Dingers, Inherited Runners & Challenges [2015 Season Review]

Gardner hit seven three-run homers in 2015. (Presswire)
Gardner hit seven three-run homers in 2015. (Presswire)

Every year when I plan out the Season Review series, I always end up with more topics than posts. I start out rather ambitiously, then I run out of gas a few weeks later. We’re all sick of discussing 2015, right? The offseason is in full swing and we’re all looking ahead to 2016.

Anyway, there are a few weird statistical quirks I want to look at as part of the Season Review. They’re not worth their own individual posts so I’m going to just lump them together. We’ll look at these now, then next week we’ll wrap the whole Season Review thing up with some minor league reviews and that’ll be that. Away we go.

Three-Run Dingers

It was fun to get back to calling the Yankees the Bronx Bombers unironically this season. The Yankees hit only 144 home runs in 2013, 101 fewer than they hit in 2012. That’s the largest year-to-year decline in baseball history. The Yankees improved in 2013 and hit … 147 home runs. The team rebounded to hit 212 homers in 2015, the fourth most in baseball. Only the Blue Jays (232), Astros (230), and Orioles (217) hit more.

While watching the season play out, it felt like the Yankees hit an inordinate number of three-run home runs. Especially Brian McCann. Is it just me, or does it seem like the guy hits nothing but three-run homers? (He hit a team high seven this year.) The Yankees led baseball with 40 three-run dingers in 2015. Forty! Know who was second? The Rockies, Phillies, Astros, and Blue Jays. They each hit 23. The Yankees hit 17 more three-run homers than any other team this summer. They nearly doubled the second place teams.

The last team to hit 40+ three-run home runs was the 1996 Mariners (42). Heck, the last team to hit 30+ three-run homers was the 2007 Indians (30). Hitting three-run home runs is not a skill. Hitting home runs is a skill, but coming to the plate with two guys on base is not. This is just one of those weird things. The Yankees hit a lot of home runs this year in general, and they just so happened to hit a bunch with two men on base.

By the way, the Yankees ranked sixth in solo homers (115), eighth in two-run homers (50), and second in grand slams (seven) in 2015. The Giants hit nine grand slams and eight three-run homers this season. Weird.

Inherited Runners

The Yankees had a really good bullpen this past season, though they only stranded 29% of inherited runners, which is basically league average (30%). Here are the team’s relievers who inherited at least ten base-runners this season, via Baseball Reference:

Name IP G IR IS IS%
Justin Wilson* 61.0 74 44 7 16%
Chasen Shreve* 58.1 59 43 15 35%
Dellin Betances 84.0 74 41 11 27%
Adam Warren 131.1 43 17 4 24%
Chris Martin 20.2 24 15 7 47%
Esmil Rogers 33.0 18 15 7 47%
Nick Rumbelow 15.2 17 13 3 23%
Andrew Miller* 61.2 60 12 2 17%
Branden Pinder 27.2 25 10 5 50%

No real surprise here. Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, and Dellin Betances were Joe Girardi‘s firemen this year. Andrew Miller was married to the ninth inning, so those three were the guys Girardi turned to when he need an out(s) with men on base. They all inherited way more runners than the team’s other relievers. Wilson did a fantastic job stranding runners. Betances was slightly better than average and Shreve slightly worse.

What about the other side of the inherited runners coin? Which starters received the most help from the bullpen and which the least? Here’s the bequeathed runner data, again via Baseball Reference:

Name IP G GS BQR BQS BQS%
Nathan Eovaldi 154.1 27 27 31 8 26%
Adam Warren 131.1 43 17 27 5 19%
CC Sabathia* 167.1 29 29 22 7 32%
Michael Pineda 160.2 27 27 18 5 28%
Bryan Mitchell 29.2 20 2 16 6 38%
Chris Capuano* 40.2 22 4 14 5 36%
Ivan Nova 94.0 17 17 9 4 44%
Luis Severino 62.1 11 11 4 0 0%
Masahiro Tanaka 154.0 24 24 4 2 50%
Chase Whitley 19.1 4 4 3 2 66%

Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda all hovered right around the team/MLB average. Believe it or not, Masahiro Tanaka was taken out of a game in the middle of an inning only six times in 24 starts this year, hence the low number of bequeathed runners.

