Category: Yankee Trade Targets Page 1 of 3

Yankees Trade Target: Jeff Hoffman

Embed from Getty Images

Yesterday it was Chris Stratton. Today’s edition of failed starter turned reliever who the Yankees should trade for is Jeff Hoffman. The Rockies have tried Hoffman in the rotation in each of the last four seasons, but things just haven’t worked out. It’s not easy pitching at Coors Field, you know. Colorado’s trying Hoffman in the bullpen this year.

There could be a couple of impetuses to a trade with the Rockies right now. For one, Colorado’s 12-6 and in first place of the NL West. Subtracting from the Major League roster might not make sense. Two, the Yankees have made the Rockies look pretty bad in recent years. The Rockies were fleeced in the Mike Tauchman trade and DJ LeMahieu has excelled in pinstripes. Now, that didn’t stop them from making a minor trade last summer (Joe Harvey for minor leaguer Alfredo Garcia).

Background & Performance

Hoffman’s professional career began with the Blue Jays. Toronto drafted him with the ninth overall selection in the 2014 draft out of East Carolina University. The Jays didn’t hold onto him for long, though: the team dealt Hoffman to the Rockies the next summer as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal.

Hoffman was a consensus top-100 prospect from 2015 through 2017, though he first debuted in the majors in mid-2016. He’s prety much been up-and-down from Triple-A ever since, and hasn’t been able to put things together. In 209 1/3 innings, Hoffman has a 6.11 ERA, 5.67 FIP, 18.7 percent strikeout rate, and 10.4 percent walk rate. He’s also allowed 43 (!!!) home runs. Almost all of that (191 innings) have come as a starter. All of his minor league options were exhausted in that time.

That brings us to 2020. Colorado has stuck him in relief to start the year, basically Hoffman’s last resort before getting DFA’d. So far, so good. He’s yet to allow a run in 6 1/3 innings spread across three appearances while also surrendering just three baserunners. I’m not going to jump to conclusions based on three relief outings because the results are completely meaningless. What I will do is say that Hoffman appears to have a bit of promise in relief if you look deeper.

Intriguing Underlying Metrics

Before I nerd out like I did with Stratton yesterday, I want to go to the video first in order to get a sense of Hoffman’s three pitch mix.

Hoffman averaged 95 MPH on his four-seamer that he’s thrown just under 54 percent of the time this year. It’s topped out at 96.6 on the gun. Here’s a good one:

He also throws a curveball, which historically has been his go to secondary offering. This year, he’s thrown it 19.7 percent of the time.

That’s pretty. But the pitch I really want to focus on today is his changeup, which I think has a ton of potential for him. This year, for the first time in his career, it’s eclipsed his curveball usage. He’s tried to pull the string 26.3 percent of offerings.

I just love the one that sent Kole Calhoun’s bat flying.

With the videos out of the way, let’s dig into the details. Both his fastball and curveball spin at above average rates, albeit nothing dramatic. It’s his changeup, however, that stands out in terms of it’s extremely low spin rate (which is fine for a changeup, generally).

At 1,296 RPM, Hoffman’s changeup has the 13th-lowest spin in the league this season. For reference, changeup wizard Tommy Kahnle sat just above 1,400 RPM this year. For Hoffman, this is a big drop in spin from last season on the pitch (1,425 RPM a year ago). It’s an even more significant drop from 2018 and prior, when it was north of 2,100 RPM. That’s a huge difference!

Perhaps it has something to do with tweaked mechanics. As a result, Hoffman is getting five inches of vertical movement above average on the pitch. In spite of the significant changes to the pitch, his changeup velocity is mostly unchanged (around 85 MPH).

Further, it appears that his changeup has potential to pair with his heater really well. There’s almost no difference between his fastball (in red below) and changeup (green) in terms of horizontal movement, meaning both pitches drop on the same plane.

It also really helps that the pair of pitches’ release points are nearly identical.

So, the fastball and change come out of the same chute, drop on the same vertical plane, but one comes in 10 miles per hour slower and falls another 17 inches. Have fun with that!

