As great as he’s been, Yankees shouldn’t consider Beltran a qualifying offer candidate

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

With eleven wins in their last 16 games, the Yankees are a season-high four games over .500 and firmly on the winning side of the ledger. They’ve had a winning record for a grand total of eleven days this season, believe it or not. It would be even fewer than that without Carlos Beltran‘s brilliance. He’s been, by far, the Yankees’ best and most consistent hitter this season.

Even with those eleven wins in 16 games, the Yankees have gained only one game in the wildcard race. That’s all. One silly little game. They were five games back before this 11-5 stretch and they’re four games back today. The Yankees already traded away Aroldis Chapman and they should continue to sell at the trade deadline. And if they do, Beltran figures to be one of their more valuable chips. He’s a productive veteran bat who can help any contender.

The alternative is keeping Beltran, attempting to make a run in the second half, then making him the qualifying offer after the season when he becomes a free agent. That would net the Yankees a supplemental first round pick in the 2017 draft should Carlos sign elsewhere. This assumes the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t change or eliminate the qualifying offer system first. I don’t think that’ll happen though.

The qualifying offer sounds like a fine backup plan, but I don’t see Beltran as a candidate to receive one. Or at least I don’t think the Yankees should tender him the offer. It’s easy to understand why the Yankees would do so, but I see such a move as almost all downside for one big reason: Beltran will probably take it. The qualifying offer will be worth $17M or so, and who is offering that to Carlos as a free agent, even across two years? Teams are shying away from older, one-dimensional sluggers nowadays.

The Yankees have money even though like to pretend they don’t. Bringing Beltran back next season on an expensive one-year deal doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, especially with the way he’s hitting this year, but I see three problems with it.

1. He’s probably not going to hit like this again. Beltran is defying the odds this season. He’s hitting .309/.350/.554 (138 OPS+) with 21 homers in 95 games overall, and amazingly, I don’t think he’s had one slump all year. He just keeps hitting. It’s impressive. Now let’s look at a list of players comparable to Beltran since the 1961 expansion, meaning 39-year-old everyday outfielders who were above-average at the plate:

2004 Barry Bonds: 263 OPS+ (lol)
1970 Willie Mays: 140 OPS+
1985 Reggie Jackson: 135 OPS+
1991 Dave Winfield: 120 OPS+
2004 Steve Finley: 109 OPS+
2007 Luis Gonzalez: 104 OPS+

That’s the complete list. Six players since 1961 and Beltran’s about to make it seven. And remember, every single one of those guys except Gonzalez was allowed to use amphetamines, or greenies as they’re called in baseball circles. Greenies were banned in 2005, so 39-year-old outfielders can’t turn to them for that extra boost of energy.

Those are the players like Beltran right now, 39-year-old everyday outfielders. What about 40-year-olds? Beltran turns 40 in April, so if the Yankees bring him back next year, that’s what they’re getting, a 40-year-old outfielder. Here’s the list of everyday outfielders who were above-average at the plate during their age 40 season during the expansion era:

1971 Willie Mays: 158 OPS+
1999 Rickey Henderson: 128 OPS+
2007 Kenny Lofton: 105 OPS+

Three players and two of them were among the greatest players to ever live. Know what else is crazy? Only one other outfielder even had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title during their age 40 season since 1961. Jeff Conine did it in 2006, when he had an 86 OPS+. Heck, let’s drop the outfield part. Only eleven 40-year-old players have produced at a league average clip since 1961, and most of them had the benefit of greenies. Here’s the list.

Maybe Beltran will be one of those outliers. Should the Yankees bank on that? I don’t think so. You needn’t look beyond New York’s roster for examples of an older player being productive one year and a liability the next. Mark Teixeira‘s and Alex Rodriguez‘s declines are a big reason why the Yankees have spent only those eleven days in first place.

2. The roster construction will be a mess again. The Yankees are stuck either playing Beltran in right field or sitting A-Rod on the bench at the moment. It’s not a great situation at all. It’s almost like a 24-man roster. The roster construction is so bad right now. The Yankees lack flexibility with the bench and DH spot, and if they bring Beltran back, that will continue.

