Friday, December 5, 2014

New York Yankees: After Miller, Headley, what’s next?

The New York Yankees find themselves in the heat of some of the recent offseason rumor mill, but have yet to make an impact free-agent signing. They did just pull off a trade for Didi Gregorius, but will now turn their attention back to the free-agent market.

Andrew Miller is reportedly close to making a deal and the Yankees are considered involved, while Chase Headley has a reported four-year, $65 million deal on the proverbial table. Once they both sign there will be an abundance of questions to follow.

Miller, the best lefty reliever on the open market, and arguably the best reliever period on the market, is said to be looking at a four year deal in the $40 million neighborhood. The Yankees are said to be OK with a four-year deal, if it keeps the average annual value of the contract down per a tweet from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

My question is this; what if the Yankees or another team for that matter offered Miller a three-year deal in the $36 million neighborhood? Would he bite and then hope he performs as expected thus setting himself up for one more big payday at the age of 33? Wouldn’t he be more apt to secure another solid deal at 33 rather than 34, and eliminate the prospect of back to back declining years?

Most times the athlete chooses the deal which puts the most money in his pocket at that time. With baseball salaries guaranteed, Miller’s arm could fall off and he is still $40 million ahead. But, he’s not old, not wearing down and he could turn $36 million now into another $45 million for another three-year deal bringing him through his age 36 season. At 34, he might only get a two-year contract at $30 million. He ends up losing $11 million in this scenario.

If the Yankees do in fact sign Miller, what comes next? Do they boldly go for David Robertson too, creating a three-headed bullpen monster with Dellin Betances? Do they stick with the remaining arms already on the roster? Or do they sign a veteran like Jason Grilli to close and use Miller/Betances as setup guys. There are plenty of ways to go and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

As for Headley, if he truly has this offer on the table, he should just sign it and send Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, the Boston Red Sox and his agent a nice gift. I cannot see anyone matching or surpassing that deal and I hope the Yankees are not the ones who offered it. It doesn’t seem so based on this from the New York Daily News.

Assuming Headley goes elsewhere, the Yankees are said to be ready to stick Martin Prado at third and have a competition between Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela for the second base job during spring training. I suggested as much a couple of weeks back, and in my mind it’s worth the gamble. I see Brendan Ryan as a better than nothing fallback for second base if both Refsnyder and Pirela fail. Honestly, I can’t see both of them having issues and would roll the dice.

What are your thoughts on Miller and Headley? Let me know in the comments below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.


  1. Thrilled with this trade! Greene is an interesting 5th starter on a team bringing youth, a decent fastball, and a AAA option but he's already 26 with only 78 IP and a very mixed MiLB track record. ERA+ of 103 is valuable but nobody's going to feel like they should have seen it coming and held onto him if he blossoms into a front line pitcher.

    As much as it's painful to say, Miller might well be a better option for the Yanks than Roberston at even money. This is why I was surprised when he turned down a qualifying offer that would make him the highest paid reliever in baseball. The Yankees don't LOSE a first round pick re-signing him necessarily but they in effect do lose at least a compensation round pick. Robertson, even to the yankees, comes with draft connotations. I think he's a better pitcher than Miller but the difference isn't one I'd put a draft pick against. And if Miller is cheaper...

    I think Headley is worth $65. I know that's unpopular but here are the slash lines from 2014:
    .243 .328 .372 .700
    .279 .324 .415 .739

    The bottom guy is Sandoval and although he's almost 2 years younger he has a lot of weight on Headley. I also think Headley's a lot better defender. $65m is a significant discount compared to the Panda, I tend to think Headley's deserving. And honestly his swing works very well in yankee stadium. If I were the Yankees, I'd rather sign Headley than Sandoval for the same money. The real benefit of bringing in a third basemen though is freeing up Prado as a utility piece. The yankees are not going to get 162 games out of their aging starters, headley included. Prado is a whole lot more player than a AAA replacement and even if everyone's healthy is a "extra day off" providing machine.

    Another thing on Robertson: Bringing him back on a Orioles Cruz type deal is a complete no brainer, budget bet damned. I think that played a big role in him opting out. If he came to the yankees in a few months and said "how about 1/$10m" they're not going to say no. He's lost compared to the QO but he got to try out FA and see what was there. He's still going to get paid. I think the Gregorious trade keeps this potential there since Didi isn't going to match Jeter's 2014 salary and there seems to be real momentum behind the Pirela/Refsnyder second base experiment (with Prado as a more than capable fall back plan).

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I was very high on Headley, but cautious about the fourth year. Back in September I wrote that 3/$39MM might do the trick. Obviously I severely underestimated (though so did everyone else). Sandoval rode a lot of hype to that contract. It will fail in the end, and Headley getting an offer of 4/$65MM reflects a bloated market, plus third base has become a lackluster position around the league.

      I'm fine with Prado at third and the kids batting at second.

      I can't see Robertson's market shrinking to a one-year deal because of the qualifying offer attached. Remember Cruz had some baggage. In my opinion, he'll get something with the Yanks or someone else this season.

    2. It would be a real shame to pin Prado to a single position like that. I know it's traditional and all but the Rays have shown for years the value of versatility. The pirates leveraged Harrison at multiple positions in 2014 and were able to keep several positions from the usual roster depth fill-ins. The yankees in particular are an aging team with huge injury risk and in particular aught to prioritize the extra depth that Prado and only a few players like him in the MLB can provide.

      Yes he can be your every day third basemen or second basemen and you'll have an above average guy there but it's a total waste. Better to sign Headley and respond to his injury with Prado or have prado if the kids fail or use prado in right after Beltran breaks down or shift headly to first and prado to third after Tex swings too hard and is out again.

      Beyond that, Girardi loves relievers. A healthy Prado on your team with 9 other hitters means you can use him to give nearly every other player a day off and have a reserve for nearly every position. Elsbury needs a day off? Shift gardner to center and put Prado in left. Headley come up limp running out a single in that game you can effectively use Elsbury as your backup putting him in and shifting Prado to third. That means fewer roster spots are needed for backup players. More guys avoid the DL, more relief pitchers for Girardi to play with.

      Prado's value is spectacular if you have him as your 10th regular bat. That may sound almost demeaning, I don't know if he'd take it that way, but there's no reason he can't get over 500 AB's as the 10th regular. It's hard to fully quantify the value his flexibility gives.