Open Thread: February 27th Camp Notes

Rod and Judge. (Presswire)
Rod and Judge. (Presswire)

Today was photo day in camp, and based on this year’s photos, it appears the Yankees will indeed wear a No. 8 on their sleeve this season to honor Yogi Berra. Yogi passed on September 22nd and the team did wear a No. 8 on their sleeve last year, but it was only briefly because the season ended. Glad to see (it appears) they’ll be wearing it in 2016 too. Here are all the photo day photos and here are the notes from a light day in camp:

  • As always, Chad Jennings has the day’s workout groups. It was a light day on the mound; James Kaprielian and Bryan Mitchell threw bullpens and that’s about it among the notable hurlers in camp. Everyone hit and went through fielding drills. The usual.
  • Relatively good news for Domingo German: yesterday’s MRI showed only a nerve issue in his elbow. He is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and felt discomfort during yesterday’s throwing session. Apparently the new ligament is fine. [Brendan Kuty]

This is your open thread. The (hockey) Rangers are playing right now, the Nets are playing later, and there’s a bunch of college hoops on throughout the night. Talk about whatever.

Saturday Links: Ellsbury, Severino, Comcast, Headgear

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This is the last Saturday without some kind of baseball game — Spring Training, regular season, postseason, whatever — until November. That is pretty, pretty awesome. Here are some assorted links I have to pass along.

Ellsbury among worst contracts, Severino among best assets

Over at ESPN, Dan Szymborski used his ZiPS system to rank the 25 worst contracts (subs. req’d) and 25 best assets (subs. req’d) in baseball. Albert Pujols, who still has six years and $165M left on his deal, ranks as the worst contract while Carlos Correa checks in as the best asset. Mike Trout is second. I’d be more interested to see the 25 best contracts, but Szymborski included players in their pre-arbitration years.

The Yankees had one player on each list. Jacoby Ellsbury ranked 13th on the worst contracts list, sandwiched between Shin-Soo Choo and Justin Verlander. “Ellsbury’s Gold Glove days are behind him, though he remains at least a competent defensive center fielder, which means, at least theoretically, that flexibility keeps the number of (possible trade) suitors higher than some of the more limited players higher on this list,” said the write-up. Others like Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia didn’t make the worst contracts list because their deals expire soon.

As for the good news, Luis Severino ranked 21st on the best assets list, right behind Sonny Gray and a few spots ahead of Carlos Carrasco. “Severino’s 4.37 FIP wasn’t as impressive as his 2.89 ERA, but that should also improve considerably given he was a 21-year-old who started the season in Double-A and was thrown directly into a pennant race,” wrote Szymborski. I have to say, I’m not used to seeing the Yankees having a player on a best assets list. Or only one player on a worst contracts list, for that matter. Times are a changin’.

No progress in YES/Comcast squabble

There still has not been any progress in the YES Network/Comcast dispute. “Nothing to report,” said one YES executive to Ryan Hatch earlier this week. Again, the dispute is over rights fees. YES wants to charge cable providers a bit more money to carry the network going forward, and Comcast doesn’t want to pay, citing declining ratings and other things. I hope the two sides work something out before Opening Day. It seems likely Comcast customers will be left in the dark for Grapefruit League games, however. (Spring Training games are available on MLB.tv with no blackouts, thankfully.)

(ESPN)
(ESPN)

MLB, MLBPA to test new protective headgear for pitchers

According to William Weinbaum, this spring 20 big league pitchers will test out a new protective headgear that is a “hybrid of a cap and a helmet.” It weighs 10-12 ounces and has a carbon fiber shell, and as you can see in the photo above, it resembles a visor. “The average thickness is about 0.7 inches and is greatest in places most susceptible to catastrophic injury,” writes Weinbaum.

It’s unknown if any Yankees will use the new protective headgear, though no one in camp has worn them while throwing bullpens or live batting practice, as far as I know. Bryan Mitchell took a line drive to the nose last year, and a few years back Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face by a line drive during Spring Training, so I guess they’re the obvious candidates to wear some kind of new protective visor.

Chewing tobacco may soon be banned at Yankee Stadium

Thanks to a bill introduced by New York City Councilman Corey Johnson, smokeless tobacco may soon be banned at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, reports Tim Rohan. “If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all Major League cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Yankees (and Mets) have told Johnson they will support the bill.

Chewing tobacco is already banned at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium, and AT&T Park after similar bills were approved unanimously in those cities. The goal isn’t so much to prevent players from using smokeless tobacco — it is a personal choice, after all — it’s to prevent them from using it on television where kids can see it. Tony Gwynn passed away following a battle with salivary gland cancer and Curt Schilling is still fighting mouth cancer, both of which have been attributed to their use of chewing tobacco as players. I don’t know if any Yankees use it regularly — CC Sabathia always seems to have a wad in his lip on days he doesn’t pitch, right? — but it soon may be off-limits.

Open Thread: February 26th Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Another day of Spring Training is in the books and we’re another day closer to the first Grapefruit League game. Joe Girardi has not yet announced his starter for the exhibition season opener, but that should happen soon. Here are today’s photos and here are today’s notes from camp:

  • As usual, Chad Jennings has the day’s workout groups. Aroldis Chapman and CC Sabathia threw bullpen sessions while Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Chasen Shreve were among those to throw live batting practice. Aaron Judge apparently hit a ball over the left-center field scoreboard at George M. Steinbrenner Field. That’s quite a shot. [Jared Diamond]
  • Starlin Castro is willing and ready to play third base. “Joe talked to me and asked me if I could play third base. I said, ‘Yes.’ I never played there, but that’s what Spring Training is about. Start practicing and see how it feels,” he said. Both Castro and Rob Refsnyder will work out at the hot corner. [Jack Curry, George King]
  • Brett Gardner (wrist) felt fine following yesterday’s hitting session — it was his first time swinging a bat since the wildcard game — and he wanted to hit again today, but the team didn’t let him. “He wasn’t feeling it,” said Gardner, referring to head trainer Steve Donohue. [Jennings]
  • Domingo German went for an MRI after feeling pain in his elbow during his morning bullpen session. He is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Hopefully it’s just scar tissue breaking up. We’ll find out soon enough. [Mark Feinsand]
  • And finally, Ronald Torreyes reported to camp today after being held up by some visa issues. All 69 players are now in camp. [Jennings]

This is tonight’s open thread. The Knicks and Devils are playing tonight, plus you’ve got some college basketball too. You know what to do with the open thread.

Sherman: Yankees offered Juan Uribe a minor league deal

(Dustin Bradford/Getty)
(Dustin Bradford/Getty)

I missed this the other day: Joel Sherman reports the Yankees offered infielder Juan Uribe a minor league contract before he took a one-year deal worth $4M or so with the Indians. He’s expected to take over as Cleveland’s starting third baseman, pushing young Giovanny Urshela either to the bench or back to Triple-A.

The Yankees did not sign a Major League free agent all offseason — they did agree to a deal with Tommy Hunter before backing out over medical concerns — so I’m not surprised they didn’t want to guarantee a roster spot to a player who will turn 37 next month. It could have been an attempt at 40-man roster manipulation — the Yankees wanted Uribe but also wanted to wait until they could slide Greg Bird to the 60-day DL so they didn’t have to cut anyone — but that seems unlikely.

I thought Uribe would have been a very good bench addition for the Yankees. He would have been a legitimate backup to Chase Headley at third base, plus a potential fill-in at second base, and maybe even first base well. I don’t blame Uribe for taking a guaranteed deal and a starting third base job with the Indians over a minor league deal and a bench job with the Yankees. I’d have done the same. Not much of a surprise that he turned down New York.

The Yankees will try Rob Refsnyder and Starlin Castro at third base in camp, and if that doesn’t work, they have Donovan Solano and Pete Kozma as backup infielder options. David Freese remains unsigned and as with Uribe, I think it’s only a matter of time until some team offers a small contract to start. Maybe the Angels or Pirates. The Yankees could always comb the out of options market come the end of Spring Training.

Last season Uribe hit .253/.320/.407 (104 wRC+) with 14 homers in 119 games with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He’s a very good hot corner defender and has a reputation for being a Grade-A clubhouse dude too. Uribe would have been a real nice bench pickup. Alas.

Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, and the future at shortstop

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

All things considered, the 2015 season was pretty successful for Didi Gregorius. He had the unenviable task of replacing a legend, and after some early season jitters, he settled in nicely and was rock solid on both sides of the ball. Gregorius hit .265/.318/.370 (89 wRC+) at a time when the league average shortstop hit .256/.307/.375 (85 wRC+). Couple that with his defense and you’ve got an above-average young player.