I suppose they could release A-Rod to clear up the logjam, but I’m sorry, I’m going to have to see that to believe it. As long as there are home run records to be chased — Alex is four away from 700 and 18 away from tying Babe Ruth — there’s money to be made and tickets to be sold. Let’s face it, the Yankees might need all the attendance and ratings help they can get next year. A-Rod puts butts in the seats.

(Free Adams/Times Leader)
Judge. (Free Adams/Times Leader)

3. The Yankees need to start getting younger. The Yankees currently have four legitimate outfield prospects in Triple-A: Aaron Judge, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave. All four are among the 25 best prospects in the organization. That doesn’t include Cesar Puello, a former top prospect who is playing extremely well in Triple-A after being picked up as a minor league free agent. It also doesn’t include Aaron Hicks in MLB or Dustin Fowler and Billy McKinney in Double-A.

The Yankees have a lot of impressive young outfielders at the upper levels of the minors and that’s awesome. They should be thrilled to have so many young options, and in the cases of Judge and Williams, high upside options. The Yankees need to start making room for these guys and bringing Beltran back doesn’t accomplish that at all. In fact, it’s gotten to the point now where the Yankees need to think about clearing two outfield spots next year to make room for these guys. Let Beltran go and trade Brett Gardner. That sort of thing. (I’m guessing they’re stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury.)

* * *

This would all be rendered moot if Beltran declined the qualifying offer, but I think the chances of that are so small. Beltran said at the All-Star Game that he wants to play two more years, so he’s not thinking about retirement, and who’s going to give up a draft pick to sign a 40-year-old outfielder or DH, let alone offer close to $17M? If the Yankees make the qualifying offer, accepting it would be Beltran’s best shot at gainful employment next year.

There’s too much downside to bringing Beltran back next season — he’s likely to decline, the roster will be inflexible, the young outfielders will be blocked, etc. — for the qualifying offer to be a serious consideration. Hopefully the Yankees realize this and decide to cash in on Beltran’s big season by trading him for a prospect or two at the deadline, rather than keep him and lose him for nothing after the season. Or worse, bring him back in 2017. This is a classic example of letting a player go a year early rather than a year late.

Sabathia’s strong start leads Yanks to 6-3 win over Astros

Well, if nothing else, at least the Yankees are not going down without a fight this year. They won their third straight game Tuesday night, beat the Astros 6-3 in Houston. I dunno if the Yankees have the talent to climb back into the postseason race, but I’m hoping they at least make things interesting these next few weeks.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Return of the Ace
That was CC Sabathia‘s best start in more than a month. He’d allowed at least four runs in each of his last six starts, but Tuesday night he rebounded to hold the Astros to two runs on four hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. The first run came on Marwin Gonzalez’s first inning homer, and the second came on Evan Gattis’ seventh inning homer. Sabathia retired 17 of 20 batters faced between dingers.

I’m not sure there’s a way to confirm this, but it looked to me like Sabathia was doing a better job busting righties inside with his cutter than he had been the last few times out. He struck out five, and of his 15 ball-in-play outs, ten were recorded on the infield. There was a lot of weak contact. It’s not like Sabathia needed his defense to be great behind him. He kept the ball off the barrel like we saw earlier this season. I don’t know if it’ll last, but for at least this one night, Sabathia looked like the Sabathia we saw early in the season. It was pretty awesome. Way to go, CC.

Build a Lead
The first inning did not go well. Doug Fister needed nine pitches to retire the side in the top of the first, then Sabathia allowed the solo homer to Gonzalez to put the Yankees in a quick 1-0 hole. The offense went to work against Fister after that, forcing him to throw 31 pitches in the second and another 25 pitches in the third. They were on everything too. He had to work hard for those six outs.

The Yankees scored their two second inning runs because four of the first five batters reached base, and the one who didn’t reach drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. That was Didi Gregorius. Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira started the inning with a single and a double, respectively, then Starlin Castro and Chase Headley strung together singles to keep it going. Headley singled in the second run after Didi sac flied in the first.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

The third inning run scored on Castro’s infield single, and man, those are the worse when you’re on the other side of it. I guess that means they’re the best when they go in your favor? Carlos Beltran scored that run after a single, a wild pitch, and a ground ball moved him to third. The Yankees were up 3-1 after three innings. Two innings later, they were up 6-1 thanks to the bottom of the order.

