Scouting the Trade Market: Homer Bailey

Scouting The Market: Masahiro Tanaka
Tuesday Night Open Thread

Masahiro Tanaka might be on our minds, but he’s no sure thing. Plenty of teams will bid for his services, and more than one source considers the Mariners, not the Yankees, as the frontrunners.* If they don’t land Tanaka they’ll certainly have to look elsewhere for a starter. Even if they do, it wouldn’t hurt to add another reliable arm to the fold.

*The Yankees simply can’t lose Tanaka to the Mariners, can they? Imagine losing the top pitcher and the top hitter on the FA market to the friggin’ Mariners. I can’t see Yankees’ ownership letting that happen.

Earlier in the off-season, after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, we heard rumblings about Homer Bailey of the Reds. After losing Shin-Soo Choo, the Reds need both a leadoff hitter and a center fielder. They have ample pitching, and might not be able to sign Bailey beyond 2014, after which he becomes a free agent. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer speculates that the Reds could create some payroll space for more moves (GM Walt Jocketty says they’re out of money) by trading Bailey and his projected $9 million salary. If that’s the case, the Yankees will certainly be on the phone.

Pros

  • After a rough start to his career, Bailey has turned into a fine pitcher. He might not be an ace, but he’s solidified himself as a No. 2 or No. 3 option in the last couple of seasons.
  • In the last two seasons Bailey has shown great durability, making 65 starts and throwing 517 innings, 12th most in baseball. His 3.58 ERA ranks 35th (out of 74) among qualified starters, and his 5.7 bWAR ranks 29th out of 80 pitchers who made at least 50 starts over the last two seasons.
  • Fearful of an NL pitcher entering the Yankee Stadium bandbox? Bailey has made his home starts at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, which has had a higher home run park factor than Yankee Stadium for the past three years.*
  • Bailey has a relatively clean bill of health. After some shoulder issues earlier in his career — he missed time with inflammation in 2010 and an impingement in 2011 (plus a shoulder sprain while hitting that year), he has missed no time in 2012 or 2013.
  • In the last few seasons Bailey has started employing a two-seamer more frequently, resulting in more ground balls (though he is by no means a ground ball pitcher). An increase in that trend can go a long way in Yankee Stadium.

Cons

  • Bailey won’t come for free, of course. The Reds value him greatly, and have even discussed an extension with him. Chances are they can’t afford him, but he is a good pitcher on a contender. They don’t get dealt often.
  • Brett Gardner might seem like a surplus player at this point, but he can, and likely will, play an important role on the 2014 Yankees. Without a permanent DH, the Yankees will have plenty of at-bats for four outfielders. Absent Gardner, that becomes Ichiro (or perhaps, best case, Zoilo Almonte). That’s quite a downgrade.
  • Because it appears the Reds don’t need to deal Bailey, they could demand more than just Gardner, which makes the deal even less palatable.
  • Looking for a con for Bailey himself…it’s sometimes a dicey proposition adding a fly ball NL pitcher to Yankee Stadium, but Bailey does show signs that he can adapt.

In himself Bailey looks like a fine option for the Yankees. Even if they don’t trade for him, they could seek him out when he hits free agency after the 2014 season. Of course, with a third straight strong campaign he could be in line for a nine-figure contract.

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Scouting The Market: Masahiro Tanaka
Tuesday Night Open Thread
  • Theonewhoknocks

    I don’t see the point of trading Gardner for Bailey. I think it’s a fair trade but I don’t think we really add to our win expectancy with it.

    Tanaka can be had for just dollars and even if they are outbid on him is rather go after garza or Ubaldo as a plan B then trade Gardner.

    • mike

      I agree to a point, but the issue with Ubaldo and Garza is their ability to stay healthy/effective over the 5 years they will want…I don’t think any fan ( or owner )in the market for effective-mid rotation depth wouldn’t want Garza or Ubaldo on a 1-yr deal

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Exactly.

