Standing within striking distance in the American League East, the Yankees sent a clear message on Tuesday that they intend to push for the postseason, acquiring third baseman Chase Headley in a trade with the Padres.
New York sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula to San Diego in the deal. The Yankees also received $1 million to offset the remaining $4.16 million of Headley’s salary for 2014, according to a source.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he had been negotiating with the Padres about Headley for the better part of three weeks, and that the 30-year-old switch-hitter should give the club an immediate boost when he slots in as the everyday third baseman.
“I think he’s a professional hitter and a switch-hitter that can spray it all over the place, and that’s what he’s been doing,” Cashman said. “I don’t think we’re getting a big thumper, but I do think we’re getting an upgrade and a professional at-bat.”
Headley was batting .229 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games with San Diego, but his power was sapped by a herniated disk early in the season. Headley’s performance had improved since receiving an epidural injection in late June; since July 4, he is batting .339 (19-for-56) in 13 games.
“He’s an impact player; he plays great defense,” said Yankees catcher Brian McCann. “He hits in the middle of the order and I think he’s going to benefit from getting out of [Petco Park]. That’s one of the hardest ballparks to hit in; you can crush a ball to right-center field and it doesn’t get to the track.”
The Yankees said that Headley was traveling to join the club on Tuesday after flying from Chicago, where the Padres were scheduled to play at Wrigley Field. Manager Joe Girardi said that Headley was scheduled to arrive around 7:30 p.m. ET and would be available off the bench against the Rangers.
“We feel that he’s in a pretty good place, coming over here,” Girardi said. “He plays in an extremely big ballpark, big ballparks during the course of the season playing in the West. I think this place will help him.”
Headley, who had been the longest-tenured Padres player, told MLB.com in a telephone interview that he was “not surprised” by the deal after being involved several trade rumors over the last few years. He said that it was “bittersweet” to have the day arrive.
“On one hand, there’s not many people in the game who get to play in one organization for as long as I did,” Headley said. “I loved every second in San Diego, all positive memories. But on the same token, I’m excited to move on to a team in a race right now.”
Headley can provide stability at a position where the Yankees were mixing and matching. With Alex Rodriguez suspended, the 27-year-old Solarte made the team as a non-roster invitee and held down the position early before slipping into an extended slump. Overall, he batted .254 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 75 games.
Solarte was sent down to the Minors earlier this month, and though he had been recalled to the active roster, Girardi had recently been giving more playing time at third base to Kelly Johnson and Zelous Wheeler. Cashman said that he was not sure if Solarte’s early-season success had been a mirage of sorts.
“He really saved our bacon early this year,” Cashman said. “When we had a lot of other issues going on this year, he stepped up, and for that we’re thankful. But he was a player that had to be in this situation to get Chase Headley back.”
The Yankees also parted with De Paula, 23, who was 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with Class A Tampa this season. De Paula was ranked No. 15 among Yanks prospects by MLB.com and observers have suggested that he projects as a future big league reliever.
Cashman said that he views Headley, who can be a free agent after this season, as “a rental for two months.” Rodriguez’s suspension will expire after 2014, but with his future uncertain, the Yankees could use Headley’s time in New York as an audition of sorts.
“I can’t predict 2015 and what our needs will or won’t be,” Cashman said. “That’s not what this is all about. We’re all really focused on the remaining push in 2014 and trying to push through with what we’ve got.”
CC Sabathia is disappointed to know for sure that his season is over, but the Yankees left-hander said on Saturday that he is relieved to be avoiding microfracture surgery, which could have put his career in jeopardy.
Sabathia is scheduled to have an arthroscopic debridement performed on Wednesday, cleaning out his right knee. Sabathia said that Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who will perform the surgery, is confident that the hurler will be able to be on the mound by Spring Training.
“He feels good about it and I do too,” Sabathia said. “[NBA star] Russell Westbrook had the same surgery and was able to come back and be fine. Obviously you have to deal with a little bit of swelling here and there, but that’s something I have to deal with.
