Waiting on Andy, waiting on Mo

What Went Wrong: Eduardo Nunez
What Went Right: Jayson Nix & Derek Lowe
(Al Bello/Getty)

For the second straight offseason, the Yankees took care of just one piece of major business by the time late-November rolled around. Last winter it was signing CC Sabathia to a new contract extension before he exercised his opt-out clause, and this year it was re-signing Hiroki Kuroda before some other club lured him away. Unlike last offseason, however, we have a pretty good idea of what the Yankees will do next.

At some point soon, possibly before the end of this week, Andy Pettitte will let the team know if he plans to pitch next season. If he decides to return for another year as many expect, the two sides figure to hammer out a contract relatively quickly. Mariano Rivera has already let the club know he will return next season, and they’ve reportedly been talking about a contract for a few weeks now. For both guys it’s not so much if they’ll work out a new deal, but when.

Late last week Andrew Marchand wrote Brian Cashman is employing a “methodical, punch-list approach to the offseason. He would like to go in order in making his decisions, but will react if circumstances dictate.” Items one through three on that punch list appear to be bringing Kuroda, Pettitte, and Rivera back for another year, and Marchand speculates that finding a starting catcher will be next. That makes sense given both the importance of the position and the dearth of quality backstops. Right field, the bench, the bullpen, and miscellaneous minor league depth pieces also figure to be on the agenda.

Moreso than Rivera, Pettitte is dictating New York’s offseason pace. If he decides to return, they know the rotation is set with the three veterans up top, Phil Hughes as the four, and either Ivan Nova or David Phelps as the five. If he decides to retire again, the Yankees will have to search the free agent market for not only a legitimate AL East-caliber pitcher, but also a pitcher willing to sign a one-year contract given the 2014 payroll plan. That’s much easier said than done since there are medical red flags associated with pretty much any pitcher open to a one-year deal, including guys like Dan Haren (back), Shaun Marcum (elbow), and Brandon McCarthy (head, shoulder).

Cashman tends to preach (and practice) patience, but that might not be possible this winter. Buster Olney recently explained how this offseason is essentially playing out backwards — asking prices have clubs seeking out bargains early while the top guys figure to sign late. The one-year contracts given out to Bartolo Colon and Scott Baker are the types of deals we usually see happen in January and February, not November. Maybe that approach will allow the Yankees to grab a premium free agent on a short-term contract later in the offseason — how great would Josh Hamilton look on a one-year pact worth $25-30M? — or maybe it leaves them scrambling for solutions because all the reasonably-price players already have new homes.

The Yankees have been connected to all sorts of players who fill their roster holes these last few weeks, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll move on any of them until Rivera and (potentially) Pettitte are signed for next season. The Winter Meetings start one week from today and that’s when the hot stove really takes off around the league, so hopefully the club gets things sorted out with their two long-time pitchers before heading to Nashville in a few days.

What Went Wrong: Eduardo Nunez
What Went Right: Jayson Nix & Derek Lowe
  • 28 this year

    If Josh Hamilton were to sign with the Yankees on a one year deal, I think the Yankees win the offseason. That would be so fantastic and the odds of that happening are just a hair above .01%. Assuming Martin resigns, basically you replace Swisher with Hamilton which is definitely an upgrade and without regression, the team is quite well off. Add in a healthy Gardner and hopefully the Jeter’s return to reality is balanced with better overall seasons by Granderson, Tex, and Arod and the Yankees are definitely in business.

    • Rich in NJ

      Hamilton for one year would be great (don’t see it happening). Speaking of one year deals, that is all that Martin should be offered. Tying up their limited payroll space on such an inconsistent hitter makes little sense.

      • Captain

        starting the season with Stewart and Cervelli at the major league level would make less sense.

        • Rich in NJ

          This franchise needs to stop looking at a time horizon of one season in its decision-making because it puts a ceiling on how good they can be beyond one season.

          • gc

            And which good catcher currently on the market do you want to lock up for more than one or two years? And not overpay to do so?

            • Rich in NJ

              There is none right now. So it’s year to year with whatever they have until they have the payroll flexibility to invest wisely.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Doesn’t this lead to a completely circular argument?

                • Rich in NJ

                  No, it leads to reserving their precious payroll space for their best players.

