Fixing the Yankees – Long Term (Final In A Series)
Fixing the Yankees – Long Term (Final In A Series)
by Care Greene
April 1, 2022
This series of articles titled, “How the Yankees Can Fix their Problems” concludes with today’s final installment: “The Long-Term Plan.”
Today, I’ll connect the dots by showing why this offseason was part of a greater Yankee strategy intended to streamline the organization and reinforce it with a genuine youth movement, the likes of which have not been seen in the Bronx since the last Yankee dynasty featuring Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams. As an added bonus, I’ll project what a 2023-24 lineup might look like.
In the most recent article in the series, “A Pitching Plan that Costs Next to Nothing,” I examined how going to a six man rotation could allow the Yankees to navigate the season while protecting several Yankee starters who are not long removed from Tommy John surgeries and also as a way to gradually work Jonathan Loaisiga back into the starting rotation so that the Yankees would have a formidable 1-2-3 playoffs rotation of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Loaisiga. Finally, the Yankees would be built to win in the postseason. I also provided a plan to replace Loaisiga’s high-leverage role in the bullpen, reviewed possible traded with the A’s, and finished up with a look at which arms in the Yankees system are most ready to help as soon as possible.
From this exercise, JP Sears, Ron Marinaccio, and Luis Gil emerged as the pitchers Matt Blake seems to feel are the most able to “live in the zone” and throw their best pitches for strikes in any count, opposed to giving in to the pressure of facing elite hitters and leaving the zone because they don’t trust their best pitches or haven’t mastered enough command of their primary offerings. It is common for prospects to suffer with command and part of ascending to the big leagues involves being able to throw strikes consistently.
Sears and Marinaccio have stood out in camp as being the two pitchers who are most willing to live in the zone and it so happens that they both had fantastic numbers as they succeeded in the Yankee system last year, both reaching Triple-A and both showing ability to pitch at the next level.
The Yankees already have a bullpen rated by mlb.com as the 4th best in baseball. Adding Sears would give the Yankees a lefty long man, which is a dynamic the bullpen presently lacks. He could also spot-start and his presence would help greatly the task of managing work loads and eating innings. Covering Loasiga’s high-leverage role would be made possible by inserting Ron Marinaccio, Stephen Ridings and Luis Gil into the mix, who along with Chad Green would give the Yankees plenty of late-inning set-up men to get the 9th inning to Aroldis Chapman. With all this firepower present, Loaisiga could easily transition into the rotation with the stated goal for doing this being to win a World Series.
Shifting gears away from what could be a very good bullpen and starting rotation, examining the moves the Yankees made this offseason shows a desire to actually use some of their high-end prospects, who are giving the Yankees every reason to bank on them. Let’s look at each move and project how it will impact the Yankees in the here and now and also, let’s reveal what the long term plan at each position appears to be.
We’ll start at third base, where Josh Donaldson was brought in to provide an offensive upgrade over Gio Urshela. From a roster construction viewpoint, the Yankees had obvious higher priority potholes to fill at shortstop and first base, but there was also an ugly problem festering at third base. Urshela’s offense had steadily declined over three straight seasons to the point where he was basically performing like the utility player he always was projected to be. He was also getting too expensive to justify the lack of production and he was clearly part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Enter Josh Donaldson, who will be a very solid offensive player for the Yankees for the next two seasons. Fans that lament that the Yankees strike out too much will be happy to hear that Josh Donaldson has a career 20% K-Rate which is on par with Urshela’s 19.5% and far better than Gary Sanchez’s 26.5%. Donaldson is also shift proof. He has hit .302 for his career against shifts. This represents a bit of an upgrade in the success against shifts department. Urshela was also good against shifts, hitting .288 against them throughout his career, but Donaldson is on a higher level in most offensive areas.
One negative component to Donaldson’s offensive profile is that he hits into substantially more double plays than an average hitter, as evidenced by his -3.2 wGDP stat. The net effect of adding Josh Donaldson means that the Yankees won’t be using DJ LeMahieu at third base a lot this season as Donaldson will get the lion’s share of the at bats at the position and obviously we can forget all about Gio Urshela’s sub par offense.
