Report: Yoan Moncada Officially Declared A Free Agent By MLB

Via Jeff Passan, top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada was officially declared a free agent by MLB today.  He is now eligible to sign with any team.

According to Passan’s report, MLB will require all players wishing to come over to sign with teams to provide a sworn affidavit stating that they have established residency in another country, have no intention of going back to Cuba, and are not Cuban government officials.  This will allow them to receive the general unblocking license from the US government that was the apparent holdup previously.  Funny how that first story came out last week about MLB dragging its feet on the licences and now we have a resolution this week.

With MLB’s shenanigans in the rearview, the Yankees move right to the front of the line of favorites to sign Moncada.  They have until June 15th of this year to make him any offer they want plus a 100% penalty tax on the deal.  …

Read more

Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: James Shields, Anybody?

Everybody knows the situation with the rotation heading into spring camp this year.  We know it’s got a potentially higher ceiling than people are giving it credit for but that it needs a lot to go right for that to happen.  We know the depth behind the projected starting 5 isn’t there, and we know that the latest projections are not optimistic about the health concerns surrounding those starting 5.

Enter James Shields, who is somewhat surprisingly still out there on the free agent market and reportedly losing his luster rapidly.  Buster Olney said on Sunday that Shields’ “leverage is gone now” and went even further in saying that “Shields is in the worst possible spot of any free agent” still left.  Nick Cafardo described Shields’ current situation as “radio silence,” which is not something you want to hear when you had visions of getting 5 years and 9 figures this offseason.

There is some belief that a team could come in with a lower-figure 4-year offer and land him, but given the limited confirmed interest and dropping asking price, should the Yankees swoop in and try to get Shields on a shorter, higher-dollar deal?  …

Read more

Report: Yankees “Intrigued” By Johan Santana, Following His Winter League Starts

Johan vs ATL

Courtesy of Getty Images

This would certainly qualify as finding rotation depth on the cheap.  Per a report by Dan Martin, the Yankees were in attendance at Johan Santana‘s first Venezuelan Winter League start last night as he attempts to come back from a torn Achilles tendon.  Santana pitched 2 scoreless innings and looked pretty good by most accounts.  According to Martin, the Yankees are “intrigued” by the idea of signing Santana, and an unnamed source that they “will keep an eye on him.”

Everybody knows Santana’s story by now.  He used to be the best pitcher alive not too many years ago, but a litany of major injuries put an end to that and have all but derailed his entire career.  It’s not just the comeback from the Achilles tear that factors into any decision on Santana, it’s the torn shoulder capsule in 2011, the second torn shoulder capsule in 2013, and the back problems.  Santana has been limited to 21 Major League starts since 2010, and at age 36 it’s hard to imagine his body and its storied injury history holding up to any kind of consistent, regular workload.…

Read more

Picking Out The Most Realistic Targets From The Remaining Free Agent Starter Pool

Vogelsong vs KC

Not a sexy option, but could pitch more innings than CC next year. Courtesy of Getty Images

However we all individually feel about things like the Stephen Drew signing, the recent bullpen moves, or the overall status and potential of the team, one thing we can all agree on is the need for more starting pitching.  There are serious questions and concerns about each guy in the projected rotation, most of them health-related, and the already thin organizational starting depth was dealt a small blow by the trading away of Manny Banuelos.  Ivan Nova‘s return will help some, but he can’t  be expected to step back into the rotation and pitch like the 2013 2nd half version of himself.

The Maxes Scherzer and Jameses Shields of the world are still hanging there for the taking on the free agent tree of temptation, but all signs point to the Yankees sticking to their word and not inking either of those 2 this offseason.  …

Read more

Max’s Headroom, $180m? Stars Deserve $40+m/yr, So $180m is Fine for Scherzer (& Was for Sabathia) – Despite the Ugly End of Such “Deferred Comp” Deals

MaxH
The Yankees have been adamant that they have no interest in adding another nine-figure salary to the books, resisting the outside cries … [for] Max Scherzer.” Yet the “Is Max Scherzer worth it” debate won’t stop. Dueling opinions are all over our comment threads and the whole internet, with folks declaring, “signing or not signing Scherzer will decide whether the Yankees are playing in October,” or proudly “rail[ing] against long-term contracts” of $20m+/yr because they are “gamble[s] that can cripple an organization…. [M]ost of the Yankees’ $20M busts are in the last years of long-term contracts, and you should no longer be surprised that they passed on Scott Boras’ $200M, longer-term contract demands” for Scherzer. Despite the strongly varied views on Scherzer, there’s little debate on three key points.

