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Tigers, Zimmermann agree on deal

The Tigers have reached an agreement with former Washington righthander Jordan Zimmermann, according to multiple media reports.

The deal, reported to be for five years and more than $100 million, is pending a physical. first reported the Tigers were in serious talks with Zimmermann late Saturday night. Zimmermann, 29, was 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA last season with the Nationals and has a career 3.32 ERA. He had Tommy John surgery several years ago.

The Tigers, who lost Max Scherzer to the Nats last year, were last in the AL Central. Detroit recently acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez. The Nationals will receive a draft choice since they made Zimmermann a qualifying offer.

Others in the free agent starting pitching market include Zack Greinke, David Price and Johnny Cueto along with Jeff Samardzija, Wei-Yin Chen and Ian Kennedy.

Tags: Washington Nationals
BBNY: Yankees' rotation 00:03:36
The panel discuss how the New York Yankees can improve their starting rotation in the offseason and if they will acquire any more arms.

The panel discusses how the New York Yankees can improve their starting rotation in the offseason and if they will acquire any more arms.

Gardner or Miller; which is the Yankees best trade chip?
New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) reacts to a hit during the first inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 4-2. (Nick Turchiaro)

The New York Yankees have expressed little interest to enter the free agency market, despite the fact that this might be the best time to do so for a while.

Last offseason, the Bombers used the trade market hoping to accomplish four things; improve their rotation, add depth to the bullpen, fill the void at shortstop and get younger. They managed to fulfill all four measures and did so with success; adding the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius and Justin Wilson to the roster.

The Yankees have already pulled off one trade this offseason, moving 2015 backup catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Aaron Hicks. This move resembles the acquisition of Wilson, in that the Yanks used their 2014 backup catcher, Francisco Cervelli, as the commodity. Acquiring Hicks, 26, helps the Yankees add athleticism and depth to the outfield, provides the club with another switch-hitter and reduces the age of the bench, with the departure of Chris Young.

The Hicks trade also opens the door to a potential trade of homegrown outfielder Brett Gardner. Gardner has three years and $38 million left on his deal, making him an attractive piece in spite of a lackluster finish to the 2015 season in which he was named to the American League All-Star Team.

Gardner's outfield teammates are not immune to being traded, but Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have a bit more baggage attached to them. Ellsbury has north of $100 million and five years left on his deal and Beltran is owed $15 million in the final season of his pact. Ellsbury was putrid after returning from an injury late in the 2015 season and while Beltran showed he can still hit, he's as good as a statue in the field. Neither Ellsbury nor Beltran seem like attractive trading chips for other teams unless the Yankees add cash to the deal.

How would the Yankees proceed if Gardner is traded?

Well, the Yankees could do a slew of things really. They might put Hicks in center field, shift Ellsbury to left field and keep Beltran in right field, or simply have Hicks cover left. One of several Yankees; Dustin Ackley, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams or even Ben Gamel could then be in line for the fourth outfielder role and provide depth in case of injury to a starter.

The Yankees could shift gears and sign a free agent, maybe Ben Zobrist, and use him as a super-utility player. Or the Yankees could go all-out and try to sign one of the high-priced outfielders on the market like Jason Heyward, Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes. The last scenario seems like the least likely at the moment.

The rumor mill suggests that the Yankees are looking to add a starting pitcher and believe a package with Gardner could bring an upgrade addition to the club's fragile and suspect rotation. The Yanks do not want a back-end of the rotation starter, of which Gardner is too valuable for, but rather a young, controllable starter with upside, of which he is not valuable enough to obtain on his own. Ideally, the Yankees would love a guy like one of the Indians' duo of Carlos Carrasco or Danny Santana, whose names have come up in rumors.

The problem is the word package. Gardner is not good enough on his own to land the type of player the Yankees truly need for their rotation, so some attractive prospects would need to be added to any deal. The Yankees are not intent on dealing their best prospects, so it remains to be seen if anything will come to fruition here.

Shifting the discussion to Miller brings a whole different aspect to the conversation. The recent trade of Craig Kimbrel by the San Diego Padres to the Boston Red Sox showed there is certainly some value to closers with reasonable contracts and years of control. Miller is under contract for three more seasons at $9 million per year.

The Red Sox shipped two of their top-10 prospects plus two more minor leaguers for Kimbrel. The 27-year-old is a difference maker, and Miller, 30, surely falls into the same category. The Yankees could fill vacancies the club sees in its farm system by attracting similar prospect value (Miller's age might lessen the total package) the Padres earned from dealing Kimbrel.

There are similarities and differences in trading Miller in respect to what the Yankees would experience by trading Gardner.

First, Miller won't bring back the ready-made starter the Yankees want on his own, much like the dilemma they have with dealing Gardner. In fact, the players coming back to New York would likely point to the future rather than 2016 if Miller was dealt on his own. Secondly, the Yankees would severely deplete arguably their best strength heading into the 2016 season, the bullpen.

It's this second issue which sticks out in my mind. The Yankees would not fall back where it concerns the closer role itself. Dellin Betances, acting as a pure three-out closer, with the occasional four-out save, could very well be even more dominating than he's been the past two seasons portraying the team's fireman.

Miller's departure would hurt the Yankees because it would leave the club lacking that dynamic duo at the end of games which was so successful in 2015. There has been a definite shift in how teams construct their bullpens; having two or three overpowering relievers is desired.

Wilson was very good in 2015, but he's not dominant. There isn't a single reliever on the Yankees roster outside of Betances and Miller that screams 'domination is coming' like they do. Any shutdown reliever available via trade - say, Aroldis Champman and Mark Melancon - is going to require a steep price. Why trade Miller, only to move prospects to bring another closer-type back with less control? That seems to make little sense.

So, while I concocted a theory that BOTH Gardner and Miller could get traded this offseason, if I had to pick one I'd venture to guess it will be Gardner, and whichever prospect(s) the Yanks decide they can part with.

The Yankees have numerous answers for a potential departure of Gardner, and only part of the response if Miller departs. While the Yankees are in a mode which shows signs of rebuilding, they are doing so with the mindset that they have to remain competitive enough to have a shot at a postseason berth. In my view, trading Gardner can help both the present and the future, while disposing of Miller will not.

Tags: Andrew Miller , Brett Gardner
Yankees are willing to trade Ivan Nova
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky/AP)

The Yankees have let other teams know that RHP Ivan Nova is available via trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Nov. 24).

According to Sherman, while the Yankees are willing to trade Nova, they're refusing to sell low.

The 28-year-old Nova, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and didn't make his 2015 debut until June 24, posted a 5.07 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 94 innings (17 starts) for the Yankees this past season.

Nova was briefly moved to the bullpen in mid-September before rejoining the starting rotation.

Nova, who made $3.3 million in 2015, is in his final year of arbitration and is set to become a free agent after the 2016 season. 

Before injuring his elbow in 2014, Nova posted a combined 4.08 ERA from 2010-2013.

Christopher Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees' strategy here should come of no surprise. If the Yankees were to add a starter he would be a certain step up from Nova's abilities and limited upside.

Even if the Yankees are unable to add to the starting rotation this offseason, Nova will be a long shot to crack it. The Yankees will have Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Warren also vying for spots. It is easy to argue that each of those pitchers makes a better claim to a rotation spot than Nova.

While Nova's price tag will be economical in today's baseball market, he is a back-of-the-rotation starter at best, no matter where he might land. Even Nova's best seasons have been fraught with inconsistencies, yet the team has tried desperately to wring value out of him.

The Yankees claiming to refuse to sell low might be true. At worst, Nova provides depth to a fragile rotation. The Yankees might have finally seen that Nova's ceiling doesn't fit the club's future and he might have more value as part of a trade package.

Tags: Ivan Nova
Cano would love to return to New York

Mariners 2B Robinson Cano is reportedly not happy in Seattle and would love to return to New York, John Harper of the Daily News reports (Nov. 21).

According to Harper, Cano confided in one of his friends about his displeasure in Seattle, where he signed a 10-year deal worth $240 million prior to the 2014 season.

Former Mariners hitting coach Andy Van Slyke recently called Cano the "worst everyday player" he'd ever seen, criticizing Cano's play during the first half of the 2015 season, where he hit just .251 with a .290 OBP and .370 SLG to go along with six HR and 30 RBI.

Cano, 33, played for the Yankees from 2005 to 2013, where he hit .309 with a .355 OBP and .504 SLG while hitting 204 HR before leaving via free agency.

Christopher Carelli

Cano is unhappy in Seattle, and there are millions of Yankees fans who might tell him, "We told you so."

This is a story because one of the bigger Yankees questions this offseason is whether they are comfortable with a platoon of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at the keystone, or if they'll look for a completely different option via the trade or the free agent market.

Moreover, the question about second base has lingered since Cano left, despite being offered a seven-year, $175 million deal by New York before bolting for greener pastures. The notion that the Yankees would trade away top prospects for Cano now might seem a bit outlandish seeing that they've become outwardly protective of the best players in their system.

