Rays pick Davis over Sonnanstine as fifth starter

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Joe Maddon announced that rookie Wade Davis has won the final spot in the Rays’ rotation, with Andy Sonnanstine heading to the bullpen after making 72 starts over the past three seasons.
Sonnanstine pitched well in 2008, winning 13 games with a 4.38 ERA and 124/37 K/BB ratio as a 25-year-old, but got knocked around for a 6.77 ERA and .311 opponents’ batting average in 99.2 innings last season. He’s a control pitcher with a fastball that tops out in the high-80s, so he figures to be more of a long reliever than late-inning option.
Davis’ control is perhaps his biggest weakness, but his fastball regularly approaches the mid-90s and he looked very good in a six-start September call-up after posting a 3.40 ERA and 140/60 K/BB ratio in 158.2 innings at Triple-A last season. He projects as a potential mid-rotation starter, although Davis may not get enough strikeouts or ground balls to thrive without cutting down on walks at least somewhat.
Opening Day starter James Shields is the oldest pitcher in the Rays’ rotation at 28, followed by Jeff Niemann (27), Matt Garza (26), David Price (24), and Davis (24). And they also have 23-year-old stud prospect Jeremy Hellickson likely beginning the season at Triple-A.

Yankees trade Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for Jabari Blash

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The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.

Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.

Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.

This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.