Archive for Trade Deadline
Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have reached out to the Phillies about the availability to Ty Wigginton following Alex Rodriguez‘s hand injury. We heard the club would explore the trade market and consider all options when looking for a replacement third baseman on Wednesday morning.
Wigginton, 34, owns an 83 wRC+ this year including a 102 mark against left-handers. He has a rep for being versatile but he’s really just a first baseman who plays a bunch of different positions because he managers
still think it’s 2005 keep running him out there. Wigginton has a $4M club option in his contract for next season that will surely be declined by whoever employs him at the end of the season. The Phillies may end up keeping him for the remainder of this year because of Placido Polanco’s nagging back trouble, however.
In an Insider-only blog post, Keith Law ranked baseball’s best prospects on contending teams in terms of their trade value. SS Jurickson Profar of the Rangers tops the list, followed by RHP Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and OF Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals. The Yankees didn’t place anyone in the top ten, but C Gary Sanchez and OF Mason Williams rank 13th and 15th, respectively. They would have ranked higher had it not been for the whole Single-A thing — kids at the upper levels have more trade value because they’re closer to contributing.
On the other side of the coin, Kevin Goldstein posted an article (Insider req’d) looking at prospects who have lost trade value this season. Both LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Dellin Betances made the list thanks to their disappointing seasons, the former due to an elbow injury and the latter due to control problems. The Yankees are kinda stuck in trade bait limbo right now, with their top chips in the lower minors and their upper level chips struggling.
They’re going with Ramiro Pena for at least today, but given the current situation we can expect the Yankees to explore the market for a third baseman. Even at the near end of the six-to-eight week projected recovery period, Alex Rodriguez would be ready for a minor league rehab assignment on September 5th. If it takes any longer he could miss the chance at a rehab window, making his return even tougher.
The Yankees do have options at third base, as Mike wrote this morning. In the Outside Help section he mentioned a few interesting names. We’ve already covered Marco Scutaro, and he’s easily an option. But another name really stood out to me: Stephen Drew. Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick spoke ill of Drew recently, so perhaps he’ll be on the move before July 31st.
- Drew has been an average hitter throughout his major league career, producing a 97 OPS+ through 3,156 PA. That’s the exact sOPS+ of AL third basemen this year.
- He’s a free agent after this year, so there’s no long-term worry of what to do with him once A-Rod returns.
- While the Diamondbacks might not want to concede a playoff spot, they’ve been playing mediocre ball this year and might want to get anything they can for Drew.
- The Yankees could use a left-handed bat, since playing Eric Chavez against every righty is risky.
- Drew is coming off a pretty bad ankle injury and has a .556 OPS in 17 games since returning. He didn’t exactly hit well in his rehab assignment, either (power numbers in the PCL don’t really count).
- While a merely average bat can be valuable, it’s tough to justify trading anyone of importance for said average bat. Especially when that average bat will be gone after the season.
- The Diamondbacks could be less willing to deal him now that they have dealt Ryan Roberts, says Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona.com.
- Despite Drew’s overall averageness, his poor production this year, and his recent injury, GM Kevin Towers has said that he hasn’t found a deal for Drew “that’s going to make us better.” The Yankees don’t have many, if any, expendable pieces that can help Arizona right now.
- Transitioning from SS to 3B, especially mid-season, can’t be easy.
As it turns out, the name stood out to me more because of the name value than the actual player value. Given the market conditions right now, the Yanks probably don’t have any interest in Drew. Name value just doesn’t translate.
With Alex Rodriguez likely to miss several due to a broken bone in his left hand, the Yankees will explore the third base trade market and consider all options according to Joel Sherman and Buster Olney. That includes Chase Headley of the Padres. The Yankees expect to have A-Rod back by mid-September but won’t know for sure until he sees the doctors in New York tomorrow.
As I mentioned this morning, potential stopgap options could include Marco Scutaro, Stephen Drew, Placido Polanco, and Ty Wigginton. I would be pretty surprised if they made a significant move for someone like Headley, who is under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2014, though I wouldn’t be opposed to it. The Yankees will recall Ramiro Pena to take A-Rod’s spot in the short-term, but I would not be shocked if something comes together quickly and the team finds a more viable replacement during tomorrow’s day off.