Adam Warren, on the other hand, got a lot of help from the bullpen. They did a real nice job stranding runners for him. If they’d allowed inherited runners to scored at the team average 29% rate, Warren’s ERA would go from 3.29 to 3.84. Ivan Nova, Chris Capuano, and Bryan Mitchell didn’t get much help from the bullpen either, but they didn’t leave a ton of men on base in their limited innings.

Not all inherited runners are the same — inheriting a man on first with two outs is much different than inheriting a runner on third with no outs, for example — and as far as I know, there’s no place that breaks down all the separate inherited runner situations. That would really tell use who did the best job stranding runners. Overall, the Yankees were a league average club when it came to leaving dudes on base this year.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Replay Challenges

Once again, the Yankees had an extremely high success rate with replay challenges in 2015. The Yankees had 24 of 32 calls overturned on replay this year, or 75%. That was easily the best success rate in the game. The Mariners were a distant second at 71.8%. No other team was over 70%. Credit goes to baseball operations assistant Brett Weber, the guy in the clubhouse watching the video and telling the coaching staff whether to challenge.

Those 32 challenges were the ninth fewest in baseball. (The Rays and Tigers had the fewest challenges with 27 each while the Rangers had the most with 54.) That’s a lot of unused challenges. I wouldn’t be opposed to Girardi being a little more liberal with them going forward. Yeah, the success rate might drop, but it might help you win another game or two. Say a bang-bang play in the late innings of a close game. Weber might give you a thumbs down, but if it’s a really close play in an important spot, roll the dice and maybe the MLB folks in midtown see it differently.

Either way, the Yankees have been extremely successful with their challenges in the two years the system has been in place. (Last year they went 23-for-28, or 82.1%.) I’m not sure I’d call this a skill. I’d rather just say Weber is really good at his job, looking over the replays in a timely fashioning and advising the staff whether they should challenge. A few more Hail Mary challenges might not be a bad idea though. It’s okay to shoot from the hip once in a while.

Mailbag: Shields, Teixeira, Beltran, Castro, Uribe, Mateo

We received a lot of questions over the last week that were moot by time I checked the inbox yesterday. Questions about signing or trading for guys who signed or were traded at the Winter Meetings. That sort of stuff. I still managed to pull eleven questions out of the pile. Email us questions at RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com.

Shields. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Shields. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Bill asks: Any possibility that the Yankees could trade Shields and instead of asking for the Padres to eat salary, they have to throw in young talent instead? Shields isn’t what he used to be but could be a nice innings eater for 3 years which this team desperately needs.

The Yankees could try, but I don’t think the Padres will kick in a young player or two in exchange for taking James Shields’ entire contract. He’s not that much of an albatross. Shields has three years and $65M left on his contract, though he has an opt-out after 2016, so if he’s good, you get him for one year. If he’s bad, you get him for three. Not exactly the most favorable contract situation you’ll find.

Shields will turn 34 in a week and a half, and he had a 3.91 ERA (4.45 FIP) in 202.1 innings for San Diego this year. His strikeout rate (25.1%) was easily the highest of his career, but he also gave up a ton of home runs (1.47 HR/9 and 17.6 HR/FB%). Shields has had weird homer spikes like this before (1.50 HR/9 and 13.8 HR/9 in 2010) and rebounded, though he is older now, so it might not be a blip. He’s worth a deeper look in the non-mailbag format. Of course, the Yankees probably aren’t trading for him because he’s both older and expensive. That’s not how they do business these days.

R.J. asks: Mike, Would you spend 200+ Mil on an ace or spread the money between two or three pitchers? If Price blows his elbow out or hits the DL for an extended period of time, that deal looks disastrous. I don’t know why, but I have the same feeling about this deal like I did about the Simmons trade. We’ll live.

I think both approaches are viable — spend big on one guy vs. spreading the money around — and I guess it depends on the team and their situation. If David Price gets hurt, the Red Sox have the ability to cover for that given their payroll and farm system. If Zack Greinke gets hurt, the Diamondbacks are pretty screwed. They don’t have the same resources.

