2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Monday

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The 2016 non-waiver trade deadline is exactly one week away, and for the first time since they traded away Rickey Henderson and Mike Pagliarulo in 1989, the Yankees have to seriously consider selling this year. They’re 4.5 games out of a wildcard spot with three teams ahead of them, and, more importantly, at no point this season have the Yankees looked capable of making the kind of extended run it’ll take to get back into the race.

Over the weekend learned the Yankees are inching closer to trading Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for top prospect Gleyber Torres and a second piece. That could happen as soon as today. Our Scouting the Market: Cubs post will tell you everything you need to know about Torres and various other Cubs prospects. Several other teams were in the mix for Chapman as well, and I suppose someone could sneak in at the last minute and make a big offer. We’ll see. We’re going to keep track of the day’s trade rumors right here, so make sure you check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:15am: The Yankees are expected to receive Torres, ex-Yankee Adam Warren, and likely two others (!) for Chapman if the trade is completed. Jorge Soler and Jeimer Candelario are not in the deal. It’s still a 4-for-1 trade and, uh, wow. [Joel Sherman, Ken Rosenthal]
  • 10:15am: The Yankees “internally debated” Torres or Eloy Jimenez as the center piece of the trade. They’re opting for the potential up-the-middle impact player over the corner outfield bat. For what it’s worth, Torres is the higher-ranked prospect too. [Sherman]
  • 10:15am: The Yankees have discussed shortstop prospect Yu-Cheng Chang in trade talks with the Indians. Chang is Cleveland’s No. 12, per MLB.com. The 20-year-old is hitting .275/.345/.494 (128 wRC+) with eleven homers and nine steals in 87 High-A games this year. [Buster Olney]
  • 10:15am: Once the Yankees wrap up the Chapman trade, they’re expected to continue sifting through trade offers for Andrew Miller. It’s not a guarantee they’ll move him. They’re going to do their due diligence and see what teams put on the table. [Olney]
  • 10:15am: The Giants are getting “radio silence” from the Yankees with regards to their relievers. We heard a few days ago that the Yankees don’t consider San Francisco a good trade match because they’re short on high-end prospects. [Hank Schulman]
  • 11:05am: One of the other two pieces in the Chapman trade is outfield prospect Billy McKinney. He was a first rounder in 2013 and I remember the Yankees being connected to him prior to the draft. McKinney went to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija/Addison Russell trade. [Sahadev Sharma]
  • 11:29am: The Yankees have been pushing Ivan Nova in trade talks. That’s not a surprise. They shopped him over the winter, and Nova will be a free agent after the season, so it’s better to get something for him now than nothing after the season. [Olney]
  • 4:10pm: The Chapman trade is official. It’s Chapman for Torres, Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford. That’s a hell of a deal.

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Update: Yanks moving closer to trading Aroldis Chapman

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Sunday, 7:52pm: The Yankees and Cubs are working on a deal that would send Chapman to Chicago for top prospect Gleyber Torres plus a second piece (!), report Jon Heyman and Buster Olney. Apparently the Cubbies want Chapman to agree to an extension before consummating a trade. Sounds like the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow.

Sunday, 1:58pm: Jack Curry, who will inevitably break the Chapman trade news, says nothing is imminent and the Yankees are still mulling offers. For what it’s worth, John Harper says Hal Steinbrenner gave the okay to deal Chapman before the Giants series. Here’s the latest:

  • The Cubs are “strong” in the mix for Chapman, says Ken Rosenthal. The Giants, Dodgers, Nationals, and Indians are all involved too. That sounds like a last minute leak from the Yankees to get someone to raise their offer. He’s currently on the DL with a minor shoulder injury and is due back soon.
  • The Yankees have interest in Nats righty Joe Ross, reports Jon Heyman. One source told him there is “no chance” they’ll trade Ross for a rental though. Here’s my offseason Scouting the Market post on Ross.
  • Keith Law hears the Yankees would get righty Erick Fedde, righty Koda Glover, and a third piece if the deal with the Nationals goes through. That is a lot. Here is MLB.com’s Nationals top 30 prospects list so you can familiarize yourself with those guys.
  • The Yankees “love” Cubs shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, according to Buster Olney. I wrote about Torres in our Scouting the Market: Cubs post a few days ago.

Sunday, 12:41am ET: Rosenthal says a trade is not necessarily imminent. The Yankees are preparing to wrap-up the process though. I guess that means they’re sorting through final offers and things like that.

Saturday, 10:38pm ET: The Yankees are telling teams they are close to trading Aroldis Chapman and will hold on to Andrew Miller, reports Ken Rosenthal. There’s no word on where Chapman may be heading or when a deal may be completed. For what it’s worth, the Nationals have been connected to him most frequently.