The Yankees had reportedly been after Gregorius for a long time — the first mention of him in our archives was back during the 2013 Winter Meetings — so they clearly liked him very much, but until he got out onto the field, it was impossible to know what he would bring to the table. The Yankees couldn’t put all their eggs in the Gregorius basket. They had to be prepared to fill the shortstop position in other ways in case he didn’t work out long-term.

“We went for a long time with one shortstop at the Major League level. Now we have good depth, and the good thing about shortstops is that they’re athletes, so they can play all over the field if the position doesn’t open up for them at the next level,” said farm system head Gary Denbo to George King (subs. req’d) recently. Seven of my top 30 prospects were shortstops and only two ranked lower than 18th. The Yankees are deep at the position.

The best of those shortstop prospects in 20-year-old Jorge Mateo, who is attending his first big league camp this year. He’s not there because he has a chance to make the team. There’s close to zero chance that happens. He’s there because he is arguably the Yankees’ top prospect and because the brain trust wants to get a look at him up close. They’re dangling a carrot. If Mateo keeps it up and puts in the work soon he’ll be rubbing elbows will big leaguers all the time.

Mateo led the minors with 82 steals a year ago and chances are he will begin the 2016 season at High-A Tampa, where he played 21 games a year ago. A quick-ish promotion to Double-A seems likely, and if everything goes right, it’s not impossible for Mateo to make his MLB debut at some point this year, likely as the designated September pinch-runner. “My goal is to play in the big leagues this year,” he said to King.

With a player like Didi and a prospect like Mateo, it’s not difficult to find yourself looking ahead and trying to figure out how all the pieces will fit. Gregorius showed last season he’s a capable big league shortstop and the Yankees should be very excited about having him at the position. They should also be excited about Mateo — and Wilkerman Garcia, Tyler Wade, Hoy Jun Park, Kyle Holder, and a bunch others — because he has the potential to be a dynamic player.

“As far as the publications and all that stuff, it’s great, but I’m really just — my focus is to work hard. I’m here to work hard. I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” said Mateo to Brendan Kuty. “I’ve been working really hard to be consistent and to make the routine plays come out as easily as possible … I feel very happy to be here. I thank God for the opportunity to be here. I’m having a really great time with my teammates.”

There is only room at the inn for one shortstop, and right now this is a classic “we’ll deal with it when the time comes” situation. Mateo still needs to spend time in the minors and realistically, it’s going to be at least 18 months until he’s ready to hold down a big league job. It might even be more like 24 months. A lot can happen in that time, including trades. Don’t forget the Yankees were willing to deal Mateo for Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline last year.

Point is, the future at shortstop looks very bright right now. The Yankees have a ton of promising young shortstops coming up through the system — again, it’s not just Mateo, it’s also Wilkerman and Wade and everyone else — plus Gregorius at the MLB level. We can even lump Starlin Castro into this mix. The Yankees have all of these guys and one day they may be in position to pick the best one, then use the others to fill needs elsewhere, either through trades or by having them change positions.

Mailbag: Kaprielian, Injuries, Bird, Ellsbury, Teixeira, Nova

We’ve got 16 questions this week, which might be a mailbag record. The RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address is where you can send us questions.

Grandmaster Kap. (Presswire)
Grandmaster Kap. (Presswire)

Eric asks: Since Kaprielian is on the roster and was invited to spring does that mean he will see action in any games, or was this more so the big league staff could work with him/see him first hand?

Yeah, we should see James Kaprielian pitch in some Grapefruit League games. Luis Severino appeared in two games and threw 2.2 innings with the big league team last spring before being reassigned to minor league camp, and Kaprielian figures to be on a similar plan this year. Last year the Phillies had 2014 first rounder Aaron Nola throw three innings in camp, and he was a quick moving college starter like Kaprielian. (Nola was in the big leagues by July.) A handful of innings is pretty standard, so it won’t be much of a look, but it’ll be something.

Mike asks: You mentioned in a post this week that the biggest predictor of future injury is past injury – have there been any studies/examinations of data around injury causation/correlation? Wondering if data such as previous season PA/Innings pitched, previous injury history, SB attempts, etc. would line up with conventional wisdom about injuries?

