Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Yankees Third Base Options As We Inch Towards Pitchers & Catchers

The New York Yankees need an infielder, either at second base or third base, and while the team prepares to swap arbitration numbers with key members of their 2018 team undoubtedly their GM still has his eyes on the prize. It seems much easier and much more likely for the Yankees to fill the third base position while allowing Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade to keep the second base seat warm for Gleyber Torres so let’s take a look at the potential third base options for the Yankees as we inch towards pitchers and catchers reporting to spring camp.

When the Yankees traded Chase Headley to the San Diego Padres along with Bryan Mitchell the first tweet I sent out was “Miguel Andujar is your Opening Day third basemen Yankees family” and I still stand behind the fact that this is a possibility. Is it likely? No, probably not but it is certainly possible. Andujar is the Yankees fifth best prospect according to some publications after making his MLB debut last season and while his glove could likely use some work, his bat seems ready for MLB pitching. If Andujar can show some progress with the glove, or at least fake it through Spring Training camp, I still believe that he will be the Yankees starting third basemen on Opening Day. Deal with it.

If the Yankees aren’t comfortable giving the job to Andujar, or Thairo Estrada who has never spent time above Double-A in his minor league career, then the team may be more inclined to give the spot to Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes filled in admirably for the injured Didi Gregorius at the beginning of the 2017 season and could be relied upon at third, second or even shortstop next season. Torreyes could be the perfect placeholder for New York while Andujar gets some work down in the Minor Leagues defensively or while the Yankees stall on bringing Gleyber Torres up due to service time.

Speaking of Gleyber Torres, and I know this seems contradictory to the first paragraph in the article, but it is still a distinct possibility here, the final option for the Yankees at third base is the same option they have at second base, Gleyber Torres. In the opening paragraph of the article we outlined how the Yankees could let a combination of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade hold down the position for the 20 games Gleyber needs to be in the minor leagues in order to delay his free agency another season and there is no reason why the team couldn’t do something similar at the third base position. Gleyber is a natural shortstop but has played shortstop, second base and third base with the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs during his minor league career.

I feel like I should mention Manny Machado and Todd Frazier here, but I just don’t believe in my heart of hearts that either will sign with or be acquired by New York this offseason. I don’t. Prove me wrong, Cash.

Waiting for Training Camp to Open…

The Cole Hard Truth…

I wish the Yankees would put the Gerrit Cole rumors to rest. Yesterday, it was reported that the Houston Astros had interest in Cole as a possible acquisition target. Fine, let the ‘Stros pay the high price for the talented but inconsistent starter. But no, the New York Daily News had to run a story that ‘Gerrit Cole to Yankees seems inevitable’ despite the interest from Houston.

For me, the ship has sailed. I was once enamored with the idea of adding Cole, but as time has passed, I see greater value with Jordan Montgomery in the starting rotation and guys like Clint Frazier and Chance Adams part of the organization. I would still like to see the Yankees create an opening for Frazier through the trade of either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury (somebody take Ellsbury, please!) but Red Thunder can play a huge role on the 2018 Yankees if given the opportunity.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
The Yankees have the money to add a proven third baseman and move forward to training camp with a solid starting five of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery. Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, and Albert Abreu headline the list of talented pitching prospects that can be plugged in if necessary at some point during the season but there are other arms in the organization that can help. Chad Green was told to report to training camp as a starter. He’s certainly an option (although my preference is to keep him in the 'pen), and Adam Warren is always on standby. Let’s keep any bullets for a trade to use in July when the team assesses its needs for the duration of the season without having to further deplete the great farm system that Cashman and Company have built.  

Speaking of a proven third baseman…

I know that Todd Frazier just wants to play baseball and would like to know where he is going to spend the upcoming season. But his words to the New York Post yesterday read like a veiled plea to the Yankees. According to the Post article written by Kevin Kernan, Frazier said “It’s going to be a new, revitalized me. I want to prove that I’m worth it. I want to be prepared and be the leader I can be on the field. I know whatever team I do fit with, they’re going to get the best Todd Frazier they are ever going to have because I want to play better. I want to get my average up. I have a lot of goals set for myself. Whenever we figure out what team we are going to go with, it’s going to be a lot of fun because I’m going to get these guys going as much as I am going to get myself going.”

It’s that last sentence “…I’m going to get these guys going…” that strikes a chord with Frazier’s leadership qualities and the strong influence he plays in the clubhouse. 

Photo Credit:  Mark Blinch-AP
I would love a multi-year deal, but I am not closing the door on anything. I’m prepared for anything.” Brian Cashman, that’s a message for you. 

In the Post article, Frazier goes on to say “We’ve had contact with the Yankees, my agent, Brodie (Van Wagenen) has done a great job.  I love playing for the Yankees.  It was such a fun time for me.  We just came up short. We had a really good squad, and they are going to be really good again.” Reading between the lines, he is clearly saying that he can help the Yankees get to the next level. Of course, the article also implies that Frazier would gladly join the New York Mets for the right opportunity, but clearly Frazier recognizes that this is a great time to be a New York Yankee.

Can Van Wagenen and Cashman find common ground to bring the Toddfather back to the Bronx? I can't speak for others, but I would love to see it. There are no guarantees that Manny Machado will be wearing pinstripes in 2019. Josh Donaldson is on the wrong side of his prime. Granted, Frazier is only a year younger than Donaldson, but Frazier has shown that he can excel as a Yankee. I would really like to see what Todd could do with an entire season at Yankee Stadium. I remain hopeful that the Yankees can find a way to bring Frazier back.

Goodbye, Home Run Derby…

I’ve never been a Trenton Thunder game so I’ve never had the good fortune watch Derby, a 9-year-old Golden Retriever, in action retrieving baseball bats. Yesterday, the Yankees Family was greatly saddened to learn the news that Derby had died over the weekend from cancer. 

The Trenton Thunder will celebrate Derby Day on Friday, January 26th, which would have been Derby's tenth birthday. They’ll share a special tribute video and are encouraging fans to participate through social media. 

Derby was the son of the late Thunder Bat Dog, Chase That Golden Thunder, who passed away from cancer in 2013. Derby’s son, Rookie, began full-time bat retrieving duties for the Thunder in 2016. So, the spirit of Derby and his father Chase will live on through Rookie at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.

Farewell, Derby. Thanks for a job well done! You’ve left a piece of yourself in the heart of the Yankees Universe.

Oakland Athletics with Pinstripes showing…

Former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders manager Al Pedrique, now first base coach for the Oakland A’s, will see a number of familiar faces in Arizona next month. Of course, he’ll see the guys involved in the Sonny Gray trade…Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. But he’ll also see former Yankees first-round pick Slade Heathcott, who signed as a minor league free agent. Heathcott spent last year in the Giants organization. Injuries and an inability to hit with success in the upper levels of the minor leagues have plagued Heathcott, now 27. Hopefully, the clean slate in Oakland works to his advantage.

Photo Credit:  Ray Stubblebine-NY Post
Speaking of training camp, I read yesterday that Evan Longoria has already reported to the San Francisco Giants training facility in Scottsdale, AZ. Wow, baseball will be back before we know it. Pitchers and catchers have a little more than a month before they have to report to Tampa. We’ve been treated to the training videos of Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, but I am looking forward to watching these guys in action at Steinbrenner Field. Soon, young Grasshopper…

Go Yankees! 

Arbitration Could Make or Break the Yankees Offseason

Photo Credit to New York Daily News

Good morning Yankees family and welcome to another slow offseason day here in the Bronx and around Major League Baseball. What do we know? We know the Yankees made the biggest splash this offseason, to date anyway, with the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. We know the Yankees unloaded salary with the Chase Headley and Starlin Castro trades, and continue to look to unload salary, with the hopes of getting under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million. We also know that the Yankees still need or want at least one of a second baseman, third baseman and a pitcher, either a reliever or starter. The Yankees look stacked right now, but it could all be for nothing if the team cannot get under the luxury tax threshold keeping them out of the Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and possibly the Clayton Kershaw sweepstakes among others before the 2019 season. While many see the Yankees payroll as it stands today and thinks the team has X amount of dollars available to spend one must remember a few things when calculating payroll including one such event that happens here in about a week, arbitration.

Arbitration could make or break the Yankees offseason and it could be a huge indicator of what is to come for the club as far as their offseason spending goes. If the Yankees can’t come to terms with their players and/or the team gets hit with a number bigger than expected through the arbitration process the team may begin scrambling trying to unload more salary, see David Robertson as possibly the first one to go. If the team comes out better than expected than you may see the team dip their toes into the free agent market while also trying to unload more salary, just maybe this time with a Jacoby Ellsbury while eating salary.

The Yankees have eight arbitration-eligible players this offseason, seen below with MLB Trade Rumors projected salaries in parenthesis, that the Yankees will either have to sign or will go through the arbitration process with on January 12.

Adam Warren ($3.1 million)
Didi Gregorius ($9 million)
Dellin Betances ($4.4 million)
Sonny Gray ($6.6 million)
Austin Romine ($1.2 million)
Aaron Hicks ($2.9 million)
Tommy Kahnle ($1.3 million)
Chasen Shreve ($900K)

Now the Yankees reportedly have $30 million set aside and budgeted for the arbitration process this offseason and a quick add up of those numbers from MLB Trade Rumors above comes up to just $29.4 million. That gives the Yankees about $600K to play with, a scary thought when you consider that MLBTR is generally close with their predictions, but not always 100% accurate. If just one player, Didi Gregorius or Dellin Betances for example, goes and gets more money than expected the Yankees offseason is thrown into a complete loop upside down.

So many Yankees fans are wondering why the team has been slow to acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Yu Darvish off the free agent market or any infielder to speak of but you may just have your answer right there. The team is possibly waiting for these numbers to be exchanged before pulling the trigger on anything, and that’s smart if the team still wants to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Patience and being patient sucks Yankees family, but remember that in Brian Cashman we trust. The “Ninja” always has a plan.