“My goal was to pitch the next five or six years past this contract and to be able to go out and do that. I’m confident I’m going to be able to do that.”
Sabathia, who turns 34 on Monday, has not pitched in the big leagues since May 10, when he started against the Brewers at Miller Park and experienced swelling in his right knee. An MRI showed what the team called “degenerative changes” in the knee.
He was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA this season and attempted to rehab with the aid of a stem cell injection, but experienced more knee issues after making a Minor League start for Double-A Trenton on July 2.
“I felt like I was on the right path,” Sabathia said. “Waking up that night after, it just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t even come in here and get my workout in and do the stuff that I wanted to do.”
Because of the wear and tear on his knee, there is a possibility that Sabathia will need to have additional arthroscopic procedures down the line. He said that would still be preferable to microfracture surgery, which has produced inconsistent results with athletes.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my life and eventually have a big surgery,” Sabathia said. “Right now the goal is to keep playing and this is the easiest way to do it.”
Sabathia said that he should be able to resume activities six to eight weeks after the surgery, but he will be an idle observer as the Yankees fight to claim a postseason spot in the second half.
“It’s not fun, especially the way these guys have been grinding, and wanting to be a part of it,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been doing everything I can to get back out on the field. It’s just unfortunate.
“It’s something I’ve never had to deal with, but I am now. Hopefully this will give me the time to get healthy and come back to be ready to go in Spring Training.”
CC Sabathia’s season is over. The Yankees left-hander has been scheduled to have arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right knee, in the hopes of correcting an issue that limited the workhorse to just eight starts this year.
Sabathia has selected Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, to perform the July 23 procedure. Sabathia was also seen by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister before making his decision.
“He’ll get it cleaned up and obviously it will end his season,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Hopefully next year will be a different story.”
Cashman took some solace in that Sabathia is not having micro-fracture surgery, which the hurler had reached out to friend and NBA star Amar’e Stoudamire about; Cashman described this more as a clean-up of what has been diagnosed to be a knee displaying degenerative cartilage conditions.
“It doesn’t mean that’s not off the table,” Cashman said. “I just think that anyone that looks at that circumstance realizes that it’s a bad thing and there is no predictable outcome.”
Sabathia was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts this season, making his last appearance on May 10 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. He attempted to rehab the injury but had more knee issues after his second Minor League start on July 2.
Cashman said that Sabathia also has a cyst behind his right knee, and that some consideration was given to draining it and attempting rehab again. Ultimately, the choice was made to go forward with surgery and roll the clock ahead to 2015.
The Yankees’ expectation is that Sabathia should have enough time to recover and have a relatively normal off-season going into Spring Training.
“Because we’re in July, I think he’ll come into Spring Training in theory ready to go,” Cashman said. “Given the number of things that have gone on, we’ll have to be careful with him nonetheless.”
The Yankees have lost 80 percent of their Opening Day starting rotation, with Sabathia and Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) lost for the year. Michael Pineda is rehabbing and hopes to return in August, and Masahiro Tanaka is beginning a six-week rehab program.
Sabathia will turn 34 on July 21. Since signing with the Yankees before the 2009 season, Sabathia is 91-46 with a 3.59 ERA in 169 regular season games with New York, claiming a 2009 World Series ring.
He is in the third year of a five-year, $122 million extension that was agreed upon after the 2011 season; Sabathia will earn $23 million in 2015, $25 million in 2016 and has a vesting option worth $25 million in 2017 that contains a $5 million buyout.
The afternoon of Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game started with a ride in the back of a slow-moving pickup truck, waving to the crowds along the red-carpeted streets of Minneapolis as the vehicle rolled toward the players’ entrance of Target Field.
It concluded with the retiring Yankees captain doffing his cap to a standing ovation that lasted nearly three minutes, finishing 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored as the American League’s leadoff hitter before being replaced at shortstop for the fourth inning.
