Curry: Yankees, Nova avoid arbitration with $4.1M deal

(Getty)
(Getty)

The Yankees and Ivan Nova have agreed to a non-guaranteed one-year contract to avoid arbitration, the team announced. Jack Curry says the deal is worth $4.1M and includes performance bonuses. Nova filed for $4.6M in arbitration while the Yankees countered with $3.8M. They settled a bit below the midpoint. MLBTR projected $4.4M.

Nova, 29, missed most of the first half of last season as he worked his way back from Tommy John surgery. He had a 5.07 ERA (4.87 FIP) in 17 starts and 94 innings after returning, and at one point he was demoted to the bullpen, though he never did actually make a relief appearance because Masahiro Tanaka‘s hamstring forced Nova back into the rotation.

The Yankees reportedly listened to trade offers for Nova this offseason, but obviously didn’t find anything to their liking. His trade value isn’t all that high due to the poor performance and recent Tommy John surgery. I think Nova is more valuable to the Yankees as a depth arm than anything they could realistically acquire in a trade.

Right now Nova is the team’s sixth starter, and barring injury, it’s hard to see how he beats out any of the starting five for a rotation spot in camp. There’s always a chance Nova will improve as he gets further away from elbow reconstruction, and hey, maybe he’ll pitch his way into qualifying offer territory. Either way, I’m sure Nova will make a bunch of starts in 2016. The sixth starter is always needed.

With Nova signed, New York’s only unsigned arbitration-eligible player is Aroldis Chapman. He filed for $13.1M and the team countered with $9M, which seems way too low. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chapman took the Yankees to a hearing over that. His case seems pretty good. Arbitration hearings will take place throughout February.

Yankees sign Pineda and Ackley; file arbitration figures with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova

Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)
Didi is arbitration-eligible for the first time. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

Original Post (12:00pm ET): Today is an important day on the offseason calendar. The deadline for teams and their arbitration-eligible players to file salary figures for the 2016 season is 1pm ET, which is a bit earlier than previous years, I believe. A total of 156 players are eligible for arbitration this winter, though many have agreed to a new contracts already.

The Yankees have six players up for arbitration this offseason, including some pretty important members of the team. Here are the six with their projected 2016 salaries, via MLBTR:

Dustin Ackley: $3.1M (second time through arbitration)
Aroldis Chapman: $12.9M (third)
Nathan Eovaldi: $5.7M (second)
Didi Gregorius: $2.1M (first of four as a Super Two)
Ivan Nova: $4.4M (third)
Michael Pineda: $4.6M (second)

The Yankees have not been to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang during the 2007-08 offseason. Since then they’ve signed all of their eligible players prior to the filing deadline. I assume that will be the case again this year, though who knows. We’ll find out soon enough.

The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size even after filing salary figures. They can hammer out a new deal at any point, even after a hearing if they choose. Hearings will take place throughout February and arbitration is an ugly process. The team details the player’s shortcomings in an effort to keep his salary down. Not pleasant for anyone involved. It’s no mystery why everyone involved tries to avoid a hearing.

We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related arbitration news right here, assuming nothing crazy happens. Someone could sign a multi-year extension but history suggests the Yankees won’t do that. Check back for updates throughout the day. The deadline is 1pm ET, but news can and probably will trickle in throughout the afternoon.

Update (3:00pm ET): Yankees sign Pineda for $4.3M (Jeff Passan)

Pineda gets a nice $2.2M raise after pitching to a 4.37 ERA (3.34 FIP) last season. Yeah, he missed all that time following shoulder surgery from 2012-13, but he was an All-Star back in 2011 and that matters in arbitration. That said, a $4.3M salary for a starter going through arbitration for the second time is relatively small. All the lost time definitely cost Pineda some cash. He can’t become a free agent until after 2017.

Update (3:26pm ET): Yankees sign Ackley for $3.2M (Chad Jennings)

Ackley made $2.6M last season, so his raise wasn’t very big. He is in a bit of an interesting situation because the Mariners signed him to a five-year contract worth $7.5M out of the draft a few years back. Ackley earned $1.5M, $1.5M, and $1.7M in his three pre-arbitration years, not the league minimum, so his starting base salary in arbitration was higher than usual. He’s making more than he should be given his production. But still, $3.2M is peanuts in today’s MLB. Ackley is two years from free agency.

Update (3:28pm ET): Yankees will file with Chapman, Eovaldi, Gregorius, Nova (Jon Heyman)

In a bit of a surprise, the Yankees were unable to reach contract agreements with those four players prior to today’s filing deadline. No word on their filing figures yet, though those should come out soon enough. The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size, remember. Today was not a hard deadline for completing a deal.

Update (4:58pm ET): Chapman filed for $13.1M, Yankees for $9M (Jon Heyman)

First thought: Chapman should probably take the Yankees to a hearing. He made $8.05M last season. Would the arbitration panel really side with the Yankees and award him a raise of less than $1M after he saved 33 games with a 1.63 ERA (1.94 FIP) and 116 strikeouts in 66.1 innings in 2015? Seems really unlikely. The other third year arbitration-eligible closers (Kenley Jansen, Drew Storen, Mark Melancon) all received raises of at least $2.5M on Friday. I guess the Yankees think Chapman’s earning potential will be dragged down by the domestic violence incident.

Update (5:01pm ET): Gregorius filed for $2.525M, Yankees for $2.3M (Jon Heyman)

A gap of $225,000 is nothing. I imagine the Yankees and Gregorius will be able to hammer out a deal soon enough, perhaps somewhere around the midpoint of the two filing figures ($2.42M). Then again, the Yankees could take the “file-and-trial” stance that is becoming popular. That is, once the salary figures are filed, the team stops negotiating and goes to a hearing. Hopefully that’s not the case.

Keep in mind with Gregorius, his 2016 salary will affect his 2017-19 salaries as well. There’s a carryover effect from year-to-year. It’s not so much about saving $225,000 next year. That $225,000 can potentially grow into a few million bucks during Didi’s four arbitration years.

Update (5:19pm ET): Eovaldi filed for $6.3M, Yankees for $4.9M (Jon Heyman)

The midpoint of the two filing figures is $5.6M, just south of MLBTR’s projection. Remember, the arbitration process is very antiquated. If they do go to a hearing, Eovaldi’s representatives will surely emphasize his 14-3 record in 2015, and the fact he led the league in winning percentage (.824). The system rewards wins and winning percentage, the stuff we know doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the pitcher’s performance.

Update (6:58pm ET): Nova filed for $4.6M, Yankees for $3.8M (Jeff Passan)

Nova, who made $3.3M last summer, filed a salary number just north of MLBTR’s projection. The Yankees are a little under that, and really, an $800,000 gap is not huge. The team seems to offering a token “you picked up another year of service time, congrats” raise after Nova’s poor 2015 season. Even considering MLBTR’s projection, I can understand why the Yankees filed at $3.8M.

Chapman, five other Yankees file for salary arbitration

(Andy Lyons/Getty)
(Andy Lyons/Getty)

Prior to yesterday’s deadline, the six eligible Yankees filed for salary arbitration. The six: Dustin Ackley, Aroldis Chapman, Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda. A total of 156 players around the league filed for arbitration. Here’s the full list.

Filing for arbitration is nothing more than a formality, and I’m not even sure why the league requires players to do it anymore. Players no longer have to file for free agency. They just became free agents. At some point, maybe in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, players will just go to arbitration and not have to file. Whatevs.

The deadline for teams and eligible players to file salary arbitration figures is this Friday. I’m not sure what time exactly, but it’s usually in the late afternoon, at the end of the business day. The two sides can still negotiate a contract of any size after filing salary figures. Here are the 2016 salary projections from MLBTR:

Ackley: $3.1M (second time through arbitration)
Chapman: $12.9M (third)
Eovaldi: $5.7M (second)
Gregorius: $2.1M (first)
Nova: $4.4M (third)
Pineda: $4.6M (second)

The Yankees haven’t been to an arbitration hearing since beating Chien-Ming Wang back in 2008. Since then they’ve managed to sign all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to the filing deadline. There’s no reason to think that’ll change this year. Chances are those six will have new contracts by Friday.

Eovaldi and Pineda stand out as extension candidates given the team’s lack of controllable pitching beyond 2017, but there are reasons to pass too, namely the arm injuries they suffered in the second half last year. Gregorius is also an extension candidate, though he’s under team control through 2019 anyway, so no rush.

According to Cot’s, the Yankees currently have $190.6M in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2016. That covers only eleven players. The six arbitration-eligible players will bump that up to $223.4M for 17 players. Then the Yankees have to pay all the pre-arbitration guys (Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, etc.) plus the rest of the 40-man roster.

Add on the $12M or so each team has to pay towards player benefits and the Yankees are looking at an Opening Day payroll in the $240M range for luxury tax purposes. The team closed out last season with a $241.15M payroll.

Cafardo: Marlins have had interest in Ivan Nova

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

The Marlins have had interest in right-hander Ivan Nova this offseason, according to Nick Cafardo. Joe Frisaro says Miami is close to signing Edwin Jackson, but he mentions they still want to add more pitching. They’ve been connected to reclamation project guys like Jackson and Doug Fister. I’d say Nova qualifies as a reclamation project given his 2015 season.

