Archive for Matt Lindstrom
Thanks to their five-game winning streak, the Yankees come into Tuesday only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot with 33 games left to play. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at only 12.8%, but the Yankees have a knack for outperforming expectations and projections and run differential and all that. Two and a half games with 33 games to go is a sneaky big deficit but it’s hardly insurmountable.
The non-waiver trade deadline was four weeks ago now, but the real trade deadline is midnight this coming Sunday. Players must be in the organization by 11:59pm ET on August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster and there are no exceptions. No injury loopholes, no waiver tricks, nothing. If the player is not in the organization by midnight Sunday, they can not play in the postseason, end of story. It’s a hard deadline.
The Yankees swung four trades leading up to the July 31st deadline but they still have some holes to fill. They dumped Matt Thornton on the Nationals a few weeks ago and have yet to reinvest his salary — this is despite reports saying they were working on other things — though it’s unclear exactly how much wiggle room the team has financially. That’s up to Hal Steinbrenner, of course. Here are some last minute trade targets who could help the Yankees in the final five weeks of the season.
OF Alex Rios, Rangers
New York reportedly had interest in Rios prior to the trade deadline, but instead they opted for the more versatile Martin Prado. The 33-year-old Rios went into last night’s game hitting .283/.313/.401 (91 wRC+) with four homers and nine steals in 122 games this year, so his production has dropped off quite a bit from last year (104 wRC+) and the year before (126 wRC+). Even his usually strong outfield defense has slipped according to the various metrics.
Even after making those deals at the trade deadline, the Yankees are still short a right-handed bat or two in the lineup. I mean, Zelous Wheeler has started four times in the last five games, and as long as that continues to happen, the Yankees are short a righty bat. Rios has put up a .343/.374/.581 (155 wRC+) batting line against southpaws this year, so he’d fill a definitely need, especially now that Carlos Beltran is locked back in at DH following his recent elbow problem and Prado seems to have taken over at second base.
Rios is owed approximately $2.5M through the end of the season with a $13.5M club option ($1M buyout) for next season, so he’s essentially a pure rental at $3.5M. Calvin Watkins reported Rios cleared trade waivers earlier this month, meaning he can be traded to any team at any time. The Rangers traded Geovany Soto over the weekend and they failed to move Neal Cotts after he was claimed off waivers, so, if nothing else, they’re active on the August market. Rios is available and would address a need.
OF Ryan Ludwick, Reds
Not thrilled with Rios? The lower profile Ludwick is hitting .250/.310/.390 (94 wRC+) with eight homers in 97 games overall, plus he has a .253/.318/.506 (124 wRC+) line against lefties. He was once a really strong defender but his glovework isn’t quite what it once was — Ludwick has a bunch of experience in right but also hasn’t played there since 2011 — but he’s not a butcher either. Besides, acquiring Ludwick is about adding another right-handed bat, not upgrading an already strong outfield defense.
Bob Nightengale reported the Reds were letting teams know Ludwick was available before the trade deadline, though it’s unclear if he has cleared or even been placed on trade waivers yet. He is owed roughly $1.6M through the end of the season, and his $9M option for 2015 comes with a pricey $4.5M buyout. The total investment (~$5.1M) is quite a bit more than Rios’ ($~3.5M). Ludwick is very available — the Reds have fallen out of the playoff race this month — and might be easier to attain, however.
DH Adam Dunn, White Sox
If Beltran is eventually going to return to right field, the Yankees will have an opening at DH, at least in the sense that there won’t be one dedicated player for the position. (Joe Girardi tends to rotate players in that spot whenever possible.) Dunn, 34, has a .220/.343/.429 (114 wRC+) line with 19 homers this year, though he won’t help the team’s right-handed bat problem. He does offer made for Yankee Stadium left-handed power though, and there is no such thing as too much of that. There is roughly $3M left on Dunn’s contract through the end of the season and he’ll become a free agent this winter. He only makes sense if Beltran can play the outfield regularly and right now there is no evidence that is the case. It’s a less than perfect fit.
