Thoughts following the 2016 trade deadline

You done good, Cash.  (Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The week leading up to yesterday’s trade deadline was one of the most important weeks in recent Yankees history. The team stopped prioritizing the present and focused on the future. They traded four veterans (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova) for a haul that includes one big leaguer (Adam Warren), ten prospects (ten!), and two players to be named later. That week leading up to the deadline is potentially franchise altering. I have some thoughts.

1. The Yankees did way better with their pre-deadline trades than I ever possibly imagined they would. Part of that is me not having a great grasp of the market, and part of it is Brian Cashman doing a great job marketing his players. Four players for Chapman? Mark Melancon, another elite rental reliever, got two. Four players for Miller? Will Smith got two. Three players for Beltran? Jay Bruce got two. That’s pretty awesome. This season has not been particularly good or enjoyable, but these trades have turned this year into a positive. The Yankees added some serious upside to the farm system and a ton of depth as well. They have guys they can call up soon and plenty of ammo for trades as well.

2. Speaking of the farm system, it’s now one of the best in baseball if not the best in baseball. The Yankees added two consensus top 25-ish prospects (Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres) plus a third consensus top 100 guy (Justus Sheffield) plus two others who were on top 100 lists coming into the season (Billy McKinney, Dillon Tate). I haven’t put a ton of thought into this yet, but here’s my rough top ten prospects list as of right now:

  1. Clint Frazier
  2. Aaron Judge
  3. Gary Sanchez
  4. Gleyber Torres
  5. Jorge Mateo
  6. Blake Rutherford
  7. Justus Sheffield
  8. James Kaprielian
  9. Tyler Wade
  10. Miguel Andujar

Tate is probably No. 11 right now, between Andujar and Dustin Fowler. Anyway, that’s a pretty stacked system. I count seven no-doubt top 100 guys plus a possible eighth. (If Kaprielian doesn’t make top 100 lists next spring because of his injury, I’ll understand.) My favorite part is that the top three guys are all in Triple-A and reasonably close to MLB. Sanchez and Judge could be up right now, really. (Frazier still needs some more time there.) Torres and Sheffield are a little further away, but man, the Yankees have a lot of high-end talent close to the show. That’s pretty awesome.

3. I do love the Frazier pickup. I didn’t even bother listing him in my Scouting The Market: Indians post because I didn’t believe the Indians would trade him. He’s that good. Frazier’s not a true five-tool player but he’s awfully close, and he’s shown big time baseball aptitude by closing some holes in his swing and improving his selectivity over the last few years. The Yankees haven’t had a true offensive cornerstone since Robinson Cano left and Frazier has that kind of ability. Will he be that guy right away? It would be neat if it is, but probably not. It took Robbie a few years to really figure it out himself, remember. Frazier was a huge, huge get for the Yankees. They never have access to this kind of talent in the draft. Getting it for a reliever, even one as good as Miller, is a tremendous move.

4. Another thing I like about those top three prospects: they’re all right-handed hitters. The Yankees have leaned a little lefty heavy the last few years and that’s mostly by design due to the Yankee Stadium short right field porch. They’re going to need some more lineup balance going forward and those three guys are going to help provide that. The Yankees have been a little too susceptible to southpaws the last few seasons. There’s some serious help on the way to address that weakness.

5. Miller was one of the best free agent signings in franchise history even though he was only a Yankee for a year and a half. He was excellent on the field, he said all the right things off the field and put the team first by accepting a setup role, and his contract proved to be a bargain. Such a bargain that the Yankees were able to trade him for a pretty significant package of prospects. Trading Miller was a smart move because chances are his value will never be higher, but man, I wish the Yankees could have kept him. I imagine pretty much everyone loved having him on the team. Miller was a total pro.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

6. The Miller and Chapman trades were the same but different. They were the same because both guys are high-end relievers who fetched a package of four players. They were different because Chapman was a rental and most expected him to be traded. The Yankees sought as much as possible for Aroldis and that was that. Miller had two more years of control left, and because of that, the team had to be blown away to move him. I almost feel like whatever the Yankees get out of the Chapman trade is gravy. He was a goner no matter what. With Miller, it feels like the Yankees really have to hit on that trade package because they gave up those two extra years. The circumstances surrounding the two trades are quite different.

