Category: Rumors Page 1 of 2

2020 Trade Deadline Thread

  • 4:00 p.m. EDT: Ding ding ding. Nothing for the Yankees today, unless we get a surprise late announcement like the Zack Greinke trade last year.
  • 3:40 p.m. EDT: Cashman has a few “narrowed-down” talks for relievers and position players. (Brendan Kuty)
  • 3:39 p.m. EDT: Boston makes a move. Kevin Pillar goes to the Rockies. (Mark Feinsand)
  • 3:34 p.m. EDT: Old friend alert. Milwaukee traded David Phelps to the Phillies. He reunites with another old friend, Joe Girardi. (Ken Rosenthal)
  • 3:19 p.m. EDT: The Yankees aren’t optimistic about getting a deal done, though they’ve been in touch on Gausman, Bundy, and Lynn. (Heyman)
  • 2:58 p.m. EDT: Another deal: Jonathan Villar from Miami to Toronto. (Ken Rosenthal)
  • 2:56 p.m. EDT: The Marlins are close to landing Marte. Take him off the Yankees’ wish list. (Craig Mish)
  • 2:22 p.m. EDT: The Diamondbacks appear likely to move OF Starling Marte for the best deal they can get by 4 p.m. The team does not intend to pick up his 2021 option, so a trade will have to do. (Joel Sherman)
  • 2:07 p.m. EDT: Texas “would love” to get Deivi García for Lynn. Duh. (T.R. Sullivan)
  • 1:52 p.m. EDT: The Blue Jays have acquired LHP Robbie Ray from Arizona. He’s been awful this year, but has been connected to the Yankees in the past. (Rob Longley)
  • 1:41 p.m. EDT: The Yankees have checked in on RHP Kevin Gausman. (Heyman)
  • 1:05 p.m. EDT: The Yankees have been in touch with the Rangers over the last 48 hours regarding Lynn. (Jon Morosi)
  • 12:40 p.m. EDT: The Rangers could be motivated to trade RHP Lance Lynn. The team may regret not dealing Minor last year, so they don’t want to make that mistake with Lynn while his value is high. (Joel Sherman)
  • 12:31 p.m. EDT: Another trade: LHP Mike Minor from the Rangers to the A’s for two players to be named later. Mark another pitcher off the board who could have fit the Yankees. (Jeff Passan)
  • 12:25 p.m. EDT: Radio silence in terms of Yankees-related rumors at this point. As per Martino’s report linked below, it sure seems possible that the Yankees don’t make any moves.
  • 11:15 a.m. EDT: Clevinger is off to San Diego. Cross one target off the Yankees’ list. (Robert Murray)
  • 10:25 a.m. EDT: The prices are too high for the Yankees at the moment. They’re not anywhere close on RHP Mike Clevinger or RHP Lance Lynn. It’s also not clear if San Francisco will move RHP Kevin Gausman. (Andy Martino)

T-minus six hours until the 4 p.m. EDT trade deadline. A number of trades went down yesterday — none of them involving the Yankees — and a few more are sure to occur today. We’ll update this post for any deals made and rumors involving the Yankees throughout the day. Here are the latest Yankees-related rumors:

  • The Yankees have talked to the Brewers about LHP Josh Hader, but there’s “no traction” there. They’ve also checked in on RHP Mike Clevinger. (Jon Heyman)
  • CF Starling Marte is on the Yankees’ radar. (Joel Sherman)
  • A deal for Marte could be expanded to include LHP Robbie Ray and/or RHP Archie Bradley. (Heyman)
  • The Yanks are reluctant to add any more salary via trade, which could make a Marte (or any other trade) complicated. (Ken Rosenthal)

To get you up to speed on official transactions, here are the moves from yesterday:

  • Boston traded 1B Mitch Moreland to San Diego for prospects 3B Hudson Potts and CF Jeisson Rosario.
  • Tampa Bay dealt DH José Martínez to the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.
  • Baltimore sent RHP Mychal Givens to Colorado in return for minor leaguers 1B/3B Tyler Nevin, SS Terrin Vavra, and a player to be named later.
  • The Angels moved C Jason Castro to San Diego for RHP Gerardo Reyes.
  • Seattle swapped UTIL Austin Nola, RHP Austin Adams, and RHP Dan Altavilla to San Diego for IF Ty France, C Luis Torrens, RHP Andres Munoz, and top OF prospect Taylor Trammell.
  • Baltimore dealt LHP Tommy Milone to Atlanta for a player to be named later.

Free agent profile: Martín Maldonado

Embed from Getty Images

Well, I can’t say I expected to write this free agent profile this winter. The consensus was that the Yankees would either re-sign Austin Romine or plug in Kyle Higashioka to the backup catcher position. I did imagine a scenario in which the Yankees carry three catchers next year, though that’s unlikely. Now with Gerrit Cole in tow and Romine out, there’s another option who’s come into play: Martín Maldonado.

