Yankees trade Shawn Kelley to the Padres for minor league reliever Johnny Barbato

Barbato. (Screen grab via MLBpipeline.com)
Barbato. (Screen grab via MLBpipeline.com)

3:01pm: Done deal, the Yankees have announced the trade. It’s Kelley for Barbato, straight up. So long, Shawn. I’ll remember you for the horse head.

1:56pm: The quasi-youth movement continues. The Yankees have traded Shawn Kelley to the Padres for minor league reliever Johnny Barbato, according to Jack Curry. It appears the deal is straight up, one-for-one. Neither team has announced the trade just yet. The Yankees clear a 40-man roster spot with the move.

Kelley, who is set to become a free agent next offseason, was projected to earn $2.5M through arbitration in 2015, so the Yankees are shedding a little bit of money. With Andrew Miller replacing David Robertson in the bullpen, Kelley figured to again be in the seventh inning mix next year. That job belongs to Adam Warren now.

At the moment, the bullpen includes Miller, Warren, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, and Esmil Rogers, leaving two open spots, one of which figures to go to a long man. The Yankee have no shortage of in-house candidates for those last two spots, with Jacob Lindgren, Branden Pinder, Danny Burawa, Chase Whitley, Gonzalez Germen, Jose Ramirez, Bryan Mitchell, Jose DePaula, and possibly even Manny Banuelos among the notables. Obviously a trade or free agent signing is always possible.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Kelley, 30, originally came over from the Mariners in exchange for Abe Almonte just before the start of Spring Training 2013. He spent two seasons in New York and had a 4.46 ERA (3.33 FIP) with 138 strikeouts in 105 innings. At his best, Kelley was a shutdown late-inning reliever. At his worst, he was very homer prone and unreliable. I guess that makes him like every other middle reliever in baseball.

The Padres drafted Barbato out of a Miami high school in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and paid him a well above slot $1.4M bonus, easily the largest bonus they gave out that year. He’s spent the majority of his pro career in the bullpen because of a herky jerky delivery and the lack of a reliable third pitch. Baseball America ranked Barbato as the 30th best prospect in a stacked San Diego system prior to 2014 in their Prospect Handbook. Here’s a scouting report from their trade analysis (no subs. req’d):

He pitches with mid-90s velocity and verve, attacking hitters with a live fastball that sinks and runs as it nears the plate. He throws a true curveball in the high 70s that features extreme break through the zone, and he locates and mixes his two pitches well enough to boast a career strikeout rate of 9.2 per nine innings … Barbato has the raw stuff to zoom to [New York] in 2015 and gradually work his way up to a setup role.

Barbato, 22, had a 2.87 ERA (3.31 FIP) with good strikeout (9.48 K/9 and 25.6 K%) and walk (2.87 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%) rates in 31.1 Double-A innings this season. His season ended in mid-June because of elbow soreness, and, as Curry notes, there is some concern Barbato may need Tommy John surgery. If healthy, he figures to start the year with Triple-A Scranton and be a call-up candidate at some point next summer.

So far this offseason the Yankees have replaced Kelley with Barbato, Martin Prado with Jose Pirela/Rob Refsnyder, Shane Greene with Nathan Eovaldi, Francisco Cervelli with John Ryan Murphy, and Derek Jeter with Didi Gregorius, getting younger each time. Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and Hal Steinbrenner all said after the season the team will be younger next year, and that is definitely the case.

Kelley was a nice little find for the Yankees — going from Almonte to two years of Kelley to Barbato is a fun transaction tree — but he’s not exactly impossible to replace. Dealing middle relievers one year away from free agency for a Triple-A ready prospect is a move the Yankees should always look to make. New York saves some money, gets younger, and clears a 40-man roster spot. It’s not a move that will make or break the 2015 season but does give the team some more flexibility.

Marlins claim Preston Claiborne off waivers from Yankees

(Alex Goodlett/Getty)
Soon he will have a terrible beard like all ex-Yanks. (Alex Goodlett/Getty)

The Marlins have claimed Preston Claiborne off waivers from the Yankees, according to Joe Frisaro. New York designated the right-handed reliever for assignment late last week to clear a 40-man roster spot for fellow righty reliever Gonzalez Germen, who was acquired from the Mets in a cash trade.

Claiborne, 27, had a 3.79 ERA (4.00 FIP) with decent strikeout (7.32 K/9 and 18.7 K%), walk (3.03 BB/9 and 7.7 BB%), homer (1.01 HR/9 and 9.2 HR/FB%), and ground ball (43.3%) rates in 71.1 innings spread across 62 relief appearances these last two years. He had a 0.46 ERA (2.39 FIP) in his first 19.2 MLB innings and a 5.05 ERA (4.61 FIP) in 51.2 innings thereafter.