Following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are now 49-48 on the season and 7.5 games back in the AL East. They’re 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 8.3% as of this writing, which should have the team firmly in sell mode. I’m not sure what else ownership needs to see.

Now, that said, trading Chapman would make sense even if the Yankees were in the race. They were able to get him at a very discounted rate due to his pending domestic violence suspension, and now that the suspension has been served, they can market him as a full price rental elite reliever. That’s pretty darn valuable and should fetch a lot.

In addition to the Nationals, the Rangers, Cubs, and Giants have all been connected to Chapman to some degree. Washington tried to acquire Aroldis in the offseason following his domestic dispute incident, but the Yankees beat them to the punch. Nationals manager Dusty Baker had Chapman with the Reds and has reportedly been pushing to acquire him.

As for keeping Miller, it’s certainly a sound strategy considering his general awesomeness and the two years left on his affordable contract. It’s been reported that the Yankees will have to be blown away to move him. That could still happen before the deadline, it’s not like there’s a shortage of teams in on Miller. We’ll see. The trade deadline is one week from Monday.

Scouting the Trade Market: Cleveland Indians

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Even after losing three of four to the Yankees before the All-Star break, the Indians own the best record in the AL (55-38) and have a comfortable 6.5-game lead in the AL Central. That’s not insurmountable by any means, but it is a nice lead at this point of the season. Cleveland has been to the postseason just once since beating the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS, and that was a wildcard game loss to the Rays in 2013. You know they want to do better this year.

It’s no surprise then Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday that folks within the game believe the Indians are more willing to make a blockbuster trade at the deadline this year than they have been in quite some time. Their rotation is still young and cheap, their core veterans (Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, etc.) are still in their prime, and they’re in position to make the postseason. They have a great chance to win this year and they want to capitalize.

The Indians could really use another late-game reliever to lighten the load on setup man Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen, and preferably that reliever would be a lefty. Somehow the Tribe has gotten only 22.1 innings from lefty relievers this season. Crazy, right? Chasen Shreve alone has thrown 22 innings for the Yankees. Anyway, Cleveland is said to have interest in Andrew Miller, who’s pretty much the best possible solution for that late-inning lefty role. Someone like Carlos Beltran could be of interest too since Brantley’s shoulder keeps barking.

The Yankees reportedly had two scouts watching the Indians’ High Class-A affiliate yesterday, which happens to house many of their top prospects. Cleveland has a loaded farm system — they landed seven players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 list — so they have the motivation and wherewithal to make a big trade. Which prospects should the Yankees target in a potential Miller (or Beltran) trade? That’s what we’re here to discuss. Here are a handful of candidates. The players are listed alphabetically and the scouting report blurbs are from MLB.com.

LHP Brady Aiken

Background: Aiken, 19, was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, but he didn’t sign with the Astros after they found something in his physical. He blew out his elbow the following spring and the Indians picked him 17th overall in the 2015 draft anyway. Aiken has completed his Tommy John surgery rehab and is currently pitching in rookie ball, where he’s allowed 15 runs on 18 hits and nine walks in 14.2 innings. He’s struck out 22. Baseball America ranked him 59th on their midseason top 100.

Scouting Report: “The left-hander spots his fastball to both sides of the plate, working at 92-94 mph and touching 97 with late life, and he can throw his curveball for a strike or take it out of the zone to induce whiffs. Aiken’s changeup gives him a third weapon, thrown with good deception and tumble, and his athleticism and smooth, repeatable delivery bode well for his command profile … If Aiken can regain and then build on his pre-surgery form, he could develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? When right, Aiken has true top of the rotation upside and that is very hard to find. The term “future ace” gets thrown around way too often these days but Aiken absolutely fits the bill. He had command of three above-average pitches before getting hurt and his competitiveness and makeup are considered pluses. That’s an ace starter kit all the way.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Aiken did not have a routine Tommy John surgery. There was apparently some other stuff going on in his elbow as well, though no one seems to know what, exactly. His performance hasn’t been good since finishing his rehab, and while you can attribute that to rust, it’s a reminder of just how far Aiken has to go to reach that ace ceiling. He’s very far away from MLB and very high risk.

OF Greg Allen

Background: The Indians selected the 23-year-old Allen in the sixth round of the 2014 draft and he’s been a hitting machine as a pro. So far this season he’s authored a .298/.425/.398 (140 wRC+) line with three homers, 37 steals in 40 attempts, a 13.8% walk rate, and a 12.3% strikeout rate in 85 High-A games. Allen is a bit old for his level, so just keep that in mind.