One elite player is worth more than two above average players. One +6 WAR guy is better than two +3 WAR guys because there’s an opportunity cost associated with that second roster spot. So if you have the resources and can afford the elite player, go get him. That’s not possible for every team. Give me Price over, say, Mike Leake and Jeff Samardzija. That’s a risk the Yankees can afford to take.

Jake asks: If the Yankees find themselves out of contention by the time of the trade deadline, would they consider trading Mark Teixeira (if Tex lifts his no-trade clause) and/or Carlos Beltran by eating their contracts for the remainder of the year in order to bring back a haul of prospects?

We’ve been getting this same question every offseason for the last two or three years now. Only the names change. The answer stays the same: the Yankees would have to crater in a huge way to sell at the deadline. If they are even remotely in the postseason race, they’re more likely to add pieces than subtract. The Yankees are doing this on-the-fly rebuild but they’re also trying to win, and trading away guys like Teixeira and Beltran won’t help them win. The Yankees would have to be very far out of the race — like bottom five record in MLB — to sell. I can’t see it happening any other way.

Mark asks: Most articles I see say CC has a vesting option for 2017. Basically if his left arm doesn’t fall off he gets his $25m. But there have been articles that said it was a club option with a $5m buyout. Could you clear that up?

It’s both. It’s a $25M club option with a $5M buyout, but as long as CC Sabathia‘s shoulder remains intact, the option will vest. If it doesn’t vest, it’s a club option the Yankees could conceivably exercise to bring Sabathia back for 2017. That’ll never happen though. The Yankees can not buy Sabathia out if the option vests. Once it vests, he’s locked into that $25M salary for 2017.

Starlin. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)
Starlin. (Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Alex asks: Will the team be able to use Starlin at 3B and/or corner OF such that he becomes a super utility guy, or is the plan for him to be the 2B?

Brian Cashman mentioned playing Castro at shortstop and third base at times — Starlin’s has never played third at the MLB level and only has a handful of minor league games at the hot corner, all in rookie ball — but did say he will primarily be the second baseman. He didn’t mention anything about the outfield. Castro is still in the process of learning second base — he’s played only 258 innings at the position so far, so he’s still learning — so I’m not sure dumping third and the outfield on him right now is the best idea. It sounds like the plan is second base primarily with a little shortstop when Didi Gregorius needs a break, and maybe a little third when Chase Headley needs a day.

Nathanial asks: If you could ask two questions to anyone within the Yankees’ organization, and be guaranteed completely honest answers, who would you ask and what would the questions be?

Oh boy. This is a good question. I’d ask Hal Steinbrenner why payroll has not increased at a rate equal to league-wide inflation the last ten years, especially after the new Yankee Stadium opened. I’d also ask Cashman if he thinks he is given an appropriate level of resources given the team’s market and financial situation. I know I’ve been harping on the payroll a lot lately, and the Yankees do spent a ton of money relative to the rest of the league, but geez, the fact payroll hasn’t changed at all in the seven seasons since the new ballpark opened really bugs me.

Dan asks: As currently constructed, the Yanks still need someone who can backup third, and be a righty bat off the bench. How about Juan Uribe? He should be cheap, and fits their needs.

Uribe’s great and would fit the team’s needs, especially since he can still play second base. He’s not an everyday option there, but he can do it on occasion. The 36-year-old hit .253/.320/.417 (104 wRC+) with 14 home runs in only 397 plate appearances last year, including .272/.350/.543 (146 wRC+) against lefties. Uribe is a shockingly good defender, he can still hit, and he’s an A+ clubhouse dude. I’m all for it. If the Yankees could get him for a year and, say, $3M or $4M, do it.

P.J. asks: With the Starlin Castro signing what will happen to Jorge Mateo going forward? It would now appear he’s blocked at SS by Gregorius and at 2nd by Castro.

This is a cop out answer but it’s the only answer right now: it’s too early to worry about this. Mateo is a very good young prospect. He has also played only 21 games above Low Class-A, and those were all at High-A. The absolute best case scenario is what, a late 2017 MLB arrival? It’s more likely Mateo won’t be ready until 2018 sometime. Lots can happen between now and then. Gregorius will only be a year away from free agency at that time, so we could end up doing the “let Didi walk/replace him with Mateo in a year” song and dance we’re doing right now with Greg Bird/Aaron Judge and Teixeira/Beltran.

