Today was a day loaded with news, so let’s dive right in.
1) Ken Davidoff is reporting that Andy Pettitte is leaning towards a return to the Yankees in 2011. This is fantastic news, as it makes the Yankees a bit less reliant on signing Cliff Lee and means that they are likely to be at least as good in the rotation this coming year as they were last season.
2) The Yankees are going to offer arbitration to Kerry Wood and Javy Vazquez, but not Derek Jeter. The Jeter decision likely stems from a fear that he would accept it and make 18-22 million dollars next year, although it may have just been a good faith effort to show Jeter that they are committed to reaching a long-term agreement with him and do not want to unnecessarily injure his bargaining position. Javy has already agreed to decline arbitration, meaning the club will gain a supplemental draft pick once he signs with another club. Finally, the Wood decision was the most surprising, but the logic behind it is fairly sound. The market for relievers has been set at an insanely high level, so there is a chance that Wood rejects the offer to sign a long-term deal. If he accepts, the Yankees have an asset, either in the form of a good set-up man, or as a potential closer inked to a one year deal who would be an attractive trade chip. We have no word on Lance Berkman yet, but I doubt the team offers him arbitration. The market for him has failed to materialize, and I would expect him to accept the offer if it was made.
UPDATE: The Yankees did not offer arbitration to Wood. I think this illustrates the fact that the Yankees do in fact have a budget, and cannot simply give every player what they want or “deserve.” The possibility of being “stuck” with Wood for one year at 10-12 million dollars was too great for the Yankees to chance offering him arbitration.
3) Robinson Cano finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting behind Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera, which is exactly where I had him on my imaginary ballot. He did not receive any first place votes but received the most second place and most third place votes. It was an excellent season and I am glad to see that he was recognized.
4) The Yankees and Derek Jeter continued to negotiate through the press, and Brian Cashman had some fairly strong words today:
“We understand his contributions to the franchise and our offer has taken them into account,” Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com. “We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.”
“I was certainly surprised,” Cashman said in regards to Close’s use of the word baffled. “There’s nothing baffling about our position. We have actually gone directly face to face with Casey and Derek and been very honest and direct. They know exactly where we sit.”
“We believe that Derek Jeter is the best person to play shortstop for this franchise moving forward,” Cashman said. “Do we want to lose Derek Jeter? No. Do we want to treat Derek Jeter fair? Absolutely. Do we want to be treated fair at the same time? No question about it.”
Asked if there was any chance the negotiation could fall apart and Jeter could somehow wind up in a different uniform next year, Cashman said, “Not from us. We would like Derek Jeter to be a Yankee and we’re making our best efforts to keep that in play. But it takes two.”
I agree with every last word that Cashman said, and it is gratifying to see that the GM is on the same wavelength as much of the fan base on this issue. However, nothing was gained by making these comments publicly, and it is time for the Yankee brass to stop talking about this. All the talking does is entrench Jeter in his position, as he will look awful if he concedes now and takes the Yankees initial offer. I still thinks this gets done, probably for 3 years and 54-57 million, but both sides need to stop negotiating in the press and start hammering out a deal that is fair for the club while allowing Derek to save face.