When I looked at the Yankees and their potential needs two months ago, I noted that injuries were going to play a big part in their trade deadline strategy. Brett Gardner‘s elbow never healed and the team responded by acquiring Ichiro Suzuki, but Joba Chamberlain‘s return from Tommy John and ankle surgery have gone well so far. He could be back as soon as next week. Injuries at the minor league level also play a role since rosters these days run deeper than 25 players.
The trade deadline is one week from today, though in reality the deadline extends into August as well. Those players just have to pass through revocable waivers first, which usually isn’t an issue. The Yankees may have the best record in baseball and some a sizable lead in the AL East, but there are still some cracks in the dam worth plugging.
A Quality Reliever
I’ve been harping on this for weeks, but New York needs another reliable, non-specialist reliever. This is tricky because relievers are just so unpredictable, but having four OOGYs in a seven-man bullpen really handcuffs Joe Girardi. Perhaps Joba is that guy and it would be amazing if he is, but as I’ve been saying, you can’t really count on him for anything until he’s actually back out on a big league mound contributing in a positive way. Those were two major injuries he suffered. Finding a solid middle reliever who can pitch to batters on both sides of the plate should be a priority, lest we be subjected to more Chad Qualls.
Somehow Russell Martin‘s second half BABIP (.143) is lower than his first half BABIP (.193). Yes, I know it’s only been eight games, but the point is that the Yankees can’t turn a blind eye to their catching situation forever. Martin has been awful (79 wRC+), Chris Stewart has been even worse (45 wRC+), and we aren’t talking about a pair of Yadier Molina-level defenders either. They’re below league average in throwing out base-stealers (24.1%), have allowed the sixth most passed pitches (wild pitches plus passed balls) in baseball (37), and rank 24th in Total Zone (-4). It’s ugly.
I understand that quality catchers are hard to find, but we’re not looking asking for a miracle. Just someone better with Stewart that can split time with Martin. Russ always hits better with more rest, so finding someone to take the load off three times a week would be ideal. Quality, above-average catching isn’t a prerequisite for winning the World Series, but it’s not a coincidence that most years the champion has a strong backstop.
This kinda ties in with the quality reliever thing above, but I’m talking more about the Triple-A level. The only 40-man roster pitchers in the highest level of the minors are Adam Warren, Cory Wade, Ryota Igarashi, and lefty specialist Justin Thomas following the trade of D.J. Mitchell. Dellin Betances in Double-A doesn’t really count. It’s not a super-high priority because the Yankees do have some non-40-man options — Manny Delcarmen and Juan Cedeno, specifically — but I would expect them to scour the waiver wire for an up-and-down arm or two over the next few weeks. Just to replenish the pipeline and add depth.
Jayson Nix has hit well enough for a utility infielder (79 wRC+), especially against left-handed pitchers (99 wRC+). He’s not much of a defender though, especially at shortstop. Ramiro Pena is the club’s only real shortstop alternative in Triple-A, at least until Eduardo Nunez returns from his thumb injury in a week or so, so the Yankees are stuck with Nix for the time being. That’s fine for spot starts but will be a problem if Derek Jeter misses any length of time. This is the last item on the deadline shopping list, but digging up a 2009 Jerry Hairston Jr. type would be a marginal though legitimate upgrade.
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The starting rotation has held up fine following Andy Pettitte‘s injury and even during CC Sabathia‘s DL stint, so I wouldn’t expect the Yankees to swing a trade for a starter. Freddy Garcia has been serviceable as the fifth starter and both David Phelps and Warren provide some insurance. Pettitte’s rehab is reportedly going well which is all we could ask for at this point. Maybe if they find out things hit a speed bump at some point they’ll swing an August waiver trade, but otherwise I wouldn’t expect a deal for a starter. The bullpen and catcher situation are obvious areas of need leading up to the trade deadline, with miscellaneous pitching depth and a utility infielder further down the list.
The Yankees have been rolling with four specialists in their seven-man bullpen for a few weeks now, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that we got a real good look at how problematic that can be. Cody Eppley twice allowed walk-off hits to left-handed batters — granted, one was a switch-hitter — when he should be limited to righties only. Once David Phelps was out of Sunday’s game, Joe Girardi was left with a bunch of short relief matchup guys and the Yankees paid the price.
Trading for bullpen help is always sketchy but at this point it seems unavoidable. Joba Chamberlain seems to be very close to return but it’s impossible to count on him until he’s actually back on the big league mound and pitching effectively given the severity of his injuries. Heck, even if Joba comes back and adds that necessary non-OOGY, there’s still room in the bullpen for improvement. Since the Cubs are poised to trade everything not nailed down before next Tuesday’s trade deadline, let’s look at veteran reliever Shawn Camp.
- The 36-year-old right-hander is in the middle of what is arguably the best season of his career, pitching to a 2.79 ERA and 3.33 FIP in 48.1 innings. Camp’s 6.70 K/9 (18.3 K%) is his best strikeout rate in four years, his 2.05 BB/9 (5.6 BB%) his best walk rate ever. He also gets a healthy amount of ground balls (48.0%).
- A true three-pitch reliever, Camp sits in the upper-80s with his sinker and backs it up with a low-80s changeup (for lefties) and an upper-70s slider (for righties). He doesn’t have a platoon split, holding left-handed batters to a .278 wOBA and right-handers to a .266 wOBA this season.
- Camp has never been on the DL and spent 2006-2011 with the then-Devil Rays and Blue Jays, so he’s familiar with the AL East. He’s on a one-year deal making just $550k (!) this season, so we’re talking pure rental here.
- From 2009-2011, left-handed batters posted a .353 wOBA against Camp while righties were limited to a .302 wOBA. That lack of a platoon split really only applies to this season.
- Camp’s strikeout rate has been trending downward as the season has progressed. He struck out 23 of the first 107 batters he faced this season (21.5%) and just 13 of the last 90 (14.4%). Strikeouts aren’t really his thing anyway, but still.
- The Cubs have not been easy on him. Camp is second in baseball with 47 relief appearances and ninth with 48.1 relief innings. Last season he only threw 67.1 innings across 67 appearances and he’s on pace to zoom right by that. Chicago knows what they have here, a veteran guy pitching well on a one-year deal, so they’re getting their money’s worth.
There’s definitely a “lightning in a bottle” element here, but Camp has been a pretty solid middle reliever — in the AL East! — over the last three or four years anyway. That’s all the Yankees need him to be, a solid non-matchup guy in the middle innings. His success against lefties this season could very well have something to do with his slider, which has consistently been his best pitch. Camp has gone to the slider against left-handers far more than ever before in 2012 — 37% this year vs. 19% since the start of the PitchFX era. That success against batters of the opposite hand may be a fluke, but at least there’s some tangible evidence suggesting it could be legitimate improvement.
Either way, the Yankees need a reliever and Cubs have one to offer, so there’s a fit. Chicago’s new Theo Epstein-led regime has been emphatic about getting young pitching back in any trade, something the Yankees have plenty to offer. They’re not getting a top prospect for a rental middle reliever and probably won’t get a Grade-B prospect either. Brett Myers was just dealt for two fringe prospects and a player to be named later while the Astros ate his salary. A one-for-one swap for Camp could involve a non-top 30 prospect — Caleb Cotham? Zach Nuding? Shaeffer Hall? — and maybe nothing else. He’s worth a look and carries minimal risk.
Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have checked in with the Twins about the availability of Denard Span. Minnesota is unsurprisingly “asking for a ton.” The Yankees will be without Brett Gardner for the rest of the season and Nick Swisher recently went down with a left hip flexor, so the outfield is thin. Heyman reiterated that New York looked into both Shane Victorino and Justin Upton, which is old news.
