If the Yanks could shed one contract, who would it be?

Romine powers Tampa to a W
Baseball, explored infographically

When I first read Joel Sherman’s column from yesterday, I kind of laughed. The idea is pretty simple: Allow each team a one-time chance to release one player from a contract. This is akin to what the NBA did in 2005, dubbed the Allan Houston Rule. The team is free from the contract for luxury tax purposes, but still has to pay the remainder to the player. This would theoretically clear up some dollars so teams could wheel and deal a bit more this year at the trade deadline. As it stands, most teams seem unable to add payroll.

At least Sherman admits his flaw early on, in that the Yankees are the only team above the luxury tax threshold. His proposition is to have MLB “use all of those dollars from the Internet, merchandising and the new network to absorb one contract from every team.” Again, this is a fantasy-land proposal. There is no way that MLB would hand Colorado the remainder of Todd Helton’s contract, and they certainly wouldn’t fork over the money left on deals like Barry Zito, Vernon Wells, Oliver Perez, and Alex Rodriguez. So in terms of realism, you can file this under: Not Gonna Happen (unless someone has compromising pictures of Selig).

Since it’s an off-day, though, I figured we could have some fun. Let’s suspend reality for a moment and pretend that MLB institutes this policy. Each team can release one player, and MLB will absorb the cost (maybe just for one year, maybe the whole term of the contract — it matters little). The exception, of course, is the Yankees. Since they’re the only team above the luxury tax threshold, they’re still responsible for paying the money owed to the player they release. They’d still save the luxury tax, but they’d still have to pay the player — and pay him to play for another team, in all likelihood.

The easy answer, it would seem, is Alex Rodriguez. Even A-Rod‘s biggest supporters admit that his contract is atrocious. It runs through his age-42 season, and pays him an exorbitant sum for a yet unknown level of production. To release him would ease the Yanks’ payment into the luxury tax pool, which would then enable them to find other players to replace him.

Two problems immediately come to mind: 1) This would significantly hurt the 2009 team, and 2) They’d have to pay A-Rod over $200 million to play for another team. That team could likely get A-Rod on decent terms, since the Yankees still owe him all that money. So he plays cheap for an opponent. That’s not very attractive. Nor is the prospect of paying him tens of millions of dollars in his decline years.

What would you do, given this scenario? Release A-Rod, immediate consequences be damned, in order to save $20 or so million in luxury tax payments? Release Matsui in order to knock down this year’s payment by a little? Or stand pat? After all, it’s only a few million (because the savings only come on the luxury tax), and players are valuable.

Discuss away. I’d personally stand pat. If you’re going to pay A-Rod anyway, you might as well get what you can out of him.

Romine powers Tampa to a W
Baseball, explored infographically
  • neil


    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


      Damaso Marte, pre-NYY, career:
      2002 – 2.83 ERA in 60.1 IP, 159 ERA+, 1.028 WHIP
      2003 – 1.58 ERA in 79.2 IP, 292 ERA+, 1.054 WHIP
      2004 – 3.42 ERA in 73.2 IP, 138 ERA+, 1.222 WHIP
      2005 – 3.77 ERA in 45.1 IP, 119 ERA+, 1.721 WHIP
      2006 – 3.70 ERA in 58.1 IP, 120 ERA+, 1.406 WHIP
      2007 – 2.38 ERA in 45.1 IP, 183 ERA+, 1.103 WHIP
      2008 – 3.47 ERA in 46.2 IP, 119 ERA+, 1.157 WHIP

      [ Damaso Marte Is A Really Good Relief Pitcher Name Drop #5 of 1000 ]

      • jsbrendog

        this has to be name drop 7-10 or somewhere close. i feel like 5 was weeks ago.but then again as seen in the nady rehab thread my sense of time is absolutely atrocious

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’m not really keeping track. I’m kind of guesstimating. You may be right.

  • neil

    or maybe Burnett?

  • Jacob

    I know it’s early, but I would think AJ Burnett would have to get some consideration. Though as I type I’m not sure, pitching is so valuable and when he’s good he’s very good. I would probably stand pat as well, simply because we don’t have a lot of options for replacing him. I stand pat, though it’s an interesting idea.

  • A.D.

    Giambi’s buyout for this year!

  • AndrewYF

    I don’t understand at all what the upside would be for releasing A-Rod. They still have to pay every cent owed to him. Oh, but they save on luxury tax! Oh boy!

    They’d obviously release Matsui. That doesn’t really hurt the team, and they save luxury tax.

    What a silly article, and not just because it would never happen. And here I thought the team would actually be FREE of the contract, like the article states.

