Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Otani Working Out Together Can’t Be a Bad Thing

The New York Yankees dipped their toes back into Japanese waters a few offseasons back when the team signed Masahiro Tanaka to a monster free agent contract and the team will look to do so again if and whenever Shohei Otani is posted and/or hits free agency. So I guess you could say that the fact that Tanaka and Otani were seen working out together recently can’t really be a bad thing, can it?

Otani is just 22-years old and is currently playing both sides of the ball while in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters. Otani finished the 2016 season batting .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs and 67 RBI in just 323 at-bats while also pitching to a 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA and 0.957 WHIP with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched. Otani won the Pacific League MVP Award while leading his Ham Fighters to the Japan Series championship while also reaching his third consecutive All-Star Game leaving many to wonder if he would cash in on his successes with a trip to Major League Baseball but Otani will remain in Japan at least through the 2017 season. That doesn’t mean Otani can’t hang out with and work out with some MLB caliber pitching though.

Under the current agreement between MLB and Japan a player under the age of 25 cannot receive anything over $6 million in the form of a signing bonus from a MLB club meaning it may be three years before we see the 22-year old posted. Otani is expected to receive at least $200 million when he hits the open market as either a pitcher with a pinch-hitting ability or as an outfielder who can pitch in a pinch.

Either way having Tanaka on the team, and this remains to be seen as Tanaka has an opt-out clause looming after the 2017 season, can’t hurt the Yankees chances in signing Otani. It’s going to be expensive either way but having a teammate like Tanaka may be what keeps Otani from going to a National League team where he can hit once every five days. It can’t hurt anyway. 

If Watson Isn’t Available, What About Antonio Bastardo?

Hello again Yankees fans and welcome back! Earlier today we returned in a big way asking the New York Yankees organization to trade Michael Pineda to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed reliever Tony Watson and once again we’re back with another idea. A Plan B of sorts because one always needs a Plan B. What if Tony Watson isn’t available? Who would the Yankees use in their seemingly depleted and thin middle relief core? What about Watson’s teammate and a target of the Yankees an offseason ago or two, Antonio Bastardo?

The New York Yankees were said to be interested in a Justin Wilson reunion earlier this offseason which brings me to one post I made which compared Wilson to Bastardo. The post in a nutshell showed comparable numbers across the board between the two players which means if Wilson was thought to be too rich for the Yankees blood that Bastardo could be a comparable, and arguably better, replacement for the Yankees middle relief in 2017.

Bastardo is a free agent to be at the end of the season meaning it likely wouldn’t cost much to acquire him and where the Pirates lack the most the Yankees may have a lot to give. Pittsburgh is severely lacking in the catching department meaning that a young catcher prospect with upside like a Donnie Sands could be used as trade bait for a season of Bastardo without the organization mission a beat. Sands was an 8th round pick in 2015 and isn’t expected to be ready for the Major Leagues until around or after the time Francisco Cervelli becomes a free agent after the 2019 season.

The Pirates have a ton of left-handed bullpen depth and the Yankees would like some middle relief help heading into the season so it makes sense that these two teams could match up in a trade. Watson is the prize here but Bastardo wouldn’t make the world consolation prize the Yankees could fetch, and he’d cost a heck of a lot less too in the long run. Either way Cash, get one or both done. 

New York Signs Ji-Man Choi to Minor League Deal

The New York Yankees are starting to stockpile the minor leagues and this year’s spring training camp with some depth and that continued this week when the organization signed South Korea born Ji-Man Choi to a minor league deal. The contract is worth $700,000 and includes an invitation to Yankees spring training camp in 2017. If Choi can earn a spot on the Yankees roster out of camp he will immediately receive another $400K in incentives.

Choi is fresh off making his MLB debut in 2016 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim where he played 54 games for the club. Choi managed just a .170/.271/.339 triple slash with five home runs in 112 at-bats though after the club chose Choi in the Rule 5 Draft taking him from the Baltimore Orioles.

Choi, originally signed by the Seattle Mariners way back in 2009, has seen time at first base, in left field and at the DH position in his career making just one error in 265 total innings. Choi will join Greg Bird, Tyler Austin and Rob Refsnyder who will all be vying for the first base job in 2017. If Choi does not win the job out of spring, which seems like a long shot at this point, he could always serve as an injury replacement and depth piece for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders.

Good luck to Choi and welcome to the family. 

The Michael Pineda for Tony Watson Trade That Needs to Happen

Ladies and gentleman after a long hiatus we are back. No excuses, let’s just get back to work and today we will begin working on finishing what we started before I took off. Building the Yankees starting rotation for the 2017 season while also building towards the future. The free agent market is dry and trades may be the Yankees only hope for improvement next season which brings me to an old trade partner that always seems to want former Yankees inside their organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Could the Pirates and the Yankees potentially hook up in a trade this winter to help both teams compete in 2017 and beyond? Keep reading.

Now with that said it is going to seem a bit contradictory when I suggest that the New York Yankees trade Michael Pineda to Pittsburgh for left-handed reliever Tony Watson after spouting all that in the first paragraph but stick with me. I said I wanted to build towards the 2017 season as well as the future and beyond the 2017 season Pineda, as it stands today, does not have a future with the ball club as he is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career. Strike while the iron is hot, I’d say.

Why would the Pirates do this? First of all the Pittsburgh Pirates have an uncanny ability to take pitchers with dominating stuff that can’t seem to put it all together (AJ Burnett, Edison Volquez, Ivan Nova and Francisco Liriano come to mind just to name a few) and Pineda would be the ideal candidate for this on a buy-low trade for the Pirates. The Pirates could always trade Pineda this winter and restock their farm system if they were out of contention again this summer while if they are in contention they could have a veteran arm to help lead them back to the postseason, all for a left-handed reliever that by all intents of the word is replaceable in Pittsburgh.

Why would the Yankees do this? They wouldn’t have to watch Pineda give up 20+ home runs again this season inside Yankee Stadium and they wouldn’t have to wonder what stunt, Pine Tar Gate for example, he was going to pull next. The team would also have one of the deepest and best bullpens once again in the league with Watson replacing Tommy Layne from the left side. New York would also save money in this deal with Watson set to make around $6 million next season while the team could also continue their youth movement with a Bryan Mitchell or a James Kaprielian taking Pineda’s vacant starting rotation spot out of the spring.

This deal could make the team better in 2017 but it will definitely make the team better going forward beyond the upcoming season and that, I believe, is the ultimate goal above all else anyway. So what are you waiting for? Get it done. 

Former Yankees Update: Jesus Montero

This news may be a bit dated, hey I’ve been on vacation so sue me, but here is a former Yankees update in case you missed it. This time we are checking in with former top prospect Jesus Montero as he found a new home inside the American League East recently with the Baltimore Orioles.

As everyone remembers the New York Yankees traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners in the Michael Pineda and after an incident over an ice cream sandwich and a Biogenesis-related steroid suspension later the former Yankees catcher has seen his time run out with Seattle.

Montero signed a minor league deal with Baltimore earlier this month and will spend his age 27 season looking to rebuild some of the stock he lost since being one of the game’s top prospects in all the land while with New York. Montero will have to wait 50 games to begin that climb though after testing positive for dimethylbutylamine, a banned drug my Major League Baseball, in September while with the Toronto Blue Jays.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/18: Enter Rafael Soriano

On this day in 2011 the New York Yankees announced the signing of the highest paid 6th and 7th inning pitcher in the history of the world in Rafael Soriano. A management driven deal was struck for Soriano for three years and $35 million after he led the American Leagues in saves with 45 in 2010.

Also on this day in 1947 there was a bit of a Yankees related misunderstanding going down in Detroit. The Tigers owner thought Hank Greenberg had posed in a Yankees jersey and sold the 1946 American League home run leader, 44 home runs, to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greenberg joined the National League home run leader from 1946 in Ralph Kiner who hit 23 home runs.