Manfred looking to regulate the shift is not a sound idea

Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred speak with the media during a news conference at the Major League Baseball owners meeting, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Phoenix. Manfred succeeds Bud Selig when he retires later this month. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s new commissioner, sat down for an interview with ESPN on Sunday.

Without any prompting from interviewer Karl Ravech, Manfred shifted from talking about the pace of the game issue and using pitch clocks in the Arizona Fall League to a drastically different topic.

“The second set of changes that I would look at is related and that relates to injecting additional offense into the game,” Manfred said. “For example, things like eliminating shifts. I would be open to those sorts of ideas.”

Scoring is significantly down in baseball over the last 15 years. MLB teams combined to score 19,761 regular season runs in 2014, a major drop from the 24,971 runs scored in 2000.

If we go back to 1968, the final season of a 15-inch mound, the 20 teams combined to score 11,109 times. The mound was lowered to 12 inches for the 1969 season, where its been ever since.

When the balance between hitting and pitching shifts too far to one side, baseball has changed the rules to reset that equation. There is a precedent. Banning or limiting defenses from shifting, however, is the wrong way to add more offense to the game.

What’s causing the drop of run-scoring in baseball?

Taking performance enhancing drugs out of the game, or at least limiting their role, could be one culprit. Still, pitchers were using steroids as well, so that doesn’t explain the lack of runs entirely.

Increasing use of video and scouting and advanced PITCHF/x data has made players and coaches more aware of trends. It betters prepares them for what to expect when they’re on the field. Again, the benefits of this extra data affects both hitters and pitchers, so it’s not the only reason offense has declined either.

Managers, of course, are using this wealth of information to their advantage. They have a better chance of calling for the right man out of the bullpen than ever before. With starting pitchers held to increasingly tighter pitch counts and clubs pouring resources into developing top-notch bullpens, it’s no surprise that offenses are finding it harder to score runs in the late innings.

The reason why runs are harder to come by in modern baseball might be the crop of excellent young pitchers in the game today. Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey. Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale, Cole Hamels and Matt Moore. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps it’s just a cyclical thing. Maybe the next generation of great sluggers is currently working its way up through the minor leagues.

Front offices are also making defense a priority, figuring that the value of a run saved is worth as much as a run scored. And that leads us to the shift, which has exploded in recent years. Fangraphs, a statistics blog, says that there were 564 percent more shifts in 2014 than there were in 2011.

Why pick on the teams that have decided to implement defensive shifts?

First, it’ll be nearly impossible to regulate. What constitutes an illegal defense in baseball and how would it be enforced?

Second, do we really want to crack down on innovation in the game? No one cries foul when an NFL defensive coordinator comes up with a new blitz scheme or when a college basketball coach shifts from zone to man-to-man.

“We have really smart people working in the game and they’re going to figure out ways to get a competitive advantage,” Manfred said in response to a Ravech follow-up question. “I think it’s incumbent on us in the commissioner’s office to look at the advantages that are produced and say, “Is this what we want to happen in the game?”

I think Manfred answered his own question. The really smart people in baseball will figure out a competitive advantage in response to the shift by finding ways to beat it, whether it’s through bunting, teaching hitters to go the other way or aggressive baserunning.

Scoring is down in baseball, no question about it. But that doesn’t necessary mean there’s a problem. We haven’t given the game the time it needs to react and evolve naturally.

Yet what Manfred wants to happen in the game might be vastly different from what die-hard baseball fans want to happen in the game. Maybe he sees home runs and bloated ERAs as a means to attracting casual fans and keeping the money flowing. Remember those old Nike commercials, “Chicks dig the long ball?” Apparently so do MLB’s accountants.

For those of us who don’t see a correlation between run-scoring and the quality of baseball being played, Manfred has set up a dilemma on his first day of work. The new commissioner is willing to consider changing the rules to draw in casual fans.

And that just ain’t right.

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Renegades bring back Parenton for 2015

Tim Parenton of the Tampa Bay Rays poses during Minor League Photo Day on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Skip Milos / Tampa Bay Rays)

The Hudson Valley Renegades announced its coaching staff for the 2015 season on Wednesday afternoon. Manager Tim Parenton will return for his second season after leading the team to a McNamara Division title and a 46-30 record in 2014.

It was a remarkable debut for Parenton, especially as 2014 was his first year in professional baseball. He had spent more than 20 years as a college and high school coach before taking the job offer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

For some background on Parenton, check out this story I wrote from media day this past season.

Manny Castillo will return in his role as bench coach. Brian Newman returns as the team’s athletic trainer.

Brian Reith is the only newcomer on the staff, joining the Renegades as Hudson Valley’s pitching coach. Reith was a sixth round draft pick of the Yankees in 1996 and went to Cincinnati as part of the Denny Neagle trade in 2000. Reith, a right-hander, made 73 appearances for the Reds – including nine starts – over three seasons in the major leagues.

In other Rays organizational news, Jared Sandberg, who managed the Renegades to a New York-Penn League title in 2012, was named manager of the Triple-A Durham Bulls.

Sandberg, nephew of Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg, went on to manage Low-A Bowling Green in 2013 and High-A Port Charlotte (Fla.) last year. At 36 years old, Sandberg looks like a rising star on the managerial fast track. How long before he’s coaching in the big leagues? Could his uncle, now managing the Phillies, team up with his nephew in the future?

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Scherzer signs with Washington

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

The top free agent pitcher on the market this winter, Max Scherzer, has finally made his decision as to where he’ll play in 2015. Scherzer joins an already loaded Washington Nationals squad.

Scherzer will play for Washington for the next seven seasons – at least that’s the length of the contract – and he’ll receive $210 million, although some of that money will be deferred for seven years after this contract ends. He’ll also get a $50 million signing bonus as part of the deal that will be paid out over time. So he’ll basically get $15 million a year for the next 14 years. There are some tax reasons for doing things this way since Washington, D.C. doesn’t charge income tax on out-of-city residents.

He’ll join a rotation that already boasts Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark. For now, it looks like Roark, who went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts last season, would be moved to the bullpen. Of course, the Nationals could also trade one of their other starters in an effort to bolster the major league lineup or add some prospects to the farm system.

Scherzer rejected a $144 million offer from Detroit in the spring of 2014, so he certainly got a better deal on the open market. Washington does surrender its top pick in the June draft with the Scherzer signing.

This move gives the Nationals perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball, although the Dodgers aren’t far behind. The bookmakers have revised their World Series odds in light of this signing, making the Nationals the favorite to win it all this year.

Of course, there’s an entire season to play and poor performance and injuries could dash some of those chances. Still, with the Mets, Braves and Marlins all on the verge of contending but not quite looking like contenders and with Philadelphia bringing up the rear, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Nats run away with the NL East in 2015.

James Shields is now the last top-tier free agent available, with spring training set to begin in a matter of weeks. The latest team linked to Shields is Milwaukee, which just shed some salary by trading Yovanni Gallardo to Texas. San Francisco has been another team heavily linked to Shields, so expect his market to heat up in a hurry to grab the last remaining free agent starter of value.

In other transaction news today, the Astros traded Dexter Fowler to the Cubs for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily. Chicago gets a bonafide everyday option in center field – and a first round draft pick in 2016 if he plays well enough to decline a qualifying offer. Houston gets a new third baseman in Valbuena, who’ll be an upgrade over defensive-minded Matt Dominguez. Straily, formerly of Oakland, adds another hard-thrower with strikeout potential to the Astros’ pitching staff.

It’s not a huge deal, but it looks like a trade that could help both sides in 2015. Don’t look for either of these teams to make the playoffs this year, but these are the kind of moves that make Houston and the Cubs look like they’re moving in the right direction.

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Yankees make a trade, agree on hitting coaches

The Yankees have made a pair of relatively minor moves in the past few days.

Tuesday, the club traded cash to the Colorado Rockies for relief pitcher Chris Martin. Martin made 16 appearances for the Rockies last year in his big league debut, posting a 6.89 ERA in 15 2/3 innings of work. Seven of those appearances came at Coors Field, so on top of the small sample size, you can throw some high altitude reasonable doubts on those stats as well.

A 6-foot-8 righty, Martin was 4-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 77 2/3 innings at Triple-A between 2013 and 2014. In that Triple-A time he’s allowed just over one hit per inning, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio was an impressive 83-to-19.

The Yankees designated Gonzalez German, recently acquired from the Mets, to make the move. Not a huge deal, but Martin adds some depth to the bullpen for spring training. He’ll be a longshot to make the club out of spring training but looks like worthwhile injury insurance at this point.

Kevin Long’s replacement will be a two-man team. Jeff Pentland has been named the team’s hitting coach, with Alan Cockrell taking over a newly-created role as assistant hitting coach.

Pentland has been a hitting coach for the Cubs, Dodgers and Royals in previous seasons, having served as a college coach for many years before getting into pro ball. This ESPN New York story had a great little nugget about Pentland’s time at Arizona State, where he became one of few coaches to ever get through to one Barry Bonds. So that says something about his communication skills.

Cockrell was a college quarterback at Tennessee and had a long playing career in the minors, getting just a cup of coffee with the Colorado Rockies in 1996. He moved up through the Rockies’ system as a coach and was the hitting coach on Colorado’s 2007 World Series team. He then became hitting coach in Seattle and spent some time in the Yankees’ minor league system before taking this job.

The hitting coach – fairly or unfairly – are probably going to take the blame or earn the praise for how the Yankees’ hitters fare this season. Will they really help? I’ll suppose we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s hard to image the team’s offense being much worse than it was in 2014.

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Yanks sign Drew to a one-year deal

New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew loses the ball after fielding a grounder by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Word breaking on Twitter tonight is that the Yankees have come to a one-year agreement with free agent Stephen Drew worth $5 million plus an extra million or two in incentives.

Drew came to the Yankees in a trade last season, hitting .150 in 46 games. Drew, however, played in only 39 games with the Red Sox in the first half of 2014 after languishing on the free agent market for a long time when he declined the Red Sox’s qualifying offer after the 2013 season. Many have said that Drew never got his swing right because he missed spring training, so there’s reason to believe Drew can improve that putrid 162/237/299 triple slash from last year.

The real question is, when and how much will Drew play for the Yankees?

Chase Headley is back at third base and should play nearly every day there as long as he’s healthy. Same goes for Mark Teixeira at first base, with Garrett Jones and – gasp – maybe even A-Rod factoring in over there.

The Yankees made a trade to acquire Didi Gregorius to take over at shortstop for Derek Jeter. Gregorius should play against righties on most days since his fielding is terrific. Against lefties, Gregorius might sit and Brendan Ryan puts his glove to use in the field.

That leaves second base, which the Yankees had wide-open heading into spring training. Before signing Drew, it looked like the Yankees were willing to let rookies Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder battle it out, either in spring training or in a platoon situation. This move makes it more likely that Drew gets a shot at the everyday second base job.

Of course, Drew could fail to hit in spring training, or the Yankees could let Ryan loose as well. There’s plenty of time before the Yankees finalize that 25-man roster.

Still, this is a move that makes the Yankees a little deeper, if not better, and all it will cost them is $5 million. No surrendered prospects or draft picks, just cash. With the Yankees looking to keep what’s left of their farm system intact, it’s not a terribly bad idea.

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Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggo make the HOF

No real surprises this afternoon, as the Baseball Writers Association of America released its Hall of Fame voting results.

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz all made the Hall in their first year on the ballot. Craig Biggio, who missed by two votes last year, will also head to Cooperstown.

All are more than deserving of the honor. I wrote a column for today’s paper, and the only guy I guessed wrong on was John Smoltz. I thought voters might need a few years on Smoltz because of his mid-career injury and transition to the bullpen, but he received 82.9 percent of the vote and made it in on the first ballot.

Mike Piazza was the first player to miss the cut, being named on 69.9 percent of ballots. Look for Piazza to make it in next year. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Trevor Hoffman highlight the list of newcomers to the ballot in 2016.

Jeff Bagwell (55.7 percent) and Tim Raines (55 percent) are next in line. Players need to receive at least 75 percent of the vote for induction.

After Bagwell and Raines, it’s a long drop off to Curt Schilling (39.2), Roger Clemens (37.5) and Barry Bonds (36.8).

