Saturday Notes: In-Market Streaming, Netting, Martone, Murtaugh


Here are some stray links and notes related mostly to league-wide matters that affect the Yankees and their fans.

MLB announces in-market streaming deal with FOX

Yesterday afternoon commissioner Rob Manfred announced MLB has agreed to a three-year deal with FOX to provide in-market streaming. It is only available for teams whose games are broadcast by FOX Sports — that’s 15 teams, so half the league — and that does include the Yankees thanks to the YES deal with News Corp. a few years back. This is NOT a cable alternative. You have to subscribe to YES through your cable provider for in-market streaming. It’s better than nothing, I guess. MLB is still working with the other networks on in-market streaming deals.

MLB to recommend new stadium netting regulations

Manfred also announced yesterday that MLB will recommend new stadium netting regulations for the 2016 season. (That’s the netting behind home plate. Duh.) It’s unclear how far the league will ask the netting to be extended but to the dugouts seems reasonable. There were several incidents of foul balls and broken bats injuring fans last year. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy:

“In addition to a recommendation on the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program,” said Manfred to the Associated Press. “A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy. We want our fans to be safe in the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.”

Martone leaves, Murtaugh joins front office

The front office shuffling continues. Manager of pro scouting Steve Martone, who had been with the Yankees the last nine years, has left the organization to become Billy Eppler’s assistant GM with the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna. Martone, 35, was responsible for identifying trade and waiver targets on other clubs. He’ll do something similar with the Angels. No word on how the Yankees will replace Martone.

Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro reports veteran scout Pat Murtaugh recently left the Diamondbacks to join the Yankees’ pro scouting staff. Murtaugh, 56, has been in the scouting game a very long time, and, as Piecoro wrote two years ago, he was the scout who recommended Didi Gregorius to then D’Backs GM Kevin Towers back in the day. The Yankees lost Eric Chavez to the Angels a few weeks ago. Chavez had been working in the pro scouting department.

CBA negotiations to begin early next year

Last week, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA are likely to begin early next year, in February or March. The current CBA is set to expire on December 1st, 2016. The qualifying offer and international free agent spending systems figure to get an overhaul, among other things. (We could see an international draft.) MLB has had labor piece for over two decades now. The game is flush with money and I doubt either side wants to mess things up with a work stoppage. I’m hopeful MLB and the union will get a new deal worked out without much of a headache.

MLB minimum salary will not rise in 2016

According to the Associated Press, the Major League minimum salary will remain $507,500 next season due to a lack of inflation. The CBA includes a modified cost-of-living adjustment. The methodology used actually said the minimum salary should be reduced next year, but lol no. The CBA says the minimum salary can only go up, not down. Minimum minor league salaries for players on split contracts are $41,400 for first year players and $82,700 thereafter. Baseball’s good work if you can get it.

DotF: Sanchez & Fowler finish Arizona Fall League strong

The Surprise Saguaros (19-11) finished with the best record in the Arizona Fall League and will play the Scottsdale Scorpions (18-12) in today’s Championship Game. Here are the starting lineups. C Gary Sanchez, OF Tyler Austin, and OF Dustin Fowler are all playing. The game will begin at 3pm ET and you can watch live on MLB Network and Here are some other minor league notes:

  • Not one, but two former Yankees farmhands signed big league contracts this week. RHP Cesar Vargas signed with the Padres and RHP Andury Acevedo hooked on with the Cubs, both teams announced. Vargas and Acevedo became minor league free agents last week. They’re both hard-throwing relievers. The Yankees have plenty of those.
  • Kelsie Heneghan has a nice article on OF Dustin Fowler, who’s had a strong few weeks in the AzFL. “You can see he’s a line-drive hitter, knows how to handle the bat well. He can steal a base, he has good speed, is aggressive on the bases, a good fielder,” said Surprise manager Carlos Subero. “He’s definitely a player that you like on your team, has good intangibles, good ballplayer.”
  • The Yankees have signed C Francisco Diaz and RHP Jhony Brito to minor league contracts, reports Matt Eddy. Diaz, 25, hit .353/.418/.482 (157 wRC+) in 26 Low-A games with the Pirates last year. He’s a pure depth pickup, not a prospect. Someone has to catch, you know? Brito is an international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic.
  • And finally, Anthony Morales, the ex-football player who allegedly assaulted RHP Ty Hensley last offseason, has been acquitted according to Kyle Schwab. The two reportedly got into an argument about signing bonuses. Hensley recovered from his injuries in time for Spring Training but missed the season following Tommy John surgery.

