Open Thread: 2/28 Camp Notes


Mother Nature got in the way of Spring Training today. Rain across Florida forced many teams to either cancel or move their workouts indoors, including the Yankees. Here’s what happened down in Tampa:

  • Michael Pineda and Chasen Shreve were among the notables scheduled to throw live batting practice, but the rain canceled it. Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, and Jose Ramirez were among those to throw bullpen sessions inside. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty]
  • Because of the rain, Joe Girardi did not announce his early Grapefruit League rotation as expected. He and pitching coach Larry Rothschild need to sit down and map things out again. Warren is still likely to start Tuesday’s opener though. [Jennings]
  • As expected, Girardi said he will get Stephen Drew some work at shortstop this spring. He still hasn’t decided when Alex Rodriguez will play first base in an actual game. Girardi said he needs to talk to A-Rod to see if he’s ready first. [Kuty]
  • And finally, the Yankees had a special guest motivational speaker in camp today: Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. [Erik Boland]

This is your open thread for the night. The Islanders and Devils are in action right now and the Rangers are playing later tonight. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing tonight too, and there’s a ton of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Update: Yankees have $7.885M bonus pool for 2015 draft

This year it’ll be Rob Manfred at the podium. (Getty)

February 28th: The Yankees will have a $7,885,000 spending pool for the 2015 draft, according to John Manuel. That’s slightly lower than the estimations Mayo dug up earlier this month. The team still has the sixth largest bonus pool for this year’s draft thanks to their extra pick for Robertson. We still don’t know the individual slot values for the top ten rounds and those are pretty important.

February 11th: Now that James Shields has signed, the 2015 draft order is more or less finalized. The 12 competitive balance lottery picks can still be traded before the draft, but unless the Yankees somehow acquire one of those picks, it won’t change their draft situation at all. New York has two first rounders this year: 16th overall and 30th overall. The 30th pick is compensation for losing David Robertson. The entire draft order is right here.

On Tuesday, Jonathan Mayo got his hands on estimated bonus pool numbers for the 2015 draft. The Astros, by virtue of having two of the top five picks (they failed to sign first overall pick Brady Aiken last year and get the second overall pick as compensation this year), have the largest bonus pool at $17.37M. The Rockies are a distant second at $14.06M. The Mets are dead last $3.6M after forfeiting their first rounder to sign Michael Cuddyer.

The Yankees have the sixth largest bonus pool for the 2015 draft thanks to the extra pick for Robertson. The Astros, Rockies, and Braves are the only teams that will pick twice before New York, which is a nice change of pace from previous years. Here is the club’s draft pool situation according to Mayo:

16th overall: $2,555,200
30th overall: $1,923,900
Total Bonus Pool: $7,922,200

As a reminder, the bonus pool covers the top ten rounds only. If a team pays one of those picks a below-slot bonus, they can use the savings elsewhere. Anything over $100,000 paid to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the pool, but teams can’t save pool space with picks after the tenth round. Got it? Good.

The Yankees had a measly $3.2M bonus pool last year after forfeiting their top three picks to sign free agents. A nearly $8M bonus pool is a ton of money, especially since the Yankees tend to take cheap college seniors in the eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds as a way to save pool space for other picks. They have enough pool space to land big bonus guys not only at 16 and 30, but also at 57 (second rounder) and maybe even 92 (third rounder) as well.

Here are’s top 50 draft prospects. I’m telling you though, it is way too early to get an idea of who will be available or who the Yankees might target with those 16th and 30th picks. The college and high school seasons are just now getting underway. The draft runs from June 8-10 this year.

