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YANKEES OFFSEASON NEWS Pt.2
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:04AM #1
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015
This is a continuation of the first thread due to a posting issue. All new posts should be made in this thread. 

Thank you
 
"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:05AM #2
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Yankees’ rotation concerns could be worse (could be this time last year)



Michael Pineda


The Yankees’ rotation is overloaded with uncertainty. We all know that.


But as the Yankees sit out of the bidding for multiple high-end, free agent upgrades, it occurs to me that they did the same last winter when their rotation was perhaps even less certain. They did eventually trade for Nathan Eovaldi, but that was only after they dumped Shane Greene (and they would urther deplete their rotation depth by trading away David Phelps and Manny Banuelos).


Do you feel better about the Yankees rotation this morning than you did when you woke up a year ago?



TanakaPitchers locked into rotation spots
Last year: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia
This year: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi


Basically, this is the list, isn’t it? Obviously injuries could happen, but that’s always the case. Our best guess at this point has to assume four rotation spots are set. This time last year, we could only assume three spots were set, and all three were coming back from fairly significant disabled list stints. The current top four feel unreliable, but they weren’t nearly as unreliable as the top three felt at this time last year.



SabathiaHealth questions
Last year: Ivan Nova
This year: CC Sabathia


At this time last year, the entire rotation was nothing but health concerns. But Nova was obviously a special case as a guy coming back from Tommy John. No one knew exactly when he’d be ready or how good he’d be once he got back on the mound. Right now the current rotation has a lot of health concerns of its own, but again, Sabathia is a special case given the questions about his knee, the new brace and his ability to pitch at max effort all year.



MitchellStarter/reliever
Last year: David Phelps, Adam Warren, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley
This year: Ivan Nova, Bryan Mitchell


This is where trading away Warren has really hurt the Yankees. At this point, the Yankees have lost all four guys who seemed immediately ready to play either a rotation or bullpen role at this time last year. What’s left to consider in that swing-man role are two guys with limited bullpen experience, and also questions about whether they can be dependable big league starters. Of course, at this time last year, it wasn’t clear Warren could be a big league starter, and that worked out pretty well.



LailTriple-A depth
Last year: Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino, Manny Banuelos, Jose DePaula
This year: Brady Lail, Luis Cessa, Chad Green


This is why the Yankees traded for Cessa and Green. Obviously the team hopes a guy like Rookie Davis or Jordon Montgomery could move quickly and become a rotation candidate by the end of the year, but right now the just-in-case depth is pretty thin. Mitchell can be optioned to Triple-A if he’s not needed in the big leagues, but otherwise the Yankees are fairly low on guys with Triple-A experience. Lail had a nice year in Double-A, but didn’t show a ton in Triple-A.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:07AM #3
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015


Rob Refsnyder’s role with the 2016 Yankees



(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Last week, the Yankees acquired Starlin Castro to be their second baseman of the present and future. Castro will see time at shortstop and third base as well, but he’s the new starting second baseman, and he’s under contract through 2019 with a club option for 2020. This is not a short-term move. Castro was brought in for the long haul.


Prior to the Castro trade the Yankees had a Rob Refsnyder/Dustin Ackley platoon penciled in at second base. Ackley can also play the outfield and first base, plus he’s a left-handed hitter with Yankee Stadiumfriendly pull power, so he figures to move into a true bench role now. Refsnyder? His future with the Yankees is in question following the Castro deal.


The Yankees have three options with Refsnyder. The could trade him, they could stash him in Triple-A as depth, or they could keep him on the bench. They’ll do one of those three things at some point between now and Opening Day. I don’t think there’s an obvious answer here. You could easily argue any of those three options is the right move. Let’s lay out the case for each.


Trade him!


The Yankees have enough second base depth to cash Refsnyder in as a trade chip. They have Castro — he’s been very durable in his career, by the way — as the starter and Ackley as the backup, with Tony Renda sitting in Triple-A as the third option. They also signed Pete Kozma to a minor league deal recently, so he’s Plan D. There’s some depth there.


Plenty of teams need second base help right now — off the top of my head, the White Sox, Athletics, Angels (Billy Eppler connection!), Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Padres, and maybe even the Indians (Jason Kipnis is a natural outfielder) could use second base help — and those teams may not want to (or be able to) spend big for a free agent like Howie Kendrick.


