Update: Yankees sign Chris Denorfia to minor league deal

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

Thursday: Denorfia will earn a $1M base salary with another $1M in incentives if he makes the team, reports Jon Heyman.

Wednesday: The Yankees have signed veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia to a minor league contract, Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters this morning. Denorfia will be in Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and wear No. 38. The Yankees are now up to 70 players in big league camp.

Denorfia, 35, hit .269/.319/.373 (89 wRC+) with three homers in 231 plate appearances as a fourth outfielder with the Cubs last season. That includes a .211/.294/.303 (63 wRC+) line against lefties. Denorfia has spent most of his career as a platoon right-handed bat with the Padres.

Cashman confirmed Denorfia can opt-out of his contract at the end of March, so his time with the team may be short. Brett Gardner (wrist) is banged up and Mason Williams (shoulder) will start the season on the DL, plus the club is light on righty hitting outfielders, so the Yankees are adding depth while they can.

As for Denorfia, the non-roster invite gives him a chance to play in games and showcase himself for teams. If he doesn’t win a roster spot with the Yankees — it does seem unlikely barring a few injuries — he could still impress another club and land a job elsewhere.

Yankees sign Chris Parmelee, apparently

(Mitchell Leff/Getty)
(Mitchell Leff/Getty)

The Yankees have apparently signed first baseman Chris Parmelee, according to his Instagram. I’ve mentioned him a few times as a possible Triple-A first base candidate in the wake of Greg Bird‘s injury. I assume it’s a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. We’ll find out soon enough.

Parmelee, 27, spent last season with the Orioles, hitting .216/.255/.433 (82 wRC+) in 32 big league games and .314/.386/.444 (142 wRC+) in 63 Triple-A games. He’s a career .245/.311/.396 (95 wRC+) hitter with 28 home runs, a 7.9% walk rate, and a 23.5% strikeout rate in just over 1,000 MLB plate appearances. Parmelee and Aaron Hicks were teammates with the Twins in 2013 and 2014.

Bird is going to miss the entire 2016 season due to shoulder surgery and the Yankees did not have an obvious first base fill-in at Triple-A. They had interest in Ike Davis before he signed with the Rangers. Parmelee figures to head to Triple-A Scranton once the season begins, and hopefully we don’t see him at the MLB level because Mark Teixeira stays healthy.

Fun Fact: Parmelee struck out for the final out of Mariano Rivera‘s 602nd career save, giving Mo the all-time record. Here’s the video.

Rosenthal: Yankees, Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration with $11.325M deal

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

6:43pm ET: The Yankees have announced the one-year deal with Chapman, so it’s official.

6:39pm ET: The Yankees and Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration with a one-year contract worth $11.325M, reports Ken Rosenthal. The two sides were scheduled to go to a hearing next Friday. Chapman filed for $13.1M while the team countered with $9M, so they settled a bit above the midpoint.

I have to say, I’m pretty surprised Chapman’s camp settled. It appeared he had a very good chance to win an arbitration hearing since the Yankees were offering less than a $1M raise. (He made $8.05M in 2015.) Other closers with similar service time like Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon received raises north of $2.5M earlier this winter.

Chapman, 28 later this month, had a 1.63 ERA (1.94 FIP) and 116 strikeouts in 66.1 innings last season. He will become a free agent next offseason and this feels like it will be a one-year marriage. It seems likely the Yankees will make Chapman the qualifying offer and walk away after the season rather than sign another huge reliever deal.

With Chapman signed, the Yankees have now resolved all of their arbitration cases. They previously settled with Nathan Eovaldi ($5.6M), Michael Pineda ($4.3M), Ivan Nova ($4.1M), Dustin Ackley ($3.2M), and Didi Gregorius ($2.425M).

Yankees outright Lane Adams to Triple-A


The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Lane Adams to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He has been invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player. The Yankees will now have 26 non-roster players in camp.

Adams, 26, was claimed off waivers from the Royals last month, then designated for assignment last week when the Yankees hilariously re-claimed Ronald Torreyes off waivers from the Angels. The team originally designated Torreyes for assignment when they claimed Adams last month. Got all that?

In 140 games split between Double-A and Triple-A last year, Adams hit .275/.342/.436 (115 wRC+) with 16 home runs and 31 steals in 140 games. He started the year at Triple-A before having to be demoted due to poor performance. Adams has six games of big league experience, all with Kansas City in 2014.

The Yankees currently have four Triple-A outfielders (Aaron Judge, Ben Gamel, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams), so Lane could end up starting the season in Double-A. That assumes everyone makes it through camp in one piece and no one wins that last big league bench spot. Either way, Lane is way down the outfield depth chart.

Yankees claim Ronald Torreyes, designate Lane Adams for assignment

(Darin Wallentine/Getty)
(Darin Wallentine/Getty)

This is not a joke: the Yankees have claimed infielder Ronald Torreyes off waivers from the Angels, the team announced. Outfielder Lane Adams was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot. Two weeks ago the Yankees claimed Adams and designated Torreyes. Baseball transactions are a flat circle.

Torreyes, 23, has gone from the Astros to the Blue Jays to the Dodgers to the Yankees to the Angels to the Yankees within the last eight months. The Yankees originally acquired him from the Dodgers in a minor trade involving lefty Tyler Olson and minor league infielder Rob Segedin last month. The Angels claimed him off waivers last week.

I guess this means I can go back to being irrationally excited about Torreyes? He hit only .262/.310/.348 (82 wRC+) in 464 plate appearances split between Double-A and Triple-A last season, but he’s a year removed from a .298/.345/.376 (90 wRC+) line in 519 Triple-A plate appearances. Torreyes makes contact, can play all over the infield, and is a high-energy guy. Seems like a potentially useful piece.

Adams, 26, hit .275/.342/.436 (115 wRC+) with 16 home runs and 31 steals in 140 games split between Double-A and Triple-A last year with the Royals. He appeared in six big league games in 2014. (Torreyes appeared in eight with the Dodgers in 2015.) The Yankees have plenty of Triple-A outfielders but most are lefty hitters. Adams is a righty.

The Yankees announced earlier today Greg Bird will miss the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery, and I suppose it’s possible the injury is tied to the Torreyes claim. Dustin Ackley is the backup first baseman right now, and if they need to play him first for an extended period of time, they’ll need infield depth to cover second base, hence Torreyes.

Curry: Yankees, Nova avoid arbitration with $4.1M deal


The Yankees and Ivan Nova have agreed to a non-guaranteed one-year contract to avoid arbitration, the team announced. Jack Curry says the deal is worth $4.1M and includes performance bonuses. Nova filed for $4.6M in arbitration while the Yankees countered with $3.8M. They settled a bit below the midpoint. MLBTR projected $4.4M.

Nova, 29, missed most of the first half of last season as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. He had a 5.07 ERA (4.87 FIP) in 17 starts and 94 innings after returning, and at one point he was demoted to the bullpen, though he never did actually make a relief appearance because Masahiro Tanaka‘s hamstring forced Nova back into the rotation.

The Yankees reportedly listened to trade offers for Nova this offseason, but obviously didn’t find anything to their liking. His trade value isn’t all that high due to the poor performance and recent Tommy John surgery. I think Nova is more valuable to the Yankees as a depth arm than anything they could realistically acquire in a trade.

Right now Nova is the team’s sixth starter, and barring injury, it’s hard to see how he beats out any of the starting five for a rotation spot in camp. There’s always a chance Nova will improve as he gets further away from elbow reconstruction, and hey, maybe he’ll pitch his way into qualifying offer territory. Either way, I’m sure Nova will make a bunch of starts in 2016. The sixth starter is always needed.

With Nova signed, New York’s only unsigned arbitration-eligible player is Aroldis Chapman. He filed for $13.1M and the team countered with $9M, which seems way too low. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chapman took the Yankees to a hearing over that. His case seems pretty good. Arbitration hearings will take place throughout February.

Cotillo: Yankees sign Carlos Corporan to minor league deal

(Rick Yeatts/Getty)
(Rick Yeatts/Getty)

According to Chris Cotillo, the Yankees have signed catcher Carlos Corporan to a minor league contract. I assume he received an invitation to big league Spring Training. Corporan joins Eddy Rodriguez and Sebastian Valle as upper level backstops the Yankees have signed to minor league deals this winter.

Corporan, 32, is a career .218/.280/.342 (69 wRC+) hitter in 232 big league games with the Brewers, Astros, and Rangers. Like most catchers the Yankees have acquired in recent years, Corporan is a pitch-framing extraordinaire and has a reputation for being a strong defender behind the dish. That’s his thing. He’s a classic defense first backup.

In all likelihood Corporan will compete with Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine for the backup catcher’s job in Spring Training, and that could go in any direction. Sanchez seems like the favorite, but sending him down for a few weeks to work on his defense would be entirely justifiable, plus another 35 days or so in the minors delays his free agency by a year.

Romine is out of options and has been outrighted before, meaning if he doesn’t make the team, he’ll have to go through waivers and can elect free agency if he clears. I imagine he would do that and look for a better opportunity. I know I would. Realistically, the only way Romine stays with the Yankees beyond Opening Day is by making the team or getting hurt and landing on the DL.

It’s possible Sanchez could be the backup with Corporan in Triple-A. Or Corporan could be the backup with Sanchez in Triple-A. Or Romine could be the backup with Sanchez and Corporan in Triple-A. Lots of possibilities here. The Yankees have been emphasizing youth over the last 15 months, so I think Sanchez will get the backup job. Corporan is just insurance in case things don’t go as planned.