                  • Preston

                    You underestimate Martin’s value. The Yankees will always make moves with the next season in mind. Much of the Yankees current value derives from themvfielding the best team they can every year, and they will continue to do so. You also underestimate how limited they will be by the 189 cap. It’s a 16 million dollar cut in their budget. Basically it means we can’t pay our third starter and setup man 15 million anymore, not that we can’t pay our starting catcher 8-10 million.

                    • Rich in NJ

                      You underestimate the constraints imposed by shrinking their payroll to $178m at a time when other teams are spending more.

                      No, their value rests on winning over a long time horizon. The reason they are in the position they have been in is the careful planning that was done by Gene Michael in the early ’90s. The core he assembled enabled them to have an incredibly solid foundation to build around, and they supplemented it by spending a ton.

                      Those days are over, at least for now.

                      It’s not a $16m budget cut when you factor in automatic raises and the huge amount of money taken up by pre-existing commitments.

                      It’s a sea change in spending models.

                    • Preston

                      The financial benefit of the core supplied by Gene Michael in the early 90’s went away a long time ago, as in over a decade ago. All of those players have been paid handsomely, in a lot of cases at over market value. Bernie Williams retired a long time ago, Jorge Posada is gone, Andy Pettitte has made 33 starts in the last three seasons and Derek Jeter has averaged less than 3 WAR per season the last three seasons. The Yankees still fielded a 95+ win team. They have three players under contract in 2014 (four if Jeter picks up his option) the arbitration raises are of little consequence since those players will still be very cost effective. We will skimp on the bench, the bullpen and backend of the rotation. We will not start Chris Stewart at C. The sky will not fall no matter how much you claim it will.

      • Ed

        Is Martin a good hitter? No.

        Is Martin a good hitter, for a catcher? Yes.

        Most catchers hit worse than Martin. There’s a reason Posada gets Hall of Fame talk.

        Also, I highly doubt he’s getting a no trade clause in his contract. He’ll be tradable if it makes sense next year.

        • MannyGeee – The race to $189 starts here!

          sure, but traded for what? Another bullshit reliever, just to say “thank god that above-average-hitting-for-a-catcher-because-we’re-comparing-him-forever-to-Jorge-Posada is gone!”?

          and who will take over for him if he’s traded? Romine is no lock. Sanchez is far away, and next years FA crop is bad like this years.

          Nah, dance with the one that brung ya. Give him is 3/21 and get on with it before the Rangers snatch him up and you officially start the Francisco Cervelli Era. #EddardWorldApproved

          • RetroRob

            I’m not big on no-trade clauses, although it’s not a substantial issue here. Romine has never spent a season at AAA and was injured most of last year. He he going to spend his time in AAA this year, and maybe he gets a look see late in the season. I can see him apprenticing under Martin in 2014, and if he looks good, they will phase Martin out as the season progresses. That’s the first two years of his three-year contract. Year three? If Martin knows he’s the back up, he is absoluetly waiving the no-trade clause as he heads into his option year.

            Heck, if Martin takes over fulltime in 2014, Martin will waive it. It doesn’t help him and his next contract being a bench player. Little downside.

            • RetroRob

              If *Romine* takes over in 2014, Martin will waive it.

          • Ed

            You do realize that I’m saying signing Martin is a good thing, right?

            He’s a good but not great player at a premium position. He’ll have trade value. That makes for a good signing, as long as you aren’t the type that expects superstars at every position.

        • Rich in NJ

          That would be fine if they weren’t looking to shrink payroll going forward. Since they are, one has to look at what giving Martin $7m or $8m would do to their payroll flexibility in 2014 and possibly beyond.

          Given their pre-existing contractual commitments (and the huge one they are likely to give Cano), it’s not pretty. It makes it far less likely that they can sign Robertson or Hughes, two players I would much rather keep than Martin.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            They can save on the bench. They can continue to piece-meal it in RF. They’ll have to pay for these positions anyway. I’m not convinced that having Russell Martin here necessarily affects Phil Hughes and, especially, David Robertson. When do his arb years end?

            • Rich in NJ

              Hughes is a FA after this upcoming season. IIRC (I could be wrong), Robertson the year after, but $5m in 2014 is not an unreasonable estimate of what he could be paid.

              So the $189m is really about $178m with other included expenses budgeted.

              You have CC, Tex, A-Rod, and likely Cano taking up about $100m. If Jeter plays that year and has a good enough 2013 season to motivate him to decline his $8m option, I believe that $8m is added to whatever he signs for in 2014. That could bring his total to over $20m.

