There are a mere three football games left in the NFL season which means one thing. We are under the 30 day mark to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. You can’t see it, but I am doing a happy dance as I type.
That being said, let’s take a look at some rumblings from the Yankees Universe.
New York Yankees avoid arbitration
The big news of the week is that the New York Yankees settled with two of their young guns and avoided arbitration.
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) January 19, 2016
The rumors are that Eovaldi asked for $6.3-million and the Yankees offered $4.9. They came to terms right smack in the middle, and quite honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
Eovaldi is 25-years old. The right-handed fireballer — who possesses the fastest fastball amongst all AL starters (averaging 96.7 miles per hour) — is still very much a work in progress. He allowed the most hits in baseball two years ago with the Marlins, and let up 175 more this past season in just 27 starts. There is a lot to be desired.
But, I reiterate. He is 25. Right now, the Yankees don’t need Eovaldi to be a one or two pitcher, but he still has the potential to be so. I don’t care about his 14-3 record and his AL leading .824 winning percentage. Most of Eovaldi’s starts went five innings and the lockdown bullpen had much to do with that.
What I do care about is that he posted the best ground ball rate of his career (52%) in Yankees Stadium. While his walk rate went up from his career best mark in 2014, it was still below his career average. Eovaldi’s strikeout rate was up as well. Transitioning to the AL, the AL East in particular, is no easy feat. Did Eovaldi ace it? No way, but he did show that he could be ready to take the next step.
Didi Gregorius and the Yankees have settled salary arbitration at $2.425M.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) January 18, 2016
That right there is even bigger and better news. Many don’t feel Sir Didi Gregorius played well in his Yankees debut, but in my opinion, he couldn’t have played better.
Sir Didi walked into a situation I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. He had to replace not only a legend, but quite possibly the most beloved Yankee of all time in Derek Jeter. How did he respond?
He struggled at first, as expected — and seemingly some Yankees fans wanted to see. But the soon-to-be 26-year old shortstop turned it on after May ended. His defense was superb and his bat came alive as he set career highs across the board. And for you stat nerds, he posted a 3.3 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) with was a 2 point improvement over his career. Sir Didi can play.
Now the Yankees have a young shortstop at barely any cost. $2.425-million to the Yankees? That’s like the Steinbrenners checked the coin slots of pay phones and said, ‘hey, let’s re-sign this kid.” The Yankees have a young star — MLB Network ranked him in the Top 10 shortstops in baseball, which if you happened to watch the youth explosion at the position in names like Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa last year, that’s pretty darn impressive — at an underpay. When was the last time the Yankees got to say that?
Justin Upton signs — Cespedes rumors burst open
Well, J-Up is officially off the market after he signed with the Detroit Tigers yesterday. That leaves Yoenis Cespedes as the big name outfield free agent (unless of course you consider Dexter Fowler a big name) left on the market.
Now, you know we don’t start trade rumors or even propose trades we’d like to see here at Wayniac Nation. But we do dissect trade rumors created by other people. That’s just simple fun.
One such trade of course involves shipping off Brett Gardner for that young pitcher the Yankees in which the Yankees have been looking. It could also make room for a one-year deal for Cespedes. Joe Giglio of NJ.com breaks down Nick Cafardo’s trade pitch at the Boston Globe.
With outfield prospect Aaron Judge not far off, the Yankees could deal Brett Gardner for pitching. It’s plausible to imagine a Gardner-for-Andrew Heaney swap, considering Angels GM Billy Eppler was Brian Cashman’s assistant and likes Gardner’s defense, speed, and leadoff capability.
There a few loopholes here that don’t seem plausible at all in my opinion. For one, I love Aaron Judge. But I don’t think he is ready to play anywhere near a full season in the MLB. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he is far away, but I truly see him as a September call-up this year and the starting right fielder next season.
Judge has immense power, but in his small sample size at Triple-A he struggled with a career worst plate discipline, slashing .224/.308/.373. One can not digress and then simply be expected to be near competing at the big league level. Judge is 23. There is no need to rush him, as he is the right fielder for the foreseeable future.
Secondly, I understand Eppler and Cashman have a good working relationship, But Andrew Heaney is the youngest pitcher in a very questionable Angels rotation. Who knows what they will get out of Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson? Coming off the heels of the Andrelton Simmons trade that sent two of their best pitching prospects — Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis — to the Braves, I can’t see them parting with their youngest left hander, no matter what awaits on the pipeline.
But that’s just me. If Brian Cashman can pull it off and the Yankees get a 24-year old lefty who is two years removed from being one of the top pitching prospects in the game, well then, you won’t hear a peep of a complaint here, folks.
Castro to moonlight as the back-up third baseman
It seems that Cashman has anointed the Yankees new second baseman, Starlin Castro, as the back-up to Chase Headley. Some people are left scratching their heads, but if Castro can pull it off, it is a brilliant move.
It leaves a roster spot open that gives the Yankees flexibility, especially with Joe Girardi‘s love of calling up a reliever and sending him back down after 24 hours. It also almost guarantees a spot on the Opening Day roster for Gary Sanchez should he have a solid spring.
Were the Yankees to have a back-up third baseman on the roster, that would mean that the back-up catcher role would be a competition between Austin Romine and Sanchez, with Romine likely winning out due to experience — albeit experience I have never been fond of. An extra roster spot gives the option to the Yankees to roll with three catchers and get Sanchez that chance to outshine Romine at the big league level. Haven’t we all been waiting for this anyway?
It also gives them the chance to start the season with someone like Rob Refsnyder on the roster as a super utility guy to replace Dustin Ackley when he shows yet again that he is not the player people expected him to be.
Whatever the Yankees do choose to do, having an open roster spot is huge. Of course it is all dependent on this notion that Castro CAN play third base after having played ZERO games there in his career to date.