Thanks for sending your questions in this week. Remember, you can also throw inquiries at our writers in our weekly chats. I host mine at 2pm CST on Tuesdays, Jason Martinez goes at 6:30pm CST on Wednesdays, and you’ll find Jeff Todd at 2pm CST on Thursdays.
“Coming up through the Braves system Johan Camargo was primarily known solely for his defense. He carried with him the ability to hit for contact, but that was about it, from an offensive standpoint. Even taking into consideration the small sample size and all, is Camargo’s early success sustainable? And also, I’m just curious, but should the Braves consider trading Johan Camargo over the off-season?” — Richard C.
I don’t think it’s all that sustainable. Camargo’s sporting a .371 BABIP that is 30 points higher than his mark in a small sample at Triple-A this year and nearly 60 points higher than the .317 mark he had in a full season at Double-A in 2016. He’s doing so despite the fact that his 27.2 percent hard-contact rate is more than five percent worse than the league average. Camargo doesn’t make much hard contact — there are more than 200 players with a higher average exit velocity than his 87.3 mph — and he hasn’t shown much in the way of discipline. He’s posted a 4.4 percent walk rate and a 36 percent chase rate on pitches out of the strike (league average this year is 29.8 percent).
Maybe he’s a useful utility player moving forward, but I can’t imagine him displacing Swanson or Albies as a long-term piece in the middle infield. (Camargo is at .302/.331/.477 through 182 PAs to Swanson’s .273/.330/.406 through his first 183 career PAs at a younger age and without any Triple-A development.) I also can’t envision any team parting with a significant haul to get him based on roughly two months of largely BABIP-fueled production. His bat is already coming back down to earth; it’ll take signs of more sustainable improvement to buy into him as a future regular.
“How much salary would the Yankees need to eat if Jacoby Ellsbury were willing to accept a trade to the Giants and what type of return could the Yankees expect to get back for him? I figure if the Yankees make the Giants responsible for $5-7M annually they can probably get an organizational 10-20 prospect maybe?” — Stan L.
To be blunt: I don’t think there’s any way the Yankees could get a respectable prospect from any system, even if they eat as much of the contract as you said. Ellsbury isn’t playing like he’s worth that sum at this point, hitting .187/.291/.240 through 87 plate appearances since returning from the disabled list. If he were coming back from a rolled ankle or a strained quad, perhaps that’d be easier to overlook, but he’s returning from a concussion that shelved him for about a month.
Getting a even a mid-range prospect from another organization would imply that the hypothetical trading partner feels there’s some level of surplus value in what they’re acquiring, thus justifying the exchange of an asset with modest value. But there’s just no surplus value even in a three-year commitment to Ellsbury (2018-20), even at the relatively modest levels you posit, when he’s set to turn 34 next month and is struggling to this extent following a concussion. Even if he were healthy, the asking price you laid out would be steep. Besides, the Giants are going to look to get younger in the outfield rather than adding another aging veteran to pair with Denard Span and Hunter Pence.
“Any chance the Pirates try to move Andrew McCutchen as an August waiver trade in order to avoid having to make the decision on whether to pick up his 2018 option? If so, what value do they likely get back in return?” — Scott K.
I can’t see any way that McCutchen would be traded in August, because he’d never make it through waivers. Even if the Pirates don’t want to pay him $14.5MM in 2018 — which would be a surprise, given how excellent he’s been over the past few months — they could just pick up the option and trade him anyhow. They got legitimate interest in him last year when he was expensive and coming off the worst year of his career. He’d draw similar or greater interest this winter following a rebound at the plate.
“Could you give a refresher on how the international pool money works? I saw that the Yankees acquired $1.5M from the A’s in International Pool Money, doesn’t seem like much (compared to contracts) but I’m sure I’m missing out on a key piece. Do teams not just bid for the right to negotiate now?” — Nathan C.
You’re probably thinking of the posting system for international professionals — players like Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, etc. The Yankees acquired $1.5MM that will go toward their league-allotted pool from which they can sign international amateurs — that is, players that are under the age of 25 and/or have fewer than five years of pro experience in a foreign league. Most international amateurs are signed as teenagers and come with little fanfare at the time, though the Yankees have strongly built up their system via aggressive spending on that front.
The newest collective bargaining agreement placed a hard cap on how much teams can spend on international amateurs, with allotted pools ranging from $4.75MM to $5.75MM. The Yankees, as a team that is not a part of the Competitive Balance Lottery (due to market size and revenue), began the current international signing period with a bonus pool of $4.75MM. The money they picked up from the A’s in the Sonny Gray trade and from the Orioles in the Yefry Ramirez trade will add to that pool. (Teams can acquire up to 75 percent of their original allotment.) Many are also wondering whether this cash could help the Yanks if they pursue Shohei Otani (should he attempt to move to the majors this winter); the answer is yes, although the extent to which bonus money availability will sway his decision isn’t yet known.