Monday, March 25, 2019

The Yankees And Exotic Sports Cars

Instead of building a killer starting rotation, one that this season could have included the likes of Patrick Corbin, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia, the Yankees have instead built possibly the best bullpen the game has ever seen.

But this isn't a case where Brian Cashman chose not to build that incredible rotation and settled for this amazing group of relievers. I don't think Brian "missed out" on Corbin like some may say. No... I believe he and the other Yankees executives actively passed on Corbin.

Why would they do that, though?

Even if they'd signed Corbin Cashman still could have traded for James Paxton. Just think about it... Patrick Corbin, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia. Assuming they wouldn't have wanted to spend as much money, you can take Britton and/or Ottavino out of the bullpen and the entire run prevention squad still looks very formidable.

However, this isn't the same free-spending organization that we saw 10+ years ago. Years before his famous quote saying "a team shouldn’t need a $200-plus-million dollar payroll to win championships", Hal Steinbrenner has wanted to get the team's payroll down. But unlike many Yankees fans, I don't think that's any sort of admission that Hal is putting profit above winning. 

No, I believe that Hal and company truly believe that the Yankees can win without spending through the roof.

Last season the Boston Red Sox had the highest Opening Day payroll at $235.7 million and went on to win the World Series. That's pretty good evidence that spending does indeed lead to winning. But the year before that the Houston Astros won the whole freakin' thing with an Opening Day payroll just south of $118 million. Go back another year to the champion Chicago Cubs and their Opening Day payroll of $116.65 million. The 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals had an Opening Day payroll of just $113.62 million. 

The point is Hal is right. Teams don't need to write huge checks in order to have the best chance to win. And that brings us back to the pitching squad this year.

If the Yankees had at least matched the Washington Nationals contract for Patrick Corbin this is what the starting rotation's 2019 Opening Day payroll would have looked like...
*I'm going by Luxury Tax salary, not actual salary.

Corbin - $23.3 million
Severino - $10 million
Paxton - $8.575 million
Tanaka - $22.14 million
Sabathia - $8 million

Those five salaries total $72.015 million. Assuming there won't be any more injuries, and no further acquisitions, the entire bullpen for Opening Day will cost a grand total of $50.18 million. That's a savings of almost $22 million. Not an insignificant amount, especially with how great this bullpen looks.

In case you want to see each reliever's salary for yourself, here you go...

Chapman - $17.2 million
Betances - $7.25 million
Britton - $13 million
Ottavino - $9 million
Green - $.6 million
Holder - $.6 million
Kahnle - $1.39 million
Cessa - $.58
Tarpley - $.56 million

I should note that with the signing of J.A. Happ the starting rotation's Opening Day payroll will be $65.715 million, which is not a huge difference from the rotation with Corbin. But keep in mind that Corbin signed for six years, while Happ is signed for just two (not counting the vesting option), so the total savings between those two pitchers is a little over $93 million. Now we're talking significant, especially when there are guys like Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez left to be extended.

Speaking of extensions, when you look at the ones the team signed with Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks already it's very unfair to call the Yankees or Hal Steinbrenner himself "cheap". They are simply being smarter with the money they do spend, which is not a small chunk of change as evidenced by the projected 2019 payroll of over $225 million.

Face it, the game is changing. From infield shifts, to "the opener", to teams going with four outfielders when Aaron Judge is up to bat, the days of starters being leaned on to go six or more innings is fading away. Aaron Boone has already said that he's going to have a shorter leash with his starters since he can go to one of many good to great relievers to handle things from the fifth inning on if necessary. 

It's like if you were going to buy a Ferrari. You can either buy it from this dealership and pay X amount of money, or buy it from a different dealership and pay a little less. You would absolutely pay less because either way you end up driving a damn Ferrari. And that's just like the Yankees spending less on the rotation than the bullpen, and still ending up with a World Series caliber team.

In summary, just enjoy watching the Ferrari that is the 2019 New York Yankees and quit spewing crap about the team or Hal Steinbrenner being "cheap".