Quick Hit: First Round Of ST Roster Cuts Announced

The Yankees announced their first round of roster cuts after this afternoon's game and it's quite the list.  In addition to the players named above, the Yankees also re-assigned Jacob Lindgren, Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, and Lane Adams to MiL camp.  This takes a serious chunk of depth out of the original list of ST invitees and demonstrates a concentrated effort on the team's part to separate its top prospects who are not in line for an Opening Day roster spot and org depth players from the true OD roster contenders.

From a purely entertainment standpoint, it's disappointing to see guys like Judge, Mateo, and Kaprielian get cut.  They all got chances to show what they're capable of in different ways and they did a good job stoking the prospect hugging fire with their performances.  Lindgren comes as a bit of a surprise because he was considered a legit candidate for a bullpen spot, but he struggled with his command in his appearances and clearly it's better for him to get some MiL time and get his feel back after the elbow surgery.

More moves will come, but this elimination of MiL talent narrows the focus on the major ST roster battles.  Now we can really start to dissect who's in the best position to take the last few open spots, and I'm sure we'll see one or two of today's cuts back up in the big league dugout/bullpen at some point this season.

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Quick Hit: Welcome Aboard Chris Denorfia

Denorfia is a career .285/.353/.419 hitter against southpaws in just over 1,000 PA (though his OPS against LHP in the last two years is around .560, and he has a reverse platoon split), and he has played 1,000-plus innings in left, center, and right. And he did pitch a third of an inning last year, retiring the only batter that he faced.

This is purely a depth move, given Brett Gardner's nagging injury, and I'm not sure that Denorfia will make it through Spring Training with the organization. But who cares, right? Baseball's back!

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Spring Training News And Notes: 2/23/16

I'm having a slow mental start to this Tuesday.  Let's ease into things with some camp notes from yesterday. - The highlight of the day was Masahiro Tanaka's morning bullpen session.  He threw 31 pitches without issue and Larry Rothschild said Tanaka is "where we want him to be" at this point.  More from Roth- "So far there’s been no hitches or anything, so we’ll just keep progressing and hopefully it stays that way.”  No word yet on when Tanaka will face live batters. (quotes via Chad Jennings)

Aroldis Chapman was absent from yesterday's activity, excused for personal reasons.  There was some early buzz that it could have been because he was meeting with MLB in regards to the investigation of his domestic violence incident, but the Yankees confirmed that it was not that and that this absence was something they knew about ahead of time.

Aaron Judge was one of a few MiL guys taking hacks against live pitching yesterday morning and he continues to draw a lot of attention and press this spring.  Turns out his locker is located right next to Carlos Beltran's, and according to Brendan Kuty that was something that Beltran requested and arranged.  He's got a great reputation for mentoring young players in the clubhouse, so if this is his way of helping to prepare Judge for a late 2016-2017 torch passing, I'm all for it.

- The Yankees made the Chris Parmelee signing official.  As expected, it's a MiL deal with a ST invite.  Via Bryan Hoch, Cashman confirmed that the team is looking at Parmelee as Greg Bird's replacement at Triple-A.

- The pitchers who threw live BP yesterday included Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Johnny Barbato, and James Kaprielian.  They threw to Judge, Dustin Fowler, Tyler Wade, and Jorge Mateo.

- In addition to Tanaka, other notable pitchers to throw bullpens yesterday included Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Jacob Lindgren, and Nick Rumbelow.

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Yankees Fill 40-Man Roster With A 3-Player Trade

The Yankees have been cruising around with 2 open 40-man roster spots for a while, which is unfamiliar territory for them.  They filled those spots yesterday by making a 2-for-1 trade with the Dodgers, bringing in left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson and utility infielder Ronald Torreyes for upper-level MiL third baseman Rob Segedin.  There's also a player to be named later or cash considerations that the Yankees will send along eventually to complete the deal. There are obviously better options for filling out those final 2 roster spots, but with the Yankees not showing any willingness thus far to play in the deep end of the free agent pool this wasn't a bad Plan B .  Olson is a 26-year-old converted starter who actually made the Opening Day roster for the Mariners as a reliever last season.  He wasn't very good (5.40 ERA, higher BB rate than K rate in 13.1 innings pitched) and then he struggled a bit upon returning to Triple-A before getting worked back in as a starter at the end of the season.  He was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers earlier this offseason.

