Tag: New York Yankees

Chase Headley Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Yankees 3B

In an effort to cut salary, the New York Yankees are gauging interest around the league in third baseman Chase Headley.

Continue for updates.

Yankees Seeking Headley Trade

Tuesday, Dec. 13

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Yankees are looking to potentially deal either Headley or outfielder Brett Gardner.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner reportedly wants to lower the payroll before the 2017 season.

Headley is owed $26 million over the next two years after signing a four-year deal with the team before the start of the 2015 season.

The 32-year-old has put up modest numbers since joining the Yankees, hitting just .257 with 31 home runs in two-and-a-half seasons. His on-base plus slugging percentage of .716 in 2016 was only slightly better than it was the year before at .693, which was his career low for a full season.

Headley began his career with the San Diego Padres, where he spent parts of eight seasons. His best year by far came in 2012 when he won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and finished fifth in MVP voting. He led the National League with 115 RBI and tallied 31 home runs.

He has never had more than 14 home runs in any other season of his career.

If the Yankees find a buyer for Headley, 24-year-old Ronald Torreyes could potentially take over at third base after playing 34 games at the position last year.

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Aroldis Chapman to Yankees: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

The New York Yankees took a big step toward returning to contention once again by adding Aroldis Chapman.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Bronx Bombers inked him to a five-year deal worth $86 million Wednesday. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports confirmed the news.

Heyman reported Thursday that Chapman will receive an $11 million signing bonus and $15 million in salary for each of the five years.

Rosenthal also said there is a no-trade clause for three years, and Marly Rivera of ESPN reported he can’t be traded to a team located on the West Coast. Rivera added that Chapman chose the Yankees over the Miami Marlins. The deal also includes an opt-out clause after three years and a limited no-trade option for the final two years, per Rosenthal

“I love the (Yankees) organization,” said Chapman, per Rivera. “They welcomed me with open arms, and that’s why I decided to go back; I was hoping I had a chance to go back, and it happened. Every player dreams of being a Yankee, and if they don’t it’s because they never got the chance.”

Chapman also explained why he chose to have a no-trade clause to California teams: “I just didn’t want to go that far from my family. I did have the opportunity to stay here near my house (in Florida, playing with the Marlins) but no, I leaned more towards (going to) New York.”

Buster Olney of ESPN reported Thursday that the Los Angeles Dodgers talked about Chapman “but never really got that involved.” Heyman added that the Dodgers were “nowhere close” in terms of landing the closer, as Chapman wanted to stay on the East Coast.

Spotrac broke down just how big a deal this is for a reliever: 

Chapman began last season with the Yankees, pitching 31.1 innings while posting a 2.01 ERA. He was also suspended 30 games at the start of the 2016 season due to a domestic violence incident during the offseason but became the team’s closer upon returning and totaled 20 saves.

He was traded to the Chicago Cubs before the deadline for four players headlined by top prospect Gleyber Torres.

At the time, he left a message to Yankees fans on his Instagram account that suggested he was open to a return.

“Last but not least, thanks to the NY Yankees fans, that from the first day, they made me feel at home. Thanks to the Yankees organization for the support they gave me. #newyorkyankees bye for now.”

His willingness to rejoin the team indicates that he enjoyed his time in New York, where he will likely resume his closer duties heading into 2017.

Chapman had a strong run with the Chicago Cubs, playing a huge role down the stretch with a 1.01 ERA in 26.2 regular-season innings. Although he had three blown saves and a 3.45 ERA in the postseason, his ability to pitch multiple innings and stifle opposing batters was invaluable.

He appeared in 5.1 innings and threw 97 total pitches in the final three games of the World Series as the Cubs came back to win their first title since 1908.

When the Cubs acquired Wade Davis to replace him as the closer, the opportunity arose for Chapman to end up back in New York.

The Cuban pitcher spent the first six years of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, where he posted a 2.17 ERA and was named to four All-Star teams. 

Chapman’s return will likely push Dellin Betances back to the setup role, where he had more success. Although Andrew Miller is gone, this is a bullpen that should once again be among the best in baseball while helping the Yankees’ bid to get back to the postseason.

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Derek Jeter’s Jersey Number to Be Retired by Yankees: Latest Details, Reaction

New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter will have his famed No. 2 jersey retired by the storied organization before the team’s game against the Houston Astros on May 14, 2017. 

The Yankees made the announcement official Tuesday morning:

New York selected Jeter with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 draft and, following a rise through the minors, he proceeded to play his entire 20-year professional career in Yankee pinstripes.