    • Bill

      Agreed. A stupid article. Getting rid of one contract might help us add some salary mid season cause we’d save on the luxury tax, but since we still have to pay the contract we wouldn’t get rid of someone like A-Rod who while not worth what he makes is certainly worth more than some luxury tax savings.

      Someone said the buyout on Giambi’s contract. That is probably the right answer. While there are plenty of other guys not pulling their weight, I don’t really think any of them are bad enough where they aren’t worth more than a couple bucks saved on the luxury tax.

      If the question was what contract could we void and not have to pay the remainder of the obvious answer is A-Rod’s deal.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        But, the question is, whom would you cut to save on luxury tax purposes so that you could use that savings to reinvest in the team, by adding players.

        If we cut Matsui, we’d be saving what, 10M in luxury tax payments?

        10M would buy Mike Cameron, or Mark DeRosa, or Jose Valverde, or etc… And Matsui’s easily replaced by Nady, and swapping Matsui for Nady increases our roster flexibility.

        Matsui is the answer.

        • Bill

          Not at all. First off you still have to give up something for Cameron, DeRosa, or Valverde these guys aren’t straight salary dumps. Second off while not his best year Matsui still contributes to this team and is a solid DH. Third if we cut the 5M buyout from Giambi that’s enough salary too get Cameron, DeRosa, or Valverde midseason because we’d only be paying half their salary.

          Besides its not like a couple mil would really hold up the Yankees from making a move that could significantly improve their team midseason.

  • AJ

    It’s obviously Damaso Marte, he’s given the Yankees nothing but trouble. 3 years, 12 million, what were u thinking Cashman?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      he’s given the Yankees nothing but trouble.

      Actually, I’d say he’s given them less than trouble. He’s giving them a big nothing, and he’s a middle reliever signed for three years. I’d probably pick him.

      Or, you know, Kei Igawa just for the hell of it.

      • Jacob

        Yeah, I forgot about Marte, which is probably evidence that he should be the one to go.

    • Chris

      Dude, it’s just 12 million, which obviously is a lot for a MR, but:

      1.) He is not blocking anybody
      2.) With proper management he won’t be put in a situation to where he can hurt the team
      3.) Four million a year isn’t going to kill the Yankees.
      4.) He has a pretty good track record as a middle reliever, and is a good bet to contribute to the team sometime soon.

      Yeah, I didn’t like the Marte deal, yet I felt it was nothing to get worked up over. The answer I’d go right now is probably Matsui, but since he’s getting the boot at the end of the season there’s no reason to use the one move on that, Posada’s contract wasn’t a good one but even if he does DH and only catches three or so times a week with his bat he should be a valuable player…that and the list of major league catchers who are worth a damn isn’t very long and none are going to be available to the Yankees until around 2012 anyways which is when Posada’s contract runs out…so not a big deal IMO, Burnett has a grotesque injury history and I’ll hate the deal within the next three years however, he has lights out stuff and has dominated the AL East before so he has a good chance at contributing, so the correct answer is: Kei Igawa. Igawa, while not blocking anyone or any potential acquisitions, just plain sucks. There is no reason whatsoever that he should be on a major league roster, he will never EVER contribute to the Yankees ever again. While the deal isn’t big, it’s still terrible. Every other player on the team with a “big” contract has a good chance of contributing to the team in the next few years, whereas Igawa will struggle to reach replacement level production.

      • e mills

        same argument was made about taking Wang to arbitration…just because the Yankees can “afford” to pay him, doesn’t mean they should

        • e mills

          speaking about Marte

          • Bo

            Huge mistake by Cashman in reading the lefty reliever market.

      • john

        how about the contract id get rid of is joe girardi!!!! He over manages a 208 million dollar payroll he needs to just go out and let that team just play baseball!!! its what made torre such a great manager with the yankees and now the dodgers

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      It’s obviously Damaso Marte, he’s given the Yankees nothing but trouble. 3 years, 12 million, what were u thinking Cashman?

      Um, we’re only three months into that three year deal, and the only reason he’s given them nothing is because he’s been hurt, not that he’s been ineffective. The only reason you’d pick Marte is if you know he’s going to be injured PERMANENTLY. If he’s not permanently injured and he’s going to be back at some point, then it stands to reason he’ll end up giving us value, because when healthy he’s one of the 3 or 4 best lefty relievers in the game.

      • BklynJT

        Or because we realize he isn’t as good as his numbers (in the NL) may lead us to believe.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Except for the fact that a majority of those numbers weren’t in the NL, they were in the AL with the White Sox. So, that’s a red herring as well.

