The Yankees have a long list of needs heading into the trade deadline, and the Cubs are one of the few teams that we know will be sellers for certain. They’re in the middle of a big rebuild and have been trading away veteran players for prospects since the Theo Epstein-led regime arrived in town during the 2011-12 offseason. This summer figures to be no different.
This morning we looked at Cubs’ pitchers (three, specifically) who could possibly help the Yankees not only this season, but in some cases next season as well. Now we’re going to look at the position players because hey, the Bombers really need some offense. The infield and right field are the two most obvious (only possible?) areas to upgrade. Here’s a look at the Cubs’ position players who could potentially interest the Yankees.
SS Starlin Castro
It’s amazing how quickly the perception of players can change. At the end of last season, Castro was an overpaid, unproductive malcontent who embodied the Cubs’ player development and rebuilding failures. Now? Now Castro is the co-cornerstone of the infield along with Anthony Rizzo, rebounding from a terrible 2013 season to be a top notch producer and model citizen under new manager Rick Renteria. The fielding gaffes and apparent disinterest have been kept to a minimum.
Castro, who is still only 24, has hit .284/.331/.478 (121 wRC+) with eleven homers in 320 plate appearances this season after mustering a weak .245/.284/.347 (70 wRC+) line with ten homers in 705 plate appearances a year ago. He hit .297/.336/.425 (102 wRC+) with 27 homers total from 2010-12, his first three years in the show. Castro’s batting ball profile returned to its pre-2013 levels and at his age he’s simply getting stronger and better. He remains a total hacker (5.6% walk rate) but his bat-to-ball skills are very good (17.2% strikeout rate). It’s also worth noting he’s played in 556 of 561 possible games from 2011-14. Castro’s tools are very impressive.
The Cubs have a top shortstop prospect in Triple-A in Javier Baez, though that doesn’t automatically mean they will trade Castro. Neither guy is a standout defender and could wind up at second base. Plus there’s the matter of Baez hitting .226/.278/.424 (74 wRC+) while striking out in 34.2% of his plate appearances this year. (He had a 28.8% strikeout rate in Double-A last season, so the hacktastic ways are nothing new.) The kid has electric, Gary Sheffield-esque bat speed, but he’s ultra-aggressive and there are serious concerns about his ability to hit at the higher levels. Trade Castro and the Cubs might wind up with no viable young shortstops within a year or two.
Castro signed an eight-year, $60M extension during the 2012 season and is under contract through 2019 (option for 2020), when he will still be only 29 years old. If the Cubs were open to trading him, they’d market him as if 2013 was just a bump in the road. Young, high-ceiling middle infielders signed through their peak years never get traded. I can’t come up with a comparable deal to reference and will simply say it will take a package of several high-end prospects to bring Castro to the Bronx. I don’t see this happening at all.
IF Luis Valbuena
Valbuena, 28, is quietly hitting .266/.359/.425 (117 wRC+) with four homers and a 12.7% walk rate in 237 plate appearances this year. He’s always been a patient hitter (career 10.2 BB%) and last season’s .218/.331/.378 (95 wRC+) batting line would have been better if not for a career low .233 BABIP. He has a .336 BABIP this year and a .267 BABIP since getting to the Cubs in 2012 (.266 career!), so his true talent level is probably somewhere between his 2013 and 2014 performances.
The Yankees need infield help and Valbuena has a lot of experience at both second and third bases, so he provides some flexibility. The various defensive stats rate him anywhere from average to slightly above at the two positions. Valbuena is a left-handed hitter with patience who could see his power production tick up in Yankee Stadium (his spray charts suggests it may), plus he’ll remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2016. Not the sexiest name in the world, but Valbuena would be an upgrade at either second or third bases for New York. Yunel Escobar fetched a Grade-C upper level prospect (Derek Dietrich) when he was dealt from the Marlins to the Rays two years ago, if you’re looking for a comparable trade.
3B Mike Olt
If you’ve been reading RAB long enough, then I’m sure you’re familiar with Olt. The Connecticut raised third baseman was discussed as a possible trade target more than a few times over the years, particularly when he was with the Rangers. Texas traded him to Chicago as part of the package for Matt Garza last year.
