Scouting the Free Agent Market: Carlos Beltran

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

Last week the Yankees made their first major move of the offseason when they sent Brian McCann to the Astros for a pair of Single-A pitching prospects. The move cleared quite a bit of salary ($11.5M in both 2017 and 2018) and also freed up the DH position. That was McCann’s only real ticket to regular at-bats now that Gary Sanchez is entrenched behind the plate.

Even before the trade, the Yankees were connected to many of the top free agent sluggers available. I have no doubt some of that is the general “the Yankees are in on everyone” nonsense we hear every offseason. Chances are there is some legitimate interest too. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. The McCann trade created a need at DH and the team is exploring their options. It’s what they do.

One of those options is ex-Yankee Carlos Beltran, who was traded away as part of the youth movement a few months ago. The Yankees signed him during he 2013-14 offseason, and he spent the next two and a half years in New York before being traded to the Rangers for three prospects at the 2016 trade deadline. Beltran is a free agent now and the Yankees are said to have interest in a reunion. Does bringing him back make sense? Let’s dive in.

Offensive Performance

Because Beltran spent all that time with the Yankees, we’re familiar with his work at the plate. He hit .304/.344/.546 (135 wRC+) with 22 home runs in 99 games before the trade this year, which is right in line with the .295/.357/.505 (135 wRC+) batting line he put up after April last season. Remember how bad Beltran was last April? Woof. He followed that with over 800 plate appearances of 135 wRC+ baseball. Cool.

Beltran didn’t perform quite as well with the Rangers after the trade — he hit .280/.325/.451 (103 wRC+) with seven homers in 52 games with Texas — though I’m not too concerned about that. He was healthy and I’m sure there was something of an adjustment period after joining a new team in a new division in the middle of a postseason race. The end result was a .295/.337/.471 (119 wRC+) batting line with 29 homers in 593 plate appearances in 2016.

Of course, when you sign a free agent, you’re getting what he does in the future, not what he’s done in the past. That’s the tricky part. Beltran will turn 40 soon after Opening Day and it is very reasonable to wonder what he has to offer at that age. Batted ball data is a pretty big deal when it comes to players approach 40, so here is Beltran over the last three seasons:

carlos-beltran-batted-balls

An increase in ground balls is a classic “he’s losing bat speed” indicator, and while Beltran’s ground ball rate was higher in 2016 than it was in 2015, it wasn’t a huge increase. A 42.1% ground ball rate isn’t all concerning anyway. It starts to get scary when hitters, especially middle of the order power hitters like Beltran, start getting up closer to 50%. Carlos is not close to that yet.

As you can see in the graph, Beltran’s ground ball and soft contact rates did tick up late in the season, while he was with the Rangers. That helps explain why his numbers slipped after the trade. That could be nothing more than a small sample size blip though. Carlos could have been worn down after a long season, especially after playing a chunk of it in the Texas heat. Could be nothing, could be something. We can’t possibly know.

Point is, there are no major red flags in Beltran’s batted ball data over the last few years. He’s still elevating the ball and he’s still making hard contact overall. From both sides of the plate too. The sudden late season increase in ground ball and soft contact rates this past season is a little red flag. It’s something to consider. It’s not enough to avoid signing Beltran completely, I don’t think.

Defensive & Baserunning Value

This is easy: none. Less than none, really. Beltran is a negative in the field. He’ll cost you runs. Forget saving them. Once upon a time he was as good as any center fielder in the game. Now he’s a barely mobile right fielder who fits best at DH. Age and years of knee injuries will do that to a guy. With McCann gone, the Yankees are in position to play Beltran at DH exclusively in 2017, which is where he belongs.

As for the baserunning, it’s the same deal. Beltran’s doesn’t run well anymore. It’s not just the lack of stolen bases either — Beltran stole one base in 2016, none in 2015, three in 2014, and two in 2013 — it’s the other aspects of baserunning too. This past season Beltran took the extra base only 30% of the time. That’s going first-to-third on single, scoring from first on a double, things like that. The MLB is average was 40%. He was far below that.

