Bench will wait as Yanks focus on pitching

Eying a 42nd Street stadium once upon a time
Lefty reliever on the agenda, but not a priority
Still nothin'. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I don’t know for sure, but I have to think Brian Cashman was the last General Manager to arrive at the Winter Meetings this year. He checked into the Hilton Anatole at about 4pm local time on Monday, a sign that GMs don’t need to huddle in one place to get things done and that the Yankees don’t have any pressing business at the moment. They’re not seriously engaged with any of the major free agents, at least not publicly, and the smaller stuff — meaning the bench and various depth players for Triple-A — will wait until later.

“The focus on the front of the winter has mostly been on higher end type things so that can reinforce our pitching,” said Cashman to reporters after arriving. “I have to watch our payroll, so I can’t spend a lot on the smaller stuff right now — even though they’re important players — that kind of restricts me from doing something that might come along that’s still a bit bigger, or a lot bigger. That’s why I’m making sure I exploit all the various potential pitching acquisitions, both on the free agent and trade market. When I get a strong enough feel for how that’s going to go or not go, then I’ll focus on the bench.”

Those hundred or so words boil down to “we’re going to keep our options open.” Andruw Jones is a great fit for the bench, but he’s also not the most irreplaceable player in the world. Rather than re-sign him for $3M or so right now, the Yankees are going to wait to see if a solution to their more pressing need — the rotation — comes along first. Once they get a little deeper into the offseason, they’ll figure out if Jones fits into their budget. He didn’t agree to terms with the Yankees until January 17th last winter following a 2010 season that was very similar to his 2011 season, so there’s no rush.

“I’m not down here to sit back and order room service for four days and be content,” added Cashman while continuing to acknowledge that he’s not optimistic about getting something done this week. “I’m going to keep trying, but I just don’t want to be stupid. Obviously if we do something, I want it to be something we feel really good about. I’m not going to do something just to do something because that’s what you do at this time of year.”

Not being optimistic about something and not being prepared are two totally different things. I don’t think the Yankees will get anything done down here, but if something worthwhile comes along, I believe they’re ready to pounce quickly. We’ve seen it in the recent past — most notably with the second Javy Vazquez trade and the Cliff Lee non-trade — the Yankees tend to take care of business very quickly. There aren’t weeks of rumors, these things happen overnight. The bench is important, but it can wait until the pitching picture clears up.

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Eying a 42nd Street stadium once upon a time
Lefty reliever on the agenda, but not a priority
  • 28 this year

    Usually, the rumors you hear about the Yankees are things that have already fallen apart and are no longer likely to happen. The only deals that actually had rumors during the actual actions in recent memory were CC (both times), Jeter, and Mariano. The deals with rumors; Haren, Cliff Lee, etc. seemed to have already fallen through when we heard rumors. I think no news from the Yankees is good news because anything with news tends to fall apart. Like the Ynoa negotiations, didn’t he have a deal with the Yankees before the A’s jumped in after hearing the dollar value. Granted Ynoa busted but I think the Yankees do things Cash-ninja style, not the long drawn out episode with rumors and stuff.

    • Plank

      The A-Rod saga of 07 was pretty drawn out. I wouldn’t call Jeter’s negotiations speedy or smooth.

      The Granderson trade sounded like an unlikely rumor for a few days until it actually happened.

      Besides, what else is there to talk about?

  • JohnC

    Cashman keeps everything low key for fear of being held up. He’s paranoid about that and for good reason. Everyone looks to rob the Yankees, He knows that. So talking to him is a waste of time. I would like to see them get Darvish and one of the two Cuban FA outfielders.

    • 28 this year

      Its also so that other teams can’t jump in upon hearing the news. For example, the Mark Teixeira deal happened so quickly, it was reported the Red Sox didn’t even get the chance to up their offer. The Yankees like to strike and strike quick before other teams have a chance to know what’s going and raise the bidding. It’s why Cash hated the way Jack Z handled the Cliff Lee negotiations by stalling and waiting for another team to finally cave and up the offer. Its good tactics to not let your rivals up your price. The Red Sox were loud about getting Crawford and Cashman used that to raise the price for the Red Sox by faking interest.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Everyone looks to rob get as much as they can from the Yankees since they have the most money and currently have a lot of talent in the minors

      FTFY. Teams aren’t looking to rob them, simply being good businessmen and trying to get the best deal for their team that they can. As the Yankees do with other teams (See: trades, Sisher, Nick)

      • 28 this year

        I can’t find Sisher in that book.

        /that guy’d

        • Cris Pengiucci

          :-)

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      They want to bushwack, dry gulch, hornswagle, sidewind the Yankees.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        Forgot hoodwink,blind side and sky jack the Yankees.

        • Jose M. Vazquez..

          That is hornswoggle.

          • Plank

            Pure codswallop! What is this chicanery?

  • Bronx Byte

    Danks is too pricey in Yankee talent for just a one year rental.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    I want Andruw Jones to remain a Yankee, but only because his mother is a killer hitting coach.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      +1!

  • suzynandjohnslovechild

    Looking to me like the dominows are falling in place for a big yankee bid on darvish. No great established pitchers out there and gms asking for the moon and stars in trades. Especially now with the news that the yanks want to get under 189 by 2014, darvish looks like a perfect option. In an ideal world cash would hang onto nova betances and banelous with hopefully 2 working out long term and giving him cost contolled starters for his rotation. If darvish even turns out to be a “number 3″ starter, whatever contract he signs will likely be below market value (in terms of aav) in 2014 giving them a very affordable rotation for the near future. As for the posting fee, if darvish does work out, yes its a big if, then the money saved by the team for staying under threshold will essentially cover the cost of the posting fee. Plus I am a spoiled yankee fan who wants a new player under the tree for xmas

  • Gonzo

    Yanks trade for Cliff Lee. Cliff goes along because he says it’s obvious that the Phils aren’t dedicated to getting younger.

    Says his wife always loved NY too. Also says the NY crowd was actually blowing kisses not spitting at her. Big misunderstanding.

    • Thomas

      I assume the condom thrown at her was just because the Yankees love her that much, but always practice safe sex.

      • Gonzo

        That was symbol of how safe NY would be with her family. It harks back to Faulkner’s symbolism clearly.

  • Gonzo

    Quick question. If they give YoMan CaughtSpeeding a bonus along with his contract, How does that work for the luxury threashold?

    Is the bonus just averaged out for the life of the contract?

  • Monteroisdinero

    In Cash we trust. Bobby V will have those Red Sox watching ARod video and cutting the angles on the base paths however, so Cash can’t be too complacent.

  • Ted Nelson

    I’m pretty interested to see what they do with the $189 million cutoff looming… Based on my understanding (which is far from complete) it will suddenly mean the marginal players over that cutoff cost an additional $40 million.

    So if the most expendable guys keeping you over that cutoff are, for example and I know they should be gone by then, Soriano and Burnett… they suddenly don’t just cost the ~$28 million they make + luxury tax hit of (don’t know exactly) ~$14 million… they now cost you that plus $40 million. $82 million for a single season Soriano and Burnett, then additional hits in 2015 and 2016.

    I like Danks about as much as anyone, for example, but if he’s the only major acquisition before 2014 (there could also be a RF, of course, even if it’s just re-signing Swisher) that puts them over that cutoff I don’t know if he’s worth maybe $16 million per + $8 million luxury tax + $40 million… plus the penalty in 2015 and 2016 as well… more than just keeping the prospects. That’s $64 million in 2014 for Danks vs. just hanging onto, say, Betances and Warren or whatever and hoping that they contribute…

    I don’t know the Yankees finances well enough to know the value of a proven #2 starter like Danks vs. holding onto a couple of/a few prospects and hoping they contribute… I sort of doubt it’s $64 million in a single year, though.

    Part of that also applies to a free agent, though not the prospects obviously (well maybe a pick).

    • Gonzo

      “So if the most expendable guys keeping you over that cutoff are, for example and I know they should be gone by then, Soriano and Burnett… they suddenly don’t just cost the ~$28 million they make + luxury tax hit of (don’t know exactly) ~$14 million… they now cost you that plus $40 million. $82 million for a single season Soriano and Burnett, then additional hits in 2015 and 2016.”

      Being serious here. Is there another “charge” they have to pay coming in 2015? What’s the $40mm charge on top of everything coming from?

      • Plank

        If they are under 189MM (which they won’t be) in 2014, they pay a lot less revenue sharing. It could be about 40MM. If I were like some people, I would attack that number as unverified, but I’m able to recognize it’s an estimate.

        • Gonzo

          Ok, so it’s the revenue sharing not luxury tax. I didn’t think the revenue sharing could be cut by that much. That’s a hefty number.

          • Gonzo

            Thanks.

            • Plank

              No problem.

              The estimated 40MM is the revenue sharing that goes to clubs on the receiving end but are also one of the 15 biggest teams in terms of market size (Toronto, Washington, who knows?)

              The Yankees have been estimated to pay 100MM in revenue sharing, so if they get that portion returned, it will save them a bundle. I’m curious if the big market welfare teams get to keep the money if the Yankees go over the luxury tax threshold. I haven’t seen any indication either way anywhere.

        • Ted Nelson

          I really don’t want to deal with you anymore, but I ask that you stop these baseless attacks. I am ignoring you, and I ask that you return the favor.

          This is not my estimate, and as my source was on this very blog just yesterday… I did not feel it was necessary to cite it since I assumed the regulars read it.

          You yourself commented 20 times on that thread, so I know you are well aware this was not my estimate and that I, in fact, had a source. When you know the exact nature of by source, why would you ask for it and imply that I am lobbing around baseless estimates? When you say that a private organization is more profitable this year than ever before… that is something you need a source for and I still haven’t seen yours. When you use the exact same forum as a source, it’s a lot easier to assume people are on the same page. Sherman might be wrong, but I don’t think any of us has a better idea of what the actual number might be.

          • Plank

            Whoa, 720. I was just replying to Gonzo’s question. Why do you think I was attacking you? Do you think you attack people when they present things you aren’t familiar with? I didn’t say anything to you and I certainly didn’t make a baseless attack.

            When you know the exact nature of by source, why would you ask for it and imply that I am lobbing around baseless estimates?

            On what planet did that happen? I never asked for your source or imply that you are lobbing around baseless estimates. I said it is clearly an estimate (although the 40MM figure seems to be presented as fact.) If I missed somewhere where I “ask for [a source] and imply that you are lobbing around baseless estimates” please provide me with the relevant quote.

      • Ted Nelson

        To clear things up… this is not my estimate, but Joel Sherman’s as reported here on RAB yesterday: http://riveraveblues.com/2011/.....014-60220/

        • Ted Nelson

          On that same thread I describe why I believe the $189 million threshold is very doable.

          It basically comes down to at least the DH or C spot being covered by one of Montero, Romine, or Murphy (preferably both, of course, but I allowed for Martin to be paid $7 million and back-ed up by Romine or Murphy… Cervelli/free agent would cost a bit more but doable)… pitching prospects working out… no veteran relievers being signed (though DRob and maybe Wade will be going through arb)… and then spending conservatively on a RF and/or SP. If Yoenis were to come at only $6 mill per he could be the RF answer (two big ifs of course) or they could always trade one of their prospects for a RF prospect/cheap young player from elsewhere. Could replace Granderson with two OFs for the same price… depending on his exact performance going forward and contract demands.

          The marginal value of a dollar spent if you’re close to that cutoff is (based on my understanding) absolutely HUGE, as I explain above. I don’t think the Yankees will sacrifice winning is a big way to get to the threshold… since I think that would cost them more than they would save. I just think that it incentivizes sticking with their own prospects in a huge way and if they have pretty average luck with prospects developing and current players staying healthy/productive they could get there. And if you’re close… I think that’s where you might make a sacrifice to stay under rather than signing that free agent who costs you $82 million a year.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      To my understanding they have the ability to get under the threshold once in any of those coming 3 years, so while this wouldn’t change the massive penalty you describe for 2014, if, and it’s a big IF, they managed to get back below $189mm 2015 (or 2016) then it clears them again. I am sure I farked this up, but that’s my wobbly understanding.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, I don’t think the 2014 thing is a rule so much as a loose goal. From 2014 to 2015, though, the only guy currently coming off the cap is Jeter (which of course might change)… so 2014 might be a convenient time to do it before guys get deeper into arb, Gardner and Robertson are free agents, etc. Things could certainly change and prospects are too volatile to count on things unfolding a certain way, I just see a big incentive not to be barely over the threshold.

      • Mike K

        For luxury tax purposes, yes I believe that if they get under $189M in any of those years, it will reset the tax threshold to 15% for the following year. From the current %40 (though may be %50 coming up, I forget exactly). So if they get to $189M for 2014, and go back to $200M in 2015, that will save them say $76M in 2014 (luxury tax on $190M), and then another $45M in 2015 (.15*200 vs .4*200). Or basically they could save enough in those 2 years to affod a good portion of King Felix’s next contract…

        • Ted Nelson

          Is luxury tax paid on the entire payroll, or the portion over the threshold?

          • Need Pitching

            only the portion over the threshold

    • Need Pitching

      the $40M in revenue sharing saved is if they are under for all 3 years 2014-2016, for just 2014 they would save just about 10M in revenue sharing, plus the luxury tax amount. So in your example, the single season of Soriano and Burnett would cost roughly $52M, not $82M (not that $52M is worthwhile for them either, but its alot better than $82M)

      • Ted Nelson

        Good catch… that changes things pretty significantly

  • tbord

    Hello Theo, ya tgot in late last night. What’s Up…
    Just calling to let you know there are no untouchables in Chicago…
    Theo, cmon, are you trying to con me?
    They don’t call me the boy genius for nothing Brian.