Mailbag: A-Rod, Nix, Williams, Soriano, Contracts

Thoughts following Game Four
RAB Live Chat

Got five questions for you this week, and none of them are directly tied to the ALDS. Consider this a break from the playoffs for a few hours. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us questions.

(Al Bello/Getty)

Bill asks: If the Yanks were to buy out A-Rod‘s contract (not saying they should just if they did) would his salary still count towards the team salary for getting under the $189 million limit?

Yeah, it would. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, player salary that counts towards the luxury tax is “the value of the total compensation (cash or otherwise) paid to a Player pursuant to the terms of a Uniform Player’s Contract, including any guarantee by the Club of payments by third parties, for a particular championship season. Salary shall include, without limitation, the value of non-cash compensation such as the provision of personal translators, personal massage therapists, and airfare and tickets exceeding normal Club allotments.”

In English, that means anything a team plays a player will count towards the tax. The structure of the buyout would determine when and how much applies to the luxury tax calculations. There are five years and $114M left on A-Rod’s contract after this season and the Yankees are goimng to pay every penny. They’re not trading him, he’s not going to retire, and they’re not going to negotiate a buyout so they can cut him loose. It’s not happening. He’ll be around until 2017 whether you like it or not. Ownership made their bed and now they’ll have to sleep in it.

Nick asks: Do you think that Jayson Nix could wind up on the Yankees again next season?

I definitely think it’s possible. Nix, 30, will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and will probably still be in line for a six-figure salary next season. I have a hard time seeing a career up-and-down bench player with a .214/.285/.371 batting line pulling in more than a million bucks his first time through arbitration.

Nix is a useful role player capable of playing a ton of positions and providing some offense against left-handers, so it makes sense for the Yankees to hold onto him. He shouldn’t deter them from acquiring a better utility infielder if one comes along this offseason, the only problem is that he is out of minor league options and can’t be sent to the minors next season without clearing waivers. I wouldn’t call Nix a lock for the 2013 roster by any means, but there’s certainly a chance of it happening.

(Brian Bissell/Future Star Photos)

Austin asks: What do you make of recent Baseball America questions regarding Mason Williams‘ makeup/attitude? Isn’t this Gary Sanchez 2011 stuff?

Well, the Sanchez stuff last season was so bad that the team had to send him to Extended Spring Training for disciplinary reasons. He refused to pinch-hit in a game and catch a side session, which is a major no-no. The Williams stuff was reported as “a few headaches,” which frankly is the first I’ve heard of him having any kind of real makeup problem. Mason has been knocked for being too hard on himself and getting frustrated with bad at-bats or plays, but nothing that created a problem with other players or coaches. We’ll have to pay attention to this in the future, because this report did catch me a bit off guard.

JW asks: Here’s a mailbag question: assume Rafael Soriano opts out and the Yankees make a qualifying offer. Under the new FA compensation rules, does it project that the signing team would have to give up a draft pick? I know that the number of players whose signing warrants giving up a pick has been reduced by a lot.

Under the new system, a team would have to forfeit a draft pick to sign a top free agent (who has received a qualifying offer), but that pick does not go to the player’s former team. It just disappears. The former team receives one supplemental first round pick instead, which is pulled out of thin air like the old system. I assume the Yankees will make Soriano a qualifying offer if he opts out because he’d be walking away from more money ($14M) by opting out than he would get through the offer ($13.3-13.4M). I have no idea who would give up a draft pick to sign him but it doesn’t really matter — the Yankees will end up with the same compensation pick no matter where he ends up.

GB asks: If Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Mark Teixeira, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were all FA’s after this season, what kind of contracts would you see them getting?

Well this is a fun one. I have an amazing knack for underestimating free agent contracts, but I’ll give this my best shot anyway…

  • Granderson — 40+ homer power is rare, so that alone will get Curtis paid at age 31. Clubs will probably be gun-shy because of Jason Bay, but his four-year, $66M deal with the Mets seems like an appropriate benchmark.
  • Sabathia — Despite the elbow injury and sub-par second half, Sabathia would still wind up with $20M+ a year easy. Frankly I bet he could match the five-year, $122.5M deal he signed with the Yankees last winter if he went back out onto the open market this year. Pitchers of Sabathia’s caliber very rarely hit free agency.
  • Hughes — How does four years and $40M sound? Phil is only 27, so you’d theoretically be buying all of his peak years and expect some improvement going forward. Maybe $44-48M would be closer to reality as a free agent.
  • Teixeira — At this point, age 32, Teixeira is just a touch above the first base league average offensively (115 vs. 106 wRC+) while remaining a stud with the glove. First baseman make more money than anyone, so I think another Bay-like four-year, $66M deal would be in the cards.
  • Robertson — A stud reliever at age 27 is a prime candidate to get overpaid, especially if someone plans on making him a closer. Joaquin Benoit’s three-year, $16.5M deal with the Tigers seems like the floor here. Three or fours years at $6-7M annually wouldn’t surprise me at all.
  • A-Rod: Not much right now, probably like two years and $20M with most of that coming on reputation.
  • Jeter: The Cap’n is in a weird spot because I don’t think any other team would pursue him as a free agent. Not because he’s a bad player or anything, but because of the “Yankees or retirement” vibe. Could Jeter match the three-year, $51M contract he signed two years ago this offseason? Yeah, I think he might be able too.
Thoughts following Game Four
RAB Live Chat
  • Matt :: Sec110