In my view, if a discussion actually took place, the Mariners would need to eat up a good portion of the remainder of Cano's contract, simply because the Yankees didn't want Cano playing into his 40s with them in the first place. In order to soften the blow of Cano clogging a roster spot toward the end of the contract, the cost would need to be offset significantly.

Based on how the Yankees have operated recently, I don't think anything will come of this. While I could see the club veering from the Ackley/Refsnyder platoon, I suspect it would be for a shorter-term and less costly option.

Yankees add Johnny Barbato, Rookie Davis and Ben Gamel to their 40-man roster
Pitcher Johnny Barbato (82) poses for a picture (Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Yankees announced that they have added RHP Johnny Barbato, RHP Rookie Davis and OF Ben Gamel to their 40-man roster.

The team also confirmed that RHP Chase Whitley was claimed off waived by Tampa Bay. 

The roster is now full at 40 players.

From the Yankees:

Barbato, 23, split the 2015 season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining to go 6-2 with three saves and a 2.67 ERA (67.1IP, 55H, 20ER, 25BB, 70K) in 40 relief appearances. In 14 games for the RailRiders, he posted a 4-0 record, three saves and a 0.36 ERA (25.0IP, 13H, 1ER, 11BB, 26K). Barbato (pronounced "bahr-BAY-toh") was acquired by the Yankees from San Diego in exchange for RHP Shawn Kelley on December 29, 2014. He was originally selected by the Padres in the sixth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Davis, 22, combined with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton to go 8-7 with a 3.86 ERA (130.2IP, 132H, 67R/56ER, 26BB, 129K) in 25 games (24 starts) in 2015, finishing second among Yankees minor league pitchers in strikeouts. Davis was selected by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Gamel, 23, spent the 2015 season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .300 (150-for-500) with 77R, 28 doubles, 14 triples, 10HR, 64RBI, 46BB and 13SB in 129 games. He was named the 2015 International League "Rookie of the Year" after leading the league in triples and ranking second in slugging percentage (.472). The left-handed hitter was selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Tampa Bar Rays claim RHP Chase Whitley off waivers from Yankees
New York Yankees starting pitcher Chase Whitley (39) reacts as he is taken out of the game during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Tampa Bay Rays have claimed RHP Chase Whitley off waivers from the Yankees, Ken Rosenthal reported (Nov. 20).

Whitley missed most of the season with an elbow injury, but posted a 4.19 ERA over 19 1/3 innings with New York in 2015.

Tags: Chase Whitley , Andrew Vazzano
Yankees discussing a Brett Gardner for Starlin Castro deal
Jun 29, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. (Richard Mackson)

The New York Yankees discussed a trade that would send OF Brett Gardner to the Cubs in exchange for SS/2B Starlin Castro, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Nov. 20). 

The Yankees have reportedly talked to "many teams" regarding a trade involving Gardner this offseason. They will be returning outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and recently acquired Aaron Hicks, who could replace Gardner in left field if he is traded.

Gardner, 32, made his first All-Star team in 2015. He hit .259 with 16 home runs and a had career-high 64 RBI's while scoring 94 runs. However, he struggled to hit only .206 in the second half of the season. Gardner has three years' worth $38 million remaining on his deal with the Yankees.

Castro, who will turn 26 by opening day next season, could fill the Yankees need at second base. He hit .265 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI's last season. After signing a seven-year contract extension with the Cubs in 2012, he still has four years' worth $38 million remaining on his deal.  

Tags: Tim Reilly
Lawyer: Suit over Alex Rodriguez's legal fees has been settled
(Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

A lawyer says his firm has settled its lawsuit accusing New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez of failing to pay legal bills stemming from the Biogenesis scandal.

Peter Siachos of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani said Thursday the suit was settled "amicably" this month. He declined to disclose the terms.

Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season after then-Commissioner Bud Selig concluded he violated the sport's drug agreement and labor contract. Gordon Rees had claimed it helped get Rodriguez's original 211-game suspension reduced to 162 games in arbitration.

The suit had accused Rodriguez of failing to pay more than $380,000 in legal fees.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez
Yankees might be wise to invest in high-priced free-agent market now, while it's good
New York Yankees general manager and senior vice president Brian McGuire Cashman talks with the media during batting practice before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

By most accounts the New York Yankees will continue their recent trend of working the trade market to improve their roster ahead of the 2016 season, versus diving headfirst into the high-priced free-agent market.

What if that is the wrong strategy for this offseason?

The Yankees certainly do not want to get saddled with expensive long-term contracts for players who will reach their late 30s by the time the deal comes to an end. The team is desperately trying to shed those exact types of contracts now. But there are four players available via free agency that would fit nicely in pinstripes despite a hefty price tag and won't be over-the-hill when their contract concludes.

The Yankees rotation is a fairly big question mark once again, as much for determining which of the returning pitchers might crack the rotation, but also forecasting which pitchers will be able to get through the entire season without suffering an injury. The Yankees have not had a 200-inning pitcher for a season since 2013 when CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda managed the feat.

So, why not add a pitcher who continuously eclipses the 200-inning mark, and more importantly generates great production from those frames?

Zack Greinke or David Price anyone?

Look, the Yankees' payroll will once again be over $200 million in 2016. Sabathia might not crack the rotation and he's set to pull down $25 million himself. So, how can the club realistically consider adding Price or Greinke, each of them set to earn a nine-figure salary, potentially reaching $200 million?

After this season, just over $38 million comes off the team's books with the expiring contracts of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. Better yet, the Yankees have a replacement for Teixeira in Greg Bird. Another prospect outfielder, Aaron Judge, is expected to be ready for the 2017 season. If we go one step further, the Yankees rid themselves of Sabathia's (assuming his option vests) and Alex Rodriguez's contracts after the 2017 season; another $46 million.

This could be the time to strike; have an increased payroll for 2016, and watch it shrink dramatically by 2018 and get younger all at the same time. Can the Yankees afford to dismiss Price and Greinke as options due to one season of inflated payroll?

There isn't a pitcher on the current roster who has demonstrated the ability to be a front-line ace like Price or Greinke (Sabathia once did, but those days seem long gone). The free-agent pitching market is barren next season, let alone containing two of the top pitchers in the game. It would take some tinkering to make the spot, namely moving Sabathia and Adam Warren to the bullpen, and trading at least one other starter from last season; Ivan Nova comes to mind.

Greinke might not be the best fit for the Yankees and this is not the beginning of a knock on whether he can handle New York. If anyone has watched Greinke during his last three seasons in Los Angeles, the pressure of a big market and media were not a problem; that narrative has run its course.

The concerns with Greinke are more about his age entering the 2016 than anything else. Greinke, 32, figures to covet a six-year deal which would take him through his age-37 season. The Yankees would surely be squeamish about such a deal, especially with a similar contract with Sabathia staring them in the face.

But Greinke is different from Sabathia was at this stage. Greinke is often described as a pitcher who will age well. He's not an especially hard thrower (something Sabathia depended on), relying more on an expanded repertoire and spot-on location. Despite the potential fit, Greinke might feel he is better suited to pitching in the National League, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants the favorites to land the right-hander.

As for Price, he'll cost more in terms of cash and years, but he's also two years younger than Greinke. Price might just now be rounding into his peak performance period finishing the 2015 season with his highest WAR mark (6.4) according to FanGraphs. The Yankees would benefit greatly by adding a left-hander to the rotation, another plus over Greinke.

Price is familiar with pitching in the American League East after seven seasons in Tampa and his half season in Toronto. Price will have a number of suitors including the Blue Jays, the Dodgers, the Giants and the Chicago Cubs. Price might feel a pull toward Chicago because his former Rays' manager, Joe Maddon, is at the helm and the club is poised to be quite competitive over the next few seasons.

The Yankees are not nearly as young as the Cubs, but New York could surely point to their new methodology of roster construction if they decided to pursue Price, noting they've placed more importance in grooming players for their club like Bird, Judge and potential rotation mate Luis Severino.

Now the Yankees might find that the bidding for Price and Greinke reach levels that are beyond their comfort, and quite frankly they could come to the realization that neither player has an interest in playing in New York. If that's the case, the Yankees can get younger and more productive another way, but it would take a big trade to make space.

When the Yanks acquired Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins last week, there was immediate speculation to the Yankees trying to move one of their outfielders. Of the three, Brett Gardner has the most allure to other clubs because of his age and his modest contract (three years and $36 million remaining). Jacoby Ellsbury has five years and close to $110 million left on his deal, and the Yanks would surely have to pick up some of Beltran's $15 million if they tried to move him.

Video: Baseball Night in New York: Trading Gardner?

If the Yankees are able to trade Gardner (he could net the starting pitcher they desire), I do not believe it's to hand over a starting role to Hicks, despite Yankees general manager Brian Cashman claiming he believes the 26-year-old switch-hitter has full-time potential. In my view, if the Yanks are able to move Gardner, it points to a desire to first try and land Jason Heyward or Justin Upton with Hicks being the backup plan.