What’s Refsnyder worth in a trade? Well, similar good but not great second base prospects like Joey Wendle and Devon Travis have been traded within the last 12-14 months. Wendle was traded for two years of Brandon Moss and Travis was traded for five years of Anthony Gose, so we’re talking anything from a nice complementary big leaguer to a similar young player at another position.


There’s also the possibility of trading Refsnyder as part of a package, which complicates things. He certainly has trade value, but as a defensively limited player who didn’t have a great year in Triple-A and is still unproven at the MLB level, that value is not sky high. Refsnyder won’t be included in a trade for an impact player unless he’s the second or third piece, know what I mean?


Stash Him In Triple-A


Refsnyder has two minor league options left and the Yankees would be well within their rights to use them. Like I said, Refsnyder didn’t have a great year in Triple-A this summer (123 wRC+ for a bat-first guy is meh), and he does still need to work on his defense, so more time in the minors is justifiable. Renda or Kozma wouldn’t be much of an obstacle for playing time either.


As far as I’m concerned, middle infield depth is not a bad thing, especially since Castro (and Ackley) can move around. All it takes is one pulled hamstring for Castro to wind up at shortstop or third base, clearing a spot for Refsnyder to play everyday, or at least resume platooning with Ackley. Renda and Kozma are okay third and fourth options, but eh. The appeal of keeping Refsnyder is obvious.


Keep Him On The Bench


There is still room for Refsnyder on the bench, you know. Right now the bench is backup catcher (Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine), extra outfielder (Aaron Hicks), utility guy (Ackley), and a fourth player to be determined. Refsnyder can be that fourth player, possibly getting regulars at-bats against lefties with Castro sliding over to play shortstop and Didi Gregorius sitting out.


If the Yankees are truly comfortable counting on Castro to be the backup third baseman — he’s only played a handful of career games at third, remember, and those were in rookie ball a long time ago — it makes it much easier to carry Refsnyder and his limited versatility on the 25-man roster. He’d give them another option against left-handed pitchers, which they really need. Southpaws chewed them up late last year.


* * *


It’s clear at this point the Yankees do not think as highly of Refsnyder as many fans, who may only know him through box scores. The team was slow to call him up this past season even though Stephen Drew didn’t hit for long stretches of time, then they went out and acquired Castro. That’s not a move that gets made if they really believe Refsnyder’s ready to be a starting Major League second baseman.


The Yankees don’t have to do anything with Refsnyder. They can keep him and send him to Triple-A again if they want. There is something to the idea of trading him to help address a need elsewhere, and there’s some appeal to keeping him on the bench too. Again, I don’t think there’s a right answer here, and the Yankees might not even know what they’re going to do with him yet. They may be in wait and see mode. Anyway, time for a poll.



What should the Yankees do with Refsnyder?


Trade him.
47%
Send him to Triple-A.
36%
Keep him on the bench.
17%

Total votes: 398



"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:10AM #4
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015


Yankees 2016 Free Agent Target: Tyler Clippard










Should the Yankees have a reunion with Tyler Clippard?



2015 Statistics: 71 IP, 8.11 K/9, 3.93 BB/9, 2.92 ERA, 4.28 FIP


2016 Age: 31


Position: Right-handed reliever


Tyler Clippard was drafted by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2003 draft. He worked his way through the Yankees' system as a starting pitcher before he finally made his major league debut in 2007. Through 27 innings pitched between six starts in the majors that year, Clippard posted a 6.38 ERA. Over the offseason, the Yankees traded him to Nationals for reliever Jonathan Albaladejo. That move didn't exactly pay dividends for the Yankees, though Albaladejo did get a World Series ring out of it. Meanwhile, the Nationals converted Clippard from a starter to a reliever and he experienced success out of the bullpen once he finally stuck in the majors. During his seven years with the Nationals, Clippard averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and kept his FIP below 4.00 for five consecutive seasons.


Following the 2014 season, the Nationals traded Clippard to the Athletics for Yunel Escobar. With Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, Clippard took over the role of closer. He recorded 17 saves with a 2.79 ERA before being traded to the Mets just before the deadline. He was not quite as sharp in the second half of the season, and particularly struggled in September and October when opponents hit .259/.323/.536 against him. Things didn't improve in the postseason when he gave up five earned runs through six and two-thirds innings pitched. Between 2014 and 2015, Clippard's strikeout numbers dropped from 10.49 to 8.11 K/9. His walk percentage also rose from 8.3% to 10.3%. His career ground ball percentage is just 27.9% compared to a flyball percentage of 56.6%, so Yankee Stadium might not be a good fit.


