Spring Training Game Thread: A Clue About The Rotation?


The Yankees have six exhibition games remaining, and if they’re leaning toward certain players for the fourth and fifth rotation spots, they haven’t said as much. They might be leaving some clues though. Luis Cessa has already been sent to minor league camp, so he’s out of the running. Duh. Also, in recent days Chad Green and Luis Severino came out of the bullpen. Bryan Mitchell and today’s starter, Adam Warren, are still starting. Hmmm.

Of course, both Mitchell and Warren came out of the bullpen earlier this spring, but Opening Day is one week from tomorrow. Would they be making full fledged five or six-inning starts this late in camp while the other guys are throwing three innings in relief if they weren’t the leading candidates for the rotation? What about Jordan Montgomery? Intrigue! I haven’t seen the Blue Jays’ lineup anywhere, so we’re in for a surprise. Here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 1B Greg Bird
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Tyler Wade
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Adam Warren

Available Pitchers: LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Tommy Layne, LHP Jon Niese, RHP Jonathan Holder, and RHP Matt Marsh are all expected to pitch today. (Shane Hennigan says Chapman is pitching in a minor league game instead.) LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP J.R. Graham, and RHP Ernesto Frieri are the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Mike Ford, 2B Donovan Solano, SS Ruben Tejada, 3B Ronald Torreyes, LF Rob Refsnyder, CF Mason Williams, and RF Zack Zehner will be the second string off the bench. C Kyle Higashioka, C Radley Haddad, IF Pete Kozma, and OF Aaron Judge are the extra players. Ford, Williams, Zehner, and Haddad are up from minor league camp for the day.

It’s a bit cloudy in Tampa this afternoon, though it’s warm and there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES and the FOX Sports Go app locally, and MLB.tv nationally. Enjoy the game.

Open Thread: March 24th Camp Notes

The Yankees are a team of Grapefruit League destiny. They won again today, this time rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Minor league camp call-up du jour Trey Amburgey had the walk-off single. The Yankees have won 20 spring games for the first time since winning 24 in 2009. You know what that means, right? Anyway, right field candidates Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge both had singles. Judge also threw a runner out the plate. Hicks ain’t the only outfielder on the roster who can throw.

On the mound CC Sabathia moseyed on through 5.1 innings of two-run ball. An inordinate number of ground balls found holes during the two-run second inning. Sabathia struck out one. Dellin Betances retired both batters he faced in his first outing back from the World Baseball Classic, and Luis Severino chucked three scoreless innings. He fanned five. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the rest of the notes from Tampa:

  • Following today’s game Joe Girardi announced Sabathia will start the second game of the season. Michael Pineda will start the third. Pretty much what I expected. The Rays, meanwhile, announced Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb will start their first three games in that order. The Yankees open the regular season with a three-game set in Tampa. [Bryan Hoch, Marc Topkin]
  • The Yankees announced another round of roster cuts today: Luis Cessa was optioned to Triple-A and Ji-Man Choi, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, Jason Gurka, and Billy McKinney were reassigned to minor league camp. So I guess that takes Cessa out of the rotation (and bullpen) mix. I count 39 players still in big league camp. Oh, and if you missed it earlier, the Diamondbacks returned Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Jones.
  • The Yankees had a brief on-field ceremony prior to today’s game to present last year’s Scranton RailRiders with their championship rings. Here are some photos. Pretty cool ring. Scranton beat El Paso (Padres) in last year’s Triple-A Championship Game.
  • Shane Hennigan has the day’s minor league lineups. Heart eyes at the top of the Double-A Trenton lineup. Hitting coach Alan Cockrell said he’s working with Jorge Mateo to widen his stance, which has “kept him on the ball better.” [Brendan Kuty]
  • Tyler Austin said he’s going to be in a walking boot another two weeks. Once healthy, he’s essentially going to have to go through Spring Training to get ready, so he might not return until early-May. Sucks. [Hennigan]
  • Tyler Clippard is back in camp following the World Baseball Classic. Also in camp: Hideki Matsui! He’s there as guest instructor. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was in camp today too. The Yankees have brought in coaches from other sports to give motivational speeches and whatnot over the years. [Kuty, Mike Mazzeo]
  • The Yankees are home against the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon. Adam Warren is lined up to start. That game will be on YES and MLB.tv.
  • And finally, the Yankees will reveal their 2017 commercials next week. I’ve been hoping they had some coming. Neat.

