Lukewarm Stove: Yankees Talking Luxury Tax? Strasburg Demands, Rendon Likes Nats, Starter Market, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Yankees Talking Luxury Tax? Strasburg Demands, Rendon Likes Nats, Starter Market, More

Chicago Cubs

The World Series is over and today is the deadline for teams and players to decide on options and opt-outs, and the deadline to extend qualifying offer. I suppose that means the offseason is off the ground, but we won’t see any real movement until AT LEAST after November 14th, when the GM Meetings come to an end and the qualifying offer acceptance deadline is reached.

More offseason dates and deadlines can be found right here.

Other landmark-y type dates include November 20th (roster-setting for the Rule 5 Draft), November 28th (Thanksgiving), and December 2nd (deadline for tendering contracts to players under team control, but not signed for 2020), but generally speaking the offseason begins after the GM Meetings end. Here’s hoping the offseason’s velocity and momentum returns to pre-2017-2018 levels.

  • Over the weekend, Aroldis Chapman extended his deal with the New York Yankees (instead of opting out), guaranteeing himself $48M over the next three years. That contract is closely aligned to Wade Davis and Craig Kimbrel’s recent free agent deals, and likely puts an end to the exploding high-end relief contracts we saw a couple years ago. More Cubs implications of the deal right here.
  • Relatedly, at the New York Post, Joel Sherman discusses how the Chapman extension keeps the Yankees roughly neutral for luxury tax purposes, but uses some back-of-the-napkin math to reach $204.1M (or … the current estimated payroll for luxury tax purposes before the offseason even begins): “The Yankees do not publicly divulge what Hal Steinbrenner’s payroll mandates are. But if the Yankees owner wants the team under the second penalty level of $228 million, then without trading a salary or two they have roughly $20 million to spend or $40 million before they would trigger the third penalty level of $248 million.” Sherman continues: “Think of those numbers as you consider if the Yankees will willingly go to more than $30 million annually for Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg ….”
  • If the Yankees New York media are already preparing fans for limited spending by way of that pesky luxury tax, then I’m afraid we may be in store for another cold winter.
  • On Saturday night, we learned that Stephen Strasburg planned to opt-out out of his contract with the Nationals. And yesterday, we learned that the Nationals were trying to extend his deal before things got away from them.
  • Today, we learn a little bit more about what it could take:

  • So the Nationals are willing to give him a bump from his $25M average annual salary (he opted out of 4/$100M), and Strasburg is looking for something like Scherzer’s $210M, seven-year deal ($30M annually) or Greinke’s $206.5M, six-year deal ($34M annually).
  • But there are two things to note about that $30M+ask:
    • First, Scherzer’s deal was so heavily deferred that the actual value was closer to $191M (~$27M annually). So even if you could bet on Strasburg like the Nats did on Scherzer (and I don’t think you can in terms of present talent, expected production, or projected health), asking for $30M annually is a bit of a stretch.
    • Second, Greinke appears like a good comp on the surface (they’re both similarly aged at the time of free agency, coming off a particularly big season, and with 8 full-time seasons behind them). But Greinke averaged ~31 starts in the eight years preceding his deal. Strasburg, who’s dealt with far more injuries throughout his career, has averaged ~27 in the seasons he pitched, and also had surgery. That may not seem like a lot at first, but that’s over 650 fewer innings pitched over those eight seasons. I mean, Strasburg missed 10 starts as recently as 2018 (130.0 IP). He’s still really good and was healthy this year and I want the Cubs to get him if they could make a reasonable deal happen, but the health and durability is obviously a factor for any interested team.
  • Long-story short, I wouldn’t be surprised if Strasburg can get 5 or maybe even 6 years, but I wouldn’t expect it to be for much more than $27-$28M annually. So maybe something between a 5-year, $135M deal and a 6-year, $168M deal. [Brett: Yu Darvish, at a similar age, coming off a strong season, but having previously had surgery, got six years and $126 million, for what it’s worth. Strasburg better now than Darvish was then? Sure. But seven years and $210 million? Get outta here.]
  • Worth noting: Strasburg’s family lives in San Diego County, and the Padres are already counting themselves in the race. And after signing Manny Machado/Eric Hosmer over the past two offseasons while promoting a number of other top prospects, why wouldn’t they be? The Dodgers can’t reign supreme forever, right? Well, apparently, the Padres are eyeing an open window of contention, but believe they need a starter and a big left-handed bat to get there. However, they believe the trade market might ultimately be the best path forward, which could eventually bring the Cubs, with their many bats to trade (theoretically) into view.
  • Circling back to the Nationals, this does not make you think Rendon will be aggressively seeking a new team:

  • Rendon is not only interested in staying with the Nationals, he’s made MORE than one counteroffer to make it happen. I’m sure his asking price has gone up after such a great season and postseason, but that doesn’t exactly help either. With the expected price tag of Gerrit Cole also through the roof, it is reasonable to feel discouraged about the Cubs chances of leaving the offseason with one of the big three free agents (Cole, Strasburg, Rendon), even after not spending last offseason.
  • The 101-win Twins could be losing 4/5ths of their starting rotation at the start of the offseason, which means they’ll have some serious holes to fill. Perhaps you’d think that makes them likely to go after one of the big starters, but I’m not actually so sure. With so many spots to fill, they can’t really commit so much money to just one guy in one offseason. Instead, look for them to “slum” around in the Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jun Ryu ballpark.
  • And, hey, perhaps a trade for someone like Jose Quintana could make sense, but then the Cubs would be left with as many as 2.5-3 holes to fill in their rotation. So, be careful what you wish for.
  • During an MLB Trade Rumors chat, Mark Polishuk guesses that Yasmani Grandal can command a four-year deal this offseason, which could push him out of the Brewers’ price range. I’d like to see him not on the Brewers.


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami