Judge’s monster homer leads Yanks to 5-1 win over Mariners

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the Yankees have won two straight games and are 5-4 since the All-Star break. Crazy, I know. They might actually win a series this weekend. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. The Yankees took the second game of this four-game set against the Mariners on Friday night by the score of 5-1. Monster home runs and dynamite relief pitching. My kinda ballgame. West Coast night games get bullet points recaps, so let’s get to it:

  • Vintage Sabathia: Vintage start for CC Sabathia. He labored a bit early, everyone freaked out about his pitch count, and yet there he was on the mound in the sixth inning, with only one run on the board. And that run scored because Chase Headley is a third baseman playing first. He ranged too far to his right on a ground ball and missed the bag when he rushed to get back. That would have been the final out of the first inning. Instead, the runner was safe and a run scored. Womp womp. Sabathia allowed the one run on four hits and three walks in five innings plus one batter. He struck out five. A workmanlike effort.
  • Loud Contact: The first two innings did not go to well against rookie righty Andrew Moore. The Yankees got to him in the third when back-to-back doubles by Headley and Clint Frazier — Frazier flicked his wrists and smashed the ball off the center field wall — tied the game 1-1. Later in the inning Aaron Judge added a long sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. They broke it open in the fifth inning. Single by Brett Gardner, single by Gary Sanchez, three-run home run by Judge. He almost hit it out of Safeco Field. The video is above. The guy in the last row of the upper deck caught it. Insane. Feels like an eternity since Judge last that. That mammoth homer gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead.
  • Bullpen On Parade: With the four-run lead, Joe Girardi went to his top relievers. Tommy Kahnle (one strikeout) in the sixth, David Robertson (three strikeouts) in the seventh, and Dellin Betances (two strikeouts) in the eighth. Adam Warren threw the ninth with the four-run lead. Aroldis Chapman has pitched five times in the last eight days, so yeah. Betances allowed a double just inside the bag and an opposite field single, but otherwise the bullpen shut things right down. Glad to have Robertson back. Some guys just look right in a Yankees uniform.
  • Leftovers: Nice little game for Clint Frazier, who doubled off the wall and made a great diving catch in left field. He also hit two other balls on the screws for outs. If they send Clint back to Triple-A when Aaron Hicks gets healthy, we riot … three hits for Didi Gregorius and two for Headley. The only starter without a hit was Todd Frazier … only three strikeouts for the offense, their second lowest total of the season. They struck out once in a game against the Rays in April (Jordan Montgomery‘s debut).

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. This series continues Saturday night — that’s a 9pm ET start — with Masahiro Tanaka and lefty Ariel Miranda on the mound. The first series win in more than a month is within reach.


Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Robinson hits two homers in Staten Island’s win

Here are the day’s notes:

  • Two roster clearing moves, per Matt Kardos: RHP Branden Pinder has been released and RHP Dillon McNamara has been traded to the Giants for … something. Not sure what. Probably cash. Pinder had allowed just one run (unearned) in 11.2 innings back from Tommy John surgery.
  • 3B Miguel Andujar is away from Triple-A Scranton because he’s about to become a dad. He’s currently in New York with his girlfriend, who will soon give birth, reports D.J. Eberle. Congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Charlotte, walk-off style)

  • 3B Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • DH Mike Ford: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — walk-off single
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-3, 2 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 0-3 — threw a runner out at second
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 12/1 GB/FB — 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67%) … only his second career start with zero strikeouts, and the first only last an inning due to rain … the ground balls are really good though

[Read more…]

Game 95: CC’s Birthday

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

The Yankees opened this four-game series with the Mariners with a nice win last night. Luis Severino outpitched Felix Hernandez and the offense put just enough runs on the board. The Yankees are 4-4 so far on this eleven-game road trip, so they still need two more wins to clinch a winning trip. That would also clinch their first series win in more than a month. Remember series wins?

