It's Monday morning, we're almost into single digit territory on the pitchers and catchers report date countdown, here's what's going on: - The big news of the morning is James Shields signing with the San Diego Padres. Via Chris Cotillo, it's a 4-year deal for somewhere between $72-78 million. The Pads were the favorites to land him for most of last week, so good on them for following through. I absolutely love what AJ Preller has done with that team this offseason.
I was a fan of the Yankees getting in on Shields when his asking price reportedly started coming down last week, and for the first day or 2 it seemed like they were doing that. That quickly fell apart as teams like the Padres and Cubs came forward, so in the end it was probably nothing more than the Yanks checking up, seeing what kind of deal Shields was looking for, and cutting bait when it was still 4 years. I don't hate the decision to walk away at that price.
- In more Yankee-centric news, Nick Cafardo talked to Brian Cashman recently and got his thoughts on Alex Rodriguez's return from suspension and the team's chances in 2015. Cash summed things up with this statement:
“We have a lot of talent. Like other teams, we have some ifs. If we get good comebacks and our rotation stays healthy, if our team stays healthy, we’re a good team.”
I'd say that's fair, although I think there's a large group of Yankee fans who would disagree to some degree about the "good team" line. There are a lot of ifs, nobody can argue that. It'd be nice if those ifs fell in the Yankees' favor this season.
- While we all sit and wait for Yoan Moncada, fellow Cuban free agent Hector Olivera is starting to make some noise. He put on a show at a showcase game last week and skills-wise he's right up the Yankees' alley. Good size, good speed, can play a couple different infield positions, and he's hit for plus average, power, and OBP in Cuba (.323/.407/.505 in 10 Cuban league seasons).
What he doesn't have is youth. Olivera is 29, which is not old by any means but old enough to not fit in with what the Yankees are trying to do. There's a pack of West Coast teams leading the charge for him right now and the Yanks are nowhere in the mix. Given that they've acquired players to start at shortstop and third and have a handful of in-house second base candidates, it's understandable that they aren't aggressively in on Olivera. Still, I wouldn't them making a late push. It sounds like Olivera would be a better starting second baseman than any of their current options.
- Little MiL free agent note. The Yankees have signed left-hander and former UConn Husky Anthony Marzi to a deal. Marzi, 22, was a key part of the UConn rotation for the last few years, and according to Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant he is expected to compete for a spot in one of the A-ball affiliates' rotations. Always nice to read about good news for a fellow UConn alum.