The qualifying offer will be set at $18M this offseason, which doesn’t mean much to the Yankees

(Stephen Brashear/Getty)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty)

According to Buster Olney, teams have been informed the qualifying offer will be worth approximately $18M this offseason, possibly $18.1M. In that range. The qualifying offer is a one-year deal set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. Make a free agent the qualifying offer, and you get a draft pick when he leaves. Simple as that.

For the Yankees this year, the qualifying offer is essentially meaningless. Not one of their impending free agents is a qualifying offer candidate. Here’s the list:

CC Sabathia
Matt Holliday
Todd Frazier (not eligible for the qualifying offer because he was traded at midseason)
Michael Pineda

That’s it. Pineda blew out his elbow earlier this month and needed Tommy John surgery, and since he’s going to spend just about all of next season rehabbing, there’s no reason to make him the qualifying offer. Right now Pineda is looking at a little one or two-year “rehab and prove yourself” contract a la Nathan Eovaldi last year. He’d accept the qualifying offer in a heartbeat. I’m not sure the Yankees would have made Pineda the qualifying offer even before his elbow game out.

The Yankees could very well have interest in retaining Sabathia beyond this season, though not at an $18M salary. Bartolo Colon signed a one-year deal worth $12.5M last winter. That’s probably Sabathia’s price range. Not $18M. Holliday is on a one-year deal worth $13M this year. Make him the qualifying offer and he’d take it. Frazier and any other rental the Yankees bring aboard isn’t eligible for the qualifying offer. All pretty simple, right? Right.

That all said, the Yankees do have one qualifying offer candidate this year: Masahiro Tanaka. If he opts out after the season, the Yankees could and should make him the qualifying offer. Tanaka would be walking away from three years and $67M by opting out. He’s not going to accept a one-year deal worth $18M. And you know what? Even if he did take the qualifying offer for some weird reason, good! I’d take him back on a one-year deal in a heartbeat.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the free agent compensation rules pretty dramatically. All first round picks are protected now, and what you give up to sign a qualified free agent and what you receive when you lose a qualified free agent are tied to your team’s payroll. Here’s the bucket the Yankees fall into this coming winter:

  • Sign a qualified free agent: Forfeit second and fifth highest draft picks, plus $1M in international bonus money.
  • Lose a qualified free agent: Receive a compensation draft pick after the fourth round.

It’s pretty straightforward for the Yankees because they’re going to pay luxury tax this year. Things are much more complicated for teams that do not pay luxury tax. That’s where the Yankees hope to be next season, under the luxury tax threshold. So, if Tanaka does opt-out and reject the qualifying offer, the Yankees would get a dinky draft pick after the fourth round. Not much, but better than nothing.

Game 99: Stay Hot

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees have won four of their last five games and they’re starting to snap out of their month long funk. Hooray for that. You know what’s crazy too? As terrible as the Yankees played during those few weeks, they’re still only one game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. They’re actually a game up in the loss column. The division is right there for the taking.

Anyway, the Yankees will have their best starting pitcher on the mound this afternoon as they look to wrap up a quick little two-game sweep against the rebuilding Reds. The Rays are coming to town for a pretty important four-game series this weekend. It would be cool to pick up another win and create some more distance in the standings. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Clint Frazier
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

Just a perfect day for baseball in New York. The sun is out, there are only a few puffy clouds in the sky, and the temperatures are in the mid-70s. Couldn’t ask for a better day. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Why Isn’t Clint Frazier Walking?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The emergence of Clint Frazier as one of the Yankees’ best outfielders this year is a microcosm of the Yankees’ 2017 in general. We expected steps forward for the Yankees, but not necessarily in terms of winning games; rather, we expected them to forward the development of young players at the Major League level — like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Luis Severino — while fostering the same thing in minor leaguers like Gleyber Torres and, of course, Frazier. And for Frazier, we expected him to be with the big club, but not until late in this year at the earliest. Instead, somewhat like his team and organization itself, he jumped those expectations and arrived earlier than the schedule originally intended.

Following Tuesday night’s action against the Reds, Frazier is hitting .277/.284/.569 with a .347 wOBA (117 wRC+). Of his 18 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases. As Katie pointed out on Twitter, that’s just two fewer XBH than Jacoby Ellsbury has in 137 fewer at bats. The good ol’ eye test also tells us that Clint stings the hell out of the ball, thanks to his incredibly quick hands that generate great bat speed; the numbers back that up, too. Among players with at least 40 batted ball events, Frazier ranks 28th in the majors, with an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH. The only wrinkle in Clint’s game, it seems, has been a lack of walks (one in 67 plate appearances). It’s not as if that’s gotten in the way of his production, but it’s still curious.

Aside from his 30-game stretch at AAA last year, split between the Yankees and Cleveland’s organization, Frazier has always tallied respectable walk rates in the minors. His 2013 stint in rookie ball — and the aforementioned 2016 AAA stint — is the only time he failed to put up a double digit walk rate; even then, it was 8.7%. We could definitely chalk it up to armchair psychological factors: rookie jitters, wanting to impress, the feeling of needing to hit instead of walk to earn a spot on the team. Clint’s not necessarily going up there hacking, though. He’s seeing 3.96 pitches per plate appearance and, again with the eye test, does seem to have a plan when he’s up at the plate. There are numbers, aside from P/PA, to back this up as well.

If we look over Frazier’s swing data from FanGraphs, the first thing we notice is a low out-of-zone swing rate of 21.7%. The league average is usually around 30ish, so that’s great. In terms of pitches in the zone, he’s swinging at 71.5% of those pitches, compared to the average of around 67%. A low O-Swing% and a high Z-Swing% would seem to point to a lot of walks, but that’s not the case here. Perhaps, then, the answer can be found in the fact that Frazier sees more pitches in the zone — 54.4% — than the league average of around 45%. Given that number and his high in-zone swing rate, it’s a bit easier to see why Frazier isn’t taking his walks. Take a look at his heat map, also from FanGraphs:

clint-frazier-heat-map

 

Look at all that red in the zone, especially in the middle portion. Pitchers are pounding him there and he’s taking advantage by swinging. Additionally, pitchers are throwing lots of fastballs to Clint. Per Brooks, 196 of the 252 pitches he’s seen have been fastballs. Lots of fastballs. Lots of in the zone pitches. A hitter with remarkably quick hands. This isn’t too hard to figure out.

As the league adjusts to Frazier, I image he’s going to see more pitches out of the zone and more pitches with some wrinkles to them. Given he’s done so in the minors and does seem to have a good approach at the plate, I think we’ll see him laying off more pitches and taking his walks. Until then, let’s enjoy his bat and rejoice that he’s taken the “singles are for the weak” approach to hitting.

Yankees beat Reds 4-2 in series opener behind Gregorius and Montgomery

Home sweet home. The Yankees returned home to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since before the All-Star break, and they celebrated with a 4-2 win over the Reds. They’ve now won four of their last five games. I’m glad things are finally starting to turn around. Love this team, you guys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three Outs, One Run
One inning into the game, it looked like the Yankees were in for a long night. Reds rookie Luis Castillo was throwing fire — his fastball averaged 96.8 mph and topped out at 99.6 mph in this game — and locating just well enough to keep the Yankees off balance. He does not look like a fun at-bat. Then, eight pitches into the second inning, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs. Things turned around pretty quickly.

Three singles built that second inning rally. Matt Holliday went to right-center field, Didi Gregorius went to right field, and Chase Headley went the other way to left field. Single single single. It came together quick. That brought Todd Frazier, who had half of Toms River in the stands, to the plate. Frazier has struggled as a Yankee so far. He looks like he’s pressing. It happens. He’ll be fine. Eventually. I think.

Anyway, when you’re struggling, bases loaded with no outs is an opportunity to do some damage and start feeling pretty good about yourself. Frazier got ahead in the count 3-1, put a good swing on the ball, and drove a run in. With a 6-3-5-6 triple play. For reals. Look at this thing:

Where was Didi going? He had to think that little soft line drive was going to be caught on the fly, right? Had to. Once it was clear the ball was not caught, Gregorius should have just kept going to third. Forget about the rundown. The run had scored already. Eh, whatever. Frazier, by the way, has now driven in two runs with the Yankees. One with a double play and one with a triple play. Not very efficient, Todd.

