New York Yankees – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-19T04:38:57Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jason Martinez <![CDATA[The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132681 2018-09-19T01:00:00Z 2018-09-18T23:15:05Z Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

This is how it works:

  • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
  • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
  • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
  • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

Power Ranking Leaders By Level

Triple-A
Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

Double-A
Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

High-A
Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Low-A
Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

Short-Season A
Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

Rookie 
Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Select Justus Sheffield, Move Clint Frazier To 60-Day DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132999 2018-09-18T14:13:43Z 2018-09-18T14:13:43Z The Yankees announced today that they have selected the contract of lefty Justus Sheffield, the organization’s top pitching prospect. He’ll be heading up for his first taste of the majors.

To create space on the 40-man roster, outfielder Clint Frazier was moved to the 60-day DL. The Yanks also brought up righty Domingo German to bolster their pitching options down the stretch.

Sheffield’s promotion was already reported over the weekend, but had not yet formally been made. The organization first had to sort out its roster machinations. Frazier, who came to the club along with Sheffield in the 2016 Andrew Miller swap, is going to be sidelined the rest of the year owing to his ongoing concussion issues.

Now that Sheffield is officially on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s utilized. Perhaps he will have some opportunities down the stretch, while the Yanks seek to hold off the A’s for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. And it’s still conceivable that Sheffield could earn a role on the postseason roster.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Promote Justus Sheffield]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132889 2018-09-16T00:25:45Z 2018-09-15T23:20:20Z The Yankees have promoted one of the game’s best pitching prospects, left-hander Justus Sheffield, from Triple-A Scranton, Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune reports. Sheffield’s not on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, which is full, so they’ll need to create space for him.

Sheffield entered the professional ranks as a 2014 first-round pick of the Indians, who chose him 34th overall, but only lasted a couple years in the organization. The Tribe, hoping to win a World Series in 2016, dealt a package including Sheffield, outfielder Clint Frazier and lesser pieces to the Yankees for star reliever Andrew Miller at that July’s non-waiver trade deadline. Miller nearly helped the Indians to a title after the trade, but they fell in seven games to the Cubs in the Fall Classic that season.

Sheffield was a well-regarded prospect when Cleveland sent him to New York, and that remains the case. The 6-foot, 200-pounder ranks as the majors’ 22nd-best prospect at Baseball America (subscription required), while both MLB.com (No. 27) and FanGraphs (No. 50) are among other prominent outlets that are bullish on him. In their free scouting report, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note that the 22-year-old Sheffield may end up with three “plus” offerings – a 92 to 97 mph fastball, a slider that sits in the mid-80s and a changeup – and add that he has the potential to emerge as a No. 3 starter in the majors.

Sheffield has impressed as a starter in the minors, including this season at Scranton, where he logged a stingy 2.56 ERA/3.13 FIP with 8.59 K/9, 3.68 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent groundball rate in 88 innings. But the Yankees did recently prepare Sheffield to work as a reliever upon his first big league promotion, and he may fill that role in the coming weeks. After all, with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, C.C. Sabathia and Lance Lynn, the Yankees currently have a set rotation, and that group will shrink if the Bombers get past the AL West runner-up in the wild-card round and advance to the ALDS.

