Yankees Get Gio
With Luis Severino likely to miss at least the first month of the season with a shoulder injury, the Yankees have been in the market for additional starting pitching depth.
On Monday, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman scored a nice discount, reportedly signing free agent left-hander Gio Gonzalez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
He'll earn $3 million on the deal with the Yankees if he makes it to the big leagues. The veteran southpaw is taking a massive pay cut after earning $12 million per season in each of the last three years with the Nationals.
Since he already lives and trains in Florida, the plan is for him to join the Yankees this week, though he obviously won't be ready for the start of the regular season. The deal includes an opt-out for April 20 if he isn't on the big league roster by then.
The 33-year-old was unremarkable in 2018, going 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 148/80 K/BB ratio across 171 innings. The move away from the National League and to the brutal offensive environment of the American League East is certainly a downgrade for Gonzalez, as is the move to the homer-happy Yankee Stadium.
While it’s a nice depth signing for the Yankees (and at a considerable discount), it’s fair to question whether or not the Yankees already had better options in-house.
Prior to the Gonzalez signing, Domingo German was expected to fill that vacancy in the Yankees’ starting rotation to begin the season. The 26-year-old hurler has been exceptional this spring, compiling a 1.54 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 18/2 K/BB ratio over 11 ⅔ innings.
German is also set to earn just $577,500 in 2019 and remains under team control through the 2023 season. He won’t even be eligible for arbitration until 2021.
Fantasy owners had started to begin to take notice of German, as his average draft position has creeped up to just outside the top 300 players overall in the last week of drafts.
From a real-life perspective, the move makes a ton of sense for the Yankees, as it gives them an additional insurance policy for Severino, and for CC Sabathia, at a relatively low price. Now, they’ll have until April 20 to try to evaluate him and determine if he’s going to be able to help the big league club.
In the meantime, German will have at least 3-4 starts to audition for a full-time role. From a fantasy perspective, I’m still interested in German as a dart throw in the final rounds of mixed league drafts, while I’m unlikely to own any shares of Gonzalez.
Kershaw No-Go for Opening Day
Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts officially put an end on Monday to any speculation that Clayton Kershaw (shoulder) may make it back in time to start on Opening Day. It will snap a streak of eight-straight openers that the star southpaw has started for the Dodgers.
Roberts also called it “probably unlikely” that Kershaw would begin the season on the team’s active roster. The left-hander continues to make progress though, and is expected to travel to Los Angeles with the team rather than hanging back and rehabbing in Arizona. There’s a chance -- albeit a small one -- that he avoids starting the season on the injured list.
In the meantime, Roberts has yet to name a replacement for Kershaw on Opening Day. He did, however, say that 24-year-old right-hander Walker Buehler is still in the mix for that honor. Despite having yet to appear in Cactus League action -- his first start will come on Tuesday -- Buehler does still have time to get stretched out enough to make that start. He’s slated to throw three innings on Tuesday, then four innings in his next appearance. Even so, he would have to work on three-days rest at some point in order to get lined up for Opening Day.
The more likely scenario seems to be that 39-year-old left-hander Rich Hill will get the nod. Hill has pitched extremely well for the Dodgers when healthy, posting a 3.49 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a 316/90 K/BB ratio over 268 ⅓ innings in 50 appearances (49 starts) over the last two seasons.
Tommy John for Dunning
The White Sox made a disappointing -- though not completely unexpected -- announcement on Monday that right-handed pitching prospect Dane Dunning underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Monday in Pensacola, Florida.
The highly-acclaimed Dr. James Andrews performed the operation. Dunning, who came to the White Sox in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals, will miss the entire 2019 season and possibly the first few months of the 2020 campaign as well as he recovers.
Ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect in all of baseball for each of the last two seasons, Dunning went 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 100/26 K/BB ratio across 86 ⅓ innings between High-A Winston Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2018.
While we are seeing more and more hurlers return from this procedure even stronger than before in this day and age, it’s still a tough break for the White Sox and for that promising young right-hander.
American League Quick Hits: Shawn Armstrong will begin the season on the 10-day injured list after being diagnosed with an oblique strain. … Luis Severino (shoulder) will throw on Wednesday for the first time since being shut down in early March. ... Danny Salazar (shoulder) has increased his throwing to a distance of 180 feet as he continues to battle his way back from last year's right shoulder surgery. … Rangers' left-hander Yohander Mendez is expected to miss the first half of the 2019 season after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 UCL strain in his pitching elbow. … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that free agent right-hander James Shields still has every intention of pitching in 2019. He threw a 60-pitch bullpen session for scouts last week in San Diego. … Matt Duffy (hamstring) is expected to return to the Rays’ lineup on Thursday against the Braves. … The Orioles acquired minor league catcher Lenin Rodriguez from the Phillies for international bonus pool money. … The Blue Jays reassigned Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio to minor league camp. … Jacoby Ellsbury (hip, foot) took his physical Sunday and has resumed baseball activities. … White Sox manager Rick Renteria officially named Carlos Rodon his Opening Day starter. … Luke Voit continued his strong spring, blasting his fourth home run in a Grapefruit League victory over the Braves. … Masahiro Tanaka racked up seven strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball in a victory there. … Byron Buxton went 2-for-3 and swiped a pair of bases in a victory over the Red Sox. He’s now hitting .448 with four homers, 13 RBI and three stolen bases through 12 Grapefruit League contests. … Clayton Richard fanned six over six innings of two-run ball against the Tigers.
National League Quick Hits: Sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic that the Indians and Padres continue to discuss a trade for a starting pitcher. The names they are reportedly discussing continue to be Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. … Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports that the Mets and right-hander Jacob deGrom are having "ongoing" extension talks. There’s also optimism that the two sides will be able to work out a deal before Opening Day. … Tyler Mahle is expected to begin the season in the Reds' starting rotation with Alex Wood beginning the season on the injured list. … Randy Arozarena was diagnosed with a fractured hand after being hit by a pitch on Saturday… Padres manager Andy Green said Monday that Bryan Mitchell will not crack the club’s Opening Day rotation, further opening the door for Spring Training sensation Chris Paddack. … Julio Teheran will start for the Braves again on Opening Day -- his sixth straight Opening Day assignment. … Nick Markakis clubbed his first Grapefruit League home run in a losing effort against the Yankees. … Ryan McMahon belted his third home run of the spring in a Cactus League victory over the Reds. He’s now hitting a blistering .444 (20-for-45) with three homers and 11 RBI in his quest to win the team’s starting job at second base. … Michael Conforto belted his fourth homer in a loss to the Nationals… Peter O’Brien drove in five of his club’s seven runs in a victory over the Nationals… Tyler O’Neill belted his fifth home run of the spring in a win over the Phillies. … Caleb Smith racked up seven strikeouts in a dominant start against the Nats. … Dakota Hudson piled up eight strikeouts over five scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League start against the Phillies. He looks likely to secure the final spot in the Cardinals’ Opening Day rotation.