    • Phil Fearon

      The Yankees need pitching and need to get younger. Bailey is a proven commodity and as pointed out he pitches in a band box. He is half the price of Tanaka and when you factor in losing Gardner’s salary you have money left for the bullpen. Going into 2014 with Robertson & Kelley as your only reliable relief pitchers is pretty scary.

      • VIRGINIA YANKEE

        – The best GMs trade players early (Buddy Bavasi???) – Gardner – who I wanted more than Melky – is surplus as soon as he loses 2 steps – which will com with age or more quickly with injury — he is virtually the same player as Elsbury and BOTH are not an OF solution long term — OR consider ELLSBURY is surplus for the same reason Gardneresque with nearly the same risk/reward
        – Gardner approaches FA and Ellsbury is OVERPAID
        – Given the contract FA state Gardner should be traded or soon he will be worth nothing but hopefully a draft slot
        – The Yankees have many needs for 2014 but also for the next 10 yrs – each need won’t be met (under the budget) within 2014-2015, so a three yerar maybe even 4 year plan will be required. This is exacerbated by the need to be at the least WC competitive during the plan – — Therefore Trade Gardner when there is multi year value greater than what he projects -

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    *The Yankees simply can’t lose Tanaka to the Mariners, can they? Imagine losing the top pitcher and the top hitter on the FA market to the friggin’ Mariners. I can’t see Yankees’ ownership letting that happen.

    You can’t? I totally expect this to happen at this point.

    • Frank

      Everybody who thinks the Yanks are a shoe in for Tanaka are dillusional. There is too much money out there and teams are willing to spend it. I see the Yanks as having a decent shot, but no way are they overwhelming favorites as many think. Also, ripping the Yanks for not signing him is also stupid. I’m sure they will make a very good offer, but if they should get outbid, or if Tanaka decides NY isn’t for him, I’m fine with that. As for Bailey, i’m sure Yanks will inquire although I believe it will take more than Gardner to get him.

    • forensic

      I don’t necessarily expect it to happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.

      And unfortunately, it’s not just them the Yankees are competing against, so more than just the Mariners could outbid them.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I think they’re going to be aggressive. As with every recent acquisition or non-acquisition, though, I expect they’ll have a number they’re not willing to go past. At that point, yes, I’d say any of the other teams in baseball can get it.

      The Yankees have a monetary advantage. Yes. An advantage isn’t a guarantee, especially if you have limits on how much you’re willing to flex that advantage.

      Not having limits at all may damage that advantage more than it helps too. Think about that one.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I like the idea of Bailey if Tanaka doesn’t work out the way we want it to. It’s certainly a lower-risk proposition than signing one of the other pitchers, and perhaps he pitches himself into a longer career with the Yankees.

  • LarryM Fl

    All things being even as far as other teams offering as much money as the Yankees to Tanaka. It comes down to the other factors such as team’s ability to add to rosters by paying for FA’s or salary dumps. The team is located in a desirable location which enhances the signing over a less desirable location.

    The Yankees need pitching. So the Reds do match up with the Yanks. We shall see but I prefer to keep Gardner because you still have to score runs and defend. Is Bailey an upgrade over our group of guys, Phelps, Warren or Pineda. I say “yeah.” If we get Tanaka. It would be the perfect storm of factors with Arod’s suspension long enough to support the signing. The circumstances with many other roster moves are waiting in the balance which I do not have the patience to wait.

  • TWTR

    I like Gardner a lot. I wouldn’t object to the Yankees extending him if the price was right because he has value and offers insurance. But he will likely no longer be cheap after 2014 and he is somewhat of a health risk, so trading him in the right deal might make sense.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t see him as much a health risk as much of an age risk moving forward.

      There are very few trade scenarios in which I think it’d be worth dealing him now. If we lose out on Tanaka, this is absolutely one of them. While I love the idea of having the four-man outfield rotation we’ve got now, and think it is a very big strength going into the season, it’d be a mighty big hole going into the season to NOT add a solid high-mid rotation starter.

