Tag Archives: Jayson Werth

Are these guys worth the money?

Larry can confirm that the contracts going around this offseason have blown my mind. Say what you will about the deals Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez got back in the day, at least those were two of the best hitters in baseball at the time, and they were young (A-Rod’s first deal, although it’s convenient to forget how good a season he had when he got his second one). Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford are good, but they aren’t nine-figures good. I figured that Crawford would have gotten about $85 million over five years, while Werth and his history of injuries would get about $60 million over four years. Shows you what I know.

Cliff Lee‘s contract wound up being right where everyone anticipated, unlike the outsized deals the other big name free-agents got, but that doesn’t change the fact that he may not earn the money. Not even Lee is a sure thing. It raises the question of whether he’s also overpaid, even if his contract was within the market range for his services.

When it comes to contracts I always keep Barry Zito in mind as a reminder that for every Derek Jeter (who may have not quite earned his contract, but who did give the Yankees excellent, reliable production right up to the end of it) there’s a Kevin Brown, an Alfonso Soriano, or, hope above hope, a Cliff Lee — a mega-deal that blows up. The deals being inked this offseason smell like busts to me. I’ll use two tools to inform a prediction about them. First, I’ll investigate how much Fangraphs thinks each of these players has been worth over the past seven years. Then, I’ll use Baseball Reference to see which players their career trajectories most resemble. The first piece of analysis will help show if these guys have ever been worth the annual salaries they’re about to be paid while the second piece will shed light on whether or not the more fragile among them (ahem … Werth … cough) even has seven years left.

Jayson Werth | Fangraphs says that for his entire career to date, Werth has only been worth $90.8 million dollars. Much of that value was diminished because he wasn’t an everyday player until 2007. Since that season, he’s generated an incredible $78.2 million dollars, and has averaged about $20 million a season across 2008, 2009 and 2010. Given that his annual salary is going to be exactly $18 million a season, Werth figures to earn his paycheck at least for the next few seasons.

The problem is that no one has ever doubted Jayson’s talent when he’s on the field. Doubters question his ability to stay on that field. A combination of injury and development prevented him from becoming a regular player until his age 28 season. Next year he’ll turn 32. As an outfielder in the National League he doesn’t figure to age well. Baseball-Reference agrees. Brad Hawpe, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Tommy Henrich are listed as the most similar players to Werth through age 31. Hawpe, an active player, is already in decline, and Henrich played in the ’40s. Hammonds, however, retired a few years ago, and was pretty much dead weight after he turned 30.

Interestingly, Baseball-Reference doesn’t consider Werth to be a unique player. A score of 1,000 on a similarity comparison indicates a nearly perfect match. Anything above 900 is close. All of Werth’s top 10 most similar players rate above 930 as matches. After the three listed above, the next four closest are Chet Laabs, Henry Rodriguez, Wally Westlake and Trot Nixon. Apart from being similar to Werth, all four of them have something else in common: not a one played past the age of 35.

Carl Crawford | Full disclosure: I hate this deal. Crawford is a 107 OPS+ career hitter, and now he rates right up there with Manny Ramirez as one of the highest-paid outfielders ever. Manny’s career OPS+? 155. What’s not to love about this deal?

Crawford has been more valuable than Werth, but he too has actually not earned the money he is going to make up to this point in his career. According to Fangraphs, his value over his entire career has been $130.7 million dollars, which is phenomenal, but it would fall short of the $142 million Boston is going to pay him. Like Werth, C
rawford has also seen his value explode the last couple seasons. Through 2008 he’d never been worth more than $16.9 million in any given year. He’s been worth about $27 million each of the past two seasons. He also figures to earn his paycheck, at least for the next three or four years.

How about the rest of the deal? Unlike Werth, Crawford is a more unique talent. He is rated most similar through age 28 to Roberto Clemente (who is one of my all-time favorite players), but the similarity score is only 926. Recall that all 10 of Werth’s top 10 best comparisons rated 930 or more. After Clemente, Crawford is most similar to Sam Crawford and Sherry Magee, with scores of 907 and 905, respectively.

For those who don’t know, Clemente was an absolute beast of hitter who’s life was cut tragically short in a plane crash. His last career hit was his 3,000th. What I didn’t know is that he was a MONSTER from his age 29 through 35 seasons, putting up OPS+’s of 145, 135, 146, 171, 152, 168 and 160, respectively. He played two more seasons and put up OPS+’s of 143 and 137 in each season. Prior to turning 28 he had several below 100 OPS+ seasons. Crawford’s career trajectory isn’t quite the same as Clemente’s (for starters, he’s not as good), but he does appear to be coming into his own at the right time.

Sam Crawford and Sherry Magee played in the deadball era, so its not really fair to compare them to Carl Crawford. For thoroughness’ sake, Carl also compares favorable to Cesar Cedeno and Tim Raines, each coming in at just a touch below 900 on the similarity score. Cedeno didn’t age well, and started putting up sub par seasons just when he turned 30. Raines, on the other hand, aged well. Of all the players on the list he’s the one I feel (personally, not through any statistical measure) is most like Crawford. His OPS+ was anywhere from 98 to 131 from ages 29 through 35. Unlike Werth, this looks like a good deal. $142 million is clearly an overpay, but if your range of outcomes is Tim Raines to Roberto Clemente then you’re a pretty good player, to say the least.

Cliff Lee | Lee is an interesting case. Yes, he’s one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball right now. No, he doesn’t have a solid track record. Cliff first became a regular starter in 2004, and he was replacement level. In 2005 and 2006 he was above average, but not great. Then, in 2007 he was awful, and spent some time in the minors. It wasn’t until 2008 that he turned into the machine we’ve all come to fear. Unlike, say, CC Sabathia, who’s been at least an average pitcher and started at least 30 games every season since he was 20 years old, Lee bounced around and only has a three-season track record that he’s now turned into a fortune. Needless to say he’s only been worth $121.2 million in his career to date. (You hear that Philadelphia, you expect him to earn more money for you in his thirties than he did in his prime!) Of the three players examined here, however, in the last three years he’s been far and away the most valuable, generating about $30 million of value each of the past three seasons.

As with Werth, Baseball-Reference doesn’t consider Lee’s career to date to be all that unique. Each of the ten players most similar to him have similarity scores above 930. First on that list is none other than ex-Yankee Denny Neagle. That’s bad. Neagle was out of baseball by the time he was 35. Schoolboy Rowe is next on the list (is it just me, or have baseball nicknames lost something in the last fifty years?) and he played in the ’40s. World War II also cut his career short. Chris Carpenter, John Burkett, Kirk Rueter, Tom Browning and Charles Nagy all come next, each with a score of 933 or higher. Each had a history of injuries. None pitched past 36. Currently 35 and coming off a good season, Carpenter is the only one who might show some longevity.

The statistical models are suggesting that, rather than his control or his strikeouts, Lee’s signature characteristic is actually his lack of durability. I used a laptop and some spare time to figure this out. The Yankees, Rangers and Phillies hopefully put considerably more resources into their analyses. This clear lack of durability is probably why all three teams were hesitant to guarantee the seventh year Lee coveted. If these similarity statistics are to be trusted, Lee is not a sure thing to see the fifth year of his deal, never mind a hypothetical seventh.

The economics behind signing all three of these players is the same. To earn their paychecks they’ll probably have to outperform their deals in years one through three because they don’t figure to earn their salaries after that. Of the three, Carl Crawford actually looks like the closest thing to a safe bet. He’s the most durable. He’s the youngest. He has the most favorable comparisons. In many ways, Lee projects as the LEAST likely to earn his money. At least, that’s what I’ll be saying to myself while he annihilates the National Le
ague next year.

Some preliminary statistical notes on Crawford to the Red Sox

Matt’s working on a Carl Crawford post of his own, but in the interim I’d like to weigh in with a couple of notes on Crawford’s 7-year, $142 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

– For starters, while Carl Crawford is an admittedly dynamic and exciting player, we’re also talking about a hitter with a career .347 wOBA, and who is coming off a career-high .378 mark. Of course, with a player like Crawford one also has to factor in his defense, which is where he derives a significant amount of his value. Is Crawford worth $20.3 million per year? According to Fangraphs he certainly was and then some in 2010, putting up a 6.9 fWAR worth $27.4 million. He was also excellent in 2009, with a 5.7 fWAR that was worth $25.4 million. It’s probably worth nothing that Baseball-Reference has a rather drastically different opinion of Crawford, as bWAR has his 2010 season at 4.8 and his 2009 at 4.4.

– I also find the move somewhat odd from an OBP perspective. Without doing the research, I’d have to imagine that Crawford has the lowest career OBP — a rather uninspiring .337 — for a $100 million man in history. For a team that values on-base percentage just as much as the Yankees do, I find it somewhat surprising that the Sox were willing to go this high for the lefty Crawford and not, say Jayson Werth, whose overall skill set (and right-handedness) seemingly would’ve been a perfect match for the Green Monster. I know Werth’s two years older and all that, but he’s coming off four straight seasons of .380-plus wOBA production — a level that Crawford has never reached once in his nine-year career — and could’ve presumably been had for $16 million less. Additionally, Crawford isn’t even that much younger than Werth — he’ll turn 30 next August.

– In trying to figure out whether this is a significant overpay, I thought it’d be helpful to parrot what SG did yesterday with his Cliff Lee hypothetical. According to SG by way of Tom Tango, a general rule of thumb is to assume a player in their 30s will decline around 0.5 WAR a season. If you read Tango’s post it’s a bit more complex than that, but for our purposes I’m fine with using that as a general baseline. I also don’t think we can expect a decline immediately off the bat from an elite player like Crawford, so I’ll assume he’ll maintain his lofty 2010 performance for the first year of the deal. I’m going to ape SG’s table showing the various scenarios depending on how much a win is valued, as we don’t know how much the Red Sox value a win. I’m also using bWAR, as it appears SG’s CAIRO forecast for WAR more closely tracks bWAR than fWAR.

Bear in mind this is a rudimentary calculation and the first time I’ve ever attempted something like this. In any event, even if the Sox value a win at $6 million, it appears the overall pact still may be a slight overpay, but it’s probably not a dramatic overpay. One also has to figure that Crawford’s offensive game will see a boost getting to play 81 games a season at Fenway Park, although I’m not sure there’s a way to quantify that. On the flip side, as Ben notes his defensive impact may be somewhat limited manning left field in front of the Monstah, and David Pinto notes that Crawford’s speed may not age all that well.

– How does this affect Boston’s lineup? Well for one, it makes it quite dangerous (and quite left-handed), perhaps moreso than 2010, although Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford have some fairly large shoes to fill in Adrian Beltre (.390 wOBA) and Victor Martinez (.364 wOBA), so I don’t know that I’d expect the Sox’s offense to be overwhemingly better in 2011. If we use SG’s CAIRO projections for 2011 and plug them into Baseball Musings’ lineup analyzer, we get 5.5 runs per game (5.6 in the ideal iteration) for Boston’s presumed starting lineup, a ridiculously robust lineup any way you slice it. Of course, we also have to keep in mind that A-Gon’s and Crawford’s projections are for the Padres and Rays, respectively, and we can expect their overall numbers to see some inflation due to Fenway.

Plugging SG’s 2011 CAIRO projections in for the Yankee starting lineup, we get 5.6 runs per game (5.7 with lineup optimization), so yes, while the Red Sox certainly improved their team significantly with Carl Crawford, the Yankee lineup didn’t exactly get worse. Factor in presumed bounceback years for Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, and I don’t think Yankee fans have anything to worry about. As has been the case for the better part of the last decade, both the Yankees and Red Sox will be fielding elite offensive powerhouses, and we shouldn’t expect anything less from the game’s premier franchises.

If anything, not throwing obscene amounts of money at Crawford should make Yankee fans do a jig, as the team can now keep its cost-effective outfield in place and spend whatever extra money they may have on continuing to improve the pitching staff.

Werth Signing Changes The Market

As I am sure most of you have heard, the Nationals handed outfielder Jayson Werth a monumental 7-year, 126 million dollar deal yesterday. Werth is an excellent all-around player, but he is also 32, has had injury issues, and does not have an extensive track record as an elite player. The deal sent ripples throughout the baseball community, and is likely to impact the free agent market significantly. For example, take this tweet from Jon Heyman, sent last night:

Hearing #rangers not planning to go 6 yrs on lee. Hopeful camarederie/proximity pay off. Do expect at least the #yankees to go 6.