This is the open thread for the night. MLB Network will cover the Yankees as part of their 30 clubs in 30 days tour tonight at 10pm ET, so keep an eye out for that. Also, this afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES (10pm ET) and MLB Network (2am ET), if you’re interested. MLB Network has the Orioles and Twins live right now, plus the Islanders and Nets are playing, and there’s March Madness as well. Talk about anything here as long as it’s not politics or religion.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Jones to Yankees


The Diamondbacks have returned Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Jones to the Yankees, both teams announced earlier today. That means Jones, a right-handed reliever, cleared waivers and was removed from the 40-man roster. The Yankees have assigned him to minor league camp.

Jones, 27, signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent last offseason. He had a 2.17 ERA (1.50 FIP) with 34.2% strikeouts and 5.6% walks in 45.2 Double-A innings last summer. This spring he allowed five runs (three earned) in 6.2 innings with Arizona. Jones fanned eight and walked none.

The D’Backs aren’t particularly deep in the bullpen and I thought Jones had a chance to stick as a middle reliever. Arizona would have had to carry him on their 25-man big league roster all season as a Rule 5 Draft pick, otherwise put him on waivers and offer him back to the Yankees, which is what happened.

The Yankees still have three other Rule 5 Draft picks out there: catcher Luis Torrens (Padres) and lefties Caleb Smith (Cubs) and Tyler Webb (Pirates). Webb has the best chance to stick with his new team, I believe. Torrens and Smith are almost certainly coming back at some point before Opening Day.

Cashman indicates Yankees will use off-days to skip fifth starter early in the season

Luis and Luis. (Presswire)
Luis and Luis. (Presswire)

With less than two weeks to go before Opening Day, the Yankees are still in the process of picking their fourth and fifth starters to start the season. So far none of the various rotation candidates has separated himself from the rest of the pack. I’m sure the Yankees have their internal preferences, but from a Spring Training performance standpoint, no one has looked great.

Based on recent comments by Brian Cashman, the fifth starter won’t be all that important early in the season. While talking to George King, Cashman indicated the Yankees intend to use all those early season off-days to skip their fifth starter the first two times through the rotation. Here’s what Cashman said:

“We have to lock in sooner than later,’’ the GM said. “And one of those guys isn’t going to pitch until the 16th [of April] with days off. We have to make some decisions soon and get people in the right spots whether it’s the bullpen or Scranton.’’

The Yankees have three off-days within the first ten days of the regular season, so not only can they skip their fifth starter the first two times through rotation, the four starters they do use will still get an extra day of rest between their first and second starts. April is always loaded with off-days because of potential weather issues. Here’s the schedule.

The benefit here is obvious. Being able to avoid your fifth starter until the 12th game and 15th day of the season frees up a roster spot, typically for an extra reliever. And that reliever could be the fifth starter. Let’s say the Yankees go with Luis Cessa as the fifth starter. They’d be able to use Cessa in long relief once or twice within the first ten days of the season, then let him start that April 16th game, the first time a fifth starter is needed.

Nowadays the Yankees try to give their regular starters an extra day of rest as often as possible, which is why I thought they might stick with five starters right out of the gate. It would keep the workloads light before ramping things up in mid-April. I guess that’s not much of a concern so early in the season though. It’s more of a concern at midseason, when off-days are harder to come by.

I should probably note that by skipping the fifth starter, the third starter will start the home opener on April 10th. I have no idea whether the Yankees care about that honor, but, if they do, I’d bet on CC Sabathia getting the ball. That means Michael Pineda would slot in behind Masahiro Tanaka as the No. 2 starter. Whatever. Point is, no fifth starter the first two times through the rotation. Thanks, off-days.

Going beyond the top relievers [2017 Season Preview]

(Gett Images)
Layne. (Getty Images)

Over the last few days, we’ve covered the four key cogs in the Yankees’ bullpen machine: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard. If healthy, each will take up the main roles in Joe Girardi‘s ‘pen and be called upon for the most important innings this season.

But the bullpen features far more than four guys. There will be at least seven on opening day. The Yankees had 20 different relievers pitch in at least one game last season. They had 26 the year before (24 if you take out position players).

