Yankeemetrics: Stay classy, San Diego [July 1-3]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Not enough in the ninth
The Yankees late-game magic disappeared on Friday night as their wild ninth-inning rally fell just short in a 7-6 loss to the Padres. Down 7-2 entering the final frame, they scored four runs and got the tying run on third base before Brett Gardner grounded out to end the game.

It was just the second time in his career that Gardner has made the final out of the game with his team trailing by a run and a man on third base; he also did it in a 2-1 loss to the Royals on June 8, 2014.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s June swoon continued into the month of July with the inconsistent right-hander getting tagged for six runs on seven hits, including two homers. Over his last six starts he’s allowed a whopping 31 runs, 45 hits and 12 home runs allowed in 30 1/3 innings (and a bloated 9.20 ERA).

In this stretch he’s allowed at least four earned runs and a homer in each of those six starts, the longest such streak in franchise history. Eovaldi has now surrendered 19 longballs in 91 innings this season, a rate of 1.88 homers per nine innings would be the highest by any Yankee that qualified for the ERA title.

One of Eovaldi’s biggest bugaboos during his free fall over the past month has been a flat and ineffective splitter, a pitch that batters are hitting .311 and slugging .556 against since June 1; opponents were just 6-for-40 (.150) with no extra-base hits in at-bats ending in his splitter in May.

A significant reduction in both the horizontal and vertical movement of the pitch — he’s getting an inch less of arm-side run and it’s also dropping an inch less in June/July compared to May — has made his signature splitter way too hittable over his last several outings.

Miller’s mistake
Just a couple days removed from back-to-back thrilling last at-bat wins at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were on the wrong side of a walk-off celebration on Saturday night in San Diego. Melvin Upton Jr. hit a solo homer on the first pitch he saw from Andrew Miller in the bottom of the ninth inning to hand the Yankees their second straight loss on the west coast.

It was the fourth time they’ve lost an Interleague game on a game-ending longball: the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman has beaten them twice (May 19, 2015 and June 18, 2006) and Todd Zeile also hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees in Denver on June 20, 2002.

The loss clinched a losing first-half record for the Yankees for only the second time in the last 20 seasons. The 2007 team was 40-41 at the halfway mark and then rebounded to win two-thirds of their games the rest of the way and clinch a Wild Card berth. That’s the only time in franchise history they managed to make the playoffs after having a sub-.500 record through 81 games.

Thanks to a dormant offense and a rare hiccup by Miller, the Yankees wasted a solid performance from the struggling Ivan Nova. The righty had posted a 6.92 ERA in his previous seven starts entering Saturday night, but rebounded to allow just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings in San Diego.

Nova’s curve was a key weapon for him in finishing off the Padres hitters, who whiffed on six of their eight swings against the curve and went 0-for-6 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending in the pitch.


Milestone Tex Message
The Yankees averted what would have been a historically awful sweep, winning the third game of the three-game series in San Diego. Since Interleague play began in 1997, the Yankees have only been swept in series of three or more games twice: June 19-21, 2007 by the Rockies and Sept 1-3, 1997 by the Phillies.

Even with the win the Yankees have some ground to make up in order to avoid their worst ever Interleague mark. They are now 3-7 (.300) halfway through the schedule; their lowest Interleague win percentage in a season is .333, when they went 5-10 in 1997.

Didi Gregorius‘ scorching hot bat gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning en route to the 6-3 victory. Each of the past four homers that he’s hit since June 16 have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead. In that span, no other Yankee has hit more than two go-ahead/game-tying home runs.

Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eight inning with a milestone Tex message – the 400th longball of his career – and then added No. 401 in the next frame.

He is the fifth switch-hitter in the 400-homer club (Chipper Jones, Eddie Murray, Mickey Mantle, Carlos Beltran), and the 55th player in MLB history to hit that many homers. He’s also the ninth player to reach the milestone in Yankee pinstripes. The rest of the group are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield, A-Rod, Alfonso Soriano, and, of course, Beltran.

Overall, of the 55 players to hit 400 homers, Teixeira is the 27th to do in his 14th season or earlier; but the only other switch-hitter to join the club this early into his career was Mickey Mantle. Among first baseman, he is one of just nine to compile 400 homers in their first 14 seasons: Carlos Delgado, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Jeff Bagwell, Albert Pujols and Mark McGwire are the others.

