The Lee-Crawford payroll situation


This morning we heard some writers float an interesting idea: could the Yankees add both Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford if Andy Pettitte retired and they flipped one of their outfielders? It sounded interesting, if a bit unrealistic. I decided to put together a spreadsheet, based on the one found at Cot’s Baseball Contracts. I took out Pettitte and Swisher while adding $24 million for Lee and $18.75 million for Crawford. Here’s how it would play out:

Add in another $10 or so million for arbitration raises (per B-Ref), and the payroll gets to around $220 million. That’s a bit above last year, but it still seems within the realm of possibility. I did take the liberty of naming the fifth starter as Ricky Nolasco, but that could be any starter making around $6 million. It could be even lower if they went with Ivan Nova instead of an outside pitcher in that fifth start spot.

Of course, signing Lee and Crawford would add plenty of money to future payrolls. He’s how the Yankees would look from 2012 through 2016 were they to sign those two.

And that’s before they play a single zero to six player. Maybe winning in the earlier years will make the later years sustainable. But those numbers just don’t seem within the realm of possibility.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. mbonzo says:

    Jeez Joe, why can’t you just let us dream? How dare you interrupt us with reality.

  2. A.D. says:

    Certainly seems doubtful, especially given that Crawford carries quite a bit of aging speedster risk and has a market.

  3. Evan says:

    Why does 2012 have Jorge and Marte, pretty sure 2011 last year on both contracts.

  4. mbonzo says:

    I agree that having an outfield of Crawford, Granderson, Gardner would be stacked defensively, but I don’t think it would happen assuming Crawford signs. Gardner would be the guy to go. Yankees seemed to hate putting 2 lefty hitters out there against lefty starters, I don’t see them putting 3 out there. Gardner is also more likely to be a sell high, and would be more valuable to teams looking to cut payroll.

    • BC-203 says:

      Swisher has a lot of value right now as well with a reasonable 2012 option. I would be trading Swisher over Gardner both for defense and payroll.

      Wouldn’t worry about the LHB issues. We have plenty of RH bats (Jeter/Arod/Cano) with Tex/Posada as switches. I’m not concerned about that balance. I don’t see any problem offensively replacing Swisher with Crawford.

  5. Remember, Mo and Jeter have deferred money, which probably shaves about $2-3 million off the payroll. Also, it’s very possible (likely) a Crawford and Lee deal would also be backloaded (kind of like Sabathia’s). Finally, a deal for Crawford most likely means Swisher gets traded.

    One more point…if the Yankees CAGR remains healthy, there is no reason why those commitments should be scary.

  6. Robert says:

    With all the talk about the pay roll over 17 million comes off next year.Posada-13 million ,.Marte -4 million

  7. vin says:

    As good a player as Crawford is, I think it makes significantly more sense to roll into next season with the same OF.

    The premise of this post was dependent upon Pettitte retiring (believe it when I see it, frankly). But even if he does retire, I can see Cashman keeping the OF intact and trying to acquire a pitcher in a salary dump situation with prospects (like the Javy trade).

    What’s more valuable:
    Crawford @ 8/144 + pitcher acquired for Swisher
    Swisher @ 2/19.25 + pitcher acquired for $ and prospects + the ability to re-sign Swish or shop for a new RFer after 2012

    To me, I can see the pitchers being a wash in both cases – depends on who’s selling, really. Swish is one of the few Yankees who should EASILY outperform is contract. The same can’t be said of Alex, Jeter, Tex, CC, Lee, Rivera, and Posada.

  8. Kiersten says:

    I really have no interest in the Yankees signing Crawford. He’d be great on a 4-5 year deal but you know he’s getting at least 7 from another team. Crawford at 38? Pass.

  9. Yanko says:

    Why is Swisher off the board? Is it because RAB decided he is the one traded if Crawford is signed?

    • vin says:

      Yeah, the 1st paragraph pretty much spells it out.

      • Yanko says:

        What row is it in, vin?