(1) He will require a costly seven-year deal. Fangraphs estimates $168m-$175m/7yr, i.e., $24-$25m/yr. Boras may want $200m, but that demand has left Max unemployed a month after the almost-as-good Jon Lester signed for $155m/6yr.…

Read more

“About that $20+ Million I Saved You, Hal…”

Happy New Year! As Brad just noted, the Yankees’ offseason moves have youngered an old team – but they’ve also made it a cheaper team. Yes, they’re still old and expensive, but the difference is striking. Brad tallied the age differences, so I’ll tally key money changes here (all numbers are for one year’s salary) — which is somewhat fuzzy math, but bear with me, because there’s a point I want to make:

  • Losing Kuroda while resigning Capuano for a $2.75m raise → saved $13.25m
  • Losing McCarthy, dumping Kelley, and dumping Thorton late last year, then replacing them with a slew of $500K-$1m guys (Mitchell, Rogers, Miller, Whitley, German) → saved about $7.5m
  • Losing Jeter and getting Gregorious → saved about $11m (depending on Didi’s likely $1m-ish for 2015)
  • Losing Ichiro, using a full year of Young instead → saved $4m
  • Losing Prado and getting Jones (ignoring Phelps/Eovaldi, a monetary wash) → saved $6m
  • Dumping Roberts late last year, replacing him with Refsnyder/Pirela this year → saved $4.5m
  • Replacing Cervelli with Murphy → saved about $1m
  • Passing up Robertson for Miller → added $3.8m (over D-Rob’s $5.2m in 2014, but they saved $2.5m in a sense, by picking Miller at $9m over over D-Rob at $11.5m)
  • Keeping Headley → added $2.5m (the raise from his 2014 salary)
  • Getting (stuck with) A-Rod back on the books → added $18m (he’s getting $21m, but BBREF shows he actually got paid almost $3m last year)
  • Total: saved $47.25m; added $24.3m → net savings of about $23m

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other $1-2m differences, like the part-year 2014 salaries of Drew, Johnson, and Thorton, as well as possible modest raises embedded in some long-term contracts.…

Read more

Quick Hit: Have The Yanks Called Tampa About Ben Zobrist Yet?

Zobrist vs CHW

Courtesy of Getty Images

Because if they haven’t they’re missing a golden opportunity.  Zobrist was made expendable earlier today when the Rays agreed to a 1-year deal with Asdrubal Cabrera, and Tampa is reportedly willing to move him.  At age 33, Zobrist is a switch-hitting, multiple position-playing super everyday utility man.  He’s what Martin Prado would be if Martin Prado was better at baseball in every way and he’s available on a steal of a 1-year/$7.5 million deal for 2015.

Simply put, Zobrist does everything well.  He’s a .264/.354/.429 career hitter, although he’s posted averages of .270 or better in each of the last 3 seasons, with few strikeouts (15.7% career K rate) and a ton of walks (12.7% career BB rate).  He’s an above-average defensive player at second base and in the outfield corners, and he can fake it at third, shortstop, and in center in a pinch.  He doesn’t steal a ton of bases, but he’s had 10 or more for 6 years in a row and he rates as an above-average baserunner.…

Read more

What’s The Next Move After The Kelley Trade?

01horse_cfdb1938

The locker room should be a little less fun without him. Courtesy of MLB.com

In a move yesterday that some predicted, some welcomed, and some never saw coming, the Yankees traded Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres for 22-year-old right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato.  Barbato has some upside thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a legit swing-and-miss curveball, but his command has been spotty and last season was his first above A-ball.  Kelley would have contributed something positive to the Yankee bullpen in 2015.  It’s not nearly as likely that Barbato will do the same.

The most intriguing part of the deal is what it may suggest about additional deals in the works.  Kelley said Cash told him that “he hated to see me go” but that the decision to move Kelley was “part of a new plan.”  What is that plan?  What else is involved in it?  And how does getting Kelley’s fractional amount off the 2015 payroll play into that plan?  …

Read more

We’ll Miss Hiroki, But Let’s Be Glad We Won’t Suffer His Imminent Decline

Kuroda vs BAL II

Courtesy of the AP

I’ll definitely miss Hiroki Kuroda. Pitchers are notoriously inconsistent, but not Kuroda: in seven MLB years, all his annual ERAs were 3.3-3.7ish, except one 3.07 that seemed lucky (his FIP was a more Kurodalike 3.78). He rang up 12 WAR over his three Yankee years, so his $41m was a real bargain, about half the $6-7m/WAR free agent going rate. And he was fun to watch; I’m a sucker for graceful mechanics like Kuroda’s, and also for the badassness of swings and misses at sinkers barely above the dirt.

But I’m only a little, not a lot, sad he’s leaving. He turns 40 in February; almost no non-juicing/non-superstar pitcher remains any good at 40-41; and Kuroda has already started suffering decline.

Kuroda impressively defied the odds by throwing in the 90s while pushing 40, but his hard sinker has definitely slowed, modestly but steadily: from 92.3-92.4 at ages 33-34, to 91.7-92.0 at 35-37, then to 91.5 at 38, and then, last year, to 91.0 at 39.…

Read more