Tag: mookie betts Page 2 of 3

The “inevitable” Mookie Betts trade and the Baby Bombers

Time to pay up.

Like many others, I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea of the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts. Sure, it’s going to make the Yankees’ lives a lot easier in the short-term. Still, I would be furious if I was in a Boston fan’s shoes. Boston hasn’t produced anyone of Mookie’s caliber in about two decades. He’s the face of the team and should be kept around for years to come, not shipped off in a money saving move in advance of his free agency.

Let’s fast forward a few years. Imagine that the Yankees have won title number 28 and perhaps even number 29. Now, imagine the idea of trading away Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres thereafter. Not great, huh? Well, that’s what the Red Sox are in the midst of doing. And make no mistake, this isn’t a move to recoup some of Betts value before he departs in free agency. Even worse, it could be precedent setting for other big market clubs looking to line their pockets even more.

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are one of the highest-valued sports teams in the world. In 2002, John Henry paid $380 million to purchase the Red Sox. Nowadays, the club is now worth approximately $3.2 billion per Forbes. Nice rainy day fund, huh? Clearly, that the Red Sox are going to trade Betts isn’t because of an inability to keep him. Rather, it’s an unwillingness to pay up. Sure, the two sides may be off by over $100 million in negotiations, but that shouldn’t make Boston go “aw, shucks”. But hey, when you hire a ex-Rays front office executive to run your team, this is what you’re gonna get.

So, back to the Yankees now that I got that rant out. If someone like Judge or Torres continue to perform (while being underpaid, I might add) before hitting free agency and the Yankees decided to trade them, I’d be livid.

Let’s take Judge, who’s under the Yankees’ control through 2022. He and the Bombers settled on an $8.5 million salary for 2020, his first pass through arbitration. That’s not too far off from what Betts got in his first eligible season. We know what Betts got in years two and three, and if we do some lazy math to project the same percentage increases on Judge’s 2020 salary, here’s what we get:

Arbitration YearMookie BettsAaron Judge

Those are big raises for sure, but merited and frankly underselling Judge’s abilities in his age 28 through 30 seasons. But more important than his arbitration earnings is how how the Yankees treat him thereafter. After paying a pittance for Judge’s services pre-free agency, the Yankees need to keep him around. Fortunately for the Steinbrenners, it should come at a lower price than Betts.

By the time Judge hits free agency, he’ll be approaching his age-31 season. Or, three years older than Betts will be when he hits the open market after this campaign. Even with inflation and growing contracts, it’s hard to imagine Judge topping Betts’s deal just because of age difference. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Yankees have a $4.6 billion valuation per Forbes, so the Yankees have no reason to trade Judge down the road.

Perhaps a better comp to Betts than Judge is Torres. Just like Betts, Gleyber will be entering his age-28 season when he’s a free agent. And if the ZiPS long-term projections tell us anything, he’s going to get paid. So, just imagine five years down the line when Torres has racked up multiple 40 home run seasons as a shortstop along with 25 WAR while *still* being just 28. For the Yankees not to pay him at that point would be infuriating.

Ultimately, I have to admit that I’m fearful of the Betts situation setting a precedent for other big market teams like the Yankees. I mean, I’ve previously complained about the Yankees not spending commensurate to revenues and team value, but the Bombers have never quite done anything like trading its best player in the prime of his career during a championship window. Moving Betts would be like the Yankees trading Derek Jeter instead of re-signing him to a $189 million extension a season before he became a free agent.

The owners have already won the “players are overpaid” battle in the public eye in spite of unconscionable behavior by management (trafficking of international amateurs, poverty-level pay of minor leaguers, outlandish prices for tickets, concessions, merchandise, etc.). Yet, far too often we see fans enraged with players for asking for their share of the pot, which simply enables something like a Betts trade to happen. Let’s just hope the Yankees do better when the time comes. Is that so much to ask?

