Temper Your Expectations (Rod-A, Jasson, and Other Intl. Talent)
I am also excited about the Yankees getting the latest #1 International Prospect (according to MLB.com). I am excited to see what Roderick Arias does while he develops as a new professional baseball player.
But, please. Temper your expectations.
Tempering Your Expectations:
In the past week I have read many articles, seen plenty of blog/forum posts, and heard more than a few quote-unquote “talent evaluators” comment on the signing of switch-hitting shortstop Roderick Arias. Most of these people then proceed to talk about the amount of shortstops the Yankees have built that are near the top of their farm system: Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and now Roderick Arias. And that’s all fair and good.
But, I’m also seeing and hearing tons of articles and comments talking about how the Roderick Arias signing could mean that the Yankees don’t need to sign a current MLB star shortstop like Carlos Correa or Trevor Story anymore.
Take a second and process that.
People are legitimately suggesting that a 17-year-old with no professional experience could and should prevent the Yankees from signing a player who just put up a fantastic 7.2 bWAR/below average (for that player) 4.2 bWAR season. (Personally, I’d prefer Trevor Story over Correa for many many reasons beyond Correa’s persona and cheating past, but that’s an article for another time.)
Then there are others that are saying Roderick Arias shouldn’t prevent them from signing any shortstop, just the ones looking for a long-term contract. Those writers then highlight players like Andrelton Simmons (a RHH who hit to a 57 OPS+ in 2021) or trading for Didi Gregorius (who put up a -0.8 bWAR in 2021). Like my thoughts on Correa and Story, this is better for a future article but suffice it to say neither is a particularly exciting idea.
That being said, I feel it is necessary to temper these people’s expectations. No international prospect from this cycle is ready for the MLB yet. (Yes, even the 23-year-old Oscar Colas.) They’re not going to be for a while. Let’s all slow down here.
Looking at International Prospects:
So many people are so high on Roderick Arias- and Jasson Dominguez- for the same reason: they were ranked #1 by MLB.com going into the international signing period. And, this is worthy justification. These are players that have many people across baseball very excited about their futures.
First let’s all take a step back. Think about when you were a 16/17 year-old kid. Think to 5 years in the future when you were 21/22 years-old. How much changed for you? Maybe you had your first significant boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe you finally grew into your figure or started to really build muscle. Maybe you finished college and/or started on your professional career path. Maybe you had to start planning around bills and rent and all the other things that come with adult life. So much changes in those years.
Now, let’s look back 5 years ago to the international prospect class of 2016. Of the 30 top international prospects, 9 of them have so far made the MLB. That’s a success rate of 30% and that’s past the time of needing to be added to the Rule-5 Draft. This group of players does have a couple great hits, namely Luis Robert, Randy Arozarena, and Lourdes Gurriel who have combined for 654 games of the total 862 games played from that year.
The international prospect class of 2017 has so far featured two players who have made the Major Leagues, both of whom are pretty notable names. One is Shohei Ohtani…the 2021 AL MVP and a player who had a long track record in the NPB in Japan. The other is Wander Franco…a player who was just given a guaranteed 11-year/$182M contract (with a $25M option for a 12th year). Safe to say these guys are anomalies from the rest.
The international prospect class of 2018 has yet to get a player to reach the MLB. Just 1 player (Yennier Cano of the Minnesota Twins) has reach Double-A or Triple-A.
The international prospect class of 2019 has yet to get a player to reach the MLB. As has the 2020 class.
With that understanding, we can imagine the following situations:
If Roderick Arias is a superstar international prospect, the fastest we can expect him to make the MLB would be 4 years from now, or for the 2026 season. That 4 years is the same it took Luis Robert and Wander Franco.
If Roderick Arias is a solid international prospect, then we should expect him in 5-6 years, putting him back to 2027/28.
(All these same things are the same for Jasson Dominguez, minus 2 years because he was a 2019 signee. So, the soonest we should expect him in the MLB is 2024- or exactly what MLB.com has his ETA at- and more realistically that should be 2025.)
Four years (at best) in the MLB is a long time.
4 years in the MLB can be the difference between a team winning the World Series and being 3rd in their division (the 2009-2012 Philadelphia Phillies).
4 years is the difference between a perennial Cy Young Award winner and a far below-average pitcher (2010-2014 Tim Lincecum).
A player who is 4 years away (at best) is a fun player to be interested in. He’s a fun player to imagine the future about. He’s a fun player to draft in a really late round in a keeper fantasy league…in like 3/4 years.
Roderick Arias is not the reason the Yankees are not going to make moves. Nor should he be. And, if he is the Yankees have much much much bigger problems in their organization.