A little more reading for you today on the possibility that the Yankees could sell off one or more of their impact relievers, something we discussed yesterday in the context of the Cubs scouting Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman, and have discussed at length before with respect to Miller, specifically.
Miller has received the most attention around here in part because that’s where the rumor winds have blown us, but also because, frankly, he’s my preferred trade target for the Cubs. In Chapman, even if you can set aside the off-the-field history, you’re talking about acquiring a rental. There’s nothing wrong with a rental, especially for a team with playoff aspirations like the Cubs. But if you’re talking about preferences, I prefer the guy under control for 2.5 years at a reasonable $9 million per year. (And if you’ve forgotten just how crazy good Miller is, read up here.)
As for Betances, I think he’s fantastic and very attractive as a trade target, but I think the acquisition cost would be prohibitive when you’re talking about a pre-arbitration reliever with a (slightly) shorter track record of big league success.
If the Yankees would move him at all, he’d cost more than Miller, and the deal you’d look back into history and consider is the Ken Giles trade between the Astros and Phillies. A pre-arbitration, elite reliever (though Betances is even better), whom the Phillies sent to the Astros for an absolute bundle of talent: Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman, and Harold Arauz. You can ask the Astros if they’re regretting that one, and might be more so down the line. (For what it’s worth, Giles, now 25, has a 5.54 ERA, a 3.39 FIP, and a 3.03 xFIP this year – a bizarre line mostly due to a strong strikeout rate, a decent walk rate, and a home run rate that exploded in a probably unsustainable way.)
To that end, Buster Olney says that the Giles package is the kind that the Yankees would be looking for … in a deal for Miller.
You can certainly understand why the Yankees would set their sights high, especially given that it’s not like they need to deal Miller right now. They can argue, convincingly, that Miller is on an entirely different tier of effectiveness from Giles, even if he’s under shorter team control at a higher salary. Olney suggests that the Yankees might want none other than Kyle Schwarber for Miller, which is something we’ve already heard (twice) is not amenable to the Cubs.
Olney’s column will get folks talking about this subject again today, but, even as much as I want to see the Cubs aggressively pursue Miller, a Giles-level return in prospects (think a consensus top 30 in all of baseball type, another top 100 type, a good AAA/MLB player, and two more top 20 system prospect types) seems awfully steep. Close. But steep. And then if you start talking about Schwarber, unless it was an expanded deal, I just don’t see how the Cubs could justify it. Even in an expanded deal, given Schwarber’s offensive upside and the presumption that he’ll return healthy from the knee injury, it’s hard to see any realistic deal involving him coming together.
Perhaps this will become one of those situations where the price tag that makes sense for the Yankees to move Miller right now – to the Cubs or any other team – will simply be higher than the price tag that makes sense for another team to give up.
In the meantime, it’ll be fun to follow this storyline on into the Trade Deadline, and following the Yankees’ performance – they just lost two in a row to the Tigers – will be a big part of it.
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