2015 Payroll Breakdown: Part Three

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

We’re officially in the dog days of the offseason. All of the top free agents other than James Shields have signed, all of the top trade candidates have been traded, and there’s really nothing left to do other than count down the days until Spring Training. It would be a surprise if the Yankees made another notable move this winter, meaning something more than a minor trade or handing out a minor league contract.

Since our last payroll breakdown in mid-December, the Yankees have made five trades — including three that directly impacted the projected Opening Day roster — and signed one big league free agent as well as all of their arbitration-eligible players. They also did, in fact, pass on Max Scherzer. The 2015 payroll situation has both changed and stayed the same since our last update — the Yankees shuffled money around, they didn’t really cut any or take any on. Here’s an update on where the 2015 payroll sits.

UNDER CONTRACT (21 players signed for $216.535M)
Players: Alex Rodriguez ($27.5M), CC Sabathia ($24.4M), Mark Teixeira ($22.5M), Masahiro Tanaka ($22.14M), Jacoby Ellsbury ($21.86M), Brian McCann ($17M), Carlos Beltran ($15M), Brett Gardner ($13M), Chase Headley ($13M), Andrew Miller ($9M), Chris Capuano ($5M), Stephen Drew ($5M), Garrett Jones ($5M), Nathan Eovaldi ($3.3M), Ivan Nova ($3.3M), Chris Young ($2.5M), Michael Pineda ($2.1M), Brendan Ryan ($1.67M), Esmil Rogers ($1.48M), David Carpenter ($1.275M), Jose DePaula ($510k)

As a reminder, those numbers are luxury tax “hits,” not necessarily the player’s actual take home salary for the coming season. The Yankees seems to operate with the luxury tax payroll in mind — most of their multi-year contracts are paid out according to average annual value anyway — because I guess that’s the most important number to them. It determines how much extra they have to pay at the end of the season.

Anyway, Drew, Jones, Eovaldi, and Carpenter are all new additions since our last payroll update. Martin Prado, David Phelps, and Shawn Kelley have all been traded away. At the time of the last update, the Yankees had 16 players under contract plus four arbitration-eligible players who combined for $215.76M in tax hits. So all those trades last month resulted in one extra player and less than a million of extra payroll. Like I said, they just shuffled the money around.

DePaula signed a split contract, meaning he will earn one salary in MLB ($510k) and another in the minors ($175k). That’s standard for players in their pre-arbitration years. I included him in this section because one way or another, the Yankees are going to pay someone that sort of salary to fill out the last spot in the bullpen. It’ll probably be a revolving door of pitchers, all at that salary level. DePaula’s a placeholder, essentially.

Those 21 players listed above account for 20 Opening Day roster spots since Nova is going to start the season on the disabled list. The Yankees ended last season with a $225.6M payroll for luxury tax purposes and our estimate is already at $216.535M this year, for a little more than half the 40-man roster too.

PRE-ARBITRATION (19 players)
Players: Tyler Austin, Dellin Betances, Danny Burawa, Ramon Flores, Domingo German, Didi Gregorius, Chris Martin, Bryan Mitchell, John Ryan Murphy, Branden Pinder, Jose Pirela, Jose Ramirez, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, Chase Whitley, Mason Williams, Justin Wilson

Like I said, these players will earn one salary in MLB and another in the minors. Betances, Gregorius, Murphy, Warren, and Wilson are all projected to be on the Opening Day roster and will earn something close to the league minimum. (Betances figures to make the most of this group next year because he has an All-Star Game to his credit.) Estimating them a $550,000 each brings us to $219.285M for 26 of the 40-man roster spots.

The other 14 pre-arbitration players are going to be in the minors, at least for part of the season. Some will come up because they perform well or there are injuries. There’s no real way to predict their playing time. I’ve seen salary estimates for the non-MLB roster portion of the 40-man roster range anywhere from $2M to $5M. I used $2M in our last payroll breakdown but I think the higher end of that range might be more appropriate because of the team’s injury risk in the rotation, at first base, right field, and DH. Guys like Mitchell, Pirela, and Whitley could wind up spending a lot of time with the Yankees this summer. Using the $5M, we’re at $224.285M for the full 40-man roster.

