Mailbag: Qualifying Offers, Extensions, Hensley

Andy & Mo carry Yankees to first win of 2013
Game Four: Back in Detroit

Four questions for you this week, the first mailbag of the new season. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us any questions or comments or links throughout the week.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Evan asks: How many Yankees do you see getting qualifying offers after this season? I would think Phil Hughes, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and outside chance of Kevin Youkilis if he continues to hit the ball like he has this spring (unlikely but a possibility). Is it worth getting excited that between this year and next year the Yanks could really build a top-five farm system?

The qualifying offers were worth $13.3M last winter but they will go up this coming offseason. They’re based on the average of the previous year’s top 125 salaries, and salaries are only going up. Estimates for qualifying offers this winter are in the $15M range and that’s a big chunk of change.

Cano is the only no-brainer of the group. He could hit like .270/.330/.430 this year and they would still make him a qualifying offer because of his track record (and the fact that it’s only a one-year deal). I’m of the belief that they’ll sign him to an extension before that times comes, rendering the qualifying offer idea moot, and I thought that even before the recent agent change.

Assuming the other four guys play as expected — league average year from Hughes, 35+ homer pace from Granderson, sub-4.00 ERA from Kuroda, .360 OBP and 20 or so homers from Youkilis — I don’t think any of them would get qualifying offers. Kuroda probably has the best chance, but he would need to repeat last year’s effort again. I do think Hughes will get a nice big free agent contract (four years, $56M?), but teams tend to be risk-averse in these situation. I think the Yankees would pass.

Granderson, assuming he looks like 2012 first half Curtis and not 2012 second half Curtis once healthy, would be awesome on a one-year, ~$15M contract. That’s in a vacuum though, not for a team trying to cut payroll. Given that plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014, I think the Yankees will play it very safe with the qualifying offers and not risk any huge (and unwanted) one-year contracts. Cano’s the only qualifying offer lock if he makes it to free agency.

Mark asks: Should the Yanks start to rethink their austerity plan in light of the recent extensions just signed by Justin Verlander and Elvis Andrus? Once/if Clayton Kershaw signs an extension with the Dodgers, I’m not sure who the Yanks will be targeting with all their unspent salary dollars after they reach their magical $189 million limit next year.

Yeah, same here. The Yankees are cutting back on spending at a time when the game is flush with cash and other teams are spending more than ever. It’s a poorly timed, poorly conceived, and (to date) poorly executed plan on their part. The Yankees have a natural advantage over the competition because of their market and they’re choosing to ignore it. That’s fine, ownership can do whatever they want, but fans don’t have to like it.

Free agency as we know it is changing due to these extensions, but I do think someone like Scott Boras will see this as an opportunity. He could be the only guy with star players in free agency the next few years, creating a quasi-monopoly on high-end talent. Teams will still want to acquire star players every winter and if only one or two are available in free agency, the bidding war will be fierce.

If the Yankees do decide to reinvest some of the saved cash in the team down the line, I’m not sure where they could spend it outside of really overpaying free agents or their own players. Then  again, I don’t expect the Yankees to reinvest that cash anytime soon. This strikes me as a pure money-saving move on the team’s part.

Jeff asks: Assuming he has no setbacks, what’s a best case scenario for Ty Hensley in regards to innings pitched this year?

(Photo via Bronx Pinstripes)
(Photo via Bronx Pinstripes)

Well, the Yankees are Team Setback, so I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption. Hensley had surgery to repair an impingement in his right hip earlier this week — that means the head of his femur was misshaped (I learned that thanks to Alex Rodriguez) — and his reportedly timetable is 2-3 months. Given his age and prospect status, I’d bet lots of money on the Yankees being conservative with his rehab.

