Ten runs aren’t enough; Yankees fall 13-10 to Rockies in series opener

Well, you can’t blame the offense for Tuesday’s loss. That’s a nice change of pace. The Yankees and Rockies played a classic Coors Field slugfest Tuesday night, and the Rockies came out on top 13-10. The Yankees scored seven runs in the eighth inning and still lost by three. Good grief. At least that was more fun to watch than a 3-1 loss or something like that.

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

Don’t Let That 8.81 ERA Fool You
Amazingly, the Yankees were unable to muster much of anything offensively against Jorge De La Rosa, who went into Tuesday’s start with an 8.81 ERA (5.64 FIP) in 31.2 innings. De La Rosa limited New York to three singles and two walks in five innings while striking out only one. He also hit a batter. The Yankees actually had a baserunner in each of De La Rosa’s five innings, but were still unable to score.

The team’s best chance to put some runs on the board against the veteran southpaw came in the very first inning. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner led the game off with singles — Ellsbury’s was a line drive to center, Gardner beat out a bunt — but Starlin Castro banged into a 6-4-3 double play to short circuit the rally. De La Rosa allowed only one runner to make it as far as second base the rest of the night. Gross. He shaved more than a full run off his ERA. It’s down to 7.61 ERA. The Yankees have made a lot of pitchers happy this year, huh?

Nate’s Homer Problem
I get that it’s Coors Field, but Nathan Eovaldi has now allowed 12 home runs in 75.1 innings this season after allowing ten homers in 154.1 innings last year. He came into the season with a career 0.6 HR/9 in more than 600 innings, so clearly he has some sort of homer suppressing skill. That skill has been nonexistent this year. Eovaldi is up to a 1.4 HR/9 a little more than one-third of the way through 2016.

Trevor Story and Ryan Raburn got him Tuesday night, and they were back-to-back blasts in the fourth inning. Story absolutely clobbered a terrible 3-2 pitch …

Nathan Eovaldi Trevor Story

… to dead center field for a two-run homer that Statcast measured at 454 feet. It’s the second longest homer given up by the Yankees this season. Remember that dinger Michael Pineda served up to Carlos Correa back in April, the one he smacked off the windows of the restaurant? That one went 462 feet. Raburn followed Story’s blast with a 388-foot opposite field job.

Two singles and a double ended Eovaldi’s night in the fifth inning. (Gardner got twisted around and should have caught the double, but by then the story of Eovaldi’s outing had been written.) He was charged with six runs on eight hits and two walks in only four innings, and he struck out only two. It was a non-competitive start. Eovaldi has now allowed at least five runs in each of his last three starts after allowing seven runs total in his previous five starts.

Don’t Call It A Comeback
To their credit, the Yankees did not go quietly. After falling behind 6-0, they put three runs on the board in the top of the sixth. Didi Gregorius had the big blow with a home run to right field. Brian McCann drew a walk and Chase Headley bunted to beat the shift to set Gregorius up for the dinger. Didi had a real nice at-bat. He fell behind in the count 0-2, worked it back full, then mashed the three-run tater.

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

The home run cut the deficit in half but lol that didn’t last. The Rockies immediately answered with three runs in the next half-inning, and another three runs the half-inning after that. Colorado scored three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth, three in the sixth, and three more in the seventh. Yeesh. Kirby Yates (0.2 innings) and Richard Bleier (1.1 innings) were both charged with three runs. The non-big three relievers now have a 4.95 ERA in 116.1 innings on the season.

The Rockies took a 12-3 lead into the eighth inning, and, just as we all expected, the Yankees scored seven runs that inning to make it 12-10. How about that? Here’s the short version of that seven-run inning:

– Headley strikes out
Rob Refsnyder rips a solid single to center
– Gregorius squibs an infield single to short
Aaron Hicks bloops a single to right to load the bases
– Pinch-hitter Ike Davis singles to right to drive in a run in his first at-bat as a Yankee
– Ellsbury lines a two-run single to center to cut the deficit to 12-6
– Gardner gets hit by a pitch to reload the bases
– Castro drive in two with an infield single (pitcher Miguel Castro threw it away)
– McCann grounds out to second to score another run, cutting the deficit to 12-9
– Headley shoots a single to left to score yet another run, making it 12-10
– Refsnyder singles to right
– Gregorius grounds out to end the inning

Got all that? Seven runs on eight singles, an error, and a hit-by-pitch. No lead is safe in Coors Field, but geez, it’s not like the Yankees were ripping line drive after line drive that inning. There were definitely a few softly hit but well-placed singles in there. Hey, sometimes that’s all it takes. It also helps that Colorado’s bullpen is really bad.

