TiqIQ: Looking To Further Solidify Division Lead, Yankees Embark On August Full Of Intriguing Promotional Days At Yankee Stadium

What was once a really tight, jumbled-up division race has suddenly become almost a laugher as the calendar gets ready to flip to August. The team that has emerged from the rubble, the New York Yankees, has been the only club in the AL East to play consistent baseball, and after a hot month, they’ve managed to seemingly pull away from the rest of the pack, comfortably residing at the top for division supremacy.

As a result, August is shaping up to be an exciting month for Yankee fans, but not just because the Bronx Bombers appear playoff-bound for the first time in three years. In addition to impending success on the way to October, the Yankees have a plethora of awesome promotional giveaway days at Yankee Stadium throughout the month, including a variety of giveaways during the upcoming three-game set with the arch nemesis Boston Red Sox.

While fans might believe they can score better ticket deals for these games from the secondary market, that’s not the case with this series and other games throughout August, as Yankees.com actually boasts most of the superior ticket offers that you’ll find. For instance, in game one of this series, the Yankees feature tickets in section 107, row 14 for $110, which easily tops the price of section 107, row 14 tickets on the secondary market, where those same seats are being sold for $168. Furthermore, section 128, row 22 is $155, yet on the secondary market, those seats are going for a whopping $234! This trend is prevalent all throughout the series, like in the middle affair against the Red Sox on August 5, where tickets in section 417, row 11 cost just $32 on the Yankees website, besting the secondary market once again, which has those same seats for $50. Meanwhile, in the finale on August 6, section 406, row 5 seats on Yankees.com can be had for $22, as opposed to the $34 price-tag they’re going for from other sellers.

It doesn’t stop there, of course, as the Yankees sport a few other notable promotional days at the stadium in the latter portion of August that fans will definitely want to take part in. The two most significant will actually be occurring on back-to-back days on the same weekend, when the Yankees host the Cleveland Indians for a weekend series. On Saturday, August 22, it will be Jorge Posada Day at The Stadium, in which there will be a ceremony honoring one of the best catchers in franchise history, with his number being retired. In addition, a special Jorge Posada Collector Card will be distributed to fans. Former longtime Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte will also receive the same treatment the following day on Sunday, August 23, when the Yanks retire Pettitte’s number as well with a ceremony in his honor, while also giving out Andy Pettitte Collector Cards, too. Undoubtedly, this will be one of the most special weekends for the franchise all year.

Towards the end of August, the Yankees will be giving away arguably the most anticipated item on the promotional calendar this month, that being a Jacoby Ellsbury bobblehead on Monday, August 24, when New York starts a series with a fellow AL contender, the Houston Astros. In a way, this could also serve as a potential playoff preview, if the two clubs meet one another at some point in October.

Regardless of the outcome of any one particular game, August is shaping up to be a great month to be at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees acquire Dustin Ackley from Mariners from Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez

Beard's gotta go, Dustin. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Beard’s gotta go, Dustin. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

While we wait for pitching, the Yankees have made a move to possibly improve the bench. The club has acquired utility man Dustin Ackley from the Mariners for outfielder Ramon Flores and right-hander Jose Ramirez, both teams announced. Ackley is currently in Minnesota, so he won’t join the Yankees in time for tonight’s game. He’ll probably meet them in Chicago tomorrow.

Ackley, 27, was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, taken right after Stephen Strasburg. He was teammates with Adam Warren at UNC. The Yankees have reportedly been after Ackley for quite a while now — they talked to the Mariners about him last year, but backed away when Seattle wanted Bryan Mitchell. Earlier today we heard the two sides were discussing Ackley, Flores, and Ben Gamel.

So far this season Ackley is hitting .215/.270/.366 (77 wRC+) in 207 plate appearances as a part-time player. He showed a lot of promise by hitting .273/.348/.417 (117 wRC+) during his 90-game MLB debut back in 2011, but owns a .236/.297/.356 (85 wRC+) batting line in over 1,800 plate appearances since. Ackley has played first and second bases and well as left field in the big leagues.

The immediate question is how does Ackley fit on the roster and how will he be used? He is out of minor league options, so someone is coming off the 25-man roster, and the Yankees could either slot him into the Garrett Jones role or make him the everyday second baseman. My guess? They’ll try to turn him into their version of Brock Holt, the supersub who can play anywhere. This blurb from Ken Rosenthal back in June sticks out to me:

One problem with a six-man rotation is that it all but forces a team to carry 13 pitchers. Alas, it’s difficult to construct a roster that way without a multi-position threat such as Ben Zobrist or Brock Holt on the bench.

