Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Recapping the Winter Meetings

Via LoHud:

Beltran: Vets Will Stay On Starlin Castro, Also Talks Retirement

Carlos Beltran joined a lot of the Yankees fans recently in expressing his excitement for the team’s new starting second baseman Starlin Castro. Castro was traded to the New York Yankees for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan at the winter meetings and Beltran believes, according to an interview and reports done by the New York Post, Castro is “going to be an important key for us this year.” Beltran also went on to say that “With the veterans we have, we’ll be on top of him, helping him become a better ballplayer.” Apparently the Yankees veterans are ready for a project.

Castro is just 25-years old and is already a three time All-Star that’s approaching 1,000 hits for his career. Castro is a career .281 hitter with a .725 OPS spending much of his time at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs. That’s expecting a lot out of a young kid to be better than that at age 25 but if any place and any team is going to motive a player it’s definitely New York, the New York Yankees and veterans like Beltran, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and others.

Also in the article Beltran was asked if he knew when he was going to retire from MLB and the Yankees right fielder was non-committal. Beltran said it depended on how his 2016 went with his health and production. Beltran has one more year left on his three year deal with the Yankees and will either retire after this contract or play one more season if his body allows. With Alex Rodriguez under contract for one more season and Beltran’s knee’s making him more of a full-time DH than an outfielder at this point it seems likely that this is the final year for Beltran in pinstripes, either way.

MLB Looking to Mexico for New Talent

Major League Baseball has a plan to not only grow the sport but grow the brand both domestically and internationally. We see players not only from the United States and Canada but from Italy, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and a slew of other countries including Mexico. Mexico specifically has become a huge target for MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred due in large fact to their proximity to the United States as the league looks to increase the amount of Mexican-born players next season and beyond.

On Opening Day 2015 only nine Mexican-born players were on active 40 man rosters and six of them participated in some way, shape or form in the postseason last year. Manfred wants to see that number grow substantially and he and officials from Major League Baseball met with the Mexican Summer League (LMB) during the winter meetings to try and overhaul the player-acquisition system between the two leagues.

One major wall in the process has already been dropped as LMB officials have dropped the mandate that blacklisted players who signed directly with MLB clubs rather than playing for their home country. This was in an effort to gain revenue for the LMB since the league would then sell their talent to MLB clubs much like the Korean Baseball Organization and Nippon Professional Baseball League do. MLB has agreed to share some of the costs for development, scouting and other expenditures in order to allow players from Mexico a quicker path to the majors.

In relation there were 83 players in MLB from the Dominican Republic in 2015 and 65 players who once called Venezuela home. Nine were from Mexico, this is an untapped resource and market for MLB in terms of talent and fans.

In recent memory we can remember players like Roberto Osuna being sold to the Toronto Blue Jays for $1.5 million in 2011 and Dodgers top pitching prospect Julio Urias being sold to Los Angeles in 2012 for $450,000. Manfred wants and expects more players to come to the states to add to the already deep talent pool for MLB. The floodgates are open ladies and gentleman, let the talent signing begin. 


The New York Yankees bullpen has taken a hit this offseason and especially during the winter meetings with the trades of Adam Warren and Justin Wilson. Brian Cashman has a plan and he states that he is far from done building the 2016 team, will that team include a former Yankees All-Star in Rafael Soriano?

Soriano, now 35-years old, was one of many management-driven signings by the New York Yankees in recent years and it's one of the few that actually worked out for the club. Soriano struggled in his first season as the team's 7th inning man but excelled as the closer during the year that Mariano Rivera missed with a torn ACL in his knee while shagging fly balls in Kansas City. Soriano went 4-4 in 2012 with a 2.94 ERA and 42 saves for the Yankees team that went all the way to the American League Championship Series. It's been all downhill from there.

Soriano went to Washington to close games for the Washington Nationals for the next two seasons and never truly had the same success he had closing games in the Bronx. Soriano signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs and pitched in just six games before calling it a season and hitting the free agency market once again. Could that bring him back to New York?

We don't know, and we don't know if it would be on a minor league deal or a Major League deal. You know what I say, there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal. If Soriano will sign one, bring him back and stash him in Triple-A with an opt-out date. If he wants a Major League deal I'm not quite sure I'd be comfortable with that.

If the Milwaukee Brewers Keep Selling...

We have done quite a few of these now because quite a few of the teams in Major League Baseball are selling off tradeable pieces and beginning their rebuilds. Teams like the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays who have made all of their starting pitching available not named Chris Archer, and teams like the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have sent Adam Lind, Mike Fiers, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez and others in the last calendar year and may have a few more pieces they might be willing to move for a long-term gain, do the Brewers and Yankees match up as trade partners?

The Brewers have Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate and he is probably their highest sought after trade piece on the team. Lucroy has two years left on his contract and will make just a shade under $10 million as a plus-offensive catcher, despite his injury plagued season in 2015. The problem is the Yankees don't really need a catcher and for all the plus reasons for Lucroy that would entice the Yankees to trade for him those same reasons would also be huge reasons why Milwaukee would want to keep him. Especially considering that the veteran guy behind the plate will do wonders for their young pitchers they have coming up right now. It seems like the Brewers are unlikely to trade Lucroy and very unlikely to trade him to a team like the Yankees.

Speaking of veterans Ryan Braun is extremely expensive and has seen his production go down in a huge way since he began to battle thumb and hand injuries over the years. Milwaukee undoubtedly wants out of that contract and they undoubtedly would take less in the terms of prospects if they can get some salary relief out of it. I could also see Milwaukee eating some of the $21 million AAV left on his contract through the 2020 season. There is a mutual option for the 2021 season on his contract worth just $15 million as the final season of a heavily front loaded contract. Braun, even injured and having multiple "down" seasons, is better offensively than both Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner, is younger at just age 32 and is right-handed which balances out the lineup. I've asked for Braun multiple times during my time as a blogger and I'll ask at least one more time, Cashman... please?

Yankees Re-Sign Diego Moreno, Begin Adding AAA Depth

The New York Yankees have already re-signed Domingo German to a minor league deal after letting him slip off the 40 man roster and the team was at it again when they re-signed right-handed starting pitching prospect Diego Moreno. Moreno made his Major League debut this season and pitched exceptionally well out of the bullpen before an injury ended his 2015 season. Moreno will likely begin the 2016 season back in Scranton with the RailRiders serving as a starting pitcher and will only be one Scranton Shuttle phone call away from the Bronx.

The Yankees had a plan coming into this offseason and they are starting to show their hand a bit with recent moves and signings. Justin Wilson was traded to the Detroit Tigers for two starting pitchers, Luis Cessa and Chad Green, that will likely start out the season in Triple-A and now Moreno will join them. Triple-A depth is being added for insurance purposes as the team looks likely to fully take advantage of their 40 man roster once again next season, especially with their bullpen and the revolving door.

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/15: Ron Guidry

On this day in 1981 the Yankees continued their spending ways when they signed Ron Guidry to a four year deal worth $3.6 million to keep him in New York. Gator averaged nearly 17 wins per season during the four year contract for perennial terrible Yankees teams.

Also on this day in 1980 Dave Winfield became the highest paid player in Major League history and the history of sports at the time when the New York Yankees handed him a 10 year deal worth $16 million. Makes Robinson Cano turning down $175 million into perspective on where the game has come from in the last 30 years.