          • matthagggs

            Numbers shmumbers. Marte stinks on hot ice. Or to put it another way, he’s not markedly better or more reliable than Phil Coke is.

            Unless he normally throws 100, he was healthy earlier this year in Fenway, and threw the best he ever has as a Yankee. But he still served up a walk-off bomb.

            I dunno, for 12 million bucks aren’t we supposed to be saying “bring Marte in”? Have you ever said that? I sure haven’t.

  • AJ

    But then again…If matsui weren’t there, the Yanks could make a trade for a decent DH.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Uncensored Pat

      Or DH Posada more, which they would like to do anyway regardless of how he and the pitchers get along. Now they’re looking to rest Alex more, and they have a few other guys that are over 35 who could use a blow here and there. They should be rotating the aging regulars and the younger guys who are banged up through the DH spot.

      To make matters worse, the reality is Matsui has the lowest OPS of the starting 9 with the exception of Melky. So while whoever you substitute for the starters will be a drop off in production, you’ll be upgrading the production at the DH spot, so its close to a wash. And Gardner, Pena and Cervelli are far better defenders, so run prevention should be factored in as well.

      • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

        Damn it. One goof post and I cant get rid of that name.

  • Greg

    The easy answer is nobody. The Yankees have the cash and getting rid of A-Rod is just dumb. Thank God the Yankees play tomorrow so we have something better to talk about.

  • Carl

    Jeter he sux

  • andrew

    kei igawa no questions asked.

  • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

    Carl Pavano! I don’t care that he is not on the books.

  • Manimal

    I’d say Posada, injuries are catching up to him and the DH spot will be occupied for a while. If Cervelli can prove he is a solid starter until the big guns like Romine, Montero, hell even Murphy(if he signs).

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      Nah, Posada’s the easiest one to work around. He just eventually becomes the world’s most expensive backup catcher.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Or just a totally appropriately paid, appropriately productive DH.

        • BklynJT

          A productive catcher who can play DH. Not that bad. If only we can shed his uptight attitude.

  • John

    Ummm…CC? if his injury is serious

    • Tom Zig

      Which it isn’t.

  • ArodMVP217 FTW!

    probably a minority, but I think Alex is worth 30 more than Derek is to 20. IDK if he will be in 7 years, though.

    baseball-wise when they are both right

  • Spaceman.Spiff

    Kei Igawa. He offers no value whatsoever to the big league club and while his contract isn’t an anchor, I’m sure we could find a way to make his money useful. Everyone else at the big league level either has some value or would hurt if they went to a competitor for cheap. If Kei Igawa was snapped up by the Rays or Red Sox I would throw a RAB party.

  • Kevin

    How about we shed Hidekis’contract? That frees the dh spot for Swisher and occasionally Jorge Posada. Opens RF. for Nady when he gets back. Next we trade Melky while he still has some value. This opens CF for Brett Gardner who is all around better than the Melkster.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I like how you started smartly (dumping Hideki’s contract) but used it incorrectly (by playing Swisher at DH and Nady in RF, even though defensively Swisher is light-years better than Nady in the field.)

  • John

    How about they just let us shorten the contracts instead?

  • Say Hey Willie

    No sense in getting rid of any contracts if you’re the Yankees unless the player in question is clearly never going to contribute.

    Now if we are talking about waving a magic wand and the contract goes away that gets interesting. I think the ground rules would have to be you can kill the contract but you cannot resign the player. In that case I think my top choices would be:

    1. Bitch Tits
    2. Burnett
    3. Marte

    It would be tough to get rid of ARod because he could provide significant value, but I think the downside risk is enough to make him number one. I am not an AJ fan and think that his contract will be an issue for a few years at least. Marte is not a real financial drag but given his shoulder injury and the low overall positive impact (middle reliever) he might have I don’t think his loss would hurt the team much.

  • http://rbiradio.blogspot.com/ Joey H.

    Nice job by Joe to cause a stir. Obviously Igawa though. Releasing A-Rod makes exactly ZERO sense.

  • Dela G

    Kei Igawa, and it isn’t even close

    • whozat

      Eh. He’s not harming the big league roster. And he’s not even blocking anyone in AAA.

      I gotta go with Burnett. They’re REALLY going to regret that contract in a year or two.

  • Joba-to-the-pen

    Why is everybody saying Marte.He’s getting paid 3 million who cares.He’s last 11 innings last year were scoreless and he had 15 strikeouts.He did get hurt in WBC but it’s Girardi fault for letting him play to start the season when he knew Marte was still feeling sore and unlike Hughes and Bruney he didn’t mask he’s injury.He hasn’t been good because of injuries.