Anyway, CC Sabathia will be on the mound tonight, and today is his 37th birthday. Happy birthday, big guy. It really snuck up, huh? Seems like just yesterday the Yankees were trying to sign 28-year-old Sabathia as a free agent. Sabathia pitched very well last time out and he’s been pretty darn good all season. I’m so glad he’s reinvented himself late in his career. Those three bad years from 2013-15 were no fun. Here is the Mariners’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 1B Chase Headley
  9. LF Clint Frazier
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is cool and cloudy again in Seattle tonight. I’m not sure whether the Safeco Field roof is open. Tonight’s game will begin at 10:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are still out on the West Coast, which means another 10pm ET start tonight. One more of these tomorrow — that’s actually a 9pm ET start, but close enough — and then that’s it. No more West Coast night games this season. After this series the Yankees will play 62 of their final 65 games in the Eastern time zone. Hooray for that. They have three games in Texas in September and that’s it.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Here is an open thread until the regular game thread comes along. The Mets are playing and MLB Network will have a regional game. Talk about that stuff or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: July 2012

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The calendar has turned over to July and it’s time once again to revisit the MLB Trade Rumors archives. Better late than never this month, right? Right. We’re now into July 2012 and, as always, July was chock full of trade rumors. The Yankees went into July 2012 with a 47-30 record and a five-game lead in the AL East. Going 20-7 in June got them there.

The record was shiny, but the Yankees were dealing with several significant injuries in July 2012. Brett Gardner (elbow) had been out since April and would miss basically the rest of the season. Both CC Sabathia (groin) and the un-retired Andy Pettitte (leg) were on the shelf as well. Pitching depth and another bat, preferably someone to get Raul Ibanez out of left field, were atop the shopping list. Time to dig into the archives.

July 1st, 2012: Yankees Acquire Chad Qualls

3:38 pm: The Yankees announced they have acquired reliever Chad Qualls from the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

Chad Qualls, the forgotten Yankee. He spent just a month in pinstripes, during which he allowed five runs and 13 baserunners in 7.1 innings. The Yankees were the sixth team Qualls had played for up to that point. Now he’s up to nine teams. The guy has spent 14 years in the league and is 40th all-time in appearances. Who knew?

July 2nd, 2012: Yankees Sign Luis Torrens

The Yankees have signed Venezuelan catcher Luis Torrens for $1.3MM, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.  Torrens is ranked as the second-best international prospect in this July 2nd class.

That was the first year with the international bonus pools and Torrens was the team’s big signing. He wound up playing only 161 games in the farm system from 2013-16 due to injuries before the Padres popped him in the Rule 5 draft. Torrens, who turned 21 this May, is hitting .188/.261/.225 (32 wRC+) in a whopping 89 plate appearances this year. How is this good for his development, especially after all those injuries? I have no idea. It’s pretty obvious at this point San Diego is going to keep Torrens all year though. Such is life when a team has no concern for wins and losses.

July 4th, 2012: Yanks Have “No Intention Of Joining” Hamels Bidding

The Yankees are currently in wait-and-see mode despite injuries to both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, though they could make a move for a starter before the trade deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the team has “no intention of joining” the bidding for Cole Hamels unless the asking price diminishes dramatically, however.

Hamels was due to become a free agent after that season and he had been mentioned as a trade candidate for weeks. The Phillies were struggling — they were 36-44 on the morning of July 1st that year — and keeping the 28-year-old ace-like version of Hamels was far from certain. Me and I’m pretty sure every Yankees fan wanted him, even as a rental. Instead, the Phillies gave Hamels a six-year extension worth $144M three weeks after this rumor. That one has worked out pretty well from a cost vs. production standpoint. (FanGraphs values his production at $175.9M during the first four and a half seasons of that contract, for what it’s worth.)

July 4th, 2012: Yankees Claim McDonald, Designate Schwinden

The Yankees acquired Darnell McDonald from the Red Sox, the outfielder announced on his personal Twitter account. The Yankees claimed McDonald off of waivers, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger tweets. The team designated Chris Schwinden for assignment in a related move, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets.

McDonald’s four-game stint with the Yankees was a forgettable one. The Yankees claimed the right-handed hitting outfielder off waivers from the Red Sox, then started him against the Red Sox in Fenway Park against a bunch of left-handed starters. It would have been an amazing troll move if it worked. Instead, McDonald went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and dropped a fly ball that led to a run. He had to cut off his dreadlocks for those four games in pinstripes.

