Yankees lose Mike Ford, five others in 2017 Rule 5 Draft

Ford. (NY Times)
Ford. (NY Times)

The Winter Meetings came to a close this morning with the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, baseball’s mechanism for helping players stuck in the minors get a chance at the big leagues. As expected, the Yankees lost several players in the Rule 5 Draft. That’s usually what happens when you have a deep farm system. There aren’t enough 40-man roster spots for everyone.

Here are the full Rule 5 Draft results. Here are the players the Yankees lost in the Major League phase:

  • Braves: RHP Anyelo Gomez
  • Mariners: 1B Mike Ford
  • Orioles: LHP Nestor Cortes and RHP Jose Mesa Jr.

I’m surprised Ford was picked, despite his strong minor league numbers. The 25-year-old hit .270/.404/.471 (144 wRC+) with 20 homers and way more walks (94) than strikeouts (72) this season, mostly at Double-A. Ford is only the fourth full-time first baseman picked in the Rule 5 Draft over the last two decades. I guess the Mariners will see whether he and Ryon Healy can be a productive first base platoon going forward.

The three pitchers getting selected was not a surprise. Gomez is the most notable and best prospect of the bunch. The soon-to-be 25-year-old has an upper-90s fastball and a very good changeup, and this past season he broke out with a 1.92 ERA (2.19 FIP) and 31.0% strikeouts in 71 innings at four levels. Cortes has always posted great minor league numbers, though he’s a finesse southpaw who rarely cracks 90 mph with his heater. Joe Table II has okay stuff and started to put it together this year. RHP J.P. Feyereisen and RHP Cale Coshow were among those Rule 5 Draft eligible but not selected.

As a reminder, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must spend the entire 2018 season on their new team’s active 25-man roster, or be placed on waivers and offered back to their old team. Most Rule 5 Draft players are offered back, usually before the end of Spring Training. I think Gomez has by far the best chance of sticking among the four players the Yankees lost today. The O’s do have a history of riding it out with Rule 5 Draft players no matter how poorly they perform, however, so perhaps Cortes and/or Mesa will stick.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees lost depth C Sharif Othman (Marlins) and converted infielder RHP Yancarlos Baez (Twins). The Yankees selected OF Junior Soto from the Indians as well. The 20-year-old hit .172/.208/.408 (67 wRC+) in 52 Low-A games last season. Soto was a big deal as an international free agent years ago — he signed for $600,000 in 2013 — but things haven’t worked out. The Yankees are taking a flier because why not?

The minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft works differently than the Major League phase. Players lost in the minor league phase do not have to be offered back and there are no roster rules. They’re just gone. So, after all that, the Yankees lost six players (Ford, Gomez, Cortes, Mesa, Baez, Othman) and added one (Soto). The four Major League phase guys could all end up coming back at some point. Pretty much business as usual at the Rule 5 Draft.

Few potential landing spots remain for Chase Headley

(Norm Hall/Getty)
(Norm Hall/Getty)

So far this offseason has been about addition and subtraction for the Yankees. They added Matt Holliday and Aroldis Chapman to improve the roster, but also subtracted Brian McCann to continue their rebuilding transitioning effort. The McCann trade with the Astros cleared up some payroll space and also netted the team two high upside Single-A pitching prospects.

The Yankees are still in addition and subtraction mode, based on everything we’ve heard the last few weeks. They still want to add pitching, starters and relievers, but they’re also looking to trade veterans. Specifically Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, who are basically their last two tradeable veteran position players. The Dexter Fowler and Adam Eaton deals mean not many suitors exist for Gardner.

For Headley, the market is appears to be even more limited, which is kinda weird because it’s much harder to find decent third base help than it is decent corner outfield help. In theory, anyway. Justin Turner has re-signed with the Dodgers, taking by far the best free agent third baseman off the market. Luis Valbuena is all that remains at this point, and he’s coming back from hamstring surgery.