    It’s Burnett but the Yankees need to get rid of A-Rod in 5 years before he passes Ruth and Bonds as a Yankees in the homerun list.At some point he will be released.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Exactly. People are freaking out about a 3yr/12M deal way too much. Marte’s contract is far, far from an albatross, and he’s actually a good player.

  • BigBlueAL

    Too bad this wasnt an option a couple of years ago.

    • jsbrendog

      it was. arod opted out. but then they resigned him.

  • JimT

    Boy, the Yankees have a lot of really bad contracts. For most teams there is one or perhaps two players they would like a “do-over” on, but with the Yankees there is an entire list.

    What is even crazier is how many of these contracts have been given over the past two or three years when other teams have begun to see the futility to 6, 8 or ten year contracts. You can’t help but get the impression that Cashman and the Yankees were negociating against themselves in many of these contracts.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Mike Francesa

    I get rid of Joba. If Joba isn’t in dah bullpen, den he’s worthless to dis team.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      (chugs DIet Coke)

  • Tony

    Sherman’s proposal had MLB pay the contract, not the team. Since the Yankees are the only team paying the luxury tax, the Allan Houston Rule wouldn’t make much difference.

    And the answer is obviously ARod. He just suffered a major injury, needs another round of hip surgery, looks… questionable right now, and is signed to an absurd contract.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Yeah, well, if MLB absolved the team of the contract, everyone would have picked A-Rod. I had to go back to the original Houston rule to make it even a choice.

  • Jake H

    I would go with Matsui or Kei.

  • Psbpablo

    A-Rod, Matsui, Damon, Swisher, or Igawa take your pick. Bring back Shelly Duncan.

  • MattG

    1. You’re not going to hurt the 2009 team
    2. You’re not going to dump anyone who is off-the-books in 3 months

    This eliminates Rodriguez, Burnett (why would the Yankees dump him 3 months into a contract?) and Matsui. It leaves only two viable options: Marte and Igawa.

    Marte has just under $11M left on his contract, but a chance to help the team during that deal. Igawa has $10M left on his.

    The answer is Igawa.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Well reasoned. I agree.

  • Bill

    shed arod’s contract and move jeter to third

  • Jesus

    Posada’s contract is pretty terrible.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      No, it’s not, really. When he can’t play C anymore, he moves to DH. His salary is totally appropriate for either position and for his production levels.

  • Bo

    There is only one answer in this absurd game. A-Rod. Because what team wouldn’t want to get out from under 200+ mill.

    • JP

      But I think the premise was that you were out of the contract only in the sense that it didn’t count on your books for luxury tax purposes. You still had to pay the player.

      So, the analogy would be that ARod ends up on another team and you are still paying his salary, but you save 20 mil in lux tax.

  • Jersey

    I’m relieved that Jeter’s contract is up after next year. I don’t want to undervalue him too much as he’s been an incredibly productive SS, but I’m not sure he’s been worth the ~20 mil per year. Just conjecture.

  • Russell NY

    Kei Igawa

  • YankeeScribe

    1 A-Rod
    2 Posada
    3 Burnett
    4 Swisher
    5 Marte

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      1.) I’d rather not pay ARod’s annual salary to allow him to hit homers for another team against us. That’s not worth a 20M luxury tax savings, not by a longshot.
      2.) Posada’s making 13M each of the next two years, but he’s still putting up excellent numbers (133 OPS+ the past four years) and there’s a natural hole for him at DH in 2010 and 2011. He’s not a problem, and you’re not going to replace his bat with a better one without paying far more than 13M per and committing to a far longer contract. Bad idea.
      3.) I was against the Burnett deal because it was too much money and too long a deal for my liking, but I can’t see the value in only getting out from a small luxury tax savings to allow Burnett to pitch for a competitor. The amount of money remaining on the deal is way too much, and Burnett is good enough of a pitcher that he’d come back to haunt us.
      4.) You’ve gotta be kidding me. Swisher is OPS+ing 133 and he only costs $5.3M. He’s a freaking steal. He’s producing at near All-Star levels and being paid at quality backup levels. How anyone can be disappointed with the return on investment on Swisher is beyond me. He’s one of the best steals in all of baseball.
      5.) See above: http://riveraveblues.com/2009/06/if-the-yanks-could-shed-one-contract-who-would-it-be-13560/#comment-444573

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Nick Swisher is the only OF signed through next season and never makes more than $9MM in a year. Why would you want to shed that contract? Seriously, I do not get the anti-Swisher attitude popping up around here lately. What more do you want the guy to do? His OPS has been around .900 all season, he’s at 2.6 UZR/150 in right, and has brought some much needed levity to the Yankees (though his on field contributions are more important).

      • matthagggs

        Since you asked, he could strike out less, catch fly balls, and not run the bases like he’s drunk.

        Other than that he’s been fine. Really.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          he could strike out less

          He augments those strikeouts by plenty of walks and good power. It’s worth nothing that his BB/K rate is the highest of his career at 0.81.

          catch fly balls

          Notice the positive UZR/150 mark–that means he’s saving more runs than the average player.

          not run the bases like he’s drunk.

          That shit happens every so often. Hell it even happened to Beltran this season.

  • GG

    It has to be Matsui, A-Rod is or should be a valuable contributor…A number of guys (Nady, Jorge) can DH and the money saved can buy something more useful (reliever)

  • JP

    I would drop ARod’s. The contract will kill us on the tail end, and the tail might be longer than we think.

    As for him hitting homers for an opponent, fine. We’re proving we can underachieve with him, as well. Yes, it flies in the face of the numbers, but the fact is, Alex has been a disappointment as a big game player. Ever since the start of the ’04 sweep, he hasn’t been very good in the playoffs, and he has had 2 monster seasons and three arguably under-achieving seasons.

    The Yankees would lose production, but the luxury tax savings would certainly allow player acquisitions that would offset that some.

    Alex is signed through age 42 for marketing purposes. It will the the albatross around the team’s neck, eventuallyu.

    • JP

      Oh…we have to continue paying his salary? That’s a tough one.

      I guess if it were a different question: which player could you simply unceremoniously jettison, then, uh, ARod is GONE.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


        I agree with you that the last third of ARod’s deal probably won’t be pretty, but frankly, I want his bat during the first two thirds of the deal. I’ll take the bad tail end in exchange for the good front end.

        • Reggie C.

          Now if we can only squeeze out a WS win or two in the next 2-3 years while we still have AJ, CC, Teix, and Cano all in their prime , the Arod contract would be worth it. Arod will undoubtedly be a contributor to a successful WS run. The man has just got to recover. I’ll write off his first 50 games.

  • KW

    I’m not sure where people are calculating the luxury tax savings of 20 million. A-rod’s salary for the life of his contract is about $300 million (assuming he hits his incentives). One year of it’s gone, so we’ll say it’s about 273 million left. A 40% luxury tax on A-Rod’s salary is about $110 million, or $12 million a year. Obviously, this assumes that the Yankees will be below the luxury tax threshold after jettisoning his salary, otherwise, there’d be no net savings (except to cut his salary and replace it with other players).

    The obvious choice is A-rod. There’s really no other consideration. If you were to jettison a player, it has to be the one that’s the largest, the one with a high likelihood of underperformance relative to the size, and the one where replacement players are not terribly hard to find.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      and the one where replacement players are not terribly hard to find.

      Whom exactly are these replacement players you speak of, out of curiosity?

      • UWS

        Angel Berroa. Duh.

      • KW

        $110 million buys a good lot of replacement players available in the future. We’re talking value, right? Not absolute WAR. Contract flexibility is also a plus. Sure, Joe Crede and Casey Blake aren’t A-Rod, but you can be sure what you’re getting, a decent bat, good glove, manageable salary and contract length. That’s a pretty big plus.

        That $300 million + 40% was a sunk cost. However, given the ability to recapture that 40%, you have to take it. You can find a replacement player for that extra $110 million, and pocket the difference. Sure, it’s a step down, but value wise I don’t think you can argue it.

        Saving a couple of bucks on Hideki doesn’t make much sense. $5 mil in luxury tax saved isn’t really worth thinking about.

      • KW

        Also, I meant he plays a position where finding a good bat/good defensive player is not ridiculously hard, like at SS or C, not that there are tons of available players right now that can easily replace A-Rod, which there aren’t.

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  • Reality Check

    Scott Boras is laughing his MAO on this one. He took a player with career influenced steroid enhanced stats and fooled the Yankee bean-counters into paying him absurd amounts of money when every other team is baseball would have passed at signing A-Fraud. A-Fraud was useless to Texas and is of no value to the Yankees when he’s batting .207 with only 1 home run outside the new shortened-wall “juiced” Yankee Stadium. Why does he need rest when he’s able to party with Hollywood harlots till 3:00 a.m.? The real outrage is that Barry Bonds who on the day of his last game was TEN TIMES the player that A-Fraud will ever be is being blacklisted by the owners and is the subject of a government witch hunt while A-Fraud does his mea culpa and is “forgiven” by Yankee fans. The Yankees should have signed Barry Bonds for peanuts and told A-Fraud to take a hike when Boras pulled his phony baloney opt-out BS.

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