Before the offseason began, I thought a 5 year deal would almost certainly be enough to get Lee. However, with the market now clearly above what it has been in recent seasons, Lee is probably going to get his 6th year, at an average annual value of 22-25 million dollars. There is no way that he will look at a player just as old as him receiving a 7 year deal from the Nationals and accept a 5 year offer from the Yankees and Rangers.

The market for Carl Crawford is where the Werth contract will be felt most, as Carl can now ask for 8 years and 144-160 million dollars with a straight face. I can see the Angels trying to make a big splash after their terrible 2010, and Boston has been said to have strong interest in Crawford as well. If I were the Red Sox, I would empty out the farm system for Justin Upton rather than give Crawford the sort of money that could cripple a team moving forward. An offer of Daniel Bard, Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias, Anthony Ranaudo, and Drake Britton may get a deal done (an alternative would be to include Jacoby Ellsbury and Felix Doubrount while removing Bard and Kalish). While this would mean that the Sox would have trade their top 6 prospects and two MLB ready talents this offseason, eschewing Crawford, Victor Martinez, and Adrian Beltre will leave them with 5 early picks in a stacked draft. Furthermore, they can expand the budget to go over slot later in the draft using the money that they will save by avoiding Crawford. Considering their strong draft in 2010 and their penchant for drafting well, they can rebuild the system relatively quickly. Whatever they choose to do, their decision-making process has likely been altered by the Jayson Werth contract and its ramifications on the free agent market.

Werth gets seven-year, $126 million deal from Nationals

In an industry-shocking move, Jayson Werth, who will be entering his age 32 season in 2011, received a seven-year, $126 million deal from the Washington Nationals, which will pay him $18M/year.

While the dollars are certainly more than almost anyone would’ve expected Werth to get, it’s the number of years that’s really surprising. However, clearly the Nats felt pressure to get something done in the wake of Adam Dunn taking his big bat to the White Sox (and yes, even though it was never going to happen I am still heartbroken), and once they zeroed in on Werth, had to figure that they’d scare everyone else away by offering seven years to the 31-year-old.

Looking past the contract, what the Nats did do was go out and get an outfielder who’s been one of the top 15 hitters in the National League the last three seasons, capping his trifecta of excellence off with a career-high .397 wOBA this past season. Werth’s 2010 was worth 5.0 fWAR, or $20 million per Fangraphs. Werth’s been worth an average of $21.6 million during the last three seasons, so there’s a decent shot the Nationals will get their money’s worth for the first few seasons of the pact, but it’s probably going to look pretty brutal around the fourth or fifth year of the contract. However, for a team that made a lot of headway in broadening its fanbase (though still has a lot of work to do) with the Stephen Strasburg hoopla and the signing of Bryce Harper, taking a gamble on Werth to get folks to continue to show up to the ballpark is a pretty savvy move.

More importantly, it throws a pretty significant wrench into the Hot Stove League on the eve of the 2010 Winter Meetings. Many observers expected Boston to be all over Werth, and in the aftermath of the Adrian Gonzalez deal perhaps not going through now (although I haven’t read official confirmation of its death yet) there will be even more pressure on the Red Sox to reel in at least one big bat if not two to replace Victor Martinez and the possibly departing Adrian Beltre. You have to figure the Sox will be courting Carl Crawford pretty heavily now, although they’ll have plenty of competition from the Angels, and perhaps even the Rangers should Texas get shut out on Cliff Lee.

The biggest week of the offseason has already kicked off with a bang, and I can’t wait to see who winds up where when the dust settles.

News and notes on a Saturday morning

Two stories with big implications emerged over night. Most important to Yankee fans, Derek Jeter and the team are now reported to be very close to a deal. According to RAB the agreement is around $51 million for three years, perhaps with a fourth year as an option. For a long time I’ve felt the Yankees were more likely to hold firm on the number of years in a contract for Jeter than on the dollars. I want the team and its Captain to come to an agreement quickly so I can enjoy watching Jeter pick up his 3,000th hit next season. $17 million a year is more than generous, and won’t block the team from pursuing Cliff Lee. Hopefully this gets wrapped up soon.

As important as Jeter is to the Yankees’ organization, the bigger news is that the Red Sox are on the verge of adding that big, middle of the order bat they’ve needed since they failed to sign Mark Teixeira. Pending a physical, Adrian Gonzalez will bring his talents to Beantown next season. Once again, according to RAB, the deal includes top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, and gives the Sox a window of time to negotiate an extension with Gonzalez.

The Red Sox have coveted Gonzalez for a while. For those who don’t know, Gonzalez is a first overall pick and a serious left handed hitter. He’s hit at least 24 homers every season since 2006, including a career high 40 in 2009, and has put up a wOBA of at least .360 each season during that same period. He’s also a respectable first baseman in the field.

While it was entirely expected that the Sox were going to pursue Gonzalez, it is a bit surprising that they traded for him now. Gonzalez would have been a free-agent at the end of this year, meaning that if the Red Sox had only waited they probably could have had him without giving up prospects after the season ended because he was certain to entertain an offer from them. This suggests that the Sox are either anxious to make some noise for the sake of banging pots and pans together, or that the team genuinely felt it wouldn’t be competitive in 2011 without more pop in the lineup. With Victor Martinez gone the Sox were certain to make a move, it is just surprising that this was the move.

Finally, this has trickle down implications for Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. It’s hard to imagine a situation where the Sox hand out a probable nine-figure contract extension to Gonzalez, and then lever up on a corner outfielder, although stranger things have happened. If the Yankees and Sox are about to sit out the bidding for Crawford and Werth their price tags will have to come down considerably. Either way, the Hot Stove season just took it up a notch.

Pondering Crawford or Werth

Good friend of the blog Will Weiss queried an assortment of baseball pundits (can I call myself a pundit? After a year-plus of granularly analyzing even the most mundane details of the activities of a baseball team every single day of the year I’ve probably earned the right) — including the esteemed Anthony McCarron of The New York Daily News, Jonah Keri of The Wall Street Journal and about a million other sites, the perspicacious Jay Jaffe, Jon Lane and myself — on our thoughts regarding whether the Yankees would chase after Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, assuming they found themselves in the market for either player.

Be sure to head on over to Bronx Banter for my take.

Lee + Dunn = 28

Let me preface this by saying that I have zero expectation that the Yankees will sign Adam Dunn. Many have been expecting the Yankees to keep the DH slot open with the idea of rotating catchers Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero through it, along with whichever other aging superstars (cough, Alex Rodriguez, cough) may need a half day off here and there, although according to Mark Feinsand the team may be leaning more toward slotting Jorge in as DH full-time and making Montero the team’s starting catcher.

However, regardless of whether or not one believes the rotating DH to be a sound plan — not to mention the fact that, if the Yankees are indeed holding true to the company line of not increasing payroll, they won’t have money for anyone else after re-signing Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte and (hopefully) bringing Cliff Lee aboard — or if you’re interested in Jorge Posada as the full-time DH, this is the offseason, a time of year full of rampant speculation and irresponsible rumormongering, and I’m not going to let little things like DH rotations, hypothetical payroll limitations and a 38-year-old catcher stop me from continuing to salivate over the thought of Dunn in pinstripes.

Longtime readers are well aware of my Adam Dunn fixation. I’ve been calling for the Yankees to reel the Big Donkey in for two years now, and though they didn’t heed my cry back in the 2008-2009 offseason, the fire was re-lit when several reports linked the team to Dunn leading up to the trade deadline last July. The Yankee ultimately determined that whatever the Washington Nationals were asking for was too cost-prohibitive, and they ended up landing Lance Berkman instead. Big Puma was adequate at DH — though his power mostly evaporated — and the Yankees aren’t expected to bring Fat Elvis back after declining his $15 million option. But we’ll get back to designated hitter momentarily.

As we all know, the Yankees’ primary offseason target is Cliff Lee. We’ve spent so much time talking about Lee this season that at this point I’m not sure what else there is to say other than I really hope the Yankees get him. As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Lee has a pretty good case for having been the best pitcher in baseball during the last three seasons, and basically every stat on his ledger is utterly eye-popping. Just for fun, here’s what the presumed 2011 Yankee rotation would look like with Cliff Lee in it:

Pretty, ain’t it? Teaming CC Sabathia at the top of the Yankee rotation with Lee might be the closest thing anyone’s come to the Randy JohnsonCurt Schilling two-headed monster of the 2001 Diamondbacks, and we all remember how that went down.

If the Yankees don’t sign Lee, I’m not really sure I want to even think about an alternative, unless it includes giving Joba Chamberlain another shot in the rotation, which at this point is less likely than the Royals winning the World Series next season. In any event, Lee is quite possibly the most “must-sign” free agent I can ever recall thinking the Yankees needed.

Incredibly, I didn’t feel quite the same way about Sabathia two years ago. Coming off the brutal pitching performances of the Yankees’ 2008 rotation I have no idea what I was thinking, but I distinctly remember feeling that the Yankees would be OK without CC. Holy heck was I wrong. This time I won’t make the same mistake twice: quite simply, they have to sign Cliff Lee if they want to return to the World Series in 2011, and I don’t care how much money or years it takes. I would not be surprised at all if the Yankees ended up giving Lee something like a 6-year, $150 million contract ($25M AAV). And it’ll be worth every penny if they do, as Lee’s been worth an average of $30 million a year during the last three years. Pay the man.

ng back to the DH, this is the one area the team can make a significant upgrade on offense without having to bestow yet another $100 million contract. Forget about Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth — the Yankees’ outfield was worth 13.1 fWAR, and Brett Gardner (a season worth $21.6M per Fangraphs), Curtis Granderson ($14.3M, worth $0.3M more than Mark Teixeira‘s 2010 season) and Nick Swisher ($16.4M) all provided more value than they were paid. Sure, wondering whether Brett Gardner has another season like 2010 in him is a legitimate concern, but he more than quelled my doubts and I’m comfortable giving him another year as the starting left-fielder. I’d expect Granderson to be much better in 2011, and while Swisher probably won’t have another career year, I’d still expect him to be good for no worse than a mid-.360s wOBA.

Adam Dunn won’t be cheap — after a 2010 season worth $15.5M, he may be due for a slight raise on the two-year, $20M deal he signed with the Nats, but not much of one. For a guy who is really only a DH — despite the fact that he’s expressed a preference for staying in the NL so he can continue being the biggest butcher in the field the game of baseball has to offer — I’d have to think something in the neighborhood of two years, $24 million gets it done. The Red Sox just exercised David Ortiz‘s $12.5M option, after a year in which he was the most valuable DH in the AL putting up 3.3 fWAR (for a season worth $13.2M) and a .380 wOBA. Dunn finished with a ,379 wOBA, his lowest mark since 2006, but still a fine mark, and significantly higher than the .342 mark the Yankees got out of the position in 2010.

Again, I realize the primary counterargument against Dunn, aside from the question of whether the Yankees want to expand the payroll even further and whether a DH is even worth $12M/year, is the aforementioned desire to keep the DH slot open or give it to Posada. However, even if you stash Posada at DH for 100-120 games (with perhaps some catching duties here and there) he’s not going to produce at an Adam Dunn level. Given the Yankees’ aging core of players, even if a few players have bounceback years (Alex Rodriguez and Tex, to name two), you have to figure the players who put up out-of-this-world numbers (Robinson Cano and Swisher) — not to mention the guys who just aren’t getting any younger (Posada and Jeter) — are due for a bit of a decline. To paraphrase my dear buddy and sometime Yankeeist contributor Scott “Skip” Kutscher, signing a monster DH like Dunn would go a long way to hedging against the expected regression of a good portion of that Yankee lineup. Do you know how many Yankees put up a better wOBA than Adam Dunn in 2010? One.

Ultimately I expect the Yankees to sign Lee, and Lee only. And that will be a glorious day indeed. However, if they really want to go all out and be the prohibitive favorites for championship #28 in 2011, they’d go out and get both Lee and Dunn.