Brian Cashman said at the Winter Meetings last week that he has rejected trade offers for Headley, though we don’t know the nature of those offers. They could have been “we’ll give you this fringe prospect if you eat a bunch of money” non-offers for all we know. Or maybe there were no offers and Cashman was trying to drum up interest. Who knows? Here are the few potential landing spots I’ve identified for Headley.

Atlanta Braves

Adonis. (Michael Thomas/Getty)
Adonis. (Michael Thomas/Getty)

Current Third Basemen: Adonis Garcia and Sean Rodriguez

Why Would They Want Headley? The Braves are doing all they can to be somewhat competitive next season, when they open SunTrust Park. They’ve signed R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon as free agents, and traded for Jaime Garcia to beef up the rotation. Third base is another problem area. Rodriguez was signed to be a utility player, and Garcia, the ex-Yankees farmhand, was worth +0.9 fWAR and +0.2 bWAR in close to a full season of playing time in 2016, so yeah.

Headley is not all that expensive by today’s standards, plus I’m sure the Yankees are at least open to the idea of eating some of the $26M he’s owed the next two years, so he’d be another low risk short-term upgrade for the Braves a la Colon and Dickey and Garcia. Rio Ruiz, who I covered in a Scouting The Market post earlier this winter, is their top third base prospect and there’s a chance he won’t be a third baseman at all. Headley’s an easy upgrade for Atlanta.

So Are They A Fit? Yes. The doesn’t mean the Braves want to trade for Headley, necessarily, but he would fit their roster and current plan.

Boston Red Sox

Current Third Basemen: Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt

Why Would They Want Headley? The BoSox traded their starting third baseman (Travis Shaw) and third baseman of the future (Yoan Moncada) this offseason, leaving them with short and long-term openings at the hot corner. Sandoval is coming back from major shoulder surgery and was terrible last time he played. Holt fits best as a part-time utility guy, not a full-time corner infielder.

So Are They A Fit? Nah. Not realistically. Even beyond the unlikelihood of a Yankees-Red Sox trade, the Red Sox are probably best off seeing what they have in Sandoval at this point. They owe him a ton of money and it’s not going away.

St. Louis Cardinals

Current Third Baseman: Jhonny Peralta

Why Would They Want Headley? The Cardinals were in on Turner before he re-signed with the Dodgers because they’re looking for ways to improve their infield, especially defensively. Peralta really struggled at the hot corner this past season after losing his shortstop job to Aledmys Diaz. Matt Carpenter is moving to first base full-time for defensive reasons, and Headley would be an upgrade over Peralta at the hot corner. Pretty easily at this point of Peralta’s career too.

Peralta. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Peralta. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

So Are They A Fit? Yes, though I don’t think St. Louis is as gung-ho about adding a third baseman now that Turner is off the board. It seems like their thinking was “we can add Turner for just cash, and we’ve already given up out first rounder for Fowler, so let’s do it.” Trading pieces for Headley and then having to find a new home for Peralta might not be worth the trouble for the Cardinals.

San Francisco Giants

Current Third Baseman: Eduardo Nunez

Why Would They Want Headley? Like the Cardinals, the Giants dabbled in the market for Turner a few weeks ago, they were never as all-in as St. Louis. San Francisco has also reportedly considered a reunion with Sandoval, assuming they could get him from the Red Sox at an extremely discounted price. Third base help isn’t necessarily a top priority, though based on the rumors, the Giants do seem to be keeping an eye out for an upgrade over Nunez.

So Are They A Fit? Eh, maybe. The Giants are over the luxury tax threshold following the Mark Melancon signing, and they reportedly do not want to add significant payroll. That would stand in the way of a Headley trade, even if the Yankees ate some money. Also, left field is their biggest roster hole. If they’re going to take on dollars and go further over the luxury tax threshold, it’ll be for outfield help, not a marginal upgrade over Nunez at third.

* * *

Keep in mind trading Headley means the Yankees would have to come up with a replacement third baseman. They have plenty of outfielders to plug into left field should Gardner be traded, but they don’t have a ready made replacement third baseman. Ronald Torreyes and the recently signed Ruben Tejada would be the front-runners for the job. Maybe Rob Refsnyder too. Not great.