Silly outdated hair policy is silly and outdated.

July 10th, 2012: East Notes: Martin, Phillies, Blue Jays, Papelbon

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no plans to acquire a catcher despite Russell Martin‘s struggles, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. “We have our catching,” Cashman said. “I believe in Russell Martin, period.”

Russell Martin on the day of this rumor: .179/.310/.348 (80 wRC+).

Russell Martin from the day of this rumor through the end of the season: .242/.321/.456 (111 wRC+).

July 12th, 2012: Yankees Sign Ty Hensley

The Yankees have signed first-round draft pick Ty Hensley, reports Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA (Twitter links).  The two sides agreed to a $1.2MM bonus, below the recommended slot price of $1.6MM for the 30th overall pick. 

Sigh. This one didn’t work out too well. Hensley’s medical issues started right away. The Yankees found an “abnormality” in his shoulder during his pre-signing physical, hence the reduced bonus. From 2012-16, Hensley threw 42.1 total innings and had surgeries on both hips, surgery for a hernia, and two Tommy John surgeries. The Yankees lost him to the Rays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft this past offseason and he won’t pitch this year as he rehabs from the second elbow reconstruction. Pitchers, man.

July 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Kosuke Fukudome

The Yankees signed Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league contract, Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger reports (on Twitter). The outfielder is expected to report to New York’s Triple-A affiliate.

Holy smokes, I forgot all about Fukudome. He was a pretty big deal coming out of Japan back in the day, but he never could make it work in the big leagues. Fukudome hit .258/.359/.395 (102 wRC+) in nearly 2,300 MLB plate appearances, mostly with the Cubs, plus .276/.440/.378 (138 wRC+) in 39 Triple-A games with the Yankees in 2012. The Yankees picked him up to see what he could offer while Gardner was on the shelf. Fukudome is still active, you know. He returned to Japan in 2013 and he’s currently hitting .256/.364/.380 with seven home runs in 76 games for the Hanshin Tigers at age 40.

July 16th, 2012: Yankees Monitoring Outfield Market

The Yankees always seem to be pursuing pitching, but their front office officials aren’t overly concerned about the rotation, since C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are expected to return this summer. Instead, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, the Yankees are looking at the outfield market and have checked in on both Shane Victorino and Justin Upton.

Upton was only 24 at the time and he was in the middle of a down season with the Diamondbacks, hitting .280/.355/.430 (109 wRC+) overall. That came after a .289/.369/.529 (141 wRC+) batting line in 2011. Arizona traded him to the Braves after the season. I was all for Upton. I wanted him so bad. The Yankees were going to need a Nick Swisher replacement after the season and the desperately needed to add some youth to the lineup, so Upton was pretty much the perfect fit. Never happened.

Victorino, meanwhile, was hitting .261/.324/.401 (97 wRC+) for the Phillies at the time. He was an impending free agent and very much available. Philadelphia wound up shipping him to the Dodgers at the trade deadline for some mid-range pitching prospects who never amounted to much. I wasn’t a fan of pursuing Victorino. Seemed like he was only a marginal upgrade at the time. He hit .246/.316/.351 (88 wRC+) with the Dodgers after the trade, so yeah.

July 19th, 2012: Yankees Notes: Ankiel, Pierre, Wandy, Figueroa

The Yankees don’t have interest in Juan Pierre or Rick Ankiel, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links).  The Bombers’ search for outfield help will intensify with the news that Brett Gardner will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery, though Gardner’s agent Joe Bick says Gardner still hopes to return this season, reports Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger.

Oy vey. Pierre and Ankiel? Were they still a thing back in 2012? Apparently. Pierre was 34 at the time and hitting .307/.351/.371 (99 wRC+), which represented his best season in about five years. Ankiel was 32 and hitting .228/.282/.411 (81 wRC+) as a bench guy for the Nationals. No thanks.

July 21st, 2012: AL East Links: Orioles, Yankees, Victorino, Red Sox

The Yankees remain in contact with teams dangling bullpen pieces according to George A. King III of The New York Post, though Joba Chamberlain could be activated off the DL before the end of the month.

