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10 hours ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 9:33AM #1361
NY23
Posts: 13,051

Spring Training Notes: February 25, 2021


by: Tamar Chalker Start Spreading the News


We are just days away from the Yankees first Spring Training game and I know I couldn’t be any more excited. An actual game, with actual players in a place that isn’t covered in ice is hard for me to envision if I look outside my window, but it is close! Anyway, here is the latest news from camp as the 2021 season inches closer.


First, the ugly stuff. There has been a fair amount of discussion about Domingo German and Zack Britton’s comments about German. I, personally, agree with Owen’s thoughts on the situation from his post yesterday. For that reason, I won’t delve into it beyond saying that, after apologizing to his teammates finally, German made his first public statements about it as well.


Reggie Jackson, who has served as a special advisor for the Yankees for many years now, has officially stepped down from his position. At 74, Jackson admitted he was shifting more towards retirement, although he clearly still wants to be involved with the game. "It's just time to step back. I want to be around the game, and I want to contribute. I want to leave my knowledge. But it's just time to move on," Jackson stated. That doesn’t sound like someone who really thinks it’s time to move on, but that might just be me.


The Yankees have finalized their deals with both Brett Gardner (I called that one wrong) and Justin Wilson. They have designated outfielder Greg Allen and moved Luis Severino to the 60-day disabled list.


Speaking of Severino, there is positive news on his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The pitcher is already tossing 90 feet and could throw off a mound before the end of Spring Training. While everyone is excited by the possibility of having Sevy back sooner rather than later, Jordan Montgomery had words of caution from his own recovery. Regardless, it sounds like there is a very good possibility Sevy will play a big part in the upcoming season.


Gio Urshela is working his way back from elbow surgery in December. He’s expected to be ready by Opening Day and should be ready for batting practice shortly. Unfortunately, on the other end of the spectrum, Clarke Schmidt has been shut down for 3-4 weeks with a common extensor strain near his right elbow.


Gerrit Cole is excited about the potential for Jay Bruce to be on the Yankees’ roster this year. This is partly as Bruce seems to be one of the few hitters to figure out how to hit Cole. He has hit .308 against Cole over the years with a couple of homers. Cole had a lot of praise for Bruce’s bat and his ability as a veteran to help the younger guys.


Oh, and to the surprise of no one, Boone has virtually named Cole the Opening Day starter.

10 hours ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 9:36AM #1362
NY23
Posts: 13,051

Brian Cashman made the most of what he was allowed to pursue this winter


by: Peter Brody SB Nation: Pinstripe Alley


Cashman’s offseason dealings within his allotted budget constitute an impressive achievement


With the Justin Wilson and Brett Gardner signings having been made official by the Yankees, it is fair to assume that the team’s winter business is complete. There likely will be no further major league signings, although adding a handful of guys on minor league deals with invites to camp is not out of the question. That being the case, it’s worth taking a step back to evaluate the job Brian Cashman has done in assembling his roster for the upcoming season.


This winter, Yankees ownership decided that the primary objective this winter was not to maximize their championship odds but instead to field a payroll below the $210 million CBT threshold, presumably to reset their tax rate for future seasons. This is a questionable decision for a team whose greatest advantage is the pure economic might it has at its disposal. Be that as it may, we have to evaluate and grade every move they made through this budgetary lens.


Last month, I criticized the Yankees and Brian Cashman for not having a more structured plan entering this offseason beyond avoiding the luxury tax. Many of the moves following DJ LeMahieu’s re-signing felt more slapdash than planned. While I still contend that Cashman could have attacked the offseason with a better delineated game plan, he nonetheless deserves praise for the creativity he showed in molding the roster and structuring contracts.


Cashman entered this offseason with roughly $35 million in space before the $210 million threshold, a paltry sum to address the glaring holes in the batting order, rotation, bullpen, and bench. LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and Brett Gardner were all free agents, and it was immediately clear that there was not enough room in the self-imposed budget to bring all five players back.


The first piece of shrewd business by Cashman was bringing back the team-MVP of the previous two seasons. Adding a sixth year to LeMahieu’s $90 million deal took the luxury tax hit from $18 million to $15 million, saving the Yankees $3 million to spend on other acquisitions. That $15 million AAV is especially impressive given the speculation in the media that LeMahieu could have pulled down anywhere from $20-25 million per year.



