Mark Feinsand of the Daily News reports that the Yankees are going to give 21-year-old catching prospect Jesus Montero a chance to win the starting gig. He notes that there are still reservations about his defense but, man, Jorge Posada, y’all. How bad could Montero be by comparison?
Steve S. at TYU has the more interesting angle to this, I think: it’s possibly a bluff by the Yankees in an effort to inflate Montero’s trade value. His argument basically boils down to “Brian Cashman and the Yankees are always lying about their offseason plans in early November, so don’t be shocked if they shop Montero.” Pretty compelling argument, actually!
The problem is that we probably really are at a point where Jorge Posada isn’t all that viable behind the plate, so if they do deal Montero, who catches? Austin Romine is the same age as Montero, but he’s only got one sort of “meh” year at Double-A under his belt. The Yankees could try to sign a solid defensive catcher to bridge the gap, but you hear that kind of thing all the time. Fact is, people who think solid defensive major league catchers are freely available out there are rather deluded. You got, what, John Buck? Yorvit Torrealba? Pierzynski? Are there any spare Molinas lying around? It’s harder to just pick up a catcher like that than you think.
My guess — based on nothin’ really — is that they give Montero a real shot at the job. If for no other reason than that the Yankees are going to need to have some younger offensive producers eventually, and there aren’t many hitting prospects out there better than him.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).