Monday, January 21, 2019

The Sonny Gray Seige Finally Ends...

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)
Trade to Cincinnati is finally confirmed...

Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal (two sources!) brought great news to the Yankees Universe this afternoon with word the Sonny Gray trade with the Cincinnati Reds has been finalized.  Hallelujah!

LHP Reiver Sanmartin will accompany Gray to Cincinnati as part of the trade.  Martin was acquired from the Texas Rangers in November 2017 in a minor trade that sent RHP Ronald Herrera to the Rangers.  Martin was most recently with the Double A Tampa Tarpons.

As expected, the Yankees receive second baseman Shed Long and a competitive balance draft pick.  For more information on Shed Long, please see the Meet A Prospect posted earlier today by Daniel Burch.

Oops, scratch that.  Passan is reporting the Seattle Mariners are involved in the trade which will send Long to the Great Northwest.  Centerfield prospect Josh Stowers, currently rated as the Number 10 prospect for the Mariners by MLB.com, will head to the Bronx.  The 21-year-old Stowers spent last season with the Everett (WA) AquaSox (A Short).  He played 58 games, hitting 5 homers and 28 RBIs in 200 at-bats.  His batting line was .260/.380/.410 with .790 OPS. Stowers was Seattle's 2nd round pick (54th overall) in last year's MLB Draft.

Photo Credit: MiLB.com (Shari Sommerfield)
If true, this does free up a spot on the 40-man roster as Adam Ottavino, once his signing is official, will simply take Gray's spot.  While Long was on Cincinnati's 40-man roster, Stowers is a couple of years away before he needs to be protected.  Luis Cessa lives to see another day.

Per Rosenthal, Gray's extension with the Reds is for three years at $30.5 million.  He was already scheduled to receive $7.5 million for the upcoming season so the extension kicks in with the 2020 season, essentially giving the Reds four years of control.  The extension includes a club option for 2023 at $12 million.  Rosenthal indicated all salaries can grow based on numerous escalators.  There is also an incentive of $500,000 per year if Gray reaches a minimum number of innings pitched in each given year.

I think this is a great deal for Sonny Gray and his family.  He has financial security and will not have to face the gloomy free agent market next fall.  He gets to play in a lower-pressurized environment and he has a very good chance to rebuild his image through better performance.

I am so thankful the Sonny Gray Era has ended.  We can finally move on with our lives.

Sonny Gray Trade? Hold, Please...



And We Continue to Wait for Gray’s Departure…

I had two wishes for Sunday and neither one materialized for me. Sonny Gray is still a Yankee and the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl. Some sports days really suck. Well, I guess it could be worse. It wouldn’t be fun to be a New Orleans Saints fan today but aside from their pain, yesterday was quite forgettable all things considered. Nevertheless, today is a new day and another opportunity to rip the Pinstripes off Sonny Douglas Gray. Please, Brian Cashman, work your magic and make it happen.

The hang up with the Cincinnati Reds appears to be their desire to sign Sonny, a free agent after the season, to an extension. Reports indicate the Reds have until later today (the conclusion of a 72-hour window) to see if they can get Sonny to put pen to paper.  MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch is reporting the deadline is sometime this evening.  Until the deal is finalized, there is a chance it could break down and the Yankees would need to pivot to other opportunities to unload young Mr Gray. 

Jon Heyman’s tweet yesterday that ended with “…or keep him” was rather jarring to me. Look, I want Sonny Gray to do well at his next destination. I hope the dude recaptures the luster he once had in Oakland and puts himself into Cy Young consideration in future years. But, and that’s a very BIG but, I do not want him on the 2019 New York Yankees. I’ve seen enough shades of Gray at Yankee Stadium. 

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
Despite Great American Park not being known as a pitcher’s park, Cincinnati seems to have everything that would appeal to Sonny. It’s approximately 275 miles from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a young team that has added some interesting pieces this off-season with Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. They have Joey Votto and a sound closer in Raisel Iglesias. A quick check of the current Reds roster shows that his old Oakland number and the number previously worn in Cincinnati by Aroldis Chapman (54) is available. The pitching coach is Derek Johnson who happened to be Sonny’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Cincinnati is considered a less-pressurized small market but a team with some history and tradition. I am sure that Yankees manager Aaron Boone could give some great insight into life in Cincinnati. Oh, wait a minute, Sonny has not heard from the Yankees since the off-season began. Scratch a talk with Boonie. The Reds offer a rotation that would not put any undue pressure on Gray.  He could be the best starter or he could be the worst. It’s really up to him and I think Reds fans will be more forgiving than us. 

