Report: Yankees have contract offer ready to Sabathia

Via George King, the Yankees have a contract offer prepared for CC Sabathia and plan to delivery it to their ace shortly. No word on the terms of the contract, but you can be sure it’s substantial. My guess: five-years and $125M with an option. We heard on Wednesday that the team would like to get Sabathia signed to an extension before he opts out of his current contract, and they would be okay with a five- or six-year deal.

Looking at this from CC’s point of view … you’ve come this far, why not at least see what the open market has to offer? Wouldn’t that make sense for him? Doesn’t matter to me though, I just want the big guy back as soon as possible.

Update: Now that the World Series is going to Game Seven, we know that Sabathia’s opt-out decision is due by Monday at the latest.

Boras on Cano extension talks: lol j/k

Via George King, Scott Boras tried to play off rumors of a new deal for Robinson Cano as a joke. “[Brian Cashman] and I have talked three or four times in the last three days,” said Boras. “My statements were in jest. Cash always returns my phone calls. My conversations with Cash about Robinson have nothing to do with the options. We fully expect the options to be exercised.”

The two club options for 2012 and 2013 ($14M and $15M, respectively) were negotiated into Cano’s current contract by his former agent, Bobby Barad. Boras won’t collect any commission for Robbie until he negotiates a new deal, which frankly is something the Yankees should at least consider right now. A six-year deal is much easier to swallow from ages 29-35 than 31-37. Anyway, it’s kinda funny that Boras tried to play this off as a joke, the guy didn’t get to where he is by making statements in jest to the media. Everything he does is calculated.

CBA Madness: IFA and draft spending cap on table during talks

Via Melissa Segura and Kevin Goldstein, one item on the table during talks between the owners and players assocation about a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is a cap for spending on international free agents and the draft. Segura says the IFA cap would be between $2-2.5M annually, though she’s unclear if that is for all countries or just the Dominican Republic. A draft spending cap would not include hard slotting.

Obviously, this would be very bad news for the Yankees. The IFA market is the backbone of their farm system and has been for two decades now, simply because they can throw their money around (as well as the Yankees brand) and sign almost anyone they want. A $2.5M cap is nothing, the Yankees spent more than double that in 2010 alone. Coming into the season, the team’s top three prospects (and five of their top nine) were originally signed as IFAs. The new CBA should be announced relatively soon, and it sure seems like spending on amateur players will be restricted in some way. For shame.

Open Thread: World Series Game Six

A classy stroll across the field. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

So, does it all end tonight? I hope not, I’m ready for a Game Seven. Do you know we haven’t had one of those since the Rays and Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS? The last World Series Game Seven was way back in 2002. I know the idea of an entire baseball season coming down to one game is kind of absurd, but no one ever said it isn’t fun.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. In addition to Game Six (Garcia vs. Lewis, 8pm ET on FOX), you’ve also got the Devils and (hockey) Rangers (home opener finally!) in action. Talk about anything here, it’s all fair game.

Report: Beltran’s name came up in team meetings

Via Wally Matthews, Carlos Beltran‘s name came up as a potential right field target during this week’s organization meetings in Tampa. “He’s on our list,” said one team official. “But we have to make a decision on [Nick Swisher] first.” The Yankees are very likely to exercise Swisher’s $10.25M option for next season, even if it’s so they can trade him.

Beltran, 35 in April, just enjoyed his best season since 2008 (.389 wOBA, 4.7 fWAR), which coincidentally is the last time he stayed healthy enough to play in more than 81 games. Matthews says that Scott Boras is shopping Beltran hard even though he can’t officially negotiate with any team other than the Giants until six days after the end of the World Series. This is the time of year when the Yankees consider every player available on the market, so it’s hard to take this report seriously. It’s likely due diligence more than anything.

What Went Right: Noesi, Wade, and Ayala

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

We’ve seen it every year of the Joe Girardi era. The Yankees finish the season with a bullpen that looks a whole lot different than the one they started the year with, and 2011 was no exception. Injuries and poor performance always play a part in that, but it’s also a two-way street. The guys that do the replacing have to perform well enough to stick around. Let’s look at three surprise contributors to the team’s bullpen this past season…

Hector Noesi

The Yankees rotation was a bit of a mess early in the season, leaving the bullpen to pick up a lot of slack. Guys like Amaury Sanit and Buddy Carlyle came and went, but when the Yankees first called up Noesi on April 13th, he didn’t pitch. He sat around in the bullpen until being sent back down nine days later. Noesi re-emerged from the minors on May 13th, and this time he got his chance. His first appearance came five days later,and he responded by throwing four scoreless frames in extra innings against the Orioles to earn his first big league win.

