Good morning everyone. I hope you all had a great weekend and an enjoyable Thanksgiving. If you haven’t worked since Wednesday, this is one of the tougher Mondays of the year to get through. If that’s the case for you, at least the MLB hot stove is ablaze with plenty of news to keep you distracted. The Mets made a bunch of signings and may be near a deal for Max Scherzer. The Rangers just inked Marcus Semien. Kevin Gausman is headed to Toronto. And other big names could agree to deals before the CBA expires this week. Whew.
Hopefully, a new CBA can be hammered out in reasonable time. Otherwise, the inevitable lockout will really stink. So for as long as there’s little to no MLB news after this week, we’ll need some of your most creative questions to keep the mailbag fresh week-to-week. Send them to viewsfrom314 at gmail dot com. We’ll pick and answer our favorites each Monday. Here are this week’s:
Christopher asks: Just saw the Yankees are fielding calls on Joey Gallo. If traded, what return can they expect and who fills in at LF?
Sources: The Yankees have fielded calls recently on Joey Gallo.— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) November 28, 2021
There’s at least one AL West team involved.
Gallo is a year away from free agency, so let’s look at a couple of recent offseason trades of players in similar situations.
The Giants acquired the former NL MVP from Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Bryan Reynolds and right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick in January 2018. McCutchen was entering the final year of an extension he signed with the Pirates and had authored a .279/.363/.486 (122 wRC+) batting line with +3.7 fWAR in 2017. Things didn’t work out so well in San Francisco, as the Giants eventually dealt McCutchen to the Yankees that August.
The return for McCutchen didn’t seem too noteworthy at the time. Reynolds had never made a top 100 list, and although he had some strong minor league numbers, he had yet to surpass High-A. Of course, he’s now a lifetime .290/.368/.490 (127 wRC+) hitter for the Pirates. Crick was an erstwhile top prospect, making Baseball America’s top 100 in 2013 and 2014, but fell off thereafter. He had a couple of good seasons out of Pittsburgh’s bullpen, but is now out of the organization.
Goldschmidt moved from Arizona to St. Louis in December of 2018, with the final year of his extension signed with the Diamondbacks expiring after the 2019 season. The Cardinals signed him to a long-term extension a few months later, though he was initially acquired with just one year remaining. In return, St. Louis sent right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, and infielder Andy Young. Goldy had just completed a big ’18 for Arizona, by the way: .290/.389/.533 (144 wRC+) and +5.1 fWAR.
This was a pretty big haul for the first baseman. Weaver had become a major league rotation piece in St. Louis with just over a year of major league service. He ranked in the leaguewide top 100 prospects in 2017 per BA and MLB Pipeline. Kelly littered top 100 lists in 2017 and 2018, but was blocked by Yadier Molina. Young was never a significant prospect, but rather, a guy with utility infielder upside.
I considered including the Mookie Betts trade too, but he’s in a different stratosphere in terms of talent. Plus, there was a lot of money involved in that trade, making it a difficult comparison. So, I think Cutch and Goldy are decent deals to look at when considering a potential Gallo swap.
I think we’re looking at something in the middle of the McCutchen and Goldschmidt trades. Arizona got a pretty big haul, essentially receiving two major league ready top 100 guys as the headliners. Pittsburgh’s return has certainly worked out well too, but I don’t think that was necessarily expected at the time.
Perhaps the Yankees can nab one (current or former) top 100 guy in exchange for Gallo. And I’m going to guess that Seattle is the team potentially involved. I wonder if shortstop JP Crawford is attainable, especially if the Yankees are seriously considering not making a big splash (meanwhile, the Mariners may sign a big shortstop — go figure). I’d also try to get catcher Cal Raleigh or right handed pitching prospect Matt Brash. Odds are the Yankees could only get one, if any of those three, in a deal for Gallo. My trade proposal sucks, of course.
Now, as for who replaces Gallo in New York? Giancarlo Stanton is poised to play more outfield next year after playing a good amount in the second half of this season. And if we’re to assume that the Yankees do wind up getting a center fielder, Aaron Hicks could always slide to left and play a fair amount. Last, it’s inevitable that Brett Gardner will be back, right? Right.
