clippard

J.C. Romero intends to opt out of his deal with the Nationals and sign a minor league deal with the Yankees if Washington doesn’t promote him to the Major Leagues by Friday, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. Romero, who hasn’t yet been promoted, wants to secure his release and sign with the Yankees, according to Olney.

The Nationals did not call up Romero, so he indeed used his opt-out clause and signed with the Yankees. He threw 12.1 innings for Triple-A Scranton before being released. Romero spent the next few years bouncing around different organizations.

This blurb reminds me of a report we read about in last month’s MLBTR Archives post, in which the Yankees were accused of tampering with Andrew Miller by trying to convince him to opt-out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox. How did Romero know the Yankees wanted to sign him before his opt-out date? The two sides had to talk. That’s tampering too, right? My guess is this stuff happens all the time. Like, all the time. For some reason it became a big deal with Miller.

July 17th, 2011: Rosenthal On Phillies, Adams, Royals, Guthrie

Mike Adams is one player under control past this season who has drawn “serious interest” from the Phillies, as we heard yesterday. But the Yankees and Rangers, among other teams, are also very interested in the righty.

Adams was ridiculously good bad in the day. He overcame a ton of injuries earlier in his career and managed to throw 217 innings of 1.66 ERA (2.40 FIP) ball for the Padres from 2008-11. San Diego traded him to the Rangers for pitching prospects Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin at the 2011 trade deadline. Trading a setup man for two starting pitching prospects? Madness. No team would ever do that. It’s not like that’s the going rate or anything.

July 17th, 2011: Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors: Sunday

The Rockies and Yankees match up well, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman. Colorado likes Jesus Montero, but the Yanks are reluctant to include Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, or Ivan Nova along with Montero.

There were a TON of Ubaldo rumors in July 2011 and I will spare you most of them in this post because they’re all repeats. The Yankees were very much in on Jimenez, who was having a very good season after having an ace-caliber season a year earlier. Still, there were concerns about his trademark inconsistency, and the Yankees really didn’t want to give up any of their top prospects for something less than a sure thing. I was all aboard the Ubaldo train. I was ready to trade Montero+ for him. Good thing I’m not in charge.

July 17th, 2011: Quick Hits: Wigginton, Reyes, Phillies, Lowe

Ty Wigginton‘s name has come up in talks between the Yankees and Rockies, tweets SI.com’s Jon Heyman. As Heyman points out, Wigginton could fill in for Alex Rodriguez as he recovers from surgery.

Ty Wigginton! He was one of those guys who was connected to the Yankees every year. Yankees need a third baseman? Get Ty Wigginton. First baseman? Ty Wigginton. Second baseman? Ty Wigginton. Bench player? Ty Wigginton. Ty Wigginton, Mark DeRosa, and Scot Shields were the cures to whatever ailed the Yankees each year. It was amazing.

Wigginton was with the going nowhere Rockies in 2011 and he was having a decent enough season, hitting .242/.315/.416 (85 wRC+) while playing the four corner positions. The Yankees had lost A-Rod to his knee surgery and adding another versatile bench bat is never really a bad idea. The Rockies never did trade Wigginton though. They kept him, lost 89 games, and let him walk as a free agent. Got nothing for him.

At Least You Tried

July 18th, 2011: AL East Notes: Papelbon, Kuroda, Blue Jays, Rays

The Yankees called Hiroki Kuroda‘s agent to gather information and heard that the starter doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles for the East Coast, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (on Twitter).

I wanted the Yankees to trade for Kuroda so bad back then. Folks said he was just an NL pitcher and all that, but nope. Kuroda was an awesome Yankee from 2012-14. Several teams had interest in him at the 2011 trade deadline, though ultimately he told the Dodgers he would not waive his no-trade clause because he wanted to remain close to his family in Los Angeles.

July 19th, 2011: Mariners Rumors: Felix, League

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik still plans to retain ace Felix Hernandez, he tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Rosenthal says the Yankees occasionally check in to see if the team will change its stance, but there’s no indication they’ll budge. 

Felix was only 25 back in 2011 and he was coming off his Cy Young season. He was one of the most valuable commodities in the game and the Mariners were smart to hang onto him.

Do you think the Yankees still check in occasionally about Felix? I mean, I’m sure they do, but probably not as often, right? He’s pitched well since the start of last season (3.37 ERA and 3.82 FIP) but his strikeout rate is dropping while his walk and homer rates climb. He’s also had some physical issues and there’s $95M left on his deal through 2019. Felix is still awesome! But it appears his best years are behind him. He’s into his decline phase now.