The Rockies got another run back in the bottom of the eighth — they scored in the next half-inning each time the Yankees scored, which is annoying as hell — when Carlos Gonzalez launched a bomb of a home run off Andrew Miller. It was a no-doubter. Rockies closer Carlos Estevez retired the side in order in the ninth with a 13-10 lead.

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

Leftovers
Every Yankee in the starting lineup had at least one hit except McCann and Eovaldi. In fact, every starter had at least two hits except McCann, Eovaldi, and Gardner. Gardner singled and was hit by a pitch. McCann drew a walk. The Yankees put 20 runners on base and scored scored ten runs. And lost. By multiple runs. The worst.

After facing Justin Wilson and Shane Greene last series, the Yankees got a look at two more ex-Yankees on Tuesday. Boone Logan and Chad Qualls combined for a scoreless seventh inning. Logan retired Ellsbury (strikeout) and Gardner (ground out). He was always over-hated while in pinstripes.

And finally, assuming my Play Indexing is correct, this is the first time the Yankees have scored ten runs in a loss since 2010. They dropped a 13-11 game to the Indians on May 29th, 2010. They blew a 9-3 lead that night.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN for the updated standings. Also don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees won’t be in Denver very long. They’ll wrap up this quick two-game set with the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon. That’s a 3:40pm ET start. Lots of weird start times this season, huh? Ivan Nova and Chad Bettis are the scheduled starting pitchers.

DotF: Charleston clinches first postseason berth since ’05

Some promotion news:

  • 3B Miguel Andujar has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, reports Matt Kardos. That was very much expected. Andujar hit .283/.343/.474 (144 wRC+) in 58 games in his second stint with Tampa. Now comes the hard part: Double-A.
  • C Kyle Higashioka was sent from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton, so says Chad Jennings. Higashioka had a monster three weeks filling in for C Gary Sanchez, but, at the end of the day, Sanchez is the priority here, and he’s going to start behind the plate.
  • Old friend alert: OF Slade Heathcott has signed a minor league deal with the White Sox, the team announced. He was placed on their Triple-A DL. I thought Slade was going to end up with the Angels because they’re short on outfielders and Billy Eppler knows him. Alas.

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Toledo)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 CS — 22-for-49 (.449) in his last 12 games
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-4, 1 BB
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-3, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — 16-for-39 (.410) in eleven games since the 0-for-24 slump
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB — first time behind the plate since the broken finger
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-5, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 48 of 75 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

Game 64: I thought the Rocky Mountains would be a little rockier than this

(Getty)
(Getty)

Pretty much the only thing I enjoy about interleague play these days is the novelty of watching the Yankees play in different ballparks. This is their fourth trip to Coors Fields ever, though they were here as recently as 2013. You may remember Vernon Wells played third base in one of those games. Man, 2013 was weird as hell.

The Yankees closed a generally fantastic homestand — we all would have signed up for 5-2 ahead of time, right? right — with two losses to the Tigers, which is annoying. They play their next eleven games against the Rockies and Twins, so if the Yankees are ever going to climb the standings and make a run at a postseason spot, now is the time to do it. It starts tonight. Here is the Rockies’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Looks like the Yankees will get some very nice weather during their two-day trip to Denver. It was sunny all day and the sky is clear. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Carlos Beltran woke up with a sore knee and is unavailable. “It’s a little worrisome,” said Joe Girardi. Beltran is not scheduled to go for any tests and the hope is he’ll be able to play tomorrow.