The New Jersey native earned 14 All-Star Game selections and helped the team capture five World Series titles during a career that will land him in the Hall of Fame once eligible in 2020. He also won five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times.

The May ceremony will give Yankee fans another chance to show their appreciation for a player who proved himself worthy of being the face of one of the world’s most famous sports franchises for the better part of two decades.

Fan support is something he talked about in the Players’ Tribune after he retired in 2014:

In some ways the major change this year was that it felt like I played a majority of home games. As always, the New York fans were amazing; their response was overwhelming, but not surprising. Yankees fans have been great to me. It’s the reception outside of New York that really was the biggest difference this year. I’ll never forget how the baseball fans across the country have treated me. Ballparks I used to view as enemy territory were transformed with cheers, handshakes and hat tips. If I thought baseball was part of my family before this season, I know now that it’s truly the case. And I am grateful for that.

Of course, it’s also an opportunity to bring the “Core Four” back together. Jeter along with Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were the stalwarts during the Yankees’ run of success from the mid-1990s until their most recent title in 2009.

Jeter also holds a special place in hearts of Yankees fans because he was a top-flight player who spent his entire career with the organization, a rare accomplishment in a world with free agency. He and the Atlanta Braves‘ Chipper Jones could be among the last of a fading breed.

That’s why the team is giving the longtime shortstop his rightful place alongside a star-studded group of retired numbers that includes the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle as well as all of his buddies from the Core Four.


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Matt Holliday Adds Proven Winner to Hasten Upstart Yankees’ Youthful Rebuild

A scant three weeks before Christmas, the New York Yankees signed Matt Holliday for one year and $13 million, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. 

I will spare you the painfully obvious holiday/Holliday puns.

It’s a solid move for the Yanks, who are in the midst of a youth movement but also seeking to win now.

New York whiffed on outfielder/designated hitter Carlos Beltran when he signed with the Houston Astros for one year and $16 million on Saturday.

The Yankees dealt Beltran to the Texas Rangers at the 2016 trade deadline, but according to Heyman, they were interested in bringing the veteran switch-hitter back. 

Now, they have his ostensible replacementa veteran bat with bona fide big-game credentials.

The Yankees’ emphasis is on shedding costly flotsam and adding cost-controlled depth. In addition to Beltran, they moved ace relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline and restocked a farm system that’s now No. 1 in the game, per Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter.

At the same time, they’ve got an unspoken mandate to stay competitive and dance back onto the October stage as quickly as possible. 

Holliday doesn’t guarantee that will happen. He posted a less than stellar .246/.322/.461 slash line last season for the St. Louis Cardinals in 110 games. Injuries limited him to just 73 games in 2015.

On the other hand, he’s a seven-time All-Star who won a ring in 2011 and has 302 playoff plate appearances to his name. The 20 home runs he cracked in 2016 suggest there’s pop residing in his bat. 

He can play the outfield and may see time there if New York trades Brett Gardner. His defense, however, has taken a serious dive.

At this point, he projects best at DH or first base, where he got nine starts last season. That meets the Yankees’ needs, especially with first baseman Greg Bird coming off major shoulder surgery.

Getting reps at DH and playing the bulk of his games in the hitter-happy American League East could give Holliday a late-career bump.

He also won’t cost New York a draft pick since St. Louis didn’t offer him arbitration.

“Our preference is to retain a draft pick if we can,” general manager Brian Cashman said, per George A. King III and Dan Martin of the New York Post. “We have a certain amount of money we want to allocate to allow us to do a number of different things.”

One of those things could be closer Aroldis Chapman, whom the Yankees acquired last December and dealt to the Chicago Cubs at the deadline.

“I would love to be a Yankee again,” Chapman told NY Sports Day’s Ray Negron in November. 

Chapman could command a deal in the vicinity of nine figures, which makes Holliday a more prudent signing than, say, Edwin Encarnacion.

The Yankees were “well-positioned to make a play” for Encarnacion, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Now, with Holliday in the fold, they may pass on the 33-year-old slugger, who came with draft-pick compensation and an unavoidable jolt of sticker shock.

Ditching long-term monetary commitments aligns with a grander vision, as ESPN.com’s Andrew Marchand spelled out:

Will [Holliday] be good in 2017? Who knows? Will the Yankees be good in 2017? No one knows that, either. But if Holliday is solid, it could be a big lift for this bridge year as the Yankees try to reload and rebuild toward 2019, which is when the Yankees’ next “uber” (trademark, Brian Cashman) team might be ready to add Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado and others.