Olt, 25, is having a statistically fascinating season as a part-time with the Cubs. He’s hitting .146/.225/.354 (55 wRC+) with a 38.2% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate, so he’s an extreme hacker/swing-and-miss guy, but he’s also clubbed ten homers in 178 plate appearances. The right-handed pop is there and always has been. Olt is okay defensively at third and he has years to go before being eligible for arbitration, nevermind free agency. He’s a project. If the Yankees think their organizational hitting gurus can fix him up, then he would make sense as a buy low, possible long-term third base option. Olt is not someone who can help the team right away, however.
OF Justin Ruggiano & OF Nate Schierholtz
I’m going to lump these two together because they’re both platoon outfielders. Ruggiano, 32, is hitting .220/.321/.352 (88 wRC+) overall this year with a 102 wRC+ against lefties. The 30-year-old Schierholtz has a brutal .205/.260/.308 (52 wRC+) batting line overall and with a 54 wRC+ against righties. He’s the better defender of the two but Ruggiano is about average himself. Schierholtz will become a free agent after the season while Ruggiano is under team control through the 2016 season.
The Yankees are currently riding the underwhelming Alfonso Soriano/Ichiro Suzuki platoon in right field and could use some more power from the position. Neither Ruggiano nor Schierholtz seems likely to provide that based on their performance this year. Utility man Emilio Bonifacio got off to an insane start back in April but hasn’t hit a lick since and is sitting on a .261/.306/.340 (75 wRC+) batting line. He can provide some speed and versatility off the bench, but nothing more. None of these three would move the needle.
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Since it seems unlikely the Cubs will move Castro in the coming weeks for anything less than a substantial haul, Valbuena appears to be the only option who would actually help the Yankees this season. Olt is interesting in the sense that he has power and is a former top prospect, but he needs to be fixed. He’s not going to help anyone right away. Castro is a stud and Jeff Samardzija is very available and a true impact pitcher, but I think Valbuena and Jason Hammel are the more realistic fits for the Yankees.
The non-waiver trade deadline is fiveweeks from tomorrow and there is no reason to think the Yankees won’t be an active buyer leading up to July 31st. They’re 3.5 games back of the AL East lead and 1.5 games back of a wildcard spot with 86 games to play. Brian Cashman has already said he expects to make some moves before the deadline because … well, duh. The Yankees need help. Rotation help, infield help, and offensive help in general.
Baseball’s league-wide mediocrity — I’m sorry, “competitive balance” — means more teams are in the postseason hunt than ever before, so very few clubs are willing to throw in the towel and sell right now. One club who will definitely be a seller in the coming weeks is the Cubs, who are far out of the race and have several desirable pieces to offer. The Theo Epstein-led regime has been selling since they got there.
The Yankees and Cubs hooked up for the Alfonso Soriano trade last July (they also made smaller deals involving Brent Lillibridge and Alberto Gonzalez last season), which is the only notable deal between the two clubs since the Matt Lawton swap in 2005. I had completely forgotten Matt Lawton was a Yankee. What do the Cubbies have to offer the Bronx Bombers? Let’s first look at the pitchers.
RHP Jeff Samardzija
Samardzija, 29, will be the best right-handed pitcher on the market this trade deadline. He recently rejected a five-year, $70-80M extension according to Jon Heyman, which makes sense in the wake of Homer Bailey’s six-year, $105M deal. Samardzija will earn $5.345M this season and remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year before hitting free agency. Whoever trades for him will be getting him for potentially two postseasons, not one.
In 16 starts and 103 innings this season, Samardzija owns a 2.53 ERA (2.89 FIP) with very good strikeout (8.48 K/9 and 22.8 K%), walk (2.71 BB/9 and 7.3 BB%), homerun (0.44 HR/9 and 6.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (52.4%) rates. Lefties (.311 wOBA) have had a bit more success against him (.272 wOBA) than righties. Samardzija has made the jump from very good to elite on a rate basis this season, though I think it’s premature to call him an ace. Let’s see where that homer rate sits in a few weeks (1.04 HR/9 and 13.4 HR/FB% from 2012-13).
Samardzija has shown he can hold up under a starter’s workload after beginning his MLB career in the bullpen, throwing 174.2 innings in 2012 and 213.2 innings in 2013. It’s worth noting he’s never been on the disabled list and, after spending time as a standout wide receiver at Notre Dame, he’s pretty used to being in the limelight. The Yankees do value that. Here’s a PitchFX breakdown of Samardzija’s arsenal:
Whiff+ and GB+ are swing-and-miss and ground ball rates for the individual pitches relative to league average — 100 means average, the higher the better. It’s like ERA+. The swing-and-miss rate on Samardzija’s four-seamer is 19% better than league average. The ground ball rate on his cutter is 9% below league average. Simple enough, right?
