Weekly Mailbag: Lots of Trade Proposals and MLB Rule Changes!
By Andy Singer
Wow, hot stove season is clearly upon us. There has been a significant amount of roster movement throughout the league, and rumors both legitimate and nonsensical are circulating freely. Last week, we talked about Brad Hand as a great option available to the Yankees on waivers…and then no one claimed him, because no one wanted to pay him a seemingly reasonable $10 million salary in 2021. To me, the fact that not one team was willing to claim a premium reliever for that sum signals what I’ve been saying all along: austerity measures are coming this offseason. I don’t have a clear sense yet of what the numbers are going to look like, but I think we all need to recalibrate our expectations with regards to Free Agent salary figures this offseason.
For today though, we’re not really talking about Free Agency. This week, most of you wanted to talk about trade proposals and MLB rule changes. As always, thanks for sending your questions to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com, and keep them coming. Let’s get at it:
Kenny asks: Joel Sherman wrote an article in the NY POST proposing a bunch of trade ideas for the Yankees. He started with some ideas for trading Stanton, which I’m a fan of (I really think the Yankees need to find a way to get rid of his salary). I thought the other trade ideas might be interesting too. Are any of these trade ideas realistic? Would any make sense for the Yankees.
Here’s the link to the Joel Sherman article that Kenny is referencing. I typically like Joel Sherman’s work, but I admit to raising an eyebrow when I read this article. Much of it appears to be clickbait, but there are some interesting strands sprinkled throughout. Let’s address each trade on its merit:
1.) Stanton, $19 million and a prospect to the Padres for Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers.
Ummm…no, no, no…did I mention no? There is almost zero incentive for the Yankees to make this trade other than the fact that the anchor of salary weight is lifted a little sooner. If the Yankees offered a trade this lopsided to the Padres, they’d say yes, sign the deal, and run before the Yanks could change their minds.
Yeah, Stanton has been hurt for much of his Yankee tenure, and the back half of his deal is likely to be really bad…but 2-3 good years of Stanton is worth more than both Myers and Hosmer combined, and it’ll be cheaper to boot! Let’s briefly talk about Hosmer and Myers individually:
Hosmer is a guy whose reputation has always far outstripped his actual production on the field. His reputation is that of a defensive wizard at 1B, but the metrics are decidedly mixed, at best. Statcast’s Outs Above Average (OAA) pegs Hosmer as average in 2018, -5 OAA in 2019, and -2 in a shortened 2020 season. dWAR pegs Hosmer as a well below-average first baseman in all of those seasons except during the shortened 2020 season. Offensively, where the bar is necessarily high for first basemen, Hosmer has only crossed 130 OPS+ in two seasons: his walk year in 2017 and the shortened 2020. Hosmer is signed for $82 million total through 2025, and he’s already 30. No thanks.
Myers is another guy who is overrated relative to his actual production. He generally not good defensively in the outfield or during his dabbling at 3B, so the only place he profiles is 1B. He hits right handed, and though he is in the prime of his career, he hadn’t crossed an .800 OPS for the year since his rookie year way back in 2013 prior to his outburst this year. Myers has some potential with the bat, but again, I don’t think that’s worth more than Stanton in the coming 2-3 years.
Hard pass on this trade; not sure what Sherman was doing here other than trying to offload Stanton close to home.
2.) Stanton and prospects to the Cubs for Yu Darvish, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel.
This is slightly more interesting, but I can’t imagine this works in anything other than a video game. Both the Yankees and Cubs are trying to compete for championships in a closing window, and this trade wouldn’t help either achieve that goal.
Darvish is already 34, and has battled arm injuries and inconsistency in recent years, though he has been stunningly good since the 2nd half of last season. Darvish would represent an immediate upgrade to the rotation, though a sudden decline phase looms for a pitcher who relies on power to succeed. The Yankees would own the rights to Darvish for 3 seasons at roughly $20 million per season.
Heyward has a reputation that suggests that he has been a failure as a Free Agent signing. That has largely been true, though he has provided sneaky value in the last couple of years as Heyward’s bat has slowly returned to being playable. The issue is that much of Heyward’s value was derived from his defensive prowess, and he is more average than great in the outfield now, and those numbers will only get worse as he ages. The Yankees would be on the hook for Heyward at roughly $20 million per season for three years.
Kimbrel has been in decline for 2 years, and has a recent history of wilting in the playoffs. No thanks.
