Dec
04

The Perfect Offseason Storm

By

Offseason surgery for three of the most important players on the team? Check.

A free agent class short on players who adequately fill the team’s needs? Also check.

Ownership mandating a payroll reduction in the near future? Another check.

One-year contracts only? Here’s your likely 2013 right fielder. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

While re-signing the veteran trio of Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera to one-year contracts solves most of the team’s pitching issues, the Yankees have a long hill to climb on the position player side. Russell Martin has already left for the Pirates and Nick Swisher will soon sign with another team while the Bombers give him a little “thanks for the last four years” pat on the behind but not a contract offer. The Yankees are open to discussing Curtis Granderson in trades, though if he’d done what he’s done the last two seasons with say, the Twins, we’d be talking about him as a buy-low bounceback candidate.

Thanks in part to the draft and international free agent spending limits implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as well as lucrative new national television deals, teams have more money to spend than ever before these days. With no way to funnel it towards amateur players, all of that money is going to big league free agents this offseason. Hence a four-year contract (!) for Angel Pagan and a $5.5M guarantee for a 31-year-old Phil Hughes clone (Scott Baker) who didn’t throw a single pitch last season. It’s a good time to be a free agent, even a mediocre one.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are intentionally scaling back their payroll in an effort to save luxury tax and revenue sharing dollars in 2014. Although they could spend as much as they want (or are able to, really) in 2013, the team is fixated on one-year contracts to save those precious future dollars. One-year contracts are great in theory, but they limit the team’s market severely. The Yankees are basically stuck digging through assorted veterans trying to hang on and guys coming off injury looking to rebuild value. The one-year gems like Kuroda are the exception, not the rule.

Moreso than at any other point in the last … I don’t know, 15 years? … the Yankees have questions at more of the nine offensive positions than not. We have no idea who will play right field, no idea who will play catcher, no idea who will DH, and no idea how much Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be able to contribute following offseason surgery for significant injuries. These questions coincide with a plan to reduce spending while other teams are increasing their spending. The financial advantage the Yankees have enjoyed basically since the advent of free agency has been willfully eliminated at what might be the worst possible time. More questions than answers and limited solutions.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • tmoney

    Maybe the Yankees should try to get under 189 for 2013 instead by trading granderson, cano, and hughes now. That way they can be aggressive next offseaon and not make us fans go nuts for two years.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think you’re getting your years mixed up there.

      • tmoney

        cant they re set the tax by getting under for 2013?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          As in this upcoming season? No, it’s 2014, unless there’s something I’m grossly misunderstanding here.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting

            They can reset the tax by going under in any year. The threshold is lower at $178M for 2013 though.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      The threshold is just $178M in 2013, but that would be doable if they did trade Granderson and Cano. I’m not sure the Yankees would stop at being under the threshold for just one season though. They stand to gain the most in revenue sharing rebates by being under at least 2 consecutive years (and they’d most likely gain more by being under in 2014-15 than 2013-14).
      That said, if the Yankees aren’t planning on adding a big offensive piece (via trade or free agency), they might be best served by seeing what they can get for Cano, Granderson, and Hughes now. I think they could be a strong contender using the patchwork method to fill 2 or maybe even 3 holes. Going that route to fill 4-5 holes isn’t likely to end well enough to be worth not building for the future now, imo.
      It would be a shame to have to see Andy and Mo go out in a semi-rebuilding year, though.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Yeah, I don’t see that happening in the least. I think they listen to see if they get an amazing offer on Granderson and only look Hughes’s way if he’s the piece in the way of a major deal but, otherwise, those three much more than likely stand pat.

        Didn’t know about the 2013 threshold. As a finance guy, I’m a hell of a social worker.

      • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!)

        Why trade Hughes right now though (under this plan)? I get the Cano/Granderson angle, but he’s still cheap cheap cheap for what he offers… Hell, if anything I would try and lock him up at an under market value contract.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          If he, somehow, becomes the chip that nets you Justin Upton or something, and the Yankees don’t value him any greater than they would someone they can get as a #3 in the market in the offseason…

          I admit that’s a ton of “if’s” that probably will not pan out.

          • tmoney

            I only included Hughes because I think he is one of the most tradable peices and Hughes Cano and Granderson could restock your system with players who could potentially bring back an Upton this year or a Gordon or Stanton in the future. Its time to restock the system with younger players who can contribute for cheap money until you can get rid of the Arod contract.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              We all want pieces that can step in tomorrow, but that’s not reality. The franchise is doing a good job at bringing quality guys through the system.