As you can see from the table, Samardzija misses bats and gets ground balls at an above-average rate with just about his entire repertoire. He has high-end fastball velocity and I think the ability to simply reach back and throw a fastball by a hitter in a fastball count is underrated. It can help you escape a lot of jams. Samardzija has elite stuff, it really is ace-caliber power stuff, and it appears he has figured out how to turn it into ace-caliber production in his third full season as an MLB starter.
The Cubs managed to turn Matt Garza into two top 50 prospects (Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards), an MLB ready back-end starter/long man (Justin Grimm), and a near MLB ready bullpen prospect (Neil Ramirez) last summer. Garza is not only not as good as Samardzija, but he was also coming off a series of injuries (lat strain, elbow fracture) and was due to become a free agent after the season. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Yankees can land Samardzija with, like, John Ryan Murphy and Nik Turley. If you want him, it’s going to hurt. I don’t think New York has the prospects to win a bidding war.
RHP Jason Hammel
Hammel has gone from an afterthought on the free agent pitching market to a suddenly desirable trade chip for few reasons, but I do think it’s funny how the perception has changed in just a few months. The Cubs gave the 31-year-old Hammel a one-year, $6M contract over the winter and he’s given them a 2.99 ERA (3.06 FIP) in 15 starts and 96.1 innings. His strikeout (8.50 K/9 and 23.9 K%) and walk (1.87 BB/9 and 5.3 BB%) rates are career bests while his grounder (40.1%) and homer (0.75 HR/9 and 8.2 HR/FB%) numbers are closer to his career norms.
The Cubs were able to sign Hammel so cheaply because he was pretty bad last year (4.97 ERA and 4.93 FIP) and hurt the last two years — he threw only 118 innings in 2012 due to knee surgery and 139.1 innings in 2013 because of a flexor mass strain in his elbow. He’s remained healthy this year and is going to pass his innings totals in each of the last two seasons within a month. Here’s the PitchFX breakdown of Hammel’s stuff:
After going from the Rockies to the Orioles prior to the 2012 season, Hammel reinvented himself as a sinker/slider pitcher and it led to great success (3.43 ERA and 3.29 FIP). He threw more four-seamers and fewer offspeed pitches last year, possibly due to the elbow issue, but this year he’s really cranked up his slider usage while still throwing more four-seamers than sinkers. Hammel is a three-pitch guy with a show-me changeup and curveball, basically.
The Cubs traded Scott Feldman under very similar circumstances last year. They gave him that same one-year, $6M contract after he missed time with injury in previous years, then traded him after 91 innings of 3.46 ERA (3.93 FIP) ball. Hammel pitched better but his injury history is a little scarier. Feldman fetched an erratic reliever (Pedro Strop) and an inconsistent starter (Jake Arrieta) from Baltimore last summer. Hammel, who has AL East experience, shouldn’t cost much more.
RHP Edwin Jackson
I never got the appeal of Jackson beyond his value as a workhorse. He’s a classic example of a guy who has ace-caliber stuff but far from ace-caliber results. A lesser version of A.J. Burnett, basically. Burnett at least had some dominant years earlier in his career.
The Cubs bought the hype and signed Jackson to a four-year contract worth $52M two winters ago, and he’s since pitched to a 5.03 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 259.2 innings. Ouch. That includes a 5.12 ERA (3.86 FIP) in 84.1 innings this year. Jackson has underperformed his peripherals in each of the last five years (4.38 ERA and 3.77 FIP since 2010) and after 850+ innings, it’s not a fluke. That’s just who he is. Some guys consistently outperform their peripherals (Jeremy Guthrie), some consistently underperform their peripherals. Jackson’s the latter.
