"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Gone Shoppin’

Photo Credit: “My places by Anthony Catalanotto” on Pinterest

Looks like free agency’s officially here and open for business.

Given the last few years, how can we tell if the market will favor legit stars like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg or… not-Cole/Strasburg? Last year, it was decidedly the latter; though Bryce Harper and Manny Machado eventually got much of what they wanted in heavy, long term contracts, they had to wait an awfully long time to actually get them (and not necessarily from teams that were first on their supposed lists). Will it be different now that we’re talking about two dominant Cy Young candidates with some good years still ahead of them heading the list? Only the GMs and the supporting stats departments know with MLB Analytics driving the conversation.  As we’ve seen recently, not everything is what it seems.

Take the Yanks’ own free agents:

Edwin Encarnacion

Aroldis Chapman

Didi Gregorius

C.C. Sabathia

Brett Gardner

Dellin Betances

Austin Romine

Cory Gearrin

David Hale

Cameron Maybin

Erik Kratz

Cliff Pennington

We already know CC is retired; hope he recovers from his latest injury well enough to enjoy his first year off from baseball in what has to have been a very long time.  As for the rest, it’s easy to say that none are solid locks to be on the 2020 40-man for the Yanks; if anything, Didi would be the most likely to remain, and that’s not stated with a whole lot of confidence.  Fan favorite that he is, when he came back from Tommy John surgery, he wasn’t up to what we’ve come to expect of him year-round.  Personally, I would not find this to be the tipping point in any negotiations, though Didi doesn’t necessarily have the leverage he could have expected a year ago pre-injury, thanks to the year natural-shortstop-playing-second Gleyber Torres had; playoffs included.  Gleyber is ticketed for stardom no matter where he plays on the diamond; provided he doesn’t get injured (which, ironically, is what we would have said about Didi last year at this time).  I don’t like the idea of Didi being dismissed, given that Tommy John surgery is not something you bounce back from so quickly either as a pitcher or a position player, but the talent hasn’t disappeared either.  With a full off-season to recover and rebuild, I would expect him to return to Hidden Dragon form.  Hopefully the Yanks will find a way to keep him here.

Dellin Betances, too; I hope that the team will bring him back. 2019 was a disaster for Betances; first recovering from right shoulder surgery, then suffering a lat strain during rehab that cost him most of the season, and finally after returning for one game, tearing his ACL and being done for 2019.  This was just a horrible season for Dellin, especially since it was a contract season where it was expected he would be lights out while either finalizing an extension or moving into free agency as one of the top sought-after relievers.  Now the best he can hope for is that the Yanks decide to bring him back for a season or two to rehab and get back into form; failing that, his options are likely either accept any offer he can get from another club (which will likely be very low) or take the year off and rehab until next off-season, then take a likely pillow-contract to re-establish his value.  Man, sucks to be him right now (and I mean that kindly).  Again, the promise of talent is what keeps his value from slipping into AA territory, and I hope the Yanks feel that it’s worth the investment, regardless of the fact that he’s well past 30. But I dunno, it’s bad territory to be in for him.

All that being said, the biggest name on the FA list for the Yanks has to be Aroldis Chapman has been extended for another year at an additional $18 million.  He still can chuck it over 100mph, but it’s getting harder and harder as the seasons go by and we’ve seen less of it this season than in others.  Then there was that slider… well, I don’t think the team will hold that against him so much (though it was not his best pitch by a long-shot) and given his usage, you can almost not blame him for using it, but that’s neither here nor there; there were plenty of other reasons the Yanks lost.  The thing is, though the Yanks do have someone to replace Chapman, it came down to how much he wanted to remain in New York (a whole lot), how much they were willing to pay to bring him back (a whole lot) and, ultimately how much stronger he makes the pen (a whole lot).  As freely as the team spent in the George Steinbrenner era, the team is willing to be thrifty in the Hal Steinbrenner era and seem hellbent on going down with the ship to prove to whomever that The Yanks Don’t Buy Championships (*cough-cough2018 Red Soxcough*) and also don’t need to TANK! to build a champion contender.  If anything, the Winning Formula Award® now shifts to Dee Cee and the Nats, who are also the comeback players of the year (century?) and looking at some harder decisions than the Yanks this off-season.  Would I like to have him back? I like having him back; having a super-duper bullpen is never-ever a bad thing, but I hope it’s not at the expense of keeping Didi + Betances and/or signing an ace; Hey-ell no.

So what’s left:

Brett Gardner… another tough call, honestly.  He is the realest example of a True Yankee; drafted and bred in the Yankees system, made an impact from day one and through sheer hard work and perseverance became a solid everyday player and a fairly important one at that, even when his production went down, the team gambled on him holding the fort while others played in front of him and that gamble paid off in different ways, culminating in one of his best seasons of production in his career this past season. However, he’s 36, he’s not stealing many bases anymore even if analytics suddenly found them useful and there are quite a few guys on the team who are champing at the bit to do what he does (at a cheaper rate to boot).  Between Clint Frasier, Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman(!), Gardner had his hands full just staying on the roster,  But it says a whole lot that not only did he remain, but he competed hard and was quite productive in the process. It was a gamble both he and Cashman won this season despite ups and down throughout. This time, I don’t think fans would be so averse to having him around for another season, also given how injury-prone Stanton and to a certain degree Judge have been.  Plus, he’s the last link the team has to their last championship on roster, and at a glance probably the only player in the clubhouse with a championship on his resume; at least as a starter.  That cannot be discounted in any regard.

Austin Romine, however… there’s a lot to be said about having a good backup catcher.  For one, they are very rare.  For another, the Yanks sure do need them.  With the way Gary Sanchez’ career has played out so far, they were blessed to have Romine on the roster. It may or may not stick with him, but he proved to be very valuable given the playing time he had and the number of times he had key hits that either kept them in contention or won games for them.  And more importantly, pitchers liked pitching to him.  That always is something to take into consideration.  That said, this may not simply be a matter of if the Yanks want him back or not, but rather if they are willing to compete for him.  Several teams need upgrades in the backstop department, and Romine could fit in any contender’s roster as well as a rebuilding team in search of a steadying force in the infield.  He’s not a star per se, but he might be just what some team needs to keep the pieces together.  I’m not sure if there;s an immediate replacement for Romine in the system if he were to walk; top catching prospect Anthony Seigler is way too far away from the majors, and Kyle Higoshioka is decidedly not Austin Romine.

Cameron Maybin, well he deserves a decent contract somewhere.  He proved to be a solid contributor for the Yanks after signing with and being released by San Fran, signing with Cleveland and then being bought out by the Yanks all in 2019.  After effectively replacing Frasier who was inept in the outfield and in interviews with reporters, he hustled his way to consideration as key fourth outfielder beyond all of the injuries plaguing the team until his momentum was stopped cold by the same injury bug that felled many of his teammates.  But he returned in due time and was a key contributor the rest of the way, including the playoffs.  He’s a talented player; even if he doesn’t often hit for power, he puts bat on ball more often than not and he’s a good outfielder to boot.  I’d hate to lose him to someone else, but I would not begrudge him a starting role somewhere else (out of the division, of course).

Edwin, thanks for the memories.  However, you proved to be the exact definition of a luxury; the homers were nice and it’s a good thing you could play first, but nah, we’re good. By the way, you weren’t when we needed you to be, but you already knew that. This… is an ex-Parrot.

The rest are not so much a Who’s Who gallery as it is a Who Dat? list.  David Hale is the most familiar name as the Yanks have released him several times and reacquired him and sent him every which-a-way for the past couple of seasons, so I wonder if he’s also a masochist.  Cliff Pennington, I only wondered if he was related to former NY Jets QB Chad Pennington (PS: I doubt it).  Cory Guerrin and Eric Kratz; I’ve got nuthin’.

Okay, so feel free to chime in and sound off; this will probably stay open for a couple of weeks if it remains active, after which we’ll likely throw in another stream of consciousness or distract you with a Where & When cameo (those were fun) or even maybe try to pick up where we left off recounting famous Yanks For A Minute or who knows, something new for the Hot Stove Season to keep us engaged? Only time will tell, but thanks for the fun season, for sticking around and psst, keep an eye on the cash register having fun>;)

Categories:  1: Featured  Chyll Will  Hot Stove  Yankees

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1 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Nov 4, 2019 10:42 am

Great write up Chyll. Not so certain about Chappie ($18 million is a big hit). I'd love to keep Gardie for a one-year deal at a modest price, and offer Romine a 2/3 year deal (he is not a starting catcher and should not be paid as one). Can we get DB for a one-year deal to see if he still has it? Need to save some bucks for a starter, and I for one say "no" to trying for Cole (he's rejected the Yanks twice already). Have some issues with going after Strass (first, because I'm also a Nats fan and he belongs in DC, second, he would be annointed the new ace, and he works better as a #2).

2 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 4, 2019 1:07 pm

[1] I feel that... however, Cole would come if the Yanks paid Boras what he wants for him. All would be forgiven. However, pretty sure that’s not happening. If they weren’t willing to pay for Corbin, who they listed after for two seasons, they’re not going to even side-eye Cole or Strasberg.

If they get Bumgarner, they’ll probably stop right there.

3 rbj   ~  Nov 4, 2019 4:38 pm

Not on topic but the Veterans Committee, er "Modern Era Committee" list is out:

Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.


4 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 4, 2019 5:29 pm

I'm abstaining. I think the HoF has lost something meaningful some time ago. I can't describe it yet, but I'm not into it anymore.

5 Greg G   ~  Nov 4, 2019 6:05 pm

Thanks for the update on the Yanks FA's. No QO for Didi but maybe they thought he would accept and he isn't worth almost 18 mil? We can use some lefty power and Didi hits so well in the Boogie down.

As much as I love Gardy, it might be time to let him go. He caught lightning in a bottle this year, but I think hoping for another year close to the last one is not going to happen and Hicks is gone for a lot of this year. They should either play Frazier or trade him. I guess the problem is that the would have a bunch of corner outfielders and not a natural center fielder. Tauchman?

Bettances is SOL. I don't see the Yanks waiting on him to come around. It is sad as timing is everything. Crap! I watched that game and he thought the inning was over, and the big smile on his face, and I thought "Dellin's back."

I think the Yanks need a dependable starter and then hope to get a healthy Severino, Big Maple, Tanaka for 5 innings a game, and Monty and who knows about German? If they start the year with 6 starters, we know they won't end the year with 6. I love CC but signing him for 2019 was a mistake.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Nov 4, 2019 7:30 pm

Great summary Chyll, thanks for that. I think they go in for Strasburg, but not Cole. Cole will be looking for 200+million (and he'll get it) after his last two seasons, AND being younger than Mad Max Scherzer was when he got his 200.

[0] Looks exactly like Avenue J in Midwood where I grew up in Brooklyn, though of course that photo could literally be ANYwhere in NYC!

7 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 4, 2019 7:37 pm

I'm not sure signing him was so much the problem; of course they wanted to give him a proper sendoff like they have with other big stars who stuck around to officially retire as a Yankee. The problem was how he was deployed. If they thought he could give them the kind of quality starts that Moose did in his last season, they were sniffing glue. He should have been Chad Green's left-hand counterpart.

That said, I'll say again the Yanks need more innings out of their starters, and five is not cutting it. We've watched the bullpen run out of gas over and over again in September and October because the starters can't even reach five more than half the time. Plus, the Yanks have run through many strength and conditioning coaches the last several years; sometimes it's just about the player's will to commit to the routine. Some do, some don't. I don't know how much Rothchild and Harkey championed this or not, but whatever they'd been doing successfully during his tenure was getting lost on the younger (and some veteran) players.

8 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 4, 2019 7:51 pm

[6] You may not be surprised when I reveal the answer (or if someone guesses correctly) >;)

9 BobbyB   ~  Nov 4, 2019 8:26 pm

No one mentioning Madison B. I’d like to see him a Yankee. I don’t think you win enough in the Bronx without two left handed pitchers. He’s one of the greatest WS pitchers, just turned 30, still has a 5-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
I do not see them signing Cole for a fortune of money or Strasberg for that matter. Boros represents both and who wants to deal with him. Need starting pitching and who else is there? Wheeler-Mets won’t trade with the Yankees,
Oh, and on the Didi front, if Lindor is available I’d sadly say goodbye to Sir Didi.

10 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 4, 2019 9:07 pm

MLB Rumors Top 50 Free Agents Predictions has the Yanks only (re)signing Gardner and losing Didi to the Reds and Betances to the Rays. I agree that Cashman will likely make trades instead of signing anyone significant. I'm resigned to Didi moving on, but I still hold out hope for Betances. Would have liked Bumgarner too; proven and experienced winner who could be the Jimmy Key/David Cone of this staff.

11 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Nov 4, 2019 10:11 pm

[9] Ooh, Lindor...yes please! Love Sir Didi but that's a significant upgrade, and clearly Cleveland has no plans to sign him to big $$

12 BobbyB   ~  Nov 5, 2019 7:20 am

[8] Little Italy?

13 Greg G   ~  Nov 5, 2019 11:18 am

I agree the 5 starters and 5 innings per is a recipe for disaster. Maybe 6 starters going 5 would work? They have a high octane bullpen, and it is a fine line between too much use and not enough. I think more than just pitch selection for Chappie was that he was a bit rusty in the playoffs.

The Yanks should not overpay for Cole or Strasburg. They will need to pay their own guys soon. Wheeler would be in interesting option if he doesn't try to break the bank. The problem is too few quality arms and everyone needs them.

