Rotation help should be priority, but improving bullpen is a good Plan B

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

At some point in the next nine days, several starting pitchers are going to be traded in advance of the trade deadline. It’s inevitable. There are a ton of rental starters on the market, so much so that I wonder if teams are going to wait as long as possible for the prices to drop, and as a result we’ll see a flurry of deals right before the deadline next Friday. That would be wild.

The Yankees have a need for rotation help simply because Masahiro Tanaka (elbow), Michael Pineda (workload), and CC Sabathia (knee) aren’t the most reliable group. Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova haven’t set the world on fire either. The Yankees do have five starters, but adding a sixth for depth seems like a smart move to me. Whether that actually happens is another matter.

“Are there available starters that are better? Yes, but the acquisitions cost are certain players that I have no intention of moving at this stage,” said Brian Cashman to Mark Feinsand earlier this week, referring to top prospects like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. “I would say the smarter play would be to hold off on shooting any of those particular bullets.”

The Yankees could probably land a starter without trading top prospects — guys like Mike Leake, Ian Kennedy, and Mat Latos won’t cost an arm and a leg — but it might not necessarily be a top starter. It’ll just be another warm body for depth, which is fine. There’s no such thing as too much pitching. It’s not too hard to imagine a scenario in which Bryan Mitchell and Chris Capuano are taking regular rotation turns in a few weeks.

If the Yankees can’t land a rotation arm, the alternative could be adding bullpen help, and turning a strength into an even greater strength. The bullpen was supposed to be the backbone of the Yankees coming into the season, and things didn’t really play out that way in April, but the relief crew has fallen into place the last few weeks. That’s usually how it works. It takes a few weeks for guys to find their niche.

Joe Girardi now has five legitimate late-game arms at his disposal in Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, and Chasen Shreve. Adding to that group seems like overkill but it’s really not, there’s always room for another quality reliever, especially when two bullpen spots belong to the seldom-used Capuano and Brandon Pinder. Bring in another arm and boom, now you’re really talking about a five-inning game.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The big bullpen name leading up to the trade deadline is Craig Kimbrel, who was already traded once this year from the Braves to the Padres. San Diego’s attempt at a quick-fix rebuild failed spectacularly and they are now reportedly looking to shed salary and accumulate prospects. Dealing Kimbrel, who is owed $29M or so through 2017 with an option for 2018, could help them accomplish both. (He’s too good to go in a pure salary dump. Stop dreaming about taking on the contract and getting him for marginal prospects.)

Kimbrel is the best case bullpen trade scenario but far from the only option. The Reds are selling and Aroldis Chapman could be available. So could Joaquin Benoit, Kimbrel’s setup man, though I’ve seen him give up enough backbreaking home runs to scare me away for life. That said, Benoit will be a free agent after the season (assuming his $8M option for 2016 is bought out for $1.5M) and the Yankees did pursue him both two offseasons ago as a free agent and again at the trade deadline last year, so maybe there’s lingering interest. Joakim Soria, Tyler Clippard, Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez … the list of potentially available relievers is a mile long.

Point is, if the Yankees are unable to beef up their pitching staff from the front end with another starting pitcher, they can still do it from the back-end with another reliever (or two!). (Trading for a reliever could also lead to “adding” a starter by allowing the Yankees to put Warren back in the rotation.) Shorten the game even further, ask even less from the starters, and take advantage of the bullpen depth. That will be especially true should the Yankees qualify for the postseason given all the scheduled off-days. Girardi would have no issue going to ‘pen after even four innings if necessary because the bullpen would be so deep.

We’re getting way ahead of ourselves with the postseason talk though. For now, the Yankees just need to find ways to improve prior to the trade deadline next Friday, and I think the rotation is the area most in need. The bullpen is towards the bottom of the shopping list, behind second base and a righty bat, but upgrades are upgrades, and in a race this tight, any sort of upgrade is worth making, even if you’re only strengthening an area of depth.

