When the Yankees and Derek Jeter agreed to their new contract, we heard about a deal that included contract incentives and deferred money, but weren’t quite sure how everything would work. Thankfully, Ken Davidoff has the details (no subs. req’d). Jeter will earn $15M in base salary in 2011 with $2M being deferred, $16M in 2012 (another $2M deferred), and then $17M in 2013 ($3M deferred). That’s the easy part.
The incentives can be triggered in any season covered by the deal, including the player option for 2014, though the salary increase will only be applied to that 2014 season. Jeter would get $4M for winning MVP, $2M for finishing second through sixth in the MVP voting, $1.5M for a Silver Slugger, and then $500,000 each for a Gold Glove, LCS MVP, and World Series MVP. The incentives are capped at $9M, however. He could win MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, LCS and World Series MVP in all four years of the contract, but he’d still only take home $9M extra.
It seems like a team friendly deal on the surface since Jeter is unlikely to reach any of the MVP-based incentives (he has just two top six MVP finishes in the last eleven seasons), but it’s still an overpay in terms of expected production. Either way, it could have been worse. A lot worse.
Boy, lots of people are wondering what the Yankees will do if they don’t sign Cliff Lee for whatever reason. I’m curious too, but I’m also pretty optimistic about them signing the lefty. Anyway, this week’s mailbag offers a trio of Plan B questions, plus some stuff on Johnny Damon and Robbie Cano‘s career. If you ever want to send in a question, just use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Ryan asks: If the Yanks miss out on Lee and/or Pettitte retires who do the Yanks target via trade? They don’t seem high on Greinke, Liriano and Carpenter moves don’t make sense for those clubs and Garza in-division would be a hard get. Is Nolasco, Wandy, Lowe, Zambrano or Carmona good enough?
Greinke would be the best of the bunch, by quite a margin, but like you said the team doesn’t seem too enthused about landing him. I agree with you on Liriano, Carpenter, and Garza as well. Nolasco’s a really good pitcher, with 8.6 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 (removing intentional walks) in his three full seasons. He’s never posted worse than a 3.86 FIP or 3.75 xFIP, or been worth less than 2.5 wins according to FanGraphs. He’s also pretty affordable as a Super Two, earning $3.8M in 2010 while still being under team control in 2011 and 2012. My biggest concern with Nolasco is that he’s really homer prone, about one every 7.1 innings pitched, and that’s in a big park in Florida. He won’t replace Lee, very few can, but Nolasco could certainly be a solid mid-rotation guy for the Yankees.
I really like Wandy Rodriguez, but I think the price would be a little too nuts even though he’ll be a free agent after the season. Derek Lowe’s okay these days, he’s good for innings but not necessary good performance. If the Braves eat some of the $30M left on his contract and take some mid-level prospects in return, sure. I suspect they’ll opt to keep him under those conditions though. Zambrano’s a nutcase and isn’t as good as everyone thinks; A.J. Burnett has out fWAR’d Big Z 12.8 to 11.8 since 2006. Plus there’s a ton of money left on his deal. And he’s a nut case. Carmona’s way too risky. He’s generally good, but his consistency makes A.J. blush.
Of the guys you mentioned, Nolasco’s the best, though I’d try really really hard for Greinke or Carpenter before settling on him. Whichever way they go, the pitcher they get will not be as good as Cliff Lee, that much is a given.
Adam asks: If the Yanks lose out on Lee, do you think Josh Johnson is an obvious target? Would a package of Montero, Brackman/Betances, Noesi, plus one more lower level guy get it done? Or do you think the trade would be even more.
The Marlins have no reason to move Johnson. He signed a big contract that keeps him in Florida for the next three years at well below market rates (just $35.25M through 2013), and don’t forget that their new park opens next season. Not only will that rake in some extra cash, but the team will surely want its young, homegrown, superstar right-hander to throw the first pitch in the park’s history. The Fish don’t really have a use for Montero; they just gave John Buck that ridiculous contract and they’re set at first with Gaby Sanchez. Even if Sanchez falters, Logan Morrison will step back into his natural position. So that right there creates a problem, Montero has less value to them than most.
If I’m the Marlins, I want a monster return for Johnson, more than the Royals want for Greinke given his contract status. Montero, Gardner, and Banuelos wouldn’t get it done, not even with two other prospects (say Adam Warren and David Adams) thrown in. I would, theoretically, ask for a young pitcher with Josh Johnson upside and big league success to his name, a top third base prospect, a centerfielder, and then minor leaguers. I don’t know who can put that package together, maybe the Orioles with Brian Matusz, Josh Bell, and Adam Jones (plus others)? That doesn’t do it for me though, and I love Brian Matusz. Point being, it’ll be so tough to acquire JJ that I don’t think he’s a viable Plan B. He’d be great, no question, I just don’t know how the hell the Yankees would get him.
Anonymous asks: I guess I’m getting a little impatient waiting for the Yanks to make a move. Cash could look at the Braves with Jair Jurrjens a 24 yr old with a 37-27 record, maybe Swisher & Eduardo Nunez with a few pitching prospects throw-in. Or take Chris Carpenter for two yrs at 15m & Jon Jay a good young OFer a hell of a lot cheaper then Lee! And Ricky Nolasco could be had at around 6m. Look at Lee in five yrs 37 and getting paid 24-25m?
We already talked about Carpenter and Nolasco, so let’s focus on Jurrjens. He’s 24, yes, but he’s had some injury trouble in his young career, namely a shoulder issue in 2007 and a pair of leg related ailments in 2010. He’s also not a strikeout guy, posting a career best 6.65 K/9 this season. The walks aren’t much of an issue (2.98 BB/9 over the last three years, taking out intentionals) but his declining ground ball rate (51.5% grounders in 2008, 42.9% in 2009, 39.9% in 2010) and increasing homerun rate (0.53 HR/9 in 2009, 0.63 in 2009, 1.01 in 2010) are.
Jurrjens is under control for three more seasons as an arbitration eligible player, though his peripheral stats scare me a bit. Swisher for Jurrjens would be pretty fair in terms of value (the Yanks would probably have to kick in someone like Nunez, who you suggested), but I’d rather keep Swish than trade him for a guy that won’t be much more than a mid-rotation arm for the Yanks, assuming he stays healthy. With Crawford off the market (this question was sent in before Crawford signed), trading Swish (or any outfielder for that matter) opens a rather gaping hole.
Matt asks: Hey huge fan of the site read it everyday several times a day, you guys are great. I have an idea for a post. The case to bring back Damon?
I think everyone here knows we’ve moved on from Damon even though we full appreciate his service to the Yankee cause. He followed up great 2009 season (.376 wOBA, 3.3 fWAR) with a decidedly average one in 2010 (.340 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR), and it wasn’t just Detroit’s ballpark either. His wOBA at Comerica (.350) far exceeded his wOBA on the road (.330). For argument’s sake, let’s make a case for a reunion with Johnny.
Although Damon’s offense dropped off this season, he still got on base at a .355 clip and stole double digit bases. Even though Comerica didn’t hurt him much, moving back into Yankee Stadium would probably help get him back into double digit homers as well. Given Brett Gardner‘s recent wrist surgery and the chance that it could negatively impact him at least at the outset of next season, Damon would give the team some leftfield insurance and overall depth in general. If he came back, Jorge Posada would have to be the everyday catcher because you want both in the lineup. Playing one or the other defeats the purpose. That would allow them to be a bit more patient with Montero should they need to be.
Johnny can’t be looking for much money after making $8M in 2010, so $4-5M should get it done. Basically Russell Martin money. There’s certainly a case for bringing Damon back, but given the team’s needs, I don’t see much of a fit going forward.
Kevin asks: If you had to guess right now, Robinson Cano will have how many hits when he retires?
He’s at 1,075 right now, less than two months after his 28th birthday. Derek Jeter, for comparison, was sitting on close to 1,400 hits when he was a same age. I don’t think Robbie will reach 3,000 hits simply because the odds are greatly stacked against him. He’s just too far away and middle infielders tend to breakdown rapidly and without warning in the mid-30’s.
I don’t see why Cano can’t maintain a 200 hits a year pace for the next three seasons before falling off to say, 180 for two years then 160 or so for three years. That would leave him right around 2,500, still a ridiculous total, more than Frank Thomas, Chipper Jones, and Mickey Mantle. Want an exact number? I’ll say … 2,517.
When the Yankees wined and dined then-free agent outfield Carl Crawford on Tuesday night, most assumed that he was their Plan B to Cliff Lee and the team was just doing its due diligence. As it turns out, it was nothing more than a bluff. The Yankees never made an offer to Crawford, and Brian Cashman conceded to Jack Curry that they had no interest in signing him. It was all designed to jack up the price for whoever signed him, though we’ll never know if it actually worked.
So what’s the narrative here? I guess there’s two. If you’re a Cashman-backer, you think it was a sweet like move. If you’re a Cashman-hater, you think he’s just trying to save face after Crawford landed in Boston. What side do you fall on?
Now that the baseball world has debated Orlando and everyone is back at home, the Yankees are going to wait. For another day or two or three, Cliff Lee will take center stage as team executives in the Bronx and Arlington wait for the left to make his move. He has a new offer in hand from the Rangers and is now at the point where he must make a decision. Solicit a round of final offers; pick a team.
In an off-season filled with “reality potions” and other zingers, Brian Cashman isn’t disappointing anyone. I don’t envy him his job. If the Yanks win, detractors say it’s because Cashman just signs the checks. If the Yanks lose, it’s his fault they fell two wins short of the World Series. At least he has a sense of humor about himself.
In Orlando this week, Cashman spoke to the gaggle of reporters, and his quotes were blunt and even witty. He started these moments of honesty during the Derek Jeter saga. “Iconic off-the-field value doesn’t translate in my world,” he said.
