Measuring the improvement of Gary Sanchez’s defense

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Thanks to the John Ryan Murphy trade, Gary Sanchez will come to Spring Training with a very good chance to win the Yankees’ backup catcher job. Brian Cashman said he would like to “release the Kraken” a few weeks ago, indicating he wants Sanchez to be on the roster to begin his apprenticeship under Brian McCann. The job is his for the taking.

It feels like Sanchez has been around forever — he did sign back way back in 2009, after all — but he turned only 23 last month, and last season he was still 2.4 years younger than the average Double-A Eastern League player. Sanchez has always been a powerful hitter, that’s his calling card, so the focus of his work the last few years has been on the defensive side of the ball.

Measuring catcher defense is difficult as it is, and it has been close to impossible at the minor league level, though last week Baseball Prospectus introduced some new stats that help us paint a picture of minor league catcher defense. Here’s the primer, which is free. No subscription required. Long story short, the new stats measure pitch-framing, blocking, and throwing. All are expressed in runs saved, the standard currency of defense.

It goes without saying these new catching measures are not exact because no defensive measures are exact, especially at the minor league level. These are estimations more than anything, and for our purposes, that will work. I want to look at Sanchez’s defensive progress in general. Let’s dive into his year-by-year improvement.

2012: 68 games at Low-A and 48 games at High-A

Framing Runs Blocking Runs Throwing Runs FRAA CS%
not available -0.7 +0.0 -0.7 30%

(FRAA is Fielding Runs Above Average. It’s simply framing plus blocking plus throwing.)

Heading into the 2012 season, Baseball America (subs’ req’d) said the then-19-year-old Sanchez struggled to catch breaking balls, so much so that “some scouts believe he’s a lost cause as a receiver.” Their scouting report did say he had “plus arm strength,” which has been the one defensive constant throughout Sanchez’s career. The kid’s always had a rocket.

The numbers say Sanchez was slightly below average blocking balls in the dirt in 2012, and his throwing was average. (The combined average caught stealing rate for the South Atlantic League and Florida State League was 28% that year.) The knock on Sanchez’s throwing for most of his career was his release, not his arm strength. He took forever to get rid of the ball, and when you do that, the arm strength plays down.

At this point of his career, Sanchez was close to a bat-only prospect. He hit .290/.344/.485 (129 wRC+) with 18 homers in 116 total games that year, and holy crap, that’s incredible for a 19-year-old catcher in full season ball. It was very clear Sanchez could hit. His defense lagged big time.

2013: 94 games at High-A and 23 games at Double-A

Framing Runs Blocking Runs Throwing Runs FRAA CS%
+0.0 at Double-A -5.5 +2.5 -2.9 44%

Apparently scouts saw some improvement in Sanchez’s defense during that 2012 season. Baseball America (subs. req’d) said Sanchez had “solid athleticism and receiving skills” going into 2013, which is much better than the whole lost cause thing we read a few paragraphs ago. Baseball America again lauded Sanchez’s arm but did note he was “an erratic defender prone to lapses in receiving.”

The blocking numbers got much worse in 2013. Sanchez is a big guy — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 lbs. on the team’s official site right now, and he was a little chunky back in A-ball — and he’s not the most mobile catcher, so it was understandable why he struggled to block pitches in the dirt. He did reach Double-A that year, which is where pitchers start to combine stuff with command.

The throwing was very good, however. The combined average caught stealing rate for the Florida State League and Eastern League was only 31% that year, so Sanchez was far above that. The “he can really throw but his receiving sucks” defensive profile isn’t uncommon for young catchers — many of those guys end up on the mound if they can’t hit, like Kenley Jansen — and Sanchez fit the profile to a T.

2014: 110 games at Double-A

Framing Runs Blocking Runs Throwing Runs FRAA CS%
+6.8 -1.5 +1.9 +7.2 39%

The 2014 season is when we first started to see some generally positive defensive scouting reports on Sanchez. Before the season, Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he “still needs to work on blocking balls,” but his “arm has been rated as high as an 80 by some scouts.” And, for the first time, he “took charge behind the plate and was handling staffs with much more authority than in years past.”