July 20th, 2011: Quick Hits: Cespedes, Ludwick, Pettitte

The Yankees have not contacted Andy Pettitte about coming out of retirement and do not expect to do so, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan

Nah, Pettitte would never come out of retirement to pitch. That would be crazy.

July 21st, 2011: New York Notes: Dickey, Isringhausen, Garcia

The Yankees have some interest in Jeremy Guthrie according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman (on Twitter), but they know Orioles‘ owner Peter Angelos will not trade with them.

This rumor almost feels like the Yankees were playing a joke on the O’s. “Well, we’d like to send you some players for Guthrie, but you won’t trade with us, so too bad.” Guthrie was serviceable all those years with the Orioles and yeah, he would have helped the Yankees in 2011, but this one wasn’t going to happen.

July 21st, 2011: Minor Moves: Chico, Singleton, Dobies, Dodgers

The Yankees released right-hander Alan Horne, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Horne, a first rounder ten years ago, allowed 13 runs in 6 1/3 innings at Double-A Trenton this year.

Great, now I have all the prospect sad. Horne was not a Yankees’ first round pick. The Indians took him 27th overall out of high school in 2001 but he didn’t sign. The Yankees grabbed him in the 11th round of the 2005 draft out of Florida. Horne had a great 2007 season in Double-A (3.11 ERA and 3.30 FIP in 153.1 innings) and was one of the team’s top prospects. The Yankees can’t have nice things though. Horne got hurt the next season, and the season after that, and the two seasons after that. Following that breakout 2007 season, he had a 7.23 ERA (5.69 FIP) in 107 total innings the rest of his career. Baseball can be a real son of a bitch.

July 22nd, 2011: Yankees Sign Marcus Thames

The Yankees signed Marcus Thames to a minor league deal, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. The 34-year-old, who played for the Yankees in 2002 and 2010, will report to the Yankees’ minor league complex before he’s assigned to Triple-A. Thames hit .288/.350/.491 in a part-time role with the Yankees last year, adding 12 home runs.

Thames had an awesome season after signing a minor league deal with the Yankees in 2010, and he turned it into a guaranteed one-year deal worth $1M with the Dodgers. It didn’t work out and they released him in July. Thames never did actually play for the Yankees in 2011. He instead starting his coaching career after the season, one that has since landed him in the Bronx as the Yankees assistant hitting coach.

July 22nd: Yankees Asked About Shields, Rays Said No

The Yankees asked the Rays about James Shields and heard that he is not available, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). Olney suggests that the right-hander would also be off-limits to the Red Sox, since they’re ahead of Tampa Bay in the standings, like the Yankees.

I imagine the phone call went something like this:

“Are you guys open to trading James Shie…”
… click …

Not only were the Yankees and Rays division rivals, but Shields was signed cheap, he was in the middle of a phenomenal season (2.82 ERA and 3.42 FIP), and Tampa was contending. They won 91 games and went to the postseason that year. It never hurts to ask, but there was basically no chance the Rays would have ever traded Shields that summer, especially to the Yankees.

July 23rd, 2011: Yankees Rumors: Adams, Sabathia, Pitchers, Igawa

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Bill Pennington of The New York Times that he negotiated deals in 2008 and 2009 that would have let Kei Igawa return to Japan, but the lefty refused both times. Cashman also said he was prepared to trade Igawa to the Padres in 2007 after San Diego claimed him off waivers, but “ownership was not willing to let him go yet.”

Yeah I remember this. The Padres claimed Igawa off trade waivers in August 2007 and the Yankees could have dumped him and the remaining $18M or so left on his contract on San Diego. They still paid the $26M posting fee, but at least they would have cut their losses, you know? Instead, Igawa remained and spent 2008-11 in Triple-A. Talk about a dud.

July 24th, 2011: Cafardo On Clippard, Pence, Upton, Myers

  • The Rangers have made “a lot of inquiries” on Tyler Clippard. The Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox also have varying levels of interest in the Nationals’ setup man.
  • Athletics lefty Craig Breslow is drawing interest from the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Yankees cast a pretty wide net for bullpen help. Clippard was one of the best setup men in all of baseball at the time, and Breslow was Breslow, meaning the quintessential journeyman lefty specialist. Neither guy was traded at the deadline. The Nationals keeping Clippard made perfect sense. Breslow was shipped to the Diamondbacks as part of the Trevor Cahill trade no one won after that 2011 season.

July 25th, 2011: AL East Rumors: Farnsworth, Upton, Kuroda

The Yanks had a scout at Edwin Jackson‘s start yesterday in Cleveland, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Jackson was only 27 at the time and he had shown flashes of brilliance, but he had been on four teams in the previous three calendar years. Everyone wanted him and then wanted to get rid of him, it seemed. The White Sox ended up trading him at the deadline to the Blue Jays, who immediately flipped him to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus. From 2008-13, Jackson played for the Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals, and Cubs. Seven teams in six seasons.