While Sheffield looks like a potential reliever for the Yankees right now, he may have a shot to win a spot in their rotation in 2019. The only two members of the Yankees’ starting staff who are sure to return next season are Severino and Tanaka. Happ, Sabathia and Lynn are set to become free agents, and there aren’t any obvious in-house replacements on hand beyond Sheffield. Fellow youngsters Domingo German – whom the team’s recalling from Scranton, per Foley – and Jonathan Loaisiga have struggled in the majors this season, while Jordan Montgomery will miss a large portion of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. Therefore, the door could be open for Sheffield, who ranks as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect at Baseball America and MLB.com.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Aroldis Chapman On Track For DL Activation This Week]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132842 2018-09-15T18:20:45Z 2018-09-15T18:20:12Z
  • Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman felt good after a bullpen session today, and he’ll throw a simulated game on Monday or Tuesday, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets.  If all goes well, Chapman is on pace to be activated from the disabled list sometime this week.  Chapman hit the DL due to knee inflammation on August 22, and there was even some concern that the problem could sideline the closer for the rest of the regular season.  Now, however, it looks as if Chapman will be back on the field and get some time to work off the rust before the postseason.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Yankees Expected To Try Re-Signing J.A. Happ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132829 2018-09-15T16:35:59Z 2018-09-15T16:35:12Z
  • Heyman expects the Yankees to try and re-sign J.A. Happ in free agency.  The southpaw has done nothing but impress since coming to New York from the Blue Jays in a midseason trade; Happ has a 2.70 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and 4.78 K/BB rate over 46 2/3 innings in the pinstripes.  MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently projected that Happ’s next contract could exceed $40MM over three years, as the veteran is still posting strong numbers even as he approaches his age-36 season.  Retaining Happ would go a long ways towards solidifying a Yankees rotation that has only Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka as certainties for 2019.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[An Early Look At J.A. Happ’s Next Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132809 2018-09-15T03:52:27Z 2018-09-15T03:52:27Z As you may or may not recall, we have been touting J.A. Happ for a fair portion of the present season, dating at least to our first ranking of the top summer trade candidates. The veteran southpaw has certainly exceeded even the most optimistic expectations since he ended up being traded. Now, as he prepares for the postseason with the Yankees, it’s worth taking an early look at his potential free-agent earnings.

    Happ, of course, already went on the market not long ago. At the time, he was coming off of an oddball 2015 season that he finished in dominating form. His resulting three-year, $36MM deal certainly rewarded a strong late-year push from a pitcher who had — just months before — seemed at risk of entering a late-career journeyman phase.

    That pact worked out swimmingly for the Jays, who received 77 generally excellent starts from Happ before spinning him off to the division-rival Yanks for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney. For New York, the tail end of the deal has been quite a nice asset as well.

    In his past eight starts, in fact, Happ has allowed just 14 earned runs on 38 hits, with a 43:9 K/BB ratio, over 46 2/3 innings. For the year, he has averaged a career-high 9.7 K/9 on a personal-best 10.3% swinging-strike rate It’s not all roses, of course. The quality results have come in spite of the fact that Happ has struggled to limit the long ball, allowing 1.4 per nine on the season.

    All said, Happ has probably deserved the results — a 3.75 ERA in 160 2/3 innings — that he has produced on the year. The dingers have driven up his FIP (4.01), but xFIP (3.82) and SIERA (3.60) suggest his outcomes matchhis performance.

    Looking ahead, the outlook seems promising. Happ is throwing as hard as ever. His output has been steady and excellent for some time now. And he has a rather long track record of durability, having averaged 153 innings for the past eight seasons and 168 annually for the past four (which will go up when 2018 is completed).

    It’s possible that Happ will slot in behind Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin, and Dallas Keuchel to become the fourth-highest-paid starter on this lefty-loaded market. Certainly, the more youthful Gio Gonzalez could also stake a claim to the fourth spot, particularly if he finishes strong, but he has had some rough patches this year and his velocity decline remains a concern. Charlie Morton would be in the same general position as Happ, in terms of his age, but with a more impressive recent showing. In his case, though, he has strongly suggested he won’t just be seeking to maximize an overall contract guarantee; if anything, Morton sounds like a man who’ll only sign on for a single season at a time. Fellow veteran southpaw Cole Hamels could surely also be a factor, particularly at a somewhat younger age, though it remains to be seen how clubs will view the sustainability of his recent performance boost since moving via trade.

    Regardless of the precise rank ordering, Happ’s general market position makes eminently possible that a fair number of contending teams will view him as a more appealing target than some of the younger, more expensive pitchers ahead of him. Capturing a quality arm for a shorter term, after all, holds appeal in and of itself. There’s no real chance of Happ signing for more than three years, while it could take a five-year commitment to land Corbin or Keuchel. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that signing Happ won’t mean giving up draft picks since he’s ineligible to receive a qualifying offer.