Torreyes, 23, also made the show in 2015, appearing in 8 games as a September call-up and going 2-6 with a double and a walk.  He's bounced all over the Minors as parts of multiple deals, but he's always been a good enough hitter who makes a ton of contact.  In over 2,500 career MiL plate appearances, Torreyes has a .298/.353/.409 slash line and a K rate below 10%.  Defensively he's been primarily a second baseman and a shortstop, but has also spent time at third base and in left field.

Segedin was the Yanks' 3rd round pick in the 2010 draft and there were high hopes for him early, but injuries set him back a lot and he had settled into an org depth role over the last few years.  I think I might have had him in the back third of my yearly top 30 prospects rankings once or twice.

Call me crazy, but I think we might be looking at the final member of the Opening Day bench in Torreyes.  He profiles as almost exactly what Brendan Ryan would have been for this team if he were still around, and I could see him easily outperforming Ryan in that role.  I also think there could be more to the Olson move than meets the eye.  Yeah he was pretty junky last season, but he had some good numbers as a starter in High-A and Double-A, and for what it's worth he pitched 11 innings of 2-run ball with 9 strikeouts and zero walks in his final 2 Triple-A starts last year.  I could see the Yankees wanting to use him as a starter to see what he can do at the upper levels and penciling him in as additional rotation depth in Trenton or SWB.

At the absolute best, this trade gives the Yankees some cheap, flexible value in the final spot on the 25-man roster.  At worst it gives them a few easily expendable pieces to improve the depth of their 40-man roster.  Even if you aren't gushing about this deal, and there's really no reason to be, there's not much to not like about it.

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Roster Moves: Yankees Sign 2 More MiLers, Trade For A Pitcher

The replenishment of organizational depth continued yesterday, as the Yankees made a flurry of small moves.  They signed infielder Jonathan Diaz and right-handed pitcher Tyler Jones to MiL deals and acquired righty reliever Kirby Yates from the Cleveland Indians for cash. Diaz is a 30-year-old Minors lifer with a pretty wild .227/.352/.295 career tripleslash who has played primarily second base and shortstop, although he can also be used at third and fake it in the outfield.  Jones is a 26-year-old Milwaukee native with a 3.81 ERA and 294 strikeouts in 250.1 career MiL innings pitched.  I imagine Diaz will serve as the Triple-A bench infielder while Jones could see time in both the Trenton and SWB bullpens this season.

Yates has pitched over 50 MLB innings over the last 2 seasons for the Rays and was basically given to Cleveland a few months back.  His ERA and FIP numbers aren't great in the show, but he does boast a 25.4% K rate and his MiL strikeout numbers were even better.  He's not a particularly big man, but he does fit the Yankee relief mode of throwing hard and getting swings and misses.  If nothing else, he'll be in the mix for the last bullpen spot when spring camp opens.

Nothing earth-shattering, but most MiL/Quad-A acquisitions aren't.  While I wouldn't expect anything from any of these guys at the MLB level in 2016, they'll serve a purpose.

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Quick Hit: Yankees Sign Donovan Solano To MiL Deal

Well it ain't Juan Uribe, but the Yankees did do something to address their lack of upper level infield depth by signing Donovan Solano to a Minor League deal yesterday.  Solano, 28, is a long-time MiL player in the Cardinals and Marlins systems and has seen small chunks of time at the MLB level over the last 3 seasons. A right-handed hitter, Solano has a .257/.307/.328 tripleslash in 1,145 career MLB plate appearances and a .263/.314/.323 tripleslash in over 3,000 career MiL plate appearances.  If nothing else, he's been freaky consistent as he's worked his way up the ladder to the show.  As a whole, he's not much offensively.  He can put the bat on the ball, but that's about it.  Doesn't draw walks and doesn't hit for any power.  Defensively he's much more useful, spending time at second base, third base, and in the outfield corners in his MLB career and some at shortstop back in his MiL days.