Andrew asks: How badly did the Yankees mess up in not trading Cano/Swisher/Granderson before they hit free agency? Especially with the last two, there were some free agent outfielders they could’ve signed to replace and so would not have had to lost those players for nothing. What are your thoughts?

Before we start, I have to point out trading Nick Swisher was not a realistic option. His final season with the Yankees was 2012 and they won the division that year. He was also one of their best players. I know what Andrew’s asking, but Swisher’s not someone who should be lumped into the “why didn’t they trade him!” group. Also, Curtis Granderson was hurt at the time of the 2013 trade deadline, so he was essentially untradeable.

Bob Cano. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Bob Cano. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Anyway, at the time I thought the big mistake was not adding more pieces at the deadline to help Robinson Cano and David Robertson, not not trading them. The Yankees were 3.5 games back of a postseason spot the morning of the 2013 trade deadline. They were three back the morning of the 2014 trade deadline. For me, that’s “go for it” territory, especially when you’re talking about the Yankees.

In hindsight, not trading those guys looks awful. I could have sworn I remember reading somewhere that the baseball operations folks wanted to trade Cano at the deadline because they knew they weren’t going to re-sign him, but ownership said no. I can’t find it now. The Athletics and Braves were the two contenders who really needed second base help at 2013 deadline, though who knows what the Yankees could have gotten in return for Robbie. Those clubs didn’t have the best farm systems at the time.

If you could somehow force the Yankees to give you an honest answer, I think they’d say they know they screwed up by not trading Cano and Robertson (and Hiroki Kuroda?). They were valuable assets who left for only a draft pick, which … meh. Draft picks are nice but they’re not much. Maybe that’s why they’re trying to trade Andrew Miller and Brett Gardner now. So they don’t miss that chance to maximize value again. Based on what we know now, not trading those guys was a big mistake.

Jackson asks: It’s a safe bet next year that the Yankees will make qualifying offers to Beltran and Tex, they well decline and the Yanks get two additional draft picks, right?

Noooooooo. Not safe to assume that at all, especially with Beltran. Even if he repeats his 2015 season in 2016 season, he’ll be a 39-year-old whose best position is DH, so his market will be fairly limited. The qualifying offer is going to be worth $16M or so next year, and I think Beltran would jump all over that. He’d need to have a monster 2016 season to reject a qualifying offer. Something like .300/.380/.500 with 30 dingers or so. Otherwise he’s just the kind of the player every team seems to be trying to get away from nowadays.

Teixeira’s a different story because he’s slightly younger than Beltran (36 in April) and remains a two-way threat. He can still mash dingers and pick it at first base. If Teixeira stays healthy — that’s a big if these days, even though I fully acknowledge the shin injury was really fluky — and has a strong year, I could see him rejecting a qualifying offer. He’d put himself in line for a nice two-year deal, maybe two years and $28M or something like that. It’s much more likely Teixeira will get a qualifying offer than Beltran, but I wouldn’t say it’s safe bet at all.

Josh asks: There was a question in last week’s mailbag about Dave Winfield. I remember hearing during the HOF inductions that he never played a minor league game in his life. That strikes me as pretty rare – especially for players who don’t come to the MLB as bonafide professionals from another country. But how rare is it? Could it ever happen again? Is there anyone active now who came right into the majors and never needed a rehab stint?

There’s no one in MLB right now who has never played in the minors. The closest is Mike Leake, who was drafted in 2008, threw 19.2 innings in the Arizona Fall League that year, then made the Reds out of Spring Training in 2009. (He also made two Triple-A appearances in 2011 after being demoted.) Baseball Almanac has a list of players who went straight to MLB after being drafted and SABR has a list of players who never played in the minors at all. I’m not sure how complete the list is though. Could it happen again? Yeah, it just seems really unlikely, especially because service time is such a big concern now. Baseball’s really hard. Jumping from college to MLB seems almost impossible without some minor league tune-up time.

Thursday Night Open Thread

The 2015 Winter Meetings are finally over. The Yankees made two trades this week, and it seems pretty clear right now more moves are on the way this offseason. “I think Alan Cockrell is loving me and Larry Rothschild‘s not liking me,” said Brian Cashman to Erik Boland, referring to his hitting and pitching coaches and the offseason to date. Also, I forgot to mention this the other day, but Joe Girardi held his annual Winter Meetings press conference Tuesday afternoon, before both trades went down. Here’s the transcript, if you’re interested.