Thoughts Two Weeks Before Pitchers and Catchers Report to Camp

It’s Wednesday, and it is exactly two weeks before pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa for Spring Training. That is very exciting, to me. It’s simultaneously been a very long and very short offseason, if that makes any sense at all. I’m definitely ready for the season to get started. Here’s what’s on my mind.

1. Welcome Aboard, Josh Thole: If you had any doubts left that we’re mired in the depths of the offseason, I’m leading off this thoughts column with the signing of a Triple-A catcher. So, yeah. That’s where we are these days. Anyway, the Post’s Joel Sherman last night reported that the Yankees and Thole agreed to a $600,000 MiLB deal:

As Joel noted, the Yankees also added Erik Kratz and Chris Ianetta this offseason, so they’ll have some Triple-A depth here. Remember, Austin Romine signed a deal with the Tigers, so there’s a bit of a competition for the backup catcher position here. My money has always been on Kyle Higashioka in that competition and it’s still there today. Even more so, really.

Anyway, Thole — who brings back memories of R.A. Dickey’s tenure in Toronto — is a career .242/.313/.306 (73 wRC+) hitter who hasn’t played at the MLB level since 2016. He spent last year in the Dodgers’ and Angels’ farm system. (For what it’s worth, Statcast’s framing metrics have him pegged as a bad framer from 2015-16, though his sample is limited.) My guess is that he mans the Triple-A roster, which we will break down in detail before the season begins, and serves as much-needed depth at an important position. Welcome aboard, Josh.

2. Keeping J.A. Happ: You know, I’m now 100% convinced that the Yankees should just keep J.A. Happ. Sure, if there’s a chance that unloading Happ can bring someone back like Nolan Arenado — unlikely! — then you definitely do it. No doubt about it. But right now, the way I look at it is like this: the only reason to move Happ is to save money. That’s a fair concern! His salary isn’t peanuts for a 5th, 6th, or even 7th starter, but it’s not prohibitive money for the Yankees by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. (By now, you should all know where I stand on the CBT.) But I’m going to play with a much-repeated pitching prospect line and tweak it a bit: There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Pitching Depth.

Besides, I’m still oddly convinced that last year’s weirdness with the ball was a major factor in his struggles. I mean, look at his HR/fly ball rate over the last 5 seasons, with league averages in parentheses:

  • 2015: 9.2%
  • 2016: 11.1%
  • 2017: 12.3%
  • 2018: 13.4%
  • 2019: 18.3%

Now, let’s be real: that’s an actual bad trend. No amount of playing with the numbers can change that. He is an aging pitcher — the end can come really quickly and out of nowhere — with less velocity and spin on his fastball. Not to mention, this is not the most encouraging spray chart I’ve ever seen:

That is all true and can’t be waved away. However, with that said, that’s a huge jump. Huge! I think it would be irresponsible to say that the ball wasn’t a factor in that. (As for whether or not the ball will be the same next year, who can say? Another bang up job by MLB, that is.)

Finally, I think it’s pretty clear at this point that there’s not much coming back for Happ, which is to be expected because of the above paragraph. That’s why I think it makes sense just to hold on to him and see if there’s a dead cat bounce in there. If there isn’t, they can always trade him at the deadline after it’s clear next year’s option won’t vest. No harm, no foul.

3. Bring Me Nolan Arenado: The other day, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden wrote a piece (subs req’d) about the prospect of a Nolan Arenado trade, specifically mentioning the Yankees as a potential landing spot for the superstar 3B. Now, let’s be clear: this is definitely, 100% not happening. I will be shocked if it did. On the other hand, and bear with me here, what if it does?

You don’t have to squint that hard to see parallels to the Giancarlo Stanton situation back in December 2017. Arenado is owed a lot of money, though not quite as much as Stanton — $234 million over the next six seasons compared to $284 over eight seasons for Stanton — and also owns a full no-trade clause. To boot, he’s expressed his displeasure with the direction Colorado is taking, giving him a significant amount of leverage moving forward. That’s why I think so many of the trade proposals we’re seeing on social media, including from Bowden, are a bit absurd.

