For the second time this month, the Yankees and Diamondbacks hooked up for a trade on Thursday. New York acquired the versatile sometimes infielder, sometimes outfielder Martin Prado from Arizona in exchange for minor leaguer Peter O’Brien, the club announced. The two teams got together for the Brandon McCarthy/Vidal Nuno swap a few weeks ago.
Prado, 30, is hitting .270/.317/.370 (89 wRC+) with 17 doubles and five homers in 436 plate appearances this year. He put up a .282/.333/.417 (104 wRC+) batting line with the D’Backs last season after being acquiring from the Braves as the centerpiece of the Justin Upton trade. Prado rarely walks (5.3% this year, 6.3% career) but he is a high-contact hitter (13.1% strikeout rate this year, 10.7% career) who has mashed lefties both this year (140 wRC+) and throughout his career (119 wRC+). The Yankees are in desperate need of righty production and he’ll help fix that.
Brian Cashman told reporters Prado will see most of this time in right field, which makes sense. Stephen Drew was acquired to play second base and every other position on the field is accounted for. Prado has only played two career innings in right but he has a ton of experience in left, so the outfield will not be completely foreign to him. With Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury running down everything in a two-mile radius (give or take), not to mention a ground ball pitching staff, they can hide a below-average defender in Yankee Stadium’s small right field in exchange for more offense.
Prado has played primarily third base over the last two seasons, though he has spent considerable time at second as well. He can fake shortstop and even first base if needed. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote about Prado in our Scouting The Market post a few weeks ago:
Arizona gave Prado a four-year extension worth $40M last spring. He is owed about $5M through the end of the season plus $11M in both 2015 and 2016, so he and (Aaron) Hill have basically identical contract situations. If he was producing like regular old Martin Prado, it would be more than a fair wage. Since he is having a down year and it’s unclear if there is something more to it than just the general ups and downs of baseball, it’s a bit more scary.
There are no significant red flags in Prado’s batted ball or plate discipline data, which is a good thing. You want him to be the same player he was for most of his career. That makes me more hopeful the poor start to his season — he has hit .282/.326/.411 (103 wRC+) over the last two months, for what it’s worth — is just one of those things and not the first step off the cliff. As they did with the McCarthy and Chase Headley pick ups, the Yankees traded for Prado when his value was down, except he’s under contract for another two years (age 30-32 seasons).
O’Brien, 24, was the Yankees’ second round pick in the 2012 draft out of Miami. He is hitting .267/.312/.593 (147 wRC+) with 33 homers in 413 plate appearances split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year. Only two players in the minors have hit more homeruns this season. O’Brien was the team’s top power prospect but there are also significant concerns about whether the holes in his swing and plate discipline issues will allow him to tap into that power at the next level — his 106/20 K/BB tells the story. He also doesn’t have a position, bouncing from catcher to third base to right field to first base since being drafted. With Paul Goldschmidt entrenched at first in Arizona, O’Brien will have to make it work elsewhere. That’s not the Bombers’ problem, obviously.
Acquiring Prado helps the Yankees both in the short and long-term, potentially. He steps into right field this year and going forward they could play him at second or third base, depending on the rest of the roster. Prado won’t block a youngster like Rob Refsnyder if they force their way onto the roster and he gives the team some protection at third given the uncertainty of the whole Alex Rodriguez situation. If Prado hits the way he did just last year, not even during his best years with the Braves, this is solid move to bolster the roster at a more than reasonable cost. Prospects like O’Brien are as tradeable as it gets.
For the first time since the Mike Stanley trade in 1997, the Yankees and Red Sox have hooked up for a trade. The Yankees have acquired Stephen Drew and $500k from their division rivals in exchange for Kelly Johnson, the team announced. Brian Cashman told reporters Drew will take over as the team’s everyday second baseman.
Drew, 31, has hit a weak .176/.255/.328 (56 wRC+) with four homers in 145 plate appearances this year after signing at midseason. He has been much better of late, hitting .237/.341/.474 (126 wRC+) with two homers since the All-Star break. After the long layoff and the lack of a proper Spring Training, it took Drew a little while to get going with the bat. He is a dead pull left-handed hitter who might be able to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch.
