Yankees, Sabathia reportedly agree to one-year, $10M deal

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

CC Sabathia is staying with the Yankees. According to Mark Feinsand, the Yankees and Sabathia have agreed to a new one-year contract worth $10M with incentives based on innings pitched. The deal is pending a physical which, despite Sabathia’s knee, shouldn’t be an issue since the Yankees know all about his medicals. The Yankees have not yet confirmed the agreement.

Sabathia, 37, reportedly spoke with the Angels and Blue Jays this offseason, though he made it clear his first choice was remaining with the Yankees. “This is my home. I want to see this thing through. I want to come back here and finish things off. This is where I want to be,” said Sabathia following the ALCS Game Seven loss a few weeks ago.

“There were very competitive offers out there that really made CC take his time,” said Sabathia’s agent to Joel Sherman. “In the end, he feels there’s unfinished business to attend to. Loves his teammates, clubhouse and the moves the Yankees are making this offseason. (Sabathia) wanted to come back for his 10th season with the New York Yankees.”

Given his age and performance and leadership, there’s a pretty good chance Sabathia and the Yankees are operating on the Andy Pettitte plan now, meaning they keep working out new one-year contracts as long as Sabathia wants to continue pitching. That would be cool. There’s no such thing as too much pitching and this signing doesn’t break the bank.

This past season Sabathia threw 148.2 innings with a 3.69 ERA (4.49 FIP), and he did it with the same cutter heavy approach that revived his career in 2016. He’s a soft contact machine now. Sabathia had the lowest average exit velocity (83.9 mph), fifth lowest hard contact rate (24.1%), and sixth highest soft contact rate (27.2%) in baseball in 2017.

Sabathia will join Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery in the rotation. The Yankees have been connected to a bunch of young controllable starters in recent days, including guys like Gerrit Cole and Michael Fulmer, and I don’t believe re-signing Sabathia will stop that. I think the Yankees still want another starter.

With Sabathia back on a $10M deal, the Yankees are approximately $23M under the $197M luxury tax threshold, though keep in mind they have to set some money aside for midseason additions and call-ups. In addition to another starter, the Yankees could use another infielder after trading away Starlin Castro and Chase Headley.

Yankees lose Mike Ford, five others in 2017 Rule 5 Draft

Ford. (NY Times)
Ford. (NY Times)

The Winter Meetings came to a close this morning with the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, baseball’s mechanism for helping players stuck in the minors get a chance at the big leagues. As expected, the Yankees lost several players in the Rule 5 Draft. That’s usually what happens when you have a deep farm system. There aren’t enough 40-man roster spots for everyone.

Here are the full Rule 5 Draft results. Here are the players the Yankees lost in the Major League phase:

  • Braves: RHP Anyelo Gomez
  • Mariners: 1B Mike Ford
  • Orioles: LHP Nestor Cortes and RHP Jose Mesa Jr.

I’m surprised Ford was picked, despite his strong minor league numbers. The 25-year-old hit .270/.404/.471 (144 wRC+) with 20 homers and way more walks (94) than strikeouts (72) this season, mostly at Double-A. Ford is only the fourth full-time first baseman picked in the Rule 5 Draft over the last two decades. I guess the Mariners will see whether he and Ryon Healy can be a productive first base platoon going forward.

The three pitchers getting selected was not a surprise. Gomez is the most notable and best prospect of the bunch. The soon-to-be 25-year-old has an upper-90s fastball and a very good changeup, and this past season he broke out with a 1.92 ERA (2.19 FIP) and 31.0% strikeouts in 71 innings at four levels. Cortes has always posted great minor league numbers, though he’s a finesse southpaw who rarely cracks 90 mph with his heater. Joe Table II has okay stuff and started to put it together this year. RHP J.P. Feyereisen and RHP Cale Coshow were among those Rule 5 Draft eligible but not selected.