July 25th, 2011: Yankees Rumors: Jackson, Prospects, Gio Gonzalez

The Yankees would pay big for A’s lefty Gio Gonzalez, tweets Sherman, but Oakland still refuses to discuss the southpaw.  The 25-year-old ranks eighth in the American League with 124 strikeouts and seventh with a 2.67 ERA, and is not arbitration-eligible until after this season.

Gio was only 25 at the time, and by then he’d already been traded for Jim Thome, Freddy Garcia, and Nick Swisher. Some pretty big names, huh? Gonzalez had a breakout season in 2011 (3.12 ERA and 3.64 FIP) and the Yankees did pursue him aggressively again after the season, but the Nationals beat them out. That trade basically amounted to Gio for Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, and John Jaso. Eh.

July 27th, 2011: Yankees Tried For Ricky Nolasco

The Yankees tried for starter Ricky Nolasco, tweets SI’s Jon Heyman, but the Marlins are not ready to deal him.  Earlier, Joel Sherman of the New York Post talked to an “AL personnel man” who said he thought the Marlins would at least listen seriously on Nolasco.

Nolasco, like Jackson, was one of those guys who had a better FIP than ERA every single season — he had a 4.76 ERA and 3.56 FIP in 2009-11 — which back in those days meant he was bound to pitch better going forward. Now we know it doesn’t always work like that. The Marlins kept Nolasco through the deadline and traded him the following season to the Dodgers for three bullpen prospects who didn’t pan out. The Yankees were connected to pretty much every possible pitcher prior to the 2011 trade deadline, and they ended up acquiring none.

July 27th, 2011: Cubs Trying To Unload Zambrano

2:14pm: The Cubs called the Yankees about Zambrano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the Yankees have no interest.

Nope. Zambrano was more trouble than he was worth at this point of his career. His game was slipping and his blowups were becoming more frequent. Nope. Nope nope nope.

July 27th, 2011: AL East Notes: Lee, Rays, Yankees, Jackson

The Yankees signed 14th rounder Rookie Davis to a deal worth $550K, according to Callis (on Twitter). The right-hander/first baseman obtained the biggest bonus so far for any player selected after the third round.

The 2011 draft was the last draft before the bonus pools were put in place, so the Yankees were able to pay Davis a big overslot bonus with zero consequences. He was a total projection pick who panned out, at least enough for the Yankees to include him in the Aroldis Chapman trade this past winter. Davis has a 2.67 ERA (4.71 FIP) in 64 Double-A innings for the Reds this year, but for some reason he’s no longer able to miss bats (11.7 K%).

July 28th, 2011: Erik Bedard Rumors: Tuesday

The Red Sox and Yankees will have scouts in attendance, report Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who say the Sox are “all over” the lefty.  The Mariners have been scouting Boston’s Double and Triple-A affiliates, according to the FOX writers.

Seattle ended up trading Bedard to the Red Sox at the deadline and the Yankees predictably got crushed for it. Then Bedard allowed 22 runs in 38 innings with Boston and all was forgotten. That was a three-team trade with the Dodgers, and of the six players involved, Bedard worked out the best. None of the prospects panned out.

July 28th, 2011: Red Sox Rumors: Vargas, Harden, Buchholz, Bedard

The Red Sox and Yankees scouted Rich Harden in Oakland today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

By then Harden was in the “trying to hang on” phase of his career. Injuries, including a torn shoulder capsule, took all the electricity out of his arm. Sucks. Harden made four good and one bad start prior to the trade deadline and the A’s decided to keep him. He then had a 5.57 ERA in ten starts and 53.1 innings after the deadline. Harden hasn’t pitched since. Injuries are the worst. This guy was so ridiculously good back in the day.

July 30th, 2011: Red Sox Pushing Hard For Quentin, Thornton

Joel Sherman of the New York Post senses that the White Sox “have really fallen out love with Thornton, and would love move the $13MM he is owed for 2012-13.”  He says the Yankees have been watching the lefty.

The White Sox fell so out of love with Thornton that they kept him for another two years before trading him to the Red Sox at the 2013 trade deadline. The Yankees signed him as a free agent after that season and that didn’t work out. At least they were able to dump him and his contract on the Nationals.

July 30th, 2011: Yankees Inquired On Francisco Liriano, Span

5:29pm: The Yankees inquired on Francisco Liriano only to hear that the Twins aren’t trading him, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).