Such players, of course, are rare, which is why Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he recently told the head of the team’s minor-league department, “We’ve got to create one.”

We’ll see how it goes. For what it’s worth, the team’s press release identified Ackley as an outfielder only, not as a second baseman or first baseman or infielder or anything like that. Just an outfielder. It seems likely Ackley will replace Jones on the roster, but who knows.

I ranked Flores and Ramirez as the 18th and 30th best prospect in the system last week, respectively. The Yankees have more upper level outfielders and relievers than they know what to do with, so it’s no surprise they used that surplus in a trade. They still have Gamel, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Aaron Judge, and Jake Cave in the outfield and a small army of righty relievers in Triple-A.

Flores, 23, made his MLB debut earlier this year and stood out more for his glove than his bat in 12 games. He is hitting .286/.377/.417 (113 wRC+) with seven homers in 73 Triple-A games this year. Flores has a classic left-handed platoon outfielder’s profile, a Seth Smith type, and he’ll have a much greater opportunity for playing time in Seattle. I would not at all be surprised to see him carve out a long career as a useful role player.

The 25-year-old Ramirez has been up and down a few times the last two years, allowing eleven runs on 17 hits and eleven walks in 13 big league innings. Yikes! He’s struck out a dozen. Ramirez has a 2.90 ERA (2.70 FIP) with 26.7 K% and 11.0 BB% in 49.2 Triple-A innings this year. He has superb stuff — at his best, Ramirez sits mid-90s and gets swings and miss with both his changeup and slider — but his command is spotty and his injury history is ugly.

Ackley will earn $2.6M this season and remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in both 2016 and 2017. I figured he would be a non-tender candidate after the season, but I’m guessing the Yankees didn’t just trade Flores and Ramirez so they could non-tender Ackley in November. Flores and Ramirez both have all six years of team control remaining.

It remains to be seen how the Yankees will use Ackley going forward. This is a move designed to upgrade the margins of the roster, nothing else. They’re taking a shot on talent — Baseball America ranked Ackley as the 11th and 12th best prospect in all of baseball in 2010 and 2011, respectively — and hoping Ackley will thrive outside of cavernous Safeco Field and in lefty friendly Yankee Stadium.

Trade Deadline Mailbag: Reyes, Puig, Guerrero, Gordon, Cashner, Carrasco

The trade deadline is just about 24 hours away now. We’ve got a lot in the hopper for tomorrow between deadline stuff and Yankeemetrics and series previews and whatnot, so the options were post the mailbag a day early or not at all this week. I went with the former. Here’s a trade deadline focused six-question mailbag.

Weird. (Presswire)
Weird. (Presswire)

Dan asks: What do you think about the Yanks getting Jose Reyes to play 2nd? Yes, he’s having a down year, but he’d be a large upgrade over Stephen Drew. 2nd requires less range that SS, so his defense could rebound (after the early hiccups with him learning a new position). It’s a lot of money, but he’s only signed for 2 more years — his contract comes off the books the same time as A-Rod‘s and CC Sabathia‘s.

I fully expect the Rockies to flip Reyes at some point, either at the trade deadline or in the offseason. Keeping him doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Reyes is hitting .285/.325/.385 (95 wRC+) this year after hitting .287/.328/.398 (105 wRC+) last year, and his speed is nowhere near what it once was. He’s stolen 17 bases this year and has zero triples. That’s not surprising though — Reyes is 32 and he’s had a ton of leg injuries over the years. The speed wasn’t going to stay forever. There are two years and $48M left on his contract after the season, so he’s very expensive, especially for a guy who is probably hitting eighth or ninth in the Yankees’ lineup. Reyes has experience playing second base — the Mets moved him to second in deference to Kaz Matsui back in the day, if you can believe that — but he hasn’t played there since 2004. A move back might not be so smooth. I think this is one to avoid. Peak Reyes was the most exciting player in MLB, but right now you’re buying nothing but downside.

Brian asks: Any interest in Yasiel Puig and what would be needed to get it done?

Yes! Bring me Puig. The guy is 24, he’s hitting .254/.326/.433 (114 wRC+) during his “down” year, and is owed just $24.6M through 2018. We’re all hoping Aaron Judge one day turns into Puig. That said, there are legitimate makeup and clubhouse concerns with Puig (read this), and the Yankees usually stay away from those players. The Dodgers were reportedly listening to offers for Puig, though I’m not sure that means much. Every team listens to offers for every player. Jon Heyman says the Dodgers told Puig they aren’t trading him, for what it’s worth. Based purely on his talent, production, and contract, Puig is an “empty the system” guy. Multiple top prospects would have have to be involved. He’s a star whose value transcends on-field production — Puig puts butts in the seats and sells merchandise. You can’t take your eyes off the guy.

