Archive for Hot Stove League
This is quite annoying. According to Ken Rosenthal, Russell Martin informed the Yankees he was willing to sign a one-year contract worth $9-10M this past offseason. A one-year deal, of course, would have worked well with the team’s plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014 and not left them with the Chris Stewart/Frankie Cervelli tandem for 2013. The Yankees balked and Martin instead took a two-year pact from the Pirates. I love the Yankees, but I hate the way they do pretty much everything these days.
Via Nick Cafardo: The Yankees have been scouting Lyle Overbay closely in recent days and weeks. He’s gone 8-for-36 (.222) with a double and two triples (!) in Grapefruit League play. Joel Sherman says the team is still looking for help even after the Vernon Wells trade.
Overbay, 36, hit .259/.331/.397 (91 wRC+) with two homers in 131 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks and Braves last season. He’s always been an all-fields double hitter — meaning the short porch in right field might not help him a ton — who can play the hell out of first base, but his game has taken a step back at his age. Overbay can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox on Tuesday, but they might carry him on their Opening Day roster since David Ortiz is expected to start the season on the DL.
8:30pm: Jon Heyman says the Yankees are not interested in Betancourt “at this time.” The Phillies did indeed release him earlier today rather than add him to their roster, by the way.
2:00pm: Via Jim Salisbury: The Yankees are one of a handful of teams “poking around” on infielder Yuniesky Betancourt. I assume their thinking involves bringing in someone who would make Eduardo Nunez — who will start at shortstop as Derek Jeter slowly recovers from his ankle injury — look like an All-Star by comparison.
Betancourt, 31, can opt-out of his minor league contract with the Phillies if they do not add him to the roster today. He’s had a strong camp — 21-for-47 (.447) with three doubles and a homer — but remains one of the very worst players in baseball, a no-hit/no-glove type. Yuni is a .266/.290/.392 (79 wRC+) hitter in nearly 4,000 career plate appearances with a -49.2 UZR and -74 DRS in just over 8,200 defensive innings, in case you didn’t believe me. The Phillies are likely to keep him as a backup infielder, so the Yankees might not even get a chance to acquire Betancourt if they wanted.
8:30pm: Joel Sherman says the Yankees will pay nearly all of that $13M in 2013, meaning Wells will not count towards the $189M payroll limit in 2014. Money assumed in trades does not get spread out according to average annual value for luxury tax purposes.
7:56pm: Heyman says the Yankees are indeed paying Wells $13M over the next two years. Truly unbelievable. Reeks of desperation and panic.
7:35pm: The Yankees and Angels have reached an agreement on the money in the deal, reports Heyman. The league still has to approve everything, but it’s basically a done deal.
4:57pm: David Waldstein says the trade is not expected to be finalized tonight, but it will happen as some point. MLB has the sign off given the amount of money changing hands. Tomorrow seems like a safe bet.
4:40pm: Buster Olney says Wells will approve the trade while Mike DiGiovanna notes his locker is already being cleaned out in Anaheim’s clubhouse. Sounds like there are still some minor details to work out.
4:10pm: The deal is close enough to being done that the Yankees are reviewing Wells’ medical information according to Scott Miller. So I guess this is really happening.
3:51pm: Mark Feinsand says the Yankees would surrender a low-level prospect for Wells.
3:33pm: Via Jeff Passan: The Yankees are in talks to acquire Vernon Wells and a trade could happen as soon as today. The Angels would be eating a whole lot of the $42M owed to the outfielder over the next two years. Wells has a full no-trade clause and it’s unclear if he would waive it to come to New York. We heard the two sides talked trade back in December.
Wells, 34, has had a strong spring — 13-for-36 (.361) with a double and four homers — but he’s been terrible during his two years in Anaheim: .222/.258/.409 (82 wRC+) in 791 plate appearances. He has hit .266/.313/.481 (119 wRC+) against southpaws the last two seasons, but he’s been far below-average against lefties in three of the last four years (134 wRC in 2011 being the exception). If the Yankees give up a fringy prospect and the Halos eat enough salary to make him a ~$2M per year player, it would be not horrible but still pretty bad.
Via Andy McCullough: Brian Cashman isn’t looking to trade right-hander David Phelps even though teams are apparently calling about him. “I’m not looking to move him, I’m only looking to move the bad stuff,” said the GM. I laughed.
Phelps, 26, got knocked around pretty hard last night, but he remains one of the team’s most important assets going forward given the plan to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. I’m not necessarily opposed to trading Phelps (or Ivan Nova), but it would have to be as part of a package for an impact bat. It would have to be for a significant upgrade.
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees are “asking around about everybody” in trade talks according to rival GMs. Andy Martino hears they’re still looking for first and third base help, specifically. Rosenthal suggests signing Kyle Lohse and trading either Ivan Nova or David Phelps for a bat, which is similar to the idea I floated about signing Shaun Marcum over the winter.
The idea of signing a pitcher and trading for a bat is a pipe dream more than anything — “I don’t think it would make any sense whatsoever,” said Brian Cashman to Rosenthal. “We have all of our pitching intact. Our problem is not our pitching. Pitching is our strength.” — mostly because there just don’t seem to be many bats available. Certainly not any kind of impact bat who will replace the production of Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira for a few weeks. Well, at least they’re trying.
Via Josh Norris: Chien-Ming Wang is with the Yankees in Tampa and is working out for the team. He’ll throw a few bullpen sessions, stuff like that. Ken Davidoff confirmed with the right-hander’s agent that no deal has been reached and they are still talking to multiple teams.
Wang, 32, pitched very well for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic, throwing 12 scoreless innings across two starts. His trademark sinker was clocked in the 88-92 mph range and the Yankees have had interest in him for about a month now. We know the club is looking for a veteran starter to stash in Triple-A, but the fact remains that Wang has not been an effective pitcher since hurting his foot running the bases in Houston in June 2008. That said, if what he showed during the WBC — heavy sinkers and lots of quick outs — was legit, he’d be perfect on a minor league deal.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees have not inquired about the availability of Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez. Several teams are interested and Colorado is reportedly open to trading a catcher for pitching help.
Hernandez, 36, hit just .217/.247/.353 (45 wRC+) in 196 plate appearances last season while battling hand and hamstring strains. The hamstring required surgery in September. Hernandez is owed $3.2M this year and will become a free agent next winter, so he should be very cheap to acquire. That said, we all know the Yankees are inexplicably happy with the Chris Stewart-Frankie Cervelli catching tandem and won’t seek out an upgrade.
Via Dan Martin: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees continue to look for outfield help even after signing Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch last week. “I’m open,” said the GM. “Gene Michael taught me to sift through the nuggets and separate the gold from the rest of the debris. We’re trying to get as much sifting as we can get and hopefully run into some gold.”
Given yesterday’s release of Matt Diaz and various minor league assignments, the Yankees are down to three veterans (Francisco, Boesch, Juan Rivera) and two semi-prospects (Melky Mesa and Ronnie Mustelier) for two outfield spots (left and backup). Rivera could make the team as a part-time first baseman in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s injury, plus Mustelier offers some versatility as well. Outside of Casper Wells, there’s no obvious outfield help that looks likely to become available in the next week or two.
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees scouted former Yankee Bobby Abreu during his winter ball stint in Venezuela. The didn’t like what they saw and have obviously decided to pass. Remember, they tried to acquire him from the Angels for A.J. Burnett last offseason.
Abreu, who turned 39 on Monday, went 8-for-41 (.195) with three doubles and a triple in eleven winter ball games, drawing nine walks against ten strikeouts. He managed a .242/.350/.342 (97 wRC+) line in 257 plate appearances for the Angels and Dodgers last season, his fourth straight year of declining production. Bobby can still draw a walk like few others (14.4 BB% in 2012), but his power had disappeared (.108 ISO since 2011) and he absolutely can’t hit lefties (79 wRC+ since 2011). He also doesn’t steal many bases anyway and he was a terrible defender when he was playing in the Bronx five years ago. Abreu worked out at first base for some teams this winter, but he’s shown all the symptoms of age-related decline and I don’t want the Yankees to be his employer when he finally crashes.