Interest remains between the Yankees and free agent third baseman Todd Frazier, a pair of sources with knowledge of their correspondence have told NJ Advance Media.
But the team’s mission to stay beneath the $197-million payroll luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season has kept the sides from speaking much this offseason, according to one of the sources.
Frazier, who has made teams aware he’s seeking a multi-year deal, has continued to speak with multiple clubs. It’s unclear how much money he wants. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported the Yankees’ projected payroll currently stands at about $178 million. Frazier made $12 million last season.
The AP thinks the Yankees payroll is at $178 million, the NY Post says $182 million. Either way, the Yankees are roughly $17 million from the threshold, but they want to leave themselves space for mid-season deals so there is no way they go right up to $197 million to start the 2018 season.
The problem right now is Jacoby Ellsbury and the $23 million per year, and $68.5 million overall, that he’s owed. The Yankees would like to get rid of it before making more deals, but teams aren’t interested right now because there are options still available on the free agent market that are just as good and probably much cheaper. So the Yankees must wait. The problem is that Todd Frazier probably won’t if another team offers him the right multi-year deal.
I do not expect the Yankees to budge from their refusal to include Torres in any deal for Cole. Right now it seems likely that Torres will start the year at second base or at least play two-thirds of the season there. After all, Brian Cashman did admit that the Yankees might have called up Torres last year if he didn’t get hurt and even went so far as to say the Yankees might not have traded for Todd Frazier if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
Torres is basically part of the team at this point where Clint Frazier…is the 6th outfielder and a guy who would be *nice* to keep around.
The problem is that the Yankees are trying to keep their payroll under $197 million for the season to avoid paying the luxury tax and reset their penalty from 50 percent to 20 percent if they exceed it in the future.
Joel Sherman of the NY Post estimates their payroll at approximately $182 million, but that doesn’t include the contracts of players that they will inevitably add midseason. So they do have some flexibility still, to say trade for a pitcher on a team-friendly contract like Gerrit Cole, but if they could off load even some of the $68.5 million they owe to Ellsbury, they could suddenly jump into the free agent market.
The Yankees could probably offload at least some of Ellsbury’s contract if they were motivated to do so, it just depends on how much of that $68.5 million they wanted to eat. Rumors are they were willing to swallow about half, but teams are obviously still hesitant. There is also the factor of his no trade clause and the fact that he’s stated multiple times that he does not want to be traded.
The Yankees will still look to add another starting pitcher, but with CC Sabathia re-signed the Yankees have five potential starters including CC, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. This does give the Yankees slightly more leverage in potential trade talks for starters from now on at least. They can wait and make a deal midseason if need be.