When Carlos Correa signed a three-year contract with the Twins — a deal that includes opt-outs after each of the first two seasons — many wondered why the Yankees hadn’t tried to sign the All-Star shortstop to a similar short -term deal.
New York’s top two prospects — Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza — are both shortstops, one of the myriad reasons the Yankees weren’t in on the bidding for this offseason’s class of star shortstops. Corey Seager landed a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Rangers, while Marcus Semien also joined Texas, signing a seven-year, $175 million pact. Javier Baez (Tigers) and Trevor Story (Red Sox) signed six-year, $140 million contracts.
Correa didn’t find the long-term deal he had been seeking, choosing instead to take the shorter-term contract that averages $35.1 million. The Yankees might have been intrigued by the length of the deal, which would have kept the position open for one of the young shortstops, but the average annual value gave New York pause.
Hal Steinbrenner recently noted that the Yankees are already north of the $230 million CBT threshold, having recently taken on Josh Donaldson’s contract in a trade with the Twins. According to Spotrac, the Yankees’ CBT payroll stands at approximately $251 million, which would already place them in the second tax bracket, adding a 12 percent surcharge to the base tax rate.
According to sources, the Yankees’ primary hesitation involved the non-financial penalties that come with passing the $270 million threshold, namely their first-round Draft pick being moved back 10 spots.
“If it was just about money, they may have made a bigger play for Correa on a short-term deal,” a source said. “But the Draft thing made it a non-starter, especially after the Donaldson deal.”
Although the Twins used the flexibility created by the Donaldson trade to acquire Correa, the Yankees believe the trade of Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela for Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt helped address multiple spots — third base, shortstop and catcher – – to vastly improve their defense.
Here comes the Judge
Speaking of the Yankees, GM Brian Cashman said recently that the team plans to make an offer to Aaron Judge with the hope of signing the All-Star to a contract extension. Judge has said he would like to get a deal wrapped up prior to Opening Day, after which he won’t negotiate until the end of the season, when he’s slated to become a free agent.
The two sides exchanged arbitration numbers last week, with Judge asking for $21 million and the Yankees offering $17 million. The $4 million gap between the sides is one of the largest in arbitration history, setting up a high-stakes hearing.
Assuming it gets that far.
Two industry sources said they expect the Yankees and Judge to complete an extension before the April 7 opener, rendering the filing numbers moot. One source predicted a seven-year, $245 million extension for Judge, which would take him through his age-36 season, while the other pegged the deal at eight years and $265 million.
Ready for service
One of the hot-button topics during this offseason’s labor negotiations was service time manipulation, and based on some early signs, the changes made in the new collective bargaining agreement are having the desired effects.
“We want them to earn it,” manager AJ Hinch said. “If they deserve to be there, they’ll be there. Service time won’t even be a consideration.”
Based on the new CBA, the top two finishers in each league’s Rookie of the Year vote will accrue a full year of service time regardless of how many days they spent in the Majors. So if the Tigers believe Torkelson and Greene will be impactful players upon their arrival, why not get them into the lineup as soon as possible? The Padres did that with Fernando Tatis Jr., while the Mets did the same with Pete Alonso, with each team benefiting immediately from their respective sluggers’ arrivals.
In addition to the presence of the two young sluggers in the lineup, there’s a potential added bonus for the Tigers: Teams that promote prospects to the Opening Day roster can also benefit from that decision, because they will be eligible to receive additional Draft picks if those players finish in the top three in ROY voting or top five in either MVP or Cy Young voting.
Rocky Mountain Moves
The Rockies signing Kris Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million deal this month raised some eyebrows around the league. If Colorado was willing to spend for Bryant, why did the club find it necessary to trade Nolan Arenado a year ago, sending $50 million along with the third baseman in a trade with the Cardinals?
On the surface, this was a fair question. Arenado had six years and $199 million remaining on his deal, terms not altogether different from what Bryant got from the Rockies.
But a closer look at the financials could help explain Colorado’s actions. Arenado was set to earn $35 million per year from 2021-24, then $32 million in 2025 and $27 million in 2026. Bryant will earn $17 million this season, $27 million per year in 2023-24, then $26 million in each year from 2025 -28.
Rather than paying Arenado $35 million this season, the Rockies will pay Bryant, shortstop José Iglesias, reliever Alex Colomé and starter Chad Kuhl a combined $36 million, allowing them to strengthen multiple spots for roughly the same price.
There’s another thing to consider: while the Rockies did send $50 million to the Cardinals in the Arenado deal, Colorado was going to be on the hook for the third baseman’s $35 million salary if he wasn’t traded. By sending that money along with another $15 million to St. Louis, the Rockies were able to net left-hander Austin Gomber and four prospects including infielder Elehuris Montero (Colorado’s No. 4 prospect) in the deal.
Compared to the alternative — which was Arenado opting out of his deal at the end of 2021 — it came down to paying him $35 million and receiving a compensatory Draft pick if he left, or paying $50 million to receive a nice package of prospects .