According to the numbers at FanGraphs, Beltran cost his teams 4.2 runs on the bases and in the field in 2016. Baseball Prospectus says it was 5.0 runs. That doesn’t sound like much, but remember, he played only 69 games in the outfield compared to 73 at DH. The playing time split limited the defensive damage. Given his age, there’s no reason to think Beltran’s defense or baserunning will improve. He’s a bat-only player.

Injury History

For the first time since 2013, Beltran managed to avoid the disabled list this past season. He did miss time with knee, hamstring, and quad problems — Carlos had to have his knee drained in June — but they were all day-to-day injuries. Last season Beltran was sidelined with an oblique strain. The year before he had a bone spur in his elbow that required season-ending surgery.

Beltran’s knees are the biggest concern going forward. Guys pull obliques and hamstrings get tight. It happens. More and more with each passing year too. Beltran’s knees are pretty messed up though. The left, the one he had drained his year, has given him on and off problems over the years. The right knee required microfracture surgery back in 2010. The move to the full-time DH should help Beltran’s knees stay healthy. His medical history isn’t pretty though.

Contract Estimates

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

First things first: Beltran did not receive the qualifying offer this offseason. He was not eligible to receive it after being traded at midseason. I’m pretty sure there was better than a 50/50 chance Carlos would have taken the $17.2M qualifying offer, but who knows. Either way, he’s not attached to draft pick compensation. No worries there.

Unlike some other big name DH candidates, most notably Edwin Encarnacion, Beltran figures to come on a short-term contract given his age. No draft pick and a short-term deal for a guy who hit 29 homers with a 119 wRC+ in 2016? Pretty sweet. Here are some contract estimates:

I include Bowden in these things because his free agent contract predictions have been insanely accurate over the last few years. He might not get them right down to the last dollar, but he’s almost always in the ballpark. It’s kinda freaky, really, to be that close year after year after year.

MLBTR and the FanGraphs crowd project a one-year contract, which is what common sense tells you a soon-to-be 40-year-old free agent should receive, no matter how productive he was this past season. Common sense doesn’t always win out in free agency. With teams like the Red Sox and Blue Jays and Red Sox and Astros and Red Sox said to be in the mix, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Beltran gets two years. The team that offers the second year might be the one that gets him.

So What About The Yankees?

This is what I think: I think Beltran is Plan A for the Yankees at DH now that McCann is gone. He’s the guy they want. He won’t cost them a draft pick and he’ll come on a short-term deal, plus they know him. They know Beltran’s work habits and what he’s like in the clubhouse. Also, he adds lineup balance as a switch-hitter, and because he’s played in the Bronx the last few years, there should be no adjustment period. It’ll be like he never left.

I also think the Yankees are unwilling to go two years to get Beltran. Maybe one year with an option, but not two guaranteed years. Every indication they’ve given the last year or so points to getting under the luxury tax threshold — whatever that number winds up being — during the 2018 season, and two years for Beltran compromises that. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia will all be off the books after next season. That’s their best chance to get under the threshold.

Also, what about Beltran? What does he want? Chances are his top priority next season is being with a contender. He wants a World Series ring. The guy has banked over $200M in contracts in his career. Chasing after every last dollar doesn’t seem like a thing that will happen. Beltran figures to join a no-doubt contender. He’s not stupid. He knows the Yankees are a team in transition — heck he was traded for prospects as part of the transition — and that means there’s a pretty decent chance they won’t contend in 2017.

Bringing Beltran back for a year to serve as the DH and mentor the young kids seems like a great idea, and really, it is. The question is whether Beltran is on board with that plan. Another team could offer a better chance of contention and/or a guaranteed second year, which throws a wrench into things. I’m not going to lie, bringing Beltran back makes me nervous after watching A-Rod, Teixeira, and Alfonso Soriano fall apart in the blink of an eye. I’d be okay with a one-year deal, but I wouldn’t be too upset if he winds up elsewhere either.