DotF: Refsnyder, Flores double in Triple-A loss

Some roster moves, via Chad Jennings: 2B Rob Refsnyder reported to Triple-A Scranton, so RHP Danny Burawa was demoted to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Ouch. Also, RHP Eric Ruth was returned to Trenton following yesterday’s spot start and RHP Johnny Barbato has been promoted to Triple-A.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Indianapolis, walk-off style)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B
  • RF Jose Pirela: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB — went 13-for-25 (.520) during his little six-game hit streak
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 E (both fielding) — first two errors of the season
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — back with a vengeance
  • DH Greg Bird: 2-3, 1 BB
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 56 of 96 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Chris Martin: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%) … ten straight scoreless inning since the six-run, 1.2-inning disaster last month
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 18 of 30 pitches were strikes (60%)

[Read more…]

Brendan Ryan’s RBI double lifts the Yanks past O’s 3-2

If you are in first place, it is always welcoming to beat the second place team. That’s exactly what the Yankees did tonight. Nathan Eovaldi was absolutely dealing for the first four innings but later gave up the 2-0 lead. However, the unlikely heroics of Brendan Ryan and another solid bullpen outing got the Yankees their 51st win of the season and, at this moment, a five game-lead for the AL East.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Early runs

The Yankee offense struck early. From the very first at-bat, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double and scored later on an A-Rod sac fly.

The bottom of second started after a 15-minute rain delay. Brian McCann and Chris Young didn’t waste any time heating things up by hitting back-to-back singles to start the frame. Chase Headley followed it up with an RBI double to score McCann and put two runners on the scoring position. 2-0 Yankees.

#RISPFails

At that point, you’d imagine the Yankees would be able to squeeze a run or two more to get a bigger lead to carry through the game. Well, that didn’t happen. Wei-Yin Chen Chen got Didi Gregorius to strike out, Brendan Ryan to pop out and Ellsbury to ground out to get out of the frame without further damage. That’s no bueno against a division rival (or any other team, really) that could make a comeback later in the game.

In the bottom fifth, a bit of bad luck hit the Yanks. With two outs and Brett Gardner at first, Mark Teixeira hit a liner that just got past the diving Travis Snider’s reach. The ball bounced several feet away and … went over the fence! What should have been a two-out RBI double became a two-out ground-rule double that didn’t bring a runner home. The O’s caught a big break here. Chen took advantage with a strikeout of McCann to end the inning.

In the seventh, with one out and A-Rod on first, Teixeira hit another double to bring two runners in the scoring position. Chris Young came at bat after McCann was intentionally walked to load the bases. Now, by then, Chen had been removed from the game – RHP Tommy Hunter was pitching for Baltimore. I had wondered if Joe Girardi would pinch-hit Carlos Beltran in Young’s place but he went with the lefty killer to face a RHP. Well, Hunter struck out Young swinging on the nasty 98 mph fastball on the inside and got Headley to ground out to get out of the inning. So that’s that.

When it was all said and done, the Yankees won. That’s good! They were also 1-for-10 in RISP situations. That’s bad! Imagine how less of a stressful one this could have been if New York managed to squeeze out more runs.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Nasty (for the first four innings) Nate

For the first four innings, Eovaldi was absolutely dealing. His fastball hit triple digits multiple times, his splitters were either inducing weak contacts or swings-and-misses and his location looked pretty nice. He allowed only one hit and a walk in those four innings while striking out four.

Things got dicey for Eovaldi in the fifth. Matt Wieters opened the inning with a walk and J.J. Hardy followed it up with a force out at second. With Snider batting, McCann let a 83mph slider pass under his legs for a wild pitch, putting a runner in the scoring position for the first time in the game. Snider worked a walk on five pitches and on came Jonathan Schoop. The Oriole second baseman kills the Yankees and he did the same for the first two pitches … except they both hooked foul. The second one was literally a few inches away from being an RBI double. Mercifully for the Yankees, Schoop grounded into a force out to Headley. Eovaldi then got Chris Parmelee for another ground out to get out unscathed.

Nasty Nate wasn’t as lucky in the sixth. With one out, he allowed consecutive singles to Jimmy Paredes and Adam Jones. Chris Davis followed it up with a pop out (on a hanging 77 mph curveball, so go figure) to give Eovaldi a better chance to close out the inning… and then Wieters hit a hanging splitter for an RBI base hit. Girardi decided that he saw enough of Eovaldi, sub’d in Justin Wilson for him. And then of course, Wilson gave up another RBI single to J.J. Hardy to wipe away Eovaldi’s win instantly. Wilson avoided further damage.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Fear the ‘stache

As soon as the Yanks gave up the lead, the offense went back to regain it. Wei-Yin Chen got first two outs quickly in three pitches. Didi Gregorius, who showed some bad at-bats earlier today, singled on the first pitch to keep the inning alive.