Then again, Brian Cashman has already said that the Yankees are most likely to improve the team through trades than free agent signings, so it doesn't seem that the Yankees would be interested in signing Clippard either way. There are several holes to fill in the bullpen at the moment after the Yankees traded Adam Warren and Justin Wilson, but Clippard will likely end up with a contract worth at least $8 million a year for three to four years and that is outside of the Yankees' budget, apparently. If the Yankees are serious about getting younger (and the trade for Starlin Castro indicates that they are), then Clippard might just be too old at 31. Although Cashman said that we can expect more to happen during the offseason, and that he would focus on improving pitching, the Yankees could always just fill the newly created bullpen holes with internal options. There is also still the option of trading Brett Gardner or Andrew Miller for some young talent. It sounds like Clippard might end up re-signing with the Mets, but it's safe to say that wherever he ends up, it won't be with the Yankees.





"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:13AM #5
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Tracking the Yankees 2016 Payroll; Money Saved New Way of Keeping Score in the Bronx





Brian Cashman still has a lot of work to do. According to the Yankees’ GM , “there are still steps in the process” to take, but if his master plan precludes adding payroll, Cashman will have to subtract salary before adding more talent.


USA Today recently reported that the Yankees’ actual payroll (AAV, not current salaries) was $241.15 million, resulting in a luxury tax just over $26 million. Based on 2016 contracts, estimated arbitration awards, and minimum-level assumptions for others on the 40-man, the Bronx Bombers only have about $4 million left to avoid exceeding last year’s payout. So, unless the Yankees deviate from their plan to hold the line on spending, Andrew Miller or Brett Gardner may become a casualty of Cashman’s future wheeling and dealing.


Yankees’ Estimated 2016 Payroll


2016 payrolli2.wp.com/www.captainsblog.info/wp-conte... 706w" sizes="(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px" width="500" height="530" />


Note: Current Salary is a player’s base salary + prorated signing bonus and applicable buyout. Actual payroll is defined by the CBA as the average annual value of all contracts, and is used to calculate the luxury tax. For players who are eligible for arbitration, estimates from mlbtraderumors.com are used. For other players on the 40-man roster, the CBA prescribed minimum is used ($510,000 for major leaguers; $80,000 for minor leaguers), with a 10% raise for players that have more than a year of service time.


Source: Cots Contracts, fangraphs.com, baseball-reference.com, mlbtraderumors.com, proprietary


Even if the Yankees exceed their self-imposed budget constraints, their bottom line should still be fatter. In fact, at the status quo, the Yankees percentage of revenue spent on player costs would not only be at its lowest level since at least 2000, but it would also fall below last year’s MLB average, which, after this winter’s spending spree, is headed in the opposite direction of the Bronx Bombers’ outlay.


Yankees’ Payroll/Luxury Tax as a Percentage of Team Revenue, 2001 to 2016E
Pay vs Revi1.wp.com/www.captainsblog.info/wp-conte... 522w" sizes="(max-width: 522px) 100vw, 522px" width="500" height="340" />
Note: For 2001 to 2014, revenue is  based on Forbes projections and net of revenue sharing and stadium debt service. Payroll is based on final figures for each year released by MLB, and may not necessarily equal the amount upon which the luxury tax is based. 


Note: For 2015 to 2016, revenue is based on 7% growth, which matches CAGR from 2003 to 2014 (but is less than recent growth rates in wake of new long-term regional and national TV deals with build in escalators). Payroll is based on an adjustment to reported actual payroll of $241,150,000 commensurate with 2014 and carried forward to 2016 (when current payroll is reported, this number will be updated). 


Source: bizofbaseball.com and MLB releases published by AP (final payroll), MLB releases published by AP (luxury tax) and Forbes (revenue)


So, why are the Yankees being so frugal in a deep free agent class with so much difference-making talent? One reason is because Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t believehe should “have to have a $200 million payroll to win a world championship”(despite charging the highest prices in the league and enjoying taxpayer subsidized financing), but, regardless of motive, the Yankees new ways of doing business have made it necessary for fans to be just as familiar with the team’s payroll as its 40-man roster. So, as a service to Yankee fans, the Bronx Bombers’ 2016 payroll and future commitments will be maintained on the aptly named tab above. Consider it a new kind of scorecard for Cashman’s unfinished business…one that measures success in dollars saved, not games won.


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:18AM #6
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

I suppose this is a good thing:


MLB trade rumors: Yankees on Jonathan Papelbon's no-trade list?




Jonathan Papelbon



If you thought the Yankees would trade for the closer who once said went atMariano Rivera, well, stop. They can't.


Jonathan Papelbon's contract has a no-trade clause that prohibits him from getting sent to 17 teams, including the Yankees, according to ESPN'S Jerry Crasnick.


The rest of the teams on the list? The Athletics, Blue Jays, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rockies, Tigers, Twins and White Sox.


Many have speculated that the Nationals could try to trade Papelbon, who didn't exactly ingratiate himself within Washington's clubhouse after getting traded from Philadelphia and choked Bryce Harper because of it.


They might. But they also might not.


Papelbon is due $11 million next season before he becomes a free agent in 2017. And he's 35 years old.


But the ex-Red Sox pitcher has been productive lately. In 2015, he posted 27 saves while recording a 2.13 ERA. He was an All-Star with the Phillies last year, too.


Still, it's hard to think Papelbon has ever been on the Yankees' radar. The Yankees are looking to acquire cheap, young talent and Papelbon is the opposite. And


Bronx fans would certainly take a while to embrace him after he said he said he deserved to close the 2008 All-Star game over Rivera, who was already considered the best closer of all time by then.



"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:19AM #7
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Yankees' Joe Girardi has high hopes for new 2nd baseman Starlin Castro





It appears the last piece of the Yankees' 2016 puzzle (of the lineup, anyway) was figured out last week at the Winter Meetings when the team traded for second baseman Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs.


At 25 years old with three All-Star appearances in his six-year career, Castro figures to be a boost at second, one fans in the Bronx haven't seen since 2013 when Robinson Cano patrolled the area.


The Yankees had to ship out one of their best pitchers from 2015 in Adam Warren to acquire Castro, but manager Joe Girardi seems OK with that move.


"When I look at Adam Warren, he was extremely valuable to us, but we got a player in return that we believe that's going to be extremely valuable," Girardi said Monday on the YES Network's "CenterStage."


"I think [Castro's] got a great set of hands; he's got a very good arm. An arm to play shortstop. It had to be a tough situation in Chicago."


Girardi is referring to last season when Castro, a shortstop his whole career, was replaced by hotshot rookie Addison Russell and sent to second base late in the year. The move, though, didn't appear to shake Castro. In 258.0 innings he had six errors in 138 chances, not bad when a learning curve is expected.


Perhaps more importantly, he began hitting again. From the day he was moved (Aug. 11) through the end of the year, Castro hit .353 with six home runs and 12 doubles.


"Sometimes [a position change] plays in a young man's head," Girardi said. "So when he moved to second base he probably relaxed...he played very well."


Heading into last year the Yankees' middle infield was maybe the most unknown area on the team—Didi Gregorius was brand new at shortstop and they were pretty much hoping for a miracle out of Stephen Drew at second base, one that didn't happen.


Now, Gregorius has established himself as one of the best defensive shortstopsin the American League and Castro automtically becomes one of the most athletic second basemen in the division.


"We feel we've kind of stabilized the middle of our infield which is extremely important," Girardi said. "We have two shortstops out there which we think will help us tremendously."



"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:21AM #8
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015

Here's another (and less obvious) way the Starlin Castro trade boosts the Yankees




We've written at length lately about how theYankees significantly upgraded their second base position last week with the acquisition ofStarlin Castro in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. 


Castro can hit (.281/.321/.404 career slash-line); he can field (above-average shortstop almost his entire career); he's been to three All-Star Games in six years; and he's only 25 years old. 


Solid stuff. But there's another benefit.


Adding Castro means the Yankees don't have to carry two second basemen like they were planning with Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley in a platoon situation


Castro has never played fewer than 125 games in a season and figures to be in the lineup nearly every day in 2016 barring injury. That means the Yankees can possibly carry a fifth outfielder (Slade Heathcott?), or another pitcher, considering manager Joe Girardi's propensity for cycling through several a game.


Ackley may still be on the roster given his versatility in the infield and outfield, but Castro's arrival means one guy is doing the job instead of two. 


A fifth outfielder might be important, too, considering Carlos Beltran is scheduled to play right field. He will be 39 in April and, well, as Girardi put it last year,Beltran's not in there for his glove anymore.


The Yankees made a big addition in Castro. Now they get to make another.



"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 10:54AM #9
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015


FINDING THE YANKEES A YOUNG STARTING PITCHER




So far this offseason, the Yankees have focused on bolstering their batting order through trades for outfielder Aaron Hicks and infielder Starlin Castro. But now, with the team’s position-player alignment pretty much set (barring a trade of Brett Gardner) it is time to talk about pitching.


If the season started tomorrow, the Yankees’ starting rotation would look something like this:


Masahiro Tanaka
Luis Severino
Michael Pineda
Nathan Eovaldi
CC Sabathia


Ivan Nova
Bryan Mitchell


Now that’s not so bad. All seven of those guys have had some degree of success one time or another and could contribute in 2016. As a bonus, six of the seven are younger than 30 years old. But, like last year, the rotation carries a number of question marks. Will Pineda be healthy? Will we see the version of Sabathia that dominated September or the one that struggled through April, May, June and July (and that’s not even touching on the fact that he’ll be pitching for the first time since checking into rehab last October)? Can Nova bounce back from a bad season? Is Mitchell truly an MLB-caliber starter?


Given the uncertainty, it’s likely the Yankees will add to their rotation before Opening Day. And given their apparent commitment to youth and austerity, we can assume they’ll look for a young, cost-controlled option. But young starters certainly don’t grow on trees, and any team that has a 25-year-old, mid-rotation pitcher won’t likely part with him easily.


With Shelby Miller off the board and Jose Fernandez’s price prohibitively high, let’s look at some young pitchers Brian Cashman might think about placing calls on.


CATEGORY I: THE DEEP REBUILDING TEAM


Though most rebuilding teams want to hold on to their mid-20s players, occasionally a team embarks on a teardown so thorough it will part with even its young major leaguers. Here, we’re looking for pitchers young enough to help the Yankees in the near future but old enough that their current teams are willing to cash in for prospects.

  • Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves

The Braves have already traded the 25-year-old Miller and 26-year-old Andrelton Simmons, so they would probably be willing to part with the 24-year-old Teheran for the right price. This would be somewhat of a buy-low move, as the righty is coming off an unimpressive season on the heels of two good ones. Teheran would cost the Yankees at least one of their top prospects (Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Jorge Mateo), but unlike Fernandez wouldn’t require a package built around Severino.

  • Taylor Jungmann, Milwaukee Brewers

Jungmann had a nice rookie year in 2015 (3.77 ERA, 3.92 FIP in 119.1 innings), but he’s already 25 years old, and the Brewers aren’t anywhere close to contention. There’s no specific indication that the 2011 first-round pick is available, but he’s the type of low-ceiling guy a rebuilding team might consider moving under the right circumstances.

  • Anthony Desclafani/Rasiel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds

This could be a stretch, but the Reds have a ton of young arms, and maybe they’d be willing to part with one of the older, more developed ones. Desclafani and Iglesias are both almost 26 with solid rookie seasons under their belts. Would Cincinnati give up guys who don’t hit arbitration for a few more years? Who knows, but it’s probably worth a call.


CATEGORY II: THE LOW-FLOOR/HIGH-CEILING GUYS


The Yankees could pursue a young starting pitcher whose previous teams are ready to move on following early-career injury or ineffectiveness.

  • Henderson Alvarez, free agent

The Marlins non-tendered Alvarez only a year after he posted a 2.65 ERA and 3.58 FIP over 187 innings, which indicates an enormous lack of confidence in his ability to come back strong from shoulder surgery. Still, the 25-year-old has shown he can pitch at an elite level and will offer high-risk upside to whoever signs him.

  • Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are supposedly discussing trades involving the 26-year-old Moore, who has thrown only 73 innings in the past two years. Once upon a time, Moore was one of the top three prospects in baseball along with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, and the Yankees (along with everyone else) will be tempted to try to recapture that potential.

  • Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels

Skaggs hasn’t lived up to his top-prospect hype, with a career 4.72 ERA in 181 innings, but his 3.55 FIP in 2015 suggests a breakout could lie ahead. The Angels have more starting pitchers (Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson) than they know what to do with, so perhaps they’d consider dealing the 24-year-old Skaggs.


CATEGORY III: MAY I INTEREST YOU IN BRETT GARDNER?


The Yankees’ willingness to trade Gardner opens up the possibility of working with a contending team that simply needs an outfielder (plus some prospects) more than a starting pitcher.

  • Taijuan Walker/James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have already reportedly turned down a deal centered around Gardner and the 23-year-old Walker but are open to giving up 27-year-old James Paxton. Given Seattle’s need for outfielders, this one makes enough sense for the teams to eventually find some middle ground.

  • Danny Salazar/Trevor Bauer/Cody Anderson, Cleveland Indians

The Indians are reportedly listening to offers on all their starting pitchers, and though Carlos Carrasco’s price tag is likely greater than the Yankees are willing to pay, Cashman could make a move for Salazar, 25, Bauer, 24 or Anderson, 25. One of these deals could require forking over some good prospects in addition to Gardner, but the 32-year-old left fielder could be an appealing target for an offense-starved Cleveland team.

  • Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

The Mets have an excess of young starting pitching, and the 25-year-old Wheeler, coming off Tommy John surgery, could be the odd man out. The question is, does Sandy Alderson need an outfielder to replace Yoenis Cespedes, or are they content to start the season with a Michael Conforto/Juan Lagares/Curtis Granderson alignment.



"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
6 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2015 - 11:02AM #10
BigGuy
Posts: 66,015


AL East Notes: Rays, Sanchez, Hardy, O’s, Blue Jays




Though many expected Brad Miller to land the everyday shortstop job for the Raysfollowing Tampa Bay’s trade with the Mariners, that’s not necessarily the case, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays could still very well swing a trade forJavier Baez or another young infielder if they’re willing to part with a starting pitcher, he notes. And, even if the Rays don’t add another shortstop option, Miller’s struggles with lefties create the possibility of at least a platoon situation with the right-handed-hitting Tim BeckhamNick Franklin remains an option as well, though a poor 2015 campaign likely means he’ll head to Triple-A to begin the 2016 season. Manager Kevin Cash noted to Topkin, though, that his hope is for someone to take the reins early and cement himself as the man for the job.


More on the Rays and more from their division…


  • Topkin also writes that virtually every club in baseball expressed some interest inKevin Kiermaier at the Winter Meetings, though the Rays probably don’t have much interest in parting with the elite defender. Topkin adds that the Brewersand Pirates seem like possible fits for a potential James Loney deal, noting that both have had interest in the past. He also speculates that Jake McGeecould be a fit with the Dodgers now that their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman has been halted by his domestic violence allegations.

  • Gary Sanchez is the front-runner to be Brian McCann‘s backup for theYankees in 2016, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. While Austin Romine will be in the competition and might get the job early on due to Sanchez’s lack of experience at Triple-A, King suggests that Sanchez will hold down the job for the majority of the season. GM Brian Cashman praised Sanchez, stating that the 23-year-old has “improved in every category” from last season, specifically citing his improved pitch blocking, game calling and throwing.

  • J.J. Hardy spoke with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko at the Orioles‘ recent FanFest event and provided an update on a shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the 2015 season. Hardy has been working out for seven weeks and expects an offseason of rest and rehabilitation to lead to improvements in 2016. While he said it was a very difficult decision to forego surgery on the shoulder to repair the small tear in his labrum, Hardy noted that he’s been through that process before and felt last time that it took a full six months of actually playing baseball after the recovery for him to feel normal again. Surgery also could’ve sidelined Hardy through Spring Training and into the regular season.

  • Kubatko also spoke with Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph about Matt Wieters‘ return to the team. While Wieters’ decision to accept the qualifying offer impedes Joseph’s path to regular playing time behind the plate, Joseph had nothing but positive things to say about Wieters, calling him a mentor and praising him for his willingness to provide insight on hitters, his work to help Joseph improve his defensive techniques and more.

  • Red Sox vice president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye interviewed for the Blue Jays‘ GM vacancy before the job went to former Cleveland vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
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