Hot Stove Notes: Beltran, Hammel, Holland, Headley

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

For the first time since 2013, the Yankees have made it to November 17th without making a trade or free agent signing. Last winter they made the John Ryan MurphyAaron Hicks trade on November 11th, and the year before they re-signed Chris Young on November 9th and made the Francisco CervelliJustin Wilson trade on November 12th. So far this year all we have is a Joe Mantiply waiver claim. Lame. Here’s the latest hot stove buzz.

Yankees among teams most interested in Beltran

According to Rob Bradford, the Yankees are among the most interested teams in free agent Carlos Beltran. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Astros are also in the mix. There are no shortage of DH bats available this winter. Beltran is part of a group that includes Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli, and others. We could include Jose Bautista here too. Kendrys Morales was in that group before signing a three-year deal with the Blue Jays last week.

Beltran had a very productive season for the Yankees before being traded to the Rangers, where he was just okay. You could do a heck of a lot worse than signing Carlos to be your short-term DH, which is something the Yankees will probably need should Brian McCann get traded away. That said, after seeing Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez go from very productive to toast in an offseason in their late-30s, bringing Beltran back makes me a little nervous.

Yankees have contacted Hammel

As part of their search for “pitching, pitching, pitching,” the Yankees have already reached out to free agent right-hander Jason Hammel, according to George King. Hammel became a free agent last week when the Cubs surprisingly declined his $12M club option. They had to pay him a $2M buyout anyway, so it was a $10M decision. Apparently the Cubs threw Hammel a bone and let him decide whether he wanted to come back, and he instead opted for free agency, because he’s not a moron.

Anyway, the 34-year-old Hammel had a 3.83 ERA (4.48 FIP) in 166.2 innings this past season, and over the last few years he’s worn down and been close to a non-factor in September. He’s more of a 150-inning guy than a 180-inning guy. Hammel has been very homer prone the last few years (1.28 HR/9 since 2013) and I can’t imagine moving into Yankee Stadium will help matters. Still, he’s one of the best free agent starters on the market, so the Yankees are smart to check in. It never hurts to see what a guy wants.

Yankees have shown early interest in D. Holland

The Yankees, along with the Pirates and Padres, have shown early interest in free agent lefty Derek Holland, reports Jeff Wilson. The Rangers tried to trade Holland earlier this offseason, but after finding no takers, they decided to decline his $11.5M option and instead pay him a $1M buyout. It’s entirely possible Holland is the second best left-handed starter in free agency behind Rich Hill. It’s either him or Brett Anderson. Egads.

The lefty Holland. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
The lefty Holland. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Holland had a 4.95 ERA (4.75 FIP) in 107.1 innings last season. He’s been limited to only 203 innings the last three years due to all sorts of injuries, including knee and shoulder trouble. Holland has five pitches (four-seamer, sinker, slider, curveball, changeup) and PitchFX clocked him in the 92-94 mph range this year, so the 30-year-old still may have something to offer. Would he take a one-year contract to rebuild value in Yankee Stadium? Maybe! But the odds (and common sense) are against it.

Yankees have contacted Boras about G. Holland

Now for the other Holland. According to George King, the Yankees have contacted agent Scott Boras about free agent Greg Holland, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Holland threw for scouts last week and the Yankees were among the many teams in attendance. “Over 20 teams (have called). Most teams are doing their due diligence,” said Boras.

Holland, 30, had his elbow rebuilt in September 2015, so he’s 14 months out from surgery. Reports indicate he was 91-92 mph during his workout last week, down considerably from his peak, but I don’t think that’s alarming. He’s still rebuilding arm strength. His health is obviously most important, but after that you’re looking at his mechanics and the effort in his delivery. A free and easy 91-92 is much different than max effort 91-92. I can’t help but think Holland is going to wind up with whatever team offers him their closer’s job right away.

Yankees open to moving Headley

In addition to McCann and Brett Gardner, the Yankees are also open to moving Chase Headley, reports Ken Rosenthal. This isn’t surprising. The Yankees reportedly made Headley (and Jacoby Ellsbury) available at the trade deadline. It only makes sense to put him out there again now. The free agent third base market is Justin Turner, Luis Valbuena coming off hamstring surgery, and nothing else. There are few quality hot corner options available.