So let’s take a look at the rest of the bullpen. Chances are, far more than the guys listed below will log time in relief, but these are the ones that jump out with a chance right now.

The veteran pick-up

Frieri circa 2014. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Frieri. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Last week, the Yankees added Ernesto Frieri on a minor league deal. Frieri didn’t pitch at all in 2016 after an awful spring with the Phillies, but he played for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. While there, he tossed two shutout innings against the Dominican Republic, even striking out Nelson Cruz.

Frieri, just 31 years old, was a pretty solid reliever from 2010-13, highlighted by a 2.32 ERA and 23 saves with the Padres and Angels in 2012. However, he was barely usable in 2014-15 with the Angels, Pirates and Rays with his ERA ballooning as high as 7.34 in 2014. At his best, he utilizes his mid-90s fastball to get hitters out, mixing in a slider and the occasional change or curve.

He’s a real wild card for the Yankees’ pen. There’s a solid chance he’ll make the team (seven batters into spring, he has six strikeouts and one HR allowed) but what he does from there is anyone’s guess. His velocity seems to have returned after falling a bit in 2014-15 and could be the secret to an improved Frieri.

The lefties

Girardi loves his southpaws, so one has to figure there will be at least one on the roster at all times, if not two. That’s not including Chapman, who won’t be used as a matchup lefty and is the definitive closer.

First up is Tommy Layne. Layne, 32, is a classic LOOGY, much better against lefties than righties. He tosses a lot variations of fastballs alongside a slider and curveball to produce some strikeouts. He was perfectly fine in 29 games for the Yankees in 2016 and it’s not outlandish to expect him to have another mid-3.00 ERA with a few too many walks and struggles against righties. Again, classic LOOGY.

Behind him lie a few different options, namely Chasen Shreve and Jon Niese. Niese, 30, has started most of his career and has succeeded at primarily keeping the ball on the ground. He’d provide a solid option as both another lefty and as a long man, two roles Girardi has said he sees Niese filling. He is coming back from a knee injury that he struggled with last season, so a healthy Niese would be an interesting piece.

We all know about Shreve. He was dominant for a couple months in 2015 with his low-90s fastball and changeup before becoming a liability late in ’15 and shuffling between the bullpen and the minors in 2016. The 26-year-old southpaw isn’t a LOOGY with the changeup as an out-pitch, but hitters appeared to figure out his off-speed offerings over the last couple seasons.

Two pitchers who reached Triple A last season are also in the mix for roles this summer, if not earlier. Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns each played roles in Scranton’s success last fall and looked solid in Double A Trenton before that. Enns was added to the 40-man roster this winter. Lefties hit Enns slightly better than righties last season and the soft-tossing southpaw may not be best suited for a role as a LOOGY.

Montgomery — who is potentially in play for a spot in the rotation on opening day, let alone a relief spot — isn’t on the 40-man roster yet. Similar to Enns, Montgomery had a reverse split last year, although neither lefties or righties hit him well. He throws from a high arm slot and has a solid change-up and would be a solid long reliever if he isn’t a starter.

Righties with a taste

Heller (Getty Images)
Heller. (Getty Images)

Both Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder got chances last September to help the Yankees bullpen and neither particularly impressed. Heller, a 25 year old who came over in the Andrew Miller trade, throws in the upper 90s with his fastball and mixes in an effective slider. Despite his 6.43 ERA in seven big league innings, he’s certainly someone to keep an eye on because he has the stuff to be effective. He’s posted strong strikeout numbers everywhere in the minors, solid enough to mask occasional issues with walks. I’d expect him to be one of the first relievers called up this spring, if not someone on the roster opening day after a lights-out spring (one run, 8 ks in 9 2/3 innings with 6 BB).

Like Heller, Holder couldn’t seem to have his strikeout numbers translate in his short big league stint (8 1/3 innings). He also uncharacteristically struggled with control. Still, his fantastic strikeout rates (101 Ks in 65 1/3 innings last year over three levels) are the reason he was added to the 40-man roster early at 23 years old. He’s likely behind Heller but still a solid option this spring/summer.

