March 31st Camp Notes: Green, Adams, Montgomery, Lineup

At long last, Spring Training is over. The Yankees wrapped up their exhibition schedule tonight with a loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. Gary Sanchez had the first (unofficial) hit in the ballpark’s history and Greg Bird had the first (unofficial) homer. Georgia boy Dustin Fowler drove in two with a rocket into the gap. Watch the video above. That kid can really lay into the ball when he gets something to hit.

Michael Pineda got the start and allowed three runs, all on a Freddie Freeman homer, in five innings. He struck out six and walked one in his final tune-up outing. Joe Girardi used a small army of relievers out of the bullpen. It was one of those “everyone gets to pitch!” exhibition games. The Yankees went 24-9-1 this spring. I believe I heard the YES broadcast say that is tied for the most spring wins in franchise history. Correct me if I’m wrong. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees announced Chad Green has been optioned to Double-A Trenton while Kyle Higashioka and Ben Heller were optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Green is going to Trenton so he and Jordan Montgomery, who is in Triple-A, can start the same days and both be lined up for the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • Chance Adams will start the season in Double-A, not Triple-A. That surprises me, though I don’t think this is a long-term thing. He’ll be in Scranton soon enough. The Yankees probably have some developmental benchmark they want him to hit before a promotion. [Josh Norris]
  • Right-hander Mark Montgomery has been released. He was a pretty big deal a few years ago. Relief pitcher prospects, man. Can’t trust ’em. Montgomery has already landed on his feet though — he’s signed with the Cardinals. [Josh Norris]
  • Tyler Webb did not make the Pirates as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He’ll go on waivers and be offered back to the Yankees should he go unclaimed. Because he’s a lefty with some Triple-A success, some team might grab him on waivers. [Adam Berry]
  • And finally, Girardi confirmed tonight’s lineup will be the Opening Day lineup. That means Sanchez second and Jacoby Ellsbury fifth. We’ll see how long it lasts. [Andrew Marchand]

That’s it, folks. Spring Training is over. The Yankees are heading back to Tampa to start the regular season against the Rays. Saturday is an off-day and Sunday is the season opener. That’s a 1pm ET start. Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer is the Opening Day pitching matchup.

Exhibition Game Thread: Welcome to SunTrust Park

(@SunTrustPark)
(@SunTrustPark)

Twenty-one years ago, the Yankees closed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with a win in Game Five of the 1996 World Series. Tonight they have a chance to open brand new SunTrust Park with another win. Sure, the stakes are much lower, but beating the Braves is always fun. It warms my heart that the Yankees had more World Series wins at Turner Field (two) than the Braves (zero).

The dimensions make it seem SunTrust Park will be somewhat pitcher friendly, perhaps less so than Turner Field, but I guess we have to see how the ball carries first. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, a few years ago when SunTrust Park was being built, the Braves were losing in the artist’s renderings. Can’t make it up. Here is the lineup the Braves will use tonight, and here are the players the Yankees will run out there:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

Available Pitchers: RHP Dellin Betances, LHP Aroldis Chapman, RHP Jonathan Holder, RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Tommy Layne, and LHP Chasen Shreve are the regulars in the bullpen. Not sure who’s pitching though. RHP Colten Brewer, RHP Cale Coshow, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.R. Graham, RHP Ben Heller, RHP Matt Marsh, RHP Dillon McNamara, and RHP Andrew Schwaab are all on the trip as well.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Chris Carter, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Pete Kozma, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Aaron Hicks will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, C Jorge Saez, 1B Mike Ford, IF Cito Culver, and OF Rashad Crawford are the extras.

The weather report says it’s a nice night in Atlanta. Clear and cool. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:35pm ET. You’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. There’s also MLB.tv and the FOX Sports Go app. Enjoy the game.

Poll Results: The Gleyber Torres Watch

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The results are in and this year’s Prospect Watch player will be shortstop Gleyber Torres. I apologize in advance to all of you who believe in the Prospect Watch Curse. This was a two-horse race and Torres edged out outfielder Blake Rutherford by a relatively small margin. In fact, when I checked the poll results yesterday morning, Rutherford was in the lead.