7/1 to 7/3 Series Preview: San Diego Padres


It’s time for a ten-day, ten-game, three-city, three-time zone road trip to close out the first half. The Yankees will play the first three of those ten games this weekend in San Diego, home of the 2016 All-Star Game. Believe it or not, this is only the second third time the Yankees are visiting the Padres during interleague play. They lost two of three in Petco Park back in 2013 and won two of three at Qualcomm Stadium in 2002. Of course, there’s that whole 1998 World Series thing too. The Yankees had some success in San Diego that year. Also, this is Chase Headley‘s first trip back to the Petco Park since being traded to New York.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Padres were playing so poorly earlier this year that executive chairman Ron Fowler called his players “miserable failures.” He also called James Shields an “embarrassment” after a poor start and traded him a few days later, so yeah. Not the best season in San Diego. Anyway, the Padres have lost their lost three games and are 33-46 with a -55 run differential overall. That’s the fifth worst record and sixth worst run differential in baseball.

Offense & Defense

Petco Park is a pretty big ballpark — it still is even after the walls were brought in a few years back — and as a result the Padres always seem to have a below-average offense. They’re scoring 4.29 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+ this season. Rookie skipper Andy Green is without two of his regulars: OF Jon Jay (108 wRC+) is out with a broken forearm and 2B Cory Spangenberg (82 wRC+) has a quad strain. 2B Jemile Weeks (11 wRC+) is out with a hamstring problem too. None are coming back this series.

Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)
Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)

San Diego has a legitimate blossoming star in 1B Wil Myers (137 wRC+), who won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the Rays a few years back. He’s finally healthy after battling wrist problems the last few years, so he’s starting to come into his own as an impact hitter. Myers usually bats second with OF B.J. Melvin Upton Jr. (100 wRC+) leading off and RF Matt Kemp (94 wRC+) hitting third. Ex-Yankee IF Yangervis Solarte (121 wRC+) is the cleanup hitter. What’s Solarte going to hit against the Yankees this weekend, about .750? That sounds about right.

SS Alexei Ramirez (67 wRC+), 3B Brett Wallace (103 wRC+), and C Derek Norris (74 wRC+) are Green’s other regulars. OF Travis Jankowski (91 wRC+) and OF Alex Dickerson (76 wRC+) are filling in while Jay is on the DL. On the bench are C Christian Bethancourt (100 wRC+), UTIL Alexi Amarista (63 wRC+), UTIL Adam Rosales (87 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Schimpf (45 wRC+). It feels like it’s been forever since the Yankees faced a team with a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. Well, five man bench in this case. Silly NL.

San Diego’s defense is collectively below-average, and in Kemp they have one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game. He’s Carlos Beltran-esque despite being eight years younger than Carlos. Jankowski is a tremendous outfielder and is the team’s best defender by a mile. Upton, Solarte, and Ramirez are average at their positions. Wallace is a first baseman playing third. Myers is better at first than in the outfield but he’s still learning the nuances of the position. Both Norris and Bethancourt can shut down the running game.

Pitching Probables

Friday (10:40pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. SD) vs. RHP Colin Rea (No vs. NYY)
You know, right before the season I half-jokingly predicted Rea would throw the first no-hitter in Padres history this year. Wouldn’t it be something if he does it against the Yankees tonight? Today’s his 26th birthday too. A birthday no-hitter against the Yankees that some idiot blogger called three months ago? That would be the most 2016 Yankees thing ever. Rea has a 5.05 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 76.2 innings spread across 14 starts and one relief appearance this year. He has an average grounder rate (45.3%) and a better than average homer rate (0.82 HR/9), but his strikeout (17.9%) and walk (9.7%) numbers leave a little something to be desired. Rea has a small platoon split because he’s a true five-pitch pitcher. He sits in the 92-94 mph range with his four-seamer and sinker, and a notch below that with his cutter. An upper-70s curveball is his go-to offspeed pitch. Rea also throws a mid-80s changeup. He throws everything regularly too.

Saturday (10:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. SD) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (vs. NYY)
Along with Myers, the 27-year-old Pomeranz has been the brightest spot on an otherwise nondescript Padres team. The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft — he was drafted by the Indians, traded to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez, traded to the Athletics for Brett Anderson, and traded to the Padres for Yonder Alonso — has a 2.76 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 15 starts and 88 innings this year, and he’s been able to stay healthy, which has not always been the case. He’s had some injury trouble over the years. That always held him back. Pomeranz has a fantastic strikeout rate (28.4%) and good grounder (46.7%) and homer (0.83 HR/9) numbers, though he does walk a few too many (10.9%). The walks are the only real downside. Thanks to his big-breaking upper-70s curveball and upper-80s cutter, Pomeranz actually performs better against righties than lefties. His straight four-seamer sits in the low-90s and his changeup in the mid-80s. The curve is what got Pomeranz drafted so high. He has one heck of a yakker.

Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Sunday (4:40pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. SD) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (vs. NYY)
This could very well end up being one of Cashner’s last starts as a Padre. They got him from the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo a few years back (oops), and he’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season, so the rebuilding Padres figure to make Cashner available at the trade deadline. He’s been out with a neck issue and will come off the DL to make this start. Cashner has a 4.75 ERA (4.75 FIP!) in eleven starts and 53 innings around the neck injury this year. His homer (1.02 HR/9) and grounder (50.3%) rates are in line with his career norms, but he’s missing fewer bats (15.3 K%) and issuing more free passes (9.3%) than he has in recent years, and he has a big reverse split, which is the exact opposite of the rest of his career. Cashner still throws really hard, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer and sinker — the four-seamer has topped out at 99.3 mph this season — while using a hard low-90s slider as his primary secondary pitch. He throws a few upper-80s changeups and low-80s curves per start but they aren’t consistently reliable weapons for him.

Bullpen Status

Just yesterday the Padres traded closer RHP Fernando Rodney, who was having a really great year (0.31 ERA and 2.33 FIP), to the Marlins for a RHP Chris Paddack, a quality prospect. His MLB.com scouting report is right here. Miami did other sellers a favor by setting the bar really high for rental relievers.

Anyway, I’m not sure who will replace Rodney as closer. Here is San Diego’s bullpen at the moment:

Setup: LHP Ryan Buchter (2.91 ERA/2.75 FIP)
Middle: RHP Brandon Maurer (5.73/4.33), RHP Kevin Quackenbush (3.55/4.89), LHP Matt Thornton (3.48/2.49)
Long: LHP Brad Hand (3.53/3.40), RHP Carlos Villanueva (4.53/4.52)

It’s probably safe to assume Buchter will go from setup man to closer in the wake of the Rodney trade, but Thornton (an ex-Yankee) has closing experience and Quackenbush spent a few weeks as the team’s closer in 2014. Green may prefer someone with some closing experience in that role. Manager’s do stuff like that all the time. We’ll see.

The Padres will have to call someone up to today to fill Rodney’s roster spot, but they’re then going to have to send someone down Sunday when Cashner comes off the DL, so whoever gets called up might not be around very long. There’s been talk the Padres will go with a six-man rotation once Cashner returns. That doesn’t really matter to the Yankees though. They’ll be out of town by time that decision is made.

San Diego had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is relatively fresh. Our Bullpen Workload page shows you the status of the Yankees’ bullpen, so check that out. Joe Girardi has used his big three relievers quite a bit of late. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman all pitched yesterday and have each pitched five times in the last nine days. They’re going to need a break at some point.

Scouting The Waiver Market: Cory Mazzoni


The season is not even a month old, and already the Yankees have been hit pretty hard by the injury bug, particularly in the bullpen. Branden Pinder and Nick Rumbelow — the team’s two main shuttle relievers — are both out following Tommy John surgery, Bryan Mitchell broke his toe in Spring Training, and Jacob Lindgren is on the High-A Tampa DL. That’s half a bullpen on the shelf.

The Yankees still have enough relievers to keep themselves afloat — Luis Cessa, James Pazos, and Tyler Olson are still a phone call away — but the depth has been thinned out. There’s a reason they had to dip into an independent league to sign Phil Coke earlier this week. They needed the warm body. Yesterday afternoon, the Padres designated a potential bullpen shuttle candidate for assignment in right-hander Cory Mazzoni. Is he worth a waiver claim? Let’s look.

The Performance

The Mets originally drafted Mazzoni in the second round of the 2011 draft out of North Carolina State. He climbed the ladder in their farm system before being traded to San Diego last spring for lefty Alex Torres. For what it’s worth, Baseball America ranked Mazzoni as one of the 16 best prospects in his team’s farm system every year from 2012-16.

Mazzoni, 26, made his big league debut with the Padres last year, and I almost don’t want to list the stats because they’re so bad. I guess I have to though. In 8.2 innings with San Diego, he allowed 22 runs (20 earned) on 23 hits and five walks. He fanned eight. Yes, 22 runs and 23 hits in 8.2 innings. Mazzoni was quite bad in his limited action last year. I guess the good news is he had a 3.97 ERA (1.95 FIP) in 34 Triple-A innings in 2015.

Prior to being designated for assignment, Mazzoni had appeared in one Triple-A game, allowing an unearned run on a hit and a walk in 1.1 innings. Not much to look at there. Clearly you have to be willing to look past Mazzoni’s numbers with the Padres last year to have any interest.

The Stuff

The Mets drafted Mazzoni as a starting pitcher and he remained in that role for a few years before moving into the bullpen full-time. According to PitchFX, he averaged 95.6 mph with his four-seam fastball last year and topped out at 97.3 mph. He also has an upper-80s splitter/changeup hybrid and a mid-80s slider, but he doesn’t throw the split-change a whole lot in relief. He’s a fastball/slider reliever.

There are no worthwhile highlight videos of Mazzoni on MLB.com or YouTube, so here’s a GIF of his slider instead. His fastball looks like every other fastball you’ve ever seen in your life.

Cory Mazzoni slider

The swing-and-miss rates on Mazzoni’s fastball and slider were awful last season (4.0 % and 9.5%, respectively), but then again everything he did in the big leagues last year was awful. MLB.com ranked Mazzoni as the No. 17 prospect in San Diego’s system before the season, and here’s a snippet of their scouting report:

As is the case with most pitchers, the right-hander had his stuff tick up in the (bullpen), sitting at 92-95 mph and touching 97 with his fastball, and throwing his slider with more power and sharper bite … Though he has good velocity, Mazzoni doesn’t generate many whiffs with his heater. He does induce plenty of groundballs though, which highlights his potential as a swingman or middle reliever … he’ll have to refine his command to hold down a permanent role in a big league bullpen.

Mazzoni’s ground ball rate was an even 50.0% in his limited big league time last year, for what it’s worth. We’ve read that scouting report about a million times before. Fastball/slider right-hander who needs to refine his command and has a chance to be a middle reliever? Those guys are everywhere.

Injury History

Injuries are one of the reasons Mazzoni moved into the bullpen full-time. Here’s a quick recap of his injury history:

2015: Shoulder strain ended his season in July.
2014: Missed close to three months with a shoulder strain.
2013: Missed a month with elbow inflammation, then the final two months with a torn meniscus in his knee.

Now here’s the kicker: Mazzoni was the 7-day DL in Triple-A when he was designated for assignment yesterday. I have no idea why though. I can’t find anything anywhere. Regardless, Mazzoni has had a bunch of arm problems in recent years, including some scary shoulder strains.

Contract & Options Status

This is the easy stuff. Mazzoni has only 56 days of service time, so he has all six years of team control remaining. The Mets added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft back in November 2014, so he burned his first option last year and his second this year. Mazzoni has one minor league option year remaining.

Wrapping Up

Mazzoni is quintessential middle relief fodder at this point. He’s a fastball/slider guy with command questions and an injury history. They grow those guys on a farm upstate, I hear. The Padres dropped Mazzoni from the 40-man roster, so he’s freely available. If you can get him on waivers, great. If not, then no hard feelings.

The way I see it, the Yankees have already lost a lot of bullpen depth to injury, forcing them to turn to the Phil Cokes of the world. It’s still only April too. They need to restock the cupboard a bit and they have more than enough 40-man roster space. Aroldis Chapman‘s suspension clears one spot and the Yankees have several 60-day DL candidates as well. They could easily claim Mazzoni and stash him in Triple-A.

This is certainly no “must make” move. Mazzoni’s not some kind of hidden gem. He’s more Kirby Yates than Johnny Barbato, if you know what I mean. The Yankees have had some success with scrap heap arms like this, so as long as Mazzoni’s healthy (a big if), I think he’s worth a waiver claim and a spot in the Triple-A Scranton bullpen.

Let’s try to find a bad contract-for-bad contract trade for Jacoby Ellsbury


Jacoby Ellsbury is a problem. Following last night’s 1-for-3 game, he is hitting .263/.321/.383 (95 wRC+) with 4.8 WAR in two years and 13 games as a Yankee. He’s now 32 years old, his defense is kinda sorta slipping, and he is still under contract for another four years and 149 games. Ellsbury is talented and he could certainly turn things around, but yeah. Outlook not so good.

Trading Ellsbury is far-fetched. He’s owed roughly $110M through 2020, and very few teams can and will be open to taking on that much money. Did you see how long it took good outfielders like Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes to sign this past offseason? Ellsbury’s value is down well below those two. And oh by the way he has a full no-trade clause, so he can shoot down any deal. Not great, Bob.

