Category Archives: Offseason Moves

Didi joins Girardi w/Phils

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Joe Girardi in Philadelphia now has a SS he is very familiar with.

After the Yanks wouldn’t offer Didi the QO of $17.8 MM, Didi has gone to Philly to join Girardi at a one year deal of $14MM.

Maybe the Yanks can throw that Didi $$ to Cole.

But the Yanks might have been hoping Didi would come back at less than $17.8 MM. He did not.

Didi only signed a 1 yr deal, so he is hoping that a good 2020 re-establishes his value after a 2019 that did see 16 HR, 61 RBI in only 1/2 a season, but a .238 batting average as well as a significant amount of time missed.

It may be safe to say that Didi, in his short term with the Yankees, may be the 3rd best SS in Yankees history behind Derek Jeter and Phil Rizzuto. Who would you say would be better? Dent? Crosetti? Kubek? Koenig? I would put Didi #3, above all but Derek and the Scooter.

 


Named to the All-MLB team: D.J. LeMahieu 1st team and Aroldis Chapman 2nd team.

If there is a Plan B, that may need to be changed.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Things have been quiet, and I don’t want to get into rumors, but if the Yankees’ off-season strategy is go after Gerrit Cole, but have a Plan B in case Cole rejects the Yankees offer, Plan B probably needs some alteration.

The top two targets for the Yankees, pitching-wise, are Cole and Stephen Strasburg. The Yanks have met with both, but it is expected that Strasburg will go back to Washington. Cole is a different story.

The Yanks have wanted Cole for a long time. They drafted him out of high school but Cole decided to go to UCLA instead. Then, when the Pirates were shopping him, the Yanks wouldn’t meet the Pirates’ demands (Miguel Andujar for one) and Pittsburgh traded Cole to Houston instead.

Apparently the Yanks told Cole that the money is there. It’s up to Cole, a Southern Californian, to decide if he wants New York.

But if the Yanks can’t get Cole (and it appears, for now, that all their eggs are being placed in that basket), or Strasburg, who is or was the Yankees Plan B?

If it was Zack Wheeler, forget it now. Wheeler signed a 5-yr., $118MM deal with the Phillies yesterday.

Cole Hamels reached a 1-yr., $18MM deal with Atlanta.

There are other Plan B’s out there, like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gio Gonzalez, but they aren’t the WOW factor Cole or Strasburg are.

And if these Plan B’s are off the market when Cole decides, and he decides against the Yankees, what then?

Besides the pursuit of Cole, the Yanks also have to see about re-signing or letting go some of their own—Brett Gardner (most likely will be back what with Hicks going to miss most of 2020), Didi Gregorius (most likely gone), Austin Romine and Dellin Betances.

Of course, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner may look to the trade market. If that is the case, Clint Frazier and/or Andujar could be names (among others) dangled.

Yanks trade Cortes to Seattle.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Last week, in setting their 40 man roster, the Yanks DFA’d Nestor Cortes, Jr.

Today they traded him to Seattle for international bonus money.

From MLB.com:

Cortes, who will turn 25 on Dec. 10, posted a 5-1 record and 5.67 ERA in 33 games last year as a long reliever for the Yankees. He also made one spot start in September.

Since Greg Bird was DFA’d at the same time, it remains to be seen whether the Yanks can get something for him.

Jacoby Ellsbury was just released, not DFA’d.

Yankees hire a female hitting coach; Ellsbury departure could be ugly.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From Bryan Hoch at MLB.com:

The Yankees are preparing to make history with the addition of Rachel Balkovec, who will become one of the first female full-time hitting coaches hired by a big league organization, The New York Times reported on Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Balkovec signed her contract on Nov. 8, according to the Times, and is slated to report to the Yankees’ Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1. Balkovec is expected to be based in Tampa and will serve as a roving instructor throughout the organization.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson told the Times that the club hired Balkovec based on her qualifications, which include two master’s degrees in the science of human movement and experience at several Minor League clubs.

