Last night was the deadline to tender a contract to any player on the 40-man roster who didn’t have one already and the Yankees made four moves. I think all four of them are surprising to a various degree. Let’s take a look at each.
1- The Yankees non-tendered Jose Campos. This is the least surprising because Campos had TJ surgery in April, and hasn’t pitched above low-A ball. Clogging up a 40-man spot with him in 2015 makes little sense. He was the second part of the Pineda trade and could easily be back on a minor league deal.
2- The Yankees non-tendered David Huff. I used to joke that Sergio Mitre must have incrementing photos of Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman because he keep coming back. Huff has turned into that guy. Don’t be fooled by his 1.85 ERA with the Yankees this year, that was luck- his FIP was 4. But, since he probably would have cost less than $1-million and is left-handed, I am surprised they non-tendered him.
3- The Yankees signed Esmil Rogers to a $750,000 deal with incentives that could double it. This surprised me because Rogers wasn’t particularly good for the Yankees, and he hasn’t been very good in his career. Plus he is 29, so he certainly isn’t a prospect anymore. The financial risk is obviously really low, but I still don’t get it.
4- The biggest shock of all. The Yankees non-tendered Slade Heathcott. It’s probably worth it to pause here and recall that in 2009 the Yankees were enamored with a different high school outfielder. They were hoping to pick him and watched him drop almost into their laps, before the Angels scooped up Mike Trout with the 26th pitch. Three picks later, the Yankees took Heathcott. <sigh> Heathcott was never able to stay healthy enough to live up to his potential, but I imagine lots of teams will be willing to take a chance on him. Maybe the Yankees woo him back with a signing bonus on a minor league deal, but this is a surprise. The Yankees took JR Murphy, Adam Warren, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell in the 2009 draft as well, so it may not be a total disaster when all is said and done, but for now they badly missed on their top pick.
Of the non-tendered players from other teams, two names caught my eye.
Justin Smoak has never lived up to the hype. (Remember he was the key piece in the Cliff Lee trade that the Mariners got) But he is still just 27 and has hit .242/.318/.411 on the road, away from Safeco in his career. Unfortunately, he only plays first, but I still think the Yankees should take a flier on him.
Another Toronto non-tender was Andy Dirks. Dirks lost 2014 to injury, but has put up a respectable line of .276/.332/.413 in nearly 300 games in the bigs. He is only 28, so he is worth a gamble by someone.