Category: Notes Page 2 of 5

News & Notes: Winter League Opener, Yadier Molina rumor, and a James Paxton update

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Awards season trudges on as the hot stove remains pretty quiet. Tonight, we’ll find out the AL and NL MVPs. As you know, DJ LeMahieu is a finalist in the AL. The Yankees haven’t had an MVP winner since A-Rod won in 2007. The winner will be announced on MLB Network at 6 p.m. eastern. While you wait for that, here’s the latest Yankees-related news:

Domingo Germán to start Dominican Winter League Opener

If we are to believe Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner, Domingo Germán’s future with the Yankees is still up in the air. Tonight could be his first step in a return to pinstripes though, as he starts the season opener for Toros Del Este in the Dominican Winter League. I don’t know what Hal needs to see from Germán in order to bring him back next year, but it very well could be lip service. Frankly, I fully expect the team to bring him back without (publicly) addressing any rehabilitation following his domestic violence suspension.

Also of note, Miguel Andújar and Gary Sánchez will Germán’s teammates, though Gary isn’t expected to report to the team until next month. We’ll see if Miggy is in the lineup tonight.

If you want to watch the game this evening, you can register here. It’s $15 for the full season, which is a bargain.

News & Notes: LeMahieu rejects QO, Yanks interested in Simmons, and MiLB affiliate news

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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

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.

News & Notes: Boone stays, Thames interviewing, Germán’s return, Britton’s option, Hank Aaron Award

He’s staying.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t spent too much time watching baseball since the Yankees were eliminated. I’ve tried to tune in to the NLCS, but my goodness, Globe Life Field is incredibly depressing. What an awful ballpark. As for the ALCS? Just can’t do it. Seeing Tampa Bay going for the sweep tonight is a bummer knowing that the Yankees would have stomped Houston. Sigh. Anyway, here’s the latest in the Yankees’ world:

  • End of season press conferences: Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman spoke to the media today. We recapped it here.
  • Boone is staying: In case you couldn’t already tell from press conference earlier, this is not a huge surprise. Yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner said on The Michael Kay Show that the manager would return in 2021. At the minimum, that means the team will pick up his 2021 option. It could also mean an extension. We’ll see.
  • Marcus Thames interviews for Detroit’s open managerial gig: The hitting coach would be missed here in the Bronx, but is more than deserving. He interviewed with the Tigers last week.
  • Domingo Germán’s future: In the same interview, Hal was asked about whether or not he’d be comfortable having Germán on the roster next season. His response: “I have to absolutely feel comfortable that he deeply, deeply regrets and is sorry for what he did, and I absolutely have to be comfortable with the fact that he’s turned his life around”. The details of the incident aren’t public, but it sure doesn’t sound good.
  • Details on Zack Britton’s option: The reliever told the New York Post that, based on his understanding, the Yankees have to decide on his 2022 option three days after the end of the World Series. If declined, Britton will have two days to decide on opting out of 2021.
  • DJ LeMahieu is the Yankees’ Hank Aaron Award Nominee: MLB announced each team’s candidate this morning. LeMahieu, who won the batting title with a .364 batting average, also had the American League’s best wRC+ (177). He’s got to be the favorite in the AL, no?
  • Send us your mailbag questions: Just a friendly reminder here. Shoot an email to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com and we’ll consider your question for upcoming mailbag posts.

Catching up with where the Yankees left off in March

Baseball is coming back, but the stands will remain like this. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Playing baseball seems pretty reckless right now, but things will move full steam ahead starting this week. The Yankees already announced their initial player pool yesterday, which I broke down here. Most of those players will report to “summer camp” by Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The rest, i.e. the taxi squad, will head to another location.

Since it’s been a long time since spring training was cut short, now’s a good time to refresh our memories of where the Yankees stand today. But first, let’s run down some of the new rules for this season:

  • Universal designated-hitter
  • 30-man roster for first two weeks of season, followed by 28 players for the next two weeks, and lastly 26 players the rest of the way
  • August 31st trade deadline
  • Postseason eligibility: player must be added to Major League roster by September 15th
  • Teams can have three players on their taxi-squad for road games, one of three must be a catcher
  • Extra-innings will begin with a runner on second base (batter who made final our in previous inning or a pinch runner)
  • 10-day injured list for pitchers and hitters
  • 60-day injured list is now 45-days
  • Separate injured list for players who test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19 with no minimum or maximum days for list

With that out of the way, here’s how the Yankees shape up at the moment.

Aaron Judge could be ready for Opening Day

The saga continues, three months later. Newsday’s Erik Boland reported on the right fielder’s status over the weekend, and while its good news that Judge is hitting off a tee, it’s not as much progress as one might have hoped since March.

As a reminder, Judge suffered a rib stress fracture and collapsed lung late last season, though nobody found out until this spring. His lung is healthy, but his rib is another story. We learned that Judge was set to have a CT scan to check his progress in mid-May, and perhaps another one not long after. However, we’ve been in the dark ever since.

Boland quotes one club insider who said that Judge “didn’t seem to be holding anything back”. That’s good and all, but tee work is still a long ways away from game action. Hopefully, the three week tune up is enough time for him to ramp up from the tee to game-ready. The Yankees really need as much of Judge as possible in this shortened season, so hopefully we get better news when the players report to camp this week. For now though, “could” doesn’t leave me particularly optimistic.

Stanton, Hicks, and Paxton are healthy

In better injury news: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton are healthy.

Stanton, who lost nearly all of 2019 to a myriad of injuries, suffered a calf strain back in February. It’s not new news that Stanton’s ready, though. Manager Aaron Boone said so back in March, as Bobby reminded us in a post a few weeks ago.

Last week, Hicks told the New York Post he’s ready to play. So that’s that. I think we all anticipated this, particularly after seeing how long it took Didi Gregorius to rehab offseason Tommy John surgery last season.

Finally, Paxton’s surgically repaired herniated disc is a non-issue at this point. This is old news, but positive nonetheless. Having a healthy Paxton piggy back Gerrit Cole during the 60 game sprint will be key, especially if the southpaw is as good as he was down the stretch last summer. Remember, the Yankees were undefeated in his final eleven starts of 2019 when he posted a 2.51 ERA. Not only would a repeat performance obviously propel the Yankees, but it would help Paxton land a big contract this winter when he hits free agency.

Domingo Germán’s suspension

The shortened season has guaranteed that the Yankees won’t have Domingo Germán in 2020. The 27 year-old right hander was suspended at the end of 2019 after MLB’s investigated a domestic violence altercation between Germán and his girlfriend.

Entering this year, there were 63 games remaining on his suspension which would have put him on track for a return in June under normal circumstances. Instead, the remainder of his suspension will keep him on the sidelines for all of the regular season and three postseason games should the Yankees make it. I can’t imagine the Yankees bringing him back for the postseason, though.

About JA Happ’s Vesting Option

I doubt that the Yankees want to bring JA Happ back in 2021. Over a full 162 game season, it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for the Yankees to prevent his $17 million option from vesting. Was he really going to make 27 starts or throw 165 innings over a full season this year? Probably not. But now, under the terms of the March agreement, things get trickier for the Yankees. Take a look:

Each player signed to a major league contract at the start of the season shall have his salary determined by multiplying his full-season salary by the number of games scheduled (not adjusting for weather-related postponements or cancellations) divided by 162, minus any advanced salary. In the event of an additional interruption or delay, the salary shall be determined by multiplying his full-season salary by the games played by the player’s club divided by 162. Thresholds and amounts for bonuses, escalators and vesting options would be reduced by using the same formula.

In a 60 game schedule, Happ needs to make 10 starts or throw at least 61 1/3 innings to return to the Yankees in 2021. I wouldn’t fret about the innings threshold. However, limiting Happ to just nine starts during that span won’t be so simple. It’ll take an injury or a demotion to the bullpen to fall short. I guess we can’t rule out contraction of COVID-19 either, sadly. What a world we live in.

What if the pandemic interrupts or ends the 60 game season prematurely? Happ’s thresholds would be recalculated based on the amount of games the Yankees play. Since Happ will only need to make one start every six games, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the season ends after just 10 games and Happ’s already made two starts, thereby guaranteeing his 2021 option.

News & Notes: Red Sox Discipline, Minor League Contraction, & Some Old Friends

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Red Sox Sign Stealing Penalties

Rob Manfred handed down discipline related to the league’s investigation into the Red Sox organization’s behavior during the 2018 season. The commissioner placed the onus on the team’s replay system operator, JT Watkins. That said, some players clearly had to be involved for the scheme to work. Manfred also noted that the team’s transgressions were not at the level of what the Astros did previously. Essentially, Watkins decoded the signals for the players to use when they were on second base and could share the information with the hitter.

As a result, these are the penalties:

  • Watkins has been suspended for all of 2020, including the postseason. He cannot serve in that position in 2021, though he can return in another capacity.
  • The Red Sox must forfeit their 2nd round draft pick this year.
  • Alex Cora is suspended for 2020, but not for his conduct as Red Sox manager. Rather, for his conduct while Houston’s bench coach in 2017.

State of the Minor League structure

According to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, the MiLB is prepared to concede 40 affiliates in a new Professional Baseball Agreement with the MLB. There was quite a bit of public pushback when we first heard this rumored months ago, but to hear that MiLB is willing to accept this is a bit of a shock. For what it’s worth MiLB released a statement countering Cooper’s report.

There’s been some concern about the future of the Staten Island Yankees with regard to the new PBA. Pinstriped Prospects’ Robert Pimpsner wrote about what this means for the Yankees’ short-season A-ball affiliate.

A-Rod and J-Lo to bid for the Mets?

My first reaction to the Variety report: this would be so weird. I know A-Rod grew up a Mets fan, but it’s just weird to envision him becoming the face of the club after being with the Yankees for so long. And J-Lo is from the Bronx, of course. But hey, money talks if they can accumulate enough of it. The power couple needs to raise a good deal of money in order to purchase the Mets from the Wilpon family. They’ve enlisted the help of JPMorgan Chase to do so.

The Mets were nearly sold to Steve Cohen just months ago before negotiations fell apart near the finish line. Nothing ever comes easy with the Wilpons, so one would have to imagine things won’t be much different this time around.

In any case, should this actually come to fruition, we could have A-Rod vs. Derek Jeter in the same division!

Checking in on an old friend

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com caught up with ex-Yankee Tyler Austin, who signed with the DeNA BayStars of Yokohama for the 2020 season. Gotta be honest, I totally missed that Austin was headed to the NPB this year. I knew he had bounced around with a few MLB clubs after the Yankees dealt him to Minnesota and figured he was still around. Anyway, playing in Japan would be a nice opportunity for Austin to re-establish himself. Unfortunately, like for everyone else, the coronavirus has gotten in the way.

Checking in on another old friend

The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler caught up with Aaron Small of 2005 Yankees’ fame. The journeyman righty provided that 2005 club a shot in the arm when he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 15 games (9 starts) and went 10-0. Then 33 years-old, it was the only real success Small had at the big league level. But wow, was it an incredible run and story at the time.

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