Giving up just Stanton for this collection of players is a stretch. Giving up Stanton and prospects? No thanks. We really need to remember just how valuable Stanton is when healthy, and give the new training staff a full offseason to get Stanton ready for 2021.
3.) Gary Sanchez to the Rockies for David Dahl and Tony Wolters.
I get it, there will be a lot of speculation about possibly moving on from Gary Sanchez this offseason, but Sanchez remains an enticing talent, even with his horrific 2020 (OK, and 2018) season on the books. This is a nothing return for the Yankees.
Dahl would be nothing more than a 4th outfielder with the Yankees. At his best, Dahl has been roughly 15 percent better than league average via OPS+, which is certainly useful, and he bats left handed, another plus. However, Dahl is widely considered a horrible outfield defender, and he had an even worse season than Sanchez at the plate in 2020. Despite being left handed, this really isn’t a fit.
Wolters is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, but he can’t hit even in small sample sizes. The Yankees already have someone like this in Kyle Higashioka, and he’s cheaper. Not sure Wolters’ inclusion makes much sense.
While I accept that the Yankees need to evaluate their options with Sanchez, this doesn’t pass the sniff test.
4.) Luke Voit and Miguel Andujar to the Marlins for Pablo Lopez.
This is the most interesting trade idea of the bunch. Lopez is a really interesting target, though I don’t think that this is enough to make the deal. Lopez was an interesting prospect dating back to 2018, but without projection for a true knockout pitch at the big league level. Lopez blossomed this year by utilizing a well-located, hard change-up low in the zone to counter a mix of 94 MPH four-seamers and cutters and sinkers. He’s also a master of soft contact. Check it out:
Pablo Lopez 2020 Statcast Rankings. Click to Enlarge.
Yeah, he’s good. Lopez is also just 24 years old with four years of team control remaining, which means he’ll be cheap for years to come. This is the type of player the Marlins will look to build a pitching staff around, not trade away. He’d cost a fortune on the market given the dearth of available starting pitching, so I don’t think Voit and Andujar get the job done.
This is definitely someone the Yankees should target, but we’ll revisit this later.
5.) Clint Frazier and Jonathan Loaisiga to the Rangers for Lance Lynn.
No. The Yankees will need Frazier in LF this year, and I still believe Loaisiga can be a multi-inning threat out of the bullpen. Lynn is a good starter, but I don’t think dealing from the Major League roster would interest the Rangers, as they are rebuilding. Lynn is worth targeting, but only if the Yanks deal from their future to do it.
newyorkred47 asks: Giancarlo Stanton and cash to St Louis for Andrew Miller and Matt Carpenter.
Both Miller and Carpenter are in decline, though Miller at least is still a very effective player. Miller is signed for only one more season, and could reasonably be expected to stabilize the back of the Yankee bullpen for one more World Series run. Carpenter is in the midst of a steep decline in his mid-30s, but he does come with positional flexibility, and also has a buyout after 2021. If the Yankees were going to deal Stanton, I can see why a deal like this could be appealing.
The issue is Stanton. The Cards don’t operate on the same budget as other big market ballclubs, for starters. They also are one of the teams rumored to be considering significant austerity measures, so that’s another strike against a Stanton trade. Lastly, Stanton cannot be reasonably expected to play the outfield everyday, and until players and MLB agree to a universal DH, it would be impossible for the Cards to deal for Stanton.
If the universal DH is enacted, the calculus changes slightly, but I still think that the Cards would be a team that would be unlikely to take on any of Stanton’s contract. I know that everyone wants to get rid of that contract, but I think the Yankees are stuck with it. Let’s just hope that Stanton can return to some level of productivity over the next 2-3 seasons.
Mark asks: Of the rule changes that have been proposed or were used across baseball this year, which ones do you want to see stay for good?
The easy one is the universal DH. I think that’s great for baseball, and it’s high-time for both the AL and the NL to play with the same rules. NL teams also operate at a disadvantage in the Free Agent hitter market without the DH, so I love it.
Beyond that? I wouldn’t keep anything else. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to the rules – I loved baseball the way it was, and I don’t think the rules needed to change. I like small playoff fields – that’s the point of a 162 game season! To weed out the cream of the crop!
If Manfred wants to shorten the length of games, he should look into advertising between innings – commercials add easily 30 minutes to standard 9-inning games, and more in the playoffs. I don’t think that any of the rule changes he’s made to impact the length of time it takes to play an MLB game have achieved even a small percentage of their goal. Baseball was pretty great – other than the universal DH, leave it alone.