Hello, everyone, and welcome to our first mailbag following the trade deadline. I know it didn’t play out as many fans—including myself—wanted it to, and that’s frustrating. So I tried to take a few more submissions than usual. We have seven questions with some lengthy responses to a couple of them. Remember to keep submitting questions for next week, too.
Range Rider asks: The question I have is related to the seemingly strong sentiment among posters that the Yanks must do a deal. I’m of the opinion that trading is not a viable option unless the upside extends beyond this season. The Yanks have a good pool of young talent and I would hate to see someone like Thairo Estrada, for example, be traded for a so-so pitcher that is unlikely to make a significant impact and then become a free agent. I’m not talking about one-dimensional players like Tyler Wade or Mike Ford, but players who have greater upsides. Your thoughts?
As it turns out, the Yankees didn’t make any deals at the trade deadline. The team followed this disciplined line of thinking when it came to negotiations. They didn’t want to sacrifice future value for players who they didn’t 100% believe could lift them over the top.
“As a buyer, it has to hurt. I get that,” Brian Cashman told Coley Harvey. “But I was not willing to do what was available and what was being presented. And clearly, my counterparts were unwilling to do what I was willing to do in my offers.”
When I first heard this Wednesday afternoon, a thought popped into my head, and I haven’t been able to shake it since: If not now, when? The Yankees pulled off one of the most successful rebuilds in recent MLB history. They cleared the way for a scenario just like this, to have an elite, cost-controlled core in place, steamrolling through the American League.
It feels like the stars aligned for this season, doesn’t it? The endless amount of injuries didn’t stop the club; DJ LeMahieu is on pace for a career year; Gio Urshela is shaping up to turn in a multi-win season. The front office should recognize that something special is unfolding in the Bronx, and if that means overpaying for a starter, then do it. You have to shoot your shot at some point.
Astors GM Jeff Luhnow summed it up perfectly when talking about the Zack Greinke trade:
Jeff Luhnow "We have a chance to win a World Series. The last thing I wanted to do is leave a stone unturned and knocked out in October, and wonder what would have happened if we hadn't acquired another piece."@Astros | #Astros | #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/ZQyRBEM7ZO— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) August 1, 2019
Right on the money.
Larry asks: Does it seem like teams want more from the Yankees than from other teams? It looks like the D’backs wanted more for Robbie Ray than what they got for Greinke from the Astros. Collusion?
According to Jon Heyman, the Diamondbacks asked the Yankees for Clint Frazier, Clarke Schmidt, and two other prospects for Ray. I don’t know if I’d say that’s better than what Arizona got for Greinke. Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Seth Beer, and Josh Rojas? That’s quite the haul and would have been tough for the Yankees to match. I suppose it all depends on how highly you value Frazier.
I don’t think other teams colluded against the Yankees, either. The market just worked to the Bombers’ disadvantage. Few teams had starting pitching for sale—or any pitching for that matter—and they knew the Yankees needed it. Supply and demand was at work.
Kyle Ren asks: Can you make any sense as to why the Mets traded for Marcus Stroman who only has one more year of control and why now they would actually entertain trading away Noah Syndergaard? This trade only makes sense IF they actually are serious about contending this year and into next, wouldn’t you agree?
The Mets shocked the system by trading for Stroman last weekend. Many evaluators lambasted the team for adding Stroman with the idea of moving Syndergaard, a pitcher with a higher ceiling and with an extra year of control. It would have been quite the Mets move, but that didn’t happen.
On the one hand, this actually could have been a “Meanwhile in Queens” moment. Maybe they swung the Stroman trade and that knocked the market out of balance, meaning they couldn’t get the haul they sought for Thor. One of the more optimistic takes I’ve seen, however, is that the Mets saw the market for starters and decided to capitalize.
So now they have one of the most formidable rotations in baseball. They’re starting to play well, too! And, you know, what? Good for them. Let’s see what they can do down the stretch. If anything, their fans could use some entertaining baseball for the remainder of the season.
Moondog43 asks: Jordan Montgomery. Where is he? Shouldn’t he be back soon?
The latest update I could find on Montgomery is from late-July. According to Lindsey Adler, he’s in Tampa pitching side sessions. That’s progress, especially after getting temporarily shut down in June. The southpaw could, in theory, join the club in September, but the clock is running out on that. He’ll need to have a setback-free rehab from here on out to make it happen.
Mark asks: What happens to the $20m that is owed to Troy Tulowitzki for 2019 and 2020? Is he voluntarily calling it quits and not taking the money? Or being told he wouldn’t be able to play baseball until the contract is over? Does he get the money? Do the Yankees still pay him the league minimum for the whole year? How can this be applied to Jacoby Ellsbury?
The Blue Jays are on the hook for paying out the remainder of Tulowitzki’s initial contract. When they designated him for assignment and released him last December, that put an end to that deal. They had to pay him out the remainder of it. The agreement was over, regardless of his next steps.
The Yankees signed him to a league-minimum deal, and they had to pay that until he retired. Once Tulowitzki announced his retirement, he forfeited the prorated portion of that contract. The quick, back-of-the-napkin math says that’s about $200,000.
As for Ellsbury, the team will keep him on the injured list for as long as possible. They can recoup some insurance that way. If they DFA’d him after the season, they would have to pay out the remainder of his contract. That’s $21,142,857 for 2020 and a $5 million buyout for 2021. Ellsbury could retire, I suppose, but that would mean leaving a ton of money on the table. His contract is a sunk cost. Just release him and move on.
Bomberbooster asks: When did it become a “thing” for MLB managers to wear T-shirts and hoodies in the dugout? It doesn’t seem that long ago that they all wore the team uniform. Now it looks like “casual Friday” everyday.
A more interesting question is when did MLB managers start wearing uniforms in the dugouts. Luckily SB Nation’s own Harry Lyles Jr. explored that question last year. Essentially, the modern-day manager traces its roots to a team captain, an active player who also performed managerial duties. It made sense for them to wear uniforms because they actually played in the games.
Harry pegged Mike Scioscia as the first modern manager to eschew the full uniform for a team shirt or sweatshirt. Many others have followed suit, including Aaron Boone, Brad Ausmus, and Terry Francona. I prefer that look, to be honest. Unless Boone plans on pinch-hitting, it’s fine with me if he doesn’t wear a uniform.
MAP68 asks: Of Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances, who is more likely to go/stay and who is more important to keep?
Both Gregorius and Betances are free agents following the season. If the Yankees had to pick, I think they would keep Sir Didi because he’s shown that’s he’s healthy. He’s appeared in 39 games, hitting .271/.305/.465 with seven home runs (98 wRC+). His bat has trended in the right direction of late, too, as he has a 112 wRC+ since the All-Star break. Factor in his defense and his clubhouse presence and you have a player who will be tough to replace. Betances, meanwhile, hasn’t thrown a pitch since the 2018 ALDS.
That said, if Betances is healthy, the Yankees should find a way to keep him too. He’s the OG Baby Bomber, and it would be a shame to watch him go elsewhere. Make him a Yankee for life.