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Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees
1 year ago  ::  Oct 15, 2017 - 9:50PM #1
Posts: 30,170

DotF: Sheffield dominant in Arizona Fall League opener

Now that the various fall and winter leagues have started their seasons, it’s time for a minor league update. I usually only do these once a week during the offseason. Before we get to the game action, here are some stray notes and links.

  • If you’re still holding out hope the Yankees will find a way to keep Gary Denbo, stop. The Marlins officially announced his hiring this past Tuesday. Here’s the press release. The Yankees have not yet announced who will replace Denbo as their player development department head. It might not happen until after the postseason.
  • Matt Eddy ranked the 30 teams by farm system production, and the Yankees led the way with +13.2 WAR from their prospect class in 2017. The Rockies were a distant second with +7.4 WAR. OF Aaron Judge is the headliner, obviously, but both LHP Jordan Montgomery and RHP Chad Green had close to +3 WAR seasons too.
  • Baseball America (subs. req’d) posted their 2017 draft report card for the Yankees recently. Most notably, the write-up says OF Steven Sensley has 70 power. Huh. Didn’t expect that. Sensley hit .292/.370/.584 (157 wRC+) with 13 homers in 50 games after being this year’s 12th round pick.
  • The Yankees have re-signed C Francisco Diaz, according to Eddy. Diaz, 27, hit .261/.315/.322 (79 wRC+) in 58 games at three levels as an organizational depth catcher this year. This is at least the second time he’s re-signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent.

AzFL Scottsdale (7-4 win over Mesa) Tuesday’s game

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K — the Summer of Thairo is now the Autumn of Thairo (the Fall of Thairo sounds bad)
  • DH Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Estevan Florial: 1-4, 2 K — threw a runner out at the plate
  • LHP Justus Sheffield: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 40 of 62 pitches were strikes (65%) … Keith Law and Eric Longenhagen had Sheffield sitting 94-96 mph … Law said this game was the best he’s ever seen Sheffield, and a scout told Josh Norris: “That was No. 1 starter stuff right there” … in a post (subs. req’d), Law said Sheffield was “absolutely filthy in his AFL debut, sitting 94-96 with a plus slider at 86-87 and above-average changeup at 86-89, better at the 86-87 part of that range”
  • RHP Cody Carroll: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 16 of 31 pitches were strikes (52%)

AzFL Scottsdale (9-4 loss to Mesa) Wednesday’s game

  • 2B Kyle Holder: 1-3, 1 RBI — looks like he’s a taxi squad player, meaning he is only eligible to play Wednesdays and Saturdays … he can still take batting practice and go through infield drills and all that the other days
  • RHP Albert Abreu: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 40 of 67 pitches were strikes (60%) … in his write-up (subs. req’d), Law said Abreu was “working at 94-96 and showing promise with both a low-80s power curveball and an action changeup at 83-86” … Abreu replaced RHP Dillon Tate on the roster for whatever reason, in case you missed that

AzFL Scottsdale (8-0 win over Salt River) Thursday’s game

  • RF Estevan Florial: 4-5, 3 R, 1 K, 1 SB — in his write-up (subs. req’d), Law said Florial “swung and missed at almost every off-speed pitch I’ve seen him get this week … he has four tools, but the one that matters most isn’t here yet,” meaning the ability to make consistent contact
  • 1B Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 K — first pro game at first base
  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • RHP Andrew Schwaab: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 pitches, six strikes … so I guess he filled that last TBA pitching spot

AzFL Scottsdale (6-4 loss to Salt Rivera) Friday’s game

  • RF Estevan Florial: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — now 6-for-13 (.462) through three games

AzFL Scottsdale (11-1 loss to Surprise) Saturday’s game

  • 2B Kyle Holder: 1-4 — Wednesday and Saturday, so yep, taxi squad
  • DH Thairo Estrada: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB — now 5-for-13 (.385) through three games
  • RHP Cody Carroll: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 12 pitches, six strikes

AzFL Scottsdale had a scheduled off-day Sunday.

The Australian Baseball League season doesn’t begin until late next month. The rosters have not been released yet, so there’s no word on whether any Yankees farmhands will be out there this year.