Feinsand’s tweet more or less tells you everything you need to know about why the Yankees are interested. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

He’s well regarded defensively…

The 33 year-old backstop from Puerto Rico does just about everything well defensively. He’s a good receiver, has a strong arm, and has a good rapport with his battery mates (namely, Cole).

Framing is basically the name of the game for catchers nowadays. The Yankees have emphasized it for a while, and the team’s new catching coach Tanner Swanson only reinforces its importance to the organization. Here’s how Maldonado stacks up:

YearFangraphs (FRM)Baseball Prospectus (Framing Runs)Statcast (Runs Extra Strikes)
20157.27.73
20166.52.54
201721.627.220
20189.95.94
20191.0-2.0-1

All of these metrics are scaled to zero being average, so it’s pretty clear that Maldonado is better than your typical backstop even with a couple of sites having him slightly negative this year.

The pretty clear outlier here is 2017. Couldn’t tell you exactly what went right that season, but even so, that’s probably a once in a lifetime defensive year for him. Statcast doesn’t have framing numbers before 2015, but both Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus had him right around 10 runs in 2013. So, I think we can assume he’s a very good framer but not in the realm of whatever happened in 2017.

Now, have his framing skills declined? That’s what his ’19 numbers indicate. That said, as the entire league has caught on to the value of a good receiver, the variance in framing ability between teams has shrunk. Perhaps that’s partly why Malonado doesn’t appear quite as good as his counterparts.

Aside from framing, Maldonado is also good at keeping pitches in front of him. He doesn’t allow many passed balls and Baseball Prospectus’s Blocking Runs has had him above average for his career.

Additionally, Maldonado is good at honing in the running game. Per Statcast, his pop time was in the 77th percentile of all catchers in 2019 and his 87.1 MPH average throwing velocity ranked sixth in baseball (Gary Sánchez was fourth).

…but brings little to the lineup

If you didn’t like what Romine brought to the table in the batter’s box, you’d actually be in for worse with Maldonado. Even though Maldo holds a better career triple-slash and wRC+ than Romine, the past two seasons tell a different story. Romine owns a 94 wRC+ since 2018, whereas Maldonado stands at 75.

It doesn’t look like there’s much offensive upside for Maldonado. All of his underlying Statcast numbers — exit velocity, hard hit percentage, expected wOBA, et. al. — are well below average.

Contract estimates

Fangraphs pegs Maldonado for two years and $9 million. Jim Bowden nor MLB Trade Rumors have predictions for Maldonado.

After seeing what Romine (and other backstops) have signed for, Fangraphs’ projection seems a little high. Even though Maldonado is excellent defensively, he’s two years older than Romine and a worse hitter. A bunch of other backup-caliber catchers have signed one year deals in the $3 to $4 million range (Romine, Tyler Flowers, Alex Avila, Stephen Vogt). Maldonado will probably receive something similar.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

I’d rather give Higashioka a shot than Maldonado, but that doesn’t mean Maldonado doesn’t make sense. More catcher depth is good, especially with major league experience and stellar defensive chops, which is what Maldonado brings to the table. It also brings over a familiar face for Cole, though I have little doubt about his ability to dominate with or without Maldonado.

Yankees Trade Target: Blake Treinen

The Yankees are interested in Oakland A’s sinkerball reliever Blake Treinen, reported The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal last night. Treinen is available because of the annual payroll crunch the A’s are facing, Rosenthal also reported.

Treinen is now (at least) the second reliever to whom the Yankees have been connected in the last few days along with Kansas City’s Tim Hill. The Yankees have been involved in building super bullpens for at least a decade now, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone–especially with Dellin Betances now a free agent. Anyway, let’s take a look at Treinen and see if he makes sense for the Yankees.

Background

Treinen is a 31-year-old righty from Osage City, Kansas. He was drafted by the then-Florida Marlins in the 23rd round of 2010 Amateur Draft but did not sign. The A’s drafted him a year later in the 7th round of the 2011 Draft before trading him to the Nationals in a three-team deal. He would make his MLB debut with Washington in 2014 and pitch three-and-a-half seasons in the Capitol.

The Nationals traded him back to Oakland at the 2017 Trade Deadline in a deal for current closer Sean Doolittle. Treinen has been in Oakland ever since.

Performance

Treinen has been an above-average reliever for most of his career, though he really made a name for himself in 2018 when he was truly exceptional in his first season back in Oakland. I broke down his career into five different parts: his time with the Nationals, his first half-season with Oakland, his dominant 2018, his 2019 season, and his time overall with Oakland. Check it out:

ERA-GB%K%BB%HR/9WHIPBAA
Washington8362.2%20.5%9.6%0.521.38.263
2017 2nd Half5056%26.9%7.7%0.711.16.225
20181951.9%31.8%6.7%0.220.83.157
201911042.8%22.2%13.9%1.381.62.254
Oakland5649.5%27.3%9.5%0.711.16.205

Breaking this down in such a way is illuminating because it shows that Treinen was a good reliever in Washington who immediately took a major step forward with Oakland. Looking at just his career performance with Oakland makes him look like one of the best relievers in the game, and while that’s true, the real story is a bit more nuanced.