I’d argue that Hoffman should go the way of Kahnle and essentially rely on fastballs and changeups and see what happens. Not that he can’t throw his yakker either — it’s not bad in its own regard — but it seems to me that his fastball/change combo could be lethal.

Now, there is reason to be hesitant of course. Hoffman has been pretty dang bad at the Major League level for quite a while, save for this year’s incredibly small sample size. It’s not like his minor league numbers speak volumes, either. On top of that, his control is suspect. He’s got a career walk rate north of 10 percent, comfortably worse than league average. You can tell he doesn’t really know where the ball is going from his pitch charts this year, too:

This is a big reason why Hoffman didn’t cut it as a starter. It might work as a reliever, however. He can get away with mistakes given the quality of his stuff, particularly if he leans on his changeup more often (at least in my mind).

Injury History

I mentioned this before, but Hoffman dealt with shoulder inflammation back in 2018. That’s not the first of his arm troubles, either. In college, Hoffman tore his UCL during his junior season and had Tommy John surgery. He’s been OK since the shoulder scare a couple years ago, but it certainly remains in the back of everyone’s mind.

Contract

Hoffman had a bit over one year of service time and makes near the league minimum. That puts him under team control for five seasons (including this year). However, Hoffman has no more minor league options remaining so he has to stick on the big league roster or otherwise be put through waivers.

What would a trade look like?

Again, this is tricky because the Rockies are in contention and may be realizing that Hoffman could be a good bullpen arm. But uh, the Rockies are weird and have a propensity for head scratching moves. There’s also the chance that Colorado falls apart as we get closer to the deadline, of course. In any case, I compiled a few comparable trades that have happened this year:

PitcherService TimeOptions RemainingIn exchange for…
Ariel Jurado1.0521PTBNL/Cash
James Hoyt1.1081Cash
Austin Pruitt1.1250Prospects RHP Peyton Battenfield and OF Cal Stevenson
Austin Brice2.1010Prospect 2B Angeudis Santos

I tried to boil things down to pitchers with one year (or more) of service time and zero options. Obviously, not everyone on the list above is out of options. However, I think the Austin Pruitt trade could be a good comp to what it’d take for Hoffman. Like Hoffman, Pruitt has no options remaining and five years of control left. The Rays acquired two low level prospects from the Astros in return for Pruitt.

Peyton Battenfield was the Astros’ 9th rounder in 2019 and Cal Stevenson was the Blue Jays’ 10th round choice a year before. Both are 23 and at different tranches of A-ball. Neither appear to be significant prospects, though they aren’t non-prospects either.

For the Yankees, that might be 23 year-old OF Brandon Lockridge, the org’s fifth rounder in 2018 who has topped out in Charleston. Maybe the arm in the deal could be LHP Alfredo Garia, who the Yankees actually acquired from Colorado for Joe Harvey last summer. Garcia is rule 5 eligible this winter and doesn’t seem like a guy the Yankees will protect anyway. My trade proposal sucks though, as you know.

Now, a more fun trade might be sending power-hitting 1B Chris Gittens to the Rockies. Daniel Murphy is currently Colorado’s first baseman and won’t be there for long, whereas Gittens has been rule 5 eligible since last year and probably needs a chance elsewhere. He was the Eastern League MVP in 2019 and would probably bash 40 homers in Colorado, albeit with a ton of strikeouts. That’s a win-win for both the Yankees and Rockies, no?

Yankees Trade Target: Chris Stratton

Embed from Getty Images

The trade deadline is almost here (already!). We’re just 17 games into this season, and yet, trades will be off the table come August 31st. There’s not much time for the Yankees to decide what or who they want to pursue, but one area that the organization clearly emphasizes is a deep bullpen. And with Tommy Kahnle down for the season, the team could use a reinforcement in relief. Over the next few weeks, we’ll profile players the Yankees could go after (not just relievers, by the way). Today, we start with someone you’ll probably deem an obscure target: Pirates’ right-hander Chris Stratton.

Background & Performance

The 29 year-old Stratton has a chance to be another example of a failed starter turned good reliever. The Giants drafted Stratton as a starter out of Mississippi State in the first round of the 2012 draft. It took him a while to climb the minor league ranks, but by mid-2016, Stratton debuted for San Francisco in relief. He spent some more time in the minors in 2017, but finally got a real opportunity in the Giants’ rotation come late-2017.

Stratton was decent in the rotation for the Giants: in 193 innings as a starter between 2017 and 2018, he recorded a 4.24 ERA and 4.28 FIP. Good enough for the ever-needing Angels to trade for and install in its 2019 starting rotation. Unfortunately, it took just five starts (7.04 ERA) for the Halos to give up on him. To the bullpen he went, and eventually, to Pittsburgh by mid-May.

The Pirates didn’t bother with Stratton as a starter last summer. He went into the ‘pen in a long relief role, and did well. In 28 games and 46 2/3 innings, Stratton recorded a 3.66 ERA and 4.11 FIP. His strikeout rate jumped to 23.5 percent and his fastball velocity creeped up to the 93-94 range. He was still nothing to write home about, but it was a step in the right direction.

Fast forward to 2020 and things start to get more interesting. Now, we’re talking about an extremely small sample size of seven games and nine innings. But in those opportunities, Stratton has been very good. And it’s not just his results that have popped out, but also a few underlying things that make him worth a look for the Yankees. First however, the stats. He’s posted a stellar 37.1 percent strikeout rate along with a respectable 8.6 percent walk rate en route to a 2.89 ERA and 1.21 FIP. Save for his most recent outing (three innings against Detroit), Stratton’s worked mostly in short stints.

Intriguing Underlying Metrics

What makes this admittedly limited track record sustainable? His breaking balls look pretty nasty. Let’s get a high level overview of his arsenal:

Pitch (count)Avg. VeloSpinWhiff %
Fastball (68)93.52,61332.1
Slider (49)87.02,89218.2
Curve (28)80.53,06163.6

The spin and whiff rates on those breakers, particularly the curve, are enticing. Those spin rates are elite too. Here’s where they rank this year

  • Fastball: 11th
  • Slider: 15th
  • Curve: 6th

Perhaps he’s found more results-based success this year because he’s leaned into throwing them more:

Stratton’s had elite spin rates on his breaking pitches for a few years now, so the pitch mix change makes sense. That said, it may also make more sense for him to use his curve (19 percent usage) more than his slider (33 percent). He’s garnered more whiffs on the curve than slider this season and in past seasons, for one. xStats favor the curve too. A reason for this may be that Stratton more efficiently spins his curve than his slider.

Active spin — which is the spin that directly contributes to movement — is very important in conjunction with spin rate. Stratton could stand to do better in that regard. It’s pretty high for both his fastball and curve (above 70 percent active spin), but his high spin rate on his slider is doing very little for him (24.4 percent active spin).

One other note: Stratton’s throwing his curveball and slider harder this year. His curve is up 3.4 MPH and his slider is up 2.5 MPH. I don’t have much to add on that, other than I surmise it’s helped his pitches be a little less loopy than prior seasons.

Enough numbers, let’s get a good look at him in action. Take a look at some of these curveballs:

And for good measure, a nice back door curve:

Now, let’s watch a couple of sliders.

I still prefer his curve, but clearly, either will play.

Now, for all the emphasis I’ve placed on Stratton’s breakers, we should touch on his fastball too. It’s improved quite a bit this year. While he’s not a flamethrower, he’s bumped his average velocity up from 92.2 to 93.5 MPH. If he needs it, Stratton can reach back for 95 as well. Lastly, his spin rate on the pitch jumped compared to last year. It was just under 2,500 RPM last season, but this year, it’s at 2,613.

No one will mistake Stratton’s heater for, say, Chad Green’s. But the added spin and velocity is undoubtedly making a difference, while also throwing it less often makes it harder to sit on.

Injury History

There’s not too much here. What’s better: nothing arm related. He hit the injured list twice last year with the similar issues: right side discomfort and right side inflammation. In other words, oblique problems. In total, Stratton spent time on the injured list from May 25 to June 18 and August 29 to September 17. This year? So far so good.