As a reminder, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must spend the entire 2018 season on their new team’s active 25-man roster, or be placed on waivers and offered back to their old team. Most Rule 5 Draft players are offered back, usually before the end of Spring Training. I think Gomez has by far the best chance of sticking among the four players the Yankees lost today. The O’s do have a history of riding it out with Rule 5 Draft players no matter how poorly they perform, however, so perhaps Cortes and/or Mesa will stick.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees lost depth C Sharif Othman (Marlins) and converted infielder RHP Yancarlos Baez (Twins). The Yankees selected OF Junior Soto from the Indians as well. The 20-year-old hit .172/.208/.408 (67 wRC+) in 52 Low-A games last season. Soto was a big deal as an international free agent years ago — he signed for $600,000 in 2013 — but things haven’t worked out. The Yankees are taking a flier because why not?

The minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft works differently than the Major League phase. Players lost in the minor league phase do not have to be offered back and there are no roster rules. They’re just gone. So, after all that, the Yankees lost six players (Ford, Gomez, Cortes, Mesa, Baez, Othman) and added one (Soto). The four Major League phase guys could all end up coming back at some point. Pretty much business as usual at the Rule 5 Draft.

Yankees re-sign Erik Kratz to a minor league deal, probably

Kratz isn't here to play, he's here to party. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)
Kratz isn’t here to play, he’s here to party. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)

The Kratzken is back. The Yankees have re-signed journeyman catcher Erik Kratz to what I assume is a minor league contract, his representatives at JMG Baseball announced. He was on the roster as the third catcher in September after coming over in a cash trade with the Indians. The Yankees outrighted him and he elected free agency after the season.

Kratz, 37, went 2-for-2 with a double in September and is the all-time franchise leader with a 2.500 OPS (min. two plate appearances). True story. Kratz hit .270/.359/.472 (132 wRC+) with 13 homers in 86 Triple-A games before the trade. He is a career .203/.250/.366 (63 wRC+) hitter in the big leagues, though 24 homers in 649 plate appearances is pretty cool.

My guess is the Yankees are penciling Kratz in as Kyle Higashioka‘s backup with Triple-A Scranton next year, though I suppose it is possible he will get a chance to wrestle the big league backup job away from Austin Romine. Kratz traveled with the Yankees throughout the postseason even though he wasn’t on the roster. He must’ve made a nice impression.

Yankees trade Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to Padres in salary dump deal

(David Maxwell/Getty Images)
(David Maxwell/Getty Images)

1:31pm ET: The Yankees have announced the trade. They get Blash from the Padres for Headley, Mitchell, and cash considerations. Mark Feinsand says the Yankees are sending $500,000 to the Padres. Jon Heyman says the two teams are splitting the $1M assignment bonus in Headley’s contract.

11:17am ET: The Yankees have cleared up more payroll space under the luxury tax threshold. According to Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. San Diego is taking on Headley’s entire $13M salary. It’s a straight salary dump trade. The Yankees also open a 40-man roster spot. Neither team has confirmed the deal.

For all intents and purposes, the Padres purchased Mitchell from the Yankees for $13M. That’s what it boils down to. Mitchell clearly has quality stuff, including a high spin curveball, though he’s been unable to find success in the big leagues the last few years — he has a 4.94 ERA (4.26 FIP) in 98.1 career innings — and had fallen way down the depth chart. The Yankees managed to attach Mitchell to Headley to dump Headley’s entire salary. That seems pretty good to me.

Furthermore, Mitchell is out of minor league options, meaning he can’t go to the minors without passing through waivers. He was on the 40-man roster chopping block as it is — I thought he might get the axe when the Yankees needed to clear 40-man space for their Rule 5 Draft protections last month — and there was little chance he’d break camp with the team next year. The Yankees might’ve lost Mitchell for nothing had they held on to him. Going to the Padres will be a good opportunity for him. Mitchell is a classic change of scenery candidate.

Headley, who is entering the final year of his four-year contract worth $52M, hit .273/.352/.406 (104 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 2017. He moved from third base over to first, and was tentatively scheduled to start at third base again next year. Headley could be very streaky, his highs were very high and his lows were very low, but overall he was an okay player for New York. Nice guy, did whatever the team asked, etc.

