DotF: Sheffield debuts, Torres goes deep in Tampa’s win

Steve Givarz of Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d) posted a ton of Gulf Coast League scouting reports earlier today. These are guys we never hear anything about, including RHP Juan Escorcia, who was a member of the 2014-15 international haul. Check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB — 8-for-16 in his last four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — first extra-base hit since the trade
  • DH Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
  • 1B Ike Davis: 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 K — his 14-game Triple-A hitting streak is over
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB — 74 of 101 pitches were strikes (73%) … one short of tying his career high in strikeouts
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 109: Win it for Teixeira

Earlier today Mark Teixeira announced he will be retiring after the season, and I have to say, I was surprisingly bummed out about that. Despite all the injuries and ground balls into the shift, Teixeira was a really productive player and a likeable guy. He was also a key piece of the Yankees’ most recent World Series title. That’s a pretty big deal.

Teixeira called the Yankees a “team in transition” during his press conference this afternoon and that defines the club perfectly. They’re transitioning out of the Teixeira/Alex Rodriguez/CC Sabathia era and into something new. What? We don’t know exactly. Hopefully the Clint Frazier/Gary Sanchez/Luis Severino era. Until then, how about winning some ballgames and sending Teixeira out on a high note? That sounds cool. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. DH Brian McCann
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Starlin Castro
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

Not the greatest weather in New York today, but it’s good enough. There’s rain in the forecast overnight and into tomorrow, so it’s pretty sticky outside. Tonight’s series opener with the Indians is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and it’ll be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (shoulder) has been doing all sorts of baseball activities (swinging, throwing, etc.) and he may be healthy enough in time to play in the Arizona Fall League, Joe Girardi said. The Yankees aren’t going to push him, but he’s progressing well.

Teixeira announces retirement following 2016 season

Teixeira Foul Territory

After 14 years in the big leagues and eight years in pinstripes, Mark Teixeira is planning to hang up his spikes after the season. Teixeira announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2016 season, at a press conference at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.

“Every kid playing wiffle ball in the backyard or playing Little League, you dream of being a Major League Baseball player,” said an emotional Teixeira. “After 14 years, it’s time for me to do something else. After this season I’m going to retire and do something else.”

Here is Teixeira’s teary press conference:

Teixeira, now 36, is in the final season of his eight-year, $180M contract. I’ll never forget the day they signed him. We heard for weeks Teixeira was expected to sign with the Red Sox, and right when it appeared a deal was close, BAM the Yankees swooped and signed him. It was pretty awesome. One of my favorite days in RAB history, hands down.

So far this season Teixeira is hitting a weak .198/.287/.340 (69 wRC+) with ten homers in 77 games around a nagging knee injury and various other ailments. Just last season he hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) and swatted 31 home runs in 111 games. Teixeira’s 2015 season ended in August after a foul tip broke his shin. That was a real bummer.

Overall, Teixeira has hit .249/.348/.491 (121 wRC+) with 201 home runs during his eight seasons in pinstripes. That includes his monster .292/.383/.565 (142 wRC+) campaign in 2009, when he clubbed 39 homers and finished second to Joe Mauer in the AL MVP voting. I’d say Teixeira’s signature Yankee moment is his walk-off home run in Game Two of the 2009 ALDS.

On top of all the dingers, Teixeira was an outstanding defensive first baseman. One of the best I’ve ever seen. Even as his bat has lagged this year, Teixeira is still playing the hell out of first base. He’s a game-changer over there, saving his teammates countless errors over the years.

Of course, injuries have been a major problem in recent seasons. Everything from wrist to hamstring to calf to shin problems have kept him off the field. He has appeared in only 449 of 594 possible games (76%) since the start of the 2012 season. Teixeira is currently sidelined with a shin problem after being hit by a pitch Wednesday night. He went for precautionary x-rays yesterday.

Teixeira is one of the most productive power-hitting switch-hitters in baseball history. His 404 homers are fifth all-time among switch-hitters, and he joins Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones, and Carlos Beltran as the only switch-hitters with 400+ doubles and 400+ homers. Originally selected fifth overall in the 2001 draft, Teixeira spent time with the Rangers, Braves, and Angels before joining the Yankees.

“I got to live out my dream and had more success than I could have ever imagined,” said Teixeira. “It felt like it was the right time for me to step away from the game. I want to finish my season on a high note … I’m going to leave it all out there.”

