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10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 10:41AM #351
Posts: 10,177

The Rangers are “definitely intrigued” by the idea of acquiring Miguel Andújar from the Yankees to fill their third base vacancy, hears T.R. Sullivan of The Yankees have gotten numerous hits on Andújar this offseason, with interested teams perhaps looking to buy low after a labrum tear ended the 24-year-old’s season in April. With Gio Urshela having supplanted Andújar at the hot corner in the Bronx, the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up now looks like an interesting trade candidate. Free agency remains an option for Texas, too; Sullivan hears the Rangers are still interested in Josh Donaldson, whom the MLBTR staff guessed would end up in Arlington on a three year, $75MM deal.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 10:44AM #352
Posts: 10,177

Who Will be the Yankees Backup Catcher in 2020?


Will the Yanks re-sign Austin Romine? Is Kyle Higashioka ready to move up from third-string to the full-time backup? Could the Bombers look elsewhere for catching depth?

Catcher is unquestionably the toughest position to play on the diamond when it comes to durability.

Yasmani Grandal’s 137 games played behind the plate for the Brewers in 2019 was the most of any catcher, but the lowest total among players who led their respective positions in games played.

In New York, starting catcher Gary Sanchez was sidelined on the injured list twice in 2019, suiting up to catch in just 90 games. In 2018, he was behind the dish in just 76.

His starting spot should be secure moving forward -- after crushing 34 home runs to lead all catchers in 2019, he proved himself as one of the best hitters at his position in the game -- but with a history of injuries, to go along with the wear and tear of squatting every day, the Yankees’ backup role is critical for this team in 2020 and beyond.

Gary Sanchez chats with Kyle Higashioka and Austin Romine at Yankees 2019 Spring TrainingKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bombers have three options ahead of Spring Training to figure out this catching conundrum. They can attempt to re-sign veteran backup Austin Romine, hand over the keys to 29-year-old Kyle Higashioka or attempt to acquire a backup via free agency or a trade.

As tempting as it is to predict who the Yanks might pick up from another organization, this decision is between Romine and Higashioka -- both drafted by the club and products of New York’s farm system.

Romine has been around for the longest -- he debuted with the Yankees in 2011 and has appeared in 60-plus games in each of the last four years. He’s a career .239 hitter, but has steadily improved over the last several seasons.

In 2019, the 31-year-old had the best season of his career. His .281 batting average, 64 hits and .748 OPS were tops in his eight big league seasons. Sure, he didn’t play a full season -- only appearing in just 72 games -- but his average was just eight points lower than Wilson Ramos, who led all backstops.

His tenure in pinstripes, however, is in jeopardy of coming to an end. Romine elected free agency at the end of October and just two days ago, the NY Post reported that the Phillies, and former Yankee skipper Joe Girardi, have shown interest in the veteran backstop.

Whether it’s Philly, New York or elsewhere, Romine’s reliability as the Yankees backup catcher for the past several years will earn him a gig in 2020. At the very least, another club could certainly use him as their backup, if not in a starting role.

The reason New York likely won’t resign Romine isn’t anything he did wrong, however, it’s just that they’ve got their eyes set on a younger, in-house option that’s got plenty of potential.

During the General Manager Meetings last month, Brian Cashman said he would be “comfortable” using Higashioka as their primary backup catcher moving forward.

Higashioka is a career .164 hitter in 56 big league games, so he’s still growing comfortable at the big league level. In 70 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2019, he mashed 20 homers while hitting .278.

Further, slow start notwithstanding, he’s already won over much of the Yankees fan base, as well as John Sterling.

After starting out 0-for-22, his first three hits in the bigs were home runs, earning the call from the Yankees’ radio play-by-play announcer, “Higshioka … the home run stroka!”

In addition to his potential on offense, Higashioka has shown signs of dependability behind the dish.

According to Statcast, the 29-year-old's average pop time to second base was seventh best among all catchers. The league average is 2.01 seconds and his impressive time of 1.94 is better than not only than Romine (2.06), but Sanchez as well (1.95). While Higashioka is ranked seventh, Romine is near the cellar at 64th.

Higashioka’s pop time was measured on just six attempts, which is a limited sample size, but on another encouraging note, he allowed zero past balls and didn't commit an error in 137 innings behind the dish in 2019.

“We feel he’s ready to go,” Cashman said of Higashioka to reporters at the General Manager Meetings. “Like a lot of aspects of our roster, we feel we have personnel that can do the job and that we have high confidence in.”

Higashioka, who is on the 40-man roster, is out of minor-league options. Therefore, unless the team elects to trade or release him, it’s safe to assume he’ll be with the Yankees in Baltimore on Opening Day.

Romine requires a new deal and after Travis d’Arnaud secured a two-year, $16 million deal with the Braves, the market should be kind to the Yanks' former backup. He's poised to sign a contract far more lucrative than his $1.8 million salary in 2019.

If the Yanks decide to re-sign Romine, however, they’ll either have to part ways with Higashioka, or forfeit a roster spot and carry three catchers.

It makes sense to go with the younger, cost-effective option, and according to Cashman’s comments, it’s apparent the organization has faith that Higashioka is up for the challenge. Besides, he won't be a free agent until 2025, so he won't be a financial burden for the next several years.

Let's be honest, Gary Sanchez is going to find his way on the injured list at some point in 2020 -- he's been on the IL four times in the last two seasons. Romine has been about as dependable as the Yankees could have ever wanted, and saying goodbye to that would be a risk, but all signs point to the baton being passed to Higashioka this winter.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 10:49AM #353
Posts: 10,177

New York Yankees: How does Ben Heller fit into the plans for 2020?

Coming from a long injury stint due to Tommy John surgery, it seems that Ben Heller will finally make a significant dent for the New York Yankees during the 2020 season. The 28-year-old has pitched fewer than 30 innings for the New York Yankees since the Andrew Miller trade that sent him to the Bronx.

Only appearing in 25 major league games, Heller has allowed seven earned runs in 25.1 total innings pitched. In that time he’s fanned 24 batters but has allowed 22 hits. In the Minor Leagues, Heller posted a 2.64 ERA through his six seasons and recorded 330 strikeouts in 248.2 innings pitched.

Since we haven’t seen much of Heller in pinstripes or even pitching in the Major Leagues, it’s hard to tell what he can bring to the table. He relies on his four-seam fastball that sits around 93mph and flashes a slider while mixing in a changeup both around 84mph. His fastball has decreased since his injury where it was originally around 95-96mph.

Heller’s go-to pitch seems to be his slider. Throwing it 43 times during the season, he recorded an impressive 55.6% swing-and-miss percentage. With a trend of flame-throwers coming out of the Yankee bullpen, having a guy that can get swing and misses on something besides a fastball is refreshing.

It seems that Heller will definitely be an option out of the bullpen. I can’t see him being used in high-leverage situations but I can see him filling roles almost like Luis Cessa. The addition of Heller definitely adds some quality talent to give the bullpen even more depth.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 10:51AM #354
Posts: 10,177

Breakdown of the New York Yankees Depth: Second Base

The way the New York Yankees seem to be positioning themselves quite clearly at second base for 2020. The way things look, they’re planning to move Gleyber Torres over to shortstop, from second base, to make room for DJ LeMahieu getting more playing time at second.

This is a mistake.

Why is it a mistake?

Let’s start with the obvious. DJ is turning 31 next year. His ability to play the field will be starting to decline sooner rather than later. Gleyber Torres will be 23 next year. Gleyber’s prime as a fielder is approaching, making Gleyber the more viable fielder for the longer term than DJ. All of this is barring horrible injuries that force these guys to retire, but I would be bending myself over backward to ensure that the younger guy is going to be with my team longer than the older guy. And this is no disrespect to DJ, just stating that he’s far more susceptible to Father Time now than Gleyber.

Now let’s look at the defensive capabilities.

As I wrote before, DJ LeMahieu is a multiple Gold Glove winning second baseman. And everyone talks about how the New York Yankees moved Gleyber over to second form short to accommodate Didi Gregorius on the team. But Gleyber, on a major league level anyway, is a better defensive second baseman than he is a defensive shortstop.

What are Gleyber’s Splits Compared to LeMahieu’s?

Gleyber is still a baby by major league standards. He’s only 22 now and has only been playing for 2 years. But his splits are decidedly there.

He has a career fielding percentage at second of .969, and a career fielding percentage at short of .954. The league average at second is .982, and the league average at shortstop is .970. Now, LeMahieu has a career fielding percentage of .991 at second base and a career fielding percentage of… 0 at shortstop. So, yea, it would make sense to have Gleyber moved back to shortstop.

Except Tyler Wade has a perfect fielding percentage at shortstop in his major league career. And Didi Gregorius has a .979 fielding percentage for his career, which is about as long as DJ’s career.

Looking at the advanced metrics, Gleyber has saved 8 runs as a second baseman, while allowing 1 run as a shortstop. He has a greater range at second compared to shortstop, even looking at the fact he played more games at short last year than second,

When talking about the development of a young stud, you have to do what allows him to succeed. And he’s more likely to succeed at second than short. (

What About Thairo Estrada?

Thairo isn’t going to get much in the way of regular playing time at second base. It seems more likely than no that Estrada will be used as trade bait by the trade deadline, along with possibly Tyler Wade.

The only thing that benefits the New York Yankees is for Didi to be brought back, and DJ being spread around the field. You have to keep Gleyber Torres at second base. What’s good for Gleyber is good for the team.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 10:56AM #355
Posts: 10,177

Three Yankees almost certain to be traded this winter – and why that’s so

The Yankees, going into 2020, do not have a surplus of talent. But they do have tradeable talent they can use to supplement and support their roster…

The main focus of the Yankees offseason is where it should be. Having a Gerrit Cole to lead their starting rotation changes everything.

But championship-winning teams are built by adding smaller pieces. Which, in turn, means subtracting players to gain the ones needed to fill in the puzzle.

Typically, as in this case with the Yankees, the players designated as “tradeable” have value to the team.

But as Brian Cashman argued at the trade deadline last season, “You can’t have everything.”

So, with that in mind, let’s explore three Yankees who are likely to be traded this offseason – despite their impending value to the team.

J. A. Happ- Starting Pitcher

J.A. Happ presents an interesting question for the Yankees in 2020.

Do you mean to say the Yankees do not need starting pitching? And therefore, why would you even consider trading Happ?

J.A. Happ, New York Yankees Credit: 640w" data-lazy-loaded="1" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
J.A. Happ, New York Yankees Credit: NESN

Well, as they say, it’s always in the small print. For one, Happ’s hit on the payroll is significant at $17 million for 2020.

But that’s not necessarily the problem, which is that Happ is due another automatically vested option for another $17 million in 2021 if he hits 165 innings or 27 starts in 2020.

Given the fluidity of the Yankees rotation for this year – with unknown contribution coming from Luis Severino (injuries) and Domingo German (suspension) – it can very well be that Happ makes those 27 starts.

But the real question is to what degree can Happ, at the age of 37 continue the masquerade of getting major league hitters out with what (today) amounts to junk?

Moreover, should the Yankees not be looking to bring Deivi Garcia along, with teaching and mentoring as the real inheritor of Happ’s spot in the rotation?

Miguel Andujar – Third Baseman

Miguel Andujar is a classic case of buy low – sell high.

Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees Photo Credit: New York 618w" data-lazy-loaded="1" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees Photo Credit: New York Post

As a home-grown talent, Miguel Andujar is a bonus. He’s only 24, not eligible for arbitration until 2021, and free-agency is a long way away in 2024. What’s not to like?

Especially since Andujar delivered a stellar offensive season in the 2018 campaign, resulting in a second-place finish to Shohei Otani in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Tragedy struck in 2019 when Andujar suffered a season-ending injury before the season was fully underway.

So now, who knows what about Miguel Andujar? Are the Yankees willing to forego his defensive liabilities – with optimism that Andujar is healthy and he can at least repeat – if not exceed in 2020?

Or, do the Yankees stick with Gio Urshela‘s two-pronged attack, believing he did achieve what he set out to do at this time last year – to become a complete player.

Clint Frazier  – Outfielder

Other than having him around as insurance, there is no logic in the Yankees holding on to Clint Frazier any longer.

Clint Frazier - Yankees Odd Man Out? (Photo: 600w" data-lazy-loaded="1" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
Clint Frazier – Yankees Odd Man Out? (Photo:

Frazier will not gain value playing in the minor leagues, no matter what numbers he puts up. Barring an injury to Aaron Judge, Frazier will once again not make the team that goes north from Spring Training.

A straight-up one-for-one deal involving Frazier at this point will return very little. But he could be an essential piece in a multi-player deal in which the Yankees include a couple of reasonably high prospects in return for – a Francisco Lindor?

Clint Frazier is still cheap, and his first year of arbitration will not come until 2021. A two-edged sword of sorts, this makes him an attractive player for the Yankees to hold onto for at least the 2020 season.

Meanwhile, Frazier will be treading water at Triple-A Scranton, where his value can only continue its downward trend.

It’s not a now or never situation for the Yankees to trade Frazier, but it’s getting dangerously close to a time when even a 24-year old can’t survive with only potential on his resume.

Yankees shrinking crop of tradeable talent

None of these players is likely to light a fire under opposition teams. But if the Yankees do become successful in the free-agent market, spots on their 25 and 40-man rosters will need to be cleared.

I wish the names Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton could appear on any list of players likely to be traded.

But it appears the Yankees are sold on both, at least for one more trip to an empty well in 2020…

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 11:21AM #356
Posts: 5,677

Dec 1, 2019 -- 10:17AM, SSBob643 wrote:

Dec 1, 2019 -- 9:47AM, NY23 wrote:


"There is a possibility that the Yankees keep all six on the 25 man roster."

Roster expands to 26 in 2020.

"None of those players belong anywhere near the outfield."

Agree 100%. Talk of moving Andujar to LF...I don't see it.

In my opinion if any Yankee moves to LF it would be Wade. Also, just my opinion, I think Andujar is going to get traded or be the Yankees DH, because I haven't heard if he's in the process of becoming a 1Bman even if Cashman spoke about moving him there.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 11:23AM #357
Posts: 5,677

Dec 2, 2019 -- 10:44AM, NY23 wrote:

Who Will be the Yankees Backup Catcher in 2020?

If the Yankees go all in and sign Cole, my guess is that they will look to save money elsewhere. So my guess is that Higashioka will be Sanchez's backup.

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 7:17PM #358
Posts: 10,177

Early December Perspectives

December has arrived. It is definitely time to (literally) gather around the hot stove. Here in New Jersey, we’re facing our first winter storm. I hope that the cold weather brings out some big trades and some excitement on the baseball front. In the meantime, let’s look at some topics that have come up this winter thus far:

  • The MLB Winter Meetings will take place next week beginning on Sunday, December 8. I don’t expect there to be much action on the trade front, or in regard to signing free agents until that time. That will make this a slow week as far as Yankees news is concerned. Once next week comes, though, I expect that some teams will participate in a flurry of roster moves. I hope so, at least. Trades and free agent signings create excitement. This excitement helps fans get through the winter as they begin to imagine how the newly acquired players will perform for their teams.

  • It would be great fun if the Yankees participated in a major blockbuster trade of some sort. By blockbuster, I mean something huge, like when they traded Bobby Murcer for Bobby Bonds, or when they acquired Alex Rodriguez. It was in early December 1984 when the Yankees acquired Rickey Henderson. Or, how about when they supposedly traded Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams? It would be so much fun if the Yankees went out and just did something huge. I don’t even want to speculate on what that would look like, I just know that it would be great fun. As noted, deals like that create energy and excitement.

  • If you had to choose one player that would definitely be traded next week, who would that player be? I can see scenarios where J.A. Happ, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, and Thairo Estrada are moved. I can also see a situation where all of those players arrive in Spring Training (in just over two months) with the Yankees.

  • Here at SSTN, we have not commented much on the Jacoby Ellsbury situation. This is mostly because I don’t think anyone truly knows all the facts. I also don’t see this situation being resolved for a long, long time. Without the facts, it is difficult to speculate on which party is in the right and what will transpire. Over the years, we have seen the Yankees in legal arguments with players regarding salaries on numerous occasions. As I recall, the Yankees looked into similar things with Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Only time will tell how this plays out.