So, let’s say he takes the full three months and returns to the mound in early-July. Hensley would likely join either Short Season Staten Island or Low-A Charleston, who would then have about ten weeks left in their season. Starting every fifth day with an average of five innings a start puts him in line for 60-70 innings this year. Add in a playoff start or two and maybe he gets up to 75. That’s not too bad, but I’ll take the under just because I expect the Yankees to be conservative. If Hensley can get 50 innings under his belt after surgery this summer, I’ll consider it a win.

Travis asks: Do you think the Yankees are gun shy about bringing prospects up (position player prospects)? I feel that ever since the Melky Cabrera promotion, they have been hesitant.

Yes and no. I say no because the Yankees haven’t had too many position player prospects worth calling up — every club has Melky Mesa and Corban Josephs, they aren’t special — in recent years. The only real egregious example was Jesus Montero in 2011, when it was obvious the team needed a new DH by like, mid-May. Obviously Jorge Posada was a legacy player that situation was more complicated that the typical call-up.

That said, I do agree they are gun shy about promoting prospects to the big leagues in general. I think there’s a fear of failure on the team’s part, which might stem from the Ian Kennedy/Phil Hughes disaster in 2008. That seems like the traumatic event that scarred the team, so to speak. I’m not saying they should have used Adam Warren instead of signing Hiroki Kuroda or anything like that, but for a team that has preached player development and austerity in recent years, they sure do have a knack for not giving young players a chance unless it’s an absolute emergency.

email
Andy & Mo carry Yankees to first win of 2013
Game Four: Back in Detroit
  • Jim Is Bored

    According to some, we’ll have a top 5 farm system because we’re going to be losing 100 games for the next 2-3 years.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Not 100 games but hopefully we’ll get some nice top 10 picks in th e next two years. That plus the 3 first rounders we have the potential for a solid farm.

      • Jim Is Bored

        I hope we pick last the next 2 years.

        • jjyank

          Ditto.

        • trr

          I hear that!
          Have to agree with Mike Ax, the Yanks are very reticent about promoting younger players to the bigs. They’ll have to do an abrupt about face on that, unless the plan is to go forward forever with the Lyle Overbays + Ben Franciscos of the world…

        • Robinson Tilapia

          +162

          • Robinson Tilapia

            (sorry, +28)

            • Jim Is Bored

              Well, 29 if it’s the next 2 years :)

      • Preston

        We have a solid farm system already and we’re a playoff team this year and next.

  • Slugger27

    The Yankees have a natural advantage over the competition because of their market and they’re choosing to ignore it.

    counterpoint: the payroll set a record high at $230M+ and they paid $13M to make a tiny upgrade in LF. because they had the money and they could.

    • Jim Is Bored

      To be fair, the criticisms are referring to next year and beyond. If they do this again next offseason, we’ll know they’re ignoring the 189.

      Although “limiting” yourself to 189 is still giving yourself and advantage over 90% of the rest of baseball. At least once A-Rod/Jeter/Tex are off the books.

      • Jersey Joe

        The Vernon Wells acquisition was just terribly unneeded, so Slugger27 has a point.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Apparently I wasn’t clear.

          Mike is complaining about not leveraging our budget advantage in the future, not this year. Vernon Wells, as far as this year is concerned, is irrelevant to Mike’s point, because we’re paying basically nothing for him next year.

          I said literally nothing about whether Wells was a good move or not. I have no idea what part of my post you thought you were responding to.

        • jsbrendog

          vernon wells costs the yankees nothing. absolutely nothing. the wbc pays for him this year and next yr they basically owe him nothing.

          win win regardless of outcome.

          • Jim Is Bored

            That’s a bit too simplistic; we could have had the money we spent on vernon wells for someone else. It’s not like that money was going to just disappear if we didn’t spend it on Wells.

            Plus it’s possible Wells has a negative WAR. Then it’s a lose.

            • jsbrendog

              for who? what someone else? you can’t predict who would be available. plus they need someone NOW to get by til everyone comes back. if they didn’t do that it wouldnt matter who is available in july if they were so far out of it.

              it was a move that needed to be made. plus, if he has a negative war they can cut him because they, the yankees, owe him nothing. he collects his check from the WBC (from the yankees paid by the wbc) and then the angels pay him next year.