The 28-year-old Blash is a former Rule 5 Draft who went from the Athletics to the Padres in the Drew Pomeranz-Yonder Alonso trade two winters ago. He’s a career .200/.323/.336 (84 wRC+) hitter with eight homers in 99 big league games, and his one standout tool is his huge raw power. Blash can do this to a baseball:

There’s not much Blash can do other than hit the ball a mile when he connects, and hey, that’s a good skill to have. He put up a .285/.419/.617 (165 wRC+) line with 20 homers in 72 Triple-A games this past season, though that happened in the very hitter friendly Pacific Coast League and in a very hitter friendly home ballpark in El Paso. El Paso as a team hit .283/.349/.473 this season, so yeah.

Blash has a minor league option remaining, though I get the sense he is not long for the 40-man roster. He was included in the trade because the rules say the Padres had to send the Yankees something, and Blash was it. If anything, maybe he’s another layer of outfield depth should the Yankees trade Clint Frazier for a pitcher? Even then, they still have Jake Cave and Billy McKinney on the 40-man. Jabari’s time in pinstripes may be short.

This trade definitely feels like a precursor to another move (or moves). The Yankees now have approximately $35M in payroll space under the $197M luxury tax threshold, though keep in mind they need to set some money aside for midseason call-ups and additions. Starting pitching has been most talked about, though I have to think the Yankees will dip their toe into the infield market now that Headley and Starlin Castro are gone. Would they really go with kids at second and third bases? Maybe! We’ll find out soon enough.

Yankees add Giancarlo Stanton in blockbuster trade with Marlins

That poor baseball. (Mark Brown/Getty)
That poor baseball. (Mark Brown/Getty)

December 11th: The trade is official. The Yankees made the announcement this morning. It is as reported: Stanton and cash for Castro, Guzman, and Devers. Here’s the press release.

December 9th: For the second straight offseason, the Yankees are set to acquire the reigning National League home run king. Something tells me Giancarlo Stanton will work out better than Chris Carter.

According to multiple reports, the Yankees and Marlins have agreed to a four-player trade that brings Stanton to New York in exchange for Starlin Castro and two prospects. There is also money involved. The trade is pending physicals — Jon Heyman says Stanton is on his way to New York for that — and neither team has announced anything, though that’ll happen soon enough. Here are the trade details:

  • To Yankees: Stanton and $30M in conditional money
  • To Marlins: Castro, Jorge Guzman, Jose Devers

Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees only get the $30M if Stanton doesn’t exercise his opt-out clause following the 2020 season. There is still ten years and $295M on his contract overall. Thanks to some fancy accounting, Stanton will count as approximately $22M against the luxury tax during the life of the contract, per Rosenthal. His actual salary ranges between $25M and $32M over the next ten years.

The new Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter led ownership group has been clear they want to slash payroll to get the Marlins’ finances in check. The easiest way to do that? Trading their most expensive player, who happens to be the reigning NL MVP. Stanton is waiving his no-trade clause to join the Yankees, who are said to be his second choice behind his hometown Dodgers. He used the no-trade clause to block deals to the Giants and Cardinals earlier this week.

Once Stanton blocked those trades to San Francisco and St. Louis, the Marlins had very little leverage remaining, hence this sweetheart of a trade for the Yankees. Miami wanted to unload as much of Stanton’s contract as possible, and the Yankees happily took on a big chunk of it while giving up no one they’ll really miss. I don’t think the Yankees came into the offseason planning to pursue Stanton. This is something that fell into their laps. It’s too good to pass up.

Stanton, who turned 28 last month, authored a .281/.376/.631 (156 wRC+) batting line with an MLB best 59 home runs this season. That is a top ten single-season home run total in history. Stanton, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris, and Babe Ruth are the only men in history to hit as many as 59 home runs in a season. Stanton’s career averages are a .268/.360/.554 (144 wRC+) line and 44 home runs per 162 games. He’s averaged 5.0 fWAR and 5.1 bWAR per 600 plate appearances.