Long man

The Yankees’ have a series of young pitchers competing for the final rotation spots right now and only two will walk away with said spots. Therefore, the rest will be relegated to Triple A or to spots in the bullpen. Frieri’s addition to the team makes it less likely the team brings two of those losing out north — or actually south 20 miles from Steinbrenner Field to Tropicana Field — for opening day.

Still, there is likely one spot, if not two, for those who lose out. Let’s say Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell get the rotation spots. It’s easy to see Luis Cessa take the long-man role while Chad Green and Montgomery go to Triple A. The latter two would still be likely to see time in the majors and could be see it quickly considering the bullpen shuttle of recent years.

40-man roster and beyond

Barbato (Getty Images)
Barbato. (Getty Images)

There is a gaggle of relievers that got opportunities to show off their stuff this spring with the Yankees, way too many to go through in detail. Johnny Barbato and Gio Gallegos are both on the 40-man and closest to the majors.

Further down the 40-man, Yefrey Ramirez and Domingo German both have strikeout worthy stuff, but they’re starters at the moment and haven’t pitched above Single A. Ronald Herrera, acquired for Jose Pirela a couple years ago, has all of five innings above Double A.

Off the 40-man roster, it’s worth paying attention to a few names. Nick Rumbelow, outrighted off the 40, is coming off Tommy John surgery and once showed promise for a middle relief role. Joe Mantiply — a southpaw who was claimed off waivers, DFA’d and then re-signed to a minor league deal this winter — has solid strikeout rates in the minors but hasn’t thrown much above Double A. Finally, J.P Feyereisen was acquired in the Miller deal with Heller and co. and was solid as a fireman for Double A Trenton in the MiLB playoffs last year. Could be something down the road and I wouldn’t be shocked if he is seen in the majors for a stint this summer.

Spring Training Game Thread: Sabathia’s Fourth Start


Only one week of meaningless baseball remains. The Yankees will play their final exhibition game one week from today, and Opening Day is one week from Sunday. Thank goodness for that. Spring Training is fun in it’s own way, but I’m pretty much over it at this point. Bring on real baseball.

Anyway, CC Sabathia is on the mound this afternoon making his fourth Grapefruit League start. He’s allowed nine runs in 6.2 innings so far, though Sabathia never seems to have a good spring. Only once in the last six years and twice in the last eight years had he had a sub-5.00 ERA in Spring Training. Shrug. Here is the lineup the Phillies sent over, and here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 1B Chris Carter
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

Available Pitchers: RHP Luis Severino, RHP Dellin Betances, and LHP Jon Niese are all expected to pitch today. (LHP Tommy Layne and RHP Ben Heller are both on the lineup card, but Shane Hennigan says they threw in a minor league game this morning.) RHP Gio Gallegos, RHP Matt Marsh, LHP Josh Rogers, RHP Eric Ruth, and LHP Nestor Cortes are all up from minor league camp to serve as the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Wilkin Castillo, 2B Tyler Wade, SS Ruben Tejada, 3B Pete Kozma, LF Rob Refsnyder, CF Rashad Crawford, and RF Trey Amburgey will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, IF Donovan Solano, and IF Abi Avelino are the extra players. Amburgey, Haddad, and Avelino are up from minor league camp.

It’s a little cloudy in Tampa this afternoon, though the weather is plenty good enough for baseball. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET, and you can watch on YES. There’s also MLB.tv and the FOX Sports Go app. Enjoy the game.

Mailbag: Pineda, Carter, Wade, Tanaka, Chapman, 60-Day DL

I’ve got a dozen questions in the mailbag this week. As always, send your questions to RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. We gets lots each week, so don’t take it personally if you’re doesn’t get picked.

Pineda. (Presswire)
Pineda. (Presswire)

Justin asks: Considering the 2018 free agent market and the Yankee’s current situation with starting pitchers after this season, how much does Michael Pineda need to improve before becoming a Qualifying Offer candidate after this season?

I’m not sure there’s anything Pineda can realistically do this season to get a qualifying offer. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement completely changed everything. The Yankees will pay luxury tax this season, and because of that, they can only receive a pick after the fourth round (!) for a qualified free agent. The qualifying offer will be worth over $18M this coming winter. That’s a lot of money to risk for such a low draft pick.