When was the last time one of these superstars commanded what we thought they would? Remember how the Stanton situation ended: with some low-level prospects and Starlin Castro being sent back to New York with $30 million for the reigning NL MVP. It’s not likely, but it is possible that, if Colorado feels that they have to move now, a similar filtering type situation may occur here, too, with only a few teams realistically positioned to take on that money and therefore mitigating the prospect drain. (The Yankees already have a huge payroll, so I repeat that it’s unlikely, but it’s January. Let me dream.)

Arenado is one of those players that you make space for, as a career .295/.351/.546 (120 wRC+) hitter with stellar defense. You just make room for a guy like that. I’m sure that there would be handwringing about his home/away splits, but it’s insane that we’re still doing that after DJ LeMahieu. Anyway, Nolan Arenado: bring him to me, please and thank you.

4. Mookie Betts and the Red Sox: So, it looks like the Red Sox are really going to trade Mookie Betts, huh? Here’s the latest from Jon Heyman:

Incredible. It’s hard to think of a more self-defeating move than Boston doing this right now (which, by the way, is coming a few weeks after ownership blamed the media for “playing up” the salary issue). Mookie is a bonafide superstar player who has a real argument for being baseball’s second-best player behind only Mike Trout. I mean, look at the fWAR leaderboard from 2017-19:

  1. Mike Trout: 25.2 fWAR
  2. Mookie Betts: 22.4 fWAR
  3. Christian Yelich: 20.0

Betts is incredible. It’s amazing to me that they’re considering moving him at all and not just locking him up. He’s a homegrown superstar who just formed the foundation of the best season* in franchise history, for crying out loud. Besides, I know they’re currently under investigation, but Boston is only one (1) year removed from the best season in their history. They could be good again this year!

Anyway, a people are saying that the Sox trading Betts is bad for the Yankees. To that I say: what? I guess you can make the argument that holding Mookie increases the likelihood that Boston loses him for nothing after the season, but I really don’t care about that. The other argument is that this will allow Boston to restock its depleted farm. I don’t see that happening — again, when was the last time these guys commanded what we thought they would in a trade — and even if it does, I don’t care. Mookie gone means the Yankees have a much, much better chance at winning the division this year. That matters a lot. It’s basically all that matters to me right now, actually.

The 2020 Yankees are, in my estimation at least, the best Yankees team heading into the season in a very, very long time. Their title window is right now. It will never get more open than this. If one of their biggest inter-divisional threats wants to blow it up, more power to them. No Yankee fan should lose sleep over that (unless, of course, you care about one of the league’s richest, most prestigious organizations trading a superstar over made-up financial concerns. But that’s a different story altogether.)

Right now, the only thing stopping me from buying Betts a farewell gift is the fact that the Boston media hasn’t completely committed to a character assassination yet. Once that happens, it’s all over.

5. Re-Litigating Robinson Canó and the 2013 Offseason: I missed the original article, but WEEI’s Lou Merloni had an interesting tweet yesterday. Check it out:

There’s a lot going on there for sure. As a reminder, the Yankees offered seven years and $170 million ($24+ million per year) and he signed a ten-year, $240 million deal with Seattle ($24 million per year). In other words, the Yankees were in the financial ballpark in some respects. It was the length with which they had an issue. Even before considering his decline, I think that was a reasonable decision. Less reasonable is the idea that Cano’s demands were outrageous. Check out his place in the history books for second basemen with 90% of their games logged there:

  • Home Runs: 324 (1st)
  • bWAR: 69.6 (5th)
  • Hits: 2,570 (5th)
  • OPS+: 125 (minimum 3,000 plate appearances)

I could go on and on. The point is that Canó was, at the time, on an inner-circle path to the Hall of Fame — a path he has absolutely continued, even now that he’s slowing down. And he had one of the prettiest swings I’ve ever seen:

The Yankees offered that guy, a homegrown superstar, $20 million and change more than they offered Jacoby Ellsbury. Let that sink in. (I know Canó tested positive for steroids. We can’t ignore that, of course.) Anyway, I am extremely happy with the way the Yankees are set up now. It’s not worth being very angry over this. That said, the Canó situation was absurd at the time and continues to be absurd now. He was worth that deal, and I still think the Yankees should have given it to him.

