Sherman: Yankees have discussed Brett Gardner trade with Mariners

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

The Yankees have had trade talks with the Mariners about outfielder Brett Gardner, reports Joel Sherman. Talks are not all that advanced and no deal is imminent. New Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has reportedly been after Gardner for a while, dating back to his time as interim GM of the Diamondbacks in 2010. Seattle is trying hard to land an athletic center fielder this offseason.

“At the end of the day, I am legitimately really open to any idea,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch. “I’ve had a lot of bad ones, either thrown by me or on the receiving end from somebody else to me. But that’s what we’re here for, to throw a lot of (stuff) out there and see what sticks.”

Sherman says — not specifically related to a potential Gardner trade, just in general — the Yankees are seeking high-end starting pitching they can control beyond 2017. (Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Nathan Eovaldi can all become free agents after 2017.) He notes New York ramped up their scouting of Mariners lefty James Paxton at the end of the regular season and in the Arizona Fall League.

Paxton, 27, had a 3.90 ERA (4.31 FIP) in 67 innings for the Mariners this past season while missing roughly three months with a strained tendon in his left middle finger. He was limited to 74 innings last season (3.04 ERA and 3.28 FIP) due to a severe lat strain. Between MLB and the minors, Paxton has thrown only 160.2 innings from 2014-15 due to injuries.

The Yankees owe Gardner $39.5M through 2018 while Paxton is under team control through 2019. In a world where Colby Rasmus is expected to land a three-year deal worth $42M, Gardner at three years and $39.5M is pretty damn reasonable. The Yankees would clear payroll — why are the Yankees worried about clearing payroll? — and add another injury prone starter to the pile with a deal like this, which may or may not be under discussion.

In a vacuum, I think Gardner for Paxton is close to the ballpark but not quite in it. The Mariners would have to sweeten the deal somewhat. Gardner is solidly above-average for his position and Paxton is little more than potential. And no, trading Gardner then signing a free agent like Jason Heyward does not mean the Yankees should settle for less in return for Gardner. His trade value doesn’t change.

Anyway, I’m sure the Yankees have received plenty of calls about Gardner this offseason, and since he’s pretty much the only veteran on the team with actual trade value, expect to continue seeing his name in trade rumors this winter. That they acquired another outfielder this afternoon in Aaron Hicks only adds fuel to the fire.

Mariners name Jerry Dipoto new GM, Billy Eppler remains favorite for Angels GM job

Eppler and the ghost of A.J. Burnett. (NY Times)
Eppler and the ghost of A.J. Burnett. (NY Times)

Exactly one month after firing ex-GM Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners named former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto their new GM, the team announced yesterday. “Jerry impressed us at each step of the process … I am looking forward to having Jerry lead our baseball operations for a long time,” said president Kevin Mather in a statement.

Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler interviewed for the Mariners GM job not once, but twice, reports Joel Sherman. Jerry Crasnick says Eppler and Dipoto were the two finalists for the job. That’s not the first time that’s happened either — Eppler and Dipoto were the two finalists for the Angels GM position a few years ago, and Dipoto got that gig as well.

The Mariners GM job is off the board, though Eppler still remains the front-runner for the Angels GM job, reports Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Fletcher. He interviewed a few weeks ago and all signs point to Eppler getting the job at some point. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Fletcher explains:

It is likely the Angels and Yankees would both want to avoid even the appearance of a conflict if Eppler were named Angels GM before the teams met in the playoffs.

The Yankees currently have a comfortable lead on the first wildcard spot (3.5 games with six to play) while the Angels are only a half-game back of the Astros for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees and Angels could easily end up meeting in the wildcard game next week. One team poaching the other’s assistant GM right before a postseason matchup wouldn’t be a good look.

Eppler, 39, has been with the Yankees since 2005, starting as a scout before working his way up the ladder to assistant GM. He worked with the Rockies before joining the Yankees. In addition to interviewing for the Mariners and Angels GM jobs this year, Eppler also interviewed for the Padres GM job last year and declined an invitation to interview for the Diamondbacks GM job. He also interviewed with the Angels back in 2011.