7. One benefit of trading Chapman and Miller: Dellin Betances figures to have a nice easy workload the rest of the season. He’s the closer now, which likely means fewer multi-inning appearances and fewer appearances in general. The Yankees aren’t very good, so it’s not like Dellin is going to see many save chances going forward. That’s a positive in my book. Betances has thrown not only a ton of innings the last few years, he’s thrown a ton of intense high-leverage innings. Easing up on his workload in the second half is not the worst thing in the world.

8. The Yankees are totally going to sign a high-end reliever this offseason, aren’t they? They’ve had at least two elite relievers every year since 2011 and I don’t think they want to go into next season with Tyler Clippard and Warren backing up Betances. Chapman’s going to be a free agent this winter, as are Melancon and Kenley Jansen, so there’s your bullpen free agent watch list. Melancon was traded at the deadline too, so he’s not going to cost a draft pick. That could factor into the team’s decision. Either way, yeah, I expect some money to be spent on a top notch reliever after the Chapman and Miller trades.

9. It’s possible the Yankees could slip down into protected pick territory — they currently have the 15th worst record in baseball and are 5.5 games “up” on a protected pick — which would be cool, though I’m not sure there will be any qualified free agents worth signing this offseason. I guess a protected pick would make Jansen a greater possibility, plus there’s always a chance ownership steps in and forces a Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion on the baseball operations folks, though I don’t think that’ll happen. This isn’t going to be a great offseason to have a protected pick. The free agent class is really crummy. Oh well.

10. I don’t really see the point of the Clippard trade. It’s not a bad trade or anything, it just seems … pointless. It’s almost like Cashman threw ownership a bone for agreeing to the Miller trade by adding a veteran reliever so the Yankees could still “go for it.” Vicente Campos is having a really nice year, but he has an ugly injury history, and I’m not sure he has the stuff or the command to start long-term. I still would rather see what he could do in relief going forward than Clippard, who we know is on the decline. Eh, whatever. Not a huge deal. Just seems weird to make a “buyers” trade like that at this deadline. They have bullpen arms to cover those innings.

11. Among all the non-top prospects in the trades, my favorite is Ben Heller almost by default. The kid throws 100 mph with a pretty good breaking ball on his best days. Yeah, he’s a reliever, but he was the third piece in the Miller trade and is pretty darn close to MLB. That’s a really nice third piece in a trade for a reliever. There’s a chance we’ll see Heller in September, though I would bet against it. He’s not going to be Rule 5 Draft eligible until next year, and 40-man roster space is precious. Heller might have to wait a little longer to make his MLB debut. Either way, I’m exciting by what he brings to the table. The top prospects are going to get all the attention, though the secondary pieces like Heller are often the difference between good trades and great trades.

12. Cashman admitted yesterday Dillon Tate was a “buy low” opportunity given his poor season and up-and-down velocity. Also, the fact he’s going to pitch out of the bullpen with Low-A Charleston is an indication the Yankees believe they’ve identified some sort of mechanical flaw and will work to fix it. The selling point here is Tate being the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft. His stock has dropped since then though, and expectations have to be adjusted accordingly. There’s still a ton of upside here if Tate can get himself back to where he was last season. There’s also a lot of work to be done going forward. Without this down year, Tate is not available for rental Beltran. It’s up to the Yankees’ player development staff to make this one pay off.

13. The deadline was yesterday but trading season is not over. I expect the Yankees to continue exploring the waiver trade market in August. In a nutshell, players claimed on trade waivers can only be traded to the claiming team while players who go unclaimed can be traded anywhere. Trade waivers are completely revocable, so you can pull a player back if claimed. Pretty much any quality player with a good contract will get claimed, so Miller and Beltran weren’t going to get through. I could see the Yankees looking to swing an August waiver trade involving Starlin Castro, Brett Gardner, Starlin Castro, Brian McCann, Starlin Castro, Nathan Eovaldi, Starlin Castro, Michael Pineda, and Starlin Castro too. The odds of a deal are much lower because of those trade waiver rules, but I could see the Yankees pushing to get a little more done this month. There’s no point in stopping now.

