Bird’s approach and hard-hit tendencies stand out early in MLB career

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

Even with last night’s 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, first base prospect Greg Bird has been very impressive in his short MLB cameo. He had the two-homer game Wednesday and has gone 6-for-21 (.286) with a double, two homers, and a .348 OBP so far. Losing Mark Teixeira to that bone bruise in his shin could have been very bad, even if only for a few days, but Bird has stepped in and helped the offense. It’s been awesome to watch.

“Miguel Cabrera had a slow clock, and really had an understanding of what he wanted to do, and I think Greg Bird has an understanding of who he is and what he wants to do,” said Joe Girardi to Kieran Darcy following the two-homer game Wednesday. “He’s got a slow heartbeat, and you can just see it. He doesn’t go out of his zone, he knows what he wants to do and has a plan, and he executed really well today.”

Bird had a reputation for being a very disciplined hitter as he came up through the system, and it shows in his career 14.9% walk rate in the minors. Being disciplined isn’t just about drawing walks, however. Walks are a byproduct of being disciplined; the goal is to get into a good hitter’s count first and foremost. Bird showed he’ll swing early in the count if he gets something to hit earlier this week with his first pitch double off Glen Perkins:

“I got ambushed by the first guy,” said Perkins to Mike Berardino after the game. Bird was leading off the inning against a new pitcher, a tough lefty he had never seen before, and taking a pitch to get a feel for the situation would have been easy to understand. Instead he jumped on the first pitch fastball, a very hittable pitch, and sparked the game-winning rally.

PitchFX data says Bird has swung at only 16.3% of pitches out of the zone so far, which is microscopic. The MLB average is 30.8%, and Carlos Santana has the lowest swing rate on outside pitches among qualified hitters at 19.1%. For what it’s worth, swing rates stabilize very quickly, though Bird’s swing rate on pitches out of the zone is unsustainably low. He’ll inevitably swing at more pitches out of the zone as he accumulates more plate appearances and that’s okay. That’s baseball.

Even to my untrained eye, that “slow clock” Girardi spoke about seems pretty obvious. Bird looks very comfortable and very in control at the plate. Lots of rookies come up and start hacking at everything because they so badly want to impress. It’s only natural. Bird has not done that at all. Look at his ninth inning walk last night. Lots of rookies would have come out of their shoes swinging at bad pitches trying to make something happen. Bird appears to be very relaxed at the plate and it shows in the strike zone plot of his swings (via FanGraphs):

Greg Bird swing heat map

In a nutshell, the brighter the red, the more often Bird has swung at pitches in that location in his brief MLB career. The brighter the blue, the less often he has swung at pitches in that location. Almost all of the red is out over the plate and almost all of the blue is outside the zone. It’s exactly what you want to see, though it rarely happens with a rookie.

In addition to his impressively disciplined approach, Bird has also stood out because he seems to hit the ball really, really hard. His average exit velocity is a healthy 93.2 mph, well above the 88.4 mph league average. Obviously Bird’s number comes in a very small sample, so take it with a grain of salt. Baseball Info Solutions data, which is recorded by human stringers, pegs his hard contact rate at 57.1%. The league average is 28.6%.

Bird has made lots of hard contact early on — I thought it was sorta funny that his first career hit was a dinky little ground ball with eyes after he watched some rockets find gloves in previous days — and the most impressive thing is that he’s consistently hitting the ball in the air. Just three of his 14 balls in play have been ground balls (21.4%). That’s it. This isn’t something new either. Here’s a snippet of Keith Law’s preseason scouting report (subs. req’d), when he ranked Bird as the 81st best prospect in baseball (emphasis mine):

Bird’s swing is very short to the ball, and he accelerates his hands quickly for hard contact to all fields, rarely putting the ball on the ground because he squares it up so frequently.

According to MLB Farm, Bird had a tiny 31.0% ground ball rate in the minors this year before being called up. Last year it was a 30.0% ground ball rate. That’s ridiculously low. The league average ground ball rate in the big leagues is 45.4%. It’s approximately 45% in the Triple-A International League, 44% in the Double-A Eastern League, and 47% in the High-A Florida State League. Bird has been way below the league average at each stop. He doesn’t hit the ball on the ground.

