Cleat Geeks

Is Bryce Harper in the Yankees “On Deck Circle?”

brycebelt10613The New York Yankees have long had a reputation as heavy hitters on the market, often not letting money be an obstacle to ambition. Since Hal Steinbrenner has taken over the helm, the team has generally become less of an emotionally impulsive operation and more strategic in nature.

River and Blues makes note:

“New York’s payroll increased $23.1M on average each year from 2000-05. They went from a $92.8M payroll in 2000 to a $208.3M payroll in 2005. That’s insane. The team’s payroll has held fairly steady over the last ten years though. It was $208.3M in 2005 and $213.4M in 2015 according to USA Today’s numbers”

The lack of growth given developments like the new Yankee Stadium and the sale of the YES Network is interesting, leading to a variety of theories as to why. Baseball writers and especially Yankees fans lately are buzzing about one major possibility: Bryce Harper in pinstripes.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote an insightful article discussing the Yankees off-season in the context of the future. The theory is that in not spending, the front office is preparing to put Bryce Harper in pinstripes next free agent season.

Is it possible?

We’re in unprecedented times for the Yankees, who normally make at least one splash every off-season. This year? As SB Nation notes, “they’re the only team to not do so to this point, and it would be the first winter since free agency began where they did not.”

That’s a new feat after decades of established history.

It’s important to note that the Yankees are more balance oriented than headlines-focused now, as opposed to how they were under the late George Steinbrenner.

In regards to team balance, Pinstripe Alley made some important notes:

“The Yankees are owners of the perhaps most balanced roster in the American League. According to Fangraphs depth chart projections, right field is the only of the eight positions in the field at which the Yankees are expected to receive below average production (in this case, below average can be defined as fewer than 2.0 WAR). Carlos Beltran and company project to only produce about one win in 2016, but the Yankees can expect average or better contributions at every other position. Across the field, the Yankees look competent, ranging from second base (projected 2.0 WAR), to catcher (projected 3.7 WAR). The pitching staff is similarly capable, as the starters are projected to fall anywhere between CC Sabathia (at 1.7 WAR) and Masahiro Tanaka (at 4.1 WAR). The Yankees roster quite clearly seems to be nothing if not solid, even though its apparent best players, in Brian McCann and Tanaka, appear to fall short of being stars.”

The team won’t spend just for the sake of spending, which is an enormous departure from tradition. One could hope that the team has learned from past mistakes.

YankeesCoreFourIn a decade of bloated contracts, the Yankees didn’t win the World Series for nine years. Prior to that, the Yankees dominated the back half of the nineties with three consecutive championships while taking four out of five. The nineties streak rode the success of a young “Core Four” made up of shortstop Derek Jeter, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, catcher Jorge Posada and closer Mariano Rivera.

After a decade long drought, have the Yankees finally learned its better to go younger with a focus on balance and chemistry?

Well, consider the points made above by Pinstripe Alley. The Yankees are solid at seven of eight starting positions, with Carlos Beltran in Right Field being the only spot below average production.

Coincidentally, the Nationals have a young slugger who will enter free agency at the age of 24. Fangraphs projects him to have a WAR of 6.6, which would easily replace Carlos Beltran’s projected 0.4 WAR.

His name is Bryce Harper. And the Yankees have pinstripes waiting for him.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: The Pinstripe Post; Will the Yankees contend in 2016? – Cleat Geeks

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