              • Jim Is Bored

                I have no idea who else would have been available, but you have to concede that sometimes it’s better to hang on to money for something later rather than to spend it on something meh right now.

                I have no real qualms with the move, I think people overreacted to it, and I can think both of those things while still acknowledging that Vernon Wells has been awful the last 3 years. He could help, he could hurt, no one knows.

                But to say Vernon Wells costs us nothing is still wrong. Even if he literally cost us no money, he is still preventing someone like Musty or Mesa from getting an opportunity. Whether or not you want them to get that opportunity is irrelevant(and I don’t), the cost still exists.

                • Slugger27

                  but the point i was originally making is that mike saying “theyre choosing to ingore their one advantage” is just wrong. choosing to ignore their monetary advantage wouldve been pocketing that extra WBC money and doing nothing. instead, they used every cent of it and more to make a very minor upgrade in LF. an upgrade that, with their position on the win curve, could be the difference in playoffs or no playoffs.

                  vernon wells has sucked for some time now, we can all see that. i still applaud the fact that rather than pocketing the money, they overpaid for something that improves their playoff odds a few percentage points.

                  so no, they arent ignoring their advantage. mike is wrong.

                  • LK

                    I don’t think Mike is talking about 2013 when he said they’re ignoring their advantage.

                    • Jim Is Bored

                      I agree with LK. I think Slugger is interpreting what Mike said differently.

                      If Mike meant that they’re ignoring it this year, then I agree, he’s wrong. But I think he’s referring to the 2014 plan.

                    • Slugger27

                      fair enough. the preceding sentence states that its been poorly executed to date. because of that, i took his criticism to mean hes including the present along with 2014. if he isnt, my apologies.

                      but even still, lets let it play out before we criticize. theyve already made an offer to retain cano.

              • LK

                If Tex does come back sometime in May, Wells’ entire salary will not be covered by the WBC. He isn’t without cost, even without taking into account the opportunity cost that they could’ve spent the money elsewhere as Jim pointed out.

      • Slugger27

        when he says its been poorly executed to date, hes implying that hes including the present in with the 189 plan. and besides, what move could they have made this offseason that they didnt make because of the 189?

        • Jim Is Bored

          I have no idea; but being open to multi year deals might have meant at least Swisher could have been back.

          I’m just saying, the Vernon Wells deal isn’t a point either way about whether their budget plans have been a success or failure.

  • Eddard

    They’re already spending $230 million which is a record. They’re just not spending it wisely. You watch these small market teams do more with half or one-fourth the resources and you wonder how this F.O. is run. I like the attempt to spend more wisely. It puts a premium on the farm system which is the lifeblood of the organization. Now, they just need to give these kids a chance. It’s worked wonders with Cervy and Nuney, and Phelps and Nova will get their chance the next two days.

    • Jersey Joe

      Eddard.

      “Spending wisely”

      This has been our thinking on RAB.

      Forever.

      Basically forever.

      Basically everything we talk about.

      Forever.

      • trr

        My Dad used to tell me the same thing.

        He was right, too

    • Laz

      Some years they do better, but they don’t have the consistency. How many of those “Great Run” orgs are competitive long term? Yankees have missed the playoffs what, once in past 20 years?

      Yankees don’t get those top draft picks. Farm systems are very hard when you are in win now mode every single year.

    • MannyGeee

      seems short sighted at best. these teams do better with 1/4 of the payroll for 3 years at a time. Yankees have been playing in October every season (save for 2008) for the past 17.

  • John C

    Well, Yanks do have those 3 early picks in this year’s draft so if they hit on the right players, that would be a huge boost to the farm system.

    • Jersey Joe

      Yes, indeed. The Cleveland pick was huge.

      • jjyank

        What do you mean by the Cleveland pick? You mean Swisher? They don’t get Cleveland’s draft pick, they get a supplemental round pick.