Now for the winter ball updates. The AzFL regular season is over, so those stats are final. The various Caribbean league seasons don’t end for several weeks.

Arizona Fall League

  • OF Tyler Austin: 21 G, 22-81 (.272), 13 , 5 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 18 K, 7 SB, 2 CS (.272/.344/.444) — apparently he’s heading to Venezuela next to play winter ball
  • OF Dustin Fowler: 16 G, 17-61 (.279), 14 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K, 7 K (.279/.313/.410) — nice work for a guy on the taxi squad playing twice a week
  • C Gary Sanchez: 22 G, 26-88 (.295), 16 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 8 BB, 19 K, 4 SB, 2 CS, 1 HBP (.295/.357/.625) — led the league in homers, RBI, and total bases (55) … he’s considered the favorite for AzFL MVP after 1B Greg Bird won it last year
  • IF Tyler Wade: 14 G, 9-41 (.220), 6 R, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 7 K, 2 SB, 1 CS (.220/.313/.268) — hit .208/.250/.266 (46 wRC+) in 43 games between Double-A and the AzFL to end the season
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo: 7 G, 0 GS, 12 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 2 RBI (2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP) — gotta think he’ll start next year in the Low-A Charleston rotation with a chance for a quick promotion
  • LHP Ian Clarkin: 6 G, 6 GS, 24.2 IP, 34 H, 16 R, 16 ER, 14 BB, 17 K, 2 HR, 1 HB, 3 WP (5.84 ERA and 1.95 WHIP) — ugly numbers but at least he’s healthy … I assume he’ll start next season with High-A Tampa
  • LHP Chaz Hebert: 7 G, 1 GS, 14.1 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 10 BB, 12 K, 1 WP (4.40 ERA and 1.60 WHIP) — he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster yesterday so he’ll be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in a few weeks
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 9 G, 0 GS, 12.1 IP, 13 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 1 HR, 2 WP (5.84 ERA and 1.30 WHIP) — got a few innings in after missing the second half with a hand injury

Dominican Summer League

  • IF Abi Avelino: 1 G, 0-1, 1 K
  • C Eduardo de Oleo: 1 G, 0-1, 1 K
  • SS Jorge Mateo is listed on a roster but hasn’t played yet and probably won’t at this point.

Mexican Pacific League

  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 13 G, 0 GS, 9 IP, 14 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 14 K, 2 HR, 1 WP (10.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP)
  • RHP Luis Niebla: 7 G, 7 GS, 35.1 IP, 27 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 24 BB, 20 K, 3 HR, 2 HB, 1 WP (4.33 ERA and 1.44 WHIP)
  • 2B Angelo Gumbs is listed on a roster but hasn’t played yet. As with Mateo, he probably won’t play if he hasn’t already.

Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico)

  • IF Cito Culver: 6 G, 2-19 (.105), 1 R, 1 BB, 6 (.105/.150/.105)
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 4 G, 4 GS, 20.1 IP, 15 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 9 BB, 13 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (1.77 ERA and 1.18 WHIP) — up to 125 innings on the year … his career high is 145.1 innings set back in 2013

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Diaz: 9 G, 4-13 (.308), 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K (.308/.357/.308) — the new guy
  • OF Teodoro Martinez: 34 G, 35-133 (.263), 17 R, 3 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, 2 SB, 2 HBP (.263/.293/.316)
  • RHP Luis Cedeno: 6 G, 0 GS, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 1 WP (9.00 ERA and 2.20 WHIP)
  • RHP Jaron Long: 7 G, 7 GS, 40.2 IP, 39 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 10 BB, 22 K, 2 HR, 2 WP (2.43 ERA and 1.20 WHIP) — up to 195.1 innings on the season
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 14 G, 0 GS, 12.1 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 5 BB, 15 K, 2 HR (6.57 ERA and 1.38 WHIP) — he’s be available in the Rule 5 Draft again after being passed over last year
  • IF Thairo Estrada is also listed on a roster. He’s yet to get into a game yet though.