Here are the final vote totals for the eight Prospect Watch candidates:

  1. SS Gleyber Torres — 2,048
  2. OF Blake Rutherford — 1,642
  3. OF Clint Frazier — 709
  4. SS Jorge Mateo — 353
  5. RHP James Kaprielian — 273
  6. 3B Miguel Andujar — 233
  7. LHP Justus Sheffield — 91
  8. RHP Chance Adams — 84

The 5,433 total votes is a new Prospect Watch record. Last year we had 5,158 votes and the year before it was 3,020. Pretty cool. Thank you to everyone for voting and reading and sticking around.

Torres, 20, came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year and he is currently on the very short list of the best prospects in baseball. He hit .448/.469/.931 with six doubles and two homers in 32 plate appearances this spring, and he’ll start the season with Double-A Trenton. The plan is two three games at short, two games at third, and one game at second per week. Sounds good to me.

Despite his age, I don’t think it’s out of the question Torres reaches the big leagues later this year. Several things need to happen, but it is doable. Other high-end shortstop prospects like Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa climbed from Double-A to MLB in their age 20 season in recent years. It would be pretty darn cool if Torres did the same.

So what does winning the Prospect Watch mean? It means we’ll keep track of Gleyber’s progress day by day in our sidebar, right where the Opening Day countdown is now. Because he’s a position player, the Prospect Watch will be updated daily. That’s more fun that waiting five days with a starting pitcher, ain’t it?

The minor league regular season begins next Thursday, April 6th. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up in the sidebar that day.

The Rest of MLB [2017 Season Review]

Trade both to Yankees pls. (Presswire)
Trade to Yankees pls. (Presswire)

Our annual season preview series comes to an end today, and on Sunday, the 2017 regular season will begin. The Yankees and Rays kick off the new campaign Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Chris Archer vs. Masahiro Tanaka. Every other team will be watching as they wait to play their first game of the year. The Yankees and Rays will be the only show in town for a few hours.

So, to wrap up our season preview, it’s time to take a jaunt through the rest of the baseball world. Yesterday we looked at the other four AL East teams, the teams the Yankees will compete with most of the season. Now let’s look at the remaining five divisions and 25 teams left in baseball. Come with me, won’t you?

NL East

Best Team: The Nationals, probably.
Worst Team: The Phillies.
Most Fun Team: The Marlins.

I hesitate to say the window is closing for the Nationals and Mets, but they both very clearly need to win right now and not focus on two or three years down the line. Bryce Harper will be a free agent in two years (yay!) and others like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon are in their primes. Same story with the Mets. Their rotation is starting to get expensive — all but Noah Syndergaard had some kind of arm surgery within the last year too — and offensive cornerstones like Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker won’t perform like this forever. The time is now for these two clubs.

Very quietly, last year was a bad year for the Phillies and their rebuild. Maikel Franco didn’t take the next step. Aaron Nola hurt his elbow and didn’t pitch after late-July. Top prospects J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams struggled in the minors. Yikes. They want to get things back on track this year. The Braves are getting closer to contending, and for the time being, they’re picking up low coast veterans. As for the Marlins, their rotation is really shaky, but their position player core is fun as hell (Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, etc.) and their bullpen can really bring it. They’re high on the watchability scale.

AL Central

Best Team: The Indians.
Worst Team: White Sox over the Twins. Or would that be under?
Most Fun Team: Indians again.

The window is closing for the Tigers and Royals — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar will all be free agents after the season — while the White Sox and Twins are in the middle of deep rebuilds. The Indians went to the World Series last year and pushed the best team in baseball to extra innings in Game Seven despite not having their best all-around hitter (Michael Brantley) and two of their three best starters (Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) in the postseason. Impressive despite the disappointing finish.

The Indians are again a World Series contender this year and I think they got better over the winter. Edwin Encarnacion is better than Mike Napoli, they’ll have full seasons of Andrew Miller and Brandon Guyer, and youngsters like Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, and Salazar still have another level or two in their games. This team is really fun to watch too. Miller’s awesome, Lindor is a joy, and others like Jose Ramirez and Encarnacion are a blast. (I can say that now that the Yankees won’t see Encarnacion every other week.) The Indians play with a lot of energy and that makes them really exciting.

