Matthew Pouliot wrote yesterday about how the Rays are in position to potentially bring back nearly their entire roster next season, with the notable exception of Johnny Damon being one of their few free agents and B.J. Upton possibly being on the trading block.
Following yesterday’s season-ending loss Damon and Upton both expressed a desire to remain with the Rays in 2012. Damon called Tampa Bay “the perfect fit” and told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he “would love to come back.”
Upton was slightly less optimistic with one season remaining until he’s eligible for free agency, saying:
I’m hoping I’m back. That’s out of my hands, I’ve got nothing to do with that. But I’ve grown up with a lot of these guys, and the guys we’ve acquired, I enjoy being around them. So hopefully next February I’m still in a Rays uniform.
There were plenty of rumors swirling around Upton in July, so he figures to be linked to numerous teams this offseason. He’s in line for about $7 million via the arbitration process and the Rays have Desmond Jennings ready as a center field replacement. If the Rays liked having Damon around and he’s willing to take another moderately priced one-year contract he could fit into their 2012 plans, but the Upton situation is more complicated.
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.