Should the Yankees pursue Barret Loux?

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(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

You probably caught this yesterday, but Bud Selig and the rest of his Major League Baseball gang have ruled that Barret Loux, a 21-year-old righthander out of Texas A&M, will become a free agent on Sept. 1st of this year and be able to sign with any club he chooses. The Diamondbacks selected Loux with the sixth overall pick in June’s amateur draft, then reached an agreement with him on a slightly below slot $2M bonus (he was generally considered more of a back of the first round talent) only to have the player fail his physical due to shoulder and elbow issues.

The decision by MLB was remarkably fair actually, since the hard asses at the NCAA would have ruled Loux ineligible to play for the Aggies next year since he used an agent to negotiate with Arizona (nice job driving one of your best athletes away, NCAA!). His only option would have been an independent league, far from ideal. The Diamondbacks will get a compensation pick for their troubles (meaning they’ll likely have two top seven picks in next year’s epiphany draft), and now Loux gets to shop his services around to the highest bidder. The problem is that he’s damaged goods.

According to Jeff Passan, Loux’s physical revealed two major issues: he has a tear (of unknown severity) in his labrum, and enough ligament damage to his elbow to forecast Tommy John surgery in the future. While obviously very serious, the elbow is not the long-term concern, the shoulder is. The 6-foot-4, 220 lb. righty wasn’t a huge stuff guy to begin with – low-90’s fastball, hard changeup, okay slider and knucklecurve (video) – and the labrum issue could potentially sap his arsenal even further. The Diamondbacks took Loux with the idea of having him moving quickly as a mid-rotation starter to help their beleaguered staff, not because he had tremendous upside.

I thought I remember seeing that the Yanks were interested in Loux with their first round pick back in the spring, but I’m wrong. Turns out they were just projected to take him in a mock draft. Either way, here’s an opportunity for the Yankees to add a first round caliber talent to the system using nothing but their checkbook. They have shown a willingness to gamble on injured prospects in the past, though they’ve definitely scaled back on the practice in recent years.

Given the injury, it’s incredibly unlikely that Loux will command the same $2M bonus he’d agreed to with the Diamondbacks, but the competitive nature of the open market should still land him a seven-figure payout. I can’t imagine that he and his agent would reasonably demand a big league contract even ignoring the injury, he’s simply not that kind of talent. All it takes it one GM to make it happen, though. While the allure of adding a highly touted talent to the farm system is exciting, we have to remember what we’re dealing with here. Shoulder issues are scary, scary business, and if the Yanks had drafted him and the injury came to light later, we’d all want them to walk away and take the compensation pick like the Diamondbacks did. Loux being a free agent now shouldn’t change things.

It’s just money, something the Yankees have plenty of, but we’re not talking about a high reward kind of player with Loux. He was projected as an unspectacular mid-rotation guy from the outset, and his two arm-related injuries greatly increase the likelihood of a zero return. It’s one thing to gamble on a player with the upside of Andrew Brackman when he needs a routine (but again, obviously still serious) elbow reconstruction, but it’s another thing all together to do that when the best case scenario is a middling return.

The Yanks have build up a tremendous amount of pitching depth in the minors, and while there’s always a reason to add more, at some point you have to take a step back and look at a player for what he is. Loux has the mystique of being a high draft pick, but he’s damaged goods and I would not recommend spending seven figures on him. That money, no matter what budget it’s coming out of, can be better used elsewhere.

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CC Sabathia's Cy Young Case
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  • A.D.

    As always it comes down to what’s the cost, obviously Loux shouldn’t just have whatever he wants thrown at him by the Yanks, but getting a 1st round pick on the FA market would be quite nice, and given that the Yanks didn’t pay huge bonuses in the draft this year nor signed any big name LA free agents, means it might be a year worth this type of gamble

  • pat

    Wow, TJ and possible Labrum surgery? Might as well try and learn to pitch lefty.

    • A.D.

      Wonder if one of Vindette’s arms when to shit if he’d give up on it?

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

    The Diamondbacks took Loux with the idea of having him moving quickly as a mid-rotation starter to help their beleaguered staff, not because he had tremendous upside.

    Which is why my interest is only lukewarm. I bet someone else with more oppostunities for a fringy back of the rotation starter ponies up for him (like the Padres or Pirates or Mariners or something like that.)

    • Robert

      Why spend a 1st round on someone who you think will only be a mid-rotation starter? That’s bad drafting isn’t it?

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

        Happens all the time.

        Signability.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Good value in a mid-rotation starter when they’re being paid nothing the first few years of their careers.

  • Steve O.

    Meh, I don’t mind either way. Nothing wrong with adding/not adding a back end starter.

  • http://www.richardiurilli.com Richard Iurilli

    Mike, where would you rank Loux in your Top 30 if the Yankees were to sign him?

    • Pete

      I’m not Mike – at all – but I’d probably say around 22-25

  • Jake H

    I would gamble a million on the guy along as it wasn’t a mlb deal.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Ok. Call the Yankees, tell them you’ll pay his salary, but you get 50% of the gate everytime he starts for them.

      • Jake H

        The guy was a back of the 1st or supp 1st round talent. With him being able to talk to each team a million will probably be what he gets.

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

          The guy was a back of the 1st or supp 1st round talent.

          That’s while he was healthy and a probable quick mover. Things have changed.

          • Jake H

            Its going to depend on the medical info on his arm and shoulder.

            • Mister Delaware

              And its probably worth noting that “a tear (of unknown severity) in his labrum” and “enough ligament damage to his elbow to forecast Tommy John surgery” is very far from tangible. I imagine there are plenty of MLB pitchers who have the same level of damage. For all anyone knows if/until detailed medicals are released, Arizona might just want to punt on a Byrnes draft pick.

              • Ed

                On that note, somewhere in the 1999-2001 time frame, Andy Pettitte had an MRI that indicated enough ligament damage that the team was convinced he would need Tommy John surgery in the near future.

                We’re about 10 years past that, and the ligament is still holding up fine. He’s had tendon, shoulder, back, and groin issues since then, but the ligament has been fine through it all.

                There’s a few key things to remember in these stories:

                1) All pitchers have some degree of elbow & shoulder damage. That’s the price you pay for choosing that career.

                2) MRIs can usually give you a pretty good idea of major problems that need immediate surgery, but they’re not precise enough to be definitive on lesser issues. Even in the major cases, it’s not always clear. When Curt Schilling and John Smoltz had their final surgeries, the surgeons had to repair far more damage than they had expected.

                3) Deciding whether a small tear will become a large one or not is largely guesswork. It’s also *very* dependent on the specific pitcher’s throwing motion, as everyone distributes the strain along their arm differently.

                • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                  Didn’t Andy need pretty serious elbow surgery while he was in Houston? Not Tommy John, but it put him out for the year.

                  • Ed

                    That was the tendon injury I was referring to. He tore it checking his swing during his first at bat as an Astro. He actually pitched about half the season that year before opting for surgery. It was a freak injury that coincidentally was near an early area of concern.

                    The Yankees concern wasn’t something like “we think your mechanics will lead to elbow problems down the line.” It was “the MRI shows a small tear in your ligament which we think is going to get worse.”

                    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                      Ah, gotcha.

  • Ted Nelson

    Tremendous pitching depth? Really?

    • http://twitter.com/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Jose Ramirez, Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuleos, Graham Stoneburner, Brett Marshall, Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren and Evan Rutckyj among others doesn’t equate to tremendous pitching depth?

      Can you name another team that does have the depth your looking for?

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

        The Red Sox.

        They have Casey Kelly, Felix Dubront, Casey Kelly, Michael Bowden, Casey Kelly, Anthony Ranaudo, Casey Kelly, Brandon Workman, Casey Kelly, Randor Beird, Casey Kelly, Stolmy Pimentel, Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Kendal Volz, Casey Kelly, T.J. Large, Casey Kelly, Scott Schoenweis, Casey Kelly, Cesar Cabral, Casey Kelly, Izzy Alcantara, Casey Kelly, Gerrit Cole, Casey Kelly, Oil Can Boyd, and Casey Kelly.

        Top that.

        • http://twitter.com/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

          Right I should have known. Tough to be fair he said tremendous and the Red Sox pitching talent eclipses all the talent Randy Johnson had at his peak.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Dude… they don’t have Dustin Hoffman, therefore they can’t possibly win.

        • Tom Zig

          Junichi Tazawa is a better signing than CC Sabathia.

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

            Penny and Smoltz will win more games than CC and AJ.

            • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

              That was my favorite stupid article from 2009. Then Pearlman got so butthurt whenever anyone brought it up, so much so that he went back and completely changed that blog post to make it look like his original predictions were never there.

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

                /O’Connor’d

              • bonestock94

                I sent him hate mail over that article. He actually responded.

                • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                  What’d he say?

                  • bonestock94

                    Oh, I just pasted that quote and told him that I will ignore his trash journalism from now on and he responded that he’ll do the same with my emails. Something of that nature.

      • Steve O.

        You also forgot Hector Noesi/DJ Mitchell/Dave Phelps/Jeremy Bleich.

        /Friendlyhelpout’d

        • http://twitter.com/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

          Thanks I knew I was forgetting some.

          • All Praise Be To Mo

            Kei Igawa as well.