Immediately after the trade, his strikeouts went up, his walks went down, and opponents got fewer hits off him. That much is evident from looking at his performance down the stretch with the A’s.

In 2018, though, he took that performance to another level entirely. He was baseball’s best reliever two seasons ago. All of the improvements he made in 2017’s second half were amplified: he missed more bats, missed the plate less, and was virtually unhittable. I say virtually unhittable, well, because:

That triple would have been hilarious and satisfying no matter what, but that it came off Treinen made it even better. He was that good.

Anyway, as good as Treinen was in 2018, he was bad in 2019. He took a major step back in every regard, notably with home runs. That was true of basically every pitcher in baseball in 2019, though, so I’m much more willing to write that off as a blip in the juiced ball year than perhaps I should be. That can really change a year for a pitcher.

However, what I’m not willing to write off is the declining ground ball rate. As I’ll get into in a moment, Treinen throws a power sinker. That should lend itself to ground balls. Generally, it has–look back up at the table. It’s clear that he has always generated a ton of grounders…but it’s also clear that this skill is diminishing. It wasn’t just a one year jump. Check it out:

That’s an ugly chart right there. It’s a three-season trend, so it doesn’t seem to be ball-related. It’s alarming in any context–though prior to 2019 it didn’t inhibit him–but especially when paired with a big increase in home runs. I think it’s fair to consider this a real red flag in his performance profile. His best days could be behind him.

Current Stuff

Treinen is a true four-pitch reliever, featuring a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a cutter in addition to his trademark sinker. Here’s his usage graphs, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:

Even though his sinker usage is declining, he still features the pitch more than any other by a significant amount. He’s a sinkerballer through and through. What’s powered his success, and made his sinker so unique, is its velocity. Treinen is a true power pitcher. Check out his velocity chart:

His sinker comes in on average between 97-98 mph in his career, topping out at 99. I mean, just look at this:

And this:

And this:

That last one, against San Fran’s Chase d’Arnaud, is just unfair. That’s a real “I tweaked with the attributes in MLB: The Show” type pitch. For what it’s worth, all three of those sinkers clocked at 99+ mph, and each of them came in the 2018 season. That’s what you bet on when Treinen comes in.

With that said, however, there are some red flags even with this pitch. Here’s his average spin rate on the pitch in every year since 2016:

  • 2016: 2342 RPM
  • 2017: 2294 RPM
  • 2018: 2371 RPM
  • 2019: 2250 RPM

That’s still a really good spin rate for a sinker, but it’s also the lowest it’s been–a trend, for what it’s worth, that is consistent with his four-seam fastball. That’s a red flag for sure, though not a huge one.

Another slight red flag is the fact that his pitches overall were considerably less effective in 2019. Check out the whiffs-per-swing on his pitches throughout his career:

All four of his big pitches took a step backward, with his slider at its lowest rate since his rookie campaign. His cutter was much worse, his fastball more hittable, and even his slider took a step backward. His velocity, if you think back to that initial chart above, also took a step back. Couple all of this with his poor overall performance, a huge increase in home runs, a declining ground ball rate, and a declining chase rate, and you get an overall profile with some red flags.

Now, it’s only fair to note that his stuff is still very good–it’s more than enough, in fact, to be successful. But there can be no doubt that Treinen is trending in the wrong direction.

What’s He Going to Cost?

Treinen is arbitration-eligible, of course, which is why he’s on the trading block in the first place. He should make around $8 million in arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors. He will accrue his 6th year of MLB service time in 2020, making him eligible for free agency in 2021. Given his poor 2019, declining peripherals, and Oakland’s financial situation, I think it’s fair to say that he will not command a huge return.

As for what that return will be, it’s tough to say. Maybe Chance Adams? The Yankees might be better off trying to convert him to a reliever, but his stock is certainly diminished right now. But ultimately, I have no idea.

For what it’s worth, Baseball Trade Values considers Tampa Tarpons pitcher Nick Green to be fair value for Treinen. Is that enough? I really doubt it. I know Treinen struggled last year, but yeesh, you have to think he’s more valuable than that. But who knows. Either way, I don’t think bringing Treinen on board would cost the Yankees too much. And $8m in salary isn’t too much, either, especially if they’re confident that they can revitalize some of his prior performance.

Does He Make Sense for the Yankees?

Yes and no. He makes sense in that he’s a once-dominant reliever who is just a season removed from being one of the best relievers in baseball. The Yankees clearly value their bullpen and are always looking to stockpile as much talent as possible. Not to mention, Treinen would likely be the 5th guy out of the pen on the Yankees. Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, and even Chad Green outperformed him last year. I’d imagine that he’d have to earn his way into the so-called Circle of Trust. So, in that context, Treinen absolutely fits. You could do a whole hell of a lot worse than a pitcher with his stuff as a back-end option.

Now, with that said, there are numerous signs that his best days are behind him. If the Yankees are going to take a flier on a once-dominant reliever and hope for a bounce-back season, I’d prefer they do it with Dellin Betances. But hey, on the other hand, why not both?

Ultimately, I think I would be excited if the Yankees brought Treinen on board. He has top-shelf stuff, even if it’s declining a bit, and the Yankees’ track record with relievers is impeccable. If Treinen and his power sinker come aboard, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the good times would just keep rolling in the Yankee bullpen.

Assorted Thoughts 7 Hours Before the 2019 Trade Deadline

Well, today’s the day. The Yankees will either upgrade their starting rotation by 4 pm EST or they won’t do so at all. Remember, this year is the first year of no August waiver wire, so today’s all we’ve got. The deadline has already been a bit of an adventure for a few reasons, so here are a few assorted thoughts as we go into the day.

1. Marcus Stroman is off the Board: As we all know, Stroman was traded to the Mets in a move that shocked nearly everyone. I found this disappointing, personally, as I thought that Stroman was both the most likely SP upgrade the Yanks would make and also my preference among the rumored options. His 56.3% GB% ranks 2nd in the league among 74 qualified starting pitchers, and his 0.72 HR/9 ranks 4th among that same group. He’s averaging about 6 innings pitched a start, too. He would have made a nice addition to the Yankee rotation, even if he isn’t the dominating ace everyone expects for some reason.

As for the package the Mets surrendered to get him, well, it’s hard to say that the Yankees couldn’t have beaten it. Industry perception seems to be that the Blue Jays got fleeced in the deal–though, as always, it’s far too early to determine that!–and that the front office rushed into moving Stroman. Anthony Kay is a nice piece, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Yankees have comparable talent. Who knows what happened? I doubt it was on the Yankees’ end, though. His salary isn’t prohibitive (this year or next) and the Yanks had the pieces. Maybe Toronto just didn’t want to trade their ace within the division? Who knows. This is a bummer, though. For sure.

2. Trevor Bauer, Too: The Yankees also missed the boat on now-Red Trevor Bauer, who was shipped out of Cleveland last night in a three-team trade. Bauer is having a nice year and showed last year how dominant he can be, but his incident throwing the ball over the centerfield wall the other day just perfectly illustrates why a considerable number of Yankee fans simply didn’t want to root for him. In pure baseball terms, he’d have made the team better, though, and now he’s unavailable. I guess Cincy could try to flip him, but I doubt it. A rotation of Castillo/Bauer/Gray is pretty damn formidable.

Now, could the Yankees have beaten this package? On their own, absolutely not. Cleveland added Yasiel Puig and prospect Scott Moss from Cincy and Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova. That’s a haul better than what the Yankees could have given them. They probably could have been involved in a three-team trade, and maybe Clint Frazier gets it done, but Cleveland clearly wanted MLB talent, and they got it. I don’t know if the Yankees could have matched. Maybe Clint and Luis Gil? That feels light, and my trade proposals, like yours, suck.

What I do know is that, yet again, the luxury tax threshold is back amid Yankee trade rumors. Joel Sherman of the Post last night reported that the Yankees had “concerns” about where Bauer’s “$20 million-ish contract for next year would push a payroll that already projects to well beyond $200 million for luxury tax purposes.” Look. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of reasons not to want Bauer on the team, but his salary isn’t one. This remains the single most infuriating thing the Yankees have done in probably over two decades, so it could be worse, but man is it infuriating.

3. Mike Minor Is Still Out There: So, in other words, after a few days of inaction, the two best starting pitchers on the market are no longer around, and neither of them are on the Yankees. That’s frustrating! Fans are allowed to be frustrated by this, but all hope is not lost. There are still a few other options, including Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers, who according to Baseball-Reference at least, is having the best season among all starters in the league. For real. Check out their WAR leaderboard for pitchers:

  1. Mike Minor: 5.9
  2. Max Scherzer: 5.4
  3. Lance Lynn: 5.0
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu: 4.6
  5. Justin Verlander/Stephen Strasburg: 4.5

Holy smokes! That’s some real production right there. I had written up a (very) long post in the same style as my other trade analyses the other day, and then WordPress ate it, which was insanely frustrating. Sorry about that. However, the long and short of it is this: Minor is having one hell of a season. He’s limiting homers, generating a lot of swings and misses, keeping the ball on ground, and he is averaging about 7 innings a start on the season. He’s walking more guys than you’d like to see, but you can’t argue with the success this year. It’s been real. He also has one of the highest-spin fastballs in baseball, which the Yankees love.

Now, is it sustainable over the long term? I’m not sure. Minor hasn’t ever really had results like this, save 2013. But sometimes it’s not always about the long-term. Would Minor make the Yankees immediately better? Yes. Is he available now? Also yes. The Yankees are in contention for the World Series, and I do think that adding Minor would better position the team to bring the trophy home in October, his performance next year be damned.

4. Robbie Ray, Too: The Yankees have also been linked to Arizona’s Robbie Ray, who is I think the most intriguing of the available starters. Let’s first focus on the good: holy cow does he miss bats. His 12.07 K/9 is 5th highest among qualified pitchers, and this isn’t a new skill. Check out his K rate rankings among pitchers with at least 100 IP in each season over the last few years:

  • 2016: 28.1% (9th)
  • 2017: 33.0% (5th)
  • 2018: 31.4% (8th, min 100 IP)
  • 2019: 31.6% (6th)
  • Cumulative (2016-19): 30.8% (3rd among 153 qualified pitchers)

So, yeah. That’s legitimate stuff right there, and it speaks to why Ray is appealing. Here’s the bad news: Ray also walks a lot of guys. A LOT of guys. I don’t think I need to do the same exercise again to prove this point, but here are the cumulative walk rate numbers from 2016-2019 among qualified pitchers for Ray: 10.7%, which ranks 6th highest out of 153. That’s way, way too many walks for my tastes. This year, though not as much historically, Ray is also surrendering a lot of homers, and walks and homers are an ugly combination. Especially in the AL East. Those might be warning signs.

However, with that said, I think the fanbase at large is a bit too dismissive of Ray. He’s not the big name we wanted or maybe even expected, but you don’t miss that many bats without legitimate stuff. The Yankees may see in Ray the potential to unlock an ace. I’d have to look under the hood to get a better sense of what that might be, but again, his stuff is clearly legit. Now, that’s also what’s been said about guys like Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Sonny Gray, and, most recently, James Paxton. We know what those results have been. I can see why fans wouldn’t want any more experiments like that.

But you know what? The Yankees also developed Luis Severino, which you never hear discussed, and that guy is pretty damn good. And the Yankees pitching staff has actually been one of the best in the league in 2017 and 2018 and it was pretty good until 10 days ago this year, too. The idea that the Yankees are completely lost when it comes to pitching is misguided at best, though there’s no denying that it’s been frustrating this week. (Also: pitching is hard and there aren’t many success stories out there, as a whole. Keep some perspective, please.)

Point is, the Yankees are very smart, and may be able to tweak Ray’s approach and turn him into a real difference maker, and if they don’t, they’d be adding a pitcher who can soak up innings, generally limit the damage, and help stabilize the rotation for now. That’s a win in my book.

5. Madison Bumgarner’s Availability: Is Madison Bumgarner really available? That’s a huge question today, and I have to say that I’m conflicted. But first, let’s establish something: Bumgarner is flying under the radar, a bit. I think signs of his decline are way too premature.

When I wrote about Bumgarner a few weeks ago, I was impressed to see some under-the-hood figures that suggested a resurgence was in order. I even talked myself into being excited should the Yankees acquire him. He made a start the next day after that posted. Here’s his line since: 3-1, 3.47 ERA (2.97 FIP, 81 ERA-) with 9.64 K/9 (26.3% K%) and only 1.74 BB/9 (4.7% BB%) in 46.2 IP. Sign me the hell up for that!

Now, back to the conflicted part: the Giants are on quite a run right now and have literally been the best team in baseball for the past month. They’re only 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. Now, Bumgarner is almost surely going to walk after the season, but aren’t the Giants–the GIANTS!– the perfect case study in “make the playoffs and anything can happen?” I think it would be a distressing sign for the health of the league if the Giants sold MadBum. It would really bother me on a deep level as someone who cares deeply about baseball as a whole.

*John Sterling Voice* Howevah, I really, really, really want the Yankees to win the World Series and I think Bumgarner would greatly improve their chances of doing so, so I’d be willing to look past this obvious red flag if the Yankees got him. Any other team, though? Time to be mad online, folks. But for real, in terms of Ray, Bumgarner, or Minor, I think Yankee fans should be happy if Cashman acquires any of those 3 today. They can really pitch, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of squinting to see real positives from any of them. They’d all help make the team better, which is the point of all this.

6. Adding a Reliever Instead: But what if they don’t? Cashman and the Yankee front office’s modus operandi in recent years, particularly with pitching, seems to be sticking to a set price and never once wavering. We’ve seen it a million times. Corbin, Cole, Scherzer, etc. I don’t need to keep going, do I? I think it keeps most of us up at night.

Anyway, if they stick to this again and don’t make a move for a starter, I don’t think they’l stand pat. They’ll add a reliever, preferably a high-leverage one, and bank on being about to go four-and-fly come October with one of the best pens in league history. And yes, everyone will whine about the starters not being championship level or whatever, but this exact strategy worked for the Kansas City Royals (who had a much worse offense) exactly…*checks notes*…3 seasons ago. That’s not ancient history. I don’t know who that is–Archie Bradley? Will Smith? Edwin Diaz (lol)–but this feels inevitable should the Yankees miss out on a starter. Hell, it might be inevitable anyway. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Yanks add a reliever either way. Who that is might just depend on the SP market.

7. “Adding Severino is The Best Trade We Can Make”: Look, I know we hate it. We all hate it. But that’s what Brian Cashman is going to say, and in fact, he’s already said it. I know it sounds like a BS PR excuse, and the reality is that it is that to a great extent. But what if I told you…it’s also…true? There isn’t a pitcher out there as good as Severino. Here are some key stats from 2017-2018, with his rankings among qualified starters in parentheses:

  • Wins: 33 (4th)
  • ERA: 3.18 (11th)
  • FIP: 3.01 (5th)
  • Innings Pitched: 384.2 (10th)
  • Strikeouts per 9: 10.53 (9th)
  • Walks per 9: 2.27 (13th)
  • HR per 9: 0.94 (17th)
  • fWAR: 11.2 (5th)

The Yankees aren’t getting a pitcher like that out there on the market. Pitchers like that barely even exist. Now, should that stop them from acquiring a starting pitcher today? Absolutely not! Say it again: absolutely not! In no way, shape, or form should the Yankees count on Severino (or Betances) for a single inning this year. They should make every possible move to ensure that they don’t need to rely on him, in fact. That should be, and I think it is, a priority.

But, even if they do trade for MadBum or Minor or Ray, if Severino returns and is able to start games for the Yankees in 2019, then Brian Cashman will be right: the very best starting pitching “acquisition” of the entire season will have been the return of Luis Severino. There’s no denying it.

8. Delayed Keuchel Reaction: Good grief has this deadline really hammered home the fact that the Yankees made a big mistake in passing on Dallas Keuchel a few months ago. I wrote about it at the time, but it’s not exactly a radical position. Everyone seemed to feel that way except the Yankees. It remains utterly baffling to me that the Yankees didn’t sign him. He’d have been a perfect fit. This entire deadline would be way, way less stressful for everyone, and the Yankees would be way less desperate.

Keuchel has made 8 starts since he signed with Atlanta, and he’s averaging over 6 innings per start with a 3.86 ERA (4.82 FIP) and a 60% grounder rate. He’s surrendering a few more homers and walks than you’d expect, but by and large, Keuchel has been exactly what you’d have expected and exactly what the Yankees need. The team simply wouldn’t budge from their internal value for Keuchel and they’re paying the price. Now they’ll have to surrender several prospects or they’ll have to stand pat with this rotation (which, I *insist* is much better than people think). Not great.


We’ll have an active thread throughout the day, dutifully updated by Derek. Additionally, we will provide as-instant-as-possible reaction to any trades that do go down. The Yankees are, in my view, the best team in baseball in terms of pure talent. They have a real opportunity to get better today. Let’s hope they do just that.

Assorted Thoughts 7 Hours Before the 2019 Trade Deadline

Well, today’s the day. The Yankees will either upgrade their starting rotation by 4 pm EST or they won’t do so at all. Remember, this year is the first year of no August waiver wire, so today’s all we’ve got. The deadline has already been a bit of an adventure for a few reasons, so here are a few assorted thoughts as we go into the day.

1. Marcus Stroman is off the Board: As we all know, Stroman was traded to the Mets in a move that shocked nearly everyone. I found this disappointing, personally, as I thought that Stroman was both the most likely SP upgrade the Yanks would make and also my preference among the rumored options. His 56.3% GB% ranks 2nd in the league among 74 qualified starting pitchers, and his 0.72 HR/9 ranks 4th among that same group. He’s averaging about 6 innings pitched a start, too. He would have made a nice addition to the Yankee rotation, even if he isn’t the dominating ace everyone expects for some reason.

As for the package the Mets surrendered to get him, well, it’s hard to say that the Yankees couldn’t have beaten it. Industry perception seems to be that the Blue Jays got fleeced in the deal–though, as always, it’s far too early to determine that!–and that the front office rushed into moving Stroman. Anthony Kay is a nice piece, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Yankees have comparable talent. Who knows what happened? I doubt it was on the Yankees’ end, though. His salary isn’t prohibitive (this year or next) and the Yanks had the pieces. Maybe Toronto just didn’t want to trade their ace within the division? Who knows. This is a bummer, though. For sure.

2. Trevor Bauer, Too: The Yankees also missed the boat on now-Red Trevor Bauer, who was shipped out of Cleveland last night in a three-team trade. Bauer is having a nice year and showed last year how dominant he can be, but his incident throwing the ball over the centerfield wall the other day just perfectly illustrates why a considerable number of Yankee fans simply didn’t want to root for him. In pure baseball terms, he’d have made the team better, though, and now he’s unavailable. I guess Cincy could try to flip him, but I doubt it. A rotation of Castillo/Bauer/Gray is pretty damn formidable.

Now, could the Yankees have beaten this package? On their own, absolutely not. Cleveland added Yasiel Puig and prospect Scott Moss from Cincy and Franmil Reyes, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova. That’s a haul better than what the Yankees could have given them. They probably could have been involved in a three-team trade, and maybe Clint Frazier gets it done, but Cleveland clearly wanted MLB talent, and they got it. I don’t know if the Yankees could have matched. Maybe Clint and Luis Gil? That feels light, and my trade proposals, like yours, suck.

What I do know is that, yet again, the luxury tax threshold is back amid Yankee trade rumors. Joel Sherman of the Post last night reported that the Yankees had “concerns” about where Bauer’s “$20 million-ish contract for next year would push a payroll that already projects to well beyond $200 million for luxury tax purposes.” Look. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of reasons not to want Bauer on the team, but his salary isn’t one. This remains the single most infuriating thing the Yankees have done in probably over two decades, so it could be worse, but man is it infuriating.

3. Mike Minor Is Still Out There: So, in other words, after a few days of inaction, the two best starting pitchers on the market are no longer around, and neither of them are on the Yankees. That’s frustrating! Fans are allowed to be frustrated by this, but all hope is not lost. There are still a few other options, including Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers, who according to Baseball-Reference at least, is having the best season among all starters in the league. For real. Check out their WAR leaderboard for pitchers:

  1. Mike Minor: 5.9
  2. Max Scherzer: 5.4
  3. Lance Lynn: 5.0
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu: 4.6
  5. Justin Verlander/Stephen Strasburg: 4.5

Holy smokes! That’s some real production right there. I had written up a (very) long post in the same style as my other trade analyses the other day, and then WordPress ate it, which was insanely frustrating. Sorry about that. However, the long and short of it is this: Minor is having one hell of a season. He’s limiting homers, generating a lot of swings and misses, keeping the ball on ground, and he is averaging about 7 innings a start on the season. He’s walking more guys than you’d like to see, but you can’t argue with the success this year. It’s been real. He also has one of the highest-spin fastballs in baseball, which the Yankees love.

Now, is it sustainable over the long term? I’m not sure. Minor hasn’t ever really had results like this, save 2013. But sometimes it’s not always about the long-term. Would Minor make the Yankees immediately better? Yes. Is he available now? Also yes. The Yankees are in contention for the World Series, and I do think that adding Minor would better position the team to bring the trophy home in October, his performance next year be damned.

4. Robbie Ray, Too: The Yankees have also been linked to Arizona’s Robbie Ray, who is I think the most intriguing of the available starters. Let’s first focus on the good: holy cow does he miss bats. His 12.07 K/9 is 5th highest among qualified pitchers, and this isn’t a new skill. Check out his K rate rankings among pitchers with at least 100 IP in each season over the last few years:

  • 2016: 28.1% (9th)
  • 2017: 33.0% (5th)
  • 2018: 31.4% (8th, min 100 IP)
  • 2019: 31.6% (6th)
  • Cumulative (2016-19): 30.8% (3rd among 153 qualified pitchers)

So, yeah. That’s legitimate stuff right there, and it speaks to why Ray is appealing. Here’s the bad news: Ray also walks a lot of guys. A LOT of guys. I don’t think I need to do the same exercise again to prove this point, but here are the cumulative walk rate numbers from 2016-2019 among qualified pitchers for Ray: 10.7%, which ranks 6th highest out of 153. That’s way, way too many walks for my tastes. This year, though not as much historically, Ray is also surrendering a lot of homers, and walks and homers are an ugly combination. Especially in the AL East. Those might be warning signs.

However, with that said, I think the fanbase at large is a bit too dismissive of Ray. He’s not the big name we wanted or maybe even expected, but you don’t miss that many bats without legitimate stuff. The Yankees may see in Ray the potential to unlock an ace. I’d have to look under the hood to get a better sense of what that might be, but again, his stuff is clearly legit. Now, that’s also what’s been said about guys like Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Sonny Gray, and, most recently, James Paxton. We know what those results have been. I can see why fans wouldn’t want any more experiments like that.

But you know what? The Yankees also developed Luis Severino, which you never hear discussed, and that guy is pretty damn good. And the Yankees pitching staff has actually been one of the best in the league in 2017 and 2018 and it was pretty good until 10 days ago this year, too. The idea that the Yankees are completely lost when it comes to pitching is misguided at best, though there’s no denying that it’s been frustrating this week. (Also: pitching is hard and there aren’t many success stories out there, as a whole. Keep some perspective, please.)

Point is, the Yankees are very smart, and may be able to tweak Ray’s approach and turn him into a real difference maker, and if they don’t, they’d be adding a pitcher who can soak up innings, generally limit the damage, and help stabilize the rotation for now. That’s a win in my book.

5. Madison Bumgarner’s Availability: Is Madison Bumgarner really available? That’s a huge question today, and I have to say that I’m conflicted. But first, let’s establish something: Bumgarner is flying under the radar, a bit. I think signs of his decline are way too premature.

