Tag: Luis Medina

Yankees add Florial, six others to 40-man roster; DFA Bird, Cortes and release Ellsbury

Deivi García

The Yankees added OF Estevan Florial and RHPs Deivi García, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Brooks Kriske, Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure to the 40-man roster Wednesday. To make additional room on the roster, New York designated Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes Jr. for assignment while Jacoby Ellsbury was released.

After today’s moves, the Yankees now have a full 40-man roster before making any free agent moves. Assuming they don’t make further room, they won’t be able to select a player in next month’s Rule 5 draft.

While the Yankees were expected to add many of those seven players to the roster, it was surprising that they fit all of them, including Kriske, Nelson and Yajure, who weren’t locks. Meanwhile, the moves to jettison both Bird and Ellsbury alongside Cortes comes as a shock. Bird made just 41 plate appearances last season while Cortes pitched to a 5.67 ERA.

The Bombers kept Ellsbury on their roster for the last two seasons despite him last playing during the 2017 ALCS. He is owed a $21 million salary in 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of his 2021 option. The New York Post reported that his final season was not insured, unlike his 2018 and 2019 salaries.

Oswaldo Cabrera, Chris Gittens, Hoy Jun Park and Rony García are among the players the Yankees left unprotected. For more on those names and others, check out Derek’s Rule 5 primer from Tuesday.

In the past, the Yankees have lost plenty of players in the Rule 5 draft, though players are often returned. Cortes, Mike Ford, Caleb Smith and Iván Nova were each selected then returned in recent seasons. The Yankees weren’t so fortunate with Tommy Kahnle and Luis Torrens, each of whom stuck in their new locales.

The last time New York selected a player in the Rule 5 draft was 2011, when the Bombers chose Brad Meyers and purchased the contract of Cesar Cabral, though neither ultimately lasted long in the Bronx.

While the Pinstripers made the aforementioned moves Wednesday, they had previously culled their system of players who they would have needed to add Wednesday. OF Blake Rutherford (White Sox, Robertson/Kahnle/Frazier deal), RHPs Taylor Widener (D-backs, Drury deal) and J.P. Feyereisen (Brewers) were all added to their respective 40-man rosters.

INF Nick Solak, also part of the Brandon Drury deal, was dealt from Tampa Bay to Texas at the deadline last year due to the Rays’ own roster crunch. The Yankees also dealt 1B Ryan McBroom to Kansas City last August and he has remained on the Royals’ 40-man roster. Dom Thompson-Williams (Paxton trade) was not added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster.

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News & Notes: Hicks update, Paxton, Medina, Adams, Germán

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Aaron Hicks gets a second opinion

After having an MRI a few days ago that showed no ligament damage, Aaron Hicks was still not feeling right. So, Hicks sought out a second opinion from Dr. Neil ElAttrache in California. Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Hicks was recommended a few weeks of rest before a re-evaluation, which all but ends his 2019 season. Maybe there’s some slim chance he’ll be available in the playoffs, but don’t count on it. And definitely don’t expect to see him before the regular season ends.

Most jarring about this news is that Tommy John surgery is on the table. Although it wasn’t prescribed now, Sherman notes that it could be required if there are no improvements from rest. Seems odd considering the Yankees said there’s no structural damage, but what do I know.

There are all sorts of ramifications from not having Hicks this year and potentially a chunk of next season should he go under the knife. In the present, it means counting on Brett Gardner in center field the rest of the way. I’m comfortable with that, but the Yankees have no depth at the position thereafter. Mike Tauchman is out for the year too, which basically leaves the Yankees with Cameron Maybin. Of course, Maybin has been banged up of late as well. Hopefully, Gardner can stay on the field because it would be difficult to try much else in center field this season.

James Paxton’s resurgence is not just about his curveball

Over at the Athletic (subs. required), Lindsey Adler wrote about James Paxton has gotten things on track. This has been covered quite a bit over the last few weeks, including on this very blog, but the part I found most interesting in Adler’s piece was this:

But it’s not just the knuckle-curve that’s made Paxton’s fastball find better results toward the end of the season. The knee injury Paxton suffered in May, he said, kept him from driving his delivery toward the plate, but he is not feeling the effects of that now.

“There was a time when I was really struggling with my knee,” Paxton said. “I don’t think I had the life on (the fastball) that I wanted. I wasn’t using my legs the right way, but now I feel I’m able to get into my legs and I have no problem with that knee and I can really drive through the fastball.”