      • TWTR

        He did miss most of the 2012 season, and his disparate 2011 splits were probably the result of a lingering wrist/hand injury:

        1st half: .265 .348 .394 .742
        2nd half: .252 .342 .341 .683

        But I largely agree with what you said. The deal would have to fill another clear need.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          It’s much like Ellsbury, though. He’s not a “breaking down” kind of player and more of a “things happen when you run into walls, other players, and the earth” player. I worry less about those unless they’re Slade Heathcott and had multiple surgeries before reaching AAA because of it.

  • Captain Obvious

    Is everyone missing the most conspicuous con regarding Bailey? His name is Homer. A glaring red flag for a pitcher. Now, if he were a 2B or 3B, that’s a horse of a different color.

    • vicki

      a perfectly decent .86 hr/9. slightly less apt than balfour’s 3.88 bb/9.

      • BamBamMusings

        That’s why his name is BallFour!

  • Bobby d

    I agree the yanks need pitching badly. However they are in no position to trade Gardner. With the inevitable injury to one or all of Beltran, Ellsbury and Soriano Gardner is an important piece this team cannot be without. I do not see how the Yanks acquire the pitching they need through a trade. Unfortunately they are going to have to break the bank and sign two starting pitchers and a closer to compete in the AL east.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Still a luxury.

      You’d still have Ichiro. You’d still have Almonte. You’d still have what fourth outfielders normally look lik, if not still a bit better than that.

      • mike

        So true – unfortunately the one place the Yanks have – potentially – a surplus is the OF, and dealing an outfielder to fill another gaping hole like a SP or a set-up guy is the only likely way the Yanks can improve thru the trade market.

        while Gardner will definitely get his AB’s because he is good and the other guys will get hurt, id much rather have Ichiro get those 350-400 AB’s and have a solid #3 pitcher in the rotation that have Gardner get the at-bats yet have Phelps/warren be responsible for pitching 200 effective innings for a playoff team

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          To me, at least, having to play Beltran almost every day in the outfield while having a solid mid-rotation guy > having to follow CC/Kuroda/Nova with internals only and still have Gardner.

          • vicki

            i refuse to believe these are our only two choices.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              I know. Just making a direct comparison.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        Except Gardner is a starting OF, not a 4th OF.
        Not sure the Yankees can afford to carry even fewer starting caliber position players than they already do now.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          That’s why I say this is a luxury, though. The luxury isn’t in Gardner in and off himself. It’s in having enough starting outfielders that you don’t have to play either Sori or Beltran out there on an everyday basis. Trading Gardner takes away that luxury.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    It’s definitely a tough call. I happen to like Zoilo a lot and his winter league #s were very encouraging. Definitely has 4th OF potential, maybe even quality regular.

    Still, not having Gardner for the inevitable injury is worrying.

    Then again, if they don’t get Bailey or Tanaka, they’re staring at Jimenez and/or Garza. That’s even more worrying.

    Best case scenario: Sign Tanaka and Garza (cheaper than Ubaldo)

    2nd best: Sign Tanaka, trade Gardner, Murphy and Turley for Bailey and a solid bullpen piece. (i know my trade sucks).

    Worst case: Don’t sign Tanaka, panic and sign Garza and Jimenez for too much. Keep Gardner.

    Outfield is a source of fragile abundance, but the rotation is a source of fragile paucity. In the end, I’m willing to part with Gardner and give Zoilo an opportunity.

    Then again, I could be eating those words in June. This one is a head scratcher.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Worst case is trying to fill #4 and #5 from internals. It can happen.

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        Fair point. That’s negative-apocalypse level bad.

        Acid flashback bad.

        A rotation of CC Nova Kuroda Phelps Warren/Nuno/Pineda would likely end up tragically bad. ~2 years ago Rockies bad.

        I have to believe the management won’t let that happen, otherwise I might as well start the 2015 hot stove conversation now so I have enough time to cry before then.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          It could happen.