Jeff Zimmerman has done a ton of research on injuries (mostly pitcher injuries) over the years and I can’t point you to any one specific post or series of posts. The only things I can recommend are his FanGraphs archive and Hardball Times archive. There’s a lot of posts and they go back years and years. He’s found evidence throwing a lot of breaking balls is bad (curveballs are worse than sliders, apparently), and there’s also strong correlation between high walk rates and injuries. The theory is pitchers with high walk rates have bad mechanics, making them prone to injury. Zimmerman’s work is top notch and it can be overwhelming because there’s so much of it.

Paul asks: Do you think if/when there are 2 teams added, interleague games will go back to being a couple of thematic weeks since they’ll no longer mathematically be required year-long? And how do you think it would impact divisions since there would now be 16 teams/league that 2 8-team divisions might surface?

Interleague play definitely isn’t going anywhere but I do think they’d bunch it together in the span of two or three weeks like they did back in the day, assuming the league expands at some point. Maybe they’ll bunch most of it together and give some high-profile geographic rivalries (Yankees vs. Mets, Dodgers vs. Angels, Giants vs. Angels, Orioles vs. Nationals, etc.) their own weekend later in the season.

I have to think two expansion teams would even the leagues out at 16 teams apiece, and two eight-team divisions would make the playoffs nice and neat too. Top two teams from each division get in, first place plays second place in the LDS, then the LCS features one team from each division. Easy, right? I don’t think MLB is going to want to get rid of the wildcard game though. It’s done very well for the league.

Shaya asks: The Ian Kennedy signing got me thinking out of the 6 pitchers from “The Big Three” and the “Killer B’s” has the most valuable one been Betances, or is a middling SP (IPK, Hughes) more valuable?

Phil Hughes leads the six pitchers in fWAR by a decent margin — he’s at 17.6 fWAR in 1,145.2 innings and Ian Kennedy is at 14.4 fWAR in 1,234.2 innings — and I’d agree he has had the best career of those guys to date. He’s had one year as a great reliever (2009) and a couple years as a good (2010, 2012) to great (2014) starter. Kennedy’s had some solid years too (2010-12). Starters are generally more valuable than relievers, but Dellin Betances is no ordinary reliever, and if he keeps this up, he’s going to go down as the best of the Big Three/Killer Bs pitchers. Dellin is at 5.6 fWAR in 181.2 innings and I’m one of those guys who thinks WAR underrates late-inning relievers by quite a bit.

Will asks: How exactly does dipping under the luxury tax and resetting a team’s tax rate work? Does a team have to begin, end, or play an entire season at a payroll figure below the $189M rate? If the payroll dips below the threshold as contracts expire after the season, could the Yankees spend their way back above that offseason or do they have to play the following season below that mark to qualify for a reset?

The end of season payroll has to be under the $189M threshold, so they have to stay under from Opening Day through Game 162. The expiring contracts at the end of the season don’t factor into the 2016 luxury tax payroll calculation. There’s no way the Yankees can get under the luxury tax this year. They’d have to shed close to $60M in payroll and that’s just not realistic. They should be able to get under in 2017 as long as the threshold rises with the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement. Once they spend a season under the threshold, the luxury tax rate resets, and the Yankees are free to spend whatever they please the following year.

Bird. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Bird. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Dan asks: I am definitely a glass half empty Yankees fan. Be honest with us: how bad is Greg Bird‘s shoulder surgery? Career derailing? Minor blimp? Somewhere in between?

I don’t think a player can have surgery, miss an entire season, and have the injury qualify as a “minor blip.” Bird had a very serious procedure. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Could it derail his career? I mean, possibly. Any time you’re talking about an injury to a major joint like the shoulder, it’s always possible it won’t ever work the same way again. Bird is not a pitcher but he still needs the shoulder to hit. It’s his front shoulder, his power shoulder, so it’s an important part of his swing. This is definitely somewhere between minor blip and career-threatening, closer to minor blip, I’d say. There’s always a chance the worst case scenario happens. That’s just the way it is.

(Also, I was a glass half empty fan once upon a time. It’s not worth it. I can’t control anything on the field so there’s no point in getting worried or upset. Zen baseball.)

P.J. asks: I’d like to jump ahead to the FA class next winter. We’ve all read over and over this past winter the rumors of Brett Gardner. But in reality wouldn’t moving him next winter be much more likely with a better return? There are a lot of FA outfielders available BUT quantity doesn’t equal quality and the FA outfield class next winter seems to be short on quality.

It’s possible if he has a typical Gardner season in 2016, meaning offense that is roughly 5% or so above league average and defense that is solid if not spectacular. The free agent outfield class is surprisingly strong next offseason — it’s Carlos Gomez, Dexter Fowler, Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, and Yoenis Cespedes — assuming Bautista doesn’t re-up with the Blue Jays and Cespedes opts out. If that doesn’t happen, the market will be thinner and there could be more interest in Gardner. I don’t know if the Yankees will get a better return — they’d be trading two years of Gardner instead of three, and the extra year of control matters — but they should still be able to drum up interest in him next winter. Their willingness to trade Gardner is going to depend a lot on the development of Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge.

Dave asks: Ellsbury was recently on Dan Szymborski’s ESPN Insider list of worst contracts; not surprising considering he has 5 years and $110.7M remaining. What kind of contact would he have gotten if he had been a free agent at the start of this offseason? He turned 32 last September.

That’s a good question. No way would he get five years and $110.7M after the season he had. Cespedes and Justin Upton didn’t sign until January, and I have to think Jacoby Ellsbury would have been right there waiting for a contract with them. I wonder if he would have been one of those guys who got hung out to dry by the qualifying offer, like Fowler and Ian Desmond. Two years ago I thought a five-year contract worth $85M or so was appropriate for Ellsbury. Knock two years off that and it’s three years and $51M. Would Ellsbury have gotten that this offseason? Cespedes had that monster 2015 season and only got three years and $75M.

Andrew asks: Is it possible to let Tex walk for a year? Assuming he gets a 1 or 2 year contract from another team, could he be signed in a DH role for his 38/39 year seasons if he shows he can still produce?

Of course. When he said he wanted to play until he was 40, Mark Teixeira specifically mentioned spending the last few seasons of his career as a DH, and we know he loves New York, so I’m sure he’d be open to it. The only issue is if he spends 2017 (and possibly 2018 as well) with another team, he might fall in love with that club and that city even more than he loves New York. Once Alex Rodriguez is off the books, I think the Yankees are going to want to rotate players in and out of the DH spot, so I’m not sure bringing Teixeira back at that point of his career is realistic. I’d be open to it. I don’t think the Yankees would.

Frank asks: Let’s dream for a minute and visualize Kaprielian improving his command dramatically. Considering the quality of his stuff, what is the absolute ceiling he can achieve in your opinion?

Well, if he improves his command considerably, Kaprielian has an ace ceiling. He added velocity last year and is now more 93-96 mph rather than 88-91 mph, and he has three average or better offspeed pitches, including a wipeout slider. Kaprielian has stuff, and if he can improve to the point where he has above-average command, then forget it. He’s going to be awesome, possibly a top 20 pitcher in MLB. With even average command he should be very good, and there’s nothing wrong with very good.

Michael asks: Cashman has said that Ackley would be the backup 1B. Do you see anyone else being a backup 1B, such as a right handed hitter, in case Ackley would have to play OF (or IF)?

I guess it depends how that last bench spot shakes out. If Starlin Castro can’t hack it at third base and the Yankees need to carry a true backup third baseman, that guy (Donovan Solano? Deibinson Romero?) could also see some action at first base. Gary Sanchez has some first base experience in winter ball but not much. I think the Yankees would sooner put Brian McCann at first and Sanchez behind the plate in that situation. I don’t believe a backup backup first baseman who hits right-handed is much of a priority. They have Teixeira and Dustin Ackley. That’s enough. If someone gets hurt, they’ll deal with it when the time comes. That’s going to be bad news either way.

Edward asks: Given that Ivan Nova has had good periods, though he’s more often been bad, how good of a season would he have to have for you to consider him for a new deal?

Ideally Nova would pitch his way into qualifying offer territory and decline it so he can go out and get Ian Kennedy money. As for bringing him back, I think something like a 3.70 ERA (4.00 FIP) in a good 150 innings would do the trick. That’s basically his 2011 season. If Nova stays healthy, shows good stuff, and gets decent enough results, I think the Yankees might consider bringing him back given their need for pitching beyond 2017. Hughes signed a three-year deal worth $24M with the Twins a few years back. Would that be a reasonable contract for Nova? It might be. Nova needs to have a good season first. If he’s mediocre and inconsistent again, then he’s a goner.

