Archive for Rule 5 Draft

We received some positive feedback following last week’s mailbag, so it’s definitely looking like something worth doing. You can send your questions to us at any time via the Submit A Tip box under The Montero Watch in the sidebar, or by just emailing them in to us. This week’s topics: Javy Vazquez and arbitration, the Rule 5 Draft, Chad frickin’ Gaudin, and figuring out what the hell “cash considerations” are…

Do you think that the Yankees will offer Javy Vazquez arbitration after the season? They’ve shied away from the practice in recent years, but you risk getting a good pitcher at a reasonable salary on a one-year deal for two high picks, right? Especially if they lose picks for a Lee or Crawford this offseason. – Dominik

I’ve been thinking about this more and more as the season goes on. My stock answer has been “no,” simply because they haven’t offered anyone arbitration over the last two years, and I had no reason to believe that they would change that approach now. Now I’m not so sure.

There is a difference between Vazquez and guys like Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon, the notable players that weren’t offered arbitration over the last few years. Those guys were really overpaid (Abreu made $16M his last year with the Yanks, Damon $13M) and stunningly bad on defense, and in Abreu’s case, he was clearly in decline offensively. Their defense negated a ton of their offensive value. Pitchers are different because a) there’s only one aspect of the game to evaluate, and b) quality arms are so damn valuable.

Of course we can’t ignore the red flags. Javy’s velocity is absolutely down this season, likely due to all those miles on his arm, and his strikeouts are down while the walks are up. His FIP (5.02), xFIP (4.62), and tRA (4.97) are the highest they’ve been in more than half-a-decade.  Believe it or not, Vazquez has benefited from some BABIP luck this year (.255), which you can’t count on going forward. That said, he’s still a very capable MLB starter that can easily hold down the fourth spot in any team’s rotation, which is what the Yanks would expect him to do. If he were to accept arbitration, he’s looking a $13-14M, which is certainly overpaying. It is just a one year deal though, and the Yanks can afford the luxury. Remember, there’s no pitching version of Nick Swisher to buy low on to fill that rotation spot.

At this point, yes, I do expect the Yanks to offer Vazquez arbitration. It’s been made clear that the team considered the two 2011 draft picks as part of the deal, and Vazquez comfortably projects to be a Type-A free agent. As you know, they have to offer him arbitration to receive those picks. Next year’s draft class is absurdly deep; a team could realistically walk away with a player that would be a top ten talent in a “normal” year despite picking in the 20-30 range. If there’s ever a draft to have an extra pick, that’s it. The Yanks also can’t lose those picks if they sign Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford or whoever.

Given the uncertainty of Andy Pettitte, plus the possibility of Lee signing an extension after inevitably being traded, offering Vazquez arbitration is a risk worth taking. Then again, I said the same exact thing about other players over the last two years, only to watch the Yanks not offer arbitration to anyone.

Which minor leaguers are eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the season? Of these, who do you think the Yankees will protect?  I’m interested to see what they do with Dellin. – Big B

College players drafted in 2007 and high school players drafted in 2006 are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year, so that includes Zach McAllister, Dellin Betances, Ryan Pope, Bradley Suttle, Austin Krum, Justin Snyder, and Brandon Laird. Some holdovers from last year include George Kontos, Lance Pendleton, and Josh Schmidt. It’s tough to figure out exactly when players signed off the international market, so I usually just skip them when discussing the Rule 5 draft.

So how many 40-man roster spots are opening up after the season? I count nine: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Chan Ho Park, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Javy Vazquez, Derek Jeter, Marcus Thames, and Nick Johnson. Both Juan Miranda and Jon Albaladejo will be out of options next season, so they could be gone as well. Wilkin DeLaRosa and Dustin Moseley are imminently DFA’able, so I would count on them being gone as well. Mo and Jeter are obviously coming back, so let’s call it 11 total spots opening up after the season.

