Yankees Editorial: Big Names Are Still Available


Pitchers and catchers report on February 18th and every baseball junkie can weep for joy once again. Even though I am a New York Yankees fan and writer, I am not sure I am that excited about our pitchers reporting. It has been covered time-and-again this off-season, pitching is our weak spot!

On paper it sounds well rounded and deep; however, the truth is every one of our pitchers is hampered by injuries and old enough to be my dad. I am more excited for our catchers to report and address my questions: How will Brian McCann play this season? Who will be the backup catcher? Is Gary Sanchez ready for the bigs?

Since pitching is still such a major concern though, I am curious as to why the Yankees still haven’t tested the waters on one of the most consistent pitchers in the game in James Shields. His nickname “Big Game James” says it all! This guy is the real deal and extremely reliable. It is even stranger when you consider that what the Yankees need most to help their rotation is reliability. According to baseball-reference.com in eight out of nine of his professional seasons (2007-2014) Shields has thrown over 200 innings. His other stats aren’t exactly eye-popping but they show that he is a work horse who provides stability. He has a career 3.72 ERA and 7.7 K/9 with 114 wins. Shields has only one professional season in which he posted a negative WAR (2010); furthermore, he helped carry the Kansas City Royals to the World Series with stellar pitching and posted a 4.3 WAR in 2014.

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So if this guy is still on the market, why have the Yankees avoided him? Plain and simple he does not fit the new philosophy. He was reportedly looking for a five year, $100-million contract and remained firm on that bottom line. It only hurt him because the teams who needed pitching looked else where for cheaper options and addressed their needs. So even though his value has dropped because of supply-and-demand, the Yankees still don’t want him because he is getting up there in age (33) and has logged 1910.1 innings already. They spent the off-season moving big contracts and aging players for cheap youth. If they brought in another player in such a deal, it would contradict all of their moves and saving.

Shields might be waiting for the Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada to sign. We already saw Max Scherzer sign with the Washington Nationals for a massive deal, so the last big deal standing in the way of Shields is Moncada’s. Bill Madden from the New York Daily News analyzes the international signing rules in his new article. He says:

"“The Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Angels, among others, have already far exceeded their bonus-pool allotment for this signing season. As one of his last acts before walking out the door, former Yankee VP of Scouting and Player Development Mark Newman last July spent a whopping $14 million on 25 international prospects, mostly from the Dominican Republic, which got the Yankees an additional year in the international signing penalty box on top of the $300,000 bonus limitation they have for next year’s signing season…Let’s say the bidding for Moncada gets up to the predicted $30 million range. That would mean, for the Yankees to sign him, they would then have to write an additional check of $30 million to MLB, although as one baseball official told me: “At least they don’t have to be concerned about being limited to $300,000 bonuses an additional year.”"

Even though Shields in pinstripes is unlikely, it isn’t far fetched to think of the five-tool Moncada as a Yankee. The Yankees have already worked out Moncada privately and are serious suitors of the 19-year old infielder. Scouts have him listed on the 20-80 scale: Hit-60, Power-60, Speed-70, Arm-60, and Field-50. Moncada can play almost any infield position but looks strongest at third and second base.

It wouldn’t be a bad signing for the Yankees as they look to continue the development of their farm system. Think of the splash a five tool Alex Rodriguez made when he came bursting on to the scene with the Seattle Mariners. Moncada has very similar talents and can be the next big deal.


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