The Yankees have only had four primary first basemen over the last 33 seasons, which is pretty incredible. It was Don Mattingly from 1983-95, Tino Martinez from 1996-2001, Jason Giambi from 2002-08, and Teixeira from 2009-16. Yeah, there were some Kevin Maases and Andy Phillipses and Lyle Overbays mixed in along the way, but those have been the four main guys. Pretty crazy.

“It’s an unbelievable blessing. It’s an unbelievable honor to put the pinstripes on everyday,” added Teixeira. “I want to thank all the Yankees fans, the greatest fans in the world. I wasn’t perfect. I was far from perfect. I want to let you know I appreciate your support. I gave you everything I had. It wasn’t always enough, but I tried to my best and I’m proud to have a World Series ring with the Yankees. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

As far as the Yankees are concerned, this doesn’t change a whole lot going forward. They were widely expected to move on from Teixeira after the season and install Greg Bird as their new first baseman. Bird’s shoulder surgery may throw a wrench into that plan, but hopefully not. Tyler Austin may have played his way into first base consideration this season as well.

Teixeira was a pretty darn good Yankee despite the injuries in recent years. He was a key part of their most recent World Series title and is generally just a fun, likeable dude. Foul Territory and the way he mocked Hansel Robles during the sign stealing nonsense the other night are pretty good examples. You’ve done good, Tex. See you at Old Timers’ Day.

8/5 to 8/7 Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

This quick little five-game homestand wraps up this weekend with a visit from the first place Indians. That means Andrew Miller is back in the Bronx for the first time since the Yankees traded him away five whole days ago. The Yankees took three of four from the Tribe in Cleveland right before the All-Star break.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Indians have been struggling a little bit recently. They managed to beat the Twins yesterday, which allowed them to avoid a four-game sweep at home by Minnesota. Yikes. That’s not good. The Tribe is still 61-45 with a +85 run differential overall. That’s the second best record (behind the Rangers) and second best run differential (behind the Blue Jays) in the AL.

Offense & Defense

When you’re as good as the Indians, chances are you have an above-average offense, and sure enough this club is scoring exactly 5.00 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+. That’s really good. They’re doing that without OF Michael Brantley, their best all-around hitter. He’s played only eleven games this season due to ongoing shoulder trouble. Brantley is still on the DL and won’t be active this series. C Yan Gomes (shoulder) is out too.

Naquin. (Jason Miller/Getty)
Naquin. (Jason Miller/Getty)

I mentioned this the last time these two clubs played, but Indians manager Terry Francona uses platoon leadoff hitters. OF Rajai Davis (94 wRC+) leads off against lefties while 1B/DH Carlos Santana (122 wRC+) gets the call against lefties. 2B Jason Kipnis (123 wRC+), SS Francisco Lindor (118 wRC+), and 1B/DH Mike Napoli (128 wRC+) follow as 2-3-4 hitters. Santana hits fifth when he’s not leading off, otherwise that lineup spot goes to 3B Jose Ramirez (111 wRC+).

OF Tyler Naquin (174 wRC+) and OF Lonnie Chisenhall (119 wRC+) are Cleveland’s other regular outfielders. C Chris Gimenez (32 wRC+) and C Roberto Perez (11 wRC+) split time behind the plate with Gomes out. If the Tribe had their way, Jonathan Lucroy would be their catcher, but he vetoed a trade last weekend. IF Erik Gonzalez (-12 wRC+), OF Brandon Guyer (114 wRC+), and OF Abe Almonte (97 wRC+) are the other bench players.

The Indians really improved their defense this year by putting Lindor at short and Naquin in center. Davis and Napoli help too, though going from Juan Uribe to Ramirez at the hot corner is a downgrade. (Uribe was designated for assignment a few days ago.) Chisenhall and Kipnis are just okay. Perez can really throw when he’s behind the plate. Gimenez? Not so much.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (vs. NYY)
The internet tells me Tomlin broke into the big leagues in 2010 and is already 31. What?!? Doesn’t it feel like he just got called up? It does to me. Anyway, Tomlin has a 3.43 ERA (4.81 FIP) in 19 starts and 120.2 innings this season. He never walks anyone (2.8%), but his strikeout (17.6%), grounder (41.0%), and homer (1.86 HR/9) rates all leave something to be desired. Righties have hit him a bit harder than lefties, which is not unusual. He’s had a reverse split his entire career. Tomlin sits in the mid-80s with his cutter, which is his main fastball. He also throws an upper-80s four-seamer, but that’s basically a get-me-over pitch when he needs a strike. Low-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees did not see Tomlin in Cleveland a few weeks back.