Yanks To Splurge On Free Agents?

Going into the 2008-2009 free agency period, it was pretty clear that the Yankees were going to make a big splash on the free agent market. The club had missed the playoffs in 2008, and had a number of contracts coming off the books. With a large need at the top of the rotation, it was clear that the team would make a run at CC Sabathia and either Derek Lowe or AJ Burnett. After signing Sabathia and Burnett and trading for Nick Swisher, it seemed like the Yankees were basically done retooling. However, Brian Cashman looked at the upcoming free agent markets and decided that Mark Teixeira was too good to pass up, and the Yankees swooped in and nabbed him at the last moment. All three free agents were instrumental in the Yankees 27th championship, and their presence on the roster allowed the Yankees to bypass a weak free agent market in 2009-2010.

Now, as the calendar begins to inch towards the 2010-2011 free agency period, I am left wondering whether we may be in store for a repeat of 2008-2009. While the Yankees do not have many contracts coming off their ledger, they may look to next season’s free agent crop and realize that this year’s market may be the only opportunity to upgrade for the next few seasons. Outside of first basemen (Pujols, Gonzalez, Fielder), there are no elite players expected to be available next offseason.

While everybody expects the Yankees to go after Cliff Lee, most are not quite as certain that they will have interest in players such as Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford. Neither player will be cheap, and the upgrade relative to Brett Gardner or Nick Swisher is likely not large enough to justify the cost. However, Brian Cashman might take a look at his aging offense and come to the conclusion that these free agents might be the only solutions on the horizon. While it seems odd that one would upgrade an older offense by replacing some of its younger members, those are really the only positions at which the Yankees can upgrade, due to their older players being entrenched or more difficult to replace.

I do not think the Yankees will sign Crawford or Werth, and I would not be surprised if Brian Cashman pulls off a Swisher type trade that obviates the need to hand out more than one big free agent contract this offseason. Then again, I was shocked when they signed Teixeira. If the Yankees look at future free agent crops and find them wanting, they may choose to splurge on quality now rather than wait for something less expensive to develop down the road.

A busy news day: Lee, Jeter, Rivera, Joba, Montero, Pettitte, Crawford, Werth, Greinke, Dunn and more

Apologies for not being further out in front of all of the news that broke today, but our friends at RAB have already done yeomen’s work in covering everything that came out of the end-of-season press conference held by Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi at the Stadium today, so be sure to check that out (as if you haven’t already).

You’ve likely already heard about Dave Eiland getting the boot and Andy Pettitte pitching through injury in the playoffs, but Cashman also talks about the Yankees’ not having an answer for the Rangers despite steamrolling the Twins; Girardi asserts that Joba Chamberlain is a bullpen guy now and forever (groan); both men say the Yankee are obviously interested in Cliff Lee without actually saying it; Cashman stays coy about Jesus Montero joining the Bigs next season; Cashman essentially confirms that he’ll be way overpaying for Derek Jeter‘s and Mariano Rivera‘s services; and in perhaps the most interesting tidbit, Cash admits last winter wasn’t his best, although I’d beg to differ. If you read this blog you undoubtedly know I was a staunch Nick Johnson advocate, and no one figured Javier Vazquez would become the worst pitcher in baseball. Interestingly, Cash reveals that Nick the Stick was actually Plan C, and that the team originally hoped to work something out with Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui as DH.

Over at IATMS, Jason has a thorough rundown of Jon Heyman’s latest piece, in which Heyman (and Jason) delves into a lot of the aforementioned matters a bit deeper, while also positing the oft-mentioned Zack Greinke as a trade target (though as RAB recently discussed, between a no-trade clause that includes New York, anxiety issues and the fact that it would cost a king’s ransom of players, a Greinke acquisition doesn’t seem very likely), mentioning Yankeeist favorite Adam Dunn as a potential DH acquisition — though again noting that Dunn is still stubbornly insisting to anyone who will listen that he wants to remain in the field — and also pondering whether the Yankees make a run at Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth if they (God forbid) can’t sign Lee.

All in all quite a bit of news to digest for a Monday, and rest assured we’ll be comprehensively attacking all of these issues in the coming weeks.