This is the nightly open thread. The Cardinals and Vikings are the Thursday NFL game, plus both the Knicks and Nets are playing too. There’s also a college hoops game. A. Singular. Talk about those games, the Winter Meetings, or anything else right here.

2016 Draft: MLB.com releases first top 50 prospects list

Cal Quantrill, top 2016 draft prospect and former Yankees draft pick (26th round in 2013). (NCAA.com)
Cal Quantrill, top 2016 draft prospect and former Yankees draft pick (26th round in 2013). (NCAA.com)

I guess draft season is now underway. The crew at MLB.com — specifically Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo — put together their first top 50 draft prospects list recently. New Jersey HS LHP Jason Groome currently sits in the top spot, but the draft is still a long way away, so a lot can and will change. As always, MLB.com’s scouting reports are free.

At the moment, the 2016 draft class appears to be deep in arms and light on true impact bats, especially on the infield. I feel like that is the case every year nowadays. There are a bunch of dudes throwing 95+ and not many hitters, and those who can hit are outfielders. It seems like there are fewer and fewer quality infielders in baseball each passing year, at all levels.

The Yankees currently hold the 20th overall pick in the 2016 draft, as our Draft Order Tracker shows. They started out with the 22nd overall pick but moved up thanks to the Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija signings. That pick will move up even further if the Mariners, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Indians, Twins, Nationals, Angels, or Astros sign a qualified free agent.

We should never completely rule out the Yankees signing a big free agent, but right now it seems very unlikely they will add a qualified free agent and forfeit that first round pick. The money doesn’t appear to be there this offseason. The Yankees have leaned towards college players big time in recent drafts, so if you’re combing through MLB.com’s list for possible targets, I’d start with the college guys.

The Big Ballpark in the Bronx [2015 Season Review]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The 2015 season was the Yankees’ seventh in the new Yankee Stadium. The new park has already been home to one World Series champ, and it has seen its fair share of historic moments too. Just this summer Alex Rodriguez recorded his 3,000th hit in the Bronx. He also took over sole possession of fourth place on the all-time home run list with a Yankee Stadium blast.

The new Stadium is unequal parts beautiful and excess. The new place doesn’t have the charm of the old Yankee Stadium and it never will, partly because the old ballpark has been romanticized into something it never truly was. I enjoy the nice wide concourses and adequately sized bathrooms of the new place. I also miss the upper deck overhang and a Monument Park I can actually see. Oh well. Anyway, let’s review the 2015 season at Yankee Stadium.

Big Attendance Drop

According to the attendance numbers at Baseball Reference, attendance dropped big time in 2015. In fact, the Yankees had their worst attendance since moving into the new Stadium. Here’s the numbers:

Year W L Finish Playoffs Attendance Attend/G Rank
2015 87 75 2 Lost ALWC (1-0) 3,193,795 39,430 1st of 15
2014 84 78 2 3,401,624 41,995 1st of 15
2013 85 77 3 3,279,589 40,489 1st of 15
2012 95 67 1 Lost ALCS (4-0) 3,542,406 43,733 1st of 14
2011 97 65 1 Lost LDS (3-2) 3,653,680 45,107 1st of 14
2010 95 67 2 Lost ALCS (4-2) 3,765,807 46,491 1st of 14
2009 103 59 1 Won WS (4-2) 3,719,358 45,918 1st of 14

Attendance dropped roughly 2,500 fans per game this summer. Of course, the Yankees still led the league in attendance, so it’s not like they fell back to middle of the pack or something. They just didn’t draw as many fans as they did in previous years. The new Stadium honeymoon period is coming to an end.

The Yankees did not have a farewell tour this year, which hurt attendance. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter helped put some butts in the seats down the stretch the last two years, even without serious postseason drives. Attendance was always going to decline somewhat for that reason. And after back-to-back postseason-less years, of course fewer fans were going to come to the park. That’s how this pro sports thing works.

I have zero answers for the attendance situation. I have no idea how the Yankees can fill the Legends Seats — lower the prices? fine, but everyone still goes inside to hang out — or get more fans to the ballpark on weeknights. All I know is attendance declined this summer, and, frankly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it went down again next year.

Metal Detectors & Long Lines

This season MLB required all 30 clubs to have metal detectors at their entrances, and man, it was a pain. The lines got to be pretty long at times — the wildcard game was a total nightmare — and folks coming from the city after work would often miss the first inning or two because it took so long to get into the damn building.

The metal detectors are here to stay. There’s nothing the Yankees can do about that. The team can do something about the process of going through the metal detectors though. The lines themselves were often run poorly with unclear directions and no actual lines, just a blob of people standing together. The process can be streamlined, no doubt. Hopefully this is something the Yankees improve next season. No one goes to the ballpark looking for the airport experience.

Three New Retired Numbers

The Yankees held four special ceremonies his summer to honor former players. Willie Randolph was given a plaque in Monument Park while Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams had their numbers retired. The Yankees also dedicated a plaque in Mel Stottlemyre’s honor as part of a very touching surprise ceremony.

That was really sweet and well done. Mel’s been battling cancer and it wasn’t clear he would even be able to travel from his home in Washington to the Bronx for Old Timers’ Day. He made it though, and the Yankees surprised him. That was a season highlight for sure.

Anyway, the three new numbers were retired, and they all look great. I think. The lack of space means the new numbers had to be hung at the front of Monument Park, on the opposite side of the outfield wall. So they’re all facing the other numbers, not included with them.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

That’s … weird. I mean, I get it, they ran out of space, but leaving those three numbers by themselves on the other side of Monument Park would be pretty lame. Hopefully the Yankees can squeeze some space alongside the other numbers this offseason. It’s bad enough Monument Park is hiding under the restaurant. Can they at least put all the retired numbers together? Pretty please?

NYCFC

The Yankees had a roommate this year. The New York City Football Club, a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, called Yankee Stadium home in 2015 as they worked to land a facility of their own.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As far as I know, the field itself was kept in good shape. I was worried it would get torn up but that wasn’t the case. Later in the season we could see lines in the outfield, though it wasn’t that noticeable. The soccer pitch spanned left field to right field and covered only part of the infield, so the mound was fine — it wasn’t torn down and rebuilt every time NYCFC played a game — and the infield grass was nearly untouched.

Nothing has been made official yet, but NYCFC is expected to call Yankee Stadium their home again next season. And maybe the season after that too. The grounds crew did a great job this year. The field was really no issue whatsoever. Based on this season, there’s no reason to think sharing the park will be an issue going forward.

Yankees make no picks, lose Jake Cave and Evan Rutckyj in Rule 5 Draft

Cave. (AP)
Cave. (AP)

The 2015 Winter Meetings came to an unofficial end Thursday morning with the Rule 5 Draft. Everyone usually heads home afterward. The Yankees did not make a pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft today even though there were rumblings they were considering it. They haven’t made a Rule 5 pick since taking Cesar Cabral and Brad Meyers in 2011. Here are the Rule 5 Draft results.

The Yankees did, however, lose two players in the Rule 5 Draft. Outfielder Jake Cave was selected by the Reds with the No. 2 pick, and left-hander Evan Rutckyj was selected by the Braves with the No. 3. Atlanta really seems to love their ex-Yankees, huh? This is getting kinda creepy. Anyway, by rule, Cave and Rutckyj must remain on the 25-man active roster all season in 2016, or pass through waivers and be offered back to New York.

Cave, 23, was the Yankees’ sixth round pick in the 2011 draft. I ranked him as the No. 19 prospect in the organization prior to the season. Cave hit .276/.337/.356 (102 wRC+) with 25 doubles and two home runs in 134 games at Double-A and Triple-A this summer. He’s a lefty hitting fourth outfielder type — not enough power for a corner and just enough defense for center. The Reds have little outfield depth, which bodes well for Cave. He might stick next year.

The 23-year-old Rutckyj (pronounced root-ski) was the Yankees’ 16th round pick in 2010. He’s a surprise Rule 5 Draft pick for sure. Even Rutckyj seems surprised. The southpaw had a 2.63 ERA (2.59 FIP) with a 31.5% strikeout rate in 61.2 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this past season. Rutckyj’s a low-to-mid-90s fastball guy with shaky command. The Braves have a disasterpen, though it still would be a surprise if Rutckyj stuck all season.