2:32pm: The Yankees inquired on Twins center fielder Denard Span, tweets Yahoo’s Tim Brown.  Brown imagines that this inquiry could be part of something bigger, since the Yankees are currently set on outfielders.

The interest in Liriano is nothing new. We’ve read about him a few times over the last couple months worth of MLBTR Archives posts. The interest in Span is new though, and I don’t remember it at all. Like I said earlier, the Yankees had a full outfield (Gardner, Granderson, Swisher) plus a full-time DH (Posada), so Span definitely would have had to be part of something bigger. Maybe they were looking to pick up Span and flip Gardner or Swisher elsewhere? Granderson was having an MVP caliber 2011 season, so he wasn’t go anywhere. Intrigue!

July 31st, 2011: Rockies’ Talks For Ian Stewart Heating Up

1:45pm: The Yankees have called on Stewart, tweets Jayson Stark.

Stewart had some good but not great seasons with the Rockies from 2008-10 (96 wRC+), but he was in the middle of a disaster 2011 season (11 wRC+). It seems like the Yankees were hoping to buy super low on a 26-year-old former top prospect lefty hitter with power who, at worst, could help fill-in while A-Rod was on the DL. Stewart basically stopped hitting after 2010 though. The Rockies kept him through the deadline and his bat never recovered.

July 31st, 2011: The Latest On Wandy Rodriguez

The Yankees offered to pay $21MM of the $38MM left on Wandy’s contract, but that wasn’t enough for the Astros.

This sounds ridiculous now, but Rodriguez was rock solid back then. He had a 3.49 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 2011 and went on to pitch to a 3.72 ERA (4.05 FIP) from 2012-13. No, Wandy wasn’t great, but he could help you in the middle to back of your rotation. I understand why the Astros didn’t want to pay him $17M to pitch for another team. He was pretty good!

July 31st, 2011: AL East Notes: Rays, Bedard, Hairston, Jimenez

Jack Curry of the YES Network hears that the Yankees wanted a shoulder MRI for Ubaldo Jimenez, but the Rockies declined (Twitter link).

Yeah, this was never going to happen, and frankly it was a ridiculous request on the part of the Yankees. Could you imagine letting another team give your player an MRI? Get outta here. There was no upside there for the Rockies. If the MRI shows a healthy shoulder, you still get the same trade package. If it shows some sort of red flag, he’s your problem and his trade value evaporates. I get why the Yankees asked, but man, that was never in a million years going to happen.

Olney: Yankees fielding offers for Miller, Chapman, others

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

According to Buster Olney (subs. req’d), the Yankees are currently fielding offers for Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and other players. Executives with other clubs tell Olney the Yanks are prepared to discuss Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and Nathan Eovaldi as well. I’m sure they’re willing to talk about others too.

“The clock is ticking,” said Brian Cashman on Olney’s podcast (transcription via MLBTR), “and the more that we stay in this mode that we’re currently in, I think it’s going to force us into some tough decisions that we didn’t want to be in. There’s some time on the clock, but it’s getting late, as people would say.”

One rival executive told Olney his team made an “aggressive” offer for one of New York’s end-game relievers and that the Yankees are seriously considering it. Who is that team and what is their offer? Good luck getting that information. My guess is the Yankees have received a ton of offers for their bullpen arms — and other players too — some more serious than others.

The good news for the Yankees is a number of contending clubs are dealing with major bullpen issues right now. We saw what the Rangers are working with last week. The Giants bullpen blew another lead last night, and the Marlins blew a 6-0 lead Monday even with Fernando Rodney in tow. The Nationals and Dodgers could use relief help. So could the Red Sox, but I can’t see a trade happening there.

Either way, the Yankees should be in sell mode and it would be wise to make everyone available, not just the impending free agents. I’m glad they’re listening on guys like McCann and Eovaldi, not that I expect them to actually be moved. There’s no point in halfway rebuilding. The Yankees have been toeing the line between rebuilding and contending too long. Either go all-in and sell or don’t bother, you know?

The Yankees won last night — it was one of their best all-around performances of the season, in fact — but are still only 41-42 with a -27 run differential on the season. They’re seven games back in the AL East and four games back of the second wildcard spot with six teams ahead of them. The Yankees have literally the worst record among AL playoff hopefuls. They’re four games back of a wildcard spot, then next up is the A’s at 9.5 games back.

Scouting The Trade Market: Wil Myers

Bat flips are a plus. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Bat flips are a plus. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

The Yankees are in an unfamiliar place right now. They’re under .500 halfway through the season and contention seems like a long shot at best. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 8.8% as of this writing. At the very least, the Yankees have to seriously consider selling rental veterans like Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran at the deadline. Moving guys with years of control remaining like Andrew Miller and Brett Gardner has to be on the table too.

