Many viewed Omar Infante as the most likely replacement for Robinson Cano, but that possibility is off the board now that he has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $30 million deal with the Royals. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago now wonders whether the Yankees will revisit the idea of trading for Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney, as the two clubs have had previous discussions.
Barney is coming off a horrendous season in which he batted just .208/.266/.303 with seven home runs and 41 RBI over 555 plate appearances. While the 28-year-old is considered a strong defender at second base, he’s the owner of a .628 career OPS. That’s only slightly better than Brendan Ryan (.619 career OPS). Not exactly ideal.
Barney wouldn’t cost much in a trade, but the Yankees will likely find more appealing alternatives in the free agent and trade markets. Assuming they want to keep Kelly Johnson in a utility role, they could sign Mark Ellis to play second base and bring back either Mark Reynolds or Eric Chavez as another option to play third.
The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.
In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.
Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).
Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.
With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.