The next piece of business is one that I still have trouble squaring with, but nonetheless can be considered a win for the Yankees. Cashman replaced the rotation innings pitched by Tanaka, Paxton, and Happ with Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Relying on two guys who have combined to throw fewer than 75 innings over the last two seasons to fill out 40 percent of one’s starting staff is fraught at the best of times, but given the upside and affordability of the pair ($13.25 million in 2021), Cashman did about as well as he could do to rebuild the rotation.


Cashman’s determination and savvy were highlighted in his bullpen maneuvering. In a straight salary dump, he traded Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in only the fourth trade between the rival franchises in the last 35 years. That Cashman managed to convince a team to eat around 90 percent of the remaining $9 million left on Ottavino’s contract when brand-name relievers have been signing for $6 million and below this winter is nothing short of miraculous. He took the space previously reserved for Ottavino and turned it into two quality relievers: Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson.


Cashman saved the craftiest maneuvering for last. Truly his pièce de résistance, the Yankees GM ingeniously structured Wilson and Brett Gardner’s contracts to expose a loophole in the CBA, allowing the Yankees to defray the CBT hit across two years.


Yankees Reddit has an excellent in-depth breakdown of the machinations to achieve this here, but in a nutshell, Cashman guaranteed just enough money in Gardner and Wilson’s buyouts such that the player options for 2022 are counted as guaranteed years. Therefore, the AAV of the guaranteed money on their respective deals is stretched across two years despite both being signed to one-year deals. Consequently, instead of counting as $4 million each towards the Yankees 2021 payroll, both Gardner and Wilson will only carry a $2.575 million hit toward the CBT calculation.


I have been critical of Brian Cashman in the past when perhaps my ire would have been more appropriately directed toward ownership. The quest to avoid the luxury tax this year or any year is unnecessary and actively hampers the team. Cashman walked the tightrope of fielding a competitive team with limited resources, and I applaud his flexibility and creativity to make it happen.


10 hours ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 9:38AM #1363
NY23
Posts: 13,051

ESPN | Marly Rivera: After missing the entire 2020 season due to suspension, Domingo Germán publicly apologized for his actions that violated MLB’s domestic violence policy. He addressed the entire team in two separate groups—because of COVID-19 protocols—before speaking to the media. “I asked for their forgiveness,” Germán said. “I felt that was the best way to have them trust me, and welcome me to the team again.” While the team seemed to accept the apology, Luke Voit noted that Germán was still on “thin ice.”


NorthJersey.com | Pete Caldera: It’s no secret that Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t been able to stay on the field at a consistent rate during his last two season with the Yankees. In a positive sign of Stanton’s health this early spring, he participated in the outfield drills during this week’s initial full squad workout. Aaron Boone recently stated that Stanton could get a decent amount of reps in the field this year. Stanton is certainly trying to change his narrative amongst Yankees fans.

10 hours ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 10:22AM #1364
NY23
Posts: 13,051

Yankees 2021 Season Preview: Aroldis Chapman


by: Tom Krosnowski SB Nation: Pinstripe Alley2m


The Yankees’ closer again has to shake off a lousy ending to an otherwise-fine year.


Aroldis Chapman’s Yankees career has been a bumpy ride. On the positive side, he’s been a statistically great reliever — since 2016, only one reliever (Kenley Jansen) has a higher WAR than Chapman, and it’s only by one-tenth of a point. He also has the fifth-best strikeout rate, fourth-best home run rate, third-best ERA and best FIP of all relievers over that span.


However, his tenure has also been marred by throwing the pitches that doomed the Yankees’ 2019 and 2020 seasons, as well as a personal conduct suspension that hurt his reputation before he even threw a pitch in pinstripes. There’s always something to talk about with Chapman.


All of the game’s best closers have suffered blown saves in prominent moments; not even Mariano Rivera can claim perfection. The key is how they bounce back from those situations. After failing to fully do so last year, Chapman will have another chance as the Yankees’ closer in 2021.


