Mailbag: Stubbs, Carp, Cabrera, Pensions

Heyman: There's a "significant difference" in valuation during Cano talks
Yankees looking for pitching depth, keeping tabs on Chien-Ming Wang

Got four questions with some pretty long answers today, so this is a hefty mailbag relative to most weeks. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or another.

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

Several people asked: What about Drew Stubbs?

When the Indians agreed to sign Michael Bourn earlier this week, the first thing pretty much everyone seemed to think was that either Michael Brantley or Stubbs were trade bait. Manager Terry Francona shot that down by saying they plan to play Brantley, Bourn, and Stubbs in the outfield with Nick Swisher at first base and Mark Reynolds at DH, but a trade should never be ruled out. Jon Heyman says the team is getting calls about its spare outfielders.

I wrote about the 28-year-old Stubbs early in the offseason, before the Reds traded him to the Tribe as part of the Shin-Soo Choo-Trevor Bauer deal. He was awful overall last season — 64 wRC+ with a 30.5% strikeout rate — but he continued to hit left-handers (111 wRC+) while providing plenty of value on the bases (30+ steals in three straight years) and in the outfield. Rather than rehash everything here, I suggest clicking the link and reading the previous post for the gory details. The short version is that I wouldn’t use him against righties at all but would everywhere else.

Cleveland signed Stubbs to a one-year, $2.825M contract last month, and he remains under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2015. I’d be all over him for the right-handed bench bat role if I was the Yankees, mostly because he’s affordable and will produce just as much against lefties as Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz while contributing far more outside the batter’s box. He’d give them a right-handed platoon bat and a late-inning pinch-runner. I don’t know what the Indians would seek in return, but if they’d take a depth arm like Adam Warren or a miscellaneous prospect like Corban Joseph, I’d be all over it.

Several other people asked: What about Mike Carp?

(Stephen Brashear/Getty)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty)

Carp, 26, was designated for assignment by the Mariners a few days ago. He’s a .255/.327/.413 (109 wRC+) hitter in 608 big league plate appearances spread across four seasons with Seattle, with his greatest success coming in 2011: .276/.326/.466 (123 wRC+) with 12 homers in 313 plate appearances. That performance earned him the everyday left field job to start last year, but he got hurt (shoulder sprain), stunk, and was demoted to the minors.

Carp is a left-handed hitter who fits best at DH, though he can fill-in at first base and play left in an emergency. Seattle stuck him in left field everyday because they were desperate for offense, but he’s a Raul Ibanez-level disaster out there. Pretty much the only thing the Yankees would be able to use him for at this point is as a lefty bat off the bench — something I want them to have so Joe Girardi can pinch-hit for his catchers late in close games — but his defensive inflexibility makes that a tough sell. Dan Johnson could do the same thing and at least fake third base if needed.

When these questions started coming in earlier this week, I was planning to say the Yankees should instead target another player the Mariners recently designated for assignment, right-hander Shawn Kelley. They acquired him in a minor trade on Wednesday night and beat me to the punch. Carp is a useful but limited player, and not really someone that fits with the Yankees right now given their roster construction. Another team will surely give him a chance.

Mean muggin'. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Mean muggin’. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

Suge asks: Go back to the 2007-2008 offseason. If the Yankees had let A-Rod walk and went after Miguel Cabrera what would that trade package look like?

That was RAB’s first offseason, so to the archives we go. That November we heard the Marlins were looking for “one pitcher and position player that are under three years of service time” plus miscellaneous prospects. They preferred that position player to be a center fielder, hence Cameron Maybin. Florida wound up taking Maybin (sixth best prospect in the game according to Baseball America), Andrew Miller (#10 before losing prospect eligibility), and four lesser prospects, the best of whom turned out to be righty reliever Burke Badenhop.

The 2007-2008 offseason what the height of our Save the Big Three! campaign, as long-time readers will surely remember. Miggy rumors took a backseat to Johan Santana rumors that winter. Anyway, the trio of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy were at the height of their prospectdom at the time. Jose Tabata was a top 100 prospect (#37) but no center fielder, plus he was in Single-A at the time. Austin Jackson was also a top 100 guy (#41) in Single-A, so he wouldn’t have met the Marlins preference of a big league ready center fielder. Melky Cabrera was coming off an 89 wRC+ in 2007 and might have piqued Florida’s interest, though I doubt it.

Cabrera — Miggy, not Melky — was only 24 at the time and already a certified monster, with a career .313/.388/.542 (139 wRC+) batting line and four 30+ homer seasons heading into 2008. The Marlins were trading him because he was getting expensive through arbitration, though he wouldn’t have been able to qualify for free agency until after the 2009 season. Miggy was the best young hitter in the game and someone the Yankees should have looked to acquire regardless of how the A-Rod situation played out. Even though he wasn’t much of a third baseman back then, the bat was too special.

Anyway, in hindsight they should have been willing to trade any combination of those guys — Joba, Kennedy, Hughes, Jackson, Melky, etc. — to get Cabrera. It’s easy to see that now, but remember at the time it sure looked like Joba and Hughes were on their way to becoming top of the rotation forces, something the Yankees desperately lacked. They wouldn’t have been able to top the Maybin-Miller package anyway, but I think it would have take two of the Big Three plus Melky plus other prospects. No brainer looking back on it now.

.284/.422/.472 (143 wRC) in 406 PA with the 2003 Yankees. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
.284/.422/.472 (143 wRC+) in 406 PA as a 24-year-old with the 2003 Yankees. (Getty)

Mike asks: Having seen the retirement of Nick Johnson after ten years in the big leagues and having read the Mark Prior article, I was wondering how the rule works for players to qualify for the ML pension. I know it’s ten years, but what does that really mean? Ten years on the the 40-man roster? Ten years on the 25 man roster plus DL time? For example does Manny Banuelos get a full year towards his pension in 2013 because he’s on the ML DL?

It’s ten full years of service time. Johnson retired with eleven years and 41 days of service time according to Baseball Prospectus, so he qualifies for the full pension on top of his $29.5M or so in career earnings. Players with less than ten years of service time get some kind of pro-rated pension that isn’t nearly as lucrative as the full version. From what I understand, everyone who accrues at least one day of big league service time gets access to the union’s awesome and affordable health care program (for him and his family) for life. That’s why September call-ups are a huge deal for the fringe guys. It’s good work if you can get it.

Players have to be on the 25-man active roster — they don’t have to appear in a game, just be on the roster — or the big league DL to accrue service time. Spring Training and the postseason don’t count, it’s regular season only. There are some weird rules as well, like if a player is sent down on Tuesday but recalled on Friday (due to an injury elsewhere on the roster), he gets credited for the Wednesday and Thursday service time as well. I highly recommend this classic Keith Law article on the service time, options, waivers, all that weird stuff. It’s a must-bookmark that I refer back to constantly.

Banuelos will miss the entire season due to his Tommy John surgery and because he’s on the 40-man roster, he’ll be placed on the big league 60-day DL and pick up a full year of service time. The same thing happened with Andrew Brackman back in 2008. If the Yankees were to send Banuelos down and stick him on the Triple-A DL instead, the union would file a grievance and win. The Twins and Dodgers tried that with Glen Perkins and Tony Abreu, respectively, back in the day and got called on it. The Yankees are losing one of Manny’s six years of team control because of the injury, which sucks. The timing is unfortunate.

Heyman: There's a "significant difference" in valuation during Cano talks
Yankees looking for pitching depth, keeping tabs on Chien-Ming Wang
  • DERP

    Why can’t the Yankees place Banuelos on the minor league DL since he got injured when pitching in the minors? As an example, Jenrry Mejia of the Mets missed almost all of the 2011 season with an elbow injury that he suffered when pitching in the minors, but he didn’t get service time. He was on the 40 man at the time.

    • Mike Axisa

      Mejia got hurt during the season in the minors and was on the 40-man already. Banuelos had his surgery and was added to the 40-man in the offseason, when there are no minors. He was technically “called up.”

