Some reports over the last week have had it that Scott Boras recently approached the Yankees about re-signing Rafael Soriano to a one year deal, as their interim closer has found the free agent market rather lacking after declining a qualifying offer from the Bombers. The Yankees supposedly turned him down flat, preferring to earn a compensation pick and additional draft pool money to adding Soriano to an already well stocked bullpen, but Jon Heyman now says none of that ever happened, and that Soriano wants to be a closer this coming season:
not sure where this got started, bit rafael soriano did not offer to return to yanks on 1 yr deal. sori wants to close.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 8, 2013
The usual caveats about Soriano being a Boras client obviously apply here, but there you have it.
Elsewhere, ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand says that the Yankees haven’t actually shut the door on a Soriano return entirely, and that there is (at least theoretically) a point at which Soriano could bring his demands low enough that the Yankees would be willing to welcome him back. That seems like it should be a given, at least in nominal terms, so without any real detail I’m inclined to believe that we aren’t actually going to get anywhere close to that point.
After weeks of piddling around on the free agent market, Adam LaRoche finally accepted the fact that no one wanted to meet his asking price after he turned down a qualifying offer and re-signed with the Washington Nationals. Between that and trading for Denard Span, that leaves Michael Morse on the outside of their starting lineup and available in potential trades. Mark Zuckerman of Comcast Sports tweets that Morse is “very much” available, and that the Nationals would seek a left-handed reliever and/or starting pitching depth in return.
Morse honestly isn’t much of an outfielder, but as a power-hitting righty who has hit southpaws to the tune of a career line of .303/.357/.503, he carries a big enough stick to be a perfect fit for the Yankees right now. Picking him up for a package built around Boone Logan or Clay Rapada would be something of a dream, but starting pitching depth isn’t necessarily something the Yankees have to offer right now, and you can rest assured that they will not be the only team interested in acquiring Morse’s services.
Though they’ve acquired both Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler in recent weeks, the Yankees’ search for a right-handed hitting outfielder marches on. The top spot on their wish list remains former Met Scott Hairston, and via ESPN New York, it appears that a decision on where he will be signing could be coming from Hairston this week. According to Wallace Matthews, Hairston’s agent, Casey Close, said the outfielder is likely to make a decision in a “matter of days.”
Hairston is pretty much a straight platoon hitter with a career .825 OPS against lefties, but he does bring a bit of versatility in the outfield to the table, anyway. He had a career year for the Mets in 2012 and attempted to parlay that into a multi-year contract this winter, but given how long he’s lingered on the market I assume he hasn’t found anyone willing to make that sort of commitment to him, and may well find himself taking the best one year offer he can get. The Yankees and Mets have been the teams most often rumored to have serious interest in Hairston, but today Matthews’ colleague Andrew Marchand reports that the Yankees do not expect to sign him. The issue? A lack of plate appearances, apparently. Marchand relays that. with the Yankees, Hairston would be a “fourth outfielder,” but that seems a little bit odd given how doggedly the Yankees have supposedly been pursuing a right-handed hitting outfielder over the past few weeks. Presumably they’re looking for someone who can get regular playing time both in the outfield and as a DH against southpaws, something akin to the role Andruw Jones has played in the previous two seasons. If they’re merely looking for a backup outfielder, being concerned about what side they hit from is fairly bizarre, and they probably would have been best off just keeping Chris Dickerson.
Marchand also reports that, if the Yankees don’t sign Hairston, the team’s fourth outfielder will be determined by a Spring Training competition between Diaz and Canzler.
The Yankees are looking for a DH to help round out their roster, but according to Mark Hale they aren’t interested in Jim Thome‘s services. Thome has always been a little bit of a white whale for me, as his pull-side power profiles beautifully for the short porch at Yankee Stadium, but that ship has probably sailed due to age. Injuries limited Thome to 58 games between Philadelphia and Baltimore last season, and Thome hit just .257/.348/.396 for the Orioles. He’ll be 42 this season, assuming he doesn’t retire, so I can’t say I blame the Yankees for passing on him, even if I am disappointed that he never got to play in pinstripes.
With Rafael Soriano languishing on the free agent market as teams blanch at the prospect of giving up a draft pick (or, more accurate, the signing pool money associated with that pick), there’s been an undertone in the rumor mill that his most likely landing spot for the 2013 would be back in the Bronx. I’m a little bit skeptical of that, both because I think the Yankees will be happy to wait out the market and see what pick they’ll get as compensation when Soriano inevitably signs a deal somewhere, and (more notably) because the Yankees don’t really have an opening in the bullpen with Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain both healthy. That’s a sentiment apparently shared by Brian Cashman as well. “I cannot talk about players on the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “But I am not looking for bullpen help, I can tell you that.”
And before you throw out the surprise signing of Soriano back in 2011, remember that the Yankees didn’t have an elite set up man like David Robertson at the time, and at the beginning of the season Robertson was merely a nondescript middle reliever who got most of his action warming up in the bullpen. This year, they already have three solid end-of-game relievers, and spending the sort of money it would take to get Soriano to sign a one year deal just to push Joba and Robertson down the ladder again would be a colossal waste of resources.
Via Dan Martin, the Yankees “have been in contact” with free agent Lance Berkman about joining the team for the upcoming season. Berkman, who had a rather astounding bounce back season back in 2011 when he hit .301/.412/.547 with 31 home runs for St. Louis, was limited to just 32 games thanks to knee surgery in 2012, and was reportedly contemplating retirement as a result. Puma is said to prefer staying close to his Texas home, and the Rangers do have a standing offer out to him, so it’s not clear the Yankees are even doing much other than perhaps making the Rangers’ life a little bit more difficult (especially since Berkman is pretty much just a DH who hits better from the left-side of the plate which, though they have an opening for that, is not their top priority at the moment).
Berkman is notoriously not a fan of the American League nor the designated hitter, and with the exception of a few months spent with the Yankees back in 2010, his entire career has been spent in the senior circuit. If he wants to play another season, however, it appears that he may have to resign himself to being a primary DH, if only because it seems that the only teams interested in him are in the A.L. In addition to the Rangers and Yankees, the Astros, Rays, and Orioles have all been rumored to have some level of interest in the (potential) future Hall of Famer.
Well, this is pretty much inevitable. According to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro the Marlins will listen to trade offers on Giancarlo Stanton. They’re being careful to say that they’re just following a policy of listening to all offers and aren’t actively shopping their
only remaining Major Leaguer best player, but there’s no real reason to even acknowledge that publicly if you aren’t willing to part with him for a plausible offer. The Marlins tore up the core of their team with that big trade with Toronto in November, and although they could keep the super cheap Stanton around as a reason for people to buy tickets, it also makes sense to dangle him for a super-package of prospects to continue to aid the rebuilding process. Plus, Stanton took his displeasure with that trade public on Twitter, and Jeffrey Loria is the sort of petty tyrant who doesn’t take kindly to being challenged by the hired riff-raff.
Not that you should get your hopes up about seeing Stanton in pinstripes any time soon. As one of the game’s premier power hitters at the ripe old age of 23, and with another pre-arbitration season in his future, Stanton is one of the three or four most valuable trade chips in the game, and will require a hefty package that includes multiple high ceiling young players who are either already in the majors or knocking on the door step, and the Yankees simply don’t have those kind of assets at their disposal right now. Barring some sort of crazy multi-team agreement, the Yankees aren’t going to get anywhere close to acquiring Stanton, no matter how willing to let him go the Marlins are.
On Monday, Buster Olney devoted his column to wondering if the qualifying offer had proved to be a big disaster for free agents who declined the offer sheet from their teams. Olney starts by noting that the market for Nick Swisher was apparently a bit thin, as teams other than Cleveland were hesitant to forfeit a first round pick to sign Swish (the Indians have a protected first rounder, so they’re giving up a mere second round pick), and also points out that Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, and Rafael Soriano are all also seeing their markets come together slowly after declining qualifying offers from their teams.
(click “view full post” to continue reading)
According to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the Texas Rangers are close to making a deal with A.J. Pierzynski.
Sources: Pierzynski, #Rangers closing in on one-year contract. Deal will be pending a physical, not yet done.
It’s not like the Yankees were ever really in on the “Pierzynski” sweepstakes but this news seems to lend some crendence to the “the Yankees are going to find their catcher from within the organization” items we have been hearing and reading about all Winter.
Of course, there is always a possibility that Brian Cashman has something up his sleeve and that he may pull off another trade simliar to the one he made last January when the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda and Jose Campos for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
It’s still December so there is plenty of time for the Yankees to get something done but there is always a chance they take a gamble and go into Spring Training with guys like Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine competing for the starting catcher job.