Mailbag: Swisher, Ynoa, Phelps, Montgomery

Imagine: These Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium
8/3-8/5 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

Got five questions and four answers for you this week. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us any links, comments, or questions throughout the week.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Donny asks: With qualifying offers expected to be in the $13.3-13.4 million range, there seems to be a very small possibility that Nick Swisher could take that as his overall deal even though he would collect more on the open market, but I doubt his AAV would not approach that. Could you see more FA’s taking this route going forward?

Nick asks: Is it almost certain that Swisher will not be around next season? All this talk of getting a fill in third baseman for the rest of the season and then turning him into a right fielder has me thinking. A lot of the recent talk on RAB seems like he’s out of the picture come next season. As a fan favorite and clubhouse favorite it’s gonna be hard to see him go.

Might as well lump these two together. You’re going to see a ton of players decline that one-year, ~$13.5M qualifying offer in favor of a potential multi-year guarantee on the open market. It’s a similar process to arbitration but the stakes are much higher given the money, so that just means we’ll see fewer qualifying offers overall. I highly doubt you’ll see the same kind of handshake agreements we’ve seen in the past just because that’s so much cash. Fading stars will have a tough time turning that down, but otherwise guys like Swisher will pass in favor of the bigger payday. That’s what I would do at that point of my career. Get the multiple years while you can.

As for Swisher, I don’t think it’s 100% certain that he will be gone next year. It’s just that he’s going to require a pretty significant contract and it’s unclear if the Yankees will go that far for a player soon to be entering his decline years with the 2014 payroll plan looming. I’m sure the team would absolutely love to see him accept the qualifying offer, giving them a quality player on a short contract and buying them another year to find a long-term outfield solution. I just can’t imagine that happening, Swisher’s looking at a multi-year pact worth eight-figures annually given the state of the corner outfield market.

Andrew asks: I was looking over at MLBTR about Michael Ynoa the other day. I remember the Yanks had a deal with him but he went back on it; saw that the Athletics have to either add him to the 40-man or expose him to the Rule 5 in the offseason. Worth a shot to take him in the Rule 5 and stick him in the bullpen next year to see if his fastball plays up? If he’s bad send him back, if not, we hold him for a year, then send him down to stretch out as a starter in ’14 when he’ll only be 21 still.

Ynoa has battled a number of injuries through the years, facing just 37 total batters from 2008-2011. He’s healthy now and is pitching poorly in Rookie Ball, with more walks (11) than strikeouts (six) in 12.1 innings. In last week’s chat Keith Law provided an updated scouting report after the seeing the right-hander in Arizona: “89-93, touched 94 once, really loose and easy, so there’s potential there, but all the lost time means he hasn’t advanced much if at all in four years.”

The A’s haven’t gotten what they expected when they broke the bank and signed Ynoa for a then-record $4.25M bonus, and I have a really tough time thinking he can provide a big league team with any value right now. He’s more interesting than most Rule 5 Draft guys given the upside, but carrying someone on the 25-man active roster means you think he can help you win games. I’m not sure he’s capable of doing that right now. The Yankees have a number of internal options capable of being a long-man next year, forcing the issue with someone like Ynoa seems doomed to fail.

(REUTERS/Dave Kaup)

Johnny asks: With this setback for Andy Pettitte, do you think it’s time to give David Phelps a rotation spot? I really like this guy and think he can go places and be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come.

Yeah I think so. Freddy Garcia has been perfectly fine and serviceable as the fifth starter since moving back into the rotation, if anything Ivan Nova has been the weak link in recent weeks. The Yankees aren’t going to take him out of the rotation though. Phelps has at least shown the ability to get big league hitters out and given the perpetual need for quality starting pitching, it makes sense to given him a little two month audition to see what he has. At the same time, I don’t think it’s some kind of huge injustice. I don’t see Phelps as some kind of ace in the making and he can be very valuable to this year’s team as a multi-inning setup man.

Travis asks: Do you think, even though he is currently at the Double-A level, that Mark Montgomery is a viable bullpen option for the start of 2013? Do you think they give him a September call-up?

I was planning to write about Montgomery yesterday, but Eric beat me to the punch. I might as well chime in with my thoughts here. Montgomery has obviously impressed in the minors and the easy comparison is David Robertson because they’re both sub-6-foot right-handers with nasty breaking balls who rack up strikeouts. There is a difference between a curveball pitcher (Robertson) and a slider pitcher (Montgomery) though, only because the latter tends to have more of a platoon split. Then again, Montgomery’s slider could be so good that it doesn’t even matter.

Barring injury or some kind of completely unexpected performance breakdown, I think it’s all but guaranteed that Montgomery will debut in the big leagues at some point next year. He has eight whole innings above Single-A to his credit so I’m not sure if a September call-up is in the cards this year, however. I suppose it could depend on the need at the big league level, if some guys get hurt or collapse Cory Wade-style, the Yankees could be forced to turn to him. As good as Robertson is, he was an up-and-down guy in 2008 and early-2009 before finally settling into a full-time role in 2010. Minor league relievers can be tricky to project because the numbers are so good, but I’d always say the odds are against someone coming up and having an immediate impact. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen though.

Imagine: These Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium
8/3-8/5 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners
  • CP

    Would Ynoa be available in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft?

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      That would be ideal, but even if he has to stick on the 25 man. Put him as the long reliever. I mean, how many innings over the course of a season do they really get? Keith Law said he’s 93 touching 94 loose and easy, that should play up in the bullpen as well. I just think at least go get him, try him out in Spring Training and if he’s garbage then send him back. It would be low risk/high reward.

      • Ted Nelson

        If I’m the Astros, I would really consider it. Opportunity cost is lower for Astros in terms of 40 man, 25 man, and MLB production. So I would really want to take someone in the Rule 5, whether Ynoa or someone else.

        • All Praise Be To Mo

          Yea, didn’t they do that with Fernando Martinez from the Mets this year? If they have the 1st pick, can’t we trade them like 50k or something for it if there is someone we like?

    • Ted Nelson

      Guy is in Rookie Ball and not mowing them down there. It’s highly doubtful he could consistently get through an inning in MLB. Velocity is only one part of pitching. Two guys can throw the same speed and have entirely different results. Plus Law said 89-93, not 93.

      Maybe take a flyer, but even that costs you a 40 man spot. Have to weigh him vs. whoever your 40th man is as well as other Rule 5 guys.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        A 40 man spot in spring training, if he turns out bad just let him go back to the A’s.

  • DERP

    Only 13 innings, but Montgomery has a negative FIP in AA.

  • Eddard

    With Hal’s austerity measures Swisher is as good as gone. And that’s a shame as he’s a fan favorite. When George was running things we kept ballplayers like Swisher and I fear we’ll lose Grandy as well. If Hal gets his way, the team will be full of AAA players and 40 year olds on one year deals.

    • Will (the other one)

      Don’t panic, Ed. $189M is still a hell of a budget; I don’t think you have to worry about a team full of “AAA players and 40 year olds” anytime soon. I love Swish too, but if he has to go in order to tie Cano and Granderson to the team long-term, I’d certainly understand it. Hal’s a pretty smart guy–have a little faith.

    • Steve (different one)

      Like ARod?

      Even without the budget, I’m not sure giving Swisher a long, big money deal is the right baseball move.

      I like the guy, and would love it if he took a little discount and stayed for 3 more years, but we shouldn’t hold up the “outbid everyone at all costs and worry about the out years later” business model as an ideal.

      Swisher has been merely good this year, not great, and he’ll be 32 next year.

      • YanksFanInBeantown


        Swish has been one of my favorite players on the team since that crazy April in ’09, but the fact is that he’s a very good corner outfielder.

        He’s not not someone you break the bank for, and unless he’s taking a 3/30 contract to stay a Yankee, I think we’ve got to let him go.

    • Johnny O

      hard to say if this is satire?

      You know what’s a ‘fan favorite’? Winning. Like the old saying, it’s the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back that counts.

      • jjyank

        Plus, the Yankees don’t even have names on the back!

    • Mike

      Any chance you think Swisher would take a discount to come back? It seems like the guy loves being a Yankee. I would love to see him come back on something like a 3 year $33 million deal. It would be easier to replace Swish on the field then in the clubhouse, seems like he provides the comedic relief to what was previously a uptight team.

    • Ted Nelson

      Depends on the deal. For 4 years maybe they’d be more likely to keep Swisher without the $189 million plan (which George probably goes for too given the financial consequences of not going for it… It’s a no-brainer… MLB never incentivized George like that). At 6 or 7 years, letting Swisher walk is probably the right move. Even at 4 years it might be the right move. Ideally you go out and find the next Swisher instead of overpaying to keep the last one. He’s not elite to where you’re willing to give him extra years knowing they won’t be good ones.

  • Swishalicious

    Anybody find it strange that the front office that preaches austerity now broke the bank and bid against themselves for ARod after he opted out of of his original contract? Not to mention the insanity of giving a 10 year deal to an aging player?

    • Rick in Philly

      A-Rod was more of a Hank thing. Didn’t Cashman come out and say he didn’t want to negotiate with A-Rod/Boras after he opted out?

      • Swishalicious

        You’re absolutely right, but didn’t Levine also have something to do with that too? I’m sure Cashman wasn’t the one that came up with the budget for luxury tax, right?