NL Central

Best Team: The Cubs, pretty easily too.
Worst Team: The Reds by a mile. Goodness.
Most Fun Team: The Cubs have a slight edge over the dinger happy Brewers.

The Cubs are annoyingly great and young too, so they’re going to continue to be great for the foreseeable future. However! I’m curious to see how things shake out with their pitching staff. Jake Arrieta will be a free agent after the season, and even if they re-sign him, he’ll be 32 next March. Hard to think there are many more ace-caliber years remaining. Jon Lester is 33 and will probably enter his late-career Sabathia phase at some point. John Lackey is 38. Is Kyle Hendricks really going to pitch this well going forward? The Cubbies will have to totally remake their rotation in the near future. Fortunately for them, they’re set on the position player side.

Did you realize the Pirates went from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 wins in 2016? True story. Only the awful Twins had a larger drop in win total from 2015 to 2016. Pittsburgh hasn’t done enough to capitalize on the Andrew McCutchen era. When they signed him long-term, the idea was being a bonafide World Series contender from 2016-18. Now they’re looking to trade him away. Eek. I mean, look at their rotation depth chart:

pirates-rotation-depth-chart

Egads. Gerrit Cole is great, and both Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow have a ton of upside, but is that a championship caliber rotation? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure that’s a playoff caliber rotation. The Yankees have a crummy rotation too, but at least they’ll admit they’re rebuilding transitioning. The Pirates front office has spent too much time planning for the future. Success is fleeting in baseball and you have to do what you can to maximize your opportunity when it arrives. That’s why the Indians signed Encarnacion. The Pirates have done no such thing.

AL West

Best Team: The Astros.
Worst Team: The A’s. Definitely the A’s.
Most Fun Team: The A’s.

Nice work by the Astros adding Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick over the winter. They have some great young talent (Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer) but needed to fill in the roster around them, and they did it with some high-quality veterans. Now they just have to hope their rotation comes together. Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young in 2015 then had a 4.55 ERA (3.87 FIP) in 2016. A shoulder injury ended his season in August. Lance McCullers can’t stay healthy, and others like Mike Fiers and Charlie Morton are meh. Just … meh.

Last season the Rangers had to be the worst 95-win team this century. They won 95 games with a +8 run differential. +8! They beat up on some bad AL West teams during the regular season, then got depantsed by the Blue Jays in the ALDS for the second straight year. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are a great one-two punch, and Adrian Beltre is still awesome, but when push comes to shove, this team folds. I’m guessing the Mariners finish second in the AL West this year, not Texas. The Angels don’t have much to offer fans other than Mike Trout. The A’s are really bad, but at least their teams are fun and the Oakland Coliseum fans are raucous. Win or lose, the fans are into it.

NL West

Best Team: The Dodgers
Worst Team: The Padres. Wow are they bad.
Most Fun Team: The Rockies.

Is this the year the Dodgers get over the hump? Last season they set a dubious record by failing to reach the World Series in their tenth consecutive trip to the postseason. Even when he was with the Rays, Andrew Friedman seemed averse to going all-in and making that big move that could put his team over the top. The 2010 Rays were set to lose Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Rafael Soriano to free agency after the season, and their big trade deadline pickup was … Chad Qualls. Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and Justin Turner are in their primes. Maybe time for a little more urgency?

The Giants are going to be good again because they’re always good, though I can’t believe they’re going into the season with a Mac Williamson/Jarrett Parker platoon in left field. My guess is they’ll be looking for outfield help by May. The Diamondbacks have to figure out why their pitchers keep going backwards. Patrick Corbin, Shelby Miller, Archie Bradley, and even Zack Greinke are not close to what they were two or three years ago. The Padres? They’ve ripped that team apart for rebuilding purposes. Their depth chart:

padres-depth-chart

Worst of all? Almost all of their top prospects are teenagers signed as international free agents last summer, so there’s not much immediate help coming. At least there are plenty of other things to do in San Diego. Seriously, if not for the great Tony Gwynn, the Padres would be the most nondescript franchise in American sports.

The Rockies were going to be my sleeper postseason team pick before they got hammered with injuries in Spring Training. David Dahl (rib), Ian Desmond (hand), and Tom Murphy (forearm) are all going to miss several weeks. Also, Chad Bettis is out indefinitely as he undergoes treatment for testicular cancer. Hoping for the best there. The Rockies have a lot of young talent, including the best collection of young starters in franchise history (Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman), and Coors Field ensures plenty of runs are scored. If you like offense, the Rockies are must see television.

Mailbag: Betances, Bird, Ellsbury, Judge, Kaprielian, Machado

Got eleven questions for you in the mailbag this week, the final mailbag before the start of the regular season. I’m excited. Are you? Hope so. This should be a fun year. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is where you can email us your questions throughout the week.

Also, don’t forget to vote for the 2017 Prospect Watch! Voting closes at 12pm ET.

Front foot should land on your toes, not your heel, kids. (Presswire)
Front foot should land on your toes, not your heel, kids. (Presswire)

Seamus asks: I know Dellin Betances doesn’t really ramp up his velocity until the end of spring training/beginning of the regular season. I think he topped out at 95 today. I was wondering what his velocity was during the World Baseball Classic? Did he up it to his normal velocity for the tournament?

This question was sent in last Friday, following Dellin’s first appearance with the Yankees after returning from the World Baseball Classic. There’s no PitchFX in the Grapefruit League, so any velocity readings for Betances in Florida are based on the scoreboard or a scout’s gun, if that information is available. Here are the fastball velocity numbers from his five WBC appearances, per PitchFX since the games were in MLB ballparks:

  • March 9th: 97.1 mph average and 97.8 mph max
  • March 12th: 97.6 mph average and 98.5 mph max
  • March 14th: 96.7 mph average and 98.3 mph max
  • March 16th: 97.6 mph average and 99.2 mph max
  • March 18th: 98.1 mph average and 99.2 mph max

Last season Betances averaged 98.4 mph and topped out at 102.0 mph (!) during the regular season, so while he’s been a little below that this spring, keep in mind Dellin has been a slow starter in the velocity department the last few seasons. From Brooks Baseball:

dellin-betances-velocity

April has always been Betances’ worst month of the season in terms of average velocity. He, like many other pitchers, tend to ramp it up in the summer months, when it’s hot and they can really get loose and air it out. Having watched each of Dellin’s televised outings this spring, both with the Yankees and in the WBC, I can tell you he looks pretty much exactly like Dellin Betances. No worries for me here. That 95 mph reading last Friday was probably the result of a lack of a reliable radar gun.

Anonymous: The Yankees have won a lot of spring training games this year, but how much of this exhibition game success is due to the superiority of the team’s minor league talent vs the milb talent of other teams? Can this success be quantified by throwing out late-inning scores, concentrating on innings in which major leaguers play against major leaguers (e.g., starting pitching in AWAY games), or some other method? Would any of these exercises be more predictive of regular season success than the uselessness of raw ST records?

The Yankees have had a lot of late-inning comeback wins this spring — they’re 25-8-1 overall (counting the exhibition game against Team Canada) and have already clinched the best record in all of Spring Training — which suggests the prospects and minor leaguers are doing most of the heavy lifting in those games. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Number of games leading after six innings: 18 (18-0 record in those games, though on one occasion they blew the lead, then rallied to win anyway)
  • Number of games tied after six innings: 6 (3-2-1 record in those games, and in the tie they rallied in the ninth to tie the game after the other team took the lead in the late innings)
  • Number of games trailing after six innings: 10 (4-6 record in those games)

Yup, there have definitely been a few late inning comebacks this spring, especially over the last week or so. The Yankees have a couple of walk-off wins last week, and a few other games in which they rallied late for a win. That wasn’t happening all spring though. Early on the Yankees were bludgeoning teams. They’d take the lead early and hold it the rest of the game. There’s some recency bias to the whole “the kids keeps coming back and that’s why they’re winning” idea.

I don’t think this means much of anything anyway. Yeah, the Yankees have a great farm system, so having the extra talent helps, but that in and of itself doesn’t guarantee success. Craig Gentry, a light hitting journeyman speedster, is hitting .333/.443/.549 in 62 plate appearances for the Orioles this spring. Does that mean anything? No. It just means weird stuff happens in small samples, especially when you throw in the noise of Spring Training.

