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20 hours ago  ::  Mar 28, 2023 - 3:08PM #4681
Posts: 24,289


20 hours ago  ::  Mar 28, 2023 - 3:31PM #4682
Posts: 24,289

Estevan Florial and Rafael Ortega are both heading to New York, but Aaron Boone hasn't decided who's making the team. Or in the works?

20 hours ago  ::  Mar 28, 2023 - 3:41PM #4683
Posts: 24,289

Max Goodman: Greg Weissert and Ian Hamilton are both headed to Triple-A SWB, per Aaron Boone. The roster hasn’t been finalized yet…

18 hours ago  ::  Mar 28, 2023 - 5:34PM #4684
Posts: 24,289

Yankees Release Rafael Ortega

Outfielder Rafael Ortega has requested a release from his minor league with the Yankees and that request has been granted, reports MLBTR’s Steve Adams. Ortega had an opt-out in his contract yesterday and has been informed that he won’t make the club’s roster. He is now a free agent.

The outfielder was competing for a bench job on the roster alongside players like Willie Calhoun and Estevan Florial. Earlier today, Marly Rivera of ESPN reported that Calhoun has been reassigned to minor league camp, while Florial and Ortega were each set to fly to New York as manager Aaron Boone said the final rosters decisions had yet to be made (Twitter links). It now appears that Ortega isn’t going to get a spot and will be free to pursue opportunities with all 30 clubs.

Ortega, 32 in May, is a veteran journeyman who appeared in 143 MLB games from 2012 to 2020 with the Rockies, Angels, Marlins and Braves. He finally got an extended stretch of play with the Cubs over the past two years, getting into 221 contests over that span. He hit 18 home runs and stole 24 bases as a Cub while walking in 10.6% of his plate appearances. His .265/.344/.408 batting line in that time amounted to a 108 wRC+, indicating he was 8% better than the league average hitter. He largely played center field for the Cubs but the advanced defensive metrics thought him a tad overmatched there, as he was given grades of -5 Defensive Runs Saved, -3 Outs Above Average and -5.4 from Ultimate Zone Rating in center over the past two seasons, though they liked his work in the corners well enough.

The Cubs could have retained Ortega via arbitration, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting him for a salary of $1.7MM. Instead, they non-tendered him, sending him to free agency. The Yankees figured to have Harrison Bader as their regular center fielder with Aaron Judge in right. Left field was a bit less certain as Aaron Hicks is coming off a couple of frustrating seasons and saw his name appear in trade rumors this winter, though nothing came together. He seems like he will be the regular in left, though Giancarlo Stanton could play some right and bump Judge over to the other side. The club also has been getting infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswaldo Cabrera some work on the grass.

That whole picture took a hit recently when Bader suffered an oblique strain that is going to keep him out of action for the few first weeks of the season, knocking out the top option in center. Both Judge and Hicks are options to take over in Bader’s stead, as Judge played there in 78 games last year. Hicks had been primarily a center fielder until getting bumped to left over the past few years. Given the demands of the position, it makes sense that the club would look to have another player capable of spending some time in center, in order to keep their well-paid veterans in the corners. Ortega has plenty of experience at the position but his grades there haven’t been especially strong, as mentioned.

It’s possible that the club prefers to take a chance on Florial, who is primarily a center fielder and much younger than Ortega at 25 years old. He’s out of options and can no longer be sent to the minors without being placed on waivers first. He has struggled in his major league time thus far, hitting .185/.302/.278 in a small sample of 63 plate appearances. He’s been much better in the minor leagues, including last year. In 101 Triple-A games in 2022, he hit 15 home runs and stole 39 bases. He struck out in 30.4% of his trips to the plate but also walked at a healthy 11.7% rate. His .283/.368/.481 amounted to a wRC+ of 124, indicating he was 24% better than league average.

