Monday, October 17, 2016

ICYMI: MLB Trade Rumors Presents 2017 Arbitration Salary Predictions

The crew over at MLB Trade Rumors is at it again. Every year Matt Swartz and company predict the salary projections for every player eligible for arbitration and way more times than not they are right in the neighborhood when the actual numbers come down. I don’t know how they do it but by this time I’ve stopped asking why and merely appreciate the effort they put in every offseason. This season the Yankees have nine players who will be eligible for arbitration and while some could be non-tendered and others could agree to a deal before this becomes an issue here are the projected salaries as they stand today.

Michael Pineda - $7.8 million

Pineda made just $4.3 million in 2016 and after another up-and-down season MLB Trade Rumors is expecting a significant climb in salary before he hits free agency in 2018. This seems awfully high to me but again I’m not going to be the one to question it.

Nathan Eovaldi - $7.5 million

After a Tommy John surgery and another arm injury there is no way Eovaldi is wearing a Yankees uniform in 2017 at this salary. The Yankees could restructure his contract for two-years and hope he bounces back from the surgery or they could simply let him go, either way he isn’t making $7.5 million in 2017. No way.

Didi Gregorius - $5.1 million

This isn’t even a discussion. If Didi wants $5 million, give the man $5 million. Bottom line.

Dellin Betances - $3.4 million

See Didi Gregorius. He helped the team signing a league minimum contract last season and now it’s his time to get paid. Three straight All-Star games and off-the-wall strikeout numbers is a steal at $3.4 million.

Dustin Ackley - $3.2 million

This is exactly what Ackley made in 2016 and he didn’t have much time to earn the salary after a significant shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. I can see him being designated for assignment and then brought back on a minor league deal a la Slade Heathcott from a couple years ago.

Adam Warren - $2.3 million

Warren made just $1.7 million in 2016 and after a horrible start to his season while with Chicago his salary is not expected to jump too awful much. Warren is a steal even at $2.3 million so don’t hesitate to give this guy the money. He can start or relieve and he just has a knack of being able to pitch well for the Yankees. I can’t explain it.

Aaron Hicks - $1.4 million

Aaron Hicks sucks.

Tommy Layne - $1.2 million

The Yankees have paid much more for much less in terms of having a LOOGY in the bullpen so why not.

Austin Romine - $900K

Romine far exceeded any expectations I had for him in 2016 and at $900K, even if he’s a third catcher, is a bargain for New York. Sign him up. 

Most Popular Article of the Week: Bring Me Gerrit Cole!

There will be no indecisiveness here. I will not spend the next 2000 words telling you why the Yankees need a certain player only to tell you how it’s not going to happen at the end. This needs to happen and frankly I think it’s going to happen. The Pittsburgh Pirates are not going to extend ace starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and you know what that means generally with a small market team, it’s time to trade him now for something rather than getting nothing for him later. That’s where the Yankees and their new-found farm system come in. Bring me Gerrit Cole and bring me Gerrit Cole now.

The Yankees actually drafted Cole back in 2008 if you can remember and the right-hander refused to sign and instead went to UCLA for his college career. Three years later Cole fell into the Pirates lap and hasn’t looked back since as he has been a dominant force for the team since his call up in 2013. In 94 starts in the Major Leagues Cole already has 47 victories and a 3.23 ERA while placing fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2015. Cole won 19 games and struck out 202 batters in 2015 although 2016, like 2014, was limited by injury. Cole dealt with elbow inflammation in 2016 while also struggling with right shoulder fatigue and lat tightness in 2014 but nothing too serious like an elbow ligament tear or anything like that. Cole is a question mark with health but he’s young and sometimes it takes guys longer to put it all together and stay healthy, remember AJ Burnett?

For this reason, and I’m speculating here, along with the financial implications Pittsburgh has shown little interest in extending the UCLA product and the team may look to move him as he hits arbitration for the first time this winter. Cole is under team control through the arbitration process through the 2019 season so he would not come cheap but with the injuries, the fall out between the club and Cole over salary after that stellar 2015 season, and the Yankees new farm system I think a deal can be struck. And will be struck I may add.

Cole would give the Yankees arguably the best starting rotation in the American League and would make the team immediate favorites in the AL East race in 2017. Cole would add stability, youth and another arm capable of being an ace on any single night to a rotation that desperately needs a reliable arm. Cash just has to make the call and pull the trigger. Cole would come at a “discount” when you think of what it would take to acquire a Chris Sale or equivalent and this is one of those deals the Yankees almost HAVE to make if they are serious about contending in 2017. If not, let Cole go elsewhere and kick yourself for missing out on such an immense talent not once, but twice now. Your choice.

Yankees Potential Trade Partners: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of those teams that I’m not entirely sure even they know what direction the team is going. The team gets younger and starts to build a core before they trade Dansby Swanson, first overall pick Dansby Swanson, for Shelby Miller and before handing Zack Greinke huge money on the free agent market. To be completely honest I don’t know if the Diamondbacks will be coming or going here in 2017 but if they are looking to move a few pieces as they progress either way I think the Yankees have to at least be listening.

