I don’t want to stun anyone with such a personal revelation, but I’m going to make a lot less than $5 million this year. A whole lot less. In my line of work, that sort of money isn’t even a part of the conversation. It’s not like I go to my bosses each year, ask for $5 million, then negotiate down from there.
In Major League Baseball, though, $5 million isn’t absurd. It’s not nothing, but it’s not overwhelming. In the right circumstances, a team can guarantee $5 million and then walk away. It’s happened before.
So what does Stephen Drew’s one-year, $5-million deal mean to the Yankees this season? Does that level of financial commitment mean he’s locked into an everyday job no matter what? Is he even guaranteed a roster spot through the end of the season?
It’s not only Drew who comes with those sort of questions. Garrett Jones and Chris Capuano are also owed $5 million this season. Chris Young is on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. Brendan Ryan is owed $2 million this year with a $1 million player option for next year, so the Yankees could look at him as a one-year, $3-million investment.
As we consider roles and playing time heading into the 2015 season — or, to be more honest, as we think about ways Rob Refsnyder, Jose Pirela or some other young guy could still make the big league roster — it’s worth remembering that Drew, Jones, Capuano, Young and Ryan are not such heavy investments that the Yankees have to stick with them under any circumstances. These guys are a long way from making Rodriguez, Teixiera or Beltran money.
They are, to at least some extent, financially disposable.
Back in 2010, veteran outfielder Randy Winn was on a one-year, $2-million deal when the Yankees released him before the end of May. In 2011, Jorge Posada was still making $13.1 million when he became essentially a part-time, bottom-of-the-order player by the end of the season. In 2012, Freddy Garcia was making $4 million when the Yankees pulled him from the rotation after a bad month of April. In 2013, the Yankees signed Mark Reynolds late in the year only after the Indians released him despite a one-year, $6-million contract.
The 2014 Yankees were loaded with similar examples.
Ichiro Suzuki was making $6.5 million, yet the Yankees intentionally added enough outfielders to push him into what was supposed to be an extremely limited bench role last season. Alfonso Soriano was getting $5 million from the Yankees and was released in early July. Brian Roberts was making $2 million and got released at the trade deadline. Kelly Johnson was on a $3-million deal, and the Yankees essentially benched him in favor of a minor league free agent.
No team happily moves away from a player making upward of $5 million. It’s surely enough money to get the benefit of the doubt for a month or so. But it happens from time to time, and the Yankees might have to be prepared to do it again if they’re truly committed to giving young players a real chance in the big leagues.
Depth is a good thing, and the Yankees needed some depth given their age and health concerns. They got deeper with those deals for guys like Drew, Young and Capuano.
Depth, though, can’t and shouldn’t stand in the way of young progress. It doesn’t have to stand in the way this season.
Associated Press photos
Let’s talk about something other than Alex Rodriguez for at least a little bit. Here are a few notes and links that have nothing to do with the Yankees third baseman.
• Building on a previous report from the Daily News, Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are focusing on Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel and other mid-rotation starters to add some pitching depth. Heyman echoes the belief that the Yankees have no plans of pursuing any of the market’s top three starting pitchers. Heyman also notes that Chris Capuano is a possibility for a return. I actually think that’s a decent idea. Not a bad option as a bullpen lefty with the potential to start if necessary. Pitched well in a fifth starter role this year.
• ESPN’s Dan Szymborski writes that Dave Robertson is one of several players who should seriously consider accepting a qualifying offer this winter. The reasoning follows a familiar sentiment: teams value closers, but they’re rarely willing to pay huge amounts of money to sign them. A contract comparable to $15.3 million, plus a lost draft pick? Might not be many teams willing to do that. Szymborski notes that Jonathan Papelbon went unclaimed this season and that Koji Uehara recently signed for $9 million per year. Szymborski picks out five others who should at least consider accepting the qualifying offer.
• In the wake of Alfonso Soriano’s retirement, David Schoenfield takes a look at the way Soriano’s career should be remembered. “It has been one of the more fascinating careers of the past 15 years as he has been a player with enormous strengths and obvious flaws,” Schoenfield writes, eventually concluding that: “The guy had a good career. He was that rare power-speed combo and, for a few years there, one of the most exciting players in the game. When’s the next time we’re going to see a 40/40 player?”
• Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rockies are willing to listen to trade offers for either Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez. Can’t dismiss that sort of information — two really good players, one of whom is perhaps the best shortstop in the game — but it’s also hard to make too much of it. The Rockies aren’t exactly in a have-to-trade-them situation, and the asking price would surely be astronomical despite the health concerns with each player.
• The Rays announced their eight managerial candidates, and Raul Ibanez is one of them. Ibanez is also seen a potential candidate to be the Yankees hitting coach. Says a lot about him that he just played this year and is already being considered for jobs like this.
• Speaking at yesterday’s Lou Gehrig Sports Awards Benefit, Don Mattingly had some advice for whoever becomes the Yankees next starting shortstop: “I don’t think you can try to live up to (Derek Jeter),” Mattingly said. “I think you just have to be yourself. I think the fans will appreciate that. If you’re a guy that plays the game right and gets after it, I think the fans will accept him over time.” Mattingly was on the other side of the situation watching Tino Martinez taking over for Mattingly himself in 1996.
• Another Jeter connection: The latest offering from The Players’ Tribune is actually a really nice and quick read from Brendan Shanahan, who wrote a letter to his younger self providing draft day advice. It’s a good piece. Not a baseball piece, but a good piece. On a personal note, I will forever think of Shanahan as a member of the St. Louis Blues. That’s just the way that goes.
• And now one that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball, but I’ve become obsessed with this version of Ben Howard’s End of the Affair performed on Later… with Jools Holand. Just a brilliant combination of all the things Howard does so well. Opens as a creative bit of singer/songwriter and explodes into an anguished man screaming into his guitar. Need a palate cleanser after all of this A-Rod business? This will do the job.
Associated Press photo
Alfonso Soriano announces retirement • 11.05.14
After being released by the Yankees in the middle of last season, Alfonso Soriano has decided to retire. The announcement came during a radio interview in the Dominican Republic. Here’s a link to the story from Hector Gomez, and below is the quick Associated Press story with translated quotes. Although he was pretty bad in 2014, Soriano had one last burst of offensive brilliance in the second half of 2013. During his two different stints with the Yankees — first as a young, energetic second baseman; then as a veteran left fielder and DH — Soriano hit a combined .276/.315/.492. He was, of course, just becoming a perennial all-star when he was traded for Alex Rodriguez in February 2004.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Seven-time All-Star Alfonso Soriano says he is retiring from the major leagues after a season in which he was released by the New York Yankees on July.
“I’ve lost the love and passion to play the game,” said Soriano in a radio interview Tuesday in his native Dominican Republic. “Right now, my family is the most important thing.”
Soriano, 38, completed in 2014 the final year of his $136 million, eight-year contract he signed with the Chicago Cubs before the 2007 season.
He ends his career 50th in baseball history with 412 home runs.
“Although I consider myself in great shape, my mind is not focused on baseball,” said Soriano.
Soriano was released by the Yankees after playing just 67 games. He was hitting .221 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.
Associated Press photo
Yankees in need of more production • 06.23.14
Orioles starters really shut down the Yankees in the three-game series that ended Sunday with Baltimore’s 8-0 win. The Yankees managed four hits to follow up on their one-run, seven-hit Saturday loss. They needed a walk-off three-run homer from Carlos Beltran Friday to claim a 5-3 victory.
The offense really hasn’t taken off on a consistent basis.
Asked if he expected more, Joe Girardi said: “Yeah, I think that’s probably fair to say, but we still have a long way to go. And I see signs of us swinging the bats better. I do. But it is what it is and we’ll go from here.”
They have a lot of below-average averages right now on a 39-35 team. For instance: Carlos Beltran .220; Brian McCann .222; Kelly Johnson .222; Alfonso Soriano .232; Brian Roberts .244; and Mark Teixeira .246. The Yankees also have Yangervis Solarte at 0 for his last 28, dropping him to .263.
“We definitely have more in us,” Teixeira said. “I think we expect more out of each other. Hopefully we can score more runs.
“There’s a lot of time left, but we do need to pick it up.”
