Thursday, November 12, 2020

My New Offseason Plan

Yes, I already did an offseason plan post, but I can't help but keep thinking about how the Yankees could do things this offseason to get ready for another run at a World Series in 2021.

Besides, I'm not a prospect person at all, so I can't write about that. I could write reactions to news, but nothing has happened that I can't sum up my reactions to on Twitter (@Bryan_TGP). I'm allowed to change my mind, after all. Right? 

So let's jump right into this.

In my previous plan, I talked about bringing back DJ LaMaheiu and signing Michael Brantley and Trevor May Rosenthal. I'm sticking with those signings, and if you want to read about those things then check out my previous article. I talk about the future of Clint Frazier in that article too, which is still apropos to what I'm doing this time around.

I'm going to start things off with something that may not be very exciting, but can pay off big-time due to injuries or resting players... the bench. More specifically, the backup infielder. Remember that Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada combined for 157 at-bats last season, and hurt the offense a hell of a lot more than they helped. I really don't want to see something like that again in 2021.

I like the idea of getting Tommy La Stella for the same reason that the Yankees signed DJ LeMaheiu a couple of years ago, but I don't see that happening. One, Tommy is coming off two really good seasons where he hit to a 118 OPS+ and a 127 OPS+. Whereas, before signing that 2 year $24 million contract, LeMaheiu's previous two seasons saw OPS+s of just 93 and 88. So La Stella would likely cost more than the Yankees are willing to spend for a utility player. Besides, I'm sure many teams will be willing to not only give Tommy more money but also regular playing time.

But I don't think any of us want to see either Thairo Estrada or Tyler Wade as the backup infielder next season. To be fair to Thairo, I'm not giving up on him, but he certainly has some work to do before getting any more MLB at-bats. On the other hand, I'm ready for the Yankees to give up on Wade. Tyler's speed is a great weapon, but how many times next year would we say "I wish we had Tyler Wade right now"? Not many.

So no La Stella, no Estrada, and no Wade. Then who? I say, Jonathan Villar.

Villar is coming off a poor season in 2020, where he was a below-average hitter for the Marlins and a very below-average hitter for the Blue Jays. However, he wasn't a bad hitter in the previous two seasons, and I'm banking on him getting back there in 2021. For any of you that would miss Wade's speed off the bench, you'll be happy to hear that Jonathan isn't a slouch on the basepaths, either, as he stole 40 bases in 2019. And Villar is also a switch-hitter, which Aaron Boone could add to the lineup, helping more with an unbalanced lineup.

As for his versatility, Jonathan Villar has played a ton at both shortstop and second base in his career. The Marlins even had Villar play 10 innings in centerfield last season. Mind you, he's no wizard at either position, but he's solid enough that I wouldn't get anxious whenever a ground ball was hit in his direction.

So the Yankees have signed LaMaheiu, Brantley, May, and Villar. Not bad so far, but there's more work to do. The starting rotation is still full of question marks, and the bullpen could use a bit more oomph as well. 

We've heard a lot about signing guys like Trevor Bauer, Charlie Morton, and other top of the rotation pitchers. Recently there have been rumors that the Yankees have been talking about reuniting with Masahiro Tanaka. I actually like a lot of those ideas, and wouldn't be upset them happening. But I have other ideas.

The first thing I'd like to see happen is trading for Joe Musgrove.

Musgrove has turned into a heck of a starter for Pittsburgh, raising his strikeout rate last year to a very impressive 12.5 per nine innings. Joe also throws a lot of ground balls, which is always a welcome sight in Yankee Stadium. He doesn't throw his fastball very hard, but the spin rate of that pitch is very nice. And when you combine that with killer breaking pitches, I think he'd make a very fine addition to the starting rotation. Oh, and Musgrove will turn 28 next month, while still being two years away from free agency.

So what would it take to get him? Well, it won't be cheap. Mind you, the Pirates have made some poor trades recently (the Chris Archer deal may go down as one of the worst in history), but I'm going to use the analyzer at Baseball Trade Values.

In that case, I see a trade of Clint Frazier and Luis Gil for Joe Musgrove.

The addition of Musgrove alone would make for a fine starting rotation, but I don't want the Yankees to take any chances this coming season and beyond. I've seen way too many injuries, and way too many poor performances in big games, to do anything close to settling. And I'm not going to trust Luis Severino returning from Tommy John surgery around midseason, and being a top of the rotation starter right away. That's not typically how pitchers come back from that procedure. As much as I like Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia, I'm not ready to lean on them that much in 2021, either. And after missing all of this past season, who knows how Domingo German will look when he returns?

Okay, I'm cheating a bit here. I talked about acquiring this pitcher in my last prediction post, but when it comes to who I'm trading for him I changed things up. 

The Yankees trade Miguel Yajure and Oswald Peraza for Lance Lynn.

Clint Frazier for Lynn was a massive overpay. I honestly don't know what I was thinking on that one. That doesn't mean Lynn hasn't been among the better pitchers in baseball for the past couple of years. But he is 33, only has one more season under contract, and is coming from a team that clearly wants his $8 million ($10 million AAV) off the books next season. It's not like the Texas Rangers are going to contend in 2021, so keeping Lance around would be a stupid idea. I suppose they could hold off until the trade deadline, but I think Texas would be much happier moving him and his salary sooner than later.

I spoke about reasons for acquiring Lance Lynn in my previous article, so I'm again going to ask you to go there if you want to check that out. 

For the longest time, the Yankees have had one of the better bullpens in baseball. That changed in a big way in 2020, when the Yanks had the third-worst bullpen in the American League (going by fWAR). And we watched that bite them in the ass over and over again. 

I'm not giving up on Adam Ottavino, but I don't want to go into next season leaning on him for any big outs. The previously mentioned addition of Trevor May could very well be enough to make the Bombers bullpen a force again but like the rotation... I'm not risking anything. It's time we go for the jugular. 

Trade Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, and Roansy Conteras for Josh Hader.

Since Hader's MLB debut in 2017, he's thrown 223.2 innings with an ERA+ of 171. His strikeout rate in his career is a silly 15.3 batters per nine innings. And his career ERA is 2.54. I'm not going to get into reasons for wanting to have Josh Hader on the Yankees, because there's not a baseball team on this planet that wouldn't want to acquire his services.

For that reason, trading for him will not come cheap. Especially since Hader is not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, meaning the Brewers may want to hold onto him since they could contend within the next few years. But I think he can be gotten, as I'm sure the Brewers would be interested in cutting his approximate $6 million salary from their payroll.

Milwaukee has plenty of holes in their lineup, and having among the worst farm systems in the league isn't going to help fill them much at all. So they're surely going to need some help from other organizations in order to rebuild. And the three players I'm sending to the Brewers, who will help in the infield, outfield, and on the mound, would definitely catch their attention. 

I don't think I have to defend adding either Florial or Conteras to this deal. I'm sure both men have their fans, but neither of them will be greatly missed. Andujar, on the other hand, may get some resistance for being dealt. Many fans, myself included, believe Miguel will bounce back next season and end up having a fine career. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him in a handful of All Star teams in the future. But the emergence of Gio Urshela, as well as a packed outfield, and the designated hitter spot mainly being filled by Giancarlo Stanton for the next seven years, leaves no place for Andujar. I've even mentioned first base as a possible position for him, but I'd rather keep the reigning AL home run champ over there.

So here's a summary of the moves I'd like to see made...

1. Sign DJ LaMaheiu - 5 years $90 million
2. Sign Michael Brantley - 3 years $51 million
3. Sign Trevor May Rosenthal - 3 years $21 million 2 years $14 million
4. Sign Jonathan Villar - 1 year $5 million w/ club option
5. Trade Clint Frazier and Luis Gil for Joe Musgrove
6. Trade Oswald Peraza and Miguel Yajure for Lance Lynn 
7. Trade Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, and Roansy Contreras for Josh Hader

Those moves would leave the Yankees with the following active roster...

1. DJ LeMahieu - 2B
2. Aaron Judge - RF
3. Michael Brantley* - LF
4. Luke Voit - 1B
5. Giancarlo Stanton - DH
6. Aaron Hicks# - CF
7. Gio Urshela - 3B 
8. Gary Sanchez - C
9. Gleyber Torres - SS

Kyle Higashioka - C
Jonathan Villar# - 2B/SS
Michael Tauchman* - OF
??? (revolving door)

Gerrit Cole
Lance Lynn
Joe Musgrove
Deivi Garcia
Jordan Montgomery*

Aroldis Chapman*
Zack Britton*
Josh Hader*
Chad Green
Trevor May Rosenthal
Adam Ottavino
Jonathan Loaisiga
Luis Cessa

Luis Severino

*left-handed batter/pitcher

-Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German stay stretched out while starting in AAA
-Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, Ben Heller non-tendered

Since the Yankees care about money these days, I can't wrap things up without talking about how much that team would cost. 

I mentioned in my previous article that, after the Luxury Tax, the Yankees would have paid a total of $282.1 million for their players last season. That includes players on the 40-man but not on the active roster, player benefits, etc. This season, after those things as well as $2.5 million for Brett Gardner's buyout (I suppose he could be brought back again and put into that one bench spot) and $3 million from Miami for Stanton since he didn't opt-out, the total after the Luxury Tax in 2021 would be about $252 million. That would be around $30 million less than in 2020, which would hopefully be enough to keep Hal and the other owners happy.