Rosenthal: I agree with RAB


It wasn’t long ago that Mike suggested that the Yankees sign reliever Juan Cruz. The reasoning: he’s a Type A free agent, which means teams will have to sacrifice a first round draft pick in order to sign him. The bottom 15 teams in the league would have to sacrifice a second rounder, but due to the signings of A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees would only surrender a fourth rounder. Hence, he’s more attractive to them than other teams. Ken Rosenthal covers this in his latest column.

Also on the ledger is Ben Sheets. Rosenthal thinks he “could be the Yankees’ answer to Brad Penny and John Smoltz, both of whom signed with the Red Sox for relatively low base salaries with the chance to earn significantly more through incentives.” It doesn’t appear Sheets is ready to take an incentive-laded deal, however. Matt Cerrone from MetsBlog has noted that Sheets seeks a two year deal worth roughly $18 million. The chances of that aren’t likely, unless the Brewers deem it a worthy risk.

Rosenthal cites “one executive” saying that Sheets will likely get one year and between $6 to $8 million, with incentives bringing the potential deal past $14 million. That’s more like it. Even better, Rosenthal suggests a “lucrative club option,” which would make the deal more attractive to any acquiring team. That way, they can retain Sheets’s services, albeit at a high price, if he stays healthy through 2009. If we’re talking one year, $7 million with $7 million in incentives plus a $16 million team option for 2010, the Yanks would have to give that serious consideration.

Then again, that all hinges on Andy Pettitte. Tom Verducci mentions the lefty in his latest column: “…though a baseball source said he has been weighing a lesser offer to return to the Astros.” This doesn’t seem likely, as Rosenthal quotes Astros owner Drayton McLane: “I haven’t had any discussions with Andy or any of his representatives at all. We’re up against our (budget) number right now.” Also, why would Pettitte take less than $10 million from Houston? I thought the reason Pettitte rejected the Yanks offer is that he didn’t want to take a hefty pay cut.

Rosenthal tallies the Yanks’ current payroll at $187.975 million, which includes 17 players. Presumably, this covers Xavier Nady and Melky Cabrera, who both avoided arbitration yesterday. Brian Bruney could bring that figure close to $190 million, with seven more spots left to fill on the 25-man roster. If Sheets made the full $14 million, that would bring the Yanks north of $200 million, but still lower than their official payroll total last year of $222.2 million (which I believe is calculated on August 21). Their Opening Day payroll would also clock in at under the $209 million they spent in 2008.

Cruz is a bit of a different situation. WIth Kyle Farnsworth commanding two years and $9.25 million, you’d have to think that Cruz would want more than that. Would the Yanks be willing to go higher than that, in dollars and years, to sign a reliever? I’m not so sure that’s in the works. It makes sense on many levels, and perhaps the Yankees would get a better deal because of other teams’ unwillingness to sacrifice a first rounder for Cruz. I would guess, though, that signing both Cruz and Sheets isn’t a likely scenario.

Still, picking up one could help the Yankees shore up the pitching staff. Both Sheets and Cruz offer plenty of upside, and both will cost the Yankees less in terms of draft picks than other teams. If Andy Pettitte continues his quest to get another $16 million, the Yanks could do worse than singing Sheets to an incentive-laden deal.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Chris P. says:

    If the season has already begun and a Type-A is still not signed, does it still take a pick to get them?

  2. Yankee Magic says:

    Sheets would be a great sign. He would make are rotation much more dynamic. I think maybe two years 12 mill. would be good.

  3. radnom says:

    Honestly the more this drags on the more I would rather have Sheets then Pettite.
    I know it seems like we need a sure thing rounding out the back but I really wouldn’t be all that uncomfortable with NOT signing another starting pitcher this offseason.
    Lets say we do get Sheets for an incentive laden deal, here is how the rotation breaks down:

    CC- 200+ innings
    Wang – 200+ innings
    Burnett – ????
    Joba – ????
    Sheets – ????

    Now Burnett and Sheets were both around 200 innings last year, but lets assume, for worst case senario’s sake, that neither of them reach that this year. Let’s say out of the 3 question marks only one reaches their potential innings, and that is Joba (again this would be worst case out of the three since he has the innings limit).
    Now you have:

    CC- 200+ innings
    Wang – 200+ innings
    Burnett – ????
    Joba – 150
    Sheets – ????

