Thursday, February 11, 2016
With an edict from ownership to keep a lid on payroll, a desire to make his team younger and more athletic, and a vow to hold onto elite prospects, Brian Cashman had a rather tricky task as the offseason began.
And now that spring training is just a week away, it seems fair to say the Yankees’ GM has gone a long way toward accomplishing that task on all fronts.
Other teams had splashier offseasons, to be sure, most notably the division rival Red Sox, who signed an ace in David Price and traded for a top closer in Craig Kimbrel.
Of course, it cost the Red Sox $217 million to secure Price — or $217 million more than the Yankees spent on major league free agents this winter. Instead Cashman pulled off trades for Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro, and Aaron Hicks for seemingly little in return, earning praise from fellow executives.
“You can make a case that they executed a plan as well as any team this offseason,’’ a rival exec said Wednesday. “They wouldn’t have gotten Chapman without the domestic violence situation, but, like it or not, they took advantage of it, and the bottom line is they acquired some quality young talent at a relatively low cost.’‘
Given the restrictions in place, I do think Cashman has done a fine job this offseason. I don’t think it’s enough to make them strong contenders for the division, but a few breaks and they could be in the mix. In the short-term, t’s frustrating to think that if the team wasn’t so hell-bent on restricting payroll that they may have projected as the class of their division, but it a longer-term view will possibly vindicate them.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Yulieski Gourriel, long considered the best player remaining in Cuba, has defected with his younger brother, Lourdes, and the pair will be seeing major-league employment, according to multiple reports.
And the elder Gourriel likely has his set on the Yankees.
In 2015, Gourriel told Yahoo Sports he wanted to play at the “maximum level of baseball in all the world” and would cherish a chance to play with his favorite player, Alex Rodriguez.
I don’t suppose he’d take a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training?
Friday, February 5, 2016
For the sake of argument, though, say they don’t. Hell, say they sign Strasburg for $28 million a year. After the 2017 season, Sabathia is gone, as are Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and Dustin Ackley. Even factoring in generous raises for Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Chasen Shreve, that would leave the Yankees at $152 million. And if Masahiro Tanaka were to opt out of his contract, which he has the option to do following 2017, that would shave another $22.1 million in taxable money off the budget.
Here is where the Yankees’ resolve will be tested. The free agent class of 2017-18 is far better than the previous mess, with Jake Arrieta, Tyson Ross, Todd Frazier, Eric Hosmer, Justin Upton, Lorenzo Cain, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, Lucas Duda, J.D. Martinez, Alcides Escobar, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Mike Moustakas, Trevor Plouffe and others available. If the Yankees can manage to stay competitive enough in 2016 and ‘17 to ward off compulsively spending in the offseasons after, the confluence between their patience and the bonanza awaiting in the class of 2018-19 could save them tens of millions of dollars in luxury-tax payments.
Calling the 2018-19 offseason a bonanza might be selling it short. Though it’s more than two years away, teams already are banking cash in anticipation of it, multiple sources have told Yahoo Sports. The deluge of talent that could be available – Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Adam Jones and Jason Heyward – is led by Harper, the reigning National League MVP who will just have turned 26.
Nobody with the Yankees dared comment on Harper, even off the record, because their future marriage is considered so inevitable by most in the sport that the team dare not trifle with tampering charges. Considering the pains to which the Yankees are going to tighten finances, Harper as the endgame makes worlds of sense.
His age – and the ability to cull prime years from a free agent, a rarity – is as much of a selling point as his ability. And Harper’s transformation from enfant terrible to the most marketable player in baseball by a large margin fits the Yankees’ ethos. Star power matters to the Yankees more than any other team.
The Yankees should be planning to bid on Harper if he makes it to free agency. But I hope they aren’t planning everything with the idea that Harper WILL be a Yankee as soon as he can be signed.
If you were to put odds on Harper being a Yankee, what would you put it at? 50%? 25%?
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Maybe Alex Rodriguez will never pick up a glove in a Major League Baseball game again.
If you listen to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, it sounds possible, if not likely.
The Yankees aren’t only going to skip giving A-Rod a try at first base in the wake of the news that Greg Bird’s shoulder surgery will keep him out all season, but they won’t even give him a shot in the field, Cashman said, according to a report from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
This seems rather inflexible to me. I find it hard to believe Rodriguez can’t play the field at least once in a while, just to increase the team’s options a bit. But the Yankees certainly know more about it than I do.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
It was a question raised by WFAN’s Sweeny Murti on Monday, and it’s an interesting one:
2017 plan is in question too as Bird loses a critical year of development. Maybe a stopgap option? Maybe that’s Teixiera??
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) February 1, 2016
The proposition, of course, stems from the fact that Yankees’ 23-year-old backup first baseman Greg Bird will miss the entire 2016 season because of shoulder surgery he had performed on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum.
The problem with Bird’s injury isn’t so much that he can’t play in the Bronx this year—he was slated to start the year in Triple-A anyway—but that he is going to lose a year of maturation and development.
I guess they could extend a qualifying offer to Teixeira and hope he sticks around for a year or they get a draft pick out of it.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird will miss the 2016 season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Bird initially hurt his shoulder last May while in the minors, and felt discomfort again this offseason. He will have surgery Tuesday to repair the torn labrum.
The 23-year-old had 11 home runs in 157 at-bats for the Yankees as a rookie last season.
Bird was projected to begin the season at Triple-A rather than sit behind incumbent first baseman Mark Teixeira, but would have been first in line for major league at-bats in the event of an injury to Teixeira or designated hitter Alex Rodriguez.
Now he misses a full year of developmental time and has a serious injury on his ledger.
This is not good. Hopefully Bird can make a full recovery, but losing a year of development is not good for him.
The New York Yankees’ vast riches come with sky-high expectations, and both the team and its fans bristle at the concept of rebuilding. So the Yankees entered 2015 with designs on contention but question marks all over the diamond, mostly in the form of aging and high-priced former free agent acquisitions coming off ineffective or injury-riddled seasons.
Then the season started, and many of those same players enjoyed resurgent seasons and good health. And while the club played its way to a American League wild-card berth — losing to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros — general manager Brian Cashman subtly continued the process of acquiring and developing a new core of young players to buttress the big-ticket stars on the roster and a group fit to support the next crop of marquee Yankees superstars whenever it should come.
The success of the 2016 Yankees will still largely rest on the performance of familiar faces signed to big deals on the long side of 30. The club will count on Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran — the youngest of whom, Teixeira, will turn 36 in April — to provide a good portion of its offense. And it will hope for rejuvenated output from Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley to hang with the homer-happy Toronto Blue Jays and the suddenly retooled Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
But 2015 saw the Yankees debuts of shortstop Didi Gregorius, starter Luis Severino and first baseman Greg Bird, all of whom look ready to be regular contributors at the big-league level. And in Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi, Cashman might have collected the bulk of a solid starting rotation on the cusp of its prime years.
Many prognosticators expected the Yankees to add another starter before the 2016 season to shore up the back end of a rotation rendered shaky by CC Sabathia’s continued decline and struggles with health, alcoholism and velocity. Instead, the Yankees made fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman the biggest acquisition of their offseason, beefing up a bullpen that already included dominant late-inning arms in Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.
It appears the Yankees will take the approach made famous by the Kansas City Royals, relying on a decent offense and a group of starters good enough to keep them in games through the sixth inning, then turning the ball over to a trio of nearly unhittable relievers.
Is this ‘famous’ approach a sustainable one?
Friday, January 29, 2016
Alex Rodriguez will turn 41 this summer, but it appears he will enter Yankees camp with a spring in his step and the enthusiasm of a rookie.
He has spent the winter working out, spending time with his two daughters and “trying to get this old body ready to go again,’’ he said by phone from Miami yesterday. “I’ve only been 40 once, but it is new territory. I embrace it. One thing about this game, it has a funny way of humbling you and it’s such a difficult game to play every day. It’s so much of a better game today than when I first came in 1994. The young talent is as good as I’ve ever seen it.’’
It’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees handle it if Rodriguez approaches the 27 homers he needs to tie Babe Ruth at 714 for third on the all-time list. I hope he gets there and more, but I wouldn’t bet on it, at least not in 2016.