              Even if he plays for $8m, that is almost $110m accounted for leaving very little to construct a roster that in Hal’s (counterprodutive, imo) words, can win the WS ever single year.

              So unless the austerity talk is a sham (which would be great), hard choice likely have to be made.

              I don’t believe Martin is a player worth tying up scarce resources.

              As an aside, why are the Dodgers getting so much more per year from FOX than the Yankees?

              • Francesa

                Unlike the Yankees with YES, the Dodgers do not own a piece of the FOX network that’s airing its games. 33% of the profits from YES go to the Yankees.

                • RetroRob

                  Right. I’ve written way too many words on this topic already, but the Yankees are getting way more than the reported licensing fees, plus the Yankees can shield that money from the revenue sharing pool, something the Dodgers may not be able to do, although it depends on how the deal is structured.

                  • vicki

                    looks like they’ll pay half (revenue sharing) what they would have otherwise because of the bankruptcy deal. published estimates have them averaging about 90mm more than the yanks’ deal.

                    • RetroRob

                      If it’s $90MM more than the reported $85MM in licensing fees the Yankees generated last year, then the published reports are not taking into account the precentage of profits the Yankees also get from their YES investment. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

              • Ed

                If Jeter plays that year and has a good enough 2013 season to motivate him to decline his $8m option, I believe that $8m is added to whatever he signs for in 2014. That could bring his total to over $20m.

                The $3m buyout is guaranteed, so for luxury tax purposes, it’s included as part of the 3 guaranteed years of the deal. If he picks up the option, the 2014 luxury tax hit is $3m less than the option value. If he turns it down, the current deal doesn’t factor into 2014.

                • Rich in NJ

                  Yeah, big if though, because if Jeter feels as dissed by the Yankees over the last contract negotiations as it seems, and he has another good season, it’s hard to seem him playing for $8m in 2014.

          • Ed

            For 2013, I don’t see a better option, unless Cashman pulls off an unexpected trade for a catcher.

            2014 doesn’t look much better, but we’re still far away. Maybe Romine shows he’s worth a chance? Maybe a good trade situation pops up?

            Unless Cashman can pull off a trade none of us see coming, you have to sign Martin now and worry about it later. The odds are high that he’s still the best option for 2014, even with the payroll concerns. If for some reason he’s not, he’ll most likely still have positive trade value, so you can get rid of him and go with someone else.

            • Rich in NJ

              Worrying about it later relies too much on hope, which as they say, is not a plan.

              It’s time to actually have a plan and stop kicking things down the road.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                What exactly is it that they’re kicking down the road?

                • Preston

                  The big rebuild we continually have needed since 2001. Oh wait we decided to make incremental moves and keep fielding a competitive team for more than a decade, ok I guess we can keep doing that instead.

  • Nedro

    Too Many Lefties

    • RetroRob

      No politics.

  • Ryan

    I would pay high on Hamilton for short term. Then deal Granderson and re-sign Ichiro.

    • SRB

      “Deal Granderson”

      What would the return be?

      • MannyGeee

        “anything cuz he sux in deh Octoberz!!!”

        – Almost everyone who wants to “deal Granderson”

        • Robinson Tilapia

          mmmmm…..I’d be open to it, at the right price, if they’re not going to consider re-signing him. I’m not driving him to the airport or anything, but I’d listen.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      The point would be to add Hamilton to Granderson, not use him as a replacement. Hamilton + Ichiro could be worse than Granderson + Swisher last year, by a lot. If anything, it would be a tiny upgrade.

  • RetroRob

    The fact that Pettitte has begun his offseason training program sounds like a positive.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I literally just read that blurb in the Daily News. I agree.

      • RetroRob

        Now we just need to get Andy to agree!

        • Andy Cooper

          I agree!!!

          • Rooting for U.S. Steel

            Howard Johnson is right!

  • anibal sanchez

    Team has to get younger sometime and it seems the Yankees never do. Tell Andy thanks for everything you have gave us as we are going to go with Anibal Sanchez. Why give Andy 12-15m a season when you can have Anibal Sanchez at 8-10 per maybe less?

    • roger clemens

      Team has got to get older and I’m ready.

      Sanchez is going to get 6/$90M, or $15M per. That’s the market.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ….because it wouldn’t work, lengthwise, within the context the team is currently dealing in.

      I can’t decide whether Anibal Sanchez talks in the third person, or if this guy’s misleading us as to his identity.