RHP Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
I feel like I write about Lindstrom as a trade target every August. The 34-year-old has a 5.09 ERA (5.05 FIP) in 23 appearances and 23 innings this year, though that is inflated by two disaster outings earlier this month (six runs in one inning). Lindstrom missed three month with an ankle injury — he just returned two weeks ago — and at this point he’s just a ground ball pitcher (50.0%) who doesn’t miss many bats (5.48 K/9 and 13.6 K%). He’s owed about $800k through the end of the season and, given all the late-game experience he’s built up over the years, he could be a decent complement in the sixth or seventh inning as he gets further out from ankle surgery. If it doesn’t work out, then who cares? They can bury him in the back of the bullpen with expanded rosters in September.
* * *
As always, the key to these late-August trades is the price. You’re only getting five weeks of the player, and in the cases of Ludwick and Dunn, their teams would be motivated by dumping salary and not necessarily acquiring a real live prospect. If the Yankees have to give up anything more than a nondescript prospect for these guys, then forget it. They can only have so much of an impact at this point of the season. If they can get Rios or Ludwick for next to nothing to add another right-handed bat for the rest of the year, then they should be all over it. The Yankees only have six more days to make any additional moves and have that player potentially be available in October.
The last week or so has been total hell on the Yankees bullpen. David Robertson (shoulder) and Boone Logan (biceps, elbow) are both banged up and Shawn Kelley (triceps) spent a few days on the sidelines as well. Joba Chamberlain has been forced into high-leverage work and that just isn’t a good idea. Mariano Rivera, who clearly isn’t the Mo of old right now, has been asked to record more than three outs three times in his last four appearances and figures to see even more multi-inning work before the season ends in 19 days.
Robertson is expected to rejoin the team this week — perhaps as soon as today — and hopefully that is the case, but you never know with the Yankees and their recent history of setbacks. Pretty much everyone has one. Logan’s test results will be reviewed by Dr. James Andrews and that’s never a good sign. The Yankees re-signed journeyman Mike Zagurski yesterday, which is an indication they are at least somewhat concerned Logan will not be returning anytime soon.
A trade in September is not something you see all that often, but New York swung one last night to acquire infield help in the form of Brendan Ryan. They should also consider trading for bullpen help at this point. Like Ryan, whoever they acquire at this point would not be eligible for the playoff roster since they weren’t in the organization on August 31st, but there probably won’t even be a playoff roster in a few weeks if Yankees don’t get help. Here are three bullpen arms on non-contending teams who could be available in a trade at this unusual time.
Burke Badenhop, Brewers
Milwaukee is one the very worst teams in baseball and they don’t have a whole lot of desirable tradeable chips — aside from untouchables Carlos Gomes and Jean Segura, that is — which is why their deadline sell-off featured only Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford changing addresses. The 30-year-old Badenhop was rumored to be on the block as well, but he ultimately stayed put and has a 3.60 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 60 innings this summer. He’s essentially a righty specialist — has held righties to a .251 wOBA while lefties have tagged him for a .377 wOBA (more walks than strikeouts too) — who limits walks (1.80 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%) and gets ground balls (51.6%) but doesn’t miss many bats (6.15 K/9 and 16.8 K%).
If used correctly, Badenhop can be a real weapon against right-handed batters in the later innings of a game. He pitched with the Rays last season and was pretty effective (3.03 ERA and 3.62 FIP), so the AL East and a postseason race and all that won’t be new experiences. Badenhop is only owed approximately $240k the rest of the season and, as an added bonus, he will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2014. The Brewers took Grade-C prospects for K-Rod and Axford, who had much sexier track records than the sinker/slider guy Badenhop, so the cost shouldn’t be prohibitive.
