While the Red Sox were officially announcing the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Orioles were busy putting the finishing touches on a trade for Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds. The deal is done except for the physicals, with Arizona receiving relievers David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio in return. Reynolds has hit 76 homeruns over the last two seasons, but he’s also struck out in 40.3% of his at-bats during that time. In fact, he’s the only player in baseball history to strike out at least 200 times in a single season, and he’s done it every year since 2008. Baltimore added some much needed power to their lineup, and that’ll make life that much tougher on the Yankees.
The Washington Nationals sent a bit of shock wave through the baseball community yesterday afternoon, announcing that they had signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a massive seven-year, $126M contract. Werth is undeniably a great player, but that contract is excessive. It (theoretically) set the market for Carl Crawford, and could have a trickle down effect on just about any upcoming free agent outfielder, such as one current Yankee.
Since coming to New York, Nick Swisher has posted the two of the best seasons of his career at 3.7 and 4.0 bWAR. He’s hit 58 homeruns in pinstripes, getting on base at a .365 clip with a .235 ISO. He also made his first All Star team, all for the bargain price of $12.05M ($5.3M in 2009, $6.75M in 2010). Swisher is due to become a free agent after the 2011 season, so I’m sure he and his agent are licking their chops are seeing Werth’s deal. Over the last two seasons, Werth has a .899 OPS, and Swisher’s is not to far off at .870.
To get an idea of what kind of contract Swisher could be in line to receive, we should dig up comparables. Using the great B-Ref Play Index to find players with similar production during their two seasons leading up to free agency (what have you done for me lately?), we get names like J.D. Drew, Bobby Abreu, Jason Bay, and Brian Giles. Drew signed with the Dodgers for five years and $55M. Abreu re-upped with the Phillies for 5/64, Bay got 4/66 from the Mets, and Giles got 3/30 from the Padres. The average of those four is ~4/54, or $13.5M per season. Swish generally lags a little bit behind those guys in HR, OPS+, and in some cases bWAR in the years before free agency, but at least we have an idea of what he could ask for. Frankly, $13.5M per year seems rather reasonable.
The Case For Extending Swisher
Making a case to sign Swish to a contract extension is rather easy. He’s very productive (between 3.7 and 4.0 fWAR in four of the last five years), extremely durable (he’s been on the disabled list once in his six full seasons, and it came five years ago), and still in the prime of his career (he turned 30 less than two weeks ago). He’s also a fan favorite. The Yankees could end up saving themselves a few bucks by signing him now and avoiding the unpredictability of the open market as well.
The Case Against
While 2011 is the final guaranteed year on Swisher’s contract ($9M salary), the Yankees do hold a club option for 2012 worth $10.25M. They could choose to buy him out for a million bucks, but at this point in time it would be an upset if they went that route. So in reality Swisher is two years away from free agency, when he’ll be 32 and approaching his decline phase. While his stock is at an all-time high right now, it could be on the way down 24 months from now. Not extending Swisher now would also give the Yanks some semblance of roster flexibility going forward since his trade value is at an all-time high as well.
The Yankee policy is to not negotiate with players (not to mention field and front office staff as well) until their contracts expire, so this entire post is more academic than anything. But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the Yanks would be up to giving their rightfielder an extension.
I’m in the camp that thinks they should wait this one out and let Swish play out the final two years of his contract before worrying about an extension, and I love the guy. Like I said, they’d maintain some roster flexibility, which is extremely important with so many massive contracts. It also eliminates a ton of risk since they wouldn’t be locked in for the next five years if he declines or something. The Yankees can afford to pay him when he becomes a free agent in two years if they want to, and that’s the route they should go. The financial advantage allows them to wait and pay people later rather than have to gamble and pay them now.
I see no good reason to not do a chat, so we’ll set one up for this afternoon. Come back at 1 p.m and we’ll chat Yankees, Winter Meetings, Adrian Gonzalez, and just about anything else you can think of.
George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin were not elected to the Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee today. Both received less than eight votes, well below the dozen needed for enshrinement. Marvin Miller, father of the player’s union, fell one vote short. Former Yankee exec Pat Gillick was the only candidate to be voted in.
Gillick, a current Phillies adivser, served as the Yanks’ scouting director in the mid-1970s. He was the architect behind the Blue Jays’ back-to-back World Series teams in the early 1990s. “We are thrilled to have Pat as the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and we welcome him into the Hall of Fame family,” Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark said. “Pat’s consistent excellence as a talent evaluator and team builder has been evident at every step throughout his brilliant career, constructing three World Series champions with his teams making 11 postseason appearances.”
