Weekly Mailbag: 40-Man Casualty, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, and a Trade Idea!
I don’t know about everyone else, but it feels like we’ve hit a bit of a lull after the Cole signing. We had a few days with a lot of news and activity, and now things have calmed down. There are more moves to be made, but I’m not sure how many we’ll see until after the holidays.
The Yankees did designate Chance Adams for assignment this week in order to fit Cole on the 40-man roster. The move didn’t surprise me, but I was really hoping that we’d get to see what he could do in a full-time bullpen role. I fully expect another team to claim Adams, but if that’s the price for getting Cole, I’ll take it every time.
In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about the next 40-man roster casualty, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, and a possible trade! Let’s get at it:
Dave asks: The Yankees DFA’d Chance Adams to fit Cole on the roster. Brett Gardner’s signing still has to be announced. Who do you think is going to be removed from the roster to fit him?
Dave’s right, we have another 40-man roster move coming very soon. I’m sure that if the Yankees had their way, the next 40-man roster move would be to find a taker for JA Happ’s contract. Trading JA Happ for a non-roster minor league player would clear space effectively. However, we haven’t really heard any rumblings that the Yankees are close to any deal like that, so we probably shouldn’t get our hopes up.
The Yankees protected a handful of guys just prior to the deadline for Rule 5 draft protection, and I think that all of those guys are safe. Despite the fact that some of them are bubble guys, it would seem pretty short-sighted to protect them in November only to release them in December, right? So I think guys like Brooks Kriske, Miguel Yajure, and crew are likely safe.
All of that leads me to believe that barring a trade that jettisons 40-man roster talent, Stephen Tarpley will be the next 40-man roster casualty. Tarpley is a shuttle arm that pitches from the left side, but his stuff is replaceable, and I don’t think that we can project much more in terms of future performance than what he is right now. Add in the fact that Tarpley was close to a lefty specialist, a descriptor that goes away this year now that pitchers must face 3 batters in an inning, and I think that the Yankees will DFA him to squeeze Gardy back into the fold. Tarpley is interesting, but the Yankee roster is stacked. The 40-man roster crunch remains real.
Michael asks: I have been reading a lot of articles about the Yankees searching for bullpen help. Why haven’t they signed Betances. It seems like they are letting him go elsewhere.
I tend to agree with Michael. I would love to see the Yankees bring Betances back into the fold, even if he needed to start next season on the IL. From the outside looking in, this looks like a budget decision, which is easy to be upset about as a fan. However, the Yankees know Betances better than any other team. It is possible that they have more first-hand experience with his medicals, which give them more pause than an outside team.
Even beyond Betances’ current status, no player has been more screwed by baseball’s current system. Betances was one of the 5 best relievers in baseball during his years in pinstripes, compiling 11.6 bWAR mostly over 5 seasons. For that performance, Dellin Betances made $16,742,100. That’s roughly $1.4 million per win share, an absolute steal. I think that if you added another 0 to his career earnings, you have what the likely market value would have been for Betances had he been a Free Agent.
At the end of the day, the Yankees got a steal. They got significant excess value in Betances throughout his prime years. Betances may come back and remain effective, but he is likely to be less valuable and cost more than he did at any other time during his Yankee tenure. Given those facts, I think the Yankees are content to let Betances walk. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision, because I think a healthy Betances would be a major piece to the bullpen puzzle, but I think that the Yankees will likely not regret letting Betances walk.
Mark asks: Can you explain the thought process behind paying Adam Warren about $1m to rehab in 2020?
I think that this is a fascinating move. Adam Warren was a Swiss army knife for the Yankees during their “re-tooling” phase, and he is someone who always seemed to outperform his stuff. Obviously, that has changed the last few years, and he now will be rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery throughout 2020.
That said, the Yankees have made a significant number of changes to their pitching philosophy this winter, and it would not shock me if the Yankees had ideas for how to ensure that Warren has a good outcome following his rehab program. Maybe Matt Blake and crew can help Warren rehab and re-tool his arsenal to be more effective following surgery? At $800,000, it’s worth a shot!
The Yankees and Warren are very familiar with one another, so I think it’s a safe gamble for both sides. Warren gets to rehab in familiar confines, and the Yankees get to find out if Warren has anything left without any real risk. It’s a win-win.
CJ asks: The Cubs seem like they are looking to start dealing from their core. For multiple years we’ve heard that the Yankees really like Kyle Schwarber and there are rumors that the Yankees are kicking the tires on him again. Is he a fit? What would it take to get him?
I know that the Yankees are enamored of Schwarber’s left-handed swing. I do think that he could thrive in New York with the short porch in right field. However, I’m not sure where you squeeze him into the lineu[, and whether that’s even advisable. A quick comparison:
Player A: .280/.393/.509 – .901 OPS
Player B: .250/.339/.531 – .871 OPS
Player B hit for more power, but Player A was a more complete package. Obviously, these statistics represent an incomplete picture, but for quick back-of-the-napkin purposes, it works. Do you know who the players are?
Player A is Luke Voit before he suffered a sports hernia in the London series, and player B is Kyle Schwarber in 2019. I make this comparison, because most popular recitations of Schwarber’s fit plug him into 1B. First of all, Schwarber doesn’t currently play 1B, so he would need to prove that he can handle the position defensively, since there is no room in the current outfield. Secondly, I think that Luke Voit, or even the combination of Luke Voit and Mike Ford, is a better hitter than Kyle Schwarber. So personally, I don’t see a fit.
Cost is the other problem. I think that the Cubs are going to ask for an arm and a leg for Schwarber, and they’re probably not wrong – by all reports, Schwarber is a great clubhouse guy, works hard, and he is a very good baseball player with multiple years of affordability! I just don’t think he makes the Yankees better right now.
Good stuff this week – thanks for the great questions everyone! Since this will be the last mailbag before the holidays, I just want to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. I am very grateful for all of you that read and write in, so to you and yours, I hope this holiday season brings nothing but good things to all of you.
As a reminder, the mailbag will still run next Friday, so please send in your questions! As always, email firstname.lastname@example.org. See you all soon!