2014 Trade Deadline Eve Open Thread

Hole Camels. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Hole Camels. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this Thursday, and between now and then there will be a ton of rumors and speculation. Some actual moves too. The Yankees have already swung trades for Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, but Brian Cashman has said he is still seeking another starter and another bat. I don’t know if they’ll get another deal done, but I fully expect plenty of Yankees-related rumors.

On Monday and Tuesday we learned the Yankees are “in on everything” but they do not want to part with their top minor leaguers. Josh Willingham, John Danks, Jake Arrieta, Justin Ruggiano, and Chris Denorfia were among the names connected to the club. They are not targeting Justin Masterson, however. We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this post, so make sure you check back throughout the day. All of the timestamps below are ET.

  • 4:59pm: In addition to Benoit, the Yankees have also checked in on Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies and James Russell of the Cubs. Both are lefties but I don’t think that says they’re unhappy with Matt Thornton. [Stark]
  • 4:33pm: The Yankees continue to be connected to Marlon Byrd, but they are wary of his $8M price tag for next season. Like I said before, they will need a right fielder next year, Byrd on what amounts to a one-year deal at $8M wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Jayson Stark]
  • 4:31pm: In case you were thinking about a reunion, former Yankees corner infielder Eric Chavez announced his retirement today. He was pretty awesome.
  • 2:16pm: Although the Yankees and White Sox continue to discuss Danks, they are still far apart in talks. I’m sure both the money and prospects are an obstacle. [Heyman]
  • 2:07pm: Justin Masterson has been traded to the Cardinals. The Yankees did not have interest in him, but it presumably takes St. Louis out of the running for Jon Lester and David Price, muddling the pitching market. [Peter Gammons]
  • 1:57pm: As they look to bolster their bullpen, the Yankees are eyeing Joaquin Benoit. They had some interest in him over the winter. There is “nothing going on” right now as far as talks go, however. [Heyman & Martino]
  • 12:49pm: The Yankees are still involved in talks with the Padres about Ian Kennedy, but those talks are said to be “medium,” whatever that means. San Diego cleared a lot of money with the Huston Street and Chase Headley trades and have said they don’t have any problem with holding onto Kennedy into next season. [Chad Jennings]
  • 12:06pm: The Yankees prefer rentals to players under contract next year and beyond. Rentals are cool, but the team does have holes to address next year (like right field). Trading for someone signed for next season wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. [Andrew Marchand]
  • 10:28am: In addition to rotation help, the Yankees are looking to bolster their bullpen as well. Adam Warren and Dellin Betances look like they have been running on fumes of late. [Nick Cafardo]
  • 10:06am: The Yankees are picking through the second tier of starting pitchers and they have discussed left-hander Brett Anderson. The Rockies intend to keep him and either exercise his club option for 2015 or sign him to a longer term contract, however. [Buster Olney & Ken Rosenthal]
  • 9:30am: The Phillies requested a package of multiple top prospects from the Yankees and several other teams in exchange for Cole Hamels. The assumption around baseball is that Philadelphia isn’t serious about moving their lefty ace. The Yankees are more likely to add another mid-rotation arm than an ace-caliber pitcher at this point. [Jon Heyman & Andy Martino]
  • The Yankees continue to have interest in Willingham. With Carlos Beltran continuing his throwing program and potentially returning to the outfield as soon as next week, the DH spot would be open for Willingham, who hasn’t played right field in five years. [Heyman]
  • Both the Rays and Rangers had special assignment scouts watching Double-A Trenton last night. Special assignment scouts are sent to see specific players. They aren’t there for general coverage. [Keith Law]

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7/28-7/30 Series Preview: Texas Rangers

The fans in Texas can hardly contain their excitement this year. (Presswire)
The fans in Texas can hardly contain their excitement this year. (Presswire)

After a successful ten-game homestand to open the second half, the Yankees now head out on the road for a six-game, seven-day road trip against two last place teams. They open a three-game set at Texas tonight. The Yankees won three of four against the Rangers in the Bronx just last week.

What Have They Done Lately?
Texas dropped two of three to the Athletics over the weekend and they’ve lost seven of ten games since the All-Star break. They are 41-64 overall with a -119 run differential, both the worst marks in all of baseball.

