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Yankees Rumors and Gossip 10/5/15: The Wild Card and the offseason

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In today's rumor roundup, we look at how the Yankees might structure their roster for the Wild Card game and who they might chase this offseason.

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  • It's likely the Yankees will take three starters into the Wild Card game. That would open two spots on the 25-man roster that would usually go to the four- and five-spot in the rotation. As Ryan Hatch observed, it seems likely the Yankees will take CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, and of course Masahiro Tanaka (who is starting) to the Wild Card game. While it's unlikely Sabathia and Severino will be used, in a disaster it's all hands on deck, and those two have been among the team's best in September. Girardi likely won't shoehorn bullpen arms into those two extra roster spots—most of the bullpen regulars haven't been good enough to justify their place on the team, let alone the September call-ups—but the bonus space will allow him to bring pinch runner Rico Noel along, as well as another position player.
  • The Yankees are set to face Houston's Dallas Keuchel, who'll be pitching on short rest. Problematically for the Yankees, Keuchel is quite good, and he's especially good against them. Keuchel started twice against the Yankees this season, once at Yankee Stadium where he pitched seven scoreless innings. In the other game he pitched a shutout. That's nine hits and zero runs across sixteen innings. When asked about Keuchel, several Yankees offered incisive analysis. "He's going to be a handful," said Alex Rodriguez. "He's been good," said Joe Girardi. "He's a good pitcher," said Carlos Beltran. "We'll see what he's got when we get there," said Chase Headley.
  • While Joe Girardi has voiced his dissatisfaction with the one game Wild Card format, his general manager disagrees. Said Brian Cashman: "I’m really okay with the current format. If you lengthen the series you jeopardize the ability of the division winner to maintain whatever their full capacity was that they earned by winning the division. When any team sits over the course of more than two days, they get rusty quick."
  • In his Inside Baseball column, CBS' Jon Heyman suggested the Yankees may pursue Jeff Samardzija this offseason. Heyman notes the link between Jim Hendry (former Cubs general manager), who is now in the Yankees front office, and Samardzija, who the Yankees have supposedly had interest in for some time. Samardzija had a properly good 2014 with a 3.20 FIP, but declined sharply this year, culminating in a significantly worse 4.23 FIP. He's not in the top tier of starting pitchers on the market, a class consisting of Johnny Cueto, David Price, and potentially Zack Greinke (assuming he opts out), but he'll also be significantly more affordable than those names. For what it's worth, other pitchers in Samardzija's tier include Jordan Zimmermann, Hisashi Iwakuma, and, arguably, Mat Latos.
  • In the same column, Heyman says the Yankees are concerned about Brett Gardner's "[tendency] to wear down over a season." Heyman doesn't speculate on what this means, but if the Yankees are looking for reasons to trade Gardner, this may well be a factor. There is, of course, some very intriguing outfield help on the market in the form of Yoenis Cespedes (6.8 WAR this season), Justin Upton (3.6 WAR), and Jason Heyward (6.0 WAR). All three are younger than Gardner, and all three had markedly better seasons than him (he with a 2.6 WAR), Cespedes and Heyward especially. However, Heyward is not a left fielder; beyond that, each is likely to demand a costly and lengthy contract.