When I wrote about Bumgarner a few weeks ago, I was impressed to see some under-the-hood figures that suggested a resurgence was in order. I even talked myself into being excited should the Yankees acquire him. He made a start the next day after that posted. Here’s his line since: 3-1, 3.47 ERA (2.97 FIP, 81 ERA-) with 9.64 K/9 (26.3% K%) and only 1.74 BB/9 (4.7% BB%) in 46.2 IP. Sign me the hell up for that!

Now, back to the conflicted part: the Giants are on quite a run right now and have literally been the best team in baseball for the past month. They’re only 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. Now, Bumgarner is almost surely going to walk after the season, but aren’t the Giants–the GIANTS!– the perfect case study in “make the playoffs and anything can happen?” I think it would be a distressing sign for the health of the league if the Giants sold MadBum. It would really bother me on a deep level as someone who cares deeply about baseball as a whole.

*John Sterling Voice* Howevah, I really, really, really want the Yankees to win the World Series and I think Bumgarner would greatly improve their chances of doing so, so I’d be willing to look past this obvious red flag if the Yankees got him. Any other team, though? Time to be mad online, folks. But for real, in terms of Ray, Bumgarner, or Minor, I think Yankee fans should be happy if Cashman acquires any of those 3 today. They can really pitch, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of squinting to see real positives from any of them. They’d all help make the team better, which is the point of all this.

6. Adding a Reliever Instead: But what if they don’t? Cashman and the Yankee front office’s modus operandi in recent years, particularly with pitching, seems to be sticking to a set price and never once wavering. We’ve seen it a million times. Corbin, Cole, Scherzer, etc. I don’t need to keep going, do I? I think it keeps most of us up at night.

Anyway, if they stick to this again and don’t make a move for a starter, I don’t think they’l stand pat. They’ll add a reliever, preferably a high-leverage one, and bank on being about to go four-and-fly come October with one of the best pens in league history. And yes, everyone will whine about the starters not being championship level or whatever, but this exact strategy worked for the Kansas City Royals (who had a much worse offense) exactly…*checks notes*…3 seasons ago. That’s not ancient history. I don’t know who that is–Archie Bradley? Will Smith? Edwin Diaz (lol)–but this feels inevitable should the Yankees miss out on a starter. Hell, it might be inevitable anyway. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Yanks add a reliever either way. Who that is might just depend on the SP market.

7. “Adding Severino is The Best Trade We Can Make”: Look, I know we hate it. We all hate it. But that’s what Brian Cashman is going to say, and in fact, he’s already said it. I know it sounds like a BS PR excuse, and the reality is that it is that to a great extent. But what if I told you…it’s also…true? There isn’t a pitcher out there as good as Severino. Here are some key stats from 2017-2018, with his rankings among qualified starters in parentheses:

  • Wins: 33 (4th)
  • ERA: 3.18 (11th)
  • FIP: 3.01 (5th)
  • Innings Pitched: 384.2 (10th)
  • Strikeouts per 9: 10.53 (9th)
  • Walks per 9: 2.27 (13th)
  • HR per 9: 0.94 (17th)
  • fWAR: 11.2 (5th)

The Yankees aren’t getting a pitcher like that out there on the market. Pitchers like that barely even exist. Now, should that stop them from acquiring a starting pitcher today? Absolutely not! Say it again: absolutely not! In no way, shape, or form should the Yankees count on Severino (or Betances) for a single inning this year. They should make every possible move to ensure that they don’t need to rely on him, in fact. That should be, and I think it is, a priority.

But, even if they do trade for MadBum or Minor or Ray, if Severino returns and is able to start games for the Yankees in 2019, then Brian Cashman will be right: the very best starting pitching “acquisition” of the entire season will have been the return of Luis Severino. There’s no denying it.

8. Delayed Keuchel Reaction: Good grief has this deadline really hammered home the fact that the Yankees made a big mistake in passing on Dallas Keuchel a few months ago. I wrote about it at the time, but it’s not exactly a radical position. Everyone seemed to feel that way except the Yankees. It remains utterly baffling to me that the Yankees didn’t sign him. He’d have been a perfect fit. This entire deadline would be way, way less stressful for everyone, and the Yankees would be way less desperate.

Keuchel has made 8 starts since he signed with Atlanta, and he’s averaging over 6 innings per start with a 3.86 ERA (4.82 FIP) and a 60% grounder rate. He’s surrendering a few more homers and walks than you’d expect, but by and large, Keuchel has been exactly what you’d have expected and exactly what the Yankees need. The team simply wouldn’t budge from their internal value for Keuchel and they’re paying the price. Now they’ll have to surrender several prospects or they’ll have to stand pat with this rotation (which, I *insist* is much better than people think). Not great.


We’ll have an active thread throughout the day, dutifully updated by Derek. Additionally, we will provide as-instant-as-possible reaction to any trades that do go down. The Yankees are, in my view, the best team in baseball in terms of pure talent. They have a real opportunity to get better today. Let’s hope they do just that.

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