Yankees did not make offer to Ibanez, priority is a right-handed bat

Via Mark Feinsand: Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees did not make an offer to Raul Ibanez before he signed with the Mariners. The GM also said the team’s priority is finding a right-handed bat at the moment, even moreso than landing a DH. “I have to see how much money I have left. I don’t have an unlimited budget,” said Cashman, his annual offseason mantra.

There aren’t many quality right-handed bats left on the free agent market, particularly if the team is dead set on adding someone who can play the outfield. I sorta like the idea of Carlos Lee, who can do some damage against southpaws (113 wRC+ since 2010), fill in at first base and DH, and even mix in some left field on the rarest of occasions. He’s also an extreme contact hitter, with an 8.8 K% and an 88.4% contact rate over the last three seasons. Lee did invoke his no-trade clause to reject a trade to New York this summer, however. It gives you can idea of how poor the right-handed market is when I’m writing about a guy like Carlos Lee as a possible fit.

Christmas Open Thread

Santa scouting peport: Bad body but sneaky delivery.

Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us at RAB. Christmas Eve is always the bigger event with my family, we all get together for dinner and to exchange presents and all that stuff. Christmas Day itself is almost like a day to unwind. I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season no matter what you celebrate or what your plans may be. Merry Christmas.

Yankees won’t allow Cano to play winter ball

Via Dan Martin: The Yankees have rejected a request for Robinson Cano to play in the Dominican Winter League playoffs. The more big league service time a player has, the more control their team has over their winter ball usage. Robbie is well beyond the point where the Yankees can prevent him from playing.

Cano, 30, is going to be counted on quite a bit offensively next season given the expected production hit the team will take in right field and behind the plate. Robbie has also played in at least 159 games in six straight years, the third most in MLB, so the extra rest and decreased wear-and-tear won’t be a bad thing. I have no problem with the team holding him out of winter ball to reduce the risk of injury (among other things) prior to 2013. It’s not like he’s a young prospect in need of extra reps.

Fan Confidence Poll: December 24th, 2012

2012 Record: 95-67 (804 RS, 668 RA, 96-66 pythag. record), won AL East, swept in ALCS

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Sunday Night Open Thread

The Yankees lost out on free agent target Raul Ibanez this weekend while Nick Swisher also signed elsewhere, though the team apparently had zero interest in re-signing him. He hit .268/.367/.483 (128 wRC+) with 105 homers during his four years in New York ($31.6M salary total), and WPA says this walk-off homer against the Orioles was his biggest hit with New York (+0.71). Subjectively, I most remember the first game of the second half in 2010, the first game following the deaths of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. Swisher hit the game tying homer in the eighth and then the walk-off single in the ninth.

Anyway, here’s your Christmas Eve Eve open thread. The 49ers and Seahawks are your late NFL game, plus the Knicks are playing. Talk about either game or anything else here. Go nuts.

Minor League Ball’s Top 20 Yankees Prospects

John Sickels at Minor League Ball posted his list of the top 20 Yankees prospects on Friday night, and the top spot is occupied by C Gary Sanchez. The three outfielders — Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott — round out the top four with RHP Brett Marshall ranking fifth.

I think Sickels tends to overrate performance but I do like that his lists are always off the beaten path a bit. Always neat to see different opinions with this prospect stuff. I do think it’s interesting that RHP Corey Black, this year’s fourth rounder, cracked the list (#12) while RHP Jose Ramirez did not. Both guys have huge, huge arms with elite velocity, but Ramirez will open next season in Double-A (confirmed by VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman) while Black has yet to play his first full pro season. Oh well, the exact ranking is trivial since both are in the organization.

Raul be seeing you: Ibanez heading back to Seattle

The Yankees will have a new DH next season. Raul Ibanez is headed back to Seattle, having agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners according to multiple reports. He’ll earn a guaranteed $2.75M with another $1.25M in incentives. Just a few days ago we learned the Yankees were still talking to Ibanez about a return next season, but you can’t blame him for taking that deal. Great job by his agent. It’ll be Raul’s third stint in Seattle.

Ibanez, 40, earned True Yankee™ status with all of those ridiculously clutch homers late in the season and in the playoffs, but I was all for turning the page. I dig the idea of acquiring Jason Kubel to DH, but the free agent market has plenty of alternatives as well — Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, Jason Giambi, and Luke Scott just to name a few. I expect the club to seek a DH capable of actually playing the field in an emergency, so that probably rules out the Thomes and Hafners of the world.