Contract

With just over two years of service entering 2020, Stratton is on a near league-minimum deal this season but is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. So, he’ll get a little more expensive, albeit not too much. It’s also worth noting that he’s out of options and can’t go to the minors. Finally, he won’t be a free agent until after 2023.

What would a trade look like?

I really have no idea. As much as I like Stratton’s underlying stuff, I don’t think I’d give up much based on a small sample of games. I don’t expect it would take anything big to make something workm either. Pittsburgh isn’t contending anytime soon and are surely hesitant to start paying anyone as they go through the arbitration process. They’re as cheap as it gets.

Now that we’re in trade season again, a reminder is in order: your (and my) trade proposal sucks. Nonetheless, let’s put something out there. I think a good place to start is scanning impending Rule 5 eligible minor leaguers that the Yankees may not want to protect, but also not lose for nothing. Roster Resource lays out who’ll be eligible pretty plainly. Would Hoy Jun Park or Isiah Gilliam do the trick? I’ll say yes.

Would Steven Matz Be A Yankees Rotation Upgrade?

Embed from Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, the NY Post’s Mike Puma and Ken Davidoff reported preliminary trade talks between the Yankees and Mets for starter Steven Matz. The never ending 2019 injury bug has hit the Yankees’ rotation this spring. The young pitching prospects are performing well in camp so far. Despite this, it doesn’t hurt to seek veteran upgrades if options arise. The keyword here is upgrade.

Matz is a big time source of frustration for Mets fans. The local kid from Long Island possesses top end talent. A few years ago, Matz was the third pitcher in a fearsome trio in the Mets rotation including Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Things have not worked out well for Matz. He has suffered injuries and experienced inconsistencies in performance yet the talent and high ceiling still remain. A quick look at his numbers suggests entertaining the thought of acquiring Matz is a wasteful exercise. There may be underlying data hinting at why the Yankees inquired. While acknowledging how hard it is for the Yankees and Mets to make a deal, let’s examine if Matz is a trade target worth pursuing.

Performance

Looking under the hood of Matz’s standard statistics reveals a pretty mixed bag. Matz has a four-pitch arsenal that he likes to mix up. He primarily throws a sinker, which is his fastball of choice, but he will go to his changeup, slider and curve a fair amount of the time. He throws the sinker over 50% of the time. The offspeed offerings are pretty evenly spread out with his changeup sitting around 20%.

Matz’s sinker is a pretty fascinating pitch. In 2019, it averaged a velocity of 93.3mph, which is above the league average of 91.1mph. That is a good thing. On the flip side, his spin rate on the pitch sits around 2100rpms, which is below the league average. In a vacuum, the below average spin rate works well for a sinker. This may not be the case with Matz though.

The sinker goes against conventional wisdom mainly because of where he locates the pitch. We normally think down in the zone with sinkers. Matz uses his in the opposite manner. Here is a chart to illustrate his sinker location:

This is pretty atypical for a sinker heavy pitcher. This could very well reflect the Mets pitching philosophy. Matthew Trueblood over at Baseball Prospectus discussed Noah Syndergaard using his sinker in a similar way. Matz loves to pound his sinker up in the zone. One possible explanation for this is the desire to play up the above average velocity on the pitch. It is much more difficult for a hitter to get on top of a hard fastball up in the zone and Matz exploits this. Here is the pitch to Juan Soto:

And here is the fastball to a dangerous righty hitter in Anthony Rendon:

An effective high fastball is an important weapon for two reasons. One, it minimizes the opportunity a hitter has to drive the ball in the air. This is a problem Matz has that we will get to soon. Two, it is a great set up for Matz’s most effective secondary pitch in 2019.