We don’t have much framing data for 2012 or 2013 because it isn’t available for Single-A that far back, so the 2014 season is the first time we have a decent sample of framing data for Sanchez. And wow, he really performed well. I am still very skeptical of framing stats — especially for minor leaguers since there’s no PitchFX (they’re just estimations) — but it is obviously a valuable skill, and BP’s stats suggest Sanchez was really good at it a year ago.

The blocking was still below average but better in 2014 than it was in 2013, and the throwing remained excellent. I wouldn’t say Sanchez’s framing improved in 2014 — we don’t have any reliable numbers for 2012-13 — but it looks like his blocking ability did. Progress? Progress! At least based on this admittedly imperfect stats.

2015: 58 games at Double-A and 35 games at Triple-A

Framing Runs Blocking Runs Throwing Runs FRAA CS%
+3.0 +0.0 +0.0 +3.0 36%

The scouting report from Baseball America (subs. req’d) heading into last season said Sanchez’s arm “remains an impressive tool” while adding he is “still working to become more adept as a receiver and a blocker.” That jibes with the numbers so far. The throwing stats love him but the blocking stats haven’t.

The framing numbers came back to Earth a bit last year, but again, Sanchez’s blocking improved. He went from -5.5 blocking runs in 2013 to -1.5 in 2014 to +0.0 in 2015. At the same time, his throwing numbers have actually gotten worse. Sanchez’s caught stealing rate remains really good — the combined average for the Eastern League and International League was a 30% caught stealing rate in 2015 — but it has been trending down, and his throwing runs total has fallen from +2.5 to +1.9 to +0.0.

Interestingly enough, Eric Longenhagen (subs. req’d) saw Sanchez in the Arizona Fall League, and said he “showed signs of fixing the glacial way he rises from his crouch when he throws down to second base by often just eliminating the middle man and throwing from his knees.” Unconventional? Sure. But hey, if it works, great. I could have sworn MLB.com had video of such a throw, but apparently not. For shame. (If anyone finds it, let me know.)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

After the 2015 season Baseball America (subs. req’d) said Sanchez has “an extremely strong arm” and has “spent years refining his receiving and blocking.” The scouting report also said he “still has some polish to add as a receiver,” which makes sense because, you know, he just turned 23. No one is a finished product at that age, especially not a catcher defensively.

Point is, Sanchez’s defense seems to have come a long way from “lost cause” based on the both the scouting reports and stats. The stats are still somewhat rudimentary of course, but they continue to get better with each passing year. That they match up with what the scouts are saying — blocking needs work, arm is great, etc. — is encouraging. We’re on the right track.

The Yankees value catcher defense highly — they’ve traded away bad glove catcher prospects like Jesus Montero and Peter O’Brien in recent years — and they’ve been very patient with Sanchez the last few seasons. His bat was always going to buy him time, and lately his defense appears to be improving as well, so much so the team was comfortable trading Murphy.

Sanchez figures to get his first real opportunity at the big league level this coming season, and surely the Yankees hope his glovework will improve even more under McCann, Joe Girardi, and Tony Pena. His bat will forever be his main tool. But, if he is able to settle in as even an average defensive MLB catcher, Sanchez will be an incredibly valuable asset for the Yankees.

Fan Confidence Poll: January 18th, 2016

2015 Season Record: 87-75 (764 RS, 698 RA, 88-74 pythag. record), lost wildcard game

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Weekend Open Thread

Another week down, another week closer to Spring Training. I’m starting to get desperate here. I need baseball. This offseason has been weird in too many ways. Anyway, here are the weekend links:

  • With the 2016 Hall of Fame vote compete, it’s time to look ahead. Jay Jaffe posted his annual five-year Hall of Fame projection. He sees eleven players being voted into Cooperstown over the next five years, including ex-Yankees Tim Raines (2017), Mariano Rivera (2019), Derek Jeter (2020), and Mike Mussina (2021). Jay’s the best Hall of Fame analyst out there. Don’t miss it.
  • Here’s a fun story from Arwa Mahdawi about a guy named Jeffrey who had kind of a boring wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, do it all again the next day life. He was sick of it, so he quit his job to pursue other stuff, until one day he picked up a Citi Bike in lower Manhattan and rode the damn thing to California. The trip took five months.
  • A few weeks before El Chapo was captured (again), Dana Priest wrote about the connection between the media and drug cartels in Mexico. The cartels use the threat of violence to control the news and have murdered reporters over their stories. Social media has made it more difficult for the cartels to control the news, but not impossible. Pretty scary stuff.
  • And finally, here’s an awesome post on The Players’ Tribune from former NHL player Ryan Whitney, who wrote about his experience playing in Russia. He retired young due to ankle problems and spent his final season as a player in Sochi. The YouTube video cracked me up.

Friday: Here’s the open thread for the evening. Not a whole lotta sports! going on tonight. The Nets are playing and that’s pretty much it. Not even any college hoops on the schedule. Anyway, you know how these work, so go nuts.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs resume with the Chiefs vs. Patriots (4:30pm ET on CBS) and Packers vs. Cardinals (8pm ET on NBC). The (hockey) Rangers already played, but the Devils are playing right now, and both the Knicks and Nets will play later tonight. There’s also a whole bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else.

Sunday: For one last time, this is the open thread. I’m bumping it up to the top of the site a little earlier than usual because of the NFL playoffs. Today you’ve got Panthers vs. Seahawks (1pm ET on FOX) and Steelers vs. Broncos (4:30pm ET on CBS). The Rangers and Islanders are both playing too, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Have at it.

Way Too Early Lineup Musings

2015 Wild Card Game Lineups

Spring Training may still be about a month away and, despite their relative quietness this Hot Stove season, the Yankees may not be done adding to or tinkering with their team. However, it’s never too early to start dreaming on the lineups we’ll see throughout the year, even with the general knowledge that lineup construction doesn’t always have a big effect on the macro level.

Over the last few seasons, the Yankees have a had a good deal of year-to-year lineup turnover due to players leaving the team or leaving the game altogether–or returning to it in Alex Rodriguez‘s case. Before this three year stretch of 2013-2015, we’d usually see the Yankees cycle out a DH or a random position here or there, but things were generally consistent and well-balanced. That hasn’t been the case for the last few years, though we could see a return to that in 2016.

The return of Mark Teixeria will help restore some needed right-handed power to the lineup, and Aaron Hicks will look to replicate what Chris Young did. Hicks also joins two other switch hitters, Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley. Starlin Castro gives the Yankees a dedicated righty hitter in their infield who can hopefully fit into the lineup in a variety of ways.

There is no shortage of ways the Yankees could deploy their hitters against right handed pitchers. Joe Girardi could stack lefty/switch hitters in the first four spots of the lineup and not give the other team a platoon advantage until fifth, or even sixth if he really wanted to:

1. Brett Gardner
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Carlos Beltran
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Brian McCann
6. Alex Rodriguez
7. Chase Headley
8. Didi Gregorius
9. Starlin Castro

You could flip Didi and Castro if you’d like, but I imagine Girardi would want to break up the lefties at the turn of the lineup. Of course, swapping Ellsbury and Gardner is possible as well. Given Gardner’s slight power advantage over Ellsbury, that might make some sense, provided Ellsbury returns to his non-2015 form. The 3-4-5-6 spots are also fairly interchangeable; at their best, any of those players can carry a team offensively and having them anchor the lineup, even at their advanced age, is an okay thing.

Against lefties, there’s an opportunity for Girardi to really shake things up and get pretty frisky. It all hinges on just how much he plans on platooning Gardner/Ellsbury/Hicks. It’s very likely that Aaron Hicks winds up playing in a ton of games–like Chris Young did this year–just as a defensive replacement for Carlos Beltran late in games. But he’s also here to hit lefties, something Ellsbury struggled with in 2015, leading to a benching in the Wild Card game. If we assume Ellsbury sits a fair amount against lefties, we could see something like this:

1. Gardner
2. Hicks
3. Beltran
4. Teixeira
5. Rodriguez
6. McCann
7. Castro
8. Headley
9. Gregorius

If it’s Gardner who ends up sitting against lefties, it’s likely that Ellsbury would still hit at the top of the lineup. After all, he’s got the name and he’s got the big contract. But, in a more “just” world, perhaps this lineup could be trotted out:

1. Castro
2. Hicks
3. Beltran
4. Tex
5. A-Rod
6. McCann
7. Ellsbury
8. Headley
9. Gregorius

Regardless of who sits and who doesn’t, the Yankees will likely feature a more balanced attack against lefties than they did in the second half and the Wild Card game last year. Their inability to hit lefties consistently certainly cost them and the front office seems to have recognized that with the acquisitions of Hicks and Castro. There are a ton of other permutations for each lineup, but I’m choosing to stay positive and assume some health for the Yankees (trust me, I know this could all fall apart very, very quickly).  What lineup combinations do you favor? Which ones did I forget? What are you dying to see, even if you know it’s probably a bit unrealistic? Even if we know they don’t make much of a difference, it’s still fun to play manager and adjust a lineup to our own liking. And at this time of year, when we’re all optimists, it’s easy to dream.

Saturday Links: Powell, Interpreters, Instant Replay, ESPN

Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)
Powell. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

The Yankees handled some major offseason business on arbitration filing day yesterday. They agreed to new one-year deals with Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley, and exchanged figures with Aroldis Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova. They can still work out contracts with those four players. They aren’t necessarily headed for arbitration hearing now. Anyway, here are some assorted links and notes to pass along.

Yankees scouted cricket player Kieran Powell

Here’s a fun little story. Kieran Powell, one of the best cricket players in the world, is attempting to transition to baseball. Jack Curry says the Yankees had a scout on hand for his workout Wednesday. Powell, 25, is from the West Indies, and last summer he spent eight weeks working with former big leaguers to develop baseball skills. From Jared Diamond:

Following a contract dispute with the West Indies team, Powell’s agent sent footage of Powell to major-league teams, catching the eye of scouts from the Los Angeles Dodgers. They arranged for Powell to spend eight weeks last summer training in Southern California with two former Dodgers players to start the process of dropping his “cricket habits” and learning the nuances of baseball. (Powell declined to reveal which ex-players worked with him.)

Powell headed to the IMG Academy in Florida to continue training following his crash course with the Dodgers. He’s been working with Tim Raines Jr. and former Yankees farmhand John-Ford Griffin. Here’s some video of him in the batting cage.

There is almost no overlap between baseball and cricket at the pro level, so Powell would be a pioneer. The games are similar in that you’re hitting a ball with a bat, but the swing mechanics are very different. (Cricket involves an extreme uppercut, for example.) Both games do require top notch hand-eye coordination though, and Powell has that.

Curry says the Yankees aren’t interested because they didn’t see any standout baseball skills, and one evaluator went as far as telling Wally Matthews, “He sucks. He’s not worth any time.” Ouch. I am curious see how Powell does on the diamond though.

Teams required to provide Spanish interpreters

According to Jerry Crasnick, teams will be required to provide full-time Spanish interpreters for players beginning next season thanks to a new directive implemented by MLB and the MLBPA. Many clubs already have interpreters while others rely on coaches or other players to translate during media scrums. Teams routinely hire individual interpreters for Asian players, but not Spanish players.

Carlos Beltran has been pushing for full-time Spanish interpreters for years, and in fact David Waldstein says Beltran reached out to the MLBPA to make it happen. Most notably Beltran spoke out after Pineda spoke to the media without an interpreter following the pine tar incident two years ago. “It’s a problem, of course, because he can’t express himself the way he wants to,” said Beltran the next day when he found out Pineda did not have a translator.

Roughly 25% of players come from Spanish speaking countries these days, so this is long overdue. I’m surprised it took this long for MLB and the union to get something done. You’d think they want to help players who are attempting to communicate in their second language. Hopefully the league implements a similar program in the minors. Of course, the MLBPA has been hanging minor leaguers out to dry for years now, so who knows.

MLB not close to changing replay rules for slides

MLB is not close to changing the instant replay rules for overslides, reports Jon Morosi. Those are the nitpicky plays where the the player comes off the base for an instant. Stuff like this:

I hate that. Yes, the rules say the player is out, but man, I don’t think that’s what anyone intended when they wanted expanded replay. If the player completely overslides the base, yes, then replay. But a little pop up off the bag like that? Especially when it’s the result of the impact of the slide? I feel like that should be off-limits from replay. Either way, no rule change is coming. Stay on the base.

ESPN releases early Sunday Night Baseball schedule

A few weeks ago ESPN announced the early season portion of their Sunday Night Baseball schedule. As always, the Yankees will be among the most featured clubs. Here are their games:

  • April 10th: Yankees at Tigers
  • May 1st: Yankees at Red Sox
  • May 8th: Red Sox at Yankees
  • July 17th: Red Sox at Yankees

The back-to-back Yankees-Red Sox games in early-May made me laugh. ESPN still pumps up the rivalry even though it’s been four years since both teams were good at the same time. At least some more teams will be involved in Sunday Night Baseball next year, including the Astros and Diamondbacks. The Astros haven’t played on Sunday Night Baseball since 2013 and the D’Backs haven’t been featured since 2008.

Also, ESPN announced a new Sunday Night Baseball booth: Dan Shulman remains as play-by-play man and will be joined by Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone. Curt Schilling will be moved to other broadcasts and John Kruk is going to be an in-studio analyst. Having a pro-Yankees guy (Boone) in the booth will be a welcome change.

Yankees sign Pineda and Ackley; file arbitration figures with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova

Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

Original Post (12:00pm ET): Today is an important day on the offseason calendar. The deadline for teams and their arbitration-eligible players to file salary figures for the 2016 season is 1pm ET, which is a bit earlier than previous years, I believe. A total of 156 players are eligible for arbitration this winter, though many have agreed to a new contracts already.

The Yankees have six players up for arbitration this offseason, including some pretty important members of the team. Here are the six with their projected 2016 salaries, via MLBTR:

Dustin Ackley: $3.1M (second time through arbitration)
Aroldis Chapman: $12.9M (third)
Nathan Eovaldi: $5.7M (second)
Didi Gregorius: $2.1M (first of four as a Super Two)
Ivan Nova: $4.4M (third)
Michael Pineda: $4.6M (second)

The Yankees have not been to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang during the 2007-08 offseason. Since then they’ve signed all of their eligible players prior to the filing deadline. I assume that will be the case again this year, though who knows. We’ll find out soon enough.

The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size even after filing salary figures. They can hammer out a new deal at any point, even after a hearing if they choose. Hearings will take place throughout February and arbitration is an ugly process. The team details the player’s shortcomings in an effort to keep his salary down. Not pleasant for anyone involved. It’s no mystery why everyone involved tries to avoid a hearing.

We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related arbitration news right here, assuming nothing crazy happens. Someone could sign a multi-year extension but history suggests the Yankees won’t do that. Check back for updates throughout the day. The deadline is 1pm ET, but news can and probably will trickle in throughout the afternoon.

Update (3:00pm ET): Yankees sign Pineda for $4.3M (Jeff Passan)

Pineda gets a nice $2.2M raise after pitching to a 4.37 ERA (3.34 FIP) last season. Yeah, he missed all that time following shoulder surgery from 2012-13, but he was an All-Star back in 2011 and that matters in arbitration. That said, a $4.3M salary for a starter going through arbitration for the second time is relatively small. All the lost time definitely cost Pineda some cash. He can’t become a free agent until after 2017.

Update (3:26pm ET): Yankees sign Ackley for $3.2M (Chad Jennings)

Ackley made $2.6M last season, so his raise wasn’t very big. He is in a bit of an interesting situation because the Mariners signed him to a five-year contract worth $7.5M out of the draft a few years back. Ackley earned $1.5M, $1.5M, and $1.7M in his three pre-arbitration years, not the league minimum, so his starting base salary in arbitration was higher than usual. He’s making more than he should be given his production. But still, $3.2M is peanuts in today’s MLB. Ackley is two years from free agency.