Brian Cashman recently floated the idea of the Yankees being both buyers and sellers, which seem like conflicting ideas, but they’re really not. Ultimately, the goal is to get better, and both buying and selling help accomplish that goal. Does that mean the Yankees should go out and add a rental veteran like, say, Rich Hill? No. That doesn’t make sense. Buying a younger player who can stick around for a few years would be a smart move, however.

One such player is Padres first baseman Wil Myers, who is enjoying a breakout year at the plate. Myers has packed an awful lot into his four big league seasons. He’s been an elite prospect, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, injured, disappointing, involved in two blockbuster trades, and a breakout star. Myers is still only 25, so even with the Padres in a deep rebuild, keeping him makes sense. He can be part of the solution. At the same time, trading him for a boatload of prospects could be a smart move too. Does Myers make sense for the Yankees? Let’s look.

Offensive Performance

Prior to the 2013, the last time he was prospect eligible, Baseball America called Myers “an eventual No. 3 hitter in the lineup because of his batting eye and power potential.” They ranked him the No. 4 prospect in baseball that season after ranking him No. 28 in 2012 and No. 10 in 2011. Myers was on the prospect radar for a long time. He was a big deal.

In the four years since, Myers has had three above-average offensive seasons and one disappointing season. He’s yet to actually play a full season — he was called up halfway through 2013 and battled injuries in 2014 and 2015 — but is on track to do that this summer. Here are his career numbers:

PA AVG/OBP/SLG wRC+ HR BB% K% wRC+ vs. RHP wRC+ vs. LHP
2013 373 .293/.354/.478 129 13 8.8% 24.4% 131 127
2014 361 .222/.294/.320 77 6 9.4% 24.9% 87 52
2015 253 .253/.336/.428 116 8 10.7% 21.7% 110 135
2016 351 .282/.350/.529 137 19 10.0% 19.9% 131 152
Total 1,338 .263/.333/.439 115 46 9.6% 22.9% 115 113

Outside of that 2014 season, when he was hampered by a wrist injury (more on that in a bit), Myers has always hit for a lot of power. His .173 ISO in 2015 is his lowest among his three good seasons, and during those three seasons he averaged 24.6 homers per 600 plate appearances despite playing in pitcher friendly parks. We can’t just wipe away that 2014 season. It did happen. The two years since have been promising though.

Going under the hood, there are some underlying trends in Myers’ plate discipline and batted ball profile that suggest his breakout is for real, and that he is truly developing into a top tier hitter.

O-Swing% Whiff% GB% LD+FB% Pull% Oppo%
2013 29.2% 11.5% 46.0% 54.1% 44.8% 20.6%
2014 27.8% 10.3% 48.1% 51.9% 48.9% 22.8%
2015 25.1% 9.9% 47.6% 52.4% 44.1% 28.2%
2016 24.5% 7.9% 44.3% 55.8% 36.3% 24.1%
Total 26.7% 9.9% 46.4% 53.6% 43.4% 21.7%

Myers has swung at fewer pitches out of the strike zone (O-Swing%) with each passing season. He’s also swinging and missing (Whiff%) less each year. Those are two very positive trends. Furthermore, Myers is hitting the ball on the ground less often than ever before, and he isn’t pulling the ball nearly as much as he did the past three years. Hitting the ball in the air to all fields sure is a great recipe for success.

Pulling the ball has a negative connotation these days because of the shift, but it’s not inherently a bad thing. Most hitters do their most damage — meaning hit for the most power — when they pull the ball. That said, using the entire field is an obviously valuable skill. Myers is doing that this year and he’s not only retained his power, he’s hitting for more power than ever before. An all-fields power hitter? Gimme gimme gimme. We saw firsthand what Myers can do this past weekend:

That is as impressive as any homer you’ll see this season. The FOX Sports San Diego folks did us a favor by cramming all the pertinent information into their little strike zone graphic:

Wil Myers Nathan Eovaldi

Myers inside-outed a 97 mph fastball for an opposite field home run. In spacious Petco Park, no less. There are not many hitters in baseball who can do that. He has a lot of natural power and now he’s learning how to fully tap into. Myers isn’t chasing out of the zone or swinging and missing as much as he has in the past, and he’s getting the ball airborne to all fields. Good things are happening.

Oh, and as an added bonus, Myers is a pretty good baserunner too. He’s gone 13-for-15 (87%) in steal attempts this year and 29-for-36 (81%) in his career. Myers has also taken the extra base — first-to-third on a single, etc. — a whopping 61% of the time this year and 52% of the time in his career. The MLB average is 40%. So not only are you getting the impressive all-fields power, you’re getting value on the bases too. Pretty cool.

