Following up on my post from yesterday, we have a Joel Sherman piece this morning that explores the possibility of the Yanks trading for the Diamondback star Right Fielder. He confirms some items that we’ve heard elsewhere. The Yanks have checked in on him, he’s very much on the outs in Arizona, and Joel comes to the same conclusion I did that if a Yanks/D-Backs were to consummate a deal, it would most likely happen in the offseason. What I found most interesting was that after Joel quoted both Cashman and Towers in the piece (obviously having spoke to both recently) he offers up an outline of his own for a deal:
For the Yankees, I think it would take, at minimum, one of their best prospects, plus someone who can play shortstop now and a pitcher who could help immediately. So something like Mason Williams, Eduardo Nunez and David Phelps. Remember, Towers is pals with Cashman and knows the system well, having worked as a Yankees special assistant in 2010.
Whenever a trade package is floated, we all have our quibbles and this one is no exception. Mason Williams is a wonderful talent, but he’s not going to be ready to plug in immediately (BA puts his ETA at 2014) so offering him as a replacement for Upton doesn’t work in terms of timing. I could see the Yanks trying to build a package around someone like Phil Hughes rather than Williams if they get assurances from Pettitte/Kuroda that one or both will return for 2013. Its possible Hughes may be willing to extend in AZ, which is much closer to his native California. If I were Hughes, I would certainly consider a 2-3 year extension. His career has been up and down with the Yanks and some financial security would make more sense than going through 2013 and testing the FA waters, where its debatable what his market would be. If I were Towers I would want to lock the 26 year old Hughes up for a few years, knowing his Yankee stadium Home/Road splits and that a move to the NL West could benefit him enormously. Shave some YS3 HRs off his ledger and Phil could find himself grossly underpaid if Towers extended him now. Or he could get hurt and do little. Risk and reward for both sides, sounds fair to me.
While were discussing risk and reward, let’s put a few things on the table about Upton. He’s currently having the worst season of his career, mostly due to a dramatic drop in power. He’s also not cheap unless he recovers his All Star form (in which case he’s a steal). He’s performing right around league average (103 OPS) this year for his position and is slated to earn 9.75M, 14.25M and 14.75 from 2013-15. However for luxury tax purposes, the AAV of his deal is 8.54M, so he could aid the Yanks in getting to their 189M 2014 target. If Upton can deliver similar production to that of Nick Swisher, it would make more sense for the Yanks to deal for Upton than re-sign Swish at market rates, which figure to be 12-15M annually for 3-5 years for the 32 year old. And let’s make one thing clear. If Upton is on top of his game, he’s the far better player. In Upton’s 2011 campaign he amassed a 6.4 WAR (Fangraphs) while Swisher’s best year was 4.1 WAR in 2010. And let’s not forget Upton is just 24 years old. Its reasonable to expect that he hasn’t entered his prime production years. The upside makes me think Sherman’s package is a bit light. It might take Hughes AND Williams to land Upton, which I must admit I would still do. I would even build a package around Ivan Nova and Williams if I had to and go one more year with Phil.
One element shouldn’t be underestimated. The fact that Kevin Towers spent 2010 working for the Yanks as a special assistant to Brian Cashman makes him very familiar with the Yankee system and therefore very comfortable in making a deal with them. He’s not relying on scouting reports from people in the Arizona organization who he may not have hired, rather first hand eye witness accounts. When weighing offers from other teams, that will mean the Yanks will simply have to match and they will still have an edge. Of course, if a team decides to blow Arizona away then the Yanks may either decide to pass or not have the assets to match. The Yanks don’t have a system on par with that of Atlanta or Texas, both of whom may be in the market for Upton’s services. But I think its safe to say the Yanks are in the mix, will be serious bidders and have an edge going in.
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