Royals claim Tyler Olson off waivers from Yankees

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Royals have claimed left-hander Tyler Olson off waivers from the Yankees, the team announced. He was optioned to their Triple-A affiliate. The Yankees designated Olson for assignment the other day to clear a 40-man roster spot for Anthony Swarzak.

Olson, 26, came over from the Dodgers in a minor trade over the winter. He’s spent most of the season with Triple-A Scranton, where he had a 5.27 ERA (3.59 FIP) in 27.1 innings with the RailRiders. Olson had two separate stints with the Yankees but only appeared in one game, allowing two runs in 2.2 innings.

The Yankees are fairly deep in left-handed relievers, though most of them are hurt. Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, and Phil Coke are all on the DL. Of course, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are healthy, plus Richard Bleier is on the roster as well. Olson was completely expendable.

Draft Signing Notes: Rutherford, Nelson, Kriske, More

Our annual Draft Pool Tracker page is now live. You can find it any time via the Resources pull-down menu at the top of the site. As it turns out, Baseball America made a mistake when they reported the Yankees’ bonus pool at $5,768,400. It’s actually $5,831,200. MLB.com confirms it and that’s what you get when you add up the slot values reported by Baseball America. No biggie. Mistakes happen. Point is, the Yankees have an extra $62,800 in bonus pool space than originally reported.

All of the Yankees’ picks can be found at Baseball America. Here is the first wave of signing updates.

  • Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer told Chad Jennings he expects California HS OF Blake Rutherford (1st round) to sign. “I’ve done this long enough to know until they’ve taken the physical, gone through the whole process and signed, the whole thing is never done. I would think that we’re going to get it done. We took him with the idea that we’re going to get it done. But until it’s finished, you never know,” he said. Rutherford is slotted for $2,441,600.
  • Louisville 2B Nick Solak (2nd) is now free to sign because the Cardinals were eliminated in the Super Regionals this past weekend. They were eliminated in rather heartbreaking fashion too. They were up 3-0 in the ninth when their closer gave up a season-ending walk-off grand slam. Ouch. Solak is slotted for $1,040,800.
  • Florida JuCo RHP Nick Nelson (4th) traveled to Tampa Sunday to finalize his contract, according to Greg Brzozowski. Baseball America says he received $350,000. Slot for his pick is $455,400. Nelson told Brzozowski his contract includes a two-year scholarship as well.
  • South Carolina OF Dom Thompson-Williams (5th) has signed for $250,000, according to Baseball America. He was slotted for $341,000. South Carolina was eliminated in the Super Regionals this past weekend, allowing Thompson-Williams to sign.
  • USC RHP Brooks Kriske (6th) signed for $100,000, reports Jonathan Mayo. Slot money for his pick was $255,300. Kriske posted a photo of the contract signing on Instagram. He was expected to sign a below-slot deal as a college senior, but the fact he got as much as he did suggests the Yankees consider him an actual prospect.
  • North Florida C Keith Skinner (7th) signed for a mere $10,000, reports Mayo. Skinner was slotted for $191,500. As a college senior, he had basically zero leverage. Some seniors sign for $1,000.
  • Fullerton 1B Dalton Blaser (8th) also received a $10,000 bonus, according to Mayo. His pick has a $176,200 slot. BTI Sports posted a photo of Blaser signing his contract on Twitter.
  • Southern Mississippi 1B Tim Lynch (9th) has signed as well, according to Frankie Piliere. Lynch seemed to confirm it on Twitter. He’s another $10,000 pick per Baseball America. Lynch was slotted for $164,600.
  • Illinois-Chicago LHP Trevor Lane (10th) also signed for a $10,000, reports Jim Callis. He was slotted for $156,600. On Twitter, Lane said he is throwing a bullpen in Tampa today, then flying to New York to join Short Season Staten Island.
  • Louisiana Tech RHP Braden Bristo (23rd) signed for $55,000, according to Sean Isabella. Slot money for every pick after the tenth round is $100,000. Any bonus below that does not result in pool savings, however. Isabella says Bristo is heading to Tampa today and will soon join Staten Island.
  • Louisiana Tech LHP Tim Diehl (27th) signed for a $50,000 bonus plus another $20,000 in tuition money, he told Isabella. I guess you could say he got … *shades* … a nice Diehl. He’ll be in Tampa today and will be shifted to the bullpen in pro ball, per Isabella.
  • Wagner OF Ben Ruta (30th) is en route to Tampa, based on his Twitter feed. That’s usually a very good indication a deal is either done, or very close to being done.
  • Stony Brook LHP Tim Honahan (36th) told Tim Oakes he will sign. He’s due to report to Tampa for his physical and contract signing soon. “I grew up a Yankee fan. My idol was Andy Pettitte,” said Honahan to Oakes.