Defensive Ability

Since being drafted in 2009, Myers has moved from catcher to the outfield to third base to back to the outfield to first base. He’s now a full-time first baseman in San Diego and has been solid there, especially when you consider his general lack of experience at the position. Myers has spent most of his career as an outfielder (right field, specifically) and boy, he was not good out there. Both the stats and the eye test say he was well-below-average. He’s never going to live down his misplay in Game One of the 2013 ALDS, which led to a five-run inning:

Going forward, I think you have to consider Myers a full-time first baseman who can handle the outfield in a pinch. I’m not sure putting him back in the outfield full-time is a good idea at this point of his career. Myers has moved around an awful lot in his career and it seems he’s finally found a comfortable home at first base.

Injury History

Injuries, specifically injuries to both wrists, limited Myers to only 147 of 324 possible games in 2014 and 2015. Wrist injuries are a pretty big deal. They’re known to sap offensive production — you can’t hit if you can’t grip the bat properly — even after the player is given the green light to return to game action. Here are Myers’ notable injuries:

2011: Missed a month with a knee infection in the minors.
2014: Missed close to three months with a fractured right wrist.
2015: Missed close to four months with left wrist inflammation and later surgery.

That’s the big stuff. Myers has missed a few days here and there because he was sore after getting hit by a pitch, stuff like that, but every player deals with that. I’m not sure what brought about the knee infection, though it hasn’t given him any problems since. The 2014 wrist fracture was the result of a full speed outfield collision …

… which is sort of a dumb fluky thing, but it happened and it did real damage to his wrist. The 2015 wrist injury is a bit more complicated. According to Dennis Lin, Myers missed a month because a tendon became inflamed after rubbing up against a bone spur he’d had since high school. After a month on the shelf, Myers returned, played three games, felt renewed discomfort in the wrist, then landed back on the DL. He had surgery to remove the bone spur in June and was able to return to the field in September.

It can be easy to dismiss this stuff — the fracture was the result of a collision and the bone spur was taken out, so what’s the big deal? — but again, this is real damage to his wrists. Myers is mashing this season and is presumably healthy, but will he be prone to nagging wrist issues in the future? Does the fracture and/or surgery mean he’ll have to deal with some inflammation from time to time? These are the kind of questions teams will ask themselves before agreeing to a trade.

Contract Status

It feels like Myers has been around forever, but he started this season with only two years and 104 days of service time time. The Rays did what they do and kept Myers in the minors long enough in 2013 that they not only delayed his free agency, they made sure he won’t be Super Two eligible either. Now the Padres or some other team will benefit.

Myers is under team control through 2019 and he’ll be arbitration-eligible every year from 2017-19, so while he will still be relatively cheap, he’s not going to be making the league minimum either. Jason Heyward and Dexter Fowler made $15.95M and $21.1M, respectively, during their three arbitration years. They’re not perfect comps for Myers but they at least give us a ballpark idea of what he’ll earn from 2017-19.

The Rays called Myers up and added him to the 40-man roster in 2013, and he’s never been back to the minors since other than for injury rehab assignments. He has all three minor league options remaining. That also means nothing as far as I’m concerned. If you trade for Myers and have to use one of his minor league options, something has gone wrong. The goal is to trade for this guy and make him one of the center pieces of your lineup right away.

What Would It Take?

Myers has already been involved in two blockbuster trades, and yet neither of them provides any context for his current trade value. He was dealt as a prospect as part of the package for James Shields back in the day, and two years ago he was part of a big four-for-five trade, when he still had five years of control remaining and was coming off the broken wrist. Now Myers is healthy and producing with three years of control left.

Jon Heyman recently reported the Padres want four top tier prospects for Myers, and that’s just not going to happen. As good as he is and as bright as his future looks, Myers has a recent history of wrist injuries and he has “only” three years of team control remaining. I don’t blame the Padres for wanting four high-end prospects. There’s no harm in asking. But that figures to be their initial ask, from which they’re willing to come down.

The list of young first basemen/outfielders traded three years prior to free agency is not particularly long. I went back a few years and found only two who might work as comparables:

  • Justin Upton: Traded from the Diamondbacks to the Braves with Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and four prospects, only one of whom (Randall Delgado) was a top 100 guy. Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, and Zeke Spruill were the others.
  • Mark Trumbo: Traded from the Angels to the D’Backs with A.J. Schugel for Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Baseball America rated Skaggs as the 12th best prospect in baseball a year earlier.

Colby Rasmus was also traded three years prior to free agency, but that was a very weird trade that involved Rasmus, rental Edwin Jackson, and four relievers. The Cardinals were trying to fill specific needs in an effort to win the 2011 World Series, and hey, it worked. They won the title.