      • Ted Nelson

        I would call it good depth, not tremendous though. Point is that it’s weak at the top: no high probability Yankee-caliber starters. Mike loves Brackman and called him the Yankees 4th best prospect yesterday, but at the end of the day the guy is 24 years old getting mediocre results against AA competition… Maybe one or two of those guys makes it, but odds are they’re all relievers on the Yankees or filling in for injured starters at best.

        My point is that I would judge Loux on his own merits and not worry about the other arms in the system. This would be true even with a stacked system full of high probability major league starters, but especially since there’s not one top flight pitching prospect in the whole system.

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

          I would call it good depth, not tremendous though. Point is that it’s weak at the top: no high probability Yankee-caliber starters.

          You don’t judge “depth” by what’s at the “top”. Depth is about how much volume we have. We may not have oodles of close-to-the-majors top of the rotation starters*, but we do have a tremendous amount of quality prospects with good upside all throughout the minors. We are very, very deep in pitching.

          (* Nobody does.)

          • Tom Zig

            A Peter Gammons meme would fit here. But I think we reached our quota for the day.

          • Ted Nelson

            That depth does you no good if none of them turn into major league pitchers, so the quality is also important. I do understand the meaning of “depth” in this sense, but thank you for explaining it to me as if I were a child anyway!

            The greatest part of this site is how friendly the regular commenter are to outside opinions… or maybe not. A lot of jerks on this site, which is a shame since the analysis offered by the people who run it is top notch.

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

              I know I’ve been a jerk at times, but I don’t think that comment I made to you was jerk-like at all. You questioned Mike’s use of the term depth. I made a rebuttal to your question. I wasn’t snarky or nasty during that rebuttal. It was as simple as that.

              If you think I’m explaining depth to you like you’re a child, perhaps you should show a greater awareness of what the term means in the first place.

              (Okay, that last part was kind of jerky. Sue me.)

              • Ted Nelson

                I questioned the term “tremendous.” The jerk comment was unnecessary on my part, but it was more general than about that one comment. I just feel like anytime someone outside of the “regulars” makes a comment on this site–especially one that doesn’t jive with the group think here–they are beaten up.

                I think I read a tone into your comment that wasn’t there, and I apologize for that.

                I understand what depth means. However, simply having strong or even tremendous depth of solid minor league pitchers doesn’t help a major league team. They either have to have trade value or make the big leagues.

          • Ted Nelson

            “We may not have oodles of close-to-the-majors top of the rotation starters*”

            The Yankees do not have a single one. There are, in fact, good pitching prospects in baseball… but not one of the better ones in the upper minors is in the Yankees system. It’s great that they have some bullpen options and trade bait in the upper levels and promising arms in the lower minors… but that is not what I would call “tremendous depth.”

          • Joe

            And thick, dont forget very, very thick

    • Pete

      Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Jose Ramirez, Gabe Encinas, Evan Rutsckji (sp?), David Phelps, Adam Warren, Ivan Nova, and Hector Noesi say hi

      • Ted Nelson

        Pete, 20% of your list has yet to throw a pro inning. It’s tough to list guys who have never thrown a pro inning as evidence of quality pitching depth in the Yankees organization…

        Anyway, I never said the depth wasn’t good. I said it wasn’t tremendous and I said Loux should be judged on his own merits.

  • http://thechuckknoblog.com ChuckKnoblog

    I would sit out on this one. I would rather put that cash toward acquiring my favorite non Yankee Adam Dunn.

    Imagine him walking up to “In the Air Tonight” at Yankee Stadium.

  • cranky

    Shoulder issues are FAR more serious than elbow issues. Very few pitchers have come back 100% from labrum tears. Is 85% of Loux worth it?
    I say “no.”

  • Mister Delaware

    “He was projected as an unspectacular mid-rotation guy from the outset, and his two arm-related injuries greatly increase the likelihood of a zero return.”

    Assuming ~$1MM, there might be a higher likelihood of $0 return but its still a decent investment if they see him as a 15% chance of becoming a #3/#4.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Labrum is a scary injury but I think he’s worth taking a shot on. What’s he going to cost? Less than Chan Ho Park’s 4 months? 1/5th of Nick Johnson’s cost for <100 PA's?

    Those were good moves at the time that didn't work out. The same could be said for Loux. To get a guy you normally wouldn't have a crack at for only money is a decent gamble, as long as the money is reasonable.

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

      I’d rather spend whatever it would cost to get him on a higher upside 16 year old IFA (or two). Loux’s floor has lowered significantly in the wake of these injuries, and his ceiling was never that big to begin with.

      16 year old IFAs are much riskier lottery tickets, but they have much bigger rewards.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        I can agree with that. If it comes down to X amount of dollars for a huge (dare I say, ridiculous) upside guy and Loux, I’ll go with the upside guy.

      • Nick

        you could even argue it isn’t riskier at all.

        Young pitchers with two major arm injuries before beginning their professional careers tend to succeed much less than young IFAs, I believe.

      • Jose the Satirist

        I bet Cash could get Geronimo Franzua and Luis Abad for less than the price that Loux is going to cost. I’m sold.

  • Chris

    How do you pronounce his last name? Is it “loucks”, “looks”, “loo” or something else?

    • http://twitter.com/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      I’m guessing ‘Loo.’

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

      “Mattis”

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

      Apparently it’s “LOWX”. Like “loud” but with an “ex” sound instead of a “d” sound.

      http://dbacksvenom.com/2010/06.....rret-loux/

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Meloncone?

  • larryf

    “In the Air Tonight” is good for Dunn but what about ‘Cause I’m Kurtis Blow for Grandy? Pass on Loux

    /off topic’d and now back to work

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

      The Yankees shouldn’t bother signing Loux because they never promote their prospects anyway, they just keep buying free agents because they’re all that’s wrong with baseball and Cashman is a moron for not stopping all these falling rocks.

      /OffTopicBret’d

      • Ghost

        /SeanHennShedsaTear’d

  • kaywizz22

    I think they should attempt to sign him. I know its a big risk because of the multiple surgeries he is probably looking at, but it is very possible the Yankees won’t have first and/or second round picks next year. If they sign Lee/Crawford, they will be losing early round picks. They might as well add a first round talent when the can to try to make up for that. Even if he is only a middle of the rotation arm, he can still be valuable. It makes sense.

    • Ghost

      Why when they can just do that next year in a loaded draft in which they can throw that million at a higher upside signability guy, or even this year on IFA’s?

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

        That. I’d rather roll that million over to next June and draft a dynamite kid who will demand a 3M bonus instead of the merely solid kid who will demand a 2M bonus.

        • Robert

          Don’t think the Yankees will be in the position to spend $3 million on anyone in the draft as both Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee will be Type A free agents.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

            Since Brett Gardner has proved competent I doubt they’ll sign Carl Crawford.

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

            Disagree. There’s always talented kids who fall to the late rounds with high bonus demands, like Castellanos and Cole from this past June.

            • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

              Nailed it…the Yankees and Red Sox have gotten lucky on quite a few of these guys too: David Renfroe, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson, etc. Since next year’s class is stacked there will be an elite HS talent that falls through the cracks.

              • All Praise Be To Mo

                Also, I think a lot of DES’ will be in the draft too and people more willing to forgo college since all the talk is of a hard slotting system starting after next years draft. Next year will be a stacked draft IMO and I would love for the Yanks to go out and spend 15-20 million and really load up before the slotting system goes into effect and they can’t take advantage of it anymore.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

          I don’t think the draft budget works that way.

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

            Why wouldn’t it?

            • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

              I think it’s just a set amount each year…rather than what you don’t spend this year rolls into next year. Although, that would explain why they drafted rather conservatively (fiscally, anyways) this year.

              • Mister Delaware

                I imagine the front office is smart enough to not have fully locked budgets if presented with an opportunity.

                • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

                  That too.

  • CS Yankee

    The team that signs him on the hook for his medical expenses, rehab and (small) salary.

    2M$ for a mid-talent signing…ok
    1M$, plus med/rehab/salary for unknown years…pass

  • Klemy

    I’m on the pass bandwagon. Doesn’t really seem to be much to gain from the risk. Agree with others, take a look at IFAs with the money you’d need here.

  • Robert

    I say yes. This is the area the Yankees should really be blowing other teams out of the water.

    AS soon as I found out he was a free agent I wanted him.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

    If they don’t think they’ll get a draft pick out of Javy do you think that they’d be more wont to sign this guy since they are likely to ink Cliff Lee and lose their first round pick next year?

  • bonestock94

    High risk, meh reward. Pass.

    • dmh08

      Even if Loux is a mid to back end guy when healthy there’s tons of value in that. This is the way the Yanks need to start flexing there financial muscle, We have to start developing quality starting pitching or developing young starter that we can trade for quality starters. If a guy like Louxs comes back healthy he has is probably the equivilent to a Nova or Kennedy. At the trade deadline we could have used a guy like that to acquire Haren and we wouldn’t be in this pitching mess were in now.

      I just think if the demands are reasonable, like around a million or so then we take a chance on the guy. You can never have to many quality pitching prospects, to put into the rotation or to trade. If we miss on Herdia, which it looks like he’s going to be a pirate soon, then why not make a run at this guy. Maybe he flops but if he turns out it could be worth the gamble.

      • bonestock94

        I don’t know, shoulder injury and TJ!? That’s a lot man, a lot of risk.