Yankees Re-sign Headley, Capuano

Chase HeadleyI’m a little surprised that Chase Headley only received a 4-year/$52 million deal. As the top remaining third baseman on the market, and a solid bet to actually be worth the money he’ll be paid, I felt fairly confident that he’d average in the 15 million dollar range. Of course, that kind of figure would have been a slight overpay, but it’s raining Benjamins in the bigs these days.

The market never approached 15 per, and the sudden frugality by GMs is the Yankees gain as they locked up a clear position of need at an excellent value. There were rumors that Headley had an offer for 4-years/$65 million, which was quickly dismissed as poppycock, and reports that the Houston Astros had offered five and 65, though I wonder about the latter. 13 million is a lot to leave on the table, no matter how much more competitive he believes the Yankees might be, and with there being no state income tax in Texas . . . you get the idea. Maybe Headley really loves the Chelsea Hotel or ice skating in Rockefeller Center.

Hum some Leonard Cohen, and New York City it is.

By now, everyone knows the Headley story. He was really good, an overnight San Diego sensation, then he was constantly injured and became “Career Year” Hedley or “One-Time” Chase. That’s not particularly fair as he was still worth in the neighborhood of 3-4 wins depending on your WAR du jour, and over the last two years (discounting his extraordinary 2012) he’s recorded the 10th most wins by fWAR (8.0) and 12th (7.3) by bWAR for a third baseman in the Majors.

Kudos, One-Time!

If he hits comparable to how he did after being traded to the Yankees, .262/.371/.398 with six home runs in 58 games, with just enough pop to sit mid-teens while playing solid defense, this deal is a winner. Honestly, I find it difficult to find fault here since Headley will earn his 52 million in the first three years alone (depending on how much a win is truly worth these days) and will play that final year for free. That doesn’t happen all that often in the Bronx, and Brian Cashman should be congratulated for snookering Headley into forgoing Houston’s extra year (if for reals).

Remove Headley’s contributions last season, and the Yankees were seventh in total fWAR for third base in the AL over the last two seasons (sigh, so many prepositions), barely topping the Angels who had a whole lot of nothing there until David Freese turned in passable last year. It’s a similar story if we go back to 2012, the year after Alex Rodriguez decided to get all broken and old. They sit seventh, and with the AL East now suddenly boasting a plethora of talented third sackers, the Yankees needed to re-sign their most valuable infielder (only Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner topped Headley’s 2.8 fWAR for position players) from last year’s team or watch as the Red Sox manage to employ them all and sprinkle them around the diamond.

We can debate all day long if the Yankees have enough to win the division (they don’t) but there’s little debate that an infield of Didi Gregorius, Martin Prado, and Mark Teixeira desperately needed some kind of offense to balance out the .220s Gregorius and Teixeira will throw out. At the age of 34, it’s all hope and medical miracles that Teixeira’s wrist will stop bothering him. I’m fudging a bit here by not including Brian McCann in that group, but McCann is certain to improve upon that .232/.286/.406 line he had last season, especially considering his lifetime OBP of .343. He still hit 23 home runs, which was nice. Add in a full season of Headley, and we’re discussing a group that scores a few runs and competes in the East.

Most interesting to me was the Yankees re-signing Chris Capuano to a one-year deal. Others are more bullish on the Yankees rotation than I am. Personally, I think it’s a group brimming with question marks, so retaining Capuano is a sound move if the idea is depth in case of injury: a near certainty. I hope it doesn’t signal the retirement of Hiroki Kuroda or is meant to fill Brandon McCarthy’s vacated spot. We’re years removed from when Capuano pitched anything close to a regular workload. It was two years ago when he last made 30+ starts.

Five million for Capuano, though, is another thrift store deal for the Yankees, and either something big is in the works or we’re looking at a front office that has seen the state of the organization and is looking to save cash. If it’s the latter, why sign Headley for 13 million per? You take flyers on guys in the four to five million range, like the Padres did with Brandon Morrow, and if they pan out you extend an offer and either receive an extra pick or negotiating leverage. Capuano is 36. Apparently the Yankees are banking that the Mets are in the market for a starter next year.

Chase Headley photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

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