Zac asks: Is Alex Guerrero a realistic trade target for the Yankees? He offers the similar IF/OF versatility to Ben Zobrist and has shown some power, and doesn’t have a position in LA.

Guerrero is a realistic target in the sense that he is available, but he’s not very good at all. He smashed a bunch of homers in April and has been a total zero since, hitting .206/.232/.368 (65 wRC+) since the calendar flipped to May. Guerrero has played third base and left field this year but is really a DH because he’s an awful defender. He’s versatile in that he can stand at different positions, but he’s a liability in the field. There are two years and $10M left on Guerrero’s contract after the season and he can actually opt-out of the deal if traded, but would he top that on the open market? I doubt it. Unless you believe in the bat long-term, I don’t see much appeal here at all. How does Guerrero help the Yankees? “He’s not Brendan Ryan or Stephen Drew” isn’t a good answer.

Carrasco. (Presswire)
Carrasco. (Presswire)

Dustin asks: Indians are apparently willing to part with Carlos Carrasco. I know the Yankees are suppose to be targeting rentals, but isn’t he someone they should be in on. What would it take to get him?

Yes, they should be in on Carrasco if he is indeed available. (From the sound of it, the Indians floated his name to gauge his value, but would need to be blown away to move him.) The 28-year-old has a 3.17 ERA (2.47 FIP) with incredible strikeout (28.3%), walk (5.0%), and ground ball (49.6%) rates in 187.1 innings since moving into the rotation last year, and he’s signed dirt cheap ($19M from 2016-18 with options for 2019 and 2020). The track record is on the short side, yeah, but Carrasco has been dominant since moving into the rotation and he’s incredibly affordable. It would take a massive haul to get him. I’m thinking at least two top prospects plus two or three other pieces, some of which have to be MLB ready. If I’m the Indians, I want Judge and Luis Severino in the package. If the Yankees say no, big deal, I’ll hang on to my prime-age cost-controlled low-level ace.

Albert: Would you trade Rob Refsnyder and Gary Sanchez for a guy like Dee Gordon?

In a vacuum, yes, that trade seems fair to me. (Which, of course, means it favors the Yankees and the Marlins wouldn’t do it.) Gordon just came back from his dislocated thumb and he’s hitting .307/.338/.392 (106 wRC+) in over 1,000 plate appearances since the start of last year. He’s good now. He runs a high BABIP (.367 since 2014) because he puts the ball in play (16.4 K%) and is fast as hell. Gordon has also developed into an above-average defensive second baseman after making the transition from shortstop. He’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2018 — his arbitration salaries will be on the high side because stolen bases pay — and is solidly a 3-4 WAR player at this point of his career. Gordon would be a wonderful pickup even if he only bats ninth and serves as a “second” leadoff man. I don’t think the Marlins will make him available though. He’s a building block going forward.

Chris asks: Do you think Andrew Cashner is a fit? If so, what do you think it would take to get him if the Padres are in true sell mode?

I do think he’s a fit in the sense Cashner is a pitcher and the Yankees could really use one. I don’t think he’s a difference-maker like David Price or Cole Hamels — few are, of course — but he’s a quality arm who’d boost the rotation. Cashner has some Edwin Jackson in him, meaning he has tremendous stuff but not the results to match, and everyone seems to think they can be the team to unlock his potential. Nathan Eovaldi fits in that group as well, though Cashner is three years older and has a much scarier injury history. As I wrote in our Scouting The Market post, two organizational top ten prospects — guys more in the 6-10 range than the 1-5 range — seems like the potential asking price for Cashner based on similar trades.

Update: Pineda heading to DL with Grade I forearm strain

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

2:59pm ET: It’s official. The Yankees have placed Pineda on the 15-day DL with a “right flexor forearm muscle strain,” the team announced. They did not give a timetable. Sabathia will be bumped up a day to start tonight. He’ll be on normal rest because of Tuesday’s spot starter.

2:37pm ET: Pineda is heading to the DL with a Grade I forearm muscle strain, reports Joel Sherman. It’s the same injury Andrew Miller had earlier this year. Miller missed a month but is a reliever who didn’t have to get stretched out. Between healing time and a minor league rehab assignment, Pineda could be out six to eight weeks. We’ll see. Sherman says Bryan Mitchell is being called up for long relief and Sabathia will start in place of Pineda tonight.

