After visting Cleveland this morning where he was greeted by his image on the Progressive Field scoreboard and where he was also greeted with a standing offer from the Indians, Nick Swisher, bid adieu and headed off to another mystery city.
Where do you think Swish could be heading? Could he be heading south and west of Cleveland? The Texas Rangers need an outfielder. Or maybe he’s heading way out west and visiting Seattle. The Mariners have been in the mix for other outfielders and Swisher is the best one left in the market.
It certainly will be interesting to see how the other teams choose to court Swisher.
Maybe Seattle will fly a “SWISH” banner from the top of the Space Needle. Or they’ll take him on a tour of the city and out for a nice seafood dinner.
I’m also interested in seeing what the offer from Cleveland is.
(I hope it’s interesting beacuse I’m bored out of my mind by what constitutes as baseball news these days.)
With Anibal Sanchez re-signed, the Tigers have a deep starting rotation to say the least. That, predictably, has led to other teams calling them to inquire about taking some of that pitching off of their hands, and Danny Knobler tweets that that interest the Tigers are “taking calls” on both Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly.
Porcello has been around since 2009 and hasn’t really stood out in terms of performance yet, with an ERA/FIP of 4.55/4.26. That said, he’s actually nine days shy of turning 24 years old, so there’s still probably upside here, and he’s made 31 starts in three of the past four seasons, so he’s already pretty durable, especially for his age. As far as the Yankees go, it’s Smyly who really intrigues me. The 23 year old made his big league debut against the Bombers in 2012, and went on to pitch to a 3.99/3.83/3.97 ERA/FIP/xFIP line over 99.1 innings. His peripherals are also quite strong, though he is a bit of a fly ball pitcher.
The top four guys in the Yankees’ rotation forms a very solid core for that unit on paper, but once you get past that, things get pretty dodgy. Ivan Nova is looking for a bounce back performance in 2013 and needs to figure out what kind of pitcher he’s going to be in the future, while David Phelps only has a handful of starts to his name. After that, Adam Warren is the only viable starter (so excluding Dellin Betances) in the system with experience at the Triple-A level right now, so things could get ugly pretty quickly if anyone gets hurt. Given that reality, picking up another viable option for the back end of the rotation could be a good move for the Yankees before this winter ends, and a guy like Smyly, who won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season, would be a big pick-me-up for Plan 189.
Could the Yankees swing a deal for either of these guys? I wouldn’t count on it. For one thing, there’s no indication what the Tigers want, and I don’t think the Yankees necessarily have a ton of chips to put on the table. For another, working out trades between two contenders in the same league is just a tough thing to do, since both are presumably looking for moves that improve their big league roster in the near term. It’s not impossible by any means, but it’s pretty close to it in practice.
On Sunday, Nick Cafardo reported that the Yankees were “quietly interested” in free agent outfielder Michael Bourn. Today, ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews reports that that most certainly is not the case, and that there is “no chance” the Yankees even pursue the speedy center fielder. As Matthews relays, the Yankees don’t like Bourn’s price tag, the fact that he hits left-handed, and feel that they already have a full starting outfield.
We talked kind of a lot about Bourn last night, and while I’m not sure I’m wild about it, there is a pretty interesting case to be made for signing Bourn (for the right price, naturally) and then trading Curtis Granderson, but that’s the sort of thing we can talk ourselves into when we’re starved for baseball action, and not generally the kind of thing that actually happens in real life. So as interesting as it may be to consider the potential machinations, or what the Yankees would look like with three elite defensive/no-power outfielders, my strong inclination is to think that this report is accurate, and the Yankees will not even really consider such a move.
Matthews does, however, reiterate that the Yankees are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and that Scott Hairston remains their preference. Hairston is looking for a two year deal, however, and he seems to prefer a return to the Mets as well.
Raul Ibanez delivered a disproportionate amount of the Yankees’ biggest home runs in 2012, and now a team that could have used a few of those shots themselves is apparently showing interest in acquiring the 40 year old “outfielder.” Via The Dallas Morning News, the Rangers are apparently interested in Ibanez’s services for the coming season, presumably as a platoon DH/reserve outfielder. The Rangers have a lineup that’s heavily tilted to the right, and obviously lost their best left-handed hitter in Josh Hamilton, so Ibanez would be a reasonably good fit if they can find a place to play him.
In addition to the clutchitude, Ibanez hit .248/.319/.492 against right-handed pitchers, and even filled in surprisingly well in the outfield as a bridge between Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees still need a DH, particularly one who can handle right handed pitchers, so a reunion with Ibanez certainly makes sense if all parties are amicable, though I would be surprised if Ibanez didn’t have his fair share of suitors after remaining productive this past year.
Because things can always get worse, apparently the Yankees have seriously considered a trade to acquire The First National Bank of Vernon Wells from the Angels. That comes via Ken Rosenthal, who reports that the two teams discussed Wells at the Winter Meetings, though nothing is close. Both Rosenthal and Jon Heyman report, however, that any trade would be contingent upon the Angels eating the vast majority of the $42 million remaining on Wells’ albatross of a contract.
All things considered, I suppose there are worse ways to go about getting a right-handed hitter to play the outfield. For as terrible as Wells has been in his two season with the Angels, he’s been okay against left-handed pitchers, though there’s some huge variance to those numbers. He whacked opposite hand pitcher to the tune of a .280/.320/.531 line with a 134 wRC= back in 2011, but then hit just .227/.298/.373 (88 wRC+) last season, albeit in just 84 plate appearances.
I guess the theory here is that he could come super cheap and that a move out of Anaheim and into a hitter friendly stadium could improve his numbers a bit, but I wouldn’t really count on it, and I’d be pretty loathe to commit myself to having him on the bench for two seasons even if the Angels are paying most of the tab.
Ah, the language of the offseason rumor mill. What does it mean to be “quietly interested” in someone, and how does that differ than just being interested in them? I’m not sure, really, other than that I guess it’s different than making sure everyone knows that a certain player is someone you really want to acquire in the way that the Dodgers did with Greinke or that the Yankees did with C.C. Sabathia back in 2008.
Anyway, yesterday Nick Cafardo reported that “some believe” the Yankees are “quietly interested” in Michael Bourn, and could move in to sign him if the market for him continues to not really develop as a lot of people thought it would. That is, if they feel like they’re getting a bargain. I can understand that, but frankly I don’t really see where Bourn fits into the roster at the moment. He’s an okay average hitter with no power and good plate discipline who adds a lot of value with his superb defense and base running skills. Sound familiar? It should, as he’s basically the National League’s version of Brett Gardner.
Which is not to say that a Bourn acquisition couldn’t happen if the AAV of the deal is low enough, just that committing to an outfield of Bourn, Gardner, and Ichiro would represent a pretty radical shift in approach compared to what we’ve seen from the Yankees over the past several years, so color me highly skeptical of this rumor.
It looks like Ichiro Suzuki will be a Yankee once again in 2013 and possibly 2014, if the rumors that are spreading around Twitter are true.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted:
ichiro, yankees deal will be for between $12-13M, still working on structure.
It’s unclear if the deal is for one year or two years.
More from Heyman:
ichiro had 2 outside offers for more $, but he told the #yankees he wants to be a yankee. so he agreed to stay a nyy.
Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News added:
Source: Ichiro not only has 2 yr/$14M offer from Phillies, but 2 yr/$15M offer from team believed to be the Giants. Will take less from NY
So all of that stuff about Ichiro being impatient and not wanting to wait for New York was a bunch of hooey since according to the reports, he’s taking less money to remain in Pinstripes.
Now, let’s hope he’s the Ichiro of August – October 2012 and not the Ichiro of 2010 – the first half of 2012.
I don’t why I even feel like this is worthy of passing along, but in his BP post this morning John Perrotto, while otherwise noting how much of the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes is a mystery, passes along one very definitive remark:
Where it winds up going is anyone’s guess, but the continued talk that the Yankees are going to jump into the bidding is way off the mark. Few people to seem to believe it, but the Yankees are dead set against committing big dollars to any free agents beyond next season because they plan to get under the $189-million luxury tax threshold in 2014.
I’m not really sure where the chatter about the Yankees swooping in and snatching Hamilton got its start, but it’s never really struck me as anything more than an attempt by reporters to inject some excitement into an otherwise dull hot stove season in which the Yankees are pledging, basically, to do next to nothing that’s going to light up the back pages. Alas, Hamilton is sort of the ultimate square peg for this time, as he clearly doesn’t fit into Plan 189 and, with the imminent return of Ichiro Suzuki, they don’t even have an opening in the starting lineup for him.
And, with that, I think we’ve sussed out what’s going on. The local media has been implying there’s much more meaning to some pretty bland winter facts like the Yankees listening to trade offers and Robinson Cano being open about wanting to get top dollar when his contract runs out for weeks, and I suppose this is the other side of it. But while trading Granderson, signing Hamilton, and then letting Cano walk sounds like a surprisingly preferable plan of action to me, there hasn’t been any actual indication that any aspect of it is under serious consideration, or that there’s anything more than an attempt to goose reader interest in a heavily saturated market going on.
With their pitching targets in hand and Kevin Youkilis on hold, the Yankees have turned their attention to addressing their hole in right-field, and that means getting serious with Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees have been pursuing Ichiro fiercely for the past few days, and now pretty much all the usual sources are reporting that a deal between the two sides is imminent. No word on the contours being discussed, but it’s safe to assume the 39 year old Ichiro will only be in line for a one year deal, with a pretty steep decline in his salary to boot.
After kicking this around last night, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. My first inclination is to be okay with it, but I do worry that I’m letting Ichiro’s surprisingly strong finish to last season cloud my estimation of what we can reasonably expect him to do in 2013. Is .322/.340/.454 over a full season a reasonable expectation for a 39 year old who hit .272/.310/.335 back in 2011? Maybe not, but it is hard to get over how good Ichiro looked down the stretch last year, and given that the opportunity cost is so low on this move, I can’t really get exercised about it in either case. If nothing else he’ll provide plus outfield defense that should be a big help to the Yankees’ pitchers, especially Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, and his base running and contact skills will diversify the offense a bit. The biggest variable here probably isn’t even Ichiro, honestly, but how well Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter perform as the core of the offense. If those guys are up to par, Ichiro should be fine as a role player.
So yeah, I think I can live with Ichiro for one more year.