Mailbag: Andrus, Wallace, Moreland, Aceves

Nine questions this week, so I went rapid fire with short-ish answers. Next week will be the final mailbag before Opening Day, so get those last-minute hot stove/Spring Training questions in before then.

(Rick Yeatts/Getty)
(Rick Yeatts/Getty)

Joseph asks: I know this is fast-forwarding a whole season and much can change between now and November, but what are the chances the NYY attempt to pry away Elvis Andrus from TEX after the season? They obviously have Jurickson Profar/Mike Olt for the left-side of the IF for the next 4-5 years. What package you think would get that done?

Andrus, 24, will be one year from free agency after the season, plus he’s a Scott Boras client and will definitely go out on the open market after 2014. You’re trading for one year of him and one year only.

That said, he’s so young and so good (particularly defensively) at a premium position that the cost for even one year of him will be high. I don’t think Texas would have much of a problem getting two top prospects for him, maybe even another one or two lesser pieces as well. Shortstop help is very hard to find. I’d wait until he becomes a free agent and just try to sign him, but that might require something like ten years and $180M at his age.

Mark asks: Would you trade Corban Joseph and Adam Warren for Brett Wallace?

I would not. I thought Wallace would be a dominant offensive player back during his draft days, but he’s got some holes in his swing and can be pitched to rather easily. I remember reading something once upon a time suggesting his big frame and very thick lower half contribute to his inability to adjust his swing. I think the Yankees could stick Joseph in the lineup and get similar, if not better production than they would get from Wallace. He could also fake non-first base spots as well.

Travis asks: Do you think that teams that are having rotation trouble are kicking themselves for not taking a chance on Vidal Nuno during the Rule 5 draft?

Eh, maybe one or two. The Nuno hype machine is a little out of control though. Sergio Mitre dominated Spring Training a few years ago, but it didn’t mean anything. Nuno has been impressive so far and I’m sure there’s a team or two who could use him in the rotation, but be careful not to overrate performance this time of year.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Peter asks: The Joba Chamberlain+ for Mike Olt rumors have swirled over the past week but what about Joba+ for Mitch Moreland?

Moreland, 27, has hit .264/.328/.441 (100 wRC+) with 40 homers in 295 big league games over the last three years. He’s a left-handed hitting first baseman (who can fake a corner outfield spot) with a big platoon split, so he’d need a righty hitting complement. Moreland would help the Yankees right now obviously, but I wouldn’t give up much more than Joba for him. Maybe just a secondary prospect from 20+ range of my preseason top 30. Lefty hitting first basemen with platoon issues aren’t the most difficult players to find.

J.R. asks: With some of the stories emerging about Alfredo Aceves, do you think “character” and “makeup” issues directly lead to his release from the Yankees?

Yes, absolutely. Non-tendering him after 2010 was still a questionable move — even with the injuries, did he really have zero trade value? — but it’s becoming more and more obvious why they did it. I’m in the camp that thinks the Yankees are overrating character and makeup these days, but Aceves is on a different level. He’s borderline Carlos Zambrano crazy.

John asks: I am one of the biggest Andy Pettitte fans you will find so this a very selfish question. Do you think his body can handle 175 innings a year at 40? If things go ok this year, would he consider closing for Mariano Rivera next year to extend his career as we know he has the mindset mastered?

I do worry about Pettitte holding up physically all season, as I wrote in the series preview post earlier this week. If he has trouble holding up this year, I think he would sooner retire than come back as a reliever. Pettitte doesn’t strike me as someone who would hang around when he isn’t effective. If he does hold up and throw those 175+ innings, bring him back as a starter. No doubt about it.

(Chris Trotman/Getty)
(Chris Trotman/Getty)

Mads asks: Not Yankees related, but would a trade between the Cardinals and Rangers with Profar and Oscar Taveras make sense? Cardinals get shortstop help and Rangers get an impact outfield bat, plus they extend Andrus.

It does make sense, but I think both teams would say no to this trade. Part of the reason is that teams love their own prospects more than everyone else’s, but it’s not quite surplus for surplus either. As I said before, Andrus is a Boras client and working out an extension might be damn near impossible at this point. The Cardinals have no other legitimate outfield prospects to replace Carlos Beltran after the season, plus Matt Holliday isn’t getting any younger. It sounds good on paper, but I think both teams would be wary.

Mark asks: Do you think Mark Teixeira‘s recent injury coming on the heels of Alex Rodriguez‘s hurts Robinson Cano‘s chances of getting the 8-10 year offer both Boras and he were hoping to get from the team and increase the odds that he leaves the team after this year?