Yankees add Rookie Davis, Ben Gamel, Johnny Barbato to 40-man roster

(Fred Adams/Times Leader)
(Fred Adams/Times Leader)

The Yankees have added outfielder Ben Gamel and right-handers Rookie Davis and Johnny Barbato to the 40-man roster, the team announced. All three players were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. The team also confirmed righty Chase Whitley has been claimed off waivers by the Rays.

Gamel, 23, had a breakout year with Triple-A Scranton this summer, hitting .300/.358/.472 (138 wRC+) with a farm system leading 52 extra-base hits. He joins Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams as left-handed hitting outfielders on the 40-man roster. Gamel’s not the center field defender Slade and Williams are, but he’s a better hitter.

The 22-year-old Davis is one of the team’s best pitching prospects and was the only no-brainer addition this offseason. He had a 3.86 ERA (2.47 FIP) in 130.2 innings at mostly High-A Tampa this past season. Davis is a mid-90s fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher who made big strides with his command and efficiency in 2015.

Barbato, 23, was acquired from the Padres last winter in the Shawn Kelley trade. He had a 3.19 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 67.2 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. He’s a fastball curveball guy. Gamel and Barbato could definitely help in 2016. Davis figures to be more of a 2017 option though it’s not out of the question we see him next year.

Among the notable players left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft are outfielder Tyler Austin, third baseman Miguel Andujar, lefties Dietrich Enns and Chaz Hebert, outfielder Jake Cave, and infielder Tony Renda. Cave and the lefties seem like prime Rule 5 Draft fodder though I’m not sure any of them could stick on a big league 25-man roster in 2016.

Gamel and Davis were the only players 50% of RAB readers said the Yankees should protect in our poll earlier this week. The 40-man roster is now full.

Ryan & Jones: The Necessary Bench Players [2015 Season Review]

Acquiring decent bench players has always been difficult for the Yankees. First and foremost, bench players are like relievers. They tend to be good one year and terrible the next. Secondly, the good ones who hit free agency never want to sign with New York because they know they’ll be stuck behind someone with a big name or a big contract or both. Players want to play. The Yankees over the years haven’t been able to promise much playing time to bench guys.

So the Yankees have instead had to grow their own bench players. Either that or acquire them in trades, which is how they ended up with Brendan Ryan and Garrett Jones. Ryan came over in a trade with the Mariners in September 2013 before taking a two-year contract to be Derek Jeter‘s caddy. Jones was part of last offseason’s Martin PradoNathan Eovaldi swap. Both were part of the 2015 bench. For at least part of the season, anyway.

Ryan. (Presswire)
Ryan. (Presswire)

The Utility Infielder, Because You Need One

For the second straight year, Ryan was not healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster. He had an ongoing back problem in Spring Training, then, once his back was healthy, he strained his calf making a play in the field during a Grapefruit League game. That landed him on the 15-day DL and eventually the 60-day DL. (Ryan was transferred to the 60-day DL to make 40-man roster room for Jacob Lindgren in late-May.)

Eventually Ryan got healthy. He played in some minor league rehab games — that was his Spring Training, basically — before being activated off the DL on June 10th. Ryan made his season debut that day and, naturally, went 2-for-3 with a triple. He reached base three times in the game overall.

Ryan’s return lasted less than two weeks. He appeared in six games over the next eleven days — he started three of them and went 4-for-13 (.308) overall — before returning to the 15-day DL with another back injury on June 22nd.

It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that Ryan returned to the Yankees. He played sparingly the rest of July though did finish the month very well. Ryan went 6-for-16 (.375) with three doubles and a triple in the span of three games at the end of the month. That includes a 2-for-6 with two doubles night in that 21-5 blowout win over the Rangers.

Of course the offense wasn’t going to last though. Ryan has never been much of a hitter and one of those doubles that night looked like this:

That, ladies and gents, is some good ol’ fashioned BABIP luck. It happens.

Ryan stayed healthy the rest of the season but was just awful at the plate. He had four hits in August. Four. Four hits in 35 at-bats (.114) spread across 17 games, including ten starts. A seven-hit September followed. For a while Joe Girardi used Ryan in a straight platoon with Stephen Drew, and, to Ryan’s credit, he did hit .283/.321/.453 (109 wRC+) against southpaws this summer.

All told, Ryan hit .229/.275/.333 (64 wRC+) with a 28.2% strikeout rate and a 4.9% walk rate in 103 plate appearances this past season. He did not hit a home run or steal a base, and 53 of those plate appearances came against lefties. Believe it or not, the 64 wRC+ represents Ryan’s best offensive season since 2011 with the Mariners (84 wRC+).

Ryan makes his living in the field, not at the plate. The defensive stats say he was a below-average defender this summer but it’s hard to take them seriously. He played 261.67 innings in the field. That’s slightly more than 29 full games. The eye test told me Ryan is still really good in the field. He can still do stuff like this:

For the most part Ryan played the middle infield and third base. He also dabbled at first and even spent a few innings in right field. Heck, Ryan threw not one, but two (!) scoreless innings in a blowout loss to the Astros on August 25th. He threw 20 of 28 pitches for strikes and even got a swing-and-miss. What a time to be alive.

As expected, Ryan exercised his $1M player option shortly after the end of the World Series. I suppose the Yankees could look around for an upgrade — Cliff Pennington just signed a two-year contract worth $3.75M, if you’re wondering what backup infielders are going for on the open market — but I consider it a low priority. Utility infielders typically aren’t very good. Ryan still plays strong defense, he’s cheap, and he’s an A+ clubhouse dude. I’m not sure what more you could want from a position that is lucky to crack 150 plate appearances in a season.

G.I. Jones. (Presswire)

The Perfect Fit That Wasn’t

Coming into this season there were a lot of questions about Carlos Beltran (offseason elbow surgery), Mark Teixeira (terrible second half), and Alex Rodriguez (suspended all of 2014). The Yankees didn’t really know what to expect from any of them. All three could have been at the end of the line.

So, to get themselves some protection, the Yankees acquired Jones in that five-player trade with the Marlins. Jones had experience playing right (Beltran) and first (Teixeira), and could also step in at DH (A-Rod). He provided depth at all three spots. The Yankees had been after Jones for years — they first tried to get him from the Pirates in the A.J. Burnett trade — and they finally got him last winter.

Once it became clear A-Rod and Teixeira still had something left in the tank, it was very hard for Jones to get playing time. He appeared in only 18 of the team’s first 41 games, starting just eight of them. Jones went 6-for-40 (.150) with one walks and eleven strikeouts in those 41 team games. It wasn’t until May 22nd that he hit his first home run. The next day he pitched in a blowout loss.

Jones actually got into a bit of a groove in late-May, going 11-for-25 (.440) with three home runs in the span of 13 team games. The biggest of those three home runs — and Jones’ most notable moment as a Yankee — was a game-winning three run homer in extra innings against the Mariners on June 2nd.

That was a huge hit at the time. The Yankees had lost 13 of their last 19 games and needed someone, anyone, to come through with a huge hit. And that was it. Jones came through. The homer earned him another start the next day and Jones went deep again. It looked like he was finally going to contribute.

It didn’t last though. Jones went back to playing sporadically and eventually the Yankees cut him loose at the end of July. They acquired Dustin Ackley to effectively replace Jones. Ackley could play right field and first base like Jones, as well as fill-in at second base. Plus he’s seven years younger. It made sense. It seemed like a small upgrade at the time but it was an upgrade nonetheless.

The Yankees cut Jones loose, then, after Ackley hurt his back a few days after the trade, the Yankees ended up re-signing Jones to fill his old roster spot. The timing was a bit awkward, I’d say. Ackley missed the entire month of August but Jones never did get appear in another game with the Yankees. He remained with the team for another two and a half weeks or so, then was designated for assignment when Greg Bird got called up.