We'll likely see Solano in camp when Spring Training starts, but I don't see him as a serious candidate for the final big league bench spot.  He's purely an org depth guy brought in to soak up some of the innings that have been lost by trading the Jose Pirelas and Tony Rendas of the world away this offseason.  He'll probably float around the infield for SWB as needed.

Quick follow-up on the final bench spot discussion from yesterday.  I saw somebody mention Chris Johnson as another good FA target in the comments and I could get on board with that idea too.  He hasn't been great offensively the last few years but he is a .314 career hitter against left-handed pitching and he could be used at both infield corners, which is a plus for the Yankees.  I don't think he's a better option than Uribe, but Johnson wouldn't be a bad Plan B or C to Uribe's A.

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Friday Morning News And Notes: 12/18/15

[caption id="attachment_79756" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Brendan Ryan Mustache That stache is going to be a big loss in the clubhouse. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] I'd say today is the last day of real work before Christmas.  Everybody knows the last few days before are throw-away days, so here's hoping everybody has an easy one in front of them today.

- The Yankees officially completed the Starlin Castro trade yesterday by announcing Brendan Ryan as the PTBNL in the deal.  This was reported by multiple guys when the trade news first broke, so not really a surprise here.  The deal to re-sign Ryan for multiple years was a strange one and I'm sure nobody will be sad to see him go.  That said, the Yankees are a little short on backup third base options at the moment, although I imagine they'll look to use one of their 2 open 40-man spots to address that.

- Via Chad Jennings, CC Sabathia said he is "light years ahead" of where he's been the last few years with respect to his offseason workouts.  He's been coming off injuries the last few offseasons, but he says he feels healthier than ever and has been working out hard to prepare for next year.  He's going to be given a spot in the rotation as long as he's physically healthy enough to pitch.  Nothing wrong with having the healthiest version of him possible to start the season.

- Former Yankee Andrew Bailey signed a MiL deal with the Phillies yesterday.  That deal comes with a ST invite.  I thought the Yanks trying to buy low on Bailey as a reclamation project was a good move.  Too bad it didn't work out.  Hopefully Bailey has better luck at his next stop.

- Via George King, it sounds like the Yankees are really high on James Pazos as a potential replacement for Justin Wilson.  I forgot that he was included in the list of "untouchables" at the deadline this year, that's pretty funny.  But hey, if he figures out his fastball command there's no reason he can't be an effective lefty reliever.  His slider is already very good.  FWIW, Pazos was also mentioned in a Mark Feinsand article about the young relief depth earlier this week.

- Via that same Feinsand article, Joe had some positive things to say about Mark Teixeira's rehab progress and said he expected Teix to be ready to start spring camp when it kicks off in 2 months.  “I saw him the other day.  He’s doing much better. I’m excited to get him back.”

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Thursday Morning News And Notes: 11/5/15

The early offseason roster shuffle continues.  Here's what you might have missed yesterday: - Chris Martin has been released and has signed a deal to go pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.  According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the deal was for 2 years and $1.7 million.  That's more than he would have got here.  Props to Martin and best of luck to him over there.

- The Yankees activated their remaining four 60-day DL players yesterday.  For the time being, Jacob Lindgren, Mason Williams, Chase Whitley, and Domingo German are all back on the 40-man roster.  I believe Lindgren and Williams will be ready in time for Spring Training, and both have good chances to make the Opening Day team next year.  Whitley and German should return to full game action sometime in the middle of next season.

