Weekly Mailbag: Re-Visiting the Stanton Trade, Gardy, Monty’s Contribution, and the Flip!
It’s Labor Day weekend, everyone – a last respite for all of us before the summer ends, school starts, and those of us with jobs have to pay attention a little more. Shout out to long-time reader, Mark, who asked some really good questions this week.
In this week’s mailbag, we’ll re-visit the Stanton trade, evaluate Brett Gardner now and forever, project Jordan Montgomery’s rest-of-year projection, and remember the Jeter flip!
Let’s get at it:
Mark asks: Can you re-visit this trade and compare WAR and WAR/$ so far? Yankees Trade Jose Devers, Jorge Guzman, and Starlin Castro to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton.
Many Yankee fans focus on what Stanton has not provided in terms of value rather than looking at the process the Yankee front office went through to get him in the Bronx. Let’s start with the prospects dealt in the trade, Devers and Guzman.
Jose Devers was at the back-end of some Yankee Top-30 prospect lists at the time of the trade. He remains a middle infielder with a good feel for making contact and average to below-average tools elsewhere. While he has been banged up in 2019, he has reached A+ ball this year, and has acquitted himself well at the plate in his age-19 season. In reality, Devers does not have a single tool that will carry him once he reaches upper-level pitching, nor is he a guy whose defense will carry him. The Yankees already have more mature, better versions of Jose Devers in their system, so even if Devers eventually makes the big leagues, he was expendable.
Jorge Guzman was one of the minor league pitchers the Yankees obtained in the Brian McCann trade in 2016. Guzman remains a fireballer without command, control, or a second pitch to get advanced hitters out. Guzman struggled in his first year with the Marlins, but righted the ship somewhat at AA this year, pitching to a 3.50 ERA across 138.2 innings. The underlying numbers aren’t great though, as Guzman has struggled with walks (4.6/9 innings) and he hasn’t struck out enough batters to offset the walks (8.2/9 innings). When the Yankees traded Guzman, he was a similar pitcher to a more advanced Domingo Acevedo, who was recently DFA’d by the Yankees. While Guzman has some potential if he ever puts all the pieces together, pitchers like Guzman are a dime-a-dozen in the Yankee system.
The only player with Major League time from the trade on the Marlins side has been Starlin Castro. To evaluate and compare Stanton and Castro, we’ll use Baseball-Reference, because that provides a rosier view for Castro. Castro had a decent year last year with the Marlins, accumulating 3.3 bWAR, but his performance has fallen off of a cliff this season, as Baseball-Reference gives him credit for just -0.5 bWAR. Overall, Castro has provided the Marlins with some value during their transition, below that of an average everyday player. The Marlins have paid Castro $8.112 million/bWAR, roughly average value for his performance. That said, the Yankees have Didi and Gleyber Torres up the middle, with younger, cheaper, better players rotating through utility duties right now, with veteran DJ Lemahieu serving as the veteran super-utility guy. There would have been no room for an aging Starlin Castro on a championship-caliber roster!
While the perception is that Stanton struggled somewhat last year and has been hurt much of this year, Stanton still has provided the Yankees with value. In total, Stanton has been worth 4.3 bWAR since the trade (4.0 bWAR of that value is from the 2018 season), and he has been paid roughly $51 million, good for $11.86 million/bWAR. While that’s not a bargain, it’s not bad either! Were Stanton healthy this season, there’s little doubt but that the $/WAR number would be more than acceptable.
The Yankees traded two prospects who were outside of the top-10 prospects in the system and an easily-replaceable and flawed infielder to get Giancarlo Stanton on a lengthy, but relatively affordable (per-season) contract. Will Stanton’s contract look worse 5 years from now? If he doesn’t use his opt-out, probably. Will the Yankees likely get a ton of value from it for the next couple of years? Yes.
In short, the Yankees would do this trade every time. The process was sound, and the logic holds up today, even despite Stanton’s injury woes this year.
Mark also asks: Clearly every year the Yankees try to rest Gardner during the first half of the season to rest his legs for the second half, but always seem to end up needing him more than they would like. What can be expected the next two years?
Sign him for $12m over 2 years and retire a Yankees forever? Now that C.C. will be gone, does that give Gardner a chance to be Captain if he is signed for two years? If he gets another ring this year do you think he gets a plaque? Do you picture his number gets semi-retired like O’Neill? You don’t let him walk, right? Right?!
Gardy has truly had a renaissance year in 2019, compiling 3.4 bWAR through his well above-average hitting and typically strong defense in LF and CF. Prior to the season, as sad as it made me, my expectation was that Gardner would serve as a solid 4th outfielder that played out his final season in pinstripes spending more time on the bench than in any year since his first two in the Majors. As he has done throughout his career, Gardy has played above anyone’s expectations other than his own.
That said, the Yankees have a crowded outfield situation, such that I’m not sure you guarantee 2 years to a guy in his late 30s. Gardy has no doubt earned a contract offer for next season, and he likely deserves more money than he’s made this year. Mark’s offer of 2/$12 million is really light after the season Gardy’s put together. The Free Agent market is tough to predict right now, but how does 1/$14 million sound? Pay Gardy for his performance this year, but hedge bets about regression that could be right around the corner. So no, I would not let him walk!
Gardy has had one of the best careers of a Yankee in recent memory, and somehow it flies under the radar. With this season almost in the books, Gardy has produced 40.9 bWAR/36 fWAR. We discussed Paul O’Neill’s career last week, and while Paulie was great, I think that it’s pretty easy to argue that Gardy has put together a better, more valuable, more well-rounded career. You all know my opinion on number retirements, but I’m totally cool with giving Gardy a plaque. Gardy played on great Yankee teams and was a bastion of stability on some meh teams. I love the guy, and want to see him finish his career in pinstripes, and I want to come to Brett Gardner Day at the Stadium 10 years from now.
I doubt we’ll see the Yankees name a captain in the next 2 or 3 years – maybe one member of the new core will establish themselves as that kind of presence, but I don’t see anyone making that leap soon.
Brian asks: Word on the street is that Jordan Montgomery is about to get a rehab start at AAA. Will we see him in September/October this year?
Monty does seem to be nearing a return, after a perfect 2-inning outing in single-A earlier this week. Monty is working his way back from TJS and a shoulder flare-up, so I have to believe that the Yankees will take it slow with him. If all goes according to plan, I think it is likely that we’ll see Monty in NY in September, but it would be tough to trust him in October.
Unlike Severino, for instance, Monty has not pitched in a big league game since May 1st, 2018. That’s a long time without big league competition. Had Monty made it back in August, I think that would have been enough time to evaluate where he’s at physically and mentally for the playoffs. I just don’t see enough playing time for Monty in September to get him into playoff shape given the amount of time he’s missed.
I hope I’m wrong – I hope Monty looks so good that they can’t keep him off the roster. Sadly, I don’t think that’s the likely outcome.
Mark lastly asks: If the Jeter flip play happened with today’s replay available, do you think it would still be an out call?
The call on the field was an out, and I don’t see enough definitive evidence to overturn the call on the field. Beyond that, it really was one of the best, most instinctive plays I’ve ever seen. Jeter flip now, Jeter flip forever.
That’s all for this week everyone! Big weekend coming up with the A’s in town, and we should have Voit back in the lineup to help turn our fortunes against the A’s. Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend, and see you all next week! Remember, send in your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.