Mailbag: Vazquez, Rule 5 Draft, Gaudin, Cash

Hello, Mark. So nice to see you.
Today's Crazy Idea: Javy for Werth

We received some positive feedback following last week’s mailbag, so it’s definitely looking like something worth doing. You can send your questions to us at any time via the Submit A Tip box under The Montero Watch in the sidebar, or by just emailing them in to us. This week’s topics: Javy Vazquez and arbitration, the Rule 5 Draft, Chad frickin’ Gaudin, and figuring out what the hell “cash considerations” are…

Do you think that the Yankees will offer Javy Vazquez arbitration after the season? They’ve shied away from the practice in recent years, but you risk getting a good pitcher at a reasonable salary on a one-year deal for two high picks, right? Especially if they lose picks for a Lee or Crawford this offseason. – Dominik

I’ve been thinking about this more and more as the season goes on. My stock answer has been “no,” simply because they haven’t offered anyone arbitration over the last two years, and I had no reason to believe that they would change that approach now. Now I’m not so sure.

There is a difference between Vazquez and guys like Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon, the notable players that weren’t offered arbitration over the last few years. Those guys were really overpaid (Abreu made $16M his last year with the Yanks, Damon $13M) and stunningly bad on defense, and in Abreu’s case, he was clearly in decline offensively. Their defense negated a ton of their offensive value. Pitchers are different because a) there’s only one aspect of the game to evaluate, and b) quality arms are so damn valuable.

Of course we can’t ignore the red flags. Javy’s velocity is absolutely down this season, likely due to all those miles on his arm, and his strikeouts are down while the walks are up. His FIP (5.02), xFIP (4.62), and tRA (4.97) are the highest they’ve been in more than half-a-decade.  Believe it or not, Vazquez has benefited from some BABIP luck this year (.255), which you can’t count on going forward. That said, he’s still a very capable MLB starter that can easily hold down the fourth spot in any team’s rotation, which is what the Yanks would expect him to do. If he were to accept arbitration, he’s looking a $13-14M, which is certainly overpaying. It is just a one year deal though, and the Yanks can afford the luxury. Remember, there’s no pitching version of Nick Swisher to buy low on to fill that rotation spot.

At this point, yes, I do expect the Yanks to offer Vazquez arbitration. It’s been made clear that the team considered the two 2011 draft picks as part of the deal, and Vazquez comfortably projects to be a Type-A free agent. As you know, they have to offer him arbitration to receive those picks. Next year’s draft class is absurdly deep; a team could realistically walk away with a player that would be a top ten talent in a “normal” year despite picking in the 20-30 range. If there’s ever a draft to have an extra pick, that’s it. The Yanks also can’t lose those picks if they sign Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford or whoever.

Given the uncertainty of Andy Pettitte, plus the possibility of Lee signing an extension after inevitably being traded, offering Vazquez arbitration is a risk worth taking. Then again, I said the same exact thing about other players over the last two years, only to watch the Yanks not offer arbitration to anyone.

Which minor leaguers are eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the season? Of these, who do you think the Yankees will protect?  I’m interested to see what they do with Dellin. – Big B

College players drafted in 2007 and high school players drafted in 2006 are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year, so that includes Zach McAllister, Dellin Betances, Ryan Pope, Bradley Suttle, Austin Krum, Justin Snyder, and Brandon Laird. Some holdovers from last year include George Kontos, Lance Pendleton, and Josh Schmidt. It’s tough to figure out exactly when players signed off the international market, so I usually just skip them when discussing the Rule 5 draft.

So how many 40-man roster spots are opening up after the season? I count nine: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Chan Ho Park, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Javy Vazquez, Derek Jeter, Marcus Thames, and Nick Johnson. Both Juan Miranda and Jon Albaladejo will be out of options next season, so they could be gone as well. Wilkin DeLaRosa and Dustin Moseley are imminently DFA’able, so I would count on them being gone as well. Mo and Jeter are obviously coming back, so let’s call it 11 total spots opening up after the season.

You have to figure that at least two of those spots are going to starting pitchers, two or three more are going to relievers, and two or three more are going to position players. So for all intents and purposes, let’s assume the team will have four 40-man spots to use for protecting prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.