- In addition to those moves, the Yankees also added righty Vicente (formerly Jose) Campos back onto the 40-man roster.  After missing most of the last few seasons with injuries, Campos returned in 2015 and pitched to a 6.29 ERA in 54.1 MiL innings with 45 strikeouts and 10 walks.  Wonder what the Yankees have planned for him this year.  Conversion to the bullpen?

- While that move filled the 40-man roster back up to the top, the Yankees did free up one spot yesterday when Andrew Bailey elected free agency over a MiL assignment.  Yankees tried to sneak him through waivers, he refused the assignment.  The 40-man now stands at 39 and there are 2 weeks and a day until the Rule 5 draft.

- In league-wide free agent news, Alex Gordon declined his option with the Royals and will test the free agent waters.  The Giants declined their option on Marlon Byrd.  Right-handed power bat...

- Via Donnie Collins, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders made a few front office changes official this morning, naming Jeremy Ruby the new GM and Josh Olerud the new COO.

- Last but certainly not least, CC Sabathia has completed his month-long alcohol rehab facility stay and left last Friday according to George King.  Good for him.

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The Free-est Free Agents

With the new-ish MLB Draft slotting system, teams are oftentimes forced to choose between signing a noteworthy free agent and a few million dollars in pool money. Signing a free agent that received a rejected a qualifying offer requires a team to forfeit their top pick (unless they are picking in the top-ten) - in the Yankees case, that would mean eschewing somewhere between $2 MM and $2.3 MM in the upcoming draft, in addition to the pick itself. To say that that would serve as a detriment to the team's draft would be an understatement, given the team's lingering IFA penalty that already limited the team's activity this year. Luckily for the Yankees, there are at least a dozen players that would fill the team's needs for 2016 without any repercussions (besides the whole decline and injury potential thing, but that's another story entirely) as they cannot receive a qualify offer due to being dealt at mid-season. We'll known on Saturday what players were offered and rejected qualifying offers, as well. Without further ado:

David Price, LHP

Does Price really need an explanation? He's a bona fide ace coming off of what may be his best season, and he has plenty of experience in the playoffs and the AL East. The contract that he demands is obviously the biggest factor here, particularly given what we have seen with CC Sabathia - but at least it's just money.

Actually, let that be a caveat going forward: I am not necessarily endorsing signing these folk. I'm merely pointing out that all of these players could be had for cold hard cash, and cold hard cash alone.

Johnny Cueto, RHP

Cueto is a step behind Price overall, but he has nonetheless been a quality starting pitcher for the last half dozen years or so. The impact that his lackluster performance with the Royals will have (if any) remains to be seen.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF

Cespedes seems like a lock to be overpaid, due to his late Summer brilliance with the Mets, and clutch home runs down the stretch and in the NLDS. He is coming off of a strong all-around season (his best since his rookie year), and can fake it in center field. The Yankees don't have an obvious need for an outfielder, but some are clamoring for the team to deal Brett Gardner and/or Jacoby Ellsbury, so it may come down to a matter of need and/or opportunity.

Ben Zobrist, 2B

If Zobrist wasn't six month shy of his 35th birthday, he may well be the biggest slam dunk of a free agent target in recent Yankees memory. He fills a great need at second, and provides the sort of flexibility that the team is praying to get from Dustin Ackley. And, despite his age, he's coming off of a season that's right in-line with his career norms.

Scott Kazmir, LHP

For the second season in a row, Kazmir was brilliant in the first half (2.49 ERA, 3.23 FIP) and below-average in the second (3.86, 4.90 FIP). Overall, he has been a solid starter since returning from a nearly two-year layoff, which might just be the reason for him slipping as the innings pile up.

Mike Leake, RHP

My description of Leake from late June still stands - he's as average as average can be. The calculus shifts in the off-season, though, as the team would not have to give up any talent in exchange for a starting pitcher that has averaged 31 starts and 194 IP over the last four seasons.

