It’s been a busy few days for the Yankees. Let’s catch up on some things around the team as Spring Training wraps up.
Yankees acquire Jose Trevino
On Saturday it was announced the Yankees acquired C Jose Trevino from the Texas Rangers for RHP Albert Abreu and LHP Robert Ahlstrom. With Ben Rortvedt bound to miss Opening Day, the Yankees needed another catcher that wasn’t Rob Brantly. Enter Trevino. Like Rortvedt and Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino is an all glove player without much to offer on the offensive side. Check out this chart on catcher strike rate percentage (minimum 750 pitches):
The Yankees now have three of the top 12 catchers from last year in strike rate percentage. Gary Sanchez ranked 54th out of 67 on that list. The Yankees are going full anti-Gary behind the dish. Trevino hits the ball right in line with the league averages in exit velocity and hardhit% and has nine homers in 156 career games so there is a bit of pop there. But make no mistake, he is here for his glove.
I don’t think this is a short term move. Trevino has an option left but I think he and Higashioka are the battery to begin the year. Unless the Yankees want a righty/lefty platoon for the sake of having a righty/lefty platoon I believe Rortvedt will be optioned to Triple-A Scranton once he is healthy. Trevino has four years of team control remaining.
Albert Abreu was out of options and was on the roster bubble as Spring Training dwindled down. Given the Yankees are likely to open the year with 16 pitchers, Abreu would have gotten one of those spots, though that would’ve just temporarily saved his job. Once the rosters cut back down to 26 Abreu was donezo. Abreu always had tantalizing stuff, but could never harness it consistently before he ran out of options. The Yankees have a small army of guys like Abreu these days. Hopefully he figures it out in Texas.
Robert Ahlstrom had yet to make his professional debut after being drafted in the 7th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Oregon. We did a write up on Ahlstrom when he was drafted. Obviously the Rangers liked the player, but there’s not much right now to worry about with losing Ahlstrom. The Yankees got a quality major league catcher for an expendable arm and a mid-round pick. That’s a move you make every time.
Yankees, Mets swap Rodriguez, Castro
In a rare trade between the two teams, it was announced Sunday the Yankees traded LHP Joely Rodriguez to the Mets for RHP Miguel Castro. Rodriguez originally came over in the Joey Gallo trade last year and posted a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings for the Yankees. The Bombers declined his option in the offseason but resigned him to a one-year, $2.5 million deal shortly after. It kind of seemed like a strange signing at the time and this move confirms it. With a bullpen that already has left-handers Aroldis Chapman, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, and JP Sears (for now), Rodriguez wasn’t really needed. The Mets on the other hand lack a quality left-handed reliever so it makes sense for them.
Despite only being 27, Miguel Castro is now in his fourth organization. He has been better than I thought, posting a career 4.13 ERA (4.81 FIP) in 353.1 career innings. He walks too many batters (4.84 BB/9), and gets ground balls at an above average rate (49.1%). His primary pitch, as you could probably guess, is a sinker that averages 98 mph. There’s some Albert Abreu here. There’s also some Clay Holmes here. The Yankees clearly love their sinker ball guys. Castro is good against right handed batters, and not great against lefties. In a division with many quality right handed batters Castro will be used as a weapon to get them out while limiting his exposure to lefties. He is out of options, so the Yankees will hope to turn him into a useful piece or risk losing him for nothing.
Yankees acquire David McKay
Monday it was announced the Yankees acquired RHP David McKay from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. McKay was on a minor league deal with the Rays and decided to opt out. MLB Trade Rumors has a pretty concise recap on McKay’s history, so I will direct you there if you’re interested. The TLDR is he hasn’t pitched much in the last few years and missed last year after having hip surgery. McKay has been shelled in his brief time in the majors, registering a 6.08 ERA (4.75 FIP) in 26.2 innings.
McKay is, get this, another guy with a sinker. What I imagine the Yankees really like about him is his curveball, which averaged over 3000 rpm in 2019 and is in the 98th percentile in spin. Though he hasn’t pitched much, the Yankees clearly like him otherwise they wouldn’t be giving him a 40-man roster spot. He seems prime to be cut the first time the Bombers need to open up a spot, but for now he is in the organization.
Rays trade Austin Meadows to the Tigers
Not exactly Yankees news but the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to trade outfielder Austin Meadows to the Detroit Tigers last night for shortstop Isaac Paredes and a competitive balance draft pick. Meadows, and outfielder and designated hitter, hit .234/.315/.458 with 27 home runs, 106 RBI, and a 113 wRC+ last year for the Rays.
I’m writing about this because Meadows destroys the Yankees. More notably, he killed them last year to the tune of a .279 average with 8 home runs, 21 RBI’s and a 194 (!!!) wRC+. The Yankees just added three wins to their projections with this move alone. I’m kidding, but good riddance Meadows. You will not be missed. The Tigers on the other hand, are going to be fun as hell. They now can trot some variation of this line-up out on any given day. That’s not to mention Riley Greene in the minors. The Tigers are going to be good, soon.
Bird is back!
It was announced this morning that the Yankees have signed old friend Greg Bird to a minor league contract. He will report to the RailRiders. Greg Bird, of course, was the first of the Baby Bombers to give us hope. His .261/.343/.529 slash line with a 137 wRC+ in 2015 as a 22 year old jolted some youth into a boring, aging roster. Before 2016 he had shoulder surgery and missed the whole season. He was never able to stay healthy and get back to that level of production again. At least we will always have this iconic home run off Andrew Miller in the 2017 playoffs.
Bird finally was able to put together a healthy year last year. He hit .267/.362/.532 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI for the Colorado Rockies Triple-A team. He also had a very strong spring with the Blue Jays, authoring a .261/.393/.565 line with two home runs in 28 plate appearances. There was some talk he might make the club, but alas. Bird is forever cool with me, but if he gets consistent at-bats with the Yankees this year something has probably gone terribly wrong. It would still be cool to see him in pinstripes again, and maybe he can deliver a big hit or two. Welcome back, Greg Bird.