Archive for Transactions
5:33pm: Overbay told Andy McCullough that he can opt out of his contract on Friday. So yeah, the Yankees basically have three days to determine if he’s a fit for their roster.
4:14pm: Back to the scrap heap the Yankees go. The club has signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league contract, reports Erik Boland. The team has confirmed the signing. He should be in camp soon, as in tomorrow. The Red Sox released the first baseman earlier on Tuesday and the Yankees will not need to make a 40-man roster move.
Overbay, 36, hit .259/.331/.397 (91 wRC+) with two homers in 131 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks and Braves last season. Over the last three seasons he’s hit .241/.322/.401 (97 wRC+) in nearly 1,200 plate appearances with a big platoon split: 100 wRC+ against righties compared to a 84 wRC+ against lefties. Overbay has always been an all-fields gap-to-gap guy who might not benefit much from Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch despite being a lefty. He can play a solid first base, however.
Juan Rivera seemed to have the inside track on the first base job in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury, so at the very least Overbay gives him some competition before the start of the season. The Yankees do have an open bench spot at the moment and could carry both guys in a platoon, but they will need some versatility on the bench. They don’t have enough bench spots to accommodate all of these platoons they seem to want to use.
5:27pm: Despite their attempt at some fancy accounting, Ken Rosenthal has confirmed the Yankees will not receive any kind of “credit” towards the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014. Wells will simply count as zero dollars for the luxury tax. At least that makes him easy to designate for assignment.
3:21pm: The Yankees have gone from dumpster diving to desperation in their search for outfield help. The Bombers have (finally) acquired Vernon Wells from the Angels in exchange for minor leaguers Exicardo Cayones and Kramer Sneed, the team announced. The Halos will pay $28.1M of the $42M left on his contract according to Mike DiGiovanna, and Jeff Fletcher says New York will pay him $11.5M this year and $2.4M in 2014. The club will have to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate their new outfielder, but they say that will announced at a later time. Okay then.
Wells, 34, has hit .222/.258/.409 (82 wRC+) in 791 plate appearances with the Angels over the last two seasons. Perhaps his poor 2012 campaign (88 wRC+) was the result of the torn right thumb ligament that required surgery and cost him more than two months, but there’s no real excuse for the even-worse 2011 effort (79 wRC+). Wells has hit lefties well over the last two years (119 wRC+) but poorly over the last four years (87 wRC+), with 2010 being his only above-average season (134 wRC+). He’s a dead-pull right-handed hitter, which usually doesn’t mix well with Yankee Stadium. Despite his reputation, the various metrics have rated him as below-average defensively over the last few years.
The Yankees are getting a bunch of intangible qualities in Wells, who has long been regarded as a strong clubhouse presence and is familiar with the AL East given his time with the Blue Jays. They are very clearly banking on his strong Cactus League performance — 13-for-36 (.361) with a double and four homers — being an indication he’s getting back to being his pre-2011 self as he gets further away from thumb surgery. To their credit, the Yankees have had a lot of success getting unexpected production from declining players in recent years. They squeeze water out of washed up veteran rocks better than anyone.
“He looks good … He could be a good pickup. (The Angels) were not asking for much money,” said one exec to Andy Martino while a scout added: “He is a legitimate Major League hitter. He is a professional hitter. Everybody downgraded his abilities because of the contract, (but) he’s still a good player.”
Cayones, a 21-year-old outfielder, was acquired from the Pirates as part of the A.J. Burnett trade last year. He hit .228/.374/.291 (111 wRC+) with seven steals in 200 plate appearances for Short Season Staten Island last year. Sneed, 24, pitched to a 5.37 ERA (4.66 FIP) with nearly as many walks (38) as strikeouts (40) in 63.2 innings for High-A Tampa last summer. The left-hander was New York’s 32nd round pick in the 2010 draft. Neither Cayones nor Sneed was much of a prospect, so it’s a pure salary dump trade.
It’s obvious Wells will be on the roster come Opening Day, especially since New York committed precious 2014 payroll space (even just a small amount) to the three-time All-Star and gave up two real live players to acquire him. Maybe he’ll just serve as a platoon partner for the various left-handed outfielders (and Travis Hafner at DH), or maybe he’ll play everyday thanks to his reputation. I guess we’ll find out. The trade is not good news for Ben Francisco, Thomas Neal, and Melky Mesa, who had been in the running for the righty-hitting outfield job. Juan Rivera is presumably safe given his ability to play first.
The trade doesn’t make much sense overall, so much so that it’s one of the most confusing deals of the Brian Cashman era. The Yankees are now paying $26M over the next two years for two outfielders — Wells and Ichiro Suzuki — who could very easily be replacement level given their 2011-2012 performances. It’s one thing to try out these veteran retreads on minor league contracts or low-base salary one-year deals, but it’s another to guarantee them multiple years and eight figures. Given the players they allowed to walk this winter and their unwillingness to sign free agents to multi-year contracts, this is a very questionable move (at best) that is unlikely to improve team appreciably or answer a roster question. Truly baffling.