              • dalelama

                None who play for the Yankees…LOL

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          If they were planning to keep him long-term and can extend him, then fine keep him. If they don’t plan to keep him long-term, and do go the semi-rebuild route, it would make sense to see what he’d yield in trade.

          Either way, I don’t remotely see the Yankees going with this semi-rebuild plan, so it really doesn’t matter.

      • tmoney

        Cano would bring back a good haul!

        • All Praise Be To Mo

          Cano to Stl for Taveras +? Would give us a great young OF bat and we can bring up Adams/CoJo for 2B.

          • tmoney

            The Mariners would be all over him and they have stud pitching 2b, c and ss prospects

            • Knoxvillain

              The Mariners wouldn’t be all over Cano at all unless they can do a trade and sign and no way does Cano do something like that.

          • Gonzo

            I’ve said it before, I would trade Cano for a Taveras led package. Would even think about it straight up, but would obviously want more.

            • Curt and Bernie

              Under what circumstances would a straight up trade with these two players make any sense?

              • Gonzo

                From a financial point of view. 6+ years of Taveras at value vs. 1 year of value for Cano. It makes even more sense if you think the Yanks are going to overpay Cano after this season. So you get 6+years of value for Taveras vs 1 year of value for Cano + an albatross contract.

                From a $ per WAR aspect, it doesn’t make sense for you? It won’t happen because it sends the wrong message about this year, but does it make no sense?

              • Gonzo

                This article is a little old, but it gives you a basic idea of where I’m going with this.

                http://www.beyondtheboxscore.c.....mpensation

                If Cano produces like last year, he’ll produce an excess of roughly $20mm in value. A top 10 hitting prospect is worth more than that. If you believe that Taveras is the top hitting prospect (top 3 is probably the worst you’ll see him in the major offseason rankings), you can say he is worth much more than that excess production.

                That said, making a run for 2013 has a ton of value. How much, I don’t know. And how much is Cano crucial to that, a good amount.

                • Preston

                  I think in a vacuum your trade makes great sense. But in reality the Yankees would get butchered by the media for making the trade. Which isn’t really important. I hope that Cashman doesn’t make his decisions based on what the backpages will write. But it would make life very hard for a young player to be the guy they traded Robinson Cano for. On the flip side, the Cardinals do need infield help and are in win now mode. But they are unlikely to re-sign Cano at the price tag he wants, so they might want to take the long view and keep Taveras.

                  • Gonzo

                    Oh yeah, I don’t think it would happen either.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!)

      Is there a specific reason for 2014? I thought I remember hearing one but now I am not so sure.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        I think it was mainly that they thought they’d have a better chance of getting under $189M and remaining a contender in 2014 than they did of getting under $178M and remaining a contender in 2013.
        The revenue sharing rebate benefits would likely be higher if they waited until 2014 as well, but I don’t know if it would be a big enough difference to impact that decision.

  • http://none Ton Lon ton

    The time for the super scrubs is near. Ramiro Pena please come you forward

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Just read on MLBTR that bidding on MARCO SCUTARO is up to 3 years, 24 million. We’ve gone insane.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!)

      wow. this years gonna be one for the ages. Nick Swisher HAS TO BE giddy…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This is why folks need to calm the hell down and give it the entire off-season for the Yanks to field the team they’re going to field. I can’t imagine anyone being thrilled if the Yankees were to join in some of this nonsense.

        Swish should be thrilled. If he were to leave NYC, I could still root for him as a Giant.

        • Jersey Joe

          Giants aren’t signing Swish. They are reportedly looking at Ben Francisco and Reed Johnson, both of whom could be good platoon partners for Schierholtz.

          • Jersey Joe

            You know, if we want to sign Schierholtz.

      • RetroRob

        Rumor (i.e. fact waiting to be announced) is the Red Sox are about to sign Shane Victorino for 3/$39M for a $13M AAV.

        Swisher is giddy times two.

    • RetroRob

      Really? Pass.

  • tmoney

    both the years and the value!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The mystery team there must be my mother-in-law.

      • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!)

        Is the bidding opening on Cervelli all of the sudden?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          True story: She suggested they just move Cervelli to 3B. She loves him.

          • Jacob

            Your mother and law has always matched my favoritism in players, is she married? ;)

            • Robinson Tilapia

              She is, and she is a great person.

              • RetroRob

                I support her giddy love of players. That is, unless the Yankees were to actually try doing that!

  • tbord

    Let’s not forget those important articles recently posted about acquiring utility infielders.It’s time management learned how to get creative – Maybe steal a page from Houston and rummage through the garbage heap. Maxwell and Laird should have been held on to – Duh!

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I didn’t mind the $189 plan until I read about all of the money they are receiving up front in the YES deal.

    I understand why they are doing it, but at the risk of putting out a lesser product? I’m not sure that’s the best idea.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Spending your way out of it isn’t necessarily guaranteeing a better product. We can ride the 7 train to Flushing to check out what it can often look like. :)

    • RetroRob

      We don’t know what the Yankees are exactly doing with that money. YES had lots of upfront costs and so did the building of Yankee Stadium. Hal pretty much says he’s a finance geek. I can see him paying down debt.

  • Rich in NJ

    I can see them signing Youkilis for a year if his asking price is reasonable.He can still hit LHP (2012: .275 .386 .492 .878), which fills a need.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!)

      But it wont be. Promise you a 1 year deal for Youk is in the $15M range. Which makes me sick to my stomach

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        As long as it’s only 1 year, I’m fine with that, then again not my money. He can play 3B, 1B or DH.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          He also has trouble staying on the field.

          Hasn’t played 125 games in any of the last 3 years, and has never played 150 games.

          If he and Chavez are the back-up to Alex, well, there had better be a back-up to the back-up.

      • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

        why does the money make you sick? especially on a 1 year deal.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          It’s 15 million dollars……given to Kevin Youkilis.

          Pretending its not real money helps sometimes.

          I agree that, on a one-year deal, if he was really the guy, I wouldn’t give a shit.

  • Kevin M.

    Has anybody thought that maybe the idea isn’t to get under the tax for one year, it’s to stay under the tax permanently? Hal really needs to worry about destroying his brand, which will make the savings from getting under 189 seem like a pittance.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Since that’s never, ever come out of their mouth, I’m not concerned about that being the case at the moment.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        I believe Hal did say something about staying under being the ideal situation sometime after the plan was first leaked, but it didn’t sound like that was an absolute requirement.

        • dan gen

          it is a fing…..requirement…

      • jjyank

        And even if it did, I don’t have a problem with the concept. That’s still a huge budget to work with. It only sucks because of the contract commitments that were undertaken before the new CBA. Once those are in the rear view mirror, I really don’t have a problem with a budget.

        • ClayDavis

          Considering Hal did nothing to build “his” brand, this whole scenario is really hard to swallow.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            That was literally a bunch of words strung together.

            • jjyank

              Well technically, so is that. And this.

              AHHHHHHH!

    • Rich in NJ

      Sure, it can be for more than one year, but with their ability to virtually print money, if the prospect pipeline doesn’t kick into high gear by 2014 or so, supplying a steady supply of high-end, cost-controlled ML talent, why would they want to do it permanently? They would almost certainly spend less and make less. Not that they would be hurting, but the asset would be under-utilized.

    • Ghost of Gene Michael

      If you can’t put together a contending team for $189 million, then something is really wrong with your management skills.

    • Dave

      So the brand is destroyed if they don’t highest payroll in baseball by a wide margin every year? Good to know.

  • Pat

    Quick thought: I know the $189MM number is based on AAV of the contracts. So what is stopping the Yanks from making a LONNNGG deal with a player and thus keeping the AAV down? For example, they just reported that Hamilton may be looking at a 4 yr deal. Assuming somewhere between $20-25MM/yr, that’s anywhere from $80-100 mil. If the Yanks offer 12 yrs/$120 mil, Hamilton makes anywhere from $20-40 mil on top of his current offer. That may be enough for him to lock up the future, as he isn’t likely to land a mega-deal at age 35. For the Yanks, they then only have a $10 mil/yr cap hit. They could structure it so he gets his $20-25 mil a year for the first 4 years if preferable, then spread the rest out after that, essentially becoming a $5 mil/yr player and not an albatross. Is my thinking flawed?

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      He would have to stick around and play those extra 8 years in order to get those extra dollars. He may not be willing to do that, especially if he expects to be still playing well and able to command a high AAV at age 35.

    • Rich in NJ

      Because even if Hamilton accepted the offer, MLB likely wouldn’t approve it because they would view it as an attempt to circumvent the luxury tax threshold.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Yea, didn’t the Devils try this with someone and the NHL vetoed the deal? If not, I’m all for offering A-Rod a 30 year extension for $1 a year to bring down that commitment. Same for Pettite, Mo, Jeter, etc.

        • Rich in NJ

          Yes, with Kovalchuk.

        • Pat

          OK, so no rule expressly written that makes it forbidden, but just what we expect Selig would do.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Imagine the possibilities. Robbie Cano under contract until 2088.

  • tmoney

    sox offered 3 38 to Victorino? Shisher may get 17.5 aav?????

    • Robinson Tilapia

      WHERE’S MY AGENT??!?!

    • Ted Nelson

      Was there ever any doubt Swisher might get that kind of money? Have people had their heads under a rock when guys like Werth and Bay and Crawford signed their deals? I love how people act like suddenly teams started overpaying FAs this offseason. Happens every offseason.

      • Preston

        Yup, remember six months ago when people thought he’d get 3/30. Nick Swisher is completely undervalued by the majority of Yankee fans. I think 5/75 is the starting point of serious offers for Nick.

  • LK

    This offseason is certainly a storm, but perfect isn’t the word I’d use to describe it.

  • Yankeefan

    The Yankee Brand Is Worth More Den The 189M Pay Roll F… That Plan.

  • Knoxvillain

    So the Sox traded Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett to shed salary. Then then sign Napoli to a 3/39 and probably Victorino to a 3/38? Only Boston.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ietc

      • Knoxvillain

        Posting here for five years and I still don’t know what “ietc” means ;_;.

        • Jacob

          Neither do I but I just roll with whatever RT says

          • jjyank

            “I enjoy(ed) this comment”

            • Dan Gold

              I enjoy(ed) you

              • jjyank

                I know you do (did).

                • Jacob

                  I don’t want to know what you do behind closed doors.

                  • jjyank

                    Nothing at all. Dan Gold is apparently my own RAB groupie.

                    • Preston

                      You leave the door open? That’s not nice, nobody should have to see that.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            There’s your first mistake…

        • Get Phelps Up

          I enjoyed this comment

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Sorry about that.

          “I Endorse This Comment.”

          • Robinson Tilapia

            or “I Enjoyed.” Whoops.

        • RetroRob

          IETC

    • FIPster Doofus

      They should’ve just thrown money at Swisher. I’d take him every day of the week over either of those guys.

    • Rivera Venue Blues

      Is it really that much of an overpay? Doesn’t Victorino need to only produce like 8 war to be worth it? Is that that unlikely?

  • BeanTooth

    Who are they expecting to be on the team next year? I just don’t get the refusal to go two years for quality players. It’s as if they believe there’s a ton of talent in the minors that needs just one more year of seasoning before making an impact. It strikes me as incredibly short-sighted. I get the feeling the team isn’t looking to really compete for a few years.

    • Knoxvillain

      What quality player is going to sign for two years?

      • Ted Nelson

        All of one guy, and now the sky is falling…

  • TopChuckie

    Keppinger at the rumored $8M for 2 years seems like a no-brainer unless something big is in the works.

  • Rich in NJ

    link

    Phil Rogers
    ?@ChiTribRogers
    According to executives with other teams, the Yankees are in talks to sign A.J. Pierzynski. Certainly seems like a good fit for both sides.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Hopefully no more than 1 year deal.

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

      Rogers has a really poor track record with this stuff. There’s a reason it’s not on MLBTR.

      • I Collect Brett Gardner Cards

        hopefully this guy rogers continues his losing streak.
        i hate aj.
        i’d rather roll with the 3 headed monster in 13′.

        as far as chavez, why don’t the yanks just continually sign him to 1 year deals til’ he’s 52?

    • FIPster Doofus

      I don’t like AJ, but better him for a year than the collection of crap the Yankees have now. Maybe Romine could have a big 2013 in the minors and take the job in 2014.

  • I Collect Brett Gardner Cards

    also, yanks should be wary though, if they do sign chavy again, of playing him too much. last year was nice, but not fully sure he can do that again if he’s the lefty platoon at third till alex comes back.
    just get something more secure.
    cause you know hes gonna have 200 abs by the time arod comes back lol

  • dalelama

    The predictions of the Dalelama as usual are coming true. This rotten edifice is imploding on itself.

  • Yankee Doodle

    This is crazy but bear with me:

    Yankees get: Upton & Santana

    Indians get: Nunez, Heathcott, Sanchez, diamondbacks b level pitching prospect

    Diamondbacks get: Cabrera, Phelps, Marshall or Campos

    • jjyank

      The Yankees get Upton and Santana and only have to pay Nunez, Heathcott, Sanchez, Phelps and Marshall/Campos? We’d be lucky if that got 1 of them for that.

      • Yankee Doodle

        I told you it was crazy LOL

    • Jersey Joe

      I don’t see why any team wants Nunez really…Indians already have Kipnis for 2B, which is Nuny’s only position.

      • Jacob

        He is actually a SS according to cashman

    • Gonzo

      The Snakes give up Upton + B level pitching and get Asdrubal Cabrera + Phelps + Marshall/Campos?

    • Ca$hman
  • Slu

    I don’t understand people who have no problem with the 2014 budget plan. The ONLY thing this plan does is make the owners more money. This is literally rooting for the .01%. Prices will not go down for us, but the product will be worse. Frankly the whole austerity plan sucks.

    • Ted Nelson

      People don’t have a problem with the Yankees decision, because it’s the rational one. Also because they can get under and still win.

      And people don’t have a problem with the plan put in place by MLB because it’s meant to increase competitiveness. Even as a Yankee fan I don’t like watching a league of haves and have nots where only half the teams ever contend.

      • Slu

        The plan is only rational if you own the team.

        I agree with a lot of what you post Ted, but this is not a league of haves and have nots. Competitive balance is very good in MLB and has been for quite a while.

        • Ted Nelson

          I am totally open to an argument that pro sports teams are some sort of public good or something that shouldn’t be privately owned… but that’s just not the current system. The owners are trying to do what’s in their best interest within the confines they find themselves. I can’t begrudge that.

          I would strongly disagree that competitive balance is good. Check out baseball-reference.com. In the top right there are payrolls in order of 2012 standings. The correlation between payroll and standings looks pretty strong. It also appears that your geography plays a big role in your win total (as in big cities win more and small cities win less).

  • Gleb

    Hamilton to 6, $120, Greinke for 6 $140, Youk for 1, $8

    Indians get:M.Williams, G.Sanchez, P.Hughes, T.Austin, M.Banuelos, _____
    Yankees get: C.Santana, A.Cabrera, J.Masterson

    C.C, Greinke, Kuroda, Pettitte, J.Masterson

    Gardner(CF), Jeter, Granderson, Cano, Hamilton, Teix, Santana, Cabrera(3B), Youk(DH,3B,1B)

    F@#$ your luxury tax. Dynasty status.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think that trade would be more likely to destroy a potential dynasty than create one. I also doubt Masterson would even win a rotation spot over Nova and Phelps. Why do people think he’s good?

  • Gonzo

    We’ll all be laughing about this when Marcus Thames plays 3rd all season with a .290/.360/.500 batting line.

    Totally unrelated, my walls are changing colors and pulsating. I think I can taste sounds too. Is everyone else getting that?

  • Ted Nelson

    Maybe to rile up the masses for ratings, but sometime you aren’t any better than the worst commenters on here Mike… The winter meetings just started and you’re hyperventilating about holes in the roster.

    • Ted Nelson

      And while this isn’t a great FA crop overall, there are tons of FAs to fill their needs besides C. Plenty of platoon OF bats and UTL are on the market.

      • Preston

        It’s a pretty accurate report of the situation. Obviously we aren’t in dire straights, we have a talented staff 1-6 and probably the best pen on paper other than the Braves. And if you are only going to have four players green-lighted for opening day Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner are a pretty good group. It’s not that we can’t fill out the roster for cheap, it’s just that the Yankees don’t usually have this many positions in flux without looking for a long term elite option via FA for at least one or two of them. Doesn’t mean stop gap measures won’t work out better next season (with a lot more financial flexibility going forward), just means there is more uncertainty right now.

        • Ted Nelson

          It ignores the entire possibility of trading for cost-controlled talent, which they may well be doing.

          I might even reject the whole premise that they’re “fixated” on one-year deals. Seems like pure speculation. They have room under $189 now that they let Martin walk, especially if they let Granderson go too. They can sign guys to multi-year contracts. Those guys just don’t have to be Martin, Napoli, Soria, Victorino or whoever else has signed elsewhere so far.

          Angel Pagan is a CF who has been above average offensively three of the past four seasons. He’s been at about 5 fWAR two of those four seasons. He’s only 31 next season.

          It completely ignores the financial incentives they’re responding to.

          As I said, it shows an understanding of the situation that’s about on par with Eddard’s troll perspective.

  • Juke Early

    Two prong plan to right the Yankee Clipper ship.

    1. Impeach Pud Selig

    2. Sell team to Mark Cuban

    • joey12508

      Not a bad idea. current ownership is more worried about $$ than winning. Cant wait til they sell and they will. New York deserves a winner just cant see that with current ownership.

      • Dave

        ^ Spoiled brat.