Category Archives: Offseason Moves

S.T. Game 19. Final spring training game sees Yanks lose 5-3; Couple of rookies make the opening day squad; AAA season starts tonight.

The Yanks lost their last spring training game today, 5-3 to Detroit, and wound up spring training with a record of 8-10-1. The open the regular season at home vs. Boston on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the AAA season starts tonight for SWB, and I’ll report on that game in another post. The other minor league levels start their seasons on Friday.

In looking at recent spring training lineups, it appears as if manager Aaron Boone will separate the big power but high strikeout guys like Judge, Stanton and Gallo with guys more inclined to make contact. Looking at those lineups, Rizzo was hitting third between Judge and Stanton, and LeMahieu was separating Stanton from Gallo.

In the game today, Gallo had two hits.

One-time Yankees’ prospect Manny Banuelos started for the Yanks, and he will be going to AAA SWB (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) to start there. Banuelos gave up a 3-run HR to Miguel Cabrera, he of the 502 MLB HR.

The pitching line:

Banuelos (L) 3 1/3 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 1 W, 2 K. gave up 1 HR
King 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K
Castro 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K
Marinaccio 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K
Brito 3 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 W, 4 K. Gave up 1 HR.

Ron Marinaccio has made the opening day roster. The 26 year old RHP was 2-1, 2.04 in AA/AAA last year, with 105 K in 66 1/3 IP.

Another rookie making the team is J.P. Sears, 26, LHP. Sears was 10-2, 3.46 in AA/AAA last year, 136 K in 104 IP.

The roster will be 28 players for the first month because of the shortened spring training caused by the lockout. The Yanks will carry 16 pitchers, 12 position players. The 12 position players are: Higashioka, Trevino, Rizzo, Torres, LeMahieu, Kiner-Falefa, Donaldson, Gallo, Hicks, Judge, Gonzalez and Stanton.

The 16 pitchers are: Cole, Severino, Montgomery, Taillon, Cortes, Chapman, Loaisiga, Green, Luetge, Marinaccio, Schmidt, Sears, King, Holmes, Peralta, and Castro.

Some that look to be starting the season at AAA are: Tim Locastro, Banuelos, Oswald Peraza, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Ender Inciarte (if he accepts the assignment), Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, Oswaldo Cabrera, Max Burt, Hayden Wesneski, Rob Brantly, David Freitas, Max McDowell, Ron Guzman, Ryan LaMarre … and (wait for it)

Greg Bird. The one-time Yankee was re-signed by the Yankees today to a minor league deal after failing to make Toronto’s team and being released by the Blue Jays.

Yesterday the Yanks made a move I am scratching my head about, picking up David McKay from Tampa Bay for cash considerations. McKay has 26 MLB games under his belt, is a 27 year old RHP who is 0-0, 6.08 in his MLB career, ERA+ 79.

Leading off. Josh Donaldson?

When you think of a leadoff hitter, images of Rickey Henderson, Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, or a Lou Brock or Maury Wills come to mind. Speedy guys who get on and steal bases.

Even guys like Horace Clarke and Bobby Richardson (and Richardson was NOT a good choice for a leadoff hitter. He hit .266 in his career, never walked, had an OBP of just .299, and even in 1961, with Maris and Mantle hitting 115 HR behind him, only scored 80 runs that year).

But the Yankees’ leadoff hitter this year could be … Josh Donaldson.

We’ll see how it works out. It seems unconventional, but then, for most of the 1950s, the Yankees’ leadoff hitter was Hank Bauer, and Bauer didn’t hit “the mold” either. And LeMahieu isn’t the speed demon, but with averages over .300 in 2019 and 2020, did fine there as far as getting on base for the big guys.

Newly acquired Jose Trevino will be the backup catcher, as the Yankees sent down the trio of Max McDowell, Rob Brantly and David Freitas. Ben Rortvedt is still out with an oblique injury.

