Veteran infielder/outfielder Martin Prado, whom the Yankees acquired from the Diamondbacks in July, is now headed to the Marlins in a big swap.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post the Yankees are sending Prado and right-hander David Phelps to the Marlins in exchange for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones, and minor leaguer Domingo German.
Prado can play all over the field defensively, but presumably the Marlins want him as their primary third baseman and are prepared to either bench or trade Casey McGehee. They just acquired Dee Gordon to play second base and the outfield is pretty set. Prado is owed $11 million in each of the next two seasons and hit .282 with 12 homers and a .733 OPS in 143 games this year after posting similar numbers in 2013.
Phelps has split his time with the Yankees between the rotation and bullpen, posting a 4.21 ERA in 299 total innings. At age 28 he’s under team control through 2019 as likely fits in Miami as a mid-rotation starter.
Eovaldi has logged 460 innings in the majors despite not yet turning 25 years old, including 199 innings in 2014. He throws hard and has a decent 4.07 career ERA, but his strikeout rate has been mediocre. He should step into the Yankees’ rotation and is under team control through 2017, giving them a young arm with some upside.
Jones is a veteran left-handed bat who can play first base or an outfield corner, giving the Yankees some insurance behind Mark Teixeira. However, he’s not really a starting-caliber player with a modest .240 batting average and .715 OPS during the past two seasons.
German put up good numbers as a 21-year-old starter at low Single-A, but he’s not considered a top prospect and is a long way from the majors.
Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees exceeded the competitive balance tax (more colloquially known as the luxury tax) threshold for the 2019 season, set at $206 million. It will rise to $208 million for the 2020 season and $210 million in 2021.
Teams that exceed the CBT threshold pay a penalty on the overage, which is compounded depending on how consistently they have exceeded the threshold. The base penalty is 20 percent. If a team has exceeded it in a second consecutive year, the penalty rises to 30 percent. Three or more consecutive seasons yields a 50 percent tax on the overage. Furthermore, teams that exceed the CBT threshold by $20-40 million see an additional 12 percent tax. Above $40 million brings a 42.5 percent penalty which rises to 45 percent if the team exceeds the CBT by more than $40 million in a consecutive year.
The luxury tax has acted as a de facto salary cap. Front offices typically have gone out of their way not to exceed it, especially in recent years. The Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees are each widely believed to be looking to stay below $208 million in 2020.
In pursuit of payroll efficiency, the Cubs are believed to be willing to listen to offers for catcher Willson Contreras, third baseman Kris Bryant, outfielders Kyle Scharber, Albert Almora, and Ian Happ, as well as pitcher José Quintana. The Red Sox are believed to be pursuing trades of outfielder Mookie Betts and/or J.D. Martinez. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is also believed to be available.
As we have been discussing the ongoing labor tension in baseball lately, one wonders if the CBT threshold might also be changed within the next collective bargaining agreement. It has served ownership well, giving them something to point at as a reason not to invest as much into putting together a competitive and entertaining product for fans.