New York Yankees Have Improved – More Moves Could Be On The Way

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Two things happened in New York Yankees news this past week, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “Fans should keep an open mind that I’m never done until I’m done, and that’s usually not until opening day,” and PECOTA released its 2019 projections for players and teams ranking the Yankees at the top of the American League East.

I’m not claiming there’s any connection between the two events, just noting that the Yankees are already slated to be very good and Steinbrenner suggests they may not be done.

Baseball Prospectus‘ PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections rank the AL East this way:

  • Yankees – 96-66
  • Red Sox 90-72
  • Rays 86-76
  • Blue Jays 76-86
  • Orioles 57-105

Projections are not predictions, but it’s fair to say based on these numbers that the Yankees and the Red Sox will be battling it out at the top of the division without much interference from the other three teams in the AL East, with the exception of the Rays, who may surprise again with a strong record.

Free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned with 5 days to go until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.  While the Yankees have had talks with both camps this offseason, as fans know, nothing but rumors have been the result.

On Monday at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, Yankees manager Aaron Boone, in fact, stated that the Yankees were a “complete team” now and ready to compete for a championship, thus appearing to put to rest any lingering hopes from fans that the Yankees were not finished building this offseason and might sign one of these two extraordinary talents.

Thus, the excitement when I read that PECOTA projects the Yankees to be tied for second (Dodgers 96-66 also) with the best record in baseball behind the Astros, projected to have a 99-63 record – and they are potentially still interested in adding pieces.

Scott Chiusano of the NY Daily News wrote:

Steinbrenner said that nothing should be ruled out when it comes to this free agent class, which still has two unsigned behemoths. That’s the company line that both GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have been repeating, even though the Yankees have not shown any real signs of being players for either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

The Yankees are very good on paper going into the season, but the arguments have definitely been made that the addition of Machado or Harper would significantly increase their chances of a championship in ’19.

We’re fast approaching spring training and fans are eager to see the team make a spectacular move which will propel them beyond the projections and into the record books.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: from “championship caliber” to champions

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The 2018 season ended with a whimper not a bang as the New York Yankees found themselves eliminated from the playoff race by the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s American League Division Series.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner was disappointed and expressed his dissatisfaction with the ALDS result, telling the NYPost.com’s Joel Sherman that the loss “certainly pisses me off.”

In a number of interviews, notably with YES network’s Meredith Marokovitzs on December 5th, Steinbrenner said that the Yankees will “field a championship caliber team” and he believed that the 2018 team was a championship caliber team that didn’t live up to it’s potential.

Steinbrenner told NYPost.com’s Greg Joyce on October 13:

“Look, my family has always been willing to take money that comes off the payroll and put it back in,” Steinbrenner said Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM. “We’re going to do our best to field a championship-caliber team every single year. This coming year is going to be no different than last.”

True to his word, Steinbrenner and the Yankees stayed the course from 2018 by resigning veterans Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia and JA Happ, then made their only splash of the offseason early (November 19) by acquiring James Paxton in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.

The Yankees recently signed free agent Troy Tulowitzki, in a surprising, but not splashy move to bolster the infield in the absence of Didi Gregorius.

However, the offseason’s biggest free agent stars, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned and Yankee fans, many caught up in the media frenzy surrounding these superstars, are frustrated that a truly spectacular move has not been made to propel this team from “championship-caliber” to champions.

Hot stove season is in a deep freeze at the moment for Yankee fans who are clamoring for the team to step up and sign not only Machado and/or Harper, but also relief pitchers, such as Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino.

And it’s not just the Yankees fans that feel the frustration with the cold stove, fans across MLB feel the chill as well. Travis Sawchik of fivethirtyeight.com said that “Free agency has become more and more a battleground between teams and players,” especially as the trend set in 2017 of waiting out the market has extended into the 2018 offseason.

Even superstars are having to wait, Sawchik says:

“and teams seem to have learned, collectively, to wait out free agents. Thirty-five free agents signed guaranteed major league deals last year between Feb. 1 and opening day,2 compared with 18 in 2017, 13 in 2016, 10 in 2015 and 13 in 2014. The longer free agents wait, the fewer dollars they’re typically awarded.”

While perhaps a tectonic shift is taking place in MLB with respect to free agents, these are topics for the lawyers, Yankee fans have stars in their eyes and are restless to see them in pinstripes. I have even seen it suggested by fans, unrealistically, I might add, that there be a signing deadline, such as January 1 for all free agents.

Whatever the solution to the cold stove, Yankee fans are eager to see Steinbrenner and the Yankees field not only a “championship-caliber” team, but champions, such as Machado, Harper, Britton, and Ottavino, elite players at the top of their game now.

New York Yankees Focus In On One Free-Agent Star And Lose Interest In Another

The New York Yankees have been heavily linked to free agent Manny Machado the past few weeks, as he would serve as an upgrade in the infield and add a stellar bat to the lineup.

How would the New York Yankees utilize Manny Machado?

Machado is supposedly favored over Bryce Harper, simply because Harper is a primary outfielder – a position of strength for the Yankees. The alternative would be able to fill in for Didi Gregorius while he heals from Tommy John surgery, and then could move to third-base for the future. Although, Didi will become a free agent in the winter of 2019, which poses a potential issue for the Bombers moving forward.

They could choose to keep Miguel Andujar at third-base and make Machado their everyday shortstop.

Reports over the weekend stated that the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently in the lead to sign the generational talent (Harper), while the Yankees are Machado’s first-choice among several teams seeking his signature — Phillies & White Sox.

Machado is looking for a 10-year deal worth about $300 million, a contract the Yankees aren’t willing to match. But, if they can come close, the pull the Yankees have over the two-time Gold Glove winner could be enough to convince him to come to New York.

I would anticipate an offer sheet of — 8-years $225 million with a nine-year team option worth $250 million. That’s a solid deal, despite the fact that they took on a Giancarlo Stanton contract worth a bit more — 12-years, $325 million.

The likelihood of Machado signing a deal worth under $250 million is slim, but you have to start somewhere. The Yankees don’t necessarily ‘need’ Machado, which is why they shouldn’t overpay. Use the draw and atmospheric appeal Yankee Stadium to your advantage.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes the White Sox and Phillies will offer more money than the Yanks, though he still places New York as a “slight favorite” to land the 26-year-old free agent.

“We’ve heard all along that Machado wants to be in New York,” Heyman said Friday on Fancred’s YouTube show. “In fact, I’ve heard from several people that he wanted to be in New York or Boston. Well, Boston’s not going to do it, obviously. … To me, I think the Yankees have a very good chance, and I think he’s one of those guys that may sign for a team that isn’t the highest bidder. That’s a rarity.”

A player that’s willing to surpass more money for a winning culture says a lot about their personality and dedication to the game. Despite his lack of effort and judgement at times, there’s no denying he’s as passionate as they come.

Why The New York Yankees Should Make A Run At Bryce Harper

The New York Yankees are expected to make a serious run at a super-star this offseason, and Bryce Harper might fit the bill. Here’s a look at what he would bring to the the team and if he could be inserted seamlessly into a lineup full of talent.

Bryce Harper: OF

2018 Stats (WSH):

.249 AVG, 34 HR, 100 RBI, .393 OBP, .496 SLG, .889 OPS, 1.3 WAR

Harper comes off what some would consider a down year, both for him and the Nationals, who finished third in the NL East in 2018. Despite that, the former Rookie of the Year and MVP enters his first free agency looking to get paid handsomely.

Harper’s reported starting point on a deal is ten years worth $350 million. That would put him over Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the most lucrative contract in sports history. That may not be the final offer, but Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, may certainly get his 26-year-old client as close to such a deal as possible.

Harper would be a fantastic addition to any team for his age alone. Having been called up to the majors at 19, whoever signs him will not have to worry about decline by age for a long time. For the Yankees, Harper would fulfill a huge offensive need; left-handed power. Imagine a lineup that consists of Aaron Judge, Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Harper alone.

He would also be a substantial upgrade regarding hitting with RISP. In 2018, Harper hit .290/.458/.524 in those situations. In comparison, the Yankees as a team hit .253/.342/.442 in those same scenarios.

There would be questions if such a deal were to happen. The Yankees entered 2018 with an outfield that consisted of Judge, Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clint Frazier as options. With injuries to Ellsbury, Frazier, and Judge, along with an offensively ineffective Gardner, the outfield went from a logjam to one where the Yankees started the likes of Shane Robinson and Neil Walker. Harper would most likely have to play some left field and DH as part of a DH rotation between him, Judge, Stanton, and occasionally Sanchez among others

Contract Prediction: 7-8 years, $290 million.