Here’s my story on Sunday’s events, from the Old-Timers’ Game to Masahiro Tanaka’s effort to the punchless offense to Steve Pearce’s takeout slide to Teixeira’s fear he had broken a toe or two. And here’s my Yankees notebook on Goose Gossage heading to Monument Park, Jeter’s response to Hideki Matsui’s marital advice and Girardi talking about the Adam Warren/Vidal Nuno situation. Thanks for reading. You’re always welcome to join me on Twitter as well at @bheyman99. Chad will be back with you later.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Nova off to shaky start • 04.08.14
He allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings in losing to the Orioles after walking five in 5 2/3 in his first start in Houston. Nova only gave up two runs in that game and was the winner, but in this game, he couldn’t minimize the damage and the Yankees ended up losing 14-5.
“I don’t feel good when you pitch that way with the good spring training that I had,” Nova said. “It’s only the second time. I have plenty of time to fix it and get back to where I want to be.”
He had a problem with his curve, and his sinker was up. Nova said he needs to get his pitches down.
“I wouldn’t make too much out of two starts,” Joe Girardi said. “I know it’s glaring in the beginning. I know he’s more than capable of turning this around and being a big-time pitcher for us.”
There was a chance for Nova to get out of the first with no runs scored instead of three. But Derek Jeter couldn’t reach Delmon Young’s bouncing single for a double-play try.
“I know he tried the best to get the double play,” Nova said. “That’s the game.”
Despite struggling, Nova didn’t walk anyone. So Yankees starting pitchers haven’t walked a batter now in five straight games.
Francisco Cervelli got his first shot at first base. He admitted he missed one foul ball that he probably should have caught. But Girardi said he was OK with his work over there.
“He passed for me,” Girardi said.
So Cervelli could be another option vs. lefties with Mark Teixeira out.
Yangervis Solarte doubled twice, making the rookie third baseman the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles in the first seven games of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 4 and is 12 for his last 22 after starting 0 for 7.
Alfonso Soriano hit homer No. 1 on the season and No. 407 for his career, tying Duke Snider for 50th on the all-time list.
I’ll have more on Masahiro Tanaka’s Wednesday night Bronx debut in the morning.
Photo by The Associated Press.
The Yankees seemed more encouraged than unhappy after this 8-4 loss ended their four-game winning streak and prevented them from sweeping four from the Angels. The Yankees should have done more with 15 hits and three walks, but the lineup is at least more formidable now with Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and especially Alfonso Soriano.
Those three weren’t around when the Yankees dropped two of three at Fenway last month. They will start another three-game series there Friday night.
“I think it’s a different club,” Joe Girardi said. “The way we’re swinging the bats, it’s a much different club.”
The Yankees were nine back of the Red Sox heading into Thursday night’s play.
“We’re the team that’s chasing them now,” Granderson said. “So it’s going to be a very big three-game series, not the fact that’s it’s a Boston and Yankees series, but the fact that we can gain a lot of ground. It’s very important for us. We have to also be cautious that they can also create a lot of ground, too.”
They have another power-hitting bat on the way, according to Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com and some others Thursday night. The word from them is the Yankees have agreed to terms with Mark Reynolds. The righty batter, of course, is known for homering and striking out. But he can back up at third and platoon with Lyle Overbay at first. When the Indians designated Reynolds last week, he was at .215 with 15 homers, 48 RBI and 123 strikeouts. He has been cold in the homer department, none since June 28. He batted .098 in July. Your thoughts?
The Yankees delivered 46 hits in these last three games. They batted .366 and scored 31 runs in the four games.
Soriano had four singles and an RBI in this game and went 10 for 14 and drove in 14 in the last three. That was a major-league high for RBI in one series this season. The last Yankee with at least 14 RBI in a series of any length was named Joe DiMaggio, who knocked in 14 in a six-game series vs. the Indians in 1938.
“The last three games, I’ve been hitting the ball good and seeing the ball good,” Soriano said.
Phil Hughes finally showed some improvement after failing to get through five in his previous three starts. He allowed three runs and six hits over six, but he fell to 4-12.
“It was obviously better,” Hughes said. “It would’ve been hard to pitch much worse than I had been.”
Girardi said that until he hears more about it from MLB, he didn’t want to comment on the new manager’s challenge rules for replay that will go into effect next season if the owners, players association and umpires approve.
Associated Press photo.