That fifth inning rally started with a hit-by-pitch (McCann) and a single (Teixeira). Gregorius moved the runners up with a ground ball, then the ‘Stros opted to issue the ol’ unintentional intentional walk to Castro. They were pitching around him, but once the count went 3-0, they just walked him. Gregorius got a run with sac fly, then Aaron Hicks made Houston pay for the intentional walk with a two-run triple to right. That was big. The Yankees were up 6-1.

To The Bullpen
A 6-1 lead is pretty comfortable, right? It was, but as soon as Sabathia allowed the solo homer to Gattis to make it 6-2 in the seventh, you could see the bullpen wheels beginning to turn. First in was Anthony Swarzak, who stranded a runner in the seventh before allowing a solo homer to Gonzalez in the eighth. Following a two-out walk to Carlos Correa, Joe Girardi went to Dellin Betances, who walked two to load the bases. He bounced back to strike out Jason Castro to end the thread.

Betances has now pitched in six of the last nine days, and one the days he didn’t pitch, he warmed up. He’s appeared in eleven of the team’s 21 games this month, plus he threw an inning in the All-Star Game, so yeah. Dellin’s worked a ton lately. He could use a nice and easy two-week stretch, you know? Like three appearances in 14 days. That sorta thing. Anyway, Andrew Miller came on for the ninth and recorded his ninth save. He’s pitched five of the last nine days. Hey, offense, win a blowout once in a while!

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Leftovers
Every starter had a hit except Brett Gardner, who drew a walk. Ellsbury had three hits while Beltran, Teixeira, and Castro each had two. Teixeira went 2-for-4 with a double and both hits went to the opposite field as a left-handed hitter. He had four opposite field hits total as a lefty coming into the game. Also, McCann scored on two not deep sac flies. When’s the last time that happened? Crazy game, this baseball.

Ellsbury led off the sixth with a double to left, then was promptly thrown out trying to steal third. That was a curious decision, I’d say. Jacoby might have been trying to do a little too much there with Beltran at the plate. Ellsbury is 17-for-25 (65%) in steal attempts this season, which is about a league average success rate. I’d still like to see him pick it up a little.

And finally, the Yankees are four games over .500 for the first time this season. They’ve gone 11-5 in their last 16 games, all against pretty good teams. This team, I tell ya. Once you think they’re done and out of it, they pull you right back in.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages available too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees will look to finish the sweep of this three-game series Wednesday night. Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound against young right-hander McCullers. After that? An off-day.

DotF: Gleyber Torres makes debut with Tampa

SS Gleyber Torres has reported to High-A Tampa, the team announced. SS Abi Avelino was promoted to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Also, OF Jake Skole was released.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (3-2 win over Buffalo in eight innings, walk-off style) makeup of yesterday’s rainout

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 K
  • DH Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B — scored the winning run on a walk-off wild pitch … 21 doubles in 66 games this year after hitting 23 doubles in 93 games last year
  • 1B Ike Davis: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 BB — 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in his last 12 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-3
  • RHP Vicente Campos: 5 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 8/1 GB/FB — 48 of 79 pitches were strikes (61%) … it took him nearly four years to get out of Low-A, and this year he’s zoomed from High-A to Triple-A … naturally, in his first Triple-A game he faced Jesus Montero, the guy he was traded for … Campos has thrown 121 innings so far and his previous career high was 87 innings back in 2013 … I have to imagine the Yankees will scale back on his workload soon given his injury history, they don’t want to push him too hard in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery

[Read more…]

Game 100: Can the Yankees get to four games over?