In early November, we considered Steinbrenner’s candidacy. While his impact on the game is undeniable, he remains a very controversial figure in baseball history. He was suspended twice from the game, spied on his players, did he best to wreck the Yankees in the 1980s and managed to change completely the financial structure of baseball. He’ll again be considered by the Expansion Era Committee again in 2013 for possible induction in 2014.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are interested in bringing the recently non-tendered Al Aceves back on a minor league contract, though the Rockies are one team willing to give him a big league deal and a 40-man roster spot. Not only did Ace miss basically all of the 2010 season due to disc issues in his back, he recently had surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered during a bike accident. The rehab from that will have him behind in Spring Training.
The Mexican Gangster was awesome in 2009, but his back is such a question mark that giving him a 40-man roster spot is pretty risky. I hope something gets worked out, but I fully expect him to bolt for a team willing to give him a big league deal.
Season Record: 95-67 (859 RS, 693 RA, 98-64 Pythag. record), finished one game back in AL East, won Wild Card, lost in ALCS
Top stories from last week:
- The two biggest stories of the week involved the Yankees’ two biggest free agents. Derek Jeter agreed to a slightly complicated three-year contract worth a guaranteed $56M, but only after the two sides met on Tuesday and the team made a new offer. In the unlikely event that they weren’t able to work something out, Eduardo Nunez was Plan B.
- A few days before the captain re-upped, Mariano Rivera agreed to a very straight-forward two-year contract worth $30M. There’s a chance that it’ll be Mo’s last contract.
- Injury Zone: Al Aceves needed surgery after breaking his collarbone in a bicycle accident, and Brett Gardner needs surgery to repair a wrist issue that hampered him during the second half.
- The Yankees non-tendered Aceves and Dustin Moseley, though they did re-sign Sergio Mitre for one-year and $900,000.
- The Red Sox and Padres agreed to a deal that would have sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, but the two sides couldn’t work out a contract extension and it fell through. (Update: Wrote this yesterday afternoon, the trade went through after all.)
- The Yanks showed some interest in Carl Crawford and nearly traded Frankie Cervelli for Russell Martin. They did, however, sign Buddy Carlyle to a minor league contract. Zack Greinke said he’s open to pitching in New York, but the Yanks are skeptical.
- Javy Vazquez officially took his talents to South Beach, finalizing a one-year deal with the Marlins that gives the Yankees a supplemental first round draft pick. Lance Berkman landed in St. Louis, but there was no comp pick for him. Marcos Vechionacci ended up in Japan.
- The Yankees awarded 43 full shares worth $110,302.97 of playoff bonus money.
- Ten-year Yankee veteran Gil McDougald passed away at age 82.
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When a conflict comes to a resolution, we’re normally able to take a step back and reflect on it. With the Derek Jeter contract negotiations, that’s not necessary. The situation was pretty transparent from the beginning. The Yankees set the tone with their initial offer, one that no other team would dare match. From there it was just a matter of when Jeter would accept the situation. But while we won’t learn much by looking back at the situation, we did get something out of it. We were entertained.
The way the negotiations played out was insanely entertaining. Six years and $150 million? That was worth a good chuckle. It might have been true, but chances are it wasn’t. Even four to five years at $23 or $24 million was comical. Then came the quotes from the Yankees brass. Sure, it was mostly unnecessary — especially when it involved Hank. But the frustration was palpable. The Jeter camp was being unreasonable, and it appeared to have gotten under the Yankees’ skin.
More than the negotiations themselves, the commentary about the negotiations provided high entertainment. Whether on Twitter, in an article, or in the comments section, we saw people provide all kinds of rationale for why Jeter deserved to get paid what he wanted, or why he should take the Yankees’ offer. (Though the term rationale might be generous when describing the former.) It also led to a short-lived, but still entertaining, collection of terrible articles about the situation.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I had fun during those few weeks. Maybe I got a little worked up at one point or another, but that’s going to happen when arguing something about which I’m passionate. I can see why people might have been annoyed at how it played out. Seeing multiple articles every day about one player’s contract negotiations can become grating. But even if it did become a bit too much on one day, it all reset the next day. The conversations began anew, and we were entertained all over again.
It might not have been all that entertaining, of course, had there been a chance that Jeter would leave. We all knew that no matter how this played out that Jeter would play shortstop for the Yankees in 2011 and beyond. Because we knew this we could view the negotiations in a different manner than we see them with, say, Cliff Lee. There’s a real chance Lee signs elsewhere and helps a Yankees rival. With Jeter it was the furthest thing from our minds — or at least most of our minds.
I’m glad it’s over. The entertainment factor in this was definitely coming to a halt, so drawing it out any longer would have become obnoxious. But it was fun while it lasted. I don’t wish that all negotiations played out in this way, but with Derek Jeter it worked. Now that it’s over we can forget the annoyances and remember the conversations and debates. That’s what made this whole situation interesting and entertaining.