And what exactly is his world? “I know my title is general manager,” he said this week, “but I consider myself the director of spending of the New York Yankees. I don’t make it. I spend it.”
As for his current situation, he too had a witty remark for it. It is, he said, like “Hannibal Lecter in a straightjacket. Waiting on this Cliff Lee thing, it’s kind of restricting my movements a little bit.”
When pushed for explanation by reporters this morning, he offered up one that rings true. “I wouldn’t say hostage,” he said. “It’s just you have to wait. He’s a premiere free agent and so he’s worth waiting for. So somebody will be happy and somebody will be disappointed. I’d rather be the happy one than the disappointed one. But either way, life will go on so we’ll let the process play out.”
Life will go on, and the process will play out. Many Yankee fans who comment here, who spend their days on Twitter, who call into Michael Kay’s and Mike Francesa’s radio shows, think life will not go on if Cliff Lee re-signs with the Rangers. But it will because the Yankees keep their hand in every pot. They might be hesitant to throw Zack Greinke into the New York mix, but Plan B exists. It’s out there; it’s in the works.
Cashman spoke, in general terms, about that aspect of his job as well. “Sometimes it” — meaning the team’s plans and involvement with other free agents — “could change altogether. Sometimes it could get to the point where it doesn’t make sense. It goes both ways,” Cashman said. “There’s a period of time where certain things make sense, and then sometimes those things become out of reach and don’t make sense, because of the market. There’s an ebb and flow to this stuff every year. We’ve had many a players we’ve had interest in but not at the levels that they were commanding.”
That last line shows you what a general manager should be doing. The Yankees know they could use some help behind the plate; they know they need another southpaw reliever; they know their starting rotation is perilously weak. But they also know that the outfield can be very good without a long-term commitment, and they know what chits they have to trade. It’s frustrating to see the Cliff Lee happenings go down so slowly, but it’s all part of the plan.
So check it out. CC Sabathia hit up Madison Square Garden last night to catch the Knicks down the Raptors, and he wound up on the Boost Mobile Celebrity Row video segment of MSG’s broadcast. The first question Jill Marting asked was about the opt out. “Big news for you,” she said. “You decided not to opt out of your contract. Tell us why?”
CC responded: “I signed up for seven years, and it’s a good organization. We have a chance to win a championship every year. I think that was an easy decision.”
At face value, I’m inclined to believe Sabathia. He hasn’t said that he intends not to opt out; he seems to be saying that he flat-out isn’t opting out. If he is true to his word, CC would become the first big-name player to receive an opt-out and not exercise it. J.D. Drew, A.J. Burnett and Alex Rodriguez all cashed in their opt-out clauses, and if Cliff Lee is on the verge of a seven-year deal, CC would be sacrificing money and long-term job security if he foregoes the opt-out. It’s still unclear, as Joe said yesterday, if CC is truly saying much of anything.
Later on during the interview, CC said he’s not going to Nick Swisher‘s wedding to Joanna Garcia this weekend because he can’t get a babysitter to watch his four kids. His mother, he said, wouldn’t fly out to do it. So take that at face value too. The opt-out doesn’t come due until the end of the 2011 season, and I’d be shocked if CC doesn’t use to get more years, more money or both from the Yanks.
A hat tip to @StadiumInsider on Twitter for tracking down this video clip.
The 2010 Winter Meetings are officially closed for business, and Joe and I are currently on our way back home. We want to take a second to thank everyone we came into contact this week, both new acquaintances and old friends.
The New York writers were welcoming and helpful as always, especially Erik Boland, Chad Jennings, Andrew Marchand, and Marc Carig. Jack Curry was awesome as well. Then there’s the FanGraphs crew (Dave Cameron, Eno Sarris, and the dark overlord Dave Appelman who bought us not one but two amazing dinners), the ESPN gang (Amanda Rykoff, Keith Law, Jason Collette, Tommy Rancel), and then a laundry list of others (in no particular order): Craig Calcaterra (NBC), Maury Brown (Biz of Baseball), Andrew Johnson (AOL FanHouse), Alex Speier (WEEI), Eric Hahmann (DRays Bay), Michael Fishman (Yanks’ director of quantitative analysis), the dude Glen that we met eating lunch that was part of the Texas Rangers ownership group, the other guy whose name I can’t remember that was wearing a 2000 Yankees World Series ring and now coaches in the Diamondbacks system that we met having drinks, Jayson Werth who we rode the elevator with minutes before his press conference but didn’t talk to because his family was with him, and the staff at both The Dolphin and Yacht Club resorts. My only regret is not eating more of those undercooked chocolate chip cookies. There’s a good chance I’ve forgotten someone, but I apologize if I did. We’ll be at next year’s meetings in Dallas, which will hopefully be just as awesome.
Oh, and of course, we can’t forget the readers. Thanks for the great although sometimes maddening week. As a reward, I present to you this open thread. The Isles, Rangers, and Nets are all in action, plus you’ve got the Colts and Titans on the NFL Network. Talk about whatever your heart desires, just be cool about it.