With Brendan Ryan coming up, however, it seemed to majority of the Yankee fans (and O’s fans, I presume) thought the inning was going to be over soon. Well, guess what? He shattered those expectations (or lack thereof). On the second pitch of the at-bat, Ryan smashed a double down the line to score Gregorius. 3-2 Yankees. The score would not change again for the rest of the match.

Yeah yeah, his mustache looks goofy but if he can deliver hits like these as a Yankee, he could grow the world’s biggest fu-manchu and I could care less.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Holding the lead

Yankees have won three out of four since the All-Star break and all those were one-run games. A major reason for winning close games? A solid bullpen.

Justin Wilson got slapped with a blown save but he managed not to allow another run before Dellin Betances came in to pitch. In the seventh inning, with two outs, the Orioles had Nolan Reimold on second base with Manny Machado batting. The two AL All-Star teammates squared off and Betances won pretty easily – a swinging strikeout on a 2-2 count. Dellin followed that up by pitching a scoreless eighth and making way to the “closer” Andrew Miller.

Andrew Miller is Andrew Miller. He’ll overpower guys and strike some out – that’s exactly what he did against the O’s in the ninth: two ground outs and a three-pitch swinging strikeout. Game over.

Box score, standings, highlights, WPA

Here’s the box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA:


Source: FanGraphs


Good win, guys. Tomorrow, the Yankees are back at it again versus the Orioles at YS3. Ivan Nova squares off against Kevin Gausman on another weeknight match.

Game 92: Love This Team

All this photo needs is Tex with his polo shirt tucked into his khakis. (Photo via @AROD)
All this needs is Tex with a polo shirt tucked into his khakis. (via @AROD)

The Yankees are back in action tonight following the off-day, and based on the photo above, the team had a good time celebrating CC Sabathia‘s 35th birthday yesterday. (Today is Sabathia’s birthday, actually.) Between that, Carlos Beltran‘s recent 80’s night for his foundation, and some other stuff, this team sure seems to have a lot of fun together. They’re fun to watch too. The winning definitely helps. These Yankees are a likeable group.

Anyway, the Orioles are in town to start a three-game series that is way more important for them than it is for the Yankees. The Bombers are in the driver’s seat — they’re four games up in the division and, while flawed, they have the fewest holes on their roster among the five AL East clubs. This is a good opportunity to create some separation with the O’s, who I picked to win the division before the season. Here is Baltimore’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It is hot and humid in the Bronx and there is some rain in the forecast tonight. Not much, but enough. It’s supposed to hit sometime between 7-9pm ET, which isn’t good. The forecast makes it look like there will be a delay more than anything. Not enough rain for a postponement. Either way, first pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Cashman confirms Vicente Campos could be added to 40-man roster after the season

(AP)
(AP)

According to Joel Sherman, Brian Cashman confirmed right-hander Vicente Campos could again be added to the 40-man roster after the season as long as he holds up physically. Campos had Tommy John surgery last spring. He has been pitching in minor league games for a few weeks now.

Campos, 22, was the other player the Yankees acquired in the Michael PinedaJesus Montero trade, back when he used to go by Jose Campos. He had a 3.55 ERA (3.23 FIP) with a 22.3% strikeout rate and a 5.2% walk rate in 111.2 innings with Low-A Charleston from 2012-13 before blowing out his elbow last year. Campos missed time in 2012 with elbow problems as well.

So far this season Campos has a 6.04 ERA (2.85 FIP) with 25 strikeouts and five walks in 25.1 inning split between High-A Tampa and the Rookie Gulf Cost League. He’s had his ups (nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings on June 27th) and downs (eight runs in 1.2 innings on July 8th), which is not uncommon after elbow reconstruction. It’s also his first stint at High-A.

Campos was a highly touted prospect back in the day — I had him as the team’s fifth best prospect prior to the 2012 season — thanks to his mid-90s fastball, good command, and promising secondary stuff. Obviously he’s fallen off the map since then, though Cashman says Campos is sitting in the low-90s now and touching the mid-90s. All the lost development time (only 137 innings from 2012-15) could mean his future lies in the bullpen.