Upton was traded as part of ex-D’Backs GM Kevin Towers’ crusade against strikeouts. He traded away Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche, and Stephen Drew all in a relatively short period of time because he felt his team struck out too much. Trumbo was traded because the Angels needed pitching and had no real place to play him. Albert Pujols was at first, Pujols and Josh Hamilton were going to need time at DH, and C.J. Cron was on the way.

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

Myers is more Upton than Trumbo because he’s a formerly high-end prospect tagged with a ton of expectations. Trumbo has had a nice career, but he didn’t play his first full MLB season until age 25. Myers is 25 now and Upton was traded at 25. He had a very different career path than the other two guys. The Upton trade seems like the best trade benchmark we have, though the inclusion of Johnson, who was a pretty good player back then, complicates things.

Padres GM A.J. Preller is an international players guy. That was his specialty when he was in the Rangers front office and it’s no coincidence he traded Craig Kimbrel for a package headlined by three international prospects. Preller also convinced ownership to spend big in international free agency this summer, which they’ve done. San Diego has gone on a spending spree last week akin to the Yankees’ 2014-15 spending spree.

That’s good, because the Yankees have a ton of international prospects to offer, led by Gary Sanchez and Jorge Mateo. Remember, the Yankees reportedly offered Mateo for Kimbrel last year at the deadline, though that didn’t work out. You’re not going to get a guy like Myers without trading a top prospect like Sanchez or Mateo, and if you ask me, moving Mateo makes more sense. The Yankees have a ton of shortstops in the minors, but they only have one Triple-A catcher who looks like a future middle of the order bat.

Keeping Sanchez might be possible too, since the Padres already have their catcher of the future in defensive wiz Austin Hedges, who is hitting .407/.456/.841 (235 wRC+) in 32 Triple-A games around a broken wrist. I’m getting into your trade proposal sucks territory here, but a package of Mateo plus secondary pieces like Miguel Andujar and Domingo Acevedo could pique Preller’s interest. That’s one top 50 prospect plus two other strong prospects plus whatever else (one of the spare Triple-A outfielders?).

I know that seems like a lot to give up, but it’s really not. Mateo and Acevedo are still in High Class-A and Andujar just got to Double-A last month. Preller would probably want guys closer to the big leagues for Myers, who is pretty damn good and could be the center piece of their rebuild. Mateo plus Andujar plus Acevedo seems like a best case scenario for the Yankees, now that I think about it. Anyway, yeah, it’s going to hurt to get this guy. Young middle of the order bats don’t come cheap.

Wrapping Up

Right now, first base is a question long-term because of Greg Bird‘s shoulder surgery. We all hope and want him to come back and be the guy going forward, but until he gets back out onto the field, it’s tough to know how he’ll perform post-surgery. That’s a serious injury and surgery he had.

Adding Myers and having to figure out how he and Bird could co-exist on the same roster — assuming Bird isn’t traded for Myers, of course — would be one of those problems that isn’t really a problem. First base is open long-term and there’s always the DH spot too. Alex Rodriguez won’t be around forever. There’s always the option of playing Myers in the outfield too. I don’t love that idea, but it’s doable.

The Yankees should be selling at the deadline. They have to start planning for the future and use their veteran assets like Chapman and Beltran to get younger. Myers is one of the few cases where it makes sense to buy and give up young players in a trade. He’s young himself, he offers several years of control, and he’s a legitimate middle of the order thumper with positive plate discipline and batted ball trends. The Yankees sorely lack someone like Myers and pursuing him would be a very smart move in the opinion of this idiot blogger.

Trade Deadline Notes: Rangers, Nats, Miller, Moore, Hill

Hill. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Hill. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

With 82 games in the books, the Yankees are 40-42 and 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. There are six teams ahead of them in that wildcard race. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at a mere 7.0%. Contention is a long shot at this point, which means the trade deadline could be very, very interesting. Buster Olney (sub. req’d) says the Yankees are taking offers right now, which strikes me as the kind of thing they’d do anyway, regardless of their record. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous trade notes with the deadline three weeks and six days away.

Rangers, Nationals, Cubs scouting Yankees relievers

Scouts from the Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs were on hand to see the Yankees’ big three relievers in San Diego over the weekend, reports George King. The Cubs have been on those guys for a while now, but the Rangers and Nationals are new to the party. Then again, it’s not exactly a surprise they’re watching New York’s end-game arms. All three of those clubs are in contention and they all could use varying levels of bullpen help.