The Yankees had interest in Drew in each of the last two offseasons, though he declined to sign with them because of questions about how much he’d play as well as his position with Derek Jeter entrenched at short. Drew has never played a position other than shortstop — literally zero innings somewhere other than short (and DH) at both the big league and minor league level — so the second base experiment might be messy. He could always see time at short whenever Jeter needs a day off, of course.
Johnson, 32, is currently on the disabled list with a groin injury. He hit .219/.304/.373 (88 wRC+) with six homers in 227 plate appearances this season while playing mostly first and third bases. The Yankees signed him to be at least a platoon player at the hot corner, but Yangervis Solarte‘s season-opening hot streak and Mark Teixeira‘s injuries forced Johnson to spend a lot of time first base. The signing made perfect sense on paper but it just didn’t work out.
Like Johnson, Drew will be a free agent after the season, so this is a swap of rental players and the rearranging of some furniture. Drew is a very good defender at short but we have no idea how he will fare at second base. Brian Roberts, who was designated for assignment today, was giving the team neither offense nor defense in recent weeks, so it won’t take much for Drew to be an upgrade. As he did with his other trades this month, Cashman grabbed a potential upgrade at minimal cost. Hard to complain about that.
The Yankees have claimed right-hander Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Blue Jays, the team announced. Brian Cashman says he will join the big league team and be available out of the bullpen for tomorrow’s series opener against the Red Sox. Scott Sizemore was released to clear a 40-man spot. No other roster move have been announced yet.
Rogers, 28, has a 6.97 ERA (5.41 FIP) in 20.2 innings for Toronto this season while going back and forth between Triple-A and MLB a few times. He owns a 5.59 ERA (4.45 FIP) in 396 career innings with the Jays, Indians, and Rockies, which is broken down into a 5.59 ERA (4.77 FIP) in 220.2 innings as a starter and a 5.60 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 175.1 innings as a reliever. The 29-year-old Sizemore made two brief cameos with the Yankees but was on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list at the time of his release. · (60) ·
The non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, and over these next few hours there will be a ton of rumors and speculation. A bunch of actual moves too. The Yankees have already swung trades for Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, but Brian Cashman has said he is still seeking another starter and another bat. I can’t imagine they’ll get through the day without doing something.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we learned the Yankees are “in on everything” but do not want to part with their top minor leaguers. Josh Willingham, John Danks, Jake Arrieta, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Denorfia, Joaquin Benoit, James Russell, Marlon Byrd, Ian Kennedy, and Brett Anderson were among the names connected to the club. They do not have interest in Matt Kemp and were not targeting Justin Masterson before he was traded to the Cardinals, however. We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this post, so make sure you check back throughout the day. All the timestamps are ET.
- 3:42pm: Apparently the Yankees are getting Stephen Drew from the Red Sox. Huh. [Gordon Edes]
- 3:36pm: The Yankees are out on Byrd. [Jayson Stark]
- 3:01pm: The Yankees are one of several teams talking to the Rays about Price. I can’t see this happening but I’d love to be wrong. [Bob Nightengale]
- 1:55pm: There is a false rumor going around saying the Yankees have acquired Byrd. They have not. At least not yet, anyway. It’s bonus. No deal. [Sherman]
- 1:48pm: The Rays will trade David Price today. I doubt it will be to the Yankees, but geez. This is fun! [Joel Sherman]
- 1:34pm: The Yankees are going to take things right down to the wire. They’re still discussing Willingham, Denorfia, and Byrd. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 1:25pm: Just in case you’re wondering, Danks is currently pitching for the White Sox, which wouldn’t happen if he was close to being traded. Pretty slow day for the Yankees thus far.
- 11:17am: The Yankees continue to work on small deals. Nothing big is expected to happen today. Lame. [Feinsand]
- 9:48am: The Red Sox have traded Lester (and Jonny Gomes) to the Athletics, according to multiple reports. Yoenis Cespedes is the primary piece going back to Boston. Wow.
- 9:30am: The Yankees are not working on anything huge at the moment. Their focus is on upgrading in right field and adding depth to the bullpen and pitching staff. [Joel Sherman]
- The Yankees and Phillies have discussed Byrd, but nothing is close. Apparently there’s some concern about how he’d fit in the clubhouse. They are not in on Alex Rios and maintain interest in Willingham. [Jon Heyman]
- Despite the connection to Danks, the Yankees have no interest in picking up the $28M or so he is owed from 2015-16. He is scheduled to start at 1pm ET this afternoon. They also did not bother to call the Red Sox about Jon Lester. Seems like that would be a gigantic waste of time. [Mark Feinsand & Nick Cafardo]
So much for taking advantage of a soft spot in the schedule. The Yankees lost Wednesday night’s series finale against the Rangers by the score of 3-2, dropping two of three in Texas to the team with the worst record in baseball.
For the first time since June 2012, Colby Lewis completed seven full innings of work. He retired the final 13 (!) batters he faced and held the Yankees to two runs — solo homers by noted power threats Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury — on four hits and two walks in those seven innings, striking out four. The Yankees actually loaded the bases in the first inning, but of course they couldn’t capitalize. I swear, they must lead the league in first inning runners left on base. It would be nice if they blew a game open early once in a while.
Anyway, Carlos Beltran‘s two-out single to left in the third inning was the Yankees’ finally base-runner of the night. Chase Headley followed that with a hard-hit fly ball right to the wall in right field — I thought it was gone off the bat — but Alex Rios was able to run it down for the third out of the inning. Headley went hitless for the first time in pinstripes but he did draw a walk. After Beltran’s single, exactly six Yankees hit the ball out of the infield. The final 19 men they sent to the plate made outs. The only good thing about this offense is that the games are usually over in under three hours.
Hiroki Kuroda pitched just well enough to lose. I feel like that is a bit of a running theme this year thanks to the offense. Kuroda left far too many pitches up in the zone in the three-run first inning, which featured four singles and a double, but followed with six more scoreless frames to spare the bullpen. Three runs in seven innings on nine hits and a walk isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, especially since he never really seemed to be in control of his stuff, but it isn’t a disaster. It’s the type of start a good team would win.
Kuroda spared the bullpen after that dreadfully long game on Tuesday night, which was appreciated even with the off-day coming on Thursday. Getting those guys two straight days of rest this time of year is a big deal. David Huff issued two walks in an otherwise uneventful eighth inning and was the only reliever used. I’m not sure what else the pitching staff is supposed to do. These guys are giving the team a chance to win almost every night despite all the injuries. Something has to give at some point.
Mark Teixeira contributed to the first inning damage with a boneheaded play. He simply let a Leonys Martin ground ball roll foul rather than pick it up and tag Martin as he ran by for the final out of the inning. That would have limited the damage to two runs. Instead, the at-bat was extended and Martin eventually blooped a single to left to plate his team’s third run.
The Yankees’ four hits came from Gardner (homer), Ellsbury (homer!), and Beltran (two singles). Teixeira and Headley drew the only walks. The bottom three hitters in the lineup (Frankie Cervelli, Zoilo Almonte, Brendan Ryan) went a combined 0-for-9 with two strikeouts. Cervelli’s ground out with the bases loaded to end the first was their only at-bat with runners in scoring position on the night. Pitchers like Lewis, a guy with a 6+ ERA, used to be like bugs hitting a windshield whenever they faced the Yankees. Now they throw up quality starts.
Gardner’s homer was another leadoff job, his fourth of the season. It was also his fourth homer in the span of ten plate appearances and seventh (!) in July, or the same number of homers Robinson Cano has hit all season. The Yankees have now hit multiple homers in each of their last six games. I didn’t think they had that in them. It is their longest such streak since a nine-gamer in May 2009. They topped out at four games last year.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and video highlights can be found at MLB.com. FanGraphs has some more game stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. The Blue Jays and Orioles both won, so the Yankees are now 5.5 games back of the top spot in the AL East and three games back of the second wildcard spot, tied with the Mariners. They’ve lost four of five after winning seven of their first eight games out of the All-Star break. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 13.5%.