You have to figure that at least two of those spots are going to starting pitchers, two or three more are going to relievers, and two or three more are going to position players. So for all intents and purposes, let’s assume the team will have four 40-man spots to use for protecting prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.

McAllister and Laird are no-brainers, they have to be protected otherwise they will be lost. Their success at Double-A all but guarantees that. Suttle, Krum, Snyder, Pendleton, and Schmidt aren’t high priority guys, so they can go unprotected. Those last two spots come down to Betances, Pope, and Kontos.

Betances has been absolutely fantastic this year since coming back from elbow surgery (34 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 39 K), and non-contending teams will take a big arm like that and see if he can’t stick in the bigs all year. Pope has been fantastic since shifting to the bullpen (27.2 IP, 3.09 FIP, 30-6 K/BB ratio, .223 AVG against) and is a viable relief option for next season. If nothing else, he’s a guy that will always be on call in Triple-A. Kontos is coming off elbow surgery like Betances, though he’s had some success at the higher level.

I think Pope gets protected just because you can’t let such a close to the big leagues reliever go for nothing. The Yanks will need the inventory. If the Yanks don’t believe Betances can make it through the entire 2011 season on some team’s 25-man roster, they won’t protect him. They did the same thing with Ivan Nova. They could gamble on him going to camp with some team only to have him be offered back at some point. Of course Betances is a much different prospect because he has such enormous upside, so they may not be willing to risk it. Me? I’d protect him. Too risky to lose a guy the team invested so much time and money ($1M signing bonus plus all the costs associated with his rehab and surgery). Kontos is the cost of doing business, I was never a huge fan anyway.

Why is Chad Gaudin so bad this year? He was somewhat “decent” last year, and was supposed to be in the mix for the 5th starter job in ST. I don’t think we expected him to win any Cy Youngs, but mediocrity should not have been too much to ask. – Anonymous

I’m kinda surprised that Gaudin has been so dreadful. I never expected him to be awesome, but I figured he could replicate the 4.68 xFIP he posted with the Yanks last year. Instead, we’ve got a 5.60 xFIP after Gaudin put up a 3.94 xFIP in Oakland. And think, the righty has had some serious BABIP (.244) and strand rate (83.3%) luck with the Yanks.

The obvious problem is all the homeruns. Gaudin has served up nine long balls in 33.2 IP this year after giving up just 14 in 147.1 IP last year. His fly ball rate has climbed close to 10% from last year and sits at 44.6% in 2010, and his HR/FB rate is through the roof at 20%. For comparison’s sake, the league average is around 10.6% and he was at 9% last year. It’s a combination of bad luck and bad pitching. Yes, he should give up more homeruns because he’s giving up more fly balls, but not that many more homers.

Gaudin’s slider is letting him down this year (4.57 runs below average per 100 thrown after several years of being above average by a run or more), so perhaps he’s hiding an injury. Or maybe he just stinks.

MAILBAG! When a player gets traded for “cash considerations” what, exactly, does that mean? Is there a list of guidelines defining what is and is not, can and cannot be deemed cash considerations? Is there a deadline on when the cash has to be delivered? I’m thinking that it means they need to work out a deal and can’t haggle the money but are close enough where they say eff it we’ll figure it out. I am hoping, however, that there is some sort of structure to it. – Justin

I have no idea, but Keith Law does, so I asked him. His response: “Undisclosed [amount] but fixed at the time of the deal. It’s really just a straight sale, usually for ten or twenty grand.”

Simple enough. I assume it’s delivered immediately, or at a time specified when the deal is made.

Categories : Mailbag
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Nearly four years ago, a series of rule changes sucked all the fun out of the Rule 5 Draft by giving teams an extra year to evaluate their players before having to add them to the 40-man roster. After watching players like Shane Victorino, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton, and Joakim Soria get selected from 2004 to 2006, the only two players drafted since 2007 that have stuck with their new team while even just approaching a one WAR season are Brian Barton (Cardinals, 2007) and Everth Cabrera (Padres, 2008).

The Yankees haven’t acquired a player in the Rule 5 Draft and kept him on their 25-man roster for a full season since who knows when. Josh Phelps stuck around until late June in 2007, which is longer than most Rule 5 guys last. It’s not exactly an avenue most big market teams use to acquire talent. Jamie Hoffmann, the player the Yanks’ took in the latest version of the Rule 5, couldn’t even make it through Spring Training and was returned to the Dodgers earlier this week.

Last year the Yankees had four players selected in the Rule 5 Draft, though three were eventually returned. They worked out a small trade with the Twins to allow them to keep the fourth player, righty Jason Jones. Of course that was after he trashed the organization on his way out. I’m not sure the Yanks were waiting for him with open arms, if you know what I mean. This year, the Yanks lost a pair of relievers in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, righty Kanekoa Texeira and lefty Zach Kroenke.

Jamie Hoffmann crashes into the outfield wall after catching a fly ball hit by Ryan Church in the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Texeira, acquired from the White Sox in the Nick Swisher heist and Victorino’s cousin, was selected by Seattle in the Rule 5 after posting a 2.84 ERA (3.69 FIP) and a 7.8 K/9 in 101.1 IP for Double-A Trenton last year. Baseball America rated him the Mariners’ 26th best prospect coming into the season thanks to his high-80’s sinker, sharp high-70’s slider, and occasional low-80’s changeup, however they mentioned that he’s too homer prone (0.6 HR/9 last year) for high leverage work in the big leagues.

The Hawaiian born righty has appeared in eight games for Seattle so far, allowing five hits, three walks, one hit batsman, and one earned run in 8.2 innings, striking out five. Obviously it’s a very small sample in very meaningless games, however it’s apparently enough that the Mariners plan on holding onto him when the season starts, and have even explored other ways to keep him in the organization (i.e. a trade with the Yanks). GM Jack Zduriencik drafted Texeira out of high school when he was the Brewers’ scouting director, so he certainly has a bit of a soft spot for him. Cliff Lee’s injury will force the team to carry twelve pitchers early on, and one of those spots will go to Texeira.

Kroenke, on the other hand, isn’t enjoying the same kind of success with his new organization. The 25-year-old lefty was lights out for Triple-A Scranton last year (72.1 IP, 1.99 ERA, 3.64 FIP), and Baseball America rated him Arizona’s 30th best prospect after they Rule 5’d him on the strength of his 89-91 mph heater, average slider, and fringy changeup. He’s allowed ten hits, two walks, and six runs in 5.2 innings this spring, and got his brains beat in during one particularly horrific outing against the Dodgers two weeks ago.

The Diamondbacks currently have two other lefty relievers on their 40-man roster, Clay Zavada and Jordan Norberto. Zavada’s guaranteed a spot in the bullpen after posting a 3.92 FIP in 51 innings last year, when he starting his career with 19 consecutive earned run-less appearances. And besides, he’s got a plus-plus mustache tool. The other lefty, the 24-year-old Norberto, has thrown just 23.2 innings above A-ball and Baseball America says he has plenty to work on, namely finding a second pitch. He’s unlikely to start the year in Arizona’s pen, so there’s a definite opening for Kroenke. Even with his crummy camp, they could decide to take him anyway because of all the lefty mashers (Adrian Gonzalez, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe, Andre Ethier, etc.) in their division.

Kroenke is in a different spot than most other Rule 5 guys, because he was Rule 5’d last year as well. The Marlins’ gave him a whirl last spring, and when he didn’t stick he went through the process of being outrighted off the 40-man roster and returned to the Yanks. Because of that prior outright, Kroenke can elect to become a free agent if Diamondbacks decide they don’t want him at any point in2010. Any lefty reliever Kroenke’s age and with his pedigree would surely try his hand on the open market rather than return to an organization with no fewer than two, and possibly three, lefty relievers ahead of him on the depth chart.

The Yankees are unlikely to welcome back either of the players they lost in the Rule 5 Draft this year, but for entirely different reasons. Texeira’s effectiveness has all but earned him a spot in Seattle’s bullpen, while Kroenke’s unique situation means he’ll likely head elsewhere even if he doesn’t stick with the Diamondbacks. Thankfully the team has enough bullpen depth to absorb the losses, but losing a pair of serviceable arms is never ideal. Such is life in the Rule 5 game.

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Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees will take Dodgers’ outfielder Jamie Hoffmann first overall in the Rule 5 Draft. Hoffmann, 25, hit .291-.390-.466 with 23 doubles, 10 homers, and 15 steals between Double- and Triple-A last year. He also had an uneventful 24 plate appearance cameo with the Dodgers.

The righthanded batter was ranked the Dodgers 22nd best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2009 season, and their handbook says he can capably play all three outfield spots. Against lefty pitchers last year, Hoffmann was a .308-.432-.542 hitter. I approve.

Update by Joe: Diamondbacks took Kroenke.

Update by Joe again: Mariners take Texeira.

Update by Joe again: Yanks pass with their own pick.

Update by Joe again: Everyone passed in round 2. That’s it, folks. Minor leaguers next.

AAA portion: Yanks pass in the first round. No team took a player from their affiliates.

AA portion: Yanks pass. Everyone passes in the second round and no Yanks are taken.

Categories : Minors
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… Zach Kroenke? Kiley McDaniel tweets that the Yanks might opt to take their own lefty relief prospect in tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft, with the idea of Kroenke replacing the since traded Phil Coke. The Braves took one of their own in 1988, so it’s not unprecedented, however it seems like a waste. Sure, having two competent lefty relievers is nice, but it’s not a necessity. The Yanks can do better.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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Previewing the Rule 5 draft

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We’re hearing some buzz surrounding the Yanks’ first pick in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft, so let’s take a look at what they’re saying.

  • First up is ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who says that the Yankees “are shopping the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.” I doubt this happens. What they’d get in return probably wouldn’t outweigh the possible upside of the pick, so chances are they’ll just hold onto it. The only way I can see them dishing it is if they get back a player not on a team’s 40-man roster (and not Rule 5 eligible).
  • As for who they’ll take, FanHouse’s Frank Piliere thinks it will be Arquimedes Caminero. Piliere “scouted him extensively this year,” and it sounds like the pick has his blessing. The problem is that he’s 22 and pitched just 40.2 innings in relief last year, only 2.1 of which came as high as A+. Players can make that kind of jump, but it’s unlikely he’d stick.
  • Speaking of A+ ball players, Baseball America’s John Manuel lists a few names, including Jason Rice of the Red Sox. He throws gas and dominated A+, striking out 94 in 70 innings. He walked 41, though, which makes him an unlikely pick.
  • Manuel mentions two other names: Bobby Cassevah of the Angels, a ground ball machine (4.03 GO/FO ratio) who pitched to a 3.68 ERA in AA last season. Craig Baker is another name. He struck out 75 in 63 innings while closing games for the Rockies class A affiliate.
  • Chad Jennings likes Chad Tracy and Matt McBride, both of whom are right-handed outfielders who can play first base and catch. Mike mentioned Tracy in his Rule 5 post the other day.
  • Personally, I think it will be Yohan Pino. He’s more advanced than the other candidates who has displayed great control in the minors. He also owns a 1.15 WHIP. Then there’s Tommy Mendoza, also of the Angels, who also has good control.

We’re less than 24 hours from the draft. If the Internet permits, I’ll set up a chat tomorrow morning.

Categories : Analysis
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Update (10:30am): I’m an idiot. Tosoni was drafted in 2005, but not signed until 2006 as a draft and follow. He has one more year left before he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible. So, this is embarrassing…

Rene Tosoni's backTalk about topics I didn’t think I’d be writing about when I woke up yesterday morning. When the Yankees traded enigmatic reliever Brian Bruney to the Nationals, they received one of those generic players to be named later, and no one thought much of it. Bruney was gone, meaning the Yanks saved some cash and I would need a new reliever to despise (early favorite: Phil Coke). Not long after the trade, I mused that maybe the return would be the rights to the first pick of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, and whaddya know? That’s exactly what they’re getting.

Trades involving Rule 5 picks aren’t uncommon. The Reds worked out a deal with the Cubs to get Josh Hamilton in 2007 because they were afraid the Marlins would take him before they got a chance to pick. The Cubs took Hamilton with the third pick, then immediately send him to Cincinnati for $100,000.  The same basic thing is happening with the Yanks and Nats this year, except the player the Nats take will be sent to the Yanks as the PTBNL. And yes, the Yanks will tell the Nats who to pick, otherwise this deal wouldn’t make sense.

As per the Rule 5 Draft rules, the Yanks will have to keep the player on their 25-man Major League roster all season in order to retain his rights permanently. If they don’t, then the player has to pass through waivers (if a team claims him, the Rule 5 rules follow him) before being offered back to his original team. I thought it was a very shrewd move by the Yanks, because now they get to choose their return for Bruney from a massive pool of players, rather than being limited to one organization and the players they’re willing to move.

Through the magic of common sense, we know that players from 28 teams are possible picks. A team can’t pick a player from it’s own system, so that rules out everyone in the Nats’ system, and the Yanks aren’t going to have the Nats take one of their own (New York’s) prospects. It’s possible to unearth a gem in the Rule 5 Draft (Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, and Johan Santana are R5D alumni), thought it’s extremely unlikely. The latest CBA took all the fun out of the Rule 5, because it gave teams another year before they had to protect players.

So, realistically speaking, the Yanks don’t have many places to hide a Rule 5 player. There’s always the back of the bullpen and the bench, and given their current situation, leftfield. I’m going to rule out an infielder because the Yanks felt compelled to add the likes of Eduardo Nunez and Reegie Corona to the 40-man last month. Let’s run down some possibilities after the jump, listed alphabetically.

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Categories : Minors
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The Rule 5 Draft is just eight days away, yet Baseball America posted what they’re calling their Early Rule 5 Draft Preview today (sorry, subscriber only). I’m guessing that means we’ll get another, more comprehensive preview sometime within the next week. Anyway, they listed ten players that could end up being selected, two of whom are Colin Curtis and Kevin Whelan.

Curtis was said to have “improved his stock greatly in the Arizona Fall League … by adjusting his stance and finally driving the ball,” while Whelan could get picked because of his “92-94 mph fastball and plus-plus split-finger pitch.” Grant Duff was mentioned as another interesting name to watch in a sidebar, and I’ll add that Zach Kroenke is almost a lock to get picked because he’s a living, breathing lefthander that has had success in Triple-A.

Getting picked is one thing, sticking on the 25-man big league roster all season long is another. None of the above players would be a significant loss to the Yankees, especially the relievers since they have so much bullpen depth, but I’m not convinced any of them can stick on the ML roster all season. You might see a trade worked out though, something similar to last year’s Chase Wright-Eric Fryer swap.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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The Yankees have announced seven additions to the team’s 40-man rotation in advance of December’s Rule 5 draft. Among them are Austin Jackson and Ivan Nova. What a difference a year makes for Nova, who was selected and then returned to the Yanks in 2008.

To go along with this move, the Yanks also outrighted Shelley Duncan to AAA Scranton. I’m sure the Yanks would be happy to trade him for some cash. Here’s the full list:

Hector Noesi
Ivan Nova
Romulo Sanchez

Reegie Corona
Eduardo Nunez
Kevin Russo

Austin Jackson

Interestingly enough, the Yanks now have 39 of their 40-man spots filled, but the team is down a left fielder, a designated hitter and a starting pitcher. Either the Yanks don’t plan to resign more than one of their three big-name free agents so quickly or they will be prepared to cut loose someone on the 40-man if need be. Of those on the current 40-man, Christian Garcia looks awfully expendable.

Categories : Transactions
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Grant Duff making a funny faceNothing gets me excited quite like the Rule 5 Draft, one of baseball’s more underappreciated sources of talent. If you’re unfamiliar with how the R5D works, Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining it. Basically, it’s a way to help players stuck in the minors advance their careers. If they’ve been playing pro ball for at least four years (three for college draftees) and are not on the 40-man roster, they’re eligible to be drafted. Their new team has to keep them on the 25-man Major League roster all season, otherwise the player’s old team can take him back if they want. That’s a really quick and dirty explanation, but it’ll do.

The actual draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings in early December. This year it’s on the 10th. Even though the draft isn’t for another few weeks, rosters do have to be set fairly soon. I don’t know the exact date, but last year it was November 20th, so it can’t be too far away.

For the most part, teams will use the R5D almost like a temp agency; a means to find cheap labor. They won’t (or shouldn’t) go in looking for a franchise cornerstone, because they aren’t going to get it. The best young players always get protected for obvious reasons. Instead, teams will look for that second lefty reliever, or a backup catcher, or a spare outfielder, or a long reliever, stuff like that. NL teams might look for a veteran hitter to bring off the bench, someone they can hide on their roster all season. Last year, the Yanks lost four players in Major League portion of the R5D, plus two more in the Triple-A phase.

This year, I count no fewer than 37 players in the Yanks’ organization that are R5D eligible. Chances are it’s more, but it can be tough to figure out if some of the international signees are eligible. Now 37 seems like a big number, and it is, but relax, most of them are organizational players that have no business being protected. That said, the Yanks still have some tough decisions to make regarding who’ll protect and who they’ll leave exposed.

Before we get into who they should and shouldn’t protect, we first need to figure out what the 40-man roster situation looks like. As of today, there are 38 players on the 40-man. Brian Cashman has said he plans on “taking it slow” this offseason, so we can assume the Yanks will let all of their free agents hit the market. That frees up seven spots (Damon, Hairston, Hinske, Matsui, Molina, Nady, Pettitte), and the Yanks could easily free up another one by cutting ties with Shelley Duncan the same way they did with Freddy Guzman and Josh Towers.

It looks like Brian Bruney will be back next year (grrr), but not Chien-Ming Wang. That’s another open spot. Jon Albaladejo, Chris Garcia, and Edwar Ramirez all have options left, but I bet at least one (Edwar) goes because they’re easily replaceable. That’s another spot. Juan Miranda qualifies for a fourth option, and he’s worth keeping around.   All told, that would be eleven open spots on the 40-man, but remember that six of those spots will have to be used on replacements for Damon, Hairston, Hinske, Matsui, and Pettitte (Frankie Cervelli replaces Molina, and he’s already on the 40-man), plus assume one more spot for fungibility. That would give the Yanks four spots to use for protecting R5D eligible players.

Three of those four spots unquestionably will be used to protect Austin Jackson, Ivan Nova, and Kevin Russo. Jackson is the organization’s top outfield prospect, and if the Nationals didn’t take him with the first pick of the R5D, the Pirates would gobble him up with the second. Nova was selected but returned by the Padres last year, and the Yanks wouldn’t be so lucky again after his breakout season. Russo is capable of playing five (probably six) positions, and wOBA‘d .371 in Triple-A next year. That’s a guy you keep.

So that leaves one more spot, and about eight players worthy of being considered for protection. Let’s break ‘em down one by one after the jump.

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Categories : Minors
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Corona returned by Mariners

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Following up on yesterday’s post, the Yankees officially welcomed Reegie Corona back from the Mariners today. After hitting .281-.311-.386 in 57 at-bats this spring, Corona was assigned to Double-A Trenton, where he played last year. All of the players the Yanks lost in the Rule 5 Draft this year have been accounted for, as Corona, Zack Kroenke and Ivan Nova returned to the Yanks while Jason Jones will remain with the Twins after a trade.

Categories : Asides, Minors
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