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The upcoming non-tender decisions for the Yankees

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Tomorrow’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the non-tender deadline. In case the sarcasm didn’t come through: this offseason has been so slow and boring that the best we can look forward to is a day when teams cut ties with a bunch of players. To be specific, all players must be tendered a contract for 2021 by 8pm eastern tomorrow if they have not received one yet. This really just affects the arbitration eligible players set to receive substantial raises, though pre-arbitration (i.e. near league minimum) players must receive offers too.

Now, this year will be a little different than usual. Teams are more cost-conscious after a shortened and fanless season, so there’s an expectation that a bunch of players will hit the open market. There have even been rumors that stars like Kris Bryant could non-tendered, though that would really shock me. Still, there will be better players than usual added to this winter’s free agent crop.

As for the Yankees, the front office has decisions to make on eleven arbitration eligible players. I’ve grouped them into three categories: keepers, questionable, and doubtful in terms of the likelihood the Yankees tender them contracts. After that, I’ve added a poll question for you to pick who you’d non-tender. Let’s get to it.

Keepers

Clint Frazier, Chad Green, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit aren’t going anywhere. All will play important roles on the 2021 squad. The projected arbitration salaries are bargains for this group. There’s really nothing more to add here.

Questionable

I’ll get to the big name here in a moment, but first, there are two bullpen arms that fall into this group: Luis Cessa and Jonathan Holder. Neither are slated to be big earners via arbitration, but at the same time, pitchers like Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske are probably adequate replacements at the league minimum. Meanwhile, Cessa and Holder could combine for roughly $2 million next season.

Now, the elephant in the room. A whole lot of folks would be ecstatic to see Gary Sánchez cut loose tomorrow. Don’t count on that, however. Even though there’s been some hemming and hawing about the likelihood of his departure, Aaron Boone just staunchly defended him last week.

Will the Yankees release the Kraken?

There’s no question that the catcher was dreadful this season (.147/.253/.365, 69 wRC+), but catchers aren’t exactly fungible. Sure, the Yankees have been connected to Yadier Molina and James McCann in recent days and weeks, but are we so sure those are upgrades? Particularly after cutting bait on Gary for nothing? I’m not confident that’s the right move. It’s one thing to add another catcher to challenge him, but to outright replace him with anyone not named JT Realmuto? Bad idea.

Doubtful

He’s not set to make much, but Ben Heller is the most likely goner tomorrow. He ended the season on the injured list with a right biceps nerve injury and has been hurt quite often over the years. His arbitration projection isn’t much ($700-$800k), but the Yankees could probably retain him on a minor league deal instead.


Please take a moment to pick the players you’d non-tender below. Against my better judgement, I’m including every arbitration eligible player for the sake of completeness. Looking forward to seeing who gets a kick out of non-tendering Judge, I guess.

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13 Comments

  1. Yanks317

    Even if you hate Sanchez, he has too much value to just walk away from. You can trade him! Anyone rooting for a non tender doesn’t really understand player valuation. I don’t trust the mlb network for much but they ranked him 4th among catchers after his 2020 season. There’s too much talent to expect not one team to say “we can fix him” and give up a decent player for him. He was being talked about as an mvp candidate in June of 2019.

    • Tim Marsh

      Who are they going to trade him to? He has zero value.

    • Lisa Decaprio

      Sanchez is a keeper. Your list of keepers is correct, but where is DJ cause he is phenomenal.

      • Mungo

        I believe Derek’s keeper list is only referring to players currently on the roster who the Yankees had to make a decision on by 8:00 pm ET tonight (December 2). The non-tender deadline. DJLM is a free agent, hopefully temporarily!

  2. Leigh Anne Bell

    They need to tender Holder. Keep Gardner. I would give up Staunton but that will never happen.

    • Lisa DeCaprio

      I agree on all your bullet points.
      Gardner had a fantastic season,
      Who cares how old he is?

  3. Mike

    Non-tender Holder, Heller and Cessa. All can be easily replaced by the younger arms like Nelson and Addison Russ (not sure why he wasn’t protected). Really hope Cessa is let go. I thought his season was greatly overrated. It always seems like he has the habit of allowing the inherited runners score but get out of it before his own base runners scored.

  4. Johnny Velazquez Ortiz

    Sanchez should be given a full year of a chance, and not go by 62 games and everyone worried with the covid, and that takes a big part in these players.

    • Lisa DeCaprio

      You said everything I was thinking.
      This season was a wash but I guess
      Happy birthday to to @elgarysanchez

  5. Mungo

    Holder and Heller. That’s it. Cessa is projected to make $1.1M, but he has been effective for two straight years, including a 130 ERA+ in the abbreviated 2020. As comparison? The Mets just signed Jacob Barnes to a $750K deal. Barnes has been very bad for two straight seasons. The Yankees won’t blink at Cessa and $1.1M. Holder’s production is more easily replaced and Heller just can’t ever take the field consistently enough. So those are my two guesses.

    Sanchez? That’s never been a serious consideration. The Yankees don’t have a replacement, and they’re not signing Realmuto at big dollars, or giving McCann (who I am not sold on) a three or four year deal. Flat out cutting Sanchez means he could go anywhere, including right within the Yankees division to the Orioles or Rays or Red Sox. All these teams will take a shot at that bat. Or the Mets across town. No way the Yankees will risk Sanchez becoming a change-or-scenery candidate. At the minimum, they’ll control where he goes, even if that means eating a couple million on the deal. Won’t come to that though. Sanchez will be the Yankees starting catcher in 2021, and will crank out 30-35 HRs, with a .230 BA, his catching will still be problematic but better, and will be regarded as one of the top five catchers in the game by season’s end. A segment of fans will demand he be cut a year on. Some things will never change.

    • Lisadecaprio

      I love your insight and enthusiasm for Gary
      I am a Sanchez fan as well. I don’t like when our own fans trash a player because they had a bad day, and then he blasts one out of the park or makes a throw to second base with speed and accuracy to get the out. Then everyone loves him, and he farts rainbows. I support my team,
      No matter what.

      • Mungo

        Despite what we see on social media, or hear on sports talks shows, I believe most fans are very supportive of their teams and we all want Gary to succeed. The vocal minority who hate Gary are just that, the minority. That said, we all are frustrated by Sanchez because the ceiling is so high, and we’ve seen it, and it’s difficult to understand how his ABs can get so lost for extended periods. I don’t want him to be a change-of-scenery player where he crushes it elsewhere. I want him to crush it with the Yankees. He’ll get that chance because, as predicted, the Yankees will tender him a deal.

  6. G. Willy Miranda

    Package Torres and Sanchez for Starting Pitching!
    Sign Lemehieh and bring back Gregorious
    Ushela/Didi/ Lemeh/ Voit = 2021 Infield

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