Unfortunately the bigger named pieces like Shelby Miller, Zack Greinke, AJ Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt are likely off the table but what about their third baseman Jake Lamb? If the Yankees move Chase Headley, and they could seeing as he does not have a no-trade clause written into his contract, the team could fill the gap with 26-year old Lamb. Lamb is a left-handed hitter who somehow found a way to hit 29 home runs and drive in 91 RBI without anyone on the East Coast taking notice. Lamb comes with his issues of course, his .249 batting average and 154 strikeouts lead that list of concerns, but in the era of sabermetrics you take that for driving in runs and hitting it over the fence any day.

The Yankees would lose a step or defensively in the hypothetical Lamb for Headley swap  but Lamb is still at least two years from entering his prime while Headley is at least three years from his which could make up the difference in the long term. Lamb is not arbitration eligible for two more years which means he is going to cost a ton. How much is a ton? Well suddenly the once shortstop heavy Diamondbacks need middle infielders and it has been speculated already that the team would move Jorge Mateo in a deal this winter. I don’t want to give up on or give away Mateo but for a 26-year old power hitting lefty like Lamb you always make the deal, especially for a player who has never seen Double-A.

Arizona also needs a catcher and the Yankees have three on their 40 man roster with Kyle Higashioka soon to be added per the team. Why not include Austin Romine in the deal and bring back a prospect or two in the deal while Brian Cashman is at it? This is one of those “too good to be true” sounding deals for New York but you never know until you ask so Cashman, ask. 

Yankees Potential Trade Partners: The Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves had a miserable campaign in 2016 as the team looked to rebuild towards their new ballpark in 2017 and the future of the organization. The Yankees took a similar stance in 2016 as they jump started their rebuild with a few midseason trades for prospects that stockpiled their farm system. The Yankees are at the beginning of this long path towards rebuilding while the Braves are more towards the end presumably which leaves me wondering if these two teams are potentially trade partners this offseason. I mean, you have to think so right?

The Atlanta Braves have most notably been interested in Yankees catcher and former Braves product Brian McCann but who could the Yankees be interested in if a hypothetical trade were to go down? Who else, if anyone, could be involved in a potential deal?

The Atlanta Braves have shown that they are willing to take on a bad contract if it means they get prospects or draft picks in return. See the Matt Kemp trade for a recent example of this. Could the Yankees package together maybe McCann and Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner in the deal and pull some of those key prospects away? Atlanta has said they need star power to attract the fans to the new stadium, could the Yankees maybe sneak in a bad contract with McCann for that reason? Honestly the Braves are so unpredictable lately I have to think that there’s at least a chance of them saying yes to the deal.

So who do the Braves give back? The Yankees need pitching and one name is floated around more in Atlanta trade rumors than any so why not ask for Julio Teheran? Teheran’s stats don’t jump off the page at 7-10 with a 3.21 ERA in 188 innings but his sabermetrics tell a completely different story. Teheran was an ace on a bad team that pitched well and could continue to pitch well in the Bronx being to the Yankees what Michael Pineda was supposed to be for all these years. Teheran is just 25-years old and is controlled through the 2020 season including a club option for that final year.

Brian McCann, an outfielder (more along the lines of Jake Cave or Mason Williams and not Aaron Judge) and a third prospect or one of Headley/Gardner (which would lead Atlanta to including more in the deal to even it out) for Teheran? I make that deal 10 times out of 10. Would the Braves? I don’t think they would immediately hang up and that’s how every trade starts every single offseason. Make the call Cash, all the Braves can say is no.

Arizona Fall League Weekly Check In: Greg Bird

Greg Bird missed the entire 2016 season with a shoulder surgery but has been progressing in his rehab enough to be sent down to the Scottsdale Scorpions as a part of the Arizona Fall League. Bird has yet to be cleared to throw the ball and play first base but he can hit and hit he has while down in the AFL. Check out his stats below and Happy Monday to all.

.308/.357/.615/.973 in three games with 13 at bats. Bird has also accumulated four hits, all doubles, and two RBI with a strikeout and a walk. Most importantly, the shoulder is fine.

This Day in New York Yankees History 10/17: David Justice Strikes Again

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman took over the reins of the New York Yankees in 1998 and immediately helped build one of the best teams of all time in Major League Baseball. The Yankees were looking for their third consecutive World Series title when Cashman acquired David Justice before the season ended hoping his impact would help in the postseason. It did help on this day in 2000 when Justice hit a three run home run to propel the Yankees to their 37th American League pennant and a trip to the Subway World Series as New York beat the Mariners 9-7.

Also on this day in 1985 Billy Martin was fired and/or replaced by the Yankees for the fourth time and replaced by Lou Piniella. Martin managed the Yankees to a 97-64 record this season and a second place finish two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Also on this day in 1978 the Yankees would win their second consecutive and 22nd World Series championship overall beating the Los Angeles Dodgers by the score of 7-2. Bucky Dent was named World Series MVP.

Finally on this day in 1964 the Yankees fired manager Yogi Berra after a 99-63 record and loss in seven games in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. Johnny Keane, the Cardinals manager that season, was named the new Yankees manager after he resigned from the Cardinals after the World Series victory.