Scouting Report: “Allen knows how to use his above-average speed, as he’s a disciplined hitter with advanced on-base skills who consistently puts the ball in play from both sides of the plate … He has below-average power overall … Allen’s wheels also serve him well in center field, where he gets good jumps consistently and covers a lot of ground … Allen shows the makings of becoming a top-of-the-order hitter who also offers value with his baserunning and defense.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Allen is not a top prospect — MLB.com ranks him 22nd in Cleveland’s system — but he’s a high-contact hitter from both sides of the plate with plate discipline and speed and center field defensive chops. That profile is a pretty good bet to amount to something in the big leagues, even if it’s only a fourth outfielder. Allen shouldn’t be the center piece of any trade, but he would be a fine third or fourth piece.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Guys with minimal power like Allen are always at risk of getting beat with fastballs in the zone at the upper levels. Pitchers don’t worry about being taken deep, so they challenge these guys. Low minors walk rates are not very predictive and Allen’s ability to get on base via the free pass may evaporate as he climbs the ladder.

1B Bobby Bradley

Background: Since being a third round pick two years ago, Bradley has punished minor league pitching, and he currently owns a .257/.377/.484 (137 wRC+) batting line with 16 homers and a 14.8% walk rate in 83 High-A games as a 20-year-old. He’s nearly three years younger than the average Carolina League player. Baseball America ranked Bradley as the 64th best prospect in baseball in their midseason update.

Scouting Report: “Bradley has all the ingredients needed to be an impact hitter, with plus bat speed, huge power and feel for using the entire field at a young age … (He has a) raw approach, and there are some scouts who worry about his capacity to make consistent contact at higher levels … Bradley faces an uphill battle due to his profile as first-base-only prospect, but his combination of power and hitting ability is plenty good enough to overcome those odds.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Despite his defensive and positional limitations, Bradley projects to be an impact player thanks to his offensive profile from the left side of the plate. He has the potential to hit for average and power down the line, and that’s someone who can hit in the middle of a lineup. Bradley’s more than holding his own despite being young for his level this year.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Those defensive and positional limitations do exist. Bradley is a first baseman only and not a particularly good one either. He also offers nothing on the bases. Bradley has to hit and hit big to have value, and it should be noted he’s struck out 31.4% of the time this year and 29.6% of the time in over 1,000 minor league plate appearances. There are real contact concerns here.

RHP Mike Clevinger

Background: The Indians straight up stole Clevinger two years ago, when they got him from the Angels for Vinnie Pestano. The 25-year-old righty has since blossomed into a very good pitching prospect, one with a 2.82 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 83 Triple-A innings this year. He has a 26.5% strikeout rate and a 9.0% walk rate as well. Clevinger made his MLB debut earlier this season and it didn’t go to well (14 runs in 16.1 innings), but that’s okay. Lots of guys struggle in their first taste of the show. Clevinger was 71st on Baseball America’s midseason top 100, and it’s worth noting the Yankees had at least three scouts on hand to see his most recent Triple-A start, according to Mark Feinsand.

Scouting Report: “Clevinger usually operates at 92-95 mph with his fastball but has touched 97. His slider is his best secondary offering and projects to be above average, thrown with power and depth, and he knows how to keep hitters off balance using his curveball and changeup, though neither pitch is better than fringe average at the moment … There’s still room for improvement, but Clevinger isn’t far away from making an impact in the Major Leagues.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Clevinger is basically big league ready right now. He misses bats with two pitches and has the makings of two others, so he has no doubt starter stuff and control. Is the upside sky high? No, but Clevinger has the tools to hold down a spot in the middle of the rotation for the next several years. The Yankees have been looking for pitching controllable behind 2017 and Clevinger definitely fits the bill.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There aren’t many reasons to stay away, really. Clevinger had Tommy John surgery in 2012, so his medical history isn’t clean, and he struggled with his mechanics big time in 2014. He had a 4.41 ERA (4.56 FIP) in Single-A that year, which is why the Tribe was able to get him for Pestano. He’s been healthy and his mechanics have been fine since then though, so yeah. Clevinger is a quality MLB ready starting pitching prospect.

UTIL Yandy Diaz

Background: Diaz, 24, was a lower profile Cuban signing a few years back ($300,000 bonus) and he’s been very productive in the minors. This season he’s hitting .311/.413/.438 (148 wRC+) with six homers, ten steals, a 14.8% walk rate, and a 15.6% strikeout rate in 83 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. That’s split into a 145 wRC+ in 26 Double-A games and a 148 wRC+ in 56 Triple-A games. Diaz is primarily a third baseman, though he played second in Cuba and has seen time in the outfield corners this year.