Offense
As you saw last week, the Rangers currently have a below-average lineup due to injuries. Their overall season averages of 3.99 runs per game and a team 88 wRC+ don’t tell the whole story either. 1B Prince Fielder (neck), 1B Mitch Moreland (ankle), 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (back), and IF Jurickson Profar (shoulder) are out for the rest of the season. C Geovany Soto (groin) and OF Jake Smolinski (foot) were placed on the disabled list since the last time these two clubs played as well.

Choo. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Choo. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Even with all the injuries, manager Ron Washington still has one outstanding hitter in 3B Adrian Beltre (140 wRC+). He’s the guy the Yankees can’t let beat them these next three games. OF Alex Rios (101 wRC+) is a nice supporting piece and OF Shin-Soo Choo (101 wRC+) has been very disappointing during his first year with the Rangers. OF Leonys Martin (89 wRC+) and 2B Rougned Odor (91 wRC+) have been good enough considering their defense.

SS Elvis Andrus (76 wRC+) has taken a big step back offensively these last two years at an age when he should be taking big steps forward. C J.P. Arencibia (28 wRC+) is now at first base and the trio of OF Jim Adduci (96 wRC+), IF Adam Rosales (63 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Daniel Robertson (69 wRC+ in limited time) are helping cover for the injuries. C Chris Gimenez (92 wRC+) and C Robinson Chirinos (75 wRC+) are the catching tandem. Keep Choo and Andrus off base in front of Beltre and everything should be okay.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and beat Darvish with the help of Mother Nature last week. The 27-year-old has a 2.92 ERA (2.80 FIP) in 19 starts and 129.1 innings this year with spectacular peripherals: 11.33 K/9 (30.4%), 2.99 BB/9 (8.0 BB%), 0.78 HR/9 (8.1 HR/FB%), and 34.1% ground balls. Yeah, he gives up a lot of fly balls, but he has one of the highest infield pop-up rates in baseball. Not every ball in the air is hit to the warning track, you know. Lefties (.322 wOBA) hit him a lot harder than righties (.245 wOBA) and he’s been much better at home (.253 wOBA) than on the road (.245 wOBA). Darvish throws six different pitches and uses his mid-80s splitter and slow upper-60s curveball the least, just a little more than 9% of the time combined. He throws his low-90s four-seamer, low-90s two-seamer, upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s slider regularly. The Yankees managed to score two runs in 4.1 innings against Darvish before the rain last week.

Tuesday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (vs. NYY)
Martinez, 23, has a 4.73 ERA (5.74 FIP) in 72.1 innings across 12 starts and five relief appearances this year after making the jump from Double-A to help cover for the team’s injuries. He has exactly as many walks as strikeouts (3.98 per nine and 9.9%) and he gives up both a lot of homers (1.49 HR/9 and 9.8 HR/FB%) and a lot of fly balls (32.0%). Lefties pound him (.403 wOBA vs. .336 for RHB) and he’s been much worse at home (.443 wOBA vs. .339 on the road). A low-90s four-seamer is Martinez’a primary fastball, though he will also throw a few low-90s two-seamers and upper-80s cutters per start. His two secondary pitches are a slider and a changeup, both in the mid-80s. Martinez managed to throw 5.1 shutout innings in Yankee Stadium last week, annoyingly.

Lewis. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Lewis. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (vs. NYY)
The Rangers have been hit so hard by injuries this year that the 34-year-old Lewis and his 6.23 ERA (4.13 FIP) have made 18 starts and thrown 95.1 innings. They’ve simply run out of alternatives. Lewis’ strikeout (7.55 K/9 and 17.8 K%), walk (3.02 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), and homer (1.04 HR/9 and 8.0 HR/FB%) rate are not great but not terrible either. He doesn’t get any grounders (33.2%) and lefties (.426 wOBA) have been less forgiving than righties (.353 wOBA). Home (.426 wOBA) hasn’t been as kind as the road (.364 wOBA) either. At this point of his career, Lewis works with an upper-80s four-seamer and a low-80s slider as his two main pitches. He’ll also throw a few low-to-mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start. Lewis held the Yankees to three runs in 6.1 innings last week.

