Via Marc Carig, the Yankees’ interest in Orioles utility man Ty Wigginton appears to be cooling. They expressed interest in him earlier this month as part of their never-ending search for bench help. Can’t say I’m surprised, he’s hit .211/.302/.314 in his last 222 plate appearances dating back to late May.
Update (4:00 p.m.): In what must be a cruel and horrible joke, Jerry Crasnick reports that the Yankees have checked in on Royals’ utility player Willie Bloomquist. I know the Yanks need bench help, but that’s no reason to go out and trade for one of the worst players in baseball. The 32-year-old is a career .298 wOBA hitter, but has managed to underperform that with a .294 wOBA this year. There’s also another $1.05M left on his contract through the end of the season. Bloomquist is definitely versatile, with a ton of experience at every position but pitcher and catcher. Still, the guy stinks (0.0 WAR, woo!). I’d rather see Eduardo Nunez get a shot.
Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal says the Yanks are now out on Adam Dunn, and Joel Sherman explains why. Basically, the Yanks are worried about how Dunn does not want to DH, would have to adjust to a new league and a pennant race and carries an extremely high asking price. For similar reasons, the Rays are reportedly out of the running as well. Of course, based on how these things have gone so far, I expect the introductory press conference to be no later than Saturday morning.
As the trade deadline approaches we’re going to see the Yankees connected to many, many players just because of who they are. Every other team wants to get the Yanks involved simply because it drives up the prices for everyone else. We know they’re prioritizing bullpen and bench help, but that hasn’t stopped Brian Cashman from window shopping for other stuff. Sometimes there’s a deal you just can’t pass up.
Jon Heyman said the Yanks were still in the hunt for Adam Dunn yesterday, and one ESPN Radio report even called them the front-runners to land him. Of course we’ve already seen this movie twice this year; the Yanks were also rumored to be the the front-runners for Cliff Lee and Dan Haren earlier this month, and we know how that turned out. I’m taking these reports with a hefty grain of salt from now on.
Anyway, I’ve already said what I had to say about bringing Dunn to the Yankees, though now it sounds like the cost is going to prohibitive. They apparently asked the Rays for Matt Garza, which zooms right past crazytown and into insultinglydelusionalville. There’s another big time lefthanded power threat out there though, one that might even fit with the Yanks better than Dunn. His name: Luke Scott.
The former Astro and current Oriole is one of the best hitters in the game that no one talks about. He’s hitting .287/.354/.567 on the season, a .393 wOBA that would be bested by just one Yankee, Robbie Cano. Although this, his age-32 season, is likely a career year, Scott has posted a .364 wOBA over the last three seasons, better than guys like Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, Hideki Matsui, Victor Martinez … the list goes on and on. He also doesn’t have much of a platoon split (.371 wOBA vs. RHP, .341 vs. LHP in his career), so he’s a viable everyday designated hitter. Clearly, the guy can flat out hit at the big league level and in the AL East. He’s done it for three years now.
Defensively, Scott isn’t as bad as you might think. His three year UZR in left is rock solid at +3.8, but he’s not going to supplant Brett Gardner anytime soon. It is nice to have that option available though, in case of injury or if the Yanks decide to sell high on Gardner and trade him this offseason or something. Scott can also handle first base in the pinch should Mark Teixeira ever need a day off.
There’s about $1.525M left on Scott’s contract this year, and he’s still under team control as an arbitration eligible player in both 2011 and 2012, so he’s not a rental player. Should he get too expensive through arbitration, which is very possible considering this season’s performance, the Yanks could always non-tender him and try to re-sign him at a discount, or just flip him in a trade. There are always takers for guys who can hit.
No, Scott is not likely to maintain a .390+ wOBA level of performance over the next two seasons, but he still has plenty of value if he slides back into a .360-ish wOBA level. A player that posts a .360 wOBA with league average defense in left for 200 plate appearances and another 400 at designated hitter is a 2.1 WAR player based on Sky Kalkman’s calculator, which is worth about $8.4M in production based on the current market. His trade value comes in at $6.4M assuming he is a no-compensation free agent or is not offered arbitration, which is equivalent to a Grade-B pitching prospect. Would you deal David Phelps or Ivan Nova within the division for Scott? I know I would.
Of course there’s a big obstacle standing in the way of any Yanks-O’s trade: Peter Angelos. The Orioles’ owner despised George Steinbrenner and his team, and the Mike Mussina signing only exacerbated the problem. The two teams have made just one trade during Cashman’s tenure, the Jaret Wright-Chris Britton blockbuster back in November 2006. Perhaps a deal could be worked out with acting GM Andy MacPhail having exclusive control of the baseball ops, maybe even a multi-player trade involving Ty Wigginton as well.
I don’t expect the Yanks to make a major splash before Saturday’s deadline, but I’m hoping to be surprised. Scott doesn’t have the name recognition of Dunn, but he’s performing at a similar level this year and has a more favorable contract situation. As far as we know, the asking price isn’t as ridiculous either. If the Yanks do decide to make a move for a full-time designated hitter in the next two days, they won’t be able to do much better than this guy right here.
Even with Jorge Posada dealing with a Baker’s cyst and Frankie Cervelli hitting .195/.273/.293 in his last 131 plate appearances, the Yankees are not going to pursue a catcher before Saturday’s trade deadline according to Ken Rosenthal. They have depth at the position in the form up Chad Moeller and Jesus Montero, and frankly there are no attractive catchers on the trade market anyway. I suppose they could look at someone like Chris Snyder while employing Posada as a full-time designated hitter, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Rosenthal also mentions that the Yanks want Adam Dunn but aren’t confident that they’ll be able to land him, and the asking price for bullpen help remains high. Go figure.
There’s no denying that one of Brian Cashman’s biggest mistakes has been the acquisition of Japanese lefty Kei Igawa. After getting blown out of the water on the bidding for Daisuke Matsuzaka by the Red Sox, Cashman and the rest of the brain trust turned to Igawa, who was coming off a five season stretch with the Hanshin Tigers where he topped 200 innings four times (172.1 IP the other year) and posted a 3.14 ERA, 8.59 K/9, and 2.47 BB/9. He wasn’t going to be the ace Dice-K is was supposed to be, but he was expected to solidify the back of a rotation that featured the likes of Shawn Chacon, Sidney Ponson, and Darrell Rasner the year before.
The Yanks won Igawa’s rights with a $26,000,194 bid during the posting process; the extra $194 was an ode to his league leading strikeout total in 2006. They then gave him a five year contract worth $20M, but have gotten basically nothing out of him. Igawa’s Yankee career consists of 71.2 innings of 6.66 ERA, 6.19 FIP, 5.74 xFIP pitching, totaling -0.2 WAR. It’s quite literally $46M flushed down the toilet.
It’s not like the Yankees haven’t had a chance to unload Igawa, either. The Padres claimed the lefty off waivers back in August of 2007, he was part of the Johan Santana trade talks, ditto Mike Cameron, and the Cubs even showed some interest in him as recently as this offseason. None of that materialized, and in hindsight, yeah they should have just let the Padres have him and the $17M or so left on his contract. The Yanks still believed Igawa was salvageable and wanted to try to extract value out of him, but of course that never happened.
Late last night in one of his classic Heard This tweets, Buster Olney said that one reason why the Yanks have yet to deal Igawa is because doing so would cost them big time against the luxury tax. Ben and I couldn’t exactly figure out how that would work (neither could Maury Brown), but Jayson Stark explained the situation back in May:
At least now, you see, Igawa doesn’t count against their luxury-tax payroll because they were able to dump him off the 40-man roster. But if somebody actually wanted him (not that there’s any indication of that), the Yankees would have to pay virtually his entire salary. And that would pull all those dollars back onto their luxury-tax bill, to the tune of a 40 percent tax on whatever they’re paying.
In other words, one GM said, “They have huge incentive not to trade him, even if they could. So he’s one of the all-time stuck-in-purgatory cases.”
Essentially, if the Yanks trade Igawa and eat any of the money left on his deal, it counts against their big league payroll and thus the luxury tax. As long as he’s in the minors and not on the 40-man roster, which has been the case for more than two years now, his salary does not count towards their Major League payroll. The luxury tax isn’t cheap, 40% for every dollar on the payroll in excess of $170M, so they’d be looking at $2.2M in extra luxury tax if they deal Igawa today and ate every dollar left on his deal. That’s pocket change for the Yanks, but is it worth paying on top of Igawa’s salary just to get rid of him? Nah.
There’s a lot of venom towards Igawa and his sunglasses for obvious reasons, but I dunno, having him in Triple-A doesn’t bother me as much as it does some others. It’s not like he’s blocking an actual prospect, he’s just the veteran swingman/long man that every Triple-A team employs to soak up miscellaneous innings here and there. Does it suck that the Yanks still have to pay him another $4M next year? Sure, but they’re stuck paying that money anyway. Might as well get something out of him.
So until his contract expires after next season, Igawa is stuck in Scranton, not wanted by the Yankees, not wanted back in Japan. His occasional appearance in DotF is a reminder of just how poorly this deal turned out.
Joel Sherman passes along some excellent advice: “Avoid writing what is not going to happen.” I read that line as I was 800 words into an article examining why the Yankees won’t look into two possible upgrades in the starting rotation, Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano. The loss to me: 30 minutes of my life. The gain for you: the cost of reading some thoughts on moves that will not happen. I think we all win at least a little in this transaction.
To Sherman’s larger point, the chances of the Yankees making a deadline deal do not look optimistic. Instead their deadline dealings will probably resemble what they did last year. Acquiring a bench bat, or maybe a low-profile bullpen arm, is all we’ll probably see from Cashman and Co. by the time the non-wavier deadline passes at 4 p.m on Saturday.
That doesn’t mean that the Yankees will stay put. It just means that they won’t pursue any of the names currently available. That’s not only because they’re luxuries and not needs, but also because many of them will be available for another month. Plenty of interesting players will clear waivers, which will open the way for deals. This group will certainly include a number of starting pitchers.
All of this works in the Yankees’ favor. As we move through August the team will have a better idea of how Phil Hughes is reacting to the increased workload. They’ll also have a better assessment of Pettitte’s injury. If they feel they need a starter after that, they should have options available. If they don’t, they can save the money and prospects by sticking with in-house options.
There still exists a possibility of a pre-deadline move. Brian Cashman works quickly and stealthily, so anything is possible at any time. But considering the potential August trade market, they might choose to just wait it out. There will be options later, and those options might not be any worse than the ones they have right now.
As to Oswalt and Zambrano, it’s not happening. I kinda just wanted to drum up something on them to get everyone talking, but really that wouldn’t be a productive discussion. Both are owed too much money, more than they’re ultimately worth. While the Cubs would likely kick in some cash, there are some other negatives from Zambrano that make even a complete salary dump a questionable move. If the Yanks do acquire a starter, it will likely be a name we haven’t seen them associated with yet.
We’re now just three full days from the trade deadline, so the rumor mill is going to pick up very soon. Unlike five or six years ago, the Yankees actually have some good young players to offer in a deal right now, players other teams in the league actually want. That used to not be the case, which is why Eric Duncan was promoted so aggressively back in the day; they were trying to boost his trade value. Thankfully don’t have that problem any more. There are waves of talent coming up through the system, so the Yanks could offer high probability players from the upper minors or high upside players a little further away.
GM Brian Cashman’s stock line has been “No one is untouchable, but some are more touchable than others,” which is simple enough and right to the point. I’m sure the Yankees would move Robbie Cano or Phil Hughes in the right deal, but the odds that right deal comes along are very slim. As I put together this list of the players with the most trade value in the organization, I left those two off for that reason. It’s just incredibly unlikely that they’ll be traded.
I have to say, putting this together was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Balancing big leaguers with guys still in the minors is never easy to do, especially when you’re trying to figure out how much those players appeal to other teams.
