SSTN Weekly Mailbag: Francisco Lindor Trade Reaction, Greg Allen Trade Fallout, and the State of the
By Andy Singer
It’s been a really long week, both as a Yankee fan and for other obvious reasons. With everything going on in the world and in baseball, it can be really easy to slip into outright pessimism when analyzing subjects of both little and great import. As far as baseball and the Yankees are concerned, I’ve seen a lot of pessimism, particularly following yesterday’s blockbuster trade (we’ll get to that shortly). While there are plenty of valid reasons to be upset with the Yankees’ course of action this offseason, I think it is important to realize that all hope is not, in fact, lost, and we have roughly 6 weeks until Spring Training. In short, a lot can still happen.
In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about the Francisco Lindor trade, the Greg Allen trade, and take a look at the state of the Yankees. As always, keep the mailbag questions coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. Let’s get at it:
Brian C. asks: The Mets got Lindor and Carrasco for two young MLB players and a couple of minor leaguers. Is that a fair return? Could the Yankees have matched it? Were the Yankees suckers again?
There’s a lot to unpack in looking at this trade. The Mets traded for 1-year of Francisco Lindor at $20-ish million and 3 years of Carlos Carrasco for a luxury tax hit of $11.75 million for those years. So, let’s say that gives the Mets an added Luxury Tax hit of $32 million for 2021, as Rosario and Gimenez’s tax hits likely add up to less than $1.5 million in 2021. From a money perspective, this seems perfectly reasonable for a duo that is likely to produce 7 WAR cumulatively in 2021. For the Yankees unfortunately, that is more money than they would seemingly be willing to add to their payroll. Projections are somewhat nebulous right now, but according to Fangraphs, the Yankees project to be approximately $30 million shy of the first Luxury Tax threshold. Taking on both Lindor’s and Carrasco’s salaries would likely push the Yankees over the threshold for 2021. All indications are that Hal Steinbrenner has set the Yankees’ 2021 budget at or just beneath the initial $210 million luxury tax threshold, so I’m not sure there’s much that Brian Cashman could have done to solve that situation in a deal with Cleveland.
From a baseball perspective, the Mets put together an offer that is light for both Lindor and Carrasco, though the inclusion of Carrasco’s contract likely brought the acquisition cost down somewhat. That’s not to say that the pieces Cleveland got back are bad players. In fact, I think many have undervalued some of the pieces involved in the trade. I’ll briefly look at each of them here.
Amed Rosario was a highly touted prospect just a couple of years ago, and was brought up probably a hair early. While he struggled in 2020 (like many other players), his 2019 (Age-23) season was worth 2.4 bWAR/2.7 fWAR and his hit, power, speed, and arm tools remain average or better. Lost in much analysis of his 2020 season was the fact that his defense at SS seemingly improved immensely, as most metrics pointed to vast improvement. Rosario comes with 3 years of team control, and is likely to be an average or better player over the next 3 years, assuming that his performance at the plate in 2020 was an aberration (I would bet on that given that most of Rosario’s underlying numbers at Statcast indicate a similar player to previous seasons).
Andres Gimenez is a young, slick fielding SS/2B/3B that makes enough contact at the plate to be playable every day up the middle. He comes with 6 years of team control, and can be expected to continue to fill out, as he was listed at just 5’11”/161 lbs in 2020. Gimenez was a good prospect in the Mets’ system prior to 2020 and performed admirably in 2020 despite getting the call prior to being ready for the Majors.
I’ll group RHP Josh Wolf and OF Isaiah Greene together. Both are low-minors lottery tickets, though both are considered Top-10 prospects in a solid Mets’ system. Wolf has solid velocity and a high-spin curve while being credited with showing aptitude for making adjustments quickly. Greene was just drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft with good hit and speed tools.