Saturday (1:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
Kluber, 30, has firmly established himself as one of the best pitchers in the AL over the last few years. He’s pitched to a 3.27 ERA (2.86 FIP) in 21 starts and 143 innings this season, and his peripherals are phenomenal: 25.5% strikeouts, 5.8% walks, 46.7% grounders, and 0.69 HR/9. Pretty, pretty good. Lefties have had a tad more success against him than righties. The Klubot is a low-to-mid-90s sinker pitcher who uses a four-seam fastball at similar velocity in need-a-strike situations. His low-80s slider is one of the best breaking pitches in baseball. It’s filthy. He also throws upper-80s cutters and low-80 changeups. Filthy, filthy stuff. Kluber held the Yankees to one run in eight innings last month.

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

Sunday (1:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
Last year the 29-year-old Carrasco became a stathead darling by having a much lower FIP (2.84) than ERA (3.63). This year the opposite is true (3.12 ERA and 4.30 FIP). Carrasco has thrown 95.1 innings in 16 starts around a hamstring injury, and aside from his homer rate (1.42 HR/9), his underlying numbers are pretty good (22.7 K%, 7.3 BB%, 50.4 GB%). He has no platoon split because he uses five pitches regularly, led by his mid-90s four-seamer and sinker. Both his upper-80s slider and low-90s changeup are legitimate put-away pitches, and he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s curveballs per start too. The Yankees roughed Carrasco up for five runs in 3.2 innings when these teams met in Cleveland before the All-Star break.

Bullpen Status

The Indians have remade their bullpen over the last few weeks, and not just by adding Miller. They’ve swapped out some middle and long relievers too as they try to find the right mix. Here is the seven-man relief crew Francona has at his disposal:

Closer: RHP Cody Allen (2.54 ERA/3.53 FIP)
Setup: LHP Andrew Miller (1.53/1.97), RHP Bryan Shaw (3.80/4.51)
Middle: LHP Kyle Crockett (5.40/2.04), RHP Zach McAllister (5.34/4.62), RHP Dan Otero (1.60/2.58)
Long: LHP Ryan Merritt (0.00/2.39)

That Miller guy is pretty good. I hear he has a nasty slider. Francona hasn’t had much of a chance to use his bullpen the way he wants of late, but he’s expected to match up with Miller and Shaw ahead of Allen, the closer. Otero is the trusted No. 4 guy and Crockett is more of a left-on-left matchup guy than a full inning lefty.

Francona has had to use his bullpen quite a bit the last few days. Otero (12), Miller (18), Shaw (18), and Merritt (12) all pitched yesterday. Otero has pitched each of the last three days and both Crockett and McAllister have pitched three times in the last five days. Our Bullpen Workload page will keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s recent reliever usage.

Yankeemetrics: Playing for pride [Aug. 1-4]


With the white flag flying high in the Bronx, the Yankees ushered in a new era of pinstriped baseball on Monday night with a dramatic — and thoroughly fun-to-watch — win in 10 innings over the Mets. This was their first extra-inning win in the Subway Series since May 20, 2006 at Shea Stadium.

It was a back-and-forth battle with the Yankees erasing two deficits before finally edging the Mets with some rare clutch hitting. Trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius added another gold star to his stellar season with a two-out, game-tying two-run single.

That timely hit upped his batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs to a whopping .341, the sixth-best mark among all MLB players with at least 40 at-bats in that situation through Monday. It was also the first time in Didi’s career he delivered a two-out, game-tying/go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning or later.

Starlin Castro won the game with a tie-breaking, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to the warning track in the 10th inning. This was the first extra-inning sac fly hit by a player on either team in the history of the Mets-Yankees rivalry.

The Yankees overcame another disappointing effort from CC Sabathia, who allowed five runs before getting pulled in the sixth inning. It was the 33rd time a Yankee starter gave up at least five runs in a game this season; through Monday’s slate, no other team in baseball had more such starts by their pitchers than your 2016 Yankees.


The new reality
One day after one of the most inspiring and exciting games of the season, the Yankees responded with one of their all-too-familiar lackluster and boring performances on Tuesday night, losing in a rout, 7-1.

