I was in the writing mood when I put this together yesterday, so you’re getting seven questions and close to 2,000 words worth of mailbag this morning. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions.
Many, many people asked: What about Grady Sizemore in some capacity?
The vast majority of the questions we got this week were about Sizemore, either as a fourth outfielder or a full-time corner guy with Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner being traded away. From 2005-2008, Sizemore was arguably the best player in the game, hitting .281/.372/.496 (.376 wOBA) with power (107 homers) and speed (115 steals) to go along with very strong defense in center field. His 27.4 fWAR and 24.4 bWAR during those four years were both the fourth highest in the game. He’s a free agent because the Tribe declined his $9M club option earlier in the week.
The now 29-year-old Sizemore is a shell of his former self due to injuries, specifically to his knees. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 (and then some setbacks), and had an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee just a few weeks ago. He’s also needed surgery for two sports hernias (2009 and 2011) and for a debridement in his elbow (2009). All those injuries have limited Sizemore to just 210 games over the last three years (no more than 106 in a single season), during which time he’s hit .234/.314/.413 without any of the speed he showed before (just 17-for-29 in steal attempts). Over the last two years, it’s a .220/.280/.379 line with four steals in eight attempts in 104 games.
I don’t see the fourth outfielder thing working for the Yankees because he’s a left-handed hitter, and they have enough of those in the outfield already. They need a right-handed bat that can step into the lineup against tough southpaws, especially the AL East guys like David Price, Jon Lester, and Ricky Romero. I also don’t see any reason to believe that Sizemore can hold up for a full season playing everyday, he hasn’t done that in three years now. He’s a sexy name because he was legitimately one of the best players in the sport at one time, but Sizemore isn’t that guy anymore and there’s not much evidence that he’s coming back. I expect him to sign with some team that guarantees him a bunch of playing time, then is left scrambling when he gets hurt again.
Ed asks: Let’s say the Rockies non-tender Ryan Spilborghs this offseason, should the Yanks sign him to replace Andruw Jones for the 2012 season? Spilborghs has a career .277/.357/.443 line against lefties, and is a decent fielder.
Spilborghs is okay, but he got wildly overrated a few years ago because he had some dramatic hits during the Rockies’ run to the World Series in 2007. I don’t even think he even qualifies as a platoon bat anymore, he’s hit just .236/.332/.401 against lefties over the last three seasons (.258/.317/.384 vs. RHP), so the majority of his career damage against southpaws came 4+ years ago. Spilborghs is a big step down from Jones, who works the count well and (more importantly) can really hit for power.
As an aside, my all-time favorite Ryan Spilborghs moment was when Woody Paige said the Rockies should trade Matt Holliday (in June 2008) so Spilborghs could become “a full-time starting outfielder who could be the next Holliday.” Nice thought, if it wasn’t for the fact that Spliborghs is four months older than Holliday. Fire Joe Morgan did a number on that one.
Kevin asks: Apparently the Marlins are willing to listen on Chris Coghlan, do you think the Yankees should look into acquiring him? He could back up a couple infield and outfield spots, and was a very good hitter two years ago. He could be a good number two hitter as a starter in the future as well.
I really liked Coghlan a few years ago, before he won Rookie of the Year, but he’s kinda sucked ever since. He’s hit .252/.318/.376 with minimal over-the-fence power and base-stealing prowess (17-for-28 in stolen base attempts) over the last two years, plus he needed surgery for a torn meniscus in 2010. Inflammation in the same joint put him on the shelf for two months this summer. I still like Coghlan as a bench player and depth option, but I can’t imagine the Marlins will look to move him when his value is at its absolute lowest.
Jonathan asks: If I’m Brian Cashman, I throw out the whole “no negotiating with player before deal expires” thing and try to extend Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano; Gardner to a 5 year deal (covering 3 arb years + 2 FA years for a total of 40.5 mil, 12: 3 mil, 13: 5.5 mil 14: 8 mil 15: 10.5 mil 16: 13.5 mil) while defense is still very underrated and Cano to 6 year deal. (Pick up 2 options + 88 million, 22 per year for 4 remaining years + a player option for 20 mil, so in total, a 6 year 117 mil deal with potential to reach a 7 year 137 mil).
Are these unrealistic from either side? Cano gets the 100+ mil contract he wants and Yanks don’t pay much for his decline years. Gardner gets guaranteed raises of about 2-3 mil each year while Yanks lock up LF/CF with great defense who could have great value (both on field and as trade bait). I’d figure some flaws might be that Boras might want 150+ mil for Cano and Gardner’s agent might start valuing defense more.
I do understand why the Yankees don’t negotiate with anyone (it’s not just players, it’s front office execs as well) before their contracts expire (minimize risk), but I don’t necessary agree with it. I’ve said it numerous times that I’d like to see the Yankees sign Cano long-term this offseason, suggesting something in the neighborhood of six years and $120M (which is basically the same think Jonathan suggested). It’s better to give him the six years now and pay for ages 29-35 than wait until his deal expires in two seasons and pay for ages 31-37.
A five-year deal would cover Gardner’s age 28-33 seasons, and since so much of his game is tied to his legs, you’d run the risk of getting little return if he develops chronic hamstring problems or something like that. Five years and $40.5M also seems like a market rate contract to me, and the entire point of these deals is to save some cash. The team assumes additional risk in exchange for a discount while the player sacrifices maximum earning potential for security. I think something like five years and $32M would be more appropriate, broken down by year as $2M/$4M/$6M/$9M/$11M. Will Brett be an $11M player in 2016? It’s very unlikely, but you’re banking on lots of surplus value early in the contract.
Preston asks: If you knew that the cost to sign either Edwin Jackson for 4/40 or get Yu Darvish for 50 million posting fee plus 6/72 and you had to pick one to fill out the rotation, which would it be?
I’d prefer Darvish, pay the extra money for the (theoretically) better pitcher. NoMaas listed all of Jackson’s good qualities while Joe listed all the bad, so between those two posts you get a pretty good idea of the entire picture. There is still some upside there since he’s so young, you’re buying three or four peak years rather than one or none. It’s not my money though, so I say be bold and go after Darvish.
Just for the record, I’d much rather sign Jackson to a four-year deal than C.J. Wilson to a four- of five-year deal, almost regardless of the cash involved. So my preference this winter is Darvish, Jackson, then Wilson, though I’d explore the trade market before going all in with Jackson.
Kenny asks: What about Jonathan Broxton on an incentive-laden deal? He should be ok by spring training and certainly could be a high risk/reward type guy. I know the bullpen is pretty deep already but Joba may not be back that quickly.
I’d love it, Broxton was arguably the most dominant reliever in baseball (~12 K/9, ~3.5 BB/9, ~50% grounders) from 2006 through the middle of 2010, when the Yankees apparently broke him in this game. We know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it sure looks like the physical toll of that outing (48 high-stress pitches in one inning) really did him in based on how awesome he was before that game and how awful he was after.
Broxton, still just 27, missed a ton of time this year with elbow problems (surgery to remove a bone spur and loose bodies) and was pretty awful in the 12.2 innings he did pitch (5.63 FIP). If he’s down with a super-low-risk contract, like one-year and $1M with a bunch of incentives, then I’d be all for it. If he wants more guaranteed money, then forget it. The Yankees don’t exactly need him, as far as they’re concerned he’d just be a lottery ticket.
Biggie asks: If Cashman didn’t re-up and YOU were hired, what Yankee moves this off-season would YOU make (not what you expect them to do)? With Sabathia in the fold not a lot of 25 man roster spots left.
At the risk of looking incredibly stupid, I might as well have some fun with this. Priority number one would have been re-signed CC Sabathia, obviously. I’d also put in a rather sizable bid on Darvish, something around $40-45M. If that wins his rights, then I’m thinking a five-year contract in the $50-60M range. I’d also seriously explore a trade for John Danks, preferably centered around no one better than Dellin Betances. I’m a big fan; he’s left-handed, young (26), gets swings-and-misses, limits walks, and the cost should be reasonable since he’s only under contract for one more year. With Darvish and Danks on board, then Ivan Nova is the number four and whoever sucks the least between Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett in Spring Training is the number five. Hector Noesi is back in Triple-A working as a starter, ready to go whenever needed.
I’d look to see if Joe Nathan has any interest in a cheap deal, nothing more than one-year and $2M. He’s a New York native and says winning is important at this point of his career, so it doesn’t hurt to ask if he’s down with being the world’s most overqualified middle reliever. If that doesn’t work and someone like Broxton or maybe even Rich Harden isn’t interested either, then I’d probably skip out on the bullpen market all together and wait for minor league deals in January and February. Filling out the bench is simple enough, bring Andruw back and sign someone like Greg Dobbs to replace Eric Chavez if he retires, at least to start the season. I’m also a Drew Sutton fan, so I’d bring him in on a minor league pact for depth.