Span, 28, is a very similar player to Gardner. He’s a left-handed swinger, doesn’t have any power (career .102 ISO), draws walks (career 9.8 BB%), and is a true center fielder with above average defense. Gardner will steal about twice as many bases and is probably better with the glove, but Span will put the ball in play more often (career 12.2 K%). He’s also signed very reasonably — the Twins owe him just $11.25M through 2014 with a $9M club option for 2015. Span would be a great replacement for Gardner this year but replacing Nick Swisher next year? Eh, they’d be lucky to get ten combined homers out of two outfield spots.
Via Adam Kilgore, the Yankees have some interest the recently designated for assignment Rick Ankiel. We heard the exact opposite yesterday, that they had no interest in the outfielder, but the dynamic changed a bit after Nick Swisher left last night’s game with a mild left hip flexor. Besides, contradictory reports are the backbone of the rumor mill.
Ankiel, 33, posted a 76 wRC+ in 171 plate appearances for the Nationals this season. He can still hold his own against righties (95 wRC+ since 2010) but not lefties (44), so he’s a platoon guy only. Ankiel can play the two corner outfield spots fine and fake center on occasion, plus he has that rocket arm. The Yankees would assume the remainder of his $1.25M salary by claiming him off waivers. I’m not much of a fan but the Yankees could do worse if Swisher needs his first DL stint since 2005.
Brett Gardner‘s season is likely over thanks to right elbow surgery, creating a bit of an outfield void even though the Raul Ibanez-Andruw Jones platoon has been insanely productive. Brian Cashman told Marc Carig that the team will remain active on the waiver wire, but Jon Heyman hears that they do not have interest in either Rick Ankiel and Juan Pierre. Speedy center field types figure to be the club’s focus in the coming weeks.
Ankiel, 33, posted a 76 wRC+ in 171 plate appearances for the Nationals this season before being designated for assignment yesterday. He can hit righties a little (95 wRC+ last three years) but not lefties (44), and he’s fine defensively in the corner outfield spots. His arm is obviously extremely strong and he can fake center field just enough for teams to keep running him out there. Over the last four seasons he’s owns a .295 OBP in 1,230 plate appearances. Ankiel will make $1.25M this season and any team that claims him off waivers assumes that obligation.
Pierre, 34, has put up a 107 wRC+ for the Phillies this season. It’s all tied up in batting average (.312) because he doesn’t walk (4.7 BB%) or hit for power (.067 ISO). He’s 21-for-25 (84%) in stolen base attempts and isn’t anything special in left field these days. Pierre is making six figures this year and Philadelphia figures to sell sell sell leading up to the trade. Cashing in Pierre for something, anything seems like an obvious move on their part.
The Yankees have Chris Dickerson, Darnell McDonald, and the recently signed Kosuke Fukudome stashed in Triple-A for outfield depth. Their big and comfy lead in the AL East should allow them to rest Jones and (specifically) Ibanez down the stretch, hopefully limiting the wear-and-tear. Adding on outfielder isn’t a major priority but it should certainly be on the to-do list leading up to the deadline. There’s always room for improvement.
There’s a decent chance the Yankees will be without Brett Gardner for the rest of the season, but that’s not the only reason they should be keeping an eye on the outfield trade market. Nick Swisher will be a free agent after the season and Curtis Granderson will be after next season, right before the 2014 payroll plan takes effect. Add in Robinson Cano‘s impending free agency (after 2013), and suddenly a cheap outfielder looks like something that should be near the top of the priority list.
On the other end of the baseball world — seriously, NL West baseball is like an alternate universe compared to the AL East — a young and cheap outfielder expressed some displeasure with his reduced role. Nate Schierholtz, 28, of the Giants has been relegated to spot start and pinch-hitting duties this season because the starting trio of Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and Gregor Blanco have been so good. Manager Bruce Bochy simply can’t take them out of the lineup. As you’d expect, Schierholtz would prefer to be somewhere with more opportunity.
“There’s not one thing I can’t say I love about this place,” he said yesterday, “but I think I’ve come to the realization that maybe I’m not their guy. I’m not in the cards having a future here … I came in with the expectation to play maybe a little bit more than we’ve seen. A week-long slump kept me back on the bench for a couple more months … It’s a tough hole to dig myself out of and leaves me wondering if they don’t have a future for me here.”
