In a move that will lead to immediate speculation about top prospect Jesus Montero’s arrival in New York, manager Joe Girardi informed Jorge Posada prior to tonight’s game that he’ll no longer be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter.
Eric Chavez got the start at DH tonight against the Red Sox, with Girardi telling reporters: “At this point I thought I had to do what I did today.”
Asked about the conversation, Posada revealed that Girardi “said he’s going to put the best lineup on the field and he doesn’t know when I’m going to DH again, so right now I’m sitting the bench.”
Posada has hit just .230 with a .681 OPS overall in the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract, including only two extra-base hits in 56 at-bats since the All-Star break. However, according to Girardi there are no plans to release Posada and if Chavez struggles it’s conceivable the Yankees could turn back to him at DH. Unless, of course, Montero gets the call up first.
Montero, who ranked third on Baseball America‘s annual list of top prospects coming into the season, has hit .289 with 11 homers and a .789 OPS in 89 games at Triple-A. Those are incredibly impressive numbers for a 21-year-old at Triple-A, but don’t necessarily project to thriving in the majors quite yet.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.