What it means to make a player ‘available’

Lincecum takes home his second Cy
Rumor de l'après-midi: Rosenthal on the bullpen

Earlier this afternoon, Bob Nightengale of USA Today unleashed a panic amongst the members of the Yankee Universe. “The Yankees,” he Tweeted, “ever so quietly, are letting teams know that RF Nick Swisher is available.”

Nick Swisher! Available! Oh no! With just 87 characters, Nightengale created an uproar. Our inboxes started filling up with e-mails from RAB readers wondering if this rumor had any merit to it while Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLBTR wrote it up. Would the Yankees, already down a left fielder and a designated hitter, dare sell off Nick Swisher this off-season as well?

Of course, Swisher isn’t for sale, but debunking this rumor and contextualizing it isn’t that simple. It never is, and with the advent of the Internet, parsing rumors has grown more difficult. Let’s take this one for a ride though.

First, we must consider the source. Nightengale, a long-time vet of the Gannett daily, has a penchant rivaling that of Jon Heyman for conflating interest with a definite rumor. Here, he is taking a tidbit that isn’t quite news and spinning it into a secretive, hey-look-at-what-the-Yankees-are-doing item. That’s a clear warning sign that something is amiss.

Next, we must consider the nature of the rumor. What exactly are the Yankees doing? Well, they’re supposedly letting teams know that Nick Swisher can be had for a price. Is that news? I don’t think it is. Swisher is coming off of a rebound year in which he put up a 30.9 VORP. He is due $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011, making him one of the more tradeable veterans on the Yanks. Of course, the team will solicit offers for him.

And that brings me to my next point. Third, we must consider what it means to be “available.” When a player is made available, it does not betray any interest on the Yanks’ part to see him shipped away. Rather, when a player is “available,” the Yankees expect other teams to put forward what they feel are reasonable proposals for this player. Without any insider knowledge, in fact, I believe this is how the Yankees acquired Swisher last year. The White Sox made him available; the Yankees made a low ball offer; Kenny Williams accepted; and the rest is history.

Beyond Swisher, though, the Yankees — and 29 other teams — generally make everyone available. Why not? Sometimes, a great trade comes along when teams aren’t actively shopping the player but when other teams know that potential trading partners are open to the idea of a trade. As far as the Yanks are concerned, the only players on the team who are not or should not be available include Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mark Teixiera, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Jesus Montero. Maybe we could add Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett to make it a Gang of 10, but for the right price, anyone is tradeable.

In the end, this rumor isn’t about the Yanks’ faith or potential lack thereof in Nick Swisher. It’s not about their plans to leave themselves with a projected Opening Day outfield of Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson. It’s about exploring options and not closing the door on a move that has the potential to make the team better. Odds are good that Nick Swisher will be in right field in April, but if he isn’t, then it’s because his departure made the team better. And that’s what it means to be available.

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Lincecum takes home his second Cy
Rumor de l'après-midi: Rosenthal on the bullpen
  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    The Yankees may or may not also be interested in middle relievers.

    /
    Rosenthal’d

    It really is ridiculous- twitter has made all writers irresponsible. They no longer need to write up a full article with sources, they can just throw it out on Twitter and defend it as requiring a lower standard.

    • A.D.

      Exactly, if they tweet it they need no source, and no one is going to come back at them when they report something false.

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

        Or they’ll just delete it and pretend they never said it in the first place. See, for example, Ian O’Connor, Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Pearlman.

    • A.D.

      I loved the “they’re looking to develop relievers internally”

      So apparently you cannot both sign FA & develop players at the same position?

    • toad

      The Yankees may or may not also be interested in middle relievers.

      I may or may not be taking over from Jeter at SS in 2010.

  • Free Mike Vick

    OMG….what will the nerds do???

    Sitting in their Garden Apartments with no Nick Swisher blow up dolls???

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Garden apartments?? You mean mother’s basements. Get your stereotypes in order, sir.

      • Esteban

        Exactly, as a basement dweller, I resent that your slander.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        Stereotypes?

        lol.

  • A.D.

    It’s not about their plans to leave themselves with a projected Opening Day outfield of Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson.

    But they want to get young!!!!

    In all seriousness, thank you for this post, too many times people see “is available” and take it as “is being shopped heavily/is going to be moved”

    Dombrowski came out talking about the Tigers rumors saying its not a fire sale, and they’re only making good baseball moves. So yeah Granderson and Jackson might be available, but they don’t need to go anywhere.

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    But if they’re currently looking to fill RF (or CF) and the DH spot…it doesn’t make sense to field offers for the one spot in the outfield that’s seemingly a lock down. I mean, you can field offers for whoever and whenever you want…but there are more important things to address…it could be a complete waste of time in most aspects.

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

      Reading comprehension fail. You’re really doing an excellent job today at missing most of our points.

      It is never ever a waste of a GM’s time to field a phone call from a rival executive that involves a trade proposal. Ever. Think about that.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        I’m doing an excellent job today at asking relevant questions.

        So let’s see. You can’t talk about “off topic” subjects…and you get made fun of if you talk about relevant topics that the majority might not agree with…

        When do we all drink the koolaid?? LOL

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

          What’s your relevant question? Why would the Yanks even field trade proposals involving Nick Swisher? It’s answered in the 550-word post right above these comments.

          Anyway, if the “majority might not agree with” our take on it, the majority would be far more vocal. You, Rose/Axl/whatever your name actually is, are not a majority of one. Plenty of people disagree with us, and we generally have civil discussions about it. That’s the way it goes. We don’t stifle dissent. We have rules of the forum, and most people have figured out how to follow them without incurring a ban. Or two.

          And that’s all I have to say about that.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            What’s your relevant question?

            Why this would be made public when there are more important issues to address. And how the entire “breaking news” addressing Swisher is entirely unnecessary if everything were the way you say it is (which I agree with). Mostly everybody is always available for the right price. So why is it necessary to not only randomly break news about already available players being available…but singling one particular one out for no reason?

            If the majority “might not agree with” our take on it, the majority would be far more vocal. You, Rose/Axl/whatever your name actually is, are not a majority of one.

            My question wasn’t why “the majority” doesn’t disagree with your take on it. I was just stating that if I bring something up that might interfere with what you had to say…large quantities of people become extremely angry and join forces to try and smother it like a fire…rather than look at it and challenge it respectfully

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

              Why this would be made public when there are more important issues to address.

              Okay, then. Now I think I understand what you’re getting at.

              Here’s my speculation on that front: It was probably made public by some other team’s Front Office after a conversation with the Yankees. This person spoke to Cashman, maybe asks about Austin Jackson. Cashman has no interest in trading Jackson here but casually mentions other outfielders including Swisher. “What do you think of Nick?” Brian might wonder out loud on the phone.

              Other GM hangs up with Cash and dials Nightengale. Off the record, he tells Bob that the Yankees are “quietly” saying that Swisher could be had for the right price. Nightengale tweets it as a relevant rumor, and everyone flips out.

              That’s probably the why and how of Nightengale broke the story, and we addressed it because we had numerous inquiries about it and wanted to contextualize what it means to be “available.”

              • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                Ahh. Now that you mention it…I can see this as a very likely scenario. This is exactly what I was questioning.

                Sorry about the misunderstanding…

                [offers internet handshake]

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

                  Internet handshake accepted.

                • http://sportsfrog.com Mister Delaware

                  And now you both have swine flu.

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  It’s ok. Ben was wearing this hat…

                  http://rlv.zcache.com/no_swine.....14_400.jpg (SAFE)

                  LOL. Just kidding, Ben.

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

          and you get made fun of if you talk about relevant topics that the majority might not agree with…

          This will end badly.

          • Bob Stone

            Great comment!!

            • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

              Meh. That’s 90% of his replies to my posts lol

              /exaggerate’d

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

                (golf clap)

                I’d mention who I say it to even more than you, but when you mention his name he pops up like Beetlejuice.

                • Esteban

                  mryankee
                  mryankee
                  mryankee

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

                  OH SHIT YOU SAID IT

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  “He’s beetle…he’s as bad as can…and he knowwsss…he’s the besstttt…”

                • Tubby

                  He’s big and he’s strong
                  And he knows he is badder
                  And he knows what he gets
                  He knows what he knows
                  He knows what he have
                  He knows what he gets
                  He gets better

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  What sucks is you can only find the Staind version on Youtube…you can’t listen to the actual one. The original is hilarious…the Staind version…not so much.

                • Tubby

                  Original version>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Staind version>>Blues Traveler version

        • Kool Aid Man
          • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

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

              What was that, the punchline to an Apolo Anton Ohno joke?

              • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Heh… It makes more sense if you look at it like: “Oh, no… Oh, no… Oh, no… OH, YEAH!” The idea is funny, the execution left room for improvement.

        • pete

          asking a question in the thread of a post that DIRECTLY answers your question is not “doing a great job of asking relevant questions”. There is no need for circular discussion.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            Welcome to the party…you’re a little late unfortunately. But maybe somebody will give you a pat on the back anyway for your efforts…

            http://www.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,,5954469,00.jpg (SAFE)

            “See you at the party, Victor”

            • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
              • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                Hey, at least it’s something I said that you respect and agree with. I’ll take it! I respect that you are using my own request against me as well. I will respectfully oblige.

      • Mike bk

        you are giving too much credit ben, since he cant even figure out the hole is in LF not RF.

        • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

          It’s a typo. But I guess I’m giving you too much credit since you couldn’t even figure that out yourself…

          • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Challenge it respectfully, Rosie. ;-)

            • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

              Touché, Judge Reinhold…Touché

              • Slugger27

                wait… aren’t you axl?

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose
                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  ICWUDT

                  I’m saying “Ahkquel? Ahkquel Foley?” in my Bronson Pinchot voice in my head.

                  Wait, that came out wrong… I don’t have a Bronson Pinchot voice in my head ALL the time… let’s just forget I brought this up.

                • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                  “Don’t be ree-dik-udus…”

    • A.D.

      Well they could decide that they move Swisher, and then are fine signing Holliday then vets to fill in.

      But realistically they would need to be overwhelmed with something.

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

        But realistically they would need to be overwhelmed with something.

        Java World Corporate Executive: Gentleman come in. Now we don’t want to take up much of your time. Let’s make this short and sweet. We’re prepared to offer you all the free coffee you want in any of our stores throughout North America and Europe, Plus–

        Kramer: (leaps out of chair to shake his hand) I’LL TAKE IT!!

  • crawdaddie

    I don’t think the Yankees will trade them, but I’m not so sure Joba or Hughes are untouchables like those other guys.

    • Tom Zig

      Well yeah, if Jack Zduriencik called and said “hey Brian I’ll give you Felix for Joba or Hughes, straight up” I think the untouchable status would go away.

      /hyperbole

      • Ed

        Right, but that applies to (almost?) everyone on the team as well.

        Don’t you think Cashman would trade, say, 40 year old Mo for 24 year old Felix if he was offered that straight up?

        Jeter’s probably the most untouchable, as his value off the field is insane compared to just about anyone else in the game.

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

          Don’t you think Cashman would trade, say, 40 year old Mo for 24 year old Felix if he was offered that straight up?

          Cashman wouldn’t be able to say “Yes” fast enough.

          Jack Zduriencik: Brian, I’ll give you Felix for Mari–
          Brian Cashman: DEAL!
          Dealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdealdeal
          notakebacks
          i’mfaxingthepaperworkoveraswespeak
          pleasuredoingbusinesswithyou
          don’tforgettosignthatshit
          signitnow
          haveyousignedityet?
          signit

    • pete

      sure, but the likelihood of a trade involving either of those guys that both sides like enough to go through with is slim to nil

  • JSquared

    A player is always tradeable, unless they’re irreplaceable like Jeter or Rivera. I don’t see the yankees trading an outfielder… unless it’s for something really good, especially when there are guys like Marlon Byrd and Mike Cameron available through free agency.

    • Esteban

      Would the Yankees say no to Jeter for Hanley? Probably, but it would be the wrong long term move.

      • Steve H

        They better not turn that down.

        • Esteban

          Well Jeter had a higher WAR last year (7.4 to 7.3) and that’s without the difference between the leagues.

          • Steve H

            Hanley Ramirez 2010+>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Derek Jeter 2010+

            Hands. Down.

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

              <blockquote cite=" Esteban says:
              November 19th, 2009 at 3:37 pm

              Would the Yankees say no to Jeter for Hanley? Probably, but it would be the wrong long term move."

              • Esteban

                formatting fail

      • Ed

        I think after long debates and lots of back and forth on the decision, the team would have to say no.

        Hanley is the right baseball move, but even with his huge contract, Jeter is a huge, huge positive on the finances. Keeping Jeter is the right business move by far.

        Derek Jeter, Hall of Famer, Lifetime Yankee, only player with 3,000 hits as a Yankee, will be worth a fortune in marketing for decades. You better get an amazing return – on and off the field – to mess with that if you don’t have to.

        • Esteban

          This is what I was trying to get across.

  • nolan

    I don’t want to see Swish go… I love that he’s a yankee. But, if the Yanks can sell high on a player they bought low on and get a solid return (maybe a good prospect or two that can be used to trade for Halladay or another good starter) they can always replace Swisher with Holliday.

    That being said …I’d rather Cash just sign Holliday and keep Swish

  • Ed

    Nice writeup Ben, puts a good perspective on it. While MLBTR is great at collecting information, they can be sensationalist sometimes. And the comments there are full over overreactions to the slightest tidbits of information.

    • andrew

      I don’t really blame MLBTR, they reported it as they received it. Swisher was made available. I think Ben’s post does a good job of explaining that it is our job as fans to understand what that means instead of freaking out.

      • Ed

        MLBTR didn’t really do anything wrong on this on, but it is common for them to embellish a little. And they certainly don’t do anything to discourage the readers from overreacting.

  • Steve H

    Nick Swisher doesn’t get put on the trade block, the trade block gets put on Nick Swisher.

