Now that we have reached the midway point of the season, I thought that it would be appropriate to give an update on the Cash-o-Meter. In case any of you did not read my initial groundbreaking piece on the Cash-o-Meter, I will briefly summarize. (You can also click the highlighted name to read the original piece.) In the off-season, Brian Cashman made the unfathomable decision to pass on both Bryce Harper (he of the generational talent) and Manny Machado (he of the generational poor sportsmanship). Instead, he signed three players who make roughly the same amount of money per year in total (DJ Lemahieu, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino).
To see how Cashman’s notorious decision has played out, I will look at Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for each player. This is a measure of how many wins a player contributes to his team above what a hypothetical waiver wire scrub would produce.
Manny Machado: 2.4 WAR. I thought that Manny would certainly be in the 5-6 range per year at this point in his career (2.5-3.0 by now). Alas, his strikeout rate is up around 30%. Still, he’s only off a bit so I don’t feel too badly about banging the drum to sign him (at a much lower amount than he eventually received).
Bryce Harper: 1.8 WAR. This is pretty much where I thought Harper would be – around 4 wins per year. He’s a generational talent, not a generational performer.
Now for the Cashman Three:
DJ Lemahieu: 3.4 WAR. DJ has been the Yankees best position player. His WAR is likely not sustainable because his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is at a likely unsustainable .362. Of course, DJ is hitting liners 24.1% of the time so his BABIP is not that high (line drives are more likely to go for hits than fly balls or grounders) when we consider that fact. LeMahieu is on pace for 120 runs, 118 RBIs and 24 home runs. DJ has been worth around $30 million in this half year, more than the value of his entire two-year contract. I thought that Cashman was nuts to sign a utility player to a contract of this size. I guess I’ve been proven wrong.
Zack Britton: .4 WAR. This is disappointing. I’m sure that the Yankees hoped that Zack would be closer to the 9.9 K/9 Britton of 2016 than the 6.7 K/9 version we’ve seen so far. Still, a .8 WAR pitcher over the course of a season is not bad even if $13 million is a bit steep for that level of performance.
Adam Ottavino: .6 WAR. Ottavino’s ERA has been lights out (1.49) but his FIP (ERA without defense and luck) is 4.01. He’s walking 6.19 per 9 and that is going to burn him some day. He makes me nervous. Still, given that he strikes out 12.6 batters per 9 innings, he’s still a 1 win a year reliever which is not bad for $9 million a year.
Total WAR for the Cashman Three: 4.4.
Cashman’s surprising off-season signings have not only outperformed Harper and Machado so far this year, they have outperformed Harper and Machado combined!
I’ve left a message on Cashman’s voicemail detailing the results – I’m sure he’ll be thrilled. I guess, for now, he gets to keep his job.