Even before the Stanton trade, the Yankees had four outfielders for three spots (Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge) plus a top MLB ready outfield prospect (Clint Frazier), so things are getting a little crowded. That’s not big deal though. This is definitely one of those “get the game’s best power hitter for a bargain price and figure out the rest later” situation. I suspect Clint’s name will start popping up in trade rumors soon.

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

The Yankees are giving up their starting second baseman in the trade, and while Castro wasn’t great by any means, he was a solid player who brought stability to the position in the post-Robinson Cano years. Starlin, who will turn 28 in March, hit .300/.338/.454 (110 wRC+) with 16 home runs in 112 games around hamstring problems this season. There are two guaranteed years and $22M left on his contract. The trade clears a long-term spot for Gleyber Torres. Short-term? I’m not quite sure. I’d be surprised if Gleyber was on the Opening Day after missing half of 2017 with injury.

Guzman is the better of the two prospects heading to Miami. He came over in the Brian McCann trade and broke out this season, throwing 66.2 innings with a 2.30 ERA (2.47 FIP) and 33.5% strikeouts with Short Season Staten Island. I had the 21-year-old as a top ten prospect in the system in my preliminary top 30 prospects list, and the fourth best pitcher behind Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, and Albert Abreu. Guzman is a quality prospect. Gotta give something to get something though.

Devers is the cousin of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. The 18-year-old hit .245/.336/.342 (100 wRC+) with one home run and 16 steals in 53 rookie ball games this year. He was not in my preliminary top 30 list nor particularly close to making it. Keep in mind former farm system head Gary Denbo left the Yankees to join the Marlins a few weeks ago. I suspect Guzman and Devers were two of his personal favorites.

The Yankees were hardly short on right-handed power, but when you have a chance to get Stanton at that price, you take it. Only once in history has a team had two players hit 50+ homers in a season — Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54) did it for the 1961 Yankees — and, if nothing else, Stanton and Judge will have a chance to do it next year, assuming MLB does not un-juice the ball. Heck, those two might hit 50+ even with a regular ball.

With Stanton set to join the Yankees, the next order of business is finding some pitching depth. The Yankees have enough room under the luxury tax threshold to re-sign CC Sabathia, possibly even someone a bit more expensive. They also need to figure out second base. My guess is they’ll look to see if they can score a cheap free agent (Howie Kendrick? Brandon Phillips?), otherwise they’ll stick with internal options like Ronald Torreyes or Tyler Wade until Gleyber is deemed ready. Either way, the Yankees just got a heck of a lot better, and a heck of a lot more fun.

Yanks add Gleyber Torres, five others to 40-man roster prior to Rule 5 Draft protection deadline

Torres. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)
Torres. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

Monday night was the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 Draft, and, as expected, the Yankees added top prospect SS Gleyber Torres to the 40-man. Also added were RHP Albert Abreu, RHP Domingo Acevedo, IF Thairo Estrada, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, and OF Billy McKinney. The 40-man roster is now completely full. Garrett Cooper, Caleb Smith, Nick Rumbelow, and Ronald Herrera were all traded away in recent days to clear space.

Torres, 21 next month, is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow, and is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training. He came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade and hit .287/.383/.480 (141 wRC+) in 55 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season. MLB.com currently ranks Torres as the best prospect in baseball. Protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft was a no-brainer.

The 22-year-old Abreu is the second best prospect added to the 40-man, at least in my opinion. He came over from the Astros in the Brian McCann trade. Abreu had a 3.37 ERA (3.12 FIP) with 27.6% strikeouts and 8.1% walks in 53.1 Single-A innings around elbow and lat injuries this year. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and threw 27.2 innings with a 2.60 ERA in six starts. Great finish to the season, that was.

McKinney, 23, is a former first round pick who went from the Athletics to the Cubs (Jeff Samardzija trade), then from the Cubs to the Yankees (Chapman trade). He bounced back in a big way this season, hitting .277/.338/.483 (124 wRC+) with career high 16 homers in 124 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. The Yankees had McKinney start learning first base in the Arizona Fall League to increase his versatility. We heard he’d be added to the 40-man a few weeks ago.

The 21-year-old Estrada is a personal favorite, and he had a breakthrough with Double-A Trenton this season, hitting .301/.353/.392 (107 wRC+) with a tiny 10.3% strikeout rate. He’s a good defensive shortstop who also has a lot of experience at second and third bases. Guys with good bat-to-ball skills and strong defensive chops on the middle infield are worth keeping around. The Yankees added a lot of talent to the 40-man today, but don’t sleep on Thairo. Kid can play.

Acevedo, the prospect who goes by Big Sunday, threw 133 innings with a 3.25 ERA (3.25 FIP) with 26.0% strikeouts and 6.0% walks at three levels this season. The 23-year-old is one of the more divisive prospects in the system. On some days Acevedo will look like a future ace and on others he’ll look like a middle reliever with little more than a big fastball. It’s worth keeping him around to see how he develops, for sure.

Loaisiga, 23, is a lottery ticket the Yankees picked up a few years ago, after he had been released by the Giants. Loaisiga had Tommy John surgery last year, returned this year, and threw 32.2 innings with a 1.38 ERA (2.17 FIP) in the various short season leagues.

Johnny Lasagna has been getting talked up as a breakout prospect in recent weeks, and these days rebuilding teams have no problem popping low minors kids in the Rule 5 Draft and stashing them on the roster all year. That’s what the Padres did with Luis Torrens last year.

Among the notable prospects the Yankees are leaving exposed to the Rule 5 Draft are IF Abi Avelino, LHP Nestor Cortes, OF Rashad Crawford, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, 1B Mike Ford, RHP Anyelo Gomez, RHP Brady Lail, OF Alex Palma, and LHP Stephen Tarpley. I suspect Cortes and Gomez will get selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Feyereisen and Tarpley are candidates to get picked.

As a reminder, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s 25-man active big league roster all of next season, or be placed on waivers and offered back to the Yankees. Most Rule 5 Draft players do not stick. The Yankees lost four players in the Rule 5 Draft last season (Torrens, Smith, Tyler Jones, Tyler Webb) and all but Torrens were returned.

Yanks trade Ronald Herrera to Rangers for pitching prospect

Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Herrera. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

The Yankees have traded right-hander Ronald Herrera to the Rangers for lefty pitching prospect Reiver Sanmartin, the team announced. Similar to the Nick Rumbelow trade, this one is designed to open a 40-man roster spot prior to tonight’s deadline to set the roster for the Rule 5 Draft. The Yankees now have four open 40-man spots.

Herrera, 22, came over from the Padres two years ago in the Jose Pirela trade. He threw 212.1 innings with a 3.22 ERA (3.27 FIP) at mostly Double-A and Triple-A the last two seasons, and did get into two games with the Yankees this year. Herrera allowed two runs in three innings in those two games. MLB.com did not rank him among New York’s top 30 prospects.

The 21-year-old Sanmartin turned pro in 2015 and posted a 2.45 ERA (3.06 FIP) with 19.7% strikeouts and 3.2% walks in 66 innings split between two Single-A levels this summer. MLB.com does not rank him among the top 30 Rangers prospects. Here’s a scouting report from Gerry Fraley last year:

After two years in the Dominican Summer League, Sanmartin has jumped to the Low-A South Atlantic League this season. Sanmartin, 21, has a small frame at 5 feet 10 and 160 pounds. He has a low-90s mph fastball that sinks and complements it with a good changeup. The key to Sanmartin’s success is his ability to repeat a good delivery and throw strikes. For the season, he has 44 strikeouts with only five walks in 50 2/3 innings. Good athlete and high baseball IQ.

Herrera was one of the most obvious candidates to lose his 40-man roster spot this offseason, so rather than designate him for assignment and put him on waivers, the Yankees were able to turn him into a lefty pitching prospect. Not a great lefty pitching prospect, but a lefty pitching prospect. Better than nothing.

Over the weekend it was reported the Yankees have interest in Jurickson Profar, and the Rangers in turn have interest in some of New York’s fringe 40-man roster pitchers (like Herrera). A Profar trade is still possible, of course, but the Rule 5 Draft roster deadline is tonight, and the Yankees can’t afford to wait around to clear roster spots.