Ah yes, the good ol’ days when Joba would come back and fix the bullpen. He was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and his trampoline-related ankle injury at the time, and once he did rejoin the Yankees, he threw 20.2 innings with a 4.35 ERA (4.01 FIP). Pitcher struggles in return from elbow surgery. News at 11.

July 23rd, 2012: Yankees Acquire Ichiro Suzuki

A legendary figure in Seattle will be changing uniforms, but won’t have to go farther than the visitors’ clubhouse to join his new team. The Yankees, who are playing in Seattle tonight, have acquired Ichiro Suzuki and cash from the Mariners in exchange right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, the teams have confirmed.

How many people showed up to Safeco Field that night with no idea Ichiro had been traded to the Yankees? Maybe half? Probably less, but you know there were plenty of folks who hadn’t heard about the trade. Imagine that. You go to the ballpark ready to watch the Yankees play the Mariners … and Ichiro steps in the box as a Yankee. That must’ve been weird.

Anyway, Ichiro was the Gardner replacement. The Yankees acquired him on two conditions. One, he would have to hit toward the bottom of the order. And two, he’d have to play left field rather than his usual right field. Ichiro agreed because he wanted to play on a contender, so the trade was made. He hit .261/.288/.353 (77 wRC+) with the Mariners before the trade and .322/.340/.454 (114 wRC+) with the Yankees after the trade. The trade was great! The two-year extension that followed … not so much.

As for the guys the Mariners got the trade, Farquhar gave them a few nice years as a setup man, though that didn’t last and he later wound up with the Rays. They released him yesterday. Mitchell never did pitch for the Mariners. He spent the rest of the season in Triple-A and was released in April 2013, and was pitching in independent ball by 2014.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Yankees, Hanley, Orioles

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he’ll engage the market for a third baseman, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  The Yankees will consider all third base options, including Chase Headley of the Padres, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). It seems unlikely that the Yankees would meet the Padres’ asking price for Headley, Heyman writes (on Twitter).

Heh. The Yankees had been after Headley for a while. That 2012 season was his monster season. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) with 31 home runs that season. He’s never come close to doing that again. The Padres declined to trade Headley was his value was at its peak, and they wound up settling for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula two years later. Womp womp.

July 25th, 2012: AL East Notes: Lester, Blue Jays, Aramis

The Yankees aren’t likely to pursue Aramis Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Ramirez was in year one — year one! — of his three-year, $36M deal with the Brewers at the time. He hit .300/.360/.540 (139 wRC+) with 27 home runs that year, so he could still rake even at age 34, but taking on two and a half years of his three-year contract? Nah.

July 25th, 2012: Phillies Notes: Wigginton, Lee, Pence Rollins

The Yankees considered pursuing Ty Wigginton, but the Phillies aren’t offering him up, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Any time you’re a bad team like the 2012 Phillies and you have a guy like Ty Wigginton, you have to hold on to him at all costs. He hit .235/.314/.375 (87 wRC+) with eleven home runs that year, then left as a free agent after the season. Definitely hold on to that guy. That’s what smart teams do. I’m glad Wigginton finally retired, by the way. I don’t think any role player has generated more “the Yankees should get this guy” commentary than Wigginton. Either him or Mark DeRosa.

July 30th, 2012: AL West Notes: Greinke, Ryan, Rangers

The Yankees attempted to acquire Brendan Ryan from the Mariners, but Seattle turned them down, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan is one of many infield options the Yankees have considered this month.

Ryan hit .194/.277/.278 (61 wRC+) in 2012. I know he was a fantastic defender, but .194/.277/.278 is .194/.277/.278. How do you turn down an offer for that guy down when you’re a bad team? That was peak Jack Zduriencik. Overrate the hell out of marginal players based on sketchy defensive stats.

July 31st, 2012: Pirates, Yankees Swap McGehee, Qualls

The Yankees acquired corner infielder Casey McGehee and $250K from the Pirates for reliever Chad Qualls, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The end of the Qualls era. I was actually pretty excited about McGehee. The Yankees needed some third base protection because Alex Rodriguez was dealing with some nagging injuries, plus McGehee could play some first base, and his right-handed bat was a welcome addition to a left-handed heavy lineup. He then hit .151/.220/.264 (28 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with the Yankees and was released after the season. McGehee is currently hitting .299/.368/.493 for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, where apparently they juice the ball even more than MLB.