Getting back to the here and now with Holliday, there are reasons for optimism that go beyond the DH and AL East. There were hints of bad luck in his 2016 stat line, per ESPN The Magazine‘s Buster Olney:

New York has work to do. It needs to add arms to a rotation that features Masahiro Tanaka and a heap of question marks. It needs to go hard after Chapman or explore other avenues to give Dellin Betances company in the late innings.

Holliday, though, can be the cherry on top of a sundae that includes catcher and AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez, 24-year-old masher Aaron Judge and a host of MiLB up-and-comers. 

Whether the Yankees can win the division depends on what further moves they make and what becomes of their competition. The Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles all made the playoffs in 2016 and are looking to improve.

But, at the risk of straining the Holliday/holiday comparison, the Yanks just opened a nicely wrapped package—and checked an item off their wish list.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. 

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Matt Holliday to Yankees: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Matt Holliday struggled to find his previous All-Star form throughout an injury-marred 2016 season, but the New York Yankees reportedly took a chance on him Sunday.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Bronx Bombers signed the slugger to a one-year deal worth $13 million. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports confirmed the signing. 

Heyman, citing Sweeny Murti of CBS New York, said Holliday will serve as the designated hitter for the Yankees. 

This comes after the St. Louis Cardinals declined the remaining option year on his previous contract on the heels of a 2016 season in which he played just 110 games and slashed .246/.322/.461 with 20 home runs and 62 RBI. He also fell short in the outfield and was responsible for minus-eight defensive runs saved above average, per FanGraphs.

Holliday played for the Colorado Rockies from 2004 to 2008, the Oakland Athletics for 93 games in 2009 and the Cardinals from 2009 to 2016.

He was an All-Star his final three years with Colorado, as well as his first three full seasons with St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star also made the team in 2015 and has four Silver Slugger Awards and the 2007 National League batting title on his impressive resume.

USA Today ranked him as the 46th-best free agent in this offseason’s class and pointed to some of his decline as he ages: “Once one of the game’s most consistent power hitters, Holliday has begun to show his age over the past two seasons as injuries have become more of a problem. His career-low .246 average and .783 OPS in 2016 confirm the decline.”

Holliday played just 73 games in 2015 because of a right quadriceps injury and dealt with a fractured thumb that required surgery and a facial abrasion after being hit by a pitch in 2016.

He still managed to reach the 20-homer plateau for the 10th time in his career:

In addition to his raw power, Holliday brings postseason experience to his new team. He has 72 playoff games and the 2007 National League Championship Series MVP under his belt and will look to help lead the Yankees to the playoffs in 2017.

He was confident in his abilities heading into the offseason, per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com: “I have a lot of good baseball left in me.”

That may be the case, but he will be 37 years old throughout the 2017 campaign. The power was still there when healthy in 2016, and he won’t be a liability in the outfield as a designated hitter.

Between his veteran leadership, postseason mettle and pop he brings to the order, Holliday can develop into an impact signing for New York.

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Rich Hill Signing Would Be Great Yankees Fit for Both Present and Future

The New York Yankees need a starting pitcher. In past winters, that would have led to their going after only the best options, and damn the cost!

But since they need to be smart this winter, let’s help point them toward Rich Hill.

In truth, it can be hard to tell which direction the Yankees are leaning in. The offseason rumor mill has featured whispers about their continuing the sell-off they kicked into high gear over the summer. Other times, it’s featured whispers about their buying up the hot-stove season’s biggest names.

Hey, even general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t seem settled on a specific direction.

“We have been walking the tightrope for a few years, and now it is (making decisions for) 2017 vs. ’18, ’19 and ’20,” he told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “Some decisions we make will be for the future and some for the present, and they might contradict each other. We are doing both.”

However, there are things that put the Yankees more in a position to add than subtract.

For one, they’re already loaded with young talent. They entered 2016 with a respectable farm system. After trades of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran, Jim Callis of MLB.com was calling it arguably MLB’s best at the end of July.

Also, it’s partially thanks to that young talent the Yankees finished 2016 stronger than they started it. They went from 44-44 before the All-Star break to 40-34 after it. They got a big boost from catcher Gary Sanchez and smaller ones from first baseman Tyler Austin and right fielder Aaron Judge.

