Current offer to Mo: 3 years, $45 million

That’s according to Tyler Kepner of the Times. Is anyone else a bit baffled as to why Mo hasn’t accepted yet? Does he think there’s some team willing to offer him four years at $55, $60 million?

Look, the game is up. We know Mo is crying about not getting a new contract back in the spring. Get over it. For a guy who is portrayed so reverently in Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, Mo is acting like a teenager here. The Yankees have made a more than generous offer, which figures not to be topped by another bidder. What, does he think the Dodgers will outbid the Yanks just because Joe Torre is now the manager?

I’m honestly surprised the offer got this high. Three years, $40 million was an offer not likely to be topped. And now the Yankees upped the offer by $5 million in hopes of signing Mo before other teams could bid. Well, now that other teams can, the point of that $5 million is kind of moot.

What the Yankees should do, though they certainly won’t, is let Mo field offers from other teams. Hey, he wanted to test the market, right? So when teams are coming in with far less than three years, $45 million, the Yankees can say: “Mo, we’ll match your best offer. But you blew signing that three-year, $45 million deal. Just like we blew signing you cheaper back in Spring Training.”

After all, this should work both ways, right?

Twins want offers to start with Cano

If the Yanks want to grab Johan Santana from the Twins, they’ll have to be prepared to give up an arm and a leg. Reports in Yankeeland say that the Twins want the offer for their lefty stud to start with Roninson Cano and one of the Yanks’ Big Three pitchers. I’ll update this post with more info later, but let me just say that the Twins’ early demands sound much too steep.

Update 9:48 p.m.: Now that I’m home, let me flush this out a bit.

The story came to us via this Ken Davidoff article. Davidoff reports that an official close to the Twins believes any trade offer will have to start with Robinson Cano. Jim Baumbach speculates that the offer would have to include Cano plus a top-flight pitcher. Furthermore, Davidoff says that a package of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and other prospects wouldn’t be enough to land Santana.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, Robinson Cano. As many of you already have noted in the comments, this is simply an example of the Twins throwing out an opening bid through the media. As others have said, Cano is arguably one of the best players on the Yankees right now. As a young second baseman with a career average of .314 and a career OPS of .835, this kid has a ton of value, and he’s nearly irreplaceable on the field and in the lineup. The Yankees should not give up Cano for anything really. I’d consider to be the one untouchable in the Yanks’ current lineup.

Second, the package deal. The Yankees certainly shouldn’t give up Cano and others for Sanatan. There’s no need to explain this one.

Finally, the Phil Hughes+Melky Cabrera deal. As skeptical as we are of Melky, trading Hughes and Melky for one year of Johan Santana is simply insane. The Yanks have Hughes for five more years, and Melky for four. Basically, they have nine years of these two players under control. Trading nine years of that for one year of Santana doesn’t make any sense.

Right now, the Twins are in no rush to trade Santana. They don’t really have to trade him until July. At that point, the asking price will be a lot lower. If the Yanks want Santana, they should wait until he becomes affordable. Right now, as Brian Cashman I’m sure realized, the Yanks have no business making a trade with the Twins.

Three years, $40 million in Mo’s “ballpark”

Mark Feinsand gives us a quick update on Mo and Posada. I found something particularly interesting:

Mariano Rivera also figures to test the market, as teams can begin talking money with all free agents on Tuesday. But unlike Posada, Rivera has sat down face-to-face with the Yankees, as the two sides expressed a mutual desire to continue their relationship. The Yankees have offered Rivera a three-year deal worth $40 million, which is in the closer’s ballpark.

If another club comes within $5 million of that offer, I’ll be shocked. Three years and $40 million? I think it’s kind of insulting that Mo hasn’t already accepted. No other team is going to pay $13.3 million per season for a 38-year-old closer who would be 41 at the end of the deal. Unless they’re run by lunatics and think that Mo’s 70 innings are going to get them over the hump.

What’s your highest bid for Jorge?

Free agency officially begins on Tuesday, and in all likelihood Jorge Posada will remain unsigned at that point. The Yankees have made what amounts to a very generous offer for a catcher entering his age-36 season: three years and around $40 million.

However, we’re seeing a unique trend from Jorge. While it appeared in 2005 that he was entering his decline phase (he posted his lowest OBP and SLG since 1999), he has surged over the past two years, and miraculously posted the best season of his career in 2007.

Unsurprisingly, Jorge has all but rejected the Yankees offer. He claims he’s “more determined than ever to test the market,” and the market will likely bear a four-year bidder in the $50 to $55 million range. The Mets are likely to make such a bid, which puts the Yankees in an uncomfortable position.

We’ve discussed it many times, but with the market opening up in a couple of days it seems appropriate to discuss again. Do you up your three-year, $40 million offer to match or exceed a four-year, say $53 million deal?

I’d say yes, but under a few conditions, the paramount of which being that if Jorge doesn’t produce in the later two years of the contract, he sits. My main fear regarding Jorge is that he’ll finally enter his decline years and drop off dramatically. It doesn’t seem likely that this will come in the next two years, but with a catcher you never know. It’s tough to sit your $15 million annual investment on the bench, but if they can do it with Jason Giambi, they should do it with Jorge.

