Archive for Trade Deadline
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees made the Phillies two offers for Michael Young prior to yesterday’s trade deadline. They first offered right-hander Tommy Kahnle while assuming the $5M left on Young’s contract before offering a different (unnamed) prospect, but both were rejected. The Yankees also asked about Carlos Ruiz but were told he wasn’t available.
Both Young and Ruiz are prime August waiver trade bait as Philadelphia continues to fall out of the race. The Yankees are pretty high up on the waiver priority list, at least relative to their primary wildcard competitors, but both Young and Ruiz would have to pass through the NL and about a half-dozen AL teams before New York had a shot at them. Here’s how August waiver trades work, if you need a reminder. It’s doable but complicated.
There was one thing the Yankees could not afford to do before yesterday’s non-waiver trade deadline: nothing. And that’s exactly what they did. They did nothing. They checked in on this guy and that guy, but ultimately they did nothing. Ownership brought in Alfonso Soriano last week and that’s it. They did nothing.
“It wasn’t a deep market at all,” said Brian Cashman soon after the 4pm ET deadline. “What I was offering obviously wasn’t good enough for the opposing teams. What the teams were suggesting to me wasn’t good enough from my perspective … We will have to contend with what we have right now unless we can find ways to improve it. And obviously right now that’ll come from within and off the disabled list.”
As the first 107 games told us, what the team has right now is not good enough to contend. Not even close, really. They’re seven back in the division and three back of a wildcard spot with three teams ahead of them. Yeah, there are 55 games left to play, but that is a major uphill climb. A climb that required some reinforcements if the team was serious about contending during Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Instead, we get more excuses about how the market wasn’t favorable.
What Cashman neglected to mention, of course, is that the current market is the result of the team’s prior (non-)moves. They purposefully downgraded the lineup over the winter and got burned when the regulars started getting hurt, and now they’re desperate. Teams know this — they no doubt smell the blood in the water — and the prices get jacked up. Add in the fact that there are more contenders and fewer sellers, and you’ve got a recipe for exorbitant trade deadline prices. If they wanted help, they had to overpay. Even Corey Black for Soriano was an overpay considering Soriano said he would only accept a trade to New York. The Cubs had zero leverage and still extracted a decent prospect.
The Yankees had plenty of chances to improve the team during the offseason/free agency and passed, in part because of the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold next year. They had a chance to improve before the deadline — both right at the deadline and in the weeks and months leading up to it — and passed. Now they have to try to improve during the August waiver period, which won’t be easy despite their relatively high waiver priority. They keep painting themselves into a corner and further limiting their market, which is no way to go through life.
At some point Cashman and the rest of his management henchmen have to come out and take some sort of responsibility for the roster and stop blaming the market. It was their conscious decision to address every need with an aging veteran player who had something left in the tank if you squinted your eyes real hard and believed in the magic of a pinstripes. No one forced that on them. There’s nothing wrong with taking a flier on a veteran for a platoon job or bench spot or whatever, but at some point it became the Yankees’ only method of team building. That’s just silly.
The Yankees could not afford to do nothing at the deadline. They either had to go all-in and add pieces or wave the white flag and trade away some players. They did neither and made zero progress as a franchise — they’re no closer to contending or rebuilding. They’re just an overwhelmingly mediocre club that will need an unprecedented amount of farm system success to make their sub-luxury tax threshold plan work. The trade deadline changed nothing, but this coming offseason there have to be more than cosmetic changes. The Yankees need to overhaul their team-building philosophies.
4:35pm: “We had a lot of conversations. Some gained some traction, some were immediately rejected,” said Cashman to reporters. “It wasn’t a deep market at all. It wasn’t a deep pool to swim in. We didn’t get anything to lead us to a deal. We certainly explored it enough. Soriano was the big bat we got.”