        • Jersey Joe

          Still.

          • jjyank

            I mean I’m thrilled to have 3 high picks this year too. Just pointing out that it’s not really any better that it was Cleveland instead of someone else.

        • Jersey Joe

          Considering it’s an AL team, I mean…it’s better than the Nationals pick because they already have a loaded farm system and don’t really need the pick.

          • jsbrendog

            what? that doesn’t make any sense. doesn’t matter what team it was, the yankees still get the same pick in the sandwich round

          • Laz

            Actually no, it’s not good that Cleveland signed Swisher comparatively. Since they have a protected pick they don’t lose their pick. Had it been a team that signed Swisher that would lose a pick it would move all 3 of those Yankees draft picks up in the pooled money.

  • Jersey Joe

    OK, maybe this is a bit premature, but if ESPN can freak out about Jackie Bradley, then I want to say how much I like the Overbay acquisition thus far. His hit last night was my favorite part of the game, besides Gardner’s HR. It would be awesome if Overbay were to have a Aubrey Huff 2010 type season – someone who we didn’t really sign to be an offensive force, but someone who makes the best of it. With the bad news surrounding Tex’s wrist, I’d like to see a lot more of Overbay in the next two months.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Career 108 wRC+, if he can stay around 100 this year I think most of us would be incredibly happy.

  • Canomustgo

    Why can’t NYY make qualifying offers to Grandy, Hughes, Cano, Youk, etc. and if they accept and Yanks want to get under 189 they just trade them? I imagine someone would take Hughes on a one year deal for 15, maybe Youk if he has a good enough year, and Grandy too….same with Kuroda. Make the offer, if they do better get the draft choice, if they don’t, trade them to someone who needs a one year fix. Wont work for Youk/Grandy if they don’t have decent years. Unless I’m missing something in how the FA rules apply.

    • jsbrendog

      i was coming here to make the same point albeit only with granderson and hughes.

      youk won’t get even close to $15 mill next yr.

      but with the price of pitching and seeing what guys like jeremy guthrie got i can easily see it being easy so trade hughes for 1 yr @ $15 mill to a team desperate for pitching.

      same goes for granderson. I feel like the two of them are no brainers if they keep up their pace from last yr.

      kuroda, i don’t see it. it wouldn’t be right because he will prob either want yanks or japan or retire again and it would be effed up to trade him after he accepts. if he comes back i see him getting 1 yr in the $10-13 range.

      i don’t even mention cano cause if he doesn’t sign he gets a QO. has to.

      • Canomustgo

        Agree with most of this. Let’s say Youk goes .280-25-100; don’t you think someone would offer him 3 years? Then a qualifying offer gets rejected…just a possibility so that we can get the pick. I think picks for this team are critical for the next run.

        • jsbrendog

          with his age and injury history? i do not. I think if he does that he gets at most a 2 yr deal for mayyyyyybe 2-4 mill more than the qualifying offer. so you take the qualifying offer for 1 year and hope to get more than the 2-4 mill difference the next yr

          • Laz

            Lohse got 3 years. If Youk has a big year, then I could easily see him turn down a qualifying offer to parlay that into a few year deal. Also look what Soriano got.

          • Darren

            You’re out of your mind (and so is Mike) if you think that Youk won’t get $15mm if he has a very good year. He’s poised for a classic change of scenery (getting away from Bobby V), finally healthy bounce-back year. If he hits more than .280 with 20+ homeruns he is definitely getting a $15mm deal.

    • jjyank

      I’m not 100% positive on this, but I think a qualifying offer will be treated the same as a normal 1 year deal. Meaning, the Yankees couldn’t trade a player until after the season starts, unless the player gives permission. And in that scenario, even if the Yankees do trade them, the other team wouldn’t be able to get a pick the following year. Under the new CBA the player has to start the season with the team in order for the team to be eligible for a draft pick, thus reducing a players value.

