Mailbag: Beltran, Kuroda, Joba, D’Backs

Pineda strikes out eight in SWB blowout win
Yankees place Derek Jeter on 15-day DL

Only four questions this week, but they’re good ones. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the best way to send us any questions throughout the week.

(Jeff Curry/Getty)
(Jeff Curry/Getty)

Jeff asks: Carlos Beltran is a free agent next year. While the Yankees do have an abundance of outfielders, you see any chance they try to pick him up?

Do the Yankees have an abundance of outfielders? They have a bunch of warm bodies, but how many are legitimate everyday or even (gasp!) above-average players? I think Brett Gardner is the only guy you can say that about with any certainty.

Anyway, Beltran makes sense for the Yankees next season just like he did nine years ago (before he signed with the Mets) and even two years ago (before he signed with the Cardinals). He’s hitting .309/.346/.533 (146 wRC+) with 19 homers for St. Louis this year, and he continues to be a true switch-hitter who hits both lefties and righties. Perhaps most importantly, he has managed to avoid the DL these last two seasons. That’s encouraging given his history of knee problems.

Beltran turned 36 in April, and there are two significant red flags in his performance. His walk rate (5.1%) is a career-low by far, dropping from 10.5% last year and his 10.5% career average. His swing-and-miss rate (9.2%) is essentially identical to last year (9.3%), which was his career-high. Beltran has a career 7.3% whiff rate and was at 6.6% as recently as 2011. Seeing an older hitter cut his walk rate in half with an increased swing-and-miss rate suggests he may be cheating and starting his bat a little earlier. That’s not uncommon for guys that age.

The Yankees could certainly use a switch-hitting power guy in the middle of the lineup, especially since they should shuffle him between right field and DH to keep his legs fresh. Beltran has made it very, very clear he wants to play for the Yankees in the past*, which could work in their favor if he’s willing to take a one-year deal. I don’t like the idea of a two-year contract at this point of his career, but there’s a definite fit  at the right price.

* For what it’s worth, I think passing on Beltran prior to 2005 was the biggest blunder of the Brian Cashman era, especially after he came to the team at the last minute and was willing to sign at a relative discount.

Brian asks: If the Yankees wanted to, what should they get in return in a trade for Hiroki Kuroda? To me, it may be a great opportunity to get some quality prospects in exchange for a valuable commodity.

From what I can tell, the 38-year-old Kuroda does not have a no-trade clause. He had one last year for sure, but I can’t find anything indicating this year’s contract includes one. That seems kinda odd and I’m just going to assume he does have no-trade protection. Why would he demand one in 2012 but not 2013? Weird.

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Anywho, Kuroda is pitching like an ace this year (2.65 ERA and 3.62 FIP) and getting him for the second half would be a huge help to some contender. Just imagine the Dodgers or Rangers or Diamondbacks or even the Red Sox getting their hands on him. Low maintenance, affordable, proven in a big market, everything you could want in a rental starter.

If the Yankees were to move him, I think they should seek a return on par with what the Brewers got for Zack Greinke last year. Kuroda now is better than Greinke was last year, though he’s much older and Greinke had more “name value” as a former Cy Young winner. The Angels gave up their number two (Jean Segura), four (Johnny Hellweg), and nine (Ariel Pena) prospects for Greinke, though only Segura was a top 100 guy (#55 by Baseball America).

That’s the framework I’d be looking for in return for Kuroda. A top-100 prospect who is big league ready — Segura stepped right into the Brewers’ lineup after the deal — and two other good but not great prospects. Kuroda has shown a willingness to use his no-trade clause however — he blocked deals to the Yankees and Red Sox while with the Dodgers in 2011 — so getting him to agree to a deal wouldn’t be easy even if the Bombers wanted to move him, which I doubt they do.

Kevin asks: Was Hiroki Kuroda an all-star snub? And does he have a legit shot at the Cy Young award?

Oh yes, he absolutely was an All-Star snub. During the All-Star lineup/starting pitcher press conference, Jim Leyland confirmed he took Chris Tillman (3.95 ERA and 4.95 FIP) over Kuroda because he had more wins (11-3 vs. 8-6). Kuroda ranks second in the AL in ERA, seventh in bWAR (3.2), and 11th in fWAR (2.3 WAR). Definitely a snub considering eleven (!) AL starting pitchers were named to the All-Star team, including the injury replacements.