“Any player that says they don’t want to go to an All-Star Game is lying to you,” Jeter said. “It’s something everyone wants to be a part of. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a few of them and I’m happy that I had a chance to do it one last time.”
In February, when Jeter announced his intention to walk away at the conclusion of the season, he thought that it would be great to attend one last Midsummer Classic. Credited with his 14th selection and ninth fan-voted election, the Yankees captain rose to the occasion.
“You know what? He has a flair for the dramatic, as we know,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who piloted the AL squad in its 5-3 victory. “Two base hits and scores the first run; it worked out pretty well.”
Hearing some of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions, Jeter dirtied his uniform diving for Andrew McCutchen’s first-inning infield hit, then walked to the plate as the AL’s leadoff hitter in the home half of the frame.
As Jeter dug into the box, accompanied by a recording of the late Yankee Stadium legend Bob Sheppard, pitcher Adam Wainwright set his glove on top of the mound and stepped back. His hands bare, Wainwright led the rest of the NL squad in applauding.
“I just felt like that was what he deserved,” Wainwright said. “I wasn’t going near it. I’d still be standing there if the crowd kept cheering.”
Jeter tried to urge Wainwright to pick up his glove and start the game, but the Cardinals hurler refused, allowing the fans a few extra moments to cheer.
“I’ll always remember it,” Jeter said. “I have never faced Adam before, I haven’t really talked to him, and he’s one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. For him to do that during tonight’s game, it says a lot about him and how much of a class act he is.”
After a brief conversation with Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Jeter jumped on Wainwright’s second pitch — a 90-mph cutter — for a double down the right field line, then scored the game’s first run on Mike Trout’s triple.
“He said congrats, and then, ‘What does this guy have? I’ve never faced him,'” Lucroy said. “It’s not like he needed to know. He hit a double right down the line.”
Wainwright later created a stir by saying that he’d intended to give Jeter “a couple pipe shots” down the middle to hit, a remark that he later backed away from.
“I should probably hush up,” Wainwright said. “I completely was trying to throw a strike. I was fine with him putting it in play. I did not think he was going to get a hit.”
The double was Jeter’s first extra-base hit in the All-Star Game since he homered in the 2001 contest at Safeco Field, and Jeter defused the controversy with a splash of humor.
“If he grooved it, thank you,” Jeter said. “You still have to hit it. I appreciate it, if that’s what he did.”
Jeter’s second at-bat came in the third inning against the Reds’ Alfredo Simon, working the count full before dunking a 3-2 pitch into right field for a soft opposite-field single, advancing to second base on a wild pitch before being stranded there.
“I tried to get him out, but if he got a base hit, it’s no big deal,” Simon said. “It’s the All-Star Game. I’m happy for him.”
Farrell had planned to have Jeter take two at-bats and then replace him defensively in the fourth, something that Farrell said he conferred with Joe Torre about over the last week.
Former teammate Robinson Cano brought Jeter’s glove and cap out to the field, and Jeter went through the motions of pre-inning tosses to first base until Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox out to take over.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but the manager came up to me and asked me to go into the game in the fourth inning,” Ramirez said. “It’s such a great honor to have that moment with an a legend of American baseball. I’m really proud to have had that moment.”
The strains of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” began to play over the PA system, and during an ovation of more than three minutes, Jeter tipped his cap numerous times — a uniform piece he’d later donate to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I thought it was great. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Jeter said. “My back was turned and I heard Cano yelling, but usually when he yells I ignore him. Then I saw Ramirez coming out. It was a wonderful moment that I’m always going to remember. I appreciate John doing that for me.”
“When you’ve witnessed a guy have such a great career, there’s a moment of celebration, but I think we as fans know that every career can’t go on to infinity,” Farrell said. “There’s a point and time where things start to close out. He’s able to do things in such a class way that tonight was another example of that.”
With a TV cameraman capturing his movements for the home audience, Jeter hugged every person wearing an AL uniform, then took one final curtain call and watched the remainder of the game from the top step of the dugout.