So far this year the 30-year-old Jackson has a career high strikeout rate (8.86 K/9 and 22.9 K%), though his walk (3.74 BB/9 and 9.5 BB%), homerun (0.96 HR/9 and 11.7 HR/FB), and ground ball (40.5%) rates are his worst in years. He is pretty durable, making at least 31 starts and throwing at least 175 innings every year since 2008. The Yankees could use an innings guy. Here’s the PitchFX breakdown of Jackson’s pitches because why not:
Jackson has always had a strong fastball/slider combination, but again, he doesn’t get the most out of it. There is still approximately $28M left on his contract through 2016 and I think the Cubs would trade him in a heartbeat just to save some salary. Jackson would still require some kind of prospect return because he is relatively young and he will give you innings, if nothing else. It won’t be a pure salary dump.
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Epstein & Co. have made it clear they prefer quality to quantity. They don’t look to fill specific needs in trades, they simple hoard as much talent as possible. They’ve drafted (Kris Bryant) and traded for (Mike Olt and Christian Villanueva) several young third basemen in the last two years, for example. They just want talent, regardless of position. Unless the Cubs specifically target a catching prospect, I’m not sure that helps the Yankees.
Later today we’ll look at the position players Chicago has the offer, though their best available talent is on the mound. Samardzija and David Price are the only two impact guys who are realistically available, though Hammel has been solid this year. I wouldn’t go near Jackson, but that’s just me. Do the Yankees bite the bullet and give up prospects for Hammel at the deadline when he had trouble finding a job over the winter? They might not have a choice.
The clown show continues. The Yankees dropped their fourth straight game on Tuesday night, this one by the score of 7-6 to the Blue Jays thanks to a walk-off error. The Yankees have now been outscored 29-10 in their last four games.
I was just thinking to myself the other day that it’s been a while since the infield had a truly hideous defensive game. Earlier in the season they were botching something every day, but it hasn’t been so bad lately. Maybe I’ve become numb to it or simply hadn’t noticed around the offensive incompetence.
The infield defense was nice enough to rear its ugly head on Tuesday, and I’m going to save the worst of it for later. Right now all you need to know is that the Yankees lost this game because Brian Roberts chicken-winged on Yangervis Solarte‘s throw following Melky Cabrera‘s bunt in the ninth inning. The throw sailed down the line and Jose Reyes, who had doubled earlier in the inning, trotted around to score the walk-off run. Solarte and Adam Warren appeared to have some communication issues playing the ball before the throw.
There are two problems with the play. One, Solarte’s throw was rushed and not very good. He threw it right into the runner, basically. Two, Roberts saw the throw going into the path of the oncoming runner and pulled his glove away. I’m sure you remember the Bubba Crosby incident years ago, when Crosby ran into Roberts reaching for a ball on a similar play and destroyed his elbow. Pulling your arm out of the way after that is understandable, though it did cost the Yankees the game. Solarte shoulda just held on and not forced the throw.
Tied, For Now
The Yankees fell behind six-zip in the middle innings — again, more on that in a second — but they rallied to tie things up in the sixth and seventh innings. Derek Jeter hit a solo homer in the sixth — both of his homers have come on hanging offspeed pitches from lefties (Mark Buehrle and Hector Santiago), pretty much the only thing he can hit with authority these days — and Roberts tacked on a two-run shot in the seventh. I can safely say I did not expect Jeter and Roberts to homer in the same game at some point this season.
The rest of the seventh inning rally came after the Yankees had the bases empty with two outs. Brett Gardner blooped a double in and out of Melky’s glove in left, Jeter drew a walk, Jacoby Ellsbury sliced a single to left to score Gardner, and Reyes committed a throwing error on Mark Teixeira‘s would-be inning-ending ground ball, allowing Jeter and Ellsbury score. He short-hopped the throw and Edwin Encarnacion couldn’t handle it. Teixeira accidentally elbowed Encarnacion in the head on the way by and it looked like a sure concussion. Encarnacion stayed down for a while but ultimately remained in the game. Two homers, a single, and a two-run error led to six runs in two innings.
He’s In There For His Bat
Jeter has been playing baseball an awfully long time, yet the fifth inning may have been the worst inning of his career. David Phelps was pitching admirably as he waited for his offense to show up, and he got the dangerous Encarnacion to hit a nice chopper to Jeter with two outs and men on first and second. All Jeter had to do was throw the ball to first and the inning was over. But no. He looked at second (Reyes was basically at the bag already), looked at third (no one was there to catch a throw), then fired to first. Encarnacion beat it out for an infield single.
Jeter had to forget how many outs there were, right? I can’t think of any other explanation. There are two outs and there’s a slow runner at the plate. Field the chopper, fire over to first, inning over. Instead, the inning continued, Phelps hung a curveball to Colby Rasmus, and Rasmus smashed it off the wall for a bases-clearing single. It missed being a grand slam by about two feet, maybe less. Phelps made a terrible pitch that deserved to get hammered, but he shouldn’t have even have needed to make that pitch in the first place. The inning should have been over.
The cherry on top was another Jeter defensive miscue. Rasmus got caught in rundown between first and second on the single, and rather than flip to Teixeira at first to apply the tag, Jeter tried to out-run Rasmus and tag him himself. Rasmus had no trouble beating him to the bag and the sixth run of the game came around to score on the rundown. I mean, what the hell? Jeter’s never been a good defender but these were mental mistakes. He didn’t short-hop a throw or boot a grounder. He didn’t throw to first to get Encarnacion and he thought he could out-run Rasmus back to the base. The Cap’n has had better innings.
Phelps was charged with six earned runs in five innings but those last three weren’t really his fault. The inning should have been over if not for Jeter’s throwing gaffe. The first three runs scored on Dioner Navarro’s three-run bomb in the fourth inning. Phelps hung a curveball and Navarro deposited it in the second deck. He pimped it too. Phelps struck out seven and allowed those six runs on seven hits and a walk.
Dellin Betances threw two scoreless innings but he was clearly not sharp. He threw 45 pitches and really labored. The bases were loaded with one out in the eighth, then Roberts made a nice play with the infield in to cut the runner down at the plate and Betances struck out Munenori Kawasaki to end the threat. Matt Thornton threw a perfect inning and Warren allowed the Reyes’ double and Melky walk-off bunt into an error.
The Yankees had a chance to push a run across in the top of ninth, but they’d already met their quota for the day. Gardner started the inning with a single, Jeter effectively bunted him to second, except in this case the bunt was line drive off closer Casey Janssen. He recovered and fired to first for the out. Ellsbury grounded out and Teixeira struck out. Inning over.
Teixeira took an ill-timed 0-for-5. He ripped the team a bit on Monday, saying everyone needs to do more offensively. He’s the only big money guy in the lineup actually pulling his weight, this game aside. The amazing, invisible Carlos Beltran went 0-for-4 and otherwise everyone had at least one hit. Gardner, Ellsbury, Roberts, and Brian McCann had two apiece. The good news is that an offensive attack built around homers from Jeter and Roberts and Reyes throwing errors is totally sustainable.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is where you can find the box score and video highlights while some other stats and the updated standings are at FanGraphs and ESPN, respectively. The Yankees still sit in third place in the AL East, one game back of the Orioles and three and a half back of the Jays. Shout out to the White Sox for beating Baltimore on Tuesday.
The Yankees will look to avoid the sweep on Wednesday night, when they send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound. Drew Hutchison will be on the bump for the Blue Jays. It would be very 2014 Yankees-esque for them to lose Wednesday’s game and make up zero ground in the standings following the three-game sweep of Toronto last week.
Got a bunch of notes to start the nightly recap:
- In case you missed it earlier, C/1B/OF Peter O’Brien and RHP Luis Severino will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game next month. Seems like O’Brien got the nod over OF Aaron Judge simply because Team USA needed a third catcher and another first baseman.
- OF Slade Heathcott is done for the season following his latest knee surgery, VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman confirmed to Chad Jennings. The kid just can’t stay on the field. Slade will have played 230 of 576 possible games from 2011-14 by time the season ends.
- Newman also confirmed IF Dean Anna has been activated off the Triple-A DL and LHP Nik Turley will join the RailRiders’ rotation on Thursday, says Jennings. Donnie Collins reports RHP Diego Moreno has also been activated and RHP Heath Bell was released. Good thing everyone freaked when they signed him.
- LHP Dan Camarena has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, according to Nick Peruffo. The knows how to pitch southpaw had a 2.72 ERA (3.78 FIP) in 76 innings for Tampa. I’ve always been a fan.
- And finally, remember RHP Jose Mesa Jr.? He was the Yankees’ 24th round pick back in 2012, but apparently he had some kind of surgery and has not pitched. Well, based on his Twitter feed, Mesa will make his debut on Thursday. Neato.