14. In that same vein, the Yankees can continue the “selling” with some internal moves. The big one, obviously, is cutting ties with Alex Rodriguez and clearing that DH spot. Sanchez is the obvious fit there. He could DH part of the time, catch part of the time, and spend the rest of his days at the Tony Pena School For Catchers Who Can’t Catch Good. Cutting Mark Teixeira is another possible move, especially with Tyler Austin really forcing the issue in Triple-A. Sanchez is the big one for me though. There’s an opening for Judge in right field now. That’s not a problem. Sanchez is still stuck behind McCann and Austin Romine, and I think he’s at the point where he needs to come up to continue his development. A-Rod‘s in his way. The Yankees were smart to trade veterans for prospects at the deadline. They should continue the process by waving goodbye to A-Rod. (And I guess Teixeira too.)

15. Even though it was necessary, it totally stinks to see your favorite team sell at the deadline and essentially admit they aren’t good enough to contend. That’s not fun. At the same time, I found last night’s game really enjoyable, I think because I had no real expectations. Stress-free baseball is fun in its own way, like Spring Training. The Yankees have already thrown in the towel by selling, so now they can raise some hell in the second half and make an unexpected run at a postseason spot because hey, what else is there to do? Remember, the Yankees still have a ton of games remaining with the other AL East teams. They can make their lives miserable down the stretch, and I will enjoy watching every minute of it.

Yankees win a wild one in Queens, down the Mets 6-5

You thought the trades were the most exciting thing about the Yankees the past few days? Boy, how about tonight’s game? The Yankees were trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of 8th, and they managed to tie it up. They scored a go-ahead run in the 10th and Dellin Betances barely held on to get the save.

Welp (Getty)

Taking the lead

The Yankees almost had an electric start to the game. Almost. On the second pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit a big fly that hit the center field fence and trickled away from CF Justin Ruggiano. Gardner got to third pretty easily as they were just relaying the ball into the infield when he started to race towards home. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the ball and tagged Gardner out just before his hand got on the plate. It wasn’t like Gardner was slacking on base either – he rounded the base in 14.89 seconds, which is fastest home-to-home speed recorded by StatCast this season. I just think that Mets were in a better position to field it than the Yanks had thought. Oh well.

The Mets got the first run of the game in the bottom of second. Wilmer Flores got a hold of a fastball and drove it out to give them a 1-0 lead. At least on the mound, that was the only mistake CC Sabathia made prior to the sixth inning. The Yankees responded in the fourth with a run of their own. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with double and reached third on Brian McCann fly out. On a 0-1 count versus Didi Gregorius, Verrett threw a sinker way inside and d’Arnaud missed it for a wild pitch, scoring Ellsbury.

The Yankees plated two more in the fifth. With two outs and Rob Refsnyder on second, Gardner hit a double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead and Ellsbury followed it up with an RBI single (Gardner reached second on Alejandro De Aza’s bobbling error). 3-1 Yankees. Sure, this isn’t the same team but the Yankees were making things happen tonight. However, they are still a flawed bunch.

Falling apart

CC was throwing a pretty solid game until the bottom sixth. Around then, while his slider was still snapping well, his fastball command was, well, not good. After Flores reached on an infield single, he allowed another single to d’Arnaud, but he hit it much better this time. The 91 mph fastball was up in the zone and he hit it squarely to right field.

Sabathia got himself some breathing room by easily striking out James Loney, courtesy of that nasty knockout slider that made him look silly. However, he threw yet another fastball up to Matt Reynolds that left the yard immediately. The Yankees trailed 5-3 after that three-run homer. CC got one more out and was lifted after walking … the pinch-hitting pitcher Steve Matz. That was a weird sight.

(Getty)

Tie Game!

The score stayed 5-3 going into the bottom of eighth. At this point, the odds against the Yanks were, well, not great. The Mets don’t necessarily have the best relief corp but the Addison Reed-Jeurys Familia combo in the eighth-ninth innings has been pretty solid. Reed came into the eighth with Gardner on and one out. Reed easily struck out Mark Teixeira to make it two outs and needed to get one more to hand it to Jeurys in the ninth. McCann, the next guy up, got a 0-1 fastball and hit it through the shift to make it runners on first and third. Next up? Probably the best hitter in the team, Didi Gregorius.

During Didi’s AB, Reed threw a wild pitch that advanced pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes to second, setting up two runners in scoring position. After a lengthy battle of fouling pitches off, Didi hit a blooper that landed between the left fielder and shortstop to bring both runners in. Wow. That reminded me so much of that Jorge Posada bloop double in the 2003 ALCS Game 7 that tied the game. The 2016 Yankees, now without some of their best players, made a thing happen!

Free Baseball! 

The game headed into extra innings with no changes in scoring. The Mets sent out RHP Seth Lugo to take care of the tenth. With an Ellsbury walk and Teixeira single, Yankees were immediately in business. With A-Rod on deck, Girardi pulled him back and put in Ben Gamel to sac bunt.

Gamel, who was called up just earlier today to take Carlos Beltran‘s spot, bunted it quite evenly between the baseline and the pitcher. Lugo thought he had a chance to get the lead runner out but wait … it’s Ellsbury we’re talking about. Jacoby beat the throw to third and it loaded the bases with no outs. Your usual sacrifice bunt with fielder’s choice.

Didi struck out to give Mets a sigh of relief, but Starlin Castro hit a long (I mean, really long) sac fly just a few feet away from being a grand slam to put the Yankees up 6-5. Chase Headley snared a liner that looked good off the bat but it was right towards Curtis Granderson. On to the bottom of the 10th. It’s neither Aroldis Chapman time nor Andrew Miller time. It’s … Dellin time.

Betances didn’t start great. On the third pitch of the inning, he allowed a double to Loney. The Mets, up against one of the deadliest pitchers of the league, decided to give away an out by having Reynolds sac bunt to advance Loney to third. A HBP to De Aza made it runners on corners with one out.

Next up was Rene Rivera, who took over Familia’s hitting spot after the ninth. He hit a grounder that bounced in front of the mound and went right into Dellin’s glove. Holy moly. If that went past Dellin, the game was surely going to be tied. Instead, it only advanced the runner from first to second.

With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Dellin did what he’s known for – being nasty and striking hitters out. He got Granderson out on three pitches – a fastball and two low curveballs. Game, 6-5 Yankees. This will probably be one of the top 10 games of the season. It wasn’t great for your heart but I would watch again.

Leftovers

Tyler Clippard, back in the pinstripes after being traded after the 2007 season, pitched in the bottom of 7th tonight. Fun fact: he made his Yankee debut in 2007 against the Mets in the old Shea Stadium. Tonight, he made his re-debut (if that’s a thing) with the Yanks against the Mets in Citi Field. He came into the game with an underwhelming 4.30 ERA but I personally think he can be serviceable – the dude had a 2.80 ERA up to mid-July before running into a series of nutty outings. He threw a scoreless inning with two K’s tonight. I’ll take that any night.

Adam Warren, another Yankee recently re-acquired through trade, threw two scoreless frames. I honestly feel like he could be back being a decent bullpen arm back in Bronx.

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up next

The Yankees and Mets will play the second game of this four-game series Tuesday night. Aces Masahiro Tanaka and Jacob deGrom will be on the mound.

DotF: Torrens, Gittens, Alvarez go deep in Charleston’s win

Got a whole bunch of notes to pass along:

  • OF Aaron Judge (knee) will be activated off the Triple-A DL tomorrow and will receive “strong consideration” for a call-up later this year, Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings. Judge has been out nearly four weeks, so he’s going to need some at-bats just to get himself back up to speed. I doubt a promotion is imminent.
  • 1B Greg Bird (shoulder) has resumed throwing, according to Billy Witz. He won’t return during the regular season, but assuming his rehab goes well, Bird is a candidate to go to the Arizona Fall League in October.
  • RHP Dillon Tate, who came over in the Carlos Beltran trade, is going to work out of the Low-A Charleston bullpen, Cashman told Jennings. It’s not a permanent move. There are some things Tate needs to iron out and the Yankees feel the bullpen is the place to do it.
  • OF Mason Williams is out with a quad injury, Cashman told Jennings. He hurt himself in a game the other night. No word on the severity, but Williams missed most of the first half following shoulder surgery, so he needs to get at-bats.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, reports Shane Hennigan. Montgomery is replacing the since traded Vicente Campos, who replaced the called up Luis Severino.
  • Baseball America provided scouting reports on the all the players involved in the Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran trades, so make sure you check that out (Miller, Beltran). They’re free. The pieces are not behind the paywall.
  • And finally, OF Blake Rutherford was named the rookie Appalachian League Offensive Player of the Week while RHP Luis Cedeno was named the Low-A South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP — got picked off first … he’s had a nice year, but it’s hard to think he’ll be with the Yankees beyond this season … they simply have too many upper level outfielders
  • DH Ike Davis: 0-4, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 8/2 GB/FB — 52 of 85 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — six pitches, five strikes
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — only six of 14 pitches were strikes in his second rehab outing
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine of 12 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 105: The New-Look Yankees

Subway Series

The last week or so has been a pretty crazy time in Yankeeland. For many fans, this is the first time they’ve ever seen the team be legitimate sellers. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova are all gone. They Yankees basically traded their three best players and Nova. In return, they netted a ton of prospects. A ton of prospects.

There are still games to be played, of course, and tonight the new-look Yankees open the Subway Series in Citi Field. Well, these aren’t new-look Yankees, really. There’s no one new on the roster. Just a bunch of guys we’ve all seen before. The team is new-look in its direction though. The focus is no longer on right now. It’s on the future, and that’s a new development. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Rob Refsnyder
  9. LHP CC Sabathia

It is on the cool side and cloudy in New York, and there’s rain the forecast much later tonight. It won’t be a problem unless the games goes to like 20 innings or something. Now that I’ve jinxed it, I’ll tell you the game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on both YES and SNY locally, as well as ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Moves: In the wake of today’s trades, the Yankees have called up Ben Gamel and Nick Goody. Also, Tyler Clippard has reported and was added to the active roster.

Yankees trade Ivan Nova to Pirates for two players to be named later

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

8:16pm: The Yankees have a list of players to choose from to complete the trade, according to Chad Jennings. They’re going to continue scouting those players in the coming weeks before making their picks.

4:21pm: The longest tenured homegrown Yankee is no longer a Yankee. A few minutes before today’s 4pm ET non-waiver trade deadline, the Yankees agreed to send right-hander Ivan Nova to the Pirates for two players to be named later. The team has since announced the trade, so it’s a done deal. Ivan joins his buddy Frankie Cervelli in Pittsburgh.

Nova, 29, will be a free agent after the season and there was basically no reason for the Yankees to keep him. He’s not a qualifying offer candidate and getting something, even two unexciting players to be named later, is better than losing him for nothing as a free agent after the season. Trading Nova was an easy call for the front office.

In 15 starts and six relief appearances this season, Nova pitched to a 4.90 ERA (5.09 FIP) in 97.1 innings. He has a 4.99 ERA (4.98 FIP) in 191.1 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, and he finishes his Yankees career with a 4.41 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 729 total innings from 2010-16. The second half of the 2011 season was his finest stretch in pinstripes.

The Yankees originally signed Nova for $80,000 as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic back in July 2004. Like I said, he was the longest tenured homegrown player in the organization, and the second longest tenured overall behind Alex Rodriguez. This must be tough for Ivan. He’s been a Yankee for a long, long time.

There’s no word on who the two players to be named later will be. They don’t have be named for six months, but chances are it’ll happen long before that. They could be legitimate prospects, they could be fringe minor leaguers, or they could be 40-man roster players who have to slip through trade waivers in August before being added to the deal. We’ll see.

As for replacing Nova in the rotation, that won’t be too tough. The Yankees have both Luis Severino and Chad Green on the big league roster and stretched out. Luis Cessa is stretched out in Triple-A as well. I’m not sure there’s a wrong answer here. My guess is Severino gets the first crack at Nova’s rotation spot.

Yanks send Carlos Beltran to Rangers for three prospects

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The tear down of the 2016 Yankees has continued. Carlos Beltran has been traded to the Rangers for three prospects, both clubs announced. The three prospects are all right-handed pitchers: Dillon Tate, Nick Green, and Erik Swanson. Evan Grant says the Yankees are paying the remainder of Beltran’s $15M salary this season, which they supposedly did not want to do. So much for that.

Beltran has been, by no small margin, the Yankees’ best hitter this season. No one else is even close. Beltran has hit .304/.344/.546 (134 wRC+) with 21 doubles and 22 homers in 99 total games. He leads the team in basically everything. Pick an offensive stat and Carlos is atop the Yankees’ leaderboard. That’s why he was an All-Star this season. Beltran hit .270/.327/.470 (115 wRC+) in three seasons in pinstripes.

The Yankees had the option of keeping Beltran and making him the qualifying offer after the season, but I didn’t love that plan for a number of reasons. They were able to turn him into three prospects, including the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, mostly because the Rangers lost Prince Fielder to season-ending neck surgery a few days ago and have seen their AL West lead shrink from eleven games to two games in, like, two weeks. Texas was desperate.

Tate is the biggest prospect in the trade and he was the aforementioned fourth overall pick in last year’s draft. His prospect stock has already taken a big hit though, mostly because his velocity has fluctuated wildly and he’s had some hamstring problems this summer. Also, a 5.12 ERA (4.43 FIP) as a 22-year-old in Low-A is straight up bad, especially for a guy who went fourth overall out of a major college program (UC Santa Barbara) just last year.

For the time being, I consider Tate more of a lottery ticket pickup than a bonafide top prospect. That isn’t to say it’s a bad trade. Getting a guy with Tate’s upside and pedigree for a rental 39-year-old, even one as good as Beltran, is pretty great. I just need to see more consistent velocity, more strikeouts (19.0%), and fewer walks (9.3%) before I run him up the prospect rankings. Here’s a snippet of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

Tate can dominate hitters with two pitches, a lively 92-98 mph fastball and a sharp 85-89 mph slider … He has improved his changeup since he started using it more often, but it still has a ways to go before it becomes a reliable third pitch … Most scouts think he can remain a starter because he’s so athletic, which helps him throw strikes and should allow him to stay healthy and smooth out his delivery.

Green and Swanson, the other two prospects coming to the Yankees, were also 2015 draftees like Tate. Green was selected in the seventh round and Swanson in the eighth round. It’s worth noting the Yankees drafted Green out of high school back in the 35th round of the 2013 draft. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence they acquired him now. He still has some fans in the organization.

The 21-year-old Green has a 4.98 ERA (3.17 FIP) with a great strikeout rate (27.7%) and an okay walk rate (8.8%) in 34.1 Low-A innings this year. He’s an arm strength guy with good athleticism who’s run his fastball up to 95 mph. A work in progress curveball is his second offering. Swanson, 22, has a 3.43 ERA (3.25 FIP) with a 22.9% strikeout rate and a 7.4% walk rate in 81.1 High-A innings this season. He’s a four-pitch fastball/slider/curveball/changeup guy.

The Yankees did not have to trade Beltran but they kinda did. The trade proves he had more value than the supplemental pick the team would have received after the season had he rejected the qualifying offer, and the Yankees need as much young talent as they can get. Beltran’s value was not sky high because he’s had some injury issues and is a defensive liability, so landing a lottery ticket like Tate is a nice get. Green and Swanson are gravy.

8/1 to 8/4 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Will this be the least hyped Subway Series in history? Both the Yankees and Mets are reeling and on the outside of the postseason picture looking in. Not too many folks expected the Yankees to contend this year. Certainly not a majority. The Mets? Well, I had them winning the World Series before the season, so don’t listen to me. The two teams are playing a four-game home-and-home-series this week. They’ll be in Citi Field tonight and tomorrow, and Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Mets rallied to beat the Rockies yesterday but they have been slumping hard of late. They dropped four straight and five of six prior to that. The Mets are 54-50 with a +9 run differential. They’re 2.5 games back of the Marlins (!) for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are 52-52 with a -33 run differential. They’re 5.5 games out of the second wildcard spot.

Offense & Defense

Fun fact: The Yankees are not the lowest scoring baseball team in New York this year. They’re averaging 4.03 runs per game with a team 86 wRC+. The Mets are averaging 3.66 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. They’ve put up a 58 wRC+ with runners in scoring position, by far the worst in baseball. That’s why they’re averaging so few runs despite getting a 100 wRC+ from their non-pitchers.

Anyway, holy cow are the Mets banged up. Manager Terry Collins is without an entire infield and then some. Check out their list of injured position players:

  • SS Asdrubal Cabrera (95 wRC+) — suffered a knee sprain yesterday, seeing a doctor today
  • OF Yoenis Cespedes (147 wRC+) — day-to-day with a right quad injury
  • 1B Lucas Duda (106 wRC+) — out long-term with a stress fracture in his back
  • CF Juan Lagares (88 wRC+) — will miss six weeks following thumb surgery
  • 3B Jose Reyes (104 wRC+) — out a few weeks with an intercostal strain
  • 3B David Wright (119 wRC+) — out long-term following neck surgery
Cespedes. (Getty)
Cespedes. (Getty)

That’s rough. Cespedes might be able to play at some point this series and I suppose Asdrubal could get good news from the doctor today, but man, that’s an awful lot of talent on the sidelines. You could argue the Mets are without their three best hitters right now. Maybe their four best hitters.

Right now manager Terry Collins is building his lineup around ex-Yankee RF Curtis Granderson (107 wRC+), 2B Neil Walker (107 wRC+), and 1B James Loney (114 wRC+). Young LF Michael Conforto (92 wRC+) was recently recalled from Triple-A and IF Wilmer Flores (106 wRC+) is playing pretty much everyday out of necessity. IF Kelly Johnson (79 wRC+), another ex-Yankee, will probably play third with Flores at short while Cabrera’s out.

C Travis d’Arnaud (69 wRC+) and C Rene Rivera (89 wRC+) are the catching tandem. OF Alejandro De Aza (71 wRC+), OF Brandon Nimmo (68 wRC+), and OF Justin Ruggiano (61 wRC+) are the outfield bench bats. They need a lot of them with Cespedes banged up and Lagares out. I imagine a roster move will happen today if Asdrubal gets bad news from the doctor. They can’t play this shorthanded.

Defensively, the Mets have one clearly above-average defender in Loney, who isn’t as good as he was a few years back. Johnson/Flores on the left side of the infield isn’t too pretty, though Walker is solid. Granderson is okay in right but man, he can not throw. Run on him every chance you get. Conforto is not a good left fielder and the De Aza/Nimmo/Ruggiano trio all fall into the okay to good range in the field. d’Arnaud can’t throw at all. Rivera can.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7:10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Logan Verrett (vs. NYY)
Verrett, 26, was a Rule 5 Draft pick last year who bounced around on waivers a few times before being returned to the Mets. Now he’s in their rotation replacing Matt Harvey, who’s done for the season following surgery to treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. That’s pretty serious. Verrett has a 4.12 ERA (5.06 FIP) in 74.1 innings spread across nine starts and 18 relief appearances this year. He gets an average-ish number of grounders (44.8%), but his strikeout (15.9%), walk (10.0%), and homer (1.33 HR/9) rates all kinda stink. Righties have hit him much harder than lefties, which is the opposite of last season. As a starter, Verrett sits 90-91 mph with his four-seamer and a touch lower than that with his sinker. A low-80s slider is his main breaking ball. He also throws a mid-80s changeup and a mid-80s curveball. Pretty generic arsenal, really. There’s no standout pitch that allows Verrett to project as anything more than a swingman type.

