In clearing the catcher job for Gary Sanchez the Yankees got good value in return for Brian McCann.
The New York Yankees. They’re 27-time champions, they’re home to some of the greatest names in baseball history, and they’ve been out of the heat of contention for an uncharacteristically long time now.
The Yankees have been lining up pieces for what they hope is a new era of Bronx dominance since they sold off the big parts of their bullpen, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, in July, leading baseball folks to wonder “what are they up to?” Well, now general manager Brian Cashman is making it clear.
How a lesser known Yankees prospect is helping himself stand out.
James Reeves stepped on the field in Tampa to accept an honor from his current team, the Tampa Yankees. Reeves was named Pitcher of the Month, just a week after holding down the Florida State League honor for Pitcher of the Week.
The day the lefty received the monthly award, he was preparing to take the mound for his 12th start of the 2016. He was upbeat and humorous in the early part of the day, but, later, as the game got closer, he was quieter, an unwavering focus showed on his face as he walked toward his locker. That mix of concentration and lightheartedness has served him well. In June, the Yankees switched the script and decided to make Reeves a full-time starter.
The Cubs are a well-run organization who, relative to other buyers this summer, seemed to overpay for Aroldis Chapman. Do we need to reframe their choice?
Esteemed colleague and possessor of a terrific first name, Jeff Long, recently wrote about why teams in contention might pay a lot for relievers, even though, as Long writes, “It’s a formula that the sabermetric community sometimes finds difficult to rationalize. Relievers pitch so few innings and are so volatile that their value is almost certainly lower than that of the prospects dealt for them.” As to why teams in contention do this anyway, Long concludes that when the playoffs come teams cannot simply accumulate WARP; they need to actually win individual games, and really good relievers help teams do so. That makes sense to me. It makes sense to me why teams add relievers to improve their chances of winning right now even if they are going to end up accumulating less WARP from a given trade. But what does still does not quite make sense to me is why Aroldis Chapman was so expensive compared to other relievers or other players traded at the deadline.
How expensive was it? Please find an email from me to Chris Crawford, and Crawford’s responding email below:
The Situation: With Alex Rodriguez unconditionally released, the Yankees have room for another bat, and have called upon Aaron Judge (and Tyler Austin) to provide an offensive lift, and audition for a starting role in 2017.
Background: Taken in the 31st round in 2010 out of Linden (CA) HS by Oakland, Judge honored his commitment to Fresno State and in the end it paid off as he was taken 32nd-overall in 2013. Judge put himself on the map following a standout 2012 performance in the Cape, followed by a junior-year campaign where he hit .369/.461/.655 with 12 home runs. Judge has slugged .473 in his minor league career, but has also struck out at a career 24.6 percent rate thus far. The Yankees have taken it slowly thus far with Judge, allowing him to accrue over 650 plate appearances in Triple-A, and nearly 1,300 minor league at-bats in all.
Does the jump from "good" to "great" make all the difference when it comes to acquiring a closer?
For a number of reasons, the move from this trade deadline that seemed to occupy the biggest portion of our collective consciousness was the Aroldis Chapman trade. He was sent from the Yankees to the Cubs in exchange for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford. Chapman was suspended earlier this season for violating the league's domestic violence policy, firing a handgun during an argument with his girlfriend and allegedly choking her as well, which meant this trade was accompanied by numerous thorny moral issues. It also happened before the real madness of the 48 hours leading up to the deadline, which meant it had less attention competition for our attention than some of the later trades.
But most relevant to this article, the return seemed huge. Yes, the Cubs are almost definitely going to make the playoffs, and they'll appreciate having a lights-out closer if/when they do, and yes, Torres was almost certainly blocked by other Chicago players, but this still seemed like a high price to pay. Andrew Miller, one of the other elite Yankees relievers, was also traded, and his DRA this season is almost a full run lower than Chapman's. Miller brought back a package of Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen, and while I'm not a prospect expert, my sense is the Chapman return is more desirable. It's at least close, which is amazing, because Miller has not only been better than Chapman this year, he's also signed for two years after 2016, at $9 million annually, while Chapman will be a free agent and will probably cost a lot more than Miller over those two years.
What do we do with this? What are we supposed to make of a team like the Cubs, which by all indications is run by very intelligent people, making a decision that looks indefensible? A common reaction (and I think reasonable reaction) is to try to find the assumption that makes the decision look that way, and wonder whether the team might know a reason it's wrong, After the Chapman trade, the most common such argument I saw looked generally like this: