|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)|
Yankees to re-sign LHP Zach Britton…
The old Ace Frehley song seems so appropriate. With some slight alteration, …Zach’s back, back in the New York groove!
I was very pleased to see last night’s news. I don’t know who broke the news first, but it was a Jeff Passan/ESPN tweet that caught my attention. It’s always fun to see a story break on Twitter. First, it’s a random tweet or two and then it’s an avalanche. I wasn’t really expecting major news on a Saturday night but I’ll gladly take it.
The Yankees and Britton’s agent, Scott Boras, were able to get creative with the structure of the deal. It is essentially a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year. The Yankees must guarantee the fourth year after the completion of the 2020 season. If they do not, Britton has the right to opt-out or he can choose to complete the third year. The contract pays $13 million per year, which guarantees Britton $39 million if he does not opt out. The fourth year, if exercised, would pay $14 million, bringing the total value to $53 million. If Britton is traded during the contract, he’ll get an assignment bonus of $1 million according to Ken Rosenthal.
I am excited to know Britton will be returning to join Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances at the back end of the Yankees bullpen. I’ve heard the complaints about his control but he got progressively better after the deadline trade that brought him to the Bronx from Baltimore. I think with a full spring training (he was unable to participate last year with the Orioles) and the further distance from the surgery on his right Achilles tendon in December 2017, he’ll be much closer to the elite reliever we saw in 2016 when he was electric for the Birds. In ’16, he was 2-1, 0.54 ERA in 69 games, converting all 47 save chances he was given. Britton set an American League record with 60 consecutive saves from October 1, 2015 through August 21, 2017.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Carr)|
After joining the Yankees last summer, Britton was 1-0 with 2.88 ERA in 25 games, with 21 strikeouts. Although he got a late start to the 2018 season, he had the best groundball rate for any pitcher in MLB with at least 40 innings (73.0%).
The off-season assumption had been Britton would leave for a closing opportunity despite his late season comments about wanting to win more than collecting saves. Early in the off-season, he was connected to the St Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox, but surprisingly in the end, the Yankees’ primary rival for Britton’s services was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Brian Cashman was able to beat his former chief lieutenant, Angels GM Billy Eppler, by offering more guaranteed money. The Cardinals took themselves out of the running by signing Andrew Miller and the Phillies, as we know, snagged David Robertson. The Red Sox are feeling the pain of high payroll and are waiting for prices to fall. I think eventually Craig Kimbrel’s asking price will come back into their range. There’s no way he is going to get $100 million regardless of his track record.
When season ended, I had wanted the Yankees to get one of Britton, Robertson or Adam Ottavino. After D-Rob moved on, I was hopeful for at least Britton or Ottavino but now that Britton is back in the fold, I want Ottavino too. I am excited about the potential of guys like Tommy Kahnle (if he can return to 2017 form), Stephen Tarpley, Domingo Acevedo, Chance Adams and others, but Ottavino would truly cap a return to a super bullpen, perhaps the best in Major League Baseball. With continued questions in the starting rotation, this is a must.
With no further moves, the 2019 Yankees are looking very good. Still need a strong defensive shortstop to back up Troy Tulowitzki. Adeiny Hechavarria or Jose Iglesias, come on down! Actually, this could be a great opportunity for Hanser Alberto to make the Show. But imagine this team if they can sign Manny Machado and Adam Ottavino. I’d call that a very successful off-season. Regardless of what happens, I feel better about the team today than I did yesterday morning. I was worried that the holes in the bullpen would be filled with lesser talent. I guess one should never underestimate Brian Cashman and his ability to get Hal Steinbrenner to loosen the grip on his wallet.
|Photo Credit: ESNY Graphic, Getty Images|
Once Britton takes his physical and the contract is finalized, the Yankees will have to make another roster decision. RHP A.J. Cole lost his seat at the table with Tulo’s signing. Next up appears to be Luis Cessa, Ben Heller or Joe Harvey if the Yankees can find a suitable trade partner as those guys have some value. Heller, who underwent Tommy John surgery last April, might be the most vulnerable despite my preference to see Cessa go. Tim Locastro appears safe for now but things could change if Machado signs with the Yankees.