Former Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina came in at 24.6 percent and he’ll have more years to build his case for the voters. Don Mattingly, however, falls off the ballot after getting just 9.1 percent of the votes in his 15th year of eligibility. Mattingly’s case now heads to the expansion era committee, who may or may not vote him in over time. Of course, Mattingly could get a bump in the future depending on how his managing career goes.

Nomar Garciaparra got 5.5 percent of the vote, meaning he’ll get his name listed again next year.

Alan Trammell got 25.1 percent in his 14th year, meaning half of the Hall voters will have to pick him next year if he wants to get in without going before the expansion era committee.

Looking ahead to next year, I can see Piazza and Griffey earning their inductions as well as Clemens and Bonds nearing the 40 percent mark.

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Yankees trade Phelps and Prado to Miami

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (24) throws during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Lots of baseball news making the rounds this Friday afternoon in New York.

The Mets are reportedly kicking the tires yet again on Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, with Colorado reportedly looking for Noah Syndergaard plus in return.

The Yankees made another trade today, sending Martin Prado and David Phelps to Miami for Garrett Jones, Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Domingo German.

Let’s take a look at this trade piece-by-piece.

Prado had a fine half-season in pinstripes after coming to New York in a deadline deal from Arizona. He hit .316 with seven home runs in his 37 games, spending time at second, third and the corner outfield spots. With the Yankees signing Chase Headley to a four-year deal, Prado looked like the everyday second baseman in 2015. He’s under contract at $11 million per season through the end of 2016.

Phelps has bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen in his three years in a Yankees uniform. In 87 games, 40 of those starts, Phelps went 15-14 with a 4.21 ERA and a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Take this for what it’s worth, but Phelps pitched to a 0.0 WAR over 113 innings in 2014. So he gave you exactly what you’d expect from a guy yanked up from Triple-A. Still, with the Yankees still having a number of health questions in the starting rotation, Phelps figured to be a key part of the team either as a starter or in middle relief.

So why would the Yankees trade those guys away?

We’ll start with German, a 22-year-old right-hander who’s yet to pitch above Single-A. German, however, is 20-10 with a 2.33 ERA in his five seasons at the lower levels of the minors, including a 9-3 season in 25 starts in the South Atlantic League in 2014. In 123 1/3 innings, he struck out 113, walked 25 and allowed 116 hits. Will that translate as he progresses through the minors? Of course, that remains to be seen, but German sure looks like a young pitcher to watch.

Jones, a seven-season major league vet, gives the Yankees insurance at three key spots. He can play first base if Mark Teixeira is out for any length of time. He can also spell Carlos Beltran in right should Beltran have any injury problems. A left-handed hitter who’s hit an average of 18.8 home runs per season since becoming a lineup regular in 2010, Jones could also get plenty of DH at-bats should Alex Rodriguez struggle.

The real key piece in this trade in Nate Eovaldi, a right-hander who turns 25 in spring training. An 11th-round pick in 2008 by the Dodgers, Eovaldi was the major chip sent to Miami in the Hanley Ramirez trade. Eovaldi was a regular part of the Marlins’ rotation last season, going 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 33 starts. He allowed 220 hits in 199 2/3 innings but his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.30 was by far the best of his career. Eovaldi’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) came in at 3.37, so there’s reason to believe that he just had a really unlucky season defensively behind him. FIP basically measures what a player’s ERA would have been had he played with defense and balls in play data equalized to match league averages.

The Yankees have indicated that they believe they can “fix” Eovaldi and bring him back to top prospect status rather than the below-average back-of-the-rotation starter he looked like this past season. If that’s the case, then this trade makes a ton of sense from the Yankees’ perspective.

Even if they can’t totally get Eovaldi back on track, the Yankees did firm up the rotation with a guy who has proven he can go just about 200 innings. That’s a major boost to a team that’s unsure of what they’ll get from CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Ivan Nova should be back from Tommy John surgery at some point in the middle of the season. They also have Chris Capuano in the fold. Hiroki Kuroda has yet to indicate whether he’ll return to the Yankees, play in Japan or retire, but Kuroda might also play in here as well. Eovaldi might not make the Yankees’ rotation a great deal stronger, but he adds some depth and some insurance.

