Andy Pettitte is going to miss 4-5 weeks with a groin injury. That likely puts Sergio Mitre in the rotation. Does that transform the Yankees from a team that appeared like it was going to stand-pat at the deadline into a serious buyer?
I’m sure the rumors will start flying now, but I’m less interested in what people are saying the Yankees will do than what they should do. On the one hand, losing Pettitte is a big deal. He’s been fantastic this year, and has certainly been the Yankees’ most consistent starter. Losing him for an extended period of time will hurt. On the other hand, the Yankees did give Mitre nine starts last year — and Chad Gaudin six — and somehow managed to survive well enough to win the World Series, so there’s no reason to panic simply because the Yankees will need to use the second string for a while.
Is Pettite missing six of seven starts really worth parting with young talent and taking on a big contract like, say, Roy Oswalt’s? That answer may depend on A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes. If Burnett’s latest meltdown is evidence that he’s simply unable to get it together this season and if the Yankees are going to keep their word and limit Phil Hughes’ innings down the stretch, yeah, they may be pitching shy. If Burnett’s temper tantrum is a wakeup call, however, and if the team is willing to push the envelope on Hughes’ workload, however, they may very well be able to survive the year without adding a top starter.
I don’t know that I have an answer for the Yankees. At least not one that goes beyond saying, in hindsight, it sure would have been nice for them to have pushed a but harder on Cliff Lee trade a couple of weeks ago. But that’s water under the bridge. The Yankees now face some water in the roadway ahead. How deep is it? Do they risk driving through it, or do they take a detour?
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.