To become a qualifying offer candidate, Pineda would have to do something similar to his 2011 rookie season with the Mariners, and even that might not be enough. He had a 3.74 ERA (3.42 FIP) with 24.9% strikeouts and 7.9% walks in 171 innings that year. If Pineda does that again, the Yankees would probably think about making him the qualifying offer because getting him back on an expensive one-year contract wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Still, I don’t have high hopes for Pineda putting it all together this season. He is what he is. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Bob asks: So far Pineda has had an impressive spring, which could mean nothing, but it got me thinking. Suppose Pineda, in his contract year, puts together a great first half. Maybe that puts the Yankees in the hunt for a play-off spot. When you get to the trading deadline, do you deal Pineda because you believe some team will over-pay for him? Or do you keep him in order to keep your play-off hopes alive?

This question was sent in before Pineda’s tough start last time out. I am generally a “go for it” guy. The entire point of playing the game is to win, and if the Yankees are in the race at midseason — I mean really in the race, not five or six games back and “well if we win 20 of our next 25 we’ll have a chance” in the race — they should keep him and go for it. We’re all getting to be a little starved for October baseball, no? The postseason would be cool.

The best answer to this question is: let’s see what’s going in July. Pineda’s situation is similar to Ivan Nova‘s situation last year. The Yankees probably won’t make him the qualifying offer, which means it makes sense to move him at the deadline if he’s still sputtering along and not living up to the potential that is oh so obvious. And if Pineda is pitching well and the team isn’t winning, it would make sense to at least kick the tires on an extension, I think. It never hurts to ask.

Andrew asks: Do you think that Cashman’s contract status might result in him choosing a high floor pitcher like Warren rather then a high ceiling pitcher like Severino for the 4th or 5th starter job?

Nah. I don’t think Brian Cashman‘s contract situation will influence any roster decisions. We’ve seen countless other general managers (in every sport) make big splashy moves in an effort to save their jobs when they’re on the hot seat — Jack Zduriencik throwing all that money at Robinson Cano stands out — but Cashman seems very comfortable with his place with the Yankees. Hal Steinbrenner loves him and I think Cashman will be given the opportunity to see this rebuild transition through. I can’t see Cashman making decisions designed to scratch out a few extra wins in an effort to secure a new contract after the season.

Yogi asks (short version): With Bird officially being named the everyday 1B, where does that leave Carter? I find it difficult to believe he is willing to be the backup for the full year. Assuming they can’t trade him, what’s your over/under on Carter being on the roster on May 1?

Definitely over on May 1st. They’re not going to cut the guy 24 games into the season, especially with his primary replacement (Tyler Austin) starting the year on the disabled list. I bet Chris Carter ends up getting a heck of a lot more playing time than we expect. I could see him starting three times a week between first base and designated hitter, especially with all those lefties in the AL East. Greg Bird is coming back from shoulder surgery and Matt Holliday is 37. The Yankees will give them regular rest, I’m sure.

Carter has been dreadful this spring — he’s hitting .122/.234/.195 with 22 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances — but who cares? It’s Spring Training. That just means he’s going to come out of the gate and mash in the regular season. That’s usually how it works out, right? Garrett Jones managed to stick around until the trade deadline and I’m guessing Carter will get similarly long leash. The Yankees won’t cut a dude with this much power a few weeks into the season, nor should they. Not unless you want to see more Rob Refsnyder or Ji-Man Choi.

Carter. (Presswire)
Carter. (Presswire)

Andrew asks: Presuming they are used only as starters, what do you think the innings limits for Warren, Mitchell and Kaprielian would be this season? My theory is that low innings limits for Warren and Mitchell make it more likely they start in the rotation and then get moved to the pen in June, rather then risk having to waste innings stretching them out.

I don’t think Adam Warren will have an innings limit this year. He’s going to turn 30 in August. If he does start the season in the rotation, the Yankees will keep an eye on him and look for signs of fatigue, but I don’t think they’re going to say, “okay, Warren has 140 innings max this year” or anything like that. He’s no kid who needs to be babied. Give him an extra day here and there, otherwise let him pitch.

Bryan Mitchell and James Kaprielian are different stories, obviously. Both missed a bunch of time with injuries last season and need to be handled a little more carefully. Mitchell’s career high is 145.1 innings back in 2013 and I think the Yankees would push him back to 150 innings again this year. Maybe they’d even push him to 175 innings or so if he’s pitching well and looks strong. It’s not like Mitchell hurt his arm last year.

Kaprielian’s career high is 119 innings between college and pro ball in 2015, and we already know the Yankees are going to handle him carefully. He didn’t appear in his first Spring Training game until last week, and the team plans to bring him along slowly once the regular season begins. I wonder if the Yankees targeted 150 innings or so for Kaprielian last year. If so, that might be the target again this year, albeit with a little more caution along the way.

Nathaniel asks: What are you impressions of Tyler Wade so far this Spring Training, and what kind of future does he have? Yankees or trade bait.

This question was sent in before the Didi Gregorius injury thrust Wade into the starting shortstop mix. I’m glad he’s opened some eyes this spring and people are seeing just how good he really is. I’ve been a Wade fan for years now — there have been plenty of “I’m not seeing it/he’s ranked too high in the top 30” comments and emails over the years — and have always though he’s good enough to be someone’s starting shortstop down the road. Didi’s injury means it could be with the Yankees this year.

It seems the Yankees have made their intentions clear with Wade: they want to keep him, and they’re trying to figure out ways to get him playing time. Hence the whole super utility thing. Gregorius isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, so shortstop isn’t an option. Same with second base and Starlin Castro, so that’s why they’ve been moving Wade around. He’s not a top prospect, so you can’t rule out the possibility of a trade, but I think the Yankees intend to keep Wade and figure out where he’ll play when the time comes.

Nick asks: I am interested in seeing a “wear and tear” comparison between Tanaka and CC. The knee-jerk reaction following another productive season would be “we must re-sign him” but would the Yankees be risking again paying premium dollars for the back end of a pitcher’s career?

Masahiro Tanaka turned 28 in November and the Yankees signed CC Sabathia six months after his 28th birthday. So this coming offseason Tanaka will essentially be six months older than Sabathia was when the Yankees first signed him, back during the 2008-09 offseason. Here are their career workloads through their age 27 seasons:

  • Sabathia: 1,684.1 innings including postseason.
  • Tanaka: 1,810 innings including MLB postseason (can find postseason stats for Japan).

That surprised me. I would have thought Sabathia threw more innings than Tanaka through their age 27 seasons, but nope. Tanaka made 28 starts and threw 186.1 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles at age 18 (!) and he’s been a full-time starter ever since. Geez.

Sabathia had another four high-quality seasons after signing his contract, but every pitcher is different, and that doesn’t mean Tanaka will hold up another four years as well. Pitchers get hurt all the time, especially older pitchers with thousands of innings on their arm, and it’s fair to say Tanaka is a greater risk than most given his elbow situation. The Yankees know him and his elbow better than anyone. All they can do is make the best decision based on the available information.

Adam asks: Given that Tanaka has his opt-out available after this year and there’s a possibility that the Yankees could have three pitchers leave town if he does opt out, would it make sense for the Yankees to offer to move up a couple of million from the back years of his contract in exchange for deferring the opt-out for a year?

It’s a nice idea, but there’s no way Tanaka and his agent would go for that. Not unless we’re talking tens of millions of dollars. He’d be walking away from three years and $67M by using the opt-out, which he should clear easily in free agency. Tanaka will probably be able to add $40M in guaranteed money after the season. Maybe $60M. Asking him to push back the opt-out clause means delaying that huge payday and assuming a ton of risk. It’s close to all downside for Tanaka. It would have to be huge amount of money to get him to agree to that. It’s not realistic. I wish it was.

Tanaka. (Presswire)
Tanaka. (Presswire)

Tom asks: Where would the prospects traded in the Chapman deal to the Reds rank in the farm system today (Rookie Davis etc). Haven’t followed to see how they’ve panned out thus far and based on getting back Torres plus, it was obviously a worthwhile deal anyway. Just curious to see what those guys are up to these days.