Cashman stays busy. Trades Joely Rodriguez to Mets for Miguel Castro.

Brian Cashman stays busy. Not long after parting ways with Albert Abreu, Cashman has traded away another member of the Yanks’ bullpen, sending LHP Joely Rodriguez to the Mets for RHP Miguel Castro.

Rodriguez, 30, has been in the majors with the Phillies (2016-2017), Rangers (2020-2021) and Yankees (2021). Last year he was 1-3, 5.93 for Texas and 1-0, 2.84 for the Yankees. Combined 2-3, 4.66, ERA+ 94. His Yankees’ tenure last 21 games. 3-5, 4.61 in his career, ERA+ 96 in 102 games.

Castro, 27, has been with Toronto (2015), Colorado (2015-2016), Baltimore (2016-2020) and the Mets (2020-2021). Last year he was 3-4, 3.45 with the Mets, ERA+ 116. In 299 MLB cames, he is 11-22, 4.13, ERA+ 107.

Yanks trade Abreu and minor league P to Texas for catching depth in Jose Trevino.

While most of us were consumed by the Final Four last night, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman was busy making a trade. With Ben Rortvedt most likely missing the start of the season due to an oblique injury, Cashman wanted more catching depth other than David Freitas, Rob Brantly and Max McDowell. He traded RHP Albert Abreu and minor league LHP Robert Ahlstrom to Texas for C Jose Trevino.

In 30 games as a Yankee in 2020 and 2021, Abreu was 2-1, 5.68, ERA+ 77 in 38 IP. He is 26.

Ahlstrom, 22, hasn’t pitched in a minor league game yet, spending last year at the University of Oregon, where he was 9-3, 2.50 in 14 starts.

Trevino, 29, has been with the Rangers from 2018-2021, appearing in 156 games, hitting .245-9-55, OPS+ 70. He bats righty.

S.T. Game 3; Yankees Fall, 8-7; sign utility man Gonzalez to minor league deal.

The Yankees (0-2-1 in Spring Training) gave up 4 runs in the top of the ninth and lost to the Tigers, 8-7 Sunday. They also made a signing.

In the game, Oswaldo Cabrera hit a grand slam. Starter Luis Severino struggled.

Pitching line:

Severino 2 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 1 W, 1 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Peralta 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Luetge 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Weber 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Banuelos 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Boyle (H) 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 W, 1 K
Gomez (BS, L) 2/3 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 2 W, 0 K.
Minnick 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.

The Yankees signed utility man Marwin Gonzalez to a minor league deal. Gonzalez, 33, has played for the Astros 2012-2018, Twins 2019-2020, Red Sox 2021 and back to Houston again in 2021. He was part of the 2017 WS Champion Astros that were caught in the cheating scandal. One red flag is that that was the best season of Gonzalez’ career. He finished 19th in MVP voting that year, hitting .303-23-90 OPS+ 146 but hasn’t come close to those numbers in any other season. Last year he was .199-5-28, OPS+55. HIs 162 game average is .256-16-61, OPS+ 96. In 39 postseason games he has hit .231 with 3 HR and 15 RBI. His main selling point is that he is a switch hitter who can play all four infield positions, and also has played a lot of corner outfield.

S.T. Game 2. Yanks Tie O’s, 3-3. C hurt. Trade rumors.

The Yanks (0-1-1 in spring training) tied Baltimore 3-3 on Saturday.

Newly acquired C Ben Rortvedt will probably miss the start of the season due to an oblique strain. This opens the door for Rodolfo Duran (who homered in Game 1), David Freitas (who homered yesterday) Max McDowell or Rob Brantly to start the season as Kyle Higashioka’s backup catcher unless the Yanks trade for one.

Speaking of trades, Miguel Andujar is on the block. He’s blocked in the Bronx by Rizzo, Gallo, Donaldson, LeMahieu and Kiner-Falefa. I’d expect him to be dealt soon.