Heyward is the offensive equivalent in this free agency season to Price. He's young (26) and the industry seems to believe he could eclipse the $200 million mark. Surely adding the left-handed hitting Heyward makes the club younger, and better defensively, but his game seems more predicated on defense and speed more than power over the long term. Plus, the Yankees position players lean heavily to left-handed hitters, or switch hitters who swing better from the left side of the plate.

In Upton, the Yankees would save in terms of years and salary compared to Heyward, and resolves a power glut from the right side of the plate. With Teixeira and Beltran leaving after the 2016 season, the Yankees will want some assurance of power from the right side of the plate beyond hoping a rookie (Judge) will instantly hit 30+ home runs and Rodriguez has a semblance of power at 42 years old in 2017.

While I do not suspect the Yankees will be among the final bidders for Price or Greinke, I can see them involved with Heyward and Upton. That's especially certain if the Yankees are able to shed one of their outfielders before the bidding gets hot. The Yanks have the benefit of the next month or so to try to make a deal happen before having to worry about either hitter signing a deal. As two of the top position players in the market, Heyward and Upton have the luxury of using each other to drive up terms and certainly have no rush to sign.

The Yankees have shown a desire to work from surplus via the trade market over the last two seasons, and they might well continue that approach through the remainder of this offseason. But, if they want to get in on two peak-performance pitchers, or two of the best impact position players in the game, they better do so now, because the well runs dry next season. With a mountain of money coming off the books in the next two years, one season with a financial bump won't hurt in the short term and can truly be rewarded immediately and for years to come.

Tags: Brett Gardner , Carlos Beltran , Christopher Carelli
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Berra to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
An Armed Forces honor guard presents the colors during a moment of silence in honor of former New York Yankee and WWll veteran Yogi Berra. (USA TODAY Sports)

The late Yogi Berra will receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Monday.

Berra, who died in September at 90 years old, is one of 17 people to receive the award, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States.

"From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more perfect to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans," President Obama said in a statement.

Berra was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. He won 10 World Series championships with the Yankees and also served as manager of the Mets.

Former Hall of Famer Willie Mays has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Yankees announce 2016 coaching staff
Sep 23, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees first base coach Tony Pena and the rest of the Yankee team pay tribute to former Yankee player Yogi Berra during a minute silence prior to a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. New York Yankees are wearing Yogi Berra's number 8 on their sleeves. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

The Yankees announced Joe Girardi's coaching staff for the 2016 season.

Mike Harkey will become the team's bullpen coach and Marcus Thames will be an assistant hitting coach, joining Alan Cockrell, who is the team's hitting coach.

Harkey was the team's bullpen coach from 2008 to 2013, and returns after a two-year stint serving as pitching coach for the Diamondbacks.

Tony Pena will serve as both the team's first base coach and a catching instructor next season.

Third base coach Joe Espada, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bench coach Rob Thomson will hold the same roles as in 2015.

Yankees likely to shy away from Zobrist's price tag
Ben Zobrist won't have trouble finding a new home this offseason. (AP)

While Ben Zobrist may fill a need in free agency with the Yankees, they are not likely to spend as much money as he might command on the open market, according to the New York Post's Ken Davidoff (Nov. 15).

Zobrist, 34, played all over the field last season for the A's and World Series champion Royals, playing 69 games at second base and 45 games in left field as a switch hitter.

While he hit .276 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs last year, he is likely to command a four-year deal in the $60 million range, according to Davidoff, which makes the Yankees hesitant to sign him.

The Yankees are also unlikely to make a run at signing former Met Daniel Murphy, who hit .281 with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs last year, and instead may stick with either Rob Refsnyder or Dustin Ackley at second base (Nov. 10).

Yanks release 2016 spring training schedule
(Reinhold Matay)

The New York Yankees have released their 2016 spring training schedule.

Pitchers and catchers are due to report on February 18, position players on February 24 and the first full-squad workout will be on February 25.

The Yankees will play their first game on March 2 against Detroit.

Tickets will go on sale on Friday, January 15 at 10 a.m.

View the Yankees spring training schedule.

For Hicks, criticism by Twins in 2014 was wakeup call
Aaron Hicks makes a catch against the Tigers. (AP)

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Aaron Hicks was hitting .161 for the Minnesota Twins 1 1/2 months into the 2015 season when manager Ron Gardenhire and assistant general manager Rob Antony took the unusual step of criticizing him publicly.

"To hit .160, .170, those don't last in the big leagues," Gardenhire told reporters. "He needs to start studying the game a little more."

Antony revealed Hicks didn't know opponents' starting pitcher at times.

"Yeah, it made me realize how much preparation is key to," Hicks said Thursday, a day after he was traded to the New York Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy. "If you don't know who the starting pitcher is, it's kind of tough to prepare for that. I think it made me a stronger player, a better player."

Hicks responded to the scolding with a winning 10th-inning single against Boston the following night. The former first-round draft pick raised his average to .215 by the end of the season and hit a career-best .256 this year.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Torii Hunter, a five-time All-Star who returned to the Twins in 2015 for his final season, mentored Hicks this year in the same manner Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez helped Didi Gregoriusovercome spring struggles and blossom during the shortstop's first season as Derek Jeter's successor.

"Allowed their physical tools to translate into success and maybe unlocked some things," Cashman said.

Hicks, 26, said the 40-year-old Hunter helped him "learn how to be myself off the field, being able to just separate baseball from my normal life and being able to enjoy myself and learn how to become a man."

With the Yankees, the switch-hitting Hicks at the least takes over the backup outfielder spot held by Chris Young. He could earn a starting job if New York trades Brett Gardner.

A switch hitter, Hicks helps balance a batting order that was overly left-handed, especially after switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira broke a shin in August.

Hicks gave up batting from the left side in late May 2014. Less than a month later, while on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Double-A New Britain following a shoulder strain, he resumed hitting from both sides.

"Rod Carew called me and told me what the heck am I doing, giving up switch hitting? It's a blessing and I should go back to work harder at it and be able to learn from my mistakes," he recalled the Hall of Famer and former Twins star telling him. "And he was right. I learned from my mistakes and I'm extremely happy that I made a change back."

Yankees plan to pursue LHP Wei-Yin Chen

The Yankees could make a "serious run" at free agent LHPWei-Yin Chen, Mark Feinsand of the Daily News reports (Nov. 12).

A source told Feisand that a lot of teams will be in on Chen, who will be seeking a deal of at least five years.

Chen, 30, went 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.22 while striking out 153 batters in 191 1/3 innings this past season for the Orioles.

Baltimore made Chen a qualifying offer, meaning the Yankees would have to surrender their first round draft pick (22nd overall) if they signed him.

For his career, Chen is 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.

GEICO SportsNite: Gardner trade? 00:00:40
John Harper explains why Brett Gardner could be on the trading block thanks to the Yankees' recent acquisition of outfielder Aaron Hicks.

John Harper explains why Brett Gardner could be on the trading block thanks to the Yankees' recent acquisition of outfielder Aaron Hicks

Tags: Brett Gardner
Yankees acquire Aaron Hicks from Twins for John Ryan Murphy

The Yankees have traded catcher John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for center fielder Aaron Hicks, the team announced.

Hicks, 26, hit .256 (90-for-352) with 48 runs, 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 33 RBI in 97 games with the Twins in 2015. The switch-hitter batted .307 (31-for-101) with 6 home runs off left-handed pitching last season and has hit .272 (62-for-228) with 10 home runs in his career off left-handers.

Hicks was originally selected by the Twins in the first round (14th overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Murphy, 24, hit .277 (43-for-155) with 3 home runs and 14 RBI in 67 games (43 starts at catcher) for the Yankees in 2015, spending the entire season at the Major League level for the first time in his career. He ranked third among AL catchers in batting average (min. 100 AB).

Chris Carelli: I wrote just last week that the Yankees had some decisions to make at the catcher position, but this wasn't exactly the trade I saw coming.

The Yankees must have been more than impressed with Gary Sanchez's performance this past season and more recently in the Arizona Fall League to move Murphy, who had performed quite well as Brian McCann's backup. Trading Murphy points to Sanchez getting first crack at the backup role behind the plate in 2016.

The Yankees needed a fourth outfielder to replace Chris Young and Hicks' ability to hit left-handed pitching was something what they required in a fourth outfielder. Hicks can play anywhere in the outfield (and well) and being a switch-hitter surely provides the Yankees with more options than Young did. Hicks, a former first-round pick is still just 26 years old, so there is certainly room for him to grow as well.

The Yankees get younger at backup catcher and in the fourth outfielder role with the move.

The Yankees claimed to be ready to be players in the offseason and have jumped out to a fine start with this move.'s Christopher Carelli is the founder of Yankees Unscripted, a site devoted to narrative-free commentary about the New York Yankees. Follow Christopher on Twitter, @Chris_Carelli, for up to the minute coverage of the team.

Yankees trade Jose Pirela to the Padres

The New York Yankees have traded 2B/OF Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres for minor-league RHP Ron Herrera (Feinsand, Nov. 11).

Pirela, 25, hit .230 with the Yankees last season over 37 games. In 60 games played with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pirela hit .325.