While nothing is set in stone, it seems likely the Angels will name Eppler their new GM soon after the season. I have no idea how or if the Yankees would replace him in the front office. They tend to promote from within and I assume that would happen again.

Update: Eppler interviews for Angels and Mariners GM positions

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

September 17th: Eppler met with Mariners brass in Chicago last night, reports George King. Seattle supposedly prefers a GM with experience, though they have a long list of candidates and are covering all their bases.

September 15th: Eppler was scheduled to meet with Angels owner Arte Moreno and team president John Carpino in New York last night, reports George King. Eppler interviewed with the Angels a few years ago, so it seems like the two sides were getting reacquainted more than anything. He is supposedly very high on their wish list.

September 9th: According to Ken Rosenthal, assistant GM Billy Eppler will interview with both the Angels and Mariners for their GM openings. The Yankees granted both teams permission to speak to Eppler, which isn’t surprising. Clubs usually won’t block a chance at an upward move.

Eppler, 39, interviewed with the Angels back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner up to Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto resigned earlier this year after losing a power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. A few days ago we heard Eppler was considered the front-runner for the Halos GM gig. He’s a Southern California native and could jump at the chance to return home.

The Mariners fired GM Jack Zduriencik a few weeks ago and are in the process of picking a replacement. The Seattle job seems like a pretty good one — great city, great ballpark, and something of a clean slate. The new GM will presumably be able to bring his own people. Scouts, assistants, coaches, etc. With the Angels, the new GM will be stuck with Scioscia. Owner Arte Moreno made that clear when he picked Scioscia over Dipoto earlier this summer.

Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2005. He started as a scout and worked his way up the ladder, getting promoted to assistant GM back in 2012. Eppler has interviewed for several GM openings over the years, including with his hometown Padres this past offseason, and eventually he’ll snag one. I thought he would one day take over for Brian Cashman, but that seems more and more unlikely.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Thursday

Price. (Harry How/Getty)
Price. (Harry How/Getty)

We are now just one day away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have not yet made a move but I expect them to do something by 4pm ET tomorrow. They need pitching — I’m not sure how much more obvious it could be at this point — and a new second baseman sure would be cool too. Don’t be fooled by the six-game lead in the AL East, there are holes on the roster.

Late last night, Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal, taking arguably the best available pitcher off the board. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we learned the Tigers are making David Price and their other rental players available, which is significant because Price would look wonderful in pinstripes. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Talk about all of ’em in this open thread.

  • 2:50pm ET: Not only do the Yankees not want to trade top prospects, they are hesitant to trade guys like Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell as well. The sense is they will add a reliever to deepen the bullpen. Warren could then be a candidate to return to the rotation. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:47pm ET: The Mariners plan to keep impending free agent Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s a favorite of ownership and they could always re-sign him in the offseason. The Yankees had not been connected to Iwakuma but he seemed like a logical fit. (Masahiro Tanaka‘s teammate in Japan!) [Jeff Passan]
  • 2:23pm ET: The Yankees are “poised to strike” and are in on all the available arms. That … really doesn’t tell us anything new. The Yankees are typically a club that waits until the last minute to make trades, however. The Martin Prado and Stephen Drew deals were announced after the deadline last year.[Ken Rosenthal]
  • 2:01pm ET: The Yankees are on the “periphery” of the Yovani Gallardo race. He is very available and a bunch of teams are in the mix. Gallardo is still scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight. [Heyman]
  • 12:50pm ET: David Price is heading to the Blue Jays for a package of top prospects, including Daniel Norris and Anthony Alford. So scratch him off the list.
  • 12:06pm ET: The Blue Jays appear to be “closing in” on a trade for David Price according to multiple reports. Toronto hasn’t been to the postseason since 1993 and they acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago. The chips are firmly in the middle of the table.
  • 10:07am ET: The Yankees are considering among Mike Leake‘s most likely landing spots at this point. They’re also a candidate to acquire Jeff Samardzija should the surging White Sox decide to move him. Special assistant Jim Hendry drafted the righty when he was Cubs GM and Larry Rothschild was Samardzija’s pitching coach in Chicago for a few years. [Heyman]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees are one of four serious contenders for David Price, along with the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays. All four clubs are in talks with the Tigers. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees discussed Dustin Ackley with the Mariners. Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel came up but Seattle wanted more — I believe it was Flores or Gamel, not both — so talks stalled out. For whatever reason the Yankees have been after Ackley for years. [Mark Feinsand]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Yankeemetrics: Back to baseball, wins (July 17-19)

Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Deja vu
The Yankees started the second half of the season the same way they ended the first half, beating the Mariners 4-3 on Friday night. It gave them a 4.5-game lead in the AL East, their biggest division lead since August 2012.