Those three are lined up for everyday jobs in 2017. So is first baseman Greg Bird, who missed 2016 following shoulder surgery. With veterans such as Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley rounding things out, the Yankees lineup is in solid shape.

The starting rotation, however, is a different story. It’s Masahiro Tanaka on top and then a series of age (see: CC Sabathia) and effectiveness (see: Michael Pineda) question marks.

This bring us, at long last, back to Hill. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, he’s on the Yankees’ radar as a potential fix for what ails them:

This sort of feels like classic Yankees. They’re used to targeting only the best free agents, and there’s little question Hill is the best starting pitcher on the open market. Nobody else even comes close to the 2.00 ERA the well-traveled left-hander has over the last two seasons.

But the caveats here are obvious.

Hill is talented, but he’s not durable. He’s 36 years old and has pitched just 626.1 major league innings, postseason included. He’s had everything from labrum surgery to Tommy John surgery to, most recently, lingering blister issues.

Hill is also the best starter on the open market in part because it’s a terrible market for free-agent startersCraig Edwards of FanGraphs has the rundown on that.

This has gotten the trade rumor mill spinning at warp speed. A sampling of the biggest names supposedly available includes Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, Chris Archer and Zack Greinke.

With only Tanaka and Ellsbury still under long-term, big-money contracts, the Yankees have enough financial flexibility to take on any of those names. For reasons referenced above, they also have the prospect depth to work out a satisfactory deal.

But the question the Yankees are facing is the same one the Atlanta Braves have in their own search for starting pitching: Is now the right time to abandon the long game?

The point of the Yankees’ sell-off was to give in to the reality that they were past due to try to build a winner from the ground up. And not a moment too soon. That’s how championship teams must be built in an era that, as Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight and others noted, is dominated by young talent.

After their summer sell-off, it’s already possible to see a perennial World Series contender in the Yankees’ not-so-distant future. But that vision would be disrupted if they were to take a good chunk of that young talent and send it to another team for an ace.

That would be fine if it made the Yankees a World Series contender right now. But that’s a stretch. FanGraphs has them projected as a .500 team in 2017. That puts them more than just one ace away from being favorites. To get where they need to be would require trading for an ace and then making more deals or big-money signings.

Either way, the bright future that exists now would go up in smoke. And if the Yankees’ efforts to win in the short term failed, they’d find themselves back at square one ready to rebuild all over again.

Which is why they should just sign Hill.

It’s going to cost good money to sign him. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and the MLB Trade Rumors crew both have Hill pegged for a three-year, $50 million contract. But on one bright side, Hill isn’t tied to draft-pick compensation. Signing him will only cost money, which the Yankees have plenty of.

On another bright side, the risk of signing him does come with enough potential reward to justify it.

He hasn’t carved out that 2.00 ERA since 2015 by accident. He’s been among the league’s most aggressive strike-throwers with stuff that has featured more spin than any other starter’s offerings, per Baseball Savant. Thus, his rate of 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings and .507 opponents’ OPS over the last two seasons.

In the short term, adding Hill would give the Yankees a fallback ace in case Tanaka opts out of his contract after 2017. Whether or not that happens, Hill would also help stabilize a rotation that should be welcoming prospects such as James Kaprielian, Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo and Dillon Tate over the next two seasons.

In the longer term, Hill’s contract would come off the books at a convenient time. After 2019, Sanchez, Austin and Judge will be arbitration-eligible for the first time and due for big raises. Presumably, even more Yankees prospects will be ready for arbitration raises in ensuing years.

The one thing adding Hill wouldn’t necessarily do is put the Yankees in the World Series conversation for the next three seasons. But the attitude they must take is that staying relevant while keeping their dream of a long-term powerhouse alive would be good enough.

Hill may no longer be around by the time that powerhouse finally arrives. But if signing him proves to be instrumental in helping the team get there, the Yankees will be glad they did it.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Gary Sanchez B/R Q&A: ‘I Didn’t Even Believe What Was Happening’

To say New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had a good rookie year is an understatement of Ruthian proportions.

And yes, we just invoked the Bambino.

Sanchez is 694 home runs shy of Babe Ruth on the all-time list. But after cracking 20 homers and posting a .299/.376/.657 slash line in 53 games, he’s at the forefront of an enviable youth movement in the Bronx.

He’s also a candidate for American League Rookie of the Year honors, despite the fact that he wasn’t called up for good until Aug. 3.