“It’s an easy answer to why we chose Rachel for this role,” Lawson told the newspaper. “She’s a good hitting coach, and a good coach, period.”

A product of Omaha, Neb., Balkovec earned recognition as a part-time strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals’ organization in 2012, prompting her appointment as the Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator for the Cardinals from 2014-15. As such, she became the first woman to hold a full-time strength and conditioning position in affiliated baseball.

Since August, Balkovec has been researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven performance training center in Washington state. The Yankees tabbed Driveline’s Sam Briend this past summer to head their organizational pitching blueprint, and Balkovec hopes to apply her expertise to the club’s hitters.


No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. The Yankees signed Zack Granite to a minor league deal.

At first, when you read it, you thought you saw Zack Greinke, didn’t you? Like many others, you did a double take.

Nope, it is not the top-flight pitcher (who isn’t a free agent anyway), but an OF named Zack Granite, 27, lefty hitter who had 93 MLB at bats with the Twins in 2017. Of his 22 hits (.237), 19 were singles. OPS+ 66. 1 HR, 13 RBI. OF depth. Especially in CF.

Granite is from Staten Island and went to Seton Hall. He hit .290-3-37 at AAA (119 games, Rangers organization) in 2019. 25 SB. So has some speed, no power.


From the NY Post, the Ellsbury departure could get ugly:

On Friday, multiple sources told The Post, right after Ellsbury cleared release waivers, the Yankees sent a letter to the Players Association notifying them of their intention to convert Ellsbury’s contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed, thereby liberating them from the outfielder’s $21 million salary for 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of the $21 million team option for 2021. The basis of the effort is the Yankees’ contention Ellsbury, who missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons due to multiple injuries, received medical treatment at Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta for multiple years without the Yankees’ authorization. The exact time period is in question, hence the uncertainty about how much, if any, of the $127 million the Yankees already have paid Ellsbury will be in play.

The union, livid with the Yankees’ maneuver, made it clear it would challenge the team on Ellsbury’s behalf and hinted at a willingness to play offense as well as defense.

If Ellsbury, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, files a grievance against the Yankees, an independent arbitrator would resolve the matter unless the two sides can come to a settlement. Baseball’s Basic Agreement mandates a hearing take place within one year of the grievance filing.

The Basic Agreement, most importantly, asserts, on page 59: “Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the [Uniform Player Contract].”

That’s the edict the Yankees allege Ellsbury violated. In order to prove that, the Yankees — who didn’t have insurance on Ellsbury’s 2020 contract, after getting reimbursed at a 75-percent rate for the $42 million he earned over the prior two seasons — must display that he received treatment there related to his work, rather than a personal-health issue.

As for the PA’s mention of potential contract violations by the Yankees, the union could investigate whether the team was responsible for a media report implying Ellsbury might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs at Progressive Medical Center, an insinuation that could be viewed as breaking the rules of the game’s Joint Drug Agreement. Ironically, if baseball did discover Ellsbury used illegal PEDs, his contract would be protected, as per the Basic Agreement, and he’d serve a suspension, during which he wouldn’t get paid.


Lastly, stay tuned. The Houston cheating scandal could wind up with one hell of a punishment.

 

Yankees release Ellsbury, DFA Bird & Cortes.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees had to set their 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft and wanted to protect a couple of youngsters from that draft.

In order to do so, they made some moves.

The first was that they released Jacoby Ellsbury. In doing so, they are eating the $21MM he is owed for 2020 and also paying him $5MM for a 2021 buyout. They are eating $26MM and yes, that money for 2020 still will count against the cap. Ellsbury didn’t play at all for the Yankees in 2018 and 2019.

Ellsbury did play for them 2014-2017, with his best year being his first, in 2014 (.271-16-70 with 39 SB, OPS+ 111). So the Yanks got NOTHING from him for the last three years of his contract and had to buy out 2021.

The Yanks also DFA’d Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes, Jr.