Triple-A Scranton (7-5 loss to Rochester)
- LF Jose Pirela: 1-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — second straight game with a homer and third in his last five games
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — 6-for-17 (.353) with four doubles and a homer since being sent down
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 K
- DH Kyle Roller: 0-4, 3 K
- SS Dean Anna: 1-4, 1 E (fielding)
- 1B Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 BB — first career game at first base
- RHP Bruce Billings: 6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 7/6 GB/FB, 1 E (fielding) — 62 of 93 pitches were strikes (67%)
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB – 19 of 36 pitches were strikes (53%), though one of the walks was intentional … he left the game with the trainer for an unknown reason, which is kind of a big deal because he’s the spare reliever who gets the call whenever an arm is needed
The Yankees have signed seventh round pick Texas OF Mark Payton to a below-slot $45k bonus, according to Max Wildstein and Chris Cotillo. Slot for the 212th overall pick was
$212,300$178,300, so the Yankees saved approximately $133k against the draft pool. Payton, a senior, hit .315/.453/.444 with 57 walks and 27 strikeouts in 67 games for the Longhorns this spring. He’s a little guy (listed a 5-foot-8 and 190 lbs.) with no power but some speed and defense.
In other draft news, the Yankees have also signed 12th round pick Texas JuCo 1B Chris Gittens, according to his Twitter feed. Jim Callis says he received a $125k bonus, and since everything over $100k given to a player drafted after the tenth round counts against the draft pool, $25k of that counts against their spending limit. Gittens hit .404/.463/.532 with nine doubles and three homers in 41 games this spring. He’s a big guy who has had some conditioning issues in the past, but Callis says his bat is promising. You can see all of the team’s draft picks at Baseball America and keep tabs on the draft pool situation with our 2014 Draft Pool Tracker. · (19) ·
The Yankees have lost each of their last three games — all to division rivals who are direct competitors for a postseason berth — and were a Zach Britton meltdown away from losing four straight. They were outscored 22-4 in the three games even though Masahiro Tanaka started one of them. That’s kinda disheartening.
Thankfully, the Yankees have a chance to move and on get back in the win column tonight. The day in, day out aspect of baseball is both the best and worst thing about it. They can turn the page after last night’s ugly loss and beat a Blue Jays team they beat three times just last week. Scoring some runs would be a good start. This offense has been rather stinky of late. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
RHP David Phelps
It is raining in Toronto and it will continue all night, so the Rogers Centre roof will be closed. Boo. Outside baseball is always better. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on My9. Try to enjoy.
Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran (elbow) will take a break from his throwing program for a few days because of “tightness.” He doesn’t feel it while hitting, so he will continue to serve as the DH. Returning to the outfield looks even less likely now.
CC Sabathia reported “no issues” with his degenerative right knee following a two-inning, 34-pitch simulated game in Tampa earlier today, according to George King. Sabathia is tentatively scheduled to start a minor league rehab game in the rookie level Gulf Coast League on Saturday, but will likely throw a bullpen session or another simulated game in the coming days to make his arm strength is where it needs to be first.
Sabathia, 33, has been out since early-May with the knee issue. He received a stem cell treatment a few weeks ago and is not expected to return to the rotation until sometime next month, probably after the All-Star break. Sabathia had a 5.28 ERA (4.74 FIP) in 46 innings before getting hurt. The rotation has held up fine these last few weeks, but Vidal Nuno is really starting to get exposed and the Yankees need another starter. Nuno has set the bar nice and low. It won’t take much for Sabathia to be an upgrade. · (13) ·
Catcher/outfielder Peter O’Brien and righty Luis Severino will represent the Yankees at the Futures Game next month, MLB announced. I thought they would take Aaron Judge over O’Brien, but nope. The game will be played at Target Field on July 13th, the Sunday before the All-Star Game. The full Team USA and World Team rosters are right here.
O’Brien, 23, is hitting .266/.308/.602 (~149 wOBA) with 25 homers in 292 plate appearances split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year. He has spent his time at catcher, first base, and right field, and could play any of those positions in the Futures Game. The 20-year-old Severino has a 2.99 ERA (~2.60 FIP) with 78 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 72.1 innings at mostly Tampa this season. Congrats to both. · (20) ·
As you know, the Yankees are planning a massive spending spree on international free agents when the signing period opens one week from tomorrow. They’ve been connected to almost every notable prospect in recent weeks and are said to be willing to spend upwards of $30M between bonuses and penalties. They want to add some young impact talent to the organization and will do it via the international market this summer, when they can sign any player they choose and aren’t limited by draft position.