MISCELLANY ($3M guaranteed and up to $15.325M total)
Players: A-Rod ($6M bonus with six more homers), Prado ($3M to Marlins), Chris Young ($3.825M in incentives), Stephen Drew ($1.5M in incentives), Chase Headley ($1M in incentives)

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Bonuses and incentives do count towards the luxury tax, so while I’m not going to include them in our little running estimate, we do have to be aware of them. A-Rod needs six more dingers to get that $6M bonus, and the incentives for Young, Drew, and Headley are all based on plate appearances. Chances are at least some of that bonus money will be paid out.

The Yankees sent the Marlins money to help cover Prado’s contract as part of the Eovaldi trade — they’re sending Miami $3M this year and another $3M next year. That makes it nice and easy for luxury tax purposes. Unlike the incentives, that $3M is definitely going to the Marlins in 2015. It’s on the books. So our 40-man roster estimate jumps up to $227.285M. The Yankees closed the 2014 season with a $225.6M payroll for luxury tax purposes, for reference.

We’re not done though. Every team has to contribute $12M or so towards player benefits and that counts against the luxury tax, so the Yankees are really at $239.285M with their luxury tax payroll. The Yankees started last season with a payroll right around $200M for luxury tax purposes and it climbed to $225.6M by the end of the year thanks to the addition of Drew, Headley, Prado, and Brandon McCarthy. The team is starting this coming season at $239.285M.

So, in a nutshell, payroll is up approximately $40M from Opening Day last year. Most of that is because of A-Rod, whose massive salary comes back on the books now that his suspension ended. The Yankees also added Headley for the full season. Those two account for the extra payroll all by themselves, pretty much. Eovaldi is more expensive than Shane Greene, but Carpenter and Wilson are cheaper than Kelley and Matt Thornton. The non-A-Rod/Headley portion of the roster more or less balances out.

CURRENT 25-MAN ROSTER
The Yankees seem to be done with their offseason moves but I would never rule anything out. Hal Steinbrenner could wake up tomorrow and decide the team just has to have James Shields, for example. I don’t expect that to happen, but would anyone really be surprised if it did? No. So, with that perpetual caveat in mind, here is the projected 25-man Opening Day roster:

Catcher Infielders Outfielders Rotation Bullpen
McCann 1B Teixeira LF Gardner Sabathia Betances
2B Drew CF Ellsbury Tanaka Miller
DH SS Gregorius RF Beltran Pineda Warren
A-Rod! 3B Headley Eovaldi Carpenter
Capuano Wilson
BENCH DISABLED LIST Rogers
C Murphy OF Young Nova ?
IF Ryan UTIL Jones

The only real open spot is that final bullpen spot, which could go to DePaula or one of many other in-house options. Shreve, Burawa, Ramirez, Whitley, Jacob Lindgren … the Yankees have no shortage of cheap candidates to fill out the bullpen. I suppose Romine could beat out Murphy for the backup catcher’s job, but that would be unexpected. It wouldn’t change the payroll equation much anyway. I do expect the Yankees to keep Ryan since he can legitimately play short and that’s a good skill to have.

The Yankees set a franchise payroll record during the 2013 season, when they finished the year with a $237.012M payroll for luxury tax purposes. The 2015 team is starting at just about that number and payroll will inevitably climb higher due to call-ups and midseason acquisitions. There are only two ways the Yankees could realistically shed a significant amount of money this year: they could trade the very desirable Brett Gardner, or A-Rod could get suspended again. That’s pretty much it.