The Yankees added Campos to the 40-man roster in November 2013 to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. They non-tendered him last offseason to get him off the 40-man roster then re-signed him to a minor league deal. Campos has two minor league options left (by my unofficial count) and can become a minor league free agent after the season if he’s not added to the 40-man.

I’m not sure whether using a 40-man spot on a potential reliever yet to pitch above High-A is a smart move, but it might be the only way the Yankees can keep Campos in the organization. Another club might be willing to give him a 40-man roster spot should he become a free agent.

7/21 to 7/23 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

We’re now into the dog days of summer, and this week the Yankees will play a fairly important three-game series at home against the Orioles. Every intra-division series from here out will be super important. The Yanks and O’s have split ten games this season, though the Yankees took three of four at Yankee Stadium back in May. The other six games were in Camden Yards.

What Have The O’s Done Lately?

Baltimore had an off-day yesterday like the Yankees. They took two of three from the Tigers over the weekend in their first series of the season half after losing ten of 13 to close out the first half. The O’s are 46-45 overall with a +44 run differential. They’re in second place in the division and four games back of New York. So no matter what happens this series, the Yankees will be in first place when it’s over.

Offense & Defense

Manager Buck Showalter’s offense is a tick above-average, scoring 4.42 runs per game thanks to a team 102 wRC+. They are perfectly healthy on the position player side. No one on the DL or even day-to-day.

Machado. (Presswire)
Machado. (Presswire)

OF Adam Jones (129 wRC+) is the big name, and 1B Chris Davis (116 wRC+) hit all those home runs a few years ago, but 3B Manny Machado (149 wRC+) is the O’s best player. He’s already set career highs in homers (20) and stolen bases (13) and is still only 23. He just turned 23 earlier this month too. Machado is very quietly having a “hey guys, I’m a superstar now” breakout season. Also, Davis has been playing right field of late.

Ex-Yankees farmhand UTIL Jimmy Paredes (118 wRC+) is still having an inexplicably good season while 1B/OF Steve Pearce (87 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last year’s effort. C Matt Wieters (95 wRC+) is back from Tommy John surgery but isn’t playing everyday just yet. They’re easing him back into things. SS J.J. Hardy (61 wRC+) and IF Jonathan Schoop (177 wRC+ in very limited time) are the middle infield combo. Schoop came back off the DL recently, just in time to get back to killing the Yankees.

OF Nolan Reimold (99 wRC+ in limited time), OF Travis Snider (96 wRC+), and OF David Lough (70 wRC+) are the other outfielders who seem to take turns playing each game. C Caleb Joseph (94 wRC+) splits time with Wieters and both IF Ryan Flaherty (92 wRC+) and 1B/OF Chris Parmelee (107 wRC+) are the bench players. The O’s have great defenders in center (Jones), on the left side of the infield (Hardy and Machado), and behind the plate (Wieters). The defense is average to poor most other spots.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
I didn’t realize the 30-year-old Chen will be a free agent after the season. He’d had a good walk year (2.78 ERA and 4.19 FIP in 110 innings) and should land himself a nice little contract. Chen’s strikeout rate (20.4%) is about average but he’s allowed fewer walks (5.7%) and gets fewer grounders (40.4%) than the league average hurler. His homer rate (1.39 HR/9) is sky high and righties (.307 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.290 wOBA). Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have seen Chen twice this year, scoring two runs in six innings in April and one run in seven innings in May.

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Gausman, 24, looks like the next great O’s pitching prospect who is going to fall short of his ceiling. This club hasn’t had a top pitching prospect max out since Mike Mussina. Gausman missed time with a shoulder injury and has bounced up and down between Triple-A and MLB this season, pitching to a 5.00 ERA (3.87 FIP) in only 27 big league innings. His peripherals are average-ish across the board: 21.2 K%, 7.6 BB%, 43.9 GB%, and 1.00 HR/9. Lefties (.367) have had way more success against Gausman than righties (.258 wOBA), both this year and in his career. A mid-90s four-seamer sets up his mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider, the latter of which he’s yet to really develop a feel for since being the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Gausman has faced the Yankees once this year, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief.

Ubaldo. (Presswire)
Ubaldo. (Presswire)

Thursday (1pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
It appears Good Ubaldo has shown up this season. The 31-year-old has a 3.29 ERA (3.49 FIP) in 104 innings this summer with a good strikeout rate (23.4%) and average walk (7.3%), grounder (46.6%), and homer (0.95 HR/9) numbers. Jimenez has a reverse split (.318 vs. .293 wOBA in favor of righties), which is typical of his good years, because his out pitch is a mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. The Yankees have faced Ubaldo just once this year, scoring three runs in five innings last month.

Bullpen Status
Showalter’s bullpen started the season horribly but has gotten better the last few weeks and months. They currently have a 2.84 ERA (3.41 FIP) as a unit. Closer LHP Zach Britton (1.67 ERA/1.76 FIP) has the best sinker in baseball and is set up by RHP Darren O’Day (1.04/2.86). Both of those dudes were All-Stars. LHP Brian Matusz (2.43/3.63) is the situational lefty.

RHP Tommy Hunter (4.08/3.36) and ex-Yankee RHP Chaz Roe (2.48/2.95) are the middle innings righties along with RHP Brad Brach (3.02/3.06). RHP Bud Norris (6.82/5.65) lost his rotation spot a few weeks back and has been pitching in long relief. Head over to our Bullpen Workload for the status of New York’s bullpen, then check out Camden Chat for updates on the O’s.

Scouting The Trade Market: Miami Marlins

Baker. (Presswire)
Baker. (Presswire)

We are now a little more than one week away from the trade deadline, and at this point the buyers far outnumber the sellers. FanGraphs says nine teams have less than a 5% chance of making the postseason (only two in the AL), which actually seems kinda high. Not all nine of those teams will sell of course, and even the ones that do sell might not be matches for the Yankees. Making trades is really tough nowadays thanks to the second wildcard.

One club that is very much out of the race and as ready to sell as it gets is the Marlins, who come into today 38-55 and 12 games back of a postseason spot. The Marlins don’t screw around, when they decide to sell, they act quickly and decisively. There aren’t weeks of rumors. They know who they want, pull the trigger, and move on. Obviously this season hasn’t played out as hoped, though I doubt they’ll go full tear down. Probably more like a retooling. Luckily for them, they have a lot of rental players to market, some of whom could fit with the Yankees. Let’s look ’em over. (Players listed alphabetically.)

UTIL Jeff Baker

Yesterday we heard the Yankees are looking for a right-handed bat, and the 34-year-old Baker has hit .290/.350/.509 (126 wRC+) against lefties in his career. That’s great! The problem? He’s hitting .208/.288/.434 (99 wRC+) against southpaws this season, albeit in only 59 plate appearances. This could easily be a sample size issue. Baker hit .319/.362/.462 (128 wRC+) against lefties just last year.

We’re talking about a bench player here, a platoon bat on the short side of the platoon, and it’s damn near impossible to predict how guys like that will perform the two months after the trade deadline. Not only are they transitioning to a new team and a new city and all that, they also don’t play a whole lot. Remember Craig Wilson? That dude hit .282/.384/.518 (134 wRC+) against lefties in his career, including .307/.378/.545 (136 wRC+) for the Pirates in 2006, then put up a .222/.286/.400 (76 wRC+) line against lefties with the Yankees after being acquired a deadline.

With bench players like Wilson and Baker, the only thing you can do is bank on track record and hope they play up to their career averages. Baker has experience all over the field but is mostly a first baseman, a second baseman, and a left fielder at this point. He’s an impending free agent on a bad team and that figures to make him available. The Yankees are looking for someone for a similar skill set. Baker is a fit and hardly guaranteed to produce, because baseball doesn’t work like that.

What Will It Cost?: Baker is a utility guy. Utility guys get traded for cash or players to be named later. Gordon Beckham was traded last year for player to be named later that turned out to be a non-top 30 pitching prospect (Yency Almonte) down in rookie ball. Boom, there’s your trade reference point.

Cishek. (Presswire)
Cishek. (Presswire)

RHP Steve Cishek

Unlike the other guys in this post, Cishek isn’t a rental. He’s more of a 2016 piece than a 2015 piece, because his 2015 has been awful: 4.65 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 29 innings. This is a guy who had a 2.70 ERA (2.59 FIP) in 253.1 innings from 2011-14. Then poof, it was gone, so gone the Marlins sent Cishek to Double-A earlier this year. Not Triple-A, Double-A. To his credit, Cishek has a 0.77 ERA (2.20 FIP) since being recalled, but that is only in 11.2 innings.

The 29-year-old Cishek has a funky low arm slot and a low-90s sinker/low-80s slider combination that neutralized lefties despite said arm slot. Left-handed batters have hit .237/.325/.357 (.295 wOBA) against him in his career, which is stellar by low-slot guy standards. Batters of the opposite hand see the ball well from low-slot guys. For what it’s worth, Cishek told David Laurila earlier this month that his struggles were all mechanical:

“When the season started, my arm slot was a little low and my velocity was down,” explained Cishek. “I tried a little too hard to bring my velocity back up and started yanking everything. I was flying open and the ball was just taking off on me.

“If I’m throwing from too low, my sinker doesn’t sink. It’s flat. If I’m able to move my hand up an inch or two, I’m able to get the diving action I’ve had in the past, with a little more thump behind the ball.”

The PitchFX data shows Cishek has climbed back into the 92-94 mph range after sitting right at 90 earlier this season, which backs up the mechanical trouble. Here is Cishek’s delivery in case you’ve never seen him pitch. It’s easy to see how a delivery like that could fall out of whack from time to time.

Cishek saved 94 games over the years and he’s a Super Two, so he’s already pulling down $6.65M this season, his second year of arbitration. That puts him in line for $8M or so next season even with this year’s struggles, making him a non-tender candidate. The Marlins are not exactly a big spending team, as you may have heard. Cishek’s salary likely made him a goner after this season no matter what.

Trading for a non-tender candidate who might not help this year is sorta dumb, though the Yankees are one of the very few teams who can afford to pay Cishek that $8M next year to be a seventh or eighth inning guy (or eat it if he stinks). They talked to the Marlins about relievers before signing Andrew Miller this offseason, and I assume Cishek’s name came up, so they could have long-lasting interest. (He is 6-foot-6, after all. The Yankees love their tall pitchers.) I think this is unlikely to happen, but I figured I’d cover all my bases.

What Will It Cost?: Boy, this is interesting. The Marlins are going market Cishek as the shutdown closer he was from 2011-14 while teams are going to look at him as a reclamation projection. An expensive reclamation project. Two busted closers were traded for each other last summer (Jason Grilli for Ernesto Frieri), but that doesn’t help us. The Brewers traded John Axford for a control-challenged MLB ready reliever (Michael Blazek) a few years ago, which could be the asking price for Cishek. The Marlins could very well be in “we’re going to non-tender him anyway, so we’ll take what we can get” mode.

Haren. (Presswire)
Haren. (Presswire)

RHP Dan Haren

I feel like Haren is a perennial “should the Yankees get him?” guy. Every year we’re talking about him. Haren was very good for a very long time with the Athletics and Diamondbacks, but he is clearly in the twilight of his career nowadays, so much so that he was considering retirement before the season. Haren has a 3.46 ERA (4.31 FIP) in 117 innings this season, though the ERA hides his career-low strikeout (17.1%) and ground ball (31.4%) rates.

I’ve long felt Haren was not a good fit for the Yankees because he’s always been extremely homer prone — 1.31 HR/9 this year and 1.11 HR/9 in his career, and that’s after spending all those years in Oakland — and now he’s still homer prone, only with an 86 mph fastball instead of a 93 mph fastball. Haren doesn’t walk anyone (4.9%) and he’s really durable, so you know he’ll take the ball every fifth day and there’s value in that, I’m just not sure they will be quality innings.

Haren will be popular at the trade deadline because he comes with zero salary — the Dodgers are paying all of it. That doesn’t help the Yankees any. Quite the opposite, in fact. It levels the playing field and the concept of absorbing salary to lower the prospect price flies out the window. Haren will be a pure talent swap, not a salary dump. Given his decline and propensity for the long ball (even in big parks), Haren doesn’t seem like a fit for the Yankees unless all hell breaks loose in the next ten days.

What Will It Cost?: The going rate for an impending free agent back of the rotation veteran innings guy appears to be two or three Grade-C prospects. The Ricky Nolasco trade from a few years ago seems like a decent reference point. The Dodgers sent three pitching prospects to the Marlins for Nolasco: a Triple-A reliever (Josh Wall), a Double-A reliever (Steve Ames), and a Single-A starter (Angel Sanchez). Sanchez was ranked as the Dodgers’ 16th best prospect before the season by Baseball America while Ames and Wall were not in their top 30. Haren coming with zero salary could complicate things.