      • DERP

        That is unfortunate. Thanks for the response.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Stubbs for either Warren or CoJo does seem a pretty good deal to me. I understand some have this fantasy of letting Robbie walk, or trading him for pieces, having CoJo or Adams step in and, somehow, contending, and……that’s why I called it a “fantasy.” Yeah.

    No to Carp, and I’ll go cry in the corner at the thought of actually getting Miguel Cabrera for Melky + IPK.

    • Jim Is Bored

      The only scenario I see seriously contending for anything besides the 2nd wildcard without Robby next year is if 2-3 position prospects and 1-2 pitchers are just completely ridiculously lights out this year, and continue that success in the majors.

      Unlikely. But I think most rational folk who want to trade Cano or let him walk have their eyes on 2014, 2015, and so on.

      • Govin

        I wouldn’t trade Cano even if I knew he wasn’t coming back.People seem to forget that contending teams don’t usually trade there best players for future prospects.

        • jjyank

          This. Those that think the Yankees should trade Cano or Grandy mid-season are insane in my opinion. It’s not going to happen. The Yankees won’t be sellers at the trade deadline. Additionally, the new CBA takes away draft pick compensation for tread deadline rentals, depressing their value (perhaps only slightly, but I think it has to play some part).

          If either of them were going to be traded, it would have happened already. And it hasn’t happened because, you know, the Yanks are actually going to try to win games this year.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            …and because the team will seek to keep at least one of them moving forward after this season.

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

            Not this.

            If I knew 100% that Cano wasn’t coming back, the smart move would be to trade him for the best available package.
            Granderson is a different story since he’s not near the player Cano is and is much easier to replace.

            Even with Cano, the chances of the Yankees winning the WS are at best 10% or so (I think Vegas odds have them at 11-1). To sacrifice the next 4-5 years to make a run in 2013 would be very foolish IMO.

            • Jim Is Bored

              I mean maybe that’d be the game theory ideal move, but if the Yankees are in 1st at the trade deadline with a guarantee that Cano is leaving after the season, there is a 0 percent change they trade him.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

              You’re not necessarily sacrificing the next 4-5 years though. They can find players in other ways than just trading Cano. There’s also no guarantee the trade return for Cano would return a great value that couldn’t otherwise be replaced. Just as a cautionary note (not that a Cano trade would necessarily work out the same), the trade return for 2 years of Cabrera has produced a total of 15.2 fWAR over the 5 years since the trade (16.2 if you leave out the negative WAR players). That 15 WAR could certainly help over the next 5 years, but it’s not exactly irreplaceable. And there is always a possibility that the Yankee return wouldn’t amount to even that much. And it probably wouldn’t be enough to forfeit a chance at a championship for.

              It’s also quite possible if the Yankees stick with the $189M plan, given the current commitments, this year’s 10% chance might be the best chance for at least the next few years, making it worthwhile to make one last run at a championship with the current group.

            • Govin

              Yes, so why lessen the possibility even more, by trading your best offensive player. I just feel tha,t if the Yankees trade Cano, they are waving the white flag, for this year. which with the uncertainty they are facing, for the years after, they should not do.

            • jjyank

              But we don’t know that he’s not coming back with 100$ certainty. And we also don’t know that whatever we get back in a trade will be as valuable as Cano would be with 100% certainty.

              Also, as NP&H said above, not trading Cano does not necessarily mean that the next 4-5 years are being sacrificed.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Oh me neither. I want him to stay.

          I just think RT was painting a slightly unfair picture of the people who would let him go or trade him.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            All is fair in love and slight hyperbole. :)

    • Barry’s Gift Basket

      There is also a chance that the 2014 yankees won’t contend even with Robbie on the team.

      If anything, money not invested in Cano can help to fill the some of tne needs that team will have with some more quality, like 2 SP, an OF, Bullpen arms, a decent bench, and a 3rd baseman, with Adams (IF healty) and nuñez playing 2nd base.

      • Jim Is Bored

        I mean there’s always a chance any team won’t contend.

        But the Yankees chances are probably greater with Cano there.