The Yankees are still trying to contend next season while continuing to get younger — you don’t sign a closer to an $86M contract and not plan on contending right away — and they’ll need competence at the hot corner themselves. Headley provides that. More than that, really, even if many fans don’t seem to want to admit it. If the Yankees can trade Headley for some prospects and salary relief, great. But they’ll likely be a worse team on the field afterwards, and based on their other offseason activity, that might not fly.

Update: Jacob Lindgren signs with Braves after non-tender


Sunday: Well, so much for that. Lindgren has signed a one-year Major League contract with the Braves, the team announced. They’ve had a thing for hoarding ex-Yankees the last few years. I’m guessing the Yankees wanted to retain Lindgren on a minor league deal, but once Atlanta offered a big league contract, that was that.

Friday: Prior to tonight’s deadline, the Yankees non-tendered left-hander Jacob Lindgren, the team announced. He’s now a free agent. All other pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players received contract offers. The Yankees now have one open spot on the 40-man roster.

Lindgren will miss the entire 2017 season following Tommy John surgery, and his non-tender is not entirely unexpected. Chances are the Yankees will look to re-sign him to a minor league contract now, which allows them to keep him in the organization as a non-40-man player.

The Yankees have made the non-tender/re-sign move several times in the past, most notably with Slade Heathcott, Vicente Campos, and Domingo German. They were all hurt at the time too. The non-tender allows the Yankees to remove Lindgren from the 40-man without exposing him to waivers.

Lindgren, 23, threw only seven innings this past season, during which he walked nine and uncorked six wild pitches with High-A Tampa. He landed on the disabled list shortly thereafter and had Tommy John surgery later in the summer. Sucks, but what can you do?

The open 40-man roster spot means the Yankees will be able to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft next Thursday. They haven’t made a Rule 5 Draft pick since 2011. Odds are against it, but who knows. Maybe they take a flier on a bullpen arm or a Josh Phelps type for first base depth.

Scouting the Trade Market: Atlanta Braves

Newcomb. (Presswire)
Newcomb. (Presswire)

After 20 years and zero World Series wins, the Atlanta Braves are moving out of Turner Field and into brand new SunTrust Park next season. I have some fond memories of Turner Field. There’s the 1999 World Series, Derek Jeter being named All-Star Game MVP in 2000, the Frankie Cervelli home run in 2009, the blowout series in 2015 … it was a good place for the Yankees. They’re 14-2 all-time at Turner Field, you know.

Anyway, Turner Field is closing its doors next season and the Braves are moving into their new ballpark. They lost 93 games in 2016, but the goal is to be as competitive as possible in 2017, which is why they’ve already signed R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to bolster the rotation. The Braves are said to be in on Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, and Chris Archer too, among others. And we know they were in on Brian McCann during the summer as well.

The McCann trade rumors have picked up again this offseason. He grew up in nearby Athens and still lives in Atlanta in the offseason, plus he played his first nine seasons with the Braves, so it stands to reason McCann would be willing to wave his no trade clause to go back home. The Braves want his power bat and veteran leadership to guide all their young pitchers through the rebuild. It’s easy to understand why any team would want him, really.

Atlanta has a stacked farm system that is especially loaded with pitchers, something the Yankees crave. They reportedly asked for righty Mike Foltynewicz and outfielder Ender Inciarte at the trade deadline, but no dice. Maybe the team’s willingness to eat $17M of the $34M left on McCann’s contract will be enough to change the Braves’ mind. We’ll see. Let’s take a trip through their organization and look at some possible trade targets. All scouting reports come from MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

LHP Kolby Allard

Background: Allard, 19, was the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was arguably the top high school pitching prospect in the draft class, but he fell due to a stress reaction in his back that caused him to miss most of his senior season in high school. Allard had a minor procedure following the 2015 season and has been fine since. He had a 2.62 ERA (2.98 FIP) with 26.3% strikeouts and 7.0% walks in 99.2 innings split between rookie ball and Low-A in 2016. MLB.com currently ranks Allard as the 60th best prospect in baseball.

Scouting Report: “He was throwing his fastball in the 90-94 mph range (in 2015). He’s shown the ability to reach back for more in the past. Allard has a plus curve, with some evaluators seeing it as a 70 eventually. He has a feel for a changeup, especially given his age and experience. Allard hides the ball well, with Cliff Lee-like deception, and his fastball has good late life.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Allard has a ton of potential even if he doesn’t have a true ace ceiling. A polished southpaw with an out-pitch curveball and feel for a changeup, especially at such a young age, has a chance to pitch a very long time in the big leagues. And, as always, quality left-handed starters are always welcome in Yankee Stadium.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There aren’t many pure baseball reasons. The biggest concern with Allard is his back. He had the stress reaction last spring, which lingered long enough to require some kind of surgery last November. Also, as a 19-year-old pitching prospect in the low minors, there’s still plenty of time for things to go wrong.

RHP Aaron Blair

Background: The Diamondbacks made the 24-year-old Blair the 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft, then traded him to the Braves last winter in the ridiculous Shelby Miller deal. Blair made his MLB debut this past season and it was not pretty. He had a 7.59 ERA (6.15 FIP) with 14.2% strikeouts and 10.5% walks in 70 innings. His Triple-A showing was just okay: 4.65 ERA (3.38 FIP) with 22.6% strikeouts and 10.2% walks in 71.2 innings. Blair shuttled up and down all year.

Scouting Report: “The Marshall product has three above-average pitches in his repertoire with a good feel for pitching. His fastball can touch 95 mph and will sit in the low-90s consistently. He throws it with movement and sink, generating a good amount of ground ball outs. He’s always had a very good changeup and his breaking ball has improved to the point where it, too, flashes above average. He works quickly and tends to go right after hitters, typically not hurting himself too much with walks … He has the makings of a workhorse No. 3 type starter.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Coming into the season Blair was a consensus top 100 prospect — MLB.com ranked him 56th and Baseball America ranked him 60th — so the kid obviously has some talent. He had a tough start to his MLB career, but so what? It happens. Blair has three pitches and pitchability, so there are still reasons to believe he can be a solid long-term starter. The Yankees would be buying low on him right now.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? We can’t completely sweep Blair’s terrible 2016 performance under the rug. It happened and there’s information to be gleaned from it. Was his fastball command not up to snuff? Did hitters lay off his breaking ball? It’s a small sample, sure, but there’s still stuff in there that could be a reason to stay away.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz

Background: Foltynewicz, 25, was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Astros. They traded him to Atlanta during the 2014-15 offseason in the Evan Gattis deal. Foltynewicz threw 86.2 ineffective innings for the Braves last year (5.71 ERA and 5.05 FIP), though he was much better in 2016. This season he had a 4.31 ERA (4.24 FIP) with 21.1% strikeouts and 6.7% walks in 123.1 innings around an elbow issue.

Scouting Report (from 2015): “According to Pitchf/x his fastball reached 101 mph in the Major Leagues last season and he routinely throws in the upper-90s as a starter. Like most young flamethrowers, he has had to work on his fastball command and improving the consistency of his offspeed pitches … He has all the tools necessary to start for the Braves if he can harness his powerful fastball. Otherwise, he’ll fit well at the back of the bullpen.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Foltynewicz does throw really hard — he averaged 95.2 mph as a starter in 2016 — and his array of offspeed pitches include a mid-80s slider, mid-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. It’s the kind of power stuff the Yankees love. Foltynewicz has also made some real strikes with his secondary stuff and overall command the last two or three years, so he’s improving.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? For starters, Foltynewicz missed time with bone spurs at midseason, though he didn’t need surgery. Secondly, his non-fastballs still aren’t great. The curveball had an average swing-and-miss rate in 2016 and the slider was below-average. Foltynewicz doesn’t have a good ground ball pitch, hence his career 36.9% ground ball rate (and 1.50 HR/9). He’s a classic good fastball/so-so everything else pitcher, and the Yankees haven’t had much luck with those.

