Yankees trade Carlos Corporan to Rays for cash

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today the Yankees traded catcher Carlos Corporan to the Rays for cash, the team announced. It’s only the second trade ever between the two AL East rivals. The other trade was the Nick Green for cash blockbuster back in 2006. Remember the Nick Green game? Good times.

Corporan, 32, had a unique opt-out clause in his contract. Once the Yankees determined they were not going to add him to the 40-man roster, they had to email the other 29 teams and give them the chance to add Corporan to their 40-man. Apparently no one bit; Corporan was traded as a non-40-man player.

The Yankees signed Corporan over the winter and it appeared that, at the very least, he would be a veteran safety net behind Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez in the backup catcher competition. Joe Girardi largely dismissed Corporan as a backup catcher candidate this spring and the job eventually went to Romine.

With Corporan gone, either Sebastian Valle or Eddy Rodriguez will back up Sanchez at Triple-A Scranton. Valle spent all of last season at Double-A with the Pirates. E-Rod bounced between Double-A and Triple-A with the Yankees. Either way, Sanchez is the starter for the RailRiders. No doubt about it.

Open Thread: April 2nd Camp Notes

The Yankees and Marlins are playing another un-televised game this afternoon. The good news is this will be the last un-televised Yankees game until next spring. Following today’s game the team will head to New York, enjoy an off-day tomorrow, then begin the regular season Monday. Pretty cool. Today’s game begins at 1pm ET. Here’s the Gameday link so you can follow that way. Here are some quick notes from Miami:

  • Andrew Miller (wrist) will pitch an inning today. He’s been wearing a brace since getting hit with the line drive a few days ago, but he needs to get MLB approval before using it in a game. [Anthony Rieber, Ryan Hatch]
  • Joe Girardi confirmed Aaron Hicks will indeed be in the starting lineup against Dallas Keuchel on Opening Day. He hasn’t decided who will sit, however. My take: if Jacoby Ellsbury‘s wrist is still sore from that hit-by-pitch two weeks ago, even a little bit, sit him and give him the extra rest. If not, well, he’s probably the one who should sit anyway. [Hatch]
  • Chase Headley did not play last night and he is not playing today because he’s sick. It’s unclear if he’ll be back to full strength in time for Opening Day. [Rieber]
  • If you missed it late last night, Kirby Yates has reportedly won the final bullpen spot.

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. MLB Network is showing live games all day: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays in Montreal (1pm ET), Giants vs. Athletics in Oakland (4pm ET), and Dodgers vs. Angels in Anaheim (8pm ET). All three local hockey teams are in action, plus you’ve got both Final Four games later tonight. Have at it.

Fake Old Rumor: Expos offered Vlad Guerrero and Pedro Martinez for Derek Jeter

Vlad. (Getty)
Vlad. (Getty)

I’m not much of a baseball historian, but the older I get, the more I enjoy thinking back to the game when I was a kid. Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield, the late-1990s dynasty, that sort of stuff. It’s fun to remember those years. I’m a sucker for “what ifs” too. What if David Cone didn’t walk Doug Strange with the bases loaded? What if Jim Leyritz didn’t hit that homer? What if Tony Clark’s double was off the wall and not a ground-ruler?

So, needless to say, this super old and fascinating and weird rumor is right in my wheelhouse. From Nick Cafardo:

As the story goes: When Jeffrey Loria owned the Expos, he was obsessed with Derek Jeter. So he ordered his general manager, Jim Beattie, to try to make a deal with the Yankees and to give up whatever he had to. Beattie offered Yankees GM Brian Cashman Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. Stunned, Cashman told Beattie, “I can’t trade Derek Jeter.”

How about that for a rumor? Imagine trading young Jeter for young Vlad and prime Pedro. Loria’s a native New Yorker and he has long admired the Yankees — why do you think he hired Mattingly this offseason? — so it makes total sense that he’d want Jeter. Who wouldn’t want Jeter back then? He was already a megastar.