The Yankees have outfield replacements for Gardner and Ellsbury, and they’ve already replaced McCann behind the plate, but they’d have to go out and add a third baseman should they trade Headley. That’s not insignificant. I love Ronald Torreyes as much as the next guy, but giving him 500+ plate appearances seems like bad news. That isn’t to say the Yankees should hold on to Headley because they lack a third base replacement. By all means, see what the market offers. It just means this is a two-step process. Trade Headley, then find a replacement.

Thursday Notes: Beltran, Blue Jays, IFAs, Qualifying Offer

(Vaughn Ridley/Getty)
(Vaughn Ridley/Getty)

There are, at most, ten more baseball games left this season. It could be as few as six. That stinks. The offseason is fun in it’s own way, but nothing is better than actual games. That’s why we all watch. Anyway, make sure you check out MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees post. Nice little rundown of what could happen this winter. Here are some other news and notes.

Blue Jays had interest in Beltran

The Blue Jays had interest in Carlos Beltran prior to the trade deadline, reports Gerry Fraley. Toronto skipper John Gibbons confirmed the club considered a run at Beltran this summer. “Beltran was a guy we even talked about. We saw him over the years with the Yankees and what a great hitter he was, a clutch type performer,” said Gibbons prior to the start of the ALDS.

The Red Sox also reportedly tried to acquire Beltran prior to the deadline, and just like with Boston, it’s unclear whether the Yankees would have actually gone through with an intra-division trade with the Blue Jays. Toronto’s farm system is not nearly as good as the Red Sox’s, though I’m sure the two sides could have found a match if they really set their mind to it. The Blue Jays scored eight runs in the five-game ALCS — five of the eight came in Game Four — and they clearly needed another bat. Beltran would have been able to help. No doubt.

MLB pushing for international draft

To no surprise whatsoever, MLB is pushing for an international draft as part of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with MLBPA, reports Buster Olney. MLB has wanted an international draft for years now — it’s a way to keep costs down for owners, that’s the only goal here — but the union has yet to give in. I wonder if this will be the year though. Here are some more details from Olney:

Under the terms of MLB’s initial concept, the new international draft system would start in March of 2018, with a 10-round draft held over two days. As the new structure evolved, with terms grandfathered into the process, the minimum age for draft-eligible players would be 18 years old by 2021 … As part of baseball’s proposal, MLB would operate facilities in the Dominican Republic, where international draft prospects would be invited to live to develop their skills and education before becoming eligible.

Two things. One, those kids are going to have to wait two more years to get their payday, no matter how large or small it may be. That sucks. Right now they can sign at 16. Under this proposal they have to wait until they’re 18. And two, this is yet another incentive for teams to be bad. Bad clubs already get the largest draft bonus pools and protected picks. Now they’ll get access to the top international talent without worrying about other clubs offering more money.

This proposal — thankfully that’s all this is right now, a proposal — is great for the teams and owners. They’ll save money and also get two extra years to evaluate these kids before deciding whether to sign to them. It stinks for the players, who have to wait to get paid and risk having their skills erode before they can cash in. You have no idea how many kids sign at 16 only to then fill out physically and lose the electric athleticism that got them paid. An international draft is inevitable. Hopefully MLBPA doesn’t relent this CBA and we get a few more years of true free agency.

Qualifying offer system could change with CBA

The qualifying offer system may also be revamped with the new CBA, reports Joel Sherman. The QO isn’t going away, but the MLB and the MLBPA may make it so players can not receive the QO in consecutive years. That means the Orioles wouldn’t be able to get a draft pick for Matt Wieters this offseason since they gave him the QO last offseason, which he accepted. Something like that.

I can’t imagine MLB and MLBPA will ever completely severe ties between the draft and free agency — they don’t want rich teams to have access to the best free agents and first round talent — so this might be the next best thing. If this proposal goes through, you might see some more players sign one-year contracts so they can go back out on the market with no draft pick attached. I think most guys will look to grab the largest payday as soon as possible though. Being set for life financial is pretty cool, I hear.

