Yankees send Severino to Triple-A, place Ackley on DL

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

5:21pm: Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon Ackley has a torn labrum in his shoulder and may need surgery. Ouch. Here’s the play where Ackley got hurt:

Dustin Ackley injury

The labrum tear likely ends his season, right? This definitely won’t be a short-term injury. If it does end his season, it figures to end his Yankees career too. Ackley was a prime non-tender candidate this coming offseason. Expect the Yankees to look for a backup first baseman in the coming weeks.

2:21pm: The Yankees have placed utility player Dustin Ackley on the 15-day DL with a dislocated right shoulder, the team announced today. Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to fill the roster spot. Also, the Yankees activated Luis Severino off the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton.

The Severino move is far more notable. He made his first minor league rehab start last night, throwing three scoreless innings with High-A Tampa. Rather than keep him on rehab, the Yankees activated Severino and sent him to Triple-A, meaning he won’t accrue service time. By my unofficial count, 72 days in minors will delay his free agency a year.

Needless to say, the Yankees hope they don’t need to keep Severino in the minors for 72 days. They want him healthy and effective and in their big league rotation. He’s healthy. They wouldn’t have activated him if he weren’t. But effective? Who knows. Severino had a 7.46 ERA (5.48 FIP) in seven starts and 35 innings before the triceps injury. His command in particular was awful.

Aside from Michael Pineda, the Yankees have been getting good to great work from their rotation the last few weeks. Chad Green and Luis Cessa are available as depth options, so they don’t need to rush Severino back, which is good. He’s extremely important to the franchise going forward and they have to get him right. I’m on board with the Triple-A stint. It was time.

As for Ackley, he hurt himself diving back into first base on a pickoff throw yesterday. Mason Williams separated his shoulder the same way last year. (Williams eventually needed surgery.) With Ackley out and Refsnyder up, Austin Romine takes over as the backup first baseman by default. Mark Teixeira is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight after missing a few games with a neck problem.

Yankees release Slade Heathcott

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

8:45pm: The Yankees have no plans to re-sign Heathcott, reports Chad Jennings. It’s been real, Slade.

8:32pm: The Yankees have given outfielder Slade Heathcott his unconditional release, the team announced this evening. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for lefty Richard Bleier, who was called up earlier today.

I’m not quite sure how the mechanics of the transaction work, but my guess is the unconditional release makes it easier for the Yankees to re-sign Heathcott to a minor league contract. Designating him for assignment would mean exposing him to waivers.

Heathcott, 25, is currently on the Triple-A DL with a knee injury. He’s hit only .218/.260/.287 (50 wRC+) with a 32.0% strikeout rate in 23 Triple-A games this season. Slade made his MLB debut last year and playing sparingly, but he did do this:

That was pretty awesome. Definitely one of the highlights of the season.

Heathcott has been hampered by all sorts of injuries throughout his career, including multiple knee and shoulder surgeries. He’s played only 302 games total from 2012-16. The Yankees have a small army of left-handed hitting outfielders at Double-A and Triple-A, so it’s possible Slade will look for a team that can give him a greater opportunity. We’ll see.

Fun fact: Heathcott leads all Yankees first round picks from 2007-15 in career WAR. He has +0.4 WAR. Now that I think about it, that fact isn’t fun at all.

Yankees claim Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds

(AP)
(AP)

The Yankees have claimed right-hander Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds, the team announced. He’s been optioned to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Phil Coke for assignment last week, so no other moves are required.

Somsen, 26, made his MLB debut and appeared in two games with the Reds this year, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks in 2.1 innings. He struck out two. Somsen has a 2.59 ERA (3.52 FIP) with a 24.2% strikeout rate and a 10.6% walk rate in 48.2 Triple-A innings the last two years.

PitchFX says Somsen, who is from the baseball hotbed of Yankton, South Dakota, throws a cutter right around 90 mph as well as a low-80s curveball. He’s a reliever, not a starter. The Reds selected Somsen in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft and gave him a chance to help out their bullpen this month. Didn’t work out.

The Yankees have been hit hard by injuries this season, most notably losing bullpen shuttle candidates Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Bryan Mitchell (toe), and Jacob Lindgren (elbow) to long-term injuries. Somsen helps replace some of that depth.

Yankees sign Neal Cotts to minor league deal

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have signed veteran left-hander Neal Cotts to a minor league contract, the team announced. He’s heading to Triple-A Scranton. Cotts opted out of his minor league deal with the Angels a few days ago. Seems like he’s taking Phil Coke‘s spot in the organization after Coke was designated for assignment earlier this week.

