Rosenthal: Yankees agree to five-year deal with Aroldis Chapman

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees came into the offseason seemingly determined to spend huge on a closer, and as a result, they’ve handed out by far the largest reliever contract in baseball history. Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees are bringing back Aroldis Chapman on a five-year contract worth $86M. There’s an opt-out after the third year. Marly Rivera says the deal includes a no-trade clause for three years, and the Yankees can’t trade him to a team in California. That’s oddly specific, but whatever.

Prior to Chapman’s deal, the largest reliever contract was Mark Melancon‘s recent deal with the Giants. They gave him four years and $62M. Jonathan Papelbon’s original four-year, $50M contract with the Phillies back in the day was the largest reliever contract ever coming into this offseason. The history of long-term reliever contracts is just awful, but the Yankees had to have their man. What’s done is done.

Chapman, 29 in February, spent the first half of the 2016 season with the Yankees after coming over from the Reds last offseason. The Yankees were able to acquire him at an extreme discount because he was under police (and MLB) investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident. Chapman dominated for a few weeks following his 30-game suspension, then was traded to the Cubs at the deadline and helped them win the World Series.

Between the Yankees and Cubs, Chapman pitched to a 1.55 ERA (1.42 FIP) with 40.5% strikeouts and 8.1% walks in 58 total innings. He’d walked 11.7% of batters faced from 2013-15, and the five-year deal suggests the Yankees think the sudden drop in walk rate is here to stay. I’m not sold, but whatever. Chapman was pretty excellent even when he was walking a top of batters.

The signing means Dellin Betances will slide back into a setup role and resume duties as Joe Girardi‘s eighth inning guy. I think he’s more valuable to the team in that role because he can put fires out in the seventh inning at times, rather than be married to the ninth. I had zero concerns about Betances as closer. The Yankees are just better off with him being available earlier in games.

Now that the all-important closer is on board, the Yankees can focus on reinforcing the rotation and perhaps adding some more middle reliever depth. Brett Gardner and Chase Headley have been on the trade block all winter, and I expect the team to continue pursuing deals. It seems getting a closer was the Yankees’ most important piece of offseason business, and that has now been addressed.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Another day without the Yankees doing anything at the Winter Meetings. Boring! Then again, like 23 of the 30 teams haven’t done anything this week, so it’s not like the Yankees are an outlier here. I thought for sure we would get an Aroldis Chapman decision today, and we still might, but so far nothing. It was weirdly quiet this afternoon. Everyone is saving their excitement for the Rule 5 Draft in the morning, I guess.

This is tonight’s open thread. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing tonight, and there’s a whole bunch of college hoops on the schedule as well. Talk about those games and the Winter Meetings right here.

2016 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Wednesday

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

There is one full day remaining in the 2016 Winter Meetings and so far the Yankees have done, well, not a whole lot. Things can come together pretty quickly though. Last year at this time we were all lamenting the lack of activity, then bam, the Starlin Castro and Justin Wilson trades went down.

“The free-agent stuff, you just have to stay close to it, because that can move fast,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch. “The trade stuff, there have just been certain teams that keep pursuing specific guys, so that’s been hot. There have been a couple different dynamics that have developed. Whether they lead anywhere or not, we’ll see.”

On Tuesday we learned the Yankees made contract offers to both Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, which is interesting. I’m kinda curious to see what happens if they both accept at the same time. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, so check back often. All time stamps are Eastern Time.