  • I have seen articles (we even linked to one) that is calling Aaron Hicks the new Jacoby Ellsbury. I sure hope that’s not the case - that the majority of Hicks’ career is spent with him on the Injured List. One thing must be noted, no player wants to be injured. Athletes take great pride in their ability to perform at a high level. I am certain, if asked, that Jacoby Ellsbury wanted to be in the lineup and playing. I have been concerned about Hicks’ ability to stay healthy for years, but that doesn’t make him Jacoby Ellsbury. Of note as well, Jacoby Ellsbury wasn’t “Jacoby Ellsbury” as he is now remembered - a player that the Yankees acquired who was always injured. In his first year as a Yankee, 2014, Ellsbury played in 149 games. He also played in 148 games in 2016. There’s also another huge difference between the two - Ellsbury was signed right after the Yankees let Robbie Cano sign with Seattle. Ellsbury’s signing seemed like a panic move. He was signed to a gigantic contract that he had no hope of ever living up to. Aaron Hicks, on the other hand, was given a lengthy extension at a less than league average rate for a player of his talent.

  • It does seem like the Yankees are making noise on the bullpen front - seeking to acquire more high-end talent there. I’m always for adding talent to the squad, but I hope that the plan isn’t again to just make a super bullpen at the expense of the starting rotation. It is time for the Yankees to make a huge free agent signing or big trade. They need at least one (I say two) top of the rotation starter(s). The Yankees’ World Series window is open right now, they need to take advantage of this.

  • The Astros cheating scandal really hurts. A ton. If they cheated en route to their success (and it sure seems they have), they robbed their fans of the true joys of winning. They also robbed the fans in other cities of the joys of championships. Yankees history would be completely different right now if they had defeated the Astros in the recent post seasons. If found guilty of cheating, MLB has to come down hard on the Astros. The integrity of the game is on the line.

  • I am happy for Joe Girardi getting a new shot with the Phillies. I expect good things from him. He is an excellent manager. Hey…imagine a Yankees vs Phillies World Series in 2020. I can see it now!

10 months ago  ::  Dec 02, 2019 - 7:18PM #359
Posts: 10,177

Cubs officially announce they have non-tendered INF Addison Russell and LHP Danny Hultzen.

MLB rumors: Who was non-tendered? 10 new free agents (so far) include C.J. Cron -

10 months ago  ::  Dec 03, 2019 - 10:41AM #360
Posts: 10,177 | Mike Rosenstein It is no secret that the Yankees have entertained the possibility of trading their prized young infielder Miguel Andujar, who missed most of 2019 with a shoulder injury. Recent reports are suggesting that the Texas Rangers, a team that may be two or three pieces short of contending for a Wild Card spot, are interested in the Dominican third baseman. The Rangers are said to be coveting Anthony Rendon via free agency, but if they manage to acquire Andujar, they may spend that money on starting pitching instead. | Randy Miller The Reds are in agreement with 2B/3B Mike Moustakas on a four-year, $64 million pact. According to the report, they will play Freddy Galvis at shortstop and their newest signing will take over the keystone, virtually eliminating Cincinnati from the Didi Gregorius sweepstakes. As the report suggests, the race may now be down to the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees, although the Bombers’ level of interest remains unclear to this point.

New York Daily News | Bradford William Davis The Yankees chose to tender contracts to all arbitration-eligible players, which wasn’t a surprise. Among those are Aaron JudgeGary SanchezJames PaxtonGio UrshelaChad GreenLuis CessaJordan Montgomery, and Jonathan Holder. The information was revealed in the evening by the team’s PR department via Twitter. Some of the most notable names that were let go by other teams are Addison Russell, CJ Cron, and Blake Treinen.

New York Daily News | Bradford William Davis Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman will receive the Trailblazer of the Year award from Baseball America. “If I am a trailblazer, I hope I have blazed a trail others will follow,” said Afterman of receiving the recognition. “I hope a lot more women will work in baseball operations.” Hal Steinbrenner said that she is “essential” to the ballclub.

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