The Yankees’ Only Impact Middle of the Order Veteran [2016 Season Review]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last season was an interesting one for Carlos Beltran. Early in year two of his three-year contract, Beltran looked completely done. Like done done. He hit .162/.216/.265 (22 wRC+) last April and everyone wanted him to go away. Then Beltran rebounded to hit .295/.357/.505 (135 wRC+) the rest of the season. We all wanted him gone in April, then we couldn’t get enough of him from May through October.

The Yankees hoped Beltran could put together a complete season in 2016, with offensive excellence from start to finish. It would benefit everyone. Beltran would help the Yankees win and he’d also put himself in great position heading into free agency. You never really know with 39-year-old players though. We saw Alfonso Soriano lose it in the blink of the eye a few years ago. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez did the same this year. Beltran was the exception.

The All-Star First Half

Beltran’s post-May success last year did indeed carry over into 2016. Boy did it ever. His April was a bit slow again — he hit .253/.276/.434 (85 wRC+) in the season’s first month — but not as slow as last April, thankfully. And sadly, even with that slow first few weeks, Beltran was still arguably New York’s best hitter in April. The offense was not so good early on. Yeah.

From the start of May through the end of July, Beltran was a man possessed, hitting .319/.363/.580 (149 wRC+) with 18 home runs in 71 games and exactly 300 plate appearances. That’s after hitting 19 home runs in 133 games last year. Beltran hit his 19th home run in Game 71 this year. Crazy. At one point spanning May 24th to June 22nd, he hit ten homers in 25 games. That is pretty incredible.

The biggest of those home runs was a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning against the Angels on June 6th. The Yankees had lost eight of their previous 12 games and they weren’t scoring many runs. They were waiting for that big blow, and Beltran provided it. The Yankees went on to win that game as well as their next four.

Beltran was so good with the Yankees this season that he was selected to the All-Star Game. That’s what happens when you hit .299/.338/.550 (135 wRC+) with 19 home runs in the first half. Beltran was tenth in the AL in homers and seventh in slugging percentage prior to the All-Star break. He was legitimately one of the best power hitters in the game in the first half. Who saw that coming?

Believe it or not, this was Beltran’s first All-Star Game selection as an AL player. He never once made it with the Royals. That’s pretty wild. Beltran played briefly in the All-Star Game — he played two innings in right field and flew out in his only at-bat — and that was a-okay with me. The Yankees needed Beltran to have any shot of getting back into the postseason. Let him rest during the All-Star break.

The Final Weeks in New York

The Yankees never did get back into the race in July. They went 8-8 in 16 July games after the All-Star break, so they continued to tread water. It wasn’t Beltran’s fault. He hit .328/.373/.525 (134 wRC+) with three home runs in those 16 games. Beltran continued to be the team’s best hitter, and it still wasn’t good enough to get them back into the race. They were 5.5 games back of a postseason spot at the All-Star break and 5.5 games back at the end of July.

Aroldis Chapman was traded away on July 25th, a full week before the deadline. That was a pretty good indication Beltran would be dealt as well. He was in his contract year like Chapman, and with the Yankees unable to gain any ground in the postseason race, trading Beltran for prospects was a better move than keeping him for some half-baked attempt of contention. Yeah, they could have made him the qualifying offer and gotten a draft pick after the season, but I didn’t love that idea.

As expected, pretty much every contender had some interest in Beltran prior to the trade deadline. He was the best middle of the order hitter available, there was no long-term commitment, and he’s a veteran guy who has thrived in big moments. Teams were willing to overlook the defensive issues to get the big switch-hitting bat. The Rangers, Astros, Indians, and even the Red Sox reportedly checked in on Beltran. I’m sure others made the phone call too.

The Yankees ultimately worked out a deal with the Rangers, and a few hours before the August 1st deadline, Beltran was sent to Texas for three pitching prospects, the most notable of which was right-hander Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The first place Rangers got their middle of the order bat and the Yankees got some lower level pitching depth, and were able to buy low on a kid with some high upside.

