Sunday Sauce

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be right-handed. That’s how that song goes right? The latest proof of that “adage” is the contract Mike Dunn signed with Colorado for at least three years and $19-million.

Yankee fans, do you remember Dunn?  Big lefty, limited control and a guy traded to the Braves for Javier Vazquez.

Ironically, the other guy the Yankees got in that trade was Boone Logan, another lefty like Dunn, who got almost the same contract three years ago when he left the Yankees, and is currently a free agent reportedly seeking at least $8-million a year.

Perhaps it is time to sign Betances to an extension?

That’s Probably It

Brian Cashman said that “the heavy lifting was done” after signing Chapman. He held out the possibility of a minor free agent move, or a trade of Brett Gardner, but he said Chase Headley will be at third when the season starts.

That means a couple of things. First and foremost, there are two open spots in the rotation and a bunch of young arms with an opportunity to grab them. I expect the Yankees want Severino to take one of them, but I think it will really be based on how he and everyone else does in camp.

Second, it means the offense is a bit of a mystery. The Yankees were weighed down last year by Teixeira and A-Rod, who are both gone, but plenty of questions remain.  Can Bird and Sanchez replicate their debut seasons?  Can Judge adjust to the majors? Is Hicks a useful player? Will Didi and Castro continue to progress. When you think about the possibilities for the season, the questions on offense are probably the greatest variables.

Finally, we can see the outlines of the bullpen. Put Clippard, Betances, and Chapman at the end of it. Add Warren, if he isn’t a starter. Throw in a long guy from the young group of rotation candidates. That leaves 2 spots. I would expect one to go to a lefty and the other to be the one to be a transitory spot that the Yankees use to keep a fresh arm around.

One last note. In bad news that you can also take as good news, the Yankees lost four players in the Rule five draft.  It’s a lot of talent leaving the organization, but another indication of how deep the farm system is as only one other club even had two players selected


Chapman’s Back-UPDATED

Ken Rosenthal reporting Chapman is getting five years and $86-million.

Let me preface this by saying I would not have made this move. But, I also understand the Yankees’ thinking which I assume was this:

1- We need stars to get those expensive seats sold.  Chapman and his freakish 102-mph fastball puts asses in seats.

2- We need to stay somewhat competitive to keep those expensive seats filled.  Chapman and Betances at the end of games should help us there.

3- We didn’t want to give up a draft pick and sign a free agent- Chapman does that.

4- Chapman is 28, hardly a geezer and our youth movement can continue.

5- We know this guy and we know he can handle New York.

Maybe I’m the geezer, but a world where a guy gets $17-million to pitch 60 or so innings doesn’t make sense to me.  It’s a huge inefficiency, but that could change if we see Girardi use Chapman more than he did this year.

And while the money is ridiculous, it only really matters if it prevents the team from making moves down the road,  Since they are shedding payroll in huge way again next season and the spending caps reign them in almost everywhere else, free agency is probably the place they should invest some money.  Let’s just hope they do it intelligently this time. Despite my objections, I cannot argue they were stupid here.

UPDATE- A couple of contract details on Chapman

1- He has an opt-out after three years

2- He has a full no-trade for three years

3- After three years, he has a no trade to teams in California

Apart from not understanding what Chapman had against California, these contract details are fine. While opt-outs are viewed as bad, they are great IF the team is smart enough to walk away when they are exercised.  We may get a sense of that with the Yankees next offseason if Tanka opts out.

UPDATE- The opt out is not as favorable, because they are paying an $11-million signing bonus.  So if Chapman opts out after three years he gets $56-million for his works.


Sale To Boston-UPDATED

The Red Sox have scooped the Nationals and acquired Chris Sale from Chicago. The cost is Juan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, and Victor Diaz.

This is exactly the type of trade a team like Boston should make. They are giving up a ton in prospects, but they are getting arguably the best pitcher on their staff. Sale, Price, and Porcello are a great top-3 and make the Red Sox clear favorites in the AL. Furthermore, while Moncada especially looks like a gem, none of the prospects traded down contributed significantly to Boston’s AL East-winning club in 2016.

From the Yankees point of view I will point out that they could have signed Moncada, but backed off because with luxury tax penalties he would have cost them essentially double what he ultimately received. The front office should remember that as they build for 2017.