1:45pm ET: Well this is ominous. According to Marly Rivera, Michael Pineda has been scratched from tonight’s start with tightness in his forearm. Apparently Mike Francesa was first to report the news. No word on who will start tonight, but it could be CC Sabathia on normal rest. The Yankees have not yet officially announced anything.

Forearm tightness is usually code for an elbow injury. Pineda missed time with an elbow strain while in the minors back in 2009 but has had no trouble since as far as I can tell. He missed a bunch of time with shoulder trouble the last few years, but that’s it. His elbow has been sound.

Pineda, 26, has a 3.97 ERA (2.96 FIP) in 118 innings, by far the most innings he’s thrown since his rookie season in 2011. He tossed just 76.1 innings around a lat strain. Pineda’s control has been shaky at times this year, which is often a symptom of looming elbow trouble. He’s also a slider heavy pitcher, throwing it 33.5% of the time this season. Sliders are ostensibly bad for the elbow.

Even before Pineda’s injury, the Yankees needed pitching help to bolster a starting staff with a 4.32 ERA, ranking 21st in MLB. David Price and Johnny Cueto are off the board, Scott Kazmir too, but there are still quite a few arms available on the trade market, including Mike Leake and Yovani Gallardo. Either way, fingers crossed for Pineda. This is big picture scary.

Reports: David Price heading to Blue Jays

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays are set to acquire David Price from the Tigers. Top pitching prospect Daniel Norris and top outfield prospect Anthony Alford are part of the package heading back to Detroit. It’s unclear what other players are involved at this point.

The Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago and they haven’t been to the postseason since 1993, so they have every reason to go all-in. GM Alex Anthopoulos is surely feeling the heat. Toronto is seven games back of the Yankees in the AL East — they still have 13 head-to-head games remaining — but only two games back of the second wildcard spot. Their +100 run differential is the best in the AL and second best in MLB.

The Yankees reportedly pursued Price while remaining unwilling to part with their top prospects, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino specifically, meaning they had little chance to acquire the ace left-hander. I think they should have made their top prospects available, particularly Severino, but the Yankees disagreed. I’m just a guy with a blog. What do I know. Price sure would have looked nice in pinstripes though.

With Price, Scott Kazmir, and Johnny Cueto off the board, the best available pitchers are Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, and Ian Kennedy. Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma may or may not be available as well. The Yankees need pitching, it’s becoming more obvious with each passing game, so hopefully they reel someone in before the deadline tomorrow. Whoever it is, they won’t be as good as Price.

Update: Alford is not in the trade. The Tigers are getting three lefties: Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt. An equivalent Yankees package would be something like Severino, Bryan Mitchell, and healthy Ian Clarkin. Ballpark estimate, not exact.

Yankees wouldn’t have to sacrifice the future for David Price, just part of it

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

David Price is available. After days and weeks of sitting on the fence, the Tigers finally decided it was time to take a step back and “reboot,” which means Price and the rest of their rental players are available. “We’re looking at it more as rebooting going into next season. I think our foundation is solid going forward,” said GM Dave Dombrowski to Joel Sherman.

Earlier today we heard the Yankees are one of four serious contenders for Price, which makes total sense. He’s right smack in the prime of his career, he’s a rental, he throws hard, he misses bats, he limits walks, he soaks up innings, he’s left-handed, he’s had success in the AL East, he’s 6-foot-6 … if Brian Cashman could go into a lab to create a starting pitcher, he’d create David Price. He’s everything the Yankees look for in a pitcher.

Of course, acquiring Price won’t be easy, especially since the Yankees continue to insist they will not trade their top prospects. That means Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, Greg Bird, and who knows who else. Cashman & Co. could very well be posturing — or maybe they are sincere about not trading prospects (until ownership gets involved) — because every team says they will hold on to their top prospects this time of year. You won’t give up your top prospects until you do.

So what will it take to get Price? The Reds were nice enough to set the market for a rental ace recently. The Johnny Cueto trade a few days ago netted them the Royals’ first round pick from a year ago (Brandon Finnegan) plus two players MLB.com recently ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 8 (Cody Reed) and No. 20 (John Adam) prospects. One high-end MLB ready player plus two prospects. There’s the cost. Price might require more because he hasn’t had elbow scare this year like Cueto, but that’s in the ballpark.