Scouting Report: “Diaz is a truly disciplined hitter who never tries to do too much and rarely expands his zone. He makes a lot of contact with his compact right-handed swing, while his flat path through the zone produces line drives across the whole field … (Some) scouts question whether he has the necessary bat speed to generate usable pop in games … Diaz has quickly developed into an above-average defender at third base, where his range, soft hands and strong arm are all clean fits.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Even without much power, Yandy makes enough contact and draws enough walks to be an asset at the plate. The Yankees could also use a long-term third base solution — Miguel Andujar is awesome, but you shouldn’t bank on any one guy to be the answer — and Diaz can not only play the position, but play it well. And he can even fill in at second and in the corner outfield spots. That’s a nice little player for the bottom of the lineup.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? I like Yandy but I feel like his upside is the current version of Chase Headley. Good defense and a bunch of walks, but not much power or speed. Diaz is a bit of a ‘tweener because he doesn’t have the kind of pop expected from a corner spot. Playing some second and outfield will help because at least then you can put him on the bench. As a regular though, Diaz seems like someone who won’t kill you while you look for someone better, and that’s not very exciting.

LHP Rob Kaminsky

Background: The Yankees were connected to the 21-year-old Kaminsky, a New Jersey native, prior to the 2013 draft, but he was off the board before their extra picks came around. The Cardinals traded him to the Indians for Brandon Moss last summer, and so far this year Kaminsky has a 3.86 ERA (4.10 FIP) with a 15.0% strikeout rate and an 8.7% walk rate in 81.2 Double-A innings.

Scouting Report: “His fastball sat 86-92 mph with decent arm-side run and sink, and he showed feel for adding and subtracting with the pitch. His plus curveball is a true bat-misser, thrown with outstanding 12-to-6 shape and downer action, and it’s been his greatest weapon since high school … (he has a) changeup and below-average slider … Kaminsky’s advanced command allows him to throw strikes with his entire repertoire … the Indians love his competitiveness and high baseball IQ on the mound.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? The Yankees have a lot of big stuff/poor command guys in the organization and Kaminsky is pretty much the opposite. To use an old cliche, he’s a pitcher, not a thrower. Kaminsky is not a future ace like Aiken, but he projects to be a solid mid-to-back-end starter who gets by on smarts more than blow-you-away stuff. Cheap rotation help is always a plus, especially lefties in Yankee Stadium.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Kaminsky’s stuff has taken a pretty big step back since the 2013 draft. His fastball no longer consistently sits in the low-90s and both his changeup and slider have taken a step back because he falls in love with his curveball too easily and doesn’t throw his other pitches enough. (To be fair, it’s a great curveball.) The Cardinals know pitching as well as anyone. When they deal a former first rounder two years later for a guy like Brandon Moss, that’s a red flag to me. They must think the current version of Kaminsky is here to stay. The old version ain’t coming back.

LHP Justus Sheffield

Background: Sheffield, 20, was the 31st overall pick in 2014, and so far this year he has a 3.53 ERA (3.77 FIP) with a 22.9% strikeout rate and a 9.7% walk rate in 89.1 innings at High-A. Baseball America ranked him No. 69 in their midseason top 100 list. It’s worth noting Keith Law said the Yankees had two scouts at Sheffield’s start yesterday, when he struck out eight in 6.2 scoreless innings.

Scouting Report: “He’s hit 96 mph with his fastball but usually sits in the 92-93 mph range with late, arm-side life and some sink. His curveball flashes plus and projects as a swing-and-miss offering at the highest level, and he made strides developing his changeup in 2015 … Both his secondary pitches and his command require further refinement, but the southpaw has all the tools necessary to develop into a quality mid-rotation starting pitcher.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Sheffield has premium stuff and I think he is Cleveland’s best perfectly healthy pitching prospect (Aiken’s coming back from elbow reconstruction), so he’s pretty much the best they have to offer on the mound. Lefties who can miss bats are always in demand, especially in Yankee Stadium given the short porch. The history of the Yankees is loaded with quality southpaws, after all.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Sheffield is listed at 5-foot-10 and there’s always a question about whether a short pitcher can get enough downhill plane on his fastball to avoid being fly ball and home run prone. Also, his location has not been as good this year as last year, when he had a 6.9% walk rate. Sheffield is also a 20-year-old in High-A too. He’s not exactly big league ready. There’s a long way to go to get from where he is now to that mid-rotation ceiling.