The Changeup

The change worked really well for Matz last season. He averaged 84.3MPH on the pitch, which was slightly above average. His 2300RPM was well above average. As mentioned earlier, the changeup was his second most frequently used pitch last year and with good reason. It was easily the pitch with the highest movement in his arsenal. Here is a graph comparing the horizontal movement of his pitches against the average. The changeup is the green line:

The changeup had 16.8 inches of break. That was 22% higher than the average. That is a good amount of movement going from one side of the plate to the other. It doesn’t stop there. The changeup also has a really good drop as well. Here is a graph detailing the vertical movement of his pitches against the average. Again, the changeup is the green line:

This is a really good pitch. It has a ton of movement and plays really well with the high fastball. He has a pretty strong command of the pitch as well. He is able to keep it down in the zone in on righties and away from lefties as this graph shows:

When you combine really effective movement with good command you force swings like this from our boy Starlin Castro:

Yeah, that works.

Why Isn’t He More Effective?

As we’ve seen, Matz has two strong pitches that at times keeps hitters off balance. But a quick glance at his numbers reveals he hasn’t been able to put it all together over the course of a season. One reason for this is an inconsistent third pitch to complement the fastball and change. If the fastball command isn’t there or hitters lay off that pitch, he has to rely on his secondary pitches more. Both his curveball and slider sit below average in spin rate. The slider, in particular, is a below average pitch. The lack of effective movement results in the two pitches sitting in the strike zone close to or more than 50% of the time. Overall, he’s thrown 50.6% of his pitches in the zone, above the league average. This leads to one of Matz’s biggest issues.

Steven gives up a ton of hard hit balls. Batters have swung and missed on only 23% of his pitches. This is well below average. Last season, he allowed the highest hard hit rate of his career at 38.5%. He allowed 9% of his balls in play to be barrels. The league average is 7%. To make matters worse, he is a flyball pitcher. All of this leads to a career high 27 home runs allowed in 160 innings last season. That is creeping towards J.A. Happ territory. It is possible that Matz throwing his sinker so much takes away from the slider and curveball.

Matz also has a long injury history. Here are his ailments since 2016:

  • Missed over a month with left shoulder tightness.
  • Missed over a month with left elbow inflammation.
  • Didn’t finish the 2017 season due to ulnar nerve irritation in left elbow.
  • Missed two weeks with a flexor pronator strain in left forearm.
  • Missed a week due to radial nerve discomfort.

This is frightening. It is pretty surprising that he didn’t end up getting Tommy John surgery. To his credit, outside of the radial nerve discomfort in May, Matz didn’t suffer an injury the rest of 2019. That may provide little solace to a Yankees fan base who is exhausted with new injury news coming out seemingly every day.

Is Matz Worth Pursuing?

From a sole talent perspective, the Yankees should look to acquire Steven Matz. The numbers don’t suggest this route, but the stuff does. There aren’t many lefties with this combination of velocity, aggressiveness, and talent on the major league level. The key is unlocking his third pitch. That would go a long way in mitigating the hard hit and strike zone issues he’s experiencing.

According to the available data, the curveball has more potential than the slider. Matt Blake may be able to unlock that pitch. It also doesn’t hurt to have a pitching savant like Gerrit Cole or a lefty with a good curveball like James Paxton on either side of you as well. The 2020 Yankees can take Matz to the next level. Their recent history of increasing spin and velocity for pitchers suggests they can improve Matz’s metrics. If they do that they may have a gem on their hands.

The flip side is the scary injury history. The Yankees are already without Luis Severino for the year. James Paxton is recovering from back surgery. The injuries to some of their position players also compromise the team’s ability to deal someone like Clint Frazier. It may not be wise to bring in another injury prone player who could realistically miss a month or more regardless of talent.

While the allure of unlocking Steven Matz is tempting, the potential IL stints are not. The Yankees have a nice group of young pitchers who can fill in the back end of the rotation until James Paxton and Domingo Germán return. A trade for Matz would also help the 2021 rotation, but how valuable is that if you can’t depend on his availability? Durability is every bit as important as pitching ability. Since that is a clear issue for Matz, it may be best to not tempt fate.

The Yankees Should Trade For Joc Pederson

Lost in the craziness of the Betts/Price trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers was the failed Joc Pederson trade to the Los Angeles Angels. According to reports, Angels owner Arte Moreno was unhappy with waiting on the Betts deal to complete. The Angels missed out on an opportunity to bring in an above-average lefty power bat to man right field. One person’s impatience can lead to another man’s chance at opportunity. That man should be Brian Cashman.

Joc Pederson would be a nice addition to the Yankees. I mentioned this in an earlier column, but it is worth repeating. The Yankees spent $324 million on Gerrit Cole. This is as strong an indication of the Yankees intentions as you can imagine. They want to win multiple titles. In order to accomplish this, the team should look to maximize each available roster spot with as many high quality players as possible. This is stating the obvious, but it is a pretty difficult strategy to execute. Pederson would be able to address multiple needs of the roster, but only filling up one slot. Let’s take a deeper dive.

A Productive Lefty Bat

The departure of Didi Gregorius and the injury to Aaron Hicks leaves Brett Gardner as the only lefty regular in the lineup. Fortunately, the team has two good bats in Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford, but there is a need for more. Joc Pederson would immediately slot in as the top lefty hitter in the lineup. In 2019, Pederson hit .249/.339/.538/.876 with 36 home runs in 450 at-bats. There is the obvious caveat of the juiced ball, but Pederson hit 26 and 25 homers as a 23 and 24-year-old in 2014 and 2015 respectively so power isn’t foreign to him.

Looking beyond the standard stats, we will see some encouraging trends for Pederson. We will start with his wOBA:

According to Fangraphs, wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighing each of them in proportion to their actual run value. It is a more accurate metric of a player’s contribution to scoring runs. As we can see from this graph, Pederson sits comfortably as an above average offensive contributor. He finished 2019 in the 69th percentile in this measurement. This captures Pederson’s diverse skillset in impacting the offensive side of the game. While his main contribution is power, he isn’t simply a slugger looking for that one pitch to drive out of the park. There is another trend resting under the hood that should excite Yankees fans.

Pederson’s strikeout rate sits below the league average over the last three years:

I didn’t expect to see this when researching Pederson’s data. I always thought Joc was a free swinger taking big hacks hunting for homers. That clearly isn’t the case. There was a jump in 2019, but that makes sense given the league-wide increase in strikeouts.

These metrics paint a pretty nice picture of Pederson’s overall ability as an offensive player. He creates runs in multiple ways and is improving as a disciplined hitter. Of course, his calling card remains his power.

The Power Is Legit

Joc Pederson hits the ball very hard. In 2019, his average exit velocity of 90.9 mph sat in the 83rd percentile. His hard hit percentage of 43.5% sat in the 76th percentile. Over the course of his career, Pederson routinely sits in the higher rankings of any hard hit ball measurement.

There has also been a conscious effort to get the ball in the air with more consistency. Over the last two seasons, Pederson’s average launch angles of 15.4 and 15.3, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, are the highest of his career. As a result, Pederson experienced the highest fly ball rates of his career. Joc hitting the ball with consistent authority in the air leads to improved performances like this :

This is a player who knows his strengths and is developing ways to maximize them. Sure, the juiced ball factors in, but that does a disservice to the clear improvement Pederson is making as a power hitter. There is another aspect of Joc’s offensive profile that suggests increased productivity could be on the way.

Improved Control Of The Strike Zone

Oftentimes when we think of strike zone control balls and strikes immediately come to mind. Strike zone control also refers to the types of pitches batters swing at in the zone. Hitters could let mistakes go by while swinging at a pitch with great command. Pederson is being more aggressive with swings in the zone while maintaining an average zone contact rate. Here is a look at Pederson’s z-swing% or swing rate in the strike zone over his career:

This is important because it shows that Pederson is giving himself more chances to positively impact the baseball. Yes, he has an average contact rate in the zone, but increasing the usage of that swing increases the opportunity to do damage. There is one more aspect to this that will give a clearer understanding of Pederson’s production over the last year.

He is pulling the ball more now than at any other point in his career. According to statcast, Joc pulled the ball 46% of the time in 2019. Prior to last year, the closest Pederson came to that number was in 2016 with a 40.1% pull rate. He is hitting the ball in the air with authority to his pull side. This would work incredibly well in Yankee Stadium.