That’s a great old rumor. Too bad it’s completely bogus. First and foremost, Loria did not buy into the Expos until 1999 — even then he didn’t have controlling interesting, that came a few months later — and by then Pedro was already with the Red Sox. He was traded to Boston in November 1997. Also, Cashman was promoted to GM in February 1998, two months after Pedro was traded to BoSox.

So no, this Jeter for Vlad/Pedro conversation didn’t actually happen. Sorry for being such a buzzkill. I don’t doubt Loria wanted Jeter, and hey, maybe Beattie did offer Vlad or Pedro for Jeter at some point. Pedro has said he was almost traded to New York. Time has a way of warping things — the older the story gets, the farther the home run travels, that sort of thing — and I’m sure this rumor had legs somewhere along the line. The Expos probably wanted Jeter. Everything else broke down during the game of telephone.

This is a very interesting what if though. Would Jeter for Vlad and Pedro have made sense for the Yankees? Let’s assume this happened during the 1997-98 offseason, when the Expos really got serious about trading Pedro. The Yankees would have traded four years of Jeter for five years of Vlad and one year of Pedro. If you simply add up the WARs — the lazy man’s trade analysis — it would have been 25.2 WAR (Jeter) for 32.9 WAR (Vlad) and 7.2 WAR (Pedro), so the Yankees would have come out way ahead.

It’s not quite that simple though. Who plays shortstop after Jeter? Andy Fox? Homer Bush? Shortstops like Jeter are harder to find than outfielders like Vlad, and don’t mean that as a knock on Vlad. He was awesome. Jeter was a much more valuable commodity as a player. So the Yankees would have no shortstop, and Guerrero would have to play left field because the Yankees had Bernie Williams in center and Paul O’Neill in right. They’d go into the season with a starting lineup that looks something like this:

  1. 2B Chuck Knoblauch
  2. DH Tim Raines
  3. RF Paul O’Neill
  4. CF Bernie Williams
  5. 1B Tino Martinez
  6. LF Vlad Guerrero
  7. C Jorge Posada
  8. 3B Scott Brosius
  9. SS ???

Would the Knoblauch trade have even happened if the Jeter trade went down? Would the Yankees trade their starting shortstop (Jeter) and top shortstop prospect (Cristian Guzman) in one offseason? Maybe! Knoblauch was a star and Vlad looked like a future star. The Yankees still had Bush as a stopgap and D’Angelo Jimenez in the system, after all.

The rotation aspect is pretty straight forward. Pedro, who won the NL Cy Young in 1997, would have joined holdovers Andy Pettitte, David Cone, and David Wells in the 1998 rotation. Ramiro Mendoza was the fifth starter to start that season, and eventually Hideki Irabu and Orlando Hernandez joined the starting five. One of those two would be out of the picture. Probably Irabu since Bush would have had to play short (and therefore not been involved in the Irabu trade with the Padres), but maybe El Duque instead.

This is a pretty wonderful what if scenario. It’s impossible to complain about in hindsight. The 1998 Yankees were one of the ten best teams in baseball history and the Yankees won three straight World Series after this hypothetical trade would have gone down. That Jeter guy stuck around for a while too. Things worked out pretty okay.

(Update: Cashman told Bryan Hoch the rumor was bogus. He did say he tried for both Vlad and Pedro over the years, and the Expos did ask about Jeter at one point.)

Curry: Kirby Yates wins final bullpen spot

Yates. (Presswire)
(Presswire)

According to Jack Curry, right-hander Kirby Yates will get the final bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster. He is essentially replacing Bryan Mitchell. Mitchell is going to miss a minimum of three months after breaking his toe covering first base earlier this week. Yates is already on the 40-man roster.

Yates, 29, came over from the Indians in a cash trade over the winter. He had a phenomenal spring, allowing two hits and one walk in 7.1 innings while striking out ten. Last season Yates had a 7.97 ERA (8.64 FIP) in 20.1 innings with the Rays. He somehow managed to allow ten homers in those 20.1 innings. Two years ago Yates had a 3.75 ERA (3.74 FIP) in 36 innings for Tampa.