* * *

I’m assuming the Indians will make their top two prospects, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, completely off limits in a Miller (or Beltran) trade. I know I would. Miller’s awesome but those guys are potential difference-makers who are knocking on the door. Depending on how you feel about Aiken after Tommy John surgery, he’s the best the Indians have to offer after Zimmer and Frazier. Clevinger, Sheffield, and Bradley are the next tier.

The Indians are loaded with prospects, so these guys listed above are hardly all they have to offer. I could definitely see the Yankees pushing for both Clevinger (the MLB ready guy) and Sheffield (the higher upside guy) in a Miller trade, if not more. Remember, they’re going to have to be blown away to trade Miller. Clevinger and Sheffield is a real nice start, though I’m not sure those two alone will be enough to get the Yankees to budge. The Indians definitely have the pieces to get a deal done though.

Trade Deadline Notes: Marlins, Indians, Nationals, Cubs

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

We are now 13 days away from the trade deadline, and while the Yankees have won two straight, their odds of playing in October are long. Buster Olney says they are going “full bore” in shaping possible trades, though ownership still needs to give the thumbs up. I wish they’d go ahead and sell now before someone gets hurt or other teams decide to drop out of the race and sell. There’s a lot of demand and not much supply right now. That works in New York’s favor. Alas. They’re still not ready to move players. Anyway, here’s the latest from the rumor mill.

Pineda among Marlins’ targets

The Marlins are working to add a starter before the trade deadline and Michael Pineda is on their list of targets, reports Jon Morosi. Miami and the Yankees discussed Aroldis Chapman a few weeks back, so the two teams have been in contact. It’s unclear if the Yankees and Marlins have actually talked about a Pineda deal, or if the Marlins simply admire him from afar.

Morosi says the Marlins are interested in Jeremy Hellickson and Andrew Cashner in addition to Pineda. All three of those guys kinda suck, but Hellickson and Cashner are rentals while Pineda has an extra year of control. That figures to play a role in Miami’s decision making. As I’ve said though, the Marlins don’t have many prospects to offer. Their system isn’t very good. That’s why the Yankees wanted big league players for Chapman.

Indians prefer Miller to Chapman

The Indians are in the hunt for a shutdown left-handed reliever, and Ken Rosenthal says Andrew Miller is “probably” their top target. Rosenthal says they prefer Miller to Chapman, presumably because he’s willing to be a setup man and has two extra years of team control. Jerry Crasnick says the feeling within the game is the Indians are more inclined to make a blockbuster trade than they normally would because they’re in first place and the club is already so well-rounded.

Not coincidentally, Keith Law says the Yankees had two scouts on hand to see left-hander and top Indians pitching prospect Justus Sheffield this afternoon. Other top prospects on the loaded High-A Lynchburg roster include first baseman Bobby Bradley, catcher Francisco Mejia, and shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang. Those guys are all far away from MLB and I imagine the Yankees want talent closer to the show for Miller, so perhaps these guys are being looked at as second and third pieces in a deal. Cleveland had seven (!) players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 prospects list. Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Indians prospects list with free scouting reports and all that.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Chapman is Nats’ most likely target

According to Rosenthal, Chapman is the Nationals’ most likely target at the deadline. That makes sense. Dusty Baker had Chapman in Cincinnati and the Nats tried to get him from the Reds over the winter — even after the domestic violence incident — but the Yankees beat them to it. How would Chapman and Jonathan Papelbon co-exist? That ain’t my problem. That’s up to Washington to figure out.

Interestingly, Rosenthal says top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito is not as untouchable as he once was. I still highly doubt the Nationals would give him up for a reliever, even one as good as Chapman or Miller. Any trade sending Giolito to the Yankees — and let’s be clear, that is an extreme long shot — would have to be a blockbuster with high-end talent going to Washington. Maybe something like Chapman, Masahiro Tanaka, and Brett Gardner for Giolito and stuff. I dunno, I’m just spitballing here. My trade proposal sucks.

Cubs haven’t made best offer for Miller or Chapman

To date, the Cubs have not made the best trade offer for Miller or Chapman, reports Jon Heyman. To be perfectly honest, I read this report and assumed it was a leak from the Yankees intended to get Chicago to up their offer. The Cubbies have been scouting Miller and Chapman for weeks — they’re said to prefer Miller to Chapman like pretty much everyone else (except the Nats, I guess) — and there’s a definite need for a shutout lefty reliever in their bullpen.

Jeff Passan says the Yankees covet the injured Kyle Schwarber — “Cash thinks he can hit 50 home runs there,” said one of Passan’s sources — but the Cubs are not budging. They won’t deal him for a reliever, not even Miller. The Cubs have lots of prospects to offer though, so being unable to get Schwarber shouldn’t end trade talks. Assuming Heyman’s report is a leak from the Yankees, I see nothing wrong with trying to squeeze a little more out of Chicago. The Yankees control the bullpen market right now.

Yankeemetrics: Escape from The Jake [July 7-10]

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Derek and Didi
Thursday’s game in Cleveland not only marked the Yankees’ final series before the All-Star break, but was also the start of a crucial, season-defining 14-game gauntlet against the AL’s cream of the crop: three first-place squads (Indians, Orioles, Rangers) and a wild-card team (Red Sox).

If their performance over the next few weeks is going to dictate whether they declare themselves as contenders or pretenders in this year’s playoff race, then at least the Yankees began this critical stretch with a bang.

Despite this matchup looking like a complete mismatch on paper — the AL’s best pitching staff (3.61 ERA entering Thursday) versus the AL’s second-least productive offense (.707 OPS entering Thursday) — the Yankees somehow rallied from an early deficit and held off a late comeback bid by the Indians to escape with a 5-4 win.

Didi Gregorius sparked the rally in the fifth inning with his 10th homer of the season, setting a new career-high and further cementing himself potentially as the team’s next superstar infielder. The list of Yankee shortstops (guys who played at least 75 percent of games at the position) to hit double-digit homers before the All-Star break is a short one: Derek Jeter (six times), Roy Smalley (1983), Frankie Crosetti (1936) … and now Sir Didi.

Hanging Chad
In a season filled with inconsistency, it was only fitting that the Yankees failed to build any momentum following their exciting win on Thursday and were clobbered by the Indians the next night, 10-2.

The game was essentially over after the first inning as Cleveland battered Chad Green for three homers and four runs before he could even get three outs. Carlos Santana led off the game with a homer to right field, and then three pitches later Jason Kipnis took Green deep to put the Yankees in an early 2-0 hole.

(AP)
(AP)

Green became just the fourth Yankee pitcher in the last 75 years to give up back-to-back homers to start a game. The last guy to do it was Hiroki Kuroda on Sept. 25, 2014 vs. the Orioles, and the others were Ted Lilly (June 6, 2001 vs. Orioles) and Catfish Hunter (June 17, 1977 vs. Red Sox).

The Indians weren’t done crushing Green’s batting practice fastballs, though. Lonnie Chisenhall went yard later in the first inning, giving Green the honor of being the sixth Yankee since 1930 to allow three homers in the first inning of a game. The rest of this illustrious list: A.J. Burnett (2010), Ron Guidry (1987), Catfish Hunter (same as above), Wade Blasingame (1972) and Hank Johnson (1932).

And Mike Napoli put an exclamation point on Green’s miserable night when he smoked a 3-2 pitch to deep left center field that nearly hit the scoreboard. It traveled 459.6 feet per Statcast, the second-longest home run allowed by a Yankee pitcher since 2008 (when Statcast began measuring batted ball distance).

Green’s final line was seven runs, five hits and four homers allowed in 4 1/3 innings. The last Yankee to surrender at least four homers against the Indians was Scott Sanderson on April 17, 1992, and the last guy to do that in Cleveland was Dennis Rasmussen in 1987.

(AP)
(AP)

Extra, extra
For the second time in three games the Yankees rallied to beat the Indians, 7-6 in 11 innings, stealing another thrilling victory on Saturday afternoon against the AL’s second-best team.

It was the Yankees’ first extra-inning win of the season, making this the latest into the season by date that the Yankees recorded their first win in extras since 1940, when they didn’t get one until July 17 … also against the Indians.

Brian McCann ripped the game-winning hit in the decisive frame with a booming RBI double off the wall in right field to break a 6-6 tie. He earned our ridiculous #Funfact Yankeemetric of the series: The last Yankee catcher with a extra-inning, go-ahead hit in Cleveland was Elston Howard, who belted a tie-breaking solo homer in the 11th inning off Luis Tiant on Sept. 23, 1964 in a 4-3 Yankees win.

Brett Gardner capped off the Yankees second rally of the game with a go-ahead, bases-clearing triple in the sixth inning to stake the Yankees to a brief 6-5 lead. Gardner entered the game with just 10 RBI in 60 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season; his rate of one RBI every six at-bats with RISP was the worst among the 199 players that had at least 50 at-bats with a man on second and/or third heading into the weekend.

Hey there, .500
The Yankees will head into the All-Star break on a winning note, riding the momentum of an impressive — and improbable — series win over the AL Central-leading Indians. By taking of three of four against one of the best teams in the league, the Yankees improved to 44-44, a fitting mark at the mid-point given that they’ve danced around the .500 mark for much of the season.