Right now the Marlins have two open rotation spots behind Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, and Jarred Cosart. Jackson would presumably fill one. David Phelps, Adam Conley, Brad Hand, and Justin Nicolino are among the guys in line to compete for a rotation spot in camp. There’s an openings there and buying low on Nova or Fister or whoever makes a lot of sense for Miami.

Realistically, what can the Yankees get for Nova at this point? Probably not a whole lot. Martin Prado would be a wonderful fit for that last bench spot, but that’s not happening. No team is trading their starting third baseman for Nova. Derek Dietrich would be both an interesting lefty utility man and totally redundant with Dustin Ackley. (Dietrich can play third base though, which is not insignificant.)

Chances are the Marlins would be looking to trade prospects for Nova, and while prospects are cool, the Yankees are probably better off keeping Nova for depth than trading him for a few Grade-C minor leaguers. I do think there’s a chance Nova will perform better next season as he gets further away from elbow surgery, and if that happens, the Yankees could always look to move him at the deadline. Plus it’ll be good to have the depth given all the injury concerns in the starting five.

The Yankees have spent much of the offseason shopping (or at least gauging interest in) Nova, Brett Gardner, and Andrew Miller. Right now I think they’re going to end up hanging on to all three. Then again, I might feel differently next week, so who knows. I would be surprised if the Yankees went the rest of the offseason without doing anything though. They’re not done adding pieces.

Yankees lack reliability in the rotation, but not upside

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

So far this offseason the Yankees have worked to improve their lineup (Starlin Castro), their bench (Aaron Hicks), and their bullpen (Aroldis Chapman). They’ve been looking for rotation help all winter, particularly a young starter they can control beyond 2017, but so far they’ve come up empty. With another seven weeks until Spring Training, the Yankees still have time to find another starter.

At the moment, the Yankees do have six starters for five spots, so they have some depth. I’d call it warm body depth rather than quality depth, but depth is depth. And the Yankees are going to need that depth too, because no team gets through a season using only five starters these days. Heck, teams are lucky if they get through a season using only seven starters. That’s the nature of the beast.

The concern with the rotation is the dubious health of the incumbent starters. Every one of them except Luis Severino missed time with an injury last season. All of them except Severino and CC Sabathia had an arm injury. Masahiro Tanaka is coming off surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow and Michael Pineda still hasn’t made it through a full season in one piece in his four years with the Yankees.

“I think there’s depth there but there’s questions about health,” said Joe Girardi at the Winter Meetings. “You have Tanaka coming off a minor surgery — I guess you can say there’s no surgery that’s really minor when it’s to a pitcher’s arm — you have Michael coming back after throwing a lot of innings last year. (Ivan Nova) should be better a year removed from his surgery. I think until you see him throwing in Spring Training and throwing the ball like he’s capable of, you wonder a little bit.”

The health concerns with the rotation are legitimate. The Yankees don’t have anyone they can reasonably count on to stay healthy and take the ball every fifth day without incident. Yes, all pitchers are injury risks, but you can safely pencil guys like David Price and Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija in for 30 starts a year. They have the track record of durability. The Yankees don’t have anyone like that. At least not with Sabathia at this point of his career.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

What the Yankees do have, however, is a lot of upside in their rotation. I feel like this is getting overlooked this offseason. Tanaka is a true difference maker when healthy. He’s an ace on his best days, and even on his worst days he’s merely ordinary and not awful. Severino has all the potential in the world and we’ve seen Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi have extended stretches of dominance (Pineda in 2014, Eovaldi in 2015).

I don’t have high expectations for Sabathia, not even with the new knee brace, but at least Nova will be further away from Tommy John surgery. He’s been very up and down in his career. The ups have been really good though! The downs? Well they’re why he’s the sixth starter and not assured a rotation spot. And who knows, maybe the new knee brace is the magic cure-all Sabathia needs. Even becoming a league average innings eater would be a huge upgrade.

Tanaka turned 27 last month and is the third oldest of the team’s six starters. Sabathia is the elder statesman at 35 and Nova’s the second oldest. He’ll be 29 in two weeks. Pineda (26) and Eovaldi (25) are in their mid-20s and Severino’s just a kid at 21. It would be one thing if the Yankees had a rotation full of Sabathias — veteran guys trying to stave off Father Time and remain effective in their twilight years. That’s not the case. The rotation is pretty young aside from CC.

The best way to describe the Yankees rotation is boom or bust. There’s a lot of injury risk and the bust rate is quite high. Much higher than I think anyone feels comfortable with. There’s also the boom potential that is being ignored for whatever reason. Tanaka, Severino, Pineda, and Eovaldi are a helluva quartet. That’s three young power starters with swing-and-miss stuff — now that Eovaldi has the splitter — plus Tanaka, a master at getting hitters to chase.