Open Thread: 2/27 Camp Notes

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Happy Friday, everyone. This is the last Friday without some sort of baseball game — Spring Training, regular season, or postseason — until November. Isn’t that grand? Here is the latest from camp:

  • We have our first Spring Training injury: Brendan Ryan suffered a mid-back strain lifting weights and will miss five days or so, the Yankees announced. He went for an MRI and everything. Ryan missed most of camp and the first few weeks of the regular season last year with back issues.
  • CC Sabathia threw a 41-pitch bullpen session and will wear a brace on his knee going forward. “There is a maintenance program that I am going through. I put the brace on and there is nothing out of the ordinary … I definitely like where I am at. I am not feeling pain and moving forward. I feel great,” he said. [George King]
  • In addition to Sabathia, Andrew Bailey, Esmil Rogers, and Ivan Nova all threw bullpens. Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren, Chris Capuano, David Carpenter, and Dellin Betances were among those to throw live batting practice. There was the usual full slate of batting practice, infield practice, and outfield practice for the position players as well. [Chad Jennings]
  • Alex Rodriguez worked out at first base for the first time, though he didn’t do a whole lot. Fielded some grounders, took some throws, and covered the bag a few times. He has to learn positioning more than anything. Alex knows how to field a grounder and catch the ball. [Jennings]
  • It’s not official yet, but Adam Warren is likely to start the team’s Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies on Tuesday. Joe Girardi will announce his early spring rotation tomorrow. [Marly Rivera, Jennings]
  • And finally, today was photo day. You can look through all the team photos right here. They didn’t take them in the restroom this year. Not sure why they did that a few years ago. Weird.

Here is your open thread for the evening. All the local basketball and hockey clubs are in action except the Rangers, and there’s some college hoops on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so go nuts.

Badler: Yankees have $2.26M spending pool for 2015-16 international signing period

Top 2014 IFA Juan DeLeon. (Photo via @BenBadler)
Top 2014 international signee Juan DeLeon. (Photo via @BenBadler)

According to Ben Badler, the Yankees will have a $2,262,800 spending pool for the 2015-16 international free agency period, which opens on July 2nd. The Diamondbacks ($5.39M) have the largest pool because they had baseball’s worst record last year and the Angels ($1.97M) have the smallest pool because they had the best record.

The Yankees far exceeded their spending pool during the 2014-15 signing period, and, as a result, they will be unable to sign a player to a bonus larger than $300,000 during the 2015-16 signing period (and 2016-17 as well). So they still have a full spending pool but the individual bonuses are capped. Got it? Good. (The $2.62M pool works out to 7.5 individual $300,000 bonuses.)

Teams are allowed to trade up to half their pool space — the pool is actually broken into unequal slots and the individual slots are traded, it’s not a lump sum of any amount — and since their bonuses are capped this year, it could make sense for New York to trade some international cash. Then again, it doesn’t have much trade value. The Marlins acquired a good Double-A bullpen prospect (Matt Ramsey) for a little over $1M in pool space last year, for example.

The $300,000 bonus limit isn’t much on the international market but the Yankees have shown they are very good at finding prospects on the cheap. Top prospects RHP Luis Severino ($225,000) and SS Jorge Mateo ($250,000) signed for small bonuses, as did fellow Top 30 Prospects SS Abi Avelino ($300,000), SS Angel Aguilar ($60,000), and SS Thairo Estrada ($49,000). The Yankees should still be able to find quality prospects, but they won’t be able to make competitive offers for the top talents.

RAB Live Chat

With no Yoan Moncada, Dermis Garcia and Juan DeLeon headline Yankees’ international haul

Dermis. (

As you know, the Yankees missed out on Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada earlier this week. He took a $31.5M bonus from the Red Sox. It’s disappointing but at this point there’s nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. The Yankees didn’t strike out internationally this year just because they didn’t get Moncada though. Far from it.

When the signing period opened last July, New York spent roughly $30M in bonuses and penalties within the first day or two. As you can imagine, ranking 16-year-old kids as prospects is a fool’s errand, but the consensus is the Yankees signed many of the top talents. Here’s part of a table from my international free agency recap showing the team’s top five international signings (by bonus) with the corresponding Baseball America and rankings:

Player Bonus Baseball America
SS Dermis Garcia $3.2M 9th 1st
3B Nelson Gomez $2.25M 6th 2nd
OF Juan DeLeon $2M 2nd 5th
OF Jonathan Amundaray $1.5M 22nd 7th
SS Wilkerman Garcia $1.35M 7th 14th

Baseball America says the Yankees signed four of the top nine available prospects while says they signed four of the top seven, including the top two.’s rankings paint a rosier picture but who the hell knows. Two years ago SS Jorge Mateo was a small bonus ($250,000) afterthought who is now one of the top shortstop prospects in the game. When it comes to prospects, no one knows anything, and that goes double for 16-year-old international guys.

