Monday, January 15, 2018

The Yankees Are One Trade Away From Calling It An Offseason

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in the American League on paper right now, so I stand behind my thought process that the team doesn’t necessarily “need” to do anything else this offseason. Much of the team that was one win away from the World Series in 2017 is back and while the Astros probably got better with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, it is debatable whether the team is better suited for a World Series run than the Yankees are currently. That’s another topic for another blog post though, instead I’d rather focus my efforts on one trade that, albeit an unpopular trade I am sure amongst most Yankees fans, could basically end the heavy lifting for the Yankees this offseason, at least on the trade front. The San Francisco Giants presumably need two outfielders and the Yankees have two to spare while San Francisco has a middle infielder that may strike the Yankees fancy for a season or two. Is it time for “Let’s make a deal?”

The Yankees need either a second baseman or a third baseman this offseason with Gleyber Torres waiting in the wings to take on either position full time later on in the year. The Giants second baseman currently is Joe Panik while their third baseman is a familiar foe in Evan Longoria. Now I don’t know about you, but I personally want absolutely nothing to do with Longoria in pinstripes leaving me with just one option, Panik. Who is Joe Panik? Panik is a proven second baseman with postseason and World Series experience at just 27-years old. Panik is a left-handed bat that would benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium, a solid defender in the middle infield that would fit in well with Didi Gregorius defensively, and a cost-effective piece for a Yankees team still looking to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

Panik just agreed to a deal with the Giants worth $3.45 million through arbitration giving the Yankees a nice chunk of money to spend elsewhere on the free agent or trade market. How so? Because one of those two outfielders the Giants need that the Yankees will be giving them is Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees already reportedly have $22 million to play with this offseason while still remaining under the luxury tax “cap” and trading away at least half of Ellsbury’s salary would give New York a lot of wiggle room to make moves, maybe even enough wiggle room to land a Yu Darvish or another top-tiered free agent.

The other outfielder the Yankees would send to San Francisco, I know you’re dying to know and I know you probably already have a sneaking suspicion. It is Clint Frazier. As much as I would like it to be Brett Gardner I just can’t see the Giants taking on that much salary for two aging and identical players. The Yankees are going to have to sweeten the pot to get anyone to take Ellsbury and Frazier is that sweetener, in my opinion. The Giants already have Miguel Gomez, who made his MLB debut last season and is the team’s 22nd best prospect according to, ready to take over at the position in place of Panik as well as vastly improving their outfield situation with the trade.

Is giving up basically Clint Frazier for Joe Panik and cash considerations a “loss” for the Yankees? Some may think so, yes, but one must also remember that the money saved will or could lead the Yankees in another direction. Is Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier worth Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta and Joe Panik? 100 times out of 100, yes. At least in my opinion. It is all about giving something to get something and that’s what the Yankees are doing here with this trade. You trade from a position of strength or depth to fill a gap, that’s how the 1995 – 2000’s Dynasty Yankees did it and that is how this team can do it as well.

And before you jump all over me let’s take a look at the stat line for Joe Panik while remembering that Panik plays half his games in the very pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Just because Panik is left-handed and just because Barry Bonds made it look easy to hit home runs out of that stadium it doesn’t mean that it is. Panik will benefit from the dimensions at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees team as a whole would benefit from having another left-handed bat in the lineup day in and day out. Anyway, I’m rambling so here are his stats with the Giants

4 Yr4 Yr438181821745986162917012176.282.345.408.753105
162 162 162672801703261163465.282.345.408.753105

As you can see, thanks to Baseball Reference, Panik is a very solid second baseman. Oh, and did I mention that Panik was born in Yonkers, New York? That has to count for something, right? Panik would be under contract through the 2020 season through arbitration and could give the Yankees comparable production to Starlin Castro for a fraction of the cost, while again also potentially bringing in a Yu Darvish type player as well.

I know, my trade proposal sucks so what’s yours? And do you think the Giants would go for it? Leave it all below in the comments section. Thanks in advance. 

Pinstriped Trade Rumors Will Never Die...

Photo Credit:  Kevin C Cox, Getty Images
Red Thunder Gets No Rest…

Now that we don’t have Gerrit Cole rumors to fuel our days, it looks like we’ll be hearing more and more about Yu Darvish until he finally signs somewhere.  

John Harper of The New York Daily News floated a trade possibility this morning. In his scenario, the Yankees would send Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier to the San Francisco Giants for second baseman Joe Panik. By including Frazier, Harper figures the Yankees could get the Giants to pay $12-$13 million annually of what’s left on Ellsbury’s contract.  In his line of thinking, the trade would open the pathway for the Yankees to sign Darvish so he basically views it as an Ellsbury/Frazier swap for Darvish/Panik.  

Photo Credit: Lance Iversen, USA TODAY Sports
I am not sure that I’m crazy about the trade idea but if the Yankees were willing to send Frazier to Pittsburgh for Cole, they’d be willing to move him to bring in Yu Darvish.  

If the Yankees carried a fifth outfielder on the roster to start the year (assuming Ellsbury and Frazier are dealt), it would most likely be Tyler Austin, who could back up first and the corner outfield spots, or Billy McKinney, an outfielder who did work at first base during the Arizona Fall League.

Panik’s presence would allow the Yankees to take their time with Gleyber Torres or move him to third base as once planned. A native New Yorker, Panik, 27, hit .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Giants in 2017. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year and settled with the Giants last week for $3.45 million. He can be a free agent in 2021. His lefty bat would play well in Yankee Stadium.

No one is going to take Ellsbury in a straight one-for-one swap, even with boatloads of cash included. So as much as I’d hate to lose Frazier, this is probably a trade that I’d make so long as I knew that I could sign either Darvish or Alex Cobb for the starting rotation.

In an unrelated rumor, Jim Bowden is saying that the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in signing third baseman Mike Moustakas if they could trade Travis Shaw to the Braves, Mets or Yankees. I’m never too excited about adding an ex-Red Sock, but Shaw had a breakout year for the Brewers in 2017 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. He batted .273/.349/.513.  He is a left-handed bat and will turn 28 in mid-April. Not sure what level of interest the Yankees might have, but it bears watching. It would certainly cause much angst in the Red Sox Nation.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Globe Staff
Congrats Hideki Matsui…

According to The Japan Times, former Yankee (and Yomiuri Giant) Hideki Matsui has been elected to the Japanese Hall of Fame. At 43 years and 7 months, Matsui is the youngest entrant to the Japanese HOF, eclipsing former Dodgers/Mets pitcher Hideo Nomo, who was 45 years and 4 months at the time of his election.

Before heading to the United States to join the Yankees, Matsui won three Central League home run titles (1998, 2000, and 2002) and he was MVP of the CL in 1996, 2000, and 2002. 

This was Matsui’s first year on the Japanese ballot and he garnered 91.3% of the vote. He was joined by former Hanshin Tigers star Tomoaki Kanemoto and former Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.

In his prepared statement, Matsui thanked his mentor, former Yomiuri Giants skipper Shigeo Nagashima. “Day in and day out, (Nagashima) checked my swing, and those days formed the cornerstone for me as a baseball player.”  

Photo Credit: Kyodo
Hideki’s father, Masao, attended the announcement ceremony on his behalf.  Hideki is in New York and was unable to attend.

Congratulations to the great #55 for the well-deserved honor!

Stanton and Judge who?…

Aaron Hicks caused quite a stir on Instagram this weekend when he posted a workout pic that shows he is more than capable of holding his own in the Yankees outfield. I was a little shocked when I first saw the pic and there were plenty of people who questioned whether or not it really was A-A-Ron (it is). Justin Diamond (@justindiamond) had the best tweet:  “Sweet baby Jesus. @AaronHicks31 you on the juice this off-season?”…

Wow, what a football game!…

As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve endured my share of disappointment over the years. The Vikings have found more unique ways to lose big games than any NFL team that I can think of. Well, outside of the Buffalo Bills. Yesterday’s NFC Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints was a game of atonement for me.

The Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and I was getting congratulations from a number of friends. As a Vikings fan, I knew it was way too early to start getting excited.  Plus, Drew Brees is still one of the game’s great quarterbacks.  Sure enough, a couple of plays in the second half shifted the momentum to the Saints. The Vikings lost the lead and then re-captured it with less than 2 minutes to go. I was fearful that the Vikings had left too much time on the clock for Brees and Company and unfortunately I was right. Brees led the Saints to a field goal to re-capture the lead at 24-23 with 25 seconds left. Starting on their own 25 after a touchback on the kickoff, the Vikings moved to their 39 and faced a third down with 10 seconds left and no time outs. I was resigned to the agony of defeat when Vikings QB Case Keenum hit WR Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown to win the game. The Vikings won the game, 29-24. It was such an incredible feeling…something like Aaron Judge hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 9th.  

Photo Credit: Pioneer Press
I am not sure what will happen next week in Philadelphia as the Vikings take on the Eagles for the NFC Championship but I am enjoying the ride. The Eagles are the only thing that stands between the Vikings and playing this year’s Super Bowl at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. So regardless of whether they win or lose, the Vikings are going home. I just hope it is with a game still be played.

Lastly, We Remember…

Today, we remember the late great Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually, he is thought of every day, but today is officially his day. He had so many great words over the course of his life, but I’ll leave this post with one: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Thank you, Dr King, for making a difference. We are a better country because of you and would have been even greater if you hadn’t been taken from us prematurely. We are forever grateful for you and your efforts to make this a better World for all of us.

Never forget MLK Jr...

Go Yankees!