By Brendan Kuty
By Mark W. Sanchez
All 6-foot-7, 250 pounds of Domingo Acevedo, the towering right-hander with a rocket arm that touches 103 mph, was worried.
The trade deadline approached and so did what he feared would be his Yankees conclusion. His name reportedly was bandied about in trade talks for Oakland’s Sonny Gray, and whispers let Acevedo think the only team he has known for his five-year professional career was about to become his former team.
But 4 p.m. on July 31 came and went, and Gray was heading to The Bronx. Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian got the call Acevedo dreaded.
“It was pretty hard. The team here is like a family,” Acevedo, the Double-A Trenton pitcher, rated the Yankees’ eighth-best prospect by, said in Spanish over the phone Friday. “And it’s hard starting over someplace new, where you don’t know anyone and you don’t know their rules and routines. I think whereever I go I’m going to work hard and keep proving that I can stay focused. Trades are a part of the game I can’t control.
“I think there certainly was the possibility [to be traded]. To be honest, I’m not sure what happened. Only God knows what’s best for me.”
What’s been best for Acevedo is surprising control. The 23-year-old is a three-pitch starter with a developing slider, impressive changeup and fastball that lives in the mid- to high 90s. But what’s opened the Yankees’ eyes the most is how accurate he’s been.
In 118 innings split between High-A and Double-A, to where he was promoted in mid-May, Acevedo has struck out 125 and walked just 27, to go along with a 3.28 combined ERA.
“Just his ability to throw strikes at a very hard rate,” Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell said of what’s impressed him. “Honestly that’s been the biggest thing with me. The higher he goes, the more strikes he throws with all three pitches. Considering, you look at his body, and he’s [6-foot-7], there’s a lot of moving parts. But he’s still able to throw strikes. It’s a testament to how his body works. … I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”
But not by the fastball that few this side of Aroldis Chapman can boast. And speaking of Chapman, “We’ve spoken a little,” Acevedo said. “His advice is not to focus too much on velocity, but more to hit within the zone. He says you should definitely have good velocity, but when you take command of your pitching, everything usually falls into place. He also said not to overstrain yourself.”
Acevedo has been with the Yankees since 2013, when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a ball of clay to mold. He’s struggled with injuries since until he broke out this season – his 118 innings pitched this year is easily a career high, topping last year’s 93. As a result, the Yankees are holding him to five innings per start as a way to protect his health.
Despite persistent back injuries last season and a right arm built for blowing batters away, Borrell said he still envisions Acevedo’s future in the rotation.
“I’ve been a starter this whole time,” said Acevedo, who credited improved mechanics for his 2017 success. “I like the position, and I think I can continue being a starter because thank God I have the right control in my pitching.”
Topping off Acevedo’s season was a trip to the Futures Game in Miami on July 9, notable for him mostly because his mother “who has always supported me” could see him pitch on TV from the Dominican Republic — even if she saw him allow three runs in an inning in the game.
So Acevedo returns to a team that is now without his teammate, Mateo, which is sad, but isn’t the news he was fearful of.
“Very tough. It’s hard to see all these guys go,” Borrell said about the trade-deadline deal. “We want [prospects] to succeed, whether it’s with us or with someone else.”
Acevedo has his preference.
By Brendan Kuty
You’ve gotta have the hat.
The hat’s the key. My son, Gunnar, is only 2½ years old, but he already loves baseball. And when we play ball around the house, well, it just being the two of us, you might imagine that rules-wise it’s pretty lax. And that’s true, to an extent. For starters, we barely even have enough players to field two teams — just me on the mound (it’s a thin rotation), and then Gunnar at bat. But no matter how ragtag our games are, there’s always one thing that he insists on: Everyone has to wear a hat. That’s the rule. And I guess it makes sense, right? Your hat says what team you’re on.