Anyway, I looked through the various scouting reports soon after the Yankees signed all these guys and developed some personal favorites. Everyone does that, right? I’m not weird or anything. Based on the reports, the two who stood out to me as the most exciting prospects were Garcia and DeLeon. Both Baseball America and ranked them very highly, especially DeLeon, and in the 2015 Prospect Handbook, DeLeon (No. 24) and Garcia (No. 25) were the only members of last year’s international haul to crack the Yankees’ top 30 prospects. I feel validated!’s scouting reports are free, so I’m going to blockquote them. Here’s a snippet of their report on DeLeon, which says he has average or better tools across the board, include grade 60 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) hit, power, and arm tools:

There’s a belief that DeLeon might have the best all-around combination of tools and body among outfielders in this year’s class from the Dominican Republic. Evaluators often use words like “explosive” and “electric” to describe the outfielder’s skill set, and some view him as a potential five-tool player … DeLeon, who played in the Dominican Prospect League, has also been praised for his above-average bat speed, accurate arm and raw power … The consensus is that DeLeon does everything well and has a chance to be an impact player. Scouts are keeping an eye on the development of his hit tool, because it might dictate how fast he moves through a Minor League system.

The reports sounds great and the offensive tools are exciting. DeLeon is listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 lbs., and here’s some video from Instructional League that shows his projectable frame and “explosive” bat speed:

DeLeon is a classic “you can dream on this guy” international prospect. He looks great in a uniform and his overall physicality is impressive, at least to my untrained eye. DeLeon is the kind of prospect who appears to have the potential to do a little bit of everything down the road. Hit for average, hit for power, steal a few bases, and play the hell out of center field. Maybe right field, but either way, he looks like the total package.

Garcia is not the same kind of prospect. He’s a bat first guy. listed him at 6-foot-2 and 182 lbs., but the 2015 Prospect Handbook notes he’s already gained 15 lbs. since signing. Here is part of his scouting report, which gives him 55 hit and 65 power grades but below-average speed (35) and defense (45):

Some scouts believe he has the best power and the best arm in the entire class of international prospects this year … Evaluators like Garcia’s bat speed and his easy power. Some believe he’s going to have a plus arm in the future … Garcia is not the fastest baserunner, but he’s a smart baseball player and will not run into any outs on the bases … There is room for improvement on defense, and Garcia is expected to become a more disciplined hitter with experience, but there is no denying that he is one of the most talented prospects on the market this year. He has also gained a reputation as a hard worker and has the potential to be a team leader.

Even before he signed, there was talk Garcia would have to move off shortstop and over to third base. Since he’s already added weight since signing, that move is even more likely. Here’s video of Garcia from last year and you can immediately see the difference between him and DeLeon. DeLeon’s swing has that explosiveness, but Garcia’s is much more fluid and controlled (/amateur scout):

Garcia and DeLeon are two different types of players and they seem to cover the wide range of international prospects — one is a toolsy guy who can do everything and the other is a bat first guy with big offensive upside.

If the system worked the way it was intended to work, the Yankees would have been able to sign only one of these two. Probably DeLeon because their bonus pool was only $2.19M and Garcia received a $3.2M bonus. Had they not decided to make a mockery of the system and spend like crazy, their international haul would have been something like DeLeon and bunch of third tier guys. Instead, it’s DeLeon, Garcia, Nelson Gomez, and several other top talents.

Let’s face it, without Moncada, the team’s international haul for the 2014-15 signing period feels sort of incomplete, which sucks because the Yankees added some serious talent, including Garcia and DeLeon. This isn’t a talent class that should be viewed negatively. It’s a potentially franchise altering haul, that’s how it was viewed before anyone knew who Moncada was, and that’s it should continue to be viewed. Garcia and DeLeon are the best (in my opinion) of a group of players who will shape the backbone of the farm system going forward.

Mailbag: Spending, Pitchers, Warren, Alvarez, Pirela

I’ve got 13 questions for you in this week’s massive mailbag. The best way to send us questions is with the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar.


DJ asks: From the fans’ perspective, are the Yankees in a lose-lose situation when it comes to spending money? If they splurge, the team is accused of buying championships. If they don’t spend $30+ million on a teenager, their fans accuse them of being penny pinchers.

I think that’s accurate. The Yankees don’t really care if people say they bought a championship and the fans shouldn’t either. It’s a silly thing to say. The “lose” component of spending big is that the vast majority of massive contracts go bad. Maybe not at first, but eventually. Everyone likes to say teams are paying for the elite years up front and will live with the bad years at the end, yet that never really seems to happen. Teams never seem to get as many elite years as expected.

At the same time, if the Yankees don’t spend, they’re accused of being cheap. It is a no win situation for the team and that’s just life in a big market. The Yankees deserve every bit of criticism they get for losing out on Yoan Moncada — you can’t talk about getting younger all winter then miss out on him for what fans perceive as a small amount and expect no backlash — but he is a special case as a 19-year-old potential star. Missing out on older free agents, even good ones like Robinson Cano or Max Scherzer, will draw the “they’re cheap!” comments when it’s really a blessing in disguise. But yeah, you’re right, the Yankees are in a no-win situation. Everything they do will be deemed wrong somehow.

Steve asks: Which pitchers from the Yankee farm system are most likely to join the team during the season?

Bryan Mitchell, Chasen Shreve, and Jacob Lindgren are the most obvious ones. It feels inevitable that Mitchell will wind up making a bunch of starts, maybe ten or more. Shreve came over in a trade this offseason and really isn’t a “from the farm system” guy, but he’ll probably start the year in Triple-A. Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder are two other candidates. I wouldn’t rule out Luis Severino, though if he does come up, it’ll likely be in the second half of the season. I think he’s an emergency option more than anything. Someone like Matt Tracy or Zach Nuding might sneak in an emergency spot start at some point as well. Mitchell, Lindgren, and Shreve are the “definitely going to be in MLB at some point in 2015″ pitching prospects for now.

Steven asks: It seems everyone and their mama is under control through 2017. Do the Yankees have any roster flexibility after the season?

Nope. The only contracts coming off the books after this season are the guys the Yankees signed to one-year deals —  Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Stephen Drew — and Garrett Jones. Esmil Rogers could be non-tendered too, but that’s really it. Well, I suppose a miracle could happen and Brendan Ryan will decline his $1M player option, but that seems unlikely. The Yankees are locked in to the bulk of their current roster through the 2016 season, when Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and maybe CC Sabathia come off the books. No real flexibility until then whatsoever.

Johnny asks: I read that Zack Greinke had a preventative elbow lubrication this week and Sabathia had 3 PRP Injections before the season. How does MLB differentiate these types of treatments from PED’s like HGH? The lines seem kinda blurry/gray. Am I missing something about preventative treatments?

The short answer is that neither Greinke nor Sabathia received a substance on MLB’s banned substance list. I’m no doctor or chemist, I have no idea why some substances are banned and others aren’t beyond what I’ve picked up as layman over the years, but I do know MLB allows HGH use under direction of a doctor. The lines are very blurry to me but again, I’m no doctor. A few years ago MLB and the MLBPA sat down, presumably with a team of doctors, determined what should be banned and what shouldn’t, and moved forward with that. That’s a dumb answer but that’s all I have. The lines are indeed blurry to folks like me.

Matt asks: There seems to be nothing but glowing reports on Yadier Alvarez. There also doesn’t seem to be too much public interest on the Yankees part. If they miss out on Moncada, do they go hard after this kid? Any chance to sign them both?

Obviously this was sent in before Moncada signed with the Red Sox. Alvarez is an 18-year-old right-hander who didn’t play at all in the Cuban league before defecting. Here’s a quick scouting report from Jesse Sanchez, who notes scouts believe Alvarez has “the potential to be at least a No. 2 pitcher because of his stuff and ceiling.”