I would absolutely love it if the Yankees’ spring record meant something, be it their ability to contend this year or their ability to contend down the road, when some of the prospects arrive. It doesn’t though. Spring Training is meaningless because it’s always been meaningless. The Cubs have as much young talent as anyone and they went 11-19 last spring. They’re 12-17 this spring. It doesn’t mean anything. Just enjoy the spring for what it is, silly stress-free baseball.

Bird. (Presswire)
Bird. (Presswire)

Daryl: Can you talk about Bird’s defense compared to league average? When Bird played 1st, I thought he handled it well over that, what? 1/3rd of the season? I think Mark Teixeira was one of the best 1st basemen defensively during his career- Is bird’s defense terrible bad, mediocre, or just bad when comparing him to a perennial gold glover?

There’s no good way to evaluate first base defense. The stats have a hard time at first base because it’s not really a range-based position. No team is looking for a first baseman who can cover a lot of ground. They’re looking at how someone moves around the first base bag, how he receives throws from other infielders, and how well he can throw home and to second base for force plays. That’s pretty much it.

Both DRS (-3) and UZR (-1.2) say Greg Bird cost the Yankees runs in his 379.2 innings at first base in 2015, and while those specific numbers mean nothing, in this case they do match the scouting reports. Baseball America (subs. req’d) called Bird “average around the bag” prior to that 2015 season. MLB.com said he has “adequate range and arm strength at first base, though he gets credit for working hard on his defense.” Keith Law (subs. req’d) said Bird “still needs work on fielding ground balls.”

Bird has made some nice scoops at first base this spring, though that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Every first baseman makes a nice scoop now and then. Jason Giambi was a pretty good scooper despite being a pretty terrible defensive first baseman overall. Based on what I’ve seen, which admittedly isn’t much, I’d say Bird’s defense is average or slightly below. Not a disaster but not a guy who will save you a ton of runs either. He’s a bat first player and that is perfectly fine.

Nico asks: Is there anything legally prohibiting “loan” trades? Eg you have a young star closer but are out of contention in July, so you loan him to a contender for the rest of the year, but he comes back to you for the rest of his contract starting next season. Could you ever see it??

There’s nothing against that in the rules as far as I know. And besides, even if there was, it seems like it would be easy to circumvent. The question is what’s appropriate compensation? The Yankees aren’t going to, say, lend Betances to the Nationals for August, September, and the postseason out of the kindness of their heart. They’re going to want something in return, even if they know they’ll get Betances back following the season. I sure as hell wouldn’t risk my player getting hurt while with another team and accept nothing in return.

Perhaps the Yankees and Nationals could agree to a fair value trade like Betances for four prospects, something along those lines, and if Betances gets hurt while with Washington, the Yankees keep the prospects. If not, they return three of the four prospects and get Dellin back after the season. Eh? The team loaning the player would have to get something out of the deal, otherwise there’s no reason to agree to it. It’s all downside.

Mark asks: If an MiLB player is suspended for a PED offense, what happens to his roster spot? Is the team forced to play short-handed?

Oh no, definitely not. It works the same was as an MLB player getting suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. He is placed on the restricted list and the team can bring in another player to fill in the roster spot. Playing shorthanded isn’t safe. The MLBPA is pushing for a 26th roster spot so players can get more rest and pitchers won’t be overworked. Forcing a team, especially a minor league team given all the bus rides and pitchers on innings limits, to play with 24 players because one guy got busted for PEDs wouldn’t be right.

Thomas asks: Just wondering about the retention bonuses that certain players can receive, depending on their roster status – we’ve seen a bunch of teams cut and re-sign a player to avoid paying these bonuses (such as Jon Niese, potentially), but why is there never any controversy about this? Couldn’t it be seen as similar to messing with a player’s service time, or trying to get around luxury tax requirements?

The $100,000 retention bonus is written into the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Any player with at least six years of big league service time who signs a minor league contract gets the retention bonus if he’s not on the 40-man roster by a certain date and an automatic June 1st opt-out if he’s not on the roster. The Yankees released Niese on March 26th then re-signed him on March 28th, allowing them to avoid paying him the $100,000. Other teams like the Diamondbacks (Gregor Blanco) and Orioles (Chris Johnson) did the same thing this year. The Dodgers opted to pay Brandon Morrow the retention bonus.

I’m honestly not sure why the MLBPA hasn’t made a bigger stink about this, though I suspect it has something to do with the player requesting his release. Niese, for example, could have told the Yankees he wants to see whether another team would carry him on their Opening Day roster, so they granted him his release so he could go look for work. And when nothing panned out, he returned. Niese has banked over $26M in his career to date, so he might not be sweating that $100,000 much. That sound possible? The release/re-sign move happens multiple times every year and no one complains or files a grievance, and the rule wasn’t changed in the latest CBA. Could it really be this easy to circumvent?

Tanaka. (Presswire)
Tanaka. (Presswire)

Daniel asks: If a team (say, the Astros) offered to take Jacoby Ellsbury and every penny of his contract, would that be enough to entice the Yankees to accept lesser prospects in a trade for Tanaka? Kind of makes sense from a business perspective.

It only makes sense if the goal is to save money, not maximize your talent base. Other teams have made similar trades because they don’t have the same financial resources as the Yankees. The Braves attached Craig Kimbrel to Melvin Upton in order to unload his contract, for example. The Pirates attached prospects to Francisco Liriano to get rid of his contract. The Yankees have the money to absorb Ellsbury’s contract. Attaching him to a player as good as Masahiro Tanaka simply to save a few bucks doesn’t sit well with me at all. If you’re going to trade Tanaka, trade him for prospects, not salary relief. It’s bad enough the Yankees are caving to MLB and throwing away their financial advantage by getting under the luxury tax threshold. Imagine trading actual good players simply to get rid of a bad player’s contract. Good grief.

Jon asks: Hey Mike, if Judge is sent down to SWB to start the year how many days approx. would he have to stay down to buy back a full year of ML time?

This question was sent in before we learned Aaron Judge would be the starting right fielder. Of course, that doesn’t mean Judge will stay in the big leagues all season. He could struggle and wind up back in Triple-A, similar to Luis Severino last season. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it is definitely possible. Anyway, 63 days is the magic number here. Judge has 51 days of service time, so add the 12 days necessary to delay free agency and you’re at 63 days. Two months, basically. (Teams usually wait a little longer than 12 days just to a) play it safe, and b) be less obvious about it.) Keep in mind Judge is going to turn 25 in April, so delaying free agency means we’re talking about capturing his age 31 season in 2023. I’m not so worried about that. This isn’t like delaying Gary Sanchez‘s free agency last year to capture his age 29 season. Service time shouldn’t be a consideration for Judge. Let the kid play.

Daniel asks (short version): If the Yankees are buyers at the deadline and the Orioles are near last place, could you see the Yankees trading for Machado? If so, do you think they would go over the luxury tax cap in order to work out a long-term deal?

You know, it’s not crazy to think the O’s may have to trade Manny Machado at some point. If they determine they won’t be able to re-sign him following the 2018 season, trading him for a godfather package makes way more sense than letting him walk for a dinky draft pick. I suppose it depends on where they are in the standings and all that, but yeah, a Machado trade at some point in the next 16 months or so doesn’t seem insane.

A few things about the Yankees and a Machado trade. One, the chances of a Yankees-Orioles trade of this magnitude are tiny. The O’s don’t want to see Machado thrive in New York and the Yankees don’t want to see their prospects thrive in Baltimore. There’s a reason blockbuster intradivision trades are so rare. Two, a lot will depend on where the Yankees are in the standings. If they’re contending, I think they’d be more open to a Machado trade. If not, forget it. They’ll keep the prospects.

And third, do the Yankees think it’s possible to sign Machado to an extension, or is he dead set on testing free agency? If there are any doubts about being able to sign him, I think the Yankees will pass. I don’t think the luxury tax situation will be a big concern because that is workable, but I don’t think they want to give up a boatload of prospects for Machado knowing he’s definitely going to become a free agent after next season, even if they’re in the race at the trade deadline. Ultimately, I think the Yankees-Orioles intradivision dynamic means a trade won’t happen. The O’s won’t have any problem finding other suitors with great prospects to offer.