4:13pm: The Yankees did not make a single move on Wednesday prior to the 4pm ET trade deadline, multiple reporters confirmed. Brian Cashman will speak to the media shortly, and I’m guessing he’ll recite the generic “we didn’t like the prices,” “we’ll be aggressive on waivers in August,” and “our injured players are better than anyone we could have traded for” lines. Alfonso Soriano, whom the Bombers acquired last week, was the best hitter traded prior to the deadline this summer. Seriously.
The non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, so between now and then there will be a plethora of rumors, speculation, moves, and more. Some of it might even involve the Yankees. I would hope so at least, given their laundry list of needs and spot on the fringes of contention.
Yesterday we learned … not a whole lot. Depending on who you ask, the Yankees may or may not be in the race for Alex Rios, Michael Young, Hunter Pence, and Mike Morse. We do know they are prioritizing a right-handed first baseman to platoon with Lyle Overbay, but that’s really it. They could really use a third baseman, plus the catching position and starting rotation could stand to be upgraded as well. Those are lower priority needs right now. A righty first base bat and third baseman are the top two items on the shopping list.
We’re going to keep track of all the Yankees-related rumors leading up to the deadline right here in this post, so make sure you check back often between now and 4pm. You should come back after that as well; some deals aren’t announced until later in the afternoon. All of the timestamps below are ET.
- 3:56pm: The Yankees have “nothing of consequence in works.” [Rosenthal]
- 3:41pm: The Yankees are “not getting traction” in talks with the Phillies about Young. They also spoke to the Braves about Hughes, but they’re unlikely to make a deal. [Buster Olney & Sherman]
- 2:59pm: New York is optimistic they will have a deal done before the deadline. Deal for who or what? No idea. [Sherman]
- 2:49pm: The Yankees have received two offers for Phil Hughes and are considering them. No word on the teams or other players involved. [Bob Nightengale]
- 2:02pm: The team has indeed been told Young is willing to accept a trade to New York, apparently. Back and forth we go. [Mark Feinsand]
- 1:57pm: The Yankees aren’t getting very far in their search for a third baseman. They don’t have much interest in Placido Polanco, who is very available. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 1:49pm: Young has still not changed his mind about waiving his no-trade clause to come to the Yankees, but the team remains hopeful about acquiring him. [Andy McCullough & Jon Heyman]
- 1:31pm: A team official said everything is “all quiet” as of right now. That’s bad. [Sherman]
- 9:30am: The expectation is that the Yankees will do something today, even if they only flip Joba Chamberlain for a prospect. The team expects Curtis Granderson and possibly Alex Rodriguez to return soon, and they don’t want overlapping parts. [Joel Sherman]
- The Yankees had their eyes on Alberto Callaspo before he was traded to the Athletics last night. They liked that the switch-hitting infielder was signed through next year ($4.875M) given the uncertainty surrounding A-Rod and the general need for an improved bench. [Sherman]
- Once the deadline passes, New York will be in great shape to make waiver trades given their spot in the standings. They’ll have a higher waiver priority than the other serious wildcard contenders, giving them a better opportunity to acquire (or block) pieces in August. Some consolation prize. [Buster Olney]
The annual non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET on Wednesday, so pretty much one day away. The Yankees have already pulled off one pre-deadline deal by acquiring Alfonso Soriano and a bunch of cash from the Cubs for minor league righty Corey Black. They were desperate for a right-handed power bat and the trade has already paid dividends, as Soriano hit a two-run homer and a walk-off single on Sunday.
That move was a good first step, but the Yankees need much more help than that. They need an everyday third baseman — seven different players have combined to hit .217/.276/.288 (55 OPS+) at the hot corner this year — especially since it looks increasingly unlikely Alex Rodriguez will return to the team at some point. A righty platoon bat for Lyle Overbay, a catcher, and maybe even a starting pitcher should be on the trade deadline shopping list as well.
The Yankees haven’t made a notable trade at the deadline since way back in 2006, when they brought in Bobby Abreu. By notable trade, a mean a legitimate above-average player. Someone who didn’t require you to squint your eyes and say “maybe he has something left in the tank.” I don’t know if the team will buck that trend in the next 24 hours or so, but if they were ever going to do it, this would be the perfect time.
We’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this post, so check back often. All times are ET, obviously. Talk about anything trade deadline related — rumors, crazy hypotheticals, etc. — here as well.
- 10:33pm: Forget about Callaspo, he has reportedly been traded to the Athletics. [Rosenthal]
- 7:16pm: Young has ruled out a trade to the Yankees and the team no longer has interest in Rios. [Andrew Marchand & Buster Olney]
- 6:40pm: The Yankees have interest in Alberto Callaspo and have spoken to the Angels about him. Unclear if talks are serious at all. [Danny Knobler]
- 5:49pm: Mike Morse is very available, but the Yankees and Mariners have not yet had any serious talks. When the Nationals made Morse available over the winter, they wanted Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez in return. [Sherman & Josh Norris]
- 4:41pm: The Yankees have renewed their interest in Alex Rios. He recently said he would agree to waive his no-trade clause to come to New York after reports to the contrary. [Scott Merkin]
- 3:59pm: With 24 hours to go before the deadline, the Yankees are focused on finding a righty platoon partner for Overbay and perhaps a trade to rid themselves of Joba Chamberlain. I suppose they could accomplish both at once. [Sherman]
- 3:01pm: The Yankees are not completely out on Young at this point, but their chances of landing him are “very limited.” [Heyman]
- 1:50pm: Young will only waive his no-trade clause to return to the Rangers. So much for that idea. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 1:05pm: If Young is indeed being traded soon, the Yankees say it won’t be to them. [Joel Sherman]
- 12:19pm: The Phillies are planning to call up third base prospect Cody Asche, which is a pretty strong indication Young will be traded soon. Not necessarily to the Yankees, mind you. Several other clubs (Red Sox, Rangers, etc.) are said to be interested. [Jeff Passan]
- 12:00pm: The Yankees are still bugging the Giants about Hunter Pence, but there doesn’t appear to be a match at this point. San Francisco plans to make the outfielder a qualifying offer after the season, so any trade return would have to be greater than the value of a supplemental first round pick. [Jon Heyman]
- The team continues to monitor Michael Young, which they’ve been doing for quite some time now. The Phillies recently indicated they are willing to move their third baseman as well as some other players. [Andy Martino]
- Ownership has a “strong desire to reinforce this team and find a way to get in the playoffs,” said Brian Cashman. The Soriano trade is a prime example of that. [Bryan Hoch]
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees had not received any trade offers for right-hander Phil Hughes as of yesterday. The team has reportedly been “aggressively pushing” him on the market in hopes of landing a bat, though that was before the recent Alfonso Soriano trade.
Hughes, 27, has a 4.58 ERA (4.64 FIP) in 112 innings across 20 starts this year. To no one’s surprise, his home/road splits are rather drastic. The Yankees aren’t exactly blessed with a ton of pitching depth at the moment, and if they’re not going to get a decent bat in return, they should just hold onto Hughes for the second half. No point in making a move just to make a move.
Even after acquiring Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs and getting Derek Jeter back from the DL, the Yankees figure to focus primarily on adding offense in advance of Wednesday’s trade deadline. They still need help at third base and a platoon partner for Lyle Overbay, plus an upgrade behind the plate is in order as well. The lineup has improved quite a bit over the last week, but there is still more work to be done.
That said, starting pitching has been an issue of late as well. The team’s starters have allowed at least four runs ten times in 24 games this month, including seven times in the last 14 games. CC Sabathia has been bad for two months and a disaster of late, Andy Pettitte has struggled since coming off the DL, and Phil Hughes continues to be up and (mostly) down. Hiroki Kuroda is as good as it gets and Ivan Nova has been excellent of late, but having two reliable starting pitchers is no way to go through life.
I wrote about the idea of adding a starting pitcher at the trade deadline not too long ago, and remember, the Yankees will need an arm or three for next year as well. At the moment, the projected rotation for 2014 is Sabathia, Nova, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Michael Pineda, and that’s unlikely to take them anywhere meaningful. Adding a starter who can help them both down the stretch this year as well as next season and beyond sure seems like something worth exploring.
On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal reported the Cubs are listened to offers for right-hander Jeff Samardzija in advance of the non-waiver deadline. The 28-year-old former Notre Dame star (as a wide receiver) has found a home in Chicago’s rotation these last two years, but the rebuilding Cubbies are willing to turn him into prospects if the right deal comes along — the “asking price (is) high, as expected,” hears Rosenthal. Does the one they affectionately call Shark make sense for the Yankees? Let’s break it down.
- After going up and down and working primarily out of the bullpen earlier in his career, Samardzija has pitched to a 3.87 ERA and 3.60 FIP as a starter the last two years. That includes a 3.94 ERA and 3.66 FIP in 21 starts this season. He’s averaged a solid 6.1 innings per start.
- Samardzija’s strikeout rate as a starter is excellent. He’s at 9.21 K/9 and 24.5 K% since the start of 2012 (9.13 K/9 and 24.0 K% this year), including a very good 22.9 K% against non-pitchers. Samardzija’s 24.1% (!) swing-and-miss rate since last season is the ninth best among qualified starters, just behind Clayton Kershaw (24.2%).
- In addition to the strikeouts, his ground ball rate is trending upward. Samardzija has a very good 48.1% grounder rate this year, up from 44.6% last year and 41.0% the year before. (He was in the bullpen in 2011). Strikeouts and grounders are a great combination.
- As you probably guessed, Samardzija has nasty, nasty stuff. Among qualified starters, both his two-seamer (94.7 mph) and four-seamer (95.0 mph) have the third highest average velocity since the start of last year (only Stephen Strasburg and David Price are better), and he holds it keep into games. He also throws a low-90s cutter, a mid-80s splitter, and a low-to-mid-80s slider. The slider is his top secondary pitch.
- Being a star football player for the Irish and an Opening Day starter for the Cubs are not exactly low-profile experiences. Samardzija knows all about being the center of attention and dealing with the media and all that.
- Samardzija will earn $2.64M this year and is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in both 2014 and 2015. He’ll be relatively cheap these next two years and the team will have the flexibility to non-tender him if push comes to shove.
- Although his walk rate these last two years is solid (3.12 BB/9 and 8.3 BB%), Samardzija went from a 2.89 BB/9 and 7.8 BB% last year to a 3.42 BB/9 and 9.0 BB% this year. He is prone to those ugly four and five-walk starts from time to time.
- Samardzija is kinda homer prone. Since moving into the rotation last year, he has a 1.01 HR/9 and 12.7% HR/FB rate. He also has a bit of a platoon split, holding righties to a .291 wOBA (3.04 FIP) while lefties have put up a .307 wOBA (3.80 FIP). Not a huge difference, at least in terms of end results, but a difference nonetheless.
- His track record is very limited even though he’s spent parts of six years in the show. Samardzija has yet to crack 175 innings in the season (only two seasons with more than 100 innings) and who knows how (or if) he’ll hold up for 200+ innings annually with his more-than-moderate-effort delivery. He’ll also turn 29 next January, so he’s young but not a spring chicken. Thirty is right around the corner.
- Samardzija is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without first passing through waivers. Not a huge deal at this point, but it does limit flexibility if things go wrong.
The Yankees love physically big pitchers, and Samardzija is listed at 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs. on the Cubs’ official site. It’s also worth noting that pitching coach Larry Rothschild knows the right-hander from his time with the Cubs, though the fact that Samardzija broke out after Rothschild left town might be an indication the two didn’t work well together. Samardzija was also David Phelps’ teammate for a year at Notre Dame. The Yankees do have some inside info at their disposal.
Given their lack of upper level pitching prospects and an utter inability to develop high-end starters, trading for Samardzija might be the best chance for the Yankees to add an impact starter to their rotation at a reasonable financial price. It’ll cost more than a few quality prospects to acquire him, but his unique career path means there aren’t many comparable trades we can reference. Two and a half years of an above-average but not elite starter closing in on 30 with only one full year in the rotation to his credit? Don’t see many deals involving those guys.
Samardzija has not made much, if any, improvement from 2012 to 2013 outside of his ground ball rate. He’s really good right now, but I don’t think it’s safe assumption that he’ll continue to improve as he gains more experience just because he was awesome stuff. And it is awesome — legit bat-missing power stuff that would play just fine in the rough and tough AL East. Samardzija might just be another A.J. Burnett, the guy who looks like he should be an ace but continues to fall short of that performance level. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Burnett’s had a pretty damn good career.
Anyway, if I had a pitcher like Samardzija in this current market — it’s a seller’s market, prices are high — I’d want four young players back, at minimum. A top prospect, a second top-100 type of prospect, a third quality piece, and a fourth lower-level lottery ticket type. A bit more than the Cubs got for Matt Garza despite Samardzija’s lack of track record because of the two extra years of team control. Even if he “only” winds up as a good number three starter, the Yankees could definitely use a pitcher like a Samardzija, who at least offers a chance to blow up and become an ace.
Sunday: Conflicting reports! Rios told Bruce Levine the report is false and he would have accepted a trade to the Yankees had he been asked. “No, it is not true at all because if I was asked I was willing to waive my no-trade clause to go to the Yankees … It hasn’t been brought to me at all but I never turned a deal down to New York,” he said.
Friday: Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees called the White Sox about outfielder Alex Rios recently, but were told he is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to come to New York. That’s when the club moved on to Alfonso Soriano, who was acquired today. The Yankees are one of six teams included on Rios’ no-trade list.
Rios, 32, is hitting .276/.330/.437 (107 wRC+) with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases this season, including a 133 wRC+ against left-handers. He’s also a very good defensive player and is owed a reasonable ~$17M through the end of next season with an affordable ($13.5M) club option for 2015. Rios is clearly a better player than Soriano and would have been a better pick-up, though the Yankees would have had to surrender more/higher-quality prospects.
Sunday: Buster Olney says the Phillies have indeed reached out to teams to let them know some of their players are available, including Young. Cliff Lee is not one of those players, in case you were wondering.
Saturday: Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees continue to be told that Michael Young is not available in a trade. We heard the same thing earlier this month. Young told Jon Morosi that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has not approached him about any potential trades even though the team has lost six straight and is nine games out of a playoff spot.
Young, 36, is hitting .278/.344/.404 (107 wRC+) in 393 plate appearances this season, though he hasn’t done a ton of damage against left-handers (86 wRC+). The Yankees have gotten basically no production from the hot corner and really have no idea if or when Alex Rodriguez will return to the lineup, plus they need a platoon partner for Lyle Overbay. I’ve said this a million times before, but Young fits their needs well and should come reasonably cheap, both in terms of salary and prospects.
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees have asked the Giants about the availability of Hunter Pence. It’s unclear if they’re still interested after acquiring Alfonso Soriano. Ken Rosenthal says San Francisco will indeed entertain offers for the free-agent-to-be outfielder. The reigning World Champs have lost 26 of their last 37 games (!) and are nine games out of a playoff spot.
Pence, 30, is hitting .278/.321/.459 (119 wRC+) with 14 homers and 14 steals in 436 plate appearances this year, including a stellar 166 wRC+ against southpaws. He’s an average to slightly below-average defender in right and is owed approximately $4.8M through the end of the season. Pence is a rock solid player who got overrated earlier in his career because he was the proverbial “best player on a bad team,” but he would be a huge upgrade to the current Yankees. He won’t come cheap, but even with Soriano aboard, New York should make a run at him. There are plenty of ways to get someone like this into the lineup.