  • 9:30am: Chapman apparently has a $92M offer in hand. Goodness. That is offer is not from the Yankees, though they’re pursuing him aggressively and are “determined” to get a deal done. [Bob Nightengale, Jon Heyman]
  • 9:30am: The Yankees did talk to the White Sox about Chris Sale before he was traded to the Red Sox, but they weren’t going to go all out to get him. “As long as we stick to the plan, we’ll be better off in the long run,” said Cashman. [David Lennon]
  • 9:30am: The Yankees have spoken to the ChiSox about David Robertson. I assume he’s a backup plan should Chapman and Jansen fall through. The White Sox are rebuilding, and obviously the Yankees know Robertson and are comfortable with him. [Sweeny Murti]
  • 9:30am: Brett Gardner is “seen as a possible fit” for the Orioles, though they’d want the Yankees to eat some money. This sounds like speculation more than anything. I have a hard time thinking Gardner will be traded to a division rival, but who knows. [Heyman]
  • 9:40am: The Yankees are interested in signing infielder Ruben Tejada to a minor league contract. They’ll need to sign at least one stopgap infielder for Triple-A this offseason, possibly two. Also, the Yankees are trying to re-sign Nick Rumbelow as well. [George King]
  • 10:07am: It sounds as though adding a closer is the team’s top priority, so much so that the Yankees will put all their other business on hold until that’s resolved. They need to see exactly how much money will be left over, I assume. [Brendan Kuty]
  • 11:00am: Cashman reiterated he doesn’t expect to land a starter at the Winter Meetings. “I don’t anticipate it. It’s a tough market and the price tags are extremely high. We could play on a lot of things because we have a lot of prospects people desire and we desire them, too. I would say it’s less likely for us to acquire a starter,” said the GM. [King]
  • 11:23am: The Rockies have agreed to sign Ian Desmond. This is notable because Colorado is forfeiting the 11th overall pick, which means the Yankees move up from 17th to 16th. Here’s the full draft order. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 12:20pm: Along with the Yankees, both the Marlins and Dodgers are in on Chapman and waiting to hear his decision. Chapman is New York’s top target. [Heyman]
  • 12:42pm: I don’t think this will matter, but the Yankees are one of the eight teams included in Jay Bruce’s limited no-trade clause. He could block a trade across town. [James Wagner]
  • 4:57pm: The Yankees are one of several teams to show interest in free agent righty Sergio Romo. If the Yankees miss out on Chapman and Jansen, Romo could be a setup option behind Dellin Betances. [John Shea]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Update: Yankees sign Matt Holliday to one-year deal

Beard's gotta go, Matt. (Jeff Curry/Getty)
Beard’s gotta go, Matt. (Jeff Curry/Getty)

Wednesday: The Yankees have officially announced the signing, so Holliday passed his physical and all that. He can block a trade to one team, according to Chris Cotillo: the Athletics. I guess Holliday didn’t enjoy his time with the A’s a few years ago, huh? Anyway, the 40-man roster is now full, which means the Yankees won’t be making a pick in tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft, not that they were expected to make a pick anyway.

“The opportunity to play for such a historic franchise and such an amazing organization was really appealing,” said Holliday to Erik Boland and Pete Caldera. “I was excited about the opportunity to be a Yankee. I think this team has got a chance to be very competitive … It’s a talented young group of players that played amazing baseball the last two months when everybody kind of counted them out.”

Sunday: The Yankees have their veteran designated hitter. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year contract worth $13M with free agent outfielder Matt Holliday. The team hasn’t announced the move, which usually means it’s pending a physical. That’ll come soon enough.

Reports indicate the Yankees wanted Carlos Beltran back at DH, but he signed a one-year deal with the Astros over the weekend. Holliday, while not a switch-hitter, is similar to Beltran in that he’s a veteran bat with a history of hitting for power and maintaining relatively low strikeout rates. He also has a strong reputation as a clubhouse guy, which is cool because the Yankees have a lot of young players who need mentorin’.

Holliday, 37 in January, hit .246/.322/.461 (109 wRC+) with 20 home runs in 110 games around a broken thumb this past season. The thumb was broken by an errant pitch in August. Holliday was supposed to miss the rest of the season, but the Cardinals activated him for the final homestand so he could say goodbye to the St. Louis fans, and he managed to hit an opposite field homer with a broken thumb:

Holliday has spent almost his entire career as a left fielder, but he’s a brutal defender these days, so much so that the Yankees should only use him out there in an emergency. They have enough outfield depth — even if Brett Gardner is traded — to avoid using Holliday in left, I think. He does have some first base experience, but not much. Holliday should be a DH and a DH only. Plain and simple.