Bullpen Status
As you might remember, the Rangers traded closer Joakim Soria in the middle of their series with the Yankees last week. RHP Neftali Feliz (5.79 in limited time) has moved back into the ninth inning with RHP Roman Mendez (3.41 FIP), RHP Shawn Tolleson (4.81 FIP), and LHP Neal Cotts (2.76 FIP) handling setup duty. Both Mendez and Tolleson threw an inning yesterday.

The Rangers are currently carrying eight relievers (like the Yankees!), so the rest of Washington’s bullpen includes RHP Nate Adcock (13.14 FIP in very limited time), RHP Scott Baker (4.65 FIP), LHP Ryan Feierabend (2.87 FIP), and RHP Jerome Williams (4.33 FIP). Williams made a spot start over the weekend and won’t be available right away. Feierabend threw multiple inning yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers and Lone Star Ball for everything you need to know about the Rangers.

7/21-7/24 Series Preview: Texas Rangers

This is how the Rangers' season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)
This is how the Rangers’ season is going. (Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees have taken care of business so far in the second half. They swept the Reds over the weekend and now welcome the last place Rangers to the Bronx for a four-game series. It is their first meeting of the season. These two teams will play seven games in the next ten days, so the scheduling gods have been kind to the Bronx Bombers.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Rangers dropped two of three to the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend, and, immediately before the All-Star break, they lost eight straight and 22 of 25 (!). These aren’t the same Rangers that won back-to-back AL pennants a few years ago, that’s for sure. Texas is 39-59 overall with a -110 run differential, both of which are the worst marks in baseball.

Offense
With a team 89 wRC+ and an average of 4.14 runs per game, the Rangers have had a below-average offense overall this season. Their lineup has been decimated by injuries though, so this isn’t the same lineup manager Ron Washington was trotting out there earlier in the year. Texas has 14 players (!) on the disabled list right now, including six position players. Among the notables are 1B Prince Fielder (neck), 2B Jurickson Profar (shoulder), 1B Mitch Moreland (ankle), and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (back). All four are done for the year. Here is the full list of injuries, if you’re interested.

At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)
At least he can play defense. (Cooper Neill/Getty)

Among those still left standing, Washington does have one top notch hitter in 3B Adrian Beltre (145 wRC+). His defense isn’t as good as it once was — that means it is merely very good instead of elite — but he can still rake. OF Alex Rios (103 wRC+) is day-to-day with an ankle issue but is expected to avoid the disabled list and return to the lineup sometime this week. OF Shin-Soo Choo (100 wRC+) has been very disappointing in his first year with Texas. OF Leonys Martin (92 wRC+) has been okay and OF Jake Smolinksi (142 wRC+) is their only other above-average hitter, and he has all of 36 plate appearances.

SS Elvis Andrus (77 wRC+) has regressed at the plate these last two seasons and his eight-year, $120M extension doesn’t even kick in until next year. Sure, he’s great defensively, but yikes. 2B Rougned Odor (90 wRC+) has shown flashes of why he was considered a top prospect coming into the season. Journeymen IF Adam Rosales (71 wRC+ in limited time) and OF Daniel Robertson (65 wRC+ in limited time) are helping cover for the injuries. Texas is carrying four (!) catchers at the moment: C J.P. Arencibia (23 wRC+), C Chris Gimenez (90 wRC+), C Robinson Chirinos (84 wRC+), and C Geovany Soto (just off the DL). Arencibia has been playing first base and Soto’s been spending time at DH after knee surgery. Can’t say this is the scariest lineup the Yankees will see this year.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Miles Mikolas (vs. NYY)
Injuries have hit the Rangers’ rotation hard as well, which is why Mikolas, a career reliever, is now in the rotation. The 25-year-old will be making his fourth start with Texas tonight — it is his tenth start of the season and 21st of his six-year career overall, so he is their Chase Whitley — and he’s pitched to a 10.05 ERA (4.11 FIP) in the first three. Mikolas has a dozen strikeouts and three walks in 14.1 innings so far, also allowing two homers. His numbers in six Triple-A starts before being called up were alright: 3.58 ERA (3.36 FIP) with a 7.99 K/9 (20.4 K%), 0.83 BB/9 (2.1 BB%), and 0.83 HR/9. Mikolas heavily uses his low-90s two and four-seamers, throwing them roughly 85% of the time combined, while mixing in a handful of low-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs.

