It’s Friday which means it’s time to open up the mailbag. Remember to send in your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com.
Ray asks: What do you think the chances are of the Yankees trading Giancarlo Stanton this winter, even following a lost season?
0.000000000001 percent. The Yankees are in the heart of a title contention window! Subtracting one of the team’s best players isn’t going to be a priority. It’s been frustrating to not have Stanton almost all season, and the Yankees do have good outfield depth, but it’s hard to imagine any deal that would make the Yankees more likely to win in 2020 without him. They can maybe get salary relief and/or some low-level prospects, but that’s the last thing they need right now.
Moreover, even if the Yankees wanted to trade him, Stanton’s contract situation contains a couple of impediments.
First and foremost, he has a no trade clause. When Miami shopped him a couple years ago, there were only certain clubs he was willing to go to. It’s safe to assume that would come up again now. Further, Stanton can opt out after 2020. He’ll either hit free agency after finishing his age-30 season or move forward with his existing deal that pays him $218 million more through 2027. Although, that $218 million is really $188 million because the Marlins are required to kick in $30 million if Stanton doesn’t opt out.
Any team trying to acquire Stanton probably would want a commitment to not exercising his opt out. Of course, Stanton is under no obligation to do so. He might ask for his 2028 club option to be guaranteed in order to facilitate a deal.
Clearly, the no trade clause, looming opt out, and remaining salary likely make it impossible for the Yankees to make a fair deal. And it’s not like they should want to dump Stanton, anyway.
Stephen asks: I’m trying to figure out if Frazier can be optioned next year. I don’t think he was technically sent down in 2017 and he was injured for most of 2018. Were options burned during these years? Also, did Frazier spend enough time in the minors this year to delay arbitration or free agency?
Yes, Frazier has one more minor league option remaining. The Yankees utilized one last year and again this year, but did not burn one in 2017. It’s important to note that a player needs to spend more than 20 days in the minors to burn an option.
Frazier first reached the big leagues in the middle of 2017 and remained through the end of the year. He technically played in the minors again that summer, but it was on a rehab assignment, which is completely unrelated to a minor league option. That assignment ended in September during roster expansion, so there was no reason to option Frazier other than what would have been blatant service time manipulation.
Last year, the Yankees optioned Frazier to the minors on three separate occasions. The three stints added up to more than 20 days with Scranton.
This season, the Yankees optioned Frazier not long after the Edwin Encarnación trade in June. Obviously, the time between then and September call ups was more than 20 days and thus exhausted Frazier’s second option year.
As for his service time, yes, the Yankees kept him down long enough. In July 5th’s mailbag, I estimated that he needed another 53 days in the minors to delay free agency, which means that August 27th was the line in the sand. The Yankees brought him up as soon as the calendar read September and thus can keep Frazier another year.
George asks: I was thinking about the MOY award article. How far away do you think are we to Analytics of the Year (ironically, hard to quantify), or even Coaching Staff of the Year. It seems like such a staff effort, and the manager is probably less responsible now than what he used to be because he has so much more information at his disposal.
I don’t expect a “Best Analytics” award given to a team or front office in the future. There’s no real way to quantify or qualify it unless all of the organizations agree to share their research and findings, which they surely don’t wish to do. Teams won’t willingly give up a proprietary advantage in order to win an award. That being said, there is an award that goes to the best Contemporary Baseball Analysis at the SABR Analytics Conference. Those winners don’t work for teams (though some of them have gone on to after).
Coaching Staff of the Year doesn’t seem plausible either. Besides, I think MOY reflects well on the winning manager’s staff. It may not be direct recognition, but the skipper undoubtedly relies on his staff heavily. Some credit has to be passed down in the chain.
Lastly, there’s no question that the manager has less power nowadays. The amount of information that analytic and scouting departments pass down to the clubhouse makes a huge difference. There aren’t managers who can fly by the seat of their pants anymore with in-game decisions.
Matt asks: Does the success of this season (and the success of guys like Tauchman/Urshela) further cement ownership’s quest of staying under the luxury tax in respect to signing Gerritt Cole this offseason?
I don’t think it moves the needle one bit. Keeping payroll in line has been one of Hal Steinbrenner’s goals for a long time. Back in 2012, he said this:
“I’m a finance geek,” Steinbrenner said. “I guess I always have been. That’s my background. Budgets matter. Balance sheets matter. I just feel that if you do well on the player development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220 million payroll. You don’t. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent.”
In 2012, the Yankees’ payroll was just over $223 million per Cot’s Contracts. This year, opening day payroll was a hair under $204 million. Hal’s acted on that quote for the better part of a decade now, so I can’t imagine that he needed further justification from successful league-minimum players.
Even though he’s made his intentions clear, it sounds like he is willing to make exceptions when necessary:
“If I really felt we needed that deal, that it takes us over the top, then yes, I would,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday at the Major League Baseball owners meetings in New York City. “But we still have a decent amount of [top-tier luxury tax] cushion. I’m not concerned about that. It’s a decent cushion.”
He said that just before the trade deadline. Though the Yankees didn’t make the big pitching acquisition everyone anticipated then, perhaps Cole could become that exception this winter. Now, there’s a chance Cole won’t even need to be an exception either. The Yankees may try to make some maneuvers, like salary dumping JA Happ or letting Didi Gregorius and/or Dellin Betances leave in free agency. Of course, doing the latter would be a pretty unpopular decision.