Cotts, 36, had a 3.29 ERA (3.39 FIP) in 13.2 Triple-A innings with the Angels before opting out. Last season he had a 3.41 ERA (5.00 FIP) in 63.1 innings with the Brewers and Twins, and he held lefties to .178/.243/.330 (.251 wOBA) batting line with a 23.9% strikeout rate and a 5.5% walk rate. Not too bad, huh?

A few weeks back the Yankees signed Coke out of an independent league, where he was working as a starter. Cotts is a pure left-on-left matchup reliever, so he’s not someone who can come up to be a long man. I assume his current deal with the Yankees includes an opt-out date. Probably sometime next month. That’s pretty standard.

Injuries have hit the Yankees pretty hard this season. Already they’ve lost Bryan Mitchell (toe) Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), and Jacob Lindgren (elbow) to injuries, among others. Cotts helps replenish that bullpen depth.

The Yankees signed Cotts to a minor league contract way back in 2011, but he failed his physical and the team walked away. He had Tommy John surgery back in 2009 and has undergone four different hip surgeries over the last few seasons.

Yankees acquire J.R. Graham from Twins

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

The Yankees have acquired right-hander J.R. Graham from the Twins for cash or a player to be named later, the team announced. He’s been optioned to Double-A Trenton. Mason Williams was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Graham, 26, stuck with the Twins as a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Braves last year. He has a 5.10 ERA (4.63 FIP) in 65.1 career big league innings, all with Minnesota since the start of last season. Graham is a mid-90s fastball guy with a mid-80s slider that is his go-to offspeed pitch. He also has a changeup. Here’s some video.

Fun fact: Graham wears old school stirrups on the mound because his mother is legally blind, and they help her pick him out on the field. That’s sweet.

The Yankees have been hit hard by upper level pitching injuries early this year. A quick list of the walking wounded: Luis Severino (triceps), CC Sabathia (groin), Bryan Mitchell (toe), Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), Jacob Lindgren (elbow), Tyler Cloyd (elbow), Kyle Haynes (lat), and Vinnie Pestano (unknown). Yeesh.

The Twins designated Graham for assignment a few days ago as part of a roster shake-up and the Yankees picked him up to help cover for all those injuries. He’s a warm body for depth. That’s all. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team pick up a few more scrap heap arms in the coming weeks.

Yankees calling up righty Chad Green

(Newsday)
(Newsday)

According to the Twitter feed of minor league lefty Josh Rogers, the Yankees are calling up right-hander Chad Green on Saturday. (Here’s a screen grab in case the tweet gets deleted.) Green was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow, so he’ll be available to throw a ton of innings in long relief, if necessary.

Green, 24, came over from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade over the winter. He has a 1.22 ERA (2.11 FIP) in seven starts and 37 innings for the RailRiders this year. Green has three pitches: low-90s sinker as well as a slider and splitter. He was in big league camp as a non-roster player this year.

It’s entirely possible Green will be one of two call-ups tomorrow. The Yankees are going to place Luis Severino on the DL, allowing them to bring Tyler Olson back. They could also send Nick Goody down for Green after Goody threw 3.1 innings tonight. Or they could keep it simple and call up Green to replace Severino. We’ll see.

The Yankees will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Green, but that’s no big deal. Greg Bird, Bryan Mitchell, and Mason Williams are all 60-day DL candidates. Green would have been Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season.

Hennigan: Gary Sanchez promoted to Yankees

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Looks like the Yankees are adding another bat for the weekend. Top catcher prospect Gary Sanchez has been called up to the Yankees, reports Shane Hennigan. The team has not yet announced the move. They probably won’t until a few hours before the game Friday. No reason to think Hennigan’s report is bonus though.

My guess — and this is only a semi-educated guess — is the Yankees want Sanchez’s right-handed bat in the lineup against lefties Chris Sale and Jose Quintana this weekend. I think they’ll call up Sanchez and send down eighth reliever Tyler Olson, then send down Sanchez on Monday in favor of an extra reliever (James Pazos?) until Alex Rodriguez comes off the DL, hopefully when he’s eligible to be activated Thursday. We’ll see.

Sanchez, 23, was hitting .290/.339/.551 (162 wRC+) with five home runs in 26 games with Triple-A Scranton this season before going 2-for-4 on Thursday, so those numbers are only going up. I would bet on Sanchez serving as the DH against Sale and Quintana, not catching. Then again, Sanchez and Luis Severino are familiar with each other, so maybe they’ll be paired together as a battery Friday.

At this point Sanchez has been in the minors long enough to delay his free agency. (Monday was the earliest they could have called him while still pushing free agency back a year.) Austin Romine has been pretty good as Brian McCann‘s backup in the early going. I would be surprised if they were to cut bait on Romine at this point and go with Sanchez as the backup.