Defense and Platoon Issues

We won’t be confusing Joc Pederson with Lorenzo Cain or Victor Robles in the outfield. Spending his time in right field this past season, Pederson ended up with an Outs Above Average of 3. That ranks him 32nd amongst outfielders behind guys like Steven Duggar, Hunter Renfroe, and Brian Goodwin. Interestingly enough, he’s ranked ahead of players like Kevin Pillar and…Brett Gardner. Pederson is a solid defender who can competently man both corner outfield positions. The Yankees would be better served to have Mike Tauchman back up center while Hicks recovers from Tommy John surgery.

The platoon splits are a legitimate concern. He has a career OPS of .572 with a slugging percentage of .310 against left handed pitchers. He has nine home runs against lefties versus 114 against righties. While these numbers are alarming, there may be some important context to consider.

The Dodgers fully believe in positional flexibility, versatility, and matchups. They are looking to create as many advantages as possible. This includes a heavy reliance upon platoons. Remember, they didn’t want Cody Bellinger facing lefties early on in his career. Bellinger is a top 5 hitter in the entire sport. Pederson only has 336 at bats against lefties. He has 1696 at bats against righties. We don’t actually know if Pederson can hit lefties because he hasn’t been given a fair chance to do so. This could be another Didi Gregorius situation.

Is There A Chance It Happens?

There is always the possibility of Ninja Cash swooping in and acquiring a player who is trending upwards. There are a lot of things to like about Pederson. He hits the ball hard. 40 home runs is a real possibility. There is a need for some lineup balance despite many people downplaying its importance. He provides solid defense. The Yankees believe in load management so providing Aaron Boone with another quality piece to rotate amongst Stanton, Voit, Tauchman, and Andújar is aggressive and smart. There is real Curtis Granderson 2.0 potential as Matt mentioned on Twitter. The Dodgers are clearly willing to move him in the right deal.

It just doesn’t feel like the Yankees will make the move. They certainly have the prospect capital to do it, but the team appears to be content with their roster heading into spring training. The team is also firmly over the third luxury tax threshold at $258 million according to Cots. An argument could be made that once a team surpasses the third luxury tax threshold it makes sense to blow by it since the tax penalty is set. It is a nice theory, but teams don’t operate that way in this day and age.

A Pederson trade during spring training would virtually eliminate any opportunity for the team to address potential issues that may pop up between now and the trade deadline. There are positions that may need more attention as the season progresses so positions like back up middle infielder or bullpen may be worth the added splurge.

Joc Pederson is a good player and could be even better in a full time role. The move is tantalizing. It is one the Yankees should strongly consider if not now than some further point in the season.

Yankees Trade Target: Nolan Arenado

Embed from Getty Images

Bobby did a nice job yesterday covering the Nolan Areando situation and how the Yankees could be a trade partner. Today, let’s dig deeper into Arenado’s qualifications and the Yankees’ interest.

Background

Arenado, who turns 29 this April, hails from California. After an illustrious high school career, he committed to Arizona State University but did not wind up attending. Instead, the Rockies drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft and signed him away from his committment.

By the numbers, Arenado had a pretty linear development path through the minors. He climbed the ladder gradually and made his big league debut in 2013. Two years later, Arenado established himself as Colorado’s best player and a bonafide superstar.

Ever since, Arenado has been a steady hand for a Rockies team that’s gone through ups and downs. The third baseman led the Rockies to back-to-back Wild Card spots in 2017 and 2018, but otherwise, the team has been mired near the bottom of the NL West.

Things were looking up for Colorado following 2018, a year that they won 91 games and toppled the Cubs in the Wild Card game before elimination against the Brewers in the Division Series. To keep the good vibes going, the Rockies locked up Arenado to a big extension last February, just a year before he was going to be a free agent.

Oh how things have changed in a year, though. The Rockies won 71 games and finished fourth in the division. Now, Arenado and Colorado’s GM Jeff Bridich are openly feuding and a trade seems inevitable.

Performance

Arenado is a lifetime .295/.351/.546 (125 DRC+, 120 wRC+) hitter. He’s got an impressive combination of contact (15.2 percent strikeout rate) and power (.251 ISO). He’s also an elite defender by all accounts, including the recently unveiled Outs Above Average.