    Now, let’s assume that Burnett and Sheets combined will get 250 innings. I think that is a conservative estimate since that is really combining both of them for one workhorse pitcher, they could both suffer injuries next season and easily reach this mark. Now we are at

    800 innings from the starting rotation.

    All this needs is 100 – 150 innings from Hughes/Kennedy/Aceves etc which I don’t feel is out of line.
    Quite the opposite actually, I would prefer to have at least that many innings available for guys like that, especially Hughes, and especially considering the quality of the rest of the staff.

    I really don’t think Sheets is a worse fit than Pettite anymore, and I do think that what I just said was conservative. Obviously CC and Wang could both get hurt but you can’t plan for that.
    Let me know what you think.

    • Old Ranger says:

      Very well laid out, I can see what you are getting at…looks good. One thing I hope happens; AJ gives Joba a good long talking to, Joba has been in the habit of pitching the same as AJ did…max effort all the time…that is one of the things that had AJ on the DL a lot.
      No two pitchers are alike, so maybe Joba can pitch that way…their have been a lot of guys that have; Goose, Wettland, Guidry and the king “Mo”.

      • kunaldo says:

        I’m not sure this is well based dude…Last year during his starts, I saw taking a few mph off his fastball in order to have better control earlier in counts. When he was looking for the strikeout, I’d say he probably uses more effort for the knockout punch, either slider or fastball. But I definitely think he takes it easy with the fastball and curve setting up guys.

        • Jay CT... Ben Sheets biggest fan says:

          Radnom has now leapfrogged to the best on this blog. HELL YEAH!

          • Old Ranger says:

            Sarcasm becomes you. It is easy to read and comment without saying anything worth while.
            Sometimes people can give a bit of information you should digest rather then regurgitate. Not always are we right but, some have a bit more information then others, if I am wrong…so be it.
            The internet is new to me…not competitive sports!

        • Should be working says:

          I agree. I noticed his FB was down to 92-93 when starting and really dialed it up if the slider or curve wasnt getting the out. I think he knows what he’s doing out there, he just needs to stretch.

        • Old Ranger says:

          You three may be right, I hope so. I re-ran some of his tapes and saw a very high effort in his motion. This doesn’t always translate into speed.
          The only thing I want from Joba is good health and longevity…I believe he and the team have taken care of any problem he may have had. It took Halliday to get through to AJ.

  4. Good as the bullpen was last year, one more reliever can’t hurt.

    I can’t believe that Andy still realistically expects $16 million, though.

    • Ed says:

      I don’t think he expects $16m, I think he just feels $10m is insultingly low. If he didn’t make all his “Yankees or retirement, it’s not about the money” comments he’d probably be sitting on a $13m offer, give or take a little.

  5. waswhining says:

    Is Joba going to start the year in the pen and then transition to starting like he did last year? Heard anything about his innnings count; is the 150 RAB or something that was reported? Can’t be much higher than it was last year…

    Put me in the Haddite with Pettite club.

  6. jsbrendog says:

    just offer that deal to sheets and see if you can put in some type of magglio ordonez type clause where the contract is voided if he suffers serious injury relting to his shulder or whatever. thats possible right??

    even if not, offer it to him, and if he takes it god, if he doesnt oh well, and maybe seeing an official offer to sheets pettitte might go, oh shit…and give cash a ring

    • Jay CT... Ben Sheets biggest fan says:

      Yeah but Magglio didn’t sign for a bargin AND give the abilty for the team to opt out. Its one or the other- Pay him 18 million with the out, or pay him 8 million with incentives. I vote for the second

  7. The Evil Empire says:

    I doubt we can attain both Sheets and Cruz, although that would be so nice.


    It looks so good

  8. “If we’re talking one year, $7 million with $7 million in incentives plus a $16 million team option for 2010, the Yanks would have to give that serious consideration.”

    I would so totally do that. Sign me up.

  9. Phil McCracken says:

    I’d prefer Sheets over Pettitte. The upside is incredible. You’ve got a chance to have five #1 and #2 starters in your rotation if they all perform at their highest levels.

    While that isn’t necessary in a playoff situation since we’d only be using the Top 3, it would really reduce the load on the bullpen during the season if we don’t have some Sidney Ponson or combination of Hughes/Kennedy/Aceves

  10. A.D. says:

    As the post points out. Cruz > Farns. But given that Farns is already signed, and is being overpaid by the Royals, chances are that Cruz will have to settle for less than Farns

    • J.R. says:

      I agree on this one about Farnsworth getting more money.

