No Yankees among 2015 major awards finalists

(Mike Skobe/Getty)
(Mike Skobe/Getty)

MLB and the BBWAA announced the three finalists for each of the four major awards Tuesday evening. That is the MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year, and Rookie of the Year. They’ve been announcing three finalists for a few years now as a way to drum up interest.

As expected, no Yankees were among the three finalists for any of the four awards. Their best shot at one of this year’s awards was the Comeback Player of the Year, though Alex Rodriguez lost out to Prince Fielder. So it goes. You can see the three finalists for each award right here.

Now just because no Yankees are among the finalists doesn’t mean no Yankee received awards votes. Mark Teixeira and A-Rod are candidates for down-ballot MVP votes — the ballot runs ten players deep, after all — maybe Brian McCann too. Dellin Betances might steal a few Cy Young votes on the five-man ballot. Heck, maybe he’ll get some MVP votes too.

I would be surprised if Luis Severino received any Rookie of the Year votes. That ballot is only three players deep and I can’t imagine any voter omitted Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor. So Severino is up against a bunch of other dudes for third place. Joe Girardi has appeared on at least one Manager of the Year ballot every season since 2009 and I don’t expect that to stop this year.

Votes for the major awards are cast following the end of the regular season but before the postseason, so the playoffs have no impact on the awards. The four major awards will be announced next week. Rookie of the Year are Monday, Manager of the Year Tuesday, Cy Young Wednesday, and MVP Thursday.

Yankees not interested in Daniel Murphy, seeking “more balance” at second base

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

As soon as Daniel Murphy started smashing home runs in the postseason, it was inevitable the former Mets second baseman would be connected to the Yankees this offseason. They have a need at the position and Murphy put on a show, and this is a “what have you done for me lately” business, so the dots would soon be connected.

After arriving at the GM Meetings yesterday, hipster Brian Cashman told reporters the team is not interested in Murphy as a free agent. They want “more balance” at second base, which is a nice way of saying better defense. From Mark Feinsand:

“I think if we’re going to pursue something, we have two offensive-profile players already at that position,” Cashman said, speaking in broad terms when asked about Murphy. “So if we did any changing there, it would be seeking more balance on both sides of the ball.”

“Like anything else with roster management, if there’s opportunity to upgrade and have a more balanced out defense/offense profile, great,” Cashman said. “If not, we feel encouraged by what we saw in September.”

The Yankees have Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley penciled in at second base right now — they’re said to be “leaning toward” using those two next year, but the offseason is young — and they’re basically younger and cheaper versions of Murphy, right? They don’t make contact like Murphy but all three guys are offense first players with suspect defense.

The Mets slapped the qualifying offer on Murphy and I can’t see giving up a first round pick to sign him. Maybe the Yankees would swoop back in later in the offseason after they give up their first rounder for a top free agent — say, Jason Heyward or Zack Greinke — and revisit signing Murphy if his market collapses, but that seems unlikely. Both the signing a top free agent part and Murphy’s market collapsing part.

I’m not a huge believer in Refsnyder but I do think it’s time to give him a chance to sink or swim. He’s going to be 25 in March and his brief cameo in September went well. I wouldn’t call it likely, but it’s possible Refsnyder and Murphy are both ~110 wRC+ hitters next year with shaky glovework. Murphy is a solid player who would make many teams better. Given the cost and their available internal options, I don’t see him as a great fit for the Yankees.

Sherman: Yankees looking to buy low on Jurickson Profar

Profar and Gary Sanchez are AzFL buddies. (Presswire)
Profar and Gary Sanchez are AzFL buddies. (Presswire)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have asked the Rangers about the availability of infielder Jurickson Profar, who was once arguably the best prospect in baseball. He’s been beset by shoulder injuries the last two years, including a labrum tear that required surgery in February, so the Yankees are looking to buy low.

Profar, 22, is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, though he is limited to DH duty because he hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing. He’s hitting .239/.321/.435 (95 wRC+) in 12 games but the numbers don’t really matter. Keith Law (subs. req’d) saw Profar recently and said his “bat speed is totally intact” after the shoulder injury.

I answered a question about Profar in last week’s mailbag and the short version of my answer is yes, the Yankees should absolutely look to buy low on him if possible. I just don’t think the Rangers will move him while his trade value is so low. They hung onto him through the injuries, might as well wait to see what happens when his shoulder is at full strength, right?

“We are not looking to trade him,” said Rangers GM Jon Daniels to Sherman. “We held onto him this long. We are pretty optimistic his shoulder is fit. The mindset is to wait and see where he is. We believe he will get back to his value, which was one of the best young players out there.”

Sherman says the Yankees have interest in Profar as a second baseman, which might now be his ultimate long-term position if the shoulder injuries limit his ability to make throws from the left side of the infield. The Yankees are set at shortstop for the time being, but they do have a need at second base, at least until Rob Refsnyder shows he can handle the job.

Missing two full years at such a young age scares me — those are two lost development years Profar can’t get back — but I still love the idea of buying low on Profar. Even if his days at shortstop are over, he’s still incredibly young — younger than Kris Bryant! — and he projects to have big offensive value while adding nifty defense. No mystery why the Yankees inquired, right?