UPDATE- Red Sox are also “throwing in” $31.2-million to cover Moncada’s remaining salary. In separate news, Fenway Franks are now $10 each.

Day 1

If there was any doubt that pitching prices are out of control, the opening day of the Winter Meetings proved that to be the case.

Rich Hill, a 36-year old journeyman who has exceeded 100 innings twice in his career, signed a three-year deal  at $16-million per year.

Then Mark Melancon signed the richest closer contract in MLB history, four years and $62-million. And the contract contains an opt-out after two years when Melancon will have collected over half the value of the deal.

In a related development, Brian Cashman asked about his pursuit of pitching, said it was “less likely” the Yankees would add a starter from outside the organization and that the Yankees “were going to compete to a certain extent” for Chapman. Chapman also said he wanted a six-year deal. I won’t say the Yankees are out, but I don’t think they are going to give Chapman a $100-million which is probably what it is going to take to sign him at this point.

The Red Sox exercised the option on John Farrell’s contract for 2018 while Dave Dombroski confirmed they would like to stay below the luxury tax limit next year. Boston has been linked in some reports to Encarnacion, but their payroll is already at $160-million with another $20-million in expected arbitration awards, so it’s hard to see that happening.

Finally, the Nats are reportedly close to acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox. Scherzer, Strasbourg, and Sale, wow.

Yanks Sign Holliday

According to multiple reports the Yankees have signed Matt Holliday to a 1-year deal for $13-million.

This is the kind of free agent signing I can absolutely support. He doesn’t cost a draft pick and he is only signed for next season. Assuming he doesn’t have a no-trade clause, he might even be a useful trade chip at the deadline.

Holliday can still hit.  He probably shouldn’t be in the outfield anymore, and started playing first last year . Joel Sherman actually suggested this and a signing of Luis Valbuena this morning.

Best of all, this probably means that Encarnacion is headed elsewhere.

Payroll is now about $173-million.

Sunday Sauce

With the CBA done and the Winter Meetings about to start expect the hot stove to pop this week. Teams now know what the ramifications are for various payrolls and they can start spending accordingly.

I expect we will start to see relievers coming off the board quickly now. Mark Melancon reportedly has multiple offer of $60-million or more which means Chapman and Jansen are going to get huge contracts.

Carlos Beltran got $16-million and a full no-trade clause for next season in Houston. Encarnacion’s agent announced that he expects him to sign during the winter meetings. 

For the Yankeees a small move this week. They lost Jacob Lindgren to Atlanta. The timing was odd as they non-tendered him after the deadline for Rule 5 protections. He isn’t going to pitch in 2017 after undergoing TJ surgery in August, but he has a big arm and was once viewed as a potential closer of the future. Atlanta gave him a 40-man spot and the Yankees now have an open spot on their 40-man if they want to select someone in the Rule 5 draft Friday.

I will be posting as news breaks at the Winter Meetings.

The New CBA And The Yankees

Here’s  a good summary of the new baseball labor deal.

For the Yankees, the key numbers are the luxury tax thresholds, actually called the “competitive balance tax” which start at 195 million this year and increase to 210 in the last year of the deal.

There are two keys to the CBT. First, the more times you violate it, the bigger the tax for the excess. 20% then 30%, then 50%. Second, there are additional penalties for going $20-million over, an additional 12% of that amount, and $40-million over, let’s call it 45% of that amount.

So a team that has a $250-million payroll in 2017 would pay a flat 20% on the first $20-million over 195. 32% on the next 20 million and 62.5% on the last 15 million. Add that all up and you have an extra $20-million, not prohibitive. But shift that $250-million to a third-time violator, and you have $36.65-million in tax.

For the Yankees, this presents an opportunity.  Even with arbitration cases, their payroll is “only” going to be around $160-million next season before any potential free agent signings or trades. Next year it gets cut by at least $50-million, and you can add another $22-million to that if Tanaka opts out. So, barring complete stupidity, they should be well under the luxury tax the next two years

And I suspect that’s exactly what they will do.  The post-2018 free agent class will be headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both younger than Aaron Judge, and has lots of depth behind it.  The Yankees can spend the next two years seeing how their prospects pan out and then jump in to free agency with a big splash after 2018.  They certainly may sign a free agent this offseason, they might take on payroll in a trade, they might try to buy out some free agency years from arbitration-eligible guys like Didi, but I bet they won’t spend more than an additional $35-million.