Friday, January 5, 2024

The Yankees Are Moving at (a) Snell's Pace...


Blake Snell (Photo Credit: Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Trying to decide the best route to Rotation Help…

2024, the year of Juan Soto. Spring Training reporting dates are a little more than a month away, and the Yankees, despite the acquisition of one of the greatest young baseball players in the game, are still a work in progress.

The swing and miss on Yoshinobu Yamamoto has led to endless discussions among the fan base about whether the Yankees should sign a free agent (Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell), or trade for a starter (Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox or one of the Miami Marlins’ young arms, Jesus Luzardo or Edward Cabrera). Of the free agents, while I think it would be cool to feature the reigning AL and NL Cy Young Award winners in the same rotation, I prefer a reunion with Montgomery. I know he can be a workhorse and he is not intimated by New York. There is no loss of draft picks for signing the former Yank like there is with Snell, who declined San Diego’s qualifying offer.

If the Yankees did sign Snell, I certainly would not be disappointed. I understand the pros and cons but at the end of the day, there is no perfect pitcher. Every pitcher has flaws. Some more than others. Whether Snell is not a fun pitcher to watch, or he walks too many guys (by design), he is successful and he will help a starting rotation. Yet, for me, Jordan Montgomery is more appealing. Snell may be the flashier signing but Monty’s reliability, consistency, and evident growth since he left Pinstripes are traits much needed by the Yankees’ current starting rotation.

Jordan Montgomery

Yesterday, there was some talk that Snell is interested in the Yankees, and Montgomery’s preference is to return to the World Champion Texas Rangers. Scott Boras represents both pitchers, and he is an expert in press manipulation to benefit his clients. So, until somebody signs the dotted line, talk and rumors are baseless and often not factual. If memory serves correctly, the Yankees were the clear frontrunner for Yamamoto’s services, and we see how that one turned out. Too many people like to use the press to sway opinions to their benefit, so I tend to look at baseball talk and rumors as fiction material.

Chicago’s Dylan Cease or Miami’s Jesus Luzardo (specifically among the two Marlins pitchers) seem like excellent options, but I do not see the Yankees trading multiple elite prospects. ‘Should they?’ and ‘Will they?’ invoke two vastly different responses. In terms of prospects, a talented team deep in superior prospect wealth like the Baltimore Orioles seems more capable of providing the White Sox or Marlins with the necessary ingredients for a trade than the Yankees. I am not trying to minimize Spencer Jones or Chase Hampton, but the Yankees have thinned the farm through trades in recent years whereas the Orioles are flush with young, overflowing talent. Everybody knows the Yankees need pitching, and no team is going to make it easy for them. Ultimately, Cash is King (money; not the Yankees' GM) and it is the Yankees’ greatest capital resource so they may have to take a bad contract to get a talented starter through trade along with the necessary highly-ranked prospects. These scenarios make signing Jordan Montgomery more attractive despite the inflated cost it will take. This offseason has shown teams are willing to break the bank for pitching. When the Cincinnati Reds are willing to pay an injury risk (Frankie Montas) $16 million or the New York Mets taking a similar gamble at $13 million with Luis Severino, you know that proven commodities like Montgomery and Snell are going to get paid for generations to come.

I know there is lots of time between now and Spring Training. Adding Juan Soto alone will not convert an 82-win team into a World Series contender. The Yankees would need so many ‘what ifs’ to go right. Hopefully, with the time remaining between now and Spring Training, the Yankees can add the necessary additional starting pitching to ensure the Yankees can compete with the league’s best.

I would place myself in the cautiously optimistic category. I want to believe the Yankees will add the necessary reinforcements…I am just not confident they will. I hope for better clarity in the coming days and weeks before the team starts arriving at Steinbrenner Field next month.

Several New Additions

The Yankees made two surprising moves yesterday even if neither one registers on the Richter Scale. It was first reported the Yankees had signed former Marlins pitcher Cody Poteet to a Major League contract. It is the second Cody obtained this offseason. Pitcher Cody Morris was previously acquired from the Cleveland Guardians for outfielder Estevan Florial. I guess when I said that I hoped the Yankees would acquire Cody (thinking Bellinger), I should have been more specific.

Poteet underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2022. He refused an outright assignment by the Marlins after the 2022 season and became a free agent. He subsequently signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals and was able to make a two-inning start for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate in September. Poteet’s minor league contract with the Royals contained an opt-out (in the event he was not selected in the Rule 5 Draft or subsequently added to the Royals’ 40-man roster).