But then it comes time to choose our teams. And that’s when Gunnar (he’s the commissioner too) will put on an A’s hat, and he’ll say, “I’ll be the A’s.”
Then he’ll take another A’s hat, and put it on my head. And he’ll say, “And you’ll be — you’ll be the A’s.” It’s pretty complicated, but we make it work.
I’ll pitch to Gunnar … and he’ll hit ’em … and he’ll run the bases … and then we’ll do it all over again. But man, I’m telling you: If that hat falls off … Gunnar’ll flat-out stop the game and make you put it back on before you start playing again. That’s just The Rule — because that’s just how it works, I think, in his mind. When it comes to baseball, that’s all he’s ever known: You put on your A’s hat, and you go out and play.
And the truth is, I kind of know how Gunnar feels. Because when it comes to my career as a professional baseball player, the A’s are all I’ve ever known as well. I was drafted by the A’s in 2011, came up through their minor league system, and then got called up in 2013 — and I’ve been playing for them ever since. As a professional, the Oakland A’s have been my entire baseball life.
Which makes it tough to say goodbye.
I built a lot of great relationships, over these last four years in Oakland, with a lot of great people — from Bob Melvin all the way down throughout the organization.
I’ll always be grateful for the trust that BoMel placed in me, and for the honest way that he treated me, both as a player and as a person. He’s someone who I felt like I could really talk to — about baseball and even beyond baseball, about life. And at this point I would just consider him a friend. I’d consider a lot of people in Oakland friends — and those friendships are definitely some of the things that you’re going to miss the most, anytime a trade happens.
I also made a lot of special memories in Oakland — memories that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life. Those are some great fans there, and they always treated me with a ton of warmth and affection. I remember as a rookie, being just 23, and getting sent out to start Game 2 of the ALDS against Detroit. And of course, that’s the kind of game that you dream about pitching, growing up as a kid — which means there are definitely also some nerves involved. But that crowd … man, they just had my back the whole way. It was like there were 50,000 people on the mound with me that night, cheering me and supporting me. And I can still hear them, can still remember it exactly, when I left the game at the end of the eighth inning after recording my last out. I had to make that long walk, you know, from first base to our dugout — and for the entire walk, it was just as loud as could be:
Son-ny! Son-ny! Son-ny!
To get to hear that, as a rookie, from a sellout crowd in a playoff game, as their way of letting you know that you did good … I mean, what can you say. It was unbelievable. It meant a lot to me.
And it meant a lot to me every time A’s fans chanted my name after that.
My wife, Jessica, is always one step ahead of me. And when we found out about the trade, she knew exactly what the first move was: Buy Gunnar a Yankees hat. And of course, he loved it. But with him being so young, you know — there was still some questioning going on at first: “Why, Dad? Why we’re not playing for the A’s anymore?”
The beauty of 2½-year-olds, though, is that they’re also very understanding. And so I just told him, “Well, buddy … we’re going to play for the Yankees now.” After that, he started doing this thing, where he would repeat the words out loud, over and over: The Yankees … the Yankees … the Yankees! I think that was him just sort of trying them on — all part of his advanced process. Thankfully, the process worked, and slowly but surely he came around. I can now report that Gunnar is fully onboard with the trade.
As for me, I couldn’t be happier.
One of the baseball teams that really meant something to me growing up was the 2009 Yankees — the World Series winner, with CC and A.J. Burnett at the top of the rotation. That was the year after I’d graduated high school, and had gotten drafted, but then decided to go to college — and it was right around the age where I was really trying to figure out if baseball was something that I could turn into a career. And I just remember loving to watch that Yankees team, as they made their run that year, and being so impressed by them, and I guess kind of pumped up about baseball by them — just getting very caught up in it.
And so it’s pretty cool to look back on that time — and now think about how, eight years later, I got traded to the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race.