The Evolution of Nathan Eovaldi [2015 Season Review]


A year ago at this time the Yankees were talking about getting younger, and they meant it. They made several trades designed to get younger last offseason, one of which brought Nathan Eovaldi to the Bronx in a five-player trade with the Marlins. The Yankees surrendered Martin Prado and David Phelps for Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, and prospect Domingo German.

Just a year ago Eovaldi led the NL with 223 hits allowed, and he’d been hittable his entire career, so it was fair to wonder how he would handle the transition to the AL. At the same time, Eovaldi was only 24 at the time of the trade, he has unteachable arm strength, and his FIP had gradually declined from 4.35 in 2011 to 4.13 in 2012 to 3.59 in 2013 to 3.37 in 2014. The Yankees are big believers in DIPS theory and in their eyes Eovaldi was trending in the right way. He wasn’t a finished product. Instead he was a ball of clay they could maybe mold into something special.

The Hope of Spring

Many of us got our first real look at Eovaldi during Spring Training. We knew the scouting report, we’d seen the stats and highlight videos, but watching a guy pitch in an actual game is a different animal. Eovaldi was excellent during Grapefruit League play, allowing four runs in 18.2 innings spread across four starts and one relief appearances. He allowed 14 hits, walked three, and struck out 20. I’m not sure you could have asked for a better showing in camp, but, of course, it was only Spring Training.

More Hits, More of the Same

The Yankees slotted Eovaldi into the No. 4 spot of the rotation and his first start of the season was fine. He allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk in 5.1 innings against what everyone assumed would be a high-powered Red Sox offense. Five days later he held the Orioles to two runs in five innings, and six days after that he had the kind of start that showed everyone why the Yankees coveted him.

Eovaldi held the Tigers to one run on eight hits and a walk in seven innings that night, striking out four. It was the kind of outing you wanted to believe was a sign of things to come. Eovaldi didn’t dominate, but he used his offspeed pitches effectively and pitched off his big fastball.

That wasn’t a sign of what was to come, however. Eovaldi allowed four runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings against the Mets next time out, and over the next seven weeks or so he was occasionally good, occasionally great, and occasionally mediocre. Little of everything. He’d show flashes of greatness but was mostly frustrating. Eovaldi had a way of leaving you wanting more.

On June 16th, against his former team in Miami, Eovaldi had the kind of disaster start he always seemed to be on the brink of having. The Marlins pounded Eovaldi for eight runs on nine hits in two-thirds of an inning. It happened quick too, only 25 pitches. Eovaldi went into the game with a 4.13 ERA and a .310/.355/.440 batting line against. He left with a 5.12 ERA and a .329/.371/.464 batting line against.

Though his first 13 starts with the Yankees, Eovaldi had that 5.12 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 70.1 innings. He was still giving up a ton of hits (97!), the problem that plagued him in the past, and his strikeout (15.7%), walk (6.0%), and grounder (48.8%) rates were relatively unchanged. Eight runs in two-thirds of an inning is an anomaly. Overall though, Eovaldi was pretty much the same pitcher in 2015 that he was in 2014.

A New Pitch, A New Pitcher

Soon after Eovaldi showed up to Spring Training, pitching coach Larry Rothschild went to work fine-tuning his mechanics and repertoire. He introduced a splitter, which Eovaldi tinkered with on and off in camp and into the regular season. Following that disaster start in Miami, Eovaldi began to lean on the split a bit more often.

Nathan Eovaldi splitter usageThe results were rather remarkable. Eovaldi allowed two runs or less in six of the seven starts immediately following the Marlins game, and, more importantly, opponents only hit .245/.295/.265 in 41.1 innings in those seven starts. The hits weren’t coming as often (38 allowed in those 41.1 innings) and his strikeout rate increased a bit to 18.1%.

The splitter gave opposing hitters something else to think about. Eovaldi has a tremendous fastball, regularly flirting with triple digits — at 96.6 mph, he had the hardest average fastball among starters in 2015 — but he didn’t have a quality secondary pitch hitters had to respect. They could zero in on his fastball and take advantage no matter what the radar gun said. The split-finger was the off-balance pitch Eovaldi needed.

From June 20th to August 24th, a span of 12 starts and 73.2 innings, Eovaldi posted a 2.93 ERA (2.92 FIP) and held hitters to a .235/.295/.289 batting line. His best start of the season came on August 24th against the Astros, when he shut them out over eight innings in the eventual win.

The splitter helped Eovaldi post an improved strikeout rate (18.8%) and ground ball rate (55.7%) during those 12 starts, and while his walk rate (7.9%) increased, it was still better than the league average. Once he began to use the splitter more often, Eovaldi was so much more effective in the summer months. He wasn’t an ace but he was reliable and arguably the team’s best pitcher for a stretch of several weeks.

A Premature End

Eovaldi struggled a bit in back-to-back starts on August 30th (five runs in five innings against the lowly Braves) and September 5th (three runs in 5.1 innings against the Rays with four walks), and perhaps not coincidentally, he was shut down with elbow inflammation shortly thereafter. An MRI showed no structural damage and the plan was no throwing for two weeks.

Because he was shut down in the season’s final month, Eovaldi never did return to the mound after that September 5th game. He was shut down for two weeks, then started a two-week throwing program that extended into the postseason. Eovaldi threw a simulated game on the day between the end of the regular season and the wildcard game and was all set to be added to the ALDS roster as a reliever had the Yankees advanced. (Reliever because there wasn’t enough time to stretch him out as a starter.)

The elbow injury really stunk, the Yankees could have used the new splitter-happy Eovaldi down the stretch, but at least he was healthy enough to join the ALDS roster had the team advanced. That’s the silver lining. Eovaldi finished his first season in New York with a 4.20 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 154.1 innings. His strikeout (18.0%) and walk (7.3%) rates were lower than the league average but his ground ball rate (52.2%) was very good. His home run rate (0.58 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB%) was excellent.

Among the 89 pitchers to throw at least 150 innings in 2015, Eovaldi ranked 31st in fWAR (3.2) and 46th in bWAR (2.3), putting him right in the middle of the pack. It was an uneven season for him, for sure. The start wasn’t so good, the middle was great, and the end came quicker than expected because of the injury. That he took so well to the splitter was encouraging.

The New Split

That split-finger fastball started as a forkball. Teaching a pitcher a new pitch isn’t always as simple as showing him a new grip and making him throw it in the bullpen. Splitters are complicated because the fingers are spread so far apart, so, in an effort to get Eovaldi used to the grip, Rothschild had him start the season throwing a true forkball before shortening up to a tradition splitter grip.

Here’s a before and after photo of Eovaldi’s forkball and splitter grips. The forkball is on the left, the splitter is on the right.

Nathan Eovaldi grips

Eovaldi’s fingers are much more spread apart in the left photo. You can tell that from the seams of the ball — his index and middle finger appear to be on the white of the baseball, next to the widest part of the horseshoe. In the right photo his fingers are on the seams, but the horseshoe is out beyond his fingertips, not choked back. It’s a small difference that apparently makes a big difference.

Not only did Eovaldi get some more action on the ball with the splitter grip, he also got more velocity. We don’t know when exactly he changed grips, but boy, look at his velocity chart, and it’s hard not to notice it jumped from mid-80s to hovering around 90 mph in the middle of June one day.

Nathan Eovaldi splitter velocityThe splitter velocity spike neatly cuts his season in half — Eovaldi made 14 starts with the mid-80s forkball and then 13 with the 90 mph splitter. I assume that’s when he changed grips, but who really knows. Here’s a before and after look at that split-finger pitch.

% Thrown Velo. Whiff % GB % Vert. Mvmt Horiz. Mvmt
First 14 Starts 10.7% 85.5 18.0% 68.0% 2.7 -2.3
Final 13 Starts 28.4% 89.6 16.5% 68.9% 2.4 -5.6

It’s almost like Eovaldi added an entirely new pitch. He threw it nearly three times as often in the second half, it had four miles an hour more velocity, and it tumbled an additional three inches or so. (Negative horizontal movement means it broke in on righties and away from lefties.) That’s a big difference!

The ground ball rate on the pitch remained unchanged and it actually generated fewer swings and misses, but you know what? Eovaldi’s fastball went from a 6.4% whiff rate and a 44.6% ground ball rate in the first 14 starts to a 7.2% whiff rate and 47.2% ground ball rate in his final 13 starts. Pitches are not independent of each other. Eovaldi’s fastball played up because hitters had to honor that splitter.

Clearly Eovaldi is not a finished product. He was always going to be a long-ish term project for Rothschild, and the fact his splitter went from unused pitch to legitimate weapon this season is a huge step forward. Next year he can work on other stuff like fastball command and his slider and curveball. At least now Eovaldi has a second weapon he can use. He’s not just a fastball guy anymore.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Eovaldi is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player for another two seasons — MLBTR projects a $5.7M salary next season — and while he is among the team’s better trade chips, the elbow injury at the end of the season puts a damper on things. I wouldn’t ever rule out a trade, but, right now, it appears Eovaldi is ticketed for a rotation spot next year as the Yankees hope he will build on his midsummer success.

Revisiting the MLBTR archives: November 2010


Last offseason I started — or attempted to start, really — a series looking back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives at some past Yankees rumors to see how things played out. I didn’t intend to mock anyone at MLBTR or anything like that. Rumors are fun and remembering how we felt at the time is an entertaining exercise, if nothing else. Did you know MLBTR turned ten last week? The site changed the way rumors and transactions are covered.

Anyway, I stopped the series at some point during the regular season because I simply forgot about it. That’s really all there is to it. The regular season can be sort of hectic and a monthly series like that — as opposed to a weekly series like the Fan Confidence Poll — can be easy to overlook. My bad. I’m going to revive the MLBTR archive series this offseason and hopefully keep it going. If the end of the month rolls around and you don’t see it, feel free to email me a reminder.

We’re going to go back five years, so this edition of the MLBTR archive series covers November 2010. The Yankees had just lost to the Rangers in the ALCS and the two huge stories that offseason were the Cliff Lee sweepstakes and Derek Jeter‘s new contract. Everyone assumed Jeter would re-sign at some point, and those were still the “the Yankees will sign whoever they want” days, so many of us figured it was only a matter of time until they landed Lee. Those were the days, eh? Let’s dig into the archive.

November 1st, 2010: Odds & Ends: Long, Romanick, Falkenborg, Carlin

The Yankees and hitting coach Kevin Long agreed to a three-year deal, reports George A. King III of the New York Post.  He’ll be getting a raise on his previous $400K salary.

