Thoughts before Thanksgiving

Bye Bye Birdie? (Keith Allison – CC BY-SA 2.0)

I don’t know about you, but I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow’s feast. It’s also going to be the first time my wife and I host Thanksgiving, which is a combination of exciting and nerve-wracking. Anyway, here’s what’s on my mind regarding the Yankees right now before I get back to prepping:

The Jacoby Ellsbury situation and Scott Boras’s relationship with the Yankees. First things first: Boras has a duty to act in the best interest of the players he represents. That means if the Yankees make the best offer to one of his players (hint hint: Gerrit Cole), and that player wishes to accept the offer, Boras will move forward and finalize the deal. Still, I can’t help but wonder how the brewing Yankees vs. Ellsbury situation could affect negotiations on Boras’s free agents.

Not only does Boras represent Cole, but he also handles Stephen Strasburg. It would behoove the Yankees to sign one (or both!) of those two pitchers, obviously. I’m just worried about some contentious negotiations that stem from the Yankees’ apparent intent to withhold Ellsbury’s 2020 salary. Even if the Yankees have a legitimate case, I can’t imagine Boras will be thrilled with the Yankees.

But again, money talks. If the Yankees put out the best offer for Cole, he’s going to be a Yankee. Boras isn’t going to steer his client to an inferior offer. So while some initial concern is understandable, I don’t think Boras will (or can) retaliate.

That said, how the Yankees are handling the Ellsbury situation is not a great representation of how they handle players. Even if they’re proven to be in the right, it’s a little scary to think that one’s team could try to skirt paying out one’s contract.

All that said, I wonder if much of this is a lot of huffing and puffing from the Yankees’ side of things. Remember when there were talks of voiding Jason Giambi’s and Alex Rodriguez’s contracts? Those were under different circumstances, but never came to fruition. The big difference here is that it’s up to Ellsbury to file a grievance should the Yankees not pay him.

Bird watching. Today is the end of the seven day DFA window for Greg Bird, so we should have a resolution on his future soon. Perhaps the Yankees will swing a small deal similar to what they did with Nestor Cortes on Monday. In our offseason plan, we proposed sending Bird to Detroit for IFA slot money or a low-level prospect. A similar deal could probably be accomplished with a number of other clubs.

If the Yankees can’t work out a trade, they could try to send Bird to the minors. However, he could reject the assignment and become a free agent instead. At that point, maybe the two sides could agree on a minor league deal with decent incentives and an opt out, but I think another squad may be more willing to offer him an incentive-laden big league deal.

I could see Bird landing with a team that has ties to the Yankees organization. The Marlins and Angels come to mind. Aside from that, perhaps the Brewers make sense as they’ve lost Jesus Aguilar and may lose Eric Thames. That said, no team should just hand Bird a starting gig. He’s gonna have to earn it and stay healthy, which we know is a problem for him.

The backup catcher situation. A bunch of catchers have signed already: Yasmani Grandal, Tyler Flowers, Travis d’Arnaud, Stephen Vogt, and Dustin Garneau have all inked deals. Some of these guys are starters, not backups, but it’s pretty clear that there’s a run on catchers right now. Perhaps that means we’ll have some clarity on the Yankees’ situation soon.

There haven’t been any rumors about Austin Romine, but it seems like Vogt’s deal is a decent precedent for the longtime Yankee. Vogt got $3 million for one year from Arizona, and he’ll back up Carson Kelly. Fangraphs’ crowdsourcing pegs Romine at one year and $2.5 million, which is right in the ballpark of Vogt’s deal.

The Yankees have a cheaper alternative in Kyle Higashioka to take Romine’s place, but I’d really like to see Romine back. He’s got a history in the Bronx and has a good rapport with the pitching staff. To me, saving approximately $2 million shouldn’t prevent his return. Unless Romine finds a starting gig, he’d probably be happy to return.

Higashioka’s roster status. Speaking of catching, there’s a decent chance the Yankees lose Higgy in the spring. He’s out of options, so if the Yankees bring back Romine or go a different route, the only way they can retain Higashioka is if he slips through outright waivers and goes to Triple-A.

I think another team would give him a chance. He’s got some pop and is a fine defender. However, I wonder if they might get lucky and pull a Romine in 2015. You may recall that they DFA’d him at the end of spring training but passed him through outright waivers thereafter. How? Other clubs had already set their 25-man rosters at the time, so there wasn’t room for anyone to claim Romine. Perhaps the Yankees could take a similar chance again.

In any event, I expect the Yankees to pick up one or two minor league free agent catchers, especially of Romine re-signs. Nick Ciuffo, Jose Lobaton, and Andrew Susac are a few with big league experience that come to mind.

A few things I’m thankful for. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so it only makes sense to talk about what I’m thankful for. In particular, I think I speak on behalf of everyone here at Views about how thankful we are for our readers. We’re proud of the work we do, but we’re also floored by the reception we’ve received since we opened up shop in May.

We definitely owe some gratitude to a few folks in particular for getting us up on our feet with promotion from the get go: namely, everyone at River Ave. Blues.

Last but not least, I’m thankful for what Steven brought to the site. With an absolutely absurd 368 posts in just a few months, he was the backbone of the site. We’re gonna miss him here, but we’re very excited for the next phase of his career.

With that, Happy Thanksgiving to all! And barring any breaking news, the site should be pretty quiet until Monday.

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6 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    The Yankees/Ellsbury/Boras situation is not clear cut as many want to believe. Yes, absolutely, Boras will go for the biggest contract regardless of any fallout, but the players are a big part of this equation too, if not a bigger part. If they believe the Yankees manufactured an excuse to get out of paying Ellsbury, they may wonder if the same will happen to them. Equal deals, or maybe even a little less from another team, and the player may go to the other team. Second, it could simply impact how well the two sides (Boras and the Yankees) negotiate with each other on future contracts. Some agents have better relationships with different teams. Boras and the Nats, for example, clearly have a good working relationship. You see the same with GMs. I suspect this will blow over eventually with no fallout, but if gets drawn out, lingers and gets nasty, then it could have some impact for a time moving forward.

    Bird cleared after this post and is now a free agent. That’s interesting. That means no team stepped forward to offer even a minor prospect or international money? Or maybe Bird and the Yankees already have a verbal commitment on a minor league deal? If I’m in Bird’s shoes, I’m leaving and looking for a major league team that has a clearer path to playing time than the Yankees.

    As for Higashioka, there is another option. He could end up being the 26th man, but I can’t see the Yankees carrying three catchers when one of them is Sanchez.

    Happy Thanksgiving all.

  2. DJ LeMeddardhieu

    Thank you, Derek. I just love Thanksgiving. It’s our favorite holiday and they’re trying to take it away from us. I just hope it can be saved like Christmas was.

    The lawsuit against Ellsbury was just awful on so many levels. They signed the dumb deal and must honor it. We said at the time that it was dumb and it ended up being the worst contract in the history of history. And now they’re alienating potential FA’s wondering if the Yankees will void their contracts too. Scrooge McHal wants to save every penny he can. Even if they do win the suit don’t expect that the extra money will go into the ballclub because it won’t.

    Let Bird go and fly away, Derek. He’s not needed here. He won’t play. He’s the only player that makes Stanton look like the Iron Horse.

    Romine should have been re-signed years ago and I think we’ll work out a deal with him not to be the backup, but the starter. Higgy will be the backup. Those two did nothing but mash the baseball when Gary was out. Trade Gary for an arm.

    I’m thankful for myself, Dad, Mike, Steven, Bobby, Derek, Matt and Papa John’s. We couldn’t have done it without you.

    • RetroRob

      Turkey toppings on your Papa John’s pizza tomorrow for you and Dad?

  3. MaryAnn Slater

    Romine, Romine, and ONLY Romine should be our catcher.

  4. DZB

    The Yankees voided Boone’s contract and that had no effect on their ability to recruit freeagent players (or to recruit Boone back into the organization as the manager years later)

    • RetroRob

      Very, very different situation with Boone. It was spelled out in his contract that playing basketball in the off season would lead to the contract being cancelled. Boone came forward and told the Yankees how he injured himself, he (nor the Union) contested the voiding of the contract. That said quite a bit about his character, and it’s something that Cashman said he never forgot. He could have simply lied about how he got injured. There was no bad blood on either side.

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