Jones was unable to hook on with another team after that. I thought maybe someone would pick him up as a lefty power bench bat once rosters expanded in September, but it didn’t happen. All told, Jones hit .215/.257/.361 (65 wRC+) with five home runs in 152 plate appearances spread across 57 games with New York. He played 24 games in right field, 21 at first base, four at DH, four in left field, plus one on the mound. And he pinch-hit a few times.

On paper, Jones was a great fit for the 2015 Yankees. He gave them some protection at first base, right field, and DH, three positions with questions, and his left-handed power looked like a perfect match for Yankee Stadium‘s short right field porch. It didn’t work out. That’s baseball. The Yankees paid Jones $5M this season and he’s a free agent. No reason to think he’ll be back next year.

Rosenthal: Rays claim Chase Whitley off waivers

So long, Ace Whitley. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
So long, Ace Whitley. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Rays have claimed right-hander Chase Whitley off waivers from the Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal. Today is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft, so it seems the Yankees dropped Whitley to create roster space for someone else.

Whitley, 26, made four spot starts this summer before blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery. He actually suffered the injury at Tropicana Field. Whitley, the team’s 15th round pick in the 2010 draft, has a 5.02 ERA (4.23 FIP) in 95 big league innings spread across 16 starts and 12 relief appearances the last two years.

The Yankees had two open roster spots on the 40-man, so dropping Whitley indicates they are adding at least three Rule 5 Draft eligible players prior to the deadline today. Earlier this week, Rookie Davis and Ben Gamel were the only players 50% of RAB readers said they’d protect from the Rule 5 Draft.

Feinsand: Yankees have discussed Gardner-for-Castro with Cubs

(Mitchell Leff/Getty)
(Mitchell Leff/Getty)

2:58pm: Feinsand says the Yankees are not interested in the Gardner-for-Castro framework. They do have some interest in Castro, just not at the cost of Gardner.

1:34pm: For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman says there have been no Gardner-for-Castro talks yet. The Yankees are looking for pitching in any trade.

12:00pm: According to Mark Feinsand, the Yankees and Cubs have discussed a trade that would send Brett Gardner to Chicago for infielder Starlin Castro. The Yankees talked to the Mariners about Gardner earlier this offseason — George King says they asked for Taijuan Walker in return — and Feinsand says they’ve discussed Gardner with “many teams.”

Last week Brian Cashman told reporters the Yankees are seeking “more balance” at second base, meaning a strong defender. They already have offense first options in Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley. Castro, who turns 26 in Spring Training, played shortstop his entire career before moving to second base last August. He was a really poor defensive shortstop but the stats liked him at second, but it’s only a 38-game sample, so who knows.

Of course, there’s also the matter of Castro hitting .265/.269/.375 (80 wRC+) this past season and .265/.305/.383 (89 wRC+) over the last three seasons, covering nearly 2,000 plate appearances. He was very good in 2014 (117 wRC+) but awful in 2013 (74 wRC+) and slightly less awful in 2015 (80 wRC+). Castro has been one of the worst all-around regulars in baseball two of the last three years.

Gardner’s contract and Castro’s contract are basically a wash financially ($38M vs. $41.4M) but Castro’s deal includes one extra guaranteed year, so the annual salaries are lower. That would help the luxury tax situation, which I’m sure Hal Steinbrenner would love. Over the last year the Yankees have acquired talented young players who’ve fallen out of favor with their teams, and Castro definitely fits the bill.

While moving Gardner is certainly possible, Gardner-for-Castro doesn’t seem to pass the sniff test. It’s not only the “more balance” stuff, but Castro also has a history of off-the-field problems and has been considered a bit of a headache times throughout his career. The Yankees value clubhouse chemistry and good makeup and all that stuff very highly.

That said, the Yankees have some inside information on Castro. Special advisor Jim Hendry was the Cubs GM when the team signed, developed, and summoned Castro to the big leagues. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was there for a year with Castro too, so at least he’s been in the clubhouse with him. There are some connections.

My guess is this leak came from Chicago’s side. The Yankees tend to keep things very close to the vest and the Theo Epstein regime has a history of leaking lots and lots of info to the media. We’ll see where this goes. I’m not a big fan of dealing Gardner for Castro but on paper it makes some sense, depending on your opinion of the two players.