The Yankees are off on Thursday and they’ll head up to Boston to open a three-game series with the Red Sox on Friday night. Pretty good chance both teams will look a little different by then, especially the Sawx. Chris Capuano vs. John Lackey is the scheduled pitching matchup at the moment, but the Yankees are looking for a rotation upgrade and Lackey’s name has been in all sorts of trade rumors the last 24 hours or so. The trade deadline is 4pm ET on Thursday and I suspect both clubs will do something.
LHP Justin Kamplain, this year’s 18th rounder, has been promoted from Short Season Staten Island to Low-A Charleston, the team announced. His numbers so far are kinda silly: 21 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 25 K.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 loss to Gwinnett)
- RF Jose Pirela: 0-5, 1 K
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 1 BB
- DH Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
- C Austin Romine: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – 24-for-65 (.369) in his last 18 games
- LHP Matt Tracy: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 8/3 GB/FB — 67 of 101 pitches were strikes … 223/79 GB/FB in 120.2 innings this year
- LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes
After that game last night, I’m ready for this series to be over. That was a win that felt like a loss. Let’s squeeze out another win tonight and enjoy the off-day tomorrow. Sound like a plan? Let’s hope the Yankees can make it nice and easy for once. Here is the Rangers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- C Frankie Cervelli
- RF Zoilo Almonte
- 2B Brendan Ryan
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It’s really hot and humid in the Dallas area. Yucky weather. There is rain in the forecast but not until much later tonight, so they won’t have any trouble getting the game in. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Wednesday: The Yankees invited Castillo to their Tampa complex for a private workout next week, reports George King. Andrew Marchand says they should not be considered the favorite to sign him, for what it’s worth.
Monday, 1:43pm: The Yankees are one of three teams that have scheduled a private workout with Castillo, according to Ben Badler. Balder says Castillo is likely to sign within two weeks.
1:00pm: Via Ken Davidoff: The Yankees sent a contingent of four to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo’s showcase in Miami over the weekend. Those four: international scouting director Donny Rowland, international cross-checkers Gordon Blakeley and Dennis Woody, and pro scout Jay Darnell. Their level of interest in unknown. Twenty-eight of 30 teams were in attendance.
Castillo, 27, was said to have an impressive workout with the caveat that it was only a workout, not game action. Walter Villa has an excellent breakdown of the day. Castillo worked out in the outfield and at shortstop, but Villa says the consensus is that he won’t stick at short and his arm isn’t right field caliber. He showed good speed and surprising pop from the right side. “I like him, he’s a Major League player,” said one scout while another estimated he would sign for $25-35M. I have no idea whether he is worth that money or a good fit for the Yankees. · (124) ·
Mark Teixeira returned to the starting lineup and hit a homerun last night after being sidelined for eight days with a mild lower lat strain. That was good to see. Here is another round of injury updates, courtesy of Bryan Hoch, Chad Jennings, and George King.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw a 45-pitch simulated game yesterday and it went “really good.” He’ll begin an official minor league rehab assignment on Sunday. “He will make a start somewhere. Four innings and 60-65 pitches will be his next move. Not exactly sure where it’s going to be — they were talking about that today — but it will be a regular game,” said Joe Girardi.
- Brian Roberts is worn down and will get the next few days off. The 36-year-old has played 91 games this year, his most since 2009. He averaged 48 games played from 2010-13. Being worn down at this point of the season isn’t much of a surprise. “He’s been beat up pretty good this year physically,” said Girardi. “He’s dealing with soreness that players have. Legs get beat up, you hit balls off your feet, shins. It’s all part of it.”
- Kelly Johnson (groin) will play in a minor league rehab game or two and is expected to come off the disabled list when eligible next Thursday. Girardi said he may give Johnson more time at second base down the stretch. “It’s something I could think about. If we feel there is a need to put him there we will put him there,” said the skipper.
I usually do these thoughts posts first thing in the morning and following an off-day, but I figure with the trade deadline looming tomorrow, I might as well run it now. Tomorrow figures to be pretty busy even if the Yankees do not make a move. There will still be lots of rumors. Here are some scattered thoughts heading into the series finale with the Rangers as well as the trade deadline.
