Cafardo: Yankees have inquired about Giancarlo Stanton

Via Nick Cafardo: The Yankees are one of many teams to inquire about the availability of outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the wake of the Marlins’ fire sale/blockbuster with the Blue Jays. The Phillies, Red Sox, Orioles, and Cubs have also put a call in to Miami.

Stanton, who just turned 23 earlier this month, is a career .270/.350/.533 (140 wRC+) hitter with 93 homers in 373 games. He hit .290/.361/.608 (153 wRC+) with 37 homers in 501 plate appearances this season while battling right knee (surgery to remove loose bodies) and oblique problems. Stanton is under team control through 2016 and is a true franchise player, the kind of guy the Yankees should go all out to acquire if he’s actually available. The Marlins have not yet made any indication that he is, unfortunately.

Saturday Night Open Thread

The novelty of Thanksgiving has worn off, at least for me, so this is pretty much any other weekend now. That’s not a bad thing though, weekends are generally pretty awesome. The Thanksgiving to New Years stretch is the best non-baseball time of the year, if you ask me.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. You’ve got college football and basketball action, plus various NBA games as well. Talk about that stuff or anything else here.

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Mailbag: Cliff Lee and 2014

(Mark Hirsch/Getty)

David asks: Would the Yankees have any chance to get under the $189mm “cap” if they had signed Cliff Lee a few years back? I think it would be much tougher which might be good or bad.

The Yankees (and Rangers) tried to sign Cliff Lee as a free agent during the 2010-2011 offseason, a year before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and luxury tax/revenue sharing rules were put in place. It’s not like everyone knew the new system was coming and the Yankees were willing to blow past it anyway, just to be clear.

Let’s say Lee signed the contract the Yankees offered him, which according to Jerry Crasnick was a six-year deal worth $132M plus a $16M player option for a seventh year. The option doesn’t count for luxury tax purposes since it’s not guaranteed, so Lee’s annual tax hit would have been $22M. Obviously if you add that to their current payroll obligations plus Robinson Cano‘s inevitable extension, the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014 looks impossible. That’s a very simplistic way of looking at it though.

Had the Yankees signed Lee two winters ago, there’s a chance they would have been willing to let CC Sabathia walk as a free agent once he triggered his opt-out clause last offseason. At the very least they probably would have been a little less desperate to work out a new contract. The new CBA was agreed to (or at least details were released) in late-November — the first report of the team’s 2014 plan broke in early-December — and it’s unlikely Sabathia would have signed before then. He would have been the best starter on the market and the top free agents usually don’t sign until the Winter Meetings or later. The Yankees could have stayed in contact before backing away once the new CBA was announced.

On the other hand, they could have re-signed Sabathia and kept their lefty duo intact for the next few years. They probably would have never signed Hiroki Kuroda in that scenario but I think they still would have made the Jesus Montero-for-Michael Pineda trade. Two $20M+ pitchers means the other three spots would have had to have been filled by dirt cheap arms, and Pineda fit the bill. Maybe they would have kept Montero and targeted a lesser young pitcher instead, who knows. The what-if game has infinite possibilities.

I don’t think that the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014 would have been scrapped all together had the Yankees signed Lee two offseasons ago. It would be much more difficult to achieve had they re-sign Sabathia last winter, but we have no way of knowing if that would have been the case. Having Lee last year also would have improved the team’s chances of advancing beyond Game Five of the ALDS a great deal, and who knows how that would have impacted their planning.

Rosenthal: Yankees have interest in Jeff Keppinger

Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees have “renewed (their) longstanding interest” in free agent Jeff Keppinger. The team tried to acquire the utility man from the Astros two offseason ago, but talks went nowhere.

Keppinger, 32, hit .325/.367/.439 (128 wRC+) in 418 plate appearances for the Rays this season. He crushes lefties (131 wRC+ since 2010) and is an elite contact hitter (6.5 K% and 92.9% contact rate), two skills the lineup could use right now. The Yankees are reportedly seeking a utility man who can play short and third and combined 100 times next year, but Keppinger hasn’t played short regularly in five years and at all in two years. If the Yankees want him, they’ll have to pay him starter money because other teams will surely offer more playing time.

King: Ichiro willing to wait to re-sign with Yankees

Via George King: Ichiro Suzuki is willing to wait for the Yankees to take care of business with Mariano Rivera and (potentially) Andy Pettitte before seeing if the team want to re-sign him for next season. “There has been a lot of interest (from other teams), but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees,” said Tony Attanasio, Ichiro‘s agent. “His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.”

Ichiro, 39, hit .322/.340/.454 (114 wRC+) in 240 plate appearances with New York this year thanks in large part to a torrid three-week stretch to close out the season. The Yankees are said to have some interest in bringing Ichiro back, though it would obviously have to be on a one-year deal worth far less than the $17M he made in 2012. My guess is that Brian Cashman & Co. will seek a younger, more long-term solution in right field via trade before looking to bring Ichiro back should (when) they come up empty.

Black Friday Open Thread

I’m completely out of leftovers already, which really sucks. Usually I hope to grab enough to last until at least Saturday, but the pickin’s were slim this year because the family gathering was bigger than usual. Such is life. I didn’t dare venture out into the Black Friday shopping madness, but my brother said he bought the latest Call of Duty for $25. That’s pretty awesome considering games run $60+ these days.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing tonight, but you folks know how these things work by now. Talk about whatever’s on your mind.

Marchand: Kuroda left money on the table to re-sign with Yankees

Via Andrew Marchand: Hiroki Kuroda turned down offers with multiple guaranteed years and/or more total money to re-sign with the Yankees for one-year and $15M earlier this week. The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Angels were among the clubs courting the veteran right-hander. Ken Rosenthal notes that Kuroda has signed four contracts in his MLB career, and he left money on the table each time. Most guys (understandably) take the biggest payday, but comfort has obviously been a major factor for Hiroki.