Herrerra, 20, split time between Double-A and Triple-A within the Padres organization last season. He was 8-7 with a 4.08 ERA over 25 starts.

The trade opens up a spot on the Yankees 40-man roster.

Will Yankees' bullpen remain strength in 2016?
The New York Yankees did their best to shorten games in 2015 by employing a strong three-headed attack at the back end of the bullpen. More often than not, the process worked.

The club had a 66-3 record in games when leading after seven innings, 73-2 when leading after eight and 81-0 when ahead in the ninth. Will the team have similar success in 2016, and if so will it come with the same crew be on the mound with the game on the line?

When the Yankees signed Andrew Miller last offseason, it meant the departure of longtime Yanks reliever David Robertson, the team's 2014 closer. At the outset of spring training, the club was reluctant to say that Miller was to be the team's closer despite the four-year, $36 million contract they handed the lefty reliever.

The Yankees had the bullpen equivalent of a fireman extraordinaire in Dellin Betances, so a battle ensued. Betances was looking rough around the edges early on, and Miller looked as comfortable as he did in 2014 when he aided the Baltimore Orioles' run to the American League Championship Series.

Miller would get the first handful of save opportunities, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi refused to verbally anoint Miller the closer until well after it was obvious to anyone paying attention that was exactly his role. Miller was fantastic in his first season in pinstripes, recording 36 saves in 38 chances with a 1.90 ERA, 14.6 K/9 and batters hit just .149 against him. Miller missed close to a month with a forearm strain, but was still named the AL Reliever of the Year.

During Miller's absence and at various times throughout the season when he was unavailable, Betances took the ball in the ninth inning. Betances was fabulous once again as the go-to reliever in the seventh or eighth innings, especially if the club was in a jam. Betances finished the season with a whopping 131 strikeouts in 84 innings, though he began to wear down by September; something the Yankees will have to keep an eye on going forward.

The only constant leading up to Betances and Miller was newcomer Justin Wilson. Wilson, a lefty received via trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Francisco Cervelli, pitched mostly in the seventh inning, with an occasional appearance in the sixth or eighth innings depending on circumstance for the former or the availability of Betances and Miller in the latter instance.

Besides Wilson, the Yankees used a carousel of relievers. Another lefty, Chasen Shreve, wowed the Yankees and began to receive tough assignments through the summer. Unfortunately, Shreve completely imploded in September, possibility suffering the same fate as Betances, but on a much larger scale.

Some pitchers like Adam Warren, Ivan Nova and Chris Capuano went back and forth between bullpen roles and starting spots. Others, like the numerous rookies the Yankees employed in a shuttle from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, came and went based on how many fresh arms the Yanks needed for an upcoming game or series. In all, the Yankees used 21 pitchers out of the bullpen in 2015 (two position players made relief appearances as well).

It's safe to say the Yankees will try to utilize the same strategy with their bullpen considering they should have the entirety of their rotation back (barring trades) and the starters were not especially proficient at pitching deep into games. For the immediate future, the Yankees will try to shrink games to six innings as much as possible.

The dilemma here is that in doing so in 2015, the Yankees surely overworked many of their relievers. Despite the shuttle of fresh arms, those relievers were not typically used in high-leverage situations, which the Yanks often found themselves in, or their manager believed them to be in.

If the Yankees' relievers are to be strong through an entire season, Girardi must figure out a way to distribute high-leverage innings across more than three pitchers.

One option is to go out and sign another reliever experienced in pressure situations. The Yankees were linked to Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman during the period leading up to the 2015 trade deadline and surely the club will be tied to them again in the hot stove rumor mill. This option will cost top prospects, and quite frankly I'm not certain that's the best use of what is still an evolving and improving farm system.

Should the Yankees delve into the free-agent market for a reliever, most likely a right-hander, they have a few options. The top righty reliever is Darren O'Day, but he'll fetch a decent salary, something the Yankees might not be willing to do considering what they're paying Miller. Maybe the Yankees check in on a Mark Lowe or Ryan Madson for a shorter term and less costly deal?

The route the Yankees can and should take is to stay within the organization. Spending more money on their bullpen, while having plenty of larger needs elsewhere makes little sense in my view.

Getting back to Shreve; he was dominant for so much of the season that the final month looked very much like a young pitcher hitting a wall. With a bit more balance to his workload, Shreve can gain back the role of bridging the gap to Wilson in the seventh. I would expect that the Yankees see this as a preliminary option.

While the Yankees were utilizing their shuttle to the minor leagues, they did turn up some potential difference makers. Brandon Pinder appeared in 25 games for the Yankees and pitched to a 2.93 ERA. Righty Nick Rumbelow was given some chances at the end of the season and struck out almost a batter per inning. Lefty Jacob Lindgren, one of the Yankees top prospects, will be back after missing most of the 2015 season after having a bone spur removed from his elbow.

If the Yanks can allow one or two of them (or another reliever that rises up the depth chart) to stick around in a more permanent role, they could still figure out a rotation of arms for the long reliever spot. Allowing the young guns to take on more responsibility in pressure situations would help their growth and provide the club with alternatives to running the big names out there as often as they were in 2015. This is going to require one or more of the youngsters to earn Girardi's trust, something he is does not easily give.

Finally, I fully expect the Yankees to either deal for or sign another starting pitcher. Call it a hunch, but the Yankees need the depth for the rotation. If they do go this route, they'll have an abundance of starters if everyone is healthy. The glut of starters would create a competition and one or more of the pitchers out of the rotation mix could become a part of the bullpen. Despite the Yankees claiming Warren will be used as a starter in the spring, he might end up having too much value from the bullpen, especially if the club adds a starter this offseason.

The greater question in my mind is how Girardi uses the bullpen in 2016 compared to his oddly scared deployment in 2015. If Girardi can find some balance and limit heavy workloads early on in the season, the bullpen should be strong enough when crunch time occurs in September.

Regardless of how the Yankees configure the bullpen, it once again stands to be among the team's more consistent strengths in 2016. The club has a great basis from which to build upon, money to spend if that's their route, and plenty of young talent within to remain one of the better relief crews in the game.'s Christopher Carelli is the founder of Yankees Unscripted, a site devoted to narrative-free commentary about the New York Yankees. Follow Christopher on Twitter, @Chris_Carelli, for up to the minute coverage of the team.

Yankees, Mariners discussing Brett Gardner trade
Aug 6, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) sacrifices during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

The Yankees and Mariners have started discussions on a trade involving OF Brett Gardner, according to Joel Sherman (Nov. 11).

The discussions are "not far along," Sherman said.

New York is reportedly looking for starting pitching in return.

Yanks showing interest in Rangers' SS Profar

The Yankees are interested in Texas Rangers SS Jurickson Profar (Nov. 10).

Profar has been sidelined by shoulder injuries and is currently serving solely as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League. He is currently in a throwing program to rehab his shoulder.

He's appeared in 94 games in the majors, as a 19- and 20-year-old, hitting .231 with a .301 OBP, but not since 2013.

The Yankees are considering him as a second baseman.

Girardi says trades are possible, even from the bullpen
Sep 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) during batting practice before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports (Nick Turchiaro)

NEW YORK (AP) - With the New York Yankees locked into players at most positions, manager Joe Girardi says trades are a possibility.

"I think we're always trying to figure out ways to improve the club and sometimes it's not necessarily through the free-agent route," he said Tuesday. "It can be through trade routes, and we had some success in the trades that we made last year."

On a chilly, rainy morning, Girardi was thinking ahead to spring training and the pursuit of the team's first title since 2009.

"Obviously I like the guys on our club and I love how hard they played last year for us, but the goal is to win and to win a World Series," Girardi said. "I think when you talk about that, you've got to look at every avenue you can to improve your club."

Girardi was at the ballpark to assist about 300 volunteers assembling United Service Organizations care packages for American servicemen and servicewomen. He echoed comments made by general manager Brian Cashman, who said he is willing to deal in order to improve a team that lost to Houston in the AL wild-card game.

Even closer Andrew Miller and the bullpen could be discussed in trade talk.

"Yes, that was the strength of our club," Girardi said. "Those guys pitched extremely well and were dominant, and if we had the lead after six innings we won ballgames, but if we feel that it will improve our club I'm sure we'll try to make a deal."

After wasting a seven-game AL East lead and faltering when first baseman Mark Teixeira broke a leg, New York finished six games behind Toronto - the largest blown lead in Yankees history. Girardi stressed the importance of an AL East title.

"I never said let's just get in," Girardi explained. "I really wanted to win our division because there's too many things that can go wrong in a one-game playoff. That's the problem."

Entering his ninth season as Yankees manager and the third season of $16 million, four-year contract, Girardi noted the importance of balancing his batting order.

"Obviously we had switch-hitters in the lineup," he said. "We lost a big one in Tex down the stretch and that was something that hurt us against left-handed pitching, but I think a right-handed bat can help."

New York's most obvious place to upgrade is second base, where switch-hitting Ben Zobrist and right-handed-hitting Howie Kendrick are available as free agents. Midsummer acquisition Dustin Ackley and rookies Rob Refsnyder andJose Pirela are the top holdovers.