OF Ender Inciarte

Background: Once upon a time Inciarte was a Rule 5 Draft pick by the Phillies, but they returned him to the D’Backs and opted to keep Delmon Young on the roster instead. D’oh. Inciarte, now 26, has been a regular for close to three full seasons now, and during that time he’s hit .292/.337/.385 (95 wRC+) with 13 homers and 56 steals in just under 1,600 plate appearances. This past season he hit .291/.351/.381 (97 wRC+) with three homers and 16 steals after coming over in the Shelby Miller heist.

Scouting Report (from me): Inciarte is a left-handed hitting contact machine, with a career 11.3% strikeout rate and an 89.2% contract rate. He’s top ten in contact rate since 2014, alongside guys like Michael Brantley and Joe Panik and Daniel Murphy. Inciarte doesn’t have much power, he doesn’t steal a ton of bases, and he doesn’t draw many walks either, so his offensive value depends heavily on his batting average. In the field, he’s an excellent defender capable of playing all three outfield positions.

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? The Yankees don’t have a hitter like Inciarte, that high-contact lefty who opponents can’t shift against. Jacoby Ellsbury was supposed to be that guy, but it hasn’t worked out. Inciarte is similar to Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as a low power lefty bat, but unlike those two, his best years probably aren’t already behind him. Also, at some point Ellsbury is going to have to move to left field, so the Yankees need a long-term center fielder. Inciarte would fit the bill.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? How many of the same player do the Yankees need? Even if they trade Gardner, they’d still be trotting out two defense first, no power outfielders. The Yankees have outfield depth too, including some very highly touted prospects. Add Inciarte to Ellsbury and there’s one less spot for Aaron Judges and Clint Fraziers of the world.

LHP Sean Newcomb

Background: Newcomb, 23, was the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Angels. They traded him to the Braves in the Andrelton Simmons deal last offseason. This past summer Newcomb had a 3.86 ERA (3.19 FIP) with 25.6% strikeouts and 11.9% walks in 140 innings, all at Double-A. MLB.com currently ranks him as the 46th best prospect in baseball.

Scouting Report: “There were readings of Newcomb’s fastball touching triple digits in 2015 and he’ll sit in the 94-97 mph range. Big and physical, he maintains that velocity and does so without too much effort. Newcomb’s curve has become a plus pitch, one that misses plenty of bats. His changeup gives him a third at least Major League average offering. Newcomb does have to cut down on his walks to reach his ceiling.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Again, quality lefties are always good to have when you call Yankee Stadium home. Newcomb is a physically huge guy — he’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 255 lbs. — and he’s never been hurt, so you’re looking at a workhorse southpaw with three quality pitches and above-average velocity. You can be dealt worse cards.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Newcomb has a lot of problems throwing strikes. Has his entire baseball life. Just last season he walked 13.2% of batters faced at Single-A and Double-A. It’s not a mechanical problem either. Newcomb has a very smooth delivery and he repeats it well. It’s a “throwing strikes is hard” problem. Newcomb has really good size and stuff, but it comes with bad control and basically zero command.

3B Rio Ruiz

Background: The Astros took the 22-year-old Ruiz in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and paid him a huge overslot bonus ($1.85M). He went to the Braves in the Gattis trade with Foltynewicz. Ruiz hit .271/.355/.400 (118 wRC+) with ten homers, 21.8% strikeouts, and 11.4% walks in 133 Triple-A games this year. He made his MLB debut in September and went 2-for-7 (.286) with a triple.

Scouting Report: “With a smooth swing from the left side and excellent plate discipline, Ruiz should hit for average. He also has more power than he’s shown thus far. He goes very well to left-center … While there have been concerns about Ruiz’s ability to stay at third, he improved his agility just enough, adding a touch more range that could help him stay at the hot corner.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Ruiz is not one of Atlanta’s very best prospects, but the Yankees have a long-term opening at third base. I like Miguel Andujar too, but you can never really count on one prospect to be the guy. Ruiz is lefty hitter with plate discipline, two traits synonymous with most successful Yankees teams, plus the presence of Chase Headley means they could send the kid to Triple-A for more seasoning if it’s deemed necessary.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There are questions about Ruiz’s power potential and ability to stay at third. He’s not an atrocious defender by any means, but he’s not going to save a ton of runs either, which means he’ll draw most of his value with his bat. Yankee Stadium would help Ruiz pop a few more dingers, but he’s seen as more of a 10-15 homer guy than a 20+ homer guy long-term. The downside here is a low power first baseman. The upside is an average offensive third baseman with mediocre defense. Meh.

RHP Mike Soroka

Background: The Braves selected the 19-year-old Soroka with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft. They jumped him right to Low-A this season, where he had a 3.02 ERA (2.79 FIP) with 21.4% strikeouts and 5.5% walks in 143 innings. That’s quite a performance (and workload) for a kid who was nearly four years younger than the average South Atlantic League player. MLB.com currently ranks Soroka as the 90th best prospect in baseball.

Scouting Report: “The 6-foot-4 right-hander brings an exciting mixture of stuff and feel for pitching to the table … His fastball sits in the low-90s and he commands it well. He can really spin his breaking ball and has a good feel for a changeup. He absolutely pounds the strike zone and could have above-average command when all is said and done. Wise beyond his years, he takes things like nutrition and conditioning seriously.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Pretty obvious, no? Soroka already has good stuff and command — he does have to improve the consistency of his breaking ball and changeup, which is typical 19-year-old pitching prospect stuff — plus he’s a very driven player who works hard to get better.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Not many reasons, really. Soroka is inherently risky as a 19-year-old pitching prospect in Single-A because there’s still so much that can go wrong before he reached the big leagues. That’s about it. The tools and pitchability are already there.

RHP Matt Wisler

Background: The 24-year-old Wisler was a seventh round pick by the Padres in 2011, and he developed into one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Baseball America ranked him as the 34th best prospect in baseball prior to last season. Wisler was the headliner in the Craig Kimbrel trade last year, and in 265.2 big league innings, all with Atlanta, he has a 4.88 ERA (4.88 FIP). This season it was a 5.00 ERA (4.85 FIP) with 17.1% strikeouts and 7.3% walks in 156.2 innings.

Scouting Report (from 2015): “While Wisler won’t overpower hitters, he does have a pair of plus pitches and throws strikes with four offerings. His main two weapons are a 90-95 mph sinker and a changeup with plenty of deception and fade. Both of his breaking balls are effective, with his low-80s slider featuring some tilt and his mid-70s curveball used more to keep opponents off balance.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? It wasn’t too long ago that Wisler was a top pitching prospect, and since the bloom is off the rose now, his value is down. They’d be buying low. Despite the low strikeout rate, Wisler’s slider has registered an above-average swing-and-miss rate in the big leagues, plus both his four-seamer and sinker sit comfortably in the mid-90s. The Yankees would be acquiring Wisler and hoping to tap into the potential he showed going into last season.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? More than a few reasons. One, that supposedly plus changeup has been a terrible pitch in the big leagues, getting neither whiffs nor ground balls. Also, Wisler has had problems keeping the ball on the ground (career 37.5% grounders) and in the park (1.42 HR/9). At this point we have more than 250 innings of big league hitters telling us Wisler doesn’t fool them.

* * *

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Braves prospects list. Their tank job has led to a very deep and very good farm system. One of the best in the game. I picked only eight guys for this post, but there are plenty others the Yankees should consider in trade talks. Just don’t expect to get Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, or any of the three big arms the Braves drafted in June (Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz, Kyle Muller).

Unlike Joe Musgrove and the Astros, there’s no one with the Braves who jumps out at me as a must-have in a McCann trade. I like the idea of Newcomb because it could just click one day and he’ll start throwing strikes, but he’s risky. Foltynewicz throws hard and that’s about it. I’ve seen enough Inciartes in my lifetime to know those guys go from WAR All-Stars to barely playable in a hurry. The teenage arms in Single-A are exciting, but they’re teenage arms in Single-A. The Braves could offer New York prospects of all shapes and sizes. It’s just a question of who much risk they’re willing to assume.

Saturday Links: A-Rod, Rowson, Braves, Gardner


Later this afternoon the Yankees and Rays will continue their four-game series with the third game at Yankee Stadium. First pitch isn’t until 4pm ET, so here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

A-Rod expected to appear at Instructs

According to Brendan Kuty, Alex Rodriguez is expected to make an appearance at Instructional League later this month. As a special instructor, of course. Not as a player. “I’m very pleased to have somebody with Alex’s experience and time in the game to be able to share those experiences with our young players. Our best young players are all going to be part of Instructional League,” said farm system head Gary Denbo.

This year’s Instructs roster hasn’t been released yet but it’ll come out soon enough. It’s usually a collection of top prospects, recent draftees, and players who missed time due to injury. Greg Bird will face live pitching for the first time since shoulder surgery in Instructional League, for example. My guess is A-Rod will wind up spending a bunch of time with the team’s small army of middle infield prospects, specifically Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo.

Rowson joins Yankees

Minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson joined the Yankees earlier this week and has been with the team since, reports Dan Martin. Rowson has worked with Aaron Judge a ton over the years. “He’s trying to get comfortable here. Everything is new to him and he’s had his battles before and made the adjustments,” said Rowson. “He’s been through rough times, especially with the punch outs and he’s always come out on the other side. So I feel like he’s going to do that again.”

This is not all that uncommon, really. A handful of minor league coaches will join the big league team for a homestand in September pretty much every year. Every single one of the Yankees’ full season minor league affiliates qualified for the postseason this year though, so those coaches and instructors haven’t had a chance to come up yet. This isn’t Rowson’s first stint with the big league team and it won’t be his last. Chances are he didn’t join the team specifically to work with Judge.

Update: Minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell is with the Yankees as well, reports Chad Jennings.

Yankees to open SunTrust Park


The Yankees and Braves will open the brand new SunTrust Park with an exhibition game on Friday, March 31st next year, the Braves announced. Apparently only “A List Members” (season ticket holders) will be allowed to attend. Lame. Atlanta is moving into their new 41,500 seat ballpark just 20 years after moving into Turner Field. The Yankees and Braves opened Turner Field with an exhibition game in 1996 as well.

This year the Yankees closed out Spring Training with a pair of exhibition games at Marlins Park. Last year they played two at Nationals Park. The Cubs came to New York for two exhibition games in 2009, when the new Yankee Stadium opened. They do this stuff every year. Also, the fact this exhibition game is scheduled for March 31st suggests the 2017 regular season will begin on Monday, April 3rd. Next year’s schedule should be announced soon. Possibly next week.

Gardner nominated for Roberto Clemente Award

Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award, MLB announced. Here are the nominees from each team. The award is given each year to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Three Yankees have won the award: Derek Jeter (2009), Don Baylor (1985), and Ron Guidry (1984).

Amazingly, MLB turned an award recognizing community involvement — and an award named after an iconic player and a great humanitarian — into a popularity contest. Each nominee has an official hashtag and the player who receives the most votes on Twitter and Facebook will win. Incredible. MLB really knocked this one out of the park, eh? I’m sure fans will recognize each player’s off-the-field work and definitely not vote for their favorite player. No way.

Heyman: Yanks wanted Foltynewicz, Inciarte for McCann?


4:28pm ET: Heyman’s post has been changed and now says the last known request was simply “two young players.” Foltynewicz and Inciarte are no longer mentioned by name. Developing!

3:30pm ET: According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees’ “last known request” during Brian McCann trade talks with the Braves was hard-throwing righty Mike Foltynewicz and outfielder Ender Inciarte. Atlanta was apparently willing to eat half of McCann’s $17M annual salary, but they also wanted to give up lesser prospects.

McCann has already cleared trade waivers, and while Heyman says no deal is close, the Yankees are expected to continue listening to offers for their starting catcher. The Braves make sense as a trade partner. McCann played all those years with the Braves, he’s from the Atlanta area, and he’d give them a veteran catcher to lead their young pitchers as they make the transition from rebuilder to contender.

Foltynewicz, 24, was drafted by the Astros and included in the Evan Gattis trade. He has a 4.37 ERA (4.67 FIP) in 78.1 innings this year, and a 5.10 ERA (4.87 FIP) in 183.2 career big league innings. Foltynewicz throws extremely hard — PitchFX says he’s topped out at 99.8 mph this season — and he fits into the Nathan Eovaldi/Michael Pineda class of “hard-throwing but hittable” pitchers. Here’s video:

The 25-year-old Inciarte was part of the Shelby Miller trade and is a WAR All-Star who posts insane defensive numbers. He’s a very good outfielder, don’t get me wrong, but the numbers are a bit skewed because he bounces between the three outfield spots. That messes with the positional adjustments. Inciarte hit .303/.338/.408 (100 wRC+) last year but has zero track record of being a threat at the plate. His numbers dropped back down to .267/.325/.340 (81 wRC+) this year.

I don’t know about you, but Foltynewicz and Inciarte seems light to me. Unless you’re expecting Foltynewicz to take a huge jump forward soon and/or believe 2015 Inciarte is the real Inciarte, you’re talking a project pitcher and a role player for an above-average everyday catcher. The Yankees shouldn’t dump McCann for the sake of dumping him. He’s not blocking Gary Sanchez. The two can co-exist. They are right now!

The Yankees love their big stuff project pitchers — they haven’t had much success turning them into productive big leaguers, but I digress — so it’s not really a surprise they wanted Foltynewicz. I have no idea what they’d do with Inciarte. Flip him elsewhere? How many low-power lefty hitting outfielders can one team carry? The Yankees have Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in MLB, plus Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave in Triple-A.

I don’t think Foltynewicz and Inciarte was an unreasonable request by the Yankees. If anything, it was probably a little light, especially if the Braves were only willing to pay half McCann’s salary. It sounds like the Yankees will continue to listen to offers for McCann and I’m sure they’ll circle back around with the Braves at some point. This won’t be the last time we hear about a potential McCann deal.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Monday

Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The 2016 non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, and the Yankees have already been very active. One of the most active teams in baseball, really. Within the last week they traded Aroldis Chapman, traded Andrew Miller, and added Tyler Clippard. Chances are they aren’t done either.

“Stay tuned. A lot more things could happen,” said Brian Cashman to reporters during a conference call following the Miller and Clippard trades yesterday. “If you want to become a super team, there are ways you have to go about it. We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber-team, and a sustainable one.”

Here are Sunday’s rumors. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankee-related rumors right here in this post. I’m going to be running around a bit today — bad timing, I know, but family first — and will do my best to update things promptly. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:00am: The Astros, Red Sox, Indians, and Rangers are all in on Carlos Beltran. He has not yet been asked to waive his limited no-trade clause and, unsurprisingly, a trade with Boston is considered unlikely. I’m sure the thought of Beltran helping the BoSox win the World Series makes ownership squeamish, even if it means making the best possible deal. Some clubs want the Yankees to eat money to facilitate a trade. [Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Jon Heyman]
  • 9:00am: The Yankees continue to listen to offers for Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Pineda. They also want to unload impending free agent Ivan Nova prior to today’s deadline. [Joel Sherman]
  • 12:03pm: McCann remains a possibility for the Braves. They want the Yankees to eat a bunch of money and the Yankees want good prospects in return, so there are some things that need to be worked out. [Mark Bowman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.