McAllister and Laird are no-brainers, they have to be protected otherwise they will be lost. Their success at Double-A all but guarantees that. Suttle, Krum, Snyder, Pendleton, and Schmidt aren’t high priority guys, so they can go unprotected. Those last two spots come down to Betances, Pope, and Kontos.

Betances has been absolutely fantastic this year since coming back from elbow surgery (34 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 39 K), and non-contending teams will take a big arm like that and see if he can’t stick in the bigs all year. Pope has been fantastic since shifting to the bullpen (27.2 IP, 3.09 FIP, 30-6 K/BB ratio, .223 AVG against) and is a viable relief option for next season. If nothing else, he’s a guy that will always be on call in Triple-A. Kontos is coming off elbow surgery like Betances, though he’s had some success at the higher level.

I think Pope gets protected just because you can’t let such a close to the big leagues reliever go for nothing. The Yanks will need the inventory. If the Yanks don’t believe Betances can make it through the entire 2011 season on some team’s 25-man roster, they won’t protect him. They did the same thing with Ivan Nova. They could gamble on him going to camp with some team only to have him be offered back at some point. Of course Betances is a much different prospect because he has such enormous upside, so they may not be willing to risk it. Me? I’d protect him. Too risky to lose a guy the team invested so much time and money ($1M signing bonus plus all the costs associated with his rehab and surgery). Kontos is the cost of doing business, I was never a huge fan anyway.

Why is Chad Gaudin so bad this year? He was somewhat “decent” last year, and was supposed to be in the mix for the 5th starter job in ST. I don’t think we expected him to win any Cy Youngs, but mediocrity should not have been too much to ask. – Anonymous

I’m kinda surprised that Gaudin has been so dreadful. I never expected him to be awesome, but I figured he could replicate the 4.68 xFIP he posted with the Yanks last year. Instead, we’ve got a 5.60 xFIP after Gaudin put up a 3.94 xFIP in Oakland. And think, the righty has had some serious BABIP (.244) and strand rate (83.3%) luck with the Yanks.

The obvious problem is all the homeruns. Gaudin has served up nine long balls in 33.2 IP this year after giving up just 14 in 147.1 IP last year. His fly ball rate has climbed close to 10% from last year and sits at 44.6% in 2010, and his HR/FB rate is through the roof at 20%. For comparison’s sake, the league average is around 10.6% and he was at 9% last year. It’s a combination of bad luck and bad pitching. Yes, he should give up more homeruns because he’s giving up more fly balls, but not that many more homers.

Gaudin’s slider is letting him down this year (4.57 runs below average per 100 thrown after several years of being above average by a run or more), so perhaps he’s hiding an injury. Or maybe he just stinks.

MAILBAG! When a player gets traded for “cash considerations” what, exactly, does that mean? Is there a list of guidelines defining what is and is not, can and cannot be deemed cash considerations? Is there a deadline on when the cash has to be delivered? I’m thinking that it means they need to work out a deal and can’t haggle the money but are close enough where they say eff it we’ll figure it out. I am hoping, however, that there is some sort of structure to it. – Justin

I have no idea, but Keith Law does, so I asked him. His response: “Undisclosed [amount] but fixed at the time of the deal. It’s really just a straight sale, usually for ten or twenty grand.”

Simple enough. I assume it’s delivered immediately, or at a time specified when the deal is made.

Hello, Mark. So nice to see you.
Today's Crazy Idea: Javy for Werth
  • Steve H

    Good answer on the Javy arb. Question. I’ve said all along that I think it’s a no-brainer to offer him arb., as even if he struggles this year, I think he’d carry value on a one year deal in a trade back to the NL. You might have to eat some salary to do that if you end up with too many starters, but you’d get something back. If not, you get the picks in a loaded draft. I think it’s absolutely a risk worth taking. The contracts for bats have backed off the past few years, but pitchers are still getting paid. We’re not far removed from Derek Lowe getting 4/60 (ironically forcing Javy out of Atlanta), so Javy at 1 $13/14 would not be bad, either to have on the team or to move in a deal.

  • Jose the Satirist

    My pipe dream was Javy being offered arbitration as a Type-A and Nick Johnson being offered arbitration as a Type-B. We then proceed to sign a Type-A free agent while still retaining some higher level draft picks.

    • pat

      I’m not the first person to bring this scenario up, but if Javy declines, and signs with say, the Mutts. We move up in the draft and can sign Lee almost without repercussions.

      • Jose the Satirist

        And with such a deep draft class, a pick in the compensation round could be quite valuable as well.

        • JMK’s Mystique and Aura

          And with such a deep draft, bonuses will be high, so I’d expect some guys to fall.

          Could be a real boon to grab high-impact talent.

          /still pissed about not picking Austin Wilson and dropping money from a helicopter to sign him.

      • rbizzler

        That sounds lovely, I’ll take it.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Lloyd: Uh, what is the Soup Du Jour?
          Waitress: It’s the Soup of the Day.
          Lloyd: Mmmm… That sounds good. I’ll have that.

    • Steve H

      I would love to see him with the Mets. The MSM’s collective heads would explode.

      They’ve always said he can’t succeed in the AL or in New York. So could he succeed in the NL in New York? They wouldn’t know what to write.

      • ecks

        My mind, it is blown.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      My pipe dream was Javy being offered arbitration as a Type-A and Nick Johnson being offered arbitration as a Type-B.

      If I’m Nick Johnson, I’m accepting an arbitration offer from the Yankees in 0.000000000000000001 seconds.

      • JMK’s Mystique and Aura

        He’d be an absolute fool not to take it.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          MR. STAR: 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: (interrupting) I’LL TAKE IT!!

      • theyankeewarrior

        He might break his wrist while signing the paper.

      • Jose the Satirist

        It was my pipe dream. I was hoping for a stellar year from him and then he declines arbitration. Current Nick Johnson isn’t even a Type-B. Don’t ruin my fantasy world.

    • Excellent Wellington

      I completely forgot that Nick Johnson existed.

  • Mike HC

    I amy be slightly off here, but I think another factor in arbitration is when you have to make the decision. You have to make the decision before free agency has really got going, so Cashman may not want to force his hand so early in the process, just to have the right to overpay Javy for one year. Cashman is pretty tough to predict though in my opinion, so I really can’t get into his head.

    • Mike HC

      A second thought.

      If the Yanks want Javy, then they may not want to offer him arbitration thinking they can sign him for cheaper, similar to Damon (except Damon rejected the cheaper deal)

      If they don’t want Javy, they may not want to risk offering the arbitration and taking 12-14 million off the table for Cashman to play with in free agency. In either case, I don’t see how offering Javy arbitration is the right move.

      But again, who knows. Maybe I am missing something

      • rbizzler

        Even if you offer arb to Javy you can still negotiate a contract with him, be it for one year or multiple years. Offering Javy arb is a way to ensure either retaining the player or getting compensation for him.

        I am leaning toward offering arb, because I could see an NL team making a multi-year offer to him if he continues to pitch well this season.

  • Ed

    On the Javy arb offer… say Pettitte decides in November that he wants to come back. Do you still offer Javy arbitration?

    With the year Pettitte’s having, I’m assuming the team will take him back without hesitation as long as he decides to return before they fill the rotation. And I think that Pettitte will keep putting off retirement as long as he’s pitching well and the team stays a contender.

    • Steve H

      I’d still offer Javy arbitration. At that point maybe he realizes there is no room for him (assuming Lee is coming) and doesn’t accept. If he did accept, the Yankees would likely trade him. From Javy’s perspective, getting a long term deal from a team he chooses to go to is better than getting a 1 year deal and being traded whereever the Yankees feel like, right? If the writing is on the wall that Javy is out, I think you have to offer him arb.

      • pat

        Has Javy Ever been a FA? I don’t think so. Maybe he’ll want to chose where he goes. He could definitely get a multi year deal somewhere else. usually players choose the security over a 1 year payout.

        • Steve H

          Another good point. For a guy who was drafted and then traded 5 times, I’m sure he’d want to pick his next team. If the Yankees offer him arb, and make it clear to him he’s not in their plans, he’d most likely decline.

          • Zack

            According to Cot’s, he’s never been a FA. Arbitration with Montreal 3 times, 4 year extension with Yankees to avoid arbitration, then signed extension with Sox after the trade.

            Another point: Right now he has a NTC to teams in the AL/NL west. If they go to arbitration, can he be granted a no-trade clause (limited)? If he can’t, he’d agree to terms before they reach it- which gives Cashman leverage in the salary portion. Or he’ll decline arbitration and negotiate a limited NTC with whatever teams are interestd.