Tuesday: RHP Chase Whitley (No vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (No vs. NYY)
Martinez, 23, jumped straight from Double-A to the Opening Day roster thanks to the various injuries on the staff. He has a 5.10 ERA (5.99 FIP) in 67 innings across eleven starts and five relief appearances while issuing more walks (4.16 BB/9 and 10.2 BB%) than strikeouts (3.90 K/9 and 9.5 K%) and not getting any ground balls (31.5%). Martinez is also pretty homer prone (1.61 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%) and lefties (.415 wOBA) hit him hard, though righties (.350 wOBA) don’t have much trouble either. A low-90s four-seamer is his primary fastball, though he will also throw a few low-90s two-seamers and upper-80s cutters per start. Martinez’s two secondary pitches are a slider and a changeup, both in the mid-80s.

(Rick Yeatts/Getty)
Two fewer MLB complete games than Masahiro Tanaka. (Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP David Phelps (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (vs. NYY)
It’s a four-game series, so the odds were against the Yankees missing Darvish. The 27-year-old is in the middle of his best MLB season with a 2.88 ERA (2.75 FIP) in 18 starts and 122 innings, and of course he has piled up a ton of strikeouts (11.36 K/9 and 30.5 K%). His walk rate (3.10 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%) is his lowest in three years with Texas and so is his ground ball rate (33.9%). Darvish’s homerun rate (0.74 HR/9 and 7.8 HR/FB%) is probably lower than it should be given his grounder rate and home ballpark. Lefties (.323 wOBA) have been much more successful against him than righties (.239 wOBA). Darvish throws six different pitches and uses his mid-80s splitter and slow upper-60s curveball the least, just a little more than 9% of the time combined. He throws his low-90s four-seamer, low-90s two-seamer, upper-80s cutter, and upper-70s slider regularly. The slider is devastating. That’s his moneymaker. Darvish will be a handful on Wednesday.

Thursday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (vs. NYY)
Lewis, 34, is having an awful season (6.37 ERA and 4.10 FIP in 17 starts and 89 innings) for an awful team and the frustration is starting to boil over — he ripped Colby Rasmus for bunting to beat the shift in the fifth inning of a two-run game following his last start. That’s as silly as it gets. Lewis’ strikeout (7.89 K/9 and 18.5 K%) and walk (2.93 BB/9 and 6.9 BB%) rates are fine, his homer (1.11 HR/9 and 8.5 HR/FB%) and ground ball (33.1%) rates aren’t. Same goes for his platoon splits: lefties have tagged him for a .443 wOBA while righties have a comparatively better .352 wOBA. At this point of his career, Lewis works with an upper-80s four-seamer and a low-80s slider as his two main pitches. He’ll also throw a few low-to-mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start.

Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Future Tiger. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Like I said, the Yankees and Rangers will play seven times in the next ten days, and there’s a decent chance Texas will trade closer RHP Joakim Soria (0.84 FIP) and LHP Neal Cotts (2.63 FIP) at some point during that stretch. They already traded away RHP Jason Frasor (to the Royals) and those two are said to be on the block. RHP Neftali Feliz (6.48 FIP in limited time) was recalled from Triple-A not too long again and figures to retake the closer’s job once Soria is traded.

The rest of Washington’s bullpen includes RHP Scott Baker (4.69 FIP), LHP Ryan Feierabend (2.80 FIP in very limited time), RHP Roman Mendez (2.99 FIP in limited time), RHP Shawn Tolleson (4.94 FIP), and RHP Matt West (2.39 FIP in limited time). Baker is the swingman and has four relief appearances of at least five innings this year. He’s the first pitcher to do that since Tom Bolton had five such relief appearances for the 1993 Tigers. Tolleson, Feliz, and West all pitched yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers, then check out Lone Star Ball for everything you need to know about the Rangers.

Rangers checked in on Cervelli; Yankees not interested in Frandsen

Will Cervelli be packing his bags before Opening Day (Presswire)
Will Cervelli be packing his bags before Opening Day? (Presswire)

As Spring Training winds down, expect there to be a small run of transactions as teams finalize their rosters. Out of options players will be dealt, veterans on minor league contracts will be released so they find a big league job elsewhere, all sorts of stuff. Two years ago the Yankees pounced on this late-spring market to get Chris Stewart from the Giants, for example.

The Rangers have suffered a ton of injuries in recent weeks, losing guys like Jurickson Profar and Derek Holland long-term. Others like Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, and Elvis Andrus are banged up and expected to miss Opening Day. Starting catcher Geovany Soto will miss 10-12 weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus early this week, meaning Robinson Chirinos and J.P. Arencibia will be their catching tandem at the start of the season.

According to Buster Olney, the Rangers called around to check in with clubs with extra catchers, including the Yankees and Frankie Cervelli. They are far from the first team to show interest in him this spring. With the bullpen more or less sorted out — we don’t know the exact names yet, but there are plenty of candidates to choose from — the Yankees figure to seek an infielder in any trade involving Cervelli, especially with Brendan Ryan‘s back acting up. Therein lies the problem:

Rangers Infield Depth Chart

Those are the infielders on Texas’ 40-man roster. The non-roster guys are pretty bad, as non-roster guys tend to be. Andrus, Profar, Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, and Mitch Moreland are not worth talking about for obvious reasons. It would be nice to have a true backup first baseman, but Moreland doesn’t make much sense for the Yankees, especially not with a $2.65M salary. He doesn’t fit the roster well.

That leaves journeymen Andy Parrino and Adam Rosales, as well as actual prospect (!) Luis Sardinas. Both Parrino and Rosales are cut from the no hit, good glove cloth, but with Andrus and Profar hurt, the Rangers need both of them. Sardinas, 20, hit .288/.342/.348 between High-A (96 games in 2013) and Double-A (29 games) last year and is slated to return to Double-A this year. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Sardinas as the team’s seventh best prospect a few weeks ago and said he has the contact and defensive chops to play short everyday, as long as he improves his plate discipline and gets stronger.

Given the infield situation, it makes sense for the Yankees to look at acquiring a young infielder. I can’t imagine the Rangers (or any team) would give up a prospect of Sardinas’ caliber for an out of options catcher — Stewart-for-George Kontos is a nice estimation of Cervelli’s trade value, no? — though I suppose they may be desperate in the wake of Soto’s injury. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Sardinas would not improve the 2014 Yankees though, and probably not the 2015 team either. As Olney says, there isn’t much of a fit here even though Texas needs a backstop. They don’t have the infield depth to give up because of their own injuries. It seems like Cervelli’s value to the team is greater than anything the they could get in a trade.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

In other news, Joel Sherman says the Yankees are not interested in infielder Kevin Frandsen, who recently elected free agency after being outrighted by the Phillies. He forfeited $900k in salary by doing that. Might end up regretting that one. I wrote about the 31-year-old Frandsen as a trade target last summer, mostly because he can fake the three non-shortstop infield positions and hit southpaws (career 108 wRC+). Is he better than Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte? Eh, maybe. Is it worth a 40-man roster spot to find out? I don’t think so.

The Ryan injury made the need for another infielder a little greater, but the Yankees brought in Solarte and specifically Anna for this very situation. Cervelli to Texas for an actual infield prospect would be great but it just seems so very unlikely. At the same time, another veteran journeyman like Frandsen might not be worth the trouble. The Yankees stocked up on similar players this winter and while there’s never any harm in adding another body, there’s no desperate need for a player of that caliber. Despite their recent history of late spring moves, I would be surprised if the Bombers make a trade or some kind of notable infield addition in the next six days.

Heyman: Rangers agree to seven-year deal with Shin-Soo Choo

Via Jon Heyman: The Rangers and Shin-Soo Choo have agreed to a seven-year contract worth $130M. The Yankees reportedly offered the outfielder seven years and $140M before signing Carlos Beltran, but Choo might still come out ahead financially because there’s no income tax in Texas. I dunno, whatever.

I preferred Choo to Jacoby Ellsbury this winter — apparently that puts me in the minority — simply because I thought he fit New York’s roster better. Forget about the contracts, a super-high OBP guy with 20+ homer power addressed two of the Yankees’ biggest needs (OBP and power!) way better than another singles-hitting speedster. Don’t get me wrong, Ellsbury is really good, but Choo made more sense in my opinion. Oh well. Joel Sherman says Texas was Choo’s first choice anyway.