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Wild Card Round Game 1: All you could ask for

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That was ideal, was it not? The Yankees clobbered Cleveland in Game 1 of this best-of-three series, 12-3. The offense was all over Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole mowed down his opponent. It’s not like the Yankees needed to blow out Cleveland to feel comfortable, either. In fact, this one felt over after Aaron Judge’s two-run blast on the fourth pitch of the game. An early lead with Cole on the hill against a scuffling Cleveland offense? Just what the doctor ordered. Let’s break it down.

The bats took Bieber off his gameplan immediately. The Yankees’ offense may have been frustrating and inconsistent during the regular season, but that was far from the case tonight. Intimidated by the presumptive American League Cy Young winner? Not a chance. The Bombers took a 2-0 lead four pitches into this one. It completely took Shane Bieber off his game. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single and Aaron Judge followed with this:

That was quick. Bieber had come out firing all fastballs and the Yankees made him pay immediately. The right immediately shied away from his heater thereafter.

Bieber threw 27 fastballs the rest of the game, or 26.7 percent of his final 101 pitches. He’s not necessarily a fastball dominant pitcher as he used the pitch just over 37 percent in the regular season, but still. The Yankees scared him off the pitch.

Cleveland’s ace had a chance to settle down after a scoreless second and two relatively quick outs in the third inning. But instead, the Yankees’ relentless offense made him pay. Bieber fell behind Aaron Hicks 3-0, got it to 3-2, but then walked him. Up came Luke Voit:

Not a fastball, but rather, a cutter right down the pipe. Voit made him pay to give the Yanks a 3-1 lead.

The Yanks tallied a couple of more runs against Bieber in the fourth. Brett Gardner jumped a first pitch fastball for an RBI double and DJ LeMahieu delivered an RBI single up the middle against a heater too. The Yankees may not have seen Bieber’s fastball much, but when they did, they pounced. And they weren’t done jumping on Bieber’s fastball there. Gleyber Torres delivered the knockout blow in the fifth.

That was the end of Bieber’s night. 4 2/3 innings and 7 runs for the starter with a 1.77 ERA this season. Welp!

The offense didn’t let Bieber capitalize on his curveball, either. As impressive as it was to see the Yankees punish Bieber’s sporadically thrown fastball, it was also great to watch them not flail at too many of Bieber’s curveballs. Opponents had a .095 batting average, .143 slugging percentage, and 51.5 percent whiff rate against his yakker this season. Tonight, it’s not what they did when they put the ball in play (1-for-6), but rather, what they did against it otherwise.

Sure, Bieber racked up four Ks on his breaking ball, but that doesn’t tell the story. They whiffed on 7 of 18 swings (39 percent) against the curve, well below his regular season rate. They also fouled it off 5 times. Plus, Bieber was only able to nab 3 called strikes on it. It simply just wasn’t his typical putaway pitch this evening.

Overall, Bieber went to his curveball on 36 percent of his pitches this evening, 10 percent higher than in the regular season. That would have been a decent plan tonight had his curveball been fooling Yankees’ hitters. Instead, the offense was locked in. They hunted fastballs while spoiling Bieber’s curveball.

Spring Training Competition: Fifth Starter

Pitchers and catchers are the theme of the week, and since I already covered the backup catcher competition, today it’s time for the fifth starter role.

If it wasn’t for James Paxton’s surgery, this probably wouldn’t have been a competition at all. Brian Cashman proclaimed JA Happ as the team’s fifth starter in January. Personally, I expected some sort of competition whether or not Happ was still with the team, but that’s moot now. Happ’s going to be in the rotation leaving the last spot up for grabs. Let’s take a look at whose in the hunt for the last starter spot.

The favorite

It certainly seems like Jordan Montgomery is the heavy favorite. Aaron Boone spoke highly of him. He’s also got the most big league experience and success compared to the rest of the bunch in this battle. In 182 2/3 pre-TJS innings with the Yankees, Montgomery had a 3.84 ERA, 4.09 FIP, and 3.5 WAR. That’s rock solid for a back of the rotation guy.

Track record aside, the one concern I have is how rusty he may be. Now, he did return to pitch four innings last September after missing most of 2018 and 2019 rehabbing, which is a plus. But he really hasn’t pitched in a competitive game since early 2018. On the other hand, when is there a better time to dust off the cobwebs than April?

