Yankee GM Brian Cashman had some choice words for Joba Chamberlain as pitchers and catchers reported to camp. The NY Post has the details:
“Anybody who has [minor league] options is not a lock for anything,” Cashman said when asked by The Post if the 25-year-old was a roster-spot lock. “Any player with options has to re-earn everything. You earn more or you earn less — New York or Scranton [Triple-A]. I fully expect Joba to be in our bullpen. If not, he would have worked his way out of it.”
Now, Chamberlain, who has three minor league options left, will be fighting for a spot in the pen.
“We won’t decide, he will decide his role,” Cashman said. “Players always dictate [by their performances].”
That is certainly true of all of their young pitchers, but you don’t hear Brian saying these things about Dave Robertson or Ivan Nova. Reports that he showed up in camp this year heavier than last may have been the impetus for these comments, but the Yankee brass has long made a habit of trying to light a fire under Joba for the entire time he’s been with the club. Draft watchers will recall Joba was 300 pounds as a teen in his first year of college, so from day 1 he’s a player who’s been tagged as needing guidance and motivation. When your 46 year old manager is in better shape than a 25 year old player, on a team like the Yankees with their expectations, one can understand why this issue is raised. Whether it’s Chris Britton, Jon Albaladejo or Joba Chamberlain, bad-bodied pitchers seem to always have their glass half empty under this regime.
But how realistic are these threats? Given the fact that Joba’s role has been subjugated to low leverage middle relief, I would take them very seriously. He’s as expendable as it gets on a MLB pitching staff. Which leads us to the next possibility, which is trading him. Again, from the NY Post:
Then there is the possibility the Yankees could trade Chamberlain, who agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million contract to avoid going to arbitration this past offseason. It was the first time he was eligible.
“He still has value,” an AL talent evaluator said. “Teams would want him if he is available. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees pitch him in spring-training games and who from other teams is there only to see him.”