      Additionally, the Royals didn’t have to relinquish any draft picks to sign Farns.

  11. Ed says:

    I really like Sheets, and would’ve preferred him over Burnett. But I think signing the two of them is just asking for trouble.

    Burnett is unlikely to pitch 200 innings.

    Joba has an innings limit.

    Wang is coming back from an injury, so he may have issues.

    Do we really need another injury prone pitcher?

    As for Pettitte and the Astros… the last time he left NY was because he felt the Yankees disrespected him. He had several very high offers, but ended up taking a low offer because he felt comfortable and respected in Houston. I could see the same happening again here, if Houston puts out an offer.

  12. Daniel says:

    I have to imagine that the Yankees realize what a great deal it would be to sign Sheets to an low-base high-incentive contract. I’m sure many other teams realize this as well. There has to be something really scary in his medical records for no team to even make him an offer.

    If that is true, it begs the question of why would he decline arbitration. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

    • JeffG says:

      The way in which the market just fell apart was probably not that easy to predict. He probably figured that some team like the Rangers would throw a 3 year out there and he’d be back for the last season if it came to it.
      Who knows though?

  13. Chris says:

    There is obviously a reason why teams are staying away from Ben Sheets. Maybe he is better off left untouched. I’m not a doctor, but I would stay away too. He has DL written all over him.

    • Phil McCracken says:

      Teams are staying away because he costs a first round pick plus the injury risk.

      Not so risky when its a 4th round pick.

      • cult of basebaal says:

        depends on what the medical reports on his shoulder look like.

        the return involved diminishes as the projected risk increases and it’s quite possible the projected risk outweighs the money involved to bring sheets in.

      • steve (different one) says:

        half the teams have a protected first round pick.

        i’m not saying that isn’t part of it, but there are a lot of teams that could use Sheets and could sign him without losing a first round pick.

        the bottom 15 teams plus the Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Angels, and Brewers could all sign Sheets without it costing them their first round pick (since some of those teams already lost that pick). that’s 20 teams.

        if those teams felt like Sheets had a decent chance of staying healthy, i can’t see a second round pick being not worth the risk.

        • While this is true, those bottom-15 teams generally speaking either
          A) suck, or
          B) are poor, broke small market teams, or
          C) suck AND are poor, broke small market teams.

          While its true that those teams only lose a second rounder instead of a first, most of those team really can’t afford to lose either a first or a second.

    • Ace says:

      Your is probably the wisest opinion, but it’s hard for fans to stay away from a guy with the talent that Sheets has. I watch a lot of Brewers baseball (they’re my NL team) and I have watched Sheets simply dominate multiple lineups with 2 pitches. It’s really a thing of beauty and if I knew we could get 20-25 starts from him I would say sign him up right now.

      That said, I was so pissed when he didn’t pitch in the playoffs, it was like “here we go yet again.” You really can’t count on him.

  14. D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don says:

    Here is the real problem with this whole thing. If we get guys to sign with us at lower rounds for more than slot (because other teams do not want to pay them) are not our first few round picks still valuable to some extent?

    I still would like either player at the right price.

    • jsbrendog says:

      this is an interesting question….

    • are not our first few round picks still valuable to some extent?

      Yes, most definitely, and thanks for bringing that up. As was noted on here frequently, Tim Melville was a 4th rounder last year, so 4th rounders aren’t exactly worthless.

      However, I’d retort that
      A) Ben Sheets, even if we only get 50% of his health for the duration of whatever contract we’d sign him to, is probably a better bet to be a good, productive big leaguer than like 90%-95% of most 4th round picks (not hard numbers, just my guesstimates) and
      B) a lot of the signability guys we’re speaking about fall not just out of the first round, but even down into the 5th-10th rounds. Witness Brett Marshall, Higashioka, Angelini, Betances, AJax, etc. Having a 4th rounder gives us one more spot to pick of a signability talent, but there will probably still be other good opportunities below the 4th round (we hope).

      • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don says:

        I agree with what you said. I just do not get why everybody acts like our later round picks have no value at all.

      • cult of basebaal says:

        again, i’d say the risk depends on what the medical reports look like. It’s been widely commented on during the offseason that teams are worried about Sheet’s shoulder, not his elbow.

        if there’s some structural issue with his shoulder there’s a very real possibility that not only would you not get >= 75% of his playing time (say on a 2 year contract), you might not even get 75% effectiveness for the period of time you had him.