The Yankees did select three (!) players in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft: righty Yefrey Ramirez (Diamondbacks), righty Julian Aybar (Cubs), and catcher Santiago Nessy (Royals). I can’t remember the last time the Yankees took even one player in the Triple-A phase, though I could be forgetting someone obvious. The minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft works differently than the Major League phase. These players are Yankees now, no strings attached. There are no roster hoops to jump through.

Ramirez, 22, had a 5.35 ERA (5.78 FIP) in 69 rookie ball innings with the D’Backs in 2015. Aybar, 23, had a 1.82 ERA (2.33 FIP) in 39.2 rookie ball innings for the Cubs this summer. The 23-year-old Nessy hit .220/.287/.340 (82 wRC+) in 62 games split between two levels of Single-A with Kansas City this past season. He’s the guy the Blue Jays traded to the Royals for righty reliever Liam Hendriks last offseason.

The Yankees also lost four players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft: righty Luis Niebla (Rockies), outfielder Danny Oh (Athletics), catcher Eduardo de Oleo (D’Backs), and righty Yoel Espinal (Rays). As with the three guys the Yankees picked up, none of these four are prospects. They’re all organizational player types. The Yankees lost two righties and a catcher so they took two righties and a catcher to replace the depth. That’s all.

So, all told, the Yankees selected three players in the minor league phase while losing six players total, two in the Major League phase and four in the minor league phase. Rutckyj is probably coming back at some point. Cave might stick though, and even if he does get offered back, the Yankees might opt to work out a trade to let him stay with the Reds. The Yankees have a lot of Triple-A outfield depth and there are only so many at-bats to go around.

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Thursday

The return of MFIKY? (Presswire)
The return of MFIKY? (Presswire)

The final day of the 2015 Winter Meetings is upon us, thankfully. I’m really for them to be over. The Rule 5 Draft will take place at 10am ET this morning and the Yankees will lose outfielder Jake Cave, in all likelihood. Maybe some others. There are some rumblings New York will make a pick of their own. They do have two open 40-man roster spots.

Here are Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s open threads. Thursday is typically the slowest day of the Winter Meetings — most folks head home after the Rule 5 Draft — but I’m sure there will still be plenty of news and rumors out of Nashville. We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:00am: Following yesterday’s trade, Brian Cashman told reporters he’s not done making moves yet. “I’m also not done. I’ve got a lot of other conversations in play and we’ll see where that takes me,” said the GM. I mean, duh. It’s December 10th. Of course he’s not done. [Peter Caldera]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees are among the teams to check in on Rafael Soriano. Soriano, 35, threw 5.2 ineffective innings for the Cubs this year and was released at midseason. At this point of his career, Soriano’s a non-roster invite guy, not someone you guarantee a roster spot. [Jon Heyman]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees have their eyes on Astros lefty Reymin Guduan, Astros righty Chris Devenski, and Cardinals righty Luis Perdomo in the Rule 5 Draft. Guduan is a lock to be selected today because he’s a southpaw who throws 100 mph on the regular. [George King]
  • 10:26am: The Dodgers have moved on from Aroldis Chapman, understandably so, and they’re now “weighing” a run at Andrew Miller. With Ken Giles traded and Chapman persona non grata, Miller is by far the best available reliever on the market. [Jon Heyman]
  • 10:31am: The Twins were one of the other teams after Justin Wilson prior to yesterday’s trade. If they’re looking a lefty reliever, the Yankees still have plenty to offer. [LaVelle Neal]
  • 12:18pm: Cashman said he considers the bullpen and the roster in general “incomplete.” I’d say. “I’m intending to do more,” he added. [Bryan Hoch, Brendan Kuty]
  • 12:45pm: The Astros worked “extensively” on an Andrew Miller trade with the Yankees before turning to Giles. They gave up a pretty nice package of players for Giles. The Yankees really seem to be asking a ton for Miller. [Buster Olney]
  • 2:45pm: Talks between the Yankees and Dodgers about Andrew Miller have “no legs.” The Yankees continue to see a good young starter in return and Los Angeles doesn’t have one of those to offer. [Jon Heyman]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)