      • Canomustgo

        The team taking Hughes in a trade would know that upfront they wouldn’t get the pick…it would impact what would come back in the deal, but at that point you are probably dealing for prospects. I think a team one pitcher away from contending would jump at a productive Hughes for one year/15m and give up a prospect or two in March/April.

        • jjyank

          Well it would be after the season starts. I forget the exact date that a player can be traded without his permission, but I want to say April. That team then loses the ability to offer Hughes a QO, so if Hughes leaves his new team after the season, they can’t get a pick. I don’t know how much, but it might depress his trade value to the Yanks. I’m not sure the return would be worth the risk.

          • jsbrendog

            after the draft i believe, so june

            • jjyank

              I think you’re right. If I’m reading this right, it looks like the date is June 16th.

              http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedul....._dates.jsp

              • LK

                June is my recollection as well, which would mean the QOs would really put the 189 plan at risk since I think you have to be under for the entire season. That’s depressing, I was hoping they’d have another stable of picks in next year’s draft.

                • jjyank

                  It depends on the season’s guys have. If Hughes and Granderson put up good numbers, they could get QO’s fairly safely, I think. If 27 year old Hughes is at least league average, he’s going to get multi-year offers. Not at $15 mil per year probably, but I think he’ll get some attractive offers. Maybe something like the Edwin Jackson deal.

                  And if Grandy shows that he can still hit 35-40 homers over a full season, someone is going to pay him as well.

                  • Laz

                    I have pretty much been assuming Grandy will get the offer if he is healthy. I would love to have him back on that short of a deal. He did hit 40 hr 2 out of past 3 years, even if you have to shift him to LF it still has value.

                  • LK

                    Yeah, if guys play well the QOs are obviously still an option. I had just forgotten about the trade limits and figured making the offers would be automatic for a lot of these guys. They’ll have to be pretty certain the player will decline for the Yanks to make an offer in all likelihood.

    • Gonzo

      Would you want to risk, even if you think it’s a small risk, the chance of being in a position to fill roster spots via FA at the same time trying to cut payroll?

      Even if you think they are easy to unload, what if other teams made Cashman painfully wait it out until January before letting unload those contracts? How would that impact his budget? Does that mean he might lose out on Player X, Y, Z in December because he has too many variables and balls in the air?

      What if he seriously overrates the market on some of these players and teams want to give him fringe prospects? He basically is helping other teams out by handing them one year deals. Worse, what if he has to eat a couple million and receive a fringe prospect in return. That would be a disaster.

      Is that really worth the risk? I don’t know, but I think it’s a still a risk. Or, he can practice risk avoidance by simply not making a qualifying offer. Millions of dollars and your job is on the line too.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    wouldn’t they just offer Granderson a QO anyway? I mean even if he accepts it (pretty unlikely imo, no matter what happens this year he should be able to get a better contract as a FA) and they don’t want him they could still trade him for something useful.

    • jsbrendog

      plus even if they dont trade him for something that useful whatever they get and the CHANCE of a draft pick is better than just letting him go for no reason…

      GAMBLIN!!

    • jjyank

      Yeah, I agree. I would give Granderson a QO. And I think he’ll decline it. He’ll be 33 next year, right? I’d imagine he’s gonna try for the last long term deal he can get. I would, anyway.

      • Laz

        Look at what a 32 year old Victorino got last winter. $39M/3 is a safer situation than a 1 year, $15M offer. Even if he accepts, maybe you are overpaying by a couple million, but it’s not like he is dead weight.

      • Preston

        He has to get on the field and actually play well before we can consider weather or not he’ll be worth a QO.

        • jjyank

          Well yeah. That goes without saying.

  • Anthony

    I’m pretty sure Kuroda said this is his last season here. So knowing that wouldn’t it be a no brainier to offer him the QO? Or does it not work for players retiring?

    • jjyank

      Yankees would only get a pick if he signs with another MLB team. Retiring or signing with a Japanese team doesn’t get anything.

