It’s Christmas Day, and while everyone is enjoying their new gifts, all Yankees fans should be begging for the club to have a $300 million payroll.
While it’s been a merry offseason for the Yankees, re-signing Gardner, CC, and Happ and trading for Paxton, the team still has a few more positions to fill. Here’s my Christmas wishlist, and we can have everyone on it so long as Hal decides to spend an average percentage of the Yankees revenue on payroll
Currently, the Yankees are projected to spend about $175 million on payroll going into 2019. With revenues projected upward of $600 million, spending $300 million on the payroll is not actually crazy, but do-able.
Stocking stuffers are either useful little trinkets, comic relief items, or cheap stuff just there for show. The Yankees could use depth in the rotation and bullpen, especially a long reliever, and they also could use a backup catcher.
Shelby Miller/Martin Perez/Jaime Garcia/Drew Pomeranz
Miller, Perez, Garcia, and Pomeranz are starters who might be available on the cheap. Could Miller bounce back from injury? Could there be more to Perez? Can Garcia regain his form? What actually happened to Pomeranz? If these guys are available on the cheap, why not take a flyer looking to catch lightning in a bottle? Who knows, maybe they would be willing to sign minor league deals or work out of the pen as long-relievers.
These guys could be useful “trinkets,” but they also could just be cheap players that don’t pan out. Either way, they should not cost much in terms of money or years.
My Wish: Let’s take a chance on Shelby Miller. Maybe he’s past his injury woes and can catch some of his former promise. He’s only 28. He can work things out in the minors or in the pen as a mop-up or long-relief option.
Jonathan Lucroy/Matt Wieters
Both Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Wieters might not have offers to be starting catcher this year. Both players were once considered elite backstops, but have had a rough go of it as late. Lucroy was absolutely lost at the plate last season but held his own defensively. Wieters was also good defensively and at least serviceable at the plate.
Both of these guys put up numbers in 2018 that you would like to see from a backup catcher, but they both have a bit of upside. Perhaps with less pressure, and fewer innings, they could bounce back.
More importantly, however, maybe they can assist with helping Gary Sanchez gain some confidence behind the plate when blocking balls. Gary is a huge key to these Yankees, and he might benefit from having an elder statesman around to show him the way.
My Wish: If the Yankees could somehow grab Lucroy, they might have a steal. He’s still an excellent pitch framer and last year’s .241/.292/.325 slash line was a huge aberration, even coming off a down year in 2017. Lucroy is a great teammate and a very cerebral player (as you might glean from some of his interviews), and he would be a tremendous asset to the Yankees.
Generally, holiday grab bag gifts are similar in price, although not all gifts are created equal. The problem is since the gifts are wrapped before you choose them, you don’t exactly know what you’re choosing. The biggest gift is not always the best. Sometimes you want to go for the gift card sized item, after all, you kind of know what you’re going to get.
Much like the grab bag, the Yankees need to fill a few positions and have a few options who will probably cost the same, but whose performances could be wide-ranging.
David Robertson/Adam Ottavino/Zach Britton
The Yankees had the best bullpen in the league in 2018, but they need to reload for 2019.
Robertson is definitely the gift card of the three here. He’s reliable and he knows how to pitch in New York.
Ottavino is like the big package on the table, he’s coming off a career year, and he’s got nasty stuff. He even boasts that he would strike out Babe Ruth. Still, he has a short track record and isn’t necessarily a lock.
Britton is the bottle-shaped gift. You could end up with a nice bottle of champagne or wine. You also could end up with a bottle of wine that your parents left untouched for years, thinking it would age well. Instead, the cork crumbles and the wine has aged into a fine vinegar.
Zach Britton was once elite, after sustaining a few injuries and coming back last year, we really don’t know what we’re going to get out of him.
My Wish: David Robertson. I’m sentimental during the holidays. DRob has been fantastic as a Yankee. Pay the man.
Oliver Perez/Tony Sipp/Tony Watson
Oliver Perez, Tony Sipp, and Tony Watson are all left-handed relievers who are very good at getting both lefties and righties out. Perez and Sipp are free agents and Watson might be available via trade from the Giants. Though Perez and Sipp pitched fewer than 40 innings each last year, their numbers were extremely good in those innings. With only Chapman and *checks notes* Stephen Tarpley as the lefties in the bullpen right now, the Yankees need to add another left-handed arm.
My Wish: Oliver Perez. In 2018, Perez started the season in the Yankees’ system in AAA, but he was not called up by his opt-out date and then signed with the Indians and had a phenomenal year. I’d like to see him in pinstripes again.
Adeiny Hechevarria/Jose Iglesias/Freddy Galvis
With Didi Gregorius potentially injured for at least the first half of 2019 and Ronald Torreyes being released, it makes a lot of sense to bring in a middle infielder in at least a utility role. Adeiny Hechevarria, Jose Iglesias, and Freddy Galvis are all defense-first shortstops that could plug the hole while Didi is out.
The Yankees are familiar with Hechevarria, and he probably has the best shot of the three of being signed by the Yankees. Iglesias and Galvis are also very good options defensively. All three are between 29-30 years old and would be considered “light-hitting.”
While the Yankees could try Tyler Wade in the utility role, that didn’t work out well last year, so why not add a more experienced player?
My Wish: Is this really a question?
I can’t stop thinking about this insane catch by Hechavarría pic.twitter.com/wwvhhhiLmT
— Robyn (@rxbyndavidson) October 4, 2018
Keep in mind this happened in a playoff game.
The Big Gift(s)
Bryce Harper/Manny Machado
At this point in the offseason, we all know the pros and cons of signing Harper and Machado. This comes down to not only money but for sheer nerve. Harper and Machado are looking for $35-$40 million AAV depending on years and Hal Steinbrenner wants to build a team on a dime.
We’ve heard the excuses of why the Yankees aren’t in on Harper (too many outfielders) and we’ve seen the arguments that Manny doesn’t hustle. That stuff really doesn’t matter. The real question is: Will Hal put up the money to sign these guys? Will he spare no expense, or will be content having a contender and not trying to put it over the edge?
My Wish: Both of them. Listen, the Yankees can afford a $300 million dollar payroll. Let’s do this. If Machado and Harper average $35 million a year, that’s $70 million the Yankees add to their $175 million payroll. They would still have $55 million left to spend to get to $300 million! Ellsbury’s contract drops off after a few years as well, opening up room to lock-up Aaron Judge long term.
Merry Christmas everyone!