While all of these pieces are good for a Cleveland team looking to make a quick turnaround, could the Yankees have matched this deal? From a talent perspective, certainly, though the Yankees do not have an apples-to-apples match with what the Mets gave up in this deal. The Yankees do not have two projectable middle infield prospects either ready for or on the cusp of being ready for Major league at-bats. Yankee players/prospects used to headline a deal like this would be very different. From a position player perspective, the only player on the Yankee roster who is analogous to Rosario is Clint Frazier, the current starting LF on a team looking to win a championship with no in-house replacement. After that, the Yankees would likely have had to deal one of Garcia or Schmidt. Two good prospects in the low minors is a bit easier for the Yanks to find, as any of Peraza/Duran/Alcantara/Gil/Gomez would have likely been included. Ironically, this isn’t far off from the trade proposal I put forth a couple of months ago, when I offered Schmidt, Andujar, Peraza, and Duran for Lindor as a reasonable offer in the current market. So, I think the Yankees could have put together an offer that matched the value the Mets offered, but qualitatively, that talent would have been distributed very differently.
Did the Yankees get hosed? I’m not so sure. Frazier and Schmidt/Garcia will be key cogs this year if the Yankees are to win a World Series in 2021. Trading those guys for 1 year of Lindor is a tough pill to swallow. Carrasco seemingly fits what the Yankees need in the rotation, but at 34 years old with a scary medical history, Carrasco is high risk at the price/cost. Add in the fact that both guys likely would force Cashman to make other moves to fit into the budget Steinbrenner has imposed, and I’m not sure that this deal would give the Yankees the best opportunity to win in 2021, despite the potential for Lindor to put up and MVP season. In all likelihood, trading Frazier and Garcia/Schmidt (and signing DJ LeMahieu) for Lindor and Carrasco is a wash from the perspective of WAR in 2021. In fact, I would bet the collective of Frazier, Garcia/Schmidt, LeMahieu, and whoever signs after the Yankees hopefully signs LeMahieu is likely to surpass the 7 WAR we could conservatively expect from Carrasco and Lindor in 2021.
In Cashman I Trust. He has six weeks to reward that trust, and I think he will.
Richard F. asks: Who is Greg Allen and why do the Yankees want him?
Does this mean the end for Gardy and/or Hicks?
On a team that sometimes puts up huge offensive numbers and sometimes not so much, why do we want someone filling a “power position” who historically can’t even hit for an average as high as David Wells’ playing weight?
Greg Allen is an outfielder who was DFA’d by the Padres, and the Yankees were able to acquire him for James Reeves, a minor league reliever who has not developed for the Yankees. Allen is a slick fielder who can play all 3 outfield spots, runs really well, and has not been able to hit consistently at the big league level. If Allen could hit at an even average level, he would be a well above-average regular. If that sounds like a similar scouting report to someone like Gio Urshela, that’s because it does sound similar. Unfortunately, for every Urshela, there are 100 players who aren’t able to make the adjustments in the minors. However, the Yankees have proven to have some skill at taking players of some repute from other systems who haven’t quite developed at the plate, and helping them tap into their potential.
Deals like the one that brings Allen to the Yankees’ 40-man roster make sense, though his acquisition won’t block the Yankees from making other moves, nor will it influence their outfield plans in 2021. If Allen needs to get bumped from the 40-man to fit a Free Agent or players acquired via trade, the Yankees won’t hesitate to do so. Allen is a player you acquire and follow, but you don’t plan around him.
If Gardy fits into the budget, I expect him to return, and Allen won’t prevent that from happening.
James asks: Are the Yankees of old dead? Are the Yankees even trying to win a championship anymore?
Rumors of the Yankees’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. We can argue with the budget that Hal Steinbrenner has seemingly set for this year, but all Brian Cashman and co. can do is field the best team possible with the budget provided by management. Cashman has proven time and time again that he is capable of fielding a competitive team with those parameters, and I trust that he will do that again.
The Yankees are not a fatally flawed roster right now, and though it needs to be supplemented for sure, I think they underperformed relative to any reasonable projection in 2020 in a short, unprecedented, and statistically wacky season.
It stinks for those of us that write about the Yankees, but patience is a virtue all of us need to remember. Let’s revisit this idea in March.