That makes plenty of sense, right? Look, there’s no doubt his refined pitch mix has helped, but health is also something we may have discounted when he was having a hard time. It could have been part of his issue with allowing first inning runs — perhaps getting his knee good and loose took him longer than usual at the expense of his first inning of work.

Luis Medina is poised to climb prospect rankings

The Baseball Prospectus prospect staff called out a few breakout candidates next season (subs. required). Pitcher Luis Medina is one of them. Though Medina is still somewhat of an enigma, he finished the season really strong and has an incredible skillset. And, after a slow start to 2019, he closed it out on fire. In his last 8 starts, here’s what Medina did: 45 2/3 innings, 63 strikeouts, 29 hits, 15 walks, and 1 home run allowed. All that was good for a 1.77 ERA. Most promising, though, had to be his reduced walk rate.

Chance Adams and Domingo Germán on their curveballs

If you want to nerd out a little bit on pitch grips, Fangraphs’ David Laurila collected some insights on how Chance Adams and Domingo Germán developed their curveballs. In college, Adams moved from a more traditional curveball grip to a knucklecurve. Germán’s grip is unconventional too, apparently.

One thing that really stood out from the pictures within are just how long Germán’s fingers are. He makes the baseball look like a golf ball, especially in comparison to the photos of Adams’s grip.

Adams has yet to break through in the big leagues just yet, but he does have elite curveball spin going for him (93rd percentile). And, as he notes in Laurila’s post, his breaking ball is a little more slurvy which jibes with the movement numbers. His curve’s horizontal movement is 7.1 inches more than average. That’s a top ten mark in the majors.

Germán’s curveball doesn’t light up Statcast, but it’s gotten some pretty impressive results. His whiff rate on his yakker is near the top of the league.

Mailbag: Sánchez’s defense, injuries, Medina, Cole

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Four good questions to address in this week’s mailbag. As a reminder, send yours to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com for a chance to be included in a future mailbag. Let’s get to it:

Midwest Yankee asks: The NY Post has a story questioning Sánchez’s D and pointing out he has bad numbers vs base stealers. But obviously Sánchez rakes. So how much so-so D is acceptable if your catcher can really hit?

Teams don’t really tolerate abysmal defense behind the plate anymore. The days of Ryan Doumit catching regularly are long gone. There’s simply too much information available now, particularly with the growth of framing metrics, for teams not to realize someone is untenable behind the dish.

So, I don’t think it’s a matter of tolerating so-so or bad defense anymore. Rather, it’s more about finding a catcher whose offense is passable. League-wide, catchers have an 85 wRC+ this season and have hovered around there since 2015. In the years before that, the average catcher had a low-90s wRC+. Priorities seem to have shifted.

Considering that Sánchez has a 111 wRC+, he’s already one step ahead of the rest. Let’s take a look at how much he gives back in the field, if anything. Assuming that this is the article this question referenced, the main concern raised is indeed Sánchez’s caught stealing percentage. But as manager Aaron Boone pointed out, it’s really not all Gary’s fault. From Baseball Savant:

  • Pop time: 1.95 seconds (T-4th)
  • Arm strength: 87.9 MPH (3rd)

In other words, the 26 year-old is doing everything right. The Yankees’ staff has a number of pitchers who are slow to the plate, which makes things harder for Sánchez.

Of course, throwing is just one facet of catcher defense. Receiving is an important aspect as well, and it’s historically been the larger concern with Sánchez. Funny how we haven’t heard about him struggling to block balls this year, right? That’s because he has only six passed balls in 621.1 innings this season. He led the league with 18 in 653 innings last year.

Then there’s framing, where he’s previously thrived per metrics on Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant. This year, the consensus is that Sánchez has been below average. As Steven wrote about earlier this season, it’s quite possible that improved blocking has come at the expense of framing.

One other odd thing about Sánchez’s defensive season is that he leads the league with 14 errors. However, he already had 8 before the calendar turned to June, so that problem has settled down. As you may recall, he had a bunch of un-Gary-like throwing errors early in 2019.

With all this in mind, I don’t think Sánchez’s defense is anywhere near the point of offsetting his bat. I wouldn’t say he’s a good defensive catcher, but I don’t think he’s actively hurting the team whatsoever. In reality, he’s probably an average-ish defender in an era full of good glovework behind the plate. Meanwhile, he’s the rare elite bat at the position. Ultimately, the fact that his defense hasn’t been a constant topic this season tells us all we need to know.

