Last week, we found out that the Rangers were scouting Joba Chamberlain. We know that a Yankee scout attended last Thursday’s Rangers game, which narrows down a trade to a few possible players. David Murphy, Mitch Moreland, Craig Gentry, Elvis Andrus, and Mike Olt all played. Since then, we’ve learned that the Yankees have no interest in Gentry, and that Andrus is not available. The Rangers probably can’t afford trading away Murphy, and at this point it looks like discussions were likely around either Moreland or Olt.
On Monday, in an interview with Mike Francesa, Brian Cashman said that he does not have any trades brewing at the moment, but is looking thoroughly into options in other camps.
Chamberlain did pitch yesterday, throwing just one high-leverage at bat (strikeout looking) to clean up for Adam Warren. On the Ranger’s front, the organization optioned down Mike Olt to Triple-A this week, which sets up Mitch Moreland as the starting first baseman. The Rangers don’t seem to be too enamored with Baseball America’s #22 prospect this year, considering they’ve been including him in trade proposals as recently as a month ago. All signs point to Olt as the main target here, but there’s no telling what it would cost outside of Chamberlain.
Rumors started swirling yesterday that talks between the Yankees and Travis Hafner were getting serious, and today Chad Jennings reports that the two sides are so close that the agreement could be announced as early as today. In fact, he says that an agreement has already been reached, and it’s now all about haggling over the contractual language. No salary figures have been disclosed, but it’s believed the deal will be close to the $1.1 million salary the Yankees gave Raul Ibanez last winter.
According to Jennings, the plan is to use Hafner strictly as a platoon DH.
According to Rob Bradford, the Yankees may be close to a deal with former Cleveland DH Travis Hafner. Hafner, who hit .228/.346/.438 in 263 plate appearances in 2012, fits the Yankees’ profile as a power and patience slugger, but health is a major concern, to say the least. Hafner has appeared in at least 95 games just once since the 2007 season, and he’s more or less incapable of being anything but a designated hitter at this point, even on an irregular basis. Still, the Yankees have a pretty significant need for a DH right now, and the left-handed Hafner owns a 117 career wRC+ against southpaws, so a reasonably priced deal would seem to be a great fit.
Well this is certainly…interesting:
Was told today that the Yankees have no interest in C George Kottaras, who was recently DFA by Oakland.
— Lohud Yankees Blog (@LoHudYankees) January 23, 2013
Oakland designated Kottaras for assignment when they acquired John Jaso in the Michael Morse swap, and he seemed like a perfect fit for the Yankees. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a world beater, but he’s a career .226/.315/.436 hitter against right-handed pitchers and he plays okay defense. Best of all, I guess, he’s got a non-guaranteed contract that will only pay him about $1 million in 2013, so you’d think that might have piqued the team’s interest. Apparently not.
I honestly don’t know what to say about the catching situation, at this point, except that it appears as though it may simply be the case that Brian Cashman is really fond of someone on the current roster.
I’m not sure if this is reporting anything that we didn’t already know, but Ken Rosenthal passes along that the Yankees’ ownership group may not gain as much financial lucre from their rapid budget cutting plans as they anticipated, because adjustments by other teams could reduce the amount of revenue sharing refunds available to them:
The revenue-sharing funds that would have gone to those clubs then would be redistributed to payors such as the Yankees. The idea is to motivate certain big-market clubs — the Toronto Blue Jays, for example — to increase their revenues, knowing that they no longer would qualify for revenue-sharing money.
From that perspective, the plan appears to be working — the Blue Jays, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are among the big-market clubs that anticipate higher revenues next season, according to major league sources.
Such developments would reduce the size of the market-disqualification pot — and in turn reduce the percentage of that pot the Yankees would receive.
The Yankees anticipated $10 million from the market-disqualification program if they got below the luxury-tax threshold one time and $40 million if they stayed under it from 2014 to ’16, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
These numbers are already lower than what was being floated when reports of the plan were first breaking, but that was probably a matter of confusion over the specifics due to the newness of the CBA. In any case, I’m not sure how much it really matters: the meat of the new profits will come in the form of reduced spending on payroll, with the luxury tax savings and the difference in revenue sharing funds being relatively small potatoes by way of comparison. The more pertinent detail is that they’ll stand to make more money by keeping the budget tight over the long haul, something that my cynical self assumes they intend to do until I see otherwise, frankly.