The Cy Young award is tougher to defend. No AL pitcher is having an outrageous season that moves them to the front of the pack yet; instead there are a bunch of guys — specifically Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, and Chris Sale — who are simply having excellent seasons. For a Yankee to win a major award, he needs to blow everyone else out of the water and make it obvious like Alex Rodriguez in 2007. There is a voter bias against Yankees for sure, and that will work against Kuroda. He’d need a dynamite second half to make a serious run at the award, otherwise he’s a guy who will get a few fourth or fifth place votes at best.

Dan asks: With the Diamondbacks wanting bullpen help is there anything they’d give up that is valuable for Joba Chamberlain? Surely he’d fair better in the NL West.

The AL-to-NL switch isn’t as significant for relievers, who are much more likely to face a pinch-hitter than the opposing pitcher. The D’Backs have had some interest in Joba in the past, particularly during the rumored Dan Haren trade talks. That was back when Joba was, you know, good. Good and under control for a few more years.

These days Chamberlain is just a rental reclamation project reliever, which is nothing to get excited about. Brandon League was a Proven Closer™ having a good (but not great) year when he was traded at the deadline last year, and all he fetched was two non-top 30 prospects. Maybe Arizona would give up a failing former top prospect like RHP Anthony Meo (5.86 ERA and 6.06 FIP in 43 innings), a lottery ticket type. I wouldn’t expect much in return for Joba at this point, unless he’s like the second or third piece in a package deal. He won’t bring back much by himself.

Pineda strikes out eight in SWB blowout win
Yankees place Derek Jeter on 15-day DL
  • Nathan

    I could never understand why the Yankees passed on Beltran (twice!). Especially, as mentioned, he really showed interest in coming to the Yankees.

    I forget who they signed instead in 2005, but it was such a good fit that it made sense that they DIDN’T sign him. Dumb move.

    • Chub Chub Sabathia

      They signed Damon instead.

    • The Tenth Inning Stretch

      Wasn’t it Sheffield?

      • Jacob the OG

        Yup Damon came on in 06

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      I think George said the Yankees could take on the contract of either Randy Johnson or Beltran and Cashman choose Johnson.

      • MannyGeee – Failed Starter

        That sounds like the absolute polar opposite of the truth, based solely on what we know about George and his infatuation of Randy Johnson (and Gary Sheffield, who was here instead of Beltran) over the years.

    • steve (different one)

      To be fair, the second time around with Beltran the Yankees had Swisher/Gardner/Granderson in their OF. Granderson was coming off an MVP type season. Swisher was still a very good player. Beltran had some issues with his knees if I recall.

      I suppose they could have traded Swisher, but it seems like a relatively small “mistake” to decide to go with the younger, super durable guy you already had.

      • MannyGeee – Failed Starter

        I think there were questions about Gardner at the time, so he would have been the odd man out/4OF.

    • OldYanksFan

      “For what it’s worth, I think passing on Beltran prior to 2005 was the biggest blunder of the Brian Cashman era, especially after he came to the team at the last minute and was willing to sign at a relative discount.”

      If I remember correctly, they signed Randy Johnson instead. I believe the story was George wanted RJ (or even his corpse), and money wise, it was RJ or Beltran. I don’t think it was a Cashman mistake, but rather a ‘Boss mandate’.

  • DERP

    I saw this on ESPN Insider by Dave Cameron:

    Seattle Mariners designated hitter Raul Ibanez to the New York Yankees for starting pitcher Phil Hughes


    • kenthadley

      I’d rather get the comp pick.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I fail to see why Seattle would do that. What benefit is there to them to have Phil Hughes on their staff from here until the end of September?

      What they should be trying to do is utilize Raul’s numbers to get something of longer term value from a team that truly wants to go all in.

      Makes more sense from the Yankees’ side, although it’s not the kind of value that, in an ideal situation, I’d want getting back either.

      • Oy

        Maybe they want to sign Hughes to an extension? Safeco field would be a good fit for Hughes. They are certainly not getting anything significant with long term value for Ibanez.

        But as the poster above you said, I’d rather get a comp pick or risk having Hughes as an innings eater with a 14 million salary for 2014.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Sign him as a free agent, then. I’d be trying to fleece every contender in baseball with Ibanez right now.