On paper, Masahiro Tanaka seemed poised to have a strong outing against the Mets. Not only had he already thrown a shutout at Citi Field in 2014, but he also was the owner of a 1.88 ERA in nine Interleague starts, the third-best ERA among active pitchers (min. 60 IP).

Instead, things went horribly wrong as Tanaka produced a dud, allowing a career-high seven earned runs. Entering this game, he was the only MLB pitcher in the 20-season history of Interleague play to throw a quality start in each of his first nine career Interleague appearances.

For the Mets, Jacob deGrom dominated the Yankees both on the mound and at the plate, tossing seven scoreless innings while going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. (Yes, the 28-year-old right-hander crossed home plate more times than the entire Yankee team.)

deGrom is the first pitcher with multiple hits and multiple runs in a game vs. the Yankees since Ken Brett (brother of George) on Oct. 2, 1972. The pitching Brett was actually a prolific hitter, who once homered in four straight games and finished with a .698 career OPS. That’s the second-best mark among pitchers who began their career after WWII (min. 300 PA), behind only Don Newcombe (.705).

Mark Teixeira reached a nice round-number milestone with his 400th double in the sixth inning. He is the only switch-hitter in major-league history to hit at least 400 doubles and 400 home runs within the first 14 seasons of his career.

New kids on the block
Wednesday’s contest quickly devolved into an unlikely slugfest and resulted in one of the wildest — if not bizarre — games of the season. The good news is that the ending was a happy one for the Yankees, who won 9-5 to move back above the .500 mark again.

Chad Green allowed the first five batters to reach base, including a leadoff homer by Curtis Granderson; he’s now given up eight homers in 18 innings as a starter and zero homers in 9 1/3 innings as a reliever.


It was also the sixth leadoff homer surrendered by Yankee pitchers this season, the third-most by a Yankee staff in the last 75 years. The only seasons with more were in 2001 (7) and 2014 (9).

The Yankees eventually rallied with Mark Teixeira delivering the decisive blow in the second inning with a tie-breaking three-run homer off the lefty Matz. It was Teixeira’s first homer from the right side of the plate since July 31 of last year.

In between those longballs — from August 1, 2015 through August 2, 2016 — Teixeira slugged .248 as a righty, the sixth-lowest slugging percentage among the 274 players with at least 100 plate appearances as a right-handed batter in that span.

Luis Severino was brilliant in relief of the struggling Green, taking over in the fourth and finishing his outing with just one unearned run allowed on one hit in 4 1/3 dominant innings. After the game, Joe Girardi praised Severino, noting that “his slider [was] better” and “his fastball command was better … Tonight was the best I’ve seen him.”

Severino’s postgame Pitch F/X numbers echo Girardi’s comments: his darting, mid-90s fastball got strikes nearly 70 percent of the time, and his wipeout slider got whiffs on half of the 10 cuts that the Mets took against it. That was his highest slider swing-and-miss rate in any game where he’s thrown at least 15 sliders.

One is not enough
A 4-1 loss on Thursday night gave the Yankees a split in this four-game series against the Mets, an outcome that is very fitting for this Yankees team that has mastered the art of being .500 this season. They’re now 54-54 overall, which includes 44-44 before the break, 10-10 since the break, 13-13 in July and 2-2 in August.

This was the 25th time this season that the Yankees have scored one run or fewer, the most such games among all major-league teams entering the weekend slate.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s dinger problem reared its ugly head again on Thursday night, allowing his 22nd and 23rd homers of the season in the fifth inning. His rate of 1.67 homers per nine innings this year would be the worst in franchise history for any Yankee pitcher that qualified for the ERA title in a non-strike season. It was also his eighth game in 2016 giving up two or more homers, the most among all major-league pitchers.

Bartolo Colon enjoyed his return to the Bronx as he silenced the Yankee bats, surrendering just one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The 43-year-old righty is the oldest pitcher ever to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium while pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than one run.

Mailbag: Severino, AzFL, Castro, Puig, Miller, PTNBL, Giolito

We’ve got 17 questions in the mailbag this week, so I tried to keep the answers short. The inbox was, by far, the fullest I’ve ever seen it. We got a ton of pre-deadline questions that were all rendered moot by Monday. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address. Send your questions there.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Justin asks: What is the current status of Severino’s service time in regards to when he would first be eligible for free agency?