(AP)
(AP)

This is the 24th straight year the Yankees will enter the second half of the season with a .500 or better record, dating back to 1993. In that span no other team has even posted 20 non-losing first-half seasons, with the Cardinals, Braves and Red Sox each at 19.

Carlos Beltran was undoubtedly the Yankees’ first-half MVP, thanks to his tremendous power and consistency at the plate, leading the team in homers, doubles, RBI, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He is just the second Yankee in his age-39 season or older to finish the first half with a slugging percentage of .550 or better. The other was Babe Ruth, who slugged .562 before the break in 1934.

Andrew Miller has been arguably the most valuable pitcher on the Yankees staff thus far, featuring video game-like stats that haven’t been duplicated by anybody before this year. He is the only player in major-league history to pitch at least 35 innings in the first half and post an ERA below 1.50, a strikeout rate of at least 15.0 per nine innings and a WHIP below 1.00.

7/7 to 7/10 Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

Official photo of Yankees-Indians series previews. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Official photo of Yankees-Indians series previews. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It’s hard to believe, but this is the final series of the first half. The season seems to go by a little quicker each year, doesn’t it? The Yankees wrap up the first half and this ten-game road trip with four games in Cleveland against the first place Indians. The Indians are the only AL team the Yankees have yet to play this season.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Indians did something yesterday they had not done all season: lose to the Tigers. They were a perfect 11-0 (!) against Detroit prior to yesterday’s 12-2 loss. The Tribe have gone 2-3 since their franchise record 14-game winning streak ended Sunday. Yes, franchise record. The Indians have been around for 115 years and that was their longest winning streak ever. Crazy, right? Anyway, Cleveland is 51-33 with a +79 run differential overall. They have a big lead in the AL Central and the second best record in the AL behind the Rangers.

Offense & Defense

The Indians are the most balanced team in the AL. They don’t have a glaring weakness like, say, the Rangers’ bullpen or the Orioles’ rotation. Manager Terry Francona oversees a very good offense, one that is scoring 4.87 runs per game with a team 101 wRC+. They’re doing that even though OF Michael Brantley, their best hitter, has been limited to eleven games by offseason shoulder surgery. He had surgery, hurried back, played eleven games, then felt renewed soreness. Brantley is on the DL working his way back now. He won’t return this series.

Lindor. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty)
Lindor. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Manager Terry Francona uses platoon leadoff hitters; OF Rajai Davis (109 wRC+) bats first against lefties while DH Carlos Santana (124 wRC+) does it against righties. Yes, the slow-footed Santana bats leadoff. It’s all about that OBP (.352), baby. 2B Jason Kipnis (103 wRC+) bats second, SS Francisco Lindor (114 wRC+) bats third, and 1B Mike Napoli (105 wRC+) bats fourth. Lindor is already a megastar. The only position players I would take over him right now are Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant. He’s that good.

RF Lonnie Chisenhall (121 wRC+) plays everyday and so does UTIL Jose Ramirez (113 wRC+), who moves all around and seems to play a different position each day. CF Tyler Naquin (155 wRC+) and OF Abe Almonte (8 PA) join Davis and Ramirez as part of a big outfield platoon in left and center. C Yan Gomes (37 wRC+) and C Chris Gimenez (35 wRC+) handle catching duties. 3B Juan Uribe (67 wRC+) has been better of late, mostly because the Indians stopped playing him every single day. He’s a part-timer at this point of his career.

The Indians have improved their defense tremendously over the last year by calling up Lindor and Naquin, and adding Davis, Napoli, and Uribe. Kipnis is okay at second and Chisenhall will have his “third baseman playing right field” moments, but otherwise this team can catch the ball. Gomes and Gimenez are opposites behind the plate. Gomes is a great thrower and a poor pitch-framer while Gimenez is a poor thrower and a great framer.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY)
It seems Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, is starting to figure things out at the big league level. The 25-year-old has a 3.02 ERA (3.46 FIP) in 95.1 innings spread across 12 starts and seven relief appearances. He’s getting way more grounders (50.6%) than ever before, leading to a career low home run rate (0.66 HR/9). His strikeout (22.3%) and walk (8.4%) rates are in line with his career norms, and his platoon split is tiny. Bauer is getting all those ground balls by throwing his mid-90s sinker more than ever before. It’s his main fastball now with his-90s four-seamer being a secondary offering. It used to be the other way around, four-seamer before sinker. Bauer’s wide array of offspeed pitches includes an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, and an upper-70s curveball. For a while the knock on Bauer was that he had too many pitches — he used to throw a slider, a splitter, and even a screwball — and would get burned on his sixth or seventh or eighth best pitch. He’s cut down on his arsenal and is sticking to his five best pitches now.

