Via Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Red Sox and David Ortiz are apparently in the process of “finalizing” a two year contract for their designated hitter. The two year term has apparently been agreed to by both sides, and they’re also reportedly close on the amount of money involved. I confess, I had really hoped that Ortiz, who hit .318/.415/.611 with 23 home runs in just 383 plate appearances this year, would be a Yankee in 2013, but if the Red Sox have indeed agreed to give him a two year contract you can pretty much forget about him going anywhere else. Alas, my dream of seeing Big Papi attacking the short porch for the good guys is probably dead now.
The Yankees don’t technically have a starting catcher lined up for the 2013 season, and there may be a late arrival to the radar for said job. According to Buster Olney, the Braves aren’t guaranteed to bring Brian McCann back for the 2013 season, and could look to trade him to free up payroll space. McCann, a former All-Star who had a dreadful 2012 season and just had shoulder surgery a week ago today. he’s expected to be ready to play next year, but the Braves may not be feeling as good about his $12 million option now as they once were.
Olney speculates that the Braves could attempt to negotiate a lower salary with McCann, but that seems unlikely to work, given that McCann would be eligible for free agency if the Braves were to buy out his option. That leaves picking up his option and trading him as the most likely means to a move, and here the question becomes what the Braves would want in return. McCann is coming off of his worst big league season, having hit just .230/.300/.399 (86 wRC+), but that was definitely an outlier. He’s had a wRC+ of at least 119 in every season from 2006-11 with the sole exception of 2007, and hit .270/.351/.466 in 2011. He’s also pretty well regarded for his work behind the plate, especially his pitch framing skills. He will be coming off of shoulder surgery, however, and would only be under the control of the acquiring team for one season.
It’s obviously hard to get a gauge on what teams might do in terms of making trades, but if the Braves really are interested in getting rid of McCann’s salary, he could be a perfect fit for the Yankees as they continue to try to develop their catcher of the future.
I’ll be taking a closer look at the biggest questions facing the Yankees in the offseason over the coming days, and I figure there’s no better place to start than with the unexpected topic that’s come to dominate the early offseason. Following the Yankees pitiful offensive performance in their nine postseason games and the benching of Alex Rodriguez in seven of them, the once unthinkable possibility of the Yankees trading their third baseman has dominated the media discussion around the team. There was even a “report” by Keith Olbermann than the Yankees had worked out a deal to send Alex to Miami, but that was quickly shot down, and the Marlins have since traded Heath Bell to Arizona. Yet, the possibility of A-Rod being run out of town unceremoniously continues to be discussed incessantly, so is it possible that there may be something brewing here?
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Andruw Jones had a rough year, and was especially bad in the second half of the season, hitting just .142/.256/.255 after the All-Star break. Indeed, he was so bad that the Yankees left him off of their postseason roster entirely, even though he had been brought back to the team to carry the lesser end of a DH platoon with Raul Ibanez. According to Jones himself, however, he’s far from done, and blames that second half on a finger injury he suffered just after the break. “I did it diving for a ball against Toronto at home,’’ Jones told reporters yesterday. “Hands and fingers are tough.’’
Jones claims he wants to play for four more years, and at 34 years old that’s not terribly unreasonable if he’s still capable, but I wouldn’t bank on the Yankees bringing him back on anything but a minor league contract for 2013. He simply didn’t get the job done against lefties like he did in 2011, and he’s old and slow to boot. I like to make fun of the obsession some people have with the Yankees getting younger, but it does seem like if there’s one place they could add some speed/athleticism it’s by replacing Jones. Then again, everyone has always been full of praise for Jones’ presence in the locker room, and he did have a .535 slugging percentage before the break, so if the Yankees were aware of this finger injury they could well give him another chance.
When Michael Pineda had surgery for a torn labrum back in May, he indicated that, if all went well, he hoped to be ready to go at the beginning of Spring Training in 2013. Given the nature of the injury, however, that was always a touch unrealistic, and general manager Brian Cashman said as much yesterday. Appearing on ESPN Radio with Ian O’Connor, Cashman said of the man he traded Jesus Montero to acquire: “We have to keep him off our radar for now. … We’re talking June of next year … the second half of next year.”
