A Salary Dump

The Yankees have traded Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to San Diego for Jabari Blash. Blash is a big righty outfielder who is 27 and has an astounding 100 strikeouts in 265 big league at bats. I would be shocked if he stayed on the Yankees roster for any length of time.

This trade is clearly about getting out from the remaining year on Headley’s contract and freeing up $13-million. What’s really interesting about it is that it signals another move is coming. Before this trade, the Yankees probably had about $14-million in room under the luxury tax threshold. They’ve now doubled that. I bet we find out why they did that fairly soon.

Marvin Miller Screwed Again

MLB just announced that Allan Trammel and Jack Morris are going into the Hall of Fame. That’s great and rights an injustice, but I can’t understand how Marvin Miller was snubbed again.

Two of the worst commissioners in the game, Bud Selig and Bowie Kuhn are in the HOF. Racists are in the HOF. Steroid users are in the HOF. But the guy who created the modern salary system isn’t. That’s a joke.

At this point the only way Miller gets in is if a player forces the issue. Imagine how quickly Miller would be in if someone like Mariano Rivera refused to participate in the induction ceremonies because Miller wasn’t a member of the Club.

I don’t think any player will ever take that stand and that’s too bad. Miller has to be in the Hall of Fame, or it is simply an exercise in favoritism.

Can a Trade be Good and Dumb?

Adding Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees for Starlin Castro and two guys a long ways away from the majors is an insult to baseball. It is ridiculous that the Yankees gave up so little for the reigning MVP and MLB should be ashamed for allowing the new ownership in Miami buy a team that they clearly couldn’t afford. The Marlins have esssnetially given away the face of their franchise for the salary relief it provides them. If the fans of Miami never attend another Marlins game, no one should blame them. No one should ever dare to criticize those fans for whatever support they give in the future. They have been completely betrayed by their ownership.

But while this is an absolute steal talent-wise for the Yankees, it’s not necessarily a smart deal. Here are my three concerns.

1- Can Stanton handle New York? This is the biggest mystery to me in this trade. He grew up in the LA area, so he has seen big media markets up close, but playing in Miami and playing in NY is night and day.

2- Who is in right? Judge is a better outfielder according to advanced stats, so he should stay. Does that mean Stanton is left? And if so, what happens to Gardner?

3-Does this mean financial restraints are done? The amazing thing is that thanks to the way the luxury tax is calculated, this only adds $13.5-million to the payroll for next year meaning they can still easily go below the $197-million threshold. But, it is a ten-year commitment for big money. The Yankees simply can’t go back to that model with multiple players. This contract they can absolutely handle, but it can’t become the norm.

I suspect Brian Cashman looked at it this way. This trade allows him to do two huge things.

1- Add a major name who will sell tickets at a much lower price than someone like Bryce Harper will cost next offseason.

2- Clear a path for their top prospect to hit his way onto the team Opening Day.

We can’t discount either one of those. The Yankees charge premium prices for their seats and they need stars to fill them. Judge looks like one, so does Sanchez, but Stanton already is one. That’s a business consideration you have to factor into this.

Now Gleybar Torres has a clear path to the bigs, but the Yankees also have other choices in Torreyes and Wade starting there if he isn’t ready yet. It also makes me think that the Yankees really like Andujar as his path to third base just became very clear.

So I get their thinking and I see the value, I just don’t agree with the move. I know it’s a steal, but it’s unecessary. We also don’t know if Stanton is ready to handle New York and it is a huge financial commitment to make. Just because something is a bargain doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Stanton?

The Yankees and Marlins have apparently agreed on a trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Details are scarce, but it is being reported that Starlin Castro and “low level” prospects will be going back to Miami.

It’s hard to evaluate a trade when you don’t know all the pieces involved, so I won’t attempt to. But there are a few things we can say generally.

1- This trade clearly doesn’t need address a problem. The Yankees already had major righty power in their lineup. They also had a pretty good rightfielder. And I’m not sure that Stanton will automatically waive his no-trade clause when the Yankees can’t play him in right every game.

2- No matter what the final package ends up being, this will be compared to the A-Rod trade. It is worth remembering two things about that trade. Before he opted out, A-Rod was exactly as advertised a killer on the field. The Yankees have no regrets about the first four years of that deal, the mistake was chasing him after he opted out. Stanton can opt out after 2020.

3- South Florida fans deserve better. How does MLB allow an ownership group buy a team they can’t afford to run?

I’ll update or post again as more news comes out.

12PM Update- Stanton is reportedly on his way to NY, so he probably is waiving his no-trade clause.

12:30PM Update- Ken Rosenthal reports the Yankees will assume $265-million of the remaining $295 left on Stanton’s salary.

1PM Update- Joel Sherman reports the trade is Castro, Jorge Guzman, and Jose Denver’s, for Stanton and $30-million, if Stanton doesn’t opt out. Guzman was acquired in the McCann trade while Devers is 18 and has a cousin Red Sox fans may be familiar with. In other words, this is a negligible cost in prospects.

1:10 Update- I’m not sure how the conditional $30-million payment works for the luxury tax, but Stanton costs $25-million towards it while Castro costs about $8.5, so the Yankees add a net of $16.5-million to the 2018 payroll.

The Yankees Are Out on Ohtani!

Multiple reports have come out that Shohei Ohtani’s reps have told the Yankees they are not going to sign their client. In fact, they won’t even meet with the team. From what I am reading, it sounds like his preference is to sign with a west coast team, ideally in a smaller market. That probably means Seattle and San Diego are favorites now.

I am shocked he wouldn’t even want to meet with the Yankees, but this whole process is a mystery. Ohtani is giving up millions by making this move now. Obviously, he has an idea where he wants to go and it is not New York.

UPDATE- Just read more reports that the Twins are out, and it sounds like every team east of Minnesota is out as well. Seattle and San Francisco are said to be finalists, but other teams may be in the mix.

UPDATE 6:38pm- Ken Rosenthal reports the A’s are out too.

Boone?

According to about every source out there, Aaron Boone is the new Yankee manager.

I don’t get it. He hit an enormous homer. He blew out his knee in a pickup basketball game that led to the A-Rod era. He’s been a pretty good analyst since he retired from playing at ESPN. How does that qualify him for this job?

I don’t think it does and I don’t understand why Brian Cashman would take this risk. It’s like being the owner of a fancy car and handing the keys to a sixteen year-old to take it out for a spin.

But what I think this move shows us is how much the game has changed in the last ten years. Computers make a lot of the decisions managers used to make. Teams don’t hire guys for their baseball instincts, but rather for their ability to use advanced statistics and manage a clubhouse. That doesn’t make this a great choice, but it partially explains it. If you watched Boone on ESPN, he is conversant in advanced statistics and very personable, so he checked those two “New” boxes.

But the fact remains that he has zero coaching experience. The Yankees will enter 2018 with huge expectations and if they get off to a slow start, look out. But beyond that, is Boone ready to spend nine months a year working almost every day and being under a microscope? I’m not sure anyone knows and that is the part of this I don’t get. We may look back on this in a few years as a brilliant move by Cashman, but right now it looks like a huge gamble.

The Final Six

Brian Cashman announced today that the Yankees have finished managerial interviews and that one of the six they have met with will be the next Yankee manager. Let’s go through the candidates.

1-Carlos Beltran- Beltran is a respected leader and former Yankee who personally mentored some of the players in the locker room. But, he has zero experience. i suspect that if he isn’t named manager he will be a coach or member of the organization in some role.

2- Aaron Boone- Another former Yankee with zero experience. I think his chances took a hit this week when his brother inexplicably made fun of the idea of sexual harassment.

3- Hensley Meulens- Another former Yankee with a lot of experience, he has been a coach in various systems for over ten years, the last seven as the hitting coach for the Giants. He speaks five languages, including Japanese, and has one of my favorite nicknames ever, “Bam Bam”.

4- Rob Thompson- The comfortable choice as he has been in the organization for years and was the bench coach.

5- Eric Wedge- Has over 1,600 games of managerial experience, but with a sub-.500 record. I would be shocked if he got the job.

6- Chris Woodward- Was a Yankee for one spring training and has worked as a coach for both Seattle and LA.

I would expect we find out an answer next week before the winter meetings start December 10th.

40-Man Clean Out-UPDATED

The Yankees are showing the depth of their organization by cleaning off their 40-man roster before things set at 8pm tonight. Nick Rumbelow, Caleb Smith, Garret Cooper, and Ronald Herrera, have all been traded for prospects who don’t need to be protected this offseason, and some additional international bonus pool money. This makes a lot of sense organizationally.