        • Rick in Philly

          Levine probably did have something to do with it. I try to ignore Levine as much as possible. And I’d agree with you – Cashman is working within orders sent down by ownership. There is a budget (one that is still higher than anyone else’s in the sport), set by ownership to avoid paying out luxury taxes for one year and then re-setting their tax payments.

          • Swishalicious

            Me too Rick! Levine is killing me with his meddling, yakking in the press and the way he’s had a hand in pricing out the real fans from the stadium.

          • Florida – Ralph

            Agreed Levine drives me absolutely crazy with just about everything he does. But apparently he gets the credit for the Ichiro trade. Seattle’s team president called him directly so I give him credit there.

    • Ethan

      A lot changed with the new CBA. If baseball didn’t get a new CBA last year that really penalized teams for going over the luxury tax threshold I don’t think the yankees would be preaching austerity.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        It doesn’t penalize teams so much as incentivize being under it for 1 year. It would reset the tax rate and then allow the Steinbrenners to pocket 10’s of millions of dollars each year.

        • gc

          …….and still field the team with the highest payroll in baseball every single year.

        • Rick in Philly

          Or, depending on the team’s needs post-2014, the Steinbrenners could spend the money on the team and make a big splash for the 2015 season.

        • Ted Nelson

          Or spend tens of million on the team rather than give it to the league…

          I love how holier than though people get about sports profits, when most of them would already be “pocketing” more than the Steinbrenners anyway.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            They’d be filling the bathtub with the money like Dudley Moore in “Arthur” if they even saw 1/100th of the money they’re commenting on.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Different landscape when that deal was made. Can’t predict the future.

    • Ted Nelson

      They don’t preach austerity… That’s ridiculous. They have been incentivized in a huge way to spend under a certain amount. So they’ll spend that amount.

      This whole austerity analogy just demonstrates the ignorance of those who use it to disparage the organization. Austerity in this sense refers to cutting deficit spending so that you can move towards austerity (self-reliance) rather than rely on others (debt). That is not what’s happening here. There is no indication that the Yankees are running at a loss.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        To be fair, the term “austerity” was probably used first outside of here, with people just repeating it since it’s a big political buzzword now as well.

        The problem is that we want to rewrite history to meet our needs at this very moment. We want to revoke Alex’s contract, except that this CBA wasn’t on the table when it was signed. We want to somehow make him less injured. We want to go back time and create high-end prospects at every level, trade them, and not trade them at the same time. We want to do so many things because we’re afraid that the big bad $189 million won’t allow the team to do whatever the hell they want, even though that’s a pipe dream as well.

        Ignorant? Sure. My diagnosis is “spoiled.”

        • Swishalicious

          No – the point was to show the insanity of the front office bidding against themselves and paid too much for too many years for an aging player. I then tied that into them willing to spend the money back then and get hit with tax, but now under Hal’s watch they want to start cutting back. It’s not revisionist history, it’s trying to show the front office is inconsistent and the consequences of that is we may have to lose a few popular and productive players to compensate. Hopefully they’ll be a little more prudent going forward.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            It’s not inconsistent. It’s different circumstances.

  • Brian S.

    Would Sergio Romo be an apt comparison for Montgomery since he is also a slider guy?

    • M-Three

      I can see that comparison between Romo and Montgomery. Both of them seem to have wipe out slider and only throw their fastballs 91-93 mph.

    • Gonzo

      As always, be careful with doing comps with all-star caliber players. Especially if it’s only based on pitches and speed of pitches.

      P.S. Kill it in Calc this year.

      • Ted Nelson

        Hmmm… We should assume Montgomery can jump from 13 IP at AA to MLB at 21 and never be sent back down, but we should “be careful” of comparing him to a good reliever…

        • Gonzo

          Haha, out of context Ted. I never said he wouldn’t be sent down or that he’s even ready for the MLB.

          Play #13 out of the Ted Nelson playbook. Maybe you should read that thread again and maybe you will learn something. You obviously didn’t know what you were talking about.

          Good try though.

          • jjyank

            Easy boys.

            • Gonzo

              Who provoked who?

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Don’t matter. Takes two to tango and, while I don’t know either of you, I think I’d rather watch you two actually tango.

                • Gonzo

                  I’ve been told I’m a decent looking dude and a fair enough dancer.

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    …and Ted’s sometimes good at stepping on toes. Perfect.

              • jjyank

                I’m not pointing fingers. Just don’t want to see another thread like yesterday.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        +1 on the Calc stuff. -1 on the impending argument here.

    • Rick in Philly

      I’d say we should be happy if Montgomery has Romo’s career.