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Spring Training Notes: 2018
1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:21PM #11
Posts: 32,868

Yankees acquire 3B Drury in 3-team trade

Rays to receive Solak from Yankees, Banda, 2 players to be named from D-backs

The Yankees, Rays and D-backs have swung a three-way deal, a source tells MLB.com's Steve Gilbert, with Arizona infielder Brandon Drury heading to New York and Tampa Bay outfielder Steven Souza Jr.and right-hander Taylor Widener, New York's No. 14-ranked prospect, going to Arizona. 

The Rays will acquire Yanks No. 8 prospect Nick Solak and D-backs No. 4 prospect Anthony Bandaand will also receive two players to be named later from Arizona. The clubs have not confirmed the deal. 

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:23PM #12
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Aaron Boone ‘trying to contain’ his excitement about managing Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar 

TAMPA — Aaron Boone is looking forward to managing Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar at some point in the future.

“I’m trying to contain my excitement because I’m really excited about them, and I think they’re going to be tremendous players. I really do,” Boone said of the young infield duo on Tuesday. “I love who they are. They come to work. You can tell they enjoy being out on the baseball field. You can tell they’re confident in their ability the way they move around yet there’s humility about both of them. I think they have a chance to be really, really impactful players for a long time in the big leagues.”

Torres and Andujar, who are competing for starting infield jobs, both took grounders at third during infield drills. Torres is also competing at second.

So what does Boone need to see in spring training in order to determine they’re ready for The Show?

“I think there’s a look to what it looks like,” Boone said. “I trust our evaluators, I trust our front office, myself, our coaching staff, I trust their eyes and what we’ll see out of them. Performance obviously matters to a degree, but it is a super small sample size and different kind of situations than you would see in the regular season. I feel like if either one of those guys were to be on our Opening Day roster, it would be clear I think in our eyes probably somewhat of a consensus that there’s no denying these guys belong on this club.”

Gary Sanchez is in the same hitting group as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, so it’s easy for him to get lost in the shuffle.

Still, Sanchez can hit some bombs himself.

“Whenever you have Giancarlo and Judge hitting moonshots, I’m watching myself. I’m a fan at that time. I know why (our fans) come out and want to watch everything,” Sanchez said through a translator. “What can you say? Those guys hit some moonshots. Mine barely go over the fence.”

Sanchez doesn’t plan to say anything to Stanton about upsetting him in the first round of the Home Run Derby last year.

“Most likely I’m not going to be able to beat him a second time,” Sanchez said with a laugh.

Sanchez also discussed MLB’s changes in limiting mound visits during games. Sanchez was a frequent visitor to the mound to chat with his pitchers in 2017.

“It’s a big change,” he said. “I’m not quite sure but it’s going to be a little difficult because you’re limited in the amount you can go out there.”

Tyler Wade told YES Network he worked out with Albert Pujols to improve his swing this offseason. Pujols taught Wade how to better handle being pitched inside.

Wade, 23, who is competing for an infield job, hit just .155 in 58 major-league at-bats last season, but team brass remains high on him.

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:24PM #13
Posts: 32,868


Some ballplayers just get stuck in between. There is a perception that just because a player has exhausted prospect eligibility, they must have also exhausted all of their potential. Some people believe that a small sample cameo in the major leagues is enough to see a player for what he is. Besides, if you can’t read about him as a prospect anymore, what else do you have to go on?

Tyler Wade is neither prospect eligible nor an established major leaguer. He can’t appear on prospect lists anymore, and as a 22-year-old rookie, he only slashed .155/.222/.224 in 63 PA. Other than his defensive versatility, nothing about his major league debut was impressive. As such, he received very little attention this offseason from blogs or pundits.

However, a year ago he had plenty of helium. The lefty-swinging middle infielder walked 11.3% of the time in 2016 at AA Trenton while stealing 27 bases. In the Arizona Fall League, he increased his walk rate to 18.8% and stole another 10 bases. With his excellent speed, quality glove, and patient approach, Baseball Prospectus squeezed him into the very last spot of the 2017 Top 101 prospect list.

Wade reported to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre for the bulk of 2017. Despite still being young for the level, he slashed .310/.382/.460 with 26 SB through 86 games. He also popped a career-high 33 XBH, which maybe portends increased power as he gets older. He played mostly shortstop, but also spent time at second base, third base, and all three outfield positions. Really, the only thing he did to hinder his prospect status was play in the major leagues.

So why did Wade’s bat abandon him in the big leagues? According to Brooks Baseball, he saw 331 pitches. He hung in OK against hard stuff and offspeed pitches, posting an 18% whiff/swing against both. Breaking balls were another matter. He whiffed at 60% of every breaking ball he tried to hit! His landing page at Brooks Baseball calls this, “a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss.” If you’re “disastrous” at pretty much anything in major league baseball, opposing pitchers will find a way to exploit it. His 30.3% strikeout rate in the majors was roughly equal to Aaron Judge’s except without any of the power.

But fear not, Tyler Wade! 331 pitches are practically nothing! Here are the stat lines of three other players who had rough debuts at age 22 (courtesy of Baseball Reference Play Index):

Tony Perez: .080/.179/.120

Lou Brock: .091/.167/.091

Charlie Gehringer: .167/.250/.267

Perez, Brock, and Gehringer are all in the Hall of Fame. Wade probably won’t be a Hall of Famer, but 63 bad plate appearances is not a death knell for a young career, though it might help to start hitting curveballs. If he can manage that, the current construction of the Yankees’ roster should yield him several opportunities for playing time.

Second Base: Roster Resource lists Ronald Torreyes as the starting second baseman, but any Yankee fan who pays attention knows it’s Gleyber Torres’ job. The mega prospect was a freak elbow injury away from debuting last season (perhaps instead of Wade). But it’s not forgone conclusion that he’ll earn the job. Any prospect can disappoint, including a 21-year-old like Torres who’s yet to play even a half season above A+ ball. If things go south, Wade could get the first chance to pick up the pieces.

Third Base: Miguel Andujar will get the first crack at the hot corner. He’s a ready and capable hitter, but the defense and arm accuracy are suspect. If he turns out to be a young Eduardo Nunez, management may lose patience and give Wade a try.

Second Base and Third Base: Maybe everyone is great! If Torres, Andujar, and Wade are all playing well, Aaron Boone could implement some sort of infield rotation. Torres and Wade can both play all three positions including shortstop. With Wade batting lefty and Andujar righty, a platoon could be in order as well.

Super Utility: Chris Taylor of the Dodgers was a 5.7 WARP asset last season. He started games at 5 different positions without playing more than 49 at any one of them. Speed and defense are Wade’s calling cards. If he hits well enough to force his way into the lineup, they might just use him every day to give a different player a break.

Plain Old, Not-So-Super Utility: Ronald Torreyes batted 336 times for the Yankees last year. Despite hitting .292, his OBP was only .314 and he displayed very little power. The resulting 82 wRC+ was less than stellar. Could Wade do better in the same role? He’ll have an entire spring to prove that he can.

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:28PM #14
Posts: 32,868

The 25-year-old Drury, meanwhile, will give the Yankees the infield depth they’ve been seeking as they currently make evaluations of Miguel Andujar at third base and Gleyber Torres at second base. After trading Chase Headley and Starlin Castrothis offseason, the Yanks lacked certainty at both of those positions, but Drury will give them a more veteran option that has seen plenty of Major League action at both slots.

Drury is fresh off a solid, if unspectacular .267/.317/.447 slash with 13 homers through 480 plate appearances this past season. Since establishing himself as a regular in the D-backs’ infield/corner outfield rotation in 2016, Drury has batted .275/.323/.453 with 29 home runs. He’s controllable for another four seasons.

The acquisition of Drury likely puts an end to the oft-speculated possibility of a Mike Moustakas signing for the Yankees. And, because he’s not eligible for arbitration until next winter, Drury allow the Yankees to maintain plenty of financial flexibility, leaving room for in-season moves, which was reported to be a priority for GM Brian Cashman.

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:29PM #15
Posts: 32,868

Brian Cashman throws pressure on Yankees’ Greg Bird insurance

Tyler Austin Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

TAMPA — The Yankees continue to expect Greg Bird to be a cornerstone of their lineup, a powerful left-handed bat that helps break up the right-handed trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.

But they also must deal with the reality that Bird didn’t play a game in 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgery before the season and was then limited to 48 major league games a year ago, sidelined by an ankle injury.

General manager Brian Cashman hopes for the best with the 25-year-old Bird and is confident his past won’t affect his present.

“Since the two injuries were unrelated, we have no reason to anticipate anything else,” Cashman said Tuesday at Steinbrenner Field. “He should be fine.”

And if he’s not, Tyler Austin could become an important Yankee.

So far, the Yankees haven’t signed a veteran insurance policy, as they did last year, when Chris Carter was brought in and quickly flamed out.

Cashman said Austin would be the first player called upon to fill in at first base if Bird goes down with another injury.

“He’d obviously be the guy we went to before anyone else,” Cashman said. “But we have to see how camp plays out. … There was some production when he was healthy, but he’s going to have to show us some things down here to prove he’s the guy.”

Austin was on a back field working at first base Tuesday and is coming off an injury-plagued season of his own.

He sustained a fractured left foot during the spring, and when he finally got to the Bronx after Carter was let go in June, Austin strained his right hamstring just four days later. In August, he was brought back to replace another injured Bird replacement, Garrett Cooper.

Austin had a brief productive stretch in August before he struggled in September, when Bird was in the lineup and Austin got just 11 plate appearances.

“It’s hard for me to take anything from last year,” said Austin, 26, who has a .741 OPS in 136 major league plate appearances. “It was such a small sample size, so it was tough to prove anything — to myself or to the team. … What I do know is I can perform up there.”

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 7:48PM #16
Posts: 32,868

OF Jabari Blash was DFAed

1 year ago  ::  Feb 20, 2018 - 9:39PM #17
Posts: 32,868

Yankees acquire infielder Brandon Drury in three-team deal with Rays, Diamondbacks

TAMPA – The Bronx Bombers now have their Judge and Drury.

Even as team brass suggested the Yankees could go into the 2018 season starting rookies at both second and third, it always seemed like they were going to make a move for a more established infielder.

On Tuesday night, the Bombers did just that, reaching an agreement on a three-way trade to acquire Arizona’s Brandon Drury, a source confirmed to The News.

In the deal, which sends Rays outfielder Steven Souza to the D’Backs, the Yankees dealt infield prospect Nick Solak to Tampa and pitching prospect Taylor Widener to Arizona.

Drury, a 25-year-old capable of playing several positions, hit .267/.317/.447 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs last season. In 2016, he hit .282/.329/.458 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

Drury is not arbitration-eligible until 2019, so he clearly fits in with ownership’s mandate to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.

The Bombers now no longer need to be in the market for free-agent infielders like Mike Moustakas or Neil Walker, who would’ve been much more costly.

They can also continue the development of highly-touted prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

Torres has been expected to be given every opportunity to win a starting job this spring, though it’s possible he could need more seasoning in the minors after his 2017 season was cut short due to Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow.

Andujar, meanwhile, could use more work on his defense, even though his potential at the plate has scouts raving.

The deal certainly allows more flexibility should the Bombers decide to go the slower route with the duo.

In his career, Drury has played 136 games at second, 41 games at third and one game at short and first. He can also play both corner outfield spots.

Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada also provide infield depth, as do non-roster invitees Danny Espinos and Jace Peterson.

The Yankees had talks with the D'Backs about Drury at the Winter Meetings.

Drury was originally a 13th round pick of the Braves in the 2010 MLB Draft. He was acquired by Arizona three years later in a deal that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta.

Solak and Widener were both considered under-the-radar prospects by scouts in the team’s deep farm system, which contains plenty of infielders and pitchers.

1 year ago  ::  Feb 21, 2018 - 10:37AM #18
Posts: 32,868

Trade for Brandon Drury ramps up fight for jobs in Yankees' infield

Miguel Andujar's shot at winning a roster spot has a new rival after Tuesday's trade for Brandon Drury. Kim Klement/USA 

TAMPA, Fla. -- Not so fast, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

The New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks made an intriguing, three-team deal that means the two Yankees rookies aren’t going to be handed Opening Day starting jobs at second and third base.

First, the deal:

• The Yankees get infielder Brandon Drury from the Diamondbacks

• The Diamondbacks get outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and minor league pitcher Taylor Widener from the Yankees

• The Rays get pitcher Anthony Banda from the Diamondbacks and minor league second baseman Nick Solak from the Yankees (plus two players to be named from Arizona)

What does it mean for the Yankees’ infield? Mostly competition for jobs. Drury is an established major leaguer with two seasons under his belt, and he provides certainty that the two rookies, as highly regarded as they are, don’t offer. Drury hit .267/.317/.447 for Arizona in 2017 while playing mostly second base, but he has started 34 games at third in the majors and came up through the minors as a third baseman, so he has plenty of experience at both positions. (He also started 79 games in the outfield in 2016.)

Look, there’s no doubt that the Yankees love both Torres (Keith Law’s No. 5 overall prospect) and Andujar (Law’s No. 54 prospect). Earlier on Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone raved about both players.

“I think they’re both going to be tremendous players,” Boone said. “I love who they are. You can tell they enjoy being on the baseball field. You can tell they’re confident in their ability, the way they move around, yet there’s a humility about them.”

But Torres missed the second half of last season after having Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow. He’s completely healthy and not limited at all in spring training, but he hasn’t played since June 17 and has just 55 games above Class A. While everyone believes in his long-term impact, some time in Triple-A makes sense.

Andujar had a brief cameo in the majors last year after a breakout season of sorts in Double-A and Triple-A, adding a little more power as he filled out and added strength. He hit .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs while striking out just 71 times in 522 plate appearances. Andujar told reporters that he spent the offseason working on his defensive consistency, especially on making throws from different angles.