Bird hit .261 with 11 HR in 46 games at the end of 2015, filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira but has had trouble with injuries since. He missed all of 2016 due to injury, hit .190 in 48 games in 2017, .199 in 82 games in 2018 and was just 6 for 35 in 10 games in 2019. His big highlight was his HR in Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS off of Andrew Miller that won the game for the Yanks 1-0 and kept them alive in the playoffs that year.

Cortes, Jr. was 5-1, 5.67 for the Yankees in 2019, ERA+ 79, in one start and 32 relief appearances.

The Yanks added Estevan Florial, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Florial: 22 on Nov. 25. OF lefty bat. .237-8-38 at High A Tampa in 2019.
Garcia: 20. 5-9, 4.28 combined A+/AA/AAA in 2019. 165 K in 111.1 IP.  21 starts, 5 relief.
Gil: 21. 5-5, 2.72 at A/A+ combined in 2019. 20 starts. 123 K in 96 IP.
Kriske: 25. 3-3, 2.08 at A+/AA combined in 2019. 12 saves. 80 K in 60.2 IP.
Medina: 20. 1-8, 5.47 at A/A+ combined in 2019. 22 starts. 127 K in 103.2 IP.
Nelson: 24 on Dec. 5. 8-3, 2.81 at A+/AA/AAA in 2019. 17 starts, 1 relief. 114 K in 89.2 IP.
Yajure: 21. 9-6, 2.14 at A+/AA in 2019. 20 starts, 4 relief. 133 K in 138.2 IP.

Some Yankees’ offseason decisions.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Besides exploring the free agent market (Cole, Strasburg, Bumgarner, Wheeler), the Yanks have decisions to make on their OWN players, some of whom are free agents themselves.

Do they bring back Didi or are they fine with Gleyber at SS and D.J. at 2B?

What about backup C? Romine is a free agent. Meanwhile, Higashioka is out of options. The Yanks say they are fine with Higashioka, but he’ll have to prove he can hit. Higashioka does have some power, but a .164 career batting average. In 146 MLB at bats, Higashioka is .164-6-17, OPS+ just 45. He’s not young. He turns 30 next April.

Romine could start for some teams, and the Yanks could lose him if Romine does want to start. Romine hit .281-8-35 as a backup last year, OPS+ 97 in probably his best season in the majors. He has done much better with the bat the last two seasons. His 162 game average is .239-11-59, OPS+ 73, but the OPS+ the last two seasons have been 93 and 97, so a big improvement from before.

Brian Cashman, as of now, states that the 3B job is Gio Urshela’s to lose after Urshela hit .314-21-74, OPS+ 133 in 2019. But was it a fluke? Urshela’s defense was significantly better than that of Miguel Andujar’s in 2018.

As for Andujar, his defense hurts what is a solid bat. He finished runnerup for ROY in 2018, hitting .297-27-92, OPS+ 130, but 2019 was wasted because of an injury. In 12 games he was 6 for 47. Where will Andujar be in 2020? Did he get “Wally Pipp”ed and lose his job to Urshela? There are rumors that the Yanks may try him at 1B and maybe LF to try to make him versatile and keep his bat in the lineup.

He also may be trade bait. He and Clint Frazier, and both because of their defense. Frazier hit .267-12-38 in 69 games last season, OPS+ 111 and in his career has 16 HR in 393 at bats with a .254 batting average.

Frazier is 25. Andujar will be 25 in March. Both are not sure things to start the season with the Yanks because of their defensive liabilities and also a crowded roster. They could be traded —one, or both— in a deal for a starting pitcher if the Yanks feel the price tags on Cole, Strasburg, Bumgarner and/or Wheeler are too high.

Then there is Dellin Betances, who hurt his value by only pitching 2/3 of an inning this year (shoulder) and getting hurt again (Achilles) at the end of the year. He is a free agent.

Decisions, decisions. …. It’ll be an interesting offseason.

Another change to the coaching staff.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Carlos Mendoza, the infield instructor, will be replacing Josh Bard as the bench coach. There is no word as to whether Bard will be staying in the organization.

Update: Bard wanted to be closer to his Colorado home.

Also, former catching coach Jason Brown won’t be on the staff.