Update (3:28pm ET): Yankees will file with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova (Jon Heyman)

In a bit of a surprise, the Yankees were unable to reach contract agreements with those four players prior to today’s filing deadline. No word on their filing figures yet, though those should come out soon enough. The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size, remember. Today was not a hard deadline for completing a deal.

Update (4:58pm ET): Chapman filed for $13.1M, Yankees for $9M (Jon Heyman)

First thought: Chapman should probably take the Yankees to a hearing. He made $8.05M last season. Would the arbitration panel really side with the Yankees and award him a raise of less than $1M after he saved 33 games with a 1.63 ERA (1.94 FIP) and 116 strikeouts in 66.1 innings in 2015? Seems really unlikely. The other third year arbitration-eligible closers (Kenley Jansen, Drew Storen, Mark Melancon) all received raises of at least $2.5M on Friday. I guess the Yankees think Chapman’s earning potential will be dragged down by the domestic violence incident.

Update (5:01pm ET): Gregorius filed for $2.525M, Yankees for $2.3M (Jon Heyman)

A gap of $225,000 is nothing. I imagine the Yankees and Gregorius will be able to hammer out a deal soon enough, perhaps somewhere around the midpoint of the two filing figures ($2.42M). Then again, the Yankees could take the “file-and-trial” stance that is becoming popular. That is, once the salary figures are filed, the team stops negotiating and goes to a hearing. Hopefully that’s not the case.

Keep in mind with Gregorius, his 2016 salary will affect his 2017-19 salaries as well. There’s a carryover effect from year-to-year. It’s not so much about saving $225,000 next year. That $225,000 can potentially grow into a few million bucks during Didi’s four arbitration years.

Update (5:19pm ET): Eovaldi filed for $6.3M, Yankees for $4.9M (Jon Heyman)

The midpoint of the two filing figures is $5.6M, just south of MLBTR’s projection. Remember, the arbitration process is very antiquated. If they do go to a hearing, Eovaldi’s representatives will surely emphasize his 14-3 record in 2015, and the fact he led the league in winning percentage (.824). The system rewards wins and winning percentage, the stuff we know doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the pitcher’s performance.

Update (6:58pm ET): Nova filed for $4.6M, Yankees for $3.8M (Jeff Passan)

Nova, who made $3.3M last summer, filed a salary number just north of MLBTR’s projection. The Yankees are a little under that, and really, an $800,000 gap is not huge. The team seems to offering a token “you picked up another year of service time, congrats” raise after Nova’s poor 2015 season. Even considering MLBTR’s projection, I can understand why the Yankees filed at $3.8M.

Yankees claim outfielder Lane Adams from Royals

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have claimed outfielder Lane Adams off waivers from the Royals, the team announced. He was designated for assignment a few days ago when Kansas City re-signed Alex Gordon. The Yankees designated infielder Ronald Torreyes for assignment in a corresponding move. The 40-man roster remains full.

Adams, 26, is a right-handed hitter who hit .275/.342/.436 (115 wRC+) with 16 home runs and 31 steals in 140 games split between Double-A and Triple-A last year. He appeared in six big league games in 2014. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Adams as the 15th best prospect in Kansas City’s system prior to 2015. Here’s a snippet of their scouting report:

He is a plus-plus runner who is a plus defender in center field. He’s not a good fit in right field because of his fringe-average arm. Offensively, Adams has some strength and shows pull power, but he projects as an average hitter with the ability to hit 8-10 home runs and plenty of doubles. He most likely winds up as a fourth outfielder.

The Yankees have plenty of left-handed hitting outfielders on the 40-man roster (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel) so Adams will help balance things out a bit. The team has a bench spot open, but with Aaron Hicks set to be the fourth outfielder and Dustin Ackley the fifth outfielder, it’s tough to see Adams making the Opening Day roster.

Torreyes, 23, was acquired from the Dodgers earlier this week in a minor trade. Just yesterday I wrote I was irrationally excited about the pickup because his high energy/high contact/versatile profile looked like a nice fit for the bench. Obviously the Yankees didn’t agree. So it goes. Maybe he’ll clear waivers and stick with the organization.