The Yankees are 35-23 and atop the AL East, but both GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi are currently lame ducks, notes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cashman isn’t worried about his contract status, telling Cafardo: “I’ve been to this point a few times now. It’s just not unusual. It’s not something you can spend a lot of time thinking about. When the time comes, hopefully things will be taken care of, but it’s not something I talk a lot about.” Cashman, in his 20th year as the Yankees’ GM, is likely underpaid, writes Cafardo. The same goes for Girardi, who has been in his position since 2008. Both make around $4MM per year, which Cafardo points out is a far cry from the salaries of contemporaries such as Cubs president Theo Epstein ($10MM), manager Joe Maddon ($7MM) and Dodgers president Andrew Friedman ($7MM).
Now for the latest pitching-related rumblings from Cafardo:
- Royals left-hander Jason Vargas and Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray are the hurlers who are most asked about in trade discussions (in that order), reports Cafardo. While Vargas is a soft-tossing 34-year-old with below-average strikeout and ground-ball rates (7.14 and 37.0, respectively), he’s only walking 2.06 batters per nine and his run prevention hasn’t shown signs of wavering this season. Vargas’ ERA is currently at 2.18 through 74 1/3 frames and hasn’t gone over 2.39. Unlike Vargas, who will be a free agent next winter, Gray comes with multiple years of team control. He’s on a more-than-reasonable $3.575MM salary this year and isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2019 season. The 27-year-old Gray hasn’t prevented runs to the extent that he did from 2013-15 (2.88 ERA in 491 frames), but he has rebounded from a dreadful 2016 to log a 4.37 ERA, 8.94 K/9, 2.66 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent grounder rate over 47 1/3 innings. Also, his 3.35 FIP is right in line with the 3.36 mark he registered from 2013-15.
- The Yankees are leaving the door open for southpaw C.C. Sabathia’s return in 2018, according to Cafardo. A free agent in the offseason, Sabathia’s next deal certainly won’t come anywhere close to his expiring five-year, $122MM contract. Still, the erstwhile ace is making a case for a decent payday at the age of 36. Across 71 1/3 innings this year, the soft contact-inducing Sabathia has recorded a 3.66 ERA, 7.32 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 48.8 percent ground-ball rate.
- Righty Alex Cobb is the Rays starter most likely to end up on the move by the trade deadline, relays Cafardo. The 29-year-old hasn’t been as stingy as he was prior to 2015, when he underwent Tommy John surgery, but has given the Rays 79 2/3 innings of 4.29 ERA ball (with a matching FIP) this year. Along the way, the impending free agent – who’s on a $4.2MM salary – has somewhat offset a low K/9 (6.44) with a quality BB/9 (2.6) and generated grounders at a 43.9 percent clip.
- If the Marlins go into fire-sale mode, righty Edinson Volquez could draw interest, suggests Cafardo. The offseason signing has been lights out recently, especially during his 11-strikeout no-hitter last Saturday, and has dropped his ERA nearly a run and a half over the past three weeks (from 4.87 on May 18 to 3.41). Volquez, 33, has helped his cause by pairing his best K/9 in five years (8.52) with a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate, though his BB/9 (4.59) is also at its highest since 2012. An acquiring team would take on the remainder of Volquez’s $9MM salary this year and another $13MM in 2018.