To Re-Sign Or Not To Re-Sign: Chase Headley

Headley vs TEX

Courtesy of Getty Images

In addition to their 2 qualifying offer candidates, the Yankees have a handful of free agents to be who are either not eligible for or not worthy of QO consideration.  Some of these players could be and probably should be high priorities for the Yankees this coming offseason, and they’ll warrant serious consideration for being re-signed, especially since they don’t come with draft pick compensation attached.

Since the format for the QO case posts stimulated a lot of good debate, I think we’ll stick with that to break down the rest of these free agent cases.  First up from this list of non-QO guys is Chase Headley.  He shined in 58 games after being acquired before the trade deadline and was the first consistent above-average producer at the position for the Yanks since 2011-2012.

Case For:

  • Major Defensive Upgrade- Headley was an elite-level defensive player in 2014.  His 13 defensive runs saved was 3rd best among qualified third basemen and his 28.0 UZR/150 was tops.  
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To Qualify Or Not To Qualify: Hiroki Kuroda

Hirok vs TOR

How could anybody not want this guy back next year??? Courtesy of Getty Images

On Tuesday we weighed the cases for and against making David Robertson a qualifying offer this offseason.  Today we do the same for the other potential qualifying offer candidate, reliable right-handed starter Hiroki Kuroda.

Case For:

  • Consistent Very Good Performance- In his 3 seasons as a Yankee, Kuroda ranks 12th in MLB in IP (620.0), T-12th in BB rate (5.1%), T-20th in WHIP (1.15), and 18th in fWAR (11.0), with a 3.44/3.68/.360 slash line.
  • Consistency Within The Consistency- Made 33, 32, and 32 starts in his 3 Yankee seasons; pitched between 199-220 regular season innings in each season; had ERAs between 3.31-3.71, FIPs between 3.56-3.86, and xFIPS between 3.54-3.67 in each season; K rate between 17.8%-18.7% in each season; 11+ wins in each season; 3-year fWAR values of 3.7, 3.8, and 3.5
  • Rotation Health Questions- Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, and Nova all enter 2015 with health-related concerns.  
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To Qualify Or Not To Qualify: David Robertson

D-Rob vs DET

The look of a man who knows he’s getting paid this offseason. Courtesy of Getty Images

The League Championship Series are in the early stages, so we’re weeks away from the realistic deadline.  But with each passing game, that deadline for submitting qualifying offers draws closer.  I briefly touched on the increase of the QO price to $15.3 million last week and my plan was always to discuss the 2 top Yankee QO candidates in greater detail.  We’ll start that plan today with a look at the qualifying offer case for David Robertson.

Case For:

  • Consistent Elite Performance- One of the best relievers in MLB since 2011.  19th in IP (258.0), 5th in Strikeouts (354), 8th in K rate (34.0%), 3rd in Holds (97), 9th in FIP (2.40), 4th in fWAR (7.6).
  • Strong 2014 Season- One of the best closers in MLB this past season.  Finished T-8th in Saves (39), 10th in K rate (37.1%), T-13th in reliever fWAR (1.7).
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Sizing Up the Market: Shortstop

This off-season will represent the first time since 1995 that the Yankees will be looking for a full-time solution at shortstop. That may even be selling the transition for Derek Jeter to whomever a bit short, too, as Tony Fernandez was signed to be the team’s everyday shortstop in December of 1994, and he was pretty freaking good – at that time, he was still a strong defender with a league-average bat, which most teams would kill for at shortstop nowadays. Of course, that goes to show just how long it has been since the Yankees were faced with this sort of dilemma. To add a bit more context, in 1995 (the last of pre-Jeterian days):

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Sizing Up the Market: Third Base

Alex Rodriguez?

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez?!

Alex. Rodriguez.

With that out of the way, it does seem as if the Yankees are already planning on going in another direction at third. And, to be perfectly blunt, it would be patently idiotic to count on a 39-year-old coming off of two hip surgeries and a calendar year-plus away from organized baseball to do much of anything, let alone man the hot corner for a would be contender. As much as it would be fun, and perhaps even deserved if we sat down and assumed that the Yankees would be so inept as to head into the season with that sort of player penciled into the Opening Day lineup, I simply cannot see that happening as of this moment – at least not at third base, or barring some sort of calamitous Spring Training injury.