Remember, Monty won a rotation spot out of camp as a rookie in 2017 — before he had ever thrown a major league pitch. The Yankees liked him then and certainly still do now. Expect him to be in the rotation from the get go.

Better off in the bullpen?

Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa were named as options by Brian Cashman after the Paxton news broke. However, both may be better utilized in relief.

Cessa seemingly found his home in the bullpen last year. In 43 games and 81 innings, all in relief, Cessa recorded a 4.11 ERA and 4.87 FIP. The 27 year-old righty’s fastball-slider combination appears to play up in shorter stints. And frankly, I don’t really want him facing the top of the opponent’s order in the first inning. He’s better suited in low leverage opportunities as he showed last season.

Loaisiga is tantalizing simply because of his nasty stuff. Not only did he average 96.9 miles per hour on his fastball last year, but he also was in the 84th and 89th percentile in fastball and curveball spin, respectively. Though his command wavers, we know he can be dominant at times. As we’ve seen with so many other hard throwers with suspect command, sometimes they’re better off in short stints and in fact more valuable in relief anyway.

The unknown

After a strong 2018 following his inclusion in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, there was some intrigue about Michael King’s potential to be a back of the rotation starter. As a 24 year-old in 2018, King dominated across 161 1/3 innings between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. He had a 1.79 ERA and 2.76 FIP supported by a good strikeout rate (24.7 percent) and stupendous walk rate (4.7 percent).

Unfortunately, 2019 was mostly a lost year for King, hence his chances in this competition being a bit of a mystery. He had a stress reaction in his pitching elbow last spring training which basically derailed all of his campaign. Once he completed his rehab and returned to action, he wasn’t as good as the year before. He did get to make his major league debut in relief last September, at least.

King’s kind of in the same boat as Montgomery except he doesn’t have the big league track record. Both pitchers returned late last season after lengthy layoffs, so it’ll be interesting to see how sharp they are in the early going. King’s going to get a look, but chances are he’s in Scranton to begin 2020.

The prospects

The Yankees’ 40-man is littered with pitching prospects, though only one of them is close to the big leagues. Deivi García, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson, and Miguel Yajure were all new additions to the 40-man roster this winter and will be exciting to see in camp. However, only García appears to have a legitimate shot given his proximity to the majors.

Deivi reached Triple-A by the end of 2019 and there were some whispers of him joining the big league bullpen by season’s end. That never came to fruition as García stumbled a bit in Scranton. Nonetheless, the 20 year-old righty is a consensus top-100 prospect specifically named by Cashman as in the running for the gig.

Don’t count on Deivi winning the job out of camp, but it’s not impossible. Being on the 40-man alone is a booster, and if he shoves in Grapefruit League action, people are going to want to see him in the majors soon.

If we move away from the 40-man, we’ll also find Clarke Schmidt as a non-roster invitee. Schmidt’s prospect pedigree is basically on par with García’s, sans the BP rankings which prefers the latter by a good margin. There’s a decent shot we see Schmidt in pinstripes by year’s end, but since the Yankees would need to cut someone to add him for Opening Day, his odds are slim to none. Worth a mention though because of his upside and inclusion in big league camp.

Break glass in case of emergency

The Yankees brought in Nick Tropeano on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He’s assuredly destined for Triple-A to start the season, but he does have over 200 major league innings to his name. Tropeano’s struggled to stay healthy and was last effective in 2015 and 2016, so he’s not particularly enticing.

Unless there are tons of injuries to the staff in spring, Tropeano’s not going to see action with the Yankees. He’s here more to fill out Scranton’s rotation than serve as an actual major league option. Still, he’s in camp and has pitched at the highest level before, so I suppose he has some qualifications. Again though, it’d take a true emergency to need him right away.

Reviewing the Yankees’ 2020 Projections: ZiPS

After examining Steamer’s 2020 outlook earlier this week, it’s time to review the Yankees’ ZiPS projections just released on Fangraphs today. And as you can tell by the graphic above, they are pretty, pretty good.

ZiPS comfortably puts the Yankees over the 100-win threshold, as it should. The Yankees are stacked, folks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more intriguing projections the system has in store.