Now, the Yankees wound up making a bit of a run in the second half, at one point creeping to within one game of a postseason spot, and boy, it sure would have been nice having Beltran and Gary Sanchez hitting back-to-back those final few weeks. The Yankees made the right move though. They got more in return for Beltran than a dinky little supplemental first round pick, plus they cleared playing time for Aaron Judge. It was a smart, sensible trade.

Nine Weeks in Texas

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

After hitting .304/.344/.546 (135 wRC+) with 22 home runs in 99 games with the Yankees, Beltran went on to hit .280/.325/.451 (103 wRC+) with seven home runs in 52 games with the Rangers. He then went 2-for-11 (.182) with two singles and a walk in the team’s three-game loss to the Blue Jays in the ALDS. Beltran wasn’t bad with the Rangers — though average offense with his defense is a net negative — but he didn’t have huge impact either.

So far the Yankees have gotten nothing out of this trade other than an open roster spot, and that was to be expected. The three pitchers they acquired are all in Single-A. They’re in the process of trying to rebuild Tate, and the others, Nick Green and Erik Swanson, aren’t top prospects. You won’t see them on any top 30 Yankees prospects lists in the coming weeks because the system is deep, but they’re solid depth arms. The Yankees did what they had to do at the deadline, and that was sell high on a rental veteran with no real future with the team.

Outlook for 2017

While talking to reporters after the trade, Beltran said he wants to continue playing and he’d love to return to the Yankees. He’s wanted to play here for a long time and I’m sure he wishes his two and a half years in pinstripes could have gone better for the team overall. Of course, Beltran also told Rangers reporters after the season that he’d love to continue playing in Texas, so who knows. It might have just been lip service.

The Yankees do have an opening at DH with A-Rod gone, so re-signing Beltran wouldn’t be the worst move in the world. It would certainly be more affordable than spending big on someone like Edwin Encarnacion. At the same time, the Yankees have plenty of young players who can rotate through the DH spot, plus there’s Brian McCann as well. Beltran won’t cost a draft pick — the trade made him ineligible for the qualifying offer — which is a plus.

I’m sure we’ll hear the Yankees connected to Beltran at some point this offseason because we seem to hear about the Yankees being connected to every player throughout the winter. It does make some sense to bring him back. It really depends on what happens with McCann, and what the Yankees want to do with their young players. Are they so committed to playing them that they don’t even want to tie up DH at-bats with a veteran? It’s possible.

Update: Qualifying offer will be $17.2M this offseason

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

October 13th: The qualifying offer is $17.2M this offseason, according to Jon Heyman. That’s a bit higher than initially expected. It doesn’t change anything for the Yankees though. Teixeira is their only free agent eligible for the qualifying offer and he retired, so yeah.

July 28th: According to Buster Olney, the qualifying offer for the upcoming offseason is estimated at $16.7M. That’s up from $15.8M last season and $15.3M the offseason before. The QO is a one-year deal set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball, and the deadline to make the offer is five days after the end of the World Series. Players then have seven days to accept or reject.

The Yankees only have one serious QO candidate: Carlos Beltran. He’s hitting .305/.347/.548 (134 wRC+) with 21 homers in 95 games this season, though his defense leaves much to be desired. I don’t think the Yankees should make Beltran the QO because he’ll probably accept it — who is giving a soon-to-be 40-year-old free agent $16.7M, even across two years? — and I don’t see that as a good thing for the reasons I outlined yesterday.

Mark Teixeira and Ivan Nova are New York’s only two other impending free agents, and based on what we heard earlier today, Nova will be traded prior to Monday’s deadline. Teixeira has been beyond awful this season, hitting .190/.270/.325 (59 wRC+) with nine homers in 71 games around a knee problem. A year ago at this time he looked like a QO candidate. Now? Now he can’t get off the team fast enough.