Cash, get the Gray trade closed! We have faith in you.


I still don’t get why there is resistance among the fanbase for Adam Ottavino to be the first Yankee to wear the number 0. I am not sure if it is because “0” is not really a number, the fact no Yankee has ever worn the number or a preference for Derek Jeter to be the one to last wear a single digit number. Maybe there are other reasons but I really have no reason to believe Otto should not wear the number. Give it to the man. He’s a native New Yorker and he’s going to wear the Pinstripes proud. 


Emily Waldon of The Athletic recently reported the Yankees will attend a showcase for RHP Rookie Davis and LHP Adam Libertore on January 31st. Libertore, a 31-year-old former Dodgers reliever who was cut last August, does not really interest me, but I’d like to see the Yankees bring back Davis for an opportunity to kick start his career again. Davis was part of the deal that originally brought Aroldis Chapman to New York. Davis was one of four Yankees who went to Cincinnati, and he probably had the most success which really isn’t saying much since none of them panned out for the Reds. Davis underwent hip surgery in October 2017 and missed most of 2018 on the disabled list.  Davis appeared in seven games for the Reds in 2017 with six starts. The numbers were awful: 1-3, 8.63 ERA, giving up 38 hits, 23 earned runs, and 7 homers in 24 innings pitched. However, he was once a bright prospect and will only be 26 in late April.  Not sure if anything is there, but why not. I wouldn’t bring him in on a Major League deal but a minor league contract to allow him to rebuild value works for me assuming it works for him. 

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer (Zach Buchanan)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day so let’s honor and remember one of the greatest men in American history. He may be gone but his voice is heard loudly today and will continue to resonate through many tomorrows to come.

  


As always, Go Yankees!

Meet a Prospect: Shed Long


The New York Yankees made a trade with the Cincinnati Reds this week that sent right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray to Cincinnati, while 2B prospect Shed Long, a draft pick, and a player to be named later returned to New York. Long was considered the Reds 6th or 7th best prospect in a great farm system, depending on what list you check, and could be a considerable talent for the New York Yankees going forward in their farm system… so let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Shed Long Edition.

Shedric Bernard Long was born on August 22, 1995 and attended High School at Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Alabama. While attending he played baseball for the school’s team and caught the attention of the Cincinnati Reds who drafted the then catcher in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft. Long made his professional debut with the Arizona League Reds almost immediately after signing and finished his first pro season with a .256 batting average with one home run and eight RBI in 24 games played. Long played behind the plate again during the 2014 season before the Reds moved him to second base before the 2015 season with the Dayton Dragons. Long continued to work his way up the Reds organizational ladder until he was added to Cincinnati’s 40-man roster after the 2017 season. Shed spent the 2018 season in Double-A with the Pensacola Wahoo’s where he hit .261 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI in 126 games.


Long is just 5’8” and 180 lbs. Long hits from the left-side but throws from the right in the field at second base. Long has shown surprising power in the minor leagues and has even drawn praise from a Hall of Fame player in Barry Larkin. Larkin, in an interview with Cincinnati.com, said of Long, “Certainly, talent wise, he has big-league talent, no doubt about it.” Larkin went on to mention that Long has to work on the mental aspect of the game, but honestly that could probably be said about any minor league player, especially one that was drafted out of High School.

Here is a short clip from Bobby Nightengale, son of Bob Nightengale, showcasing Shed Long smacking a two-run single in the 3rd inning of an Arizona Fall League game.




And here are some stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Register Batting
Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS SO BA OBP SLG OPS
201317Reds24887892020181117.256.333.321.654
201418Billings29938761530062118.172.217.207.424
201519Dayton421731522243726162331.283.363.474.836
2016202 Teams132548478691403051575214120.293.371.471.842
201620Daytona381591432246644305135.322.371.503.875
201620Dayton943893354794241114516385.281.371.457.828
2017212 Teams1044393885010922316509494.281.358.477.834
201721Pensacola421601411332623143131.227.319.362.680
201721Daytona62279247377716113366363.312.380.543.922
201822Pensacola126522452751182251256196123.261.353.412.765
201822Scottsdale19665861421083115.241.333.310.644
MinoMinoMino457186316352314458615502115419403.272.353.435.788
All All All 476192916932374598816502195720418.271.352.431.783
With that said, welcome to the organization, Shed, and welcome to the Yankees family! (pending an extension with Sonny Gray for Cincinnati)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Yankees Close to Sonny Gray Trade...