        It certainly *could* be worth the risk, but it really depends on what the data on the shoulder looks like.

        • Ace says:

          This whole concept is intriguing to me as I have read about his shoulder too. Why in the world would Sheets and his agent decline arbitration if there is clearly a structural problem with his shoulder on his medical reports? Did they see the report and say “the hell wit it, we will get a deal anyway.” ??? Did he just want out of Milwaukee that bad the year after making the playoffs?

          Why would they do that?

          • Jay CT... Ben Sheets biggest fan says:

            This was my exact post from last week. If the Yanks read the medicals and can see an issue with the shoulder, by all means, pass on him. HOWEVER, it seems just absolutely ludicrious that someone who could have made 16 million for 1 season and knows they have a shoulder issue brewing would say, “Ah fuck it. So its a bad economy. So I got a bum shoulder. I am still gonna get PAID”

        • Whozat says:

          To me, it comes down to this…

          People who haven’t seen the medicals: “sign sheets! He’ll be a bargain and is worth the risk, even if you only get 100-150 innings.”

          People who have seen the medicals: “…”

          The only thing that makes sense is that his shoulder or elbow or a combo of the two looks so bad that no one thinks they’ll get even that 100 innings.

        • eVizions says:

          Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with 75% playing time, especially if the contract is heavy on incentives. 20-25 starts of Ben Sheets is worth the risk. I’m expecting a few DL trips for the guys in the rotation this year, anyway. I’m also looking for Hughes and Kennedy (and even Aceves) to take advantage of those opportunities.

          75% effectiveness, on the other hand, is a different story.

      • Reggie C. says:

        Think Alex Meyer. He’s better than any of the kids the Yanks managed to sign last year. Meyer got drafted by the RS in the 20th ROUND. He came close to signing with the RS, but didnt at the end over something like a million dollars. There are a couple kids like Meyer every draft.

    • Phil McCracken says:

      Those days are over. Even the Pirates are paying above slot now.

      Yankees didn’t take advantage of the draft when they had the chance.

      • Those days are over. Even the Pirates are paying above slot now. Yankees didn’t take advantage of the draft when they had the chance.

        “Like my grandfather used to say, the less a man makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to look foolish in retrospect.”

      • D.B.H.O.F. p.k.a The Last Don says:

        “Those days are over. Even the Pirates are paying above slot now.”

        Mr McCracken, that was last year. Let us see what the Pirates do this year, now that everybody even the fools see the economy through a wider scope. The Wilpons might pass on top guys this year because of their whole Bernie Madoff Mess.

        “Yankees didn’t take advantage of the draft when they had the chance.”


        • Phil McCracken says:

          Name me one prospect the Yankee prospect that has gone through our system in the last decade before the Chamberlain/Kennedy/Hughes period that has amounted to a hill of beans.

          Bottom line is the draft was mismanaged for years. The Yankees should have been throwing money in the draft like they do in free agency.

    • Reggie C. says:

      Yeah. The early round slots are always good to have b/c the Yanks are in position to sign “signability” guys. However, right now, we’ve got 2 picks in the first 4 rounds (or something like that …). Signability guys are usually around late – see ALEX MEYER (who didnt sign with RS) who got selected in the 20th round. That kid was a very tough sign but i think he was “only” 1 million dollars away from signing with the RS. That’s a 1st round talent who the Yanks could sign in the ’09 draft in the 5th/6th round.

  15. swedski says:

    All said a one-year incentive laden deal with a club option 2nd year for say 7m 7m incentives and 16 mill club option covers injury and the rewards are HIGH. 7 mill will not break the Yanks and could be as one post said a great answer to Smoltz and Penny AND keep Hughes/kennedy/Aceves in AAA for the one more year (I think) they need.
    Forget Petite I still say the Yanks are above board and 10 mill is a good offer. Let him go

  16. pat says:

    Step 1. Sign sheets then when he’s on the dl by july or august moose will probably realize he hates his wife and kids and will want to come play half a season.

  17. JeffG says:

    As I felt before the Burnett signing (and part of the reason I favored AJ) any signing of Sheets is questionable in that you run the risk of getting very little to almost no return.

    If the four slot needs to be filled I still think you still go for Andy or use the kids. The chances of Pettitte giving us the innings we need are much higher. If our farm hands were given the ball then worst case scenario you make a trade mid season.

    As far as Juan Cruz is concerned I think you have to consider our 25 man roster being pretty full with options that are nearly as good and much cheaper.

