Monday, November 12, 2012

Is Hamilton A Possibility?

"Are you reconsidering bring me back, yet?"

A little over two weeks ago, in my Offseason Decisions post regarding Nick Swisher, I went through some of the other free agent options. In the end I concluded that the Yankees had two decisions... re-sign Swisher or make a trade.

The only free agent outfielder I liked was Josh Hamilton, but he didn't seem like a viable option to replace Swisher due to his contract demands. Here is what I said...
I'd love to have this guy in pinstripes. He's a left-handed batter with power, that also has a career batting average of .304, while getting on base over 36% of the time. Josh has averaged 33 home runs per season over the last 3 years, and that includes missing 35 games in 2011 with a broken arm, and 24 games in 2010 with broken ribs. And keep in mind that those injuries were not something to be worried about in the future, unlike if he missed all that time due to a bad back. Other than his offense being vast superior to Swisher's, Hamilton's defense looks to be a bit better as well. Nick's career UZR/150 in RF is 4.5, while Josh's is 6.0 (Hamilton played mainly in CF this past season, and was mainly in LF the previous two years). The problem with Josh is that he's going to command too much. Not that it really matters to fans, who just want the best on the field, but the Yankees seem to be getting tight with the dollar. And keeping the austerity budget in mind, I think the chances of seeing Josh Hamilton playing for the good guys next season are pretty slim.
So the idea of Hamilton playing 81 games in Yankee Stadium seemed like a pipe dream at best. But on Sunday morning, when I visited the Yankee page at MLB Trade Rumors, I read this...
Cafardo sees the Yankees, Dodgers (if they trade Andre Ethier), Mariners, Orioles, and Brewers as the teams to watch for Josh Hamilton. The extra $25MM that teams could earn each year as a result of the new TV deal could lead someone to take the plunge and give the outfielder a five-year deal.
Whoa! This guy can see the Yankees as being in on Hamilton? Seriously? I dismissed it as a silly notion and moved on to other news, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I mean, if this guy thinks it's possible, maybe it is. After all, Curtis Granderson is a free agent after 2013, and the team would probably want a veteran in the outfield along with Gardner if they were to give that outfield spot to Tyler Austin or another kid. Then again, the Average Annual Value of Granderson's contract after picking up his 2013 option is only $6.875 million (6 years and $41.25m).

"Forget Swish. You want me... don't you?"

Okay, it's time to see the numbers. Here are the players that are signed up to and through 2014, along with the AAV of their contracts...

Alex Rodriguez  - $27.5 million
Mark Teixeira - $22.5 million
CC Sabathia - $24.4 million
Derek Jeter - $14 million *assuming Jeter exercises his player option, making his deal worth $56m over 4 years.

As for current players that could be with the team here's what I got, including my guesses of the AAV of their new contracts...

Robinson Cano - $23 million (8 years, $184 million)
Russell Martin - $8 million (3 years, $24 million)

Now for the players that will be arbitration eligible, as well as guesses as to what they could get. I based these guess off of the raises some current players have gotten, as well as what they've gotten through arbitration in the past (MLBTR's arbitration estimates for 2013 are in parenthesis next to my guess... where applicable). For example, Brett Gardner got $2.8 million in 1st year of arbitration, Phil Hughes got $2.7 million in his 1st year, and David Robertson got $1.6 million. When players are eligible for arbitration is a bit confusing, but going by what MLB Trade Rumors and Cot's Baseball Contracts says, here's what I got...

Brett Gardner (3rd) - $4 million ($2.8m)
David Robertson (3rd) - $3.2 million ($2.7m)
Michael Pineda (1st) - $2 million
Ivan Nova (1st) - $2.5 million
Clay Rapada (1st) - $1 million
Eduardo Nunez (1st) - $1 million
Cory Wade (1st) - $.75 million
Chris Stewart (1st) - $1 million
Francisco Cervelli (1st) - $1 million
Jayson Nix (2nd) - $1.4 million ($.9m)
Casey McGehee (3rd) - $3.2 million ($2.9m)
Chris Dickerson (1st) - $1 million

"You're not sure about all those arbitration cases, are you?"