Long took over in 2007, so he had just completed his fourth full season as hitting coach back in November 2010. During those four seasons the Yankees led baseball in AVG (.278), OBP (.355), SLG (.451), wRC+ (113 wRC+), home runs (826), and runs (3,531). They were third in walk rate (9.7%), sixth in steals (455), and sixth in strikeout rate (16.2%) as well. The Yankees were a powerhouse offense. There was no reason to want them to replace Long. A few years later, after the quality of the roster declined, so did Long’s skills as a hitting coach. Funny how that works, huh?

November 2nd, 2010: Steinbrenner: Jeter Deal Must Work For Both Sides
November 3rd, 2010: Heyman On Werth, Jeter, Mets
November 3rd, 2010: Odds & Ends: Indians, Jeter, Ellis, Giants, Chen

“There’s always the possibility that things could get messy,” Steinbrenner said.

The Yankees don’t expect talks to get ugly and they have been in contact with Jeter’s representatives because they want to reach a deal.

Some baseball people say they would not be surprised to see Derek Jeter seek a six-year deal this offseason. Heyman hears hints that the Yankees are thinking about offering a three-year contract.

Hal Steinbrenner’s recent comments about the Derek Jeter talks strike ESPN’s Buster Olney “as if he’s preparing the NYY fans for an ugly Jeter negotiation” (Twitter link).

We need to add some context here. Jeter was a monster during the 2009 season, hitting .334/.406/.465 (130 wRC+) with maybe the best defensive season of his career. He then dropped down to .270/.340/.370 (93 wRC+) in 2010, his age 36 season. His defense also took a step back. Jeter was a year removed from an MVP caliber performance but was also at the age where his subpar 2010 season may have been more of a blip on the radar.

As for the rumors … a six-year contract! That sounds absurd now and was ridiculous back then too. That said, there’s no harm in Jeter’s camp floating the idea of a six-year contract. You won’t get it if you don’t ask for it, after all. It’s only a starting point. In hindsight, Hal’s comments do seem like they were intending to send something of a message, with the message being “we’re not going to let Jeter walk all over us” during negotiations.

November 5th, 2010: Bidding For Iwakuma Closes, Mariners The Favorite?

The above reports indicate that Iwakuma prefers the West Coast, but neither the Angels nor Dodgers planned to submit a bid. Both the Yankees and Diamondbacks scouted him during the season, though whether or not they chose to pursue him remains to be seen. The Rakuten Golden Eagles were hoping to land $16MM-17MM in the posting process, though it appears they might fall a little short of that.

Hisashi Iwakuma was posted during the 2010-11 offseason. The Athletics won his rights with a $17M bid but failed to sign him during the 30-day negotiating period, so he returned to Japan for the 2011 season. Apparently there was some concern about his shoulder. To Oakland’s credit, Iwakuma did get hurt in 2011, missing six weeks with a sore shoulder. He became an international free agent during the 2011-12 offseason and signed with the Mariners.

I remember the chatter about the Yankees scouting Iwakuma but it didn’t sound like they were ever seriously interested. He did have a history of shoulder problems — it wasn’t just the 2011 injury, he’s battled them on and off all throughout his career — and he wasn’t considered a potential ace like Daisuke Matsuzaka, who at the time was the last big Japanese pitcher to be posted. The Yankees never did submit a bid for Iwakuma. Their interest seemed marginal at best.

November 6th, 2010: Odds & Ends: D’Backs, Red Sox, Simmons, Bush

Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle speculates that the Giants will keep an eye on Derek Jeter‘s negotiations with the Yankees. GM Brian Sabean ran New York’s farm system when Jeter was drafted, so there’s a connection there in the unlikely event that he can’t work out a deal with the Yanks.

Gosh, this was so obviously a leak by Jeter’s camp designed to create some leverage. It was such a foregone conclusion that Jeter would re-sign with the Yankees that I’m not even sure any other teams bothered to contact his representatives. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of teams needed a shortstop, but how many were seriously going to make a run at Jeter? The loose connection with Sabean was about the best Jeter’s camp could do.

November 7th, 2010: New York Notes: Lee, Backman, Garland, Balfour

When Sherman polled eight executives about Lee’s destination, six predicted the left-hander would end up in a Yankees uniform – the Rangers got the other two votes. One AL exec’s thoughts: “Lee is all about the money. His agent is all about the money. And the Yanks have the most money.”

Oops. The Yankees offered Lee the most guaranteed money that offseason, a seven-year deal worth $150M according to Sherman. (They also proposed a six-year, $138M deal with a $16M player option.) The Rangers offered six years and $138M with no player option. The Phillies? They landed Lee with a five-year deal worth $120M guaranteed. That’s $107.5M in salary and a $12.5M buyout of his 2016 option, which was declined earlier this week. So much for that “Lee is all about the money” stuff.

November 8th, 2010: Yankees Likely To Offer Jeter $45-60MM

The Yankees are likely to offer Derek Jeter a three-year deal worth $45-60MM, according to Wallace Matthews of One of Matthews’ sources, someone intimately familiar with knowledge of the team’s negotiations with agent Casey Close, says the Yankees are prepared to “overpay” the shortstop.