I know it seems sorta silly that teams are scouting Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. It’s not like they need to send a scout to San Diego to tell them they’re awesome. They’re just doing their due diligence though. They want to see if someone’s mechanics have changed or anything like that. Basically, they’re looking for red flags. Everyone knows these guys are great. Is there reason to believe they may suddenly not be great?

Yanks tell Miller they haven’t “discussed or planned” trading him

Should the Yankees decide to sell, their best trade chip is most likely Miller. He’s awesome, he’s signed affordably for another two years, and he’s the ultimate team player. Lots and lots of clubs would love to add him to their roster. For now, the Yankees have told Miller they haven’t “discussed or planned” trading him, writes Barry Bloom.

“The media has been throwing a few things out there, but I’ve had reassurances from them at the times I’ve talked to them that it’s something that hasn’t been discussed or planned for or anything like that,” he said. “I think that’s kind of nice … But I have no trade protection. I’m at the mercy of that what they decide to do. I get it. It’s a business. I want to be here. I want to play here. But it’s impossible to avoid sometimes.”

I’ve seen that quote misconstrued as “the Yankees told Miller they aren’t trading him” and that’s not true. Well, I guess they may have told him that at some point, but that’s not what Miller is saying there. He’s only saying the Yankees have told him they haven’t yet had any trade talks about him. Miller’s not stupid. He knows he’s good and teams are going to want him. It comes with the territory.

Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Yankees interested in Matt Moore

The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Rays left-hander Matt Moore, reports Nick Cafardo. Tampa Bay is said to be ready to trade away their starters in an effort to take advantage of the seller’s market. The Rays are are not only in last place, they’re in the middle of a free fall right now. They’ve won only three of their last 19 games and are 10.5 games out of a wildcard spot.

Moore, 27, held the Angels to two runs in 6.2 innings yesterday. He has a 4.54 ERA (4.53 FIP) in 103 innings this year, which is better than the 5.43 ERA (4.82 FIP) he had in 63 innings last season, after returning from Tommy John surgery. Moore is signed super cheap (owed $28.5M through 2019 if the options in his deal are exercised) and he’s got a fantastic arm, but he’s now three years removed from the last time he was even an average starter. I can’t imagine the Rays would be eager to trade with the Yankees either.

Yankees scouting Rich Hill

According to Susan Slusser, the Yankees were among the many teams with a scout in attendance for Rich Hill’s start over the weekend. Hill returned from a groin strain to hold the Pirates to two runs in six innings. The 36-year-old has a 2.31 ERA (2.71 FIP) with a 27.8% strikeout rate in 12 starts and 70 innings this season. Simply put, he’s been one of the best starters in the AL in 2016. Go figure.

Hill, who is signed to a one-year deal worth $6M, figures to be an extremely hot rental commodity at the deadline. He might very well be the best starter traded this summer. In a vacuum, adding Hill to the rotation would make the Yankees a better team. I mean, duh. At this point though, giving up prospects for a 36-year-old rental is pretty much the last thing the Yankees should do at the deadline. They have to build for next year, not continue to fake contention this year.

Heyman: Yankees among teams looking to add a starter

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are “one of a dozen teams” looking to add starting pitching at the trade deadline. Heyman cites a source from a rival team, so take this for what it’s worth. That said, pretty much every team wants to add rotation help at the deadline, so this isn’t far-fetched. It certainly passes the sniff test.

Right now the Yankees have one reliable starter (Masahiro Tanaka), one really good starter who might be in for some home run rate regression (CC Sabathia), two frustrating starters (Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda), and one Ivan Nova. Luis Severino is in Triple-A working on things and both Chad Green, who will make a spot start today, and Luis Cessa are available for depth.

Adding a starter doesn’t have to be about buying for this season. All five pitchers in New York’s current rotation can become free agents at some point in the next two years. The Yankees reportedly prioritized young controllable starters in offseason trade talks about Andrew Miller and Brett Gardner, and I doubt anything has changed. They still want someone to build their rotation around going forward.

The upcoming free agent class is very light on pitching, so expect the trade market to be active over the next eight months or so. It’s going to be a seller’s market and that’s bad for the Yankees. Prices will be high. That’s definitely one of the reasons why they traded a setup reliever (Justin Wilson) for two Triple-A starters (Cessa, Green) over the winter. It was a cheap way to add rotation depth now and for the future.

Which teams could look to capitalize on the seller’s market and trade a starter(s)? The Rays, Braves, and Padres immediately jump to mind as last place clubs with some spare arms. Contenders like the Indians, Mets, and Nationals could also look to take advantage of the market by trading one of their extra arms for big time help elsewhere. We’ve seen a lot of big league for big leaguer trades in recent years. Nothing would surprise me.