    • jonathan c.

      Because you can’t get him at 8-10 per, let alone maybe less.

    • Ed

      $8-$10m per gets you Jeremy Guthrie, not Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez isn’t getting less than Burnett/Lackey money. Probably more, considering those deals were years ago and there seems to be a lot of money to be spent this year.

    • MannyGeee – The race to $189 starts here!

      What world are you living in that Anibal Sanchez gets any less than AJ Burnett or John Lackey?


    • Grover

      Is it possible you have their salaries reversed?

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Giving $80-100 million to non elite starting pitchers hardly ever works out well. I’d pass on Anibal and be happy with Kuroda and Pettitte for the next year rather than having potentially another AJ Burnett situation.

    • Preston

      The Marlins can get younger, I’d rather the Yankees get better.

  • mike

    Crazy overpay Hamilton for one season would be a definate F-u to the rest of baseball. I love it, but there is no way he would sign…unless maybe there was a 100mm insurance policy taken out for his benefit or something to protect him from injury???

    IMO he would own the town in a few weeks, and in the “good ole days” he would likely be signed irrespective of the financial penalties next year and beyond.

    • Ed

      Just like the good ole days when we traded for Randy Johnson then signed Carlos Beltran, and when we signed both Mike Mussina and Manny Ramirez.

      Oh, wait. They always had a budget. They just weren’t as vocal about it before.

      • LK

        There’s a difference between having a budget and lowering that budget when your revenues are at an all-time high.

        • Steve (different one)

          While also having penalties for violating the soft salary cap at an all time high.

          This goes both ways.

  • Mike HC

    Signing Hamilton to a huge one year deal might also be the best way to go for not only the Yanks, but Hamilton too. If teams aren’t offering big, long term deals, it might be in his best interest to just keep betting on himself to produce, and get huge one year deals year after year, or until a team finally decides he is safe enough to open up the checkbook for 4-5.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Maybe, although it’s still better for him to bank in as soon as possible. We shall see.

      • Mike HC

        If the Yanks are offering 1 for 30 and the next highest offer is 3 for 65, it would at least have to be a decision.

        But I kind of doubt the Yanks would offer Hamilton that much money for one year anyway. And I would hope for Hamilton’s sake that he has offers that blow any one year deal away.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          True on all counts.

  • MannyGeee – The race to $189 starts here!

    You know what’s funny? 550 words dedicated to the fragile state of what we like to call “fringe pitching” (and damn good analysis, at that) and all anyone got from this article was the 20 words that indicate that Josh Hamilton “might” sign a 1 year super-contract (which, of course, he would be an absolute idiot to do)…

    The selective listening (or reading, as it were) makes me think I am dealing with my wife. Well Done, RAB Readers!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      But this is article IS about Josh……oh.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      BTW, you’re wife loves reading RAB, and is on line one and she is PISSED.OFF.

    • jjyank

      Hamilton has no reason to not get as much long term security as possible given his situation. Agreed.

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    Can anyone recall a player in his prime who was a free agent and signed a 1 year deal rather than multi-year?

    I think there’s as good a chance as Barry Bonds playing LF for the Yankees next year as there is Hamilton.

    • RetroRob

      No. Well, not really. If we just look at it as “in their prime,” yes I can think of players, but there were circumstances around them, such as Adrian Beltre signing a one-year deal to rebuild his value. Edwin Jackson too a one-year deal in Washington for similar reasons. I can’t think of any player coming off a fine season then just took a one-year deal.

      A more interesting scenario would be if some team offered Hamilton a three-year, $90M deal. Very high AAV, but reducing the long-term risk. I still don’t think he’d go for it, but it would at least give him pause, especially if the next best offer is 5/$110.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Bonds would do better in right–left is huge, maybe bigger than CF. Bonds has lost a few steps, so RF makes a lot more sense.

        • OldYanksFan

          BUT HE CAN STILL HIT!!!!!

          • MannyGeee – The race to $189 starts here!

            OBP FTW!!!

  • Midwestyankee

    Offer 12M to AJP to catch in pinstripes for one year. He’s another left hander but he has power that will be more productive in the Bronx than in the new Comisky. he’s another old fart who might like a taste of Yankee glory before hanging it up, and like Ichiro, be willing to even platoon or accept other role diminishing conditions. the biggest downside is his reputation as a jerk, but it seems to be a bigger factor with his opponents than his teammates.