Simply put, Arenado is one of the best all-around players in the game. His trophy case says as much:

  • Seven Gold Gloves (he’s won every year of his career)
  • Four Silver Sluggers
  • Five All-Star Games
  • Five Top-8 finishes in MVP voting

The third baseman has been remarkably consistent, too. Ever since he broke out in 2015, here are the lowest marks he’s had in a few different categories:

  • Games played: 155 (2019)
  • Plate appearances: 662 (2019)
  • Batting average: .287 (2015)
  • On-base percentage: .323 (2015) and no lower than .362 since 2016
  • Slugging percentage: .561 (2018)
  • Home runs: 37 (2017)
  • fWAR: 4.5 (2015)

Not only is that an incredible floor during his age 24 through 28 seasons, but it’s also an impressive display of durability.

Of course, everyone is going to ask if he can continue such performance outside of Coors Field. Do we need to re-litigate DJ LeMahieu’s transition all over again?

There’s no question that Arenado has been better at home (130 wRC+) than on the road (109 wRC+) during his career. However, there are a couple of seemingly anomalous seasons that bring down his road splits. Take a look:

YearRoad PARoad wRC+
201325768
201421799
2015331119
2016344116
2017350126
2018343104
2019327118

Clearly, his first two seasons in the league (before he broke out) bring down his lifetime mark. He’s an excellent hitter no matter where he plays.

Even before we saw LeMahieu blossom in pinstripes in 2019, there was a history of players leaving the Rockies to great success. I have no doubt that Arenado would have a smooth transition to any new team offensively.

Finally, let’s look at Arenado’s projected performance for 2020.

  • ZiPS: 646 PA, .298/.367/.567 (126 OPS+), 37 HR, 4.5 WAR
  • Steamer: 657 PA, .296/.371/.571 (124 wRC+), 40 HR, 4.9 WAR

It’s going to be a terrific season for the soon-to-be 29 year-old regardless of where he plays.

Injury History

Arenado has only gone on the disabled list once in his career. Moreover, it was a freak injury. In 2014, his sophomore season, he broke his finger sliding into second base in a game. He spent a little more than a month on the shelf, but has had no big issues otherwise.

Contract

As mentioned, Arenado signed a big extension before last season. The deal is through 2026, though he can opt-out after the 2021 season.

Arenado is due $70 million through 2021 and another $164 million thereafter should he stick around. If he opts out, it’ll be in advance of his age-31 season. Can he beat five years and $164 million at that time? I think so.

To complicate matters (for the Rockies if they really do want to trade him), the contract includes a no-trade clause. That takes away a lot of leverage from Colorado, similar to the Giancarlo Stanton situation a few years ago.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

The Yankees don’t *need* a third baseman. But is Arenado better than the team’s internal options? As good and promising as Gio Urshela and Miguel Andújar are, neither hold a candle to Arenado.

Of course, Urshela and Andújar are far cheaper than Arenado. Urshela will earn $2.475 million and Andújar not too much more than the league minimum. The Yankees are already well-above the third tier of the luxury tax, so who knows how willing the team is to expand payroll any further.

What would a trade look like?

First, let’s look at what the Giancarlo Stanton trade cost the Yankees. Stanton was due $295 million over ten years at the time, though the Marlins are on the hook for $30 million provided that he doesn’t opt-out after this season. In return, the Yankees sent Starlin Castro (with two years and $22 million remaining) and prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers.

Guzman was a back-end top 100 prospect who had topped out in short-season A-ball before the deal while Devers was still in rookie ball. Castro’s inclusion was more to offset salary than anything else.

With all that in mind, I’m sure the Yankees would want to include JA Happ in any deal to level out the 2020 payroll to some extent. After that, it would come down to haggling over prospects. But again, the Rockies don’t have much leverage here if they want to dump a significant portion of Arenado’s deal. Especially because Arenado has a no-trade clause. As a result, I don’t think the Yankees would need to include any prospects close to the majors. I’m not going to do a proposal because MTPS, but I’d assume parameters not all that different than the Stanton deal.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén