February 8, 2017
Down Is Up, Up Is Even Higher
Yankees open to trading veterans to clear payroll space
The Yankees have tried and failed to trade veteran position players Brett Gardner, Starlin Castro, and Chase Headley this winter, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The goal there was to clear a bit of payroll space to make a bullpen addition, but with no takers so far they’ve had to hold tight. It’s not particularly surprising that no other clubs have expressed interest in any of the trio—each has $25 million or more remaining on his contract and each is coming off a season that was lackluster at best.
While their need for bullpen help isn’t especially dire—a foundation of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman is a pretty good starting point, to say the least—they’ve reportedly been interested in names like Joe Blanton and Travis Wood, and the team was briefly in talks for Sergio Romo before he signed with the Dodgers. Without freeing up a little payroll room, however, the Yankees apparently won’t be able to do so. Per Sherman’s reporting, general manager Brian Cashman has said that the budget leaves no room for maneuvering given the current sum of payroll and the luxury tax payments on top of it.
Intentional walk and strike zone changes under discussion
Two changes to baseball’s on-field rules could potentially be coming this season. The commissioner’s office has made formal proposals to the players’ union both to eliminate the pitches required for an intentional walk and to raise the strike zone, per Jayson Stark of ESPN. Any change requires the approval of the union, and it would require quick action for either to take effect this year—the players would need to agree to the proposals before spring training games begin in two weeks.
Both changes here are ostensibly aimed at the singular goal of making baseball more exciting, though they’d achieve that in opposite ways. Making intentional walks automatic would improve the pace of play by making games shorter, though only by the slimmest of margins and at the cost of the always-entertaining IBB gone wrong. Raising the strike zone to the top of the hitter’s knee, meanwhile, would increase offense—which, in turn, would make games longer. That change would come after baseball posted a record strikeout rate of 21 percent last year.
Nationals remain interested in Robertson
After watching last year’s closer Mark Melancon sign with the Giants and losing out on the bidding wars for Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, the Nationals are still in search of a closer. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the team has continued to discuss a potential deal with the White Sox for David Robertson. But it doesn’t sound like they’re particularly interested in giving up too much—they’re hesitant to take on the full $25 million that Robertson is owed and they don’t want to part with more prospects after already giving up some of their best in exchange for Adam Eaton, per Rosenthal’s reporting.
Of course, the Nationals’ hesitations there make the likelihood of a deal seem slim, even with the White Sox’s current interest in selling off their core. Seeing as how the Nats’ current closer is Shawn Kelley, however, they have fair reason to reconsider.