Perhaps the Yankees didn’t want to give up on a player with that kind of apparent talent, MLB struggles aside. The speed portion of his game could perhaps become more important this year with the new rules that will encourage more baserunning. He has less than a year of service time and can be cheaply retained for the foreseeable future if he can provide enough value to hang onto a roster spot.

It’s also possible that there are further moves forthcoming, as many players get released or opt out from contracts with other clubs at this time of year. Perhaps the Yanks will find someone they like more than Florial on the waiver wire or trade block, though that remains to be seen.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 29, 2023 - 9:48AM #4685
Posts: 24,289

Offseason In Review: New York Yankees

The Yankees weren’t the busiest team this winter, opting for a handful of big moves instead of many small ones. That included signing one of the top starting pitcher free agents and retaining the consensus top overall free agent, the face of the franchise and now-captain Aaron Judge.

Major League Signings

2023 spending: $89.75MM
Total spending: $573.5MM

Option Decisions

Trades And Claims


  • None

Notable Minor League Signings

Notable Losses

There was little debate about who the top free agent was this offseason. Though there were four excellent shortstops and three aces, Aaron Judge was #1 on just about any list you could find. His 2022 season was one of the greatest in recent memory, even beyond setting the American League single-season home run record with 62. He also posted a .311 batting average, walked in 15.9% of his plate appearances, stole 16 bases and played excellent defense. His 11.4 wins above replacement from FanGraphs was the highest by a position player other than Barry Bonds since Mickey Mantle in the ’50s.

It was widely expected that Judge would secure himself a huge contract, most likely to return to the Yanks. Here at MLBTR, we predicted eight years and $332MM, with all four contributors pegging Judge for a return to the Bronx.

That’s not to say that it was a fait accompli. The Yankees seemed to have a legitimate contender in the Giants. Not only did they have a fairly wide open long-term payroll, they were looking for a big free agent strike after a disappointing season. Since Judge was born and raised not too far from San Francisco and still has family in the area, the fit also made sense on a personal level. There was even a terrifying moment for Yankee fans when it seemed as if Judge was indeed going to the Giants, and the Padres almost swooped in and stole the day, but the Yankees eventually got the deal done.

The final contract came in at $360MM over nine years, the largest guarantee ever secured by a free agent. The average annual value of $40MM is the largest ever secured by a position player. The only pitchers who surpassed that were older aces on short-term deals, as Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander each secured AAVs of $43.3MM in their late 30s.

Judge was actually the second Yankee to be brought back after a trip into free agency, as the same had already played out with Anthony Rizzo. In early November, Rizzo opted out of the one year and $16MM remaining on his contract, which was quickly followed by the Yankees giving him a $19.65MM qualifying offer. As the qualifying offer deadline drew close, Rizzo was among those listed as rejecting it. However, just minutes later, it was reported that he and the club had reunited, keeping him as the first baseman in the Bronx.

With Rizzo and Judge both coming back, there will be much continuity with the Yankee roster relative to last year. However, there will be one significant change in the rotation, which the club needed to bolster after they traded Jordan Montgomery and saw Jameson Taillon become a free agent. The top of the starting pitching market featured three guys that stood out above the rest in Carlos Rodón, Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander, though each hurler had unique characteristics as a free agent.

Verlander missed most of 2020 and all of 2021 due to Tommy John surgery but then returned to post a 1.75 ERA in 2022 and win the AL Cy Young. Going into his age-40 season, he was sure to get a short-term contract with a huge AAV. deGrom is a bit younger, going into his age-35 season, but he had missed significant time in each of the past two seasons. When combined with the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he hasn’t made more than 15 starts in any individual campaign since 2019. But given his excellent results whenever healthy, he was sure to get a big payout one way or another. Rodón, meanwhile, had plenty of injury concerns preceding an excellent 2021 season. He still missed a bit of time and was limited to 24 starts that year, which held him to short-term offers in his first trip to free agency. But he stayed healthy enough in 2022 to make 31 starts with a 2.88 ERA, making the easy decision to opt out of his contract and return to the open market.

MLBTR predicted Rodón would be able to secure the largest guarantee of the three. We pegged deGrom for a larger AAV, but figured his injury concerns would cap him at three years to Rodón’s five. In the end, deGrom was able to get five years and $185MM from the Rangers, $37MM per year on average. As mentioned earlier, Verlander got his high-AAV contract, signing a two-year, $86.6MM pact with the Mets. Rodón had plenty of interest, with clubs like the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rangers, Twins, Giants, Mets, Orioles and Dodgers connected to him in various ways. That led his camp to reportedly look for a seven-year deal or a $200MM guarantee or both. The Yankees reportedly wanted to stick to four or five years, but the sides eventually met in the middle. The final deal of $162MM over six years came up short of deGrom both in terms of guarantee and AAV, but Rodón still handily topped the prediction of five years and $140MM.

Swapping an ace like Rodón in for a solid mid-rotation guy like Taillon is certainly an upgrade, though it’s one that comes with risk. As mentioned, Rodón had an “injury-prone” label before the last two seasons. In the four years from 2017-20, he went on the injured list in each of them. He never topped 20 starts in any of those individual campaigns and started only 41 times in total in that stretch. That included injuries to his shoulder, bicep and elbow. Even in his return to form in 2021, he eventually hit the IL with shoulder fatigue and had diminished velocity down the stretch.

Rodón’s health could be a topic of conversation around the club for the next six years and is in the spotlight already, as he’s going to miss the start of the upcoming season due to a forearm strain. By all accounts, it’s a minor issue and he shouldn’t miss too much time, but it’s not an auspicious start to that commitment. The plan was for Rodón to slot into a powerful rotation next to Gerrit ColeNestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas. However, Montas will miss at least a few months due to shoulder surgery and Severino is dealing with a lat strain. With Rodón also out of action for a bit, the club will have to rely on depth options like Domingo GermánClarke Schmidt and Jhony Brito.

After Rodón, the club’s most notable investment in a new addition was for Tommy Kahnle, and the story there is fairly similar. The 33-year-old righty has often had excellent strikeout stuff, including a previous stint in the Bronx. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery wiped out most of his 2020 and all of his 2021. He returned last year as a Dodger, but went back on the IL in May after just four appearances. After a four-month layoff, he returned in September and pitched well enough to get a two-year, $11.5MM deal from the Yanks. But like Rodón, he’s also set to begin the year on the IL, as Kahnle is dealing with a biceps issue.

The club made a few other moves, including signing a bunch of minor league deals like all teams. But those are the headlines. Some deadline acquisitions from last year like Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter have moved on, but Judge and Rizzo were brought back. The rotation lost Montgomery and Taillon but will have Rodón and Montas, though not to begin the year. The bullpen has lost some familiar faces like Chad Green, Aroldis Chapman and Lucas Luetge, but Kahnle should give them a boost whenever he’s ready. The primary relief weapons now figure to be guys who have taken steps forward in recent years, such as Clay HolmesMichael King and Wandy Peralta.

All told, the roster turnover is fairly low, relatively speaking. Perhaps the most significant change Yankee fans will see in 2023 will be from within. For many years, the club has turned away from marquee free agent shortstops like Carlos CorreaCorey SeagerTrea Turner and others, seemingly confident that their future shortstop was currently being cultivated on the farm somewhere. Late in 2022, both Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera got to make their debuts, even factoring into the club’s playoff roster. Not far behind them was Anthony Volpe, who finished in Triple-A. Here in Spring Training, it seems that the process is even further along. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, last year’s primary shortstop, has already been moved into a utility role. The club also seems to like Cabrera in that kind of a role, which leaves the shortstop job open for one of Peraza or Volpe. It was recently announced that Volpe will get the job out of spring, though it’s possible the battle continues beyond the start of the season. Whether it’s on Opening Day or down the line, it’s possible that the two of them take over the middle infield together, eventually pushing Gleyber Torres onto the trade block, but that remains to be seen.