The pennant race … that’s something I’m especially excited about. I’m not much for talking about myself — but if there’s one thing I could say as an introduction to Yankee fans, I think it would be this: I’m a competitor. I love to compete. And when I get on the mound, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to compete, and I’m going to come at guys. I’m going to challenge guys, straight-up — with my best stuff against their best stuff. And sometimes it’s going to work out, and sometimes it isn’t. But I think that’s just how my mentality is, especially being on the smaller side. It’s just how I was raised to play. And I think that’s what you can expect me to bring to New York. Both on my good and on my bad days — I’m going to compete all the same.
Tonight’s my first start as a Yankee, and I’ve gotta say — I’m looking forward to it. The guys have been awesome since I arrived, and have welcomed me with open arms. And I know, just from having played against them earlier in the season, that I’m joining what’s a really good team to begin with: with a deep and talented pitching staff, and a deadly lineup that has no breaks in it. This is a tough, tough group. So I’m just coming here to play my part.
But I’m excited — and I’ll be ready.
I’ve got my Yankees hat and everything.
By Christian Red
New Yankee left-hander Jaime Garcia said Tuesday that when he was a kid growing up in Mexico, his family, and especially his grandfather, were huge Yankees fans, and that the grandfather even predicted back then that Garcia would someday be wearing pinstripes.
“My grandfather was always a huge Yankees fan. He told me when I was a kid that he would see me playing for the Yankees one day. So my mom was very emotional about (the trade) because of that story,” Garcia said at his introductory Yankee press conference, after he got traded from Minnesota to the Bombers.
“My grandfather passed away when I was 13-years-old. The family was touched by (the trade) because obviously they’re all Yankees fans. They were very excited – excited for me, excited for this opportunity.”
Bombers manager Joe Girardi said that the lefty Garcia will start Friday in Cleveland, the day after new right-hander Sonny Gray will start the series opener.
Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino will pitch Saturday and Sunday in Cleveland, respectively, which means the Yankees will go with a six-man rotation at least once. Girardi said he’s leaning against not going with that six-man format for the rest of the season.
“It’s hard to construct a roster. In September, that’s not the case. But it’s hard to construct a roster where you can do that, where you feel that you have enough pitching in your bullpen. That’s the problem with (a six-man rotation),” said Girardi.
Garcia said he’s focused on the next start only, and not whether he could be used in the bullpen if Girardi sticks with his five-man rotation plan – which now shapes up to be Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery.
“I was told when the trade happened (with Minnesota), they called me, I was told I may be starting. Then when I got (to Yankee Stadium) today, I was told that I was going to making the start in Cleveland,” said Garcia. “Like I said, I’m 100 percent focused on that one start. I take my deal one start at a time. I don’t focus on anything else that’s out of my control.”
It may not be Larry Lucchino labeling the Yankees the Evil Empire, but it will have to do. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski poked some fun at his rivals just moments after they acquired right-hander Sonny Gray from the A’s in one of the biggest deadline deals of the day.
“You mean the Golden State Warriors, you’re talking about?” Dombrowski asked, tongue in cheek. “Yeah. Yeah, I think the Golden State Warriors have significantly made some moves.”
For those wondering where that reference came from, it dates back to the offseason, when Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman used the NBA champs to describe the Red Sox, who had just acquired Chris Sale from the White Sox.
“Boston’s like the Golden State Warriors now in baseball,” Cashman said. “They got their Durant and their Green and Thompson and Curry.”
Far from a super team, the Red Sox limped into July 31 a half game behind the Yankees, who have made a series of moves to bolster their roster, none bigger than acquiring Gray from the A’s.
“I expected it,” Dombrowski said. “I would have been surprised if they didn’t. But I think Brian probably has made them the Golden State Warriors and we’re the significant underdogs, when I’m listening to the MLB Network. So it kind of switched. I would anticipate, like he said earlier in the year that he didn’t know how the Red Sox would lose a game, I think it’ll be the same. I don’t know how they’ll lose a game right now. They made some good moves. They made their club significantly better. It didn’t surprise me at all. It was out there for an extended period that they were looking to do those things.”