Cody Poteet (Photo Credit: FOX News)

His contract with the Yankees is for one year, and it will pay $750,000 if Poteet is in the Majors or $200,000 if he stays in the Minors. He has options so he becomes the latest up-and-down starter to help fill the roles vacated by Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez (both of whom were dealt to San Diego in the Soto trade).

The Yankees officially announced the trade today, and Poteet has been added to the 40-man roster, filling the last open spot.

The Yankees also acquired outfielder Bubba Thompson through a waiver claim when he was designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds. 

Bubba Thompson (Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The former Texas Rangers prospect, a 2017 first-round MLB draft selection, is only twenty-five and possesses elite speed. Unfortunately, his hit tool has not developed at the Major League level. He was designated by the Rangers in August, and claimed by the Kansas City Royals, finishing the season with their Triple-A affiliate. After the season was over, Thompson was claimed on waivers by the Reds. The Reds have been one of the more active teams this offseason, and they needed to clear a roster spot for reliever Buck Farmer, hence the waiver of Thompson.

When/if the Yankees add starting pitching and/or relief help, they will need to clear roster space. Thompson will be among those at risk of losing their seat at the Yankees table. He will join Jeter Downs and Matt Krook as guys who should not purchase homes in the New York City area.

MLB Yankees Roster

I wish the Yankees roster would be updated in real-time on the MLB/Yankees website. The site continues to show Alex Verdugo with the number 99. Blank (no number) would be a better option until the new number is revealed. Same with Trent Grisham who sports the retired number 2 on the website. I am confident he does not have Derek Jeter’s permission to wear the number.

Credit: MLB/

The Yankees also continue to show Sean Casey, who is not returning, as Hitting Coach along with new Hitting Coach James Rowson.

Credit: MLB/

I have also seen reports that Casey Dykes will return as assistant hitting coach but nothing about Brad Wilkerson.

Details matter and I wish the Yankees would clean up their website. They are quick to add and delete players. I just wish they paid as much attention to the content as possible. Sometimes it feels like they show the same disregard for the real roster.

A Bargain Sale

The Boston Red Sox front office, even if the names and faces have changed, has the luck of the Irish when it comes to unloading bad contracts. I was amazed they were able to trade former ace Chris Sale to the Atlanta Braves for a legitimate player (talented young infielder Vaughn Grissom who was blocked in Atlanta by Ozzie Albies). The Red Sox sent $17 million in cash to Atlanta as a partial offset to the $27.5 million that was owed to Sale, but it is still a net savings for Boston.

While I believe Sale can help the Braves, Boston was able to pull another money-saving deal like they once did with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto when they shipped those contracts to the Los Angeles Dodgers more than a decade ago. Punto did not make much, but the inclusion of his contract, along with the other three, allowed Boston to get under the 2012 tax threshold and reset their luxury tax penalties. The Yankees never make these kinds of deals, sticking with players until the point that eating the remaining money owed becomes more tolerable than the player’s presence on the roster.

The chances Sale stays healthy are better in Atlanta since Sale is no longer the focal point of the starting rotation. They can afford to take it slower with him and put him in the best position to stay healthy. I have seen writers say new Red Sox General Manager Craig Breslow was fleeced by Alex Anthopoulos, but I do not see it that way. Boston is not going to contend next season, or if they do, they will not go far. Sale will be 35 this season and he did not figure into Boston’s long-term plans. They save money and get a new starting second baseman with Sale’s departure. Grissom is a piece to the puzzle in Boston’s attempt to rebuild a World Series contender. The money savings helped Boston sign free agent Lucas Giolito who will replace Sale in the starting rotation. While you can argue whether Giolito is a worthwhile addition (he was a hard pass for me as a Yankees option given his struggles last year), there is a chance that Giolito could find success in Boston. If he can rediscover the potential he once showed for the White Sox, the Sale trade will be a huge win for Breslow and the Red Sox.

Some trades are win/win for both teams, and that is how I view the Chris Sale trade for Boston and Atlanta…not that I want to say anything good about the Red Sox.

2024 Trade Deadline

Joel Sherman of The New York Post has reported that this season’s MLB trade deadline will be Tuesday, July 30, 2024, at 6 pm Eastern/5 pm Central. Last season’s deadline fell on August 1. Historically, the trade deadline had fallen at the end of July, but the latest collective bargaining agreement had empowered the commissioner to choose a date between July 28 and August 3 to give flexibility for scheduling purposes (avoiding afternoon games on deadline day when possible).

I preferred the simple July 31 deadline, but I get it. You do not want to impact players actively on the field (or withheld from play) in the hours and minutes leading up to the deadline.

So long as the Yankees are buyers on July 30, life is good.

As always, Go Yankees!

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