AJ asks: [Steven’s] piece this week on injuries to the Yankee core raises an important question: when a team suffers so many injuries to so many players in a single season, should we question the training staff and the team’s training practices? Although each injury is individual, at a certain point they add up to a pattern. And if a player is prone to a particular kind of injury, it seems reasonable to rethink his particular training regimen. Is there any sign the Yankees themselves are asking these questions?  

At the minimum, there’s no question that the optics are bad for the team’s training staff. I don’t think its unreasonable to question what’s going on under the hood.

Now, some injuries are certainly either bad luck or not the fault of anyone on the training staff. For instance, CC Sabathia’s knee has been a long-running issue. Edwin Encarnación’s fractured wrist was a freak thing. However, there have been a number of muscle strains and pulls this season, too. Those sort of injuries make me worry about conditioning.

Aside from the frequency of injuries, the handling of timetables and rehab work has been troubling as well. Luis Severino suffered significant setback when he strained his lat while rehabbing from shoulder inflammation in April. As Randy wrote, the vagaries around Giancarlo Stanton’s maladies has been bizarre too. Going back further, the Yankees overpromised and underdelivered when Aaron Judge fractured his wrist last summer.

Our concerns are good and fine, but all we can do is speculate from the outside. The good news is that yes, the Yankees are looking inward. Brian Cashman made it clear that they tried to figure out what went awry with Severino:

With Severino asserting that this condition was connected to the shoulder problem and Cashman contending it was an entirely new injury, Cashman promised an internal investigation.

“I have gone through that process,” Cashman said on Sunday. “I’ve engaged with the player. I’ve engaged with all of our team. And I called it ‘CSI: The Bronx.’ But I’m not going to go through our process. I (said) back then, I’m not going to have a Robert Mueller report that I’m going to be revealing from that.”

Asked if he was satisfied with what he learned, Cashman tap danced: “I’ve gone through the process and I’ll leave it at that. We always evaluate our processes. If there (are) gaps or problems or mistakes made by us, then they are dealt with.”

Eric asks: I have a question about the 40 man crunch after the season. Do you see the Yankees adding Luis Medina after the season after his recent run? Although the overall results are poor and he’s still really young, it’s not hard to see a tanking team like the Orioles take him and stash him in the pen for a year.

It would really surprise me if the Yankees left Medina exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Though he’s just been promoted to Tampa (High-A), his ability and recent hot stretch almost certainly will land him a spot on the Yankees 40-man this winter. In his last 40 innings, Medina has a 2.03 ERA, 59 strikeouts, and just 13 walks. As Eric noted, some team with no shot next year certainly would take a flyer and stash the 20 year-old Medina on the roster all season.

This just happened with Blue Jays’ righty 19 year-old Elvis Luciano. To be fair, Luciano’s elbow issues have allowed Toronto to stash him on the injured list for most of the season, but it still seemed like they had no intention to waive him even if healthy.

Additionally, The Yankees lost catcher Luis Torrens in similar fashion in 2017. The Padres carried him as their backup catcher all season before. SInce then, Torrens has been in the minors the last two years and has begun to put things together in Double-A this season. The backstop owns a 132 wRC+ in 87 games at the level this season. I don’t think the Yankees want to take a chance like that again.

Mark asks: We all want Gerrit Cole this off-season, but given Hal’s fiscal discipline it could come down to a choice between signing Cole or Didi Gregorius. If getting Cole means letting Didi walk, would you do it?

I really hope this doesn’t come down to an either/or decision. But, considering how adamant ownership has been about winning without blowing past the luxury tax threshold, it’s possible. As Matt explored recently, the Yankees face the possibility of letting one or both of Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances go this winter.

As badly as I want Gregorius and Betances back in pinstripes next year, I do think this winter’s top priority has to be signing Cole. The Yankees need a starting pitcher of his caliber and shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to get one for just money. So yes, I’d sign Cole even if it means Didi would not return. Ugh, it pains me to say that, but we should be prepared for such a scenario.

My answer might have been different if the Yankees’ infield depth wasn’t already in good shape for next season. Gleyber Torres could slide over to short which would allow DJ LeMahieu to play at second full-time.

Ultimately, my belief is that the Yankees should go all-in and sign Cole, Didi, and Dellin. Doing so would be the optimal route for the 2020 squad. But, I think we’ve been preconditioned to not expect all three in the Bronx next year.

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