Generally speaking, fly balls are turned into outs more often than ground balls — fly balls have a .073 BABIP this year while grounders are at .243 — but they also go for extra base hits more often. That makes sense intuitively and the numbers back it up: fly balls have a .287 ISO this year while ground balls are at .020. (The only ground balls that go for extra bases are those hit down the line.) We also know the harder you hit the ball, the more likely it is to go for a hit (line drives have a .615 BABIP and .393 ISO!), so Bird’s combination of hard contact and not hitting grounders is one hell of a recipe for doing damage.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Bird has been in the big leagues for a little more than a week now and that’s nothing. This could all be small sample size noise for all we know. The super early returns do match the scouting reports though, so that’s encouraging, and the combination of plate discipline and hitting the ball hard in the air sure is exciting. Most impressively, Bird looks like he belongs. He has looked very calm and in control at the plate. That’s stood out more than anything.

Saturday Links: A-Rod, Best Tools, 810 River Ave., CLEAR

(Tom Pennington/Getty)
(Tom Pennington/Getty)

The Yankees and Blue Jays resume their three-game series early this afternoon. Until then, check out these stray links and news items to help you pass the time.

Pre-game ceremony for A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit

This is rich. The Yankees will hold a special on-field pre-game ceremony for Alex Rodriguez‘s 3,000th career hit later this season, the team announced. It’ll be held Sunday, September 13th, before the team’s 1pm ET game against the Blue Jays. They ask you to be in your seats by 12:30pm ET. So just a few weeks after refusing to pay A-Rod his $6M home run milestone bonus because they claimed it was unmarketable, the Yankees are honoring Alex for his 3,000th hit. Guess they’re hoping for a late-season attendance bump.

MLB.com’s farm system rankings

Jim Callis posted his updated ranking of the top ten farm systems this week, and the Yankees placed tenth. I’m not sure where Callis had the Yankees coming into the season, but most other publications had them in the 18-25 range. “New York has position prospects at every spot on the diamond, including speedy shortstop Jorge Mateo (No. 99), sweet-swinging second baseman Robert Refsnyder and slugging catcher Gary Sanchez,” wrote Callis. I don’t know if the Yankees truly have a top ten system yet — this is just one person’s rankings, of course — but the system is clearly on the rise, even if Severino graduates to the big leagues before the end of the season.

Baseball America’s Best Tools

Baseball America published their annual Best Tools survey this week, in which they poll managers, coaches, scouts … basically everyone about the best players and best tools in their individual leagues. Several Yankees players and prospects appeared throughout the survey, so here’s a quick rundown:

All of the surveys are free, you don’t need a subscription, so click the links and you can read through each category and each league. Obviously this is all very subjective — I can’t imagine there are many Yankee fans who consider Gardner the best bunter in the AL — but I’ve always found it interesting and fun to see who coaches and scouts feel have the best skills.

(6sqft)
(6sqft)

New apartment tower being built next old Yankee Stadium site

According to Ondel Hylton, a new 17-story apartment building is being built on River Ave. between 157th and 158th Streets, on the old Ball Park Lanes site. (The bowling alley closed years ago.) The 134-unit building at 810 River Ave. is right across the street from the old Yankee Stadium site and is a few blocks away from the new Stadium. The neighborhood was re-zoned for buildings up to 30 stories back in 2009, and this is the first new high-rise going up in the area. Construction started in May.

CLEAR comes to Yankee Stadium

As you know, MLB mandated all 30 ballparks must have metal detectors at the entrances this season, which is a total pain. Couldn’t be any less convenient and, frankly, it doesn’t make me feel any safer. (Not that I’ve ever felt unsafe at a game, but that’s besides the point.) The Yankees recently partnered up with CLEAR to expedite the process, the team announced. It’s the same biometrics technology they use at airports for TSA pre-check. You can sign up at Gate 4, and, if approved, you’ll be able to simply scan your finger at a designated fast access lane and skip the whole metal detector process. Yankee Stadium is the third stadium with CLEAR technology, joining AT&T Park and Coors Field. So if you’ve ever wanted that airport experience at a ball park, this is your lucky day!

Curry: Yankees calling up Greg Bird

Sorry, Greg, can't wear No. 20 in the show. (Presswire)
Sorry, Greg, can’t wear No. 20 in the show. (Presswire)

According to Jack Curry, the Yankees are calling up first base prospect Greg Bird. He’ll join the team tonight in Cleveland. The Yankees have not yet officially announced anything but there’s no reason to doubt Curry. The team will have to make both a 25-man and 40-man roster move to accommodate Bird.