Although they are going to set a payroll record this year, the Yankees have not been increasing payroll as much as the rest of the league in recent years. Here’s a real quick and dirty graph showing the team’s payroll (in millions, duh) and the average payroll of the other 29 teams since the 2000 season (payroll data from Baseball Cube):

2000-14 NYY vs. MLB payroll

New York’s payroll shot up from 2000-04 and has held steady since 2005 with the exception of 2012, when the team lost so many players to injury and had to cover. The 2015 payroll will be the team’s second time pushing $230M+ in the last three years, so is this the start of another 2000-04-esque spike, or just a blip? Hal has strongly indicated the team will try to get under the luxury tax threshold when it presumably rises for the 2017 season, after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. That leads me to believe it’s just a blip.

Either way, blip or not, the Yankees will trot out a franchise record payroll this coming season and it might not be enough to get them back to the postseason. I’m not at all convinced one (1) Max Scherzer would have been enough to do the trick either. The Yankees have a lot really bad money on the books and it’s hamstringing them. It’s not just the money either, it’s the roster spots. They’re tied to these players. Until some of these bad contracts start expiring in two years, the team might not be major players for big name free agents at all.

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Last week we learned new shortstop Didi Gregorius will wear No. 18 next season, and now I’ve got another new guy number to pass along. Well, potential new number. According to Jack Curry, Andrew Miller has requested No. 48, which seems to be the designated “top lefty out of the bullpen” number. Matt Thornton and Josh Outman wore the number last year, and before that it was Boone Logan‘s. Miller wore No. 48 with the Orioles, No. 30 with the Red Sox, and No. 23 with the Marlins.

Here’s the open thread for the night. The (hockey) Rangers are the only local team playing tonight, and there’s the usual slate of college basketball. Talk about those guys or anything else right here.

Yankees send Gonzalez Germen to Rangers for cash

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The Yankees have traded right-hander Gonzalez Germen to the Rangers for cash, the club announced. He was designated for assignment last week when the team acquired Chris Martin for the Rockies. I’m guessing the amount of cash they’re getting from Texas is equal to whatever they sent to Colorado for Martin.

Germen, 27, was picked up from the Mets (for cash!) last month. The Yankees acquired him because they felt he was an upgrade over Preston Claiborne, who was designated for assignment and lost on waivers to the Marlins. They acquired Martin last week because they felt he was an upgrade over Germen. The circle of fringe reliever life.

Over the last two seasons, Germen had a 4.31 ERA (4.15 FIP) with good strikeout (8.91 K/9 and 22.7 K%) and meh walk (4.18 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%) rates in 64.2 relief innings for the Mets. As friend of RAB Eno Sarris likes to point out, Gonzalez’s changeup has the best swing-and-miss rate of any changeup in all of baseball last season (32.7%).

Germen joins fellow right-hander Dan Otero and Brian Schlitter as relievers who were both acquired and let go by the Yankees in one offseason in recent years. None of those three guys ever pitched in pinstripes. Not even in Spring Training. So long, Gonzalez.

Badler: Yankees held private workout for Yoan Moncada

(Bay Area Sports Guy)
(Bay Area Sports Guy)

According to Ben Balder, the Yankees recently held a private workout for free agent Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada. It’s unclear when the workout was held, but it has already happened. Moncada is in the process of showcasing himself for teams and Badler says he’s already had a private workout for the Giants as well.

Moncada, 19, is the latest prized free agent to come out of Cuba, and all reports indicate he is a potential star with five-tool ability. The Yankees have brought several other Cuban players in for private workouts, including Rusney Castillo and Aledmys Diaz last year, so this isn’t unusual at all. Getting an up close look at the player is pretty standard.

Badler recently wrote that, once signed, Moncada would slot in as one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball with a good chance of being considered a top 15 or even top ten prospect. Here’s more on the situation from Badler:

From conversations with several industry sources, the Yankees are one of the frontrunners to sign Moncada, who has residency in Guatemala and is a free agent, though Major League Baseball won’t let him sign until he receives a specific unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). While the young Latin American talent in the organization is promising, the Yankees are light on young, impact position players. Moncada, a 19-year-old switch-hitter who would likely slot it at second or third base, would immediately change that, and slot in as the Yankees’ top prospect if he ended up signing with them.