          They may feel the risk of running with Phelps/Pineda/Banuelos/Warren for a season is less than the risk of paying Garza/Jimenez/Santana for the next four or five.

          I don’t think it’s an automatic disaster. There is just zero margin for error there. Everyone has to perform to damn near close to expectation, and there’s a question mark on every one of those guys being able to do so individually.

    • forensic

      All of your scenarios have them acquiring two outside pitchers. There’s no crazy need to do that. If they get Tanaka, they could (and will, since there’s no way they’re spending on two starters) very easily just work on filling the 5th spot internally.

      Eventually, they have to let someone from in the organization actually play if they ever want to get any semblance of payroll flexibility.

      • Kosmo

        Phelps, Warren, Nuno and Pineda are all very iffy propositions. It would be great to see Pineda rebound in a big way but I´m certainly not gonna hold my breath. NY could cobble together a composite 5th man out of the above 4 and if necessary wait until next offseason to sign a FA pitcher.
        On the other hand I for one don´t have the slightest idea what to expect from CC or Nova.

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        It’s a tough choice. Balancing being competitive with eventual payroll flexibility. If you’re happy with them not competing this year, then yeah a combo of Warren and Phelps holding up your back end is great. They can eat innings.

        But you won’t compete, especially if Kuroda isn’t his usual self, CC continues his decline or Nova doesn’t finally put it all together.

        If you want to compete now, you can pay whatever for pitchers now.

        If you want to compete now, you need to be able to pay for the right pitchers on reasonable contracts. That’s why GMs get paid the big bucks. It can be done.

  • Dick M

    I have a bad feeling about Tanaka. This management isn’t really “all in”. Which is scary, the way they produce internal options.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      The Milwawkee Brewers offer him 7/161. You’re the Yankees. What do you do?

      • Dick M

        If I’m the Yankees, I sign him. They’ve come this far with inane signings, so in a perverse way they can’t afford to stop now.

  • Kosmo

    there´s been talk that Cincy wants to extend Bailey longterm but might not have the dollars to do so. Like Paw said if Bailey has another good season his agent will be talking 9 figures. And he´ll get it. So even if a Gardner for Bailey trade transpired, NY would either lose Bailey to FA or would try to re-sign him for almost Tanaka like money.

  • Axisa’s Mom

    Another great article, Mikey. Don’t forget to call Nana!

    • forensic

      You might want to check the author’s name before bothering with stuff like this.

      • forensic’s mom

        Time for dinner!

  • dennyneagleshooker

    perhaps a bailey and phillips for gardner ++ swap. the yankees can afford to eat the salary of phillips, will shore up the infield for the short term (KJ can even play some LF in a pinch). infield would deploy as tex, phillips, jeets/ryan, johnson/roberts. outfield in soriano, els & beltran/k johnson.

    i would love if the yanks did that and then scooped up tanaka. kind of like an under the radar move when they traded montero for pineda and then stealthy signed kuroda within hours. beastly rotation of cc, tanaka, bailey, kuroda & nova (no sure thing). bring phelps to the 7th, warren as the swingman. pineda in AAA so he can show that he is a real person again.

    certainly far fetched, but would definitely improve the depth and the rotation would have a good matchup whoever they faced.

    • forensic

      sigh, and here I thought the Phillips stuff had finally died.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Phillips had been talked about early in the off-season as a possibility because people love to play matchmaker between the Yankees and salary dumps. Not that far-fetched, although the idea of acquiring Phillips has been panned by pretty much everyone out there except for any family Brandon may have in Jersey.

  • dkidd

    in the event tanaka goes elsewhere and bailey can’t be acquired, which of ubaldo/garza/santana would the yanks prefer? i watched most of ubaldo’s starts last season (he’s an irrational favorite) and he seems to have made the transition from thrower to pitcher. doesn’t he have more upside than the other two?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I can make an easier argument for Garza (AL East experience) and Ubaldo (formerly lights-out, possibly regained form) than for Santana.