Now, the Yankees have opened at hole at second base. Will they fill it with rookies Rob Refsnyder and/or Jose Pirela? Or does GM Brian Cashman have another move up his sleeve? There are few options left on the free agent market. Asdrubal Cabrera would be one choice, but would he rather play shortstop for another team? Rickie Weeks and Emilio Bonafacio could also work, but how much better would they be than the kids?

The Yankees strengthened their rotation and their bench with this trade but they’ve also opened up the search for a new second baseman.

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Yanks sign Headley to four-year deal

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2014, file photo, New York Yankees' Chase Headley reacts after driving in the game-winning run during the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in New York. Headley is staying with the Yankees, giving New York insurance at third base in case Alex Rodriguez is unable to play the field regularly. A person familiar with the negotiations says Headley and the Yankees are working to finalize a $52 million, four-year contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, because the agreement had not been completed. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The Yankees made a decision on their third base situation for 2015, signing free agent Chase Headley to a four-year contract worth $52 million, according to many reports early this afternoon.

Headley, acquired via trade on July 22 for utility infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael DePaula, hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 58 games in pinstripes. Headley, a switch-hitter, also provided terrific defense at third base and can also play first base in a pinch. That’s a plus with the injury-prone Mark Teixeira still on the roster.

Alex Rodriguez returns from his year-long suspension, but the Yankees never seemed to seriously consider him an option at third base in 2015. At this point, Rodriguez looks like a DH candidate if he can prove he’s up to the job in spring training. With Headley so good with the glove, Rodriguez might see very limited time in the field.

The Headley signing also allows the Yankees to play Martin Prado, acquired in a mid-season trade from Arizona, to be the team’s everyday second baseman. Before signing Headley, the Yankees were looking at playing Prado at third and splitting the second base responsibilities between rookies Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. So this is a major upgrade over that scenario.

Headley had a monster season in 2012, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the NL MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award that year.

That, however, looks like an aberration on the back of Headley’s baseball card. He’s never hit more than 13 homers in a season before or since, never driven in more than 64 runs in a season before or since and is a career .265 hitter.

So what kind of player did the Yankees just lock up for the next four years at $13 million per season?

Is he a good glove, slightly above average bat kind of player he looked like after landing in New York? Or is he the power-hitting, run-producing machine of 2012?

I’m not sure whether the Yankees are gambling on the later or simply snatching what was left on the free agent market after getting essentially shut out during the winter meetings in San Diego last week. Either way, Headley is a fine player that solves a third base problem for 2015. The question is, thinking long term, will Headley himself be the problem by 2017 or 2018? Have the Yankees just saddled themselves with another aging star on an overpriced contract?

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Robertson signs with White Sox

New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson follows through on a pitch to the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Just a few days after the Yankees signed free agent reliever Andrew Miller, the team lost a key part of its bullpen.

Closer David Robertson signed a four-year, $46-million free agent deal with the Chicago White Sox late Monday night. As with the Robinson Cano situation last winter, the Yankees weren’t willing to go over a certain price for Robertson and let him walk. The Yankees will receive a compensatory sandwich round draft pick since Robertson declined a one-year qualifying offer from the Yankees at the end of the postseason.

Robertson has been one of the American League’s best relievers since making his debut in 2008. A 17th round pick in the 2006 draft, Robertson, a University of Alabama product, has risen from middle reliever to All-Star set-up man to closer. He saved 39 games last season.

He earned the nickname Houdini for his ability to get out of impossible situations, which were often created by his own doing. Robertson has a career rate of 7.1 hits allowed per nine innings and 12.0 strikeouts per nine, both of which are top-notch for a reliever. He does have a habit of walking too many guys in the wrong spots (a career rate of 3.8 walks/nine) but he’s been below that career mark every season since 2011.

In Chicago, Robertson will solidify a changing White Sox pitching staff. Chicago traded for Oakland’s Jeff Samardzija late Monday night as well.

As for the Yankees, their options are open at this point.

Miller would make sense as the team’s new closer, especially with all the money he’s being paid, but he has just one career save to his name. He excels in the lefty-on-lefty matchups, so perhaps that’s where the Yankees see the value in Miller and he could still be a seventh and eighth inning guy.