Betting the over

Hitter: Like I did with Steamer, I could easily pick DJ LeMahieu again (ZiPS has a 108 OPS+ projection). But, let’s mix it up here to avoid repetitiveness. I’m going bolder this time. Gio Urshela already has a respectable forecast, but I think he’ll do better than the 105 OPS+ and 2.2 WAR ZiPS calls for. Urshela’s exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and xwOBA all were comfortably above average last year which led to a 133 OPS+. Now, I don’t expect a repeat of 2019, but something like a 115 OPS+ seems within reach.

Pitcher: ZiPS pegs Zack Britton for a 3.48 ERA and 3.63 FIP in 51 2/3 innings. A fine projection, but I think Britton can beat it easily. Zack really came on in the second half of last season and I think we can expect more of that in 2020. Take a look at the splits from a year ago:

  • 1st half: 2.43 ERA and 4.21 FIP, 17.2 percent strikeout rate
  • 2nd half: 1.11 ERA and 3.01 FIP, 28.7 percent strikeout rate

Betting the under

Hitter: This was a hard one. I don’t think there’s any obvious pick here, so I’m going a little more granular. ZiPS projects Gleyber Torres to hit 41 home runs, but I think he falls short of that. I know he hit 38 last year, so 41 may be in reach, but I am more comfortable pegging Torres in the 25-30 home run range. Which is still great! I just can’t see him hitting more homers per plate appearance (one every 15.1 PAs) than Aaron Judge (one every 15.8 PAs), which is what ZiPS indicates.

Pitcher: I have no choice but to do a repeat here. I thought Steamer was too high on JA Happ, but ZiPS is even more optimistic. It expects 138 innings of 4.43 ERA and 4.40 FIP performance, which seems too good to be true. I’ll gladly sign up for a 101 ERA+ from the fifth starter, but I just can’t envision it.

Push

Hitter: Gary Sánchez’s projection feels about right. ZiPS gives The Kraken a .244/.323/.524 (121 OPS+) batting line with 32 homers and 2.6 WAR in 467 plate appearances. Only Giancarlo Stanton (43 in 567) is projected to hit homers at a higher per PA rate than Gary. That said, I could absolutely see a monster season that beats the forecast, but this is a pretty darn good outlook nonetheless.

Pitcher: ZiPS projects a 4.34 ERA and 4.30 FIP for Masashiro Tanaka in 168 innings. Considering that Tanaka hasn’t posted a FIP below 4.01 since 2016, this seems like a reasonable expectation. In any event, we know the season doesn’t really get going until the calendar says October for Tanaka. We can reasonably expect a sub-2.00 ERA come fall.

Biggest Surprises

Hitter: ZiPS has Mike Tauchman at 2.5 WAR, or sixth-best out of the Yankees’ position players. It loves his defense and thinks he’ll hit aplenty (.263/.335/.437, 105 OPS+). I think the offensive projection is reasonable, but the way ZiPS loves Tauchman’s glove caught me off guard. Dan Szymborski, the proprietor of ZiPS, did note that the system has loved his fielding since he was in the minors. Statcast has him in the 95th percentile in outs above average, so maybe this shouldn’t come as a total surprise. But essentially, per ZiPS, the big takeaway here is that Tauchman should play over Brett Gardner, which I didn’t anticipate.

Pitcher: It’s not really one guy, but rather, how the non-late inning relievers stack up per ZiPS. See below:

PlayerERA+
Ben Heller108
Jonathan Loaisiga104
Brooks Kriske101
Jonathan Holder101
Luis Cessa93

If the Yankees are going to carry an eight man bullpen, that means three of the five above can be in the majors along with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle. It’s pretty obvious that Cessa should be the odd-man out, right? And that Heller absolutely deserves a spot, too. I didn’t expect that to be so cut and dry. I figured everyone would be a bit more closely bunched together.

Personal Favorites

When you see Gleyber’s projection.

Hitter: It has to be Gleyber’s projection, right? I know I already wrote about betting the under on his home run total, but still. .287/.348/.557 (136 OPS+), 41 home runs, and 4.6 WAR is a thing of beauty for the 23 year-old shortstop.

Pitcher: One of my favorite things about the ZiPS release are the comps the system spits out. For the Yankees, the pitcher comps are simply fantastic. ZiPS equates Gerrit Cole to prime Greg Maddux, Luis Severino to Roy Halladay, and James Paxton to Andy Pettitte. And then there’s the bullpen. Aroldis Chapman was comped to Billy Wagner, Chad Green to Rollie Fingers, and Adam Ottavino to Jeff Nelson.

Arbitration Filing Deadline: Yankee News and Reactions

It’s arbitration day! I tracked everything relevant to the Yankees, including all of their settlements and the impact it has on the payroll, below. It’s important to remember that the arbitration system is generally bad for players — it results in less salary than they’d generate on the open market, but that’s the system we have right now. I can’t change it. So just bear that in mind when I say that this is good or bad for a player below.

Let me know if I missed anything and I’ll add it. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Arbitration Outcomes

The Yankees had nine arbitration-eligible players. I’ve broken it down by the three I think were the biggest and most interesting of that group — Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, and James Paxton — and then added brief notes for the remaining six at the bottom.

1. Judge Gets a Huge Raise: Well, Aaron Judge certainly got himself a raise. According to Mark Feinsand, the two parties agreed to a $8.5 million contract today. Per Bryan Hoch, that’s a 1142.15% raise, which is nice. It’s also not enough. Two things can be true at the same time, but as I said above, this is the system we have. And it’s certainly better than this:

Judge, of course, is the Yankees’ best player, and the days are gone where he will provide absolutely ridiculous “surplus value” for them now. The Yankees’ right fielder is a career .273/.394/.558 (152 wRC+) with 110 HR and great defense since he stormed onto the scene in 2017. (Judge outperformed his $6.4 million MLBTR prediction by quite a bit, which is great.)

For what it’s worth, Judge is still below Mookie Betts, who earned $10.5 million in his first year of arbitration, but this is quite a good showing for him. He will make a lot of money over the next few years, and even more if he stays healthy for a full 162.

2. Gary Sánchez Falls Settles for Less Than Predicted: According to MLBTR, Sánchez was going to get around $5.6 million in arbitration this year. He settled for an even $5 million, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. That’s just over 10% less than expected, but it’s a very good deal for The Kraken nonetheless: it’s the second-highest salary for a catcher in his first year of eligibility. For good reason, too, as Sánchez is a career .246/.328/.518 (123 wRC+) hitter with 105 HR, which is good for any position but exceptional for a catcher.

The knocks against Sánchez, loathe as I am to admit, are twofold: 1) he’s obviously streaky, 2) his defensive value is debatable, though I maintain it’s much better than commonly thought, and 3) he’s injury-prone. Still, though, that obviously was not enough to get in the way of a huge, well-deserved raise for Gary.

3. James Paxton: Big Maple was projected to get $12.9 million for the 2020 season but actually settled for a bit less at $12.5 million. (Jon Heyman) I wrote about Paxton’s past performance and future as a free agent following the season in both today’s mailbag and last week’s, so check those out if you’ve missed them. This feels like a pretty fair settlement honestly, and it answers the question over a Paxton extension. If he’s going to be in the Bronx past 2020, it will likely come via a reunion in free agency.

4. The Six Remaining Players: While these were the big three fish in today’s Yankee sea, there were still six other arbitration-eligible players on the Bombers. Here is where things stand now as of the deadline:

  • Luis Cessa and the Yanks agreed to a $895,000 salary for the 2020 season and avoided arbitration. (Robert Murray) Cessa, of course, was actually good last season despite what the Twitter masses will say.
  • Chad Green and the Yanks agreed to a new $1.275 million deal for 2020. (Jon Heyman)
  • Jonathan Holder and the Yanks agreed to a $750,000 salary for 2020. (Robert Murray) Hopefully Holder has a sturdier 2020 than his up-and-down 2019 season.
  • Tommy Kahnle and the Yankees agreed to a $2.65 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) That’s $400,000 under his MLBTR prediction, but still a pretty nice salary for Tommy Tightpants.
  • Jordan Montgomery and the Yanks agreed to a new $805,000 deal. (Jon Heyman)
  • Gio Urshela beats the projection and got himself a nice deal. Hewas projected to get $2.2 million by MLBTR but he settled for $2.475 million, beating the projection by 10%. (Joel Sherman) That’s great news. It’s a nice raise for Urshela, who stormed onto the scene to hit .314/.355/.534 (132 wRC+) in nearly 500 plate appearances last year. Good for him. He deserves it. Now let’s hope he goes out there and earns himself another nice raise for 2021.

What Does It Mean for the Payroll?

A few weeks ago, I went into some depth about the current state of the Yankees’ payroll situation. Of course, that included assumptions about the arbitration settlements. We don’t need to assume any more! Exciting. Here’s where things stand now:

Add that all up and you get just over $261 million (if you use the exact figures linked in the spreadsheet). Subtract the $3 million owed to New York from Miami for Stanton, and you get a total of $258,061,667 for the 2020 season as of right now. Of course, that’s pending any other moves (and including Gardner). The Yankees are still above the third tier of the luxury tax and will need to trade Happ if they’d like to get under it.

Around the League

This is always a really busy day around the league, so I figured it would be useful to highlight some of the bigger developments down below. I chose folks to here who are either relevant to the Yankees in some way or just notable generally. ESPN has a very helpful tracker that lists all of today’s agreements. Go check that out if you don’t want to miss anything at all.

Here are the big stories of the day:

  • Mookie Betts and the Red Sox agreed to a $27 million salary for 2020. (Jeff Passan) That’s an arbitration record, and an extremely well deserved one. The question now is whether or not he’ll play out the year in Boston. Jackie Bradley Jr. settled with the Sox as well, he for $11 million. (Julian McWilliams) We’ll also have to see if he stays around at that salary, though I think it’s a fair one.
  • Kris Bryant and the Cubs agreed to a $18.6 million salary for 2020. (Jeff Passan) Remember, Bryant’s grievance against the Cubs — which he is (correctly, in my opinion) alleging service time manipulation — still needs to be settled. That should happen soon. Javier Baez settled for $1o million and Kyle Schwarber settled for $7 million in other Cubs notables.
  • Noah Syndergaard and the Mets agreed to a $9.7 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) In other Mets news, Marcus Stroman settled for $12 million. (Jon Heyman)
  • Carlos Correa and the Astros agreed to an $8 million deal. (Brian McTaggart)
  • Cody Bellinger shattered the MLB record for first-year arbitration players, earning $11.5 million next year. The Dodgers also agreed to terms with Corey Seager, who will earn $7.6 million next year. (MLBTR)
  • Francisco Lindor and Cleveland agreed to a $17.5 million salary. (Bob Nightengale) Mike Clevinger signed a $4.1 million salary. (Ryan Lewis)
  • Josh Hader and the Brewers could not come to an agreement. They will go to arbitration. (Andrew Wagner) Probably because of the lack saves factor, much like the Yankees and Betances back in the day. (Andrew Wagner) (Note: I am an idiot. Hader was their closer last year and logged 37 saves, so it’s nothing like the Betances situation. I probably should have checked that before posting!)
  • Tyler Glasnow and the Rays settled for a $2.05 million salary for 2020. (Mark Feinsand)
  • Ken Giles and the Blue Jays agreed to a $9.7 million salary for 2020. Saves count for a lot! (Scott Mitchell)
  • Trever Bauer and the Reds agreed to a $17.5 million salary for 2020. (Mark Feinsand) This marks a clean break for Bauer, who has gone before an arbiter each of the last two years before hiring a new agent for this season.
  • David Peralta and the Diamondbacks agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension. (Jeff Passan) His is a very cool story.
  • Jonathan Villar and the Marlins agreed to a $8.2 million salary for 2020. (Jon Heyman) The Orioles DFA’d their best player over that. Meanwhile, their ZiPS projection looks to be about 55 wins. Ouch.

Luis Cessa fits his role [2019 Season Review]

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Not many mop-up relievers are popular among a team’s fanbase. Their jobs are relatively thankless. They pitch with very little on the line, usually in blowouts. So if they get the job done and push the game closer to the finish, no one really cares. But if they let the opposing team back in the game or fail to give other relievers a breather, the boo birds come out in full force. Luis Cessa has faced the brunt of this for a few years now.

In the grand scheme of things, what Cessa does on the mound doesn’t really matter. But admittedly, it can be annoying to watch him struggle. Surely, the Yankees can find a better pitcher to roster, right? Well, yes. But even a guy like Cessa serves his purpose. And really, he does a pretty good job for the gig he’s got. The Yankees didn’t ask much of him this year, but he delivered nonetheless. In 81 innings across 43 appearances, Cessa had a 4.11 ERA (89 ERA-) and 4.87 FIP (104 FIP-). That’s great for any long man.

A new slider-heavy approach

In terms of runs allowed, this was Cessa’s best season. It was the first year of his career that his ERA was lower than the league average, though he had a better FIP last year (87 FIP- in 2018). That said, runs are the currency of baseball, and Cessa did his best job of preventing them in a year when offenses ran rampant. How did he do it? Seemingly with an increased emphasis on his slider.

Cessa’s gradually increased his slider usage over the years, finally eclipsing his fastball usage in 2018. But this year, he dramatically boosted the amount of sliders thrown. It was a wise decision — Cessa has had good numbers on his slider in the past and the Yankees like to shy away from fastballs if possible. Here’s a good one:

In 2018, Cessa’s slider generated an excellent 38.0 percent whiff rate. Opposing hitters had a low .218 xwOBA and .176 batting average against the offering too. So it only made sense to increase its usage this year, and once again, Cessa found more good fortune with it. Opponents whiffed 40.7 percent of the time and hit .204 against the pitch (.246 xwOBA).

Even with good results on the pitch, Cessa’s slider won’t overwhelm you with spin or movement. Per Statcast, its spin rate (2491 RPM) was a little higher than league avereage (2428 RPM) and in terms of movement, it has good drop (one inch better than average) but doesn’t get good side-to-side movement (3.9 inches below average).

Even though Cessa throws hard, all signs pointed to him needing to throw his slider more often to stick around. He did just that and was more effective.

Getting the job done in low leverage

Histogram of Cessa’s outings by entrance leverage index.

Although the 27 year-old righty improved this season, his performance wouldn’t be palpable in any role other than mop-up duty. As such, Aaron Boone rarely pitched him in close games. 29 of Cessa’s 43 appearances were in situations with a leverage index lower than 1.0. For reference, 1.0 is average. So unless it was an absolute necessity, Cessa pitched most often with the game not on the line. And far more often than not, he got the job done in that role.

Of those low pressure outings, Cessa only had two meltdowns. A meltdown is any outing during which a pitcher has a win-probability added of negative 6 percent or worse. Frankly, what more can a team ask of its mop-up guy? It’s not a glorious role, but it’s a necessary one. Cessa aptly filled it.

To no one’s surprise, Cessa had a much harder time in tighter games. In games with medium or high leverage, he had a 4.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. Obviously, using him in those situations wasn’t ever part of Boone’s plans, but there are times when there’s no choice. If the bullpen was exhausted or the game was in extra innings, sometimes Cessa was the only guy to call for.

In spite of his struggles in important situations, Cessa actually did some of his best work when it mattered most: the playoffs, when he threw four shutout innings against the Astros in the ALCS. He pitched the eighth and ninth innings of Game 3’s 4-1 loss, which really wasn’t a high pressure spot per se. But in game 6, Cessa came in with the Yankees season on the brink.

Down 3-2 in the series and the game’s score also 3-2 in the Astros favor, Cessa came in to face Houston’s 5-6-7 hitters in the bottom of the fourth. Impressively, Cessa induced back-to-back groundouts against Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. Then, he struck out Yordan Álvarez. He preserved the one run deficit in by pitching a scoreless fifth inning too. Obviously, the Yankees did not win that game, but Cessa keeping the Yankees in the game was an unsung performance.

What’s next?

Cessa is still on the Yankees roster and was offered arbitration, but his status on the 2020 team is tenuous. A few things make him expendable: he’s out of minor league options, he’s nothing special on the mound, and he’s due for a decent raise. It’s the first time he’s arbitration eligible and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $1.1 million next year. That may be a little more than the Yankees would like to spend on a long man, especially when someone like Jonathan Loaisiga could take that role for less (and likely be better).

All that said, I expect Cessa to stick around only because he’s avoided removal for so long now. And that’s fine: he’s more than capable of serving as the Yankees’ mop-up guy.

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