The Yankees announced this afternoon that they have claimed left-hander David Huff off waivers from the Indians. Huff was designated for assignment by Cleveland earlier this week when fellow left-hander Scott Barnes was added to the active roster.
Huff, a supplemental first-round pick of the Indians in 2006, owns a 5.40 ERA over 52 starts and six relief appearances in the majors. The 28-year-old has allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk over three innings at the big league level this year.
Huff is out of minor league options, which means that the Yankees will either have to add him to the 25-man roster or expose him to waivers. It’s unlikely that he’ll get a chance to start in New York and lefty batters have knocked him around to the tune of a .902 OPS for his career, so he’s not an ideal left-handed specialist, either.
In order to clear a spot for Huff on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated left-hander Francisco Rondon for assignment. The 25-year-old owns a 7.46 ERA in six starts and six relief appearances at the Triple-A level this year.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.