Besides a 2-run HR by Freitas, the Yanks got a solo HR by Josh Donaldson yesterday.

Pitching:

Waldichuk 3 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 0 W, 1 K. a top pitching prospect
Holmes (BS) 2 2/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 3 W, 3 K.
Barclay 2 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Greene 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.

Luis Severino is supposed to pitch today in the Yanks first home S.T. game.

S.T. Game 1. Yanks lose, trade Voit. Place German on IL.

The Yanks had their first spring training game today, which they lost to the Pirates, 4-3, but first a couple of transactions.

P Domingo German was placed on the 60 day IL because of shoulder soreness.

Luke Voit was traded to San Diego for a 20 year old pitching prospect, Justin Lange. Lange is a former first round pick who has just 9 minor league games under his belt, but who apparenlty hit 102 MPH while in his senior year of high school. A project. One bit of trivia: Lange was born on 9/11/01.

In the game, newcomer SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa had 2 hits and minor league C Rodolfo Duran hit a HR.

Pitching:

Wesneski 3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 4 K. Gave up HR. A top pitching prospect.
Bristo (L, BS) 1 2/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 1 W, 4 K. Gave up HR.
Milam 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Marinaccio 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K.
Nittoli 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Spence 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K.

Of note: Greg Allen, who was with the Yanks for 15 games last year, hit a 2-run HR in the game for Pittsburgh.

The Yanks placed 4 minor leaguers on the top 100 prospect list. #8 SS Anthony Volpe, #60 SS Oswald Peraza, #61 OF Jasson Dominguez, and #96 C Austin Wells.


Rizzo back, Voit on block?

The Yankees have brought back Anthony Rizzo on a 2 yr/$32MM deal with an opt-out after the first year. It appears that Luke Voit is now on the trading block.

Rizzo’s lefty bat helps balance out a predominantly righty hitting lineup. He’s better defensively than Voit, having won 4 Gold Gloves. With Rizzo and Kiner-Falefa as new acquisitions, along with LeMahieu, there are Gold Glovers in the infield as the Yanks seem to be prioritizing improving the infield defense.

Between the Cubs and Yanks last year, Rizzo hit .248-22-61, OPS+ 111. He has dropped off a bit from his prime. Rizzo, 32, has had MVP consideration 5x with three of those times being top-10 finishes. He has topped 30 HR 4x and also 100 RBI 4x. He has led the majors in getting HBP 3x.

Rizzo is a .268 career hitter with a 162 game average of .268-29-94, OPS+ 127. He won the WS with the Cubs in 2016. In 40 postseason games, Rizzo has hit .207-7-19.

Now to see what happens with Voit. More trades coming.

Yanks pull off major deal, reconfigure infield.

As I was about to write about the Yankees’ inactivity in the free agent and trade market, I woke up to a major trade the Yankees have made that has reconfigured their infield. I am now waiting for more dominoes to fall.

The Yankees have traded C Gary Sanchez and INF Gio Urshela to the Twins for 3B Josh Donaldson, INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa (who the Twins just picked up from Texas the day before) and C Ben Rortvedt.

Going: Sanchez hit .204-23-54 (OPS+ 99) for the Yanks last year. His defense behind the plate has been a problem. After a great start to his career (20 HR in 53 games in 2016, 33 HR in 2017 and a 2x All-Star), Sanchez hasn’t fulfilled his potential. Since 2017, he has only hit .201, including seasons of .186 (2018) and .147 (2020).

Urshela was with the Yanks 2019-2021, and established himself with the club. Only a .225 hitter before coming to the Yanks, Urshela broke out in 2019, hitting .314-21-74, OPS+ 133 that season. Last year he hit .267-14-49, OPS+ 96. As a Yankee, he hit .292 in 243 games, with 41 HR and an OPS+ of 119 while providing great defense at 3B.

