Archive for Transactions
The Yankees have officially signed Brian Roberts to a one-year contract, the team announced. He gets a $2M base salary plus another $2.6M in plate appearance-based incentives. Joel Sherman has a breakdown of the incentives, which don’t kick in until 250 plate appearances but escalate rapidly thereafter. Roberts gets the 40-man roster spot that was vacated by Alex Rodriguez when he was placed on the restricted list following the announcement of his 162-game suspension.
The Yankees have signed right-handed reliever Robert Coello to a minor league contract, reports Matt Eddy. Coello is a local guy from Bayonne. I assume he receives an invitation to Spring Training as well. That’s pretty standard.
Coello, 29, has a 5.90 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 29 career big league innings with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Angels. He managed a 3.71 ERA (2.52 FIP) with an excellent strikeout rate (12.18 K/9 and 31.5 K%) in 17 innings for the Halos last year, spending some time as their primary setup man. Shoulder inflammation sidelined him for more than three months.
If nothing else, Coello is fun to watch because he throws what amounts to a knuckle-forkball, alternatively titled a forkleball or WTForkball. I prefer to the latter. You can see it in the video above. Eno Sarris spoke to Coello about the pitch back in September, if you’re interested. The change of pace allows his 90-ish mph fastball to play up quite a bit.
The Yankees really need bullpen help and they’ve been stockpiling arms — Coello, Yoshinori Tateyama, Brian Gordon, Matt Daley, and David Herndon, specifically — on minor league deals in recent weeks. They figure to compete against youngsters like Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances in camp. I hope they add a legit late-inning arm (Grant Balfour?) or two at some point before the season, but they’ve certainly addressing the bullpen depth in general.
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees have signed utility man Yangervis Solarte to a minor league contract. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training since Rosenthal says he will compete against Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna, Corban Joseph, and Scott Sizemore for a bench job in camp.
Solarte, 26, has hit .282/.323/.404 (~91 wRC+) with 23 homers in 1,145 plate appearances for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate these last two years. He’s been a super-sub thoughout his career and he played at least 20 games at second, third, short, and left field over the last two seasons. Solarte has never played in the big leagues and he’s likely at the very bottom of the infield depth chart.
The Yankees have added to their infield depth. The Kens (Rosenthal and Davidoff) report the team has signed infielder Scott Sizemore to a minor league contract that I assume includes an invitation to Spring Training as well. He passed up two guaranteed Major League offers to sign with New York according to Joel Sherman.
Sizemore, 29, showed some promise with the Tigers and Athletics back in 2011, hitting .245/.342/.399 (109 wRC+) with 11 homers and a 12.4% walk rate in 429 plate appearances. He has played only two games these last two years after tearing and re-tearing his left ACL. Sizemore, who has primarily been a second and third baseman throughout his career, is expected to be ready in time for camp.
The Yankees need a third baseman in the wake of Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension and Sizemore is as good a candidate for the job as anyone currently in the organization. He would remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2016 and effectively replaces David Adams as a right-handed hitting second/third baseman who has shown promise with the bat. Could be a nice little signing if Sizemore gets healthy and shows his 2011 production was not a fluke.
1:16pm: According to his Twitter feed, the Yankees have cut ties with Vernon Wells. Buster Olney says he was designated for assignment. The Yankees need 40-man roster space for both Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton and this clears one spot. Wells, 35, hit .233/.282/.349 (70 wRC+) last season and although he would have counted as $0 against the luxury tax in 2014, the team still owes him $2.4M in real dollars. The Angels owe him $18.6M.
Via Matt Eddy: The Yankees have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract. I’m not sure if he received an invitation to Spring Training. The 28-year-old had a 4.31 ERA (3.96 FIP) in 148.1 innings for the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate last summer. He’s been at that level for four years now. Billings has four big league appearances to his credit, allowing ten runs in seven innings for the Rockies and A’s back in 2011. He’ll be counted on to soak up innings for Triple-A Scranton this summer.
The Yankees have also re-signed righty Yoshinori Tateyama to a minor league deal, according to Eddy. They acquired him from the Rangers for cash in the middle of last season. Tateyama, 38, had a 1.70 ERA (2.18 FIP) in 42.1 innings for Triple-A Scranton after the trade. He has 61 innings of big league experience, posting a 5.75 ERA (4.54 FIP) for Texas from 2011-12. Tateyama’s fun to watch because hes a sidearmer who throws a screwball. Here’s proof. I don’t think either he or Billings will have much of a chance to see time with the Yankees in 2014 unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong. They’re (deep) depth moves.
The Yankees have re-signed right-hander Matt Daley to a minor league contract, reports Matt Eddy. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training as well. Daley was non-tendered earlier this month, but soon thereafter we heard the team had interest in retaining him as a non-40-man roster player.
Daley, 31, allowed two hits and zero walks while striking out eight in six scoreless September innings this past season. The Queens native was awesome in the minors, pitching to a 2.02 ERA (1.88 FIP) in 53.1 innings at three levels after returning from shoulder surgery. Daley has a 4.38 ERA (3.65 FIP) in 86.1 career big league innings, all with the Yankees and Rockies. The Bombers originally signed Daley soon after the surgery two offseasons ago and rehabbed him.
As of right now, the only players guaranteed to be in the bullpen next year are David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and the recently signed Matt Thornton. The Yankees obviously like Daley, otherwise they wouldn’t have signed him after the surgery and helped him rehab for two years. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out, he could compete against kids like Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez for a bullpen spot in camp.
Via Chris Cotillo: The Cubs have claimed right-hander Brett Marshall off waivers from the Yankees. Chicago has since announced the move. Marshall, 23, had been designated for assignment last week to clear a 40-man roster spot for Carlos Beltran. He had a disappointing 5.13 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 138.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton in 2013, though he did make his big league debut over the summer. I ranked him as the team’s 13th best prospect prior to the season but his stock has dropped.
Three weeks after agreeing to terms, the Yankees have finally announced the signing of Carlos Beltran to a three-year contract. He already revealed on Twitter he will wear #36. The press conference is scheduled for tomorrow at 11am and you’ll be able to watch on YES.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated right-hander Brett Marshall for assignment. The 23-year-old had a disappointing 5.13 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 138.2 innings for Triple-A Scranton this past season. He made his big league debut and allowed six runs in 12 innings across three appearances. I’m thinking he’ll slip through waivers. We’ll see.
Jack Curry of YES reports that the Yankees have signed left-handed reliever Matt Thornton to a two-year, $7 million contract. It might seem as though he replaces Boone Logan, who recently signed a three-year deal with the Rockies, but Thornton probably isn’t the setup man we saw the past few years in Chicago. Today his value is more as a lefty specialist.
A former first-round pick (Seattle in 1998), Thornton struggled upon promotion to the big leagues. In Spring Training 2006 the Mariners swapped him for fellow first-round disappointment Joe Borchard. The White Sox easily got the better of that deal, as Thornton blossomed into an effective reliever who worked his way into late-inning roles.* From 2008 through 2010 Thoronton threw 200 innings with a 2.70 ERA, which amounted to the third-highest bWAR in that time frame among relievers (Mariano Rivera, of course, was first).
*White Sox GM Rick Hahn, then the assistant GM, spoke to a room of FanGraphs writers in 2010; Mike and I were both in the audience. In talking about why Thornton succeeded in Chicago after failing in Seattle, Hahn said that they didn’t try to make Thornton into a pitcher he wasn’t. Paraphrased, Hahn said, “He told us he wanted to throw the ball as hard as he could right down the fuckin’ middle, so we let him.” It sure seemed to work.
In recent years Thornton has slipped quite a bit. At a time when strikeout rates have risen his has fallen, from a peak of 12 per nine in 2010, to 6.2 per nine last year. That production dip has come mostly against right-handed hitters. After holding them to a .254 wOBA in 2010, he grew worse in each of the last three years, all the way to a .370 wOBA against righties in 2013. It is pretty apparent now that Thornton is a lefty-only guy, making him a bit less versatile than Logan, who played more of a full-inning setup role during his final two years in New York.
Through the years Thornton has remained durable, serving just two DL stints since suffering a herniated disc all the way back in 2003. The first was for forearm soreness in 2010, which is always cringe-worthy. Obviously he’s avoided the dreaded Tommy John Surgery that often follows such a diagnosis. His other stint was last summer, with an abdominal strain. They happen, though it can’t be encouraging. The Yanks will need Thorton at full strength to make a difference.
This signing will not end the Yankees’ search for bullpen help. Joel Sherman notes that they also want to add a late-inning reliever. Given the risk with the Thornton signing, they might prefer Joaquin Benoit to the injured Jesse Crain. Who knows: maybe they’ll go nuts and sign both. But whatever the case, as with Roberts, Thornton is a complementary signing. They still have a ways to go, even as far as bullpen construction goes.