Montgomery’s Gem
The month of July had not been too kind to Jordan Montgomery prior to Tuesday night. In his first four starts this month the rookie left-hander allowed 14 runs on 30 baserunners in 19.2 innings. Yikes. On Tuesday, Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and faced the minimum through five. It wasn’t until Scott Schebler led off that sixth inning with a double into the gap that Cincinnati broke into the hit column.

Montgomery finished the night having allowed one run — Schebler scored after advancing to third on a long fly ball and came home on a ground ball — on two hits and one walk in 6.2 innings. He struck out six. I’m a little surprised to see the one walk. Montgomery was behind in the count a bunch and went to a three-ball count on seven of the 22 batters faced, so roughly one out of every three. A better team would have done a little more damage. Overall though, real nice outing for Montgomery. Sign me up for this every fifth day the rest of the season.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Four Relievers For Seven Outs
Between Frazier’s run-scoring triple play (lol) and Schelber’s trip around the bases in the sixth, the Yankees added two insurance runs. Aaron Judge singled to right to open the fourth, advanced to second on a ground, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on a Gregorius sac fly. Then, in the fifth, Tyler Wade reached on a fielder’s choice and scored all the way from first on Austin Romine‘s double into the right field corner. Boy can Wade fly.

All that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead going into the seventh inning, and had the Yankees not traded for Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson last week, I’m guessing Joe Girardi would have stuck with Montgomery a little longer. Instead, he yanked Montgomery following an Adam Duvall two-out single with his pitch count sitting at 85. That’s the luxury of having a deep bullpen. You don’t need to push your rookie starter through the lineup a third time in a close game.

Kahnle closed out that seventh inning with a fly ball, and rather than stick with him in the eighth, Girardi went to eighth inning guy Dellin Betances. I don’t really love burning Kahnle to get one out on four pitches, but whatever. Betances made things interesting with two walks and a booming double to right by Billy Hamilton (?!?), and had to be bailed out by Adam Warren, who struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the inning with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second. Good thing Zack Cozart is dealing with a quad injury, otherwise he would have scored from first on Hamilton’s double.

So, rather than use Kahnle in the eighth, the Yankees wound up using three relievers to get four outs spanning the seventh and eighth inning. Inefficient! Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth with a 4-2 lead — Gregorius gave the Yankees a much appreciated insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth — and needed only eight pitches to retire the side. Fly ball, ground out, fly ball. Outs are outs, but Chapman has now struck out only four of the last 29 batters he’s faced, or 13.8%. Eh.

Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)
Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)

Leftovers
How locked in is Gregorius right now? Sir Didi went 2-for-3 with a homer and a sac fly in this game, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) with four homers during his seven-game hitting streak. With Holliday and Gary Sanchez both struggling at the moment, it might not be a bad idea to bump Didi up to the cleanup spot for a few games. Either way, go Didi. He’s been awesome. He missed a month and is still third among all shortstops with 15 homers. Only Carlos Correa (20) and Corey Seager (16) have more.

Every starter had a hit except Clint Frazier and Wade. Frazier ripped a line drive right at the left fielder and Wade did reach on a fielder’s choice and score the team’s second run. His speed came in handy. Brett Gardner, Judge, and the lesser Frazier each had a single and a walk. Too bad Gregorius hit that home run in the eighth after Betances did his best to try to improve the team’s record in one-run games, eh?

And finally, the Yankees hit into a triple play for the first time since September 2011, when Russell Martin banged into a 5-4-3 triple play against the Rays. I was at that game. True story. This was also the first triple play to score a run since the Mariners managed to do it in 2006, and only the seventh since 1930. Here’s the list. Oh, and it was the first triple play turned by the Reds since 1995.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Reds wrap up this quick little two-game series Wednesday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day. Luis Severino and Homer Bailey are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game, or any of the other seven games remaining on the homestand.

