Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yankee Free Agents

The Yankees have six potential free agents who offer the possibility of obtaining draft pick compensation (guesses at Elias status within parentheses) -- Pudge (B), Giambi (B), Abreu (A), Pettitte (A), Mussina (A), and Marte (A). The Yankees actually hold 2009 options on both Giambi and Marte, but I am going to assume both will be declined. In order to obtain compensation picks, the Yankees must offer arbitration, otherwise the players become free agents and no compensation is received. So, question #1 in determining the 2009 roster is the decision to offer or not offer arbitration. One by one:

Pudge: Given the status of Posada's shoulder will not be known at the time the decision needs to be made, offering arbitration to Pudge seems like a no brainer. He appears to be headed to a 'B' status, meaning it costs the signing team nothing to sign him as a FA, and I really don't think he will want to gamble on having to spend next year as Posada's backup (and quite possibly Molina's) if Posada is capable of being the full time catcher. If he does choose to accept, there are definitely worse things than having him as insurance on a one-year deal. My guess though is that he signs a two year deal somewhere -- Dodgers (allowing Martin to move to 3B) or maybe Marlins for a hometown discount -- and the Yankees net the supplemental pick.

Giambi: Giambi has held up well this year, but expecting that to happen in back to back years is asking for trouble. I do think he enjoys playing in NY, and I would worry that if offered arbitration, he would accept. So, unless the Yankees can work out an agreement ahead of time that he will not accept if offered, I would not offer arbitration to Giambi.

Abreu: Abreu has done well this year at the plate, but his defense in RF is atrocious (FRAA = -8). With the acquisition of Nady, I think Abreu sees the writing on the wall that his time as a Yankee is over. But, his bat and reputation will earn him a two or three year deal somewhere -- my guess would be the Mets -- and I would be pretty comfortable offering him arbitration with the knowledge he will decline in favor of a multi-year deal. As an 'A', he nets the Yankees a first rounder and a supplemental.

Pettitte: Some of the luster has come off Pettitte over his last few starts, but when you look at the season as a whole, he's been an asset. Andy likes to take his time (January?) in deciding whether to play another year, and the Yankees should feel completely safe in offering arbitration. If a replacement is found for his services while he's still deciding, he's always free to go back to Houston. In the past, Pettitte has expressed a desire to play in the new stadium, so my guess is the Yankees offer, but come to an agreement in January for him to return.

Mussina: No brainer here -- offer arbitration. Moose is coming off his finest season in a number of years, and although the odds of repeating that level of success aren't great, the Yankees would have no problem with getting him back on a low-risk one year deal. The bigger question would be whether or not Moose would get and accept a two year deal from another club? His propensity for the North East would seem to limit his options somewhat, but my guess is Philadelphia makes him a two year offer, and the Yankees decide to let him leave.

Marte: Although he's had highs and lows since coming over from Pittsburgh, Cashman has salivated over Marte for so long, it's hard to envision him not picking up the $6M option for 2009. Hopefully a new GM will have more sense, and recognize that better LH options are available. I would let Marte walk and take the picks.

So, in summary, here's what SHOULD happen:

1. Yankees get three first/second round picks for Abreu (Mets), Mussina (Philadelphia), and Marte (?), and four supplemental picks for those three plus Pudge.
2. Pettitte is resigned for one year.
3. Giambi is allowed to walk without draft pick compensation.

What are your thoughts?

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