Mailbag: Fernandez, Harvey, Happ, Frazier, Ortiz, Comcast

Got a dozen questions in this week’s mailbag. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the place to send us your questions throughout the week.

Fernandez. (Rob Foldy/Getty)
Fernandez. (Rob Foldy/Getty)

Many asked: What would it take to get Jose Fernandez?

There’s been some chatter the last few days about the Marlins potentially trading Fernandez, their pitching franchise cornerstone, because of some off-the-field drama. The team didn’t include agent Scott Boras in talks about Fernandez’s workload limits for next season, for example. And apparently he’s a jerk in the clubhouse. Andy Slater had a little more on that.

Fernandez, who turned 23 in July, is so obviously talented, but his trade value might not be as sky high as you’d expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely high, but we’re talking about a player now only three years from free agency. Also, Fernandez isn’t all that far removed from Tommy John surgery, which is sorta scary. That said, he had a 2.92 ERA (2.24 FIP) in 64.2 innings after returning last year, so he showed no ill-effects.

Maybe Fernandez is a bit of a jerk in the clubhouse, but I have zero concerns about his mental toughness. Fernandez was thrown in jail in Cuba three times for attempting to defect before successfully leaving the island in 2008. Also, he jumped into the Gulf of Mexico to save his mother after she fell overboard when they hit turbulent waters. I don’t think pitching in New York or the AL East will scare him. Fernandez has been through worse no matter how messy things get on the mound.

The talent is undeniable. Fernandez was legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball back in 2013 (2.19 ERA and 2.73 FIP in 172.2 innings) despite skipping over Double-A and Triple-A. He made the Marlins out of Spring Training despite never pitching above High-A ball. The movement Fernandez gets on his pitches seems impossible:

It’s pretty much impossible to come up with a comparable trade to use as a reference point for Fernandez. Three years of a bonafide ace who is only 23 but was limited to 116.1 innings the last two years due to Tommy John surgery? How do you value that? Fernandez is extremely talented and you bet on that talent, but the elbow reconstruction is a red flag.

My trade proposal sucks, but I’m thinking any deal for Fernandez starts with Luis Severino and includes two other top young players. Something like Severino plus Aaron Judge plus Jorge Mateo plus a fourth player — maybe one of the MLB ready relievers? — for Fernandez? Does that sound even remotely realistic? I really have no idea. If Fernandez is indeed available, I’d want the Yankees to go all-out to get him, regardless of what some anonymous teammates say to the media.

Mike asks: Could a team trade a guy who has accepted a QO to another team, whom could then work out a multi-year deal, instead of the one year 15.8M salary guaranteed by accepting the QO? Who holds the cards, if the player wanted the security of a multi-year deal and was willing to be traded early in the offseason, or is there a date they have to wait to be traded once accepting the QO?

Here’s a rule I didn’t know existed until just recently: players who accept the qualifying offer can not be traded until June 15th of the following season. I had no idea. I don’t remember who the player was (David Robertson, maybe?), but I definitely remember saying something like “make him the QO because even if he accepts, he’ll have trade value at that salary” about a player. That’s wrong. Players can’t be traded until midseason after accepting the QO for whatever reason. As for the multiyear contract, the player and team could work out a multiyear deal even after he accepts the QO. No problem there. The MLBPA wouldn’t stand in the way of the player getting more money.

Benjamin asks: #mytradeproposalsucks but take away the two teams involved, would a trade built around Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances for Matt Harvey make sense from a baseball prospective?

Like Fernandez, Harvey’s trade value is obviously high but it’s not oh my gosh give up everything high. He’s also three years away from free agency and will be paid well through arbitration, plus Tommy John surgery isn’t that far in the rear-view mirror. Unlike Fernandez, Harvey has pitched a full season since having his elbow rebuild.

Anyway, that trade doesn’t make sense for the Mets. They’ll want younger players for Harvey. They won’t trade him for a two-player package headlined by a 32-year-old outfielder making nearly $13M a year. Betances is awesome but he is still only a reliever. Ace-caliber starters are worth a heck of a lot more than elite relievers. The Yankees would do that trade in a heartbeat. It doesn’t make sense for the Mets. They could do a lot better.