While he didn’t log the service time of the other AL ROY finaliststhe Detroit Tigers‘ Michael Fulmer and the Cleveland Indians‘ Tyler Naquinhis impact was as impressive as it was undeniable. In addition to his offensive output, he flashed a howitzer arm, gunning down 41 percent of would-be base stealers.

We caught up with the 23-year-old Sanchez, via a translator, to ask about his award chances, the inevitable Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez comparisons and whether the big leagues were easier than he expected.


Bleacher Report: The Yankees began last season as a veteran team but by the second half had shifted into a rebuild. What was the atmosphere like in the clubhouse during the stretch run as you guys stayed in playoff contention?

Gary Sanchez: The first thing is, those veterans really took us under their wing when we all got there. They made it a point to reach out to all of us and make us feel comfortable and make us feel at home. I think that helped us contribute.

People talk about us young guys, but the veteran guys did their part in that stretch run. But yes, it was exciting. And yes, we were very excited in the clubhouse.


B/R: Is there any particular moment from your rookie season that stands out as the most special, or the moment when you knew you belonged?

GS: When I first got called up, I went oh-fer my first couple of games. I was feeling anxious because I wanted to get my first hit. And [manager Joe] Girardi came up to me and said, “Gary, take it easy. You’re going to be in the lineup every day. Just go out there and do what you would do in the minor leagues.”

That was the moment where I just felt the confidence to go out there and take some pressure off my shoulders and do what I needed to do.


B/R: You’ve been compared to potential Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez. What do you think about that?

GS: That’s tough for me to answer. Other people have that opinion. But I haven’t really seen him play, so it’s difficult for me to comment on that. 


B/R: You had such incredible success so quickly. When you were hitting all those home runs, did it ever feel like the major leagues were easier than you expected? 

GS: Yes, in the sense that I didn’t even believe what was happening with all the home runs I was hitting. I didn’t expect to have that type of first few weeks in the big leagues.


B/R: Who was the toughest pitcher you faced and why?

GS: Honestly speaking, this first time around, I felt confident against every pitcher I faced. I didn’t feel overmatched against anybody. Now, having said that, next year is when they’re going to start seeing me a second, third, fourth time, so now the challenge is they’re going to adapt and adjust to me.


B/R: With that in mind, are there any parts of your game you’re looking to refine or improve next season?

GS: I need to improve everything. I can’t rest on my laurels. I need to improve my offense and my defense.


B/R: What was the hardest thing about adjusting to playing in New York City, with that huge market and all the media attention?

GS: It really wasn’t that difficult, because I’ve been a Yankee my whole career. I’m familiar with the Yankee system, with the Yankee organization. Thankfully, when I got here, I did pretty well and I was really supported by the fans. I’m happy to be a Yankee, and there wasn’t anything that’s made it particularly hard so far.


B/R: In talking about you, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he wanted to “unleash the Kraken,” and that took off. How do you feel about that nickname?

GS: I like the Kraken. I like anything the fans want to call me, as long as it’s said in a positive light.


B/R: Let’s talk about the Rookie of the Year race. Do you think you deserve to be AL Rookie of the Year even though you didn’t play as many games as the other candidates? Is it something you’re hoping for?

GS: I’m really not thinking much about the Rookie of the Year Award. I know there’s been talk about it. But I’m really not focused on it.

I know there are other players who are deserving, and it’ll be up to the voters. If I’m lucky enough to get it, it would be a blessing. But there’s some really stiff competition. This was an important year for rookies.


B/R: I assume you watched the postseason. Did that give you any added motivation to get there next season?

GS: I [was] watching, and it does motivate me. But I’ve been motivated before that.


B/R: What would your message be to Yankees fans who are already expecting you to carry the franchise? Do you feel any added pressure after such an amazing debut?

GS: I would say that no major league organization is just one player. It’s me and 24 other guys. It’s about the Yankees; it’s not about myself individually.

But I can tell you that we are going to work hard to bring a championship to New York.

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Brian McCann Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Yankees C

New York Yankees catcher and designated hitter Brian McCann has continued to be the subject of trade rumors this offseason.

Continue for updates.

Yankees Deny That Trade for McCann is “Imminent”

Thursday, Nov. 10

Yankees general manager and senior vice president Brian Cashman indicated Thursday that “A McCann trade does not appear imminent,” according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. On Friday, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan noted the Yankees are willing to pay half of McCann’s $34 million salary, but they want multiple young players in return.  

McCann, 32, has been the subject of trade rumors this week, with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reporting Wednesday the Houston Astros were “pursuing” a trade for the veteran designated hitter and catcher.