Believe it or not, this is only the Yankees second Major League free agent signing since re-signing Stephen Drew in January 2015. The other signing? Tommy Layne in August. The Yankees infamously sat out free agency entirely last offseason. My guess is they’re not done spending this winter, with smaller deals like this continuing to be the focus. We’ll see what happens.

Now that the Yankees have their DH, they figure to focus on pitching at the Winter Meetings this year. Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Starters and relievers. All of it. They’ve been connected to the top free agent closers so often this winter that it’ll feel like an upset if they don’t land one of them. The rotation? That’ll take a little more creativity. The free agent class stinks.

Tyson Ross headlines non-tendered players who could be of interest to the Yankees

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

Last Friday was the deadline for teams to tender their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players contracts for the 2017 season. They didn’t have to sign them, just offer a contract. Those who didn’t receive an offer became free agents. A total of 35 players were non-tendered Friday.

The Yankees non-tendered one player, lefty Jacob Lindgren, who almost immediately signed with the Braves. New York hoped to bring Lindgren, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, back on a minor league deal, but no luck. “Unfortunately we don’t have every roster spot we can find. We were hoping to get him back on a minor league deal, but it didn’t work out,” said Brian Cashman to Joel Sherman.

Among the 34 other non-tenders are some players who could be of interest to the Yankees. Chris Carter, who led the NL with 41 home runs in 2016, was a possible DH candidate prior to the Matt Holliday signing, for example. Three other non-tendered players caught my eye after being let go Friday. Do any make sense for the Yankees? Well, let’s see.

RHP Matt Carasiti

Right off the bat, someone you’ve probably never heard of. Carasiti, 25, is a local kid who grew up in Connecticut and went to St. John’s. He was a sixth round pick by the Rockies in 2012, and over the last few years he gradually climbed the minor league ladder before making his MLB debut in 2016. It wasn’t pretty. Carasiti allowed 17 runs on 25 hits and eleven walks in 15.2 innings. He struck out 17. That’s a 9.19 ERA (4.49 FIP).

Those numbers are not what makes Carasiti kinda interesting. (I’m not going to knock the kid for pitching poorly in his first taste of MLB when Coors Field is his home park.) He’s now a pure reliever with a history of missing bats and limiting walks in the minors (27.4 K% and 5.1 BB% in 2016) thanks to a fastball/cutter/forkball combo. Carasiti’s four-seamer averaged 95.6 mph and topped out at 97.5 mph with the Rockies, and the forkball had a healthy 24.6% swing-and-miss rate. (Masahiro Tanaka‘s splitter had a 17.6% whiff rate in 2016.)

Carasiti is a not a future closer or anything like that. He has the tools to miss bats though, plus he has all three minor league options remaining, which makes him a shuttle reliever candidate. There’s a pretty decent chance whichever teams signs Carasiti this offseason will be able to do so on a minor league contract.

With Lindgren and the recently released Nick Rumbelow gone, plus Branden Pinder still on the mend following Tommy John surgery, adding another shuttle candidate wouldn’t be a bad idea. There’s no such thing as too many potential bullpen options these days. Chances are the Yankees are going to end up signing (or claiming) someone exactly like this at some point this winter.

RHP Tyson Ross

Ross is the biggest name among the non-tendered players. From 2013-15, he was legitimately one of the best pitchers in baseball, putting up a 3.07 ERA (3.13 FIP) in 516.2 innings. More than 60% of the batters he faced those years (61.5%, to be exact) either struck out or hit a ground ball. Only Dallas Keuchel (63.7%) and Felix Hernandez (62.1%) had better rates among the 132 pitches to throw at least 300 innings from 2013-15. The great Clayton Kershaw (61.1%) was right behind Ross.