The Yankees eventually re-signed Jeter to a three-year contract worth $51M, so hey, I guess that $45M to $60M range was correct. It wasn’t that easy though.

November 10th, 2010: Cashman Meeting With Cliff Lee In Arkansas

Cashman informed Jorge Posada he’ll serve as the team’s designated hitter next year, report Sherman and his colleague George A. King III.  Posada was told to prepare to catch, but the team hopes to find backstops out of Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, and Austin Romine.  Posada, who is having knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee today, is said to be fine with the plan. 

Buried in a post about Brian Cashman meeting with Lee and his agent was this blurb about Posada transitioning to DH. The decision to move him out from behind the plate was as much about improving the team defense as it was protecting Posada. He had all sorts of concussion issues in 2010 and his baseline test results were “not good.”

Of course, Posada was not fine with the plan. “Being demoted from day one, I never got the chance to fight for my job. That’s probably the toughest thing as a human being. You want to be able to do your job,” said Posada during his retirement press conference in January 2012. Cashman admitted they “obviously had a rough patch with Jorge in transitioning from catching, but we fought through it.” So yeah. He was not fine with it.

November 11th, 2010: New York Rumors: Beltran, Lee, Jeter, Santos

The Yankees say they’re extremely unlikely to pursue a free agent catcher, since they want to give their young catching a real chance to emerge in 2011 as Jorge Posada transitions to DH.

The Yankees signed Russell Martin exactly one month later. To be fair, Martin had not yet been non-tendered by the Dodgers at the time of this rumor. Moral of the story: plans change.

November 12th, 2010: Yankees Interested In Jorge De La Rosa

The Bronx Bombers have expressed interest in Jorge de la Rosa, according to Mark Feinsand and Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. GM Brian Cashman did not confirm the club’s interest in De La Rosa, but he did acknowledge that he has made “a lot of phone calls” to free agents.

The Yankees have had on and off interest in De La Rosa over the years. I guess that makes sense. He’s left-handed and has a history of missing bats and getting ground balls, and at the time of this rumor he already had three seasons with the Rockies, so De La Rosa had experience pitching in a tough environment. De La Rosa eventually re-signed with Colorado, but this makes me wonder if he could be a salary dump trade target this offseason. He had a 4.17 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 149 innings around an Achilles injury this year and is owed $12.5M in 2016.

November 12th, 2010: Olney On Huff, Uribe, Upton, Buck, Downs

The Yankees are interested in John Buck, but the catcher could likely command a two-year deal (possibly from the Red Sox) and it seems unlikely that the Yankees would offer more than a one-year contract.

Two blurbs ago we heard the Yankees were unlikely to pursue a catcher. That report came out literally the day before this one. Buck signed a three-year, $18M contract with the Marlins during the 2010-11 offseason, by the way. What a country.

November 12th, 2010: Yankees Notes: Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter, Crawford

Andy Pettitte told Matt Musil of that at the moment, he’s leaning towards retirement.  “Right now, I can tell you my heart’s right here in Deer Park,” Pettitte said.  “If something happens and I play one more year that would be it. It would be one more year and that would be it.”  The southpaw also confirmed that if he does return in 2011, he would only pitch for the Yankees.

And so began the Pettitte retirement saga. He flip-flopped quite a bit this offseason. There were reports he was leaning one way one day, and then the other way the next. Pettitte eventually announced his retirement in February 2011 … until he unretired the next offseason.

November 15th, 2010: Bartolo Colon Back On The Radar

Colon announced he was attempting a comeback to Yoel Adames of ESPN Deportes in late October while pitching for the champion Dominican team in the Pan-American Games qualifier. He said at the time that he “maintains conversations” with the Yankees, Rockies, Cardinals, and Tigers, though other teams approached him following his complete game victory over Nicaragua on October 10.

Remember when the Yankees signed Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract that offseason and the very thought of it was completely absurd? It’s five years later and the guy is still pitching. He was in the damn World Series this year. Colon did not pitch at all in 2010 and arm injuries limited him to 257 innings from 2006-09. He impressed in winter ball that offseason — Tony Pena was his manager — and the Yankees gave him a chance. We all mocked them. The Yankees are smarter than us.

November 16th, 2010: Yankees Interested In Pedro Feliciano

The Yankees expressed interest in lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday.  The rubber-armed 34-year-old figures to be popular this winter, with the Phillies, Angels, Mets, and others also seeking left-handed relief. 

The Yankees signed Feliciano to a two-year contract worth $8M about a month later. He never threw a meaningful pitch for them. Feliciano blew out his shoulder in Spring Training, had surgery, and took nearly two full years to recover. Cashman hilariously blamed the Mets for his extreme workload — Feliciano appeared in 266 of 486 possible games (55%) from 2008-10 — saying his “use pattern was abusive.” Not Cashman’s finest moment.

November 16th, 2010: Diamondbacks Listening On Justin Upton

3:33pm: The Yankees talked to the Diamondbacks about Upton, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Upton, then 22, hit .273/.356/.442 (109 wRC+) with 17 home runs during the 2010 season. That was actually a big step back from his .300/.366/.532 (130 wRC+) effort in 2009. Upton was not traded this offseason and he rebounded to hit .289/.369/.529 (141 wRC+) with 31 home runs in 2011. Arizona traded him for nothing in particular following the 2012 season. I wanted Upton so bad back in the day. I wanted him more than Lee during the 2010-11 offseason.

