In New York, their fans are hungry and seemingly angry! They want a winner of course and think it is all bout spending the money as Steinbrenner did years ago. In the game today, payroll is a large influence but so are analytics. It is not as easy for the lesser payroll teams to compete but every year as justification f this look at teams like Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, and Milwaukee. Those teams are in the bottom half of league spending but win due to investing their dollars in smart investments. Here is a list of the top 13 MLB teams in payroll as of today.
There are only three teams with a payroll of over $200 million and yes, the New York Yankees are one of them. The Mets, Padres, and Phillies are 3 teams that did not even make the playoffs last year even though they have spent tons of money. You see, it is not just about the money spent, but what you spent the money on.
Yesterday, NY made a trade with MIN to bring 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and C Ben Rortvedt. They traded away C Gary Sanchez and 3B/SS Gio Urshela. This is a significant deal as these are not prospect-type players, but MLB starters. NY fans are losing their minds because they want Freddie Freeman or Carlos Correa who are the big name free agents that cost money. Now the belief is that NY did not do anything and that the team is actually worse. Here is the typical comment from a Twitter post. I did not include the author on purpose but he is a NY MLB YouTube channel person with a large following.
It is very interesting to see these comments. It doesn’t take very long at all to understand what happened, why it happened, and that the Yankees are much better both on offense and defense than they were prior to this deal. Let’s start with this tweet above. Let’s debunk the statement about Gio Urshela with some facts.
Using today’s metrics on how players are graded like WAR, OFF, and wRC+. Here are some helpful guides to show value. The first chart is WAR, the next is OFF (batting component of WAR), and the last is wRC+.
Using a couple of different projections (Steamer and Zips) we will get some player comparisons here. This is the NY Yankees on Steamer.
As you can see, for WAR, Donaldson can be as high as their 2nd best hitter, and in both cases, he ranks as a Good Player. Kiner-Falefa has a broad range but is Role Player – Solid starter. Rortvedt is a platoon catcher and ranks above Higashioka on Zips and is equal to him on Steamer. When it comes to OFF, Donaldson ranks 3rd on both and near Great to Above Average. Both other players are better defenders by far. STEAMER is the only one with wRC+ and Donaldson has 130 which is near the Great level. Both other players are in the Average level.
Let’s see what Minnesota looks like.
According to STEAMER, one can add Urshela and Sanchez WAR together to make (1.5 + 1.3) 2.8 WAR and STILL not be as high as only Josh Donaldson! It also should be shown that Kiner-Falefa is projected with a higher WAR than Urshela too. Even Rortvedt has a higher WAR (STEAMER) than Sanchez does! Both Kiner-Falefa and Rortvedt have better DEF metrics too! Urshela and Sanchez do have better OFF and wRC+ numbers, but due to the DEF metrics, don’t rank overall as better players.
All this being said, the NY fan base is all up in arms and doesn’t understand or is confused somehow. Let’s say it clearly. One of the NY needs was SS. They have a SS in waiting (Anthony Volpe #12 overall MLB prospect in A ball) so a short-term guy is the best fit which eliminates Carlos Correa. They have tried to “fix” Sanchez now for several seasons with no luck. They need to move him. In this deal, NY was able to get a SS, a near ALL-STAR level 3B, plus a platoon catcher in return for players who were not going to be a part of this team anyway! This deal is straightforward in the goals it achieved. The team is better than they were, and they did not mortgage their SS of the future! Downright successful.
As for the fan base, I hope NY does get a 1B you can celebrate but I suggest you think more in terms of Anthony Rizzo. I also think it would be best if they tried to acquire Sean Manaea or Frankie Montas to support the starting rotation.