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Last night the Yankees finally broke through and improved to three games over .500 for the first time this season. Tonight they’re trying to move to four games over .500, which is a bit of a conundrum for #TeamSell. Aroldis Chapman has been dealt and that’s great, but there are others on the roster who are more useful to the Yankees as trade chips than players in the second half. Anyway, here is the Astros’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It is hot, humid, and raining on and off in Houston this evening. I assume the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Adam Warren has arrived and is available tonight. Chasen Shreve was optioned down to Triple-A Scranton to clear a 25-man roster spot, the Yankees announced. There’s no need for a 40-man roster move because Warren takes Chapman’s spot. Also, Anthony Swarzak is wearing No. 41 now. Warren has his old No. 43 back.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Tuesday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees made their biggest trade in quite some time, sending Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects. One of those prospects, shortstop Gleyber Torres, ranks among the top 25-ish prospects in baseball. It’s a significant haul for a rental reliever, even one as good as Chapman, and it very well might be the team’s biggest move at this year’s trade deadline.

“This one move doesn’t necessarily create a domino effect of selling, and it doesn’t prevent a domino effect of buying,” said Brian Cashman to reporters on yesterday’s trade conference call. “This is an easy call, and this was the right call. Easy because we traded from an area of strength, and we are excited about the players that we received for someone that obviously was only under control for two more months.”

With Chapman gone, the focus figures to shift to the team’s other rental players, namely Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. Andrew Miller‘s name has been out there as well, ditto basically everyone in the rotation other than Masahiro Tanaka. Here are Monday’s trade deadline rumors. We’ll again keep track of today’s rumors right here, in this one post, so check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:30am: Trading Nova is the next priority, and the Marlins are among the interested teams. “They’re shooting high, but it’s early. They know what the pitching market looks like right now and they’re trying to capitalize on that,” said a source to Mark Feinsand. I guess there’s a chance Nova has already thrown his last pitch as a Yankee.
  • 9:30am: Brett Gardner is a consideration for the Dodgers, though he is not atop their list of targets. Los Angeles is without Andre Ethier (leg) and Trayce Thompson (back), plus Yasiel Puig isn’t hitting, so they need outfield help. Howie Kendrick in left isn’t going too well. [Joel Sherman]
  • 9:30am: The Nationals were “deep in conversations” with the Yankees about Chapman before he was traded to the Cubs. They didn’t put enough on the table though, so to the Cubs he went. The Nats could change gears and focus on Miller now. [Buster Olney]
  • 10:21am: The Nats declared Joe Ross, Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Reynaldo Lopez off-limits in Chapman trade talks. That’s a lot of untouchables. The Indians were “seemingly” unwilling to part with top outfield prospects Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 10:51am: Rival clubs say the Yankees are buying and selling, and are looking for controllable pitching in particular. “We’re not playing in a narrow-minded world. We want to be open to any and all ideas. Buy, sell, long, short. It’s in our best interests to be creative and open-minded, not just now,” said Cashman. [Ken Rosenthal]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Guest Post: Adam Warren: The Once and Future Yankee

The following is a guest post from longtime reader Tarik Shah, who wrote about new old Yankee Adam Warren. Tarik previously wrote a guest post about the Yankee fandom in his family.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Ever since the departure of Robinson Cano to the Pacific Northwest, the Yankees have gotten cute trying to fill the gaping hole in their middle infield. First, in 2014, the ghost of Brian Roberts was given a shot, which predictably required the Yankees to acquire Martin Prado midseason. Prado performed admirably (147 wRC+ in 37 games), but it was not to be, as he was included in the trade that brought Nathan Eovaldi to the Bronx.

The 2015 season brought the great Stephen Drew experiment. The experiment, I believe, wasn’t to discover whether Stephen Drew could be a capable second baseman, but whether he could consistently hit a home run at the exact moment when the front office, coaches, and fans had exhausted their patience with his subpar play, thereby securing more playing time. By that metric at least, the experiment was a success.

Ultimately, this past offseason Brian Cashman made a risky move in acquiring the talented but enigmatic Starlin Castro from the Cubs. The new Yankee second baseman’s play thus far has been uninspiring. Castro accumulated 0.2 fWAR through his first 96 games. For reference, the much pilloried Stephen Drew accumulated 0.2 fWAR in 132 games. Of course, the cost to acquire this thus far unimpressive infielder is the subject of today’s article, Adam Warren. As has been widely reported, Mr. Warren is set to return to the Bronx as part of the trade that will send Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs.