The rotation as is doesn’t make me feel very comfortable because there are so many health question marks. I’m not sure adding a reliable innings guy would make me feel much better though. The Yankees may add a young controllable starter, but, for the most part, they’ll sink or swim with this rotation in 2016. The injury risk is scary. But don’t forget the upside either.

“I think our guys are capable of getting it done. But the thing is, you have to keep them out there for 30 to 32 starts,” said Girardi. “I think our rotation has a chance to be good. But we’ve got to keep them out there.”

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Monday

2016 Winter Meetings

The 2015 Winter Meetings begin today in Nashville. Well, they actually began yesterday with some minor league presentations and stuff, but the fun stuff starts today. As always, there will be a ton of rumors and trades and free agent signings out of the Winter Meetings this week. Will the Yankees be in on the action? Maybe!

“Our team is fairly set, but we’re open to exploring any and all trade opportunities. If we can improve our team, we’ll do it. If we can’t, we won’t,” said Brian Cashman to Wally Matthews recently. He told Dan Barbarisi the team is focused more on trades than free agency — the Yankees are said to be seeking young pitching in any deal — but thinks they’ll end up holding onto Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller. We’ll see.

We’ll keep track of any and all (legitimate) Yankees-related rumors right here throughout the day. Use this thread to talk about all the Winter Meetings action and keep the other threads on topic. Thanks in advance. All time stamps are ET. (Last year they were in San Diego and the time difference created a big headache.)

  • 11:30am: Andrew Miller remains available and the Yankees continue to seek a huge package in return. The Astros, who previously inquired about Miller, remain in the mix. [Joel Sherman]
  • 11:30am: At least one team has inquired about Nathan Eovaldi. Talks did not progress much, but Eovaldi isn’t off the table. Ivan Nova remains in play as well. [Sherman]
  • 11:30am: The Yankees are monitoring the market for Jose Fernandez, though the Marlins are seeking a massive haul for their ace. “The cost is so overwhelming that I don’t think he is really available,” said one executive. [Sherman]
  • 11:39am: The Yankees are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base. Cabrera is cool with that, according to his agent. The team insists they don’t have much money to spend. Asdrubal would give the Yankees a backup shortstop, allowing them to jettison Brendan Ryan and keep both Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley on the roster. [Jon Morosi, Brendan Kuty]
  • 12:22pm: Teams are expecting the Yankees to lose outfielder Jake Cave in the Rule 5 Draft later this week. The Mets could be a possible fit. As a left-handed hitter capable of playing center field, Cave is prime Rule 5 Draft fodder. [Adam Rubin]
  • 2:31pm: For what it’s worth, two team executives and one agent insist the Yankees’ unwillingness to spend on free agents is legitimate and not a smokescreen. [Mark Feinsand]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

King: Yankees not close to trading Gardner, Miller, or Nova

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Despite all sorts of rumors, the Yankees are not close to trading Brett Gardner, Andrew Miller, or Ivan Nova according to George King. King says no team has made anything close to an acceptable offer for Gardner or Miller, and there simply isn’t a ton of interest in Nova at this point. Obviously this could all change in a hurry.

So far we’ve heard Gardner connected to the Mariners and Cubs (and possibly the Indians), and Miller connected to the Astros, Diamondbacks, and Tigers. Nova? He hasn’t been connected to any teams yet, but I’m sure there’s some interest. Teams always need pitching and this is a chance to buy low on a guy who has had some success in the AL East, albeit not recently.

My hunch is a Gardner trade is much more likely than a Miller or Nova trade. The Yankees have a ready made Gardner replacement in Aaron Hicks, plus a bunch of young outfielders in Triple-A. Miller is an elite reliever and not as easily replaced. Nova? He doesn’t have a ton of value at the moment and keeping him as the sixth or seventh starter makes more sense than giving him up for meh prospect.

For what it’s worth, Gardner’s agent told Brendan Kuty his client wants “to be a New York Yankee for his entire career,” though he also acknowledged this is a business and a trade is out of his control. (Gardner doesn’t have a no-trade clause but he does get a $1M bonus if dealt.) That’s not surprising. Pretty much everyone who experiences some success with the Yankees never wants to leave. It’s good to be a Yankee.

The Winter Meetings start next week and in recent years the Yankees have handled their major business away from the four-day event. Their last major Winter Meetings transactions were re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in 2010. You have to go back to the three-team Curtis Granderson trade during the 2009 Winter Meetings for their last major deal not involving a legacy Yankee.

That doesn’t mean next week will be slow, of course. The Winter Meetings are never slow. It just means the Yankees haven’t pulled the trigger on many deals at the Winter Meetings in recent years. With players like Gardner and Miller on the block, the Winter Meetings could be busier than usual for the Yankees. It’s not often they’re open to dealing players of that caliber.