Get ready Tampa. The New York Yankees are en route. At least the team equipment is. And a few short days later, pitchers and catchers will be at The Boss prepping for another postseason run.
As usual, let’s take a look at some news and nuggets from around the Yankees Universe.
1. Enough with the Bryce Harper/ Yankees 2018 talk already.
Don’t get me wrong. A Bryce Harper, New York Yankees union would be fantastic, and it isn’t like it is out of the question.
Does it add up? You bet. As Jeff Passan pointed out Major League Baseball teams spent $2.5 billion this offseason on free agents and the Yankees spent none of that. Zip. Zero. Zilcho.
Read that again. The New York Yankees spent zero dollars this offseason in free agency. It is a trend they have kept to the past few seasons, passing on big name pitchers on the open market while making some nice value trades and upgrades. Surely the Yankees are up to something.
Yes, all of that big busted money is coming off the books real soon as finally Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran are nearing their end. Yes, Harper was a Yankees fan growing up. But let me reiterate… we are talking about 2018.
If you think that the Yankees will be the only one in the market, you need to rethink it. Going after arguably baseball’s best player is not going to be that simple. The Dodgers will certainly be in play, you would assume the Red Sox would jump in the game because they go after anyone the Yankees do. There will be plenty of suitors for a talent like Harper.
These rumors of a $500-million contract for Harper, would Yankees fans be happy with this? As someone who has covered the Yankees for over two years now — albeit not as singularly as I used to — all Yankees fans have done (including myself) is vent about these ridiculously large, long-term deals and how they have handcuffed the Yankees from moving forward. Now, we are reading articles set on offering half a billion to 2018, 26-year old Bryce Harper.
One bad season… the guy would be hung out to dry.
Look, from a Yankees fan perspective, it’s fun to look at the possibilities of having a possible legend two years away from joining your team. As a writer who tries to analyze things, I just think it’s silly to start thinking about until the end of the 2017 season and these pipe dreams become a little bit more of a reality.
Harper is a franchise changing talent. And there are going to be a lot of franchise wanting to have his talents change their futures.
2. PITCHERS AND CATCHERS ARE COMING!!!
Spring Training is a tad over a week away. Pitchers and catchers report first, so let’s explore some of the newer faces in camp.
Honestly, there wasn’t much to get excited about with the catchers that were brought in on Minor League deals as non-roster invitees. Carlos Corporan is the most desirable candidate for some organizational depth, but his .218/.280/.342 career slash line says it all. He does have some pop (hit a career high seven home runs in just 191 at bats in 2013) and is reliable enough behind the plate that he should stick at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The rest are organizational depth at best, but may not even make it through camp. Kyle Higashioka has been in the system for some time and after he left via free agency, the Yankees brought him back. I’m not even sure who Santiago Nessy is and I cover Minor League Baseball.
This spring is all about the big league development of Gary Sanchez. The Yankees will probably roll into the season with three catchers (Brian McCann and Austin Romine join Sanchez), but it’s time to make Sanchez the permanent backup until McCann can’t catch anymore. Last year, I said it was time to either give up on Sanchez and trade him for an elite pitching prospect, or simply commit to his future.
Well, the trade deadline passed and Sanchez is still here. It’s time to get him ready for a future in pinstripes.
One guy that left briefly in free agency and was brought back on as a non roster invitee that I am excited about is Domingo German. German was the piece in the Martin Prado/ Nathan Eovaldi deal that I felt made it valuable. Of course, German fell victim to Tommy John surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch as a Yankee.
He probably won’t be ready for game-time action until the very end of Spring Training — if at all — but it will be fun to see how far back he has come. The 23-year old righty’s last season (2014) in the Minors was nice: 9-3 with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP striking out 113 over 123.1 innings and walking just 25. He gets a lot of ground balls too, which is nice for a Yankees Stadium future pitcher.
Luis Cessa and Chad Green will be there. They were the two Tigers sent over in the Justin Wilson deal. Green is in camp as a non-roster invitee. The 24-year old righty was brought in to compete as depth for the rotation, but his stuff looks more like the kind of guy Girardi will yo-yo back and forth in the bullpen all season. He has three pitches, highlighted by a low-90s fastball and pretty sound control.
Cessa is the juicier of the two pitchers. The 23-year old righty — already added to the 40-man roster — was the center piece in the trade that brought Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets, and if one thing is for certain, the Mets certainly have an eye for pitching. He, too, has a three pitch arsenal, highlighted by a sharp 95-mile per hour fastball. He has a better chance at a future rotation slot than Green, but after two unsuccessful stints in Triple-A last year (first in the PCL with the Mets and then in the IL with the Tigers), he is a long shot to make an early impact with the big-league club.
Last year’s first round draft pick James Kaprielian will be in camp as a non-roster invitee, but just enjoy seeing him there getting some big league action. This kid’s stuff is electric and at 21, the Yankees don’t need to rush him. Here’s my full review of Kaprielian from the end of last season at Minor League Ball.
Although they are not new faces, I am glad Brady Lail and Tyler Webb received non-roster invites to spring training. They are Yankees minor league stalwarts who have climbed the ladder. None are atop the list, but both could be helpful in the bullpen in the big leagues at some point this season.
Then of course is that guy they got from the Reds Aroldis Chapman. I think every one in the Yankees Universe is eager to see what he looks like in pinstripes throwing that 110-mph gas.
3. Tanaka and Sabathia back at it.
Masahiro Tanaka seems to be progressing on schedule. The righty had surgery back in October to remove some bone spurs and has begun throwing sessions.
Tanaka should be ready for a full fledged Spring Training. The Yankees really need him to get back to health and top form as the ace of this rotation.
C.C. Sabathia has already been spotted in Tampa. Hopefully he, too, has a clear head and can get back to half the pitcher he once was. Should Sabathia be clean and sober, and healthy and strong, he could be a scary No. 4 pitcher in the rotation.
4. They’re baaaaack.
John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will be in the booth for WFAN through 2017. It appears that The Fan has given them a new two-year deal that has Yankees fans across the nation jabbing a pencil into their ear so they don’t have to listen.
I remember at the turn of the millennium as the Yankees were amid their dynasty, Sports Illustrated took a poll. It was of the best and worst Yankees announcers in history. John Sterling, believe it or not, was atop BOTH the best and worst poll. I still laugh when I think about that.
Anyway, they’re back. Take it for it’s worth.