      • Anthony

        Ahhh damn. Thanks!

  • JohnC

    I also agree about the qulaifying offers. Would offer to Cano, Grandy, Hughes and Kuroda. Not to YOuk though. With Pineda’s uncertain status and Nova’s inconsistency, can’t afford to just let Hughes walk for nothing

    • Bavarian Yankee

      true. That being said we have to realize Hughes isn’t anything special, he’s an average starter at best. He isn’t worth 15 million a year – not even close – and he isn’t one of baseballs top 100 starters. Add his injury troubles and ask yourself if you really wanna spend those 15 million or even extend his contract.
      You can always find 1 year stopgaps that aren’t much if any worse. I’d just let him walk unless he signs for something like 3/30, 4/40.

      • Jim Is Bored

        …You seriously can not believe that Hughes isn’t a top 100 starter.

        Please, please show me 99 better than him. I would love to see that list.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....#038;ind=0

        Hughes: 49

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/p...../minip/100

        Hughes: 76

        • Bavarian Yankee

          I can actually send you a file of my top 100 starters if you give me your e-mail address. I can tell you how I rate pitchers: by bases allowed per batters faced. Actually you won’t find many starters that allow more bases per BF than Hughes.

          Plus you basically linked lists that ranked pitchers by WAR. What about those that missed time during the season and couldn’t do much for their WAR-Rating? Like Luebke?
          Just rate them by FIP or xFIP for example and all of a sudden Hughes is the 15th and 13th worst starter respectively.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Because I judge pitchers based on what they did, not on what they could have done. That’s what happened. Luebke was not a top 100 starter last year. xFip and Fip need to be filtered by a minimum IP for it to mean anything to me.

            And you are using a really, really weird stat that fangraphs, b-ref and even ESPN don’t put stock in. It’s basically weighted WHIP.

            I cited multiple WAR’s for a reason.

            • Jim Is Bored

              In other words, you’re ignoring health and longevity as skills, which is silly.

              • Bavarian Yankee

                I actually did, please read my other post below.

          • Cliff

            Durability matters. Your rankings exclude that.

            • Bavarian Yankee

              well, if you’d see the entire formula, which also includes IP, Ks, net SB allowed, fielding-/park factors, hard hit %, etc. then you’d see that I didn’t. I put basically all stats in there that matter imo. The focus is on bases allowed per batter faced and in the end that’s what really matters if you look at it objectively. If you’d see my top 100 list then I’d think that nobody would really argue that the list is flawed (aside of those players that didn’t accumulate enough innings).

              Actually I work on that formula for about 6 years now just to evaluate pitchers for my fantasy baseball leagues. You don’t even know how much tweaking and studying of the game I did to get what I think are tremendous results of evaluating players’ performances.

              I’ll upload the files (did something similar for hitting) later and link it here or in the open thread, so everybody can see/download it. You probably need Microsoft Access though and quite some time, those files are pretty big because it includes data from every player since the 1960s.

  • NCYankee

    The push to get below the $189 million number would make more sense if we saw any real commitment to develop position players through the farm system. We you see how much young talent is developing in the division and throughout baseball, it is sad that the Yankees have not had a position player come up through their system and even challange for a starting position since Brett Gardner. From what I can tell, the potential for any real help from the system (non pitchers) is still 2-3 years away. This team has invested a tremendous amount in trying to develop their farm system, and we read continously how much talent is there, but the proof is what is actually on the field. Even the prospects we have traded away have not really panned out. At what point does Cashman become accountable for the failure to develop young talent?

    • LK

      I don’t know what you mean about the traded prospects not panning out. Montero has disappointed but has plenty of time to turn things around. Kennedy has become a solid pitcher. Jackson has played very well for Detroit. Vizcaino has had health issues but is still a well-regarded prospect.

      I agree with the point that we need to start seeing more results from the farm to go along with the favorable ratings, but I don’t think the prospects the Yanks have traded bear that out.