Unless the Yankees eat a ton of money, which just isn’t happening, any Ellsbury trade would have to be a bad contract-for-bad contract trade. Those trades are surprisingly rare — straight salary dumps are much more common — but they do happen from time to time. At Ellsbury’s pay grade though? Forget it. It’s never happened at that salary. Moving Ellsbury in a bad contract-for-bad contract deal would be unprecedented. Not impossible, just unprecedented.

The number of teams with a similar bad contracts to trade are limited — there are lots of bad contracts out there, but few have over $100M remaining — and even fewer need a player like Ellsbury. Finding a match is tough. Here are four possible fits — I guess it’s five, but there’s no sense in listing the Red Sox and some ridiculous Pablo Sandoval scenario — for a bad contract-for-bad contract trade that sends Ellsbury elsewhere. The teams are listed alphabetically.

The Team: Los Angeles Angels
The Player: Albert Pujols
The Remaining Money: $165M through 2021

Does It Make Sense For The Angels? Oh yes. The Halos would shed more than $50M in future salary obligation and get a more dynamic two-way player. They could stick C.J. Cron at first base full-time, put Ellsbury in the leadoff spot and in either center or left field (Mike Trout has played a ton of left field), and then find a cheap DH. Angels GM Billy Eppler may have some lingering affinity for Ellsbury dating back to his time as Brian Cashman‘s right hand man.

Does It Make Sense For the Yankees? Nope. Even if the two teams finagle the money so the Yankees don’t take on any additional cash, New York would be acquiring the older and much more one-dimensional player. The last thing they need is another lumbering DH type on the wrong side of 35. Sure, they could stick Pujols at first base and let Mark Teixeira leave next offseason, then put Pujols at DH and Greg Bird at first when Alex Rodriguez retires the offseason after that, but yuck. This one doesn’t work for the Yankees at all. That Pujols contract is the worst contract in baseball.

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

The Team: San Diego Padres
The Players: Matt Kemp and James Shields
The Remaining Money: $117.75M through 2018 plus another $20.25M in 2019

Does It Make Sense For The Padres? It might! They’re currently rebuilding and looking to both shed money and add prospects. Ellsbury for the Kemp/Shields duo wouldn’t net them any prospects, but it would wipe almost $30M off the books, reduce their annual payroll through 2018, and also land them an upgrade in the outfield. Kemp has a degenerative condition in his hips and is a year or two away from being a first baseman or DH, and DHs do not exist in the NL. Ellsbury gives them the kind of speedy contact hitter who would ostensibly thrive in spacious Petco Park.

Does It Make Sense For the Yankees? Again: it might! Shields’ contract complicates things because he can opt-out after the season. If Shields opts out, the the Padres would actually end up taking on money in this trade because he would be walking away from $44M. I suppose the two sides could work out a conditional trade — if Shields opts out, the Yankees send a prospect or two over, or kick in more money — but when things start getting that complicated, bet against it happening.

If nothing else, Shields would give the Yankees an innings guy even though he’s dangerously close to a Sabathia-esque decline. Kemp would fit in decently. They could put him in left this year to replace Ellsbury, then put him and Aaron Judge in the corners next season since Carlos Beltran will be gone, and then put him at DH once A-Rod retires. Kemp would also add another righty bat. Would the Yankees take on money to move Ellsbury and take two declining players in return though? Seems unlikely.

Kemp alone would not work — the Padres owe him only $73M through 2019, so significantly less than the Yankees owe Ellsbury — so Kemp plus Shields it is. The Yankees would be taking on more money in the short-term, screwing up their plan to get under the luxury tax threshold, but the contracts would be off the books a year sooner. That’s not something that should be glossed over. They’d get out of the bad deal(s) sooner.

The Team: Seattle Mariners
The Player: Robinson Cano
The Remaining Money: $192M through 2023

Does It Make Sense For The Mariners? Yes if the only goal is shedding approximately $80M and three years worth of contract. No if the goal is improving the roster. Cano is a better player than Ellsbury, there’s no doubt about that, and the difference in the contract commitments is massive. Seattle doesn’t have a ready made second base replacement and they don’t really need another outfielder, so Ellsbury doesn’t fit their roster, at least not in the super short-term. Their motivation for a Cano-for-Ellsbury deal would be dumping all that money.