“It makes me feel good. The All-Star Game is about everyone that’s here, not one particular person,” Jeter said. “I’ve always been uncomfortable, so to speak, when the focus is on me. I felt as though the focus should be on everyone that’s in this game.
“For the players to do what they did, you play this game and try to have respect for the game, for the players – both your teammates and your opponents – and for them to do that, that would be much better than if there was something that was scripted.”
Jeter finished his All-Star career with a .481 (13-for-27) batting average, which ranks fifth all time among players with at least 10 at-bats. At age 40, Jeter became the oldest player to have two or more hits in an All-Star Game. The previous oldest was Carl Yastrzemski, who was 39 when he had a pair of singles in the 1979 All-Star Game.
“You’ve got to be blessed,” Cano said. “Not everyone gets that kind of ovation. Seeing it, I played with him a long time, and I know what kind of person he is and what kind of player he is. He deserves it and I’m happy for him.”
Lauded on Tuesday by Commissioner Bud Selig as “the face of baseball,” Jeter said that he has appreciated everything in his career to this point. Nike aired a tribute commercial before Jeter’s first at-bat, with many celebrities and sports luminaries offering Jeter a literal tip of the cap.
“I’ll try not to mess it up over the next couple months,” Jeter said, with a smile.
The lights may be dark on Jeter’s All-Star career, but there are even more important games that Jeter wants to participate in. He will be back on the field with the Yankees on Friday in the Bronx, where he hopes they can begin a second-half surge toward October baseball.
“Even today, you try to enjoy it because it’s your last All-Star Game, but we have another game in two days,” Jeter said. “It’s kind of hard to juggle the two. I’m going to enjoy it, savor it, but the season still continues.”
You can sense a shift in the excitement level when Derek Jeter approaches, walking up the tunnel to the dugout, spikes clacking on concrete. The photographers begin throwing elbows and jockeying for position, reporters ready their microphones, and even some of the players seem to jerk their heads around and pay closer attention.
It’s still the American League and the National League, playing for home field advantage in the World Series, which is a big deal. Yet this sure feels a lot like a midsummer celebration that is going to revolve around Jeter, something that he still doesn’t seem sure about. To Jeter, they’ve all been special.
“I’ve always enjoyed All-Star Games,” Jeter said. “This is a game that I truly have always looked forward to. I’ve appreciated the time that I’ve had here. It’s kind of difficult to say I’ll try to enjoy it more because I don’t know how much more I can enjoy it.”
The media crush around Jeter’s table this afternoon made Dellin Betances shake his head and laugh. A first-time All-Star, this is all new to Betances, but even someone in their first hours on the floor can tell that there’s a different energy here.
“Oh man. Watching him in his last year, this is amazing,” Betances said, with a laugh. “I’m honored to be here. It’s a great experience getting to meet these guys and know them a little bit. For me, just being here with Jeet’s last year, I’m honored to be here.”
This Midsummer Classic, marking Jeter’s 14th All-Star selection and his ninth fan-elected start, figures to be different than those that preceded it. Jeter will be in the spotlight from the first pitch on, with Red Sox manager John Farrell slotting Jeter to lead off for the American League.
“It’s a rare and unique opportunity,” Farrell said. “At the same time, we are able to celebrate a player who is not only a champion, but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to.”
Here are some assorted reactions from All-Stars in both leagues about Jeter’s final trip to the Midsummer Classic:
Mike Trout, Angels: “I would just turn on the TV and knew he was the best player. Just the way he carried himself; he isn’t out there talking smack, he’s just letting the championships speak for him.”
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: “It’ll be neat. Jeter’s been my role model, watching him as a kid, competing against him, seeing him from a young player, to now an older player playing in his last All-Star game, it’s going to be an honor. It’s something I’ll always remember, taking the field and playing against him.”
Johnny Cueto, Reds: “It’s amazing actually seeing him right now. I think he can still play. He wants to go home and be with his family. He deserves to retire. I think he’s one of the greats of all time.”