November 16th, 2010: Yankees Interested In Bill Hall

Now another AL East club is looking to bring him aboard, as’s Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees have interest in Hall according to major league sources.

“We have a good utility guy in [Ramiro] Pena,” said GM Brian Cashman. “We think Eduardo Nunez will be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues, but he very well could be a utility guy for us. [Brandon] Laird plays first base, third base and outfield.”

Ah yes, Bill Hall, one of the supersub guys who was never quite as good as people seemed to believe. The Astros gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25M that offseason, people said the Yankees were cheap and not committed to winning, then he hit .224/.272/.340 (66 wRC+) and was released at midseason. The Yankees are smarter than us. Also, remember Brandon Laird?

November 16th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Westbrook, De La Rosa, Papelbon

Oh yeah, Rivera was a free agent this offseason. Those negotiations were much less painful than the Jeter negotiations. As for that “small player move,” the Yankees traded Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks for minor league righty Scottie Allen two days later. Remember Juan Miranda? He did this once upon a time:

November 17th, 2010: Yankees Rumors: Upton, Lee, Soriano, Jeter

The Yanks are also working hard to find a setup man, calling on about a dozen free agents including Pedro Feliciano.  They’ve checked in on Rafael Soriano “as a fallback position in the incredibly small likelihood that Mariano Rivera does not re-sign.”  Sherman says to forget the idea of Soriano signing as Rivera’s setup man and closer-in-waiting.  Neither side is interested in that scenario.

Yeah, the idea of signing Soriano that offseason to setup Rivera and serve as his eventual replacement as closer was so silly and ridiculOH COME ON!

November 18th, 2010: Yankees Likely To Sign DePaula

The Yankees are expected to sign Dominican right-hander Rafael DePaula for about $700K later today, according to Melissa Segura of (on Twitter). He reappeared on the market a week ago after facing age and identity fraud questions for a year. MLB suspended him in 2009 and he later confessed to using a false identity. 

The Yankees signed DePaula that offseason but he didn’t get into actual games until June 2012 because of visa issues stemming from his false identity mess. All that missed development time was too much to overcome. DePaula had a 3.56 ERA (2.96 FIP) in 268.1 innings from 2012-14 but never improved his command or secondary pitches. He was the other guy the Yankee sent to the Padres for Chase Headley last July. DePaula, now 24, went unselected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft and had a 5.01 ERA (4.47 FIP) in 120.1 innings this past season. Prospects will break your heart.

November 19th, 2010: Yankees Interested In J.C. Romero

The Yankees are interested in left-hander J.C. Romero, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports … The Yankees are also interested in Pedro Feliciano and, potentially, Scott Downs. Teams will not have to surrender 2011 draft choices to sign Feliciano or Romero, but Downs may cost a pick.

This was back before the qualifying offer system and Downs was indeed a Type-A free agent that offseason, so it was going to cost a first round pick to sign him. He got three years and $15M from the Angels and was pretty damn good, pitching to a 2.27 ERA (3.35 FIP) in 142.2 innings over the life of the contract. Three-year contracts for relievers can’t work much better.

Feliciano didn’t pitch at all during his two-year deal and Romero took a one-year, $1.35M contract to return to the Phillies. He had a 4.01 ERA (3.96 FIP) in 24.2 innings in 2011 and was released at midseason. Somehow the Yankees managed to do even worse than Romero. Relievers, man.

November 19th, 2010: New York Notes: Jeter, Minaya, Rivera

The Yankees announced the hiring of Larry Rothschild as their new pitching coach today.  Rothschild has been the pitching coach for the Cubs and Marlins, and was also Tampa Bay’s first-ever manager.

The Yankees needed a new pitching coach that offseason, by the way. Dave Eiland was let go for still unknown reasons. Rothschild came out of nowhere too. There were no rumors or anything. No one had even reported he was in the mix for the job.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Rothschild exercised an option in his contract with the Cubs for the 2011 season just five weeks earlier, per Paul Sullivan. Once the Yankees cut ties with Eiland, Rothschild asked then Cubs GM Jim Hendry permission to pursue the job in New York, which he obviously landed.

November 21st, 2010: New York Notes: Jeter, Rivera, Mets Manager

Jeter’s agent, Casey Close is baffled by the Yankees’ negotiating tactics, writes Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News. “There’s a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth,” Close said. “Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats.”

Close was 100% correct. Jeter was one of the few players in baseball with legitimate marquee value that transcended his on-field production. He helped generate ticket and merchandise revenue. It’s only fair Jeter be compensated for that marquee value, but the argument can be made the team’s offers — at this point a three-year, $45M offer was making the rounds — factored in that marquee value.

November 22nd, 2010: Yankees Prefer To Offer Rivera One Year

The Yankees want to re-sign Mariano Rivera to a one-year deal, but the closer wants a two-year contract worth about $18MM per season, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of reported on Friday that Rivera was looking for a two-year deal and it now appears that the 40-year-old wants a raise from his 2010 salary of $15MM.

Nothing too earth-shattering here. The Yankees wanted to limit their commitment to the 40-year-old Rivera to one year while Rivera wanted more security. All things considered, the negotiations with Mo went about as smoothly as possible. There wasn’t nearly as much friction as there was with Jeter.

November 22nd, 2010: Minor Deals: Mariners, Sutton, Braves, Burroughs

The Yankees signed Neal Cotts, the Marlins signed Josh Kroeger and the A’s signed Adam Heether and Anthony Lerew, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (all links go to Twitter). Cotts, a 30-year-old left-hander, has pitched parts of seven seasons in the majors, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 and didn’t pitch in 2010 because of hip surgery.

The Yankees agreed to sign Cotts but he didn’t pass his physical in Spring Training and was released. He had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and surgery to repair the labrum in his right hip in 2010. The hip got infected and he ended up needing three additional surgeries. Cotts did not pitch at all from 2010-12.

“If I put him on the 40-man roster, it could be a situation where I’m paying him workman’s compensation for the rest of his life,” said Cashman to Joe Bick, Cotts’ agent, according to Ken Rosenthal. Harsh business, huh? To his credit, Cotts kept trying, and he resurfaced with the Rangers in 2013, pitching to a 1.11 ERA (2.17 FIP) in 57 innings. He’s still kicking around, spending last year with the Brewers and Twins.

November 23rd, 2010: Cashman Encourages Jeter To Test The Market

The game of chicken between the Yankees and Derek Jeter continued today, with GM Brian Cashman making the latest move.  Cashman told ESPN’s Wallace Matthews:

“We understand his contributions to the franchise and our offer has taken them into account.  We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.”

Now we’re talking. This is when things between Jeter and the Yankees started to get ugly. Years later — as in this past August — we learned Cashman also told Jeter he’d rather have Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. Based on the way things played out, it appears Cashman was designated as the bad guy in negotiations. He’d do the dirty work and Hal would then swoop in to smooth things over. Something tells me Cashman enjoyed it.

November 23rd, 2010: American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on TwitterAndy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team’s other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman’s agreement that can take place with Type B free agents.

The old free agent compensation system was so silly. Offer arbitration to a Type-A free agent and you received the other team’s first rounder plus a supplemental first rounder. Offer arbitration to a Type-B free agent and you only received the supplemental first rounder. Type-Bs did not require the signing team to give up a pick.

Interestingly, Cashman said the Yankees were leaning towards offering Wood arbitration — “I’m thinking yes on Wood. We’ll do them a favor. If we put them into an arbitration setting, then we can take them out and make a fair market value offer to them,” he said that same day — but it didn’t happen. Offering Berkman arbitration didn’t make sense because he had a $14.5M base salary in 2010 and probably would have accepted. (He earned $8M with the Cardinals in 2011.)

The Yankees didn’t offer arbitration to Pettitte, Jeter, or Rivera because it there was no point. Realistically, it was Yankees or retirement for them. They may have accepted the arbitration offer and received outsized contracts for 2011, so why risk it? So despite having three Type-A and three Type-B free agents that offseason, the Yankees received just the one extra draft pick for Vazquez. They used it to take Florida HS 3 Dante Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft. Womp womp.

November 26th, 2010: Jeter & Yankees Are Far Apart

8:06am: Derek Jeter’s representatives are asking for at least $80MM more than the Yankees are willing to offer in negotiations for the free agent shortstop, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. The starting point for Jeter and agent Casey Close was six years and $150MM, according to Madden, who reports that the Jeter camp is not budging from demands for a $25MM annual salary. Alex Rodriguez’s contract “is at the crux of Jeter’s and Close’s stance,” according to Madden.

Jeter wanted more money because A-Rod got more money while the Yankees didn’t want to give Jeter more money because they spent a regrettable amount of money on A-Rod. Even still, a six-year contract worth $150M was laughable at the time. Jeter could have repeated his 2009 performance in 2010 and I’m still not sure a contract that big would have been realistic. Jeter’s camp seemed to think the Yankees should and would pay him whatever he wanted simply because he is Derek Jeter, but the Yankees made it abundantly clear that wasn’t happening.

November 27th, 2010: Odds & Ends: Garland, Tigers, Manny, Astros

The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Anderson and left-hander Andy Sisco to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Anderson was recently cut by the Royals and is new to pitching after playing the outfield his entire career. Sisco threw 66.2 innings for the Giants Double-A affiliate this year after having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

I irrationally loved the Sisco signing. He was a big (listed at 6-foot-10 and 270 lbs.!) hard-throwing lefty who was once a top prospect. I thought he had a chance to help the bullpen at some point. Sisco appeared in 14 games with Triple-A Scranton in 2011 and had a 1.88 ERA, but he walked 12 and struck out 15 in 14.1 innings. The Yankees released him in May and he spent the rest of the year in the Mexican League. He’s pitched in Mexico, Korea, and independent leagues these last few years.

Anderson appeared in seven games for Double-A Trenton in 2011. He was released the same day as Sisco and spent 2012 in an independent league. Anderson has been out of baseball since that indy ball stint in 2012. Sisco was at least active in 2015, posting a 7.85 ERA in 39 innings for the KT Wiz in Korea. Every year I seem to get overly excited about one player the Yankees sign to a minor league deal. That year it was Sisco.