Dominican Winter League

  • 1B Mike Ford: 1 G, 0-5, 1 K — Ford will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason and a minor league free agent next offseason, and when guys like him play winter ball, it’s usually because they’re looking for exposure … Ford hit .270/.404/.471 (144 wRC+) with 20 homers and way more walks (94) than strikeouts (72) at Double-A and Triple-A during the regular season
  • IF Abi Avelino, UTIL Wilkin Castillo, RHP Raynel Espinal, RHP Anyelo Gomez, RHP Jose Pena, RHP Eduardo Rivera, and RHP Adonis Rosa are all listed on rosters but have not yet played. It’s entirely possible they won’t play either. They’re listed on rosters because that team controls their winter ball rights. It doesn’t mean they intend to play (or received permission to play) though.

Mexican Pacific League

  • The Yankees do not have any players playing winter ball in Mexico this offseason. That’s not terribly uncommon. The vast majority of these players play in the Mexican League during the regular season, not affiliated ball.

Venezuelan Winter League

  • C Francisco Diaz: 3 G, 1-10, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • OF Alex Palma: 5 H, 12-22 (.545), 6 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, 1 BB — looking to build on a strong regular season in which he hit .280/.322/.435 (120 wRC+) with 17 doubles and four homers (and seven outfield assists!) in 54 Single-A games … Palma is Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason, though I don’t see him getting popped, even with the recent trend of teams taking Single-A and rookie ball kids and letting them get overwhelmed in the big leagues for a year just to acquire talent
  • RHP Daniel Alvarez: 1 G, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Luis Cedeno and RHP Gabriel Gonzalez are also listed on rosters, but have not yet played.

The Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League announced winter ball will not be played

1 year ago  ::  Oct 15, 2017 - 9:52PM #2
Posts: 30,170

With the Yankees intent on getting under the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if they’ll shop relievers Dellin Betances and Adam Warren in the offseason. While the two, especially Betances, are high-end bullpen options, the Yankees may not want to spend the projected $7.5MM on the pair given that their relief corps would still be loaded without one or both. Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle will stick around next season, and all four of them are currently ahead of Betances and Warren in the Yankees’ late-game pecking order. Both Betances and Warren are likely to file for larger arbitration requests than their projected figures, Sherman notes, which could be especially interesting in the former’s case. After all, the relationship between Betances and the Yankees took a sour turn during the arbitration process last winter.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 15, 2017 - 9:56PM #3
Posts: 30,170

The Yankees could use one more bat

If the postseason has shown anything, it’s the anemic production of the designated hitter.

As I’ve written already this month in regards to bullpen strategy, the postseason has a habit of exposing glaring weaknesses. Sure, certain teams win the World Series in spite of their flaws. Yet, most teams do lose, and while you don’t want to overreact to a limited sample, small weaknesses can often be amplified when playing the best of the best.

One of those weaknesses is certainly at the designated hitter spot. While Matt Holliday finally got his first start of the postseason against left-hander Dallas Keuchel, the position has generally been a mix of Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury. Those two players don’t fit the mold of a designated slugger.

Holliday did not get a hit, nor did Headley or Ellsbury out of the spot. In fact, they are hitless in the postseason overall, a designated hitter postseason hitless streak that extends to Game Three of the 2012 ALCS. While one could consider this a total coincidence—Ellsbury and Headley have hit at intermittent times throughout the season while Holliday totally faded down the stretch—it does highlight they do have a weakness at the position writ large.

The Yankees have put up just 0.6 fWAR at the designated hitter spot this season, which is 15th in baseball. No other AL playoff team is lower on that list. They hit a measly .239/.321/.443 (101 wRC+) with just 21 home runs. In the juiced ball era, this is pretty low.

The solutions, in an immediate sense, are null. The Yankees are stuck with the squad they have; I have some qualms about putting Holliday on the roster at all if he’s nearly unplayable, but it seems they don’t have many options. When it comes to the future, though, they have plenty of variables to play with.

Clint Frazier could find his way on to the roster. Barring an outfielder trade, Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, and Ellsbury could all share time in the outfield and rotate out of designated hitter. Before Carlos Beltran was the de facto designated hitter, the position was a rotating half-day-off that Joe Girardi liked to deploy. Miguel Andujar could also play in the mix, as could Headley with Gleyber Torres on his way.

There are also external options. I doubt the Yankees make a massive splash this winter considering their luxury tax quest before 2019, but there are a few players available who might be worth a look: Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, JD Martinez, and Carlos Santana are all possibilities, with Martinez being the most expensive one.

While they would come with a price and a lack of positional flexibility, they would provide the biggest pop, something the Yankees sorely missed after Holliday fell apart. If there’s one thing the Bombers should keep in mind as they look to improve next year, regardless of this year’s playoff outcome, is that one more powerful bat could make an already imposing lineup terrifying.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 16, 2017 - 8:39AM #4
Posts: 338

Otani from Japan could come cheap.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 17, 2017 - 10:56AM #5
Posts: 30,170

Dellin Betances could be an intriguing buy-low target if the Yankees decide to move on. While he has often been absurdly dominant, Betances showed a concerning loss of the strike zone down the stretch and into the postseason. But his overwhelming stuff and upside are undeniable. With a projected $4.4MM arb salary and another year of control, he’d draw big interest despite the struggles. Of course, there’s also good reason for New York to hold and hope for a rebound, and the risk may be too great for a team like the Cards to trust the ninth to Betances coming out of camp.

Pretty good chance Dellin Betances threw his final pitch of the postseason last night. Maybe even the final pitch of his Yankees career, though I don’t think so. Girardi did the right thing by using him with the 8-0 lead. That’s exactly when you should be using a pitcher you’re trying to get right, even in the postseason. And Girardi did the right thing by yanking Dellin after the back-to-back walks. Unless the Yankees play a lot of blowouts the rest of the way, it’s hard to see how Betances toes the slab at all. Blowouts and extra innings — like extra extra innings — are about it. If the Yankees get to the World Series, they’ll have to consider leaving him off the roster. Hopefully for a bat but maybe it ends up being Chasen Shreve. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. The Yankees need to win three more games before we can begin thinking about the World Series roster. For now, Betances is an obvious mess, his confidence is shot, and there’s basically no way Girardi can use him in anything other than an emergency. What a shame.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 17, 2017 - 10:58AM #6
Posts: 30,170

The Yankees should consider bringing Todd Frazier back in 2018

Has Todd Frazier played his way into the team’s future?

1 year ago  ::  Oct 18, 2017 - 10:44AM #7
Posts: 30,170

Joel Sherman of the New York Post makes a case for the Mets to bring Todd Frazier on board as a free agent this offseason. Frazier’s penchant for drawing walks and slugging homers are appealing to GM Sandy Alderson, Sherman writes, and he could help the team in the likely event that David Wright again misses significant time due to injury or should Dominic Smith prove to need further minor league refinement. Frazier’s clubhouse persona would also be a boost for a team that is trying to alter its clubhouse culture for the better. It’s possible that clubs in more dire need of a third baseman would offer more than the Mets, though Sherman also points out that the New Jersey native could be particularly intrigued by playing close to his home.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 18, 2017 - 10:46AM #8
Posts: 30,170

Joel Sherman of the New York Post posits a scenario in which the Yankees can obtain quite a strong rotation next year without any massive new investments. Of course, doing so would depend not only upon achieving some notable strokes of good market luck but also upon the organization getting the best versions of some pitchers that have had their ups and downs. Most interestingly, Sherman says the “general sense” is that Masahiro Tanaka will not opt out of the three years and $67MM left on his deal. While that’s hardly cheap and still carries obvious risk, it seems like an appealing price tag for a pitcher of his pedigree, given his late-season rebound. Sherman’s most optimistic version of a 2018 staff also includes Shohei Otani, whose destination is anyone’s guess at this stage. All things considered, though, the Yanks’ roation situation does seem much better than might have been anticipated entering the year, due largely to the surge of Luis Severino and emergence of Jordan Montgomery.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 18, 2017 - 10:46AM #9
Posts: 30,170

Meanwhile, the Yankees are trying prospect Billy McKinney out at first base in the Arizona Fall League, Bill Mitchell writes for Baseball America, though he’ll also continue primarily to be an outfielder. As Mitchell notes, McKinney showed better than ever after finally reaching the Triple-A level midway through the 2017 season. The 23-year-old slashed .306/.336/.541 with ten home runs in his 224 plate appearances there, though he also walked just four percent of the time (well below his usual rate) and carried a .353 batting average on balls in play that likely reflects both good contact and some fortune. It’ll be interesting to see when and how McKinney is utilized at the MLB level, but he could factor into the team’s depth considerations for the season to come or potentially be dangled as a trade candidate.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 18, 2017 - 10:50AM #10
Posts: 5,176

I disagree, Tanaka will opt out, he might not get any more money per year, but he's hoping to get more years guaranteed, and the only way of getting that is to opt out.. The next question is what do they do with CC ?? I think they'll try to resign him, and it will come down to how many years as to whether that happens or not ?? 

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