July 31st, 2012: Marlins Tried To Unload Carlos Lee

5:05pm: Two teams told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that the Marlins thought they had traded Lee to the Yankees today (Twitter link).  However, Lee wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause.  The sides were never close to completing a trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (on Twitter).

Hmmm. One side says the deal was in place, but Lee squashed it with his no-trade clause, the other says there was no deal. I lean toward the latter. I don’t think the Yankees had anything worked out. I guess they could have looked at Lee as DH depth? The guy hit .264/.332/.365 (91 wRC+) with negative defense and baserunning value that year. I’m a sucker for a good “this guy was almost traded to that team” story. This one is pretty lame.

Scouting the Trade Market: Trevor Cahill

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

After Tuesday’s seven-player trade, the Yankees loudly announced they were buyers. The trade solved many of their issues, but they still have a hole in the back of their rotation with Michael Pineda lost for the season after Tommy John surgery.

A veteran innings eater who can more reliably provide solid innings than Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa appears to be the logical next move for Brian Cashman. One pitcher who could not only eat those innings but potentially do so effectively is Trevor Cahill, the journeyman starter with a 55.1 percent career groundball rate who is currently with the San Diego Padres. On a cheap one-year deal, the 29-year-old righty has a 3.14 ERA (3.22 FIP) in 57 1/3 innings over 10 starts for one of the worst teams in baseball.

Let’s dive into the Friars’ top rotation piece at the present:

Current Performance

In the middle of 2015, it looked like Cahill’s time as a starter was kaput. He’d been dealt to the Braves and had thrown 26 1/3 well-below-average innings before Atlanta DFA’d him. He’d made just three starts and had a 7.52 ERA in 15 total games.

But his career turned when he joined the Cubs late in the season. Used exclusively as a reliever, Cahill became a strikeout machine for the first time in his career while still keeping the ball on the ground as a sinkerballer. He pitched to a 2.61 ERA (4.10 FIP) in Chicago while upping his strikeout rate significantly. This came through an adjustment in his motion and upping the usage of his curveball and changeup.

Cahill turned down teams looking at him as a reliever and took a cheap one-year contract with the Padres, who gave him an opportunity to start and play near his hometown of Oceanside, Calif. It’s paid off big time.

In his 10 starts, he’s been able to translate his strikeout numbers from the bullpen into consistent success in the rotation. He has a 29.5 percent strikeout rate, up more than 10 percent from his last full season as a starter. His 8.3 percent walk rate is near the lowest mark he’s posted as a starter. He’s maintained a GB-to-FB ratio above two for the last three seasons and most of his career, making him ideally suited for a hitter’s haven, let alone one of the largest fields in the league at Petco Park.

Cahill is a true five-pitch pitcher. His four-seam fastball and sinker sit in the low-90s with the sinker being his primary pitch, thrown 37 percent of the time (the lowest rate of his career). Off-speed, he turns to his low-80s, high-70s knuckle curveball, a mid-80s changeup and a mid-80s slider. Each of his pitches has been relatively effective this season, especially the curveball, which rates as one of the best in the game. Check out how he’s able to get swings and misses on all his pitches.

His home/road splits are something of which to be wary. He has a 5.01 ERA away from Petco and you have to wonder whether his solid HR/9 numbers would slide even more at Yankee Stadium. His strikeout and walk rates have mostly held up away from home.

Injury history

Cahill comes with a bit of a checkered injury past. He’s already spent time on the disabled list with two separate injuries. First, he missed 10 days in April with a back strain. He then lost over 1.5 months with a shoulder strain. He’s spent 60 total days on the DL this season. He also missed time in 2013 with a hip contusion.

If you’re looking for positives, the injuries and subsequent missed time could be a blessing in disguise. He hadn’t thrown more than 65 2/3 innings since 2014, so it was unlikely he’d be able to handle 200 innings like he used to.

What would it take?

