Afternoon Links: Granderson, Tanaka, Byrd

As I mentioned yesterday, this will be a busy baseball week thanks to the GM/Owners Meetings. We learned yesterday that Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and Curtis Granderson rejected their 1 year $14.1 million qualifying offers. Today we learned that the Yankees are actually relieved that Granderson turned down the deal. Considering that they’d get 40+ home run potential on a short term contract for just $14.1 million, I’m a little surprised that they weren’t rooting for a return. Jon Heyman goes on to explain that the Yankees are more interested in signing another outfielder, specifically targeting Shin-Soo Choo, followed by Carlos Beltran, and finally Jacoby Ellsbury. While I can understand why they’d prefer these players, they won’t come nearly as cheap, but the Yankees seem to be deterred by Granderson’s strikeouts. Also, in the case where the team signs a number of new free agents carrying draft pick compensation over departing ones, they’d lose just one first round pick (18th overall), and they would get to hold on to as many compensation picks as possible.

Ken Davidoff reports that the MLB and NPB are very close on an agreement for a new posting system. In the revised blind bidding process, the winning team still gets exclusive negotiating rights with the free agent, however they only pay the average of the top two bids. Once this is finalized, Masahiro Tanaka will be posted and the Yankees will likely remain very engaged in the process.

In terms of departing free agents, the Nationals have interest in Boone Logan, the Blue Jays in Kuroda, and the Royals in Phil Hughes.

And finally, there have been a few minor re-signs and signings over the last couple of days, namely Brayan Pena to the Reds and Geovany Soto staying with the Rangers, but we had our first major free agent signing today. The Phillies have signed the 36 year old Marlon Byrd to a 2 year deal. Continue reading Afternoon Links: Granderson, Tanaka, Byrd

How Will The Kuroda-To-Japan Rumors Impact The Yankees’ Offseason Approach?

Kuroda vs BAL

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod.  Post has been updated to reflect yesterday’s qualifying offer rejections)

Yesterday we got confirmation of what we expected to happen when all 3 Yankee qualifying offer recipients rejected the offers.  There’s been some early indication that C-Grand will look for a multi-year deal elsewhere and the Yankee remain the only team so far that has made a contract offer to Robbie Cano, but there hasn’t been much talk about Hiroki Kuroda.  He’s a very quiet guy in the media by nature and there isn’t anybody in the mainstream Yankosphere who’s gotten a word out of him on what his thoughts might be.

The few reports that are out there right now make it sound like Hirok is leaning towards returning to Japan to pitch next year.  That’s always been part of his retirement plan and it stands to reason that he would want to be able to go back there and pitch while he could still be effective.  Kuroda has fallen off in the 2nd half of the last 2 seasons, maybe he’s taking that as a sign that it’s time to get out of MLB while he still has something left in the tank. Continue reading How Will The Kuroda-To-Japan Rumors Impact The Yankees’ Offseason Approach?

Quick hits: Granderson turns down qualifying offer, Royals interested in Hughes

This isn’t shocking news at all: Joel Sherman is reporting that Curtis Granderson is turning down the $14.1M qualifying offer and will be entering free agency.

In other news, Jon Heyman reported this morning that the Kansas City Royals may be interested in Phil Hughes. Heyman says they may have an inside track because former Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland is in KC. Continue reading Quick hits: Granderson turns down qualifying offer, Royals interested in Hughes

A Busy Week Of Baseball Ahead Of Us

We’re still three months away from pitchers and catchers reporting, but today is a big step in the offseason process. We know that Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and Curtis Granderson have been extended qualifying offers, but today is the last day for them to accept. There’s no chance that Cano takes the 1 year $14.1 million deal, but Kuroda and Granderson have reasons to accept. If the offers are rejected, some interested teams will have to forfeit a first round draft pick to sign them. Regardless, the center fielder would have something to gain, as he could rebuild his value for the free agent market next year. But at the age of 33 in 2014, Granderson is probably more eager to take a long term contract this winter. Kuroda could probably get that 1 year $14.1 million deal with or without costing teams a draft pick, so there’s also little chance that he takes the offer. As of this morning, there’s no word on the status of these qualifying offers, but the Yankees will have an answer for us at around 5 O’Clock.

Meanwhile, today is also the beginning of the GM/Owners Meetings in Orlando, Florida. Few trades are worked out during this time, but there is often a lot of groundwork done before the more productive Winter Meetings in December. Last year, the Blue Jays-Marlins trade that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to Toronto happened right after the GM/Owners Meetings, and there’s already been rumors about a possible Troy Tulowitzki trade this year.

Word is that the Yankees have already started talking to agents this morning, though I would be surprised if they got anything done before December. Thanks to the Alex Rodriguez limbo that they’re caught in the middle of, the Yankees may need to wait until the arbitration process is completed before they know how to navigate the offseason.

Finally, there are a whole heap of awards to give out this week. Today we have Rookie of the Year and Executive of the Year, tomorrow will be the Manager of the Year, Wednesday is the Cy Young award announcement, and Thursday will be the MVP awards. For mid-November, It’ll be a busy baseball week. Continue reading A Busy Week Of Baseball Ahead Of Us

Free Agent: Ubaldo Jimenez

Yesterday, George King reported that the Yankees have expressed interest in starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. The organization remains connected to just about every free agent this winter, and I believe they’re publicly expressing interest to help delay any major signings until they’re prepared to spend money. Unfortunately, they won’t have significant money to spend until they know the extent of Alex Rodriguez‘ suspension, likely sometime in mid-December.

Anyway, this isn’t the first time the Yankees have been linked to Ubaldo Jimenez. Back in 2011, Brian Cashman was heavily involved with the Rockies in talks about bringing the right-hander to New York. Jimenez was fresh off a season where he finished 3rd in the Cy Young competition, and had accumulated a 3.52 ERA in 728.0 innings in MLB’s toughest park to pitch in. But in the months leading up to the 2011 trade deadline, major warning signs emerged. Jimenez held only a 4.46 ERA with the Rockies in the first half of 2011, and most notably, his fastball velocity dipped by nearly 3 mph. The initial asking price for Jimenez was Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. Obviously the Yankees would have negotiated a lower price, but supposedly the Rockies refused to allow Jimenez undergo a physical before the trade. Considering the diminished velocity and recent ineffectiveness, the Yankees dropped out of the bidding with concerns over his health, and Jimenez ended up going to Cleveland.

Before 2013, the Jimenez trade looked like a bust for the Indians. Although none of the pieces that the Indians sent to Colorado have amounted to much, the value of what they traded was a massive loss that could have been used for a more successful trade. Between 2011 and 2012 with the Indians, Jimenez pitched to just a 5.32 ERA.

But Jimenez picked it up in 2013. Although he didn’t regain his high-90’s fastball, he rediscovered some of the command he lost in 2012. His BB/9 dropped from a horrid 4.8 to a mediocre 3.9. His K/9 reached the highest point of his career, 9.6, yet his fastball velocity reached it’s lowest at 91.7 mph. He finished the season with a 3.30 ERA and a 3.43 FIP.

At 30 years old in 2014, Jimenez now has 5 good seasons and 2 horrible seasons under his belt. His velocity decline is a major concern for any team, and the health of his shoulder needs to be meticulously evaluated before any contracts are finalized. Still, 2013 looked like a season where Jimenez learned how to pitch with this lower velocity. In 2012, you can attribute a chunk of his failure to the 4.8 BB/9 and 9.7 H/9. In both instances, it looks like Jimenez was overthrowing his pitches, trying to generate velocity, but at the expense of command. In 2013, Jimenez settled for the diminished velocity and significantly improved his command.

Even with all of these promising numbers, there’s a lot to worry about with Jimenez on the mound. When he’s at his best, he tends to walk a good number of hitters. On top of that, there’s no telling how much more his velocity will decline. While he improved throughout 2013, his line drive rates increased, and it’s hard to tell if he’s still the ground ball pitcher that made him successful in Coors Field.

Looking at the free agent market for pitchers, Jimenez represents the top tier. He’s younger than Hiroki Kuroda and A.J. Burnett, and he’ll likely command a lesser contract than Matt Garza and a smaller investment than Masahiro Tanaka. There’s a lot of upside in Jimenez, and with all the holes in their rotation, the Yankees’ interest in him is likely authentic. Continue reading Free Agent: Ubaldo Jimenez

Quick hit: The coaching staff is returning

The Yankees PR account just tweeted:

“The Yankees have announced that all members of their 2013 coaching staff will return for the 2014 season”

Here’s the rundown provided by the @Yankees twitter account (even though I probably could have written it myself – I’m being lazy)

2014 coaching staff:
Mike Harkey, bullpen
Mick Kelleher, 1B
Kevin Long, hitting
Tony Pena, bench
Larry Rothschild, pitching
Rob Thomson, 3B

Yay? Continue reading Quick hit: The coaching staff is returning

Should The Yanks Take The Plunge On Ubaldo Jimenez?

Ubaldo Jimenez

The Yankees tacked another top free agent name to their ever-expanding target list this week when George King name dropped righty pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in an article for The Post.  You might remember Jimenez as a potential trade target for the Yankees a few years ago when he was in Colorado, a trade the Yankees ended up not pulling the trigger on.  Jimenez landed in Cleveland, where things really unraveled for him in 2012 in his first full season in the AL (5.40/5.06/4.98 in 176.2 IP).  He rebounded in 2013, posting a 3.30/3.43/3.63 slash line in 32 starts and a 1.82/2.17/2.99 line after the All Star break.  On the strength of that 2nd half, Jimenez is looking to land his first big contract after declining his option for 2014.  The Yankees need starting pitching, but Jimenez is such a jumble of inconsistencies that he might scare them off. Continue reading Should The Yanks Take The Plunge On Ubaldo Jimenez?