Category Archives: Offseason Moves

Yanks sign OF/1B Franchy Cordero; Volpe to wear #11

The Yankees signed OF/1B Franchy Cordero to a contract on Wednesday. Cordero, 28, lefty bat, has played all 3 OF positions and 1B in his MLB career. In 227 MLB games, he has hit .221 with 21 HR and an OPS+ of 83. Not impressive, but maybe the Yanks can tap into his lefty power (6’3″, 225 lb) at Yankee Stadium.

Cordero has played for the Padres (2017-2019), Royals (2020) and Red Sox (2021-2022). Last year for Boston, in 84 games, he hit .219-8-29, OPS+ 92.

Anthony Volpe, who wore #77 in spring training, has switched numbers, He will wear #11, last worn by Brett Gardner. Some other notables in Yankees history to wear #11 include Lefty Gomez (probably the best and most notable of the bunch), Joe Page, Johnny Sain, Hector Lopez, Fred “Chicken” Stanley, Dwight Gooden, Chuck Knoblauch, Gary Sheffield, and Gardner. There were others, but I just wanted to list a few. In a classy move, Volpe asked Gardner for permission to wear it, and Gardy approved.

S.T. Game 33. Yanks lose to Washington, 3-0.

The last spring training game took place against the Nationals at Nationals’ Park in Washington, D.C. The regular season starts at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon against the Giants.

Good four innings for Nasty Nestor Cortes in his final tune-up before the regular season starts. 4 IP, 1 R (a solo HR). But that one mistake was enough. The Yanks (13-18-2 in spring training) finished spring training with a 3-0 loss.

Anthony Volpe was 1 for 2 with a couple of nice defensive plays. The Yanks only had 3 hits in the game.

Greg Weissert and Ian Hamilton were sent down to AAA. Estevan Florial and Rafael Ortega are headed to NY but it’s not sure yet who if any between the two of them would make the team.

Cortes (L) 4 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 0 K gave up 1 HR.
Mauricio 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Cordero 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Abreu 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Danish 1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K. Awful spring for him (ERA 28.50)
Hamilton 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Deivi Garcia 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 1 K. 1 HBP

UPDATE: Florial (was out of options) made team as 4th OF. Calhoun sent down. Ortega asked for and was given his release.

S.T. Game 32. Yanks beat Rays 8-4.

Clarke Schmidt pitched 4 good innings before giving up a pair of runs in the fifth, good work from some bullpen guys and a HR from someone hoping to make the roster as the Yanks (13-17-2) beat Tampa Bay 8-4 today.

The Yanks now head to Washington, D.C. for an exhibition game tomorrow (Tuesday) against the Nationals. Wednesday is an off day but a workout day at Yankee Stadium before the season begins Thursday afternoon against the Giants.

Today’s highlights, a lot by minor leaguers.

Max Burt 1 for 2, RBI
Eric Wagaman 2 for 2, 3 RBI. 2-run HR.
Willie Calhoun 1 for 2, scored 2 runs. In running for last OF spot.
Donaldson 2 for 2
Rafael Ortega 1 for 2, solo HR. Walk. Competing with Calhoun and Florial for last OF spot.
Cabrera 1 for 2, RBI. Has had great spring.
Higashioka 1 for 3, RBI.
Hicks 1 for 1, RBI. Walk.
Florial 0 for 2. Out of options. If he doesn’t beat out Ortega and Calhoun for last OF spot could be DFA’d, waived, or traded.

Schmidt 4 1/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 1 W, 7 K. 1 WP.
Peralta 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. 1 Balk.
Loiasiga 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Holmes (Winner) 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Marinaccio (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 3 K.
Ramirez (H) 1 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 W, 2 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Diaz 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 1 K.

24 of the 26 roster spots have been settled.

Trevino, Higashioka
Rizzo, Stanton, LeMahieu, Volpe, IKF, Torres, Donaldson
Cabrera, Hicks, Judge

One more OF position. Ortega? Calhoun? Florial? Is there a trade or pickup coming?

Cole, Cortes, Schmidt, German, Brito
Holmes, Loaisiga, Marinaccio, Peralta, Cordero, King, Abreu

Greg Weissert could be the last BP piece. Ramirez has already been sent down, as was Krook. Once again, is there a trade or pickup coming?

So 2 spots undecided yet.

Oswald Peraza has been sent to AAA to start the season.

S.T. Game 31. Brito perfect as he auditons for #5 starter role. Yanks win 6-2.

Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo hit back-to-back HR, but the story was Jhony Brito (#27 prospect) in the Yankees’ (12-17-2) 6-2 win over Toronto on Sunday.

With Rodon, Severino and Montas all on the IL, the Yanks will have to reach to fill out their rotation. Brito was pitching to secure the #5 spot in the rotation until the injured come back, and things couldn’t have gone more perfect for him.

Brito retired the Blue Jays 16 up and 16 down.

LeMahieu 1 for 3, 2 RBI.
Judge 2 for 2 with a walk. 2-run HR
Rizzo 2 for 3, solo HR.
Cabrera 2 for 4
Hicks 1 for 1, 2 walks.
Peraza 0 for 3 was HBP. But .190 this spring and Volpe has outhit him.

Brito (Winner) 5 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K.
King (H) 1 1/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Weissert (H) 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Krook 1 IP, 1 R, 0 H, 2 W, 1 K. 1 balk.

It was annonced that Tyler Danish and James Norwood were sent down. Albert Abreu and Jimmy Cordero have made the bullpen,

Yanks go to bargain basement again for another OF.

The Yankees went to the bargain basement again for another lefty-hitting OF. It really looks like unless they can dump salary in a trade, that this will be the way to go for a LF. Either internally via Hicks, Cabrera or Florial or by trying to get a bargain like McKinney, Calhoun, or this latest signing, Rafael Ortega, to a minor league deal.

Ortega, 31, has played for the Rockies (2012), Dodgers (2016), Marlins (2018), Braves (2019) and Cubs (2021-2022). In 364 MLB games he has hit .250 with an OPS+ of 88. He can play all 3 OF positions and his 162-game average is .250-9-45 with 18 SB. OPS+ 88. Last season in 118 games for the Cubs he hit .241-7-35 with 12 SB.

As I mentioned in a previous posting, the Yankees brought in Brian Sabean as an advisor to Brian Cashman. Great move. Sabean, along with Gene Michael, helped to build the Yankees dynasty (via the core 4 and Bernie) of 1996-2003. After going to SF, where he has been for the last 30 years, Sabean won 3 WS there. Great addition for the Yankees to bring him back.

Finally in this report, a passing to relay. Stefan Wever, who had one MLB game in his career, died at the age of 64. Wever’s only MLB game came in 1982 when he started and lost a game for the Yankees on Sept. 17, getting knocked out in the third inning after giving up 9 runs, 8 earned.

Cashman goes “dumpster diving” for two outfielders.

I don’t know how much up against a budget Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman is, but he did sign two outfielders yesterday on the cheap. Rumor are that the Yanks are around $290MM in payroll and that they don’t want to go over the next level of $293MM. So, before they’d get someone pricy, salary would have to be shed (Donaldson, Hicks).

With that in mind, and the Yanks still looking for a LF, preferably one that hits lefty, Cashman did some “dumpster diving”.

One was Billy McKinney, signed to a minor league contract and assigned to AAA. You may remember the name. McKinney was a Yankees prospect who began his MLB career with the Yanks but was traded after just two games. McKinney has played for the Yankees (2018), Blue Jays (2018-2020), Brewers (2021), Mets (2021), Dodgers (2021) and A’s (2022). So, he’s been around. In 263 MLB games, he has hit .206 and has an OPS+ of 78 (100 is average). He has played mostly RF in his career but has also put in time in LF and at 1B. McKinney made $700,000 last year. His 162-game average is .206-17-44. He is 28.

The other signing is a non-roster invite. Willie Calhoun, a former top prospect for Texas. Calhoun has played for the Rangers (2017-2022) and Giants (2022). Also 28, Calhoun hit 21 HR in only 83 games for Texas in 2019. Two HBP, one in 2020 and the other in 2021 have slowed down his career. The first broke his jaw, the second, his forearm. He is a .240 hitter for his career, with an OPS+ of 85. His 162-game average is .240-20-66. Calhoun has only played LF.

Both are long shots, and it seems that Calhoun has the better chance to stick. Offensively the edge would be with Calhoun, defensively, McKinney. Calhoun made $1.3MM last year.

Both low-cost, low-risk, signings. Both lefty-hitting OF. Good for a look-see. Hope to catch lightning in a bottle and get high reward (think Matt Carpenter last year).

Luetge traded to Braves

Lucas Luetge, DFA’d by the Yankees last week to make room on the roster for Tommy Kahnle, was traded to the Braves yesterday for a couple of minor leaguers.

Luetge spent two seasons with the Yankees, going 4-2, 2.74 in 2021 and 4-4, 2.67 in 2022. Luetge turns 36 next spring. He did not appear in any postseason games for the Yanks.

A baseball passing: Fred Valentine, an OF who played for the Orioles (1959, 1963), Senators (1964-1968) and Orioles again (1968) passed away, age 87, on December 26. The switch-hitter’s best season came in 1966, when he hit .276-16-59 and stole 22 bases. OPS+ 131. He finished 21st in MVP voting that season. For his career, in 533 games, he hit .247 with 36 HR. His 162-game average was .247-11-42, 14 SB and an OPS+ of 106.

Judge named captain; Yanks DFA Luetge. NFL Legend Franco Harris passes away.

At the press conference yesterday to announce his signing, Aaron Judge was named the Yankees’ captain, their first since the retirement of Derek Jeter after the 2014 season.

A press conference regarding Carlos Rodon’s signing will be today.

In order to make room on the team for the signing of Tommy Kahnle, Lucas Luetge was DFA’d.

Sad news: Another part of my childhood is gone. I am a Steelers fan and growing up in the 1970s the Immaculate Reception kind of sealed the deal as far as me becoming a fan of the Steelers. Just a few days before the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, and a few days before weekend celebrations about that play, and a few days before the Steelers were to retire his #32 at halftime of the Steelers/Raiders game Saturday evening, Franco Harris died at the age of 72. RIP, Franco.

LF option. David Peralta?

With Michael Brantley going back to Houston, another LF option is off the board.

Besides the LF options I wrote about before (Reynolds, Kepler, Varsho, McCarthy, even having Cabrera as full time LF (and please, no Hicks!)) I ran across a few other options. Some, like Tommy Pham or Andrew McCutchen, I disregard because the Yankees need a lefty or switch-hitter to balance out the lineup and Pham and McCutchen (who was briefly a Yankee before) don’t fit that qualification.

One name I didn’t mention before is David Peralta. He is a free agent, and a lefty bat that could help. Peralta is 35, a LF and a former Gold Glove winner. At 35, Peralta would not demand a long-term deal. Good. He made $7.5MM last year, so he wouldn’t be as expensive as Benintendi, who got $15MM/yr for five years from the White Sox, would have been.

While Peralta did hit 30 HR in 2018, that is an outlier. He has a 162-game average of .281-18-78 but given his age and what he has done in the past few seasons, .255-.260, 10-15 HR and about 55 to 65 RBI is what you can reasonably expect. If a lefty pitches, maybe that is the time to sit Peralta and play Stanton in LF. You don’t want Stanton in the OF often, but this could keep Stanton fresh.

I don’t know if Peralta could be an answer or if the Yanks have him on their radar. One thing is for sure. The free agent LF are coming off the board. If not Peralta, then a trade may have to be made. Apparently, it would take a lot to pry Reynolds away from Pittsburgh. I am not sold on Kepler from the Twins. What it would take to get say Varsho or McCarthy from Arizona, I don’t know.

But the Yanks should add Peralta to the mix of LF to target if they haven’t already. Think of him as a little older, and slightly less (not by much, the stats are very similar) version of Benintendi.

Yanks get their man! Rodon to Yanks on 6 yr/$162MM Deal.

The Yankees promised Aaron Judge there would be upgrades around him and they delivered, signing Carlos Rodon to a 6 yr/$162MM deal. Outside of bringing back Judge, Rodon is the one free agent I wanted the most. Of course, there is more that needs to be done.

Rodon is younger than DeGrom or Verlander. He just turned 30 five days ago.

Rodon has pitched for the White Sox (2015-2021) and Giants (2022; poor Giants, lose out on Judge and now Rodon to Yanks, too).

For his career, Rodon is 56-46, 3.60, ERA+ 115. A 162-game average of 13-10, 3.60.

But it is the last two years that stand out.

A lefty pitcher, Rodon hopefully adds to the lefty pitcher legacy of the Yankees. Pennock, Gomez, Lopat, Ford, Guidry, Pettitte, Sabathia. The Yankees have won on lefty hitting and pitching.

Are there risks? Of course. You can’t predict health, and Rodon has had shoulder and elbow issues in the past. we can only hope those are behind him and that the last two years show someone coming into his own and peaking.

From 2015-2020, Rodon was 29-33, 4.14, ERA+ 100. Average. He missed over half of 2017, and most of 2019 and 2020. His 2019 and 2020 can best be described as forgettable.

But here are the last two seasons.

2021 with White Sox: 13-5, 2.37. ERA+ 185. All-Star. 5th in CYA voting. 185 K in 132 2/3 IP. Average 12.6 K/9.
Threw a no-hitter.
2022 with Giants. 14-8, 2.88. All-Star. 6th in CYA voting. 237 K in 178 IP. Average 12.00K/9 (led MLB). ERA+ 140.

So in the last two years, he is 27-13, 2.67 ERA, ERA+ 157. 12.2K/9

It could be an interesting K battle between Rodon and Cole on the Yankees. And Sevy isn’t bad, either.

He replaces the departed (via free agency) Jameson Taillon in the rotation. No offense to Taillon, who is a decent pitcher (went to Cubs, 4 yr/$68MM) but when on, Rodon is just dominating. It is an upgrade.

It gives the Yanks more balance in the rotation. Righties of Cole, Severino and Montas. Lefties Rodon and Cortes.

It makes this rotation one of, if not the best rotation in baseball, and makes the Yankees deeper. If you need a sixth or seventh starter, Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt are still there. They can be used in long relief until needed.

Now to solve the LF situation. Be it with Benintendi, Brantley, Conforto as free agents or a trade for a Bryan Reynolds (Pittsburgh) or maybe Daulton Varsho or Jake McCarthy from Arizona. All are lefty bats or switch-hitters, which the Yanks need for balance in the lineup.

Rodon down. LF to go.

P.S. Apparently the Yanks and Rodon met in the middle. MLB Trade Rumors predicted Rodon at 5/140 and talk was that Rodon and his agent, Scott Boras, wanted 7/200 or thereabouts. With 6/162 they met close to the middle.