Of course, Ross is not healthy right now, and even when he was healthy, he had a thing for walks. His 9.4% walk rate was tenth highest among the 132 pitches from 2013-15. This past season Ross started on Opening Day, got rocked (eight runs in 5.1 innings), then spent the entire rest of the season on the disabled list. His string of injuries went like so:

  • April 9th: Placed on 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation.
  • July 7th: Twisted his ankle in his hotel room and had to be shut down from throwing.
  • August 25th: Left his first rehab start after two-thirds of an inning with shoulder discomfort.
  • October 13th: Underwent surgery to treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

So there you go. A bunch of shoulder issues with a twisted ankle mixed in for good measure. The optimistic outlook has Ross returning from TOS surgery in April or May. Midseason seems like a safer bet, but we’ll see. Either way, TOS is very serious and it can be career-threatening if not caught quickly enough. By all accounts, doctors caught Ross’ issue early, which improves his prognosis. Still, it’s scary stuff.

This is my general feeling on the situation: Ross is the guy everyone is excited about when he gets non-tendered, the team that signs him will be universally praised, then he’ll put up like a 5.60 ERA in 43 innings next year. I feel like this is heading in that direction. That doesn’t mean you stay away from him, because if he’s healthy, Ross can be really good. It just means there’s a lot of risk here. TOS is no joke.

The Yankees should pursue the 29-year-old Ross as a lottery ticket. Don’t count on him for anything. Give him a look in the rotation when he’s healthy and see what happens. That’s it. Don’t pencil him in as the No. 5 starter or anything. Whatever you gives you is all gravy. The hard part will be convincing Ross to take what I imagine will be a short-term contract to pitch in Yankee Stadium and the AL East. That’s not a good place to rebuild value. My guess is he winds up closer to home on the West Coast.

RHP Chris Withrow

Withrow. (Stacy Revere/Getty)
Withrow. (Stacy Revere/Getty)

I was surprised the Braves non-tendered Withrow. I can understand the Padres cutting Ross loose — he was projected to make roughly $10M through arbitration in 2016, which is a lot for an injured pitcher on a small market team — but Withrow was projected for a mere $1.2M salary. For a team as desperate for pitching as the Braves, I would have thought keeping him was a no-brainer. Shows what I know.

Anyway, Withrow returned from Tommy John surgery this season and threw 37.2 innings with a 3.58 ERA (4.90 FIP) in 37.2 innings. His strikeout (17.7%) and walk (10.8%) rates were the kind of stuff you tend to see from a guy just returning from elbow reconstruction. Obviously any team that signs the 27-year-old fastball/slider/curveball pitcher would be hoping for better going forward.

Before his elbow gave out, Withrow spent part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Dodgers, with whom he pitched to a 2.73 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 31.7% strikeout rate in 56 innings. Walks were an issue overall (13.8%), though much of that stems from the few outings before his elbow injury, when he completely lost the zone. That isn’t to say Withrow has great control when healthy. Just that it isn’t quite that bad.

Like Carasiti, Withrow is a potential bullpen shuttle candidate. Unlike Carasiti, Withrow doesn’t have any options left, which creates a problem. He can come up, but he can’t go back down, at least not without passing through waivers. That shouldn’t be a deal-breaker though. Withrow is the type of pitcher who can be had on a minor league deal and stashed in Triple-A. If he pitches well, great! If not, well then he gets released and no big deal.

* * *

There are a few bigger name players who were non-tendered as well last week, including Rubby De La Rosa. Rubby has a huge arm, but he hasn’t been very good when healthy, and right now he’s rehabbing his elbow in an effort to avoid his second Tommy John surgery. He’ll get billed as a low risk, high reward player. I see him as more of a high risk, low reward player given his track record and current elbow concerns.

Others like Vance Worley (nope), Jose Pirela (eh), Jeff Locke (yuck), and Jeff Manship (meh) were all non-tendered last week as well, and you could talk yourself into thinking each of them makes some sense for the Yankees. Ross is clearly the prize of the non-tender class and he comes with a ton of risk. I’d like to see the Yankees roll the dice on Carasiti and/or Withrow for bullpen depth, but generally speaking, this crop of non-tenders is lacking impact. They’re all hurt or spare part players.

Scouting the Trade Market: Jose Quintana

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon, after days and weeks of rumors, the White Sox finally traded staff ace Chris Sale. He did not go to the Nationals, as long rumored. He instead went to the Red Sox for a four-prospect package that included infielder Yoan Moncada, arguably the best prospect in baseball. Pitchers of Sale’s caliber do not get traded very often. That deal was the definition of a blockbuster.

With Sale gone, it stands to reason the White Sox will continue tearing things down and start a full blown rebuild. It would be completely silly to trade Sale for four non-MLB pieces only to keep everyone else. The ChiSox fire sale has just begun, I assume, which means left-hander Jose Quintana should be on the trade block as well. The former Yankees’ farmhand may not be as good as Sale, but he’s really good overall, and he’s signed cheap too. The Yankees should have interest in Quintana and here’s why.

Background

Might as well start here. Yes, Quintana was once in the Yankees’ farm system. Before that he was actually in the Mets’ farm system. The other New York team signed Quintana out of Colombia back in 2006. He spent a few seasons in their farm system, failed a performance-enhancing drug test, then got released. The Yankees scooped him up and he spent 2008-11 in their system. The 2011 season was his breakout year: 2.91 ERA (3.15 FIP) in 102 innings with High-A Tampa.

Quintana was eligible for minor league free agency following that breakout 2011 season. The Yankees opted not to add him to their 40-man roster, and a few weeks later the White Sox signed him to a guaranteed Major League contract. Can’t blame Quintana for jumping at the 40-man roster spot. “We liked him. We didn’t love him. He was a performer, but not someone with ceiling,” said Brian Cashman to Mike Fitzpatrick this summer. D’oh!

“A very poised young man. Professional. He knew how to pitch and work both sides of the plate. Just a good-looking kid,” said Joe Siers, the White Sox scout who recommended Quintana, to Scott Merkin two years ago. “To be honest, I didn’t know he would be a No. 2 starter. I thought he had a chance to be a back-end, a fourth starter. I knew he was a guy who could get some innings. He commanded the ball and could pitch deep into games.”

Recent Performance

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Quintana, 28 in January, has been one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball since joining the White Sox. Over the last four seasons he has a 3.35 ERA (3.34 FIP) — his worst full season is a 3.51 ERA (3.82 FIP) back in 2013 — while throwing no fewer than 200 innings in any given year. According to both bWAR and fWAR, Quintana has been the seventh most valuable pitcher in baseball since 2013. Yeah.

Unlike Sale, Quintana is not going to blow hitters away and rack up big strikeout numbers. He’s not that type of pitcher. Quintana did have nice strikeout (21.6%) and walk (6.0%) numbers this summer — neither his ground ball (40.4%) nor home run (0.95 HR/9) rates were great — and he excels at keeping hitters off balance and generating weak contact. His average exit velocity on balls hit in the air these last two years is 89.6 mph, 11th lowest in baseball. So while Quintana’s ground ball rate isn’t stellar, he’s not giving up loud contact in the air either.

We have over 800 innings of data telling us Quintana is a very good Major League pitcher, one who has had success in a hitter friendly home ballpark in the DH league. He’s also done it despite having some shaky pitch-framers behind the plate. (Basically every catcher the White Sox have employed other than Tyler Flowers since 2013.) As long as he stays healthy, there is every reason to believe Quintana will be effective for the foreseeable future. Nothing is trending the wrong way.