The trade looked ridiculously lopsided the day it was made and it looks even more lopsided now, and you don’t even need to factor in the Gleyber Torres stuff. Here’s an update on the four players the Yankees sent to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman last offseason:

  • Rookie Davis: Had a 3.71 ERA (4.27 FIP) in 131 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016. He’s allowed five runs (four earned) in eleven innings this spring. Pretty good chance Davis will make his MLB debut at some point this season. MLB.com ranks him the 17th best prospect in the team’s farm system.
  • Eric Jagielo: Hit .205/.305/.310 (83 wRC+) with a 30.5% strikeout rate in 111 Double-A games last year. I have no idea what happened to him. Jagielo was not picked in the Rule 5 Draft over the winter and he didn’t get a non-roster invite to camp this year. He also didn’t rank among MLB.com’s top 30 Reds prospects.
  • Tony Renda: Made his MLB debut late last year and went 11-for-60 (.183) in 32 games as a bench player. He has an interesting first hit story. Renda was outrighted off the 40-man roster over the winter and is in camp as a non-roster player.
  • Caleb Cotham: Had a 7.40 ERA (4.87 FIP) in 24.1 innings last season before going down with a knee injury. Cotham announced his retirement earlier this month.

Yeah, not great. Maybe Jagielo figures it out and maybe Renda carves out a niche as a bench player, otherwise the Chapman trade is going to boil down to Davis for the Reds. If he turns into a decent mid-rotation starter, Cincinnati will probably come out ahead in the “add up the WAR” game, but yeah. Pretty much a disaster. They sold Chapman for pennies on the dollar. Pennies.

As for the question, Jagielo and Renda definitely would not have made my top 30 list. Jagielo might not have made a top 50 list at this point. He was always a bat first guy with questionable defense, and if the bat is gone, he’s a non-prospect. Davis is a legitimate prospect and I would have had him in the top 30. Somewhere in the 19-22 range seems about right, alongside guys like Chad Green and Tyler Austin.

Ryan asks: Do the Yankees have any 60 Day DL candidates when the time comes they can put players on the DL? This could pave the way for a Wade to SS scenario. Thank you.

Gregorius and Austin. That’s it. As best I can tell, the first day teams were able to place players on the 60-day DL was February 14th, and Austin broke his foot on February 17th. Backdating the 60-day DL stint would still allow the Yankees to activate Austin as early as April 18th, so maybe that’s how they’ll make room on the 40-man roster for whoever needs to be added before Opening Day (Wade, Ernesto Frieri, Ruben Tejada, etc.).

The Gregorius situation is different. Putting him on the 60-day DL would mean the Yankees couldn’t activate him until May 19th, and from the sound of things, he could be back much sooner than that. So for now Austin is the only real 60-day DL candidate. (Remember: Teams can only use the 60-day DL when the 40-man roster is full, and someone has to be added to the 40-man right away. You can’t put someone on the 60-day DL and sit on the open 40-man spot.)

David asks: Would there be any benefit to the teams in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues playing one another during spring training? Obviously you want to reduce unneeded travel during the spring, but what about a quick one week swing through a couple teams in the other league to break up the monotony of playing the same teams.

Interesting idea! I think this would be pretty darn cool, though I doubt the clubs would go along with it because it means more travel and all that. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Yankees spend, say, three days going through the Cactus League? I’m sure the fans there would love it. A Yankees fan in Phoenix doesn’t get to see their team play all that often. Maybe it doesn’t have to be every team that makes the trip. Maybe they could send the Yankees and Red Sox to Arizona for a few days, and the Cubs and Dodgers to Florida for a few days. Seems like it would be pretty neat and exciting, which means it definitely won’t happen. So it goes.

Adam asks: What are your predictions for the 2017 season for the following?

We’re going to post our annual season predictions at CBS at some point soon. Next week, I think. And I’m always wrong. Last year I picked the Mets to beat the Rangers in the World Series, and Aaron Hicks to be the AL’s breakout player. Whoops. Here’s what I’m thinking for this season:

  • World Series: Dodgers over Mariners. Why the hell not?
  • MVPs: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. I’m boring, I know, but they’re the best players.
  • Cy Youngs: Contract year Masahiro Tanaka and Noah Syndergaard.
  • Rookies of the Year: Andrew Benintendi and Dansby Swanson. Too easy.

There doesn’t seem to be much mystery to the division races this year, huh? The Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers are all the clear cut favorites in their divisions, I think. The wildcard races are where it’ll be at. Then again, nothing ever goes according to plan. Perhaps the Cubs and Indians will be hit with a huge World Series hangover a la the Royals last year.