Schierholtz has not and contractually can not request a trade, so he’s just voicing his frustrating. The Giants have no obligation to move him and there’s no indication that they’re even open to the idea, but usually when a player goes public about wanting to play somewhere with more opportunity, it’s only a matter of time before he winds up in a different uniform. That’s where the Yankees potentially fit in. Here’s a breakdown of the San Francisco outfielder…
- A left-handed swinger, Schierholtz has tagged right-handers for a .287/.358/.454 batting line (122 wRC+) this year and .268/.330/.434 (107 wRC+) since the start of 2010. His .166 ISO against righties during that time would surely be better if AT&T Park didn’t have one of the biggest right fields in baseball (89 HR Park Factor for LHB per FanGraphs, 82 per StatCorner).
- Schierholtz puts the ball in play, striking out in a below-average 16.8% of his career plate appearances. Over the last three seasons it’s 15.9% against righties. As you can see from his spray chart, he does quite a bit of damage back up the middle and into the gap the other way.
- Pick any defensive metric — UZR (+17.2), DRS (+7), Total Zone (+1), FRAA (+1.2), or ADR (+11) — and it’ll say Schierholtz is at least an average defender in the corner outfield if not better. He’s a true right fielder with a strong and very accurate arm, one of the better outfield arms in the game.
- He’s cheap and still under team control for a while. Schierholtz will earn $1.3M total this season before being arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason and the third time next offseason. He’ll be eligible for free agency after 2014.
- Schierholtz is a platoon player. His career .292/.326/.408 line (95 wRC+) against southpaws doesn’t look awful, but it’s a .125/.167/.219 line (-4 wRC+) this year and .231/.275/.286 (52 wRC+) since the start of 2010. He did most of his damage against lefties years ago.
- If he doesn’t get a hit, he’s probably not going to reach base. Schierholtz’s career walk rate is a miniscule 5.9% and he’s swung at 35.8% of the pitches he’s seen out of the strike zone. That’s astronomical. He’s lucky he can make contact well.
- You’re not getting much speed. He’s only 19-for-33 in stolen base attempts in his big league career, a 58% success rate. Down in the minors it was a 68% success rate in twice the attempts. It’s just not his game.
- Schierholtz has been on the DL twice in the last four years, the first time for a groin strain in 2009. Last summer he fouled a ball off his right foot and suffered a hairline fracture, missing a month. I have a hard time counting a fluke injury like that against him, however.
- Schierholtz is out of minor league options, meaning he can’t be sent to Triple-A without first passing through waivers. He also hasn’t played an inning in center field in his professional career. That really limits flexibility.
If the Yankees do let Swisher walk after the season, one of the most cost effective ways to replace him would be with a platoon. I don’t love the idea of using two roster spots to fill one position, but platoons can be very productive as we’ve seen this season in left field following Gardner’s injury. Andruw Jones is an obvious fit for the right-handed half of the Swisher-replacing platoon and a guy like Schierholtz makes an awful lot of sense for the left-handed half. Young-ish, cheap-ish, can hit righties and play strong defense. Lots to like.
At same time, the Yankees are a club that places a lot of value on power and patience. Perhaps the short right field porch would help get Schierholtz over the 20-homer plateau, but he’s not a guy who will work the count and draw walks. It’s just not who he is. He’s going to go up to the plate and swing the bat whether he gets a pitch to hit or not. Robinson Cano is the same way and it works for him, but Schierholtz isn’t that caliber of hitter. The limitations against southpaws and the lack of plate discipline are real knocks against him.
As I said, there is no indication that the Giants are looking to move Schierholtz right now even though he’s unhappy with his role. They’re reportedly looking for a right-handed outfield bat and (like everyone else) bullpen help leading up to the trade deadline, two things the Yankees really don’t have to offer. Since the two clubs don’t match up well in a trade — and the fact that replacing Dewayne Wise with Schierholtz would leave the Yankees without a real backup center fielder — this would probably be a deal best explored in the offseason. I do like him as a player though and think there’s a chance he’ll be surprisingly productive in the friendlier offensive environment.