Also on Wednesday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Yankees were in talks regarding McCann with the Astros, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. So a trade for McCann might not be “imminent,” but it certainly feels like there is a healthy market developing for his services.

McCann Trade Won’t Be Easy for Yankees 

Trading him won’t necessarily be easy, however.

McCann has a full no-trade clause in his contract, is due $34 million over the next two years and reportedly “no longer wants to catch 125 to 130 games,” according to Rosenthal (it’s worth noting Sherman reported McCann still wanted to be a regular catcher). Gary Sanchez is locked into the starting role in New York, so McCann would remain the backup and the primary designated hitter if he remained in New York.

And indeed, those are three pretty tricky factors to navigate for the Yankees, and if McCann indeed would prefer a designated hitter role, it could make any National League team unfavorable. 

Well, any team outside of Atlanta.

“He calls that home and loves it in the offseason,” McCann’s agent, B.B. Abbott, said of the city, per Sherman. “He would look hypothetically at them very seriously if Cash is able to do it. If it is a team a little closer to home that has a chance to contend that fits X, Y and Z, Mac will look at it and determine if it is a fit.”

While McCann had a solid offensive season, hitting .242 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI, the Yankees certainly could upgrade at designated hitter. But McCann also seems happy in New York and would be content remaining with the club.

“He has always approached this as I am a New York Yankee until they ask his permission otherwise,” Abbott noted. “I don’t think this is a slam dunk that it happens, I really don’t. He made a choice to be in New York because that is where he wants to be and he got a full no-trade clause because of that.”


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Gleyber Torres’ Fall Breakout Shows Yankees Their Superstar of the Future

Nolan Arenado caught scouts’ eyes in the Arizona Fall League when he was 20 years old. So did Derek Jeter, Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor.

Gleyber Torres is 19.

“He’s playing against older guys,” Carl Moesche of the Major League Scouting Bureau said in an interview on Saturday on MLB Network. “And he’s not intimidated.”

Torres is the youngest player in baseball’s well-respected fall development league. As of Monday, his 1.026 OPS ranked third-highest in the league. In 12 games, he had more than twice as many walks (11) as strikeouts (five), with three home runs.

“The bat’s going to play,” a National League scout said.

As dangerous as it is to declare prospects to be future superstars, the current trend has young players starring earlier than ever. Five of the nine players in the Chicago Cubs‘ World Series Game 7 lineup were 24 or younger, and the Cleveland Indians‘ best hitter through the postseason was the 22-year-old Lindor.

It’s enough to persuade every other team searching for young stars of its own, just as the New York Yankees did when they demanded Torres as the key part of the July 25 deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs.

As Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told George A. King III of the New York Post, Torres is “someone you can dream on.”

And as the Cubs were realizing a dream by winning a World Series with Chapman’s help, Torres was in Arizona, continuing to justify Cashman‘s faith. The Cubs have no reason to regret giving him up, not with a trophy to show for it, but the Yankees have even more reason to believe their side of the deal will play out well, too.

“I saw [Torres] in [Class-A] Tampa and in Arizona,” another National League scout said. “He’s going to hit in the 2-hole or 5-hole, and he’s good defensively, too. Very instinctive. I like him a lot.”

The Arizona Fall League is about dreams, and it’s never a perfect indicator of future success. Kris Bryant was an Arizona Fall League MVP (2013 at age 21), but so was Chris McGuiness, now out of baseball after 10 major league games.

And while Torres has been impressive at the plate, he also has three errors and has at least one scout concerned that he won’t be able to stick at shortstop.

“Defensively, he’s just OK,” the scout said. “He has good arm strength, but he’s erratic. He could end up moving to second base or maybe even third. He’s not terrible defensively, but he’s not [Yankees shortstop] Didi Gregorius.”

The same scout said Torres doesn’t run as well as you might expect, but even after the critiques, he went back to how good of a hitter he expects Torres to be.

“The one thing he can really do is hit,” the scout said. “He centers the ball, and he drives it.”

Gregorius is just 26 years old, and the Yankees have another young and touted middle infield prospect in 21-year-old Jorge Mateo. It’s too early to know if Torres will remain at shortstop and become the Yankees’ answer to Lindor or Seager or Carlos Correa, but his skills with the bat should enable him to be a key part of their future lineup.

Torres’ offensive numbers so far in Arizona are impressive because of his age and relative lack of experience. His third home run was against Chris Ellis, a 24-year-old Atlanta Braves right-hander who spent most of the 2016 season in Double-A.

One scout who goes to Arizona every fall said the pitching was significantly better in the league this year.

Torres, who signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million at age 16, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via colleague Adam Berry), is accustomed to facing older players. The Cubs moved him to High-A Myrtle Beach at the end of the 2015 season and started him there again in 2016. He was one of the youngest players in the Florida State League when the Yankees sent him to Tampa after the trade.

“Mature bat for a young kid,” a scout said.

“Just keep him challenged,” another said.

The challenge for the Yankees will be sticking to their plan of developing a strong, young core, even if it takes longer than they would like. Scouts in Arizona have also been impressed by Miguel Andujar, a 21-year-old third baseman who is one of Torres’ teammates at Scottsdale.

“He has great wrist action and big power,” one scout said. “I think he can be their everyday third baseman by 2018.”

If Torres and Andujar move quickly from the fall league to the Bronx, they’ll only be following a path Jeter laid two decades ago and one Gary Sanchez followed much more recently. Sanchez played in last year’s Fall Stars Game and led the league in home runs before quickly becoming a hit himself when the Yankees called him up in August.

Sanchez turns 24 on December 2, which makes him young by major league standards but almost exactly four years older than Torres, who will turn 20 on December 13.

By season’s end, Sanchez was the Yankees’ best player. Perhaps he will be for years to come.

Or maybe it will be the young shortstop, the kid already starring in the fall league before he even turns 20.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Yankees Can Have Fruitful Offseason Without Halting Youth Movement

The offseason has arrived. For the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians, that means taking a moment to reflect on an epic seven-game World Series. For the Cubs in particular, it means getting used to the moniker “world champion” for the first time in 108 years.

For 28 other teams, it’s time to get to work.

Among those 28 teams, no franchise is more fascinating than the New York Yankees.

Consider: The Yankees began the 2016 season with a veteran roster. They were creaky, but they had a shot to contend in the noisy, wide-open American League East.

Then, at the trade deadline, they did the unthinkable. They sold, which counts as an “s-word” in the Bronx.

New York shipped out uber-relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman and proven postseason slugger Carlos Beltran, among others.

In the process, the Yanks restocked the farm. In fact, when the deadline dust settled, they had the No. 1 minor league system in baseball, per Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter

Then a funny thing happened. The Yankees called up some of those youngstersmost notably catcher Gary Sanchez—and they started winning.

New York went 33-25 in the season’s final two months and stayed mathematically alive in the wild-card race until the final day of September. 

“We were very excited in the clubhouse,” Sanchez recently told me.

Yankees fans should be excited too. Yes, it stung to watch Chapman and especially Miller blaze through the postseason. 

New York’s future is bright, however. After years of trudging on the fringes of relevance, an honest-to-goodness resurgence is underway. 

Of course, these being the Yankees, the timetable is always accelerated. This fanbase and the entire city have no patience for a protracted rebuild. They need to have a fruitful offseason aimed at winning now.

Here’s the good news: There is a way to do that without slamming the brakes on the youth movement or undoing the gains of last season. The Yankees can spend strategically, sprinkle in some trades and lower-level signings and set themselves up for 2017 and beyond.

As general manager Brian Cashman—the architect of this summer’s sell-off—limbers up his phone-dialing fingers, let’s examine a few key moves he and his brain trust should consider.


Sign a Bullpen Stud

While the 2016-17 free-agent class is weak overall, it features some elite relievers.

The most obvious name is Chapman, whom the Yankees acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in late December before flipping him to the Cubs in July.

Chapman served his 30-game domestic violence suspension while with the Yankees and wound up pitching just 31.1 innings in pinstripes. During that time, he racked up 44 strikeouts and locked down 20 saves.

The fire-balling lefty would rejoin right-hander Dellin Betances to form a stalwart back end of the bullpen. If Chapman spurns New York, the Yankees could set their sights on the likes of Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon.

The demand figures to be high and the price tag steep for any of those names. But the Indians just showed the world how far a team can ride a couple of shutdown late-inning studs, and it’s a formula the Yankees employed with success last season before jettisoning Chapman and Miller.


Dangle Brian McCann and Brett Gardner

The Yankees didn’t sell everyone at the 2016 deadline; there are still veteran pieces with trade potential on the roster.

That includes catcher Brian McCann, who is slated to serve as an $18 million backup to Sanchez. 