When Warren was traded away, many fans were concerned as Warren had pitched well as a Yankee (2015: 3.29 ERA/3.59 FIP/3.89 xFIP in 131.1 IP). In particular, he occupied the often referenced, but rarely filled, Ramiro Mendoza slot. Such a player would be valuable to a team that had trouble in the back-end of its bullpen and rotation, so when the back-end of the Yankees bullpen and rotation stumbled, Warren’s loss was acutely felt.

However, casual fans, or those who only follow the Bombers, might be surprised to find out that Adam Warren has not performed well this year. In fact, his performance had been so poor, the Cubs recently demoted him to AAA (2016: 5.91 ERA/5.83 FIP/5.23 xFIP in 35 IP).

K% BB% HR/9
2015 19.5 7.3 0.69
2016 17.8 12.5 1.80

Giving up more walks, hits, home runs, and striking out fewer batters is no recipe for success. So what has changed for Warren, and what might he be able to tweak upon return to Yankee Stadium? The first thing that jumps out at you when looking at his batted ball profile is that he’s giving up more fly balls, and of those, more are going for home runs. The league average HR/FB is around 10%, so hopefully Warren can benefit from some regression to the mean. Even so, Warren’s xFIP sits at 5.23, which is not that far off from his 5.83 FIP. So, regression there will only help so much.

LD% GB% FB% HR/FB%
2015 22.8 45.2 32.0 8.3
2016 16.3 43.3 40.4 16.7

Warren has also not been as proficient at stranding runners this year, as he has throughout his career. His LOB% this year sits at 64.7% whereas it’s 75.8% for his career. Perhaps this too is an area where Warren can benefit from some regression.

As far as his pitch selection is concerned, so far in 2016 it seems that the only thing that Warren has changed is that he’s scaled back on sliders and curveballs, while going to his changeup more often. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help us explain why Warren has been struggling, as his change up has actually been worth 2.47 runs per 100 pitches.

FB% SL% CB% CH%
2015 44.8 29.0 11.1 15.1
2016 44.9 25.5 7.5 22.1
Career 45.5 27.3 10.3 16.9

Has the velocity of his pitches decreased or changed significantly? It seems not. In fact, if you were to look at any number of Warren’s metrics you’d find that there has not been much of difference between what he did last year, and what he’s done this year, save for the results.

FB (MPH) SL CB CH
2015 92.5 87.2 79.4 84.3
2016 92.8 87.4 79.9 84.5

Unfortunately, this comes to an incredibly foreseeable and unsatisfying ending. Adam Warren has thrown 35 poor innings this year, not a very significant sample size. Reliever performance is volatile and subject to the effects of small sample sizes.

As far as can be told from the information available, Adam Warren the Cub is not much different from Adam Warren the Yankee, and yet, Adam Warren the Cub has not performed well. Brian Cashman knows this, and is hoping that with a little help from the cruel goddess of reliever volatility, Adam Warren can once again pitch like the Yankees version of Adam Warren.

Thoughts following the Aroldis Chapman trade

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Yesterday was a pretty big day in Yankeeland. The Yankees swung a significant trade with the Cubs, one that sends a proven big leaguer (Aroldis Chapman) to Chicago for a lesser big leaguer (Adam Warren) and three prospects (Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford). It’s not often you see the Yankees on the “seller” side of a major trade like that. Anyway, I have some thoughts about this blockbuster.

1. This trade had to happen. Had to. Chapman was far too valuable to not cash in as a trade chip, not with the Yankees only hanging on the fringes of a postseason race and him scheduled to become a free agent after the season. The Yankees held on to Robinson Cano and David Robertson in similar situations a few years back and I have no doubt they regret those decisions. The could have traded those two for quite a bit back then. Yes, the Yankees could have gotten a draft pick for Chapman after the season, but, as the trade shows, he was worth much more than that. Keeping Aroldis would have been a pretty major mistake. I’m glad the Yankees came to their senses and traded him.

2. I feel it’s impossible to evaluate this trade without looking at the big picture, meaning the trade that initially brought Chapman to the Yankees. This was a fantasy baseball move. The Yankees bought super low on Chapman over the winter and they sold high on him at the trade deadline. What more could you want? It was a perfect baseball move. Of course, the circumstances behind Chapman being so cheap in the offseason are scummy as hell, and I still think it’s pretty gross the Yankees used something as serious as domestic violence as a way to get ahead on the field. From a pure baseball only perspective, this deal is as good as it gets. The Yankees played this perfectly.

3. I was sorta disheartened when I read Hal Steinbrenner only gave the green light to trade Chapman after Aroldis declined to discuss a contract extension a few weeks ago. (Many reporters confirmed that yesterday.) Plan A was give this guy gobs of money and hope to win with him. The Yankees had to fall back on Plan B, which was trade him for a big package of prospects and improve the outlook for the future. Eh. I feel like Plan B should have been Plan A and Plan A should have been Plan B. Oh well. At least Chapman is apparently dead set on testing free agency — can you blame him? I sure can’t — and thus pushed the Yankees to trade him for young talent. They need that.

4. Given the haul Chapman brought, I can’t imagine what two and a half years of Andrew Miller or three and a half years of Dellin Betances would bring back in a trade. All the prospects. They’d fetch all the prospects. The Yankees have to listen to offers for those two between now and the deadline, and I’m confident they will. They’d be stupid not to listen in this insane market, with relievers like Chapman and Craig Kimbrel and Ken Giles getting traded for multiple top prospects. Trading these guys is a bit of a double-edged sword though, because yeah, trading them would net a lot of good young players, but it would always cost a ton to replace them. Chapman’s status as an impending free agent made him much easier to trade. Miller and Betances are still locked in for a few more years, so someone is going to have to blow the Yankees away with an offer to pry them lose. And considering the reliever trades we’ve seen recently, someone just might do that.

5. The Yankees pretty clearly went after the best possible package of talent and didn’t look to satisfy specific needs. Once Kyle Schwarber was off the table, they were reportedly left to pick between Torres and outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez, and they took Torres even though they already have a ton of shortstops in the system, including a pretty good one at the same level as Gleyber (Jorge Mateo). Torres was the best available player, so they took him. McKinney was likely the best secondary prospect available despite his down year, so they took him. This is what I was hoping the Yankees would do. Just get the best talent and sort it out later. Chapman was too valuable to try to get cute and fill specific needs, say a controllable starting pitcher or third baseman.

Gleyber. (Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
Gleyber. (Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

6. Speaking of all those shortstops, the Yankees are smart to stockpile them. Shortstops are generally the most athletic players and therefore most capable of changing positions. We’ve seen shortstops like Manny Machado, Javier Baez, and Jurickson Profar move to different positions almost seamlessly in recent years. Heck, Starlin Castro did it last year. We watched shortstop prospect Alex Bregman play a mean third base for the Astros last night. High-upside shortstops are most easily moved around and they’re always in demand. Always. The Yankees have a glut of them now with Torres, Mateo, Tyler Wade, Wilkerman Garcia, Abi Avelino, Thairo Estrada, Kyle Holder, Hoy Jun Park, Diego Castillo, and more. Oh, and that Didi Gregorius guy is pretty cool too. That’s some serious depth at a crucial position.

7. Right now I’m thinking Torres is the third best prospect in the system behind Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, though I will admit I don’t know a ton of the guy. (Here’s my most recent top 30 list.) I actually know more about McKinney because I’ve been following him since his draft year. Anyway, it boils down to this: all indications are Torres has a significant ceiling, but so do Judge and Sanchez, and they’re doing it in Triple-A. Those two could play in MLB tomorrow if the Yankees needed the help. (Well, Judge could after he gets healthy, but you know what I mean.) As talented as Torres is, he’s still a 19-year-old kid in High-A ball. You have to be pretty convinced that he’ll be an impact player to rank him ahead of Judge and Sanchez in my opinion.

8. The two biggest trades so far this year are the Chapman and Drew Pomeranz deals, and both times the headliner going the other way was a teenager in Single-A. The Yankees got Torres for Chapman, and Pomeranz fetched 18-year-old pitching prospect Anderson Espinosa. That’s pretty interesting. Fans look at the top prospect lists and scream “overpay!” when prospect No. X is traded, but teams very obviously do not see it that way. An awful lot can go wrong with teenagers in Single-A, and I suspect that’s why the Yankees wanted more than just Torres in return for Chapman. I thought Torres for Chapman straight up would have been a pretty great deal based on the Andrew Miller trade two years ago, but Miller was traded for a 21-year-old in Double-A. Both Torres and Eduardo Rodriguez were highly touted prospects, but Torres carries more risk as a teenager, hence the additional pieces. Long story short, not all top prospects are created equal. Teams appear to be more willing to trade the riskier guys in the low minors nowadays.

9. Chapman the pitcher was pretty amazing to watch. He was as advertised, meaning a dominant end-game force who had you checking the radar gun after each pitch. (His fastest pitch as a Yankee: 105.85 mph.) Was Chapman the most efficient pitcher? Nah. He had a tendency to run deep counts (4.40 pitches per plate appearance!) and go to three-ball counts even though his walk rate was fine (6.7%). Whatever. He was dominant. I think I was most impressed by Chapman’s resiliency. The guy never seemed to be fatigued. We saw him pitch multiple innings and back-to-back-to-back days, things like that, and he was still out there chucking 100+ mph with each and every pitch. It was impressive. Miller and Betances are awesome. No doubt about it. Chapman’s something else though. He’s a spectacle and one of the most entertaining players I’ve ever seen. That was a fun 30-something innings.

10. I am irrationally excited about Warren coming back. I’ve made it no secret that he’s a personal favorite, and yes I know he stunk this year with the Cubs (5.91 ERA and 5.83 FIP). I choose to blame that on inconsistent usage and Joe Maddon’s zaniness until further notice. Hopefully coming back to the Yankees and getting with pitching coach Larry Rothschild gets Warren back on track soon. He’s a pretty darn good pitcher when right, and I assume he’ll be comfortable in pinstripes. It’s home. I didn’t love the decision to trade Warren for Castro but I understood it. I’m glad the Yankees got a mulligan on that trade and Warren is back.

McKinney. (Chicago Cubs Online)
McKinney. (Chicago Cubs Online)

11. Getting McKinney as the second prospect was a nice little move. He has not had a good year at all (.252/.355/.322 in Double-A) and he is coming back from a hairline fracture in his knee, so his stock is down. That’s why the Yankees were able to get him as the second piece. Healthy and productive McKinney is a top 100 prospect. Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 69th best prospect in baseball coming into this season. Not last season. This season. Clearly the Yankees are hoping to get McKinney healthy and back to where he was a year ago, when he hit .300/.371/.454 (135 wRC+) between High-A and Double-A. Torres is definitely the headliner and the Yankees did well to get him. McKinney’s not an insignificant second piece despite his poor numbers this season.

12. As for the Cubs, this move is all about the postseason. They’ve got the best record in baseball and a comfortable seven-game lead in the NL Central. The Cubbies didn’t make this move with the next two months in mind. This trade is about the third month. They want to shorten the game in the postseason, when built-in off-days will allow them to use Chapman and erstwhile closer Hector Rondon pretty much every single game. I’ll be the dummy who says Chicago’s World Series window won’t be open as long as most seem to believe — Jake Arrieta is a free agent next year, John Lackey is closing in on 40, and Jon Lester will enter his CC Sabathia phase soon — so going all-in now makes sense. Realistically, when will the Cubs have a better chance to win a title than this year? Good for them for not resting on their laurels, and going out and getting a difference maker.

13. All that said, I saw more than a few Cubs fans yesterday say they are upset about the team adding Chapman after his domestic violence incident. I know a lot of people don’t care about that, but many do, and it takes away from their enjoyment of the game. As much fun as he was to watch, I didn’t particularly enjoy rooting for Chapman or having him on the Yankees. That’s just how a I felt. You’re welcome to disagree. The Cubs have a super fun and super likeable team, and they have a chance to do something special this year. The addition of Chapman is going to take away some of that fun and likeability for more than a few fans though, and that’s a shame.