Open Thread: Day Three from Nashville

Well, today was kind of an odd day. We woke up to the reports of the Yankees having interest, possibly substantial interest, in both Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, but by the afternoon they had both signed with other teams. The Rule 5 Draft tomorrow morning is the unofficial end of the Winter Meetings as team executives tend to flee the scene before noon, so time is running out to get something done here. This stuff can obviously change in a heartbeat, but it’s looking more and more likely that the Yankees will depart Nashville having lost a player (Alex Rodriguez to injury) without any additions to compensate.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks are playing tonight and that’s pretty much it, so talk about whatever you like here. Go nuts.

Marchand: Yankees looking into hiring an assistant hitting coach

Via Andrew Marchand: The Yankees and looking into hiring an assistant hitting coach to pair with the incumbent Kevin Long. Two hitting coaches is one of baseball’s newest trends, and a recent article by The Sporting News says eleven teams currently staff an assistant or are seeking one this winter. Obviously we don’t know when the team started talking about this, but it seems odd that this is coming out after Greg Colbrunn (Red Sox) and Tino Martinez (Marlins) left the organization for hitting coach gigs elsewhere.

Update: Yankees may or may not have been high bidder for Keppinger

4:35pm: Conflicting reports! Buster Olney says the Yankees never did make Keppinger an offer. I suppose they could have floated the idea of … whatever. They didn’t sign him, end of story.

4:03pm: Heyman says the Yankees actually offered Keppinger more than the three years and $12M he took from the ChiSox. I assume he took the full-time job over the utility infielder gig.

1:30pm: Via Jon Heyman & Ken Rosenthal: The White Sox will sign Jeff Keppinger to a three-year contract worth $12M. The Yankees had a lot of interest in Keppinger following Alex Rodriguez‘s new hip injury, but there was no chance they were going to three years. Scratch a name off the infield list.

The Yankees, patience, and market changes

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

If there’s one thing that’s held true during Brian Cashman‘s tenure in recent years, it’s that he’s very willing to practice patience. He’s waited out both the free agent (Hiroki Kuroda, for example) and trade (Bobby Abreu) markets to get better than advertised prices, and for the most part it’s worked out wonderfully. As he indicated to reporters yesterday, patience is again his primary tactic this offseason.

“The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed,” said Cashman. “But the realistic side of that is that it’s going to take time and you have to solve it over time. If you don’t feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn’t solve it until you feel comfortable. I’m prepared to drag this thing out.”

Patience was a fine approach these last few years but times have obviously changed. The market is flush with cash thanks to the new television deals and the inability to funnel money into the draft and international markets, so Major League free agents are getting paid handsomely. As the Yankees preach patience, the players they want are no longer falling into their laps. Eric Chavez won’t be there to sign in February because he took a $3M deal from the Diamondbacks, more money than New York paid him in the previous two years combined. Jeff Keppinger, another one of the team’s targets, actually took less money to sign with the White Sox for whatever reason.

“I think that we’ll be in a position, I would think, to leave here with doing something,” added Cashman. “But that doesn’t mean we will. I want to come here every time I go to the Winter Meetings, I want to get something done. I’ve been disappointed many times leaving, but that’s not going to make me do something.”

The Yankees are scaling back their spending as the price of talent is going up, and that’s a very bad thing. They don’t have the internal pieces to plug their various position player holes — a major black mark on Cashman & Co. given his constant preaching of building through the farm system — meaning they are at the mercy of the free agent market. Maybe the patient approach will work and some new targets will surface in the coming weeks, but right now it’s tough to see how the Yankees will go into next season with something other than a significant downgrade on the offensive side of the ball. After enjoying the benefits of patience, this new market might be the one that leaves Cashman empty-handed at the end of the winter.

Kussoy: Rivera to announce 2014 plans during Spring Training

Via Howie Kussoy: Mariano Rivera will announce his plans for 2014 at some point early next year. “I’ll tell you in Spring Training,” he said at a charity event yesterday. “Spring Training is going to be the date.”

Rivera, 43, debated between retirement and playing again after the season only to announce his return. I think we’ve all assumed next season would be his final year, and in fact Mo confirmed to Kussoy that he would appreciate a Chipper Jones-style fairwell tour. Rivera could easily announce an intention to pitch in 2014, but it seems pretty obvious the retirement announcement is on its way in a few weeks.