Victor Martinez, Tigers: “You know what, I think I’m going to cross the line a little bit, but I think Major League Baseball needs to do something with those kind of players like him. They don’t come around often, and he should go to the Hall of Fame as soon as the season’s over. I have a great amount of respect. He’s a guy I always looked up to. He plays the game the right way.”
Todd Frazier, Reds, on standing next to Jeter as a 12-year-old in 1998: “I’m just looking around like a kid in a candy store. I talked to him three years ago. We worked out together in Florida for a little bit. I said, ‘Do you remember that?’ He started laughing. He said ‘Holy cow, don’t tell anybody.’ That’s just the way he is. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy and I can’t wait to see his final All-Star game playing against him.”
Terry Francona, Indians manager: “That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most the next couple of days, to see how he is received. He embodies so much about what is good about game. To be able to watch him in person, I’m really looking forward to that. It’s kind of an honor to compete against him and his team because of the way he goes about things.”
Jon Lester, Red Sox: “It will be pretty cool. I don’t want to age him too much but watching him grow up, obviously the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and having to deal with him all the time … I’m just glad he’s finally done so I don’t have to face him anymore. It will be a cool experience to be a part of this and he deserves everything that he gets and hopefully he won’t get hounded too much and he can actually enjoy it and have fun and really take away some memories from this for him.”
Max Scherzer, Tigers: “It’s going to be awesome. Last year I got the experience of being here with Mariano for his last All-Star Game, and that was an unbelievable experience. The All-Star Game is already cool enough, but to have a legend go out just made it even better. When that happens on Tuesday with Jeter, what he’s meant to this game is only going to make it that much more special for everybody involved – fans, players, everybody. We’ll always remember this.”
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: “He’s kind of been the face of the game for the past 18 or 20 years. It’s always good when you have a guy like that; LeBron in the NBA, we had Brett Favre, now there’s Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (in the NFL). To have a guy like Jeter, he embodies all that baseball is. He’s a winner, he’s a great player. I can’t have any more respect for a guy. We’re going to miss him and it’s exciting to be here for his last All-Star Game.”
Robinson Cano, Mariners: “I can’t wait for that. He’s a guy I love. The way he was with me when I was in New York, he was a great teammate; one of the best, maybe the best ever that I’ve had. I can’t wait to be able to spend time with him today.”
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: “It’s going to be great. I had the chance to do it last year with Mariano. It’s going to be a great experience. I look forward to today and tomorrow to talk to him, try to steal something from him so I can be a better baseball player.”
Ron Gardenhire, Twins manager: “He’s one of these guys who is what baseball is all about. He’s the probably the most professional guy. He’s in the community and has always handled himself really well. And also, he’s a winner. He’s brought championships to that baseball team over there and the whole package. He’s just a guy who makes everyone around him feel good. That’s what leaders do. We’ve had guys like that like Puckett. They always make everybody feel good around you.”
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: “It will be very special, his last one is going to be awesome. Hopefully there is something dedicated to him and acknowledging him. I was able to play against him in Panama and see that whole atmosphere and just the respect. It’s unmatched. It will be cool to be on the same field again and be a part of it.”
Tyler Clippard, Nationals: “I was in the Minor Leagues at the complex there in Tampa, and as a young kid, probably about 18 or 19 years old — watching him walk around, very much in awe just because it’s Derek Jeter. I think I asked him for his autograph and he was very cordial, very nice about it. It made me feel like I was part of the team, even though I was just a Minor League kid.”
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins: “The fact that I get to be on the same field as Derek Jeter who is here for his last is something that makes me overjoyed, something that is important to me. I just anticipate enjoying it and soaking it all in.”
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays: “It’s been cool. He’s owned me over his career, so I’m not too sad to see him go and get out of the game because it’s a hard at-bat. Obviously what he has done for baseball over the course of his career, he’s the top guy in Major League Baseball on and off the field. So it’s going to be sad to see him go.”