When it was signed following the 2008 season, Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees was the third biggest in MLB history and largest to go to someone not named Alex Rodriguez. Now it rivals Rodriguez’s as one of the worst in baseball.
With the news Wednesday that Teixeira would undergo wrist surgery, the 33-year-old first baseman ends his fifth season with the Yankees having played in just 15 games and hitting .151. The Yankees are still on the hook for another three years and $67.5 million after paying him $22.5 million this season.
If it were just the wrist injury, there’d be better reason for hope that Teixeira could come back and be a quality regular, if not an All-Star, next year. But he already seemed to be in obvious decline before 2013. Here are his OPSs and OPS+s since 2007.
2007: .963 – 149 – Rangers/Braves
2008: .962 – 152 – Braves/Angels
2009: .948 – 141 – Yankees
2010: .846 – 124 – Yankees
2011: .835 – 121 – Yankees
2012: .807 – 116 – Yankees
The Yankees would surely take it if Teixeira could come back and be a 120 OPS+ first baseman in the last three years of his deal. He wouldn’t be worth nearly $22.5 million per year in that scenario, but that’d still make him an above average regular at first base.
It’s probably overly optimistic, though. While Jose Bautista has come back and produced since returning from a similar tendon sheath surgery, he hasn’t been nearly what he was in the two years before he got hurt. He was also a couple of years younger than Teixeira will be. Mark DeRosa’s wrist problems ended his career as a regular. Nomar Garciaparra came back and had his moments, but he was never the same quality of player after Al Reyes hit him in the wrist.
So, the Yankees should be very worried. That they’ll be overpaying Teixeira and Rodriguez going forward is a given. Maybe CC Sabathia, too. But as long as those guys are reasonably productive, then the Yankees should continue to contend. If those players become liabilities on the field as well as in the budget, that’s the recipe for disaster.
The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.
While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.
“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’
It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.
DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.
The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.
The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.
Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.
It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.