Friday (7:10pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. CLE) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (vs. NYY)
Two years ago Kluber, who earlier today was named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement for Marco Estrada, deservingly won the AL Cy Young award. He had a 2.44 ERA (2.65 FIP) in 235.2 innings that year. Last year those numbers jumped to 3.49 ERA (2.97 FIP) in 222 innings, and this year he owns a 3.79 ERA (2.96 FIP) in 114 innings. The ERA keeps going up even though his peripherals are off the charts good. Weird. Kluber, 30, has excellent underlying stats across the board — 24.9% strikeouts, 5.9% walks, 48.9% grounders, and 0.71 HR/9 — and lefties have had slightly more success against him than righties. In the past his platoon split was much bigger. The Klubot is a low-to-mid-90s sinker pitcher who uses a four-seam fastball at similar velocity in get-me-over situations. His low-80s slider is not of this Earth …

Corey Kluber slider

… and he also throws upper-80s cutters and low-80 changeups. Kluber has filthy, filthy stuff. His combination of raw stuff and command is in the top 1% of all pitchers.

Saturday (4:10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (vs. NYY)
Salazar had a strong first full season as a big leaguer last year, and he’s taken his game to another level this year. The 26-year-old has thrown 99 innings of 2.36 ERA (3.30 FIP) ball, though his walk rate (11.0%) is way high. It was much better last season (7.0%). Not sure what’s going on there. Salazar’s strikeout (28.3%), grounder (47.5%), and homer (0.73 HR/9) numbers are all very good though, plus he has a big reverse split. That’s thanks to his nasty upper-80s changeup, which falls right off the table. Salazar sits in the mid-90s with his fastball — he’s hit 99.4 mph this season, per PitchFX — and also has a mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball. Believe it or not, he only throws the two breaking balls roughly 10% of the time combined. He’s a fastball/changeup pitcher. Salazar made the All-Star team this year and is a candidate to start for the AL. He’s been that good.

Sunday (1:10pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. NYY)
A hamstring injury shelved Carrasco for about six weeks earlier this season, but, when healthy, he’s had a 2.47 ERA (3.90 FIP) in eleven starts and 69.1 innings. He’s been weirdly homer prone (1.30 HR/9), which is unlike the rest of his career. Carrasco’s strikeout (25.1%), walk (6.6%), and grounder (53.3%) rates are all marvelous. This is some rotation the Indians have. The 29-year-old Carrasco has no platoon split because he used five pitches regularly, led by his mid-90s four-seamer and sinker. Both his upper-80s slider and low-90s changeup are legitimate put-away pitches, and he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s curveballs per start too. Nasty, nasty stuff.

Allen. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty)
Allen. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty)

Bullpen Status

The Indians played a 19-inning game against the Blue Jays last Friday and they’re still trying to get their bullpen in order. They’ve been shuttling guys in and out on almost a daily basis since to make sure they have fresh arms. Bauer, who was scheduled to start the day after the 19-inning game, came out of the bullpen and threw five innings that game, then Cleveland went with a bullpen game the next day. These guys are definitely looking forward to the All-Star break. Here is Francona’s relief crew:

Closer: RHP Cody Allen (3.03 ERA/3.73 FIP)
Setup: RHP Bryan Shaw (4.41/5.01)
Middle: RHP Tommy Hunter (3.48/3.22), RHP Jeff Manship (2.13/4.67), RHP Zach McAllister (5.40/4.93), RHP Dan Otero (1.36/2.32)
Long: RHP Mike Clevinger (7.71/5.50), LHP T.J. House (1.2 IP)

The Yankees agreed to sign Hunter over the winter, you may remember. Then he failed his physical and the team walked away from the two-year agreement. Hunter instead had to settle for a cheap one-year deal with the Tribe. McAllister and Otero are former Yankees who never actually played for the Yankees. New York drafted McAllister in 2006 and traded him as a prospect for Austin Kearns in 2010. Otero spent a few weeks in the organization between offseason waiver claims in 2013.

The Tigers did the Yankees a favor and worked Cleveland’s bullpen yesterday. Hunter (17 pitches), McAllister (24), House (23), and Manship (18) all pitched. No one in their bullpen comes into today having worked back-to-back games though. Our Bullpen Workload page tells you everything you need to know about the availability of Joe Girardi‘s relievers.

The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.