November 28th, 2010: Yankees Notes: Burnett, Jeter, Albaladejo

  • Brian Cashman flew to Maryland this week to meet with A.J. Burnett, writes’s Buster Olney (Insider required). While it’s not the first time Cashman has met with one of his veteran players during the offseason, the visit was more noteworthy because of Burnett’s disappointing 2010 campaign. The Yanks’ GM “made it clear” to the 33-year-old that the team still believes in him going forward.
  • Within the same piece, King says the Yomiuri Giants sent the Yankees $1.2MM for Jonathan Albaladejo, who finalized a one-year deal with the Japanese club yesterday.

Ah yes, the annual “figure out what’s wrong with Burnett” summit. The Yankees tried everything to get Burnett on track, but he was dreadful from 2010-11 and eventually it became clear the best thing for both sides was to part ways. Burnett had a 4.04 ERA (4.33 FIP) in 2009, a 5.26 ERA (4.83 FIP) in 2010, and then a 5.15 ERA (4.77 FIP) in 2011.

As for Albaladejo, gosh that was a bad trade. He had a 4.70 ERA (5.21 FIP) in 59.1 innings spread across three seasons in New York while Tyler Clippard dominated for the Nationals. Can’t win ’em all, I guess. Albaladejo, by the way, had a 5.85 ERA in 47.2 innings pitching in Mexico this summer.

November 29th, 2010: Yankees Rumors: Jeter, Rivera

  • Talks between the Yankees and Derek Jeter are “at a standstill until Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, ‘drink the reality potion,'” a source close to the negotiations tells ESPN’s Wallace Matthews.  The Yankees are stuck on three years and $45MM, while Jeter wants more years and $23-25MM annually.  Matthews says the Yankees are not budging from their offer, though SI’s Jon Heyman expects them to up the money but not the years this week.
  • The Yankees and Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, are progressing smoothly in their negotiations according to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand.  Rivera could be bumped to $16-17MM per year, but it’s unknown whether the Yankees will guarantee two years.

I wonder who in the organization came up with the “reality potion” line. That’s a good one. As for Rivera, things were going nice and easy. No issues there.

November 29th, 2010: Giants Contact Jeter’s Agent

The Giants have contacted Casey Close, the agent for Derek Jeter, according to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. However, the Giants are not seriously pursuing Jeter and there’s no evidence that a team other than the Yankees is bidding on the shortstop.

Well that attempt to create leverage backfired horribly, didn’t it?

November 30th, 2010: Yankees Rumors: Jeter, Chamberlain

Eduardo Nunez is the team’s Plan B if they are unable to re-sign Derek Jeter, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney.  Rather than try to sign a veteran replacement, the Yankees would install Nunez and allocate the money elsewhere.  Of course, Olney feels that the Yankees would remain flexible for potential upgrades if Nunez became their starting shortstop.

The Jeter situation got real pretty quick once Nunez was declared Plan B. Nunez made his MLB debut in 2010 and barely played, and while his bat rebounded in the minors from 2009-10, there was still not much evidence he’d be able to hit or defend well enough at the MLB level to play a position everyday. Plan B was scary.

The Jeter and Rivera negotiations continued into December, as did talks with Cliff Lee. The Lee market was very quiet for a few weeks in November. The Yankees and a few other teams were in the mix, but things didn’t really heat up until December. November 2010 was about the Jeter negotiations. Every day there was some sort of update.

Ken Griffey Jr. headlines newcomers on 2015 Hall of Fame ballot

The first baseball crushed my soul. (
The first time baseball crushed my soul. (

The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot was officially released by the BBWAA today. As a reminder, a player must have played at least ten seasons and be retired for at least five seasons to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. This year’s ballot runs 32 players deep: 15 newcomers and 17 holdovers. The full ballot is at the BBWAA’s site.

Headlining those 15 newcomers is Ken Griffey Jr., who looks to me like the only lock for induction this year. Other notable newcomers include Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds, and Billy Wagner. Mike Lowell, who only wore pinstripes briefly, and Randy Winn (!) are the only newcomers with ties to the Yankees.

Among the notable holdovers on the Hall of Fame ballot are Jeff Bagwell (55.7% of the vote last year), Barry Bonds (36.8%), Roger Clemens (37.5%), Mike Mussina (24.6%), Mike Piazza (69.9%), and Tim Raines (55.0%). Players need to appear on 75% of the ballots — there are 475 voters this year — for induction. Piazza has gradually inched closer in recent years and could get over the hump this winter.

Fred McGriff, Lee Smith, and Gary Sheffield join Clemens, Mussina, and Raines as holdovers on the Hall of Fame ballot with ties to the Yankees. Guys like Clemens and Bonds will never get into Cooperstown due to the various performance-enhancing drug allegations. Alex Rodriguez likely awaits the same fate.

The ballots are due by December 21st and the voting results will be announced on January 6th. At this very moment, my guess is only Griffey and Piazza get this winter.

Monday Night Open Thread

The GM Meetings started in Boca Raton today, and while there usually isn’t a ton of actual news to come out of there, there have been some fun rumors. The Yankees are open to talking about Andrew Miller, for example. Until the rumor mill really heats up, check out Jerry Crasnick’s hot stove survey. He polled several executives about the free agent market. Some good stuff in there.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Bears and Chargers are the Monday Night Football game and that’s pretty much it. None of the local hockey or basketball teams are in action. Use this thread to talk about those games or anything else.