6. MiLB Coaching Tree: Finally, the Yankees announced their MiLB coaching tree yesterday. Check it out:

I don’t have anything to add to this right now. We’ll do a full preview of the system this year as Opening Day gets closer and that will include the coaching staffs for each level. For now, though, I just wanted to share this. Here’s the good news: this is yet another sign that Spring is just around the corner.

Thoughts after the Yankees land Gerrit Cole

Just about everyone’s reaction after last night, I’d imagine.

If you’re reading this and are a Yankees fan, I’d bet you’re having a really nice morning right now. Whether you got a good night’s sleep and woke up to the Gerrit Cole news or stayed up late as the news broke, it’s no matter. This is the best news in a while.

Say it with me: Gerrit Cole is a New York Yankee. How great does that sound? Pretty, pretty good if you ask me. The Yankees did the thing we’ve all been hoping for. They also did the thing we’ve been waiting for them to do for years: dole out a big contract to a superstar.

What more can I say? I’m numb and speechless from the excitement of the news. It’s a good thing I wrote the rest of this post before the Cole news broke. I’m not sure I’d have been able to in the immediate aftermath. We’ll have a whole lot more on Cole in the coming days.

Ultimately, there’s no need to overthink this one. Be happy, everyone. I sure as hell am. Gerrit Cole is a New York Yankee and it sure sounds sweet.

Missing Didi as a fan. As great as the Cole signing is, yesterday remains somewhat bittersweet because the Phillies reportedly signed Didi Gregorius. I’m sad to see him go and I’m sure I’m not alone. After the news broke, Twitter was ablaze with fond memories of Didi’s time here, including his postgame victory tweets, clutch homers, and his success in the post-Derek Jeter era.

There was a great joy in watching Didi play for the Yankees. His passion made him incredibly fun and easy to root for, which was an element many Yankees teams lacked in years before his acquisition. Remember those business-like Yankees teams of the 1990s and 2000s? They were great, but I wouldn’t always define them as fun. Gregorius played a big role in making things different in the Bronx from many fans’ viewpoints.

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Missing Didi in the clubhouse. Of course, it’s not just us who will miss Didi. The shortstop was clearly incredibly popular among his teammates and grew into a leadership role. I noticed a couple of players shared fond farewells to Didi on social media, including Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres. They’re certainly not alone.

Didi’s departure marks the second significant hole to fill in the clubhouse. We all knew about and were prepared for CC Sabathia’s departure, as were his teammates, but Gregorius’s future beyond 2019 was murky.

Other guys in that locker room will have to step up in those two’s absence. I’m plenty confident in guys like Judge and Torres doing so, but still. Sabathia and Gregorius leave big shoes to fill, and there’s still the risk of losing other significant presences like Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, and Austin Romine.

Gregorius’s departure puts a lot of pressure on Gio Urshela and Miguel Andújar. I tweeted about this after the news broke yesterday and I want to expand upon the thought. With Gregorius gone, the Yankees’ infield is officially set: Urshela/Andújar, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Luke Voit from left to right. Even without Didi at short, that middle infield is one of the league’s best. Voit should be just fine at first too. That said, there’s some real risk over at third base. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in Urshela’s all-around game and Andújar’s bat. However, it’s not that hard to envision scenarios in which either or both struggle in 2020.

Urshela was a late bloomer as a 27 year-old this season. Even though he delivered strong xStats per Statcast and a 121 DRC+, it’s not unreasonable to be somewhat skeptical of his breakout. Again, I think he’s for real, but I can’t help a little bit of doubt trickle in because of his limited track record.

Meanwhile, who knows how long it will take Andújar to be all the way back, if at all. The recent history of hitters who’ve returned from labrum surgery, including Greg Bird, is a mixed bag. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but I don’t want to count on Miggy’s bat at the outset of 2020. Even back at full strength, missing a full season will require him to shake off some rust. All this not to mention the already legitimate concerns about his ability to handle the hot corner defensively.

If the Yankees had kept Didi, LeMahieu would have remained in his roving infield role next season. Remaining in that role would have protected the Yankees against significant regression from Urshela and/or Andújar.

Right now, the Yankees’ infield depth consists of Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada. I like both players, but they’re a steep drop from what could have been with Gregorius. Handing either of those two extended time due to poor performance or injury from the expected regulars isn’t ideal.

Trading Happ will be costly. If the Zack Cozart trade is indicative of anything, the Yankees will have to include a good prospect to get out of what’s remains on JA Happs’ contract. The Angels sent Cozart and their 2019 first rounder, Will Wilson, to the Giants. San Francisco is absorbing Cozart’s contract, approximately $13 million.

The Yankees are seeking a trade partner, but it may not be easy to find a match. Now, nobody was expecting a heist like the Chase Headley salary dump with the Padres a few years ago. But let me ask you this: would you trade any of the following prospects to shed Happ’s deal?

  • Luis Gil
  • Anthony Volpe
  • Estevan Florial
  • Ezequiel Duran

I’d rather not. All four of these guys had 55 grades put on them per Baseball Prospectus, the same as Wilson. Now, all of their major league ETAs vary, but it’s a good start for a comp.

Unfortunately, pulling a few trade comps based on scouting grades isn’t the end-all-be-all. Happ’s deal is more complicated than the just-dealt Cozart’s. The newest Giant was owed nothing more after his $13 million this year, whereas Happ is due at least $17 million. And, if Happ throws 165 innings or makes 27 starts in 2020, he gets another $17 million in 2021. That additional “risk” could cost the Yankees more in prospects. Now, any suitor for Happ could plan to manipulate his innings next year. That’s a slippery slope, of course, but not unheard of.

Ultimately, the Yankees shouldn’t be in the business of attaching prospects to get out from contracts they regret. If you’re going to trade prospects, trade them for someone who can help the team win now. The organization is a financial behemoth that can sustain itself with Happ under contract for one more season. After all, it’s hard to imagine Happ meeting his incentives this season while a member of the Yankees.

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On the Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, and Carlos Correa trade rumors. We’ve known about Lindor and Bryant being on the block for weeks and months now, but Correa is the latest addition to young studs supposedly available. And once again, it’s because of teams “facing tough payroll decisions”.

I’m tired of beating a dead horse, but let’s do so once more. It’s absurd that teams in the midst of its contention windows are contemplating trading its best players! Team valuations are through the roof, and yet, owners do not want to pay stars to maintain a winning club. As fun as it can be to speculate on blockbuster trades, this is just getting ridiculous.

Anyway, I really really hope we don’t hear about this with the Yankees anytime soon. Imagine the uproar if the Yankees decided to dangle Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres in the coming years? Good grief. I’d like to think the Yankees know better than that. Such a thing would be a massive slap in the face.

So You’ve Decided to Trade for Mookie Betts

Bowl on over to the Bronx, why don’t you? (MLB Gifs)

Leading off for the Yankees, the center fielder, No. 50, Mookie Betts, No. 50.

The Boston Red Sox reportedly are considering trading their franchise centerpiece. Teams including the White Sox, Padres, Mets or just about anyone would be interested in the former MVP, but the Yankees are the one team you really can’t imagine him playing for in 2020.

There’s a good reason for that; Brian Cashman has spoken in the past about how he’s talked to 28 teams, obviously excluding the Red Sox even when his frequent trade partner in Dave Dombrowski was at the helm. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry sits on an emotional faultline which makes any trade of non-scrub players untenable in the current environment.