A-Rod delivered the game-winning hit with a solo homer in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. It was his 19th go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later as a Yankee; since he joined the team in 2004, no other Yankee has hit more than 10 such homers.

Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs over seven innings and improved to 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 27 strikeouts in three career starts against the Mariners. He is the fourth Yankee to win each of his first three starts against Seattle (Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Underwood, Tim Leary), but the only one of those guys to do it while striking out at least seven batters in each of those games.

Tanaka’s off-speed pitches have been really impressive over his last two starts. Against the Mariners and A’s (July 9) he threw 144 sliders, curves and splitters combined, and those pitches yielded just two hits while netting him 34 outs.

Oh no, don’t cha know
It’s not often you can say after a baseball game that one player beat you … but that’s pretty much what happened in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners. Robinson Cano hit two homers and drove in all four of the Mariners’ runs — an outburst that hardly could have been predicted before the weekend.

Cano entered the game 9-for-40 (.225) against the Yankees since leaving for the Pacific Northwest two seasons ago, his worst batting average against any American League team in his career. Not only was it his first multi-homer game in a Mariners uniform, it was also the first time he had at least three hits and four RBI in a game over the past two seasons.

Brian McCann drove in both Yankee runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 15th home run of the season. He is the ninth catcher in major-league history to hit at least 15 homers in 10-or-more seasons, and one of only three to do that in his first 11 career seasons. The others? Oh, just Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench.

Throwback Sunday
CC Sabathia turned back the clock and delivered a ace-like performance in the series finale, going pitch-for-pitch with King Felix for six innings, and Mark Teixeira hit another clutch late-inning homer to give the Yankees a dramatic win over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.

Sabathia now has a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners since joining the Yankees, the lowest ERA vs. Seattle by any pitcher in franchise history with at least seven starts against the M’s.

Teixeira’s game-winning blast was his 23rd homer and 63rd RBI of the season, more than he had all of last season … and it’s the middle of July. The big hit came off a 98-mph fastball from Fernando Rodney, the fastest pitch that Teixeira has sent over the fence since August 14, 2012, when he clobbered a 99-mph heater off Alexi Ogando into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. Before the home run, Teixeira was 0-for-9 in 11 matchups vs. Rodney, his most plate appearances without a hit against any active pitcher.

7/17 to 7/19 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners


The All-Star break is (finally) over and the Yankees return tonight with the first of three against the Mariners. That means Robinson Cano is back in New York for the third time as a Mariner — they played one series in the Bronx last season, but one game was rained out and had to be made up later in the summer. Also, Jesus Montero is back! He was called up from Triple-A not too long ago. The Yankees swept three games from the Mariners in Seattle last month.

What Have The Mariners Done Lately?

The Mariners split a four-game series with the Angels before the All-Star break and they’ve been alternating wins and losses for 12 games now. (They’re due for a win tonight if that pattern continues.) Seattle has been a huge disappointment this year, lots of people were expecting them to win the division, but they’re 41-48 with a -48 run differential. That’s the second worst record in the AL.

Offense & Defense

You’re not going to believe this, but the Mariners are one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this season. Crazy, I know. Never happens. They’re averaging 3.51 runs per game with a team 91 wRC+. Manager Lloyd McClendon’s offense is healthy too. No position players on the DL or even day-to-day.

Montero. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
Montero. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Cano (85 wRC+) is in the middle of the worst season of his career, though I suspect you already knew that. He’s been much better over the last two weeks or so (133 wRC+). That’s still not the Robbie we remember, but it’s a lot better than what he was doing earlier this season. DH Nelson Cruz (158 wRC+) has 21 homers this season — he hit 18 homers in his first 46 games and has hit three homers in his last 41 games. Zoinks.

