Friday, November 20, 2015

Could Yankees trade BOTH Gardner and Miller?

We’ve heard it over and over; the New York Yankees will not be active in the high-priced free agent market in a season in which big money is not coming off the books.

Brett Gardner
Photo: Keith Allison
Instead, they will follow a strategy which got aggressive last season in which the club traded from surplus and from their major league roster to acquire MLB-ready players tagged with the “upside” label. The effort paid off in 2015 with pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and shortstop Didi Gregorius playing important roles to the Yankees wild card berth.

This offseason began much the same way as last, with general manager Brian Cashman pulling off a trade of his backup catcher (John Ryan Murphy), this time nabbing a promising 26-year-old outfielder in Aaron Hicks. Cashman immediately touted Hicks as a potential full-time player (though he never said in 2016) and just as quickly the rumor mill surrounding Brett Gardner heated up.

The team also has Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, meaning two players with much the same style of play. Trading Gardner is the more reasonable option for the Yankees because he has three seasons and $38 million left on his deal. Meanwhile, Ellsbury is under contract for five more seasons with close to $110 million left on his pact.

So far, Gardner has been linked to the Seattle Mariners (who seem to be out now after trading for Leonys Martin) and the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees want another starter and the Indians have a surplus; namely Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Each pitcher would necessitate more from the Yankees, but both pitchers fit the Yankees' desires for hard-throwing young pitchers. Most recently, Gardner was connected to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Starlin Castro according to New York Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand.

Now, if the Yanks cannot find a suitable partner for Gardner, the rumor mill has also been hot around the team's 2015 closer and the American League Reliever of the Year, Andrew Miller. Miller has three years and $27 million left on the deal he signed last offseason. The Yankees, seeing what the San Diego Padres received for closer Craig Kimbrel, might pull the trigger on a deal that nets the club some prospects to fill any perceived voids in the system.

The Yankees have the luxury of being able to move BOTH Gardner and Miller because of what’s currently on the roster and in the farm system, along with who they might receive in return.

Friday, November 13, 2015

If Yankees add outside starter, bullpen might benefit from excess arms

The New York Yankees are reportedly in the market for a starting pitcher, yet they have seven hurlers on their 40-man roster who made at least 11 starts for the club in 2015. If a starter is added to the mix this offseason, we might expect one of those seven pitchers is traded. We can speculate as to who that might be, but it’s also worth trying to determine who misses the cut to stick in the rotation (assuming good health).

The Yankees rotation is one with some questions marks, so adding depth or getting extravagant by signing an ace-type starter makes sense. But in order to do so, the Yankees will have to make some internal adjustments.

First, here is a chart showing each of the starters currently on the roster along with the number of starts, innings pitched in 2015 and 2016 salary (* = projected salary provided by MLB Trade Rumors).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yankees strike another November trade, fueling rumor mill

The New York Yankees swung two deals in the matter of an hour Wednesday; the second season in a row the Yankees made a trade in early November. First, the club spun infielder Jose Pirela for 20-year-old starting pitcher Ronald Herrera from the San Diego Padres, and then moved catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Trading Pirela opened a spot on the 40-man roster for the Yankees and netted the club a power arm for minor league depth. Moving Murphy was a bit of surprise with many, myself included, figuring Gary Sanchez was going to be packing his bags. However, the Yankees might view Sanchez more as a long-term solution than Murphy and Hicks fits the outfield quite nicely.

For now Hicks slots in as the fourth outfielder, one able to play strong defense from any of the three positions, behind Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Hicks owns a .808 OPS (261 PA) against left-handed pitching in his young career. The Yankees needed to address the fourth outfielder spot from the right side of the plate with the starters all lefties, or better offensively as a lefty in Beltran’s case.

As the ink was drying on the deal, there was immense speculation that the Yankees trade for Hicks meant Gardner undoubtedly had seen his last days in pinstripes (mind you, Gardner trade rumors were already in full tilt). The chatter escalated with Brian Cashman’s comment that the Yankees see the 26-year-old Hicks as a starter.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Has Carlos Beltran been worth the financial risk to Yankees?

After the 2013 season, the New York Yankees went on a contract binge like few others have in Major League Baseball, spending more than $500 million in guaranteed salaries.

Carlos Beltran
Photo credit: Keith Allison via WikiCommons
The haul included Masahiro Tanaka’s posting fee and contract value ($175 million), Jacoby Ellsbury's seven-year deal ($153 million), Brian McCann's five-year pact ($85 million) and Carlos Beltran's three-year contract ($45 million). Beltran’s deal was the least expensive of the four large guarantees, but viewed by some as one of the riskier investments based mostly on the veteran outfielder’s age.

Beltran entered the 2014 campaign in his age-37 season, coming off a fine year with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’d lost a couple of steps in the outfield, but the Yankees felt he wouldn’t be overly exposed in right field. What excited the Yankees was having a switch-hitter with power at their disposal. Beltran was considered a professional batter and his contract was believed to be one which would be fulfilled by his performance in the field.

Has it been?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Yankees' roster requires more demolition before building new foundation

The New York Yankees have been planning their offseason agenda since being eliminated from the 2015 postseason that lasted all of one game. But, with the Kansas City Royals’ World Series championship run all wrapped up, the Yanks’ hot stove has officially been lit. For the Yankees, any solidifying of their foundation still requires some demolition.

There are very few vacancies coming for the Yankees; Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew and Chris Young are free agents, while the Yankees have club options on Brendan Ryan (he also has a player option) and Andrew Bailey. Essentially, the Yankees have to decide on their second baseman for 2016 and beyond, whether or not to improve their rotation and/or bullpen and find a right-handed bat to complement a lefty-heavy offense.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Yankees’ choice of Miller leads to top reliever award

The New York Yankees chose to let David Robertson walk last offseason, instead opening their wallets for Andrew Miller. The tall, left-handed Miller did a fantastic job for the Yanks and was named the 2015 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Wednesday (

Andrew Miller
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavilla III via Flickr
The MLB-sanctioned award is voted on by a panel of eight former MLB relievers including Rivera. The National League award (named for former San Diego Padres great Trevor Hoffman) went to former Yankee Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kansas City Royals’ reliever Wade Davis, who arguably had a better statistical season than Miller, was second in the voting with the Baltimore Orioles’ Zach Britton placing third.

Miller put up great numbers in his inaugural season with the Yanks. In 61.2 innings across 60 games, Miller converted 36 of 38 save chances. Miller racked up 100 strikeouts (14.6 K/9 ratio) with a 1.90 ERA (2.16 FIP) and batters hit just .149 against him.

At the onset of the signing, the Yankees were not certain as to Miller’s role, other than he would be an option for manager Joe Girardi at the end of games. Even as the Yankees headed north from spring training, Girardi had yet to anoint a closer. There was speculation that Girardi might go so far as to mix and match based on the scenario in front of him on a game to game basis.