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

      Fun Fact:
      Nick Swisher is the only player in baseball specifically barred via contractual language in the CBA from ever being traded for a Player To Be Named Later. Allowing such a trade to happen could create the possibility that Swisher would be later traded for himself, and a trade of Nick Swisher for Nick Swisher would unleash so much kinetic energy and rugged masculinity into the cosmos that it may cause the universe to collapse into itself like a Large Hadron Collider experiment gone awry.

      • Tom Zig

        Don’t forget death panels.

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

          ZOMG HAVE YOU HEARD THERES GONNA BE DEATH PANELS IN THE NEW HEALTHCARE REFORM LEMME TELL YA ALL ABOUT IT

  • CountryClub

    Good post, Ben.

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

      CountryClub likes this.

      • CountryClub

        I guess there really is a FB page for everything. Not sure how you came across that though. haha

  • Marsha

    No trading of Swisher allowed. I haven’t gotten my #33 Swisher shirt for Chanukah yet.

  • http://sports-odds.com/images/stories/yankees-arod-teixeira.jpg JobaWockeeZ

    Fat chance Swisher leaves.

  • V

    The only chance Swisher is dealt is if some dumb GM offered way too much.

    “Hey, Brian, this is Frank Wren of the Braves. You know that young outfielder we have, Jason Heyward? We’d like to trade him for Nick Swisher. Whaddya say?”

  • Steve H

    Fat Sanchez chance Swisher leaves.

    We can just replace Fat with Sanchez these days right?

    • Steve H

      Reply fail.

  • t

    Is every player is made available regardless of whether he is being shopped around or not why wasn’t there an article on say A rod being made available?

    Also quick question if anyone could answer, what mlb player is AJax projected to play like? Is he likely to be a 275/350 plyaer?

    • Steve H

      I think best case is Mike Cameron if he develops power.

    • A.D.

      Willy Mays Hays type?

      • Steve H

        You may run like Hayes but you hit like shit.

    • Evil Empire

      Bullshit trade speculation by sports journalist is an art, and you can’t just say things like “A-Rod is available”, because common sense would indicate to all readers that no team would actually be interested in his mammoth contract, and it would damage your credibility in the media. You need to make reasonable claims about guys like Nick Swisher, who has a palatable contract and doesn’t have a NTC.

      There are different levels of “availability”. Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer are “available” in the sense that (and I am ripping this straight out of a Keith Law chat, its totally his example), if the SF Giants were willing to trade away Lincecum, Sandoval, and Posey to get one of them, a deal could happen. But that won’t happen, so no one will write about it.

      A deal for the Yankees #8 hitter though? Yeah, its a way more conceivable idea, and but still kind of sensational just because its the Yankees.

  • Evil Empire

    Even if the Yankees did trade away Swisher (itself rather doubtful), I’d only take that a clear sign that they’re looking to replace him with Matt Holliday or something like that.

    The Yankees would never allow an opening day outfield as shitty as Cabrera-Gardner-AJax. Its unfathomable, and as such, the thought does not concern me. I cannot think of any scenario where that would happen. They’d sooner sign Damon to a 3 year deal (something almost equally ridiculous and unfathomable).

    • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

      Well in so much as the Yankees aren’t rebuilding, I assume that a return for Swisher would also have to include major league players as well.

  • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

    I think the idea that any prospects are untradeable is pretty ridiculous. I mean, Montero is probably about as close to it as it gets, but completely untouchable? If St. Louis called tomorrow and said “hey Cash, we don’t think we’ve got the money to keep Pujols in town, he’s all yours so long as we can have Montero” would you really want Cash to hang up on them?

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

      If St. Louis called tomorrow and said “hey Cash, we don’t think we’ve got the money to keep Pujols in town, he’s all yours so long as we can have Montero” would you really want Cash to hang up on them?

      I’ll address here even though it’s come up a few times in this trade. When I say he’s untouchable, there is an element of reality to it. Do you know what isn’t going to happen? John Mozeliak’s calling Cashman to make that trade offer.

      Obviously, if something that epically stupid come across Cashman’s desk, he would accept it. But for all practical purposes, Montero is untouchable. Strawmen need not apply.

      • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

        Well the exact situation might not apply, but I think it does in a general sense. If Seattle makes King Felix available next season, is Montero on the table? What if Minnesota decides they have no chance of keeping Mauer in town past this year, and decide to take a crack at seeing if they can’t replace him with Montero? Not that those scenarios absolutely will happen, of course, but they seem plausible enough.

        Anyway, my larger point, which I definitely didn’t convey well, is that I just don’t like the idea of “untouchable” prospects, as it seems to contribute to the larger phenomenon of completely overvaluing prospects.

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  • John NY

    When I first saw the post on MLBTR, I immediately dismissed it as hearsay. Media headlines are very competitive for readership so no surprise this was a play for a headline.

    Want a headline?……The Yanks are interested in (fill in a available player). That makes a lot of people interested to read on!

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