Bird, 22, is hitting .277/.356/.469 (138 wRC+) with 23 doubles and 12 home runs in 318 plate appearances split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year. I consider him the sixth best prospect in the system but prospect rankings are subjective as hell, and it wouldn’t be insane to say he’s the team’s second best prospect in the minors now that Luis Severino is in the big leagues. Here’s a snippet of Baseball America’s scouting report:

Scouts and evaluators rave about Bird’s approach as well as his bat. He’s a line-to-line hitter with the willingness to work deep counts and take walks if necessary … Overall, the people who saw him play this year picture Bird, at his peak, as a truly balanced hitter capable of hitting for average and with power enough for 20 or more home runs annually while not doing any damage in the field. His home run power is mostly to the pull side (all but one has gone to right field), but he can push doubles to all fields.

Curry says Bird will serve as a backup at first base and DH during this stretch of 16 games in 16 days. Bird is a first baseman and a first baseman only, so there’s really no way to get him into the lineup without sitting either Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira. He’ll be a lefty bat off the bench, something the Yankees could have used last night when Chris Young faced a righty with runners on second and third and two outs, for example.

I’m not sure there’s much upside to calling Bird up only to sit on the bench, but it’s not a bad move, just kind of a weird one. Had Andrew Miller not blown the save Tuesday and forced the bullpen to throw all those innings in the 16-inning game, chances are Garrett Jones would have remained with the team and Bird would still be in Triple-A. Jones was cut yesterday to get a fresh arm on the roster. Hopefully Bird can have an impact as a pinch-hitter and spot starter at first and DH.

The Yankees currently have an eight-man bullpen and a three-man bench, so I assume they’ll send down a pitcher to make room for Bird. I’m guessing Nick Goody will be demoted since he’s pitched each of the last two days and is unlikely to be available tonight. As for the 40-man roster move … I’m not sure. Cole Figueroa and Chris Martin stand out as players who could be outrighted. We’ll see.

Proximity to MLB makes hanging on to top prospects at the deadline a sensible move for the Yankees

Judge. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Judge. (Rob Carr/Getty)

As I said over the weekend, I think it was quite risky for the Yankees to let the trade deadline pass without adding some kind of pitching depth. They could always add a pitcher in an August waiver trade, sure, but they won’t have access to the high-end arms. Guys like Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma figure to be claimed on revocable waivers long before they get to New York.

The Yankees did not acquire a pitcher but not because of a lack of effort — they were reportedly out there talking to everyone about their available pitchers, including the Reds (Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake) and Padres (Craig Kimbrel, etc.). The issue for them was cost. They didn’t want to surrender their top prospects, and in many cases, teams traded their top prospects at the deadline. J.J. Cooper notes six top 50 and nine top 100 prospects were traded within the last week or so.

The reluctance to surrender top prospects was not necessarily a case of blind prospect hugging, which happens often. It’s only natural. Prospects are like kids, everyone loves their own more than than everyone else’s, and they’re more willing to overlook their shortcomings. The Yankees held on to their top prospects partly because of their proximity to MLB — these guys are in Triple-A and producing, which means they aren’t far off from helping the Yankees.

“I’ve been in the position in the past where we’ve had a strong system, but it was down low and you had to wait it out,” said Brian Cashman to Chad Jennings following the trade deadline. “Well, we’ve done the waiting. We’ve done that hard part in waiting it out, and now these guys, we probably have one of the youngest and also productive and high-profile rosters at Triple-A.”

Cashman admitted to having four untouchable prospects: Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and “in most cases” Jorge Mateo. Judge, Severino, and Bird are all in Triple-A right now — well, Severino is technically still in Triple-A, but he’s being called up to join the rotation tomorrow — while Mateo is still all the way down in Low Class-A. That’s why he was untouchable “in most cases” and not all. The Yankees were reportedly ready to deal Mateo for Kimbrel, but it didn’t happen.

Severino, Judge, and Bird are valuable to the Yankees in both the short and long-term because they’re obviously very good prospects, and also because they fill positions of need. Severino’s a pitcher and everyone needs pitching. Judge and Bird have a clear path to the long-term right field and first base jobs, respectively, since both Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will be free agents after next season. The Yankees won’t have to wait years to see them in the show. They could be up and in the lineup everyday next year if there’s an injury.

Success in Triple-A does not guarantee success in MLB, that couldn’t be more obvious at this point, but success in Triple-A does make success in MLB somewhat more likely. Minor league performance matters less and less the further away you get from the big leagues. Double-A is usually the big separator — most suspects are weeded out from the actual prospects at that level. Judge, Severino et al have succeeded in Double-A and are now doing it in Triple-A.