    I imagine we are reaching the ceiling of what we want to extend in payroll. If we start the season adding contracts that are unnecessary or risky it might mean that we would be less inclined to sign a Mike Cameron who will more than likely be on the block come the trading deadline. Hopefully we won’t need that either but it is just a possibility. You never know, I’m not counting on it, but wouldn’t be totally shocked if we took on a Holliday in the event that the A’s were out of the race (Bean would have to be reasonable – longshot I know).

  18. jim says:

    I am curious to see what happens with nady now.

    what is cashman looking for in a trade.

    I hear on one radio show that he was asking for
    homer bailey from reds
    jordan zimmerman from nationals

    I had read somewhere that maybe he would try for jo jo reyes from atlanta

    I haven’t heard what he wants from sf but I did read that they may look to trade jonathan sanchez

    sanchez and reyes are both left handed.

    I had also read that the yankees told phil coke to come to camp prepared to be a starter.

    If the yankees have coke and jo jo reyes/sanchez , then they would have 2 young left handers fighting with hughes/kennedy/aceves for the 5th spot and that might be what they want

    if all they have is sabbathia and coke and chase wright , then I think they are bringing back pettitte

    it just seems that the yankees like having 2 lefty starters

    I agree , the sheets thing seems like a good idea, but there could be another factor involved.

    I saw an interview with red sox gm on nesn where he explained some of their moves by saying they expected some teams to want to move players because of the economy and they wanted to have the flexability to add them to their roster.

    I am thinking cashman may be thinking the same thing.
    If cashman is able to deal nady for another young/prospect pitcherand not sign pettitte or sheets, then the yankees might be thinking a pitcher better than pettitte/sheets could become available and they would be in position to get him.

    if for instance, toronto decided they were going to move halladay , then it is santana ii where the redsox and yankees are probably ok with haliday going to the dodgers or mets , but would not to each other.

    but if something like haliday came down the pike and the red sox swooped in and snagged him then they would probably have an advantage over the yanks, but if the yanks got him, it would be brutal for boston.

    • steve (different one) says:

      if all they have is sabbathia and coke and chase wright , then I think they are bringing back pettitte

      it just seems that the yankees like having 2 lefty starters


      • jim says:

        It’s just an observation that the Yankees would like to have a rotation with 3 righty and 2 lefty pitchers.

        I have read at different times that the Yankees wanted to bring Pettitte back partly because he is a lefty. I have also seen notes that chase wright is still on the 40 man roster because he is a lefty. Phil Coke has been mentioned as a possible left hander in the bullpen, but the Yankees wanted him to prepare the year as if he were a starter.

        So I was trying to say that, If it is true that the Yankees would like a second starter to be a left handed pitcher, then right now that competition is limited to Coke and Wright. If the Yankees want more left handed competition for the 5th spot, then maybe Cashman is trying to Trade Nady for a left handed pitcher.

        I am guessing that if this is a factor, then there is a decision process like this.
        1) Decide on Sheets only if Pettitte is definite no
        2) Decide on Pettitte only if there is not a better and cheaper left handed option.

    • JeffG says:

      The Jays are not trading Halliday – JP still believes they have a chance to be good once their injured rotation gets put back together.

      That said the premise of being flexible enough to see what is available mid-season makes perfect sense.

      • Mike Pop says:

        He will deal Halladay right before FA approaches. Halladay loves Toronto but I believe he wants to win. Where he goes, noone knows. Hopefully not Boston or LA Angels. That is all I don’t want to see him in. I doubt Yanks would get on him.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

      Paragraphs, son. Look into ‘em.

  19. Mike Pop says:

    He really did take this from you, wow.

  20. Lanny says:

    At this rate they should sign Cruz Sheet and Varitek. Let the Sox get a nice 6th rounder for their captain and have to go into a season with Josh Bard catching that staff.

  21. Manimal says:

    We aren’t talking about a Pavano-ian contract for Sheets. We know he has problems and the contract will reflect that. To me, it is a no brainer to try and get him for a year or two with tons of incentives.

  22. Jon says:

    Here’s an out of the box idea I was thinking of they could do if they have the money. They could almost throw away this draft as an afterthought (except for the first and second round picks and signability guys later) and get a few more type A guys on one year deals assuming next year they will still have either type a or type b status next year.

    You could end up trading a 5th or 6th rounder for 2 future #1s, or at least a number 2. If you’re going to give up the picks might as well go all the way.

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