Happ. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Happ. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Bill asks: Any Interest in J.A. Happ? Similar stuff to Chen who the Yanks are interested in and could come much cheaper.

The Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have had a ton of success with reclamation project arms. They scooped up A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, and Happ off the scrap heap and turned them into quality starters in recent years. Do it once and maybe you got lucky. But four times in the span of four years? Then it’s a legitimate skill.

Happ, who is somehow already 33, had a 4.64 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 108.2 innings for the Mariners this past season, then a 1.85 ERA (2.19 FIP) in 63.1 innings for the Pirates after being moved at the trade deadline. His strikeout (27.7% vs. 17.5%) and walk (5.2% vs. 6.8%) rates both improved while his grounder rate (40.4% vs. 42.1%) declined slightly. The biggest change appears to be Happ’s fastball usage — he threw it 66.7% of the time with Pittsburgh but only 51.5% with the Mariners.

We’d have to take a deeper look in a non-mailbag format to see when exactly he increased his fastball usage — ahead in the count? behind in the count? to righties? with men on base? etc. — but that’s a significant difference. He’s not suddenly a true talent 1.85 ERA (2.19 FIP) pitcher, but Searage apparently made some adjustments that change Happ’s outlook. It’s fair to wonder if he can continue that performance away from Searage and/or in the AL. The fact there appears to be a tangible explanation for his improvement intrigues me. Happ’s an interesting free agent sleeper, which is definitely not something I thought I’d say ever.

dmalb2 asks: I remember a while back that Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle got traded by the Marlins to the Blue Jays, and Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins owner, got criticized for trading those guys so soon after signing them. They had been with the team for only a year. How would that be different from trading Andrew Miller after just one season? Would that sort of move give the Yankees a bad name among the players?

I guess it’s possible the Yankees get a bad rap because of that, yeah, but this really is an apples to oranges comparison. The Marlins have a history of doing this — they traded Carlos Delgado one year after signing him, remember — and their reputation sucks in general because of their various fire sales. The Reyes and Buehrle deals were so heavily backloaded — Reyes made $10M in year one while Buehrle made only $6M — that it’s easy to think trading them away was the plan all along. (It was.)

The Yankees have a history of paying very well and trying to win each and every year. Trading Miller after one season would definitely be the exception, not the norm around these parts. Some players on the outside might not like it, but I think the majority would understand this is a business and sometimes that’s how things go. Trades happen. If it becomes a pattern, then maybe it raises a red flag. One trade wouldn’t change much, I hope.

Jacob asks: What would be an equivalent package from the Yankees’ farm system to what the Angels just gave up for Andrelton Simmons, and what are your general thoughts on that trade?

The two prospects are along the lines of Severino and healthy Ian Clarkin or Rookie Davis. (The Yankees don’t have an Erick Aybar.) I am totally cool with sticking with Didi Gregorius over acquiring Simmons. Zero doubt about it. Gregorius is a very good shortstop who pretty much equaled Simmons’ production this year. No reason to give up that sort of package for what might only be a marginal upgrade.

The trade itself was a little weird. It seems like the Braves are planning to field a team of 25 pitchers when their new ballpark opens in 2017. I guess they can use the young pitching to trade for position players, but the attrition rate is so high that they’re going to inevitably get nothing out of some of these guys. Maybe mix in a position player in the next trade? As for the Angels, they got an upgrade at shortstop but used their two best trade chips and still don’t have a catcher, third baseman, or left fielder. Not sure that was the best use of resources if the goal is contention in 2016, as it should be. Aybar’s fine at shortstop.

Andrew asks: Who would you rather the Yankees sign to their respective deals that they are predicted to get? Heyward and his predicted $200 million deal or Upton and his predicted $150 million deal?

Give me Jason Heyward. I’m of the belief Heyward’s offense will match Justin Upton’s very soon, within a year or two, and the differences in base-running and defense are massive. Factor in their ages — to be fair, Upton is only 28, so it’s not like he’s old — and I think Heyward’s worth the extra years and money. Upton’s good too! I’d be happy if the Yankees added him. I just prefer Heyward, even considering the higher cost.

Ryan asks: Not Yankee related but who got the better return on the 2 Kimbrel deals? Padres or Braves?