No worries though, the fact that the Yankees won’t sign anyone to a long term deal just reflects the fact that there haven’t been any useful players on the market lately:
Yankees officials, however, maintain that the team’s offseason strategy has not been influenced by future luxury-tax considerations. They say the front office simply is not enamored with the players on the market.
It’s gonna be so awesome when anonymous front office sources start planting stories in the local media about how the team isn’t wild about Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez because they haven’t won any playoff games or something.
Nick Cafardo passes along a tidbit of information likely to send many Yankee fans into apoplectic fits: The Yankees are among the teams who have scouted Javier Vazquez as the former Yankee contemplates a comeback. Scouts are apparently raving about what they’re seeing from Vazquez, who’s reportedly throwing his fastball in the 92-95 MPH range, but that probably doesn’t matter to many of the pinstriped faithful after Vazquez’s two, um, less than stellar tours with the Bombers.
For what it’s worth, I really don’t expect the Yankees to sign Vazquez, even though he probably won’t get any more than a minor league contract after sitting out all of 2012. Aside from the PR problems a reunion would bring, and the immense pressure Vazquez would likely be under if he did indeed take the Yankee Stadium mound again, the Nationals are said to be particularly interested in him at this point, and seem like a likely landing point for the guy who apparently just doesn’t mesh with the Bronx.
Less than a week after Hal Steinbrenner assured Yankee fans that his team’s mandate to get below the luxury tax threshold before next season would not get in the way of assembling a championship caliber team, a report comes out that seriously puts those assurances in doubt. According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Yankees are “reluctant” to enter the Upton sweepstakes, and Morosi fingers the 2014 budget plan as the reason.
As those of you who know me might have expected, I spent most of the weekend in a football coma and didn’t get around to writing about this yesterday, which I thought might mellow my opinion on this story a little bit. It didn’t. There’s a lot of variables that could be in play here, namely that I still have trouble seeing the Yankees matching up with the Diamondbacks on a package, especially with other teams with deeper organizations involved, but if they really are passing on Upton simply because he’s owed roughly $10 million per year on his current contract, that’s just completely indefensible for the richest team in the league. The Yankees are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Upton is a 25 year old with tremendous power and an MVP caliber season to his name already.
Morosi (seemingly) speculates that the Yankees could try to move Curtis Granderson to Seattle in exchange for a similar package to the one they just offered up for Upton, and could then flip those guys to Arizona. I don’t think that’s particularly likely (even with a contract extension, Granderson is much older than Upton and not as good), but it suggests that an unwillingness to part with the team’s own prospects could be an issue here as well. That’s not quite as ridiculous as the possibility that Upton’s salary is too expensive for the Yankees, but it’s pretty close.
The Yankees are looking for a right-handed power hitter, but they have “nothing alive” in terms of trading for Washington 1B/OF/DH Mike Morse, according to Chad Jennings. Morse is going to be traded by the Nationals this winter after being left without a position by the acquisition of Denard Span and Adam LaRoche re-signing with the team, and the Yankees reportedly do have interest in acquiring him, but it’s far from clear that the Yankees are any sort of favorite to acquire the big righty.
When we asked Mark Feinsand about Morse on Wednesday night’s episode of On the Money, he was fairly bearish on the Yankees’ chances of acquiring Morse, noting that the Yankees didn’t exactly have a wealth of the sort of major league ready talent Washington would likely seek in return. The Nationals would like to add a left-handed reliever, but an offer centered around Boone Logan isn’t likely to get anything done given the level of interest there’s likely to be in Morse around the league. The Yankees do have a glut of prospects on the 40 man roster they could easily part with, but none of those guys profile as being ready to make an impact in the big leagues this season.
There are some dreams I will never give up until they are honestly and truly dead and buried, and my hope of one day seeing Jason Giambi don Yankee pinstripes is one of those dreams. Giambi was seriously considered for the vacant managerial position in Colorado this offseason, but he lost out to Walt Weiss, and now Troy Renck reports that Giambi wants to play another season, and is willing to take a Minor League contract to make it happen. The Yankees have an opening for a left-handed DH, and though he didn’t really produce last year, Giambi hit .273/.354/.636. I don’t know if he has anything left in the tank at this point, but no one is going to seriously regret giving him an invite to camp to check him out, and I can spend a little bit more time dreaming of the Giambino attacking the Yankee Stadium bleachers once again.