It’s also possible for CC Sabathia to become a free agent after the season, though that would require him to suffer a shoulder injury that would void his $25M vesting option for 2017. A healthy Sabathia is not a QO candidate at this point of his career. Sabathia with a shoulder injury? No chance. With Aroldis Chapman gone, Beltran is the Yankees’ only QO candidate. We’ll see what happens with him.

The QO offer entitles the team to a supplemental first round draft pick should the player reject the offer and sign elsewhere as a free agent. Signing a QO free agent means forfeiting your highest unprotected draft pick. It’s worth noting players who accept the QO can not be traded until June 1st of the following season, so if your plan is to make Beltran the offer and trade him if he accepts, it won’t fly. At least not immediately.

It’s worth noting the new upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement could change the QO system and I think that’ll happen, but chances are it’ll be minor tweaks rather than an overhaul. If MLB and the MLBPA reach an agreement before the end of the World Series, then the new system will presumably take effect. If not, the current QO system stays in place until the two sides announce any changes. The current CBA expires December 1st.

Saturday Links: Gurriel, Beltran, A-Rod, Forbes, Watson

Lourdes Jr. (Getty)
Lourdes Jr. (Getty)

The Yankees and Angels continue their weekend series later today, but not until 9:35pm ET. Blah. I hate Saturday night games, especially when they’re on the West Coast. Oh well. What can you do? Here are some links to help you pass the time.

MLB declares Gurriel a free agent

MLB has declared Lourdes Gurriel Jr. a free agent, reports Eric Longenhagen. He is the younger brother of Yulieski Gurriel, who signed a five-year contract worth $47.5M with the Astros a few weeks ago. Lourdes is a free agent but he’s not going to sign right away. Once he turns 23 in October, he will no longer be eligible for the international spending restrictions. He’s going to wait until then to sign to max out his earning potential.

Longenhagen and Ben Badler (subs. req’d) say reports on Lourdes are mixed. He’s a good athlete capable of playing an up-the-middle position, and while he has speed and power, his swing can get long. Gurriel has a lot of upside, but is also a bit of a project for a kid who will soon turn 23. He’s probably not someone who will zoom through the minors and be in the big leagues within a year. That’s fine. Talent is talent, and Lourdes has a lot of it.

Red Sox tried hard to land Beltran

According to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox “tried very hard” to acquire Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, though the Rangers swooped in with a better offer. I assume Boston would have played Beltran in left field, where they’ve had a revolving door pretty much all season. Or maybe Beltran plays right and Mookie Betts moves to left. I dunno. Who cares. Whatever.

The real question is whether the Yankees (and Red Sox, for that matter) would have actually gone through with the trade if the Red Sox had indeed made the best offer. Potentially losing a trade to your biggest rival is enough to make anyone squeamish. My guess is Brian Cashman and David Dombrowski would have been willing to go through with a trade, but the two ownership groups would not have signed off. This is much different than a Stephen Drew-for-Kelly Johnson swap.

Hal not ruling out a spot for A-Rod in Monument Park

During a radio interview last week, Hal Steinbrenner did not rule out the possibility of Alex Rodriguez one day winding up in Monument Park. He didn’t exactly endorse it, but he didn’t shoot it down entirely either. Here’s what Hal said, via Brendan Kuty:

“It’s a bridge to cross when we come to it, but he has done a lot for this organization, on and off the field,” Steinbrenner said. “And I’m talking about players way back, even (Mariners second baseman Robinson) Cano, who he was a mentor to. He’s done a lot for this organization on the field though the years, but also off the field that people don’t know about. He’s been a great mentor.”

A-Rod is, unquestionably, one of the greatest players in Yankees history, especially recent history. He’s among the all-time franchise leaders in a ton of categories, including homers (6th), OPS (7th), WAR (8th), OPS+ (10th), runs (10th), and total bases (10th). Alex also won two MVPs in pinstripes and was a major factor in the team’s most recent World Series title. If that’s not Monument Park plaque worthy, I don’t know what is.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Yankees among most valuable sports franchises

A few weeks back Forbes posted their annual look at the most valuable sports franchises in the world. The Yankees placed fourth, with an estimated value of $3.4 billion. That’s up 6% from last year. The Yankees are behind only the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), Real Madrid ($3.65 billion), and Barcelona ($3.55 billion). The Dodgers are the second most valuable MLB franchise at $2.5 billion, so the gap between the Yankees and everyone else is significant.

