Minor League Ball’s Top 20 Yankees Prospects

John Sickels at Minor League Ball posted his list of the top 20 Yankees prospects on Friday night, and the top spot is occupied by C Gary Sanchez. The three outfielders — Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott — round out the top four with RHP Brett Marshall ranking fifth.

I think Sickels tends to overrate performance but I do like that his lists are always off the beaten path a bit. Always neat to see different opinions with this prospect stuff. I do think it’s interesting that RHP Corey Black, this year’s fourth rounder, cracked the list (#12) while RHP Jose Ramirez did not. Both guys have huge, huge arms with elite velocity, but Ramirez will open next season in Double-A (confirmed by VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman) while Black has yet to play his first full pro season. Oh well, the exact ranking is trivial since both are in the organization.

Raul be seeing you: Ibanez heading back to Seattle

The Yankees will have a new DH next season. Raul Ibanez is headed back to Seattle, having agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners according to multiple reports. He’ll earn a guaranteed $2.75M with another $1.25M in incentives. Just a few days ago we learned the Yankees were still talking to Ibanez about a return next season, but you can’t blame him for taking that deal. Great job by his agent. It’ll be Raul’s third stint in Seattle.

Ibanez, 40, earned True Yankee™ status with all of those ridiculously clutch homers late in the season and in the playoffs, but I was all for turning the page. I dig the idea of acquiring Jason Kubel to DH, but the free agent market has plenty of alternatives as well — Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, Jason Giambi, and Luke Scott just to name a few. I expect the club to seek a DH capable of actually playing the field in an emergency, so that probably rules out the Thomes and Hafners of the world.

Feinsand: Swisher heading to Cleveland

If you were holding out hope the Yankees would swoop in and unexpectedly re-sign Nick Swisher, you can forget about it now. Mark Feinsand reports the switch-hitter has agreed to a four-year, $56M deal with the Indians that includes a $14M vesting option for a fifth year.

Cleveland has a protected first round pick (#5 overall), but that doesn’t matter as far as the Yankees are concerned. They were going to receive the same supplemental first round pick no matter where he signed. The Tribe forfeits their second rounder instead. Swisher was easily one of Brian Cashman‘s best pickups, a tremendously durable and productive outfielder who cost Wilson Betemit and two prospects whose names you don’t remember.

Saturday Night Open Thread

I know it’s frickin’ freezing (and windy) out, but I hope everyone has had a wonderful Saturday. Neither of the basketball locals are in action tonight, but talk about whatever you like here. Have at it.

Heyman: Yankees still seeking right-handed bat

This is no surprise, but Jon Heyman says the Yankees continue to seek a right-handed bat for the bench. He reiterates that Scott Hairston and Vernon Wells are options, though he adds another candidate to the mix: Jeff Baker. I wrote a Scouting The Market post for the 31-year-old back in July, so I’ll just refer you to that and give you the short version here: he hits lefties well and has a ton of experience at first, third, and in right field. Baker is almost certainly a one-year contract guy (though who knows with this market), something that isn’t true for Wells or Hairston.

Cody Ross headed to Arizona; Yankees not close to any trades

Free agent outfielder Cody Ross has agreed to a three-year deal with the Diamondbacks, reports Mark Feinsand. The Yankees reportedly had interest in the right-handed hitter earlier this offseason, though they were never a realistic landing spot given his demand for three years. I wouldn’t have been cool with signing him that long even without the 2014 payroll plan.

More than anything, the signing increases the likelihood of Arizona trading one of their spare outfielders. Justin Upton is the big name, but Jason Kubel also makes a ton of sense for New York as the left-handed half of a DH platoon. D’Backs GM Kevin Towers spent a year in the Yankees front office and knows their farm system pretty well. Buster Olney says the Bombers are not close on any trades, however. The market for Scott Hairston, by far the best right-handed hitting outfielder left on the market, should also begin to really heat up as well.

Cashman: No plans to continue upgrading rotation

Via Christian Red: Brian Cashman said the team has no plans to further upgrade the rotation after re-signing Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees are six starters deep (depending on your opinion of David Phelps) and tentatively have Michael Pineda scheduled to return at midseason.

I want the Yankees to pursue a veteran starter (preferably Shaun Marcum) on a one-year contract to deepen the rotation and free up Nova or Phelps for use as trade bait, but that’s not very realistic. In a market where Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy are getting two guaranteed years, finding a decent veteran on a one-year pact is next to impossible. A few weeks ago Joel Sherman said the Yankees are expected to bottom-feed for a depth arm in January and February, which is no surprise.