    So, supposing there’s steady interest in Happ, what’s the contractual upside here? As noted, there’s no real argument for his reps to pursue a four-year term given his age. Happ will be selling his age-36 season and beyond.

    That gives us a rather clear bound. But it doesn’t mean Happ can’t still earn quite well. In fact, two recent comps suggest he can. Entering his age-37 season, coming off of an excellent campaign, John Lackey secured a two-year, $32MM commitment from the Cubs. Even more recently, Rich Hill reached three guaranteed years at the same $16MM AAV despite the fact that he, too, was also entering his age-37 year and had no shortage of historical injury issues.

    In each of those cases, perhaps, stellar outcomes helped to drive the paydays. Happ, arguably, hasn’t impressed to the same degree in his immediate platform year. But we already know he could secure a $12MM annual commitment. His steady velocity is a highly notable consideration. And the three-year run-up to this free agency has been stellar. (As of right now: 501 innings of 3.47 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9.)

    So, there’s certainly a case to be made that Happ ought to out-earn his last contract on an otherwise similar arrangements. Even if he doesn’t quite reach the $16MM annual value level of those prior (and somewhat older) comps, Happ has a very strong chance to achieve more than a $40MM guarantee over a three-year term. And the yearly value could even rise beyond the Lackey/Hill levels if there’s particularly robust interest or if Happ prefers a two-year arrangement.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Activate Aaron Judge]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132798 2018-09-14T20:36:16Z 2018-09-14T20:23:13Z The Yankees will activate star outfielder Aaron Judge for tonight’s game, skipper Aaron Boone told reporters including SNY.tv’s Andy Martino (Twitter links). Though he is not yet cleared to hit in game action, he’ll be able to play in the field and run the bases some while finishing his final preparations with the bat.

    Though Judge isn’t quite fully back, it’s still a notable moment for an organization that hasn’t exactly been charging into the postseason. While the Yanks are all but assured of making it into the playoffs, they haven’t made a push for the AL East and are even in danger of losing the chance to host the Wild Card game.

    When Judge hit the DL just before the trade deadline with a wrist fracture, the stated expectation of the club was that Judge would miss only about three weeks. That has proven optimistic, clearly, as Judge has been out for about seven weeks already. Now, he’ll try to help the organization win a few more games down the stretch and — more importantly — try to get up to full game speed before the start of the postseason.

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of Judge to the Yanks’ hopes. He carried a .285/.398/.548 slash with 26 home runs in 447 plate appearances at the time of his injury, representing a worthy follow-up to his Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up performance from 2017. While his overall production is down a smidge, Judge was pumping out even more hard contact (47.9%) than he did in the season prior.

    The hope, it seems, is that Judge and the team will benefit from the activation even if he’s not yet a full go. A rehab stint would be preferable, of course, but that’s not an option right now. Instead, the expectation seems to be that Judge will participate in a sim game in the near future in hopes of being deemed ready to get back into the lineup.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Steinbrenner Voices Confidence In Boone]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132777 2018-09-14T14:41:42Z 2018-09-14T14:41:42Z
  • Despite the Yankees’ recent struggles, owner Hal Steinbrenner voiced support for rookie manager Aaron Boone in a statement to George A. King III of the New York Post“Aaron Boone has done a good job dealing with all these moving parts and certainly has the respect of the players,” Steinbrenner said in an email to King. He goes on to acknowledge that injuries have impacted the team significantly — Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and Aroldis Chapman have all been on the disabled list — but emphasizes that the organization “has been happy with the choice” of Boone as the replacement for longtime skipper Joe Girardi.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Notes: Harper, D-Backs, Buchholz, Senzel, DeGrom]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132775 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z As ever, there’s plenty of water-cooler chatter about the eventual destination of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who — had you not heard? — is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Particularly for fans of a Nats organization that is just weeks away from wrapping up a brutally disappointing campaign, it’s a subject of much attention. So eyebrows were raised recently at comments from Harper and, especially, club president of baseball ops/GM Mike Rizzo that could be interpreted as hinting at a reunion. In an appearance on MLB Network (Twitter link), Harper at least acknowledged a reunion is possible, saying that “it’s going to be an exciting future for the Nationals, and we’ll see if I’m in those plans.” Innocuous enough, to be sure, but perhaps the line could be interpreted as a wink toward contract talks. As for Rizzo, Chris Lingebach of 106.7 The Fan rounded things up. Those interested in parsing the words fully should click the link, but the key phrase at issue from Rizzo is his statement that he “won’t discuss [negotiations with Harper’s camp] until there’s something to announce.” Did the tight-lipped, hard-nosed GM tip his hand? It’s at most an arguable point.