The Yankees drafted Claiborne in the 17th round of the 2010 draft and got some nice mileage out of him. (The expected return for a 17th rounder is basically nothing.) Thanks to Germen, Jacob Lindgren, Bryan Mitchell, Danny Burawa, Branden Pinder, Chase Whitley, and several others, the Yankees have no shortage of up-and-down bullpen candidates for next season. Claiborne had a nice little run last year but that’s about it.

Yankees acquire righty Gonzalez Germen from Mets

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The Yankees have acquired right-hander Gonzalez Germen from the Mets for cash considerations, the team announced. It’s first trade between the two clubs since the Mike Stanton-Felix Heredia swap in December 2004. Preston Claiborne was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man spot.

Germen, 27, has a 4.31 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 64.2 relief innings for the Mets over the past two seasons. He walks a few too many (4.18 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%) is both fly ball (36.8% grounders) and homer (1.11 HR/9 and 10.1 HR/FB%) prone, though he does get strikeouts (8.91 K/9 and 22.7 K%). Germen is a low-to-mid-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup, mid-80 slider pitcher.

As far as the depth chart goes, this is basically a straight Germen for Claiborne swap. They’re the same age (Germen’s four months older) and they both have one minor league option remaining (I think). Germen misses a few more bats while Claiborne has slightly better walk and grounder rates. This is a tiny little move that marginally upgrades something like the 35th man on the 40-man roster.

Yankees trade Martin Prado and David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones

According to Jack Curry, the Yankees have traded Martin Prado the Marlins for RHP Nathan Eovaldi. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the deal will also send David Phelps to the Marlins and 1B/OF Garrett Jones to the Yankees. The Yankees will also get RHP prospect Domingo German. The 40-man roster is now full.

The trade comes as something of a surprise. With the re-signing of Chase Headley, it appeared that the Yankees had a solid infield of Headley, Prado, Didi Gregorius, and Mark Teixeira. Moving Prado opens up a spot for Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder, or perhaps another second baseman in a trade. Would the Phillies make Chase Utley available?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The main return in the trade, Eovaldi is a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who turns 25 in February. Yet he’s already arbitration eligible this year, so the Yankees will have his rights through the 2017 season.

Although Eovaldi has three years’ service time, he’s thrown only 460 MLB innings. Last season was the first in which he made more than 30 starts. His injury history isn’t long, but it certainly concerning. In 2013 he missed the first 69 games of the season with shoulder inflammation, although it didn’t seem to affect him for the rest of the season or in 2014. His only other major injury is Tommy John surgery in 2007.

While he throws very hard, averaging 95.5 mph with his fastball in 2014, Eovaldi doesn’t strike out many hitters. Even as his fastball increased in velocity with his move from LA to Miami, he still stuck around 6.5 K/9, which is far below average right now. The idea, it seems, is to get him with Larry Rothschild and Gil Patterson, hoping that they can turn his plus-velocity into swings and misses.

Eovaldi will presumably take Phelps’s spot in the rotation, giving the Yankees their starting five. They could still make a move, given the injury risk, but that would necessarily bump one of the guys they just brought in. It’s no big loss to move Capuano to the bullpen, but why do that after spending $5 million on him?

German is at least interesting, a hard-thrower who performed well in the Sally league last year. Mike should have more on him later.

Garrett Jones is a prototypical platoon player, though he’s on the strong side. For the past two years he’s been a .250/.300/.400 guy, but .267/.333/.479 career against right-handers. He can back up Mark Teixeira at first base and Carlos Beltran in right field, while also taking reps at DH. In other words, he’s more reason to believe the Yankees have absolutely no plans for Alex Rodriguez.

At first I wasn’t thrilled with the trade, but if the Yankees can help Eovaldi harness his stuff they could make out well. Prado provided them with flexibility, but it’s easy to unfairly weigh his performance in the second half last year. He’s had a rough couple of years. Additionally, if the Yankees can get 75 percent of Prado’s performance from Refsnyder or Pirela, with the potential for improvement in the future, that might be a worthwhile bet. I still feel that they could be better served starting in AAA, but it’s not as though it’s going to make a huge difference.

My only problem is that Eovaldi hasn’t been very good. It’s a big bet for the Yankees to make that they can turn him around.

