Once upon a time the Rangers regularly avoided playing Josh Hamilton in center field because they hoped moving to a corner spot would help keep him healthy, but those plans are out the window now.
Hamilton is slated to be the primary center fielder for the first time since 2009 and because he prefers center field that decision is fine with the former MVP, but he also suggested that perhaps the Rangers’ changing their minds has to do with his impending free agency:
I don’t know, you think it’s got anything to do with free agency and get as much out of me as they can before they get rid of me?
Hamilton previously made headlines for saying that he didn’t owe the Rangers anything in contract negotiations, so he was quick to make it clear that the “get as much out of me as they can before they get rid of me” comment was a joke.
Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas notes that Hamilton “made that comment with a big grin on his face” and then followed it up by saying:
I was just kidding. I was just kidding. I was just kidding. Kidding, kidding, kidding, kidding.
Kidding or not, there’s probably some truth behind the comment, particularly since there’s speculation that Hamilton’s injury history and off-field issues have made the Rangers extremely hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal.
Much like a team being more willing to ride a free agent-to-be starting pitcher for high pitch counts before he hits the open market keeping Hamilton healthy long term may not be the Rangers’ problem beyond this season.
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.