Does It Make Sense For the Yankees? No for a few reasons. One, that’s way too much money to take on. The Yankees had a chance to re-sign Cano and balked at that price. I personally would rather have Cano for ten years and $240M than Ellsbury for seven years and $153M, but that’s just me. Obviously the Yankees feel differently, otherwise Robbie would still be wearing pinstripes.

Two, the Yankees now have Starlin Castro at second base, so they don’t really need Cano. An Ellsbury plus Castro for Cano deal would be fun in an lolwtf way — it would also even out the money slightly — but c’mon. The Yankees aren’t going to add Castro to the trade and still take on $40M or so just to get rid of Ellsbury. Not happening.

In a vacuum where positions and things like that don’t matter, I’d trade Ellsbury for Cano in an instant. This ain’t no vacuum though. That stuff matters and neither player fits the roster of their would-be new team. Ellsbury for Cano seems like the kind of trade none of us would even consider had Cano not been a Yankee once upon a time.

The Team: Texas Rangers
The Player: Shin-Soo Choo
The Remaining Money: $102M through 2020

Does It Make Sense For The Rangers? Finally, a trade that seems remotely plausible. Ellsbury and Choo both signed seven-year contracts two offseasons go, and while Ellsbury received an additional $23M in guaranteed money, Choo’s deal was back-loaded, so the two are owed similar dollars from 2016-20. Bridging the gap between the $102M left on Choo’s deal and the $110M left on Ellsbury’s doesn’t seem like it would be a huge issue, right?

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Rangers GM Jon Daniels has reportedly coveted Ellsbury for years, so I’m sure there’s still some level of interest there. The problem? The Rangers have a good young center fielder and leadoff hitter in Delino DeShields Jr., who is making close to the league minimum. Texas also has a top flight center field prospect in Lewis Brinson at Triple-A. They have options at that position, so it’s not a pressing need.

Either way, the Rangers will have a declining veteran outfielder making $20M+ a year through 2020 on their roster. The question is whether they prefer Choo or Ellsbury, who are very different players. Ellsbury is the two-way threat and Choo is the bat first guy. They both have their pluses and minuses. This would almost be like a change of scenery trade.

Does It Make Sense For the Yankees? I think so, even if the money is evened out. The Yankees need Choo’s offense — he’s hit .259/.360/.419 (114 wRC+) with the Rangers, including .276/.375/.463 (127 wRC+) in 2015 — more than they need Ellsbury’s two-way skill set. Choo slots in perfectly in left field in the short-term, then at DH in the long-term once A-Rod is gone. As with the Rangers, the Yankees are going to have a declining veteran outfielder making $20M+ a year on their roster no matter what. Would they prefer that player to be Choo or Ellsbury?

* * *

It goes without saying those four bad contract-for-bad contract trades above are all pretty unrealistic and very unlikely to happen. This just goes to show how tough it would be to move Ellsbury without eating a significant chunk of money. It’s not impossible, crazier things have happened, but his trade value is very low for the time being. And of course there’s the whole no trade clause thing.

My sense is the Yankees really like Ellsbury as a player and wouldn’t look to move him in a bad contract-for-bad contract deal. Their best course of action is to remain patient and hope he shakes off his slow start, and gets back to being the dynamic leadoff hitter he was prior to his knee injury last year. Ellsbury’s contract is really bad, and while trading him seems like a good idea, it’s very possible the best bang for all that buck will come from Ellsbury, not a declining player on another team’s roster.

The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]


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.


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.

Kimbrel off the board: Padres trade closer to Red Sox

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)
(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

According to multiple reports, the Padres have traded closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for four prospects, most notably outfielder Manuel Margot and shortstop Javier Guerra. MLB.com has them ranked as the 25th and 76th best prospects in baseball, respectively. Both clubs have since announced the deal.

The Yankees tried hard to acquire Kimbrel at the trade deadline, reporting offering top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo and others for Kimbrel and second baseman Jedd Gyorko (and the rest of Gyorko’s big contract). There have been no indications the two sides would revisit the deal this winter, but it seemed like a possibility.

Brian Cashman said the Yankees are “open to anything” multiple times at the GM Meetings last week, so much so that closer Andrew Miller‘s name has popped up in trade rumors. There’s been speculation they could trade Miller, then replace him with someone like Kimbrel or a trade for another high-end reliever.

Anyway, the Yankees remain set in the late innings with Miller and Dellin Betances. Justin Wilson is a pretty good third option as well. The bullpen certainly isn’t a priority, but there’s no such thing as too many good relievers. Second base and the rotation remain the biggest needs.

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.