Alvarez has a fastball that touches 98 mph with plus-slider and an above-average changeup … Alvarez is raw and could use some polish, particularly with his command, but he’s young and has time on his side. Given his age, position and potential price tag, one international scouting director said he prefers Alvarez over Moncada. Alvarez will likely start in the lower levels in the Minor Leagues and is a few years away from making his big league debut.

Sanchez lists ten teams with interest in Alvarez and one of them is not the Yankees. Ultimately, it’s not going to matter. Alvarez recently defected and has not yet even established residency in a foreign country, so he’s very early in the process of being declared a free agent by MLB and unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In all likelihood, Alvarez won’t be cleared to sign until after June 25th, meaning the Yankees will be unable to offer him more than $300,000 due to the penalties for last year’s international spending spree. If the unexpected happens and Alvarez is cleared to sign before June 25th, then yeah, I expect the Yankees to pursue him. But that’s not going to happen. The Yankees won’t be able to make Alvarez a competitive offer because of the international penalties.

Update: According to Ben Badler, Alvarez is not allowed to sign until July 2nd because he did not register with the commissioner’s office before the deadline to be included in the 2014-15 signing period. So the Yankees have no shot at him.

David asks: Given the hype surrounding Rob Refsnyder, do you think he’s at his peak trade value? And do you think the Yankees should cash in? If so, what do you think they can get?

Yeah, chances are Refsnyder’s trade value will never be higher than it is right now. There are only two ways his trade value can go up from here: 1) his defense improves tremendously in a short period of time, or 2) he gets called up to MLB and mashes for a few hundred plate appearances. Tommy La Stella is a pretty good comp for Refsnyder — both mashed in the minors but La Stella is the superior defender — and La Stella was traded for ex-Yankees farmhand Arodys Vizcaino this offseason, a relief prospect with major injury issues. If that’s the type of trade return the Yankees can expect, just keep Refsnyder. They need a potential second base solution more than another lottery ticket arm.

Dan A. asks: Are complete tear downs and rebuilds worth it for the high draft picks? What should be the Yankees approach for beyond this season?

First things first, the Yankees can’t tear it all down even if they wanted. Most of their contracts are untradeable. Pretty much the pieces they could move in a potential fire sale are Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and a bunch of middle relievers. Maybe someone would take Masahiro Tanaka despite the elbow issue, but that’s about it.

Secondly, there is no right answer as to whether complete tear downs and rebuilds are worth it. The Cubs seem to have done a good job but it’s way too early to say that for certain. The Astros have been intentionally awful for nearly a half-decade now and they only had the tenth best farm system in the game according to Baseball America’s organizational rankings in their 2015 Prospect Handbook. Imagine being that bad for that long and only having the tenth best system to show for it. Yikes. Anyway, I am generally against being intentionally awful, so I’ll say no, I don’t think it’s worth it. Rebuilding and not being an embarrassment at the same time is difficult but possible.

Rick asks: I keep seeing Jose Pirela mentioned as a possible 2015 bench player, or maybe even starting second baseman, yet I’ve never seen him listed in any top prospect rankings. Why not?

Pirela is a stats before scouting report prospect. He’s put up some nice numbers the last three years at Double-A and Triple-A but he doesn’t have any sort of carrying tool. Pirela can play several positions but none of them particularly well. He doesn’t have much power and isn’t a speed guy either. There’s nothing that jumps out at you other than the stats. Pirela is an Andy Phillips type. He puts up numbers so you can’t ignore him, but otherwise there really isn’t much to fall in love with. I’m sure we’ll see him plenty in the Bronx this year in a utility role and that’s his realistic ceiling.

Geno asks: At what point will all of the recently signed, young, international free agents be subject to the Rule 5 draft? Isn’t it usually around 6 years when they need to be protected or added to the 40-man. Are the rules different for international free agents? With all of these players they have signed recently at the same time eventually lead to a major roster crunch?

Last year’s international signees all signed 2015 contracts. That’s standard. International guys who sign in July sign contracts that start the following season. Just about all of them are under 18, so they’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible in five years, meaning during the 2019-20 offseason. That’s a very long ways away. By then half these kids will have flamed out in the minors — half if the Yankees are lucky, really, the attrition rate for international signees is so high because these kids are so young — and I’m sure a few others will have been traded away. If there’s a roster crunch in five years, the Yankees will be very happy. That means many of them panned out and they’ll happily deal with the consequences. It’s waaay too early to worry about that.