      I’d feel hopeful, yet still concerned, if that’s what it came to.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

    “*The Yankees simply can’t lose Tanaka to the Mariners, can they? Imagine losing the top pitcher and the top hitter on the FA market to the friggin’ Mariners. I can’t see Yankees’ ownership letting that happen.”

    There’s the solution, let’s buy the Seattle Mariners. We get Cano, Tanaka, King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma, etc.

    [end mega pipe dream]

  • Eselquetodolosabe

    Huge Bailey fan. Great stuff, and has come into his own over the last couple of years. I think Bailey’s up-side is tremendous. A true power arm with secondary offerings. This young man has Clemens-eque stuff. Acquire him in a heart-beat, Gardner + whatever, acquire him ! Versus the remaining options; Santana, Jimenez or Garza – Bailey stands head & shoulders above. Trade for him, and then pay extra for the privilege of signing him prior to free agency. If it hasn’t become obvious, huge fan.

    • Wicomico Pinstripes

      I agree that Bailey is definitely better than Santana, Jimenez, etc., but Clemens-esque stuff? Come on, now.

      If the FO miss out on Tanaka, I would okay with them flipping Gardner for him straight up, but you would have to talk me into it. I want no parts of Soriano/ Beltran patrolling the corners for an entire season with only Ichiro and Almonte as back-up/ injury insurance.

      • Eselquetodolosabe

        Yeah, I know, a little over the top huh ?! I just have this over-whelming feeling that this kid will continue his maturation and will soon be a 1 or at worst, a #2 starter. I’d trade for him, and pay an extension premium – 5/6 years, at 18 per.

    • Mike

      I’d rather keep Gardner. Ichiro + prospects + cash considerations for Bailey.

      • Eselquetodolosabe

        You forgot Wells ! Com’on Mike.

  • nycsportzfan

    Maybe there’d be a way to involve D-Backs as a 3rd team and get Bailey and Putz. Ichiro prob won’t get Putz by himself, but this way, they can get a low level upside kid from the minors or something to do with ichiro. Putz and Bailey would be a big step into having a complete team.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      Ichiro’s value is in the 4th OF role. Though it’s not saying much, he’s probably the ideal and elite version of that role.

      Plus defense, speedy, and not a black hole with the bat (insert criticisms here).

      For an injury prone Putz and a team like the D-Backs just looking to move his salary, I’d call that fair value from the Yankees. If they want more, well, good luck finding someone else willing to take all the salary and give something halfway decent back in return.

      If they’re gonna be real sticklers, toss them some reliever cannon fodder from double or triple A.

      We have to be careful though, jettisoning Gardner and Ichiro leaves us with *gulp* Vernon Wells and Zoilo Almonte as our backups and #obligatoryinjury regulars.

      I’d be fine parting with Garnder to get Bailey, but I like the Ichiro/Almonte combo a hell of a lot more than Wells in any sort of situation.

  • mt

    The comment above that we definitely need 2 pitchers because Phelps/Nuno/Warren/Pineda are all question marks baffles me. At some point we do have to let some of our internal options play. We would be relying on 1 of 4 people, not just a recovering Pineda.

    As someone above said, we have no shot at payroll flexibility if we never let any internal solutions play.

    Also, assuming (a big assumption) we get Tanaka, our bullpen and our 3B situation wouldbe much more of a need than getting another starter. Sure, sign Johan to a minor league deal and put him in the mix to see if he can surprise with his stuff and help us in the second half. Or maybe, just maybe, if somone like Maholm drops to a cheap 1 year deal. But signing Tanaka plus a Garza/Ubaldo is overkill. The Tanaka contract will be much more than we like it to be.

    I like trading Gardner for Bailey if we miss on Tanaka – much rather have to potentially rely on one of Ichiro/Almonte/Wells ouch)/minor leaguer surprise as the 3rd OF when one of Ellsbury, Soriano, Beltran gets hurt than going into season with our current rotation as it is with so many questions surrounding CC/Kuroda/Nova and 2 spots having to come from Phelps/Nuno/Warren/Pineda.