When the Braves swooped in and took Matt Olson off the trade table and with Freddie Freeman deemed too expensive, the Yankees decided to give first base to the much more affordable Anthony Rizzo. Many insiders think the Rizzo signing was the best “fair value” deal made by any team this offseason.
This means that the Yankees don’t plan on flexing LeMahieu over to first base late in games either as this won’t be needed. Now, LeMahieu is truly a man without a position. Fangraphs is projecting LeMahieu will only get 455 at-bats this season. I think this projection is off base because they project Gleyber Torres to get 630 at-bats. If the projections are accurate though, this means that the Yankees truly are a team without a real leadoff hitter.
Glance across town at the Mets and you’ll find Starling Marte perched atop the lineup, ready to inflict massive base running related havoc on opposing defenses. Aaron Boone meanwhile is thinking of using Donaldson as a leadoff man from time to time due to his high OBP. I wonder how many bases he’ll steal and how many times he’ll go from first to third on a single? <chuckling>
Overall, Donaldson is a good stopgap solution for the Yankees, who happen to have 2021 First Round Draft pick Trey Sweeney, a left-hand hitting shortstop prospect who many scouts outside the Yankee organization feel may be better suited to play third base at the major league level. Trading for Donaldson is a way for the Yankees to develop Sweeney with a purpose. He could very well be the starting third baseman of the next Yankees dynasty.
Moving next to how the Yankees filled the shortstop position with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a similar strategy is in play. The Yankees addressed their need for a shortstop in the here and now very nicely with an above average defensive player who also is a good base runner with a high-contact, low strikeout rate offensive profile. Falefa is a good fit and he came affordably and that’s welcome news for a Yankee team that is smack-dab in the middle of the second luxury tax threshold. There really wasn’t a lot of spare payroll to divert to a high annual value deal for a Carlos Correa or Trevor Story type.
Kiner Falefa, a right-handed slap-hitter, fares pretty well against right-handed pitching so he’s a classic Brian Cashman type pick up. For his career, he’s hit .266 against righties and last year, he bumped that mark up to .289. I think this will play well on a primarily power hitting team. The Yankees need a player who deals with right-handed pitching pretty well and Flalefa can help in this department.
The caveat to trading for Falefa is that the Yankees have a few highly rated shortstop prospects. Oswald Peraza, the system’s third ranked prospect, is rated as an above average defensive shortstop who also hits. He profiles as the team’s shortstop of the future and he will start the season this year in Triple-A. What happens next is up to him.
Can Peraza force his way into the mix late in the season by performing at a very high level this season? Yes and Falefa could easily become a utility player who could spot- start at third base, with Donaldson moving to the DH (and Stanton to the outfield more). The makings are there for the Yankees to transition to Peraza and if they wind up doing this, they’ll become even better defensively.
At first base as we noted, the Yankees brought in Anthony Rizzo and in many respects Rizzo is a decent solution for the time being. Historically, he does hit right handed pitching very well, tallying a .273 average across 3,691 career at-bats spanning a career of 11-years to date. I have noted in past articles however, that Rizzo was awful at it last year for some reason against righties, posting by far a career-low .214 mark against them, while for some reason simultaneously crushing left-handed pitching to the tune of a .325 average. Let’s hope he returns to his normal ways!
What is nice about Rizzo is that he’s a dead-pull hitter, unless he needs to take the ball the other way versus a shift or perhaps with men on base in a key spot where advancing a runner is crucial to the situational at-bat. For his career, Rizzo’s batted balls wind up being pulled 44.2% of the time and 33.7% of his batted balls are of the hard-hit variety. These numbers are similar in fact to Matt Olson by the way, for those that think Rizzo’s profile is inferior, I’d point out that he is in fact very similar to Olson.
Rizzo is a good candidate to take advantage of the short porch in the Bronx over the course of a full season and his defense, while declining, is still fairly acceptable. He posted an UZR/150 of .1 last season, which means he’s decent, but no longer elite, around the bag at first base. Perhaps he just had an off year though because, normally, he’s an excellent defensive first baseman, in fact he’s very comparable to Olson defensively also, if we look at Rizzo’s year over year defensive results. Rizzo could possibly return to normal this season and that would be very good news for the Yankees.
Assuming Rizzo and Gallo serve to balance the lineup a bit, the Yankees will need quite a bit more help than just this tandem if they want to achieve the kind of balance that will open the floodgates against right-handed pitching.
Against right-handed pitching, winning teams that are well balanced can bring four to five left-handed hitters into the mix at any given time and seeing as how the Yankees do play in a stadium with a very short fence in right field, it sure would make a ton of sense for Cashman to continue shaping the roster to ensure more left-handed presence is available to Aaron Boone, who absolutely likes to alternate righties and lefties when he makes out his lineup cards as we’ve seen.
Perhaps Aaron Hicks will be able to contribute meaningful innings this season, though he’s only once in his career ever had more than 400 at-bats (480 in 2018). Unfortunately, his numbers against right-handed pitching are alarmingly bad, he only hit .173 against righties last year, from the left-side of the plate. That’s not going to help with balance and in fact, if this trend continues, Aaron Hicks will do the opposite, he’ll make the Yankees worse against right-handed pitching. I’m not sure Hicks is a left-handed hitting answer.
The Yankees made a relatively quiet move earlier this month, giving a non-roster invite to 33 year-old switch-hitting utility infielder-outfielder Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez has proven to be effective over his career against right-handed pitching, posting a .254 average. He’s tearing up Spring Training for the Yankees and I’d think he’s a lock to make the team at this point. The Yankees may have captured some lightning in a bottle with Gonzalez. Look for the Yankees to award Gonzalez a roster spot coming out of Spring Training. He could turn out to be very important to the Yankees when it comes to balancing lineups.
Fangraphs doesn’t expect much from Gonzalez in terms of projections, but if he starts trending back to 2017 or 2016 levels, the Yankees will probably get him more than the 98 at-bats Fangraphs thinks he’ll get with the Yankees. Traditionally, he’s got solid splits against righties (.254) and lefties (.260) over his career so he may have some value to the Yankees as a switch hitting utility player.
The Yankees also acquired left-hand hitting catcher Ben Rortvedt in the Josh Donaldson, Isaiah Kiner-Falefel trade, so there is a potential that the Yankees might open the season with Gallo, Rizzo, Hicks and Gonzalez, then mix Rortvedt in when he heals from his oblique injury. This would mean, once the season is rolling along, the Yankees could have 5 left-handed bats to call on when balance is needed.
No team in baseball would benefit more from quality left-handed hitting. Is this collection of left-handed bats going to create enough balance over the course of a full season, to help the Yankees win a World Series?
I think the clear answer here is that this group, while better than what the team had brought to bear last year, could absolutely use additional help. If we turn our gaze internally, there are potentially some other solutions that could help the Yankees not only early in the season, but in the bigger, long-term picture as well.
The first intriguing player is one that might provide more immediate help. 31-year-old left-hand hitting center fielder Ender Inciarte is also in camp this spring on a non-roster invite. It is possible he too could open the season with the big league team. Inciarte gives the Yankees what they badly lack, which is speed and he is an excellent defensive center fielder who can also play both corner outfield positions. In 2018, Inciarte – then with the Braves – posted a 16 DRS and a 7.4 UZR/150. Obviously he’s fallen off substantially offensively since then but he can still pick it with the best of them and he’s an incredibly good base runner. With 118 career stolen bases while only getting 45 caught times, Inciarte represents a base running dynamic that could pair nicely with the next player I’ll mention.
Another possible option is that the Yankees have 30-year-old right-hand hitting corner outfielder Tim Locastro signed for this season. If Cashman decides to add him based on speed, that could add a component that the team badly needs as well. Locastro is possibly the fastest player in baseball.
Rosters are expanded for the beginning of the season to account for the lockout shortened Spring Training. The Yankees likely will carry 15 pitchers and 13 position players. This means a four-man bench might be in play. The Yankees will surely carry a backup catcher, probably Rob Brantley, who is also in camp on a non-roster invite. Brantley makes a lot of sense because he hits left-handed so Aaron Boone can platoon him with Kyle Higashioka depending on pitching matchups. Challenging Brantly for a cup of coffee is right-hand hitting Max McDowell who is a tremendously gifted defensive catcher. If the Yankees decide to prioritize all out defensive acumen behind the dish, McDowell may be an option also.
Tim Locastro would project to be the 4th outfielder and then the Yankees might carry Marwin Gonzalez as the utility player and add Inciarte as a 5th outfielder for times when Aaron Boone needs more left-handed hitting.
Heading into the offseason, Brain Cashman had an opportunity to improve on what was a very underwhelming offense last season. Not only did the Yankees have the worst left-handed hitting in all of baseball prior to the Trade Deadline last year, but the Yankees finished last in baseball at avoiding hitting into Double-Plays, posting a league worst -11.4 wGDP.
Cashman took the more fiscally responsible route this offseason and as we discussed, he added Anthony Rizzo, despite his age and recently his declining stats. Besides the declining production, a red flag that goes up related to this signing is that Rizzo is also a hitter who is prone to bouncing into Double-Plays (-1.3 GDP last year). The new to the Yankees players that Cashman has acquired this offseason will probably combine to pick up right where Gio Urshela (-1.9 wGDP last season) and Gary Sanchez (-1.2 wGDP) left off. I expect the Yankees to continue to be vulnerable to hitting into double plays.
Regarding the Yankees lineup, Rizzo has the skills to bat third, between Judge and Stanton in the lineup. Because of his negative splits against right handed pitchers last year, he might not be an ideal fit for this task, but if he returns to career norms, he can more than handle the job. Joey Gallo is a poor fit for this task due to his high strikeout rate (34%) and his .198 average against righties. Thankfully, the Yankees were able to sign Rizzo and my friends, this might turn out to be a massively important pickup if the Yankees are to win a World Series championship.
Cashman decided to sell low on Luke Voit, believing he got an undervalued prospect, minor league power-pitcher Justin Lange and perhaps the real reason for the trade, the Yankees basically got $5.5 million in salary relief as well. Many Yankee fans were dreaming of splashy free agents but the reality was, the Yankees were gasping for payroll relief and dumping a skilled offensive player for what amounts to a lottery concern.
It was an ugly end to Luke Voit’s tenure with the Yankees, one many Luke Voit fans will be forever disappointed with. That said, Voit now has a chance to carry on with the Padres, who are truly starving for offensive production. I think the Padres won this trade easily, but time will tell.
The plan the Yankees are executing is starting to take shape. The team may carry 4 bench players and 15 pitchers. DJ LeMahieu will be the first Yankee I can ever remember who might be a starter without an actual everyday position. I expect Boone to flex him all over the place and this is not limited to the start of games. LeMahieu may very well change positions multiple times during the course of games. Let’s assume DJ is a starter, because he’s a high OBP% player when healthy, though the Yankees lack a prototypical leadoff hitter with speed, LeMahieu, Donaldson, or Judge are the best options the Yankees have to pencil into the leadoff spot.
What then does the lineup look like? Will the team have enough left-handed hitting to get them through the season and into the playoffs? The Jumbo Package lineup would look like this:
1. LeMahieu 2B-3B-1B
2. Judge LF
3. Rizzo 1B
4. Stanton RF-DH
5. Donaldson 3B (possibly hitting 6th)
6. Gallo CF/LF (possibly hitting 5th)
7. Torres DH/Hicks CF
8. Higgy/Rortvedt C platoon
9. Falefa SS
BENCH: Locastro or Inciarte, 4th OF, Rortvedt C, Hicks UOF, Gonzalez UIF/UOF
Personally, I think the Yankees will wind up playing Giancarlo Stanton more and more in the outfield and they’ll do this so they can DH Torres and get LeMahieu’s bat in the lineup as much as possible. Fangraphs thinks I’m crazy because their projections are based on history and upon averages but one thing projections don’t factor in is player performance when playing the field vs when DHing only.
When Stanton DH’d last year, he hit .267 in 409 at-bats. However, when he played the field, he hit .302 in 96 at-bats. The verdict is clear. He needs to play the field a lot more and oh by the way, he’s still at worst a very solid outfielder. Fans were reminded of this last season when he made a number of superb defensive plays in right field.
Right now, Yankee fans are excited about Marwin Gonzalez and the show he’s putting on this spring, but Oswaldo Cabrera looks to become part of a plan as soon as the second half of this season or early next year. Cabrera will potentially become an elite utility player with a fairly potent bat and he’s another lineup balancing switch-hitter.
Simultaneously, the Yankees could begin grooming their top prospect, Anthony Volpe, who is also rated a tick worse than Oswald Peraza defensively, to play second base and by next season, he could be in the lineup. This year, he moves from Double-A to Triple-A and even potentially gets called up for a cup of coffee if Gleyber Torres gets injured.
Moving Volpe to second base allows the Yankees to let Gleyber Torres bounce back this year and then, next offseason, he can be dealt for a much better return than he would fetch presently. Torres today has a $10.8 million Trade Value, which is way lower than it once was. Still, Gleyber has three years of team control remaining, which means the team that potentially acquires him next offseason will have him for two full seasons. He’s also getting expensive in arbitration and Volpe is far more athletic so the Yankee plan may involve phasing Gleyber out as part of the big picture.
Trading Torres next offseason takes another page out of the Rays playbook, in much the same way as the Rays traded 2021 All-Star third baseman Joey Wendle to the Marlins last year. In fact, Cashman may even deal Torres this year, because he has LeMahieu in house and DJ’s best position happens to be second base. Time will tell.
One thing is certain, the Yankees actually could benefit from making salary relief part of many of their future transactions and the reason I say this is not to sympathize with the Yankees, a team that generates more revenue than any team in baseball. On the contrary, I think it would be a great way to accelerate the youth movement that the Yankees are gravitating towards.
The other advantage to having Volpe at second base, along with Sweeney at third base and Peraza at shortstop with Cabrera on the bench is that it provides the Yankees with not one but four potential plus defensive shortstops, which is a great way to be resilient over the long term. This flexibility means that the current often injured Yankees and the problems their injuries create will slowly become a fading memory for Yankee fans. If one shortstop goes down with an injury, the next one steps in.
The blockbuster deal with the Twins is an official segway into what will clearly be a significant Yankees youth movement and it does look like the Yankees long term strategy is becoming a lot more clear. Instead of scooping up expensive free agents, the Yankees are clearly planning on doing the opposite. They’re going to initiate a three-year long youth movement that may culminate with Jasson Dominguez taking over in center field. However, before that happens, there is another name to watch.
Completing the Yankees plan, Everson Pereira could wind up being fast-tracked to the Bronx as well, along with Volpe Peraza, Cabrera, and Sweeney in what would be a prospect tsunami that that winds up crashing on the shores of the Bronx, flooding the Yankee roster with vibrancy. This core group provides Cashman with oodles of controllable, inexpensive talent and if combined with a simultaneous push to translate all that organizational pitching depth the Yankees currently have, the net effect could help Cashman focus on filling in other areas of need through free agency, when and where needed.
Pereira could become the starting center fielder next season. Presently, the plan is to have him open the season at Double-A and then move him to Triple-A by the halfway mark of the MilB season. Pereira would also pair very nicely with some of the Yankee’s other outfield prospects that may be a little further away – such as Jasson Dominguez. It’s always good having multiple players on the roster who can play center field. Pereira and Dominguez could give the Yankees just such a combination.
The Yankee system is not devoid of other prospects who could round out the core I’ve identified. Prospects like catchers Austin Wells (left-handed power hitter) and Josh Breaux (right-handed masher) may provide the Yankees with options at first base and who knows, one of them might become a serviceable receiver, in which case all the better.
With Rizzo signed there is no rush to scramble for a solution at first base, but it’s hard not to classify the Rizzo signing in much the same light as the acquisitions of Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa. It appears that the Yankees have instituted a very cunning plan that will hold the fort for now, until such time as each prospect I’ve identified forces his way into the mix.
Which brings us to the Yankee catching department. Gary Sanchez, much like Gio Urshela except with even less team control, was clearly never going to be a long term solution for the Yankees at catcher. There are a number of decently attractive catchers available in free agency next season. Perhaps Mike Zunino will be viewed as at the head of the 2023 free agent catching class and the Yankees could conceivably go this route and simply sign the catcher they deem the best overall fit. Gary Sanchez is presently due to become a free agent as well after this season and it will all make for a very interesting story line next winter. Would the Yankees want him back?
The answer to the catching conundrum will be provided by Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt this year. Can they combine as a serviceable platoon or will the Yankees look to upgrade? One name that has surfaced in trade rumors is the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who has been on the market this entire offseason. Contreras is getting expensive in arbitration, he now makes $6.65 million and he has two more years of team control. If Cashman traded for Conteras, acquiring him would fit right in lock-step with the plan of transitioning to high-end prospects within a year or two.
Presently, Contreras has a trade value of $10.2 million which, as trade chips go, is extremely reasonable. He’s got power, but he’s a bad base runner, he strikes out too much and he hits into too many double plays. His defense is good in some areas (blocking and throwing) and bad in others (pitch framing). Overall and based on the money, I don’t see Contreras as fit and I’m not at all surprised Cashman hasn’t looked to trade for him.
The Yankees just don’t have a lot of space to take that kind of money. The only way a trade would work is if the Cubs took back as much salary as the Yankees would be taking on and I don’t think they’d be looking to do that if they traded Contreras, who is set to be their starting catcher this season. The Yankees and Cubs don’t really match up either in this kind of deal, so I don’t think a trade could happen unless the Yankees wanted to walk a tightrope with the third tier of the luxury tax looming.
Besides, I’m kind of feeling refreshed that we finally get to see some excellent defensive catching take place and the way Higgy and Rortvedt will handle the pitching staff may be an added bonus. Speaking of handling pitching staffs well, this brings me to the next part of the big-picture plan. Higgy isn’t getting any younger, but he’s got three seasons of team control remaining. It’s likely that at some point, the Yankees will deem him too expensive for the net production and they may want to bring in another defense-first catcher. Obviously, they’ll have that already with Rortvedt, but perhaps the plan will be to pair him with another strong defender and thereby handle the catching internally, without signing anyone or the need to make any trades.
This may bring Antionio Gomez into the mix. Gomez is another Yankee catching prospect to keep an eye on, he’s rated as a very good defensive catcher with lightning fast transfer rates and POP times and he speaks both English and Spanish fluently which would really help him to manage a big league pitching staff one day. It sure feels like Ben Rortvedt is part of the long term plan now as well. The Yankees simply had their fill of bad defensive performance from Sanchez and since he wasn’t producing enough offensively to justify his roster spot, the Yankees moved on.
Call me a Stick Michael clone, but I believe in prospects folks. I don’t like overpaying for old declining talent either, but the Yankee system has been pillaged for a long time now as Cashman has traded to the point where he really did need to pump the breaks a bit and so far this offseason, I’m pleased to say that at least he hasn’t scuttled his top prospects in any deals. The act of him resisting this temptation is by the way, exactly how the most recent Yankees dynasty was forged.
Cashman is truly taking a page out of the Stick Michael playbook. He’s valuing his top prospects like never before. In a few years’ time, many Yankee fans may be ecstatic that players like Volpe, Peraza, and Sweeney are trickling onto the big league roster.
Many Yankee fans wanted Cashman to go all in this offseason. They wanted Freddie Freeman or Matt Olson, they wanted Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. I myself wanted Story, Schwarber, Starling Marte, Carlos Rhodon, and Sean Manaea. Once the decision to acquire Donaldson was made, all of these wants amounted to unreasonable demands made by fans like me, because we want an end to the championship drought.
Instead, Yankee fans have more financially palatable solutions in place for the time being. We will all have to live with Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Anthony Rizzo. I think the plan in place is really slick. The Yankees have doubled-down on their very best prospects and the path to a future big league roster littered with home grown talent is now very clear.
What the series of moves I’m projecting does accomplish is to save the Yankees a boatload of money next season and in 2023, which could be used in other ways I’m quite certain. Here’s what the reshaped Yankees lineup would look like if they do wind up doing the things I’m identifying as being possible.
Yankee lineup in 2023-24:
1. Peraza SS (steals bases, hits for average and gets on base)
2. Sweeney 3B (excellent left-handed pure hitter type)
3. Volpe 2B (right handed pop)
4. Judge LF/DH
5. Rizzo 1B or Wells
6. Stanton RF/DH (Hicks late game replacement with Gallo moving to RF)
7. Periera CF
8. Wells C or Rortvedt/Gomez (platoon)
9. LeMahieu DH/1B/3B/2B
BENCH: Cabrera UIF, Rortvedt C –or–Gomez C, Hicks UOF, possibly Kiner-Falefa if he’s not deal