Young Dellin Betances showed closer-like stuff last year, so he’s another possibility for the ninth inning role. Again, like Miller, he may be best used in those really tough spots in the seventh and eighth innings, so maybe he’ll stay in a similar role as well.

As far as free agent closers, there are a few names on the market. Jason Grilli had a rough 2014, but was an All-Star as Pittsburgh’s closer in 2013. He might come relatively cheap and would provide an experienced arm for those ninth inning situations.

Sergio Romo spent parts of the last three seasons as the Giants’ closer, so he’d also be a possibility.

Really, it’s going to be up to Joe Girardi to determine how to manage his bullpen, which will be different without Robertson at the end. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be worse, but a lot rides on how Girardi pulls the strings in the late innings. Of course, Cashman could acquire another arm or two to make the job even easier for Girardi.

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Yankees find Jeter’s replacement in Gregorius

Arizona Diamondbacks' Didi Gregorius hits an RBI double off Minnesota Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Yankees have found their shortstop of the future.

Multiple reports this morning indicate that the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers have agreed on a three-team trade that will bring shortstop Didi Gregorius to New York.

Here are the moving parts.

To New York: SS Didi Gregorius

To Arizona: P Robbie Ray

To Detroit: P Shane Green and another Arizona minor leaguer to be named later

It’s the second three-team trade between these clubs in recent years. The Yankees picked up Curtis Granderson in a swap that also included Ian Kennedy and Max Scherzer following the 2009 World Series.

As far as Gregorius goes, he’s long been one of baseball’s top shortstop prospects, first with Cincinnati and more recently in Arizona.

Gregorius made his debut with the Reds in 2012 and then played in 103 games for the Diamondbacks in 2013, hitting .252 with a .332 on-base percentage. Last season, Gregorius was limited to 80 games and hit just .226, spending time at short, second and third base. He did hit .310 in 57 games at Triple-A Reno last season as well.

A lefty hitter, Gregorius doesn’t have a ton of power nor a lot of speed, but he has been a fine defender in his brief major league career so far. So the expectations won’t be huge for the Amsterdam, Netherlands native in New York, even as he comes in to replace Derek Jeter. As long as he can play every day and hold his own at the bottom of the lineup, I think that will be a plus for the Yankees heading forward.

When he was acquired by Arizona a few years ago, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said that Gregorious reminded him of a young Derek Jeter. Gregorious, who turns 25 in February, doesn’t deserve that kind of comparison. It’ll be impossible to line up to, but the Yankees probably have to be pretty happy that they’ve found a MLB-ready replacement who won’t be eligible for free agency until 2020.

The cost for the Yankees isn’t insignificant. Shane Greene, 26, had a fine debut in the Yankees’ rotation in 2014, filling in admirably when 80 percent of the opening day starting rotation landed on the disabled list.

Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts (he also had one relief appearance) and struck out 81 and walked 29 over 78 2/3 innings. However, Greene has some underwhelming minor league numbers for his career, so it’s still unclear how much of a contributor he’ll be at the highest level in the years to come.

Most likely, Greene is a capable fourth or fifth starter that could hang around for quite some time. But with the Yankees having a real need at shortstop and probably feeling that similar pitching is more easily acquirable or already in their minor league system, the trade makes sense.

Up next for the Yankees is a decision on lefty reliever Andrew Miller, who’s looking for closer-type money and a four-year contract. Miller has been great recently for Boston and Baltimore, but it’s still unclear how the Yankees would use him if he signs with New York. Would he replace David Robertson as the closer? Would he become a lefty set-up man to Dellin Betances as the new Yankees’ closer? Could the Yankees still sign Robertson, too, and make for a killer seventh-eighth-ninth inning combo?

You can also expect the Yankees to kick the tires on the third base market, although they do have Martin Prado and Alex Rodriguez available to play that role next year if need be.

There are plenty of top-level starting pitchers yet to sign, such as Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester. Could the Yankees make a surprise splash and bring in one of them to bolster the rotation? Or will they settle for a shorter, cheaper deal for a guy like Brandon McCarthy?

Either way, there’s still plenty of work for the Yankees to do this offseason.

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