Andrew asks: I feel like we didn’t hear anything about Kap during spring training. What’s his status?

Healthy and ready to go. The Yankees took is slow with James Kaprielian early in Spring Training following last year’s elbow injury, though they did let him make one Grapefruit League appearance two weeks ago. He struck out three in two scoreless innings. Kaprielian was sent to minor league camp later that day and he’s been pitching on the other side of the street since. He struck out six in four innings and change this past Sunday, according to Josh Norris. Kaprielian will start the season with High-A Tampa, and while the Yankees figure to keep him on some sort of pitch/workload limit early on, he’s good to go. Elbow is good and he’s thrown well this spring.

Aleesandro asks: This is hard to quantify, but how much would the Yankees retaining Robinson Cano have affected the team’s current farm system? If they had kept him, how much longer would they have pushed to be a contender?

Yeah, that’s pretty much impossible to answer. The Yankees would be a better team right now with Cano because he’s better than Starlin Castro and Ellsbury (combined), and that’s effectively who replaced him. Ellsbury got the big contract the Yankees were going to give Cano, and Castro has taken over at second base. Robbie would have likely helped the Yankees win a few more games these last three years, which means a worse draft slot (no Kaprielian? no Blake Rutherford?) and perhaps no fire sale at the 2016 trade deadline.

Then again, who’s to say the Yankees wouldn’t have been able to draft Kaprielian and Rutherford anyway, and that Cano himself wouldn’t have been traded for even more prospects at last year’s deadline? Chances are the farm system wouldn’t be as good as it is right now because so much had to go right to get it where it is. Rutherford had to fall for bonus reasons, for example, and both the Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman trades were perfect storms. Re-signing Cano would have changed everything. The payroll situation, the team-building strategy, everything.

Open Thread: March 30th Camp Notes

The Yankees celebrated the end of the Grapefruit League season with another win today. They scored nine runs in the top of the first. Gary Sanchez smacked a three-run home run and Ronald Torreyes followed with a two-run shot in the second. Look at Toe getting in on the act. He’s ready for the regular season. Greg Bird drew three walks, including two in that big first inning. Rashad Crawford came off the bench late to smack a two-run homer.

Luis Severino started and really labored through the first inning — he had no idea where the ball was going, none whatsoever — but he settled down and was fine after that. He allowed one run on five hits and one walk in five innings, striking out four. Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard each closed out their spring with a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees have essentially finalized their Opening Day roster. Severino will be the fourth starter, Aaron Judge will be the right fielder, and Pete Kozma will be the utility infielder. They just need to make a move to get Kozma on the 40-man roster now.
  • Both Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green are lined up for the fifth starter’s spot. Montgomery will start April 6th and 11th with Triple-A Scranton while Green will start those same days with Double-A Trenton. That allows both to be ready for April 16th, the first day the Yankees will need their fifth starter. [Billy Witz]
  • CC Sabathia threw in a Triple-A game today rather than make the road trip this afternoon. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in four innings. Meh. Also, after being send down earlier today, Rob Refsnyder used one word to explain what he has to do to stick with the Yankees for good: “Rake.” [Erik Boland, Brendan Kuty]
  • Here is the early season plan for Gleyber Torres: three games at shortstop, two at third base, and one at second base each week. I assume the seventh day will be either a DH day or an off-day. Torres has never played third base in a professional game, though the Yankees had him work out there this spring. [Buster Olney]
  • Josh Norris has the day’s minor league lineups as well as video of Blake Rutherford hitting a home run. A left-handed hitter with a sweet swing wearing No. 23? I approve.
  • The Yankees wrap up the exhibition schedule tomorrow. They’ll be in Atlanta to face the Braves at brand new SunTrust Park. The game will begin at 7:30pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Michael Pineda is the scheduled starter.

Here is the nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on MLB Network at 6am ET, if you’re planning to be up early tomorrow. My recommendation: watch the top of the first and skip the rest of the game. MLB Network will have other games either live or on tape delay all night. The Nets and Islanders are both playing as well, so talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Reminder: Don’t forget to vote in our Prospect Watch poll. Voting ends at 12pm ET tomorrow.