The Yankees have already saved $1,000,600 in pool money so far. The signing deadline is July 15th this year and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rutherford waits until the very last second to sign. Tons of first rounders do that each year. James Kaprielian did it last year. My guess is Rutherford gets something in the $3.5M to $4M range.

6/14 to 6/15 Series Preview: Colorado Rockies

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are back out on the road for a six-game trip this week. Their first stop: Colorado for a pair of games with the Rockies. This is the team’s first visit to Coors Field since 2013. They’ve played three road series against the Rockies since interleague play became a thing, winning two of three in 2002 and 2013, and getting swept in 2007.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rockies are on a bit of a hot streak at the moment. They’ve won six of their last eight games and outscored their opponents 43-24 in the process. Colorado is 30-33 with a -7 run differential overall. That is annoyingly similar to the Yankees, who are 31-32 with a -20 run differential.

Offense & Defense

As you might expect from a team that calls Coors Field home, the Rockies have no trouble scoring runs. They average 5.00 runs per game with a team 93 wRC+ overall. Of course, their home-road splits are pretty substantial. The Rockies average 5.72 runs per game (99 wRC+) at home and only 4.38 runs per game (89 wRC+) on the road. Pretty huge difference there, eh?

Manager Walt Weiss, whose son Bo was drafted by the Yankees last week, has only one position player on the DL. Backup C Tony Wolters (51 wRC+) is out with a concussion. Otherwise everyone is healthy. Because Rockies players tend to have such extreme home-road splits — it’s not their fault, most of them didn’t get a chance to pick their home park — I’m going to present their offense a little differently this series preview. Here are the regulars:

Home Road
C Nick Hundley .214/.353/.321 (58 wRC+) .275/.370/.500 (131 wRC+)
1B Mark Reynolds .303/.386/.449 (97 wRC+) .298/.341/.462 (117 wRC+)
2B D.J. LeMahieu .256/.445/.594 (145 wRC+) .264/.306/.363 (80 wRC+)
SS Trevor Story .263/.331/.544 (96 wRC+) .254/.290/.529 (116 wRC+)
3B Nolan Arenado .309/.387/.682 (148 wRC+) .263/.340/.489 (123 wRC+)
LF Gerardo Parra .313/.328/.518 (89 wRC+) .224/.230/.343 (48 wRC+)
CF Charlie Blackmon .299/.357/.540 (105 wRC+) .292/.364/.443 (121 wRC+)
RF Carlos Gonzalez .310/.350/.637 (129 wRC+) .281/.333/.438 (103 wRC+)

I would hate to cover the Rockies full-time because Coors Field screws everything up. Even the road numbers seem skewed. Purple Row did an analysis a few years ago that showed either the Coors Field park factors are totally wrong, or going back and forth between high altitude and sea level throughout the season messes Rockies players up more than we realize.

Alright, so anyway, the Rockies have a true star in Arenado, who is easily a top ten player in the game today. Maybe even top five. He’s not a product of Coors Field. The man would rake anywhere. Arenado usually hits third with Blackmon — Blackmon will open some eyes this series, he’s a sneaky good ballplayer — and LeMahieu in front of him, and Gonzalez and Story behind him. The top five of the batting order is pretty set in stone. Weiss tends to mix the bottom of the lineup up on a daily basis.