By Mark Polishuk
Now that the July 31 trade deadline has passed, teams can still make trades, only with more restrictions than before. The full list of rules surrounding post-deadline trades have, of course, been shared elsewhere, most notably in an article by Jayson Stark (then with ESPN.com) from all the way back in 2004, and in greater detail at Cub Reporter. Since the rules surrounding August deals are confusing, though, they’re worth reviewing here.
- After the trade deadline, a big-league player must pass through revocable waivers before his team can trade him without restriction. These waivers last 47 hours. If no one claims him in that period, his team can trade him anywhere.
- If a player is claimed, his team can do one of three things. It can trade the player to the claiming team, revoke the waiver request (in which case the player will remain with his original team), or simply allow the claiming team to take the player and his salary (although a player with no-trade rights can block this from happening).
- A recent example of an August trade that developed from a waiver claim was the Mariners’ acquisition of Arquimedes Caminero from the Pirates last season. The Mariners claimed Caminero and then worked out a deal with the Bucs to bring the right-hander to Seattle for two players to be named later. An example of a claim that didn’t result in a trade occurred in 2015, when an unknown team claimed Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez. The two sides couldn’t strike a deal, so the Brewers revoked their waiver request, and K-Rod remained in Milwaukee. Examples of teams simply letting players go via revocable waivers are more rare, particularly with big-contract players. That being said, it is always possible; in 2009, the White Sox claimed Alex Rios from the Blue Jays, who simply let him go to Chicago without a trade. The White Sox were thus responsible for all of the approximately $62MM remaining on Rios’ contract.
- A team has 48.5 hours to trade a claimed player, and can only negotiate with the team awarded the claim on him.
- It’s common for teams to place players on revocable waivers, and their having done so does not necessarily mean they have serious plans to trade them. As Stark points out, teams commonly use waivers of certain players purely as smokescreens to disguise which players they really are interested in trading. In fact, sometimes teams place their entire rosters on waivers.
- If more than one team claims a player, priority is determined by worst record to best record in the league of the waiving team, followed by worst record to best record in the other league. For example, if an NL team places a player on revocable waivers, the team with the NL’s worst record will get first priority on claims, followed by every other team in the NL from worst to best, followed by AL teams from worst to best.
- If a team pulls a player back from waivers once, it cannot do so again in August. So if a team places a player on waivers for a second time, those waivers will be non-revocable.
- Players not on 40-man rosters are eligible to be traded at any time without passing through waivers.
- A player on the disabled list can only pass through waivers if his minimum period of inactivity has passed and he is healthy and able to play at his accustomed level.
- Teams can still make trades in September, but players acquired after August 31 can’t play in the postseason.
Players traded last August included such notable names as Caminero, Fernando Salas, Michael Bourn, Dioner Navarro, Sean Burnett, Coco Crisp, A.J. Ellis,Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Francoeur, Mike Aviles and Erick Aybar. Due to the number of restrictions in place, it isn’t often that you see a true blockbuster deal go down in August, though it isn’t totally out of the question. The biggest August trade in recent memory is easily the nine-player swap between the Dodgers and Red Sox in 2012 that saw Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett head to L.A. That deal not only set the tone for the Dodgers’ free-spending ways over the last five years, but it also allowed the Red Sox to clear tens of millions in salary commitments off their books, paving the way for the team to reload in the offseason and go on to win the 2013 World Series.
By Alan Schwarz
Note: This story ran in Baseball America in 1995, and has been dusted off and updated where applicable.
You’ve seen it written and referred to a zillion ways: the Rule 5 draft, the minor league draft, the rule V drafts, that draft at the Winter Meetings that’s a little too complicated so I’ll wait to see if it matters later . . .
It’s actually not that involved, so as a public service we now present to you an observer’s guide to what Baseball America typically refers to as the major league Rule 5 draft.
The process doesn’t shake baseball’s rafters, but it does add a wrinkle to the player-development game that’s worth understanding. Every once in a while, a player makes a significant impact after being chosen, Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente in 1954 being the classic example.
The Rule 5 draft has been a staple of the Winter Meetings almost from its beginning and sprung up as a method to prevent teams from stockpiling talent in their minor league systems. Players not on major league rosters would otherwise have little or no chance to find an opportunity to play elsewhere, though that restriction was further eased in the 1980s when minor leaguers got the right to become free agents after six full seasons.
Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.
Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.
But here’s the kicker: To prevent teams from drafting players willy-nilly, each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price. Few players are ready for such a jump, so only about 10-15 get picked each year. Fewer still last the whole season in the big leagues.
“They have to keep a guy for the whole year, so a lot of teams are safe,” says Paul Snyder, the Braves’ director of scouting and player development. “But there have been kids drafted out of A-ball.
“A few years ago (in 1984) Toronto got two guys (Lou Thornton and Manny Lee) who could pinch-run and play defense. They’re easier to carry in the American League because there aren’t as many pitching changes.”
Other miscellaneous Rule 5 rules and tidbits:
- The “Rule 5” moniker comes from its place in the Professional Baseball Agreement. The June draft, for instance, is Rule 4.
- Teams must file their 40-man rosters by Nov. 20, and only those not at the full allotment of 40 may select players.
- Teams select in reverse order of that season’s finish, with the American and National leagues alternating the No. 1 pick from year to year. The Twins have the first pick this year, followed by the Marlins (who can’t pick as their roster stands at 40).
- Since 1950, selections have included a low of three players in 1974 and a high of 24 in 1994. The selection price was increased in 1985 to $50,000 from $25,000.
- There are Triple-A and Double-A segments of the Rule 5 draft, with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively. Minor league players not protected on the reserve lists at the Double-A and Class A levels are subject to selection, but almost no future big leaguers emerge from this process. It’s basically a tool for major league teams to fill out affiliates rather than obtain talent.
- In 1988, the Braves drafted a player from themselves. They neglected to protect righthander Ben Rivera on the 40-man roster, had the first pick in the draft and took him.
- Players from the 1998 Rule 5 draft to stick all year include Pirates lefthander Scott Sauerbeck, Blue Jays catcher Alberto Castillo (acquired this month in a trade from the Cardinals) and Astros outfielder Glen Barker.
By Brendan Kuty
By Jon Heyman
The Oakland A’s and New York Yankees have continued to talk about star pitcher Sonny Gray, and Oakland has come off of Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, enhancing the chances the two teams could make a deal.
The Yankees, a first-place, big-market team with an excellent prospect list, seem to be in a decent position to land the pitcher they most covet — though it isn’t known how aggressive the other interested teams are.
Several teams have called on Gray, with the Dodgers and Astros among contending teams with the prospects to get it done. However, it’s possible the Dodgers may have Yu Darvish, whose chances to be traded are increasing, as high or higher on their list, and the Astros (and for that matter the Dodgers), also have their sights set on star closer Zach Britton. It was first reported here that L.A. eyed Britton, but the Dodgers’ interest may have shifted a bit with new concern for ace starter Clayton Kershaw.
It’s pretty clear Gray heads the Yankees’ preferred list, but New York has looked into several other rentals in case it doesn’t pan out with Oakland. They’ve talked about Darvish, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Dan Straily, as well.
Well beyond Torres and Frazier, the Yankees have coveted prospects Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, Estevan Florial and many others. So there could still be a deal to be made.
Gray’s value is enhanced by a reasonable (sub-$4M) salary and two years to go before free agency, which means the A’s aren’t pressured to trade him now, either. Jerry Crasnick first reported the A’s had lowered their price after it was reported here that the A’s originally sought Torre or Frazier.