Since the Yankees blew their international spending pool out of the water last summer, they will not be able to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods. That won’t be enough to sign Moncada, who is expected to command a $30M to $40M bonus. (Whichever team signs him would then be taxed 100% for exceeding their pool).

For the Yankees to have a shot at landing Moncada, he needs to be unblocked by the OFAC before the end of the current signing period of June 15th. Actually, he needs to sign by that date, so he needs to be unblocked well before that so the two sides have time to negotiate. MLB has already declared Moncada a free agent, so they’ve done their part. This is all out of the Yankees’ hands. They’re waiting on the government to give him the okay.

The hype around these Cuban players has gotten out of control these last few years, though, by all accounts, Moncada is a future cornerstone player along the lines of Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, not a complementary player (Yoenis Cespedes or Alexei Ramirez) or worse (Dayan Viciedo). Given his age and potential, the Yankees should clearly be serious about signing him. It’s just a question of whether he’ll be cleared by the OFAC in time.

Ranking the 40-Man Roster: Nos. 26-31

Over these next two weeks, we’re going to rank and analyze every player on the Yankees’ 40-man roster — based on their short and long-term importance to the team — and you’re going to disagree with our rankings. We’ve already covered Nos. 32-40.

Ramirez. (Presswire)
Ramirez. (Presswire)

Like every other team, the Yankees have several spots on their 40-man roster dedicated to prospects who may or may not provide immediate help. Those are the players who have been protected from the Rule 5 Draft despite not yet being MLB ready. Not all of them are top prospects, mind you, but they are young players with some projected future utility the club didn’t want to risk losing.

Our 40-man roster ranking series continues today with Nos. 26-31, spots that feature a collection of those young prospects who might be able to help the Yankees in some capacity this coming season. But, more than anything, they’re looked at as potential future pieces down the road. Guys who can help more in 2016 or 2017 than 2015. To the next set of rankings …

No. 31: Danny Burawa

2015 Role: An up-and-down bullpen arm who is behind several others on the call-up depth chart. Burawa was passed over in last year’s Rule 5 Draft and actually had to be briefly demoted to Double-A Trenton last year after a rough start to the season with Triple-A Scranton (5.95 ERA and 3.52 FIP). He’s ticketed for a return to the RailRiders to start 2015.

Long-Term Role: Burawa, 26, has some of the nastiest stuff in the organization. His fastball regularly sits in the upper-90s with run in on righties, and his hard mid-to-upper-80s slider is a swing-and-miss pitch at its best. He’ll also throw a changeup but it isn’t a key pitch for him out of the bullpen. Burawa is held back by his below-average control — 5.17 BB/9 and 13.2 BB% in Double-A and Triple-A from 2013-14 — and may never be a late-inning reliever because of that, though he has vicious stuff and can be a factor in middle relief for multiple years down the road.

No. 30: Branden Pinder

2015 Role: Another up-and-down bullpen arm who I think is ahead of Burawa on the depth chart. The soon-to-be 26-year-old Pinder was added to the 40-man this offseason, his first year of Rule 5 Draft eligibility, and took a nice step forward with his control last summer, going from a 9.0 BB% from 2012-13 to a 5.9 BB% in 2014. He’s another guy who will return to Triple-A Scranton to start the year, though I expect to see him in MLB at some point in 2015. Before September call-ups, I mean.

Long-Term Role: Pinder doesn’t have the same overwhelming stuff as Burawa but he isn’t going out there with a fastball you can catch with your teeth either. He sits 93-95 mph with his four-seamer and is able to vary the break on his low-80s slider, sometimes throwing a short slider (almost like a cutter) and other times throwing a sweepy slider that frisbees out of the zone. It’s a classic boring middle relief profile but Pinder is a very high-probability future big leaguer.