You’d think yes, right? But it probably won’t. There will be plenty of competition for Cano’s services next winter — Dodgers, Tigers, Angels, maybe even the Rangers, Nationals, and Phillies could pursue him — that his price will still be astronomical. I’m not convinced he’ll get ten years anyway, but eight definitely seems doable. We have to remember that many GMs don’t care about the back-end of huge contracts because the job turnover rate suggests it won’t be their problem.

Ryan asks: Explain to me how the Tigers can cut free of Brennan Boesch‘s contract, owing very little on his untradeable contract. Yet, the Yankees can’t consider just releasing Alex Rodriguez because they would still owe him the $100+ million left on his contract. Is it the wording on the contract? Is it that they would still owe him too much, even if they didn’t owe him all of it, to really consider doing that? Seems weird that other teams can release their players and save at least a little cash and move on, but the Yankees are stuck with the albatross contracts to the bitter end. Is it just a perception? Also, not saying the Yankees should do this with A-Rod necessarily. It’s more of a curiosity as to why they don’t, can’t, or won’t. Thanks!

They can’t. One-year contracts for players with less than six years of service time (like Boesch) are not guaranteed. They can be released in Spring Training and owed less than the full amount — 30 days termination pay is released by March 13th, 45 days after that — which is what the Tigers did with Boesch. The Yankees pulled this same trick with Chad Gaudin a few years ago, releasing him in camp and paying him just a fraction of his original deal. A-Rod’s contract is fully guaranteed, as is nearly every free agent contract.

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Mailbag: A-Rod, Profar, Hardy

Only three questions this week, but they’re good ones. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Many people asked: What happens with regards to the luxury tax if Alex Rodriguez retires or his contract is voided or he agrees to a buyout?

The answer to all three of those situations is: I have no idea. I imagine the Yankees would be off the hook completely if he voluntarily retired (which he would never do) or they were able to void the contract (which is extremely unlikely). Even if doctors said A-Rod was physically unable to play, he still wouldn’t retire. He’d just force the team to stick him on the 60-day DL every year and keep collecting his money, like Albert Belle did with the Orioles back in the day. That’s what I would do. The Yankees would collect insurance money in that case, but I don’t think it would prevent his salary from counting against the luxury tax. I don’t know that for sure though.

Until we have definitive word otherwise, I assume Alex and his entire $27.5M luxury tax hit will be on the books for the next five years. If they manage to work something out that changes his luxury tax hit, great. I’m not counting on it.

(Layne Murdoch/Getty)
(Layne Murdoch/Getty)

Anonymous asks: Hypothetical situation: if the Yankees had Jurickson Profar and you were the GM, would you hold him back in the minors, move Derek Jeter to a new position (or DH), or maybe something else entirely? This is obviously not a problem for the Yankees now, but it’s fun to play what-if.

Profar, 20 next month, is the best prospect in all of baseball. He hit .281/.368/.452 (127 wRC+) with 14 homers and 16 steals in 126 Double-A games last year, then made his big league debut in September. He’s truly elite, a great-defending shortstop who hits for average and power and can run. Profar is Hanley Ramirez — the good version with the Marlins from back in the day — with better defense.

If he was Yankees property and I was calling the shots, I’m pretty sure I would send Profar to Triple-A to begin 2013. It would be incredibly tempting to run him out there everyday if Jeter’s ankle kept him on the shelf early in the season, however. Profar would be the obvious long-term solution at shortstop once the Cap’n retires, and I would try to push Jeter to third base or DH in 2014 (assuming he exercises his player option) to make it happen.

Daniel asks: Any chance of acquiring J.J. Hardy from Baltimore? I can see them sticking with him this year, but would they really block Machado two straight years? I don’t think so and Hardy supposedly only plays shortstop.

Hardy, 30, hit .238/.282/.389 (78 wRC+) last season after putting together a .269/.310/.491 (113 wRC+) line with 30 homers a year ago. Given the dearth of quality shortstops, I totally would have traded Hardy this winter and handed Machado the shortstop job if I was the Orioles. Instead, Machado will play third base in 2013.

Baltimore owes Hardy $7M in both 2013 and 2014, so he’s very reasonably priced given his great defense and power production. He’d be a great fit for the Yankees if the ankle forces Jeter off shortstop full-time, but I have a very hard time seeing the Bombers and Orioles getting together for a trade. Especially if the O’s prove last year was no fluke and remain competitive. Hardy is too expensive to be a utility man and too good defensively to DH, but he’d be a great Jeter replacement.