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Noah K Murray)
Right-hander Appears Headed to Cincy…

It has not yet been finalized but it appears the Yankees are finally close to trading right-hander Sonny Douglas Gray to the Cincinnati Reds. Hopefully there are no last minute snags and this one gets pushed across the finish line.

For Gray, he’ll get a chance for redemption with Cincinnati, which is less than 300 miles from his Nashville, Tennessee home. The Reds have been one of MLB’s most active teams this off-season, having already rebuilt their pitching staff with the acquisitions of Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals and Alex Wood, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’ll join holdovers Anthony DeSclafani and Luis Castillo to provide the Reds with a solid starting rotation. Maybe not good enough to win the NL Central over the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers or St Lous Cardinals, but they’ll be better. Gray will also reunite with his pitching coach at Vanderbilt, Derek Johnson, who was named the Reds’ pitching coach in November. Maybe Johnson can do what Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was unable to do. 

While I wanted Gray to leave, there is some sadness that it did not work out for him in New York. I think all of us were excited when the Yankees acquired him from the Oakland A’s in the summer of 2017. We thought he was the missing ace that could be paired with Luis Severino to provide the Yankees with two young stars atop the rotation. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be and now Gray gets a change of scenery that will hopefully benefit him and help restore some of his luster as he heads into his walk year at the age of 29. I wish him the best and I do hope that he pitches more like the ace he once was in Oakland.  

The Yankees will reportedly receive second base prospect Shed Long from the Reds. The 23-year-old Long, only 5’8” and 184 lbs, is rated as Cincinnati’s seventh best prospect per MLB.com. He is recognized as an excellent lefty hitter who has worked hard to bring up his defense to at least average. He spent last year in Double A with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos where he hit .261/.353/.412, .765 OPS and 120 +wRC+, with 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. Long has a little speed in those short legs, picking up 19 steals in 25 attempts. I probably would have preferred catching prospect Tyler Stephenson but the Reds resisted the Yankees’ attempts to pry him loose. Regardless, Long is a legitimate prospect and presumably will begin the year with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. His defense leads to speculation that he may need to be moved to a corner outfield position but all reports indicate he is working hard to improve his defensive game.  

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer (Kareem Elgazzar)
The Yankees will also apparently receive a competitive balance draft pick and a lesser minor league player. I doubt the second minor leaguer will be much but I will be anxious to see who the Yankees draft next summer with the draft pick. 

Many fans are calling this a heist for Yankees GM Brian Cashman. I guess my expectations are a bit more tempered. I need time to see how this plays out. There’s a good chance that Gray recaptures his magic in Ohio and until the prospects reach the Show, they’ve proven nothing.  

Since Long was on the Reds’ 40-man roster, the trade does not free up a spot for newly signed reliever Adam Ottavino. My hope is that we’ve reached the end of the line for RHP Luis Cessa, but the realist in me believes it will be RHP Ben Heller who continues to recover and rehab from last summer’s Tommy John surgery. The Yankees would hold out hope Heller goes unclaimed so that they can outright him to Triple A, but if I was a team with roster space, I’d make a claim to add Heller.  

Now that Gray is nearly out of the picture, Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo German represent the insurance for CC Sabathia in the starting rotation. The Yankees also are bringing non-roster invitee RHP Drew Hutchison to Spring Training. There’s still time for Cashman to find another arm to bring to camp which is the current expectation.  

Let’s hope Cashman can seal the deal with the Reds today so that we can move on.

The upcoming week looms big for the Yankees. On Tuesday, the latest Hall of Fame selections will be announced. Leading the charge is the legendary Mariano Rivera who will make the Hall on his first ballot as the greatest Closer in Major League history. 

Photo Credit: Newsday (Thomas A Ferrera)
I am not setting myself up for the expectation that Mo will be unanimously voted in even though he should be. While he has appeared on all publicly revealed ballots, I expect someone to exclude him on the undisclosed ballots. While we may want Rivera, my favorite Yankee during his playing days (sorry Derek Jeter fans), to be unanimous, the bottom line is the guy will be a Hall of Famer. I don’t care about the final voting results as long as they ensure Rivera will be Cooperstown, New York this summer. Hopefully Mike Mussina will be there as well even if he has to wear an Orioles cap. I’d prefer he wears a Yankees cap but there is no dispute he was a great pitcher in Baltimore, his original team. I know I always hated it when the Yankees faced him. Generally-speaking, it did not go well for the Yankees.  