        • BC-203 says:

          “I took out Pettitte and Swisher while adding $24 million for Lee and $18.75 million for Crawford.”

        • vin says:

          “… and Carl Crawford if Andy Pettitte retired and they flipped one of their outfielders? It sounded interesting, if a bit unrealistic. I decided to put together a spreadsheet, based on the one found at Cot’s Baseball Contracts. I took out Pettitte and Swisher while adding $24 million for Lee and $18.75 million for Crawford. Here’s how it would play out:”

          It wasn’t explicitly stated, which is why I said “pretty much spells it out.”

    • I just think he’d bring back more than either Granderson or Gardner in a trade. Also, it’s nice to imagine that outfield.

      • vin says:

        I’m just glad that one guy isn’t around to “remind” us that Golson can pretty much do the same things as Crawford.

      • BC-203 says:

        Agree completely. While we think highly of Gardner, I don’t think he would sell high right now. The only more attractive aspect of Gardner is his salary. However, that is one additional reason the Yanks would keep him and trade Swisher and his $9 million.

        They are unlikely to mess around above $220 million, they certainly will not approach $230 million.

      • Yanko says:

        But who would Swish net for a Pitcher? Obviously his value is higher than Gardy’s, but what is the margin between what Gardy trade v. Swisher trade gets us? 30 homers and solid OB is just tough to trade away and pay C.Crawford an exuberant amount. What pitcher does Swisher trade get the Yankkes.

      • ultimate913 says:

        As someone else said in another thread(too lazy to look up name), with Crawford, Gardner and Granderson out there, R.I.P., fly balls.

  10. YankeesJunkie says:

    While having Lee and Crawford would be great for the first couple years it would hamstring the organization especially Crawford I believe. Crawford is a speed and defense guy and having him throughout his age 38 season is just looking for disaster considering his BB% is below 8% and he has never slugged over .500 over the course of the season. At least in signing Lee the Yankees are getting a skill set that has shown to age well similar to guy like Pettitte or Mussina. Finally, the Yankees just don’t need another OF, why shouldn’t the Yankees be happy with the OF they have at the current moment. Swisher has been great the last two years and there is no reason for him not to productive the next two years. Granderson even with his bad year still put up 3.6 WAR and if he improves at all next year you are looking at anywhere from 4-5 WAR. Finally, while Gardner would be a great trade piece his value is at a low right now due to the injury, but besides the fact he can still easily be a 3 WAR player due to his gaudy fielding numbers.

  11. Donatello Giannini says:

    Forget Lee and Crawford!!! Let Andy retire and bring in Nolasco and Garza as SP3 and SP4 with AJ as SP 5. Resign Kerry Wood as set up and keep our Outfielders affordable and talented. Add the Hairston Brothers, Scott and Jerry, and Melky as a Fifth outfielder. While we are at it trade for Doumit from the Pirates as he will cost less than Martin will and Doumit plays multiple positions.

  12. Kyle says:

    Does this account for luxury tax? That’s a big addition if it doesn’t

  13. Tyme says:

    As much as I like Swish he will prob be the one to go. Crawford scares me though, he seems like the kind of player who will decline very quickly once his speed goes. If it’s a 4 year contract I could live with it but after what Werth got I can’t see them signing crawford for anything under 6.

    An aside, I noticed A Rod is due (possibly) up to 6mil for his home run bonuses. Would the yankees have any legal recourse due to the steroid admittance? They are paying 6mil because of the positive press and revenue those home runs will provide which certainly is greatly diminished now.

  14. KofH says:

    Flip Posada and let Swish DH!

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Yeah, Posada and his $13M contract have a TON of trade value.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Sometimes a bad 1 year obligation is something you have to regret/live with and move on when it is done. Jorge had a great (career) year 3 years ago and parlayed that into a big 4 year contract taking him into his 40th year! He has been hurt every year and has had concussion issues. You guys are worried about Crawford until age 36/7?. I would DH Swish who is 10 years younger than Jorge and WAY more productive. Have Posada catch 30 games and yes-be an expensive backup for a few months if need be.

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