Friday, June 13, 2008

Sabathia to the Yankees?

That's what Tyler Kepner is speculating anyway:

A painful swing by the Cleveland Indians’ Víctor Martínez on Wednesday could have significant ramifications for the Yankees. An elbow injury to Martínez all but ended the Indians’ flickering playoff hopes, and will probably lead to a trade of the ace left-hander C. C. Sabathia.

If Sabathia is on the trade market, the Yankees will have strong interest . . . He can be a free agent after the season, and the Indians have not given up hope of signing him. But the going rate for a pitcher like Sabathia, who turns 28 in August, would probably be six or seven years at $19 million or $20 million a season, a price tag well out of Cleveland’s range.

The Yankees, who are shedding more than $75 million in salaries this winter, could afford to re-sign him. They also have the prospects Cleveland would want and the motivation to deal.
A few years ago, the analysis would have been simple: The Indians give up Sabathia, and the Yankees empty their farm system for him. Of course it doesn't work that way anymore. Prospects are much more valuable than they used to be, and no one is all that eager to sell the farm for a guy about to hit free agency.

The Yankees, however, may still feel the need to pretend its 2002. Passing up on Johan Santana may have been the "right move" in light of today's new prospect calculus, but given Hughes and Kennedy's implosions this year, the Yankees are probably wishing they hadn't. What's more, beyond this year, they have Wang, Chamberlain, and maybe one of the Methuselah brothers -- Pettitte and Mussina -- in the rotation. It's certainly too late to give up on Kennedy and Hughes, but if you're the Yankees, don't you want to be damn sure you have a championship argument as you move into your new stadium next spring?

The Indians need bats far more than they need arms, so I'm skeptical that Mark Shapiro would be all that interested in Hughes or Kennedy. Given Cleveland's problems at second base, Kepner mentions Robinson Cano, but in light of how poorly he's playing this year that would be a tough sell too. The Yankees' have a couple of young slugging prospects the Indians are probably drooling over -- Jose Tabata and Jesus Montero -- though given how old the big club is, I'm having trouble imagining Cashman giving them up. Steinbrenner would probably do it, though. From Cleveland's perspective, those guys are still several years away from the bigs, so it's possible that even Shapiro would balk if he thinks the Tribe's contending window doesn't extend much past, say, 2010. Still, talent is talent.

Obviously I'm out of my league here. I don't know the Yankees' system that well and I'm actually pretty bad at playing GM. But the larger point -- that the Yankees may overpay for Sabathia right now -- remains, and if I'm Mark Shapiro I tell them to make me an offer.

If it happens, it may very well be the last of the old-line star-for-prospects trades we'll see in a while.

14 comments:

Jay said...

Cashman, after the Santana deal, said that what kept them from pulling the trigger was the double barrelled cost of prostpects plus the contract. I think (and hope as a Yanks fan) they let this one slide, and possibly consider him if he makes it to free agency. Even then, you can't help but cringe at a minimum of $120 million locked up in a starting pitcher.

Michael said...

As a Yankee fan, they don't have the prospects to get Sabbathia.

There is no position player depth.

The Yankees depth is in the bullpen when, as we know, arms are a dime a dozen.

It would take Hughes & Tabata to get CC. There are no "marginal" hitting prospects. to include - maybe Austin Jackson who is having some behavior (growing up) issues but he is 2 - 3 years away.

Melky Cabrera would be an interesting component to any deal, though. If the Yanks would be willing to give Brett Gardner the CF job, then Melky is included.

A deal could look like, basing upon the Mets/Johan package but if I am Cleveland, I ask for Tabata:
Hughes
Melky
Horne
Austin Jackson.....
that's about the talent equivalent of what the Met's gave up.

I think the Dodgers have the organizational depth to make a trade.

Personally, I think he stays and resigns because he is happy there.

Vegas Watch said...

"It would take Hughes & Tabata to get CC."

I already wrote about this, but if the Indians fall out of the race (which has not yet happened, an issue that Kepner is clearly confused about; let's not forget that the Indians are closer to first place than the Yankees), there is absolutely no way they would turn down Hughes for Sabathia straight up. Can we all please remember that he's still only 22-years old?

Peter said...

As an Indians fan I've actually thought about this extensively.

CC will almost surely walk this offseason, which is really fine with me. The type of contract he'll be seeking (6-7 years, $120M+) is a terrible proposition for any team, let alone a small- to mid-market one.

Paul Byrd is a free agent at the end of the year, too. I suppose they could bring him back, but his hopes of being even league average in 2009 are slim to none (his ERA+ this year is 87, last year it was 100).

The club's starting pitching depth has taken a major hit the past few weeks, with Jake Westbrook having Tommy John surgery and Adam Miller's season ended by pulley tendon issues. So you can pencil them out of the rotation in 2009.

That leaves:

Fausto Carmona
Cliff Lee
Aaron Laffey
Jeremy Sowers
???

Pretty awful, especially when you consider that:

1. Lee and Laffey's optimistic long-term outlooks have them as #3 starters.
2. Sowers will be lucky to stick in a big league rotation with his awful stuff. One of many blown draft picks, but that's a subject for another day.

So I think the conclusion that the Indians would turn up their nose at Hughes or Kennedy is wrong. I think it would be a huge mistake, given the state of the team today and what's in the pipeline (basically nothing in the high minors), for Mark Shapiro to turn down Phil Hughes, or Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson, for 3 months of Sabathia.