2020 Stats: 11.2 IP, 3.09 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 0.86 WHIP, 3 SV, 16.97 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, 1.54 HR/9, 0.4 bWAR, 0.3 fWAR


2021 FanGraphs Depth Chart Projections: 63 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 31 SV, 14.08 K/9, 4.26 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, 1.9 fWAR


I have already made the case for why Chapman is the Yankees’ best option to keep closing games, and he will enter the 2021 campaign as the team’s ninth-inning guy yet again. This time though, he has a much better bullpen bridge to set things up. Although the Yankees could only trust two other non-Chapman relievers in last year’s playoffs, they’ve added Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson to pair with Zack Britton and Chad Green as the team’s setup and middle relief options this year. The final pitches will still come down to Chapman, but the team’s overall improved bullpen should make contests a little less stressful for Chapman.


The good news is that Chapman still has his stuff. We only have an 11-inning sample size to work with from last year, but his strikeout rate was higher than usual, and his walk rate didn’t get worse. Although his fastball velocity isn’t what it once was, it still averages an excellent 97.8 mph and generated a 42 percent whiff rate.


The one alarming part of Chapman’s performance was his dramatic spike in home runs allowed. Again, it was barely 15 innings (including the postseason), but he allowed two dingers in the regular season and that fateful blow to Mike Brosseau in Game 5 of the ALDS. Some of that could just be bad luck, though, because his hard-hit rate (27.8 percent) and average exit velocity (83.1 mph) were still well above-average. Still, Chapman’s home run rate will be something to watch in 2021.


Chapman turns 33 in three days, so he won’t be adding any serious fastball velocity at this point in his career. Despite that fact, Chapman has indicated that he may try out his new splitter, an offering that showed promise in very limited usage last season. For Chapman to continue to succeed over the life of his contract with the Yankees (which runs through next season), he’ll have to continue to find new ways to get hitters out as his fastball could experience some age-related regression.


For the 2021 Yankees, Aroldis Chapman is still the mainstay at the end of the team’s bullpen. After excruciating defeats to end the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the Yankees are counting on Chapman to get the last out of the season this year. The Yankees’ statistically-superior closer should be able to provide another solid regular season, and hopefully a successful playoff run.

6 hours ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 1:52PM #1365
NY23
Posts: 13,051

2021 New York Yankees’ Top 5 Prospects


by: Alex Kielar Prime Time Sports Talk


The New York Yankees' have some of the best prospects in the MLB. Alex Kielar breaks down their top-five.


The New York Yankees’ prospect list entering the 2021 season doesn’t have much change from a year ago. The only real change came with their one big trade this offseason. In the Jameson Taillon trade, the Yankees sent four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates, including three that were in their Top 30. Right-handers Miguel Yajure (No. 15 prospect) and Roansy Contreras (No. 19), outfielder Canaan Smith (No. 21) were those three, while shortstop Maikol Escotto was the fourth prospect. Along with those three that left the Yankees’ system, they will also have at least two more to graduate as their rookie eligibility is used up in 2021. Those two are in this top five, so more on them later. 


The Yankees don’t have too deep a farm system, but they do have some very solid pieces with plenty of upside, albeit still very raw. They are rarely ever in a rebuild so they usually never have one of the top farm systems in the league. This year is no different as they are clearly one of the best teams in the majors once again. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at their top five prospects and what we should expect from them. The scouting grades are based on the standard 20-80 scale. 


Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.


1. Jasson Dominguez – OF


Scouting grades 


Hit: 60 
Power:
 
70
Run:
 
65
Arm:
 
65
Field:
 
60
Overall:
 
65


Dominguez has been extremely hyped up ever since the Yankees signed him as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019 for $5.1 million. Before even playing professional ball – he will make his pro debut this year – The Martian has earned comparisons to the likes of Bo JacksonMickey Mantle, and Mike Trout. While I don’t doubt his talent and potential, that seems like a bit of an overhype if you ask me. Time will only tell how he turns out, but getting that much hype before seeing live-action in the states is crazy. 


The kid has the drive to take this hype and run with it as he is oozing with talent and potential. All five of his tools are above average, and the fact he is a switch-hitter makes him even more valuable. Dominguez has insane bat speed and strength and one of the smoothest swings I have seen from both sides of the plate. Unlike a lot of hitters these days, he doesn’t just hit for crazy power and strike out a ton. He has a disciplined approach at the plate so he has the potential to hit over 40 bombs and have a high OBP.


Dominguez will obviously have a learning curve as he adjusts to pro ball this year. So there isn’t a sure year when he will be able to make his Major League debut. But if he is able to develop quickly, 4-5 years in the minor leagues could be enough time for him to make it to the show. That would put the young stud at age 22-23 with an opening in center field, as Aaron Hicks‘ contract runs out as early as 2025 (club option for 2026).