Today is a big football day with the AFC and NFC Championship Games. It’s time for some disappointment in Boston so hopefully Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs punch their ticket for the Super Bowl and send the New England Patriots home for the off-season. On the NFC side, I’m pulling for the Los Angeles Rams although it won’t be a disappointment if the New Orleans Saints advance. My only hope for today is a Boston loss…and for the Gray trade to be finalized.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday’s Gray Skies Lift Sonny Out of Bronx.....

The Sonny Gray saga is over. The Yankees and Reds are dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s.  

It seems the Yanks settled a lil not getting a back up catcher.  The Bombers will revive the draft pick they were seaking.  2nd Baseman Shed Long is also said to be in the deal.  

A Week Closer to Spring Training...


Less Than a Month for the Road to Tampa…

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner but for pitchers and catchers when it arrives, it will mean they’ve reported to Spring Training in Tampa one day earlier. Very appropriate considering our love for America’s favorite Pastime. Flowers and chocolates for the loves in our life? No, grab a glove and bat and let’s get after it! I know that I am anxious to see the guys back at Steinbrenner Field so that we can talk about baseball activities as opposed to this dreadful offseason of rumors and rare free agent signings (or as I like to call it, the roller coaster of hope).  


The Yankees were busy last week collecting former Colorado Rockies. I like DJ LeMahieu and was surprised his signing was met with much negativity among the fan base. Maybe it’s because I live in Denver, Colorado but I saw firsthand how much DJ meant to the Rockies and their fans. He has such a strong reputation for being an excellent fielder and is very highly thought of by his teammates, and we know he hits for average even if he didn’t accumulate power numbers at the hitter’s friendly high altitude of Coors Field. Even if the Rockies didn’t make DJ an offer, I know the fans and his teammates were disappointed to see DJ leave. For the Rockies, it’s well known that they are saving their pennies for Nolan Arenado. Despite the trade rumors that surfaced late in the week, the Rockies still hope to hang on to their franchise player who can be a free agent after the upcoming season. I feel that we need to give DJ a chance. He wants to win as much as anybody and he seems excited to be a Yankee even if it wasn’t his childhood dream. There’s other infield moves that I might have preferred but I still think LeMahieu is an outstanding addition.   

Photo Credit: MLB.com 
Later in the week, the Yankees signed former Colorado reliever Adam Ottavino, another fan favorite. I’ve never been a very big fan of the Rockies, kind of hard when your favorite NL team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I know that whenever Ottavino was giving an interview, I’d listen. He is well spoken and offers great insight into baseball anytime he talks. He is frequent guest on MLB Network and always makes himself accessible to the media. After his disappointing 2017 season which included his omission from the playoff roster, he didn’t sulk. He took office space in Harlem to build an indoor pitching facility and reinvented himself which led to a highly successful campaign this past year. The native Brooklynite maintains his home in NYC with an apartment in Manhattan and seems such a natural fit to pitch for the Yankees. My hope going into the off-season was for the Yankees to sign at least two of Zach Britton, David Robertson, and Ottavino. While I would have liked to have seen D-Rob return, I can’t say that I am disappointed he has been replaced by Otto.  



Ottavino’s signing means the Yankees need to make room on the 40-man roster before the trade can be made official. The flurry of Sonny Gray trade rumors are intensifying which seems to imply the Yankees will be looking to trade Gray for prospects rather than proven MLB talent that might occupy 40-man roster space. It was kind of funny yesterday when Jack Curry of the YES Network fell for a false tweet by the fake Jon Heyman to send out a report Gray had been traded to Cincinnati for a player to be named later and cash. By all accounts, the Yankees are still talking with the Padres and Giants in addition to the Reds. I’ve quit trying to  speculate who the Yankees might get in a Gray trade. I am sure that GM Brian Cashman will acquire the best possible talent. There’s been some talk a reliever like Tommy Kahnle or Jonathan Holder could be included to sweeten the pot, but I’d hate to sell Kahnle low as I feel he’ll be closer to his 2017 version this year. Holder was the breakout arm last season and as a young cost-controlled pitcher, he carries too much value in terms of both cost and talent to trade (unless you are convinced Stephen Tarpley and other minor league arms are ready to ascend to the Bronx). I’d prefer to see Holder and Tarpley as the last men in the pen, aside from long relief/spot starter which I anticipate to go to Jonathan Loaisiga if Gray is traded. It’s very possible that a Gray trade could go down this weekend or early next week. The Yankees should be in position to make Otto’s signing official by Monday or Tuesday so you’d think Gray will be gone before then, although I’d have no problem, personally, in severing ties with Luis Cessa.

Jon Heyman, the real one I think, is reporting the Gray trade is expected to happen this weekend. Per his tweet on Twitter this morning: “Yankees and Reds are getting closer on a Sonny Gray trade. Teams are talking about two prospects and a draft pick going for Sonny. One of 2B prospect Shed Long and C prospect Tyler Stephenson may go. Giants, Braves, Brewers are on periphery. A deal should happen this weekend.” I liked a tweet yesterday when the commenter said that if he saw Sonny Gray was traded for a shed, he wouldn’t blink an eye. I know, I feel the same way but it would be nice to get a value return.  

Congratulations to Brian Cashman for at least getting a young prospect for outfielder Tim Locastro who was designated for assignment when LeMahieu was signed. Locastro was traded to Arizona for 17-year-old LHP Ronald Roman of the Dominican Republic.  Roman had been signed by the Diamondbacks last summer as an international signee and is set to make his professional debut this year in the lower levels of the farm system. Could not really find any information on him. He’s a lottery ticket, for sure, but you can’t win if you don’t take a chance.   

Back to the bullpen, the Yankees have certainly built what should be the premier pen in the league. But we know that even the best of bullpens give up a few runs now and then. I like the Yankees’ chances in the late innings, but there will be breakdowns. We can’t expect perfection but all things considered, I’d rather take my chances with the Yankees’ pen over any other team in Major League Baseball. I am surprised the Boston Red Sox have not done anything to fill their holes in the bullpen. I still think they’ll eventually get Craig Kimbrel back. I know the Sox don’t want to pay Kimbrel’s current asking price but I’d still be surprised if they let him walk away. I really thought they’d snare one of Britton, Robertson or Ottavino and I am so glad it did not happen. Given Otto’s relatively affordable contract of 3 years for $27 million, I was even more surprised the Sox didn’t make a play for him despite carrying MLB’s highest payroll. If the Red Sox do lose Kimbrel, I’d expect Dave Dombrowski to make a trade to bring in a proven closer unless they are convinced Tyler Thornburg is healthy and ready to pitch at the level he did a couple of years ago for the Milwaukee Brewers. Thornburg had 13 saves for the Brewers in 2016, with 2.15 ERA after being named their closer midway through the year. He had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2017, and wasn’t really able to do anything last summer  after his return (5.63 ERA over 24 innings) before being shut down early in September. I am sure the Red Sox will figure out their current bullpen mess but it’s clear they do not value the importance of a super bullpen like the Yankees do. If I ran the Sox, I’d probably sign Dallas Keuchel and move Nathan Eovaldi to the pen. No doubt Keuchel’s asking price is dropping.  

As it stands right now, I like the current composition of the 2019 Yankees and certainly believe they have the talent to take down the Red Sox. There are other moves the team could make to improve the roster but if they don’t, this is still a damn good team. I am so ready to watch the baseballs flying in Tampa and seeing Aaron Judge’s grin as he arrives at Steinbrenner Field. It’s almost time for the Yankees fan base to reunite and cheer for MLB’s best team.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Yankees Sign RHP Adam Ottavino


Three-years and $27 million later and the New York Yankees bullpen is complete as the team inked a deal with RHP Adam Ottavino, formerly of the Colorado Rockies. The Yankees payroll now sits at an estimated $232 million, for those keeping score at home.

And another beard bites the dust...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Making A Case For Playing LeMahieu At First Base

I want to preface this post by saying that I believe DJ LeMahieu should be the Yankees regular second baseman. The guy has won the National League Gold Glove award at that position three times, including the past two years.

Sure, Gleyber Torres was the regular second baseman last season but let's be honest here... he didn't play it too well (-16.7 UZR/150). But in the minors Torres played almost 1600 more innings at shortstop than second base. Hell, Gleyber played more innings at third base in the minors than he did second. So it makes sense that Torres didn't look so good over there last season, as he's not very familiar with the position.

So this is the perfect opportunity to make things right on defense by playing LeMahieu at second and Torres at short. Then you keep Andujar at third base and hope that he can improve his defense there like Adrian Beltre did early in his career (by the way, that didn't happen overnight, so let's temper our expectations a bit).

Of course that means Troy Tulowitski would be on the bench, and although he may be able to handle any position in the infield, the fact of the matter is he's only ever played shortstop in the Majors. So if an injury occurred anywhere but short some changes might need to be made.

