It’s a well-known ploy among teams and agents: make sure you float the notion that the Yankees are involved. The idea is that this will cause other teams to pony up more money, lest they lose out to the financial juggernauts of the East. Strategically this works better for free agents, but surely teams like to keep the Yankees involved when they’re talking trade. This winter, we’re seeing this logic employed by the Padres, in the Jake Peavy proceedings, and we’re starting to see it from the Rockies in their quest to deal Matt Holliday.
For today’s edition, we point to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. He opens the article talking about Brian Fuentes, a reported target of our crosstown rivals. In the bottom third, he talks about the potential trades of Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday. He brings up an interesting point, though given the language he uses, it seems that this might be little more than a pipe dream:
There’s a growing likelihood that Matt Holliday will be traded at some point, given that the Rockies have conceded they won’t be able to sign him long-term. When surveying executives about a possible landing spot, the Yankees continue to pop up. One scenario floated: Yankees trade Hideki Matsui to Seattle and land Holliday with a package focusing on starter Phil Hughes.
Of course, trading Matsui doesn’t necessarily open up an outfield spot for Holliday. Brian Cashman has stated that the plan is to have Johnny Damon leading off and starting in left. Matsui, after surgeries on each of his knees in the past year, isn’t expected to play much, if at all, in the outfield. Judging by what we saw of him this year, that’s probably for the better.
The move would allow Damon to DH more frequently. He hit .320/.407/.437 as a DH in 2008 over 119 plate appearances. He was far worse in 2007 as a hitter only — .229/.316/.328 — though early season injuries and general lack of conditioning forced him into that role. He stepped up his production considerably later on that year after retaining his health. He could also play center field some games, perhaps enabling Brett Gardner to sit against lefties.
Renck misses the biggest obstacle in this scenario: Who do the Yanks get back from Seattle? It couldn’t be much. We’re talking about a guy who will turn 35 during the season, who can’t play the outfield, and who is scheduled to make $13 million in the final year of his contract. Even with salary relief coming from the Yankees, the proposition isn’t so attractive for the Ms. Why would they give up a young, controllable player — surely what the Yankees would seek in exchange — for such a player?
Hideki might be headed into the twilight of his career, but he can still be an effective player. If his surgically repaired knees can stand the rigors of DHing, he can provide more value to the Yankees offense than any player they could get in return. Because he’s essentially a one-year rental, teams won’t be apt to give up much value.
And then don’t get me started on trading Hughes for Holliday.