DotF: Ford and Andujar go deep in Scranton’s win

Here are the day’s notes, headlined by several new and updated prospect lists:

  • MLB.com released their updated top 100 prospects list. Six Yankees made the cut: SS Gleyber Torres (No. 3), OF Clint Frazier (No. 27), RHP Chance Adams (No. 63), OF Dustin Fowler (No. 79), OF Estevan Florial (No. 91), and LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 94). Jim Callis added 3B Miguel Andujar and SS Jorge Mateo didn’t miss the cut by much.
  • MLB.com also released their updated top 30 Yankees prospects list while Baseball America (subs. req’d) released their updated top ten Yankees prospects list. As always, all the MLB.com scouting reports are free, so check that out.
  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked his top five farm systems and has the Yankees fifth despite all the graduations and high-profile injuries this year. “There are a lot of positives here, and the team continues to find value with later-round picks who don’t necessarily blow you away on traditional scouting variables,” said the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Norfolk in ten innings)

  • CF Jake Cave: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K — hitting streak is up to eleven games
  • DH Mike Ford: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the tenth … ties his career high with 12 homers in 92 games … he hit 12 homers in 130 games last year
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-5, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 59 of 96 pitches were strikes (61%), plus he picked a runner off second
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K — 23 of 36 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 33 pitches were strikes (64%) … 27/7 K/BB in 22 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery
  • RHP Jonathon Holder:1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 15 of 30 pitches were strikes … he went full Betances

[Read more…]

Game 98: Back Home, Finally

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For the first time in 16 days, the Yankees are back home at Yankee Stadium. The All-Star break and a long eleven-game, ten-day road trip through three time zones kept them away from home for a while. Good to have baseball back in the Bronx. I’ve missed it. The Yankees will be here for the next nine days.

The Reds are in town for a quick little two-game interleague series, and while I know any team can beat any other team on any given night in this league, this feels like the kind of series the Yankees really should dominate. The Reds have lost 28 of their 40 last games and like 75% of the roster could be traded at any moment. Drop the hammer. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Clint Frazier
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 2B Tyler Wade
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cool and cloudy in New York this evening, though there’s no rain in the forecast, and that’s all that matters. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Aaron Hicks (oblique) will hit in the cage for the first time tomorrow. There is no firm date for him to begin a minor league rehab assignment … Tyler Austin (hamstring) has started running and will start swinging a bat soon.

Rotation Update: Caleb Smith will remain in the rotation, Joe Girardi said. His next start is scheduled for Saturday against the Rays. The Yankees are said to be looking for another starter in advance of the trade deadline, though even if they swing a deal, Smith may still need to make that start because whoever they get might not be lined up.

7/25 to 7/26 Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees have won a series for the first time in well over a month, finishing up an eleven games in ten days stretch with a 6-5 record. Monday’s off-day was well-earned, and almost undoubtedly a necessity as they head into another lengthy stretch without a day off – they’ll play for thirteen straight days beginning this evening. And the Reds are up first.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Cincinnati for two games back in May, splitting the series a game apiece. That was way back when the Yankees were the best team in baseball, owning the game’s best record and best run differential. Some notes on the series:

  • The Yankees offense was at the height of its powers in the first game, plating ten runs and going a combined 13-for-36 with a couple of home runs and more walks (7) than strikeouts (5). Masahiro Tanaka was the only starter that did not reach base, but he got in on the action with a sacrifice bunt.
  • Didi Gregorius hit his first home run of the season in the second game, which was his eleventh game of the season. He went 4-for-8 with 4 RBI in the series.
  • CC Sabathia was knocked around in his start, pitching to the following line: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. It was his fourth straight subpar start, which left him with a 5.77 ERA on the season. Since then, however, he has a 1.62 ERA in 50 IP (9 starts).

For more factoids about the series, check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post.

Injury Report

Four-fifths of the Reds rotation is currently on the disabled list, with Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Finnegan out for the rest of the year, and Anthony DeSclafani and Scott Feldman recovering from injuries. Neither DeSclafani nor Feldman will be back in time for this series; though, Feldman could be on the Yankees radar as a deadline acquisition, should he recover quickly from his knee injury.

Their Story So Far

The Reds were atop the NL Central when these teams faced in May, with a half game lead over the Chicago Cubs. They were 17-14 with a +22 run differential at that time, with a borderline-elite offense and a league-average pitching staff. That was then; they’re now sitting at the bottom of their division at 41-58, with a -84 run differential – the fifth-worst mark in the majors.

This is a rebuilding team, so such a stark backslide isn’t entirely surprising. And, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, this team may well be even worse in a week’s time.

For more on the Reds, check out Red Reporter or Redleg Nation.

The Lineup We Might See

As was the case when these teams last met, the Reds lineup is fairly consistent on a game-to-game basis. Manager Bryan Price will play for the platoon advantage a bit, but he does so by swapping his fifth and sixth hitters in the lineup – and that’s about it. The only real wrinkle that we will see is his choice for designated hitter. We’ll probably see a lineup along these lines:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Zack Cozart, SS
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Adam Duvall, LF
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  7. Scott Schebler, RF
  8. Patrick Kivlehan, DH
  9. Tucker Barnhart, C

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Luis Castillo

Castillo has the odd distinction of being dealt twice by the same team in a six month span. The Marlins attempted to send him to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea at last year’s trade deadline, only to nix the deal due to Rea’s undisclosed injury (even though he appeared in a game for the Marlins). He was subsequently dealt to the Reds in January, as a part of the deal that sent Dan Straily to Miami. Castillo was called-up for his big league debut on June 23, and has been in the Reds rotation ever since – and he’s done quite well. He has a 3.86 ERA (116 ERA+) in 35.0 IP, with a ridiculous 29.5% strikeout rate and a well above-average 55.7% groundball rate.

The 23-year-old Castillo is a power pitcher, with a three-pitch arsenal. His four-seam fastball sits in the upper-90s, and he complements it with a mid-80s slider and an upper-80s change-up.

Last Outing (vs. ARI on 7/20) -6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Wednesday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Homer Bailey

Bailey is the longest-tenured member of the Reds, having made his MLB debut a bit less than three month before Joey Votto. He was the 7th overall draft pick back in 2004, a top-10 prospect in 2007 and 2008, and an exciting young pitcher in 2012 and 2013, but injuries have derailed his career these last three years. Bailey has appeared in just 14 games since the beginning of 2015, pitching to a 7.30 ERA (60 ERA+) in 61.2 IP. He returned from the disabled list on June 24, and has mixed three good starts with three atrocious ones. And he’s still just 31.

Bailey is a three-pitch guy, with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, an upper-8s slider, and a mid-80s splitter. When he’s on, both the slider and splitter can be devastating.

Last Outing (vs. MIA on 7/21) – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K

The Bullpen

Way back in May, I noted that the Reds bullpen was showing signs of competence after being absolutely horrific in 2016. That has held mostly true, as they remain in the middle-of-the pack in terms of run prevention, and currently sit in the top-ten in WPA and meltdowns. There isn’t a great deal of name value in this group, but they’re getting the job done.

Closer Raisel Iglesias leads the way, with a 1.46 ERA (306 ERA+) and 31.2 K%; he’s 17 for 18 in save opportunities. Wandy Peralta and Drew Storen are the set-up men, and both have been solid in their roles, as well. A lack of rest may be an issue for the bullpen as a whole, though, as they’ve yet to have a day off since the All-Star break.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Scooter Gennett made headlines when he cranked out four home runs and 10 RBI on June 6. That feat was made even more amazing by the fact that, heading into that, Gennett had hit just 38 HR in 1754 PA – so those 4 home runs represented 9.5% of his career total. As a result, he seemed like the sort of player that would pop-up for a historical moment, and then fade into the background as a neat bit of trivia. Instead, Gennett has slashed .323/.385/.623 (158 wRC+) since that game, with 11 HR in 143 PA.

Why bring this up here? Simple – he’s a LHH whose spray chart looks like this:

(FanGraphs)
(FanGraphs)

I will also add a token reference to Joey Votto, who remains one of the most interesting hitters in all of baseball, and one of my favorite non-Yankees.