Yankees’ Bird Wins Arizona Fall League MVP

The Arizona Fall League named Yankees first baseman Greg Bird the winner of its Joe Black MVP Award, honoring him before Saturday’s championship game between the Peoria Javelinas and Salt River Rafters.

Bird, playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions and the first Yankees prospect to win the award, led the AFL in homers (six) and runs (21), ranked second in hits (31), RBIs (21) and total bases (550), third in extra-base hits (12) and slugging (.556) and sixth in batting (.313).

The award was first presented in 2002 honoring Black from the Brooklyn Dodgers, the 1952 National League Rookie of the Year and first African-American to win a World Series game.

Bird was also named MVP of the midseason Fall Stars Game after blasting a 450-foot home run and opening the season with a 16-game hitting streak.

Yankees fill top minor league positions

The Yankees have filled two high ranking positions to lead their minor league system (Collins, Nov. 15).

Gary Denbo was named the Vice President of Player Development. Denbo, had a brief stint as the Yankees major league hitting coach during the 2001 season.

Eric Schmitt was named the Director of Minor League Operations. Schmitt, is a former pitcher who played within the Yankees minor league system.


Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang to be posted

LHP Hyeon-jong Yang, viewed as one of the best pitchers in Korea, will be posted by his club on November 17 (Feinsand, Nov. 13).

Yang, 26, is a starting pitcher who is expected to settle in as a mid-rotation type in the majors.

Yang features a four-pitch arsenal, and has a fastball that sits between 92 and 95 MPH.

After Yang is posted, interested teams will have four days to submit their bid. If a bid is accepted, the club with the winning bid will have 30 days to work out a contract with Yang.

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees

Cervelli traded to the Pirates for LHP Wilson

The Yankees have acquired left-hander Justin Wilson from the Pirates in exchange for catcher Francisco Cervelli. 

Cervelli hit .201 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 146 at bats and 49 games for the Yankees. Cervelli has played for the Yankees in parts of seven seasons since debuting in 2008.

Wilson pitched in 70 games for the Pirates, 60 innings pitched, and had a 4.20 ERA. He struck out 60 batters, held teams to a .220 average, but did struggle with his control with 30 walks.

The 6-foot-2-inch lefthander was drafted by Pittsburgh out of Cal State Fresno in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. In three Major League seasons, he is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA (138.1IP, 109H, 46ER, 61BB, 127K, 8HR) in 136 appearances.

The trade of Cervelli comes from depth as the Yankees have a host of catchers in the system to backup starter Brian McCann. The Yankees have John Ryan Murphy, an excellent defensive catcher who also is coming into his own as a hitter now the likely backup. The Yankees also still have Austin Romine in the system.

Prospect Gary Sanchez hit .270 with 13 home runs and 65 RBIs at Double-A Trenton this past season as a 21-year-old.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels

Phelps designated a Super Two

Yankees pitcher David Phelps will be one of 26 players with between two and three years of Major League service time and be eligible for arbitration this season with a Super Twos designation (MLB, Nov. 12).

The Super Twos designation goes  to only the top 22 percent of players with between two and three years of service time. Those players qualify for arbitration, provided they had at least 86 days of service time during the immediately preceding season.

The  cutoff for Super Twos was two years, 133 days of service, which rose from 122 days last year and dropped from 139 after the 2012 season.  Players with three to six years of service time are eligible for salary arbitration.

Phelps was 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 32 games, 11 starts. He has appeared in 87 games over the past three seasons for the Yankees, but was still short in service time prior to the Super Two designation for salary arbitration.

David Robertson

Report: Robertson wants Papelbon money

Yankees free agent closer Dave Robertson (NYYFans, Nov. 10) declined the Yankees’ qualifying offer and is looking for the biggest contract ever given to a reliever, which one source called “Papelbon Money” (Marchand, Nov. 12) .

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon left the Red Sox in 2011 and signed a four-year $50 million deal with the Phillies.  If Papelbon completes 15-games this upcoming season, he will have made a $13 million, vesting his option for 2016 bringing his total contract to 5-years, $63 million.

Robertson, 30, was in his first year as a closer for the Yankees taking over for Mariano Rivera and was 4-5 with a 3.03 ERA and 39 saves in 44 chances.

The largest one-year deal given to a reliever was the $15 million given Rivera late in his career. The Yankees offered to eclipse that with $15.3 qualifying offer.

Yankee GM Brian Cashman didn’t confirm Robertson’s contract requests, but did say at the GM meetings in Phoenix that he met with Robertson’s agent Scott Leventhal.

The Yankees would be hard-pressed to sign Robertson for that kind of money with 26-year old setup man Dellin Betances waiting in the wings. Betances made the All-Star team has a setup man and was third in rookie of the year voting after striking out 135 batters with a 1.40 ERA in 90 innings pitched.