The Padres got the better prospect package but it’s tough to compare the two. A huge part of the first Craig Kimbrel trade was shedding more than $55M in salary obligations, most of which belonged to B.J. Melvin Upton. The Braves acquired Carlos Quentin, who was designated for assignment immediately, the useful Cameron Maybin and Matt Wisler, and a sleeper in Jordan Paroubeck. It’s hard to say how much Atlanta valued/needed that salary relief. Saving $55M+ in real dollars vs. getting the prospects the Padres acquired? There’s a decent chance the $55M proves more valuable.

Frazier. (Joe Robbins/Getty)
Frazier. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Matt asks: How great would Todd Frazier’s right handed power look balancing the lineup out? He’d make a lot of sense if we can move Headley to a team that doesn’t have the prospects to get Frazier.

Frazier would obviously be a great fit for the Yankees at third base. He’s a better defender than many may realize and he’s a legitimate 30-homer threat who would add some much needed balance to the lineup. Frazier’s not a huge AVG or OBP guy — even this year he had a .309 OBP — so you have to live with that in order to get the power. He’s two years away from free agency.

I’m not sure what an appropriate package for Frazier would be — not too many comfortably above-average players are traded two years before free agency — but this is not a “Chase Headley and Ivan Nova” kind of trade. The Reds are rebuilding and want young players. Asking for Severino would be fair game in my book, though I don’t think the Yankees would make that trade. Something like Judge and James Kaprielian plus a third player might be more realistic. (My trade proposal still sucks.)

Spencer asks: Do you think the Yankees will target a minor league 2B like Darwin Barney or Jemile Weeks to give insurance, should the whole Refsnyder/Ackley plan not work out? Is there any merit to considering Carlos Corporan as a candidate for the backup catcher/AAA backup role? He can’t hit but seems to be a good defender.

I don’t know if they’ll target Barney or Weeks specifically, but yes, bringing in a middle infielder on a minor league contract for Triple-A seems like a necessity. The Yankees don’t have a shortstop for Triple-A right now (sorry, Cito) and I guess Tony Renda plays second base if Rob Refsnyder is in the big leagues. Stashing a veteran middle infield dude down there makes a world of sense.

The same goes for catchers. The Yankees did re-sign Eddy Rodriguez a few weeks ago, but they could go into the season with Gary Sanchez backing up Brian McCann, Austin Romine out of the organization, and Rodriguez plus someone else at Triple-A. Corporan is one possible target — he’s another pitch-framing guy who can’t hit — as are Tim Federowicz and Mike McKenry, among others. Even if Romine backs up McCann with Sanchez in Triple-A, Rodriguez could start at Double-A — he was there last year — with the minor league deal guy backing up Sanchez.

Jarrod asks: Given your recent BBWAA membership (congrats!), I thought you could help settle a discussion between me and a mate. If David Ortiz has a similar 2016 to what he had in 2015, would you vote him into the HOF and why or why not?

Yes, definitely. He doesn’t even need a good 2016 to be a Hall of Famer in my book. He is one right now. Ortiz is arguably the greatest DH ever — no worse than what, third best? — and he’s a transcendent player who was a key piece of the Red Sox’s recent run of success. You can’t tell the story of baseball history without Ortiz. Whether he actually gets into the Hall of Fame is another matter. The voters have been punishing guys with performance-enhancing drug ties — heck, they’re punishing guys who look like they have PEDs ties — and Ortiz figures to get lumped into that group. I’d vote for him. We’re all Yankees fans, we all hate Ortiz’s guts, but respect the career. He’s been incredible.

Mike asks: I live in Northern NJ and have Comcast and as of right now I don’t have any access to Yankees Baseball on YES. Is an option or am I subjected to blackouts? Please help! won’t help, sorry. You’ll still be blacked out of live games. The good news is YES and Comcast are reportedly still negotiating and it is only mid-November, so there’s still a few months to go before Spring Training. Hopefully the two sides can get it resolved by then. It would be a damn shame if this turned into a Time Warner/Dodgers situation. (All non-TWC customers in Southern California have been blacked out of SportsNet LA for two years now.)