Luis Severino started the season with 61 days of service time, meaning he needs to spend 73 days in the minors to delay his free agency another year. The Yankees activated him off the DL and optioned him to Triple-A on May 30th, then called him back up on July 25th. That’s 56 days in the minors. The Yankees would have to send him down another two weeks to delay free agency. As it stands now, Severino will qualify for free agency after 2021, same as if he remained on the big league roster all season. The extra year of control would be nice, but it would be useless if he doesn’t pitch well. Severino is having success and building confidence right now. Let the kid run with it.

Asher asks: After all the trades, what does the Yankee’s 40 man roster situation look like for the coming offseason? Is Frazier or any of the other new prospects Rule 5 draft eligible?

The Yankees acquired ten prospects at the trade deadline, not counting the two players to be named later in the Ivan Nova deal. Of those ten prospects, only two will be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season: outfielder Rashad Crawford (Aroldis Chapman trade) and right-hander Ben Heller (Andrew Miller trade). The other eight guys are at least one more year away from Rule 5 Draft eligibility.

There’s no reason to add Crawford to the 40-man roster. He’s still an athlete playing baseball, if you know what I mean. His skills are raw and he still has a lot of development left ahead of him. I suppose some team could take him as a defensive minded fifth outfielder, but nah. There will be better players available to fill that role. The Yankees have already talked about calling Heller up this year, but even if they don’t, they’ll protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Triple-A relievers who throw 100 mph are prime Rule 5 Draft fodder.

Many asks: Who could the Yankees send to the Arizona Fall League this year?

I cheated and asked you folks to ask this question in DotF one night this week, and damn yo, like 50 of you sent it in. Thanks. I’ll never do that again. It took me forever to go through the inbox.

Anyway, teams typically send 7-8 players to the AzFL each season. Usually it’s four pitchers and three or four position players. They’re not all top prospects. Many are guys making up for lost time after dealing with injuries. That’s why Greg Bird and James Kaprielian make sense as AzFL candidates, provided they’re healthy enough to play come early-October. That’s a big if.

Aside from Bird, I count five position players who stand out as AzFL candidates: Miguel Andujar, Aaron Judge, Billy McKinney, Kyle Higashioka, and Mason Williams. I guess Clint Frazier too, though he played out there last season. Judge (knee) and Williams (shoulder) both missed time with injuries, hence the AzFL bid. Andujar and Higashioka are having good seasons and you’d like to see them keep it going. McKinney is the opposite. He’s not had a great year and hopefully he gets on track in AzFL.

It’s always tough to pick pitchers because so many guys are bumping up against their innings limit. Domingo Acevedo went last year and is a candidate to go again due to his lower body and back problems. He’s got some innings to make up. Dillon Tate is an AzFL candidate for sure after the Yankees tweak whatever they tweak. Give him more time to work on that stuff. Jonathan Holder and Gio Gallegos are possibilities too. The Yankees seem to have more AzFL candidates than usual this year, especially on the position player side.

Paul asks: Real talk: is Castro the Yankees’ 2b in 2017? He hasn’t worked out very well. Maybe he’ll be more comfortable both in NY and at 2b? Or do the Yankees pull the plug?

I fully expect Starlin Castro to be the starting second baseman next season. That said, he hasn’t had a good season at all and I’d really like the Yankees to move on and find another second baseman. The guy has over 4,000 plate appearances in the show and he still looks like an overmatched rookie at the plate. No plan whatsoever. Castro has $33.5M left on his contract after this season and I feel like it’s only going to get harder and harder to trade him with each passing year. Move him while you can, then find someone else. Starlin’s closing in on his third replacement level season in the last four years. Next.

Puig. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Puig. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Dan asks: Should the Yankees be/have been in on Yasiel Puig?

I say no. Puig is a declining asset. His performance has gotten worse each season since his 2013 debut — to be fair, he was still above-average as recently as last season — and he’s been dealing with nagging hamstring injuries for more than a full year now. Plus no one seems to like the guy. Jon Heyman reportedly Puig’s recent demotion to Triple-A had as much to do with his clubhouse demeanor as it did his performance. Yes, Puig is still only 25 and he’s insanely talented, but his performance is declining, he’s having trouble staying healthy, and he’s a negative in the clubhouse. Puig seems like a guy who peaked early and is becoming more trouble than he’s worth with each passing season.

Isaac asks: Looking at the 2017 roster, is there room for 3 catchers to rotate around 1B/DH/C? Romine seems to have more value as a quality backup than as a trade chip, Sanchez deserves a longer look at the MLB level, and McCann is still a quality starting catcher. Does it make sense to keep all 3?