Oh, and when Didi returns around June... I really don't know. I guess I'll tackle that question when his return is imminent. Besides, who knows what Aaron Boone will actually do position-wise?

But I got to thinking about another spot where Boone could play LeMahieu.

With Torres having played almost a full season at second base, perhaps they don't want to move him from there. Especially with Didi returning this season, there's a chance Boone and the Yankees would rather not move Torres back and forth, and that makes sense too. It's not like Didi stinks, and the team has shown zero interest in signing him to an extension.

And with Tulowitski apparently being healthy, it makes sense that the Yankees would want to see if he has anything left by playing him regularly to at least start the season. That way he gains value as possible trade bait when Didi returns, or he at least gets enough reps to earn playing time at other positions.

So what about first base? That would make your infield on Opening Day consist of Miguel Andujar at third base, Troy Tulowitski at shortstop, Gleyber Torres at second base, and DJ LeMahieu at first.

Before getting into the handful of other reasons for putting DJ at first base, I want to address the idea that his bat won't play well at first base. Typically a team's first baseman provides a good chunk of offense, namely in the power department, which is something LeMahieu wouldn't do. But let's just remember that, like past teams that had Robinson Cano, the Yankees get more than the average amount of offense out of second base thanks to Gleyber Torres. So I believe that negates the lesser offensive production they would get out of first base.

Besides, it's not like the Yankees have been getting a ton of productivity out of their first basemen recently. Last season their regular first baseman (at least before Luke Voit came aboard), Greg Bird, gave the team an OPS+ of 79. In 2017 the duo of Chris Carter and Greg Bird gave the Yankees OPS+'s of 71 and 84. And in 2016 Mark Teixeira had an OPS+ of just 74. And the Yankees offenses were still pretty productive the past three years. So I think the "doesn't play well at first base" thing can be put to bed.

As for the other reasons why Aaron Boone may want to make LeMahieu the regular first baseman, here you go...
  • While I understand why the Yankees would want to see if Luke Voit is more than a flash in the pan, it may be a good idea to try and trade him while his value is as high as it is. Mind you, other teams may see him as a possible flash in the pan too, so the return wouldn't be substantial. But Luke is still 27 (he'll turn 28 next month), and he's not even free agent eligible until 2025, so I imagine the Yankees would get much more than minor league filler in return. Personally I think it's worth holding onto him, but a case can be made to strike a trade while the iron is hot.
  • DJ LeMahieu has missed very little time since 2014, in which he's averaged 146 games a season. He did just turn 30, and did go on the disabled list three times last season, but DJ would allow Greg Bird the ability to work on things and ease his way back into regular first base duty without the added pressure to perform regularly for the Yankees.
  • LeMahieu is an elite defender at second base, so there's a very good chance he could play well above average defense at first base. That would make it so the team wouldn't have to absorb as much poor defense from Torres at second base or Andujar at third (assuming they don't improve there). That's not to say that Bird is no good on defense, but if Greg doesn't start hitting then there's a good chance Luke Voit would get more starts and he's definitely below average there defensively.
  • Let's start by saying the Yankees do trade Voit. Now let's say Tulowitski fails one way or another, and Greg Bird continues to struggle, both of which are good possibilities. The Yankees could put either LeMahieu or Torres at shortstop, and look at adding another first baseman through trade. You may say that's easier said than done, which is true, but it's a hell of a lot easier than finding a solid middle infielder. Hell, just look at how Brian Cashman found Luke Voit and got him for cheap.
Like I said, I'd rather keep a guy at the same position in which he won the last to Gold Glove awards, and let Luke Voit and Greg Bird split time at first base, but I can't call anyone foolish for thinking DJ LeMahieu would be a good choice for first base. 

Isn't it nice having the problem of too many viable infield options? Now if only the Yankees had that same problem in the outfield. Perhaps if they were to sign, I don't know, Bryce Harper then the outfield situation would be in pretty good shape. But I don't want to go down that road again, do I?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Looking at the Yankees Payroll After the DJ LeMahieu Signing



So, you guys and girls remember that time I broke it down and explained how the New York Yankees could not only sign both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper off the free agent market, but they could also do it while staying under the luxury tax? Yeah, about that. That didn’t exactly work out and now it seems like it is unlikely that the Yankees sign either of the 26-year old “generational” talents off the free agent market this offseason. I mean, they could, but after crunching the numbers on the payroll does it look completely unlikely? Keep reading…




Guaranteed 2019 Contracts (AAV in Parenthesis)



Giancarlo Stanton - $26 million ($25 million)

13-year deal worth $325 million with a full no-trade clause, an opt-out clause after the 2020 season, and a 2028 team option worth $25 million with a $10 million buyout. Stanton also receives $50,000 for each All-Star appearance, Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove Award. Stanton also receives $100,000 per MVP Award and $500,000 for each World Series MVP Award achieved throughout the contract. If Stanton does not opt-out after the 2020 season the Miami Marlins will retain $30 million in Stanton’s salary.