There’s been some talk about first base and the Yankees’ intent to go into Spring Training with Luke Voit as the starter. I don’t mind first base competition between Voit and Greg Bird. I know a few of us are getting tired of Bird’s inability to take advantage of opportunities due to a variety of injuries but I also know I am not ready to give up on Bird’s talents (apparently neither are the Yankees). I liked the energy Voit brought to the team but conversely I enjoy Bird’s sweet swing. My only hope is the better player gets the job and the other backs him up. At this point, I can’t say if it should be Voit or Bird. The competition begins in earnest next month so we’ll soon see. First base is a position I’ll be watching closely when the Grapefruit League games begin but I am cautiously optimistic we’ll be pleased with the outcome, whatever it may be. May the best man win. Ready, set, go…
|Photo Credit: AP, via NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
As always, Go Yankees!
I said ‘NO’, oh, by the way, here’s a $30 million contract for you…
There is still not much to write about in the Yankees Universe. There’s a report that Managing GM Hal Steinbrenner has talked with super agent Scott Boras about pitcher Edwin Jackson, but other than that, not much to talk about. Given that Steinbrenner orchestrated the signing of reliever Rafael Soriano last season (much to the disagreement of GM Brian Cashman), it would be interesting to hear what Cash has to say about Jackson. Universally, any team would be happy to sign Jackson on a short term, but a longer term deal is perceived as problematic. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Yankees need a solid #2 or #3 pitcher in addition to the current roster, but it is not worth the price of paying Jesus Montero and/or Manuel Baneulos.
Personally, I would not be opposed to Jackson in the rotation as I feel that pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be a very strong influence on the pitcher. He certainly has the potential of being better than anything in the rotation outside of CC Sabathia.
It’s a given that the Yankees need to do something. I think standing pat is the wrong approach. It would most likely ensure a second or third place finish behind the Boston Red Sox and/or Tampa Bay Rays. They need to improve the rotation. There are too many question marks attached to Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter will be another year older. The Yankees need a pitcher other than Sabathia that is completely capable of shutting down the opposition. Jackson can be that guy. I don’t like the idea of “saving your bullets” for another off-season in terms of projected free agents. In 2013, A-Rod and Jeter will be another year older and further from their prime. Why couldn’t have George Steinbrenner instilled this win at all costs mentality in his sons? Okay, fiscal responsibility is a good idea, but the Yankees need to ensure that they can withstand improved Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays squads.
I like the Yankees’ signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Preston Mattingly. Granted, Donnie Baseball is one of my all-time heroes. But I’d like to see what the Yankee coaches and instructors can do with the former first round pick. He certainly has the pedigree to succeed. But time will tell if he can be Ken Griffey, Jr… or Pete Rose, Jr. His current path leans toward the latter, but he is only 24 years old. This goes into the category of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. For Preston’s sake, I hope that he succeeds in the organization that his father starred.
It was only $35.5 million…
I really feel bad for former Philadelphia Phillies closer Ryan Madson. Once rumored to be close to a 4-year, $44 million contract with the Phillies, he signs with the Cincinnati Reds for a one year contract at $8.5 million. He’ll close for a fraction of the money that the Yankees pay 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano. The hope, obviously, is that liquidity will return to the closer market during the next off-season so that Madson can capture a lucrative long-term deal. I don’t know what went wrong with his negotiations with the Phillies and what led to their acquisition of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he’ll long wonder what could have been.
We’ll give you over $50 million, but we’d really prefer to keep his salary at a couple mil…
For as much as the Texas Rangers bid for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, I will be very surprised if they fail to come to contract terms with Darvish returning to Japan. But at this point in the negotiations, you have to wonder if that’s not the likely outcome. It would be interesting to see Darvish on the open market after next season. I wonder if that would change the Yankees interest level…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp next month. I’ve been in Minnesota all winter long hoping for snow…and being sadly disappointed. At least the opening of baseball camps gives me something to be excited. I am looking forward to the debut of the 2012 Yankees! Bring it on!…
All hail the Sultan of $$$$$$$$$$$$…
Unfortunately, the Yankees are going to be seeing super agent Scott
Boras more than they’d like given his newest clients are Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher. I have to admit that I was
dismayed to see the two Yankees sign on with Boras because it will mean the
potential for contentious negotiations in the not-so-distant future. It also felt like the chances the players
stay in the Bronx behind their current deals lessened substantially when I
heard the news.
From the players’ standpoint, Boras makes complete sense. He has shown an uncanny knack for getting the
most for his clients (sometimes in seemingly impossible situations). While I may not like Boras personally, he is
clearly on a different level than most agents.
I can only hope that it does not eventually lead to Cano’s departure.
I have to admit that it looks strange to see former Oakland A’s third
baseman Eric Chavez in Yankees gear.
Chavez was always an Athletic that I held high regard for, but as with
former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, injuries have taken their toll on a
once outstanding career. I am really
pulling Chavez and I hope that he earns a bench role for the Yankees (even at
the expense of Ramiro Pena). I’d like to
see Chavez backing up the corner positions, with Eduardo Nunez covering the
middle infield positions.
Of the other players in camp on minor league deals, I’d say that I am
most supportive of former Chicago White Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia. If the Yankees don’t trade for a starting
pitcher or sign someone like Kevin Millwood, I’d like to see Garcia earn a spot
in the rotation ahead of Sergio Mitre and the other cast of characters. While I recognize that the other spot will
most likely go to Ivan Nova, I am very intrigued by Hector Noesi and I am
looking forward to seeing what he can do in camp. Of the younger guys, I most excited about lefty
Manny Banuelos but he is still a few years away from the majors.
It was tough to see Alfredo Aceves sign with the Boston Red Sox. I know the Yankees were interested in
bringing Aceves back, but Boston’s willingness to extend a major league
contract was the difference maker.
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report on Monday but I’m
ready for the new season. I still think
that the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies have the best teams on
paper but there’s still a lot that can happen between now and October. And, oh yeah, they still have to play the
A-Rod – What else are we going to talk about?
I found it somewhat humorous Alex Rodriguez said that he will be under intense scrutiny for “the next 18 months to 24 months”. Interesting how one can predict the exact time frame involved in the ‘post-confession’ period. Does that mean we are guaranteed of no reference to A-Rod in March 2011? Looking forward to it!
Personally, I don’t blame Alex for not wanting to talk about his past drug use following the press conference earlier in the week. If he talked, he’d run the risk of contradicting his previous comments…
Wallace Matthews of Newsday wrote a great piece today about how GM Brian Cashman wanted to ‘move on’ when A-Rod opted out of his ‘drug-induced’ $250 million contract in 2007. Cashman’s position has gone largely unnoticed until now, but he could have saved the organization from much embarrassment. A-Rod’s return only came about when A-Rod bypassed agent Scott Boras and dealt with the Yankees and Hank Steinbrenner directly.
It should come as a welcome relief when A-Rod joins the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team early next month. Egads! The reporters in Yankees camp will have only baseball to talk about! Of course, there might be mention of the scandalous time that Mark Teixeira took a couple of Advil for a post-game headache…
More Yankees in the Headlines?
I have to admit that I was startled for a moment when I saw the headline about the frozen assets belonging to Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady. Of course, it is clear that they are innocent victims. The government’s freeze of a company affiliated with Robert Allen Stanford impacted accounts owned by Damon and Nady.
Neither Damon nor Nady invested directly with Stanford funds but rather they invested through broker dealers whose accounts were with a Stanford company.
It was reported that Damon complained of being unable to pay his bills and Nady could not put down a deposit on a New York apartment. I find it surprising that both would wrap up their assets through a single source. I guess diversification is not something they are concerned with. I also find it interesting that both players are represented by agent Scott Boras. Thanks for the sound financial advice, Scott! And, oh by the way, Jason Varitek sends his love!
Credit: Branimir Kvartuo/AP
The Return of Bernabe Figueroa Williams
Enjoy camp for a few days, Bernie, but don’t get used to it!
I have to admit that it was both strange and exciting to see Bernie Williams wearing Yankee gear with number 51 on his back. However, that does not mean I would want to see him make a comeback with the team. At this point, I’d clearly prefer Nick Swisher over Bernie. I thought Bernie was a great Yankee but time has moved on.
Credit: Antonelli/New York Daily News
Then again, Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer won a world championship at age 45, winning 16 games in 2008. But c’mon, this guy just doesn’t age…
Bernie had begun a significant decline by 2006, and there is no chance that future years will be any better. He played more and better than expected in 2006, but it was time to turn the page. His presence on the roster would potentially prevent the presence of a younger player with more potential.
Upon completion of the WBC, Bernie should focus on his musical career. His latest CD, Moving Forward, is scheduled for release on April 14, 2009. The CD includes a special live performance with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.