And finally for pre-arbitration players that I could see being on the team in some capacity, along with my guess based on the fact that the minimum salary in 2014 will be $500,000...

Austin Romine - $.5 million
David Phelps - $.5 million

So totaling up the salaries of players under contract, the players I can see being re-signed by that point, the arbitration eligible players, and the pre-arbitration players, the Yankees 2014 payroll so far will be $142.45 million.

By the way, for those of you wondering "wait, he's got to be forgetting some players", allow me to remind you that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and David Aardsma will be free agents.

I'm going to take a couple of guesses at players that could fill in a couple spots on the active roster, and mark those guesses with an asterisk.

C - Russell Martin
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Robinson Cano
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Derek Jeter
LF - Tyler Austin*
CF - Brett Gardner
RF -
DH -

Bench (Catcher) - Chris Stewart/Austin Romine/Francisco Cervelli
Bench (Middle Infield) - Eduardo Nunez/Jayson Nix
Bench (Corner Infield) - Casey McGehee
Bench (Outfield) - Chris Dickerson

SP1 - CC Sabathia
SP2 -
SP3 - Michael Pineda
SP4 - David Phelps
SP5 - Ivan Nova

Closer - David Robertson
Set-Up - Mark Montgomery*
Bullpen - Clay Rapada
Bullpen - Cory Wade
Bullpen -
Bullpen -
Bullpen -

I realize that saying Austin and Montgomery will be ready and able to contribute in MLB in 2014 is a stretch, as is having David Phelps and Ivan Nova in the starting rotation, but bear with me. So add $1 million for Mark Montgomery and Tyler Austin, who would likely make the league minimum in 2014, the total payroll would rise to $143.45 million. Leaving $45.55 million for a right fielder, designated hitter, #2 starting pitcher, and three bullpen spots.

"I'll be your huckleberry."

Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos could be put into the rotation, but since I already put Austin and Montgomery in key roster spots, I'll leave them out of this. Seeing that the Yankees will fill the #2 spot in the rotation with Hiroki Kuroda, who made $10 million last season and will probably cost less than $15 million in 2013, I can see them being able to do that again in 2014. $15 million for a #2 starter brings the payroll total to $158.45 million, leaving $30.55 million.

The Yankees may be able to fill the DH spot for no more than $3 million, seeing as how they did that in 2012. Bring our total to $161.45 million, leaving $27.55 million.

I really don't believe that the last three spots in the bullpen could cost any more $4 million, and that could be pushing it. I mean, if Rapada were around, it's not like the Yankees would have to overpay for a left-handed reliever like they did for Damaso Marte, who made $4 million a year. And that would bring the team's 2014 payroll total to $165.45 million, leaving $23.55 million.

At this point there would only be one spot to fill... right field, and the team would have $23.55 million to fill it.  It's at that point that I could see Josh Hamilton possible joining the Yankees. Of course, he would have to come down a bit from his contract demand of 7 years and $175 million (an AAV of $25m), but I could see that happening. I mean, how often does a player get exactly what he asks for in free agency?

I see no way that Josh gets 7 years, as other teams are surely going to take notice of the fact that his old team (the Rangers) were only willing to go 3 years. Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think Hamilton is going to get any more than 5 guaranteed years. Seeing how many suitors he has, it may take an optional 6th year for the Yankees to get the deal done. How does a 5 year deal worth $110 million, with a $3 million option buyout on the 6th year, which would be an AAV of $22.6 million.

This is cutting things pretty close, because that leaves less than $1 million for the team to make any mid-season pickups and still remain under the luxury tax threshold. It would be nice if that threshold only needs to be met on Opening Day, but I have a feeling that's not the case. Although that would also mean the Yankees kept two extra catchers and two extra middle infielders, all of which will make more than the league minimum, and that's probably not the case. So the Yankees could clear some space by non-tendering guys like Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, and Jayson Nix.

In conclusion, the Yankees signing Josh Hamilton to take Nick Swisher's spot in right field is not totally out of the question. I'm not betting on it, but for those Yankees fans that like to dream, you're not out of the realm of possibility.

"So you're telling me there's a chance."

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