Saturday, March 2, 2024

End the Snell-to-the-Yanks Talk...

 

Blake Snell (Photo Credit: Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Yanks-Snell talk---Much ado about nuthin’…

I am ready for the Blake Snell rumors to die. He will not be a Yankee.

The Yankees have not indicated they are willing to spend what it would take to sign Snell, even on a short-term deal with a high AAV. Three-year contracts, with annual opt-outs, appear to be the rage this late into free agency, yet Snell, even on a short-term deal, seems beyond the Yankees’ appetite with the associated 110% luxury penalties on any additional payroll this season. The Yankees could trade money to add money, but dealing away a player like second baseman Gleyber Torres does not make sense when he is one of the best hitters on the team, regardless of Oswald Peraza’s readiness. If the Yankees could find a way to offload Giancarlo Stanton and his contract, sign me up. While it is great Stanton showed up to Spring Training looking much slimmer (showing his commitment to recapturing past success), I would move Stanton in a New York minute if I could. It would open the designated hitter slot for player rotation, and there is value in getting fourth outfielder Trent Grisham’s glove into games. But I doubt the Yankees can move Stanton and certainly not without paying much of the freight cost. The bottom line, the Yankees are done spending money for now.

With so much talk this offseason about adding another starting pitcher, I am ready to go into the regular season with the pitchers currently in-house (as if we have any other choice). It makes more sense to me to spend the money to add a reliable arm to the rotation than to deal away top prospects, but it is not my money, and the Yankees know their prospects better than we do. Clayton Beeter and Will Warren are emerging as the rotation depth, and everyone must start a big-league career at some point. I prefer a proven, veteran arm, but given the Yankees’ apparent unwillingness to pay the cost, the future rests with the top pitching prospects. I like Nestor Cortes; however, his best use may be as the long man in the pen. If his injury struggles continue this season, moving Cortes to the bullpen is something the Yankees need to consider.

It seems odd that the Yankees are most frequently mentioned with Snell, with much less talk of other teams. The San Francisco Giants, despite signing free-agent third baseman Matt Chapman last night, appear to be the best fit. They have room in payroll and need to continue adding quality players for new manager Bob Melvin in the highly competitive National League West. Snell’s best chance to join the Yankees was before they signed Marcus Stroman. We may never know the inner details of negotiations, at least not until someone authors a book about it. It does seem like Agent Extraordinaire Scott Boras overplayed his hand and did his client a disservice. Snell is not a $300 million pitcher, and at the end of the day, he could be calling the Los Angeles Angels home with Octobers free to pursue other interests when he could have been thick in the highly competitive American League East again with the greedy Pinstripes (pun intended). The Baltimore Orioles should sign Snell to use in tandem with Corbin Burnes. They have the money and the room in their payroll to do it. I guess it would be unpoetic justice if Snell ended the Yankees’ 2024 season in the playoffs wearing Birdland gear.

I have felt all off-season that Jordan Montgomery would be the best solution to provide stability and consistency for the rotation. Yet, unlike Snell, his name is never mentioned with the Yankees despite their history together. Either they or Montgomery (or both) have chosen to move on. Monty’s trade to St Louis for centerfielder Harrison Bader will never make sense to me. Bader had a few fine postseason games in his first year, but he has been largely forgettable as a Yankee. A good guy, fun to have the native-born New Yorker from Bronxville on the roster, and a brilliant defender when healthy, but Monty’s continued presence in the rotation would have given the Yankees more than Bader’s limited contribution. My best memory of Bader as a Yankee was seeing a pic of him with Nestor Cortes at a Knicks game.


Harrison Bader and Nestor Cortes, Jr.

Montgomery seems destined for the Boston Red Sox. If the Texas Rangers do not have the additional money it would take to bring Montgomery back to their championship roster, Boston has the clear advantage. His wife is working in Boston, and it gives him personal motivation to make the city his permanent home. I always hate when former Yankees take up residence in Beantown even though I love the city of Boston. It is the stain of the Red Sox uniform that bothers me. I was glad when James Paxton signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency for no other reason than he was no longer a Red Sock, just like I was when Nathan Eovaldi left the Sox. I love David Cone and I always enjoy his presence on YES Network game broadcasts, but it still bugs me that he wore a Red Sox cap after his tenure with the Yankees. Not that I feel the Yankees should sign Montgomery solely to keep him out of Boston, but it would be a nice side benefit. The Yankees know Montgomery well, and he has proven he can win in New York. His time away from the Yankees has only made him better, yet there is something that puts the Yankees off. Maybe it is just the cost…whatever. I am sorry it did not work out for Monty in Pinstripes.