Furthermore, the Yankees have budgeted themselves under the top luxury tax tier in the past season and one would assume they’ll do so again. If they’re going to pursue a top starter, adding Betts without shedding salary doesn’t quite work. We, for example, apportioned $30 million in AAV for Gerrit Cole, and that is on the low-end of projections. Boston, meanwhile, would mostly consider trading Betts to get under the lowest luxury tax year.

But let’s ignore rational thoughts for a second and a few hundred words. What if the Red Sox actually make Betts available and are willing to sell him to the highest bidder, rivalry or otherwise? What would a package for Betts look like?

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe put together the following hypothetical trade in a column recently:

Red Sox trade: Mookie Betts and MiLB LHP Jay Groome
Yankees trade: Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier, Luis Gil and Michael King

On the surface, that checks out. Run that deal through Baseball Trade Values and the site finds it fair on both sides. While Betts is far and away better than anyone else in that deal, he’s also only under contract for one season. The Yankees would be giving up one of their top pitching prospects, a pitcher in the upper Minors and two right-handed hitters who could thrive at Fenway despite their defensive limitations.

(I have thought that Frazier would be a particularly good fit for Fenway Park. Playing the Green Monster would take time to learn, but once he got used to it, it would allow his arm to play up while making his lack of range or first step a secondary concern. Any right-handed pull bat also gets to hit off the Monster.)

However, Boston isn’t going for just fair. They want to extract their pound of flesh. That might not apply just to the Yankees — You can’t give up Betts for just a fine set of prospects — but it’s especially pertinent with the Bombers.

The situation makes me think of Roy Halladay back in 2009. The Blue Jays entertained offers from the Yankees, but they reportedly expected a premium to acquire the veteran ace in-division. That’s fair; Can you imagine what it would have been like to watch a franchise cornerstone like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera thrive in Toronto while you were mired in fourth place? That’d be an ordeal.

So the Yankees would have to give up something that hurts. The Red Sox would ask for Gleyber Torres and Brian Cashman would threaten to hang up before Chaim Bloom beckoned him to stay on the call. Aaron Judge, too, is off the table, even if Betts is arguably the better player.

Therefore, I’m not sure a deal is workable without Deivi García. The Yankees would still have to give up at least one of Andújar and Frazier, and perhaps a fourth prospect as well. García, though, would be the piece that would hurt, the player Boston could hail as the future to their rotation and as the centerpiece of a retooling rather than a rebuild. New York doesn’t have another MLB or near-MLB ready player to headline the package.

So I kept the basic framework of Abraham’s deal and changed it into the following:

Red Sox trade: Mookie Betts
Yankees trade: Deivi García, Clint Frazier, Jonathan Loaisiga and Mike King

This deal still provides the Red Sox with an outfielder to replace Betts and exchanges Gil for García, giving Boston a player closer to the Majors. While Andújar has more value than Loaisiga, the Red Sox could use the pitcher more than a likely DH who overlaps on defense with Rafael Devers.

I’ll remind everyone that your trade proposals suck, and my trade above is certainly included. I accept all of your critiques, though I remind you that a Betts-to-the-Yankees trade is just not in the offing. Baseball Trade Values has my proposal as an even deal, which means New York would likely have to give up even more and include someone such as Andújar instead of King.

(Baseball Trade Values)

The Yankees could, however, look to acquire Betts in free agency a year from now, making him their center fielder and moving Hicks to left field. This is nearly as much of a pipedream, but they’ll have plenty of money coming off the books. In that hypothetical, New York would avoid what Cashman often mentions as paying twice for a player, giving up both prospects and an extension.

Even if it’s entirely unrealistic, the dream is fun. Maybe one day, with one of the teams or both out of contention, we’ll get a Yankees-Red Sox blockbuster with reputations on the line. Until then, all we have is frivolous speculation and hypotheticals on which the offseason thrives.

Musings following Dombrowski firing, Yankee injury news

Wow indeed, Dave. (MLB Gifs)

There’s been a ton of Yankees and Yankees-adjacent news in just the last couple days, so let’s get at them in a thoughts post.

1. Dombrowski firing shakes up Red Sox: Just on the face of it, the Red Sox firing Dave Dombrowski, their president of baseball operations, less than 11 months after they won the World Series is wild. We’ve seen them move on from Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington in just the last eight years, but this was quite the move, even if it had been rumored for over a month.

Dombrowski has a reputation for coming in when a team has built up its farm system and has some Major League talent, then taking the next step in the rebuild for trading away prospects to get more MLB talent to supplement the roster. That’s worked for perennial contenders in Detroit and a championship team in Boston.

Bringing in J.D. Martinez, Craig Kimbrel, Chris Sale and David Price, among others, worked in an all-time great 2018 season. You can rightfully quibble with some of his offseason moves after the title, but some of the problems this year are simply bad luck.

But 63-year-old Dombrowski might not fit a rebuild, or retooling as the case is, in Boston. Martinez is likely to opt-out and the team may decide to trade Mookie Betts (more on that in the next point), all while the team is trying to figure out a pitching staff that went off the rails in 2019. The Sox still have the core of a title contender with Betts, Bogaerts, Devers and Benintendi, but the team also is looking to off-load payroll and not run into the top luxury tax tier.

Subsequent reports paint Dombrowski as creating disfunction in Boston’s front office, but I suspect the payroll concerns and change in direction of the team coupled with Dombrowski’s apparent old-school nature were larger factors.

For now, reports say that four people from the Red Sox’s front office — Raquel Ferreira, Brian O’Halloran, Zack Scott and Eddie Romero — will run the team on an interim basis while they search for a new top exec.

Ferreira will be the highest-ranking woman in a baseball front office, according to Jeff Passan, while Romero ran the international scouting department when the team signed Yoan Moncada. At the same time, they also were busted for violating international bonus pool rules, though I figure a lot of teams do similar tricks. They were just one of the teams that were caught.

2. Future for Betts in Boston: Are the Red Sox on the precipice of another step back? I figured their contention window might be limited to Chris Sale’s time under contract when they traded for him and that might be correct as far as his first contract goes. His extension, kicking in next year, makes his improvement paramount to the team’s ability to compete for another title soon.

But with the team already sporting the highest payroll in baseball, it looks like ownership will cut back. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox are unlikely to retain both Martinez and Betts next year. That would alleviate payroll concerns, yet it would likely create even bigger roster questions.

Betts has just one more year under contract. The team could certainly get prospects and perhaps a young pitcher for him, but they won’t get a haul unless the team acquiring him gets to negotiate an extension, something Betts might be unwilling to do.

The Red Sox should keep Betts. That’s simple. It’s crazy not to. He’s one of the best players in baseball on both sides of the ball and is young enough for one to believe he’ll continue to be for a while. He’s the type of player you break the bank for and figure out the rest of the roster later.

How can you not want this guy on your team? (MLB Gifs)

Without Betts, even if Martinez is retained, the Red Sox would be a lesser contender in 2020 and certainly far worse than the Yankees on paper. Selfishly, I’d like to see him traded to the NL, but there’s no way Boston should let him go. He’s Mookie freaking Betts! (Related: If he’s a free agent after 2020, the Yankees should pursue him. It doesn’t matter how crowded their outfield is. You make room for a player like him.)

3. Aaron Hicks + Mike Tauchman injuries hit NYY hard: The Yankees got a one-two gut punch with Hicks have a setback/going for a second opinion followed by Tauchman’s calf injury on Sunday night. What a rough 48 hours.

The clock is ticking for both players. Hicks returned with six games to go in 2017 and played the entire postseason, but he’s now been hurt in September or October for all four of his seasons in New York. This injury seems like one that could end his season prematurely. We don’t know very much on the Tauchman front, but he had a tremendous opportunity in front of him with Hicks out. He’s, at the very least, a valuable pinch runner and defensive replacement in October. His recent slump makes one less confident of his bat shining through.

Gotta feel for Tauchman after yesterday.

Now, the Yankees’ outfield depth is Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and some question marks. Those two will be in right and center for the postseason as of today, while left field and a fourth outfielder role are tough to predict. Giancarlo Stanton hasn’t ramped up his rehab yet. Cameron Maybin subbed in for Tauchman last night, but he’s dealing with a wrist injury himself. The team has been hesitant to use Clint Frazier, even this month.

Ideally, Stanton would return, man left field and relegate a healthy Maybin or Tauchman to fourth outfielder status. But with his PCL strain, there’s a real chance Stanton doesn’t come back or is limited to DH. In that scenario, the Yankees will do what they’ve done all season and rely on the next man up, though October doesn’t favor pure depth. A healthy Stanton in left field like he was on Opening Day remains the Yankees’ best option for October.

4. Piggybacking CC Sabathia and Domingo German: Aaron Boone told reporters that Sabathia will come off the IL on Wednesday and will be followed in his start by German. That’s both an acknowledgment that Sabathia can’t go deep into games right now and a move to give German a much-needed blow.

It’s the perfect team to have the duo face. The Tigers have the worst record in baseball. Their offense is historically bad. Sabathia and German could clear six innings at least against that roster.

But what does this mean moving forward? Boone also said that they’re preparing German for a potential bullpen role in the postseason. This duo, provided Sabathia is healthy, would form a pretty good starting pitcher for October, but that also means spending two roster spots on one rotation spot. German could pitch again in a series out of relief but not right away.

If Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and Luis Severino are all ready to go Oct. 4, then this combination makes sense. Perhaps even a (gulp) Happ-German pairing could do the trick if Sabathia isn’t right. But that all precludes German from starting himself, which he’s proven he can do in some big spots. He’s definitely one of the Yankees’ four best starters with Severino back.

Still, German’s home run problems and the homer-heavy nature of October baseball might make him best suited for a swingman role if he has good starting partner. He could give you six impressive innings, or allow a pair of back-breaking homers, though so could the rest of the staff. A shorter outing of 1-2 times through a lineup would optimize German, though better pitchers than him have been hooked that quickly in October.

5. East September Schedule: The Yankees have a cupcake schedule down the stretch. Following tonight’s game with Boston, they play three games against the aforementioned Tigers squad, six with the Blue Jays, three with the Angels and the close with two in Tampa and three in Texas.

After Boston, the two games against the Rays are their only remaining games against a team either over .500 or in postseason contention. The Yankees also have three days off in the final two weeks of the season.

That gives the team plenty of leeway to rest players without compromising the pursuit of homefield advantage. Those days off, as well as Severino’s return and the idea of a six-man rotation, also give the Pinstripers a chance to set up their rotation however they please for October.

Is it that unrealistic to hope for a 12-6 run over these last 18 games? That would leave the Yankees with 106 victories. That might be enough to hold off the Astros, who own the tiebreaker over New York but have four games with the A’s starting today. Hard not to root for the A’s until at least the ALDS.

6. Roster spots up for grabs: As a follow up to my postseason roster article, I wanted to look into which roster spots are actually up for grabs for the Yankees right now.

By my count, there are 18 locks + Happ, who I think is moving towards that status with his last few starts and his success vs. lefties. Severino, Stanton and Dellin Betances figure to have enough time to return and make the roster.

That puts the Yankees with 11 hitters and 11 pitchers. I’m guessing they won’t go with 14 position players and will instead ride with 13 hitters and 12 pitchers. One of the bubble position players will be an outfielder, either Tauchman, Maybin or a healthy Hicks. The other spot could to another from that trio or Tyler Wade as a speedy utility hitter. Fraizer, again, remains unlikely.

That leaves one pitcher left. Sabathia is a prime candidate if healthy. If he’s not right, or the Yankees go with 13 pitchers in October, then Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes Jr., Jonathan Loaisiga and Cory Gearrin are possibilities. I doubt Ben Heller has enough time to gain Boone’s trust. Loaisiga might be the best in terms of upside and ability to eat innings, though Cessa has been an ideal long man.

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