Tuesday (7:10pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (vs. NYY)
For all the attention Harvey and Noah Syndergaard get (and deserve), the 28-year-old deGrom has been the Mets’ best pitcher the last three seasons. He owns a 2.56 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 18 starts and 112.2 innings despite a slow start and a minor lat issue in April. deGrom has excellent peripherals (24.2 K%, 5.5 BB%, 46.4 GB%, 0.80 HR/9) and also a reverse split this season, which is the opposite of the last two years. His fastball is down just a tick this year but it still sits comfortably in the mid-90s. deGrom has two out-pitch secondaries on his best days (upper-70s slider and mid-80s changeup) as well as a good fourth pitch (low-80s curve). He’s a bonafide ace.

Meet the Matz. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Meet the Matz. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Wednesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. NYM) vs. LHP Steven Matz (vs. NYY)
Matz has been through an awful lot to get to where he is. The Mets took him in the second round of the 2009 draft and he didn’t throw his first pro pitch until 2012 due to Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks. He’s had other injury problems along the way as well. Matz, 25, has a 3.35 ERA (3.35 FIP!) in 19 starts and 113 innings, and his underlying numbers are outstanding across the board: 22.4% strikeouts, 5.7% walks, 50.3% grounders, and 0.88 HR/9. He’s been a bit better against righties than lefties in his relatively short MLB career thanks to a nasty low-to-mid-80s changeup. Matz sets it up with a mid-90s heater and will also throw an upper-80s slider and an upper-70s curve. It’s worth noting Matz is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow and it’s caused him to basically stop throwing his slider. There’s too much discomfort to use it regularly, so he picks his spots with it now.

Thursday (7:05pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (vs. NYY)
Earlier this year there was talk the Yankees would move Colon to the bullpen once Zack Wheeler was healthy, and, sure enough, he is now their second healthiest starter. Maybe their healthiest given deGrom’s lat issues in April. Baseball doesn’t like exciting rotations, it seems. Colon, 43, has a 3.58 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 120.2 innings this year. His strikeout (16.4%), walk (4.4%), homer (1.27 HR/9), and grounder (44.4%) are very post-2010 Bartolo-esque. Lefties have been hitting him harder than righties. Colon throws more than 90% fastballs these days — he favors his upper-80s two-seamer over his low-90s four-seamer — and when he does mix in an offspeed pitch, it’s something in the low-80s, either a slider or a changeup.

Bullpen Status

I wouldn’t call the bullpen a weakness for the Mets, but they have been looking to add another reliever prior to the trade deadline for depth. Pretty much every team does that, to be fair. Here is the bullpen Collins has to work with this year:

Closer: RHP Jeurys Familia (3.08 ERA/2.47 FIP)
Setup: RHP Addison Reed (1.81/1.93), RHP Hansel Robles (2.52/3.32)
Middle: LHP Antonio Bastardo (4.74/5.06), LHP Jerry Blevins (2.25/3.03), RHP Erik Goeddel (3.86/4.21)
Long: RHP Seth Lugo (2.61/3.14)

Familia and Reed are generally a dynamite closer/setup man combo — Familia did blow saves on back-to-back days earlier this week after converting 52 straight save chances — and those two plus Blevins each threw an inning yesterday. Lugo threw three innings and 41 pitches Saturday, which may limit his availability tonight.

The Yankees suddenly have a new look bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller traded away. Adam Warren is back and I imagine Tyler Clippard will be in town and available tonight. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relief crew.