    Does Granderson have any reasonable trade value to the Yanks?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      More than you fear, but less than what you’d wish for?

    • jjyank

      A Smoak-like bat?

      • Mike HC

        Maybe we can get Montero, ha. His value has taken a hit

      • Rich in NJ

        Sign me up.

        • jjyank

          I was joking, but seriously, I’d rather have Granderson than Smoak and his 85 wRC+

          • Rich in NJ

            You said Smoak-like. I understood that to mean a young, cost-controlled bat with upside. Given Hal’s upcoming austerity budget, that’s exactly what they need. Sure, he may have a learning curve to surmount, but I wouldn’t shy away from Smoak-like bat just because Smoak is struggling early on.

            • jjyank

              Yes, but I was also joking. Smoak was traded for Cliff Lee, I doubt they get a prospect of that caliber.

              • Preston

                But we could get Smoak, although I don’t know where he’d play, and he probably wouldn’t hit.

                • jjyank

                  Pretty much. I doubt the Yankees would be looking for a first baseman in a trade.

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    I think you meant “Smoak” more as an adjective than a proper noun for sure there. I think you’d probably get something Smoak-like and, perhaps, a B/B- prospect. Again, more than fear, less than what you hope for.

                    With one more year left, is he worth that? Maybe.

                    I’m disappointed that no one’s made the obvious AJax/IPK joke here….or not.

              • Rich in NJ

                OK, but I think Granderson (and Cano, if he won’t sign a 6-7 year deal) should be shopped. With their pre-existing contractual commitments and budgetary plans (and no ML ready mL talent with real upside), the way they do business has to change.

                • jjyank

                  Oh, I’m not at all opposed to shopping Granderson. I think they should absolutely see what other teams would offer for Granderson both alone, and in a package.

                  Not sure on Cano yet. But he’s my favorite player, so I’m not exactly unbiased there.

  • JonS

    Re: Granderson getting Bay’s 4/66

    No way a team pays that for a player coming off a 116 wRC+/2.7 WAR season. Bay’s 2009 season with Boston that got him paid was a 135 wRC+/4.9 WAR season. You put too much emphasis on Grandereson’s 40 HRs.

    Dexter Fowler had a 123 wRC+/2.9 WAR season, would he had been also worth 4/66 (if he was a FA?)

    Now if I have understood these values wrong, I’ll take that “L”. But from what I see, no way he’s worth 4/66.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      It would depend if teams believe he is a 2.7 WAR player going forward. Given his by far career worst UZR, and the fallibility of defensive metrics, especially year to year, it’s possible his value was higher this year.
      Regardless, he’s had 2 7 WAR seasons, and another 2 seasons of 4 WAR or more. Dexter Fowler hasn’t had that.

      If teams judged him to be just a 2.7 WAR type of player going forward, he won’t get 4/66.
      More likely, at least one team will see this season as a second half slump that can be fixed, and pay based on expecting him to be better than a 2-3 win player.

  • Eddards

    I’d blow the whole thing up if they lose today. This would be the second straight 1st round exit. If we’re not playing the Twins in the 1st round we lose. I’d eat A-Rod’s contract and cut him loose. I’d trade Granderson. I’d let Swisher walk. I’d let Cano walk next year. I’d see if anyone wants Teixera if the Yanks pay half the salary. I’d just start all over if they lose today and go from there because this boom or bust ain’t working.

    • MannyGeee

      “I’d blow the whole thing up if they lose today.”

      Of course you would. Of course, you’d blow the whole thing up if they won today too…

      • jjyank

        I say we blow up EddardWorld.

        • Robinson Tilapia


          Eddard: Trolling, or just plain dumb?

          • jjyank

            Probably dumb. But you never know. I’m sure EddardWorld will go the way of YoobooLand soon enough.

        • Laz

          EddardWorld included the Yankees and Sox fighting for last place in the AL East.

    • Sean C

      Why isn’t this guy running the Yankee FO?

      •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        Could you fucking imagine?

  • mick taylor

    swisher should have been let go after last season and carlos beltran signed for two years as possibly a bridge to mason williams or tyler austin. granderson will not bring much back in a trade since he is a free agentafter next year, so i would keep him and let him walk as a free agent. i would offer a rod, plus 30 millin to the angels for vernon wells. wells is owed 40 million in 2013 and 2014. the angels would then be paying arod 10 million a year for 5 years. the owner luvs him , so maybe they would bite on it. i would sign joba and hughes to modest extensions .

    • MannyGeee

      good luck with all that.

    • Laz

      Arod is worth more than that. Sure he is overpaid now, but he still pushes his obp up to .350 and has 25 hr power.

      • JonS

        He will never hit more than 20 HRs again.

        • Captain

          I’ll say Arod hit 20 HRs next year. remember that he is coming off a hand injury which takes time for hitters to come back and show power. i think people are overreacting. the way he looks now, is not how he will look healthy next season considering he looked ok at the beginning of this season.

    • DC

      This post should be used in a “Say no to drugs” campaign.

      •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger


    • viridiana

      You would have to eat more of A-Rod’s contract to be rid of him. But if he has value of let’s say $8M per year for next 2 years and maybe $4 m for 2015, I’d dump him for that $20 million. He is already the tail that wags the dog– too many bad decisions now stem directly from playing/placating A-Rod. I think this may be the issue more than even the need to pay someone to replace him. I’d go with Adams/Chavez, maybe McGehee or another cheap sign. If Chavez can repeat what he did this year, you may replace any offense you lose and create far more roster flexibility going forwrd. A-Rod is being a good sport, but he really is an albatross at this point. Cut bait any way you can. Next five years will not be pretty if he’s still around gumming up the works.

  • Barbara Booey

    Axisa is dead wrong on A-Rod. There absolutely is the possibility of the team doing something with him in the next five years. In trading him, he has value as an above average major league 3B. He’s probably worth $5-$10MM on the open market and we could easily pay $15MM of his salary to any takers. The easiest option is clearly to get him on PEDs again, so he performs better.

    No jobs are safe. Granderson is likely to be ancient history. The best option with him is to exercise the team option for 2013 and deal him to anyone dumb enough to want a guy who k’s 200 times a year playing sub-par CF.

    • Laz

      I really don’t see arod getting traded either. It’s not happening. Also with granderson you have to look at the economics of it all, there is scarcity in Free agency. Granderson hits 43 hr, ops of .811, and let team in rbi. He struggled, but you basically want them to get rid of him at all costs. I would trade him if they get some decent prospects, but if not keep him. 43 hr CFer is hard to replace even if he strikes out alot.

    • DC

      “deal him to anyone dumb enough…”

      Then why exercise his option?

    • Brian in NH

      by most accounts, Granderson’s defense is adequate, though he does sometimes take funny routes. The K’s are definitely concerning though.

      Nobody will take A-Rod, period. And what are you going to do with that extra 5 million a year? You are basically going to get the player you just shipped off and are still paying $15 million on his salary, unless you can develop a stud 3B prospect who can be cost controlled for a few years.

  • jim p

    There is ARod’s pride to consider. According to this guy’s chart ( he’s already pulled over a quarter-billion in income so unless he’s made some really really bad investments, his great-grandchildren are sitting pretty.

    I can see ARod thinking “Well, look at what Jeter and Ichiro did at their advanced age, I can get my groove back” but if he had another sucky (for ARod) year in 2013, with the boos that come with that, I don’t see it as impossible, even unlikely, that he says to the Yankees “what’s your buyout offer?”

    Which also leads to: who do we have coming up who can be a 4th or 6th best third baseman in the league by 2014?

    • MannyGeee

      “he’s already pulled over a quarter-billion in income so unless he’s made some really really bad investments, his great-grandchildren are sitting pretty.”

      says a guy who’s never been divorced. Bad Investments FTW!!!!

  • Matt

    Arod is what he is. As long as they play him based on what he is doing, and not what he’s done or what he makes, that may be ok. And right now, he’s a 3b/dh/ph against lefties. Money is spent, a sunk cost. Have to manage player, not contract.

  • UncleArgyle

    A four year contract at 66mil for Texeria? Thats insane. You could sign LaRoche or Pena or any other .240 hitting first baseman for a fraction of that. If Boras could him get 2 for 20 I’d be impressed.

    • Laz

      He’d get way more than that. He hit 39 hr last year, and dealt with injuries this year.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Whoever wants to give a 4.50 FIP pitcher or a 4.40 xFIP pitcher 40 million be my guest.

