It’s not much, but there’s finally some transaction news to pass along this offseason. The Yankees added Oswald Peraza, Alexander Vizcaíno, Roansy Contreras, and Yoendrys Gomez to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being eligible for next month’s Rule 5 draft. Brief snippets on those four can be found in our Rule 5 protection preview. The Yankees’ 40-man roster is now full.
Notably not protected: Addison Russ and Trevor Stephan. Relief profiles like those two tend to get picked in the Rule 5, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see either of them chosen.
Lastly, here’s how you all voted on who the team should protect:
Friday is the deadline for teams to add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft (for other key offseason dates, be sure to check out our offseason calendar). As of this writing, the Yankees have four open slots available. They could open up another spot or two via trade in the coming days, but at the same time, the organization may not feel the need to protect more than four players.
For a full list of draft eligible minor leaguers, head over to Pinstriped Prospects. I’ll briefly profile a few of the notable players the Yankees have to consider protecting.
Oswald Peraza | SS | 20 y/o | Single-A | 4th-best team prospect per MLB Pipeline
Peraza’s minor league numbers don’t jump off the page, but he has a good contact-oriented approach, plenty of speed, and is projected to stick at shortstop. It’s hard to imagine him sticking in the majors next year, but his prospect status makes it risky to expose him. I wonder if the Yankees are still scarred from losing catcher Luis Torrens, who was at the same level and age when the Padres drafted and stashed him.
Alexander Vizcaino | RHP | 23 y/o | High-A | 8th | 2020 Player Pool
Vizcaino was an older J2 signing in 2016 but has impressed in the minors. He can touch triple-digits with his fastball and has a plus changeup to boot. Clearly, the Yankees like the righty quite a bit because he spent this summer in Scranton. Even though he’s pitched exclusively as a starter over the past couple of minor league seasons, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hold his own in a big league bullpen next season. I expect the Yankees to add him the 40-man this week.
The hot stove season is underway, sort of. Things are pretty quiet on the rumor mill and only a couple of notable transactions have occurred. Robbie Ray re-signed with Toronto earlier this week and Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer to remain with the Mets. The Yankees have some qualifying offer news too, which leads us right into today’s notes.
DJ LeMahieu will reject qualifying offer
D.J. LeMahieu will not accept the Yankees’ $18.9 million qualifying offer by Wednesday’s deadline, per source. Not a surprising development, as LeMahieu has put together two stellar seasons in New York and is considered to be one of the top free agents on the market.
This isn’t a surprise. Today’s the decision deadline for players who received the qualifying and LeMahieu will not accept. If my understanding of the qualifying offer rules are correct, the Yankees are now eligible to receive a compensation pick after the fourth round of next year’s amateur draft should LeMahieu sign elsewhere.
The median contract value per FanGraphs’ crowdsourcing for LeMahieu is $42 million of three years, which is an absolute bargain. The average was a bit higher at 3.45 years and $62.1 million ($18 million AAV), but still very reasonable for the second baseman. I’d be very happy if the Yankees could bring him back at either of those prices, although their sights could be elsewhere. Hell, we let him walk in our plan released yesterday.
I missed something when I put together the offseason calendar a couple of weeks ago: minor league free agency. Big whoop, I know. Still, the Yankees have a number of minor league free agents (as does every team), but they might actually add one or two of them to the 40-man roster before they file for free agency. Here’s a non-wholly inclusive list of Yankees minor leaguers eligible for free agency:
You may be familiar with some of these players, but these aren’t exactly exciting names. So, why am I bringing this up now, when the big fish free agents (i.e. DJ LeMahieu) are about to file in the coming days? Mainly, I suspect that teams are going to be a tad more aggressive in handing out 40-man spots to minor league free agents this year. Especially with all of the claims of significant financial losses around the league. So, if the Yankees really like one of these individuals, they will likely add them to the roster shortly to prevent the other 29 teams from calling.
It’s been a couple weeks since our last draft profile, so today we get back on track with Beck Way. The Yankees chose Way with the organization’s fourth round selection, which was also its last in the five round draft. A reminder, for the final time: the Yankees lost their fifth round pick as a result of signing Gerrit Cole. Ho hum.
Way, a 6-foot-4 right handed pitcher, was a quick riser after going undrafted in 2018 as a high schooler. He hails from central Pennsylvania but enrolled at Belmont Abbey, a Division II college located in North Carolina. Way didn’t spend to much time there, however. After spending his freshman year in the bullpen, Way transferred to Northwest Florida State Junior College.
Before we get to his one year in JuCo, we should touch upon Way’s performance in the Cape Cod League last summer. The righty appeared in 11 games, all but one in relief though he never threw more than two innings. He had a hard time with control (11 walks and 2 wild pitches in 13 2/3 innings), but impressed with 18 strikeouts. Various publications, including Baseball America, noted that his performance at the Cape helped Way gain recognition as a potential second or third rounder.
This year, Way got a chance to start primarily in JuCo. In seven games (six starts), Way threw 40 innings and recorded a microscopic 0.67 ERA. His control was much better (9 walks) and his strikeout tally remained excellent (58). The performance was impressive enough that Way committed to LSU for his junior season. That is, before the Yankees drafted him.
From the sound of it, Way is relatively deceptive on the mound. The Athletic’s Keith Law called his delivery “funky” while MLB Pipeline noted his three-quarters arm slot. Perhaps that’s why he struggled with his command in his freshman season and on the Cape, but he’s certainly projectable given his previously noted size.
Way sits in the low-to-mid 90s but can touch as high as 97, per BA. He complements his heater with a slider and changeup, with differing reports on which secondary pitch is better. According to BA, Way’s changeup is a plus pitch, whereas his slighty flashes solid-average but is inconsistent. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline notes that his slider is the better pitch “when he stays on top of it”. The site also says he doesn’t use his changeup much, but there’s belief it can be an average pitch.
With his frame and three-pitch mix, there’s a chance that Way can be a starter long-term as long as his command remains in check. His JuCo performance as a starter certainly added some hope that he wouldn’t be relegated to relief down the road. Still, Fangraphs and BA both note that he’s probably better off as a reliever (though that’s always a fairly safe thing to say about any draftee pitcher). On the optimistic side, Law says that Way has “clear starter upside”. Further, Law believes that there’s room for velocity growth.
“There’s more in the tank with this guy when we get him in our strength and conditioning program…There’s just there’s a lot of room for growth here.”
And some more input from the Oppenheimer’s standpoint:
“Way made huge strides in Cape Cod last summer where his fastball’s been up to 98. He’s got good command of it to both sides of the plate. He has a loose, easy simple delivery to repeat (his mechanics). He’s got a really dynamic changeup that he feels comfortable using it any in any count. His breaking ball is going to be firmed up with our pitch-design guys and it’s going to be an effective out pitch also.”
Will he sign?
Way is the toughest sign of the Bombers’ three draftees. First rounder Austin Wells already signed for $2.5 million, which was just barely over slot. That leaves the Yankees with roughly $1,026,000 to play with for Hauver and Way. Slot value for Way is $438,700, but it’ll probably take more to keep him away from his LSU commitment. When I profiled Hauver, I noted that he seemed like an underslot candidate given that he was a college junior. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Yankees seem to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to college arms, so it’s hard not to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Way checks a lot of boxes: he’s tall, projectable, and already throws pretty hard. It certainly sounds like that’ll play in relief at the least, which would be a success for any fourth round pick. At best, it sounds like the Yankees might have a mid-to-back of the rotation starter on their hands. Of course, first the Yankees need to sign him away from his commitment.