The Yankees clear spots to protect players from their own system. We will hear the names later tonight, but we know one is Gleyber Torres. With the trades, the Yankees have freed up four additional spots to go with the three they already had. Keep in mind that they probably won’t fill them all as someone like CC Sabathia could come back and take one, and it is better to risk exposing a prospect to the Rule 5 draft than having to remove him from the roster with waivers later.

The additional bonus money is interesting because the Yankees already had the second-most in the game. This is almost certainly a way to make sure they can offer Ohtani the biggest contract in the game. Since the money isn’t going to be huge, I am not sure it is a big advantage, but it would be an advantage.

UPDATE

As expected, the Yankees addded six players to their 40-man roster leaving one spot open. Let’s go through the adds who are all now invited to Spring Training and therefore could be in NY in April.

Gleyber Torres- Top prospect in the game. Can hit, can run, can play second, third, or short. I don’t think the Yankees break camp with him, but if he hits in spring they won’t hesitate to let him play.

Domingo Acevedo- Big RHP who lights up the radar gun. Might be a rotation piece or a reliever in the future, but most likely headed to Scranton to start 2018.

Albert Abreu- Half if the return for Brian McCann. Nowhere close to the bigs, but a legitimate rotation possibility down the line.

Thairo Estrada- Middle infield prospect who probably is a utility guy down the road. Still just 21, but not a power threat. Defense and speed are his calling cards.

Billy McKinney- A piece of the Chapman trade. Didn’t do much at AA, but hit like a champion at AAA. Probably nothing more than a lefty bat who can play outfield as a fill in.

Jonathan Loasiga- This one makes no sense to me. Big time arm coming out in 2013, but got hurt and has pitched 35 innings as a Yankee in the last two years with none of those above short season A-ball.

Posturing

Brian Cashman came out yesterday and said he hasn’t asked Jacoby Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause. He also said that the outfield alignment used in the playoffs- Gardner, Hicks, and Judge is going to be the way they go in 2018 but Ellsbury could be a factor at DH depending on what the club does. These two statements don’t add up. Would the Yankees really pay Ellsbury to be a fourth outfielder/ part-time DH?

The answer is no, and these comments are all about painting a realistic picture for Ellsbury while also not damaging his trade value anymore. (Phil Jackson could have used this lesson). The Yankees are making it clear to Jacoby that playing time in NY will be limited and he needs to get on board with the idea of a trade. I suspect the Yankees will gladly subsidize him generously to get him off the roster.

The best time to do that is now. On November 20th clubs have to submit their 40-man rosters for the Rule 5 draft. The Yankees risk losing a lot of talent they don’t have the room to protect, so expect them to make moves in the next few days to clear space. While Ellsbury would be ideal, I could also see guys like Tyler Austin get traded to clear room.

Shohei Otani

If you aren’t familiar with the Japanese star pitcher and hitter, get ready because he is about to burst on the scene here in the U.S. Japanese media reports that Otani will be posted this offseason and thus be eligible to come to MLB next season. But unlike previous situations with Japanese stars, Otani is not eligible for free agency and therefore will be subject to the international signing pool limits in terms of his signing bonus, and regular minimum salary rules in terms of his contract. That means he can get no more than $3.55-million as a signing bonus and will earn the major league minimum until he is arbitration eligible after 2020. That should lead to a feeding frenzy for him. Teams will still have to pay a posting fee, estimated at $20-million, but the winning club would pay around $25-million total for three years of a potential star.

Because the signing bonus comes from each clubs international signing bonus money, there isn’t a lot left. Most clubs stocked up on international players in July. The Rangers, Yankees, and Twins can offer just over $3-million. Pittsburgh can offer over $2-million and Miami and Seattle can only offer over $1-million. Every other club is below $1-million with 18 of them at $300,000 or less.

Otani is intriguing because he is young, just 23, and has been one of the best pitchers and hitters in Japan. He reportedly wants to do both in the majors, which would suggest he signs with an AL team as he probably can’t be a starting pitcher and play defense on his off days regularly. But, it is anyone’s guess where he will end up as he could have waited a few more years and come to the majors as a true free agent. By not doing so, he has forfeited millions, so money is presumably not his motivating factor.

The bigger question for U.S. fans is how good could he be? Fangraphs took a deep dive on this question last year. Link here, and the short answer is pretty darned good. They suggest he could be an All-Star on both sides of the ball. For about $25-million, a lot of teams will be interested to see if that is true.