The Yankees were assigned a $2.2M bonus pool for international players this summer, which is nothing. It’s less than what they gave Gary Sanchez ($3M) a few years ago. Heck, the Yankees reportedly have verbal agreements in place with three players — Dominican SS Dermis Garcia ($3.6M), Dominican 3B Nelson Gomez ($2.8M), and Dominican SS Christopher Torres ($2.6M) — that are worth more than their spending pool. That $2.2M is relatively meaningless.
Because the pool value means so little in the grand scheme of the spending spree, the Yankees are in position to use it in another way: as a trade chip. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to trade their international pool money and it’s happened a few times these last two years. The Cardinals traded Mitchell Boggs to the Rockies for a little more than $200k in international cash last July, for example. The only purpose that $2.2M serves is to slightly reduce the penalties, so why not use it as a trade chip instead?
Now, trading international money is a little weird in that you can’t simply offer a team some arbitrary sum of money. The international bonus pools are broken up into four slots — like four rounds in a draft, this was put into place as a precursor to an international draft — and those individual slots are traded. You can’t trade a portion of a slot, the entire thing has to be moved. Here are the Yankees’ four international slot values, courtesy of Ben Badler:
- Slot #17: $677,400
- Slot #47: $386,300
- Slot #77: $260,800
- Slot #107: $168,600
In addition to the four slots, each team gets a $700k base that can not be traded, as far as I know. Add those four slots with the $700k base and you get the team’s ~$2.2M total pool. The Yankees can’t just trade a lump of, say, $500k in international money, they have to trade Slot #17 or Slot #47. If the $700k base is untradeable, New York has approximately $1.5M in bonus money to peddle. Got it? Good.
There are two other restrictions to trading international pool space. One, a team can only acquire an additional 50% of its pool, so the Yankees can’t send all of that ~$1.5M to one team in most cases. Two, the pool money can only be traded during the signing period, so between next Wednesday and July 1st of next year. That last part doesn’t figure to be a problem, but it does mean the Yankees can’t use their pool money as a chip for another week.
The Yankees will have to work through some obstacles to use their international spending money as a trade chip, but the idea is sound. They’re already going to spend a boatload of cash on players, so rather than have that pool money serve no other purpose than to save a little on the penalty bill — whatever they trade away is how much extra they’ll have to pay in penalties — they can use it almost as another “prospect” in a trade. It’s another asset that can be moved.
The real question is how do teams value international money? Like I said, Boggs was traded for roughly $200k last summer. He was a middle reliever whose control had deteriorated (26 walks and 25 strikeouts at the time of the trade) and been demoted to Triple-A. At least in that one instance, the $200k in international money had small trade value. The Yankees can use their pool money as a trade chip but it isn’t landing them any impact players by itself. Remember, that money will be used to sign 16-year-old kids who are a half-decade away from MLB.
Brian Cashman has already said he expects to make moves before the trade deadline, but making a deal felt inevitable even before he said that. The Yankees are only 2.5 games out of first place and one game back of a wildcard spot. They’re in contention but need help at several positions. Their international spending pool will be made irrelevant by their spending spree, so they can use that money to land help for the big league team at the trade deadline. It’s not much, but it something they should be very willing to offer.
12:16pm: Buster Olney (subs. req’d) says the Rays are prepared to trade Price “right now,” though no deal is imminent. He is very much on the market.
12:00pm: Via Marc Topkin: The Yankees were among several teams to have high level/additional scouts watch David Price’s start last week. The southpaw struck out 12 while allowing two runs in eight innings against the Astros. He has double-digit strikeouts in four straight starts. Tampa has the worst record in all of baseball and figures to sell off some pieces before the trade deadline next month.
Price, 28, has pitched to a 3.81 ERA (3.02 FIP) with an absurd 133/23 K/BB in 16 starts in 115.2 innings this season. He’ll earn $14M this year and remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next year. The Yankees need another starter and the fit is obvious, right? Price isn’t just an ace-caliber performer, but he’s also AL East tested and a proven workhorse. Would the Rays trade him within the division? I’m guessing yes if the price is right (pun unintended). Do the Yankees have the pieces to meet that price (pun intended)? · (92) ·