Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yanks Sign Russell Branyan to Minor League Deal

From Dan Martin:
The Yankees agreed Wednesday to sign Russell Branyan to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major league spring training.

The move does not impact the team’s chances of adding another lefty bat and it remains in the hunt for Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez.

But Branyan’s presence could make things more difficult for Eric Chavez because the 36-year-old can play both corner infield positions.
Coming off a 2011 that saw him hit .197 with five homers and 14 RBIs I would have rather they signed Chavez.

Cole Hamels and the Yankees

He'd look better in Yankee pinstripes

I heard more talk from a Yankee fan about signing Cole Hamels next offseason, and I decided to crunch the payroll numbers for that season to prove it wasn't really feasible. Of course, a lot can change between now and 2014, so this isn't perfect, but the results actually surprised me.

There are three, really four, players that are signed through 2014. CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez are under contract for a total of $74.4 million. That fourth guy is Derek Jeter, who has a player option for $8 million. That option could increase, but seeing as how it's based on MVP votes, I'm fairly confident that the option will remain the same. Just as I'm confident that Jeter will decide to pick up that option and be in pinstripes in 2014.

We all know that Nick Swisher will be a free agent after this coming season, while Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson will be free agents after the 2013 season (assuming both their options are picked up for 2013). Those aren't the only free agents after the 2013 season though, as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, AJ Burnett, and Rafael Soriano all will no longer be under contract either. The difference between Nick and Robbie, and the rest of the free agents, is that I think Nick and Robbie will be back on the team. Originally I believed the team would want to bring back Curtis Granderson, but he'll be entering his age 33 season, and will probably demand more than the team is willing to give him as they try to get to that magical $189 million mark. That could hinge on Mr. Hamels free agency though.

There will also be, I believe, four guys that are arbitration eligible. Cot's shows for sure that Brett Gardner and David Robertson will be in their 3rd, and final, year of arbitration. However, looking at their service time, I believe that Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda will also be arbitration eligible. I'm far from a guru when it comes to estimating what each player will make via arbitration, but I believe the guesses for them below are fairly close.

There are four non-arbitration players that I think could play an important role for the Yankees in 2014. I can see Manny Banuelos in the starting rotation, Dellin Betances (or another "kid") in the bullpen, Austin Romine taking care of things behind the plate, and possibly even JR Murphy handling things at 3rd base while ARod takes his place as the team's full-time DH. Now, the Murphy thing is a bit of a reach, but seeing that he's gotten time at 3B in the minors, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

At this point there's the hole left by letting Curtis Granderson walk. Luckily the team should have some options as to what they can do at this point, thanks to Gardner's ability to handle CF. Using whatever combination of Gary Sanchez, Dante Bichette Jr., Ravel Santana, Jose Campos, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, DJ Mitchell, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, etc, the team could trade for a LFer or CFer. That newly acquired LFer or CFer could be somebody under team control, like Michael Pineda is after trading for him about a month ago.

Now, for you prospect huggers out there, I was thinking about Mason Williams as the guy that could take over for Granderson. But I'm not sure that Mason will be MLB-ready by 2014. My guess is that he won't be ready for MLB until the 2015 season, which could work out since Brett Gardner will be eligible for free agency by that point, so there could be a hole opening up for Mason at the perfect time.

That leaves the bullpen and bench. Now I see no reason to name names here, because as hard as it is to think about the full lineup and starting rotation, this is pretty much impossible. However I did look at the cost to fill those two areas on the team, and figure that it should cost around $10 million. Last season the bench had Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Francisco Cervelli, and Eduardo Nunez, which cost the team about $4 million. The bullpen was quite a bit more, as Luis Ayala, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, and Hector Noesi cost about $12.85 million. I went by the relievers with the most games appeared in, minus our would-be closer in David Robertson, and set-up man Dellin Betances (or other current prospect hurler). Like I said above, Soriano will be a free agent going into the 2014 season, and I'm going to assume the Yankee brass isn't going to sign another reliever with an AAV of nearly $12 million. Possibly a silly assumption, but this entire article is flimsy, so why the hell not?

So here is the roster so far, with their salary (in terms of AAV). Note that, according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the minimum salary in 2014 will be $500,000. -

C -Austin Romine, $.5m
1B - Mark Teixeira, $22.5m
2B - Robinson Cano, $21m (after signing new contract before season)
3B - JR Murphy, $.5 (like I said, kind of a reach, but possible)
SS - Derek Jeter, $14m
LF - ???, $.5 (assuming that trade for a cost-controlled player, discussed above)
CF - Brett Gardner, $7m (arbitration estimate)
RF - Nick Swisher, $13m (his new contract after 2012 season, the AAV is probably a bit high)
DH - Alex Rodriguez, $27.5m
SP1 - CC Sabathia, $24.4m
SP2 -
SP3 - Michael Pineda, $8m (arbitration estimate based on Tim Lincecum's deal when entering his 1st year of arb.)
SP4 - Ivan Nova, $6m (arbitration estimate)
SP5 - Manny Banuelos, $.5
CL - David Robertson, $5m (arbitration estimate)
SU - Dellin Betances, $.5m
Bench - $4 million (described above)
Bullpen - $10 million (described above)

The remainder 15 players on the roster would normally be made up of minor leaguers, who would make a minimum of $81,500 according to the new CBA. But if we say $100,000 for each that would come to $1.5 million.

At this point the total would come to $166.4 million for the 39-man roster. Wait! 39!?!? Yeah, I left that "SP2" spot empty up there. I did so on purpose because the Yankees would be able to spend another $22.6 million before hitting the $189 million mark that would prevent the team from paying into the Luxury Tax, and lowering their revenue sharing cost. And that amount of money sounds about right in order to sign Cole Hamels.

So I've changed my mind about going after Cole, as this shows that the team could possibly be able to get to that magic number of $189 million with him. And for the record, I agree with letting Curtis Granderson walk, instead of possibly paying him an AAV of $17 million for the downside of his career. And bringing back Nick Swisher seems like a good idea as he'll be younger than Curtis will be, and won't demand as much money or years in a new deal.

Get Greedy! Get Cole!