The Rockies have UTIL Ryan Raburn (107 wRC+) on the bench, who will play against lefties, usually in place of Parra. C Dustin Garneau (62 wRC+) is the backup catcher and IF Daniel Descalso (156 wRC+) and IF Cristhian Adames (59 wRC+) are the backup infielders. The Rockies only carry four bench players despite being in the NL because they need to carry eight relievers. Their pitching staff is bad in general, and Coors Field exacerbates things.

Defensively, the Rockies have excellent glovemen in LeMahieu and Blackmon, and, of course, Arenado is on the very very very short list of the best defensive players in baseball, regardless of position. Watch this ridiculousness:

I saw No. 3 and No. 8 with my own eyes and I don’t still don’t believe they really happened. Crazy. Anyway, Story and CarGo are good enough defenders and Parra’s glove has really slipped the last few years. Reynolds is adequate at first, and Hundley is nothing special behind the plate. Arenado, LeMahieu, and Blackmon make the Colorado defense above-average by themselves.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (8:40pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. COL) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (vs. NYY)
This is De La Rosa’s ninth season with the Rockies and they should probably build a statue of the guy because he’s managed to give them 1,039 innings of 4.34 ERA (106 ERA+) ball. He’s third on the franchise’s all-time innings (behind Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis) and WAR (behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Cook) lists. This year has been a big struggle though. De La Rosa, 35, had an 8.81 ERA (5.64 FIP) in 31.2 innings. He made six starts before getting demoted to the bullpen, where he made three long relief appearances. This will be his first start back in the rotation. De La Rosa’s strikeout (25.3%) and grounder (45.4%) rates are fine, but he’s walked too many (9.7%) and been extremely homer prone (2.27 HR/9). His platoon split is small because his low-80s splitter is so effective against righties. De La Rosa sets the split up with a low-90s heater. He also throws a little upper-80s cutter and an upper-70s curveball.

Wednesday (3:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. COL) vs. RHP Chad Bettis (vs. NYY)
I am an irrational Chad Bettis fan, so much so that I wrote a post about him as a possible trade target over the winter. He’s not having a good year though, and will come into this start with a 5.85 ERA (4.76 FIP) in 13 starts and 72.1 innings. His strikeout (16.5%) and walk (5.9%) rates are down, and only one of those is a good thing. Bettis is homer prone (1.49 HR/9) despite a good ground ball rate (49.4%). Righties have hammered him this season, which is weirdly a career long trend. Huh. Bettis operates with three fastballs: low-90s sinkers and four-seamers, plus an upper-80s cutter. A mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball are his two offspeed pitches.

Bettis. (Presswire)
Bettis. (Presswire)

Bullpen Status

The Rockies have a history of signing veteran relievers as free agents, and they usually end up giving guys an extra year to get them to come to Coors Field. They’ve had trouble developing pitching since the first day the franchise existed, and that means both starters and relievers. Here is their current bullpen:

Closer: RHP Carlos Estevez (4.43 ERA/4.34 FIP)
Setup: LHP Boone Logan (1.59/1.82), RHP Jason Motte (2.57/4.54), RHP Chad Qualls (5.03/4.64)
Middle: RHP Gonzalez German (2.82/4.41), RHP Justin Miller (4.44/4.33)
Long: RHP Eddie Butler (5.48/4.78), LHP Chris Rusin (4.12/3.20)

Colorado has something weird going on with their rotation at the moment. Butler and Rusin have both been in the rotation for a few weeks now, and in fact they started games last Tuesday and Wednesday. They’re not listed among the team’s upcoming pitching probables though, so I assume they’re available in relief this week. They’re both stretched out and can go super long if necessary.

Former Rays closer LHP Jake McGee (4.98/4.50) just landed on the DL with knee inflammation, pushing Estevez into the closer’s role. Logan and Qualls, a pair of ex-Yankees are among his setup crew. Weiss uses Logan as a lefty specialist these days and he’s been pretty awesome at it. He’s held left-handed batters to a .108/.158/.194 batting line with a 38.5% strikeout rate and a 71.4% ground ball rate. Logan will be a free agent after the season, and if he keeps dominating lefties like that, he’s going to find himself in another uniform after the trade deadline.

Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relief crew. Both the Yankees and Rockies had an off-day yesterday, their bullpens are as fresh as they’re going to get in mid-June.

Yulieski Gurriel is the right player at maybe not the right time for the Yankees

(Icon Sportswire)
(Icon Sportswire)

Yesterday morning, Jesse Sanchez reported Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel has been declared a free agent by MLB and is now able to sign with any team. Yulieski and his younger brother Lourdes Jr. defected back in December. Sanchez says Lourdes is still waiting to be declared a free agent, though he’s going to wait until his 23rd birthday in October to sign anyway. That way he won’t be eligible for the international spending restrictions.

Gurriel, 32, is a longtime Cuban star who is widely considered the best position player in the world not under contract with an MLB team. His numbers in Cuba last season are straight out of a video game: .500/.589/.874 with 20 doubles, 15 homers, 38 walks, and three strikeouts in 49 games and 224 plate appearances. Gurriel played the 2014 season in Japan, during which he hit .305/.349/.536 with eleven homers in 62 games. He’s been a monster his entire career.

Last year we heard Gurriel wants to play for the Yankees, partly because his favorite player is Alex Rodriguez. How about that? Gurriel is also close friends with Aroldis Chapman dating back to their time on the Cuban National Team, and Gurriel recent told Chapman he would be “super happy” to sign with the Yankees. Now that Yulieski is free to actually sign with a team, I have some thoughts on this.

1. Where would the Yankees play him? Gurriel has primarily been a second and third baseman in his career, and while the Yankees are contractually locked into Starlin Castro and Chase Headley at those positions, they shouldn’t stand in the way of signing him. The Yankees would be able to carve out regular playing time for Yulieski at both positions, and he could even fill-in some in the outfield. He has experience there.

Also, the Yankees have a need at first base, both immediate and long-term. They could try Gurriel at first, and if that doesn’t work, they could always fall back on playing him at third and Headley at first. It’s not ideal, but it could work. Point is, the Yankees can find ways to get Gurriel into the lineup rather easily. It’s not like he’s a catcher who would have to share time with Brian McCann or something. The Yankees have a collectively below-average infield and Gurriel would help correct that.

2. Forget about his position, they need his bat. Whoever signs Gurriel is not buying his glove (not that he’s a bad defender). He’s a legitimate middle of the order hitter. Here’s a piece of Baseball America’s latest scouting report, which does not seem to be behind the paywall:

Gourriel has all the attributes to be an above-average offensive player. He has plus bat speed and squares up all types of pitches with good hand-eye coordination and barrel control. He wraps his barrel behind his head, angling the bat toward the pitcher, but he gets the barrel into the hitting zone quickly and has good plate coverage. He stays within the strike zone and uses the whole field, and with plus raw power on the 20-80 scale, he offers a balance of being able to hit for average, get on base and hit for power.

The scouting report goes on to compare Gurriel to Hanley Ramirez and David Wright, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting these days, it was referring to peak Hanley and Wright. Yulieski is not someone you bring in to hit seventh or eighth. He has the ability to be a third or fourth place hitter.

The Yankees need offense. Very desperately, in fact. Both right now and going forward. They’re 24th in runs per game this season (3.92) and their best hitter is a 39-year-old impending free agent. Even if the Yankees were to re-sign Carlos Beltran — I think the odds of that are extremely small — how could you expect him to hit like this next year? And who knows what the young replacements (Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Ben Gamel, etc.) can do?

Ken Rosenthal says Gurriel is going to need a few weeks in the minors to get ready, but he should be able to help a team in the second half. It’s not like he’s going to sign and be in the lineup tomorrow. He needs a Spring Training, basically. Gurriel can still help this year though. Simply put, he’s someone you can build their lineup around going forward. The Yankees don’t have another player like that right now.

3. What will it cost to sign him? This is the big question. I assume Gurriel won’t come cheap. These are the last three big name Cuban position players to sign with MLB clubs:

  • 3B Hector Olivera, Dodgers: Six years, $62.5M.
  • OF Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks: Six years, $68.5M
  • OF Rusney Castillo, Red Sox: Six years, $72M.