Present Stuff

When Quintana first got to Chicago, longtime White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper helped him get to the next level by teaching him a cutter. Cooper has been teaching that cutter for decades now. Interestingly enough, Quintana has phased out the cut fastball and replaced it with a sinker over the last three seasons. He operates with a four-seamer, sinker, curveball, and changeup these days. From Brooks Baseball:

jose-quintana-pitch-selection

That’s a really nice mix. Quintana uses three pitches each more than 20% of the time, and his changeup rate hangs around 10% as well. He’s not a guy who leans on, say, his sinker and curveball, and uses the straight four-seamer and changeup as show-me pitches. Quintana is a true four-pitch pitcher, and he still has the cutter in his back pocket as well. Here’s some gory math (MLB averages for left-handed pitchers in parenthesis):

Average Velocity Swing-and-Miss Rate Ground Ball Rate
Four-seamer 92.6 (92.3) 8.3% (6.9%) 32.0% (37.9%)
Sinker 92.5 (91.0) 6.1% (5.4%) 50.0% (49.5%)
Curveball 78.0 (77.5) 11.7% (11.1%) 38.8% (48.7%)
Changeup 86.7 (83.3) 7.3% (14.9%) 47.2% (47.8%)

Those are 2016 numbers, the most recent season and the best indicator of who Quintana is right now. Again, nothing jumps out at you. The velocity is basically average to a tick above, there’s no dominant swing-and-miss pitch, and there’s no dominant ground ball pitch either. And yet, it works. Quintana’s command is a huge part of his success. So is his deception. Check out his release points from this past season, via Brooks Baseball:

jose-quintana-release-pointEverything is nice and tight together. It all overlaps. A lot of times you’ll see the pitcher has a different release point for his breaking ball — usually slightly higher than the fastball for a curveball, and slightly lower for a slider — but not with Quintana. All five pitches come out from the same spot. By time the hitter can tell the pitches apart as they approach the plate, it’s already too late. He’s had to start his swing. Quintana’s command and deception make up for his lack of overwhelming velocity and a dominant pitch. He makes it work.

Let’s look at some video. Reading about pitches and staring at a pitch selection chart only does so much. Let’s see Quintana in action. Here’s a 2016 highlight video — reminder: everyone looks like an ace in a highlight video — in which we get to see all five pitches in action:

Beautiful. Nice fluid delivery, fastballs to both sides of the plate, a willingness to pitch inside, a curveball that looks like a strike until it drops out of the zone … it’s easy to understand why Quintana is so successful. To quote my favorite cliche: he’s a pitcher, not a thrower.

The Yankees seem to have a type. They like pitchers with big fastballs and wipeout breaking balls, and hey, that stuff is cool. Their most successful pitchers this past season, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, are quite the opposite though. They succeeded with command and pitchability, which happen to be Quintana’s two best traits. I would really like to see the Yankees get away from the huge stuff/bad command profile a bit, and Quintana would be a step in that direction.

Injury History

Easy: none. Quintana has never been on the disabled list or had any kind of noteworthy injury, Majors or minors. He had a start pushed back four days after taking a comebacker to the shin during Spring Training in 2013. That is the entirety of Quintana’s injury history.

Contract Status

The White Sox smartly inked Quintana to a five-year contract extension three seasons ago. The deal guaranteed him a mere $21M, which is a pittance compared to what he could have made through arbitration given his success. Can’t blame him for taking the guaranteed payday though. Anyway, here is the remainder of Quintana’s contract:

  • 2017: $6M
  • 2018: $8.35M
  • 2019: $10.5M club option ($1M buyout)
  • 2020: $10.5M club option ($1M buyout)

Assuming the options are picked up — unless Quintana suffers a catastrophic injury or develops the yips, they will be exercised, for sure — Quintana is owed $35.35M over the next four seasons. These days No. 1 starters are getting north of $30M per season. Quintana is a borderline ace and he’s owed roughly that through 2020. Pretty great contract, eh? Very luxury tax friendly given his production.

Trade Benchmarks

These are always tough to come up with but they are important. Our trade proposals suck, they really do, so it’s good to provide some context. You’re not going to get Quintana for the team’s best prospect you don’t like plus threes randos off the bottom of the 40-man roster, you know? Here are some pitchers recently traded when they were three or four years away from free agency, like Quintana.

  • Gio Gonzalez: One top 50-100 prospect (Derek Norris) and three top 15 org prospects (A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone).
  • Wade Miley: Two young arms with five years of control (Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster) and one top 30 org prospect (Raymel Flores).
  • Shelby Miller (four years of control): One year of an above-average big leaguer (Jason Heyward).
  • Shelby Miller (three years of control): One top 20 prospect (Dansby Swanson), one top 75 prospect (Aaron Blair), and five years of an average or better big leaguer (Ender Inciarte).
  • Chris Sale: One top five prospect (Yoan Moncada), one top 50 prospect (Michael Kopech), a top ten org prospect (Luis Basabe), and a top 30 org prospect (Victor Diaz).

I almost didn’t include the second Shelby Miller trade because it was so ridiculous, but you know what? It happened and it changed the market. All of a sudden every team with a good young pitcher raised their asking price. I know I would have done the same.

Of the four pitchers (five trades) listed above, I think the one closest to Quintana would be Sale. I really do. It’s four years of control vs. three years of control, but Quintana has been consistently above-average for four years running now. Gonzalez and Miley each had two good years at the time of their trades. Miller had two good years the second time he was traded. The difference in track record is pretty substantial.

Also, supply and demand, yo. The demand for pitching is high, as always, but the supply is very short. There are no good free agent starters left, and realistically, how many pitchers as good as Quintana are available in trades? There’s Chris Archer and Sonny Gray, and that’s about it. We could use the Gio trade or the Shelby trade as a benchmark, but ultimately, the marketplace is different. Quintana won’t come cheap. I know that much.

So What About The Yankees?

(David Banks/Getty)
(David Banks/Getty)

I don’t think it will happen, but it needs to be said anyway: the Yankees can’t let their history with Quintana get in the way of a potential deal. They screwed up five years ago. No doubt about it. They can’t let their pride get in the way of a deal. The Yankees would get mocked for trading top prospects for a guy they gave away a few years ago, but whatever. Own it, move on, and improve the team.

Okay, so anyway the Yankees have both a need for a long-term rotation help and the prospect wherewithal to swing a trade for a pitcher like Quintana. He has yet to turn 28 and he comes with four years of contractual control, so when all those shiny prospects are ready to start winning big league games, Quintana figures to still be in the prime of his career. That’s pretty cool. An over-30 star wouldn’t jibe with this roster. But a 27-year-old? Oh sure.

Whether the Yankees should dip into that farm system to get Quintana is a valid question. He won’t come cheap. The White Sox got two top 50 caliber prospects for Sale and I’m guessing they’ll want the same — or something close to it — for Quintana, plus other stuff. The Yankees would be starting a package with, say, Clint Frazier and Jorge Mateo. Or Aaron Judge and James Kaprielian. Ouch.

Jon Heyman hears “nobody’s sacred” with the White Sox, meaning they’re ready to trade everyone following the Sale deal. Quintana really does make a lot of sense for the Yankees — I mean, pitchers this good make sense for every team — and that fourth year of control is huge. If the Yankees aren’t a bonafide contender by year four, something has gone terribly wrong. Ideally you’re semi-contending by year two, you know?

I don’t have any problem with the Yankees trading good prospects for above-average big leaguers in their 20s with long-term control. It helps speed up the rebuilding transitioning process, at least in theory, and it allows them recoup value from prospects. Hanging on to every last prospect equals a lot of wasted opportunity. Some are most valuable as trade chips. Depending on the price, Quintana is maybe the best pitching target available to the Yankees this year, and I think they should pursue him pretty aggressively. Put that dynamite farm system to work.

Tuesday Night Open Thread

The 2016 Winter Meetings are roughly halfway complete. Day Two came and went with no action for the Yankees, though Brian Cashman did confirm the team has made contract offers to Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, so that’s fun. What happens if they both accept at the same time? Is that allowed? That’d be interesting. Maybe the Yankees would trade Chapman for prospects again.

Anyway, this is tonight’s open thread. The Knicks and all three hockey locals are in action, plus there’s some college hoops on the schedule as well. Talk about those games, the day at the Winter Meetings, and anything else right here.