    From this vantage point, there’s enough here to make you think, but hardly a clear indication as to how Harper’s fascinating free agency will turn out. Here’s the latest from the National League:

    • The Diamondbacks had held a strong position in the postseason race for much of the season, but as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes, they’re now left hoping for a memorable late-season comeback to get in. “[B]reakdowns occurring in every facet of their game,” Piecoro writes, have spurred a ghastly 4-16 run that has reversed the team’s fortunes. Unfortunately, odds are that the Arizona club will head back to the drawing board at season’s end — while watching two significant players (A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin) hit the open market. Still, it’s notable that the club has largely followed up on its successful 2017 campaign, as the thought in some quarters entering the year was that there wasn’t really enough talent to keep pace.
    • As is also covered in the above-linked piece, the D-Backs suffered an unwelcome blow in advance of tonight’s loss when they were forced to scratch righty Clay Buchholz. The veteran hurler has been an immense asset for Arizona, throwing 98 1/3 innings of 2.01 ERA ball since joining the club in mid-season as a minor-league signee. He’s now headed to Phoenix for testing, though the hope still seems to be that he’ll return this year. Regardless, it’s unfortunate news for the team but even more disappointing for the 34-year-old, who has dealt with plenty of health problems of late and will be reentering the open market at season’s end.
    • It has long been wondered what the Reds Baseball America points outwill do when they are ready to call up top prospect Nick Senzel, who’s blocked at his natural position of third base. We may be seeing the hints of an answer; as , Senzel is listed as an outfielder in the organization’s instructional league roster. That hardly guarantees anything, of course, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Senzel — who’s opportunity for a late-2018 callup was taken by a finger injury — come into camp in 2019 looking to crack the roster in the corner outfield. Just how it’ll all play out, though, remains to be seen.
    • Speaking of top prospects … among his many notes today, Jon Heyman of Fancred writes that the Mets took a targeted approach to discussions with other teams regarding ace righty Jacob deGrom. As Heyman puts it, the New York organization “focused” on the handful of clubs it deemed to have assets worth haggling over. When those teams weren’t willing to give up their best young assets, talks sputtered. Heyman cites “the Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Yankees, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Brewers” as clubs that were engaged. But the ultra-premium prospects and young MLB players in those organizations simply weren’t on offer. It’s hard to argue with the Mets’ rationale; deGrom reached a new level this season, after all, and certainly shouldn’t be parted with by a major-market club for less than a compelling return.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yankees Expect Chapman Back Next Week; Adams Recalled From Triple-A]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132735 2018-09-13T02:20:37Z 2018-09-13T02:20:37Z
  • Aroldis Chapman could be activated from the disabled list sometime next week, Yankees manager Aaron Boone tells reporters (link via Newsday’s Erik Boland). Chapman, on the disabled list due to tendinitis, threw a side session Wednesday which Boone says “went really well.” The Yanks also announced prior to today’s game that righty Chance Adams has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He’s been working in a relief role in Triple-A since his last demotion, so he could give the Yanks some relief depth in the season’s final weeks. In four bullpen appearances in Triple-A, Adams allowed one run on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Judge Takes On-Field Batting Practice For First Time Since Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132600 2018-09-12T15:39:38Z 2018-09-11T22:13:34Z
  • Yankees slugger Aaron Judge took on-field batting practice for the first time since fracturing his wrist yesterday and is slated to do so once again today, writes Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. There’s no set timeline for him to face live pitching, however, and an eventual return date is even less clear. Judge said he felt “great,” though a day prior he’d acknowledged that the pain in his still-fractured wrist ranked at about a “four” on a scale of 10. Hoch noted recently that skipper Aaron Boone had previously said Judge wouldn’t resume swinging until his wrist had fully healed, but the lengthier-than-expected absence for Judge looks to have altered those plans.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Judge, Seager, Rays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132586 2018-09-10T01:28:27Z 2018-09-10T01:28:27Z Yankees sophomore sensation Aaron Judge is still feeling pain when he swings a bat, per a tweet from Marc Carig of The Athletic. Certainly there’s still time for him to regain his health and strength in advance of the postseason (we still have three weeks until October, after all), but the news has to be disconcerting both for the Yankees organization and for Judge himself. The outfielder has been out of commission since July 26th after sustaining a chip fracture in his wrist, and though it was reported as recently as yesterday that he could be nearing a return after he was able to participate in on-field drills, the news that his pain level (still describes as a “4” on a 1-10 scale) casts some doubt on the notion that he could be back on the field within the next week or so.

    • Corey Seager expects to play shortstop for the Dodgers next year, as he tells Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Seager has had massive misfortune this year in regards to injuries; he suffered a UCL injury early on in the season that required the infamous Tommy John procedure, and had to undergo a second procedure on his hip soon thereafter. Recently, though, he’s expressed confidence in his recovery from these surgeries. Seager is already off of crutches, and he looks forward to resuming a throwing program next month. “Based to this point, I’ll be ready to go,” Seager said. I should, ’quote unquote,’ have a pretty normal spring. It will probably be a little slow in the beginning, but should be pretty normal.”
    • In light of the Rays’ success with creativity this season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times details some of the most interesting aspects of the club’s strategy in 2018. Carig explores various aspects of the club’s advances back to contention, highlighted by the purging of veterans in order to bring focus to a new, young core. The coming out parties for players like Jake Bauers and Joey Wendle have been fun to watch, to be sure. But equally interesting has been their improvements in much broader aspects of the game: a few mentioned by Carig include the team’s improvement on the hard contact and line drive front, trimming of strikeouts, spike in batting average, and, of course, the adoption and implementation of the “opener” strategy.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brian Cashman Remains Confident In Gary Sanchez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132518 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z This season hasn’t gone according to plan for Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, leading Joel Sherman of the New York Post to wonder if the club could target Miami’s J.T. Realmuto or another starting-caliber backstop during the winter. It doesn’t seem that’s going to happen, though, as Yankees general manager Brian Cashman suggested to Sherman that he hasn’t lost any confidence in Sanchez. “If you are asking if [Sanchez] is a championship-caliber catcher moving forward, the answer is yes,” Cashman said. “Despite circumstances that have played out this year, we will stay with it and hopefully be rewarded for it.” After his bat helped propel him to elite catcher status from 2016-17, Sanchez has slashed an underwhelming .184/.280/.404 in 304 plate appearances this season. On the other side, the 25-year-old has drawn plenty of criticism for defensive miscues, including for his work in Oakland this past Wednesday. Still, it’s easy to see why Cashman remains bullish on Sanchez. With a .189 batting average on balls in play and a massive gap between his real wOBA (.298) and expected wOBA (.366), Sanchez has been one of the game’s unluckiest hitters in 2018, and he has still managed 15 home runs and a .221 ISO. Defensively, Sanchez’s issues may be a tad overblown, evidenced in part by the above-average marks he has earned from StatCorner.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Notes: Judge, Gardner, Bird, Voit]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132461 2018-09-08T15:51:11Z 2018-09-08T15:01:01Z The Yankees have gone without their best player, injured right fielder Aaron Judge, since July 26, but it appears he’s getting closer to a return as the playoffs draw nearer. Judge participated in on-field drills Friday for the first time since he suffered a chip fracture in his right wrist, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com relays, leading to excitement from manager Aaron Boone. “This is what we’ve been waiting for this whole time, for that pain to get out of there, for him to be able to really swing,” said Boone, who added, “Now it’s just a matter of getting back up to baseball speed, building that stamina and then obviously graduating to live pitching, to seeing an actual pitcher.” Judge would like to return to the majors within two weeks, Hoch notes, and doing so would give him time to shake off some rust prior to the Yankees’ wild-card round matchup in early October.