Masahiro Tanaka - $22 million ($22,142,857 million)

Seven-year deal worth $155 million with a full no-trade clause.





Jacoby Ellsbury - $21,142,857 million ($21,857,143 million)

Seven-year deal worth $153 million including a team option for the 2021 season worth $21 million and a $5 million buyout. Ellsbury also contains a full no-trade clause written into his contract.





Aroldis Chapman - $15 million plus $2.2 million signing bonus ($17.2 million)

Five-year deal worth $86 million including an $11 million signing bonus paid in equal increments ($2.2 million) annually throughout the length of the contract. Chapman has an opt-out clause after the 2019 season and a full no-trade clause through 2019. Chapman has a modified no-trade clause for 2020 and 2021 if he does not exercise his opt-our clause that keeps him from being traded to a West Coast team.



JA Happ - $17 million ($17 million)

Two-year deal worth $34 million including a vesting option for 2021 worth $17 million if Happ pitches 165 IP or makes 27 starts in 2020.





CC Sabathia - $8 million ($8 million)

One-year deal worth $8 million





Brett Gardner - $7.5 million ($7.5 million)

One-year deal worth $7.5 million






Zach Britton - $13 million ($13 million)

Three-year deal with an opt-out after two years if the fourth-year team option and player option is not picked up by the club after the second year. The contract could be anywhere from two-years and $26 million, three-years and $39 million if the fourth-year option is declined but Britton does not opt-out, to four-years and $53 million. Britton will also receive $1 million if he is traded any time throughout the contract.




DJ LeMahieu - $12 million ($12 million)

Two-year deal worth $24 million





Troy Tulowitzki - $555K ($555K)

One-year deal worth $555K (remaining salary paid by the Toronto Blue Jays) with a full no-trade clause.



Total: $144,397,857 million (145,155,119 million)

All salaries via Spotrac.com



Remember, and I don’t know why there is a difference here, that arbitration salaries are classified as non-guaranteed contracts. That’s why those salaries that were agreed upon by eight of the nine arbitration eligible Yankees players this week are not listed here.




Pre-Arbitration 2019 Salaries – Valued at $555K each (waiver options in parenthesis)

Albert Abreu (3)
Domingo Acevedo (3)
Chance Adams (3)
Miguel Andujar (2)
Luis Cessa
Thairo Estrada (3)
Clint Frazier
Domingo German
Chad Green
Joe Harvey
Ben Heller
Kyle Higashioka
Jonathan Holder (2)
Aaron Judge
Tim Locastro (3)
Jonathan Loaisiga (3)
Jordan Montgomery
Gary Sanchez
Stephen Tarpley
Gleyber Torres (3)
Luke Voit (3)
Tyler Wade


Total: $11,655,000 million (21 players x $555K each)



Without waiver options for the Minor Leagues the players without a waiver option by their name cannot be sent down to Triple-A without first clearing waivers and cannot be sent down without their consent. Also, I am well aware that there are 22 players listed here and the tally only has 11 players on it. I am assuming that one of these 22 players, Luis Cessa please, will be designated for assignment once the DJ LeMahieu contract is official, presumably next week.

All courtesy of Spotrac.com





 2019 Contracts for Arbitration-Eligible Players (MLBTR Projections in Parenthesis)

Dellin Betances (Arb 3) – $7.125 million ($6.4 million)
Greg Bird (Arb 1) – $1.2 million ($1.5 million)
Sonny Gray (Arb 3) – $7.5 million ($9.1 million)
Didi Gregorius (Arb 4) – $11.75 million ($12.4 million)
Aaron Hicks (Arb 3) – $6 million ($6.2 million)
Tommy Kahnle (Arb 2) – $1,387,500 million ($1.5 million)
James Paxton (Arb 3) – $8.575 million ($9.0 million)
Austin Romine (Arb 3) – $1.8 million ($2.0 million)
Luis Severino (Arb 1) – $5.1 million (projection, potentially heading to arbitration hearing)



Total: $44,437,506 ($53.2 million)

Let me be the first, well probably the 1,000,000th, to say that I find it to be absolutely ridiculous that the Yankees are pinching pennies (at all) with ace Luis Severino. It has been reported that the Yankees offered $4.4 million while Severino asked the Yankees for $5.25 million. The Yankees are really going to squabble over $850K? Seriously? Especially with the obvious fact that the Yankees could see a contract like Sonny Gray moved in a deal now that his potential new team, cash-strapped teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds or San Diego Padres, know exactly how much salary they would be taking back in a potential deal. This isn't the beginning of the end of Severino inside a Yankees uniform like some have made it out to be, but damn it's not a good look either. 