The contact ability bodes well for a transition to the majors, and he hit several bombs in batting practice on Thursday. He and Drury have similar projections for 2018, via FanGraphs: a 95 wRC+ for Andujar and 91 for Drury. (Remember, Drury’s numbers came in a good hitter’s park in Arizona).

The Yankees’ options at second and third don’t end here (though this should end any speculation that the team will sign Mike Moustakas). Ronald Torreyes had a serviceable 2017 as the utility infielder, hitting .292/.314/.375. Tyler Wade struggled in his few big league at-bats after hitting .310/.382/.460 at Triple-A. Veteran Danny Espinosa also is in camp as a non-roster invite.

Of course, the trade gives the Yankees the ability to play with the service time of Torres and Andujar by starting them in the minors, though GM Brian Cashman has said that wouldn't be a factor. “It’s not part of my evaluation process,” he told Newsday’s David Lennon a few days ago. “We’re trying to win. If we feel that somebody could benefit from more time in the minors, we’ll make that decision at the end of camp.”

Either way, the Yankees have plenty of flexibility with their ultimate decision. Boone has said that Torres, a natural shortstop, will get action at all three infield spots, so if he tears the cover off the ball in spring, he could end up at second or third if Andujar struggles, or Andujar could end up at third and Drury at second. Or maybe Torres and Andujar will both make the team. An Opening Day roster of 13 position players could look like this:

Catchers: Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine

Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Brandon Drury, Ronald Torreyes

Outfielders: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury

Tyler Austin is another possibility as a backup outfielder/first baseman, and Wade is being groomed as a super-utility player who can play infield and outfield.

Asked Thursday what it would take for Torres and Andujar to make the Opening Day roster, Boone said, “I trust our eyes in what we’ll see out of them. Performance matters to a degree, but it’s a super small sample size … so I feel like if either one of those guys were to make our Opening Day roster, it would be clear in our eyes and probably somewhat of a consensus that there’s no denying these guys belong on the club.”

Now it’s up to the kids to live up to their billing. For some players on the Yankees, spring training will be about winning a job.

1 year ago  ::  Feb 21, 2018 - 10:40AM #19
Posts: 32,868
1 year ago  ::  Feb 21, 2018 - 10:42AM #20
Posts: 32,868

Scout loves Yankees trade for 'blue-collar gamer' Brandon Drury

Brandon Drury hit .267 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs as the Arizona Diamondbacks' starting second baseman last season. (Norm Hall | Getty Images)

By Randy Miller rmiller@njadvancemedia.com,
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TAMPA -- When first hearing the Yankees acquired infielder Brandon Drury on Tuesday night for a couple of good-but-not-great prospects, a Major League scout whom was contacted by NJ Advance Media responded this way:

"Damn, the Yankees just got better again! That's a good trade for them!

The scout then went on to rave and rave about Drury, a productive starting second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season who also plays third base.

"This guy can play," the scout said. "He's a blue-collar gamer. He's OK at second base, he can play third and he can swing the bat. I like him a lot."

The Yankees picked up Drury from Arizona in a three-team trade in which they sent two minor leaguers -- second baseman Nick Solak and right-hander Taylor Widener -- to Tampa Bay and the Rays moved veteran outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Diamondbacks.

MLB Pipeline had the right-handed-hitting Solak ranked as the Yankees' eighth-best prospect in their final 2017 rankings. Widener was not in the top 30.

Solak, 23, was a second-round draft pick in 2016 who hit .297 with 10 homers playing for high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season, but he's very raw defensively.

A 12th round pick in 2016 who has a history of elbow and knee issues, Widener was 7-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 27 starts last season for high-A Tampa.

"Again, I tip my hat to (Yankees GM) Brian Cashman," the scout said. "He's giving up guys, but he's not giving up the name guys."

Last July, the Yankees traded three to the Oakland Athletics for starting pitcher Sonny Gray and three plus reliever Tyler Clippard to the Chicago White Sox for reliever David Roberson and third baseman Todd Frazier.

The Yankees began spring training with openings at second base because 2017 All-Star Starlin Castro was traded to Miami for reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in December, and at third base because Frazier signed with the Mets as a free agent and Chase Headley was traded to the San Diego Padres in a salary dump.

Drury, 25, hit .267 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs last season in 135 games, 109 of them as a starter at second base. He started just one game at third last season, but made 25 starts there in 2016 and eight when he was a rookie in 2015.

"I'll tell you what, Drury's make-up is off the chart," the scout said. "He'll run through a wall to win a game. He can swing the bat and he brings a lot of energy to the ballpark. Every day. I really like this guy a lot."

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