        • Ed

          No, he’s always signed an extension before reaching free agency.

          Agreed that he could get a multi year deal, but he might not want one.

        • Jose the Satirist

          Is he more apt to seek that multi-year security now that his velocity has dropped? I would if I had the number of innings that Javy has on his arm.

        • JMK’s Mystique and Aura

          But hasn’t he also said that he’d be willing to do one-year deals?

          I feel like I read that on RAB earlier in the season.

      • Ed

        I see your logic. I’m not sure it’s the simple though – my memory is that Javy said he doesn’t want another long term deal and doesn’t want to play much longer.

        If he’s only thinking of playing for another year, maybe the relative certainty of an arbitration payday could outweigh the benefits of choosing your team?

        • Steve H

          Good point. If Javy truly only wants to play another year or two, taking the arb. would be the smart thing to do, but even then, the Yankees would still be able to trade him, likely pretty easily.

          • Ed

            Just a thought. Normally you can’t trade free agents before June 1st of the following season without their consent. Does that only apply to free agents signed from another team, or would it apply here too?

            If it does apply, Javy could decide to stay. He always wanted to play in the east to be closer to his family.

            Of course, it’s also possible he still has bad feeling over being traded to Arizona and could want to play for anyone but the Yankees.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              When Rafael Soriano stunned the Braves and accepted their arb offer, they quickly moved to trade him to the Rays and he consented. They let him know he wasn’t in their closer plans (as they had moved on Billy Wagner) and he facilitated their trade plans to get a guaranteed spot to be a closer somewhere else.

              If Andy returned and Javy accepted arb and we made it clear we intended to pursue Lee and go with a CC-Lee-AJ-Hughes-Andy rotation, I’d bet Javy would see the writing on the wall and give consent to be traded.

              • Steve H

                Agreed. Tell him he’s the new mop-up man (and I don’t mean blowout games).

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


              • Ed

                Oh, I’m sure he’d agree. Very few people stick to their no trade clauses when they’re clearly not wanted anymore.

                I was just curious about the possibility.

  • rbizzler

    As for the Rule V and the 40-man question, Mike deemed Suttle, Krum, Snyder, Pendleton, and Schmidt as the low priority guys. Out of that group, does anyone see any of those guys going in the Rule V and sticking on another teams roster?

    I think that the obvious possibilities to get selected are Schmidt and Pendleton, both of whom could stick in a crappy ML bullpen all year. IIRC, Lance was a 2-way player in college and combining that with the time he missed for surgery, could he have a little projection left?

    • Januz

      Suttle is a possibility for a guy like Oakland. This team has no offense, and getting a guy who was a high bonus pick ($1.2m) for a song, is just the type of thing Billy (“Moneyball’) Bean does.

      • rbizzler

        Really? You think a guy who has never played a day above A+ is going to get drafted and stick?

  • Pat

    In regards to cash considerations: when the Yanks traded for Al Leiter in 2005 for a PTBNL and cash considerations, I remember reading that the PTBNL turned out to be nobody, and the “cash considerations” was $1. Any truth to this?

    • Ed

      I have no idea, but I can imagine a situation like this:

      The offer is:

      Player A + $10k


      Player B

      With the decision to be made at some agreed date in the future. Technicalities may require the trade agreement to be written as “PTBNL + cash”, hence necessitating the $1 to satisfy trade requirements.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      wow. what a hit to your pride

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I have an impromptu mailbag question:

    What happened to Carlos Urena and Taylor Grote? They seem to have disappeared from the Staten Island and Charleston rosters, respectively.

    • pat

      Urena was released.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


        Grote? He was on Charleston’s DL last I looked, but has now vanished.

        • Jose the Satirist

          I was hoping he would make it to the majors so I could say, “That play was Grotesque”.

          • Accent Shallow

            /plays vuvuzela

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I’m still perfecting my Borat impression in anticipation of the day Austin Krum makes the big leagues.

  • B-Rando

    In the unlikely scenario a team selects a player from the rule 5, and then keeps them for the entire year…what are the options for that team with the player after the season? Is he arbitration eligible? Does he have options left so he can then be sent to the minors of that team? I’m just curious…anyone know?