Attendance dropped from 41,995 fans per game in 2014 to 39,430 last year, and again to 38,967 so far this year. That’s roughly 3,000 fewer fans per game since two seasons ago. The attendance decline was at least somewhat expected after Derek Jeter retired, though obviously the team’s less than inspiring play for much of this season has played a role too. That said, the Yankees are still raking in money through other avenues (YES, Legends Hospitality, etc.), and there’s no real end in sight. The team prints money.

Watson battling kidney failure

Going to close with some sad news: Bob Watson, former GM of the Yankees, is currently battling kidney failure, he told Chuck Modiano. He is on nocturnal dialysis and doctors told him he only has a few years to live. “I really wanted to be (at the 1996 World Series reunion last weekend), but my health won’t allow it. I am battling Stage 4 kidney failure. Not too many people know about it,” said Watson, who beat prostate cancer in the mid-1990s.

Watson, 70, had an incredibly productive playing career — he hit .295/.364/.447 from 1966-84, mostly with the Astros, but also with the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox — and he became the first African American GM in baseball history to win a World Series in 1996. Watson served as Yankees GM from October 1995 to February 1998, when he stepped down and took a position in the commissioner’s office. He bridged the Gene Michael and Brian Cashman eras. I’m sad to hear he isn’t doing well. Keep fighting, Bob.

Saturday Links: Chapman, Beltran, Best Tools, A-Rod

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their three-game series later this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Chapman, Beltran open to re-signing with Yankees

After being traded last week, impending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran told reporters they would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “I would love to come back again,” said Chapman to Mark Feinsand while Beltran simply told Jared Diamond he would “gladly” return to the Yankees if the opportunity presents itself.

As good as he has been this year, I don’t love the idea of bringing Beltran back next season, even on a cheap-ish one-year deal to DH. There are lots of young position players in Triple-A Scranton waiting for an opportunity. Chapman’s a different story because he’s still right smack in the prime of his career, and there’s always room for another high-end reliever in the bullpen.

I feel like it’s inevitable the Yankees will sign a top reliever this offseason, and I’d prefer Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to Chapman. I just have no interest in rooting for the guy following the domestic violence stuff. You’re welcome to feel differently. Anyway, it’s no surprise Chapman and Beltran are open to coming back. Why would any impending free agent rule out the Yankees?

Baseball America’s best tools survey

One of my favorite features each season is Baseball America’s best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches about the players in their leagues, then put all the results together. Here are the Yankees at each level. The links go to each article and they’re not behind the paywall.

Chapman (best fastball) and Andrew Miller (best slider, second best reliever) both made appearances in the survey as well. Sanchez being voted as the best defensive catcher in the International League is pretty darn interesting. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s made a lot of improvement, or because it’s just a weak year for IL catchers. I choose to believe the former. Go Gary!

No plans to release A-Rod

To the surprise of no one, Brian Cashman said the Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez during a recent radio interview (via George King). If the Yankees had any plans to release A-Rod, I think they would have done so already. Here’s what Cashman said:

“It’s not an easy circumstance, but there are no plans right now to do anything but give some reps to other people and see where it takes us, and if matchups or injuries hit, you might see him back out there,’’ Cashman told ESPN Radio. “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on … There’s a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as [recently] as last year. Now, he’s being put in a position where sporadic play to try to get it going makes it more difficult. It’s fair to ask why and it’s fair to understand why it’s not a quick, rash decision, especially with September around the corner.”

Rosters expand in three weeks and five days, and I expect the Yankees to just ride this out with Rodriguez until then. They could release him in the offseason, but right now my guess is they hang on to him through the winter, then evaluate him in Spring Training. If he hits, they can give him a shot. If he stinks, they’ll cut him loose. And if he gets hurt, they’ll collect insurance on his contract.