Wednesday Notes: Astros, Nats, Quintana, Prospects, A-Rod

Musgrove. (Presswire)
Musgrove. (Presswire)

The Yankees return to television tonight with a home game against the Phillies, thankfully. We haven’t seen them play since Saturday. Tonight’s game will start at 6:35pm ET and we’ll have a regular game thread at that time. Here are some bits of news to check out in the meantime.

Yankees scouted Astros, Nationals

According to Brendan Kuty, the Yankees had scout (Matt Daley!) in Port St. Lucie over the weekend when the Astros and Nationals visited the Mets. Righty Joe Musgrove started for Houston on Friday while righty Erick Fedde was on the mound for Washington on Saturday. Both pitchers allowed one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings in their outings. Musgrove struck out four. Fedde fanned one.

The Yankees have been connected to both Musgrove and Fedde over the last year or so, but only through speculation. Not hard “they want this guy” rumors. Musgrove was mentioned as a possible target during Brian McCann trade talks (I even wrote a Scouting The Market post) while Fedde’s name came up as a potential piece in an Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman trade at least year’s deadline. Obviously neither deal came to fruition.

We could connect some serious dots here. The Astros are said to want another high-end starting pitcher, and with Masahiro Tanaka‘s opt-out looming, could the Yankees move him? The Nationals don’t have a closer right now and gosh, Dellin Betances sure makes sense for them, no? That said, teams scout either other all the time, and this could be nothing. Still, with the Yankees perpetually seeking young controllable pitching, this report sure is interesting.

Nothing happening with Quintana

According to Jack Curry (video link), the Yankees have “nothing simmering, nothing very hot going on right now” with regards to trade talks with the White Sox about Jose Quintana. Quintana is very much available and last week we heard the White Sox have been scouting the Yankees this spring. See? Teams scout each other all the time. Anyway, point is there’s nothing imminent here, which isn’t surprising.

Quintana started against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic last week and was masterful, taking a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing a two-out single and hitting his pitch count. (The bullpen then blew it.) That said, Quintana’s stock didn’t go up or anything. Teams know he’s good. The only way one game can change a veteran pitcher’s trade stock is if he gets hurt. My guess is the White Sox will ramp up their efforts to trade Quintana pretty soon, before he goes all Tyson Ross on them or something.

FanGraphs releases top Yankees prospects, top 100 prospects lists

Over at FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen recently released his top 33 Yankees prospects list as well as his top 100 prospects list for all of baseball. White Sox IF Yoan Moncada claims the top spot on the top 100. Here are the eight Yankees in the top 100:

7. SS Gleyber Torres
34. OF Clint Frazier
40. OF Blake Rutherford
53. RHP James Kaprielian
61. OF Aaron Judge
87. OF Dustin Fowler
91. SS Jorge Mateo
97. LHP Justus Sheffield

This is the only top 100 list Fowler has made this year. Interesting. As for the top 33 Yankees prospects list, gosh, it’s massive. I still haven’t finished reading the entire thing. I’m doing it bit by bit. The write-up covers 68 players total. 68!

“Fawning over the system’s obvious talent ignores its most fascinating aspect: the bizarre collection of pop-up arms. New York appears to be in possession of a player-development machine that has conjured several interesting pitching prospects seemingly out of thin air,” says the write-up, referring to guys like Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and Chad Green, all of whom came to the Yankees as okay prospects and have since seen their stock rise considerably. Now hopefully some of these guys will turn into productive big leaguers.

Man of the people. (Chicago Tribune)
Man of the people. (Chicago Tribune)

A-Rod joins FOX full-time

Alex Rodriguez is officially a full-time broadcaster. Last week FOX announced A-Rod has joined the network and will “serve as a game analyst for select FOX MLB SATURDAY telecasts as well as feature reporter for FOX’s MLB pregame coverage and FS1 studio show MLB WHIPAROUND,” according to the press release. It doesn’t sound like he will be in the broadcast booth, does it? Sounds like a studio gig.

FOX owns a big chunk of the YES Network following the News Corp. deal a few years back, though it doesn’t sound like there will be any crossover work here. A-Rod will be on FOX and FOX Sports 1. Not YES. Lame. I assume Alex will continue his special advisor duties with the Yankees in the meantime. His agreement with the club called for him to remain in that role through the end of this year. Either way, A-Rod was really good on television the last two postseasons, and it was only a matter of time until some network scooped him up.

MLB approves wearable biometric device

For the first time MLB has approved a wearable on-field biometric device for players, reports Darren Rovell. The device, which is made by a company called WHOOP, is meant to be worn all day and night, and will record data on sleep, heart rate, recovery, strain, etc. It is not a mandated piece of equipment and teams can’t force their players to wear the WHOOP device. It is the player’s decision given the private data involved.

Clubs have been studying pitcher deliveries using biometrics for years now, though the WHOOP device extends beyond that. Teams are focusing more and more on rest and recovery, because nowadays having the most talent isn’t enough. You need the most talented players performing at their best as often as possible. Rest and recovery are part of that. The Yankees start their Spring Training workouts later in the morning to give players time to sleep in, plus they’ve looked for ways to improve travel in recent years too. I wonder how many players will wear the WHOOP device. It seems like the data could be really useful.

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.

2014 Draft: Erick Fedde

Erick Fedde | RHP

Background
Fedde was born and raised in Las Vegas, and he passed on signing with the Padres as a 24th round pick in 2011. He jumped right into the UNLV rotation and had a 3.76 ERA with a 149/61 K/BB in 186.2 innings as a freshman and sophomore. Fedde had a 1.76 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 21 walks in 76.2 innings this spring before blowing out his elbow last week and needing Tommy John surgery.

Scouting Report
Tall and skinny at 6-foot-4 and 180 lbs., Fedde sits in the low-90s and touches 95-96 with his fastball when healthy. His go-to secondary pitch is a low-80s slider he can throw for called strikes or bury in the dirt for swings and misses. It’s a legit big league out pitch on its best days. Fedde’s changeup is an average pitch more than anything. Although he does a good job of repeating his delivery, though he tends to drop his arm later in starts due to fatigue and it hurts his command. There’s a chance he winds up in the bullpen long-term. Fedde has not put on any weight during his three years in school and he isn’t guaranteed to fill out that long frame. He’s similar to Chris Sale in that regard.

Miscellany
In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com ranked Fedde as the 8th, 14th, and 28th best prospect in the draft class, respectively. That was before he blew out his elbow, however, and the injury will surely cause him to slide down some draft boards. As with ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman, a projected top five pick who recently had Tommy John surgery as well, I think the Yankees would jump all over Fedde if he fell into their lap at the 55th overall pick (their top selection following the offseason spending spree) but I suspect a team with extra picks will roll the dice first.