Mark Buehrle

Who might the Yankees target next winter?

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Does the 2010-2011 offseason got you down, Yankees fans? Then why not look ahead to next winter? Larry Koestler of Yankeeist does that this morning. The upshot? Seems like the free agent pickins are a tad slim:

A quick glance at the free agent starting pitching list yields the following potentially interesting names: Mark Buehrle,Chris Carpenter (though he has a team option), Edwin Jackson, Joel Pineiro and C.J. Wilson … For fun, a quick perusal of position players — just in case the Yankees end up trading one of theirs — yields no one particularly interesting in the infield, and includes outfielders Jose Bautista, David DeJesus, J.D. Drew, Corey Hartand Yankeeist favorite Josh Willingham.

Larry’s list doesn’t include guys like Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, probably because Larry seems like a reasonable guy and doesn’t engage in that “sure, we could sign Pujols to be our DH” nonsense that so many of you people like to traffic in down in the comments. Could it happen? Sure, nothing is impossible in Yankees land, but it’s just not reasonable to think that the Yankees are going to base their plans on that kind of thing.  Fielder and Pujols have every incentive to avoid DH situations as they head into free agency and I won’t believe that they’d go to the Bronx until the minute I see them wearing pinstripes at a press conference.

The overall lesson here? Teams are getting better and better about locking up young talent. There are fewer stud free agents hitting the market.  For the Yankees to maintain their dominance in the coming years they’re going to have to continue to improve their farm system — which they have done a good job of in recent years — and to be more aggressive in the trade market.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.