Regardless of what the Yankees ultimately decide to do to bolster the starting pitching staff, neither Snell nor Montgomery will be the names called. Time to move on and be grateful for the guys currently on the roster. The potential of the lineup is better than last year’s 82-80 team. Time will tell if it is better than AL East opponents, and specifically, the Baltimore Orioles, but a half-month into Spring Training is generating much fan excitement about the team, unlike anything we have seen in the past couple of years.

It would be foolish to say World Series or bust, but the Yankees have a team, as currently structured, that can position itself to play in October. Once the team is in the playoffs, anything can happen. Nobody expected the Texas Rangers to win the World Series last year. The champion is the last team soaked in champagne, not the best collection of player names on a roster.

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have had the best offseason of any team in Major League Baseball, but they should probably play the games on the field before collecting their championship pay. I have a feeling some team is going to disappoint Dodger fans (like they do every year).

I hope it is the Yankees in 2024.

The Revolving Waiver Door...

It is tough to keep up with the Yankees’ waiver claims since the end of last season. I thought the Yankees' claim of former Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Jordan Groshans was a nice move. Granted, Groshans has not fulfilled his potential and he has now gone through several organizations without success, but I was optimistic the Yankees saw something in the player they felt they could help unlock. Groshans’s stay on the 40-man roster lasted fifteen days. He was designated for assignment this week when the Yankees claimed outfielder Jahmai Jones off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. There is a chance Groshans will stay in the organization if he goes unclaimed, but he did not have much chance to show anything…assuming he had anything, of course.


Jordan Groshans (Photo Credit: Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

I am not entirely sold on DJ LeMahieu as the team’s everyday third baseman. Not that I thought Groshans could suddenly blossom into a reliable and productive Major League baseball player, but for as strong as the organization is with shortstop/second baseman prospect types, third base is not as deep. I had thought former Yankees prospect Trey Sweeney would be the eventual third baseman even if he had been drafted as a shortstop. Sweeney was dealt to the Dodgers in the offseason for second baseman Jorbit Vivas, so he is no longer in the conversation.

The Yankees lost another third base prospect this offseason when Andres Chapparo left the organization through minor league free agency to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was a little surprised the Yankees never gave Chapparo any look at the Major League level late last year. I thought he had earned at least a little taste for a team that was not going anywhere last September. Yet, he was ignored and allowed to leave. There is no Roderick Arias or George Lombard, Jr developing at third base like there is at shortstop. The future at third base, as it stands today, will come from outside the organization if Oswald Peraza is not the future.

To clarify, my reservations about LeMahieu do not relate to his ability. He is a great defensive player with a productive bat. The concern is health. LeMahieu has missed time the last couple of seasons, and there have been times when nagging injuries have affected on-the-field play. After playing 150 games in 2021, his totals dropped to 125 and 136 games in the most recent two seasons. LeMahieu will be 36 years old in July. He is no longer a Spring Chicken. I doubt he will reach 136 games this season. He has entered the stage of his career where his highest and best use is playing with moderation.

The hope is Oswald Peraza can be the designated fill-in at third base for LeMahieu. Given how much the Yankees have tried to find infield depth this offseason makes me wonder how committed they are to Peraza. It was surprising to hear utility player Kik√© Hernandez say his choices were down to the Yankees and the Dodgers before he ultimately signed a contract to return to LA. Peraza has nothing left to prove in Triple-A so I wonder what Peraza’s fate would have been if Hernandez had signed with the Yankees. Although Hernandez can play the outfield, the Yankees have Trent Grisham as the key outfield reserve off the bench, so clearly Hernandez was viewed for his infield versatility. Either Peraza is going to succeed at the Major League level, or he is not, but he deserves a chance. With no clear third basemen behind LeMahieu, Peraza must be the guy ready to stand in.

As for Jahmai Jones, I guess we will save the ‘Welcome to the Yankees family’ since there is no guarantee he will be around in a couple of weeks. When a better player comes knocking at the 40-man roster, Jones will lose his seat at the table like the waiver claims before him.


Jahmai Jones (Photo Credit: AP)

Last word…

I liked Marcus Stroman’s performance against the Baltimore Orioles today. Yankees insider Bryan Hoch tweeted today that Stroman told him he would be starting the Yankee Stadium home opener on April 5 against his old team, the Toronto Blue Jays. I am pleased that Stroman’s assimilation to the Yankees has gone so smoothly. I was wrong when I once said that I did not want Stroman on the Yankees. I am glad he is here.


Marcus Stroman (Photo Credit: AP)

As always, Go Yankees!