Yates will join Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, Ivan Nova, Luis Cessa, and Johnny Barbato in the Opening Day bullpen. Miller is going to pitch through his wrist injury and Nova is officially in the bullpen now that CC Sabathia has been named the fifth starter. For what it’s worth, Joe Girardi said Cessa and Barbato locked up roster spots even before Mitchell’s injury.

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are playing the Marlins in Marlins Park tonight, and, amazingly, the game will not be broadcast anywhere. Not on YES, not on FOX Sports Florida, not on MLB Network, not online, nothing. How, in the year 2016, do two Major League teams play a game in a Major League park with no cameras? Incredible. Here’s the Gameday link. You can follow that way.

This is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing two live games tonight: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays in Montreal (7pm ET) and Athletics vs. Giants in San Francisco (10pm ET). The Knicks and Nets are playing each other, and both Final Four games will be on tonight as well. Talk about any of that here.

Joe Girardi names CC Sabathia fifth starter

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As expected, Joe Girardi officially named CC Sabathia the fifth starter this afternoon, according to the various reporters with the Yankees in Miami. Ivan Nova will shift to the bullpen for the time being. Sometimes you can predict baseball, Suzyn.

Sabathia, who last pitched Tuesday, will pitch in an instrasquad game tomorrow in Tampa to stay sharp. He’ll then join the team in New York and start next Saturday’s game in Detroit. The rotation is officially Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, and Sabathia in that order, not that the order really matters.

Nova did out-pitch Sabathia this spring, but Sabathia out-pitched Nova last year, plus he’s the veteran making $25M a year. Money talks. There were a ton of reasons not to believe the Yankees when they said the fifth starter’s spot would be decided by a true competition in Spring Training.

The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time until Nova winds up in the rotation anyway. Teams never make it through a season with only five starters, and the Yankees have a risky rotation. Tanaka (forearm), Pineda (forearm), Eovaldi (elbow), and Sabathia (knee) all missed time with injuries in 2015.

2016 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v1.0

We’re approaching draft season, folks. The draft itself is a little more than two months away now, so we’ll begin to ramp up our coverage in the coming days and weeks. The Yankees don’t have any extra picks this summer. Just their first rounder (18th), second rounder (62nd), and their picks in the other 38 rounds after that.

Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America (no subs. req’d) posted his first mock draft of the year earlier this week, and he has the Phillies taking New Jersey HS LHP Jason Groome with the top pick. There is no standout No. 1 prospect this year. No Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg. Not even a David Price or a Gerrit Cole. Groome is the guy right now, but that is very much subject to change.

Belinsky has the Yankees selecting California HS RHP Kevin Gowdy with their first round pick, that 18th overall selection. Gowdy definitely fits scouting director Damon Oppenheimer’s mold as a polished pitcher from Southern California. MLB.com ranked Gowdy as the 22nd best prospect in the draft class. Here’s a snippet of their free scouting report:

The Santa Barbara native has the chance to have three at least above-average pitches in his arsenal. Gowdy’s fastball will sit in the 90-93 mph range, and with his frame, it’s easy to dream about increased velocity. His breaking ball is an out pitch with good bite, one that should develop into a true slider in time. Gowdy has a better feel for a changeup than many high school pitchers, and he has shown advanced command for his age. He has a free and easy delivery that he repeats well, boding well for future success.

The Yankees have a position player heavy farm system at the moment, and while teams don’t draft for need, this draft is deeper in arms than it is bats. Many of the best prospects in the draft are position players, but the depth through rounds four or five is in arms. This is a good draft class for the Yankees to replenish the pitching pipeline a bit.

Oppenheimer has skewed towards college players in recent years — ten of their 15 picks in the top five rounds over the last three years were college players, for example — and I don’t expect that to change at all going forward. That doesn’t mean every pick will be a college player, or even their first rounder, just majority of their picks.