Mailbag: Burnett, Kennedy, New CBA

Report: Yanks, Pirates nearing Burnett deal
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So here it is, the final mailbag of the offseason. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any links, questions, comments, etc.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Andrew and many others ask: If the Yankees do trade A.J. Burnett and eat $23m of the contract, does that $23m still get attached to the Yankees’ luxury tax figures over the next two years?

We’ve been getting this question a few times a day, but I have absolutely no idea how this stuff works. I have to think we’ll get a definitive answer if and when a trade does go down.

Let’s just say they do eat that $23M split evenly over the next two years, does his luxury tax hit become $11.5M ($23M divided by two)? Or does it become $14.5M ($23M + $16.5M annually for the first three years of his contract divided by five)? It would have to be the first way, right? Otherwise they’re paying luxury tax on money they’re not paying Burnett.

Ryan asks: Does the possible A.J. Burnett trade make the possibility of signing a big time free agent like Cole Hamels more likely now, with the subtraction of his salary on the payroll?

I suppose it does, but they’re not going to save a ton of money by trading Burnett. If they’re going to drop huge money on one player next year, it’ll be because they’ve replaced Nick Swisher on the cheap. His salary ($10.25M) plus Hiroki Kuroda‘s salary ($10M) is where your $20M a year player is coming from. Either that, or they Yankees will have to raise payroll further. Freeing up some money by trading Burnett will help, but it won’t be the only reason they go after Hamels or someone like that.

Jon asks: Any chance the Yankees take a Jon Lieber-esqe flier on either Scott Kazmir or Brandon Webb?

Well, the Lieber contract was two guaranteed years knowing that he’d miss the first year after Tommy John surgery. There’s no way in hell you can guarantee Kazmir or Webb anything, it’s been far too long since they were effective big league pitchers. Plus those guys both had serious shoulder problems, not just an elbow. Minor league contracts? Fine. Nothing more though, otherwise you’re just wasting time, roster spots, and money.

(REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

Joseph asks: IMO, while I can’t doubt his NL West success, I don’t believe [Ian Kennedy] would be anywhere near the pitcher he was last season if he was on the Yankees in the AL East. He doesn’t have blow-me-away stuff and in my opinion, a lot came together last year for him. So, what’s your take? I don’t dive too heavily into advance stats, so my analysis is lacking.

We don’t even have to bring up his stuff or his command or anything like that. This applies to every pitcher ever: moving from the NL West to the AL East will cause your performance to suffer. It doesn’t matter if you’re Ian Kennedy, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, or Pedro Martinez in his prime. It’s unavoidable. The lineups in the AL East are far better, there’s a DH instead of a pitcher batting, and the ballparks are much less forgiving. In terms of pitching environments, the AL East and NL West couldn’t be any more different.

Kennedy is no exception like I said, and in fact his numbers would probably take a bigger hit than most because he’s on the best team in the division and doesn’t have to face his own lineup. Since moving to Arizona, 145.2 of his 416 innings (35.0%) have come against the punchless Giants, Dodgers, and Padres. Replace those teams with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays, and he’d do worst. It’s just the way it is. IPK is a really, really good pitcher, but his performance would absolutely suffer if he was still in pinstripes.

Will asks: I feel as though big market/high payroll teams are being put in an disadvantaged spot by the draft process/new CBA. Now that there is a cap on the draft/international market I feel like it is unfair to winning teams. How else are those teams going to acquire talent besides free agency? Picking so late in the draft is already a disadvantage, now the new CBA and possible worldwide draft would really hurt teams like the Yanks. What do you think?

The spending restrictions put in place by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement hurt everyone, but they hurt good teams the most. The more you win, the less you have to spend on top amateur talent without hurting themselves in the future (by forfeiting picks or future spending money per the new rules). Instead of being rewarded for winning, you’re punished. Good teams like the Yankees will be stuck signing free agents to improve their roster long-term, unless they just completely out-scout and out-player develop everyone else. It sucks, but at least the Yankees have more money to use on free agents than any other team.

Report: Yanks, Pirates nearing Burnett deal
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  • JoeyA

    Hey Mike,

    I really appreciate answering my question re: Kennedy. You guys really are on top of everything. A welcomed change from LoHud, the Yankees site I previously frequented.

    It would drive me nuts when people would use Kennedy’s performance on AZ as a reason we lost that trade.

    • Rainbow Connection

      I love when douches give a compliment by bashing someone else.
      Is this Joe Morgan?

      • JoeyA

        No. And I wasn’t looking to bash LoHud, that wasnt my intention at least. It was simply to point out that Mike and the guys here provide immense insight and analytics as well as respond to emails and comments in the threads, while most other blogs do not.

        I used to think LoHud led the pack in this regard, until I came here.

        that ebing said, my apologies if I came across as douche-y. Thanks for the insight Rainbow.

        • bklyn

          Don’t apologize. Rainbow was quite douche-y in his reply to you. It’s actually a common theme around here… smart ass comments and replies that is.

          • Slugger27

            in his defense, rainbow used to be actually humorous. he was a lot more lighthearted when he first started posting.

            hes more in the first group of trolls (he seems like hes actually a yankee fan but just wants to be a smartass) but unfortunately over the past few months his comments have an increasingly dickhead tone, making comments that used to be good for a cheap laugh turn into an unfunny eyeroll.

            • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

              For what it’s worth — which is nothing — Rainbow’s comments are still funny.

              • Jim Is Bored

                Maybe to someone with no sense of humor.

                Irritating, yes. Funny, no.

          • Rainbow Connection

            RAB = snarky douche comments

      • brent

        Speaking of being douchey. Wow, all he said was he likes this blog more than lohud. Contrary to what many of the sycophants who post comments on blogs you can legitimately criticize the quality of a blog EVEN IF IT’S FREE.

        No need to call him a douche and no need to be an agressive prick about it.

        Way to take someone who is new to the blog and turn him off immediately. Bravo.

  • JohnC

    That last question on the CBA is the reason the Yanks should go all out for Soler. Will be their last chance to flex their financial muscle on the IFA market before the new restrictions kick in

  • Mike Myers

    Crazy idea of the day:

    Yankees buy a mexican league team. Use that team to spend a ton on players. develop the players. then send them up to the Yankees. YAY!

    • JoeyA

      It’s so funny you say this because I was having this conversation with some friends.

      Obviously every team scouts in Dominican and I’m assuming theres Dominican League games these scouts go to.

      I would stand to assume the Yankees have the resources to essentially develop their own league or even team down there.

      With a place like Latin America where a TON of MLB talent comes from, why not have a much larger presence down there, unless theres a rule against this sort of thing.

      • Mike Myers

        If there arent rules against it, MLB would create one the second the Yankees put a bid on a team. The Yanks could probably buy a Mexican team for less than they spend a year on AROD. probably much less.

      • Ted Nelson

        The Yankees have two teams in the DR.

        The Yankees may be able to establish a team in Mexico (not sure), but if they can it wouldn’t somehow exempt them from MLB rules. Players on that team would still have to enter the MLB system under MLB rules.

    • Jobu The Voodoo Troll

      Screw that. The Yankees should just buy the Pirates.

      • the Other Steve S.

        Nah, the Mariners.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    You mentioned the new CBA, perhaps with this new CBA they do decide to raise payroll to make up for the draft restrictions?

  • Women’s Lib is Ms.Guided

    The Yankees have done fine without spending the way Boston and Toronto have, so I think the changes might help them in terms of the division. If all teams are limited in spending the prestige of the Yankees is still valuable. And the Yankees are also doing better in making ‘room’ for young players (Hechevarria signed with Toronto rather than be blocked by Jeter).

    • Smart Solutions

      i wish we wouldnt have passed on miguel angel sano though

    • Gonzo

      I’m actually really interested in seeeing how the Boy Wonder does without being able to outspend teams in the draft.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    off topic, but anyone else notice the smiley face :) at the bottom of the page? right where the gray part of the site starts.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      not the emoticon the ..) but right side up.

      • Damix

        Well I noticed now.

  • Ted Nelson

    “Big market/high payroll” teams are at a huge, huge advantage in MLB… which is why these rules are necessary. Baseball is not a free market. It’s a cartel. Teams are tied to certain geographical areas. KC, Cinci, Cleveland… these markets are about 1/10th the size of NY (in terms of population… not even considering incomes). It would be nearly impossible to compete with a NYC team dollar-for-dollar… which is why other sports have salary caps. If baseball were a free market, you’d probably have about 8-10 teams in the NY area for every team in Kansas City. Without pro-competition measures, I believe the cartel would be broken as small market teams could not compete and moved to larger markets to compete. So, either big market teams can increase competition on their own monopolistic terms or they can deal with real competition.

    The entire purpose of a draft is to give losing teams an advantage, to increase competitiveness for fans. Otherwise they’d have no draft or a lottery system to determine draft order.

    I’m not sure winning teams will be at much more of a disadvantage in the draft than under the last CBA. In IFA, yes… but that’s intentional since before it was basically a loop-hole to the draft process. Most of the top talent was already going in the first half of the first round, and then after that I don’t think it was really a straight-line relationship between draft position, bonus, and performance. There is still going to be a lot of talent on the board. Even if kids go to college more… they’re going to have to go through the draft eventually to play in MLB. Like the new IFA rules, this is to close loop-holes that basically rendered the spirit of the draft meaningless because a team could buy talent and at times Boras would literally auction his clients.

    • mike

      Yes but no…..until there is transparency into the operations of the individual teams, including a look at local revenues/expenses and more importantly the goals of the franchise, there is no way to determine the advantage (and value thereof) a big market team has over a smaller market team.

      From a NY/Yankee perspective, we look at success as winning titles and having the ability to sign top free agenst….its been proven time and again that not every organization/ownership group shares those two goals, whether because the ownership group would rather make a profit, or whether a deep=pocket owner will not put monies back into the team

      • Ted Nelson

        Your two paragraphs contradict one another. I agree more with the first. You’re right that we don’t know the exact financials of these teams… which negates part of my point as well as your second paragraph. Winning drives revenue for a sports franchise, so smart owners are going to win in order to make money… not see a trade-off between the two.

        You’re right that we don’t know how much these teams are making. Do they know how much each other are making? Basically, is revenue sharing and such divided up by market size or financial performance?

        Given that a lot of the costs of operation are fairly constant across locations, I find it really hard to believe that there’s not an advantage to playing in a bigger market. You’re right, though, that I don’t know. Without knowing the operating costs of a baseball team, I would assume there’s an advantage to being in a bigger market with more fans to drive revenue and costs do not increase at the same rate… Could be wrong, though.

  • Vegetable Lasagna

    AJ’s gotta go. They’ve gotta get that deal done. I think they should deal Hughes as well and get us another bat. Last year in the playoffs it was the bats that didn’t come through. Johnny would be a good addition at part time DH. It’s time to admit we made a mistake dealing IPK instead of Joba or Phil. Good trade to get Grandy but we traded the wrong young arm.

    • Steve (different one)

      But AZ wanted Kennedy. They saw him in the AFL and liked what they saw.

      • The Guns of Navarone

        Yeah, people act as if the Dbacks would have taken whatever the Yankees offered. They wanted Kennedy. With the way the team has taken shape, I would do that trade every day. That’s why Cashman should get all the credit in the world for what he’s done for this team. The Yankees have gotten younger and better every year, and he hasn’t had to mortgage the farm system on any one deal (like other teams have) to do so.

  • Smart Solutions

    what the yankees need to do is :

    A: invest on more scouts like the Rays and bluejays who have 3 times the amount of scouts we do

    B: invest on a better development plan from the low minors to the higher levels, specially in pitching , we’ve seen that young pitching can bring back impact bats and prospects.

    C: invest in Puerto Rico to develop players there, the draft killed puertorico among other things going on in the island.

    D: do the same in venezuela

    E: Encourage good gene athletes to embrace parenthood with female athletes in the dominican republic, cuba and venezuela to produce a super athlete gene baby, hopefully by doctoring up the process so they are male fetus.

    F: require our stars when they sign with our team to mandatory adopt 3 to 4 prospects from the team to pick their brain and approach so when they are in the minors they can be more mature.

    G: set an embargo to teams who refure to spend or win by not negotiating anything with those teams once their star players get too expensive for them and take it to the board of directors of winning teams to do the same therefore having to see them lose players via FA and if necessary invade one of these towns under speculative involvement with al qaeda.


    • Steve (different one)

      Yeah, except “A” isn’t true. They may not call them “scouts”, but that soundbite was nonsense.

      • Smart Solutions

        Dont know where you get your info from but A is totally true

        • Jim Is Bored

          Serious question, not being snarky, but do you have a source? Because I don’t buy it, either.

          • Ted Nelson

            Basically a he-said, she-said with no definitive answer as far as I can tell. One journalist said it, then another disagreed from what I remember.

        • Steve (different one)

          If you say so. Basically someone tweeted this during the draft. Then I believe it was KLaw who said that there was no way this was true, but that the Yankees might not call their guys like cross-checkers “scouts”. Considering how outlandish the claim is, I would tend to believe KLaw.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      E: Encourage good gene athletes to embrace parenthood with female athletes in the dominican republic, cuba and venezuela to produce a super athlete gene baby, hopefully by doctoring up the process so they are male fetus.

      …….. ok.

    • Doctor Krieger

      E: Encourage good gene athletes to embrace parenthood with female athletes in the dominican republic, cuba and venezuela to produce a super athlete gene baby, hopefully by doctoring up the process so they are male fetus


    • The Guns of Navarone


      H: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentation of their women.

  • fin

    Other than getting rid of Swish and replacing him on the cheap, there is the possibility of Mo retiring, combined with Feliciano and Garcia coming off the books. All of those players I think are easier to replace effectively on the cheap with internal players, than is Swisher. I’m not sure resigning Swisher is the right move (depending on the years and salary), but I think it will be the Yankees first choice.

    I personally hope the Yankees have no need for Hamels this offseason, and I think its entirely possible that is the case. Not to mention I still think the Phils sign him and he doesnt hit FA. It will be a huge failure on the Phils part if they loose him. With the contracts the Phils have given out, running out of money for Hamels seems hard to believe.

    • Smart Solutions

      theres also the possibility of trading granderson , selling high on him and if hughes bounces back to top pitcher trading him for a young cheap RF

      • fin

        Who are you replacing Granderson with for offensive production. Hughes has been good enough to trade for a young, cheap RF for 2 months of his pro career and hes going to be 1 year away from FA after the year. I see Hughes for a young cheap, GOOD RF as next too impossible at this point.

  • D

    The deal is “a bold, sharp major-league move” for the Pirates, writes Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via MLBTR….I wonder what we are gonna get in return here

    • The Guns of Navarone

      Burnett will get a fresh start, too, away from a New York fan base that tormented him and a manager who discussed his possible demotion to the bullpen almost daily. In Pittsburgh, Burnett can be a No. 2, possibly a No. 1. And it’s not like much is ever expected of anyone associated with the Pirates. He can relax and just pitch, maybe even pitch very well.

      That paragraph in particular made me chuckle.

      The New York fan base tortured A.J.???

      That’s weird. I remember it being the other way around.

      • Ted Nelson

        I find it funny that he might be their #1 or #2 starter even if he puts up the same numbers he did in 2011 for the Yankees… sad, but funny.

  • mister d

    Splitting hairs, but as much as the new CBA hurts winning teams, I’d argue the ones most hurt by it are the amateur players themselves. Look at what teams are willing to spend on Chapman, Darvish and Cespedis. These kids all have a value well beyond what they are paid, and the new contract curbs their earning potential more than at any time since the draft was enacted.

  • Rookie

    I don’t know the way the luxury tax is calculated either. But I would think that the way it HAS to work is as follows:

    Assume a $16.5 million per year contract beginning in 2009 and running through 2013.

    Presumably the $16.5 million per year from 2009, 2010, and 2011 has already been included in the Yankees taxable payroll — and they’ve already paid luxury tax on it.

    So all that’s left is the $16.5 million per year for 2012 and 2013 — with, I presume, a taxable average annual value (AAV) of $16.5 million. So if the Pirates or anyone else take on $13 million of that $33 million, that reduces the remaining sum due by the Yankees to $20 million over the remaining two years — which would reduce the AAV to $10 million.

    If it doesn’t work that way, if I may be so bold, it obviously should.

  • Rookie

    As for the new CBA, I would submit that it solves a problem that doesn’t exist. A well run small market team like Tampa Bay or, in the past, the Miami franchise, could win it all — although, for the most part, they couldn’t be in the top tier every year. But every year, you had some of those teams in the mix And it’s just the nature of baseball that the wild card team wins at least as often as the regular season juggernaut large market team.

    But Chairman Bud succeeded in moving the MLB a little closer to being like the NFL where you have a bunch of flawed teams playing against each other. It achieves more competitiveness at the expense of quality.

    And it penalizes teams who were stupid enough in the past to sign way-too-high and/or way-too-long contracts — cough, cough like ARod’s and Jeter’s — by making it too expensive even for them to just spend their way out of them.

  • Rookie

    In my judgement, the new CBA reverses the challenge.

    Whereas the old CBA made small market teams have to do everything right in order to win periodically, the new CBA makes large market teams have to do everything right to be in the top tier of teams consistently.

    The net effect, I think, will be for some large market teams to no longer be perennial juggernauts, for MLB post season ratings to be lower than they would be otherwise (without the foil of the big market team in there as often), and, most dramatically, for sums paid to players drafted and international prospects covered by the agreement much less than they would be otherwise.

    • Ted Nelson

      Most large market teams are not “juggernauts” right now… Both Chicago teams, the Mets, the Dodgers, and the Angels are 5 of the 6 teams in the largest markets. No playoffs the last two years and mostly bad farm systems.

      I think the impact will be very marginal.

      • Rookie

        Where in my post do you think I said that “most” large market teams are juggernauts right now? Here’s what I said:

        “The net effect, I think, will be for SOME large market teams to no longer be perennial juggernauts…”

        Got it, Ted?

        You can argue that the Yankees and Red Sox doing the payroll watusi to get under $189 million is a one-time event. I don’t know the answer there. But after the new CBA kicks in, we’ll see one way or another how much it impacts amateur and international draft activity by the Yankees, Red Sox, Detroit, etc. My guess is that it will impact them a LOT.

        My guess is that only very well run large market teams will be able to stay near the top and that more large market teams will experience the pattern of being good for a few years and then rebuilding like small market teams have had to do in the past. I also think you’ll see more of those teams being more flawed even when they’re at or near the top a la the NFL.

        We’ll get an idea from the next draft, but I don’t think we’ll really know for five years or more.