      • Govin

        Looking beyond this year is very difficult because we don’t know how the farm is going to play out.I’m excited about watching this years minor league system there are quite a few players that can take the next big step, or fall fat on their face.

      • Havok9120

        And that’s nice and all, but we almost certainly WILL contend this season. Next season is, either way, a crapshoot that depends on the minors and what free agents can be/are willing to be acquired on the budget. But this season is not and I really don’t think Cano gets enough future value to take such a hit to our chances this season. That goes triple for Granderson.

        • Barry’s Gift Basket

          Sure, they should contend this year with Cano putting some hughe numbers, no argument there. I’m just a member of the “let him walk after he wins the MVP in 2013” camp.

      • Mike HC

        I think you overestimating all the holes we could fill if we don’t re sign Cano. If Cano gets like 22-25 mil aav, that will only get us like two solid players. Youk got 12 mil this year, Torii Hunter got 13 mil per, Adam Laroche 12 mil per etc … Mediocre players are getting overpaid too, it is not just the superstars.

        The only real advantage would be the length of the deal, and by the last couple years of a 7-8 year contract, Cano would be just about the only albatross contract left, so it won’t be that crippling.

  • Mark Teixiera – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    If I was Cleveland’s GM there’s no way I would trade Stubbs now unless I was blown away. That alignment makes them the best defensive OF in MLB. Gotta let your best players play.

    • Govin

      It would seem a little weird if the Indians traded Stubbs shortly after acquiring him.

    • jjyank

      Blown away? Stubbs is no super star, I’m sure they’d trade him if it made sense. It’s a position of depth, they could just put Swisher in RF and Reynolds at 1B.

      That said, I’m not all that thrilled with the idea of Stubbs. He’d be a nice guy to have on the bench, but that also means I wouldn’t give up much value for him. I might even balk at giving them Warren.

      • Slugger27

        you wouldnt give up adam warren for a cheap guy who fits a direct need for the team this year?

        • Jim Is Bored

          Warren fits that definition too for pitcher depth, fwiw.

        • jjyank

          I said might. Stubbs would be a bench player that would help, but help rather marginally in my opinion. What is our pitching depth right now if someone gets hurt? The loser of the Phelps/Nova battle is first in line, but second? That’s Warren. Without him, the Yanks don’t have much. Not to mention the fact that the Yankees could be theoretically losing Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes after the season and somebody is going to need to stand on the mound.

          Anyway, I didn’t say I definitely would not pull the trigger. But I’d be damn hesitant.

  • Another really long name which has no point (formerly “an important / cool name”)

    Why not try to send him to LA now for Kershaw. Straight up?

    • Barry’s Gift Basket


      Randy Levine?
      Bob Costas?
      Susan Waldyn?
      Jhon Flaherty?
      Alex Rodriguez’s contract?
      Luis “Squegee” Castillo?
      Larry Rotschild’s hughe man breasts?

    • Jim Is Bored

      …who? Stubbs? Miggy? Nick Johnson?

      I’m ok with trading Nick Johnson for Kershaw.

    • Slugger27

      lol (regardless of who you’re talking about)

    • Govin

      First of all I love your name. Im Assuming your talking about Robinson Cano. The problem with that is the Yankees lost offense this offseason not pitching. If your talking about someone else sign me up.

      • Another really long name which has no point (formerly “an important / cool name”)

        Yea probably should have qualified that by saying Cano.

    • Gonzo

      It’s possible that Kershaw might have more value this year. Then when you include his pre-free agency years, I don’t see how LA would do that.

      • Govin

        Snap I didn’t realize we would be getting two years of kershaw that definitely changes things.

  • ClusterDuck

    Please, no Stubbs. His skills get worse and worse every year.

    • Gonzo

      The skills that the Yankees would value are hitting vs LHP, defense, and speed. I don’t know if those skills have deteriorated to the point were he would have no value on the Yankees. I don’t know if I’m not comfortable saying that each of those skills have deteriorated every year either though. JMO

  • Barry’s Gift Basket

    Damn, i wish i could get a pension already…