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.

Yankees re-sign Chase Headley to four-year deal

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

4:57pm: Sherman says the contract does not include any no-trade protection. Headley will receive a $1M assignment bonus if he is traded during the life of the contract, however.

1:54pm: The Yankees have officially announced the signing, so it’s a done deal. Here are the (very favorable) ZiPS projections for the contract, if you’re into that sort of thing. Steve Adams says it’s a four-year deal worth $52M guaranteed, plus Headley can earn an additional $1M each season when he reaches 550 plate appearances, so the contract can max out at $56M. As with the Gregorius trade and Andrew Miller signing, the Yankees went from rumor to agreement to press release in less than four hours. They run a pretty tight ship in the Bronx. Not many leaks at all.

10:53am: After doing not much of anything at the Winter Meetings last week, the Yankees handled one of their most important remaining pieces of offseason business on Monday by filling out the infield. The club has agreed to re-sign Chase Headley to a four-year contract worth approximately $51M to $52M. There are no option years and the deal is still pending a physical. Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, and Joel Sherman all had a hand in breaking the news.

A few weeks ago we heard Headley had a four-year offer worth $65M in hand from an unknown team (rumored to be the Astros), and Jack Curry says Yankees officials do believe that offer was legitimate. If true, Headley took a whole lot less money to return to New York. The Yankees, for what it’s worth, initially said they wouldn’t give Headley four years until caving last week and saying they would do it as long as the contract came with a lower annual salary.

Headley, 30, hit .262/.371/.398 (121 wRC+) with six homers in 58 games with the Yankees after being acquired at the trade deadline this past season. He hit .243/.328/.372 (103 wRC+) with 13 homers in 135 games overall between New York and San Diego in 2014. That came with his usual standout defense at the hot corner as well. That’s where he’ll have his biggest impact, in the field. All you need to know about Headley — including his often overstated history of back problems — is in our Scouting The Market post.

After the season, Headley reportedly told friends he enjoyed playing in New York more than he thought he would, and that he would consider returning as long as he was an everyday player. “I know they have a player under contract,” he said after the season, referring to Alex Rodriguez. “We’ll see how that shakes out. We’ll see what my role would look like … I want to be a guy that plays. At what position? Obviously, third base I think is my strongest position. I don’t want to be a part-time guy.”

With Headley on board, the Yankees figure to play Martin Prado at second base and use A-Rod as the primary DH. It also means Carlos Beltran will see most of his action in right field. At least as long as he and Alex are both healthy at the same time, anyway. Rob Refsnyder will presumably return to Triple-A and wait until injury strikes. When that happens (inevitable), Prado can move around to fill in and Refsnyder can take over at second. Jose Pirela still has a clear path to a bench job.

Although Headley will probably never get back to being the hitter he was in 2012 (31 homers and a 145 wRC+), he’s still no worse than a league average hitter and a well above average defender, making him a huge upgrade at third based compared to whom the Yankees have been running out there the last two or three years. With Didi Gregorius recently acquired to play short, the Yankees now have an average or better defender at all four infield positions. The ground ball heavy pitching staff will appreciate that.

Now that the lineup and position player group has been settled, the Yankees can focus on improving the pitching staff, which still needs at last two starters and maybe another reliever as well. Max Scherzer and James Shields remain unsigned but the team continues to insist they will not hand out the massive contracts it would take to sign them. They’ll scour the second and third tier pitching options, maybe hope Hiroki Kuroda returns, and go from there.

Sherman: Yankees sign infielder Nick Noonan to minor league contract

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have signed infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league contract. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training. The Yankees tend to pay well on minor league deals and that could have come into play here. Noonan was designated for assignment by the Giants at midseason and became a minor league free agent a few weeks ago.

Noonan, 25, spent the season in Triple-A and hit .237/.282/.303 (51 wRC+) with three homers, a 24.1% strikeout rate, and a 5.9% walk rate in 406 plate appearances. That’s bad. Noonan had a huge camp in 2013 and made the Giants out of Spring Training only to hit .219/.261/.238 (36 wRC+) in 111 plate appearances during the regular season. He was 32nd overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Noonan as the 23rd best prospect in San Francisco’s system prior to last season, saying teams view him as a future utility infielder who can play “adequately at three infield positions.” Noonan has a ton of experience at second base and shortstop but less than a half-season’s worth of games at third base. He’s a left-handed hitter too.

After Yangervis Solarte last year, I have a hard time thumbing my nose at signings like this. The Yankees do need an extra infielder for Triple-A Scranton next summer and that’s the role Noonan will likely fill. No biggie. Maybe he puts together another strong camp and makes the team as a reserve player, who knows. Given the current roster, building infield depth is important, and a minor league contract carries zero risk.

Yankees sign Andrew Miller to four-year, $36M deal

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

The Yankees had two elite relievers in their bullpen the last four years and they’ll continue to have at least two elite relievers next year. New York has signed left-hander Andrew Miller to a four-year contract, the team announced. Jack Curry reports the deal is worth $36M total and Buster Olney says there are no no-trade or opt-out clauses. Bob Nightengale says Miller turned down a larger offer to come to New York.

Signing Miller does make it seem less likely David Robertson will return, but, for what it’s worth, earlier today Brian Cashman told Dan Barbarisi the club has not ruled out signing both Miller and Robertson this winter. Either way, the Yankees will go into next season with Miller and Dellin Betances anchoring the late innings. Joe Girardi does like putting relievers in set roles, but we’re a long way from worrying about who closes and who sets up.

The four-year, $36M deal is largest ever given to a non-closer reliever in baseball history. The previous record was Jeremy Affeldt’s three-year, $18M deal with the Giants a few years ago. The Yankees did give Rafael Soriano a three-year, $35M contract a few years ago to go from Rays closer to Mariano Rivera‘s setup man. This is the first four-year deal for a non-closing reliever since the White Sox gave Scott Linebrink four years during the 2007-08 offseason. I honestly through Miller was going to end up with $10M to $11M annually.

Miller, 29, had a 2.02 ERA (1.51 FIP) in 62.1 innings last season with stellar strikeout (14.87 K/9 and 42.6 K%) and walk (2.45 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%) rates. He also gets plenty of grounders (46.9%) and held lefties to a .161/.206/.261 (.211 wOBA) batting line with 49.0% strikeout rate. Miller is no lefty specialist though — he held righties to a .142/.245/.202 (.208 wOBA) line with a 38.2% strikeout rate in 2014. Girardi can use him for full innings. Chances are this past season was a career year for Miller, but, as explained in our Scouting The Market post, he was very good from 2012-13.

The Tigers drafted Miller with the sixth overall pick back in 2006 — Miller was Adam Warren‘s teammate at UNC — then traded him to the Marlins as part of the package for Miguel Cabrera. It didn’t work out in Florida and eventually he landed in Boston. It wasn’t until Bobby Valentine got Miller to smooth out his mechanics, ditch his windup, and pitch exclusively from the stretch that he became the reliever he is today. That’s pretty much the only good thing Valentine did for the Red Sox.

The Yankees addressed two of their biggest needs — late-inning reliever and shortstop — on Friday by signing Miller and trading for Didi Gregorius. They still need quite a bit of rotation help — more than before because they used Shane Greene to get Gregorius — and another infielder or reliever wouldn’t hurt. There’s still a long way to go before they’re postseason caliber and there’s plenty of offseason remaining, but the Yankees are better right now than they were 24 hours ago.

Yankees land Didi Gregorius in three-team trade, send Shane Greene to Tigers

So what's the Sterling call? (Presswire)
So what’s the Sterling call? (Presswire)

1:58pm: It’s a done deal, the Yankees have officially announced the trade. The deal is as reported this morning: Greene to the Tigers, Ray and Leyba to the D’Backs, and Gregorious to the Yankees. Welcome to the Bronx, Didi.