Latos. (Presswire)
Latos. (Presswire)

RHP Mat Latos

The Marlins acquired Latos from the Reds in the offseason and, in his very first start with Miami, he allowed seven runs in two-thirds of an inning. Yikes. Since then though, the 27-year-old Latos has a 4.10 ERA (3.41 FIP) in 13 starts and 74.2 innings, which still isn’t great, but it is better than the overall numbers would lead you believe (4.90 ERA and 3.48 FIP).

Latos has had a lot of physical problems over the last year or two, including hamstring, knee, and foot injuries this season. He also missed the first two and a half months of last season due to elbow (bone spur) and knee (meniscus) surgery. Latos’ velocity hasn’t really been the same since all the injuries:

Mat Latos velocity

The velocity did come back earlier this season, albeit temporarily. Latos is back to sitting in the low-90s now, where he was earlier this season and last year. His strikeout (20.8%) and walk (7.5%) rates are fine, and Latos has never been a ground ball guy (40.9% in 2015 and 43.1% career), so his underlying performance has been right in line with the rest of his career. The problem is his career-low pop-up rate (6.5%), his career-high hard contact rate (33.9%), and his near career worst performance against lefties (.336 wOBA). The contact he’s giving up is bad contact.

Latos is owed about $4.7M through the end of the season and will be a free agent this winter, so there’s no long-term risk, just the risk that you’ll give up an asset for him and he’ll stink. It happens, that’s part of baseball, but Latos seems riskier than most given his recent injury history and so so performance. He’s a warm body who can come in and take a rotation turn every fifth day, but is he the kind of guy who can put a team over the top? Maybe three or four years ago. But not now.

What Will It Cost?: Latos and Haren are both rental starters but they’re different. Haren’s a known commodity, proven durable, pitching like he always has. Latos is coming off injuries and his performance hasn’t been great. He’s a broken starter, so to speak. I’m not sure what a good reference trade would be. Justin Masterson to the Cardinals? St. Louis gave up their No. 8 prospect (James Ramsey) to get him. Brandon McCarthy last year? The Yankees gave up an MLB ready swingman in Vidal Nuno. The Marlins traded an MLB ready arm (Anthony DeSclafani, their No. 5 prospect) and a minor league depth catcher (Chad Wallach) to get Latos in the offseason. So I guess the asking price has to be lower than that, give his performance and half-season of team control, right?

Prado. (Presswire)
Prado. (Presswire)

UTIL Martin Prado

Prado is a fine player, but I’m not sure anyone has seen their perceived value increase thanks to two months in pinstripes as much as him. He raked in 37 games with the Yankees last year (146 wRC+). It was pretty awesome. Prado is also hitting .281/.325/.407 (101 wRC+) in his last 1,525 plate appearances. That’s good. It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s just good. Basically average. Average is valuable! But given his recent history (117, 104, 103, 92 wRC+ from 2012-15), I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be even average.

That said, the Yankees have a total black hole at second base, and even a below-average Prado is a big upgrade over what the Yankees are running out there. As an added bonus, he’s a right-handed bat, which will help balance the lineup. As an extra added bonus, Prado’s versatile and would give the Yankees coverage at other positions. That said, should they bring him back, it should be to play second everyday. That’s the area of need right now.

Prado is making $11M both this season and next, and the Yankees are actually playing $3M of that each year as part of the trade that sent him to Miami. The Yankees have said they prefer rental players at the deadline, but they did acquire Prado and his contract last year, and he would be a nice depth player next season, albeit an expensive one. Prado is not really the hitter he was with the Yankees last year, but he’s a quality two-way player who would help New York quite a bit.

What Will It Cost?: Well let’s see, the Yankees traded Peter O’Brien to get two and a half years of Prado last year, though the Diamondbacks aren’t exactly known for making smart decisions. One and a half years of Prado should cost less, in theory, especially considering he’s been hurt (shoulder) and isn’t hitting as well (.275/.317/.375 and 92 wRC+ this year), and at that point you wonder if the Marlins will simply hold onto him for next year and try to contend again.