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mike had a pretty good breakdown of what you can expect a rental starter to cost in his breakdown of Jaime Garcia’s trade value. Make sure to check that out here.

With Cahill, his cheap contract could make a small difference compared to other rentals. Signed for $1.75 million in the offseason, he has less than $1 million left on his base salary. He earns $250,000 for start No. 15, 20 and 25 this season and he’ll earns a $250,000 bonus if he is traded.

Even with the incentives, he’s one of the cheaper players on the market because of his prove-it contract. The Padres can presumably ask for a slightly larger return than he would normally get, although his injuries could limit his market.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

Surely. A 29-year-old rental with strong strikeout and groundball rates at Yankee Stadium? Sign me up. Like with Garcia or any rental, the Yankees would get a close look at him for the last few months of the season with eyes towards perhaps re-signing him in the offseason.

You obviously can’t overlook his injuries, but his numbers indicate that a team trading for him could catch lightning in a bottle for the stretch run. His experience in relief makes him slightly more attractive for a team with playoff dreams.

Mailbag: Judge, Mateo, Hamels, Nola, Girardi, Taillon, Betances

We’ve got ten questions in the mailbag this week. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is where you can send us any questions. More than a few were rendered moot by the trade with the White Sox.

Man of the people. (Rich Gagnon/Getty)
Man of the people. (Rich Gagnon/Getty)

A few people asked: What could the Yankees get for Judge?

Several masochists emailed in asking what sort of return the Yankees could expect if they traded Aaron Judge. Just about all of them made it clear they don’t want the Yankees to trade Judge, because duh. They’re just curious.

Anyway, because he’s already shown he can perform at an MVP caliber level and comes with five years of control beyond this season, Judge is one of the most valuable assets in baseball. FanGraphs ranked him the sixth most valuable trade asset in baseball behind basically the five best players on the planet. He carries some risk because his track record is limited and there’s so little precedent for a dude this size, but yeah, Judge is insanely valuable.

The way I see it, the Yankees have a strong young position player core (Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Dustin Fowler, Miguel Andujar, etc.), so if you’re going to trade Judge, you trade him for an ace-caliber starter with several years of control remaining. I’m talking four or five years of control, not two or three. Five names immediately jumped to mind:

  • Michael Fulmer, Tigers: A little unconventional because he doesn’t strike out a ton of batters (17.4%), but he’s been dynamite since being called up and is under control through 2022.
  • Jon Gray, Rockies: Coors Field makes it tough to appreciate how good Gray really is. He has three swing-and-miss pitches and he’s under control through 2021.
  • Carlos Martinez, Cardinals: Martinez has already pitched like an ace for two full years, and his recent contract extension will pay him $46.8M from 2018-21 with affordable club options for 2022 ($17M) and 2023 ($18M).
  • Lance McCullers Jr., Astros: Electric arm and team control through 2021. The only downside is McCullers has an injury history. He’s had both shoulder and elbow problems in the past.
  • Noah Syndergaard, Mets: Pretty much the perfect pitcher. Go into a lab to build a starter and you’d come out with Syndergaard. He’s under control through 2021, though this year’s injury problems are a red flag.

Among those five pitchers, Martinez is at the top of my list because he has the longest MLB track record and he also comes with the most team control thanks to his extension and the two club options. If you’re going to trade Judge, a bonafide middle of the order force under control through his peak years, you trade him for a guy like Martinez.

Pitchers are risky because they break, but Judge comes with a fair amount of risk himself, so in this hypothetical it balances out. And that’s all this is, a hypothetical. Never say never, but I don’t think trading Judge has even crossed the Yankees’ mind at this point. I say keep all those bats, build a powerhouse offense, and figure out a way to build a pitching staff around them. The Mets are a pretty good example why building around arms is so risky.

Jonathan Stewart: While it’s still a SSS, if Mateo’s keeps up his resurgence, could we see him this year?

It’s certainly more likely we see him this year, yeah. Jorge Mateo has been tearing the cover off the ball since his promotion to Double-A Trenton, hitting .357/.438/.619 (189 wRC+) through 20 games. Before, when he was hitting .240/.288/.400 (98 wRC+) for High-A Tampa, there was basically no chance at a call-up. Brian Cashman likes to say anyone at Double-A is a call-up candidate, and with Mateo performing, his chances of coming up this year have increased.