Frank Francisco, Mets
Frankie Frank missed almost the entire season with bone spurs in his elbow and, according to Adam Rubin, there are some in the organization who think the 33-year-old had a “lack of urgency” during his rehab. He did return this past weekend and has pitched in two games, facing four total batters while allowing a single and recording a walk, a strikeout, and a ground ball. Francisco managed a 5.53 ERA (3.90 FIP) in 42.1 innings while missing time with oblique and elbow problems last season. He’s always been a high strikeout (career 9.92 K/9 and 25.6 K%), high walk (3.98 BB/9 and 10.3 BB%), low ground ball (34.4%) guy.
One team official told Rubin it is “certainly possible” the Mets will look to trade Francisco before the end of the season just to save some of the $715k they still owe him. That same official responded “Why wouldn’t we work something out with them?” when asked if they’d be open to trading with the Yankees. Francisco has late-inning/closer experience and will be a free agent after the season, plus the Mets would probably give him away at this point. Remember, we’re not talking about replacing Robertson or Kelley here. We’re talking about replacing Jim Miller or Matt Daley.
Matt Lindstrom, White Sox
Lindstrom, 33, has very quietly been one of the most effective relievers in baseball over these last three years. He has a 2.89 ERA (3.03 FIP) in 56 innings for the ChiSox this season and a 2.87 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 157 innings since the start of 2011. After coming up has a super-hard-thrower who didn’t always know where the ball was going, Lindstrom has scaled things back in recent years and now uses a mid-90s sinker/low-80s slider combination to generate a ton of ground balls (53.9%) and infield pop-ups (10.4%). Both his walk (3.70 BB/9 and 9.7 BB%) and strikeout (6.91 K/9 and 18.1 K%) rates have taken steps back this year, however.
As we saw firsthand last week, the White Sox are truly awful. Worst non-Astros team in the AL awful. They acknowledged that by trading away Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, and Matt Thornton at the deadline, so it stands to reason that Lindstrom would be available as well. He is owed roughly $355k through the end of the year with an affordable $4M club option ($500k buyout) for 2014 season in his contract. The Yankees need relievers, both right now and next season with Rivera and Joba (and Logan) due to become free agents, and Lindstrom is the kind of guy who can help both situations. He’s no bullpen savior, but if nothing else, he sure and the other two guys in this post would add useful depth — as opposed to the Daleys and Millers of the world who are just there because they’re warm bodies — to the bullpen down the stretch.
Six questions but only four answers this week, the first official mailbag of the 2012-2013 offseason. Remember to please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar for all ‘bag related correspondence.
Anonymous asks: Should they decide to trade him, realistically what could the Yankees get for Curtis Granderson?
The Yankees officially exercised Granderson’s no-brainer $15M option earlier this week, and he’s due to become a free agent after next season. He’s hit .247/.337/.506 over the last three seasons and that seems like a decent approximation of his expected 2013 production. Maybe less if you really don’t like him and think strikeouts are the root of all evil. Granderson is a center fielder but not a good one, though he is definitely an above average player signed for one year.
Guys like that don’t get traded all that often, but we do have a decent sample over the last few years, most notably Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Willingham, and Dan Uggla. Granderson is somewhere between Willingham (traded for two prospects, one being an MLB-ready reliever) and Gonzalez (three prospects, two being top 100 guys), which at least gives us a reference point rather than just guessing. He won’t fetch a Carlos Gonzalez type (like Holliday), but I think the Yankees could realistically demand two good prospects for Granderson in a trade. Two guys in a club’s top ten prospects list, for example. Preferably at least one of them would be an MLB-ready outfielder, of course.
Matt asks: What would you think about adding Placido Polanco as a back up utility guy to play the role that Chavez had?
Travis asks: Lets say the Tigers non-tender Ryan Raburn. Is he enough of a utility player for the Yankees? If he is, would he be an upgrade over Jayson Nix?
Might as well lump these two together. Polanco, 37, makes some sense as a backup corner infielder/emergency second baseman depending on his back. He’s missed a bunch of time these last few years with everything from inflammation to soreness to bulging discs. The Yankees would have to look him over really well during the physical. Polanco isn’t anything special on defense, has no power (.075 ISO last three years), no speed (only eight steals), and doesn’t walk (6.3 BB%), but he’s a contact machine who rarely strikes out (.281 AVG last three years with an 8.0 K%). The Yankees can use some of that, it just depends on whether they’re comfortable with his medicals and having a right-handed hitting corner infielder.
As for the 31-year-old Raburn, it would have to be a minor league contract only. I really liked him a few years ago, but he just hasn’t hit at all lately. He broke out with a .285/.348/.498 showing from 2009-2010 (.286/.373/.580 vs. LHP), but these last two years he’s hit just .226/.272/.370 overall (.232/.283/.397 vs. LHP) and been demoted to the minors. Raburn is far more versatile than Polanco, with lots of experience at second and in the outfield corners plus some time at third base as well, but he can’t hit. That 2009-2010 stuff is tantalizing, but I don’t think he’s better than Nix and I wouldn’t give him anything more than a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.
GB asks: I see that the options for Joakim Soria and Matt Lindstrom were declined. They seem like good targets to me. Your thoughts?
Lonnie asks: Do you see the Yanks making a play for Soria or Ryan Madson at low-cost deals to possibly close in 2014?
Gonna lump these two together as well, and yes, all three make perfect sense on short-term contracts. Obviously Soria and Madson are elite relievers coming off Tommy John surgery while Lindstrom is healthy and more of a middle reliever/setup man, but the Yankees need some bullpen help and all three offer it.
There isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t take Soria or Madson on a one-year, low-base salary, incentive-laden “prove yourself then go out and get that big contract next offseason” contract, but the Royals are talking about re-signing the former while the latter still wants a closing job. The 32-year-old Lindstrom is probably a bit underrated, pitching to a 2.84 ERA (3.24 FIP) in 101 innings over the last two years. He throws very hard but is more of a ground ball guy than a strikeout guy, plus he spent most of this season with the Orioles and has at least some AL East experience. I’d take any and all of these guys on a one-year pact.
Jeb asks: If Brian Cashman offers Russell Martin another 3/20 and he turns it down, would you give him a qualifying offer? Assuming $/fWAR holds and fWAR might not capture his defense, perhaps this is worth the risk?
I wouldn’t worry so much about the $/WAR stuff since the Yankees are on their own little planet there. They’re well beyond the point of diminishing returns, meaning every additional dollar they spend adds less and less in terms of wins. You can only win so many baseball games a year regardless of how much you spend. More money means more probability, not more wins.
Anyway, the catching market is atrocious and that goes double for this offseason. There are two legitimate starting catchers on the free agent market this offseason: Martin and A.J. Pierzynski. Mike Napoli has caught more than 80 games once in a his career (2009) and no more than 70 games in the last three years. Kelly Shoppach hasn’t caught more than 75 games since 2008. Pierzynski turns 36 in December and is coming off a career year, plus he was never anything great on defense and is a world-class asshole. Martin doesn’t hit for average but he draws walks, hits for power, and is a pretty good (if not great) defender. He’s also won’t turn 30 until February.
For most of the season it appeared as though Martin (and his agent) made a huge mistake by not taking that three-year, $20M-something extension last winter, but I bet he gets a similar deal this offseason. There are enough big market teams who need a catchers (Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees) and Russ hasn’t yet gotten into his mid-30s, when catchers usually turned into pumpkins. Hell, Chris Iannetta just signed a three-year, $15.55M extension with the Angels despite hitting .240/.332/.398 while missing a bunch of time due to injury this year, and he didn’t even go on the open market. Martin should be able to find the extra $8-10M out there. I don’t think the Yankees will make him a qualifying offer, but I think it would make some sense. Worst case is he accepts and you’ve got him on expensive one-year contract. Considering the general lack of quality catchers, overpaying Martin for a year is a luxury the Yankees can afford.