14 RIYank   ~  Nov 5, 2019 11:31 am

I think I know where this is, the fish market I mean. I think I've been there fairly recently! Although maybe Mr OK is right and there are lots of places that looked like this. But I think it's where my dad grew up! And if so, then [12] yes and no...

15 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 5, 2019 4:33 pm

[12] Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!

16 rbj   ~  Nov 6, 2019 4:24 pm

I hope the Yankees do hire Cone as pitching coach. I'll miss his insights from the booth, but the pitchers need it more.

17 Ara Just Fair   ~  Nov 6, 2019 10:34 pm

Good stuff, Chyll.
I'm for Cone being the pitching coach live streamed daily. Win win.

18 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Nov 7, 2019 10:18 am

[16], [17] I agree. One thing CC took with him out of that clubhouse was a big supply of Old School. Cone could bring some back in.

19 Greg G   ~  Nov 7, 2019 3:11 pm

I love Cone. It strikes me as a bit strange how these guys who got paid some serious bank during their playing days are taking coaching jobs? Mark McGuire, Cone and many others. I understand their love for the game but some guys don't make a lot in MLB and really need the cash to get by.

Steinbrenner was a hardass no doubt, but he also brought back a lot of players to spring training to give them a paycheck. Not sure the new regime does the same? Also the guys in the 70's (Reggie Aside) weren't making the kind of scratch that players are making now.

20 rbj   ~  Nov 7, 2019 7:59 pm

Congrats to Le Machine on the silver slugger and Judge on defensive player award

21 yankintexas   ~  Nov 7, 2019 8:53 pm

It's being reported that Matt Blake will be the new pitching coach. So yeah... I was right. No coaching experience, a yes man/rubber stamp for the analytic folks

22 rbj   ~  Nov 7, 2019 10:15 pm

[21] That sucks. Analytics is a useful tool, but it’s just a tool. Cone is open to it, but he also spots when a pitcher is just off. And he knows about struggling on the mound. Ninety percent of the game is mental, the other half physical as someone once said.

23 RIYank   ~  Nov 8, 2019 6:50 am

I'm almost always out near the extreme end of the Old School ------- Analytics spectrum, but I have to agree that Cone would almost certainly be better.
But, this is better for us, to keep him in the booth!

24 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Nov 8, 2019 10:28 am

[23] The deed is done, and not to split hairs, but I don't think we're on opposite ends of a spectrum -- I don't see old-school attitude and appreciation for modern methods as necessarily contradictory.

I think it would have been great to have a coach called Bulldog who could get in kids' faces and also know how to read a spreadsheet. But you're right that it'll be nice to keep him in the booth!

25 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 8, 2019 4:31 pm

Not for nothing, but if Boone doesn't really work out or if Josh Bard leaves for any reason... Cone's put in enough face time with the front office for them to have a good notion of what he could bring to the clubhouse. His interview lasted several hours from what reports have said. And being a well-respected game analyst for a high-profile team doesn't hurt his chances of having a more impactful role with the Yanks soon enough.

Beltran also had a marathon discussion last off-season with the Hal and Cash and it got him a consulting gig with the team that he's parlayed into a manager gig. I wouldn't be too put out by this just yet, Cone may be Cashman's ace in the hole.

26 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 8, 2019 4:44 pm

That said, I'm encouraged by Blake's baseball lineage outside of the fact he doesn't have actual coaching experience. But heading Cleveland's pitching development is something; maybe he has some insight on players (Kluber and others) that the Yanks have been eyeing for a couple of years now. And to say that they've produced some interesting pitchers is an understatement. The Yanks have needed to readdress and change (update) their approach with pitcher development, which has been their most glaring weakness. Let's hope this is a bigger step than we realize in the right direction.

27 yankintexas   ~  Nov 8, 2019 8:46 pm

According to his LinkedIn profile Blake does have some coaching experience, abeit at obscure colleges but at least that is something.


28 RIYank   ~  Nov 9, 2019 7:29 am
30 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 11, 2019 6:23 pm

[25] "...or if Josh Bard leaves for any reason..."

Well damn... not like I put the idea in their head or anything. Or was it so obvious that anyone who didn't follow even half the season would have known it would happen?

31 rbj   ~  Nov 12, 2019 8:24 pm

Rats, only runnerup for Boone.

32 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 15, 2019 10:19 am

I found this interesting when introducing new pitching coach Matt Blake...

33 rbj   ~  Nov 15, 2019 10:20 am

[32] Link error

34 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 16, 2019 7:18 am

[33] Fixed

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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