Yankees keep playing the claim game

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This used to be the province of the Blue Jays. However, this year, the Yankees have taken over as the king of the waiver wire. Since the end of March, they’ve grabbed all of the following off waivers:

March 28 – C Craig Tatum
April 5 – RHP Cody Eppley
May 12 – LHP Justin Thomas
May 17 – 2B Matt Antonelli
May 29 – RHP Ryota Igarashi
June 26 – RHP Danny Farquhar
June 29 – RHP Chris Schwinden

Of the six players picked up prior to today, only Eppley and Igarashi remain on the 40-man roster. Farquhar, who was picked up from the A’s on Tuesday, was dropped today to open up a spot for Schwinder. For Schwinden, it’s the third time he’s been claimed he’s been claimed off waivers in a month: he went from the Mets to the Blue Jays on June 2 and then to the Indians four days later.

Still, regardless of what happens with the rest of these guys, the Yankees have already gotten their money’s worth for the group with Eppley, who has a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 innings to date. That’s because the waiver price remains $25,000, just as it has been for decades, providing no disincentive for teams engaging in this kind of behavior. I’ve always thought it odd that more teams don’t keep a 40-man roster spot “open” for these purposes. A team can simply claim a player and immediately drop him from the 40-man; if he gets picked up by someone else, the team still hasn’t lost anything. If he doesn’t, it’s pretty much a free player.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.