"We're just going to have to see how the roster shakes out," Girardi said. "I thought Ref did a pretty decent job at the end of the year for us, especially when he didn't play for 18 or 19 days which was really pretty amazing, so let's just see how the offseason goes and we'll go from there."


Girardi watched Alex Rodriguez's postseason performance as an analyst for Fox.

"I think he did a good job. It's not easy," he said. "The first time you do it is actually somewhat stressful. In an arena where he's usually comfortable, at a ballpark, it's a whole lot different when those lights go on and you're expected to say something that's insightful and not embarrass yourself."


Gary Sanchez, a 22-year-old top catching prospect for the Yankees, hit .304 with six homers and 17 RBIs through 16 games of the Arizona Fall League and was selected MVP of the league's annual Fall Stars Game. He went hitless in his first two major league at-bats during the final weekend of the regular season.

New York seems set at catcher with Brian McCann and backup John Ryan Murphy.

"The young man had a very good year," Girardi said. "He made a lot of improvements. He's played extremely well in the Fall League, off the charts, so it's something that we're going to look at."


Girardi said Masahiro Tanaka's arthroscopic surgery last month to remove a bone spur from his right elbow was a surprise.

"It really never came across my desk that he was having a lot of problems, so it wasn't what I expected at the end of the year," Girardi said. "I didn't go into the last week of the season saying I knew he needed surgery because I didn't."


Girardi spoke with CC, who left the team on the final day of the regular season and entered an alcohol rehabilitation center. After his discharge, Sabathia talked publicly last week about his experience.

"He sounds great. Obviously I'm proud of how he stepped up and went and got help," Girardi said. "He was pitching really well at the end of the season for us and, hopefully, this continues to help and he has a great season for us next year."

Red Sox, Chris Young set to meet
Chris Young (center) is congratulated by Brendan Ryan after hitting a grand slam in the third inning. (AP)

The Boston Red Sox plan on meeting with free agent outfielder Chris Young, according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (Nov. 10).

"The 32-year-old Young is seeking an everyday job with his next ballclub, and he has received indications from the Red Sox that their interest in him is not as a fourth outfielder but as an everyday outfielder or at least one with significant playing time," Silverman wrote.

Young joined the Yankees late in the 2014 season and rejoined them in 2015. He hit .252 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI's in 140 games played last season.

GEICO SportsNite: Yankees 00:02:24
On GEICO SportsNite, John Harper discusses how he thinks the Yankees roster will be different in 2016

On GEICO SportsNite, John Harper discusses how he thinks the Yankees roster will be different in 2016.

Yankees unlikely to pursue Daniel Murphy
New York Mets' Daniel Murphy celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

GM Brian Cashman says the Yankees don't have interest in signing Daniel Murphy this offseason, noting they are likely to stick with either Rob Refsnyder or Dustin Ackley at second base for 2016 (Nov. 9).

"I think if we're going to pursue something … we have two offensive-profile players already at that position," Cashman said at GM Meetings on Monday. "So I think if we did any changing there it would be seeking more balance of both sides of the ball."

While Murphy, 30, hit .281 with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs last season for the Mets, Refsnyder and Ackley are both younger, cheaper and under team control for at least the next three seasons.

The 24-year-old Refsnyder hit .302 with two home runs and five RBIs in just 16 games for the Yankees after hitting .271 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He becomes eligible for arbitration in 2019 and can become a free agent in 2022.

Ackley, 27, played in just 23 games with the Yankees after being traded from the Mariners because of a back injury. He hit .288 with four home runs and 11 RBIs with New York and wouldn't become a free agent until 2018.

Cashman not guaranteeing anyone's spot in rotation
CC Sabathia walks off the mound after a start for the Yankees. (AP)

GM Brian Cashman did not guarantee any pitcher's spot in the Yankees' rotation in 2016.

"We've got a lot of guys who are going to be vying for those five spots," Cashman said at GM Meetings on Monday. "I'm not guaranteeing anybody anything."

Asked if CC Sabathia, who took a leave of absence to deal with alcoholism, was in the team's plan for the rotation next season, Cashman responded, "We'll see.

"I like what CC did for us down the stretch in September, once he got the knee brace perfected," Cashman said. "He was a successful pitcher for that short period of time and very effective. We took notice of it. So certainly the hope is that he would be a viable member of that rotation. Let's just see how the winter shakes out first."

The Yankees' rotation ranked 19th with a 4.25 ERA this season and coped with injuries throughout the season. Sabathia, Masahiro TanakaIvan NovaNathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda each spent time on the disabled list at some point during the season.

Adam Warren made 17 starts last season and Luis Severino, the Yankees' top pitching prospect, was called up from the minors and made 11 starts in the second half of the season.

Yanks will listen to offers on Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller posted a 2.04 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in 2015. (AP)

The Yankees and GM Brian Cashman are willing to listen to trade offers on closer Andrew Miller, according to Jon Heyman (Nov. 9).

"We're open to all ideas - as always," Cashman said when asked about Miller, according to Heyman. "It doesn't mean I'd do anything but if the Dutch never asked the Indians for Manhattan you'd be living in New Jersey."

Miller posted a 2.04 ERA and 0.86 WHIP while saving 36 games in 61 2/3 innings (60 appearances) in 2015, his first with the Yankees.

Miller, 30, signed a four-year deal worth $36 million last December.

The Minnesota Twins won the bidding rights to Korean 1B Byung-ho Park, the team announced (Nov. 9).

The Twins bid was $12.85 million. They now have 30 days to negotiate with Park. If no deal is reached, Park remains in Korea and the Twins are refunded their bid.

Last season in Korea, Park hit 53 home runs, with an OPS of 1.150.

Cashman reiterates reluctance to deal top prospects

The Yankees decided to hold onto their three top prospects - Luis SeverinoGreg Bird and Aaron Judge - at the trade deadline, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal he is still reluctant to deal his top prospects (Nov. 6).

"I don't anticipate Severino, Bird and Judge being traded - I don't see that happening," Cashman said. "But I'm open to having dialogue, no matter what. Dialogue is a good thing."

Last offseason, Cashman made several trades in November and December. While those trades brought Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi to New York, the Yankees dealt Shane GreeneManuel Banuelos and Martin Prado, among others.

"You have to be pretty aggressive and open to trade a good young pitcher under team control (Greene), a left-handed prospect (Banuelos) or a guy like Prado who fits you like a glove," Cashman said about last offseason's trades.

While Cashman admitted the aggressive approach from last season, he said he is "always open to anything.

"If we can find matches to make us better as we go forward," Cashman said, "we're all ears."

Sabathia speaks about decision to enter rehab
(Kathy Willens)

Yankees LHP CC Sabathia, who entered an alcohol rehabilitation center on October 5 and recently completed his time there, told ABC that he had no choice but to enter rehab and end his season (Nov. 5).

"It was just time," Sabathia said. "I know it was a bad time of the season, but I woke up on that Sunday morning in Baltimore and there was no other option for me but to get help."

After Sabathia entered treatment, the Yankees lost the Wild Card game to the Astros, ending their season.

"I understand where, you know, fans would be upset and people would not understand," Sabathia continued. "If it was my knee or if it was anything else, then people wouldn't have a problem with it. You know, it being alcoholism, it was tough for people to swallow, but it's the same thing."

Sabathia said before entering rehab that he was looking forward to returning in 2016, and told ABC that he'll be back out there, "100 percent ready to go."

Yanks make roster moves

The Yankees made the following roster moves on Wednesday:

  • Added RHP Vicente Campos to the 40-man roster.
  • Reinstated RHP Domingo German, LHP Jacob Lindgren, RHP Chase Whitley and OF Mason Williams from the 60-day disabled list.
  • Released RHP Chris Martin for the purpose of signing a contract with Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan.
  • RHP Andrew Bailey elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment.

Martin was sold to the Nippon-Ham Fighters for $750,000, the Yankees noted.

Brett Gardner played through a wrist injury in 2015
Brett Gardner jogs to the dugout before a baseball game against the Twins. (AP)

New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner played through a right wrist injury during the 2015 season, according to newly promoted hitting coach Alan Cockrell (DiPietro, Nov. 4).

Cockrell served as the Yankees assistant hitting coach last season. He was unsure of an exact date when the Gardner injury occurred.

"I know that that bothered him off and on the entire year," Cockrell said.

Gardner was hit by a pitch twice in the opening week of the season on the same spot of his wrist. After playing to a .302 average and 10 home runs in the first half, Gardner was named to his first All-Star team this season. But his season fell apart in the second half as he struggled and hit only .206.

"I know he was getting some cortisone and some things like that to try to help him," Cockrell said, "and they did in spurts, but you can only get three of those in a year."

This apparent injury could explain his second half woes if it was persistent throughout the year.

"It's tough to hit if you don't have your hands," Cockrell said. "I think it probably was a bigger thing than (Gardner) let on."

Gardner, 33, finished the year batting .259 with 16 home runs and 66 RBI in 151 games played.

Before the New York Yankees signed Brian McCann to his five-year, $85 million contract in the 2014 offseason, the rest of the catchers in the system had various attributes causing uncertainty about the immediate future at the position. One catcher was brittle, another unproven and others possessed significant upside but were still quite young. Fast forward to the 2016 season, and the Yankees possess extreme depth in the position, even after dealing one of the aforementioned players before the 2015 season.

The Yankees were determined to get back to the days when their catcher was a consistently productive offensive force in the lineup, thus the significant financial outlay to McCann. In two seasons with the club McCann has sparkled at times, but produced uneven results offensively and defensively.

In 2014, McCann spent a majority of the season learning his pitchers and his offense took a back seat until a huge September boosted his overall statistical totals. McCann finished the season with a .232 batting average, .286 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage. McCann hit 23 home runs and produced 75 RBIs. McCann's offense fell short of the club's and his expectations. However, McCann was very good behind the plate, continuing to be a solid pitch-framer and with the help of Yankees coach Tony Pena, improved his ability to throw out potential base-stealers (37 percent success rate).

McCann's second year with the club was much more productive with the bat, until the final month-plus of the season. McCann concluded the 2015 season with a slash line of .232/.320/.437 with 26 homers and a team-leading 94 RBIs. McCann continued to throw out runners at a better than league-average clip (36 percent versus 32 percent), but he fell off dramatically in the area of pitch-framing, actually costing the Yankees runs in metrics generated by StatCorner.

With McCann in the fold for the long term, the Yankees decided to trade oft-injured, yet promising backup Francisco Cervelli before the 2015 season, and promoted John Ryan Murphy to the role of backup. Cervelli prospered in Pittsburgh and the Yankees acquired an integral part to their bullpen in lefty Justin Wilson. Murphy, who turns 25 in May, was very good as the Yanks' backup hitting .277 with a .327 OBP and .406 SLG. Murphy threw out 27.5 percent of runners who attempted to steal against him, which needs to improve, and displayed average pitch-framing abilities per StatCorner's metrics.

On the farm, the Yankees utilized two catchers at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, veteran Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez, the club's No. 5 prospect according to Romine (.690 OPS in 2015) is no longer part of the Yankees long-term plans, but Sanchez has pushed himself back into the conversation after the initial shine on his upside had begun to wear off.

Sanchez, who turns 23 in December, finally began to put all the facets of his game together in 2015. Sanchez came to spring training with a renewed vision and determination and it showed throughout the season. Sanchez slashed .274/.330/.485 in 395 plate appearances at two levels in 2015, and has been tearing up Arizona Fall League pitching with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 58 plate appearances through Tuesday's game. Sanchez still needs some work behind the plate, but as his mental focus improved, his physically abilities in the role followed suit.

Sanchez and Murphy provide the Yankees with young above-average talent as the top backup choices behind McCann. The Yankees could use either player as a trade chip and be comfortable with the other backing up their starting catcher.

The potential willingness to deal one of the players is aided by the Yankees holding the rights to another promising young catcher, Luis Torrens. Torrens, the Yanks' No. 19 prospect per, missed the 2015 season after tearing the labrum in his right shoulder. Torrens, who is only 19 years old, gets high grades from scouts with some believing he will be better than Sanchez behind the plate, but with a slightly lighter bat. For what it's worth, the time table on Torrens being ready for the big leagues coincides with McCann's contract expiration fairly well.

There is little doubt that McCann is the full time backstop for at least the next two seasons. With Alex Rodriguez under contract through 2017, there will not be a lot of at-bats available to McCann as the designated hitter. While the Yanks will have moved on from Mark Teixeira after 2016, youngster Greg Bird will immediately slot into the role leaving few at-bats for McCann there as well. The point is, if the Yankees intend on maximizing McCann's value it will have to be as their catcher for the foreseeable future.

What's unclear is how the organization will handle the situation of having two catchers behind McCann who might be ready to start in the big leagues well before the veteran's contract expires. Will they trade one away hoping to improve in another area? Or will they play out the 2016 season with both at their disposal, either to prevent losing depth with McCann aging and being more susceptible to injury?

I suspect the Yankees would be willing to field offers for either Murphy or Sanchez, but will not actively try to move one of them this offseason. I don't believe the Yankees will put out a message to the league that Murphy or Sanchez are on the trading block, but they'll also fall short of labeling either of them untouchable. The Yankees will make inquiries about players that interest them and if Murphy or Sanchez comes up in conversation then the team will have to make a determination as to whether they'll be better off with the player coming over or sticking with catching depth.

A club possessing deep strength at the catcher position - a role with few stars in the league - provides a direct benefit on the field and affords an advantage when upgrades are needed elsewhere. Good catchers are tremendous commodities and the Yankees are reaching a crossroads as to how to best utilize the breadth of backstops in the organization. The situation is hardly a problem, but rather a luxury few other teams maintain.

New York Yankees INF Brendan Ryan has exercised his player option to stay with the Yankees in 2016 (Yankees, Nov. 3).

Ryan, 33, is due to make $1 million next season after exercising his option. Next year will mark his fourth with the Yankees.

Last season Ryan was plagued by injuries and hit .229 in only 47 games played.

The Yankees also announced that they have declined a team option on RHP Andrew Bailey.

The Yankees reinstated two pitchers off the 60-day disabled list on Monday.

RHP Diego Moreno, 28, was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after his reinstatement. He allowed six runs and nine hits in 10 1/3 innings in four relief appearances in the majors this season. In 26 games (four starts) with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Moreno went 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA.

RHP Sergio Santos, 32, elected to undergo Tommy John surgery this season. He pitched in just two games with the Yankees after appearing in 12 games for the Dodgers. Instead of accepting a minor-league assignment, he will become a free agent.

Cockrell, Thames to become hitting coaches
Marcus Thames crosses home plate for the Yankees. (AP)

The Yankees named Alan Cockrell head hitting coach and Marcus Thames assistant hitting coach, the team announced Monday (Nov. 2).

Cockrell spent the 2015 season as the team's assistant hitting coach and had a significant role in improving Didi Gregorius' swing.

Thames was with the coaching staff in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. He came up in the Yankees' farm system and made his debut in pinstripes in 2002.

In his 10-year career, he hit 115 home runs and 301 RBIs in 640 games, spending two seasons with the Yankees, six with the Tigers, one with the Rangers and one with the Dodgers.

Teixeira, Gregorius, Gardner are Gold Glove finalists
Mark Teixeira was one of three Yankees to be named as Gold Glove finalist Thursday. (AP)

Mark Teixeira (first base), Didi Gregorius(shortstop), and Brett Gardner (left field) are all finalists for Gold Gloves in the American League, Rawlings announced (Oct. 29).

At first base, Teixeira was nominated along with Eric Hosmer of the Royals and Mike Napoli of the Red Sox.

Gregorius will compete with Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox and Alcides Escobar of the Royals at shortstop.

In left field, Gardner was nominated along with Alex Gordon of the Royals and Yoenis Cespedes, who is a finalist as a Tiger but was traded to the Mets in July.

Miller named AL Reliever of the Year
Yankees closer Andrew Miller was named the AL Reliever of the Year. (AP)

Yankees LHP Andrew Miller has been named the AL Reliever of the Year, an award that's named after Mariano Rivera. (Oct. 28).

Miller posted a 2.04 ERA and 0.86 WHIP while saving 36 games in 61 2/3 innings (60 appearances) in 2015, his first with the Yankees.

Miller, 30, signed a four-year deal worth $36 million last December.

Yankees' infield has a lot to prove in 2016
The Yankees will need more from their infield next season. (AP)
The New York Yankees 2015 infield was at times a stunning success in the field and booming at the plate, but by and large, the group produced fine results at two positions and left a lot to be desired at the other two spots. What's in store for the 2016 edition of the Yankees infield?

First and foremost, and for the third-straight season, the Yankees will have to decide what to do at second base. Do they stay in-house with either Dustin Ackley or Rob Refsnyder? Do they create a strict platoon with the two players? Or do the Yankees venture into free agency or the trade market to fill the void?

The Yankees have shown a willingness to allow youth to blend into their roster over the last couple of seasons, so the first alternative is surely a potential outcome in some form. Ackley, 27, will have a spot on the roster (unless he is traded for some reason), as he can be useful at various positions for the Yankees. Refsnyder, who will be 25 next season, made a cameo at the end of the 2015 season and showed he can have success as an everyday player. But, the sample was so small that the coaches and front office might still question what he'd offer long-term.

The top options outside the organization - Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy and Howie Kendrick - are all in their early 30s and will come with hefty price tags. Of the short-term coverage options, would the Yankees test Chase Utley for a season? It's doubtful, but not many expected them to stick with Stephen Drew for so long.

On the trade front the Yankees are continuously linked to Martin Prado, who played for the club in the latter half of the 2014 season, and everyone's favorite trade candidate (certainly not mine) Brandon Phillips is always bandied about by rumor mongers.

