Archive for Hot Stove League
As expected, the Yankees had someone on hand to scout Chien-Ming Wang during his World Baseball Classic start on Friday night and remain interested in signing him according to Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman. George King says his fastball was clocked in the 88-92 mph range, which is pretty good considering a) the extent of his shoulder injuries, and b) it’s only early-March. Wang, 32, held a weak Australia lineup to four singles in six scoreless innings despite the mandatory 65-pitch limit.
Meanwhile, Nick Cafardo says the Yankees were one of five teams with “major interest” in Javy Vazquez before he blew out his knee and required surgery. The 36-year-old reportedly threw the ball very well during his winter ball stint in Puerto Rico and was considering a return to MLB after sitting out last summer, though the knee injury is likely to keep him out all year. Despite Wang’s lack of success since his mid-2008 foot injury and Vazquez’s ugly stints in pinstripes, the Yankees aren’t leaving stones unturned as they search for a veteran starter to stash in Triple-A for depth. Wang looked pretty darn good the other night, I’d be cool with giving him a minor league deal if the medicals check out.
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees do not have interest in Vlad Guerrero, who recently switched agents and is willing to accept a minor league deal. The club insists they will temporarily replace Curtis Granderson from within.
Guerrero, 38, played a handful of minor league games with the Blue Jays last year but otherwise has not appeared in the big leagues since 2011 with the Orioles (96 wRC+ in 590 PA). As was the case with Johnny Damon, I think the Yankees should be all over this. They have nothing to lose by bringing Vlad to camp on a minor league contract, and if anything it’ll create some buzz and add excitement to an otherwise mundane camp. He’s a disaster in the outfield these days, which is a bit of a problem, but it’s not like running Juan Rivera out there would be much better.
February 28th: Scott Boras contacted the Yankees about Lohse but were told they don’t have any interest according to Buster Olney. I’m guessing this happened shortly after the new of Phil Hughes‘ back injury broke. As I wrote last week, I do think the Yankees should explore signing the right-hander, but the contract would have to be pretty favorable.
February 21st: Via Joel Sherman: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees still do not have any interest in free agent Kyle Lohse despite Phil Hughes’ recent back trouble. They would have to surrender their first round draft pick to sign the right-hander.
Lohse, 34, has gotten to the point where he’s been so overrated that he’s now underrated. He’s pitched to a 3.11 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 399.1 innings over the last two years, but he doesn’t miss many bats (5.72 K/9 and 15.5 K%) or get ground balls (40.9%). Instead, he limits walks (1.80 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%) and uses those fly balls to keep his BABIP low (.265). Plenty of journeymen have turned into quality starters with St. Louis only to turn back into journeymen after leaving (most notably Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver), which makes Lohse quite scary. If the Yankees could get him cheap, say one or two years at $5-7M annually, I think it would be worth exploring even giving up the pick. I don’t see Scott Boras taking that though.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees have already made a “significant offer” to impending free agent Robinson Cano. Hal Steinbrenner confirmed the two sides have had a “conversation or two” about a new deal earlier this month, but Cashman confirmed an actual offer was made. Apparently there is a significant difference in valuation during talks, so I’m guessing this recent offer was well off Scott Boras’ mark. I’m sure there are still many offers and counteroffers to come, but this is notable because the team is breaking it’s “no extensions” policy (which they’ve already done once for Robbie, of course).
During a recent radio interview, Johnny Damon said he had interest in a reunion with the Yankees for what I think is the third year in the row. “You guys know that I would have tons of interest to go to New York,” he said. “But I just don’t think they would be interested … They have had plenty of opportunities and I kept raising my hand, wanting to go back and, you know, hopefully it would be a perfect fit. It always had been. Have me for six weeks and then send me off on my merry way. That’s fine.”
Damon, 39, hit .222/.281/.329 (71 wRC+) with four homers and four steals in 224 plate appearances for the Indians last season before getting released. He hasn’t hit much since leaving the Yankees during the 2009-2010 offseason and he’s much more of a DH than an outfielder these days, but at this point the Yankees have nothing to lose. Damon said he’s cool with being cut loose when Granderson returns and it’s not like there’s a standout internal candidate, so what the hell, bring him to camp and see what he has to offer. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman responded to Damon’s comments by saying “we will focus on what we have at this time.”
He’s a fun little article to hold you over as you wait for the Yankees to play their first (broadcasted) exhibition game of the spring. Brian Costa used ZiPS projections to see which teams added the most wins (or WAR) to their roster this season, and unsurprisingly the Blue Jays come out on top at +10.7. The Cubs (+8.2) and Indians (+7.2) round out the top three while the Marlins bring up the rear at -11.6. Like I said, unsurprising.
The Yankees, fresh off their patchwork offseason effort, rank 20th out of the 30 teams at -2.7 wins added. In other words, they lost roughly three wins worth of production. To be complete honest, that surprised me. Three wins lost seems to be letting them off easy, but hey, I’ll take it. Could be worse.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees are unwilling to give up a good prospect for Alfonso Soriano, nevermind a top prospect. He suspects they would absorb $10M of the $36M left on his contract, however.
Soriano, 37, had a nice bounceback year in 2012 after looking close to finished in 2011. As I wrote in a mailbag over the holidays, his resurgence looks to have been aided by a switch to a lighter bat. The Cubs are reportedly willing to pay $26M of Soriano’s contract, but they want a quality piece in return. I’m not quite sure with the Yankees would do with him other than use him as the right-handed hitting outfielder/Travis Hafner injury replacement, but they could have signed Scott Hairston for like half the money to do that.
Via Ken Rosenthal: The Rockies are looking to trade for rotation help and may be willing to dangle one of their catchers as bait. Colorado has Ramon Hernandez, Wilin Rosario, and Jordan Pacheco on the 40-man roster and Yorvit Torrealba in camp on a minor league deal.
I doubt the Rockies would be willing to trade the 23-year-old Rosario following his 28-homer, fourth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting last season. I’ve written posts about Hernandez and Pacheco in the last eight months or so, but both guys have their warts. Hernandez is old and declining while Pacheco isn’t much of a catcher. With Phil Hughes on the shelf due to a back injury, the Yankees don’t really have an extra starter to deal anyway. The team went all winter saying they’ll go in-house behind the plate and I have no reason to think that will change now.
Thursday: Unsurprisingly, Price backtracked today. “It probably wasn’t the best thing to say, but I didn’t mean anything by it … I wasn’t looking to offend the Yankees. It’s probably the best organization in all of sports. Not just baseball, but all of sports. I didn’t mean anything (against) the New York Yankees. I’ve had friends on that team for multiple years,” said the left-hander. Sounds like his agent told him it wasn’t a good idea to say he wouldn’t sign with one of the game’s wealthiest teams, eh?
Wednesday: Via Jon Morosi: David Price said he would not sign a long-term contract with the Yankees because of their facial hair policy. “I wouldn’t stay there very long (if traded to New York),” said the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. “I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that’s old-school baseball. I was born in ’85. That’s not for me. That’s not something I want to be a part of.”
Price, who was in fact born in ’85, won’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season. He is slated to earn a little more than $10M this year, making him the highest paid player in franchise history. It’s also his second of four trips through arbitration as a Super Two, and as Morosi’s column states, it appears to be only a matter of time before Price gets too expensive for the Rays and they trade him for what might be an unprecedented prospect package. It could happen as soon as the trade deadline but I’m thinking next winter. Either way, I’m guessing David would be singing a different tune in a few years if he hits the open market and the Yankees make the largest offer. It is his destiny.
Via George King: Hal Steinbrenner confirmed the team has let Scott Boras know they’re willing to consider a massive contract for free agent-to-be Robinson Cano. “We expressed to Scott what a great Yankee he has been and we hope he continues his career here for a long time to come. We indicated to him on a very preliminary basis that we were willing to consider a significant long-term contract,” said the owner, who acknowledged talks were held before Spring Training and that nothing has happened since.
Last week we heard there was a “significant difference” in valuation during contract talks, which isn’t a huge surprise. We’re going to hear many similar reports between now and November, when negotiations will result in either a new contract or a scary bidding war with the Dodgers (and maybe even others). Click here for last week’s Cano contract poll, in case you missed it.