          I think he can be sold quite easily as an innings eater who will show signs of being more than that to a fellow contender (preferably NL) wanting to keep both starters and bullpen rested. I see no reason why they can’t try as get as much as they can on him. Like you said, the QO/draft pick scenario means there’s little reason to try to dump him for less.

          • Oy

            I dunno, if Mariners were set on signing Hughes in the off season (far fetched, I know), a trade for him with an extension window would make sense. They would avoid giving up a draft pick to sign him and maybe even buy low on him.

            As for the second point, I agree. Shopping Hughes around won’t hurt at all. It’s just that the return needs to be equivalent to a compensation pick.

          • Oy

            As for Ibanez, I can’t imagine an NL contender sticking him into left field. Which AL contenders could really use a DH who can fake LF? Oakland and Tampa? There are very little options for Mariners to explore when trading him.

            Although, I would get Amaro on the line.

          • first name only male – Retire 21

            Signing him as a free agent could potentially cost them a draft pick. I would rather have my first round pick next year than 1/2 a season of Raul Ibañez. Especially when they have no shot at the playoffs.

  • Chub Chub Sabathia

    The Yankees signed Damon instead.

    • Jacob the OG


      • Mr. Roth

        We signed Sheffield instead of Vlad Guerrero.

        • All Praise Be To Mo

          Another huge mistake of the Cashman era, though from what I remember Sheffield was forced upon him by George who negotiated above his head with Doc Gooden or something?

    • steve (different one)

      Damon came a year later.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’d say that’s about right for what they could get for Kuroda.

    I’ll believe selling when I see, but its going to be an interesting next few weeks.

    • Jacob the OG

      If that is true, it is very tempting to sell on him

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Ain’t that easy.

  • Eddard

    Beltran would be an upgrade over Ichiro but he won’t come back to NY.

    Yeah, I’m sure the Yanks will trade the ace of their staff in the middle of a pennant race. That will go over well.

    Hiroki was absolutely an ASG snub. He had a lower ERA than the starter of the game! But Leyland is old and cares about wins. That’s what it came down to. If Hiroki carries this inept offense into the playoffs he should be Cy Young.

    They should ship both Hughes and Jobber to a club looking to bolster its HRs allowed total. I hope they can get a bat for them but nobody will want to give up anything for two FA pitchers that won’t really help in a pennant race.

    • jsbrendog

      “They should ship both Hughes and Jobber to a club looking to bolster its HRs allowed total. I hope they can get a bat for them but nobody will want to give up anything for two FA pitchers that won’t really help in a pennant race.”

      Who are you and what have you done with Eddard?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Nah, that seemed right down Eddard Alley to me.

        • jjyank

          Never walk alone Eddard Alley.

        • jsbrendog

          no way. this is the guy who just yesterday or the day before was still harping the trade hughes for a bat line. I remember cause I typed out the obligatory hughes isn’t worth anyting useful and smh and erased it. haha

        • first name only male – Retire 21

          Eddard Alley is the scariest street since Elm St.

        • MannyGeee – Failed Starter

          Eddard Alley is where the Nunez Memorial statue is, right?

  • Oy

    Taveras, Miller and Wacha for Hiroki!11!!!!!!!

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      I’d trade Hirok for the Cardinals director of player development. They’ve become a machine churning out 1 good player after another over there.

      • JohnnyC

        You’d be better off trading for St. Louis’ Top 120 draft picks since 2005 (40). They’re 4th among all ML teams in most Top 120 picks in that time. By comparison, the Yankees have had 23 Top 120 picks (fewest among all ML teams since 2005). Apparently it’s easier to develop players you actually have than players you never had in the first place.

        • MannyGeee – Failed Starter

          You mean you need to draft players before you actually develop them? FALLACY

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    I think George said the Yankees could take on the contract of either Randy Johnson or Beltran and Cashman choose Johnson.

  • Jacob the OG

    My guess is beltran is a yankee next year anyways

    • trr

      he’s still pushing Nunez on the next thread

    • trr

      I don’t see that.

  • DERP

    Trade Cano and Hiroki to the Orioles for Bundy, Schoop, Delmonico and the corpse of Nolan Reimold.

    Most of the guys they would get back are injured, so they would fit in well on the current team.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    I believe Sweeney said yesterday or the day before that the Hirokster has a no-trade clause in his deal.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      I’ve seen that mentioned in a few places.

  • yooboo

    Maybe 15m is too expensive for 31 teams to cover leftover. Kuroda got 10m plus performance bonus with a full no trade clause last year but this year he works for a full 15m. He would make sure he got a full no trade clause this year if he got a salary of 12m or less.

    Trading Cano means Yankees gave up the playoff opportunity. 2 weeks to find out? Ha! Yankees could get best package as possible out of Cano and then Yankees could try to make a trade for Profar or Kinsler and sign McCann as a free agent this off season.

    Cano, Kinsler and McCann are in the similar group with Cano being best but Yankees could obtain both Kinsler and McCann for about 27m AAV instead of Cano for only 20-22m AAV. Still it is no guarantee to get it done.

  • Oy

    To counter Dave Cameron, CC for Kemp. Besides both players who have NTC, who says no?

    • Cuso

      yeah, the Dodgers say no, and laugh for a couple of hours afterward.

      • MannyGeee – Failed Starter


  • Ed

    For what it’s worth, I think passing on Beltran prior to 2005 was the biggest blunder of the Brian Cashman era

    It’s well known that it’s a George move. The team had the budget for one big addition. George wanted Randy Johnson, Cashman wanted Beltran. I think this was one of the issues that led to Cashman’s “I want full control” demand.

    • I’m One

      Well, Mike did say it was the bigest blunder of the Cashman era, not Cashman’s biggest blunder.

    • gc

      Budget?? I thought George wanted to win “at all costs.”

      • JohnnyC

        Don’t contradict the narrative. It’s going to be the centerpiece of Cashman’s memoirs.

        • jsbrendog


    • steve (different one)

      While I do not know if Cashman decided to pass on Beltran or not, he may have, that offseason was the absolute apex of the Tampa/Cashman showdown. After the 2004 ALCS, the organization was in complete disarray.

      I am not saying Cashman didn’t make the decision to pass on Beltran, but much of that offseason was taken out of his hands. The Johnson trade was completed over his head, Womack was not his call, and I do not believe Wright was his call (but who knows). Pavano was Cashman, I think CW goes.

      It was well reported from about 1998-2005 that George lusted after Randy Johnson, so I don’t doubt that he insisted on getting him.

      But it was this disastrous off-season that lead to Cashman getting more control about a month into the 2005 season. Wright got hurt instantly, Womack was awful, and Bernie (after they dumped Lofton since Torre wasn’t playing him in CF) was completely unplayable in CF. About a month into 2005, Cashman was promised more control; he called up Cano and Wang, moved Bernie to DH, and moved Matsui to CF.

  • Dan

    Jeter to DL

  • Alexander the Great

    If the Yankees could get Meo for Chamberlain, that would be quite a trade. Would probably never happen tho

    • MannyGeee – Failed Starter

      I would sign off on this deal. I would also like to go on record that Arizona is my pick for Joba’s destination next season.

  • Vern Sneaker

    There isn’t anybody on this team I wouldn’t trade for major league-ready and almost-ready elite prospects. Too many holes, too much age. I doubt we’re getting to the playoffs this year in any case — or 2014. Time to rebuild, unfortunately.

  • no interest

    Carlos is going to be 38 Yankees should have gone after him a few years ago. With that said I don’t like what the Yankees have become just a collection of replacements and other teams junk. I have no confidence in this team and teams management to do what’s right for this team. Big contracts, holding onto aging players as if they are owed that, lack of upgrades, After not fixing the gaping holes over the past two years in 2014 there are going to be even more holes to fill on top of the ones they didn’t fix.

    Going to be a dreary next few seasons for Yankee fans.

    • OldYanksFan

      “the Yankees have become just a collection of replacements”

      Does having $80m worth of players on the DL have anything to do with this?

      When the Red Sox had their injury year, they finished 6 games under .500.

      • keep

        Keep telling yourself everything will be ok when the cavalry arrives. You do know that there is no cavalry. Tex is a bust, Granderson is a bust, No catcher, no 1b, no outfield no 3b. I guess there are no holes on this team. :rolls eyes: