Game 95: The Poorly Timed Winning Streak

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

The Yankees have won four straight games and seven of their last ten overall. That’s usually a really good thing, but when the team is facing critical decisions at the trade deadline and needs a little kick in the rear to go ahead and sell, a winning streak is bad. Not selling will do the Yankees more harm in the future than it will good in the present. Anyone disagree with that? I don’t think so.

Even with these seven wins in their last ten games, the Yankees have gained no ground in the wildcard race. Not one game. They have inched closer in the AL East race, but they have to catch the two wildcard teams (Orioles, Blue Jays) before catching the first place team (Red Sox), and they’ve made no progress on that front. I want the Yankees to win. I really do. I just have no confidence in them doing the smart thing and selling at the deadline if they continue this little hot streak. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. DH Alex Rodriguez
  8. 2B Starlin Castro
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is nice and sunny in New York today, so they’re going to be playing baseball under a bright blue sky at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. Today’s series finale is set to begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Chad Green was called up and Nick Goody was sent down, the Yankees announced. Joe Girardi said Green is here to pitch in relief. I’m guessing that as long as he isn’t needed out of the bullpen today, Green will start tomorrow to give Masahiro Tanaka and everyone else an extra day of rest … Chase Headley (personal reasons) is obviously not in the starting lineup, but he will be at the ballpark today.

Scouting the Trade Market: Chicago Cubs

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the last few weeks no team has been more connected to the Yankees prior to the trade deadline than the Cubs. As good as they are, the Cubbies need some late-inning bullpen help, ideally a southpaw. That’s why they went out and acquired Mike Montgomery from the Mariners yesterday. They needed some more bullpen depth, but Montgomery is not someone who is going to stop them from trying to get another end-game arm. Hardly.

The Yankees have two premium late-inning lefties in Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, either of whom would satisfy Chicago’s bullpen needs. Reports indicate the Cubs prefer Miller to Chapman, which makes sense because Miller is willing to work as a setup man and is under contract an extra two years. Theo Epstein and Miller have a relationship dating back to their days with the Red Sox too, and that only helps.

By now we’ve all heard the Yankees want Kyle Schwarber in any trade involving Miller. The Cubs say that won’t happen. I’m not a huge Schwarber fan but I get why the Yankees want him and why the Cubs don’t want to give him up. The Cubs have so many other talented young players in their organization that not being able to pry Schwarber loose shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. There’s Javier Baez, or Albert Almora, or Willson Contreras, for example.

In this post we’re going to focus on Chicago’s farm system, just like we did with the Indians yesterday. The Cubs have a strong farm system, though it’s not as good as it was a year or two ago simply because they’ve graduated so many guys to the big leagues. They landed three players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 update and could have one or two more by season’s end. Here are eight Cubs prospects who could make sense for the Yankees in a Miller or Chapman trade. All scouting report blurbs come from MLB.com, unless otherwise noted. The players are listed alphabetically.

3B Jeimer Candelario

Background: Candelario, 22, signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic a few years ago and has gradually climbed the minor league ladder since. He’s hit .245/.356/.417 (118 wRC+) with seven homers, a 13.7% walk rate, and a 19.6% strikeout rate in 83 games split between Double-A and Triple-A this year. The Cubs called Candelario up briefly a few weeks ago, and he went 1-for-14 (.091) at the plate in five games in his MLB debut.

Scouting Report: “A switch-hitter, Candelario has a fluid swing and makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate. He understands the strike zone and could develop into a solid hitter for both average and power … Though Candelario has below-average speed and quickness, he has worked hard on his defense and is selling more scouts on his ability to stay at third base. His hands and arm are assets, and his instincts help him make plays.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? A switch-hitter who makes contact and knows the strike zone is a pretty sweet offensive player, even if the power projects to be more 15-18 homers than 20+. The Yankees have a long-term need at the hot corner, not to mention a need for hitters who work the count and spray the ball line to line. That Candelario is in Triple-A and close to MLB ready is a bonus.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Candelario might not be a third baseman long-term. There are plenty of folks who think he’s going to wind up at first base at some point soon — he’s played a handful of games at first in the minors — and if that happens his bat figures to be light for the position, especially in the power department. You’ve got to either really believe in the bat or really believe in his ability to stay at third to see Candelario as a regular.

RHP Dylan Cease

Background: The 20-year-old Cease was a potential first round back in 2014, but he needed Tommy John surgery that spring and fell to the Cubs in the sixth round. He made it back to the mound late last year, and so far this season he has a 3.32 ERA (3.56 FIP) with a 25.6% strikeout rate and an 8.9% walk rate in 21.2 innings down in a short season rookie league.

Scouting Report: “Cease reached 97 mph with his fastball before he got hurt and hit 100 shortly after he returned to the mound last summer. He sits in the mid-90s with his heater, which also features life that makes it even tougher to barrel. He has turned what was a three-quarters breaking ball into a true power curveball … Cease needs to refine his changeup and use it more … The Cubs have helped him clean up his mechanics some and he should be able to repeat them efficiently enough to fill the strike zone.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Cease is a classic projectable power arm — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs. — with an out-pitch breaking ball and improving mechanics. He was a first round talent before getting hurt, remember. Cease has the potential to one day pitch near the front of a rotation, and guys with that kind of ability aren’t easy to find.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The recent Tommy John surgery is a red flag, as is the fact Cease is injured right now. He left a start with a still undisclosed injury two weeks ago, and according to Steve Mims, Cease is currently throwing and could return to the mound soon. Still though, he’s hurt again. Cease has an awful lot of talent and an awful long way to go to reach the big leagues and his ceiling.

2B/OF Ian Happ

Background: The Cubs grabbed the 21-year-old Happ with the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft and he’s doing exactly what you’d expect the ninth overall pick to do: mash. Happ is hitting .302/.394/.470 (143 wRC+) with a 13.4% walk rate, a 21.4% strikeout rate, nine homers, and 13 steals in 92 games between High-A and Double-A. Baseball America had him 37th on their recent top 100 update.

Scouting Report: “A switch-hitter, he exhibits a quick stroke and good balance from both sides of the plate, and he owns deceptive strength and solid speed. Happ should post high batting averages and on-base percentages, and he has the upside of a 20-20 player … Happ is a good athlete with a strong arm, and Chicago will try to maximize his value by playing him at second base in 2016 … he also saw action at all three outfield spots in his pro debut.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Lots and lots and lots of reasons. Happ is a switch-hitter with power and patience, some speed, and good defensive shops. He’s taken to second base well this season and is average and improving at the position. Happ can be in the big leagues next season and he projects as a switch-hitting impact player on both sides of the ball.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? No reason, really. Even if you don’t buy into Happ at second base, his bat will be more than fine for the outfield.

OF Eloy Jimenez

Background: Three years ago the Cubs went on an international spending spree a la the Yankees in 2014, and the top prospect they signed was the 19-year-old Jimenez. He received a $2.8M bonus. So far this season Jimenez is hitting .331/.370/.520 (160 wRC+) with ten homers, six steals, a 5.8% walk rate, and a 22.5% strikeout rate in 83 Low-A games. Baseball America had him 46th in their midseason top 100, and if you watched the Futures Game, you saw Eloy put on a show.

Scouting Report: “Jimenez has huge raw power and right-field arm strength. He looked much more comfortable at the plate in 2015 than he did in his U.S. debut the year before, making more consistent contact … He’s adding strength to his big frame and exhibits impressive bat speed and leverage from the right side of the plate … he’s an average runner who’ll fit best in right field once he improves his throwing accuracy. The Cubs love his makeup.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Jimenez has premium power potential from the right side of the plate and he’s learning how to use it in games this season. He’s also not a liability in the outfield, so you’ve got a well-rounded prospect with a chance to be an impact middle of the order hitter down the line. Why wouldn’t you want a player like Jimenez?

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The biggest knock on Jimenez is that he’s a bit of a hacker at the plate, so he’s going to chase out of the zone and probably won’t post high OBPs down the line. Also, the kid is 19 and in Low-A ball. There’s a very long way to go to reach that middle of the order ceiling. Jimenez has loads to talent, but he also carries quite a bit of risk simply because he’s so far away.

OF Eddy Martinez

Background: The Yankees “made a run” at Martinez last year, after he defected from Cuba and was declared a free agent by MLB. He would have been part of the 2014-15 signing period. Martinez opted to wait so more teams could get involved in the bidding, and sure enough, he leveraged interest from the Giants into a $3M deal with the Cubs. The 21-year-old is hitting .261/.340/.393 (117 wRC+) with seven homers, six steals, a 10.0% walk rate, and 21.4% strikeout rate in 89 Low-A games.

Scouting Report: “(He) has the potential to have four solid tools and some gap power. He has a line-drive, contact-oriented approach from the right side of the plate. Though he didn’t display much pop in Cuba, he does have bat speed and has added strength since leaving the island … Martinez’s best tool is his speed, which is at least plus and earns plus-plus grades from some evaluators. He has the quickness to play center field but will need to hone his instincts to remain there.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? The same reasons they wanted to sign him as a free agent, I assume. He has some offensive potential and knows the strike zone, and he can be an asset in the outfield as well thanks to his speed. Even if he winds up in a corner, Martinez can be a solid hitter from the right side of the plate and provide value on the field and in the bases. He’s not a star, but the potential to be a future regular exists.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Not everyone buys into the bat, especially Martinez’s power potential and approach. There’s some thought advanced pitchers will be able to pick apart the holes in his swing. There’s definite ‘tweener potential here, meaning not enough defense for center and not enough bat for a corner.

SS Gleyber Torres

Background: Torres, 19, is already in High-A, and he’s hitting .275/.356/.435 (122 wRC+) with nine homers, 18 steals, a 10.1% walk rate, and a 21.8% strikeout rate in 91 games. He’s doing that while being nearly four years younger than the average Carolina League player. Torres was 27th on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 list.

Scouting Report: “He has a quick right-handed swing and a mature approach, recognizing pitches well and using the entire field. Once Torres gets stronger and learns to pull pitches more often, he could produce 15 or more homers per season … Torres seemed a half-step quicker in 2015, enhancing his chances of staying at shortstop  … While Torres’ range may be just average, his instincts and strong arm allow him to make plays.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Not counting players on the big league roster, Torres is the best the Cubs have to offer. He projects to be an above-average two-way shortstop who hits for average, gets on base, steals some bases, and hits for some power. Players with that offensive skill set are hard to find at any position, so Gleyber’s potential to do it at short makes him a potential star.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There aren’t many reasons, really. It’s not set in stone that Torres will remain at short, but he has the defensive skills to handle second or third, which are fine alternatives. The big thing is that this is a 19-year-old kid in Single-A. He’s not going to be MLB ready anytime soon and teenagers always carry a ton of risk. Torres is not an immediate payoff player. He’s more of a long-term project.

RHP Duane Underwood

Background: The 22-year-old Underwood was a second round pick back in 2012. He reached Double-A for the first time this season, and he has a 4.91 ERA (5.10 FIP) with a 16.8% strikeout rate and an 11.3% walk rate in only 58.2 innings due to forearm soreness. Underwood has had all sorts of injuries over the years, but nothing was torn and he hasn’t had surgery. Just a lot of soreness and inflammation.

Scouting Report: “Underwood’s fastball is notable for both its 92-96 mph velocity and its late life, which makes it difficult to square up for hitters. Both his curveball and changeup show signs of becoming plus pitches but neither is fully reliable yet … Underwood doesn’t miss as many bats as his stuff indicates he should, demonstrating his need to get more consistent with his secondary pitches and his command.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Underwood does have premium stuff, led by his lively fastball. He’s also shown promise with two secondary pitches. The stuff is why you want him. The big fastball is an untouchable skill.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? The injury history is scary — Underwood is out with the sore forearm right now, and he’s had all sorts of elbow soreness in the past — and his control and command are a long way from being big league ready. You’re buying the stuff and hoping to develop the command and get him to stay on the field. That’s a lot to ask.

LHP Rob Zastryzny

Background: Zastryzny, 24, is a personal favorite and no longer a top prospect. Heck, neither Baseball America nor MLB.com considered him one of the top 30 prospects in Chicago’s system coming into the season. So far this year Zastryzny has a 4.59 ERA (4.42 FIP) with a 19.1% strikeout rate and a 9.1% walk rate in 113.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. He was a second round pick back in 2013.

Scouting Report (from me, not MLB.com): At his best, Zastryzny pitches at 91-95 mph from the left side and can spin two breaking balls: an upper-80s slider and an upper-70s curveball. He also throws a low-80s changeup. Control has been a bit of a problem over the years, but the hope is Zastryzny can keep his walk rate where it is going forward. He’s healthy this year after being limited to 15 starts last season, when he was hit by a comebacker and suffered a broken bone in his foot.

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? A top prospect Zastryzny is not, but lefties with low-90s gas and a bat-missing breaking ball (curve) are never a bad trade target. I think the Cubs are wasting their time with Zastryzny as a starter (career 4.71 ERA and 4.12 FIP). I say put him in the bullpen, let him focus on his two best pitches, and really air it out. Zastryzny obviously should not be the center piece in any trade, but as a third or fourth piece, I think you can do worse.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Well, Zastryzny’s performance has not been good, and his control is probably never going to be above-average. It might never be even average, in fact. He’s also seen his velocity fluctuate over the years, sometimes sitting in the low-90s and other times the upper-80s. This is a low-90s year.

* * *

To me, Happ is the guy to target as the headliner in any trade package with the Cubs. Torres and Jimenez are super exciting as well, but I love Happ’s all around ability and close to MLB readiness. The Yankees wouldn’t be wrong to ask for Happ plus Torres or Jimenez plus more in a Miller trade, though who knows if the Cubs would go for that. Probably not.

Either way, all three of those guys are premium prospects, and the Yankees couldn’t trade with Chicago without getting at least one of them. Too many other teams want Miller to settle for something less than the best. The Montgomery trade gives the Cubs an alternative, and if they pass on Miller or Chapman because of him, then that’s their mistake.

Four straight? Four straight. Yankees shut out the O’s 5-0

The Yankees have won four straight games, including three against the Orioles. Remember when this series was supposed to be grim for New York? Completely different so far. They could pull off a four-game sweep now.

(Getty)

Biggie Mikes

Sure, the O’s lineup is pretty banged up. Manny Machado is sick, so is Chris Davis. Hyun Soo Kim just landed on DL and Matt Wieters was also scratched. However, it was just an ordeal for Michael Pineda earlier this year pitching to any ML lineup. That being said, seeing an outing like that from him is quite encouraging.

Tonight was Pineda’s first scoreless start of the year. How about that? It seemed like he was surely going to have “one of those innings” in the fourth, when he got into a bases loaded, one-out situation. However, Big Mike turned to his most effective weapon to disarm the next two hitters. His slider was pretty filthy tonight. He threw it 45 times and generated 18 swings-and-misses, good for a 40% whiff (!) rate. He struck out Nolan Reimold on three straight sliders and got Ryan Flaherty strike out swinging on a fifth-pitch slider to end the inning. He had, however, thrown a whopping 79 pitches in four innings by then.

Pineda got into more trouble the next year, when he put a runner on third with one out in the sixth. Mark Trumbo led off with a double and advanced to third on Pedro Alvarez’s ground out. After a mound visit, Pineda reverted back to his nasty mode, striking out J.J. Hardy and Reimold to end the inning, and his night. He walked off the mound having thrown 6 scoreless innings with 5 hits allowed, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. It wasn’t a perfect start but it’s the type of an outing that makes you hopeful about his season (or trade stock).

(Getty)

A First Inning Run?????

Prior to tonight, the last time the Yankees scored a run in the first inning was on June 21, during the home series against the Rockies. What is today? July 20. Almost a full month has gone and Yankees finally, finally scored a run in the first inning today.

On the very first pitch of the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner drilled a slider that deflected off of RF Joey Rickard’s glove and ended up becoming a triple. It seemed like Rickard was going to make a nice catch on the wall but he couldn’t hold onto it. On the very next pitch though, Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to be reluctant to break the streak by popping out. However, Carlos Beltran hit a sac fly to drive Gardner in to make it 1-0.

A Pretty Decent Offense?

The Yankees scored five runs in five different innings today, which, I guess, makes for a neat scoreboard display: no 2’s, no 3’s, just a whole lot of 0’s and 1’s all around. They took that 1-0 lead into the fourth and Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer to make it 2-0. He hit a 88 mph pitch that was more of a line drive than a fly ball, and it just didn’t really sink until it got into the short porch seats. Tex is having a pretty abysmal season (58 wRC+ after this game) but hopefully some dingers will turn it around.

New York could have piled on way more runs in the sixth. Ellsbury led off with a single and Beltran saw a huge open space on the third base side and easily bunted for a single. Brian McCann worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Gallardo, clearly shaken a bit, walked Teixeira in four pitches to force in a run. 3-0 Yankees. With two of the hottest bats in the team coming up (Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro), you’d think Yankees were to score more. However, Gregorius struck out and Castro grounded into a double play to end the frame in an anticlimactic sense. Oh well.

(Getty)

But pout not, the Yankees came back to score another run in the seventh. With one out, Ronald Torreyes squared up on a 88-mph pitch to right field for a triple. Torreyes was a late addition to the lineup tonight after Chase Headley couldn’t play for “personal reasons.” Gardner skied a sac fly to center to bring Torreyes in. 4-0 Yankees.

Wait, not done yet! Former Yankee RHP Chaz Roe came in to pitch the eighth for the Orioles. Beltran, who already had an RBI and a hit this game, drilled Roe’s fastball into the right field seats for a no-doubt solo home run. It seemed like Roe was trying to pound Beltran inside the zone but simply missed the spot. A good hitter like Carlos will punish that mistake ruthlessly and boy, that home run was majestic. Beltran knew right away and just tossed the bat lightly before starting to job. 5-0 Yankees.

Leftovers

The Yankees’ lead was at 3-0 heading into the top seventh so it seemed like the time for the No Runs DMC equation. Dellin Betances tossed an easy one-strikeout perfect frame to start that sequence … but once the offense scored another, Joe Girardi decided to plug in Nick Goody and Chasen Shreve for eighth and ninth respectively. Both of them threw a scoreless inning each to finish off the game, which was neat. They were able to rest the big arms Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and the lesser guys in the bullpen didn’t allow any damage.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yanks play a matinee match tomorrow to try to sweep the Orioles. Big man CC Sabathia will square up against the O’s ace Chris Tillman.

DotF: Mateo homers in first game back from suspension

Triple-A Scranton (14-2 win over Charlotte) they scored 12 runs in the sixth inning

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K — 24-for-65 (.369) in his last 14 games … he’s up to .305/.384/.420 on the season
  • C Gary Sanchez: 3-6, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 E (pickoff) — his grand slam capped off that 12-run sixth inning
  • DH Ike Davis: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — that’s his 15th homer of the season … he hit 15 total from 2014-15
  • RF Jake Cave: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 4/2 GB/FB — 63 of 98 pitches were strikes (64%) … 59/15 K/BB in 66.2 innings at Triple-A
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 29 of 43 pitches were strikes (67%) … 20/4 K/BB in his last 17 innings

[Read more…]

Game 94: Can they make it four straight?

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: the Yankees have not been more than one game over .500 since April 12th, when they were 4-2 a week into the season. This current three-game winning streak has them one game over at 47-46. The Yankees also haven’t won as many as four in a row since early-June, so they can go places they haven’t been in quite some time with a win tonight. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s been a very nice day in New York. The sky is mostly clear and it’s on the cool side. Nice night for baseball, I’d say. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: Joe Girardi said Masahiro Tanaka remains on track to start Friday. He still wouldn’t say why Chad Green was scratched from last night’s Triple-A start. My guess is Green will start Friday to give Tanaka and extra day of rest. Either that or there’s some sort of trading pending. Or someone’s hurt and we don’t know about it. Developing!

Roster Update: Chase Headley was originally in tonight’s lineup before being a late scratch. The Yankees it’s an excused absence for “personal reasons.” Hope everything’s okay.

Trade Deadline Notes: Lopez, Nats, Giants, Rangers, Gallo

Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The Yankees have won six of their last nine games, and during that time they’ve gained exactly zero games in wildcard race. Not one. They’re still five games back, though now there’s only three teams ahead of them instead of six. Yay? Here’s the latest batch of trade deadline rumors.

Yankees scouted Lopez, others Tuesday

Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring was at Nationals Park last night to scout rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and other players, reports George King. Lopez got knocked around in his MLB debut, allowing six runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.2 innings, but he did strike out nine. Baseball America ranked him 48th in their midseason top 100 update, and Lopez has long been speculated as a possible center piece for an Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller trade.

The only other notable young players to play in last night’s Nationals-Dodgers game were Joc Pederson and Trea Turner. I’d be surprised if the Dodgers traded Pederson. Turner though? He could definitely be a trade chip with Washington so committed to Danny Espinosa at short (and prospect Wilmer Difo on the way). Turner went 1-for-4 with a two-run triple and a strikeout last night. Here’s video of the triple. For what it’s worth, Lopez strikes me as way more available than Turner.

Giants lingering in Chapman, Miller race

The Giants continue to linger in the Chapman/Miller market according to Jerry Crasnick, though they might be outbid by other clubs with more young talent to offer. San Francisco is focusing on other relievers for the time being, including Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith of the Brewers, and Jeanmar Gomez and David Hernandez of the Phillies.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s hard to find a match between the Yankees and Giants because the Giants don’t have a great farm system. Most of their top prospects are either having down years or are far away from MLB. And even if San Francisco was willing to trade off their big league roster, who could they offer? Joe Panik or Matt Duffy? That ain’t happening. The Giants want to add to their MLB team, not subtract from it.

Yankees “intrigued” by Gallo, Rangers scouting Yanks

(Kyle Rivas/Getty)
(Kyle Rivas/Getty)

The Rangers have been scouting the Yankees for several weeks now, according to Evan Grant and George King. They’ve specifically been looking at Miller, Chapman, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and even CC Sabathia. Texas had trusted scout Russ Ardolina at Yankee Stadium on Monday to see Nova. The big three relievers pitched that game too. The Rangers need all sorts of pitching help and the Yankees have a bunch to offer.

King says the Yankees are “intrigued” by dinger mashing prospect Joey Gallo, and Grant says that while Gallo isn’t untouchable, it’s going to take a lot to get him. Texas turned down Gallo for Drew Pomeranz, for example. There are concerns about Gallo’s ability to make consistent contact against MLB caliber arms, but he has true 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, the kind that will produce 40 bombs in any park even if he hits .230. He’s also a good defender at third base, so while he’s a flawed player, Gallo has a chance to a middle of the order force long-term.

Rosenthal: CC Sabathia drawing trade interest

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are drawing trade interest in some of their starting pitchers, including veteran lefty CC Sabathia. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write coming into this season. CC has been using a new knee brace and a new cutter this year, plus he’s sober now, all of which are reasons he may be more effective going forward than he was from 2013-15.

Sabathia, 35, has a very respectable 3.94 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 93.2 innings this season after the Yankees made him compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training. He started the season very well but has crashed hard of late, allowing at least five runs in each of his last five starts. Some home run regression was inevitable — it still is, probably (0.67 HR/9 and 7.0 HR/FB%) — and it’s arrived. I have some thoughts on Sabathia as a trade candidate.

1. The interest probably isn’t all that serious. Sabathia is very well respected around the league for all he’s accomplished and his willingness to give everything he has to his team and teammates. He pitches hurt, he pitches on short rest, he does whatever is needed. It’s admirable. Teams wish they had 25 guys like Sabathia in the clubhouse.

Despite that, I don’t think any club is serious about acquiring Sabathia because his on-field value is so small. He was both hurt and terrible from 2013-15, and based on his last five starts, his early season success this year may have been a mirage. Also, Sabathia’s vesting option complicates things. Either the $25M option is going to vest, or he’s going to hurt his shoulder in the second half and be no help. That’s a lose-lose for the acquiring team.

My guess is any trade discussions involving Sabathia have gone like this:

Other GM: “Hey Brian, are you open to trading CC?”
Cashman: “We’re open to trading anyone. What are you offering?”
Other GM: “We’ll give you a middling prospect if you eat 80% of what’s left on his contract.”

Other teams will take Sabathia if the Yankees are willing to pay down a ton of his contract, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to acquire him. It would be a straight salary dump, a la A.J. Burnett to the Pirates or Josh Hamilton to the Rangers (the second time). Sabathia’s a sunk cost. The Yankees have to pay him anyway. At least a salary dump trade would save a little cash and free up a rotation spot for a younger arm.

Of course, that also means the Yankees would have to replace Sabathia’s innings, which might not be a huge deal. They have Chad Green and Luis Cessa in Triple-A, not to mention Luis Severino, so there are arms available. The Yankees would just have to monitor workloads later in the season. September call-ups will make that a little easier.

2. Sabathia has complete control of the situation. It doesn’t matter what Sabathia’s contract says at this point. He has full no-trade protection through his ten-and-five rights, so he’s in total control here. If he doesn’t want to be traded, he won’t be traded. It’s pretty simple. Sabathia and his family live in New Jersey year-round now, so he might not want to go anywhere else. I wouldn’t blame him. It’s pretty awesome here.

We’ve speculated countless times over the years that Sabathia may be willing to accept a trade to go home to the Bay Area, where he grew up, though who knows if that’s true. We can rule the Athletics out immediately. Doesn’t make sense for Sabathia to go there and it doesn’t make sense for the A’s to bring him in. That leaves the Giants, who are very much in contention and need a fifth starter with Matt Cain unable to stay healthy.

Sabathia seems like a classic “trade deadline pickup to World Series hero for the Giants” move. Doesn’t that seem like a thing that could happen? It does to me. Sabathia would be home, but not home home with his family, and who knows if the Giants are even interested. I’m not sure putting the big man in the pitchers have to hit league is such a good idea at this point given his knee.

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Rosenthal says there’s been interest in Sabathia and there’s no reason to doubt his reporting. That doesn’t mean there’s serious interest though. Teams may have checked in just in case the Yankees were open to eating a ton of money, and Sabathia’s not really the kind of guy you eat a ton of money to move. He’s a leader in the clubhouse and he has value as an innings eater, even on a bad team. Sabathia doesn’t fit into the #TeamSell plan.