Whichever way the Yankees go, they would probably receive more stability on offense from the position than they received from Drew and Brendan Ryan. Ryan has a duel option for 2016, so he could still factor in as a backup infielder considering the Yankees covet his defensive abilities. Zobrist, a switch-hitter, represents the best balance of offense and defense from the group of outsiders, and if the Yankees choose the free-agent route, I would suspect he'd be their choice given his pedigree and versatility. I do not suspect another season of stop-gap plug-ins at the position.

Shifting to first base, the Yankees will have Mark Teixeira in the final season of his eight-year, $180 million contract. Teixeira had an impressive and resurgent 2015 season, which was unfortunately cut short by a broken bone in his shin which sidelined him for the final month and a half of the season. Teixeira stroked 31 home runs in just 462 plate appearances and led the Yankees with a .906 OPS (147 OPS+).

The question is how much of the same performance can the Yankees truly expect from Teixeira, given his age and the production they received from him the previous two seasons? Teixeira, who turns 36 on April 11, was the healthiest he's been up until the fluke injury, but that's no guarantee for 2016.

The Yankees will have to decide whether they leave Greg Bird in Triple-A, or figure out a way to get his bat in the lineup to rest Teixeira a bit more often. Bird established himself as a bonafide major league hitter in his stint as Teixeira's replacement, but the club might feel better with him getting reps each day, and only calling upon his services in the event Teixeira lands on the disabled list.

Teixeira's season was a surprise, but he has a lengthy history of those types of performances. At shortstop, the Yankees had little evidence to base their signing of Didi Gregorius on. They were hopeful that some of his offensive upside would turn up if given an entire season of reps, and that his defense would strengthen the club beyond what an aging Derek Jeter provided in 2014.

At the outset of the season, Gregorius made everyone nervous when he was hitting quite poorly, and there was little indication he was going to be the strong up-the-middle defensive presence they needed and expected. Worse, Gregorius was making mental blunders and simply looked out of sorts early on.

Give credit to the Yankees for sticking by Gregorius, who slowly began to reward them. Gregorius' glove work steadied and then he began to make dazzling plays, and dig himself out of the hitting doldrums. At one point in the summer, Gregorius was the Yankees top hitter. Gregorius finished with a .265 batting average, .318 on-base percentage and a .370 slugging percentage in 578 plate appearances, which was over 170 more than he ever had in a season.

There is reason to believe that at 26 years old next season, Gregorius can continue to improve as a hitter. Gregorius' offensive potential combined with the sure-fire defense, gives the Yankees at least one solid piece to the infield puzzle going forward.

At third base, Chase Headley was not nearly as productive as the Yankees hoped he would be as a whole. His bat was basically what they expected (.259/.324/.369, 11 HR, 62 RBI), maybe with a little less thump than they might have hoped for, but his defense, a main reason he was signed, was atrocious for the entire season.

Headley began the season not hitting and throwing away balls at a feverish pace. His swing improved during July and August, but he suffered the same fate as many other Yankees batters in September and October, falling into a major slump. Headley's defense never really came around. He had days where he looked comfortable and even spectacular, but on average Headley was a below-average fielder; making many wonder if he was suffering from a case of the yips.

In my view, the Yankees would be quite pleased with Headley's offense falling in and around the same level (of course they'd like a bump in the power numbers and his on-base percentage), but they would be ecstatic if he plays the defense expected of him and doesn't continue to provide extra outs to the opposition. Headley needs to get back to the days in which he commits half the number of errors over the entire season than the 23 he racked up in 2015, or else his contract will be deemed a complete disaster.

I mentioned Ryan as a potential utility player, and because of his inexpensive price tag, defensive prowess, and the club's fondness for him, it seems a no-brainer that he'll be on board again in 2016. Ackley can fill in at second, first and the outfield positions, making him a candidate for some at-bats even if the Yankees tab Refsnyder as the starting second baseman, or they go outside the organization to fill the slot.

While Ryan being on the roster makes sense as a defensive replacement, or a day off every so often, Ackley provides the opposite. Ackley can contribute some pop off the bench, or fill in for extended periods if he's not the everyday second baseman or the larger part of a platoon with Refsnyder.

The Yankees look to be ready to improve at second base no matter their course of action, steady at first base and shortstop and hopeful for bigger contributions from third base and the utility infielders. The group could play a big part in assisting the Yankees to advance further in the 2016 playoffs, or once again leave fans wanting more.

Much like the Yankees starting rotation and the outfield, there are plenty of questions about the next incarnation of the club's infield which cannot be fully answered until long into next season.

The Yankees will promote scout Tim Nahering to the newly created position of vice president of baseball operations, according to Andrew Marchand of

The role is essentially the same as that held by former assistant general manager Billy Eppler, the Angels' new general manager.

Previous reports

Tim Naehring, a trusted scout who played his whole career with the Red Sox, will receive a major promotion to fill the void in the front office after Billy Eppler left, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports (Oct. 24).

Naehring is one of Brian Cashman's scouts and was heavily involved in getting the Yankees to trade for SS Didi Gregorius (Oct. 16).

He has turned down promotions in the past so he can be close with his family near Cincinnati, according to Cafardo (Oct. 10).

Naehring's title would not be assistant GM, which Eppler held before he left to take the Angels' GM job (Oct. 24).

Naehring, 48, has been with the Yankees organization since 2007.

The New York Yankees will give Tim Naehring, a trusted scout, a major promotion to fill the void in the front office after Billy Eppler left, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports (Oct. 24).

Naehring is one of Brian Cashman's scouts and was heavily involved in getting the Yankees to trade for SS Didi Gregorius (Oct. 16).

He has turned down promotions in the past so he can be close with his family near Cincinnati, according to Cafardo (Oct. 10).

Naehring's title would not be assistant GM, which Eppler held before he left to take the Angels' GM job (Oct. 24).

Naehring, 48, has been with the Yankees organization since 2007.

The New York Yankees have three players under contract set to roam the outfield grass at Yankee Stadium in 2016, but there is doubt about the level of production each might provide the club. The only certainty is that the Yankees are set to pay out close to $50 million for the players combined.

Beginning with Jacoby Ellsbury, who will be in the third year of his seven-year, $153 million deal, the question of performance value is of the utmost concern. Ellsbury, 32, is coming off a terrible season in which he hit .257 with a .318 on-base percentage and a .345 slugging percentage. According to FanGraphs, Ellsbury recorded WAR value of 0.9 which is less than half what a replacement-level player would provide. Ellsbury missed 43 games early in the season due to a knee injury, and once he returned could never pick up the pieces.

Ellsbury's dismal performance was a major contributor to the Yankees total offensive downturn after the trade deadline, but it hurt more when combined with the late summer performance put forth by Brett Gardner.

Gardner, 32, ascended to the top of the lineup while Ellsbury was on the disabled list, garnering himself an All-Star nod in the process. Gardner slashed .302/.377/.484 leading up to the All-Star break, boosting the Yankees offense and helped the club open up a seven-game lead in the American League East.

Unfortunately, Gardner slumped mightily after the All-Star break (.592 OPS) and finished with a 2.6 fWAR. Instead of both of the leadoff men feeding off each other's success, each player's inability to get on base consistently dragged the team down as the season wore on.

Carlos Beltran, who many might have expected to slump due to age in 2015 and his 2014 production, only got better as the season progressed. Beltran looked lost at the plate for the better part of the first month of the season, but from May 1, the veteran right fielder was the Yankees most consistent batter. When the club seemed to be on its last leg in late September and early October, it was Beltran who continuously came up with the big hits.

As the club makes offseason preparations, changes to the outfield are not high on the club's agenda due to the current commitments before them.

Ellsbury's overpriced contract pretty much prevents him from being traded, and truth be told, I would bet the Yankees hope that he was not playing at 100 percent last season upon his return from the injury and that 2015 proves to be an aberration.

Beltran, who turns 39 at the beginning of next season, is in the final year of his three-year, $15 million contract. The Yanks also seem to be "stuck" here. Honestly, it's hard to feel like they're trapped with the contract when Beltran performed so well at the plate for the club in 2015. Yes, Beltran is a statue in the outfield, but if he can duplicate his 2015 offensive production next season, the Yanks will take it.

If any of the Yankees outfielders might be headed elsewhere, it has to be Gardner. His contract would not be considered a financial drain (he has three years and $36 million left) and he has shown the ability to have long stretches of superb performance. The issue with Gardner is he has faltered significantly after the All-Star break in each of the last two seasons, which surely deflates his value if other teams believe it is a trend.

I suspect the Yankees might listen to deals for Gardner (especially if they would net a younger rotation arm or a proven second baseman), but would not be actively seeking to trade him. Despite his post-break doldrums, Gardner does provide insurance for the oft-injured Ellsbury. Further, when both Ellsbury and Gardner were getting on base at the same time the last two seasons it elevated the entire offense to an elite level. It's something the Yankees would love to have for an entire season, so the allure to keep them together could be strong.

If all three outfielders remain under contract with the team, the Yankees will have multiple options for a fourth outfielder.

The club could re-sign Chris Young, but his salary request will surely rise from the modest $2.5 million salary he earned in 2015. Young put up impressive numbers against left-handed pitching for much of the season (.972 OPS in 175 plate appearances) and filled in admirably when Ellsbury was on the shelf.

