Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How does Jon Lester signing with Cubs affect Yankees?

How does a signing in the National League affect the New York Yankees? Well, there are multiple ramifications to Jon Lester’s six-year, $155 million pact with the Chicago Cubs.

He’s not on the Red Sox

I believe first and foremost, having Lester out of the AL East is good for everyone in the division except the Boston Red Sox. Further, since the Red Sox did not sign him, it puts less “pressure” on the Yankees to delve into the Max Scherzer sweepstakes. If the Yankees want Scherzer that is fine, but to do it as a response to a Red Sox move is not thinking it all the way through in my opinion.

The Red Sox could still use some of their prospects to bring in a guy like Cole Hamels, but the Yankees shouldn't have to assume anything at this point.

Scherzer’s market is established…kinda

It’s been assumed all along that once Lester signed it would provide a landscape for Scherzer's value. Take Lester’s average annual value, bump it a bit, add a year and you’ve got an approximate to Scherzer’s value. Lester will earn an AAV of $25.83 million. Boost it to $27/28 million for seven years and Scherzer is looking at $189/196 million in total salary.

That’s all well and good but late Tuesday night, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that Scherzer’s looking for a contract valued at over $200 million. So seven years at $28 million annually doesn’t get it done if you believe the rumor. Lester has a vesting option for $15 million. Expect Scherzer would get something similar if a club has to go the extra mile.

Signing Scherzer could give Yankees an edge

I tweeted last night right after Scherzer’s “demand” was issued that I hoped the Yankees stayed away from a $200 million plus deal for the hard-throwing right-hander. Scherzer is excellent, no doubt about it, but I have no faith he’ll be nearly the same pitcher after four or five years. He has a violent motion and has shown diminished velocity in his last two seasons. I would have ranked Lester higher than Scherzer, simply from a long-term investment standpoint. I believe Lester will age better, plain and simple.

That said the Yankees could certainly turn the tide of the AL East by obtaining Scherzer. He’s a difference maker. There’s a good chance the Yankees will be without a bonafide ace again in 2015 considering all the injury risks currently on the roster. Scherzer would solve that problem in a hurry. It would however serve as a talking point that the Yankees are clearly not ready to completely re-think the way they build an organization.

Yankees can stick with original plan

Seeing Lester receive just about what everyone felt he deserved could tell the Yankees that Scherzer is out of their reach and that they should stick with the original plan -- no nine-figure salaries this offseason. Instead, they could add two mid-tier starters, Chase Headley and another reliever for a lot less than $200 million in guaranteed funds and it would not hamstring them for more than four years.

Moves like this would not be flashy, but it would indicate they are in a mode of restructuring how they do things in the Bronx - acquire some higher-priced talent, mixed with low-risk high reward potential while re-growing the farm system.

Knowing Scherzer’s desires, I’d follow this last plan. Go after Brandon McCarthy, go get Hiroki Kuroda if he wants to pitch, or someone of his ilk. Sign Headley and nail down a proven closer on a short-term deal and use Justin Wilson, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances as a trio of strong setup guys who are versatile against batters from both sides of the plate.

What do you think? Should the Yankees go all-in on Scherzer or spread the wealth? Let me know in the comments below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.