Happy Monday, all. As Derek noted last week, we’re moving the mailbag feature to Mondays moving forward. It helps kick the week off on the right foot, you know? Anyway, the first few weeks of the offseason are always relatively quiet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t news for the obsessives. The Yankees made a flurry of 40-man roster moves and marginal changes, so check out Derek and I’s recaps of each here, here, and here. That will likely be the end of it for a while.
So, to fill the dead air, let’s get to some mailbag questions. As you can imagine, most of these relate to shortstops. If you have a question to submit, please do so by mid-day Sunday. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We choose our favorites each week.
Sam Asks: I’ve come around to the idea that Correa is the best fit – he’s a great hitter with above average defense. With that said, I think signing Correa would be a disaster from an off-the-field standpoint. I think people brushing this away because we signed Cole (former Astro) are really underestimating how the media, fans, and potentially even some players will make this an ongoing headache. How big an issue do you think this is? And can you think of a player signing with the team with this much baggage?Embed from Getty Images
This is basically the question of the offseason. Everything else revolves around that. Let me start by saying that Sam is absolutely right: Correa is definitely the best on-field fit for the team. There are perhaps arguments against this – he’s a righty, namely – but I don’t find them compelling. He checks every box. He’s young, he hits, he plays good defense, he doesn’t care about a domineering media, and he has a proven October pedigree. To the extent that any or all of those things matter to you, Correa has it all. So there’s that.
Obviously, that is not all there is to this. Far from it. Correa was big part of the Astros cheating scandal, and has become a somewhat unrepentant spokesperson for the team. The Yankees, particularly Aaron Judge, have been pretty outspoken about that whole debacle. This is not new ground.
How much does this matter, though? Ultimately, I don’t think it matters very much. Sure, these guys may be angry about 2017 and even 2019, and they absolutely should be. The Yankees, especially the players, are being reasonable if they feel cheated out of a pennant in those years. That said, I do not think that the players would be furious if they signed Correa. These are all competitive people, but ultimately they are professionals. I think the players would let bygones be bygones pretty quickly. That’s just my sense. I wouldn’t worry about that.
The same goes for the fans. The ugly fact about fans, including myself, is that they are hypocrites. Absolute hypocrites. You know it’s true. Some of us may stomp our feet, get mad, and even say that we wouldn’t root for Correa. The second he has a huge hit, though, we’ll pump our fists all the same. And why wouldn’t we? We’re just fans, after all.
The media is a bit of a different story. I’m sure they’d make it a capital-T Thing, but that shouldn’t be a reason to not move ahead with it. The goal is to improve the team. (And, while the cheating scandal is a big deal and was insanely annoying, it was not as if Correa committed a heinous crime or anything that would truly make the acquisition despicable. This is just a matter of the sport.)
Where do I stand on this? I say go ahead – Correa is the best fit, and the rest is a manufactured controversy. We’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t be deterred or super concerned with Correa’s baggage.
Daniel Asks: What about Elvis Andrus at SS? He has one year left on his current deal, of which the Rangers are paying 50 percent. The A’s are assumed to be cutting payroll. His under-the-hood numbers, while not excellent, are better than Gleyber at the same position. If nothing else, he’s a good glove and available at reasonable cost in both dollars and prospect capital. Heck, he could be a throw-in in a larger Olson or Chapman deal. Dollars saved at SS could be applied elsewhere throughout the roster. Is this “crazy” or is it CRAZY?
It’s not crazy. I don’t love it, but it’s definitely not crazy – at least not if it’s couched in the right expectations. Andrus is what he is: a solidly bel0w-average hitter who doesn’t strike out, rarely walks, and plays excellent defense. On a team like the Yankees, that is a solid backup infielder. That certainly has value! But it’s not going to solve the Yankees shortstop woes or make the team materially better in any significant way. He’s only been a plus hitter twice in his career, most recently in 2017.
I also don’t agree that his offensive peripherals look better than Gleyber’s. From only the strikeout perspective, sure, but even in a down year, Gleyber is the guy you want at the plate in a comparison. As a throw-in piece of a broader package for Chapman or Olson, then I’m all for it. The Yanks need serviceable players, and he is certainly that. But I’d just be weary of looking at a low-strikeout, good defense guy as a silver bullet solution to anything. On the other hand, he’s likely to be somewhat cheap (about $7.5m before any concessions in a trade), so it’s not an impossible scenario.
Clever idea. I don’t hate it, but let’s just really hope that if Andrus is in pinstripes next year, it’s to back up a much better shortstop who actually deserves to log significant innings on a team with aspirations.
Mark Asks: Assuming the luxury tax will remain somewhat similar to the current structure, with penalties escalating each year a team stays over the threshold, I would love to see the Yankees pay a FA an exorbitant amount for a short period of time so that after the year in question they get a reset. Say they value Corey Seager at 6 years $240 million (I’m probably way off, just using as an example). Why not offer him similar money for 3 years?? Say $220 for 3 years. They pay a much higher AAV, but line it up with other contracts so they can reset at year 4 (when Volpe will be def ready for prime time).
I like this approach. It’s not going to happen, though precisely because of the AAV component. That limits the ability to spend on other players, putting essentially all the eggs in one basket. That’s why we see the Yankees do the longer contract with lower AAV, like they did with DJ LeMahieu. I wish it weren’t so, but they’d pay a huge tax and it would likely hamstring their spending in other areas. At least not at this scale.
The big reason is because I don’t think this will actually result in any sort of cost savings for teams. They really only care about keeping the AAV down for purposes. That’s just how teams operate right now, and since teams likely wont’ ever go to $70 million a year, they’d be competing against themselves. It’s just not going to happen.
That said, we’ve started to see teams trend in this direction a little. The Dodgers did that with Trevor Bauer – a 3-year, $102 million deal – so there is precedent here now. It will be interesting to see how teams handle this moving forward, but I do think there’s some value in blowing people away with a high AAV as a differentiator.