Mailbag: Martin, Shoppach, Bourjos, Choo

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Just four questions this week, and they’re all geared towards potential roster moves. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar whenever you want to send us something.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Matt asks: Given his current performance, do you think the Yankees are going to re-sign Russell Martin (and, should they)? If so, what kind of contract do you think he’s going to get?

I wrote about the catching situation yesterday and how the Yankees should look for an upgrade behind the plate, but that’s obviously easier said than done. I don’t think Martin’s true talent is a .178/.297/.347 batting line, he’s probably closer to a .225/.320/.380 guy. That’s not great but it’s at least tolerable, you can live with it behind the plate as long as he’s solid defensively and hitting eighth or ninth. I think that Martin’s back may still be bothering him, which would at least help explain the recent dreadful production.

Anyway, looking for an upgrade and potentially re-signing Martin after the season are two different thing. I’m sure Russ is kicking himself to turning down that three-year extension before the season but then again the catching market is weak. After Mike Napoli, Martin will be the best free agent catcher this offseason. Someone may and probably will overpay. If the Yankees could bring him back on one of those one-year, “re-establish your value” contracts, wouldn’t that be a pretty decent stopgap option until that 2014 payroll plan takes effect? Pair him with Austin Romine as a veteran caddy, they could do worse as long as they actually split time behind the plate.

Gabriel asks: What about trading for Kelly Shoppach as a back-up? I just read on MLBTR that the Red Sox were thinking of dealing him. Red Sox-Yanks deals are always tough, but what do you think?

Shoppach can hit a little, though he’s not really a .267/.359/.522 hitter like he has been this year. His primary value comes against left-handed pitchers, who he’s tagged for a .249/.348/.465 line over the last three seasons. That’s a useful platoon guy and would be a clear upgrade for the Yankees. The problem, as you know, is the whole Red Sox-Yankees thing. I can’t see those two teams getting together for a trade unless Boston just completely falls apart and decides to sell before the deadline (or even during the waiver trade period in August). I think they would have to get a real prospect in return as part of the trade, otherwise the negative PR from “helping the Yankees” probably isn’t worth it. He’d be a fit, he knows the division from his time with the both the Sox and Rays, but I just don’t think he’s actually obtainable.

Alex asks: According to Jayson Stark, the Angels are willing to give up Peter Bourjos in a deal for the right bullpen piece. Given that David Aardsma and Joba Chamberlain will be back this summer, would it be worth dealing Rafael Soriano to pick up an outfielder for the next few years?

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

No, I don’t think so and for a few reasons. For one, the goal is still to win this year and trading Soriano for Bourjos decreases the team’s chances of doing so. Aardsma just had his setback and despite all his progress, we have no idea what the Yankees will get out of Joba until he’s actually on a mound for them. They can’t start counting their chickens before they hatch.

Secondly, I’m just not a big Bourjos fan. I know he’s young and cheap and under control for the next half-decade and all that, but I’m just not a fan of defense-first players. We’ve — well not me specifically, but the baseball analysis community in general — come a long way with advanced defensive metrics but I still don’t have a ton of faith in them. That doesn’t mean I think Bourjos or Brett Gardner are bad players, just that I don’t think WAR accurately grades out their value. Plus could you imagine those two in the outfield at the same time? Even with Curtis Granderson the Yankees would still be lucky to get 45 homers out of their outfield.

The Bombers do need to add some kind of young outfielder for the long-term, but not enough to trade Soriano for him unless you’re getting a Mike Trout or something. Soriano may opt-out after the season and sign elsewhere and leave the Yankees with nothing to show for his tenure, who knows, but the best chance for the Yankees to win this season — before Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, etc. get a year older — is with him in the bullpen closing games.

Joe asks: What is Shin-Soo Choo’s contract status and do you think he would be a viable candidate to play right field and therefore let Nick Swisher walk?

Choo is making $4.9M this season and will be under team control one more time as an arbitration-eligible player next year. He’ll be a free agent after 2013. The Yankees would have to trade for him and any kind of extension would probably be in the range of whatever Swisher gets this winter. Choo’s a year or two younger, better defensively, and more of a on-base/gap power/stolen base guy that someone who hits the ball over the fence. Similar players and the difference between the two really isn’t worth arguing.

I think rentals are generally undervalued; there’s nothing wrong with giving up prospects for one year or even half-a-year of a player if he improves your chances of winning that year enough. Choo falls into that category but I’m not sure if the Indians would actually make him available, and if they did the price would be pretty high since he’s their like, franchise cornerstone guy. Him and Carlos Santana. He’d be a perfect fit for the Yankees but as always, it comes down to the price.

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  • _NYD_

    Doesn’t Choo have horrible numbers at Yankee stadium??

  • Eddard

    Martin has got to go. He’s a black hole in the lineup. Even Dwayne Wise has been hitting. Bring up Cervelli and see what he can do. There’s no way we can trade Soriano with Mo down for the year. He’s only blown 1 save, what more does he have to do?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’ll take “Every other comment on RAB this week” for $100, Alex.

      • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing with Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

        nice response

        • Bunt Gardner

          Yes it was.

    • jjyank

      And who replaces him?

  • MannyGeee

    This may be one of those years where, unfortunately, the best options may already be in-house. NO ONE is selling a Catcher/OF/SP/Utility IF that is a clear upgrade at a price that makes sense for us.

    That can make for a super duper boring July… well, with the exception of the 2nd best record in the AL and the Sox falling further apart at the seams.

    • gc

      The Yankees actually have the best record in baseball right now. Just sayin. :)

      • MannyGeee

        my bad. thought the Fightin’ Nolans had us by a game. Point still stands…

    • Nigel Bangs

      Agreed. Maybe we’ll see excitement in an unpredictable call-up or second half resurgance.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        … an unpredictable call-up or second half resurgance.

        This is something I’d love to see. So many possibilities. Then again, I’m not opposed to the right trade either.

    • jjyank

      Yeah you’re probably right. Also don’t think being unable to get draft picks for a rental will encourage trade activity in general either. Plus the second wild card has more teams in contention.

      • MannyGeee

        all but 4 if you listen to Buster Olney. “Fringe” teams like Toronto, Arizona, Milwaukee and Miami, which under the ‘normal ciircumstances (to date) would have been closer to sellers than buyers, are thinking they’ve got a chance to make a run still.

        Which leads me to wonder if the Waiver trade Deadline will have alot more activity than we are used to seeing. By August 15th you HAVE to know a little better if you are making a run or not. Which in turn could turn into some nice waiver claim drama in August. We might end up with Jose Canseco again!

        • jjyank

          That’s a good point, the waiver trades could end up being more exciting than the July 31 deadline. Should be interesting to follow.

  • Gonzo

    Before the beginning of this year, I wanted the Yanks to trade for Nick Hundley as the 2014 solution. Hundley made that easier and less desirable this year.

  • paco

    If soriano opts out they will make him a qualifying offer and at least get draft pick compensation. So it is not a total loss. They would basically recoup the pick they lost when they signed him.

    • MannyGeee

      here’s to hoping

    • Johnny O

      I’m not going to defend the soriano contract, but his performance has been good this year and with Mo and Robertson both going down for a while he has been pretty important these first few months of the season, and should continue to be.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    Choo is my favorite non-Yankee player. I want him and I want him now.

    • Will (the other one)

      Somewhere in the corner of a dark, lonely Denver bar, Wil Nieves is sobbing softly in his beer right now.

    • Wil Nieves

      You cheating little bitch.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I shudder at the thought of a John Sterling home run call for Choo. Can we involve the FCC in this now, just in case?

    Interesting in the Choo idea. Meh on everything else here. You are spot-on about Martin, no matter how much everyone not named Betty Lizard wants to kill his puppy.

    • Gonzo

      “The Choo Choo Train is rounding the bases!”

      Not his style though.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        “It is high, it is far, it is gone! RUNAWAY TRAIN BY SHIN-SOO CHOO!”

        Actually, I could live with that.

        • Gonzo

          That’s a good one. As long as he doesn’t get all Jason Whitlock/ESPN headline writer on everyone.

        • Thomas

          Shin Soo choo-choo-chooses to hit a home run.

          • Steve (different one)

            And there’s a picture of a train!!!

  • Alkaline

    I would like Choo just so when he hits a homerun the call could be:


  • AntD

    This is something that probably would never happen but why not go to LAA and offer them Banuelos, Granderson and Sanchez for Trout……Granderson is too expensive if we want to stay under 189 mill banuelos is a good young lefty and sanchez is a good offensive cathcher which we have….This seems like with maybe a filler piece or two from the yanks is a fair trade to get a guy under club control for 5 more years and eliminates the option to choose between grandy and cano…..

    • Kosmo

      C´mon. jesus christmas

    • Johnny O

      It’s not the worst offer, but if your the Angels why do you give up Trout who’s alread an MVP candidate and dirt cheap for 1.5 years of granderson, a hurt AAA pitcher and a High-A catcher (who might not stay at catcher)????

    • Steve (different one)

      I don’t mean to sound rude, but this has to be the craziest trade proposal I have ever read on this site.

      • brian Stevens


      • jjyank

        Yeah, Trout is not getting traded. Maybe he gets traded in like 4-5 years if the Angels really suck then, but no way in hell that happens before then.

      • MannyGeee

        I have heard crazier trade proposals, actually. Didnt a CHI beat writer suggest last year that the Yankees could use Zambrano AND Cashman might be willing to part with that Jesus Montero kid?

        but yeah, this might be the second craziest.

    • B-Rando

      My head is so full of derp after reading this.

      Trout is the best player in baseball this year, oh yeah and he’s 20 years old. Why would the Angels every consider dealing him?? There is no way you can get an equal (or greater) return on him.

      The Angels are 4 games back of the Rangers, and lead the wild card. Sanchez doesn’t help them this year (or the next couple years for that matter). Banuelos is hurt, and still hasn’t proved much of anything above AA. Granderson, while a great player is still no where near Trout, and again Trout is 20, and is cost controlled for half a decade.

      Just, no.

    • Bunt Gardner

      I would love to hear your reasoning as to why the Angels would consider this.

      • AntD

        like i said it would never happen……..the only way id see the angels doing it was granderson is gonna hit or come close to 40 hrs again and gives u 20 sb and solid cf sanchez if he sticks at c is a 25hr 15sb prob 280avg catcher which is great and banuelos if he stays healthy can be top development a johan santana bottom development id say liriano type lefty …….sp costs a lot more than cf and to get banuelos for 6 full seasons of control and sanchez and granderson for another year then wells deal comes off and hunter as well which frees up the money for granderson and burjeos can play cf and granderson can slide to lf and trumbo in rf……..

        I know that the trade would never happen but that is my only thought of reasoning for the angels accepting a trade like this

    • Buhner’s barber

      The only way Mike Trout wears pinstripes is in the alternate universe where they didn’t sign Teixeira, used their pick in the draft to get Trout and put Montero at 1st.

      • AntD

        i fully agree i was just throwing a deal out there…….Hindsight is a bit*h when you look at that draft and signing tex now…i would def rather have trout then tex but it is what it is now……..when he is eligable for free agency if the Halos let him its gonna be A-Rod type money when he is 26yo on the market

      • Steve (different one)

        Just so we are clear, the Angels were taking Trout with the pick before the Teix pick if they only had one pick there.

        Also, if the Yanks didn’t sign Teix, the Brewers would have had that pick, not the Yanks.

        Also, if the Yanks don’t sign Teix, the Sox would have, and the Angels STILL would have picked twice before the Yankees.

        The Yankees were never getting Trout.

    • Sean C

      I would gladly make that deal. However, there’s no chance of this happening. Ever. Ya know, not in this or any universe and whatnot.

  • Kosmo

    Choo Choo is doing the “Choo Choo Boogie“ around the bases

  • jjyank

    Ahhhhhhhhh-CHOOOOOOO. Sneezed one over the wall!

    • MannyGeee


      • jjyank

        Heh that’s what I was going for.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That would totally be my call if I was play-by-play guy.

  • Athenian

    Was just reading an article on an unhappy David Ortiz. Got to thinking, way out of the box, but I wonder how Ortiz would fit into the Yankee line up as a replacement for ARod. A serviceable 3rd baseman could be found to go along with Chavez.

    I know this is not a possibility but it was a fun consideration and offensively it would be a great upgrade.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      What do you plan on doing with ARod, shooting him?

      Ortiz in pinstripes is only fun from a truly perverse POV. In no way, though, should anything in the name of planning for the future involve him, though.

      • MannyGeee

        I would LOOOOOOOOVE Ortiz poking balls into the second deck at the Stadium as much as the next guy, but there is no possible way in hell this happens. the stars just dont align.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          It would certainly be in the tradition of stealing their heroes but, yeah, its not happening. He wouldn’t be as easy to swallow as Clemens or Boggs either.

          Sorry, Betty, didn’t mean to remind you of Russell by mentioning swallowing.

      • Bubba

        They shoot centaurs, don’t they?

    • Steve (different one)

      Ortiz would fit very nicely in the Yankee lineup…as their DH. I am confused how this affects ARod, where does ARod go?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Athenian apparently knows some goons.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          I’m not opposed to that solution … :-)

  • thenamestsam

    Am I the only one who thinks you’d have to seriously consider a Bourjos for Soriano deal? Literally 2 months ago people were calling his contract untradeable and wondering if we could dump him for a bag of balls, and now because of one injury we have no interest in swapping him for a young outfielder with multiple years of team control for him? That does not compute for me. Bourjos isn’t ever going to be a star, but he had 4.3 fWAR last year (and that’s not because of some crazy UZR value, he was at +7.5 runs which seems like a pretty reasonable estimate), and he’s only 25.

    I know the Yankees are built to win now, but Bourjos helps this year and in the future, and if one of Joba, Mo or Aardsma bounces back next year we’re going to be right back to talking about untradeable Soriano. It’s some pretty serious closer fetishism to turn down that trade idea out of hand.