Ralph asks: Girardi has mentioned Adam Warren as a closer option, but I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where he beats out Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller. Could he be pumping his value up for a possible trade chip down the line?

Maybe, but teams won’t change their evaluation of Warren based on anything Girardi says. Now if Warren does somehow win the closer’s job and dominates for half a season, then yeah, his trade value will go up. Teams do still absolutely pay for saves. Girardi was just expressing some confidence in one of his players. That’s all. Every manager does it every spring.

Adam asks: Why do you think there have been so many 2 year mini extensions with arbitration guys this winter? What is the upside/downside?

According to MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, Eric Hosmer, Kelvin Herrera, Todd Frazier, and Bryce Harper all signed two-year contracts this offseason that buy out their first two years arbitration-eligibility but not their last. (Harper is a Super Two, so he’ll still have two years of arbitration after this deal expires.) The upside for the player is the security. They’re getting a nice payday relatively early in their career and don’t have to worry about being non-tendered after the season if they get catastrophically hurt or something like that. The downside is they don’t get rewarded if they have a huge breakout season in the first year of the contract.

The upside for the team is cost certainty for two years. And since arbitration salaries use the previous year’s salary as a base, the player’s salary in their final year of arbitration will be a little lower than expected if they have that big breakout season. The downside is the risk that the player suddenly forgets how to play baseball or gets seriously hurt at some point in the next year. I thought the Yankees might try to sign Eovaldi and/or Pineda to one of these two-year bridge deals earlier in the winter but that didn’t happen. It seems like these have become popular because they aren’t long-term commitments but still offer some of the benefits of an extension to both parties.

Simon asks: Is it just me or has the one number the Yankees have never issued is the number 0?

You are indeed correct. The Yankees have never issued No. 0 (or No. 00 for that matter) according to Baseball Reference. The only other numbers the Yankees have never issued are all high: 73-76, 78-87, 89, 90, and 92-98. Most of the high numbers that have been issued were issued fairly recently too. George Kontos and Brett Marshall wore No. 70 in recent years, Austin Romine wore No. 71 when he was first called up in 2011, Juan Miranda wore No. 72 from 2008-09, Humberto Sanchez wore No. 78 during his cup of coffee, Jose Outman wore No. 88 last year, Alfredo Aceves wore No. 91, and Brian Bruney briefly wore No. 99 a few years back. I get the feeling we won’t ever see a player wear No. 0 (or 00) in pinstripes.

Greg asks: Congrats to RAB on 8 years! What are your personal favorite Yankee moments from the past 8 years?

Obviously the 2009 World Series tops the list. A-Rod‘s absurd 2007 season was also a ton of fun. I went to about 25 games that year and I feel like I saw him hit 25 homers, including this walk-off grand slam. That game was fun. Bitterly cold, but fun. The Teixeira signing was really fun too. That was before Twitter, and I remember refreshing MLB Trade Rumors every minute waiting for the inevitable “Red Sox sign Teixeira” post. It was like …

11:30am: Red Sox progressing towards deal with Teixeira

12:00pm: Red Sox close to signing Teixeira

12:05pm: Red Sox on verge of deal with Teixeira

12:06pm: Yankees sign Teixeira

I have no idea if the time stamps are correct, I’m just trying to show how quickly it was (or felt like it was) coming together before it changed course and Teixeira was a Yankee. The contract hasn’t worked out as expected, but man, the signing itself was something else.

Phil Hughes‘ near no-hitter was pretty memorable. I don’t know if I’d call it a favorite moment, but I won’t forget it. He was dominating in his second big league start then bam, he blew out his hamstring. Andy Pettitte‘s return from retirement was pretty awesome as well. Joe and I were literally in the middle of recording a podcast when he news broke and we were both speechless. And, of course, saying goodbye to Andy, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter is way up the list as well. All tremendous moments I won’t ever forget.