Gurriel is better than every one of those guys, and in the case of Olivera, he doesn’t have the same scary injury history either. Between general inflation and the fact he’s a better player than that trio, I can’t help but wonder if Gurriel is going to push for a $100M deal. Why not ask? It’s not like this upcoming free agent class is loaded with good hitters.

I suppose an opt-out could be a factor here. There seems to be some evidence opt-out clauses save teams a little bit of money. Perhaps Gurriel could sign for, say, Castillo money ($12M per season) with an opt-out after the second year. If he’s an impact hitter, that’s a bargain. With so much money coming off the books the next two years, the Yankees could afford Gurriel at $12M per year without blowing up their plan to get under the luxury tax.

For what it’s worth, Joel Sherman says Yankees international scouting director Donny Rowland has long held Gurriel in high regard, so if nothing else, Rowland figures to give his bosses the hard sell. The Yankees bid for Cuban players like Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yoan Moncada, Jorge Soler, and Aledmys Diaz in recent years and fell short each time, and surely there is some level of regret. They don’t want to fall short again.

4. Is his age a problem? This is an interesting question and it makes me wonder if Gurriel is the right player at the wrong time for the Yankees. He’s 32 — he just turned 32 last week — which means he fits best for a team ready to win right now. You don’t sign Gurriel if you’re a rebuilding team looking ahead to the future. You sign him because you’re a contender looking for the final piece to put you over the top this year and next year and the year after.

The Yankees say they’re trying to win and that’s all well and good, but the team on the field suggests it might not be in the cards this year. They’re not a game under .500 in mid-June by accident, you know? Does it make sense to add Gurriel when winning this season is a long shot? He’s already at the age where his game might begin to slip as it is. So you’re talking about adding a player nearing the end of his prime to a team that might not be a true contender until he’s 33 or 34. That is sort of tricky.

At the same time, you could argue the Yankees shouldn’t need two or three years to turn things around because of their resources. They have a bunch of prospects at Double-A and Triple-A and all that money is coming off the books. The 2003 Tigers were the worst team I’ve ever seen and the 2006 Tigers won the pennant, so it’s certainly possible for the Yankees to turn things around in a hurry, while Gurriel is still producing big time.

There’s also the contract length angle. He’s 32 now, so a six-year deal takes him to age 38, and signing a guy deep into his 30s is always risky. Sometimes it works out, like the Beltran deal. Most of the time it doesn’t though. It’s impossible to project how Gurriel will age, so in addition to the question of whether the Yankees will be ready to win during whatever is left of his prime years, there’s also the risk of signing him beyond the age of 35.

5. Don’t forget, Lourdes Jr. is the real prize. Yulieski is unquestionably the better player right now and that figures to be the case for the next few years, but Lourdes is the Gurriel brother teams are going to fall all over themselves to sign. He’s another potential middle of the diamond impact hitter, except he’ll be only 23 when he signs, so you’re getting him for his entire prime. That’s pretty huge.

I’ve seen folks talk about the possibility of a package deal, though who knows if that’s possible. Both Gurriels may take the highest offer no matter what. Assuming Lourdes is declared a free agent soon, he could work out a deal and simply hold off on signing until October. That would allow teams to negotiate with Yulieski and Lourdes at the same time, which is certainly better than trying to work out a package deal when you have to negotiate weeks or months apart.

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I’m of the belief that impact bats are very hard to find, especially those capable of playing the middle infield. Because of that, I think the Yankees should be in on Gurriel even though he is 32 and even though he might cost them $12M+ a year. The future of the offense is very much a question and this is a chance to add a cornerstone type hitter for nothing but money. No draft pick. Nothing. There’s never a “wrong” time to add good players.

Of course, it’s easy to say that when it’s not my money. I wouldn’t be assuming the risk. I definitely understand why someone would be hesitant to sign Gurriel deep into his 30s, especially with no MLB track record. Pretty much everyone agrees this guy can be an offensive force though, including the Yankees’ international scouting director. If Gurriel is as good as advertised, or is even 75% of what is advertised, he could end up a real bargain.