Given the young kids pushing for time, the Yanks apparently pursued trades of some their players that started to seem superfluous. Kiner-Falefa, Torres, Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson were all reportedly floated in talks at various times, though nothing came to fruition, which also contributes to the continuity on the roster. Unless a late spring deal comes together, that group should all be back in action in some form, alongside other holdovers like Giancarlo StantonDJ LeMahieuJose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka.

Though the total volume of moves was on the low side, the moves they did make were all significant and have ramifications on the financial side of things. Roster Resource currently pegs the club’s payroll at $272MM, with a competitive balance tax figure of $292.5MM. That latter number is just a hair under the fourth tier of the luxury tax, which is $293MM. It was reported in January that the club is reluctant to cross the line, and they have indeed been fairly quiet since then. It’s a bit of a strange place to draw a line in the sand, as going over would lead to a slight increase in their tax rate on further spending, though no other penalties. But every team has a budget and this is apparently where the Yankees stop, at least for now.

It’s possible this could make things a bit tricky for the club throughout the year. If they want to make upgrades at the deadline and still want to avoid that last line, they would be limited to revenue-neutral moves. However, it’s possible that they may be able to clear some space in that time. If the younger players continue to develop as hoped, perhaps the Yanks could then feel better about lining up a trade of Hicks, Donaldson, Torres or Kiner-Falefa, even if it’s mostly about dumping salary and less about getting a return. Donaldson has a CBT hit of $25MM, Hicks is $10MM, Torres is $9.95MM and Kiner-Falefa is $6MM. Those players will have varying levels of interest that could be impacted by the upcoming season, but moving any one of them could give the Yanks a bit more wiggle room under that top CBT threshold.

The American League East figures to be a tough battle yet again, as the division supplied three playoff teams last year, with the Yanks finishing on top and the Blue Jays and Rays securing Wild Card spots. The O’s just missed the postseason last year and are on the rise with an organization stuffed with prospects. The Red Sox were fairly snakebit and ended up in the cellar last year but could get right back in it with better health. The Yankees can’t reasonably expect Judge to have the season of a lifetime every year, so they’ll need others to step up and help him out if they are to repeat as division champs and/or make the postseason for a seventh straight season.

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 29, 2023 - 9:50AM #4686
Posts: 24,289

Yankees Opening Day lineup: Predictions for March 30

DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, CF
Anthon Rizzo, 1B
Giancarlo Stanton, RF
Gleyber Torres, DH
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Aaron Hicks, LF
Jose Trevino, C
Anthony Volpe, SS

2 hours ago  ::  Mar 29, 2023 - 9:52AM #4687
Posts: 24,289 | Ryan Novozinsky: Once upon a time, watching the Yankees was very simple: you simply turned on your television set, tuned it to the appropriate channel, and sat back. In today’s world, however, many people no longer have cable, and for them, finding the Yankees can be pretty difficult. Ryan Novozinsky provides a brief summary of the options that cable-free fans have at their disposal: DirecTV Stream,, occasionally on Amazon Prime, and (allegedly, eventually, hypothetically) a YES Network streaming service (the current YES app requires a cable subscription to watch the game). For nationally broadcast games, the Yankees can be seen on Apple TV+ or on the TBS and MLB Network websites when they’re on those channels. | Brian Fonseca: Speaking of streaming services, once again, the Yankees will play a number of games on Amazon Prime. Unlike last year, where these broadcasts primarily seemed to be scheduled for Fridays, the Prime games will be scattered throughout the week and seem to have been chosen based on matchups; for example, August 16th, 18th, and 20th will all be on Prime, with the latter two games coming against the Boston Red Sox.

46 minutes ago  ::  Mar 29, 2023 - 10:36AM #4688
Posts: 24,289

Yankeesource: Yankee fans love Volpe but they should also get behind a player who had a 115 wRC+ and 2.7 fWAR in his age 25 season last year. A big season from Gleyber Torres adds a lot of flexibility (more value if they trade him, more offense if they keep him). Put the pitchforks away.

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