    • Kosmo

      if gardner returns say by august 1st then NY has their Bourjos. LA doesn´t need Soriano and his value to NY is presently far greater than trading him for a 4th OF which Bourjos is right now.

      • Fin

        I guess people really dont like Soriano. I really would rather not see the pen without Soriano. Behind Drob there would be huge issues. I have trouble believing people want to ruin the pen for a 4th outfielder/ 2 Brett Gardners.

    • MannyGeee

      “Literally 2 months ago people were calling his contract untradeable and wondering if we could dump him for a bag of balls…”

      Literally 2 days ago those same posters were trying to find Russell Martins car to plant a kilo of cocaine and 3 dead hookers in it, and Literally 7 months ago those same people were clammering for Nick Swisher to get locked up in a Turkish Prison so he would never have to bat in October again. and literally in 2 months they will move on to the next “THIS GUY BLOWWWWWWWS” target.

      sooooo, yeah. Welcome to Yankees Universe. I promise you people in KC and Pittsburgh dont complain this much about a guy with one blown save this season and no one to take the reins behind him.

      • jjyank

        Haha this amused me. It’s true though.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That’s……quite the imagination.

        Perhaps this is how Athenian plans to get rid of ARod. Cocaine, some rather masculine-looking women, and some remnants of stuart a.

        • jjyank

          I would to make an ammendment that a Syrian prison is likely worse. That’s probably where the Swisher haters would want him.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Remnants of stuart a. If he gets locked up, is his contract voided? Might be easier to find some old “friends” to do that as opposed to other, perhaps more gruesome, ways of ending that contract.

          (kidding. I’d much prefer to have ARod start showing some power again.)

          • jjyank

            We’d need his cousin for that one, amirite?

    • Conor

      I agree. I think the trade makes a lot of sense for us. Right now Wise is getting playing time. Neither Jones or Ibanez have played particularly well. It’s not like Bourjos is replacing even a good hitter in the lineup. He would make a huge difference for the outfield defense, especially if Gardner’s injury problems linger.

      Sacrificing Soriano would certainly hurt. But Soriano, even if we win the World Series, Soriano is probably only pitching 11 playoff innings. Bourjos might start 11 playoff games and be a defensive replacement in the rest.

      So if Anaheim was really willing to do the deal, I think that Cashman should pull the trigger.

  • Brian S.
    • Robinson Tilapia

      You’re really into this “Boston is racist” thing.

      Every city has a racist history. Let me introduce you to a play I live in called NYC.

      • Brian S.

        I’m just pointing out the facts. Ask Garret Anderson and BJ Upton. Ask Jim Rice.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Ask every teen who’s being stop and frisked illegally. Ask every family that’s been pushed out to the margins of NYC, or out of the city entirely. Hell, read “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro and learn about how the layout of highways in New York itself was influenced by the racist leanings of Robert Moses.

          There’s a bunch of dirtbags up on Boston. Know what? There’s dirtbags here. There’s dirtbags everywhere. There’s also damn nice people in Boston.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            OK….so maybe we’re just talking baseball here.

            *takes back rant*

          • Brian S.

            I didn’t realize I would run into a Red Sox fan/apologist at RAB.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Yup. That’s me. :)

            • Havok9120

              Oh for God’s sake.

    • MannyGeee

      i HATE that these guys did this to Crawford, if for no other reason because they did it in ‘my’ stadium. That fan is an asshole.

      All this is gonna do is bring unjust attention to a park that is just a great place to go to for $6 tickets and $2 drafts…

      and oh yeah, Sal Fasano…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Wait….Portland, Maine?

      • MannyGeee

        not to downplay the racism aspect… but selfishly, they are screwing with me

    • A.D.

      Article isn’t even about a game in Boston, in fact Crawford notes that people in Boston “don’t even do that” when referring to a racial slur

  • Canadian Yankee Fan

    Most of the criticism directed at Martin seems to have ignored the fact that he’s been pretty good against lefties. Given that the Astros seem willing to sell anything that is bolted down how about Jason Castro as a platoon partner? He’s been above average against righties this year and nearly average for his career.

  • Reggie C.

    I cant recall where i read it though its likely source was a SI rumor , but apparently the Angels could dangle Ervin Santana at the trading deadline. Of course this rumor spread before Haren hit the dL, yet, trading Santana still represents a decent savings and he’d net the Angels a couple decent prospects.

    Is E.Santana someone Cashman would pursue?

  • christopher

    We should fall on our knees and cut the heads off chickens in gratitude Soriano is on this team. He is a legitimate closer and there’s like six of those in the majors. How we managed to have a back-up to the irreplaceable Mo, well, I guess that makes the team the Yankees, but this is one fan grateful to see this guy untuck his shirt in the ninth. Trade him? I’m planning on winning this year. Constantly planning for next year is what other teams do, not the Yankees.