Dietrich. (Joe Robbins/Getty)
Dietrich. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Joe asks: What is your take on Joel Sherman’s list of possible trade candidates or roster cuts: “I suspect their scouts will be armed with a list of likely available guys who are out of options or have no real roles on their current teams — players such as Philadelphia’s Cody Asche, Milwaukee’s Hernan Perez, Cleveland’s Giovanny Urshela, Miami’s Derek Dietrich, Oakland’s Danny Valencia and Philadelphia’s Andrew Blanco.”

Dietrich and Valencia are by far the best of the bunch and there’s no reason to think they’ll be available. Dietrich had a 119 wRC+ last season and is the Marlins main bench guy who backs up everywhere. Valencia is even better; he had a 135 wRC+ last year and is the A’s starting third baseman. Andres (not Andrew) Blanco had an out of nowhere 136 wRC+ in 2015 — he’s never hit like that before — and going after him now is the definition of buying high. I feel he’s destined to disappoint whoever trades for him. Urshela isn’t out of options; the Indians added him to the 40-man roster just an offseason ago. They’re probably going to keep him for 2017 and beyond even after signing Juan Uribe. Assuming Dietrich and Valencia are off limits, none of these guys excite me much. They’d be useful and fill a roster hole, sure. I don’t think there are any hidden gems. Just warm bodies.

John asks: The top prospects seem to be mostly from the 2015 draft and the 2014-15 international signing spree. What would you attribute that to: the farm just plainly not producing for a while or the scouting overhaul that took place a few years ago?

I don’t think that’s the case at all. I had five 2015 draftees (Kaprielian, Drew Finley, Jeff Degano, Kyle Holder, Chance Adams) and two 2014-15 international signees (Wilkerman Garcia, Hoy Jun Park) in my Top 30 Prospects List. Baseball America had five 2015 draftees (Kaprielian, Finley, Holder, Degano, Jhalan Jackson) and two 2014-15 IFAs (Wilkerman, Park) in their Yankees top 30 in the 2016 Prospect Handbook. MLB.com went a little overboard with seven 2015 draftees (Kaprielian, Finley, Degano, Holder, Adams, Donny Sands, Trey Amburgey) in their top 30, though they only had one 2014-15 IFA (Wilkerman). That seems like a normal amount of recent acquisitions to me. Most of New York’s very best prospects — Sanchez, Judge, Jorge Mateo, Ian Clarkin, etc. — were all acquired other years. The 2014-15 IFA class is going to dominate the top 30 for the next few seasons, though I do also think the Yankees have done a very good job in the middle rounds of the draft recently. They’re digging up quality under the radar guys like Jackson and Adams and Sands and Amburgey.

Julian asks: I know this isn’t Yankee’s related, but the Orioles must really be scaring away free agents these days, no? Between their constant issues over physicals and now Dexter Fowler backing off, they have to be a destination of last resort (at least in terms of Major league deals) for free agents it would seem.

Yeah I can’t imagine too many free agents are eager to sign with the Orioles given the medical shenanigans. Chris Davis and Darren O’Day had been there already and knew the deal, and they were comfortable going back. But if you were coming from another team, knowing they’re such sticklers with the medicals, wouldn’t you pause a bit? Yovani Gallardo didn’t sign with the O’s because he thought it was a good fit. He signed with the O’s because they were the only team willing to pay him late in the offseason. Same thing with Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez two years ago. It does seem like they’re becoming something of a last resort team for a lot of free agents.

Chip asks: Give me 5 prospects not on the Yankees top 30 who you think will be on there by midseason and the 5 who are going to come off either because they’ve played badly or graduated to the majors?

Would it be too much of a cop out if I just linked to my Not Top 30 Prospects List for the five guys I think will be on the list come midseason? That’s kinda why I put that post together each year. We can include Estevan Florial in that group since he’s the new hotness. As for five who drop off the list, I’ll say Sanchez and Jacob Lindgren graduate to MLB, and Slade Heathcott (injury), Leonardo Molina (performance), and Abi Avelino (performance) are most at risk for dropping off for not good reasons.