Jesse asks: Do you think the Yankees should have matched/exceeded the offer for any player signed so far?
First and foremost: this isn’t my money. As such, I’m inclined to say that the Yankees should be matching or outspending everyone on any given player. But, since we are well aware that Hal Steinbrenner always has his eye on the luxury tax, I’ll try to look at this through that lens. I expect him to exceed the tax this year, regardless of where it sits in the new CBA, but I’m positive he’ll try to reset again in the not so distant future (ugh).
Let’s start with the two $100+ million contracts thus far: Marcus Semien ($175 million for 7 years) and Kevin Gausman ($110 million for 5 years). I’m going to say no to both: my eyes are set on bigger fish in free agency. I’d much rather give a long term deal to a shortstop still in their mid-20s (Carlos Correa or Corey Seager) rather than 7 years to a 31 year-old. As for Gausman: I’m worried about his fly ball tendencies leaving San Francisco back to the AL East, so it’s a no for me. I’d prefer the younger Robbie Ray.
The next largest deal is the one the Mets gave Starling Marte (4 years, $78 million). But as I wrote before, I’m not keen on signing him through age 37, so he’s out.
None of the other multi-year deals make me feel like the Yankees missed out, either. On the pitching side: Steven Matz, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Verlander, Eduardo Rodríguez, and Jon Gray just don’t get me going. Ditto for the other bats: Avisaíl García, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha aren’t what the Yankees need.
Really, there’s just one guy I’d have and matched so far: the Angels deal for Noah Syndergaard, who signed for just one year and $21 million. He’s pitched in New York and had success, his stuff is nasty when healthy, and the Mets fell behind the rest of the league in pitching strategy in recent seasons. I think there’s a ton of upside there.
There’s bigger and better still out there, and I fully expect the Yankees to make the big splash (at least at shortstop — they better). But so far, there’s not much that’s been done that makes me feel any regret. I reserve the right to change that depending on today’s activity (Max Scherzer?), but otherwise, I’m not concerned. Yes, it’s been a pretty boring offseason for the Yankees to date, but let’s save our anger for when (and if) they don’t make a big move.
Adam asks: Bigger black eye: Don Mattingly not in the Hall of Fame or Bobby Murcer not in Monument Park?
I was too young to remember Mattingly, and even if I was cognizant at the time, I would have caught Mattingly’s tail end. In any case, it’s pretty clear to me that Mattingly doesn’t belong in Cooperstown. From my viewpoint, he needed at least a few more years like his 1984-1987 stretch when he hit .337/.381/.560 (155 OPS+). That’s an absolutely dominant peak, albeit a brief one. ’88 and ’89 were pretty good too, but overall, he posted just a 112 OPS+ from 1988 to the end of his career. That’s just not going to cut it. JAWS has him as the 39th-best first baseman, for what it’s worth. Again, not Hall-worthy, nor a black eye at all in my opinion.
Murcer’s playing days ended under a half decade before I was born, but his prime with the Bombers came well before that. There’s no doubt he was terrific player in his prime, especially during a not-so-great era for the Yankees, but he was more than just an outfielder for the Bombers. I remember him best during his time in the broadcast booth where he was a joy to listen to. When accounting for his playing and broadcast career, he was a Yankees staple for three or four decades. It’s pretty bizarre that hasn’t earned him any sort of honor in Monument Park, especially since it’s a much easier bar to clear than the Hall. So to answer Adam: No Murcer in Monument Park is bigger black eye than Mattingly not in Cooperstown. I think that’s a pretty easy conclusion.
Jim asks: Thoughts on trading bad contracts for Eric Hosmer?
No thanks, I want no part of Hosmer. He’s signed through 2025, and even though he could opt out after 2022, that’s not happening. He has a 99 wRC+ since 2018 and is a pretty bad defender per Statcast. The Yankees can do a lot better at first base.