  • Austin Aunelowitzky

    On the Mason “makeup” discussion, there was this in the Q&A section….

    “Williams has a world of natural ability but I have concerns about his makeup and the way he plays the game at times. That’s just my opinion, but those same thoughts were repeated to me on many occasions.”

    Q: Thanks for the chat, Bill. Do Mason Williams tools play down because of his attitude? Or put another way, would he have ranked higher if he had a better makeup?

    Bill Ballew: Yes and yes. I don’t want to label him as a bad guy because I don’t know Mason personally. At the same time, there are some concerns based on the way he carries himself and performs on the field. Of course, my opinion means nothing; those situations are for Williams and the Yankees to work on.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      With those sort of generalities, it’s hard to really know what that means. I’ll guess we’ll see this play itself out over time. For now, though, I don’t plan on putting much stock into it. He’s a young kid and, man, does he look even younger than that.

      • Darren

        I don’t man. I know there’s a ton of room for growth, but if you’re a sulky dickhead at 20, it’s not likely you’re gonna becomes a hardworking Jeter at 23. Maybe at 28 or 30, but now now.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          But that’s the thing. This article doesn’t really tell us he’s a sulky dickhead. We don’t know what it is telling us.

          When I mean “playing itself out,” I mean that we’ll see something beyond this write-up in the next year that will begin to demonstrate maturity issues, much like the actual tangible things we saw with Sanchez, Montero, etc.

          Change between 20 and 23? Who knows. If this kid becomes good enough to make the MLB team in a couple of years or so, perhaps the vets can help with some of that.

          We’re reading tea leaves. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

        • Preston

          Sulky Dickheads never make great baseball players.

          Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Albert Belle, Reggie Jackson come to mind.

          • Austin Aunelowitzky

            Reggie was not a sulky dickhead.

          • Austin Aunelowitzky

            Reggie was not a sulky dickhead.

        • jjyank

          “it’s not likely you’re gonna becomes a hardworking Jeter at 23”

          How do you know? People change and mature over time. I know I at 24 am more mature and capable than I was at 20.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Yes, but you’re a sulky dickhead.

            • jjyank

              *cries black tears*

  • Joe Gaeta

    “They’re not trading him, he’s not going to retire, and they’re not going to negotiate a buyout so they can cut him loose. It’s not happening. He’ll be around until 2017 whether you like it or not. Ownership made their bed and now they’ll have to sleep in it.”

    That is probably the most depressing and gut-wrenching few sentences that I have ever read. I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  • stuart a

    grandy and swisher got lucky to be in the lineup today.

    7 lefties against against hammel…

  • Hall and Nokes

    Jeter 6
    Ichiro 7
    Cano 4
    Tex 3
    Ibanez D
    Swisher 9
    Granderson 8
    Martin 2
    Chavez 5

    • jjyank

      This is the confirmed line up? I approve.

    • Barbara Booey

      No, that’s the amount of strikeouts each has had in the series.

      • jjyank

        Ibanez has “D” strikeouts? Amazing.

  • Cano fan #1

    Guys A-Rod is not in the lineup today. Mike francesa just show the lineup

  • Curtis Grandyerson a.k.a. Sombrero Sanchez

    So is it really more valuable to just not exercise granderson’s option for 2013 than to pick it up and try to trade him or get compensation? Also, isn’t melky on a possible one or two year deal sound pretty reasonable right now

  • Mike

    A-Rod not in the lineup

  • mick taylor

    i have a question for you all; does cody eppley pitch similiar to darren o’day and if he did why didn’t arod and some of the other yankee hitters practice for o’day by hitting agains t eppley in a work out.

    • Tcmiller30

      How do you know they didn’t?

  • Chilango

    I was travelling all day yesterday so I’m glad to see I didn’t miss anything. Same RISPCHOKE by the moneymen. Hughes in and out of trouble but did his job. The dead meat of the lineup slept through another game. Oh well. It amazes me that NOW you’re saying ARoid and Kranderson need to be benched. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, you don’t need to be an Einstein to figure out that these guys should have been benched a long time ago. I really got a laugh over switching ARod with Tex in the batting order. Kind of like the deck chairs on the Titanic gig there. Oh and we are very evenly matched with the O’s, oh wait not really. There’s that 115 million difference in payroll.

  • RBC

    The A-Rod benching is the hot topic on the afternoon sports talk shows today.

    I agree with the move, but to not also bench Granderson is mind boggling.

  • Dixon Hurbut

    Those two corner infielders are going to be crippling the Yankees for the next few years.

  • Angry Scheister of K’s

    Way upstairs. Bullshit.