The Thunder went into yesterday’s game with a 64-31 record, the best record in all of Double-A, so they’re going to the postseason. I do think the Yankees would prefer to keep Mateo in Trenton through the postseason to get him at-bats and continue his development. I don’t think he will be a September 1st call-up to be a designated pinch-runner or something like that. We’ll see how Mateo performs from here on out. If he’s still playing well, yes I think he could get a token September call-up since he’s already on the 40-man roster, though I don’t think they’d yank him out of Trenton’s everyday lineup just to sit on the big league bench and pinch-run. He might have to wait until after the playoffs.

Matt asks: New rumor has Hamels potentially being available at the deadline if the Rangers sputter out of the gate. Thoughts?

That is an interesting one. Cole Hamels is 33 now and he went into last night’s start with a 3.05 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 59 innings around an oblique injury, so he has been effective, though the drop in strikeout rate is a definite red flag.

cole-hamels-strikeouts

Hmmm. Hamels is still getting ground balls and keeping the walks in check, but the swings and misses have been harder to come by, and that’s especially troubling because he has arguably the greatest changeup of his generation. The swing and miss rate on his changeup has declined noticeably in recent years. Hamels is in decline. He’s entering his mid-30s and losing some stuff. It happens to everyone.

Hamels is owed $22.5M next season, the final guaranteed year on his contract, and this year’s oblique injury ensures his $19M option for 2019 will not vest. He missed too much time and won’t reach the innings threshold to lock in the option year. If the Rangers are willing to trade Hamels as a salary dump, meaning the Yankees would take on that contract and not give up much in return, I don’t think it would be a terrible idea because he can still give you innings. The time to get Hamels was a few years ago though, then he was still in his prime and the Phillies were looking to move him.

Michael asks: What would it take to pry Aaron Nola from the Phillies? Under control through 2021, and he looks like a classic high strikeout guy the Yanks usually target. Seems like he’d fit with the trajectory of this team moving forward also. Thoughts?

Nola is probably someone I should have included in the Judge trade hypothetical earlier. The 24-year-old was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft and he has a 3.54 ERA (3.42 FIP) with very good strikeout (24.7%) and ground ball (48.1%) rates in 86.1 innings this season. He’s also under team control through 2021. The run on his two-seamer is ridiculous.

aaron-nola-fastball

The big concern with Nola is his elbow. He missed the entire second half of last season with an elbow strain and that’s never good. The elbow has been fine so far this year — Nola did miss two starts with a back strain earlier this season — but still, a fairly significant elbow injury just last year? That’s a red flag and an ongoing concern. How could it not be.

The Phillies would presumably want top prospects for Nola and I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all. Parting with either Torres or Frazier, plus a bunch of quality secondary pieces, seems like a must to me. Nola is young and very good, and he’d fit what the Yankees need going forward. He also fits what the rebuilding Phillies need going forward, which is why I don’t think they’ll entertain a trade unless they get a huge offer.

Dan asks: Between the marriage of his relievers to certain innings, the fact that hitters are bunting when they should be hitting, and his marriage to pitching and hitting matchups based on handedness, do you think we can start to fairly question whether Girardi is being too rigid as a manager?

Oh sure. Joe Girardi‘s paint-by-numbers managerial style has been a problem for a few years now. The most obvious example is his bullpen roles. He lets the inning dictate his reliever usage, not the game situation (score, where the other team is in their lineup etc.). Girardi is also pretty strict with left-right platoons even when the numbers say they don’t make sense. He’ll split up the lefties in the starting lineup to avoid a potential matchup situation in the seventh or eight inning rather than putting the Yankees in the best position to do damage against the starter. Girardi is not the only manager who does this stuff. Hardly. But I feel like, in the year 2017, we should be getting away from these moves. It’s time to evolve.

Steve asks: Is it too early to think about what the 40 man roster will look like in November? With 11 MLB debuts this year, and the bevy of Rule 5 eligible prospects, it seems like some notable talent is destined to be lost. What prospects will be on the bubble?

Definitely not too early. The Yankees are certainly thinking about it. They know they’re going to face a roster crunch, so they’re doing what they can to clear things up. Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo will both be Rule 5 draft eligible after the season and neither guy was all that likely to be added to the 40-man roster, so they went to the White Sox in the trade. Here are the notable prospects due to become Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season:

Catchers: None
Infielders: Abi Avelino, Thairo Estrada, Gleyber Torres
Outfielders: Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney
Pitchers: Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, J.P. Feyereisen, Zack Littell, Erik Swanson, Stephen Tarpley

Frazier, Fowler, Tyler Wade, and Jordan Montgomery were all going to be Rule 5 Draft eligible before getting called up to the big leagues this season. Torres, Abreu, and Acevedo will definitely be added to the 40-man roster. Littell probably will as well. Estrada and McKinney are on the fence and could be trade bait before the deadline. A guy like Tarpley, a lefty with good velocity, is prime Rule 5 Draft fodder. Inevitably the Yankees will leave some good players exposed. That’s what happens to teams with good farm systems.

Taillon. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)
Taillon. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

Dan asks: Would you deal Clint Frazier for Jameson Taillon straight up?

Yes and the Pirates would not. They could get a lot more than Frazier for Taillon, despite all his pitching injuries over the years. Taillon is only 25 and he’s under team control through 2022. In 171.2 big league innings, basically a full season, he has a 3.25 ERA (3.56 FIP) with 21.1% strikeouts, 5.5% walks, and 52.4% grounders. That is really, really good. I love Frazier. He’s a blast. You also have to give something to get something, and pitchers like Taillon are a heck of a lot harder to find than corner outfield bats. Plus the Yankees are loaded with outfielders. The Pirates would say no because they could get more.

Austin asks: With the addition of Robertson and Kahnle, will the Yankees finally give Warren a look in the rotation? Surely he has more value there than as a 5th option out of the pen.

I don’t think so. The Yankees have never seemed all that eager to put Adam Warren in the rotation. Even in 2015, when he made 17 starts (3.63 ERA and 3.92 FIP), it was only because Chris Capuano hurt his quad in Spring Training. The biggest thing working against Warren right now is that he’s not stretched out. He could give you what, maybe 50 pitches his first time out? It’ll take a month to get him stretched out completely, so by time that happens, it’ll be near the end of August. I think the chances of Warren out-pitching Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, and Chance Adams the rest of the season as a starting pitcher are pretty darn good. My guess is the Yankees will stick with the kids, and use Warren as part of the super bullpen they’ve been trying to build.

Adam asks: What are the chances we use Betances as trade bait now that we added two strong options? Probably more likely if the Yankees continue to spiral down.

I believe the plan is to add David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to Dellin Betances, not use them to replace him. The more great relievers, the better. That said, having Robertson and Kahnle around makes it easier to part with Betances in a trade. The Yankees always listen to offers for everyone. Every team does. I don’t think they’ll be out there actively shopping Dellin, but I do think they’ll be a little more open-minded when fielding phone calls. Maybe this is something that happens in the offseason rather than at the deadline?

Paul asks: What has changed in the last few years that has teams open to trading highly rated prospects again? A few years ago, there was extreme prospect hugging going on.

Teams were definitely much more reluctant to trade their prospects a few years ago. That isn’t the case anymore. According to Baseball America’s midseason top 100, the No. 1 (Yoan Moncada), No. 3 (Gleyber Torres), No. 5 (Eloy Jimenez), No. 13 (Willy Adames), No. 16 (Lewis Brinson), and No. 20 (Michael Kopech) prospects in baseball have all been traded. Just eyeballing the rest of the list, I count 22 top 100 prospects who have been traded at some point.

I think two things are happening here. One, more teams are willing to go into a deep rebuild, so they’re making their best big leaguers available in trades, and those guys command top prospects. And two, more teams seem willing to acknowledge success can be fleeting, so they’re going all-in when it looks like they have a shot. Like the Indians last year, for example. It’s a bit of a Catch-22. More teams are rebuilding, meaning fewer teams are in contention, so those teams in contention are willing to trade their prospects to rebuilding teams to improve their chances.