3B Kyle Seager (114 wRC+) has been solid and OF Seth Smith (130 wRC+) is killing the ball in a platoon role. SS Brad Miller (109 wRC+), OF Austin Jackson (84 wRC+), DH Mark Trumbo (94 wRC+), and 1B Logan Morrison (92 wRC+) all play everyday. Montero (59 wRC+ in extremely limited time) has seen time at first. C Mike Zunino (45 wRC+) is the regular catcher and OF Dustin Ackley (85 wRC+) and OF Franklin Gutierrez (108 wRC+ in limited time) are platooning in the outfield. Yes, Gutierrez is back in baseball. C Jesus Sucre (-93 wRC+) and IF Chris Taylor (24 wRC+) are on the bench.
The Mariners have a surprisingly weak team defense. Cano and Seager are both excellent and Zunino’s a stud behind the plate, plus Jackson can still go get it, but there’s not a whole lot to see besides that. Cruz has actually played more right field (49 games) than DH (38 games) and he’s abysmal in the field, same with Smith and Montero. Miller has a knack for hilarious errors. LoMo’s okay around the bag but won’t wow anyone. Cano, Seager, and Jackson … hit it to anyone but them.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. SEA) vs. LHP Mike Montgomery (vs. NYY)
Montgomery, 26, is a well-traveled former top prospect. He’s was part of the James Shields/Wil Myers swap a few years ago before going to Seattle for Erasmo Ramirez before the season. Montgomery has a 2.29 ERA (3.66 FIP) in eight starts and 55 innings this year with low strikeout (15.7%), walk (6.0%), and home run (0.65 HR/9) rates. His grounder rate (46.1%) is about average. He has a reverse split (.364 vs. .241 wOBA in favor of lefties) in his brief big league time. Montgomery’s fastball sits low-90s and his best pitch is a fading low-80s changeup. He’s settled on mid-70s curveball as his primary breaking ball and will mix in upper-80s cutters. Montgomery held the Yankees to one run in six innings in his MLB debut last month.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (vs. NYY)
A lat strain sent the 34-year-old Iwakuma to the DL for two and a half months earlier this year, and tomorrow will be his third start back. He has a 5.22 ERA (6.21 FIP) in five starts and 29.1 innings with few strikeouts (16.5%), few walks (4.1%), an average number of grounders (46.3%), and all the homers (2.76 HR/9). All the homers. Righties (.390 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.356 wOBA) so far this year. Iwakuma lives in the upper-80s with his sinker and throws low-80s splitters and sliders as well as a low-70s curveball. The split-finger is his go-to out pitch, as it is for many Japanese hurlers. The Yankees didn’t see Iwakuma during the series in Seattle because he was still on the DL.

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
Felix. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Sunday (1pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. SEA) vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (vs. NYY)
Hope you weren’t expecting the Yankees to mix Felix this weekend. He has a 2.84 ERA (3.27 FIP) in 117.1 innings across 18 starts this year with very good to great everything: 24.1 K%, 7.5 BB%, 57.3 GB%, and 0.77 HR/9. Lefties (.292 wOBA) are having some more success against the 29-year-old than righties (.246 wOBA). These days Hernandez throws a fastball only 40% of the time or so — he favors his low-90s sinker over his low-90s four-seamer — and instead relies heavily on his upper-80s changeup. He throws that pitch more than one-third of the time, believe it or not. An upper-70s curveball is Felix’s preferred breaking ball, though he’ll also throw a bunch of mid-80s sliders per outing. The Yankees scored seven runs in 4.2 innings against Hernandez last month, but I wouldn’t bet on a repeat.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners only have a six-man bullpen right now, but they do have an open roster spot, so someone will get called up before tonight’s game. RHP Carson Smith (1.73 ERA/1.95 FIP) and RHP Fernando Rodney (5.50/5.27) have been sharing the closer’s job of late. Smith is the high-leverage guy — he comes in to get the big outs regardless of whether they’re in the eighth or ninth inning.

RHP Mark Lowe (0.64/1.61) is the Seattle’s only other righty reliever. LHP Joe Beimel (2.73/4.03) is the matchup lefty, former Yankees LHP Vidal Nuno (2.39/2.96) is the long reliever, and LHP David Rollins (12.46/4.92 in very limited time) was just called up not too long ago. Both bullpens are fresh thanks to the All-Star break, but check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of New York’s top relievers anyway. Then head over to Lookout Landing and USS Mariner for the latest on the Mariners.

Yankeemetrics: Seattle sweep! (June 1-3)

This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)
This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)

King me!
The Yankees’ season-long trend of #weirdbaseball continued on Monday night when they destroyed one of the best pitchers on the planet, Felix Hernandez, tagging him for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win over the Mariners.

Of course, this performance came less than 24 hours after they lost three-of-four games to the worst team in the American League (A’s), which followed a sweep of the best team in the American League (Royals). But you knew all that stuff already.

What you might not know is that:

• The Yankees were the first team ever to score at least seven runs and draw five walks against King Felix in a game.
Mark Teixeira is just the second player to hit a grand slam against Hernandez in Seattle (joining the legend of Alberto Callaspo).
• Teixeira now has six career homers against Hernandez, the most of any player against the former Cy Young winner.
• King Felix had a 1.79 ERA in his previous five starts against the Yankees, which was the second-best mark by any pitcher who started at least two games vs. the team in that span (since July 24, 2012).

Teixeira was the big star of the game, so let’s give him some more props here. He now has 18 homers at Safeco Field, which is the most of any visiting player at the ballpark. His grand slam was the first by any Yankee in Seattle since Bernie Williams hit one against J.J. Putz on May 16, 2005. And before Teixeira, no Yankee first baseman had ever hit a homer with the bases loaded against the Mariners. History, folks.

Jones, Drew … You gotta be kidding?
One of the Yankees’ most unlikely wins of the season was sparked by perhaps the most unlikeliest of heroes on Tuesday night.

Trailing 2-1 and down to the final strike, Stephen Drew and his .160 batting average knocked a game-tying double into right field to send the game into extras. Excluding pinch-hitters, it had been 40 years since a Yankee batting ninth in the order had a game-tying, two-out hit in the ninth inning (Rich Coggins in 1975 against the Brewers).

Garrett Jones then delivered the game-winner in the top of the 11th, crushing a three-run homer off lefty Joe Beimel to break the 2-2 tie. He became the first Yankee with a go-ahead homer in the 11th inning or later in Seattle since Kevin Maas on May 5, 1991.

How unlikely was the win for the Yankees? Not only were they 0-3 in extra innings this season before Tuesday, but they also had lost all 23 games this season that they trailed entering the ninth inning.

Hook, line and sinker
The Yankees finished off their sweep of the Mariners with a 3-1 win on Wednesday, extending their win streak in Seattle to eight games. That’s the team’s longest road win streak vs. the Mariners in franchise history.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched a gem in his first game back since going on the DL more than a month ago, striking out nine batters without a walk and allowing just one run in seven brilliant innings. The only other Yankee pitcher to put up that line (0 BB, at least 9 K, 1 run or fewer) in Seattle was Scott Sanderson on May 3, 1991.

This day was a milestone marker for Tanaka, his 25th game in the majors, and he’s done quite a lot in those 25 outings. Consider these numbers among pitchers to debut in the last 100 years:

• 16 wins are tied with Mel Stottlemyre for the most by any Yankee in his first 25 career games.
• 174 strikeouts are the most by any Yankee in his first 25 games, and the third-most by any AL pitcher, behind Yu Darvish (188) and Herb Score (180).
• 1.01 WHIP is the lowest mark by any Yankee in his first 25 games (min. 50 IP).

Mark Teixeira found the outfield seats at Safeco once again, clubbing his 379th career homer, which matches Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 67th place all-time. It was also his 35th home run against the Mariners, tied with Juan Gonzalez for the fourth-most against the franchise. Only Rafael Palmeiro (52), Manny Ramirez (39) and Frank Thomas (36) have hit more.