Whatever the package ends up being, it’ll hurt to get someone like Price. You don’t make a trade for a star caliber player without it hurting. The Yankees want to hold onto their top prospects, I get that, but it’s possible to make a trade for Price sacrificing the future. Why? Because the Yankees wouldn’t have to trade all of their top prospects to get him. They’d have to sacrifice some of their future, not all of it. I feel like that gets overlooked much of the time.

As the Cueto trade showed, it doesn’t take two or three top prospects to get a rental ace. It takes one. One plus some other guys who are pretty good but not deal-breakers. The cool thing about New York’s farm system now is that so many of their top prospects are already in Triple-A, so even if the Yankees do deal one of those players, they have others on the cusp of helping. The only real exception is Mateo, who is still down in Low-A.

The Tigers have no use for Bird with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez signed for all eternity — unless they plan to flip him, but that seems like a lot of work — but, if Detroit wants him, the Yankees should absolutely deal him. Bird is the worst — worst being a relative term, of course — of the club’s top prospects, and the guy who has like a 50/50 chance of being a platoon DH is not someone you make untouchable. With Yoenis Cespedes set to become a free agent, I’m sure Judge would be very appealing. Severino? Everyone needs pitching. Judge and Severino seem like the key pieces here.

One thing to keep in mind is Price is much more valuable to some other teams than the Yankees. New York has a nice six-game lead in the AL East. They have some margin for error. Other clubs — specifically Price suitors like the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays — do not. They’re all locked in tight postseason races, so adding those two or three extra wins from Price will greatly increase their playoff chances. Price will help the Yankees. He’ll help other teams more, which could inflate his price. There’s that little bit of extra motivation to get him.

The Yankees showed they are able to make meaningful upgrades without trading top prospects at the deadline last year, though Price is a special case because he’s an elite player. I think the Yankees did the right thing the last two years by not trading away their top prospects, mostly because they weren’t serious contenders from 2013-14, but the 2015 Yankees are different. This team is ready to win, and Price would be a significant upgrade. This is precisely why you want to have multiple high-end prospects, so you can move one for a guy like Price to boost a postseason push without completely selling out the future.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Thursday

Price. (Harry How/Getty)
Price. (Harry How/Getty)

We are now just one day away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have not yet made a move but I expect them to do something by 4pm ET tomorrow. They need pitching — I’m not sure how much more obvious it could be at this point — and a new second baseman sure would be cool too. Don’t be fooled by the six-game lead in the AL East, there are holes on the roster.

Late last night, Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal, taking arguably the best available pitcher off the board. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we learned the Tigers are making David Price and their other rental players available, which is significant because Price would look wonderful in pinstripes. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Talk about all of ’em in this open thread.

  • 2:50pm ET: Not only do the Yankees not want to trade top prospects, they are hesitant to trade guys like Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell as well. The sense is they will add a reliever to deepen the bullpen. Warren could then be a candidate to return to the rotation. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:47pm ET: The Mariners plan to keep impending free agent Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s a favorite of ownership and they could always re-sign him in the offseason. The Yankees had not been connected to Iwakuma but he seemed like a logical fit. (Masahiro Tanaka‘s teammate in Japan!) [Jeff Passan]
  • 2:23pm ET: The Yankees are “poised to strike” and are in on all the available arms. That … really doesn’t tell us anything new. The Yankees are typically a club that waits until the last minute to make trades, however. The Martin Prado and Stephen Drew deals were announced after the deadline last year.[Ken Rosenthal]
  • 2:01pm ET: The Yankees are on the “periphery” of the Yovani Gallardo race. He is very available and a bunch of teams are in the mix. Gallardo is still scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight. [Heyman]
  • 12:50pm ET: David Price is heading to the Blue Jays for a package of top prospects, including Daniel Norris and Anthony Alford. So scratch him off the list.
  • 12:06pm ET: The Blue Jays appear to be “closing in” on a trade for David Price according to multiple reports. Toronto hasn’t been to the postseason since 1993 and they acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago. The chips are firmly in the middle of the table.
  • 10:07am ET: The Yankees are considering among Mike Leake‘s most likely landing spots at this point. They’re also a candidate to acquire Jeff Samardzija should the surging White Sox decide to move him. Special assistant Jim Hendry drafted the righty when he was Cubs GM and Larry Rothschild was Samardzija’s pitching coach in Chicago for a few years. [Heyman]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees are one of four serious contenders for David Price, along with the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays. All four clubs are in talks with the Tigers. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees discussed Dustin Ackley with the Mariners. Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel came up but Seattle wanted more — I believe it was Flores or Gamel, not both — so talks stalled out. For whatever reason the Yankees have been after Ackley for years. [Mark Feinsand]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.