The 32-year-old lefty-swinging catcher is down from his All-Star peak, but he hit 20 home runs last season and was the third-best pitch-framer in the American League, per StatCorner

The Atlanta Braves are a possible fit. McCann has a full no-trade clause, but he’d likely waive it to start for his former club as it opens its new ballpark this spring.

There were rumblings of a McCann-to-Atlanta deal this past season, but “the Yankees’ fondness for Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz likely killed more serious talks,” per George A. King III of the New York Post.

Instead, New York could target 26-year-old outfielder Ender Inciarte, who missed time to injury but hit .291 with seven triples and 16 stolen bases.

The New York Post‘s Joel Sherman highlighted the Houston Astros as another potential McCann suitor, noting that the ‘Stros could lose their lefty-hitting catcher, Jason Castro, to free agency.

An unnamed executive told Sherman that the Yankees can “probably get something desirable back [for McCann], especially if they eat about $6 million annually of the $18 million he is owed in 2017 and ’18.”

Outfielder Brett Gardner is owed $12.5 million in 2017 and $11.5 million in 2018 with a $12.5 million team option for 2019. He’s 33 and coming off a down year that saw him hit just seven home runs with a .713 OPS.

New York was listening on Gardner at the 2016 deadline but got “no serious takers,” per Jon Heyman of Today’s KnuckleballIn a thin market for free-agent hitters, however, he’ll garner interest.

The Yankees outfield is already fairly crowded with more young talent on the way. If the team moved McCann for Inciarte, Gardner would become even more expendable.

New York shouldn’t give him up for the sake of it, but if the team could flip him for some starting-rotation depth, it should pounce.

McCann and Gardner are steadying forces in the clubhouse. In July, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal called them “practically the team’s co-captains.” There’s value in keeping guys like that around on a young team, even if their playing time is diminished.

That puts the Yankees in a strong position: They can listen to offers, but they don’t have to sell any pieces out of desperation.


Sign a Starting Pitcher

No aces are available in free agency this winter, even if the Yankees are looking for one. 

And a trade for a top name like the Chicago White Sox‘s Chris Sale would gut the farm.

New York already has Masahiro Tanaka, who quietly put together a stellar season, posting a 3.07 ERA in 199.2 innings, his highest total since coming over from Japan in 2014.

Michael Pineda has bat-missing stuff and led AL qualifiers with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He also struggled with command and consistency and posted an unsightly 4.82 ERA.

After that, it’s veteran CC Sabathia and a hodgepodge that includes Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Luis Severino.

Again, the Yankees won’t find a Cy Young candidate to add to this mix via free agency. But they could nab a serviceable back-end arm or reclamation project from a group that includes Doug Fister, Andrew Cashner and Jeremy Hellickson, to name-drop three plausible if not entirely sexy options.

Trading for a second-tier starter could be the better route, but with so few impact free-agent arms, the expected return could be steep for anyone of value.

The good thing about most of this winter’s free-agent pitchers is they won’t command huge commitments in years and dollars.

New York could patch a hole now while it waits for top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield (ETA 2018) and for the ludicrously loaded free-agent trove of 2018-19, when some of the top pitchers and hitters in the game may be ripe for the picking.


Let the Kids Play

Whether or not they trade more veterans, the Yankees should hand ample playing time to their emerging young core.

Sanchez is a no-brainer after posting a 1.032 OPS with 20 homers in 53 games and gunning down 41 percent of would-be base stealers.

Aaron Judge hit just .179 in 27 games with the Yankees, but he’s a physical specimen with big-time power and should be given regular reps in right field.

Greg Bird had an eye-opening debut in 2015 but missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Now, the 23-year-old should be back to take over at first base. 

Outfielder Clint Frazier—who came over from Cleveland in the Andrew Miller trade and is the Yanks’ No. 1 prospect, per MLB.comcould also see the big leagues at some point in 2017.

Letting young players play isn’t exactly an offseason goal. The point, however, is that New York should remember the lesson of last season: Going young doesn’t mean abandoning all hope of contending. 

The Boston Red Sox are likewise flush with young talent and are the defending division champs. The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, last year’s wild-card teams, are losing key pieces but will be in the mix. The AL East, though, remains open. The Yankees are well-positioned. 

There will be slumps and rough patches as opposing pitchers adjust to these kids and they’re forced to adjust back. 

The Yankees have the talent, however, to win now with an eye on the future—which is the phrase that should be stamped above the door to Cashman‘s office. 


All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise specified. All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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