Eddy: Yankees sign infielder Cole Figueroa to minor league deal

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees have signed infielder Cole Figueroa to a minor league contract, reports Matt Eddy. No word on whether he received an invitation to Spring Training but I assume that is the case. The Rays designated Figueroa for assignment in November and released him a few days later. They originally acquired him from the Padres in the Jason Bartlett trade way back in December 2010.

Figueroa, 27, made his MLB debut this past season and had a 74 wRC+ in only 49 plate appearances. He hit .282/.371/.389 (114 wRC+) with three homers and four steals in 71 Triple-A Games this year, his third season at the level. Figueroa is a career .285/.359/.378 (108 wRC+) hitter with eight homers and 17 steals in nearly 1,200 career Triple-A plate appearances now. He’s obviously not much of a power hitter or base-stealer.

Pretty much the only reasons Figueroa is interesting are his incredible strikeout and walk rates. He’s struck out only 81 times (6.8%) while drawing 119 walks (10.0%) during all the time in Triple-A. Figueroa has walked more than he’s struck out at every minor league stop since a 21-game stint in High-A back in 2009. His career rates in the minors are 11.8 BB% and 8.8 K%. That’s pretty incredible. Like Dean Anna but even more extreme.

Figueroa has spent most of his time at second and third bases but has also played some shortstop and a tiny little bit in the corner outfield. He’s the son of ex-big leaguer Bien Figueroa and has grown up around the game, which is why friend of RAB R.J. Anderson says Figueroa is really smart on the field. With Chase Headley re-signed, the best Figueroa can hope to do is beat out Jose Pirela for a bench job in Spring Training. Otherwise he’s just an extra body for Triple-A Scranton.

Chris Capuano is back on a one-year deal

Chris Capuano
(Patrick Semansky/AP)

The Yankees have signed LHP Chris Capuano to a one-year deal, according to YES Network’s Jack Curry. He’ll earn $5 million in 2015.

Capuano, 36, started 2014 with the Red Sox, but he pitched poorly enough to get DFA’d from that last-place team. He then signed as a free agent with the Rockies, but didn’t pitch at all for them before the Yankees purchased his contract.

By ERA Capuano didn’t fare much better for the Yankees than he did for the Sox: 4.25 vs 4.55. But he did cut down on his walks, which helped him eat some innings as a starter (5.5 innings per start). Basically, you could count on him for between five and six innings and between three and four runs per start. That worked better in the mid-00s, when the Yankees had 900-run offenses, but with all the injuries last year it came in handy in the second half.

This move was predictable once the Yankees signed Chase Headley yesterday. A week ago Joel Sherman noted that if the Yankees sign Headley, “they will have to bottom-feed for starting pitching.” Capuano is pretty much the definition of bottom-feeding.

While Capuano doesn’t really move the needle for the team, he does help lengthen the starting rotation. If he can give them six innings per start — not unfathomable, given that he spent the entire first half of last year in Boston’s bullpen — he can probably keep them in enough games that the back of their bullpen can close the door.

In a world where Brett Anderson gets $10 million and J.A. Happ costs you an average-hitting outfielder, spending $5 million on Capuano seems like a downright decent deal.

Eddy: Yankees re-sign Jose Campos to minor league contract

(AP)
(AP)

According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have re-signed right-hander Jose Campos to a minor league contract. Campos was non-tendered a few weeks ago along with David Huff and Slade Heathcott. Last week Brian Cashman confirmed they were hoping to re-sign both Campos and Heathcott to minor league deals. There’s no word on whether they’ve re-signed Heathcott yet.

Campos, 22, was the other player the Yankees received in the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade a few years ago. He was a very good pitching prospect at the time but has battled elbow injuries these last three seasons, including Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season. Campos has a 3.55 ERA (3.23 FIP) in only 111.2 innings since the trade, all with Low-A Charleston.

Last we heard, Campos was throwing from 90 feet as part of his rehab, though that was way back in early-October. The typical Tommy John surgery rehab schedule would have him throwing off a mound by now and introducing breaking balls very soon if he hasn’t already. The Yankees could be taking it slow after a series of elbow injuries, of course. Either way, he should be game ready at some point early in 2015.

Once healthy and all rehabbed from the elbow reconstruction, I expect Campos to head to High-A Tampa next summer and spend the remainder of the season there. It’ll be interesting to see if the Yankees move him into the bullpen after two major elbow injuries in the last three years. There’s always been some thought Campos would be best suited for relief due to his delivery and his secondary pitches. We’ll see.