ETA: 2025


2. Deivi Garcia – RHP


Scouting grades 


Fastball: 60 
Slider:
 60
Curveball: 70
Changeup: 
55
Control: 
50
Overall: 
60


Garcia was one of the prospects that made his debut during the shortened 2020 season and he impressed. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at his journey through the Yankees’ system. The right-hander was signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015 for a $200,000 signing bonus at the age of 16. He had previously been an infielder and outfielder but the Yankees turned him into a pitcher because of his elite arm strength. Garcia made his professional debut in 2016. He played in the Dominican Summer League and also pitched there for part of 2017. He then started 2018 with the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs before pitching his way up to the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Garcia made his final start of the season in Trenton.


Garcia excelled at every level up to that point but began the 2019 season at High-A Tampa. He started four games there before being promoted back up to Trenton. He was selected to start the All-Star Futures Game in July. The young gun started the game with a called strikeout of Atlanta Braves’ top prospect Cristian Pache and pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Following that game, he was promoted to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders where he went through some growing pains but still showed off his impressive stuff in 11 games (6 starts).


The Yankees then added Garcia to their 40-man roster following the season. He began the odd 2020 season at the alternate site and made his Major League debut on August 30. The youngster pitched six innings on 75 pitches. He allowed four singles, one unearned run, no walks, and had six strikeouts in a no-decision. Garcia compiled a 4.98 ERA and a 33-to-six strikeout-to-walk ratio across six regular season starts. He later became the youngest Yankees pitcher to start a postseason contest since Whitey Ford as he was the opener in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.


Garcia has the potential to be a number two starter and could work his way into the Yankees’ rotation this season. He also may end up transitioning into more of a bullpen role. That just depends on how well he continues to develop as a starter. His best pitch is his curveball which Pitching Ninja utilized in a number of his gifs last season.


ETA: 2020 


3. Clarke Schmidt – RHP


Fastball: 65 
Curveball: 55
Changeup: 
50
Slider: 60
Control: 50
Overall: 
55


Schmidt was the Yankees’ other top prospect to make his debut in 2020. The Yankees drafted him with the 16th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. They selected him despite Schmidt undergoing Tommy John surgery after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. He didn’t see any action in 2017 as he was recovering from the surgery before making his highly-anticipated pro debut in 2018. Schmidt spent time between the Gulf Coast League Yankees and the Staten Island Yankees that year. He went 0–3 with a 3.09 ERA in23.1 innings pitched between the two teams. 


Schmidt started 2019 in the Gulf Coast League before moving up to the Tampa Tarpons in Advanced-A. He was promoted to Trenton in August after making 12 starts for the Tarpons. The former Gamecock impressed in Double-A with a 2.37 ERA and a 19-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 19 innings pitched. Despite never pitching above Double-A, Schmidt got the call-up to the Yankees in 2020 on September 4 where he made his debut as a reliever. He wound up making three appearances in the shortened season, striking out seven over 6.1 innings.


Schmidt added a slider to his impressive pitch arsenal in 2020, boosting his mix of fastball, curveball, and changeup. He adapted very well to the big leagues and was highly advanced for never pitching above Trenton. Unfortunately, Schmidt was shut down from throwing for at least three weeks after he was diagnosed with a common extensor strain near his right elbow on day one of Spring Training. Thankfully there was no damage to his UCL that required Tommy John in 2017. If he can come back throwing strong, he could work his way into the Yankees’ rotation. But with the Yankees’ recent history with injuries, hold your breath it doesn’t turn out worse.


ETA: 2020


4. Oswald Pereza – SS


Scouting grades 


Hit: 55
Power:
 50
Run:
 
65
Arm:
 
60
Field:
 
60
Overall:
 
60


The Yankees signed Pereza out of Venezuala in 2016. He wasn’t considered an elite prospect his first few seasons in the Yankees’ system. He made his professional debut in 2017, splitting time between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League. Pereza started to tap more into his tools in 2019, especially his power. His instincts and high baseball IQ caught the attention of scouts along with his strong bat-to-ball skills. He struck out at just a 12.6 percent clip in 2019 between Staten Island and Charleston.


Peraza also stole 44 bases in 54 attempts that season and hit four homers after previously never hitting more than one. He traveled to his native Venezuela to play in their winter league and slashed .250/.400/.313 in six games. His offseason work saw recording exit velocities around 110 mph as he looks to tap more into his power potential. A big focus for him this offseason has “just been keeping the ball off the ground and seeing as many breaking balls as possible,” Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson was recently quoted by Baseball America.


The Venezuelan shortstop also has a plus arm and fielding ability and some scouts view him as the best defensive shortstop in the Yankees’ system. Whether or not he may be asked to move to third base given the lack of depth there in the system is yet to be seen. But his defense is strong enough to play either position. Peraza is on the Yankees’ 40-man roster and will likely see action in Spring Training. He will probably start the season with High-A Hudson Valley or Low-A Tampa.


5. Luis Gil – RHP


Scouting grades 


Fastball: 75
Slider: 55
Changeup: 
50
Control: 50
Overall: 
60


Gil is the only prospect on this list who didn’t start out in the Yankees’ system. He was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins for $90,000 out of the Dominican Republic before shoulder surgery sidelined him for the entire 2016 season following his 2015 debut. When he returned in 2017, he flashed a mid-90s fastball and the Yankees acquired him for Jake Cave the next spring. He has started to add even more velocity and will just need to add some more polish. Gil’s fastball has sat high-90s and touched 100 over his time in the Yankees’ system. The Yankees have a ton of power arms in their system, and Gil might be the best one.


Gil is projecting more as a high-leverage reliever like a closer or set-up man. With his consistent uptick in velocity, he may not be able to handle a starter’s workload. But that doesn’t make him any less appealing. These days, pitchers being projected more as relievers isn’t as terrible a thing with the way the game is moving. The Yankees are especially a team that has valued their relievers and Gil would fit right into their bullpen within a couple of years. He needs to work on developing more consistency with his breaking ball and refine in his changeup to really make a push. Gil had a career-low walk rate (4.2 BB/9) at Class A Charleston in 2019. He will likely start this season in Charleston or at High-A Tampa.


What Does the Future Hold?


With Garcia and Schmidt likely graduating from the system this season, prospects just outside the top five will have a chance to move up. 2020 MLB Draft pick Austin Wells would be my sixth prospect on this list and will move into the top five next season. The catcher was drafted 28th overall out of Arizona and has already begun to impress in Spring Training. The Yankees have been impressed by his swing that garnered him a .357/.476/.560 slash line with a 1.035 OPS, seven homers, and 74 RBI in his two seasons with the Wildcats. If Gary Sanchez doesn’t begin to improve and show the Yankees something, Wells is the catcher of the future.

26 minutes ago  ::  Feb 25, 2021 - 7:33PM #1366
NY23
Posts: 13,051

New York Yankees tab Mike King to start first spring training game


by: Josh Benjamin Elite Sports NY2h


Mike King was considered a significant pitching prospect just a few years ago, but struggled in some limited MLB action in 2020.


The New York Yankees will start right-hander Mike King in the team’s first spring training game on Sunday, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.


King, 25, made nine appearances (including four starts) in the shortened 2020 season, posting a 7.76 ERA in 26.2 innings.


Prior to last season, King turned some heads as a dynamic pitching prospect in the Yankees’ minor league system. In 2018, his 1.79 ERA across three levels of the minors excited onlookers.


Big things were expected the following year, but elbow trouble limited King to 11 total appearances. He still managed to make his MLB debut near the end of the regular season, however.


King enters camp with a legitimate shot at making the New York Yankees’ Opening Day roster. Multiple arms are competing for the No. 5 starter’s job, including young phenom Deivi Garcia and the recently reinstated Domingo German.


King, meanwhile, has clearly been preparing for this moment. Hoch reported last weekend that the young righty spent his offseason developing a third pitch. This is a key development, as King looked very predictable last season.


The good news for Mike King is that in his final appearances of 2020, it was clear he was benefitting from pitching coach Matt Blake. He was generating more spin on his fastball, which meant more swinging strikes from opposing hitters.


He’ll have a tall order ahead of him on Sunday, as the Yankees are set to face the dynamic bats of the Toronto Blue Jays. If he can look dominant in his short outing and continually outpitch Garcia and German, he is a serious dark horse to be the fifth starter.

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