Let’s be realistic, the Yankees aren’t trading for Giancarlo Stanton, who’s probably the best young hitter in baseball, better than Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. He’s cheap, with four more years of team control, and he’s hit 93 homeruns before turning 23 years old. While I think the Yankees could somehow put together enough pieces to work a trade, (the entire farm system) the Marlins have no reason to do so. The team has also expressed that they have no plans to trade Stanton.
While Miami is in a fire sale, the Yankees ought to look into some of their players. We already know the front office has interest in starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who’s actually a lot better than his numbers indicate. Over the last four years, the 29 year old righty posted a 4.68 ERA over 739.2 innings. Despite a large sample size and a terrible ERA, his FIP hasn’t even touched 4.00. In fact, since he’s been a full time player, the yearly FIP’s read, 3.77, 3.35, 3.86, 3.54, 3.87.This isn’t to say he’s been unlucky, even though his LOB% is extremely low.
The truth is, the Miami Marlins are pretty awful defensively. Even with this in consideration, Nolasco has challenged the faith of many stat geeks. His once impeccable control and strong strikeout numbers convinced many that he had top of the rotation starter potential, but many have given up.
2012 was by far his worst season, despite putting up his lowest ERA since 2008. His K% plummeted to 15.0% and his fastball fell to an average 90.1 mph. He did maintain his typical command, but also increased his GB% by increasing sinker usage. 2012 looked more like an experiment as a contact pitcher, rather than a typical unlucky Nolasco season.
At $11.5 million for one year, it isn’t the worst buy low trade to make. With better defense and a change of scenery, Nolasco might finally become the top of the rotation starter his sabermetrics indicate. Might is the key word, and even though I put the chance closer to 0% than 100%, he’s worth the pickup if the Yankees can get something else out of the trade.
Logan Morrison is on the cutting block too. The Yankees need a right fielder, they really should try to get younger, and this player needs to be cheap for the team’s 2014/2015 budget. Perhaps calling Morrison a right fielder is a little too generous, but the guy is certainly young, cheap, and full of high-upside talent.
Despite hitting .230/.308/.399 in his injury shortened 2012, Morrison hit a combined .259/.351/.460 over 812 plate appearances in the previous two season. The trouble in 2012 comes from a small sample size corrupted by incredibly low BABIP on both ground balls and line drives. It’s not hard to imagine why the Marlin’s former top prospect fell out of favor. He’s had issues with the organization before, 2012 wasn’t his best season, and he didn’t appear too happy about last night’s trade either.
It would be another buy low situation, which could be further offset by taking on Nolasco’s full contract, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit. The 25 year old spent very little time in the outfield as a prospect, and his defensive metrics aren’t very kind about his glove in the outfield. As a full time left fielder in Miami, Morrison has consistently put up negative UZR’s and low fielding percentages. The small right field in Yankee Stadium might help, but there isn’t much to wish on fielding-wise.
He’s also a third left handed batter in the outfield. The Yankees are always looking for lefties with power to hit home runs over the short right field porch. A problem exists when you’re starting outfield of three left handed hitters faces a left handed pitcher who can neutralize same side batters. Fortunately, Morrison doesn’t have much of a platoon split yet.
It’s not the perfect trade, but outside of the Nick Swisher deal four years ago, how many trades are perfect? Both of these players have advanced numbers that indicate they’re coming off unlucky seasons. If the Yankees are willing to take on the full $11.5 million for Nolasco’s 2013 season, there should be a slight discount on Morrison. As Morrison enters his peak years, there’s a lot of potential upside there that Yankees would have control over until 2017. The Yankees have all the money in the world to spend for 2013.
Nothing is certain about these two players, but that hasn’t held Cashman back lately. If the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade taught us anything, the Yankees are willing to take a risk on young players. Unfortunately, during this offseason, I don’t see many other high potential young and cheap outfielders available for less than trading the entire farm system.