Mat Latos, RHP

Latos represents the point where these guys wouldn't be too likely to get a qualifying offer, though he has value as a bounceback candidate. He was an above-average starter from 2010 through 2014 before the wheels fell off in 2015.

Juan Uribe, IF

If the Yankees want a flexible, RHH complement to Ackley, then they don't have to look much further than Uribe.

Austin Jackson, OF

I am intrigued by Jackson's prospects, given how disappointing he's been since being dealt to the Mariners. Will a team give him a chance to start in center-field? Would he take a one-year pillow contract and try to regain his value? Or will he take on a fourth outfielder role? He could fit as a Chris Young replacement.

Joakim Soria, RHP

Some team will throw money at him to close - far more money than the Yankees could give him to be the 7th inning guy. At the very least, we know that the team has an interest in obtaining another weapon for the back of the bullpen, and he's the best fit on the market.

Chase Utley, 2B

Utley is only here because of who he is; or, rather, was. He hit .212/.286/.343 and struggled to stay on the field. I'm nostalgic enough to see him coming through with one last hurrah, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Marlon Byrd, OF

Byrd makes the cut if only because we know that the Yankees need a lefty-mashing counterpart to their starting outfield, and he fits that bill wonderfully. He had a 121 wRC+ against LHP in 2015, to go along with a career 111 wRC+ mark against southpaws.

Again, there are plenty of negatives to be found with most everyone on this list - including the dollar signs. Even so, it bears discussing as the Yankees could improve their postseason odds markedly without sacrificing draft picks in the process.

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Roster News And Notes: 11/3/15

The offseason still has that fresh new offseason smell to it, but it's already been an active one for the Yankees as far as the roster is concerned.  Here's a quick catchup on yesterday's happenings and a look ahead to what's in store for the rest of the week. - Free agency kicked in at 9 AM yesterday, so Chris Young, Stephen Drew, and Chris Capuano are all no longer Yankees.  I think there's a decent chance the Yanks bring Young back if he's willing to do another 1-year deal, a miniscule chance they bring Drew back if somebody gets hurt in the offseason or early ST, and negative infinity percent chance they bring back Cap.

- In addition to those 3 opened roster spots, the Yanks cleared 2 more by activating right-handers Sergio Santos and Diego Moreno off the 60-day DL and outrighting them to Triple-A SWB.  Santos refused the assignment and elected free agency.  I believe Moreno will become a MiL free agent this offseason.  Neither will be missed.

- Same deal for Chris Martin, who was released yesterday according to the MLB.com transactions page.  I didn't see much coverage on this from anybody else minus a tweet from Greedy Pinstripes, but I'd like to think MLB.com is a pretty reliable source.

- Those 6 coming off yesterday and Rico Noel being outrighted to SWB earlier leaves the Yankees with 33 players on the 40-man roster.  They'll take up a few of those open spots when the rest of the 60-day DL crew (Domingo German, Mason Williams, Jacob Lindgren, Chase Whitley) gets activated this week, so expect a few more cuts in the future.

- One of them could get started today, as it is the deadline for teams to decide on contract options.  The Yankees hold two $2 million team options, on Andrew Bailey and Brendan Ryan, and I imagine they will decline both.  Ryan has a $1 mil player option that he will surely exercise and Bailey stays under team control anyway as an arb-eligible guy, but I could see the Yankees non-tendering him.

- The next big deadline is Friday, when teams have to make decisions on qualifying offers.  As I've already discussed, the Yankees are not going to be affected by the QO process this year.  Teams also have to activate their 60-day DL players by Friday, so we'll see what the Yanks do with their remaining 4.

- Friday also marks the start of MiL free agency and the 5-day exclusive negotiating window for MLB free agents ends on Saturday, which will lead into the GM meetings next Monday and Tuesday in Florida.  Plenty of roster decision work for the Yankee FO to do until then, let's see how it goes down.

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