No. 29: Jose Ramirez

2015 Role: Yet another up-and-down bullpen arm, though this one has MLB experience. Ramirez made his big league debut last season (5.40 ERA and 6.43 FIP in ten whole innings) before going back to Triple-A and, unfortunately, getting hurt. The getting hurt part has become an annual thing for him. Ramirez will compete for the last bullpen spot in camp, and if he doesn’t win it, he’ll return to Triple-A and be among the first called up when a fresh arm is inevitably needed.

Long-Term Role: Ramirez is two years younger than Burawa, one year younger than Pinder, and out-stuffs both of them. He has a mid-to-upper-90s fastball with movement, a sharp slider, and a knockout changeup he uses against both lefties and righties. On his absolute best days, Ramirez goes to the mound with three swing-and-miss pitches. The stuff is there for future late-inning work.

The only question is whether Ramirez will stay healthy enough to reach that ceiling. The Yankees moved him to the bullpen full-time last year because he kept getting hurt as a starter — arm injuries too, shoulder and elbow — and he still got hurt as a reliever. Ramirez seems very much like a “let’s get something out of him before his arm gives out completely” type of pitcher, and whatever they get out of him could be very good based on the quality of his stuff.

No. 28: Jose Pirela

Pirela. (Presswire)
Pirela. (Presswire)

2015 Role: Versatile utility player who will be first in line for a bench spot if someone gets hurt in Spring Training. (As I said yesterday, I don’t think the Yankees are going to cut Brendan Ryan just because.) Pirela is the very poor man’s Martin Prado — he has a contact-oriented swing and can play second base and left field. (Prado was already a fourth year big leaguer by time he was Pirela’s age (25), hence the very poor man’s part.)

Pirela has torn up Double-A and Triple-A the last three seasons — .290/.353/.432 (118 wRC+) with a 7.9% walk rate and a 12.5% strikeout rate — and his versatility gives the Yankees some options. He can step in to help out in case of injury, back up multiple positions, or be the light half of a platoon. It’s the kind of player just about every manager loves to have … and fans tend to overrate. I don’t know why, but versatility has that effect.

Long-Term Role: Despite the minor league numbers, I’m not sold on Pirela as an everyday player at the big league level — I think he’s more likely to be another Eduardo Nunez than Prado lite — but he’s useful and flexible. There is plenty of room for a guy like that on the bench and in the organization in both 2015 and for years to come. In the best case scenario, Pirela becomes the player many people believed Chone Figgins was, the guy who plays a different position everyday (to rest everyone else) and produces. More than likely though, he’ll be a bench guy while in his cheap pre-arbitration years.

No. 27: Ramon Flores

2015 Role: With Eury Perez now gone, Flores is the de facto fifth outfielder who will be called up in case of injury. Well, I guess sixth outfielder when you include Pirela. The 22-year-old Flores had a .247/.339/.443 (116 wRC+) line with seven homers in 63 games with the RailRiders last season — he hit eight homers in 141 games in 2013 — before a freak ankle injury effectively ended his season on the first day of June. Chances are he would have been a September call-up had he stayed healthy.

Long-Term Role: Carlos Beltran is perpetually on the verge of injury and/or a permanent shift to DH, and, as a left-handed hitter, Flores has a clear path to getting regular at-bats as at least a platoon right fielder in the near future. The Yankees never did give Zoilo Almonte — a switch-hitter who was better against righties with more raw power and more stolen base ability than Flores — a shot in a similar role whenever the opportunity arose these last few seasons, so there’s no guarantee Flores will get a look. That is more or less his long-term outlook: lefty platoon bat in a corner outfield spot.

Williams. (Scott Iskowitz/Getty)
Williams. (Scott Iskowitz/Getty)

No. 26: Mason Williams

2015 Role: For the big league team, none. Williams has close to zero chance of helping the MLB team this coming season as anything more than a defensive replacement when rosters expand in September. He was added to the 40-man roster this offseason only because he is a former top prospect who was Rule 5 Draft eligible. Williams has hit .236/.298/.319 (74 wRC+) in over 1,200 plate appearances at High-A and Double-A the last two years. He has no business being considered for a 2015 role at the big league level.