    More on the Bronx Bombers…

    • Outfielder Brett Gardner is the current longest-tenured Yankee, having debuted with the team back in 2008, but his future is in question beyond this season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post points out. The Yankees will head into 2019 with a host of corner outfield possibilities, regardless of whether Gardner’s still with them, and a decision to make on his $12.5MM club option (or $2MM buyout). While the Yankees could exercise the option and trade Gardner, who remains valuable at age 35, he’ll have a major say in whether a deal will happen. Gardner informed Davidoff that he has already earned 10-and-5 rights, giving him the ability to put the kibosh on any trade. As you’d expect, though, Gardner’s more focused on the present than how the offseason could unfold. “I haven’t put too much thought into next year yet,” Gardner said. “And to be honest, I really don’t plan to until after the season. That’s kind of how I always try to compartmentalize things like that.”
    • Unlike Judge and Gardner, first baseman Greg Bird hasn’t contributed much to New York’s success this year. Between that and fellow first baseman Luke Voit’s tremendous production since the Yankees acquired him from the Cardinals in July, Bird may not even make the Bombers’ playoff roster, George A. King III of the New York Post observes. Many expected the oft-injured Bird to break out in 2018, but his season got off on the wrong foot – literally – when he underwent right ankle surgery in late March. The 26-year-old didn’t debut until the end of May as a result, and he has batted a disastrous .179/.284/.386 in 296 plate appearances since then.
    • Voit, meanwhile, is relishing his time as a Yankee, as Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The fiery 27-year-old has slashed .308/.372/.615 with eight home runs in just 86 plate trips with the Yankees, after spending the first few months of the season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A team. But Voit doesn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the Cardinals, as he noted that two “great” first base options – Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez – blocked him in St. Louis. Continued Voit: “The Yankees have let me play. This is the first time in my career that I’ve gotten to play two straight weeks in a row.” Frederickson’s piece contains more quotes from Voit, for whom the playoff-contending Cardinals acquired relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve’s the only one of the two who has pitched for the Cards so far, and he has posted solid results.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yankees Activate Didi Gregorius]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132430 2018-09-07T18:35:42Z 2018-09-07T18:35:42Z The Yankees announced on Friday that they’ve reinstated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the 10-day disabled list. He’d been out since Aug. 20 due to a left heel injury.

    Gregorius, 28, is in the midst of a career season at the plate, having batted .270/.333/.482 with 22 homers, 22 doubles and four triples through his first 508 trips to the plate. The injury to Gregorius prompted Gleyber Torres to slide from second base over to shortstop, with Neil Walker stepping up at second base in recent days. Walker had been seeing regular time in right field due to a wide slate of outfield injuries for the Yanks, though the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen freed Walker to return to the infield.

    [Related: New York Yankees depth chart]

    New York has been hit by several injuries since the All-Star break, though both Gregorius and Gary Sanchez have now returned to the lineup. Closer Aroldis Chapman was placed on the disabled list back on Aug. 22, and it’s still not entirely clear when Aaron Judge’s wrist will be healthy enough for him to return to the lineup. The Yankees’ chances of winning the American League East have all but disappeared, as they currently trail the Red Sox by 9.5 games, but they’re comfortably in possession of the top Wild Card spot at the moment. As things stand, they’d square off against a surprising Athletics team, though the Mariners are still chasing down a Wild Card spot as well, trailing Oakland by five and a half games.

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