Coming: Donaldson, 36, is a 3x All-Star and 2x Silver Slugger who won the MVP award for Toronto in 2015, when he hit .297-41-123 and led the AL in RBI (OPS+ 151), the majors in runs scored and the league in total bases and SF. He has received MVP consideration 6x, and finished in the top 10 three other times besides his winning the award in 2015. Last year he hit .247-26-72, OPS+ 127. He has played for Oakland (2010, 2012-2014), Toronto (2015-2018), Cleveland (2018), Atlanta (2019) and Minnesota (2020-2021). It’ll be interesting how Donaldson and Gerrit Cole get along after Donaldson’s comments about the Spidertack and Cole last season. His 162 g. average is .269-34-98, OPS+ 135. In 39 postseason games, he has hit .260-5-16.

Kiner-Falefa, 27 soon, can play 3B, SS and even catch. He won a Gold Glove at 3B in 2020. Last year he hit .271-8-53 with 20 SB for Texas, OPS+ 85. His 162 games average is .265-7-49, 16 SB, OPS+ 81. He’ll be a stopgap until prospects like Oswald Peraza and/or Anthony Volpe are ready. If the Yanks are only going to hae a stopgap SS for a year or two, he’s the one I wanted. Kiner-Falefa has played for Texas (2018-2021).

Rortvedt, 24, is a lefty hitting catcher who only has 39 games of MLB experience, all last season. He hit .169-3-7 (15 for 89), OPS+ 41. As of now, Kyle Higashioka takes over as the Yankees’ #1 catcher, so I am waiting for another shoe to fall. Is another trade coming?

The Yankees also signed two guys for minor league depth.

They brought back Tim Locastro, OF, 29, who played in 9 games for the Yankees last year. Locastro was selected off the Yankees in November via waivers by Boston but then Boston released him later. Locastro is known for his speed (31 SB in 34 attempts) and is a .231 career hitter with 5 HR and an OPS+ of 78 in 432 at bats. Loacastro has played with the Dodgers (2017-2018), Diamondbacks (2019-2021) and Yankees (2021).

They also signed 1B Ronald Guzman (Texas 2018-2021), a lefty hitter. Guzman hit 16 HR in 2018 for Texas and has a .227 career batting average with 31 MLB HR in 737 at bats, OPS+ 86.

Waiting for more signings/trades.



Lockdown over! Season starts April 7. Changes to playoff system, NL gets DH>

Finally!

The baseball season, and all 162 games of it, will start on April 7. Games cancelled from March 31 to April 7 will be rescheduled.

The NL will have the DH. So we won’t see pitchers hit (in case you are wondering, the last Yankees’ pitcher to hit a HR was Lindy McDaniel in 1972).

The one and done wild card game is out. There will be six playoff teams in each league. The top two division winners get a bye while the other four teams play an opening round best of 3. Then the LDS best of five before the LCS best of 7 followed by the WS best of 7.

Spring training games start March 17. Which means basically 2 1/2 weeks of spring training before the season starts. I haven’t seen anything yet about an expansion to opening day rosters. For hitters, not much of a problem, but for pitchers, how are they going to be stretched out? If you don’t expand rosters, and even if you DO, bullpens will be used extensively in the first few weeks because the starters haven’t been stretched out. I do hope that there will be expanded rosters in the first few weeks to help with the problem of pitchers not being stretched out enough.

Not only that, but the GMs have to really work OT now. There are still a lot of free agents out there like Correa, Story, Rodon and Freeman just to name a few. There is very little time to sign them before the season begins. Brian Cashman has to work his butt off to sign some people. Remember as of now the Yanks really don’t have a SS, and expect Luke Voit to be traded to a NL team that needs a DH. But what then? Do the Yanks get Rizzo for 1B? Freeman? Trade for Olson? LeMahieu at 1B?

Trades and signings will now be fast and furious. There isn’t much time before the season starts.

But at least there IS a season, and a full one at that.