Yesterday, the Yankees traded utility lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. to the Mariners for international bonus pool money. A source indicated to Eric and me that the deal was for $30,000 of pool space (we’re told it’s all Seattle had left in their pool), while others characterized it as being in that range, if not that number exactly.
This move may seem insignificant, but it hints at the motivations and strategies of both clubs. Back in July, the Yankees were one of a couple teams we spotlighted as having a 40-man crunch on their hands (we had Cortes as the last guy to make the roster), so being able to get something in return for him rather than throwing him on waivers because they needed to clear roster spots makes for an easy decision. The price of claiming a player on waivers is $50,000, while we’ve found the return on investment of an international bonus dollar, including operational expenses, is about 300%. Most teams think of bonus pool money as being worth at least double its nominal value, but the Yankees — who consistently trade for extra pool money, with GM Brian Cashman emboldened by their quick returns on high-variance prospects in the international market — likely see it as much more valuable than that. Factor in that given Seattle’s interest, the odds of Cortes passing through waivers was zero, and this makes a ton of sense for New York.
Meanwhile, Seattle is ramping up to compete in 2021 and has open spots on its 40-man roster, so adding an accomplished depth piece with major league experience and remaining minor league options for just a bit over the waiver price, while shifting a little international money into their 40-man roster, fits their competitive posture. Cortes is a 5-foot-11 lefty who sits 88-91 mph and relies mostly on his fastball and slider, but also mixes in a changeup. He’s likely never going to be a role 5, 50 FV or a reliable bulk innings rotation piece, so the Yankees probably figured that one of the prospects recently added to the roster, or a veteran on a minor league deal who won’t need to be added to the 40-man until next season, can fill the same role. Read the rest of this entry »