Long-Term Role: Once upon a time, Williams had the potential to be a Jacoby Ellsbury type of player. A leadoff hitter with on-base ability, speed, and elite center field defense. That long-term outlook has changed considerably the last two years and a lot of has to do with makeup. Multiple reports say Williams has been insubordinate and plays with an utter lack of energy. He’s failing as a prospect, and it is definitely not due to a lack of physical talent.

Williams right now has no long-term role with the team. The Yankees are hoping he will get his career on track and improve going forward — perhaps the 40-man spot will serve as motivation — and if that happens, their intention may be to flip him in a trade as soon as possible. The club has been emphasizing strong makeup and work ethic for years and Williams has shown zero of that so far, leading me to believe he’s more likely to be dealt as soon as he rebuilds a modicum of trade value rather than be given a real big league opportunity.

Coming Wednesday: Nos. 20-25. Three veteran(-ish) big leaguers and three youngsters more important for the future than the present.

Thoughts after the Nationals sign Max Scherzer

At least he's out of the AL. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
At least he’s out of the AL. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Late Sunday night, the Nationals agreed to a seven-year contract reportedly worth $210M with Max Scherzer. Half the money is deferred too — it’s basically a seven-year, $105M contract from 2015-21 plus another seven-year, $105M contract from 2022-28, when Scherzer will presumably be no longer with the team. (Nats owner Ted Lerner is 89, so the second 7/105 deal will be the next owner’s problem.) The Yankees surely wanted to add someone of Scherzer’s caliber to their rotation but were unwilling to hand out another massive long-term contract. Anyway, I have thoughts.

1. One quick Nationals thought: I think they should keep all of their starters. At least for now. Unless someone blows them away with a trade offer for one of those guys, I think they should keep all of them, enjoy the dominant rotation, then look to trade an arm at the deadline to fill whatever needs arise at midseason. Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman aren’t the most durable players, for example. Washington could need an outfielder(s) and/or a first baseman come July. Scherzer’s not really going to improve the team’s regular season outlook — I had the Nats winning the NL East by double-digit games before the signing. They’re by far the best team in that division — so his real impact will come in October, when he’s starting postseason games instead of the unpredictable Gio Gonzalez. Simply put, this was a move designed to put the team over the top and into the World Series, not simply get them to the postseason.

2. Personally, I am in the minority that thinks the Yankees were wise to pass on Scherzer. Don’t get me wrong, I fully acknowledge he is an outstanding pitcher and would have improved the team’s chances to contend this coming season tremendously. Scherzer is the type of pitcher who changes the balance of power within a division. That said, signing Scherzer to paper over the injury risk of the team’s other $20M+ per year starters only keeps the Yankees on the same path, the path of relying on the “pay for the elite years up front and live with the ugly years on the back end” model that always seems to result in fewer elite years than expected. Scherzer will turn 31 in July, remember. CC Sabathia looked done at age 33. Roy Oswalt was done at 33. Justin Verlander appears to be cooked at age 32. Roy Halladay managed to remain elite through age 34 before it all fell apart. Ace Sucking Syndrome (ASS) is not fun. Guys like Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte, who remain productive well into their late-30s, are the exception, not the rule. Maybe Scherzer will be an exception too, but with so many bad contracts already on the books, adding another to the pile doesn’t make sense to me. The Yankees need to break the cycle of signing players to huge contracts to cover for the guys already signed to huge contracts who aren’t producing, and this process started when they let Robinson Cano walk last year. There’s a time and a place for contracts like that, and it’s when you are either a no-doubt contender or on the cusp of long-term contention looking to put yourself over the top. I don’t see the Yankees as either of those things right now. It’s short-term pain for (hopefully but not guaranteed!) long-term gain. Not refusing to spend money, just spending it better.

3. It is very clear the Yankees have emphasized future potential over past performance this offseason. There have been some exceptions (Chase Headley, most notably), but they’ve gotten younger this winter at shortstop, in the rotation, and in the bullpen. This seems like something Brian Cashman has wanted to do for a while now. So, if the Yankees were going to sign Scherzer, I think it would have come directly from ownership, which is the level at which Scott Boras operates. He usually goes right over the GM’s head and to the owner for his top free agent clients. Boras did it when Rafael Soriano signed with the Yankees, when Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers, and countless other times. Based on their moves, the Yankees’ plan this offseason was to get younger and more flexible. Scherzer accomplishes neither of those things.

4. It goes without saying that if the Nationals do the look to trade one of their starters in the wake of the Scherzer signing, the Yankees should have interest. In literally all of them. Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark … any one of them would help New York in the big way. Ideally the Yankees would get someone with more than one year of team control — Zimmermann and Fister are free agents after the 2015 season — meaning Strasburg would be the real prize. He’s an “empty the farm system” guy and won’t become a free agent until after 2016, though he is a Boras client and will almost certainly test free agency in two years. Forget about a long-term extension. Zimmermann is another “empty the farm system” type of trade target, and he’s probably looking at a Scherzer-esque contract on the open market next winter, so why would the Yankees trade a boatload of prospects and then extend him in one year when they could have just signed Scherzer for similar dollars right now and kept the prospects? I’ve never been a big Gio guy because I’ve always felt he’s one start away from going full blown 2010-11 A.J. Burnett. Roark is a late bloomer (he’s 28 already) and at the absolute peak of his trade value. He’d help the Yankees but I’m not sure you could count on getting the 2014 version going forward.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)
(Christian Petersen/Getty)

5. In my opinion, the best (and most realistic?) trade fit is Fister, who the Yankees drafted once upon a time (sixth round in 2005) and presumably still has supporters in the organization. The Yankees love tall pitchers and he’s 6-foot-8, but that’s only a tiny little part of the reason he makes sense. Fister is both excellent — he ranked 14th among all pitchers with 11.9 bWAR from 2012-14, essentially tied with the totally awesome Hiroki Kuroda (12.0) — and seems destined for a much smaller contract than Zimmermann next offseason because he’s two years older and doesn’t have the same name value. He could end up with something similar to whatever James Shields gets, only a few million less per year. The Nationals are reportedly seeking prospects who project to be impact bats, and they do need a long-term catcher, so maybe Gary Sanchez can be the centerpiece in a Fister trade? Washington also needs bullpen help, so Sanchez and a reliever (Jose Ramirez? Chasen Shreve?) for Fister? I’d be down for that. (Which means it’s not enough and the Nats would say no.) I know Fister has been traded for nothing packages twice already — he’s been traded for four players (Mariners to Tigers) and three players (Tigers to Nats), and the best of those seven players is Charlie friggin’ Furbush — but I’m not counting on it happening three times. Get Fister for a year for much less than it would take to land Zimmermann, enjoy a ton of above-average innings in 2015, then either get a draft pick or re-sign him to a contract worth less than nine figures next offseason. I’d be all for it.

6. Scherzer’s contract is the largest ever given to a free agent pitcher, breaking the record previously held by Sabathia. (Clayton Kershaw’s pitcher record seven-year, $215M contract was an extension.) The Yankees gave Sabathia, who was going to turn 29 that July and had racked up 17.7 bWAR in the three years prior to free agency, a seven-year contract worth $161M during the 2008-09 offseason. Scherzer will turn 31 in July, compiled 16.9 bWAR the last three years, and received seven years and $210M this offseason. I don’t really have a point to add, I just think the general market inflation and the Boras factor are interesting. Sabathia back then was a much more desirable free agent target than Scherzer was this offseason. By a decent margin too.

Monday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks are playing right now, the Devils are playing later tonight, and there are a handful of college basketball games as well. That’s it. Talk about whatever you want right here.