Fun (but useless!) Fact: No active player has played in more regular season games without appearing in the postseason than Wells (1,601).
The Yankees have claimed right-handed reliever Danny Otero off waivers from the Giants, the team announced. Left-hander Cesar Cabral was placed on the 60-day DL to create 40-man roster space.
Otero, 28, made San Francisco’s Opening Day roster last year and owns 5.84 ERA (2.77 FIP) in 12.1 career big league innings, all with the Giants last year. He struck out eight of 57 batters faced while unintentionally walking just one. Over the last two years, he owns a 3.03 ERA (~3.15 FIP) with a 19.7% strikeout rate and a 3.6% walk rate in 98 Triple-A innings. Otero is a rather generic upper-80s/low-90s sinker/slider reliever with minor league options remaining, so just another arm for the stable basically.
Sunday: The contract is worth $3M at a big league level according to George King and Kevin Kernan. I assume that’s pro-rated for the time he’s actually on the roster, which is typical. Still a pretty nice chunk of change for Triple-A depth guy. The contract does include an opt-out clause, but the exact date is unknown.
Saturday: The Yankees have announced the signing and it is indeed a minor league contract. No word on how much he’ll make if he pitches in the big leagues yet. Wang will speak to the media following a workout Monday morning and will presumably discuss his decision to return to the team and the health of his shoulder. Hopefully we get to see him in a Grapefruit League game before the season starts.
Friday: The Yankees have been searching for a veteran starter to stash in Triple-A, and that search has led them to a familiar name. Jon Heyman reports the club has agreed to sign Chien-Ming Wang to what I assume is a minor league contract. He was in Tampa this week to throw bullpens and showcase himself for the team.
Wang, 33 next week, threw 12 shutout innings for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic earlier this month. The Yankees were one of a number of clubs to scout him during the tournament — reports indicate his trademark sinker was clocked in the 88-92 mph range — and apparently they liked what they saw enough to bring him in for more workouts. Obviously the two sides are familiar with each other.
Due to numerous injuries, most notably a torn shoulder capsule that required surgery in July 2009, Wang has not been an effective big league pitcher since hurting his foot running the bases in Houston in June 2008. He pitched to a 3.79 ERA (3.90 FIP) with a 60.5% ground ball rate in 628.2 innings from 2005-2008, but since then he’s managed a 6.39 ERA (5.12 FIP) with a 53.2% ground ball rate in 136.2 innings. The Yankees are clearly banking on his World Baseball Classic showing being legit.
Wang will join a Triple-A Scranton rotation that will also include lefty Vidal Nuno and righties Adam Warren, Brett Marshall, and Dellin Betances. He’ll be able to opt-out of his contract on June 1st if he’s not called up to the big leagues thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is a road the team will cross when the time comes. Wang looked pretty darn good in the WBC, but he’s still unlikely to contribute much at the big league level. Either way, it’s no-risk move with some neato nostalgia involved.
We have our first outfield competition casualty. The Yankees have released Matt Diaz according to multiple reports from Tampa. He has been in camp on a minor league deal.
Diaz, 35, went 6-for-30 (.200) in camp with no extra-base hits, and by releasing him now the club gave the right-hander hitter two weeks to find a new job before the season. Ben Francisco and Juan Rivera look like very strong candidates to make the team right now, especially Rivera given his ability to play first base in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s injury.
7:14pm: The Yankees have officially announced the signing, so it’s a done deal. Boesch will be in camp tomorrow. Michael Pineda was moved to the 60-day DL to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.
4:58pm: Another day, another outfielder. The Yankees have agreed to sign Brennan Boesch to a Major League contract worth $1.5M with $600k in plate appearance-based incentives, according to Jon Heyman. The club will need to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate the Scott Boras client, who was released by the Tigers earlier this week. That’s not an issue though, both Michael Pineda and Cesar Cabral are 60-day DL candidates. Boesch was dealing with an oblique issue earlier in camp and probably has to pass a physical before the contract is official.
The 27-year-old Boesch hit .240/.286/.372 (77 wRC+) with 12 homers in 503 plate appearances for Detroit last season. One year earlier he managed a .283/.341/.458 (117 wRC+) with 16 homers in 472 plate appearances before tearing a ligament in his thumb and needing surgery. The Yankees are presumably hoping the further he gets away from surgery, the more his production will increase because Boesch doesn’t steal, is a total hacker, and is a terrible defender. He has a slight reverse split (110 wRC+ vs. 92) despite having a much higher strikeout rate (23.3 K% vs. 17.9) and a lower ISO (.134 vs. .162) against lefties, though it could be a sample size issue since we’re talking about 374 plate appearances against southpaws over three years.
The one thing Boesch will give the Yankees is flexibility. He has at least one minor league option remaining and can be assigned to Triple-A Scranton without a problem whenever Curtis Granderson‘s forearm is healthy. Because he only has three years of service time, the Yankees will also control him as an arbitration-eligible player through 2016 as well. Always nice to have that extra layer of control and know the player is more than a rental if he actually proves to be useful.
I don’t think the Yankees signed Boesch to a big league contract only to send him down before Opening Day, so he’s a safe bet to make the roster as Granderson’s replacement. Either full-time or as part of a platoon, I’m sure he’ll be in there regularly. Hopefully the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium helps boost Boesch’s power output while his defense doesn’t completely negate any value he provides. Decent depth pickup but nothing special. One (or maybe two) dimensional player who fills a need created by injury.
Add another body to the right-handed hitting outfield bat competition. The Yankees have signed Ben Francisco to a minor league contract, Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters in Tampa. The Indians released him earlier this morning despite an 8-for-20 showing in camp that included six doubles, five walks, and four strikeouts.
Francisco, 31, actually scored the first run in New Yankee Stadium history with the Indians back in 2009. He hit .240/.285/.385 (82 wRC+) with four homers in 207 plate appearances for the Blue Jays, Astros, and Rays last season, and over the last three years he’s shown basically no platoon split: .247/.315/.408 (97 wRC+) against lefties and .252/.324/.380 (94 wRC+) against righties. Francisco is average at best in the outfield, though he has experience in all three spots. He’s not much of a stolen base threat anymore either.
The Yankees had some interest in Francisco back in January, before he hooked on with Cleveland, and he’ll now compete with veterans Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera for roster spot. In the wake of Curtis Granderson‘s forearm injury, I have to think at least one of those guys will make the team. Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, Thomas Neal, and Ronnie Mustelier are also candidates. Considering the injuries and lost offense, there’s no harm whatsoever in adding players on minor league pacts to compete for spots. The more the merrier.
Via Chris Cotillo: The Yankees have signed right-hander Chris Bootcheck to a minor league contract. Cotillo says it was a split contract but no way. Bootcheck is listed on the minor league workout groups but not on the 40-man roster. Minor league deal all the way.
Bootcheck, 34, has not pitched in the big leagues since 2009 with the Pirates. He posted a 4.06 ERA (3.00 FIP) with a 10.76 K/9 (25.9 K%) in 44.1 relief innings for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate last year. His walk rate (5.28 BB/9 and 12.7 BB%) was astronomical though, which has been a career-long problem. Bootcheck has started seven games in the last six years, so he won’t be that veteran starter the Yankees want to stash in Triple-A. He’s just emergency bullpen depth.
The Yankees have placed Alex Rodriguez on the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster for the recently-acquired Shawn Kelley, the team announced. It’s just a procedural move, A-Rod isn’t expected to return form his left hip surgery until after the All-Star break.
The Yankees had a surplus of Double-A and Triple-A outfielders, so they turned one of them into a serviceable big league reliever. New York traded Abe Almonte to the Mariners for right-hander Shawn Kelley, the team announced. Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.
Kelley, 29 in April, was designated for assignment by the Mariners when they signed Joe Saunders six days ago. Buster Olney confirmed Kelley has a minor league option remaining, meaning he’s likely ticketed for the Triple-A bullpen to start the season. He and Cody Eppley figure to ride the Scranton-Bronx express this summer. Kelley will earn $935k in 2013 following his second trip through arbitration as a Super Two. He can’t become a free agent until the 2015-2016 offseason at the earliest.
A two-time Tommy John surgery survivor, Kelley owns a 3.52 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 128 big league innings spread across the last four seasons. He misses bats (career 8.58 K/9 and 22.6 K%) with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a power mid-80s slider, and his walk rate (2.74 BB/9 and 7.4 BB%) is strong as well. Ten of his 39 walks as a big leaguer were intentional, so that walk rate is inflated a little bit. Kelley is a fly ball pitcher (29.5% grounders) and homer prone (1.34 HR/9 and 9.7% HR/FB), which is not ideal. As long as he’s working low-to-mid-leverage innings, it won’t be the end of the world.
Almonte, 23, did not make my annual Top 30 Prospects List. He hit .276/.350/.392 (106 wRC+) with 30 steals in 359 plate appearances for Double-A Trenton last summer. Once an infielder, Almonte moved to the outfield full-time in 2008 and has experience in all three spots. He re-signed with the team after becoming a minor league free agent in October, then went unclaimed in December’s Rule 5 Draft. With Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores ticketed for Double-A and Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, and Ronnie Mustelier in line for Triple-A — don’t forget about Adonis Garcia and Thomas Neal either — Almonte was completely expendable.
The big league bullpen is pretty much set at this point, but extra arms are always going to be needed. The Yankees used 17 different relievers just last season, for example. Kelley adds some depth and they traded a player they won’t even notice is gone thanks to all the outfielders at the upper levels. I wouldn’t say it’s something-for-nothing, but they definitely used their minor league surplus to help the big league club.