12:01pm: The Yankees have landed their shortstop of the future. Or at least their shortstop for 2015. The team has agreed to acquire Didi Gregorius from the D’Backs in a three-team trade that sends Shane Greene to the Tigers. Detroit is sending left-hander Robbie Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba to Arizona. It doesn’t appear there are any other pieces involved. The deal is still pending physicals. The always reliable Sweeny Murti and Ken Rosenthal had the news. Bob Nightengale says Arizona rejected Greene-for-Gregorius straight up before the Tigers got involved.

In a nutshell, the trade plugs the Yankees’ shortstop hole with a young player who can actually play above-average defense and may improve at the plate. It also creates an even bigger hole in the rotation — Greene was the only MLB starter on New York’s roster without some kind of injury concern heading into 2015. The Yankees needed rotation help before the trade and they need even more now. It seems like they will dip into free agency to take care of that. Plenty of arms still available.

Gregorius, 24, was originally signed and developed by the Reds. He went to Arizona in the three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and Trevor Bauer to the Indians two offseasons ago. Gregorius is from Amsterdam and he comes from a baseball family. His father pitched in Honkbal Hoofdklasse — the highest level of pro baseball in the Netherlands — and his brother plays in that league now. Didi’s real name is Mariekson Julius, by the way.

This past season Gregorius hit .226/.293/.393 (76 wRC+) with six homers in 229 plate appearances for the D’Backs. He spent much of the summer in Triple-A — he hit .310/.389/.447 (122 wRC+) with three homers in 260 plate appearances in Triple-A in 2014 — after losing the starting shortstop job to Chris Owings in Spring Training. Arizona has clearly identified Owings as their shortstop of the future and used Gregorius to fill their pitching needs.

Didi, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 lbs., hit .252/.332/.373 (92 wRC+) with seven homers in 404 plate appearances in 2013, his first extended stint in MLB. He actually hit his first career homer at Yankee Stadium last April, but it came against Phil Hughes, so that hardly counts:

The Yankees are clearly hoping Gregorius, a left-handed hitter, can get back to his 2013 level of production and improve on it going forward. It’s worth noting Gregorius does draw a fair amount of walks (career 8.1 BB%) without striking out much (16.9 K%), and those are two traits that generally portend well for the future. He hasn’t hit lefties at all as a big leaguer though — 33 wRC+ against lefties and 102 wRC+ against righties.

In the field, Gregorius is considered an above-average defender by scouts while the various stats say he’s been about average if not a tick below so far in the show. I wouldn’t take the numbers to heart right now given the relatively small sample size. “He has smooth actions, plus range and a sniper rifle of an arm. His arm rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, allowing him to make plays from deep in the hole that other shortstops can’t,” said Baseball America (subs. req’d) when they ranked him Cincinnati’s fifth best prospect following the 2012 season, before the trade to Arizona.

Gregorius has been healthy throughout his career aside from an elbow strain in 2013 that kept him out for just about all of Spring Training plus the first two weeks of the regular season. He missed another week in April 2013 after suffering a concussion when he was hit in the head by a pitch. Otherwise his medical history is clean. Gregorius is considered a good makeup/clubhouse guy and he also speaks four languages: English, Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento. That’ll come in handy in the clubhouse.

Greene, 26, was pretty much a rotation savior for the Yankees this summer. He had a 3.78 ERA (3.73 FIP) in 78.2 innings during his MLB debut with strong strikeout (9.27 K/9 and 23.5 K%) and ground ball (50.2 GB%) rates. His walk rate (3.32 BB/9 and 8.4 BB%) was solid and his command has been much improved these last two years thanks to some mechanical tweaks make by minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. I like Greene, I think his mid-90s sinker/upper-80s slider combo is legit, though he did struggle against lefties this season, as detailed in our season review post.

Because he spent a big chunk of 2014 season in the minors, Gregorius currently has less than two years of service time, so he can not become a free agent until after the 2019 season. He will be a Super Two though, meaning he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time next offseason and have three more years or arbitration after that. Greene won’t be arbitration-eligible until after 2017 or a free agent until after 2020. The Yankees are giving up six years of Greene for five years of Gregorius. I don’t see a problem with that.

The Yankees desperately needed a shortstop, both for the short-term and long-term, and while we have to wait to see if Gregorius can become that long-term piece, the team got him at what I think is a more than fair price if not an outright bargain. I really like Greene and think he’ll be a solid pitcher going forward, but pitchers like him are much easier to find that 24-year-old shortstops these days. I don’t love Didi, I’m skeptical about his bat going forward, but this is a shot the Yankees had to take.

Yankees non-tender Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff

Heathcott before he crashed into someone, probably. (Presswire)
Heathcott before he crashed into someone, probably. (Presswire)

3:16pm: The Yankees have announced the three non-tenders, so they’re official. Officially official.

12:27am: The Yankees non-tendered outfielder Slade Heathcott, right-hander Jose Campos, and left-hander David Huff prior to Tuesday’s midnight deadline, according to Joel Sherman. All of the team’s other pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players received a contract tender, it appears. The Yankees now have 36 players on the 40-man roster.

Heathcott, 24, was limited to only nine games with Double-A Trenton this past season due to knee surgery. He’s had a ton of shoulder and knee problems — including multiple surgeries on each — throughout his career and has only played in 309 minor league games since being the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft, the pick the Yankees receive as compensation for not signing Gerrit Cole in 2008.

The 22-year-old Campos missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. He missed most of the 2012 season with elbow problems as well. Campos was the second player New York received in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade, though he’s only thrown 111.2 innings since the deal, all in Low Class-A. Like Heathcott, he was added to the 40-man roster last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

I’m guessing the Yankees will try to re-sign both Heathcott and Campos to minor league contracts if they didn’t work out deals ahead of time. Non-tendering them is the easiest way to get them off the 40-man roster since they don’t have to pass through waivers, which they would have to do if they were released or outrighted. Despite their injuries, Heathcott and Campos are young enough that they would probably get plucked off waivers.

Huff, 30, had a 1.85 ERA (4.00 FIP) in 39 innings for New York after being re-acquired from the Giants at midseason, which is pretty good by “last guy in the bullpen” standards. MLBTR projected Huff to earn only $700k through arbitration in 2015, though the Yankees have built up quite a bit of upper level lefty bullpen depth in Justin Wilson, Jose DePaula, Jacob Lindgren, and Tyler Webb. Huff’s 40-man spot is better used elsewhere.

Report: Yankees avoid arbitration with Esmil Rogers

Call me Esmil. (Presswire)
Call me Esmil. (Presswire)

7:50pm: Jon Heyman reports the one-year deal is worth $1.48M with only $750k guaranteed. So they reduced Esmil’s salary as much as allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and only half of it is guaranteed. I’m still surprised they didn’t non-tender him though.

7:20pm: The Yankees have agreed to a contract with right-hander Esmil Rogers to avoid arbitration, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith. Terms of the deal are unknown at this point. This is surprising. Rogers was a pretty obvious non-tender candidate, though apparently the Yankees felt like he was worth keeping around.

Rogers earned $1.85M this past season and was projected to earn $1.9M through arbitration in 2015 by MLBTR. I’m guessing he agreed to a lower salary, otherwise the team would have non-tendered him. By rule, a player can not sign for less than 80% of his previous year’s salary, so the contract with Rogers won’t be for less than $1.48M.

It’s worth noting these one-year contracts for pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players are not guaranteed. The Yankees could release Rogers any time before mid-March and only have to pay him 30 days termination pay. If they release him after mid-March but before Opening Day, it’s 45 days termination pay. The Yankees dumped Chad Gaudin this way a few years back.

Rogers, 29, had a 5.72 ERA (4.73 FIP) in 45.2 innings split between the Yankees and Blue Jays in 2014. That includes a 4.68 ERA (4.17 FIP) with an 8.28 K/9 (21.7 K%) in 25 innings with New York after being claimed off waivers on trade deadline day. Rogers does have a nice fastball/slider combo, so I guess he’ll remain in the mix as a depth arm.