Midseason trade acquisition Dustin Ackley will likely see some time in the outfield as well as second base in 2016. Ackley is athletic enough to work any of the outfield positions, but he's probably going to see a majority of his at-bats against right-handers which could mean that he'd see little time in the outfield unless there is a significant injury. Whereas Young, or another right-handed hitter, can be used to simply rest Ellsbury or Gardner in order to gain an advantage against southpaws.

In the minors the Yankees have several viable options. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams each saw some time in 2015, but both are left-handed hitters. This would cause some redundancy with the rest of the roster and Ackley in particular.

Many fans might clamor for the Yankees top offensive prospect Aaron Judge, a right-handed hitter, but it is doubtful the Yankees will have him on the major league squad as a backup, when he could be maturing as an everyday player in Triple-A. If there is a long-term injury, the Yanks could change their tune with Judge, but even then I'm uncertain they feel he is ready to take the next step.

As for the free-agent market for a fourth outfielder, there doesn't seem to be one better suited to the Yankees' needs than Young. Of course there are some talented (and younger) outfielders hitting free agency - Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton among them - but a move to either of those players would require the Yankees to open a space and their wallets. The Yankees could also turn to Ben Zobrist as a super-utility player, but he too will cost much more than utilizing what they have in-house or could find with one-year deals.

The Yankees' outfield, like much of the rest of the team's components, could be a major factor in the club's success or become a huge disappointment in 2016. The slightest hiccup from any of the expected starters could once again doom the Yankees offense and put stress on players elsewhere in the lineup who have their own issues to overcome. But, because of the current commitments and the desire to keep payroll in line for at least another season, the Yankees might not have other options than the current configuration.

Tags: Chris Carelli
Report: Yanks fire hitting coach Pentland
Jeff Pentland speaks with some of the Yankee hitters during Spring Training. (AP)

The Yankees have fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland after one season, according to the New York Post's George King (Oct. 18).

The Yankees offense collapsed down the stretch, culminating with a 3-0 loss to Houston in the AL Wild Card game. Overall the Yankees were second in runs and RBI, third in average and fourth in home runs among all 30 MLB teams.

Pentland, 69, replaced Kevin Long, who held the job eight years before he was fired after the 2014 season. Long is now the Mets hitting coach.

Bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck will also not return to the team, according to the report.

How will Yankees assemble 2016 rotation?
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees had seven pitchers make at least 11 starts in 2015 and each player can be under team control next season. But, there are various questions concerning all of them, and how the club will formulate the 2016 rotation.

The issues begin with CC Sabathia, who not only looked like a beaten pitcher for much of the 2015 season; he entered an alcohol rehab clinic just as the Yankees readied 

themselves for their wild card game. Guessing what happens with Sabathia at this point will prove to be a difficult task for the player and the club.

Nathan Eovaldi spent the last month of the season on the disabled list, but was working his way back to getting on the mound, and was said to be ready for a potential ALDS appearance as a reliever. Will Eovaldi build on a fine season in which he began to establish himself as a formidable starter, or will he have further elbow issues going forward?

Masahiro Tanaka was able to make it through the 2015 season without further damage to his partially torn UCL, which dangled over the Yankees' heads last offseason. Tanaka had a nice season, but he has failed to pan out as the ace he's being paid to be. Will he be able to compile that type of season?

Michael Pineda has still not pitched as many innings as he did as a rookie in 2011. Pineda had flashes of brilliance this season, but finished poorly and failed to come up big in various situations as the season came to an end. Has Pineda reached his peak?

Luis Severino vaulted from Double-A to the majors and looked like a veteran once reaching New York. Touted as the Yankees top pitching prospect, Severino lived up to his billing, but he'll be 22 years old next season and he's thrown just 62.1 major league innings. Will he build on his rookie performance or suffer the dreaded sophomore slump?

The Yankees have said to be interested in tendering Ivan Nova a contract for 2016. He was as inconsistent as ever this season after returning from Tommy John surgery. In my view, if the five men above are healthy, Nova doesn't deserve a place in the rotation.

Nova might not even be the next in line for a start if he is around and the Yankees need a fill-in starter. Adam Warren could be considered for a rotation spot if necessary. With Warren, the Yanks need to determine if he is a starter or a reliever, after logging his highest number of innings pitched in his major league career. Beyond Warren, the Yankees have options in the minors including

Bryan Mitchell and maybe Brady Lail.The Yankees can simply choose to stay in-house and hope for better health along with stable-to-improved performances across the board. Or do they dive into the free-agent and/or trade market to improve the rotation or add depth?

There are a few prizes in the free-agent market this offseason with Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke and David Price all looking for expensive long-term contracts. The Yankees steered clear of such a signing last offseason when Max Scherzer was the top free-agent pitcher on the market. But, the club lacked a dominant starter in 2015, and it can be argued they have not had one since Sabathia's better days. 

They have four guys who are young or entering their prime and have ace potential, but will that transformation come to fruition in 2016 for any of them? These top-flight starters are available now and have proven credentials.

Signing one of those players would likely mean that the Yankees have given up on someone already on the roster and sent them packing. Sabathia and Tanaka are both making over $20 million, so they'll surely be on the roster. Severino is not going anywhere, and Eovaldi surely gained some rope with his vast improvement in 2016. Would the Yankees try to deal Pineda because they feel he might never reach his full potential? Ultimately, with a payroll exceeding $200 million once again, the Yankees are likely to steer clear of any of these players this offseason, fearing the same fate they've endured with Sabathia.

The Yankees could look to the free-agent pitchers who can add some depth for the club. There is a collection of starters who can provide innings at a marginal price. The Yankees have already been linked to Jeff Samardzija, plus there are guys like Mike Leake, Doug Fister (who the Yanks have coveted), Ian Kennedy (a former Yankee farmhand) and Scott Kazmir just to name a handful of options. There are many others who could become linked to the Yankees' plans.

Does going the midlevel/veteran route force the issue of who leaves? Or should the Yankees simply worry about a glut of starters in the spring when the time comes? Are any of these names better than the collection the Yankees have? On paper, they seem to have a bit more upside than only Sabathia of the five holdover starters.

Video: GEICO SportsNite: Girardi looks to 2016

Finally, would the Yankees consider entering the trade market to find another Eovaldi-type? It's entirely possible, but once more, do the Yankees make space for such a player or deal with establishing the rotation members based on health at the time? There is also the chance that the Yankees swing deals for minor league pitching with some upside that could factor into the mix either as injury replacements in 2016 or as part of the foundation for the future.

From my perspective, it's not right to suggest the Yankees are hamstrung where it concerns the rotation, because it's really just one spot that is hung up by a massive contract. No one knows what's going to happen with Sabathia, and maybe the Yankees feel the same way and think to themselves that they need to plug that potential hole from the outside. If they have soured on Pineda, which I do not believe to be the case, they could try to get value for him now. The Yankees could believe that Nova is not the answer, and that Warren is a better answer for the bullpen needs in 2016.

Sabathia's contract is not one which can be eaten by the club, making another huge expenditure that Cueto, Greinke or Price would require doubtful. But, the Yankees have the cash to add a midlevel starter on a shorter deal or they can take on a similar contract via trade and let the chips fall in the spring. The chances that one of the Yankees' starters is injured at each pass of the season are pretty good considering who we are talking about.

I do suspect Nova is on a train out of New York this offseason, but it could be to gain a position player, or reliever. I would not be surprised if the Yankees make a depth move, and in the end it makes a lot of sense because of the multitude of questions the club has about its current crew.

I personally cannot see the Yankees getting involved with the top-tier rotation free agents simply because of the commitments they are currently trying to get away from. Further, any midtier selection would need to come without losing a draft pick due to a qualifying offer being attached to the free agent. Losing a draft pick for a midlevel player runs contrary to the Yankees' continued desire to build the farm system and develop some internal talent.

If the Yankees do decide to add to the rotation, I can see them going after a pitcher that is free of a qualifying offer who can keep the ball on the ground, give plenty of innings and yet not cost them an exorbitant salary. This option is the wise move if they decide to abandon their in-house options because it allows the Yankees to stay the course with the current roster construction and provides the club the comfort of depth, which there never seems to be enough to go around throughout an entire season.'s Christopher Carelli is the founder of Yankees Unscripted, a site devoted to narrative-free commentary about the New York Yankees. Follow Christopher on Twitter, @Chris_Carelli, for up to the minute coverage of the team.

Yankees expected to pursue Jeff Samardzija
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees are expected to pursue free agent right-hander Jeff Samardzija via free agency, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes (Oct. 10).

According to Heyman, the Yankees are intrigued by Samardzija's potential and his interest in playing on the big stage.

Heyman notes that the White Sox will make Samardzija a qualifying offer, which he is expected to reject. If that's the case, and the Yankees sign Samardzija, they will have to forfeit their first round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft.

Samardzija, 30, went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 214 innings (32 starts) this season for the White Sox.

For his career, Samardzija has compiled a 4.09 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

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