In that scenario, you’d be essentially paying him $50-some-odd million for two years of work. It sounds absurd, but it’s not like the Yankees are paupers. They have the money, and they might as well use it to keep Jorge around while we wait for Jesus Montero and Austin Romine to develop.

However, if his contract is going to keep him in games whether he produces or not, I can’t advocate a fourth year. A third is enough of a gamble. How many catchers do you know who produced at high level at this age? I can think of one off the top of my head: Carlton Fisk. But we’re talking a Hall of Famer here, and while Jorge has been excellent, he’s a member of a far less exclusive club: The Hall of Very Good.

But hey, Fisk did put up a line of .285/.378/.451 in 452 at bats as a 42-year-old. So it can happen. I’m just not sure I’m willing to bet $50 million on it.

Hughes and Melky for Jake Peavy?

It’s a rumor that Buster Olney reports on his blog today:

In other words, a lot of conversations that go along these lines: This is how I see a deal working for me, and this is how I see it working for you. It is within this vein that the Padres and Yankees talked briefly about a possible deal that almost certainly won’t happen (Jake Peavy for Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera), and it’s within this vein that teams are now openly shopping their best and youngest pitchers.

My Hughesian bias says no to this one, but it’s tough to sneeze at the likely NL Cy Young winner. However, Mike has a different take:

“You know, Peavy is a great pitcher – young, Ks a ton of guys, durable – but he’s NEVER won a big game…I think he’d shit his pants in NY.”

Point well taken. Mike also brought up the long-term value. While Peavy can be had for reasonable salaries for the next two years, he’s probably looking at $18 million per year as a free agent after that, while Hughes will just be entering his arbitration years. So even if Hughes isn’t quite as good as Peavy — and if he reaches his ceiling he can be as good and even better — his value relative to his salary could easily even out.

Glad to see my Hughesian bias justified by other means.

Part 3: Miguel Tejada and the Third Base Hole

Following up on yesterday’s discussion about a potential trade for Miguel Cabrera, our focus in third base should shift away from the young Marlins stud and on to some other, slightly less appealing options. The Yankees, you see, have announced that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy are all but untouchable. In a year in which the Yanks will have to fill that third base hole via a trade, this announcement still leaves the Yanks with a few appealing options.

For one of those options, we turn our attention south down I-95. Two hundred and two miles southwest of Yankee Stadium sits Camden Yards where the 31-year-old Miguel Tejada has manned short stop for the last three years. Now, the Orioles, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun, are ready to deal Tejada, and the price tag is not too steep.

According to the Sun, the Orioles are primarily looking for young, nearly Major League-ready position players. While the Yanks are short on that in their farm, the Orioles would not say no to a package with a few young arms either. As club President Andy MacPhail said of the beleaguered franchise, “Let’s get the young talent first, and then we’ll sort it out.”

And then along came Tyler Kepner with possibly the best news of the Yankee off-season: There’s a team out there actually interested in Krazy Kyle Farnsworth. That team just so happens to be the Baltimore Orioles. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Could the Yanks really spin Farnsworth plus some lesser prospects to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada and the $26 million Tejada is owed over the next two season? I don’t see why not.

There is of course a rub. There always is. Miguel Tejada has played 1531 games at short stop during his career and zero at third base. The Yanks would have to convince Tejada – or, dare I suggest it, Derek Jeter – to switch to third base. I’m sure it won’t take much convincing if the Yanks can sell Tejada on playing for a winner.

At 31, Tejada’s on the down swing of a great career that has always seemed one step away from a major PED scandal. His power has declined a bit over the last few seasons, but he still seems good for about a .300/.360/.450 line. He stays healthy; he plays with intensity; and as Buster came oh-so-close to writing today, Tejada is a pretty good fit for the Yankees, all things considered.

I would almost say, with Farnsworth involved, that Tejada is the best option. They can ride it with Tejada for two years and then look at other options after 2009 when Miguel Cabrera hits the open market. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe the Orioles won’t give up a star player without much, much more in compensation. But I like this option quite a bit.

A few A-Rod conspiracy theories

So it’s been a long time a few hours since we lasted talked about A-Rod, and as Mike R. just asked, what exactly would we be talking about had A-Rod simply signed that extension?

Exactly.

Anyway, there’s been a lot of talk in around Yankeeland about what the Bombers could have done differently to retain the services of Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. While Scott Boras claimed $350 million would have done the trick, I’m a bit skeptical. Let me instead offer you two A-Rod conspiracy theories.

1. Alex Rodriguez was never going to stay in New York

As much as Yankees fans would hate to admit it, it’s very possible that A-Rod simply wanted out of New York, and no amount of money or promises from Tampa could have changed a thing. A-Rod, not the most thick-skinned guy around, was, by many accounts, simply tired of New York City. Hew as tired of the tabloids tracking his every move; he was tired of the fans putting him under a microscope and expecting perfection. He was tired of shouldering the blame for postseason failures.

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