The Yankees head into the off-season with a compelling free agent third baseman of their own in Chase Headley.…

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The Bachelorette, SS Edition: Drew Gets the Rose?

First of all, thanks to the gang for letting me join! I’m a native New Yorker who moved to Wisconsin and then Colorado for work (I’m a professor at U. Colorado Law School). As a Yankee fan since my first Stadium game in 1978 (when as a 4 year-old I understood almost nothing but loved the loudly chaotic “Bronx Zoo” atmosphere that grandpa was showing me at an arguably inappropriate age), I’m looking forward to chatting more with Yankee fans here.

In a feat of remarkably poor timing, I’d drafted a detailed comparison of the top SS options, Hanley Ramirez and the now-unavailable J.J. Hardy. Now the solid speculation is Stephen Drew may be the last man standing in what started out as a strong free-agent SS field, but is looking like a super-anticlimactic season of the Bachelorette, one in which the best bachelor departs mid-season for another woman, and the rest all prove underwhelming, leaving the looking-for-love starlet holding her nose in presenting the rose to the old guy who stank up their dates like Drew’s .150/.219/.271 batting line in NY.…

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Forget About A-Rod Playing Shortstop

After a season in which he was almost never mentioned, Alex Rodriguez is starting to creep back into the Yankee headlines.  He’s been working out in preparation for his return from this year’s suspension, the team has been speaking openly and positively about him rejoining the lineup in 2015, and all signs point towards A-Rod being the starter at some position on Opening Day.

What position, exactly, is up for debate and appears as though it could be something that’s not set in stone.  One suggestion that’s been talked about on our daily email chains and multiple times in the comment section of this blog is the idea of moving A-Rod back to shortstop.  That is an idea that any and all believers should stop believing right now.  Forget about it.  Because it’s not going to happen.

At 39 years old and turning 40 next July, and with 2 bad hips, A-Rod’s days of playing every day are long gone.  Cash used that point as the main reason why the team reportedly asked A-Rod to learn first base this offseason.

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Sandoval and Headley Solid 3B Options

Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe reported a few days ago that the Yankees, along with the Red Sox and Dodgers, might be willing to offer Pablo Sandoval a five-year, $100 million contract.

Brian Cashman had a more honest quote about Alex Rodriguez during his media tour yesterday after receiving a new three-year contract.

“I don’t think you can assume he can play third base,” Cashman said. “With his age and missing a full year and how it affected Derek [Jeter] and Mark Teixeira. … In the chair I sit in, it’s safer to assume this is something he might not be able to do the whole year.”

This leaves Sandoval and Chase Headley as the best free agent options. Sandoval has been one of the free agents that I have been an advocate of.  Headley’s WAR was 4.4 last year compared to 3.0 for Sandoval. However, much of that is tied to Headley’s defense. FanGraphs had him at 21.6 runs above average on defense and a 20.9 UZR.…

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Sizing Up the Market: Second Base

In 2013, Yankees second basemen – which may be more accurately referred to as “Robinson Cano & Friends” – batted .318/.385/.521, with 43 2B, 27 HR, and a 154 sOPS+ (meaning that the team’s production at the position was roughly 54% better than the average). For comparison’s sake, the average second baseman hit .263/.323/.387 in 2013 and, yes, that includes Cano’s robust production.

This past season, the much less catchy “Brian Roberts & the Infinite Sadness” combined for a slash line of .246/.303/.390, with 34 2B, 13 HR, and a 101 sOPS+. All things considered, that isn’t too shabby when compared to the MLB-average of .256/.313/.373. Of course, that line is probably a bit skewed by Martin Prado slashing .403/.413/.661 in 63 PA as the second baseman – but, on the whole, the disappointing production at the position may well have been a result of Cano’s offensive dominance of the position for the previous half decade or so. The defense of Messrs Roberts and Kelly Johnson is a story for another day.…

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