Retained Salaries per Spotrac


Brett Gardner – $2 million buyout of his 2019 team option

Alex Rodriguez – $4 million in deferred salary



Total: $6 million

  

Why in the world is this team STILL paying Alex Rodriguez?





The Final Tallies


2019 Total Yankees Salaries As of 1/12/19
$223,490,363 million




2019 Luxury Tax Threshold According to MLB.com
$206 million

And now it makes sense that the Yankees would argue with Luis Severino over $850K? Maybe? Not really, as you add payroll every time you purchase a contract and add someone to the 40-man roster throughout the season. The Yankees are over the luxury tax threshold, but just barely (if at all… remember, Luis Severino’s salary is still a projection) Especially when you consider just how likely it is for Sonny Gray to be traded, as we mentioned earlier, now that the team and 5th starter CC Sabathia has a clean bill of health, all things considered. So, do the Yankees have the money to add much more? Do the Yankees have the ability to add a reliever in Adam Ottavino? An infielder in Manny Machado? An outfielder in Bryce Harper? The luxury tax and the penalties for going over the luxury tax may have the answer for that.




EDIT: According to Fangraphs you have to include an extra $17 million to your luxury tax to cover medical expenses, travel expenses, etc. according to the Collective Bargaining agreement. Either way, the Yankees are over the luxury tax threshold. 


For teams that are exceeding the luxury tax threshold for the first time, which the Yankees are after resetting their penalties by getting under the luxury tax threshold last season, the penalty for every dollar spent over the $206 million luxury tax threshold is a 20% penalty up to $20 million. To use even numbers, for every $10 million the Yankees go over the threshold the team must pay an extra $2 million to the league in penalties, obviously meaning $20 million would force the team to incur $4 million in penalties. If the team exceeds $20 million over the cap, but spends under $40 million over the luxury tax threshold, the penalty grows to 32% after a 12% surtax. Exceeding $40 million over the cap penalizes a team 62.5% (42.5% surtax on top of initial 20% tax) on every dollar as well as costing the team 10 places in the Rule 4 MLB Draft. The top six picks are protected, but a team with a 7th overall pick or later would see their highest selection in the MLB First Year Players Draft moved back 10 places. If your team falls in the top six of the MLB Draft, which the Yankees do not, they would see their second highest pick in the draft moved back by 10 places instead.


So, a hypothetical deal worth $30 million annually in salary for either Harper or Machado would cost the Yankees an extra $9.6 million in 2019 alone. Signing both to a pair of $30 million annual salaries would end up costing the Yankees $85.5 million in 2019 instead of the $60 million that most Yankees fans see, thus making it like the Yankees are signing three generational talents instead of just two. That’s also not counting the fact that the tax penalties get tougher each year the Yankees are over the cap and the fact that New York will slide 10 places in the draft.

A hypothetical deal with Adam Ottavino though, projected to earn $10 million annually over three-years according to MLB Trade Rumors, would only cost the Yankees a total of $12 million though and would allow the team to keep their current position in the 2019 MLB Draft. That’s before considering that the Yankees could potentially move at least $7.5 million in Sonny Gray’s salary, thus costing the Yankees less in terms of luxury tax penalties by signing Ottavino.


In closing, Ken Rosenthal and many other insiders may not be counting out the Yankees just yet, but the numbers don’t lie. Aside from the possibility of signing RHP Ottavino, a signing I am a huge supporter of, it looks like the Yankees heavy lifting this offseason, barring a major trade, is over. The Yankees may grab Ottavino to finish off the bullpen, or they may head into spring training with the team as it is currently assembled, but one thing seems really clear though, given the history of Hal Steinbrenner as the Yankees principal owner, neither Machado nor Harper will be donning pinstripes in 2019.

Grab your pitchforks, Yankees fans, this is going to be a wild month of January and February when these two 26-year old players sign elsewhere. Be ready.