1. I fully expect the Yankees to make a move before the deadline tomorrow and I think they’re going to end up making multiple moves, actually. One for a pitcher, one for a bat, maybe another really minor deal for additional pitching depth. As for who they’re going to wind up with … I have no idea whatsoever. John Danks and Josh Willingham are as good a guess as anyone, but the Yankees tend to keep things very close to the vest and most of their moves come out of nowhere. It would really surprise me if a) they did nothing between now and the deadline, and b) if they traded away any top prospects. The last time they traded away top prospects was when, the Curtis Granderson deal? Brian Cashman & Co. are all about buying low, expecting players to rebound, and giving up mid-range prospects. The only way a top prospect goes is if a stud like David Price comes to New York. I don’t see that happening within the next day and a half.
2. It blows my mind the Red Sox are (probably) going to trade Jon Lester rather than extend him. They made all those moves these last few years to emphasize financial and roster flexibility, and for what? Isn’t Lester exactly the kind of guy you keep forever and ever? This is different than the Yankees and Robinson Cano because the Red Sox don’t already have like four crippling long-term contracts on the books. You sign Lester long-term knowing you’re probably going to end up with the 2013 version from 2015-18 or so, not the 2014 version, but that’s fine. What’s the point if that flexibility if you’re not going to use it to keep a homegrown ace who helped you to two World Series titles and is still in his prime? The Red Sox are going to try to win next year, right? It’s much easier to win with Lester than without him. Yeah, sure, they could re-sign him after the season, but they’ve yet to make anything close to a market value-ish offer and if they haven’t done it yet, I’m not sure why you’d expect them to make one in free agency. Plus as soon as he gets traded away, the chances of re-signing him go down some amount.
3. If the Red Sox do trade Lester — it really does seem inevitable at this point, though I expected them to scratch him from today’s start anyway, he could always wind up starting Friday against the Yankees if no deal gets done — it would help the Yankees a lot. For starters, they wouldn’t have to face him anymore this season. The teams most rumored to be on him right now are NL clubs (Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals) and the Athletics, who the Yankees do not face again in the regular season. Of course, New York’s main competitors like the Orioles and Blue Jays won’t have to face him anymore either. Also, once Lester is traded, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer after the season, meaning the Yankees won’t have to surrender a first round pick when they inevitably sign him over the winter. Well, maybe it’s not inevitable they sign him, but it is inevitable they will be connected to him. AL East and postseason proven lefty ace? C’mon, that dude has pinstripes written all over him. Plus the Yankees seem to love their former Red Sox players. The fit is too perfect.
4. The bullpen really seems to be getting worn out, especially Dellin Betances and Adam Warren. They’re currently on pace for 97 and 80 innings, respectively, and their effectiveness has waned in recent weeks. They haven’t been bad (last night notwithstanding), just not as good as they were earlier in the season. I know they were both starters in the past and the bulk innings total shouldn’t be a problem, but airing it out for one or two innings at a time in high-leverage situations is not at all the same as starting on a set five-day schedule with a comfortable routine. Shawn Kelley has been much better of late and he will lighten their workload just a little bit, plus I think Chase Whitley could become a factor as a one or two-inning bullpener, but the Yankees play nothing but close games these days. It’s tough to see how Betances and Warren will get some more rest in the coming weeks. Trading for relievers is always sketchy, but getting another end-game capable arm to help spread the workload around would both help this year and in the future by allowing Joe Girardi to take it easy on the young guys with an actual future with the team.
5. So I had to look it up after last night’s game: J.P. Arencibia is hitting .269/.269/.808 against the Yankees this year and .154/.209/.269 against everyone else. Seven of his 19 hits and half of his 42 total bases have come against New York. This is Delmon Young in the postseason kind of stuff. Arencibia has always hit the Yankees hard — 126 OPS+ vs. NYY compared to a career 77 OPS+, plus 12 of his 70 homers (17%) have come against the Yankees in 11.6% of his career plate appearances — and man it sucks because he’s such a bad hitter overall. The guy went from a 36 OPS+ to a 69 OPS+ just last night. Some guys just have it in for a certain team or a certain pitcher for whatever reason. It’s like Brett Gardner owning Yu Darvish. It just happens. Baseball is weird like that.