The Perfect Offseason Storm


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


  1. tmoney says:

    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 says:

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

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      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 says:

        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!) says:

        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 says:

          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 says:

            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.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          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 says:

        Cano would bring back a good haul!

        • All Praise Be To Mo says:

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

          • tmoney says:

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

            • Knoxvillain says:

              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 says:

            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 says:

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

              • Gonzo says:

                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 says:

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


                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 says:

                  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.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

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

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        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.

  2. Ton Lon ton says:

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

  3. Robinson Tilapia says:

    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!) says:

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

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        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.

      • RetroRob says:

        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 says:

      Really? Pass.

  4. tmoney says:

    both the years and the value!

  5. tbord says:

    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!

  6. 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 says:

      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 says:

      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.

  7. Rich in NJ says:

    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!) says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

          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.

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

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          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.

  8. Kevin M. says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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.

      • jjyank says:

        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.

    • Rich in NJ says:

      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 says:

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

    • Dave says:

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

  9. Pat says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

      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.

  10. tmoney says:

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

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      WHERE’S MY AGENT??!?!

    • Ted Nelson says:

      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 says:

        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.

  11. LK says:

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

  12. Yankeefan says:

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

  13. Knoxvillain says:

    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.

  14. BeanTooth says:

    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.

  15. TopChuckie says:

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

  16. Rich in NJ says:


    Phil Rogers
    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 says:

      Hopefully no more than 1 year deal.

    • Mike Axisa says:

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

      • I Collect Brett Gardner Cards says:

        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 says:

      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.

  17. I Collect Brett Gardner Cards says:

    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

  18. dalelama says:

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

  19. Yankee Doodle says:

    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

  20. Slu says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

          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 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).

  21. Gleb says:

    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 says:

      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?

  22. Gonzo says:

    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?

  23. Ted Nelson says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

          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.

  24. Juke Early says:

    Two prong plan to right the Yankee Clipper ship.

    1. Impeach Pud Selig

    2. Sell team to Mark Cuban

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