Did the Yankees make a mistake by not adding pitching depth at the trade deadline? Oh sure, it would be extremely easy to argue that. Example: the team’s starters allowed 36 runs in 51.2 innings during the ten-game road trip and they just lost Michael Pineda to a forearm injury for a few weeks. See? Simple. Considering they have a nice lead in the AL East and haven’t been to the postseason since 2012, dealing some minor leaguers for pitching would have been easily justifiable.

Instead, the Yankees the Yankees focused on the long-term, holding on to their top prospects rather than trade them for a quick fix, which is what many folks have wanted them to do for quite a while. In this case the long-term is also the short-term. We’ll see it with Severino tomorrow. Had the Yankees made a bunch of low level prospects untouchable, well that would have been sorta foolish. They have high-end prospects close to MLB now though, for the first time in a long time. Hanging on to players this close to helping is much more sensible.

“Again, with young guys, if you’re right on your assessments, you can have it pay off towards the back end,” added Cashman. “We haven’t deviated from that game plan. We’re comfortable doing that. We believe in the upside. We also see the patience that at times is necessary.”

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Friday

Kimbrel. (Presswire)
Kimbrel. (Presswire)

Today’s the day. Specifically, 4pm ET is the time. Teams have until 4pm ET today to make non-waiver trades, which means there figures to be a flurry of activity in the next few hours even though big names like Johnny Cueto, David Price, and Troy Tulowitzki have already been moved. The Yankees made a relatively minor trade yesterday, sending Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez to the Mariners for Dustin Ackley.

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week we learned the Yankees are in the market for pitching help, both starters and relievers, but they’re not willing to give up their top prospects. They’ve been connected to all sorts of pitchers the last few days but those pitchers keep getting traded elsewhere. Hopefully they reel one or two in today, preferably a starter. They really need rotation help. We’ll keep tabs on all of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, as usual.

  • 4:37pm ET: The Yankees were not only willing to include Jorge Mateo in a Craig Kimbrel trade, they also offered to take back Jedd Gyorko and his disaster contract. They never got an answer from the Padres, apparently. [Heyman]
  • 3:53pm ET: The Yankees are expected to stand pat at the deadline. Weak, if true. [Nightengale]
  • 3:28pm ET: The Yankees told the Padres they were willing to trade Jorge Mateo for Craig Kimbrel, but San Diego hasn’t responded. The assumption is Kimbrel is going elsewhere. [Rosenthal, Sherman]
  • 3:22pm ET: Once again, the Yankees and Padres have “no traction” for a Craig Kimbrel trade. They have had “no talks” recently. [Rosenthal, Sherman]
  • 3:02pm ET: Should the Craig Kimbrel deal not happen, the Yankees won’t work out a smaller trade involving Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy. [Sherman]
  • 2:05pm ET: In addition to Jorge Mateo, the Padres would also want a pitcher back from the Yankees for Craig Kimbrel. [Sweeny Murti]
  • 1:56pm ET: The Yankees believe the Padres are working on a bigger trade involving Craig Kimbrel. Apparently San Diego will not trade Kimbrel to New York unless Jorge Mateo is in the deal. [Sherman]
  • 12:33pm ET: Apparently talks with the Padres for Craig Kimbrel broke down yesterday and have not been revived. They haven’t talked today. That’s why the Yankees are looking at guys like Carter Capps. [Rosenthal, Olney]
  • 12:21pm ET: The Yankees are the team in the “hottest” pursuit of Craig Kimbrel. It sure seems like the plan is to add another elite reliever. [Rosenthal]
  • 11:00am ET: The Marlins have coveted Greg Bird and would probably ask for him in a potential Carter Capps trade. I can’t see that happening given the Yankees’ reluctance to trade their close to MLB top prospects. [Joe Frisaro]
  • 10:56am ET: Although the Yankees did indeed check in, a trade for Aroldis Chapman is “not likely” to happen. Womp womp. That would have been fun. [Heyman]
  • 10:36am ET: The Yankees don’t like the idea of trading Jorge Mateo for a reliever, even one as good as Craig Kimbrel. If they do trade Mateo, they’re more likely to do so for a starting pitcher or everyday position player. [Sherman]
  • 10:12am ET: The Yankees continue to look for rotation help but feel “doubtful.” They believe Severino, Adam Warren, and Bryan Mitchell could hold down the fort in the second half if necessary. [Sherman]
  • 9:53am ET: The Yankees would consider trading Jorge Mateo but not top prospects closer to MLB like Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. That makes sense, I guess. Also, if they are willing to trade Mateo, they could seek more in return from the Padres than just Craig Kimbrel. It would also open doors to other deals. [Sherman]
  • 9:51am ET: The Yankees are talking to the Marlins about setup man Carter Capps, the guy with the jumpy delivery. That would be fun to watch, if nothing else. [Stark, Heyman]
  • 9:44am ET: The Yankees are one of five teams “aggressively” pursuing Aroldis Chapman, who would take over as closer. This all sounds like posturing — the price is too high for Kimbrel so we’ll say we’re in on Chapman, the Yankees aren’t offering enough for Kimbrel so we’ll get the Astros involved, etc. [Bob Nightengale]
  • 9:31am ET: The Yankees and Padres worked overnight on a Craig Kimbrel trade that would send a “good” prospect to San Diego with New York taking on all of the $28M or so left on Kimbrel’s contract. The Padres are looking for a young shortstop and have sought Jorge Mateo, who is supposedly off limits. Other clubs, specifically the Astros, are talking to the Padres about Kimbrel as well. [Rosenthal, Stark, Heyman, Buster Olney]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees remain interested in both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, but the prices are high. They want to add an impact pitcher however they can, and adding a reliever would allow them to more easily put Adam Warren in the rotation. [Joel Sherman, Ken Rosenthal, Jayson Stark]
  • The Yankees are one of several teams in pursuit of Yovani Gallardo, who they faced last night. Gallardo didn’t pitch too well last night but he’s had a strong season overall. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Giants are also in on Gallardo, though San Francisco may be out of the picture after acquiring Mike Leake late last night. [Jon Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Yankees wouldn’t have to sacrifice the future for David Price, just part of it

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

David Price is available. After days and weeks of sitting on the fence, the Tigers finally decided it was time to take a step back and “reboot,” which means Price and the rest of their rental players are available. “We’re looking at it more as rebooting going into next season. I think our foundation is solid going forward,” said GM Dave Dombrowski to Joel Sherman.

Earlier today we heard the Yankees are one of four serious contenders for Price, which makes total sense. He’s right smack in the prime of his career, he’s a rental, he throws hard, he misses bats, he limits walks, he soaks up innings, he’s left-handed, he’s had success in the AL East, he’s 6-foot-6 … if Brian Cashman could go into a lab to create a starting pitcher, he’d create David Price. He’s everything the Yankees look for in a pitcher.

Of course, acquiring Price won’t be easy, especially since the Yankees continue to insist they will not trade their top prospects. That means Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo, Greg Bird, and who knows who else. Cashman & Co. could very well be posturing — or maybe they are sincere about not trading prospects (until ownership gets involved) — because every team says they will hold on to their top prospects this time of year. You won’t give up your top prospects until you do.

So what will it take to get Price? The Reds were nice enough to set the market for a rental ace recently. The Johnny Cueto trade a few days ago netted them the Royals’ first round pick from a year ago (Brandon Finnegan) plus two players MLB.com recently ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 8 (Cody Reed) and No. 20 (John Adam) prospects. One high-end MLB ready player plus two prospects. There’s the cost. Price might require more because he hasn’t had elbow scare this year like Cueto, but that’s in the ballpark.

Whatever the package ends up being, it’ll hurt to get someone like Price. You don’t make a trade for a star caliber player without it hurting. The Yankees want to hold onto their top prospects, I get that, but it’s possible to make a trade for Price sacrificing the future. Why? Because the Yankees wouldn’t have to trade all of their top prospects to get him. They’d have to sacrifice some of their future, not all of it. I feel like that gets overlooked much of the time.

As the Cueto trade showed, it doesn’t take two or three top prospects to get a rental ace. It takes one. One plus some other guys who are pretty good but not deal-breakers. The cool thing about New York’s farm system now is that so many of their top prospects are already in Triple-A, so even if the Yankees do deal one of those players, they have others on the cusp of helping. The only real exception is Mateo, who is still down in Low-A.

The Tigers have no use for Bird with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez signed for all eternity — unless they plan to flip him, but that seems like a lot of work — but, if Detroit wants him, the Yankees should absolutely deal him. Bird is the worst — worst being a relative term, of course — of the club’s top prospects, and the guy who has like a 50/50 chance of being a platoon DH is not someone you make untouchable. With Yoenis Cespedes set to become a free agent, I’m sure Judge would be very appealing. Severino? Everyone needs pitching. Judge and Severino seem like the key pieces here.

One thing to keep in mind is Price is much more valuable to some other teams than the Yankees. New York has a nice six-game lead in the AL East. They have some margin for error. Other clubs — specifically Price suitors like the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays — do not. They’re all locked in tight postseason races, so adding those two or three extra wins from Price will greatly increase their playoff chances. Price will help the Yankees. He’ll help other teams more, which could inflate his price. There’s that little bit of extra motivation to get him.

The Yankees showed they are able to make meaningful upgrades without trading top prospects at the deadline last year, though Price is a special case because he’s an elite player. I think the Yankees did the right thing the last two years by not trading away their top prospects, mostly because they weren’t serious contenders from 2013-14, but the 2015 Yankees are different. This team is ready to win, and Price would be a significant upgrade. This is precisely why you want to have multiple high-end prospects, so you can move one for a guy like Price to boost a postseason push without completely selling out the future.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Monday

Hamels. (David Banks/Getty)
Hamels. (David Banks/Getty)

The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline is this coming Friday at 4pm ET. The Yankees are currently 55-42 with a +34 run differential on the season, giving them a 6.5-game lead in the AL East. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at a healthy 93.1%. Despite that, the roster could use some reinforcements, particularly at second base and on the mound.

“We’ve had conversations with every club willing to sell, finding out what they’re willing to sell and what their price tags are. You engage everyone about everything,” said Brian Cashman to Ken Rosenthal recently. The Yankees are said to prefer rental players — their trade deadline activity in recent years backs that up — but they’ve reportedly “sworn off” dealing top prospects for said rentals. We’ll see.

We’ll keep track of any Yankees-related rumors right here throughout the day. The team tends to do things very quietly, almost all of their major moves seem to come out of nowhere, so I can’t promise you many updates. Especially not this early in the week. Either way, keep tabs on everything  and talk about all things trade deadline right here throughout the day.

  • 6:17pm ET: The A’s have traded Tyler Clippard to the Mets for minor league righty Casey Meisner, the teams announced. So scratch Clippard off the list. Meisner was the Amazin’s third round pick last summer. He’s similar to a healthy Austin DeCarr, if you’re wondering.
  • 5:00pm ET: The Dodgers and Rangers are currently seen as the favorites to land Cole Hamels. The Phillies continue to demand either Judge or Severino from the Yankees. [Heyman]
  • 3:36pm ET: The Yankees continue to show interest in Ben Zobrist but they are one of many. The Pirates, Royals, Angels, and Cubs are also trying him to pry him away from Oakland. [Heyman]
  • 12:53pm ET: As expected, the Yankees continue to talk both starters and relievers with other teams, especially righty relievers. The plan could be to acquire a reliever then moving Adam Warren back into the rotation. [Heyman]
  • 11:30am ET: The Yankees have indeed contacted the Phillies about Cole Hamels, which is no surprise. They had a scout at his no-hitter over the weekend. The Phillies asked for either Aaron Judge or Luis Severino, but the Yankees are not planning to move Judge, Severino, Greg Bird, or other top prospects. Philadelphia is also said to be seeking a catcher in any trade. [Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, Jim Salisbury, Buster Olney]
  • In addition to Hamels, the Yankees are keeping tabs on basically every available starting pitcher. That list includes Jeff Samardzija, Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo, and Mat Latos, among others. It remains to see whether the Tigers will cave and make David Price available. [Joel Sherman]
  • The Yankees are a potential landing spot for Tyler Clippard, who could be dealt as soon as today. The club has also been scouting Padres relievers recently, presumably Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit. Kimbrel is Kimbrel, and the Yanks have shown a bunch of interest in Benoit in recent years. [Susan Slusser, Jon Morosi]
  • The Yankees are looking for an upgrade at second base. There’s not much out there aside from Ben Zobrist, however. They have zero interest in Aaron Hill and could simply recall Rob Refsnyder if they’re unable to make a deal for help at second. [Jon Heyman]
  • Marlins righty Mat Latos has been linked to the Yankees. The Marlins are in sell mode — they’ve already traded ex-closer Steve Cishek to the Cardinals — and have plenty of rental players to offer. Here is our Scouting The Market post on Latos and other Miami players. [Joe Frisaro]
  • Athletics director of player personnel Billy Owens has scouting Double-A Trenton recently. That is definitely not the most prospect-laden team in the system. Scott Kazmir has already been traded, but the Yankees have interest in Zobrist. [Matt Kardos]
  • The Yankees and Reds did have discussions about Johnny Cueto before he was traded to the Royals. Apparently Ivan Nova‘s name came up. Talks didn’t advance very far. [George King]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.