Remember, this list is extremely subjective, so make sure you leave your two cents in the comments.
1. Jesus Montero, C
Despite being one of the game’s best prospects, Montero has been no stranger to the trade rumor circuit. The Yanks offered him for Roy Halladay last year, and then again for Cliff Lee this year. Rumors have swirled about the team “dangling” him for Joakim Soria, though that sounds like a game of rumor telephone gone wrong. Either way, it’s clear other teams value the Yanks’ best prospect, enough to consider swapping a front-line player for him.
Still just 20-years-old, Montero rebounded from a poor start to the season in Triple-A and has hit .371/.481/.645 with more walks (13) than strikeouts (11) in July. Even though his future at catcher is uncertain, Montero has immense trade value as a well-above average bat with six years of team control ahead of him. Victor Wang’s research pegs his trade value at a staggering $36.5M.
2. Brett Gardner, OF
I don’t believe the Yanks would go out and actively shop Gardner, but I do believe they’d have no trouble parting with him in a trade if it came down to it. They could market him as a .380 OBP, 40 steal, Gold Glove caliber centerfielder with four more years of cost control left, which has big time value on the trade market. We know that the White Sox, Royals, and Cubs have had varying levels of interest in trading for Gardner over the last year or so.
The Yanks would have to bring in a replacement via free agency after the season, which would be expensive but not an issue of talent with players like Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth out there. I get a trade value of $53.3M using Sky Kalkman’s trade value calculator, though I suspect my WAR projections were a tad optimistic.
3. Joba Chamberlain, RHP
Even though his 2010 season has been particularly horrific, other teams still have interest in Joba. The Diamondbacks asked for him in a Dan Haren deal, ditto the Blue Jays and Scott Downs. The Yankees would be selling low, very low, which is why I don’t expect them to move him, but they could present him as a guy that has flirted with the upper-90’s this year and shown a put-away slider and a good curveball.
Joba’s trade value isn’t as high as it was a few years ago not necessarily because he’s stunk this season, but because he’s about to enter his arbitration years. His league minimum salary is going to become a seven figure payout next year, which works against him. There are still plenty of teams out there that would be willing to move him back into the rotation, I’m sure of it. I have his trade value at $16.1M as a reliever and $21.9M as a starter.
4. Austin Romine, C
Depth behind the plate is a wonderful thing. Teams will often overpay for quality catchers in trades or free agency because of dearth of good backstops, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Romine is the team’s best minor league trade chip behind Montero. He doesn’t offer the same offensive potential, but he’s a virtual lock to stay behind the plate, boosting his trade value. As a projected league average hitter with above average defense and six full years of cost control left, Romine could be the centerpiece in any kind of deal short of one involving a superstar. Wang’s research has his value at $23.4M.
5. Ivan Nova, RHP
Nova was considered a key piece in a potential Haren deal, and his value comes from being a big league ready starting pitcher with six full seasons on team control left. No, he’s not going to be an ace and is likely to top out as a mid-rotation starter (if that), but getting a player like that for six figures through 2013 is kind of a big deal. He’s imminently movable, and easily the player most likely to be traded in this post. Wang’s research has his trade value at just $1.5M, though I suspect it’s a little higher in reality. Maybe that’s just my bias.
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Like Nova, Hector Noesi has six years of control left as a high probability back-end starter. His extreme control of the strike zone (232 K, 34 BB in his 233.2 IP over the last two seasons) is sure to appeal to other clubs, though the Yanks have were reluctant to include him a deal for Haren. Andrew Brackman has value because he has upside and is getting closer to the big leagues by the day, plus he’s pretty much answered any questions about his health. Dellin Betances is a notch behind him because he’s still in A-ball and has yet to pitch a full, healthy season. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Zach McAllister … those guys have limited ceilings and aren’t as much of a sure thing as either Nova or Noesi.
So what do you all think, am I missing someone? Is my order out of whack? I’m curious to see how the masses value the team’s players in trades.