On the other hand, mark me down as largely uninterested in a guy like Jose Tabata, who has basically shown nothing but a good ability to get on base in what has now been four seasons in the minor leagues. I realize that he's only 19 and he's in AA, but his slugging percentages are really pathetic and I get the sense that talent evaluators have seriously cooled on him since he was a big name 2-3 years ago. If he's spearheading the package, the Indians might as well take the two draft picks if they aren't getting a package involving some combination of Hughes, Kennedy, Jackson, and Cano (though the idea that they'd deal him is, IMO, a pipe dream).

So what about the Yankees' side of things? I get the sense, from everything I've read about the Santana negotiations and everything he's said about the importance of developing young players, that Brian Cashman gets it. I just don't see him trading away a combination of Hughes, Kennedy, and Jackson for 3 months of CC Sabathia.

If a deal is to happen, I think that Hank Steinbrenner would have to step in and demand it, with Cashman kicking and screaming the whole way.

Peter said...

I forgot to mention:

Two draft picks > any deal where Melky Cabrera is a major component

...although that should go without saying.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Good points, Peter. And really, the one place where Cleveland is set is centerfield with Sizemore. Melky is a nonstarter (literally and figuratively) for the Indians. And really, has anyone who isn't a New York homer ever talked up Melky in connection with a trade? Yeah, he was mentioned in the Santana talks, but I always felt that the Twins weren't all that interested in him.

Fine enough player, but not anyone who is going to serve as the centerpiece to a deal, especially with Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

The main reason (even more than the cost in prospects) the Yankees ultimately dropped out of the Santana trade talks was the cost in $$ Santana would have represented. The Yankees were looking at almost $30 million per year wrapped up in him once you factor in the luxury tax. Combine that with the recent news that the Yankees are going to need additional financing to finish the new stadium, and you have less than ideal circumstances for getting this deal done.

Hank can talk all he wants, but Hal runs the check book...and as long as that's the case, I can't see the Yankees spending big money on a guy like CC.

Michael said...

Like I said, the Yankees don't have the prospect to acquire Sabathia.

Melky is the best "prospect" they have. There is no way they give up Cano. As a Yankee "homer," I call it like I see it - Melky is no more, nor no less, than an average MLB player.

It would have to take a huge package to get Sabathia, and the Yankess don't have the higher upside players like the Mets could include like Gomez and the young arms when they acquired Johan.

This trade doesn't happen.

Hughes could wind up like Harden - great talent who can't stay healthy.

The Yankees farm system is stocked with low ceiling prospects. They don't have the stock to make an impact move this year.

Realistically, how many teams could afford Sabathia when he hits the market:
Red Sox (some feeler interest but they won't)
Yankees (for a shorter 3 - 5 year deal)
Dodgers (not with Jones eating up $18 million, they'll stay aware from large contracts)
Phillies (dark horse candidates but will they spend?)
Angels (money is no object but they need hitting)

Peter said...

I disagree...

Gomez is a good prospect because he's physically talented, but he has a long way to go before his OBP is even acceptable (and the record shows that OBP skills rarely improve dramatically) and his power is non-existent.

I certainly wouldn't trade Phil Hughes for Gomez, and I would have to think long and hard about dealing Austin Jackson for him.

Justin Zeth said...

You know who I like as a dark horse to make a strong effort at signing Sabathia this offseason? The Nationals.

Vegas Watch said...

"Hughes could wind up like Harden - great talent who can't stay healthy."

He could. He could also be a frontline starter. I am pretty confident Mark Shapiro would give up three months of C.C. Sabathia and a couple draft picks to take that chance.

"It would have to take a huge package to get Sabathia..."

No, it wouldn't. It's not 2002.

Michael said...

Peter & Vegas Watch...
How can you not say it would take a huge package?

There is no way Shapiro does a Hughes for Sabathia straight up. With the two picks you'll have control of them for many more years than you could control Hughes. Plus, I like Hughes but his mechanics remind me of Prior.

I take the 2 draft picks over Hughes.

So now the Yankess would have to include another higher level prospect plus a marginal/projectible one. That is huge for 3 months.

The Mets gave up their 2,3,4 & 7 prospects for Johan. Even for 3 months, the Indians would want 3 & 7 plus one more - never going to happen.

What about the Rays? They are spending money, have a great farm system and would scare the crap out of everyone with a staff of Sabathia, Kazmir, Price, Shields, Garza (in part looking at 2009) Include Jackson in the deal, selling high.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

It would take Hughes & Tabata to get CC. There are no "marginal" hitting prospects. to include - maybe Austin Jackson who is having some behavior (growing up) issues but he is 2 - 3 years away.

i think you are confusing Tabata with A-Jax .. Tabata is the one who has been suspended, threatened to quit baseball, and caused several other tantrum-related problems

A-Jax is considered by most to be a somewhat better prospect than Tabata .. and definitely a year closer to being ready than Tabata

they also have Jesus Montero

Vegas Watch said...

There is no way the Rays are trading for C.C. Sabathia. It's not like that team only has a one-year window to win. They're also not exactly starved for pitching.

Two draft picks, one in the late first round, the other in the supplemental round, really isn't worth a ton to the Indians. They don't go over slot, and you can't find guys even remotely comparable to Phil Hughes for slot money at that point (unless you get really lucky). Even then, they are years away.

Your Mets comparison is pure speculation. Also, Phil Hughes would not have been the #3 prospect in the Mets' organization at that point, and that's how you have to make the comparison.