Yes, the Yankees could make three catchers work even if they don’t cut ties with Alex Rodriguez. Would it be good roster construction? Absolutely not. Three catchers and one pure DH equals zero flexibility. Two guys would be in the lineup (one at catcher, one at DH) and two would on the bench on any given day, meaning the last two bench spots have to go to an infielder and an outfielder. Carrying three catchers with no A-Rod would be doable. Carrying three with A-Rod? Eh. They could do it, but it wouldn’t be very smart.

Marc asks: Since the Yanks seem to be in future mode, would it not make some sense to acquire a competitive balance pick or two? Wouldn’t it allow them to boost their bonus pool money so they could take advantage with a seemingly high 1st round pick if someone (a la Rutherford) were to fall in their lap?

Oh sure. It always makes sense to add draft picks. The 12 competitive balance lottery picks were handed out in late-July the last few years, but it didn’t happen this year, which makes me wonder if the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to do away with them. Maybe they’re just waiting for the new CBA before dishing them out. Either way, the rules say you can only trade these picks during the regular season for whatever reason, so if the Yankees want to trade for a 2017 draft pick, they have to wait until April. We’ll see what the upcoming CBA does to this whole process.

Craig asks: Was Miller our best free agent signing in recent years? (Maybe ever?) I cannot think of anyone else who so lived up to, and actually exceeded, expectations. Not sure the best way to measure this, as WAR doesn’t capture relievers very well. Maybe WPA/dollar?

Yes, I think so, and we don’t really need a stat to tell us that. I’d say Miller is the team’s best free agent signing since Hiroki Kuroda (the first time), who was their best since CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. Those guys are the big four. They’re the best free agent signings the Yankees have made in the last ten years or so. Maybe their best since Mike Mussina. It’s too bad the rest of the team stinks and Miller couldn’t stay around a little longer. He’s pretty cool.

Eric asks: How does the recent trade activity impact the luxury tax — both this year and next?

There’s not much impact next year because Chapman and Carlos Beltran were going to be free agents after the season anyway. Miller’s $9M “tax hit” is gone and will be replaced next year by Tyler Clippard‘s $6.15M tax hit and Adam Warren‘s arbitration raise. Clippard and Warren figure to work out to $9M or so combined.

This year is a different story. The CBA says the Yankees are hit with pro-rated tax hits for Beltran, Chapman, Miller, Clippard, and Warren. Luckily the math is easy because Beltran’s and Miller’s salaries are the same as the average annual value of their contracts. Here’s the breakdown.

2016 Salary 2016 Tax Hit for NYY
Beltran $15M $9.26M
Chapman $11.32M $6.98M
Miller $9M $5.55M
Clippard $6.1M $2.34M
Warren $1.7M $0.65M
Total $43.12 $24.78M

The Yankees were originally on the hook for a $35.52M tax hit this season between Beltran, Chapman, and Miller. By trading those three and taking on Clippard and Warren, they’re now only on the hook for a $24.78M tax hit this season. That’s a savings of $10.74M in salary plus $5.37M in luxury tax. That’s not nothing! The Yankees saved roughly $16.11M in salary and luxury tax in 2016 with their deadline dealings.

Michael asks: Ivan nova was just traded for two players to be named later. My question is how are those decided? Do they decide on a list of prospects beforehand, or is it dependent on performance, something else?

As far as I know the only hard rule is that the PTBNL has to be named within six months. I’m not sure what happens if the player isn’t named within six months. I assume the team gets angry they didn’t get their player and the commissioner’s office gets involved. From what I’ve seen over the years, there seem to be four PTBNL scenarios:

  1. Pick someone from a list of players the two teams agree to before the trade.
  2. It’s a player who can’t officially be traded yet, like a guy who hasn’t gone through trade waivers or a recent draftee.
  3. “We’ll figure it out later.”
  4. Nothing. Some PTBNL become cash considerations.

It’s been reported that the Nova trade falls into scenario No. 1. The Yankees and Pirates agreed to a list of players and the Yankees will pick two at a later date. It gives them some time to dig in and really scout those guys before making a decision.

Tyler asks: The return for Mark Melancon to the Nationals seems extremely light. He has great numbers and a similar salary and an expiring contract like Aroldis Chapman. Why was he traded for two marginal young relievers? Obviously Chapman is more dominant, but the package is not even in the same ballpark as the Torres McKinney Warren Crawford package. Is this just a credit to Cashman?

It did seem very light to me. To be fair, Felipe Rivero is a 25-year-old southpaw who has touched 99 mph this year and has a ridiculous out-pitch changeup. He’s not a nobody. But yeah, Rivero and a middling prospect like Taylor Hearn — ranks Hearn as the 27th best prospect in Pittsburgh’s system — for a rental reliever as good as Melancon surprised me. Chapman is better than Melancon, but man, the Yankees got a top 25-ish prospect and Warren and two others for Aroldis. That’s all the Buccos could get for Melancon? Really? I guess the Pirates just really like Rivero and Hearn.

Anonymous asks: If a player is claimed through waivers, it is my understanding that the team has three options: (1) pull the player back and keep him; (2) release the player outright to the claiming team; or, (3) work out a trade with the claiming team. With respect to the third option, can the claiming team only trade players who have also cleared waivers or is their entire team and farm system available to trade? Thank you.

Players on the 40-man roster have to go through waivers to be traded. No exceptions. Non-40-man roster players don’t have to go through waivers. They can be traded at any time. There are a lot of PTBNL trades in August because waivers complicate things. Say, for example, the Marlins claim Michael Pineda on trade waivers and want to trade for him. They agree to give up Christian Yelich but haven’t yet placed Yelich on waivers. So the Yankees trade Pineda for a PTBNL, Yelich goes through waivers, and once he clears, he’s named as the PTBNL. And if he gets claimed, the Marlins pull him back and the two teams have to wait until the offseason to complete the trade.

Giolito. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Giolito. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Stephen asks: A lot of rumors were tossed around before the deadline. The one that got most attention was the Miller for Giolito (straight up). Given that we now know the actual trade result for Miller, would you have preferred a straight-up trade for Giolito, or the actual return from Cle?

I’d rather have the package from the Indians over Lucas Giolito. Giolito’s really really really good. Maybe the best pitching prospect in baseball. My concerns are that he a) has a major arm injury (Tommy John surgery) in his recent history, and b) seems to have a Pineda-esque “the results aren’t as good as the stuff” quality to him. The Yankees need to rebuild their offense in a big way and Frazier is a potential cornerstone type. Don’t get me wrong, they need everything, arms and bats, but when you’re trading an asset as valuable as Miller, give me the four-player package built around an elite position player prospect over one pitcher. This is a fairly easy call for me.

David asks: I know that Teixeira has a no trade clause. If the Yankees place him on waivers, and he is claimed, and the Yankees don’t ask for anything in return, is that still considered a “trade?” Could they let him and his contract go?

There’s actually been some debate about this over the years. Technically a no-trade clause is a “no assignment clause” and everything in baseball is an assignment. When you send a player down, it’s an assignment to the minors. When you trade a player, it’s an assignment to another team. When you lose a player on waivers, it’s also an assignment to another team. The MLBPA says no-trade clauses should cover all assignments, including waivers. MLB says nope, trades only. I’m not really sure what the answer is here. My guess is if the Yankees tried to dump Mark Teixeira on trade waivers and he didn’t want to go, the union would fight it.

Mike asks: What happens to Rob Refsnyder after this season? Do you think they are auditioning him as a trade piece, or do you think the Yankees see him as a high-upside bench player?

Can we just out the “high-upside” part and go with bench player? If they’re auditioning him as a trade piece, it isn’t going very well, but I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think the Yankees consider Refsnyder an everyday player at any position for a number of reasons. He probably won’t hit enough for right field or first base and he won’t defend enough for second. I think they see him as a possible bench piece if he can hit enough. I also have a hard time thinking the Yankees would make Refsnyder off-limits in trade talks. He’s a role player who’s in the process of carving out a role.

Adam asks: What are the chances a team claims Ellsbury in August? Let’s say someone does, should the Yankees just let him go for nothing but salary relief? Will they?

Never say never, but the odds of a team claiming Jacoby Ellsbury are very small. And if some team does claim him, I think the Yankees would let Ellsbury and the remaining $95M or so left on his contract go. How could they pass that up? Ellsbury isn’t very good anymore and that contract is as bad as it gets. If another team makes the mistake of claiming him, say thank you and unload the contract. The Blue Jays did this years ago when the White Sox claimed Alex Rios. He was a good (but not great) player, but they had a chance to get out of the $60M left on his contract, so they let him go on waivers.

James asks: Out of all the people the Yankees received in the trades it seems like the person no one is talking about that could make an impact is Ben Heller. What do you think about him. He isn’t even in the Yankees top 30 prospects but he could be a great set up man.

Heller actually ranked higher than McKinney when Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked the 50 best prospects traded at the deadline. They had Heller at No. 22 and McKinney at No. 24. (Tate was No. 21.) He seems fairly well-regarded. Heller throws hard and he has a good slider, which makes him like countless other bullpen prospects, and that’s why I’m a little hesitant to run him up the prospects list. What’s the difference between Heller and, say, Johnny Barbato? That isn’t to say Heller is bad. As a third piece in a trade, that’s pretty good. I just want to see a little more before penciling him in to the long-term high-leverage reliever picture.

Subway Split: Yankees drop series finale 4-1 to Mets

Alas, the Subway Series win was not meant to be. The Yankees and Mets split their four games this season, so no one has bragging rights. Fitting for a city currently full of mediocre pro sports teams, I suppose. The Yankees dropped Thursday night’s Subway Series finale 4-1.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The One Bad Inning
Nathan Eovaldi was really good in six innings Thursday night. Too bad he threw seven innings. That four-run fifth inning really ruins what was an otherwise strong outing from Eovaldi, who held the Mets to two hits and two walks in the not fifth inning. The fifth inning featured a double, two homers, and a crucial brain fart by Eovaldi.

The game was still scoreless when that fifth inning started, and ex-Yankee Kelly Johnson broke the 0-0 tie with a line drove homer into the first row of the short porch. Meh. A solo homer won’t kill you. What will kill you is allowing a double and then making an ill-advised throw on a comebacker. That’s what Eovaldi did after the double. He looked Curtis Granderson back to second then threw to second for some reason. They got zero outs on the play. Jay Bruce followed with a three-run homer. Womp womp.

Overall, Eovaldi allowed the four runs on five hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out five and threw a first pitch strikeout to 26 of 29 batters, which is ridiculous. That fifth inning sucked and it cost the Yankees the game. Eovaldi’s other six innings were pretty good though. If the Yankees could somehow figure out how to get Eovaldi and their other starters to avoid that one big inning, they might actually be pretty good.

One Token Run
The Yankees had no answers for Bartolo Colon. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that they broke through, and Colon wasn’t even on the mound for that. He served up a booming double to Gary Sanchez, then lefty Jerry Blevins came on and allowed Aaron Hicks to slap a ground ball single back up the middle to score the run. That was the entire offense. The Sanchez double was mighty impressive though. Colon threw a running two-seamer and busted him inside …

Bartolo Colon

… yet Sanchez was able to get his bat around quick enough and muscle it into left field for extra bases. It was about six feet short of a home run, I’d say. Most hitters get jammed and hit a roller to the left side of the infield on a pitch like that. Maybe even break their bat. Sanchez hammered that to left field for a double. We haven’t seen much of Gary yet, but turning on that pitch shows why he’s so highly regarded.

The Yankees had nine hits total, including two each by Sanchez and Jacoby Ellsbury. (Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth.) Unsurprisingly, Sanchez’s double was the only extra-base hit. What else would you expect from the team with the AL’s lowest slugging percentage? This was New York’s 29th game with no more than one extra base hit. Only the Braves (38), Angels (31), Mets (30), and Brewers (30) have more. Yuck.

The Yankees did bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play. I was hoping Alex Rodriguez would pinch-hit there, but nope. You need someone who can run into a fastball in that spot and lol that’s not Refsnyder. He hasn’t homered since May 15th, when he was in Triple-A. Whatevs.

Adam Warren and Anthony Swarzak each threw a scoreless inning. Swarzak had one of those innings where he looked completely untouchable. He does that once in a while. Warren looked pretty good as well, which is nothing new. He’s looked like the guy the Yankees had the last three years. Hard to believe he struggled so much in Chicago.

And finally, Bartolo Colon became the first pitcher to win a Subway Series game as both a Yankee and a Met. That surprised me. Then again, how many pitchers have played for both teams the last 20 years? Not many had long stints with both teams.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. has the video highlights, and RAB has Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The 2016 edition of the Subway Series is over. Andrew Miller and the Indians are coming to the Bronx next for a three-game weekend series. Michael Pineda and Josh Tomlin are the scheduled starters for Friday night’s series opener. If you want to catch that game or either of the other two games live at Yankee Stadium, RAB Tickets can get you in the door.