Given Pineda’s stature and the controversial nature of his acquisition, I have a feeling that there’s going to be some anxiousness to get him on the mound in a Yankees’ uniform, but the Yankees are actually fairly well suited to take it easy with their young righty. They have C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps under control for next season, and if they can bring back Andy Pettitte and/or Hiroki Kuroda, they should be perfectly fine where starting pitching is concerned on Opening Day. The important thing here will be to avoid any setbacks with Pineda’s shoulder, allowing him to rehab at his own pace and come back when he’s ready. Hopefully that will provide them with an additional weapon come the summer months, but if not it shouldn’t be the end of the world for this roster.
While fantasies of trading Alex Rodriguez elsewhere have dominated the collective mind in the wake of the Yankees’ disappointing exit from the playoffs, the biggest long term financial concern for Brian Cashman right now is the status of Robinson Cano. The Yankees’ best player has a $15 million option for 2013 that the team will undoubtedly pick up, but after that he’s eligible for free agency, and could be hitting the open market as a cream of the crop player at a time when more teams than ever are flush with cash. Ideally, the Yankees would work out an extension with Cano before it comes to that, but based on this report from Joel Sherman, they shouldn’t expect any early bird discounts fro their second baseman:
Whenever I have asked about his financial goals, Cano always has said he is not concentrating on that subject. Yet a few members of the team told me Cano has said he is expecting a 10-year contract at top-of-the-market dollars. In a conversation with me yesterday, Boras also did not give numbers, but it was clear he expects his client to be treated financially like one of the great players in the game.
In other words, he’ll be happy to sign with the Yankees now, but only for premium dollars. The idea that Cano would take a discount has always been something akin to wishful thinking, at least since he signed up with Scott Boras aheda of what’s likely to be his only crack at free agency. Simply put: Players don’t hire Boras if they want to leave money on the table. What this does mean, however, is that Cano almost certainly has no plans of foregoing free agency. He’s not likely to get a 10 year contract from anyone, but if that’s what he’s going to ask for if the Yankees open negotiations with him now, he’s essentially charging the Yankees a premium for keeping him off of the free agent market and out of the clutches of other franchises. I doubt the Yankees bite on that, in which case they’ll have to contend with all comers for Cano next season.
Of all of the various memes and conventional claptrap the New York media obsesses over where the Yankees are concerned, by far my least favorite has to be the “What Would George do” style of analysis. To be blunt, the answer to that question is almost always “something incredibly petulant and ill advised that does more harm than good to the Yankees in the long run.” Remember those incredible dynasties the Yankees built in the 1980′s and mid-aughts? Yeah, me neither, and there’s a reason for that. On the one hand, Steinbrenner’s brand of hyper-reactionary management is simply ill suited to running a team in the sport of the 162 game regular season, and on the other hand, it’s incredibly hard to consistently survive and advance in the modern postseason tournament, even for the best teams.
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If Rafael Soriano opts out of his current contract with the Yankees, as expected, the Yankees will make him a qualifying offer in order to receive draft pick compensation if Soriano signs elsewhere. That comes via Jon Heyman on Twitter, who also observes that, if Soriano were to accept the $13.3 million qualifying offer, he’d stand to make an extra million dollars in 2013 between the salary and the buyout of the final year of his current deal. It’s highly unlikely he’ll accept that, however, and the Yankees are not expected to make him an extension offer if he does indeed become a free agent.
Not to put a damper on your New York media driven visions of the Yankees running Alex Rodriguez out of town on a rail, but general manager Brian Cashman said flatly on Friday that the Yankees have no plans to trade A-Rod this offseason. “No, I’m not,” Cashman said when asked if he was talking to other teams about trading for his third baseman.
Of course, stories like this are true right up until the point at which they’re not, and the idea that the Yankees won’t even kick the tires to see if any other teams are interested in eating a portion of the money the Yankees still owe A-Rod would border on GM malpractice. The problem is that the Yankees aren’t likely to find any takers who want to return anything of value for A-Rod, either in players or salary relief, right now, so they would essentially have to give him away before finding someone else to take over his position. Considering that A-Rod was a ~4.0 win player from 2009-11, that would be a very short sighted thing to do right now, especially with ownership’s austerity directive looming larger than ever before. If Cashman doesn’t have the money to keep Nick Swisher in right field, how can he pay for two third basemen?