Yankees claim Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds


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


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


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


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.

Game 33: Teixeira Returns

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

After two days on the bench with neck spasms, Mark Teixeira returns to the lineup tonight for the series finale against the Royals. His defense has been missed, for sure. His bat? That’s been a problem this year. It’s May 12th and Teixeira is slugging .298. Yikes. The Yankees need him to start hitting some home runs and soon. Hopefully a few days on the bench will recharge the batteries. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It’s another really nice day in New York. Just a few clouds and a nice breeze. Pretty good night to spend outside. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) did some light running and hit off a tee. He’s eligible to be activated one week from today … Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) is still on track to return this weekend.

Roster Move: Lefty Tyler Olson was called up and outfielder Ben Gamel was sent down today, the Yankees announced. Olson, who last pitched Saturday (45 pitches), will take over as the long man on a temporary basis following Phil Coke‘s extended outing last night.

Yankees calling up outfielder Ben Gamel

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

The Yankees are calling up outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple-A Scranton, according to multiple reports. HeĀ is expected to join the Yankees for the series finale in Baltimore tonight. A friend of Gamel’s actually tipped us off about the call-up on Twitter, so that’s cool. We have #sources.

Over the last two days the Yankees lost both Alex Rodriguez (hamstring) and Brett Gardner (elbow) to injuries. A-Rod has already been placed on the DL, and while the x-rays on Gardner’s elbow came back negative, he may have to sit out a few days until the swelling and soreness subsides. Playing with a two-man bench while Gardner is sidelined is not ideal, obviously.

The Yankees have not officially announced the Gamel call-up but there’s no reason to think the reports are wrong. I’m more interested to see the corresponding move. Are they going to send down a pitcher (Nick Goody? James Pazos?) and get back to a normal seven-man bullpen, or does Gardner’s injury required a DL stint? I hope not. That would really suck.

Gamel, 23, is hitting .286/.346/.363 (109 wRC+) with one homer and seven steals in 23 Triple-A games so far this season. He broke out last year, when he put up a .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+) batting line with 52 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 129 games with the RailRiders. Two years ago Gamel hit only .261/.308/.340 (80 wRC+) in Double-A, so he’s come on strong the last 18 months or so.

The Yankees selected Gamel in the tenth round of the 2010 draft and he is one of those guys without a standout tool who does a little of everything. He plays like a maniac too. All out all the time. Gamel is a left-handed hitting outfielder like Gardner, and he’s is capable of playing all three outfield spots. How much will he play? Hopefully a lot. The lineup can use a hungry young player with fresh legs.