Noesi continued to get looks in long relief, including a six inning, two-run outing against the Red Sox on June 7th, and he even worked some one inning, higher leveraged spots from time to time. Two late season starts while the Yankees were lining up their playoff rotation didn’t go so well, but he made a strong impression by posting a 4.09 FIP in 56.1 IP overall. His swing and miss rate (9.4%) was strong enough to forecast improvement to his 7.19 K/9 going forward, no matter what role he’s given. The Yankees have Noesi on a strict pitch count in winter ball as he makes up for all the innings he lost while pitching out of the bullpen.

Cory Wade

(Elsa/Getty Images)

Signed to a minor league pact after being released by the Rays in mid-June, Wade made just a single appearance for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate before being summoned to the big leagues. He made a great first impression by retiring the first 12 men he faced in pinstripes, and with both Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano on the shelf with elbow injuries, Wade quickly stepped into the seventh inning role.

All told, Wade pitched to a 2.04 ERA with a 3.76 FIP in 39.2 IP for the Yankees. He was true to form with a low strikeout rate (6.81 K/9), low walk rate (1.82 BB/9), a high homerun rate (1.13 HR/9), getting by with dead fish changeups and lazy fly balls. Wade had a rough finish to the season, allowing back-to-back walk off hits to the Mariners and Blue Jays in mid-September before surrendering Dan Johnson’s game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth inning of a final game of the season, but that’s not enough to erase all the good. Wade is still under team control for another four years, including at the league minimum in 2012, so the Yankees did a fine job of plucking a solid middle relief option off the scrap heap.

Luis Ayala

One of many players the Yankees brought to camp on minor league contracts, Ayala had a strong showing in Spring Training (one run, nine strikeouts, zero walks in 11.1 IP) and earned one of the last Opening Day roster spots. A mid-April lat strain sent him to the DL, but Ayala returned in early-May and was arguably the best last-guy-in-the-bullpen in baseball. He racked up a 2.09 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 56 IP, relying on his 50% ground ball rate to survive.

We joked all year about how Ayala was the worst sub-2.00 ERA pitcher in history (he had a sub-2.00 ERA until the last game of the season), but he truly was a solid pitcher given how he was used. His 0.89 gmLI (Leverage Index when entering games) ranked 117th out of the 134 qualified relievers, meaning he did most of his work in low-leverage, blowout situations. Someone has to throw those innings though, and Ayala did a fine job when called upon. It would be a surprise if he returned next season (this is exactly the kind of guy you get rid of a year too soon rather than a year too late), but Ayala was a positive contributor to the 2011 Yankees.

Report: Boras looking to rework Cano’s contract

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

According to George King of the New York Post, Scott Boras has recently tried to get in touch with Brian Cashman about seeing the Yankees drop Cano’s two options for 2012 and 2013 (worth $14M and $15M, respectively) and work out a new contract at market value. For their part, the Yankees have indicated that they’re very, very unlikely to rework their deal. Boras likely knew this would happen, which is why it’s just a little bit odd to see him publicly request it anyway. It’s also why, perversely, a deal might be possible.

On one hand it isn’t odd. As Mike noted earlier this morning, Boras only gets paid vis-à-vis his relationship with Cano when Cano signs a new contract. On the other hand, Boras knows that the Yankees have little incentive to pay Cano more now and that Cano has little leverage to force them to do so. A market value contract for Robbie is likely a non-starter for the Yankees. While $29M over two years isn’t exactly a Longoria-esque bargain, the organization simply has no incentive to replace his current salary with a much higher salary right this instant.  Cano’s salary demand won’t likely be any higher a year from now than it is right now, even if he has another monster year in 2012.

As such, Boras could simply be saber-rattling and letting the Yankees know he expects a big payday for Cano any time between now and two years from now. Boras also could be hoping that the Yankees would be silly enough to tear up Cano’s current deal and pay him at market value. After all, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Alternatively, he could be amenable to working out something in the middle, slightly below market value rate, right now. This would certainly represent a departure from Team Boras’ modus operandi. Boras has typically been known for pursuing a very aggressive year-to-year strategy with clients under contract and then pushing them to the biggest payday possible in the unrestricted free agent market. Look no further than Prince Fielder for an example. This could simply be posturing for a new deal two years from now, but if it isn’t and his demand for a new deal represents a negotiating strategy designed to get Cano a new deal this offseason, it would be advantageous to see the Yankees pursue a deal.

Meeting Boras halfway and working out a long-term extension solves a lot of problems at once. It provides Cano the long-term stability and big-time payday he’s looking for, and gives Boras his new contract commission, not that the latter is anyone’s concern. From the Yankees’ perspective, it allows them to lock Robbie up through his prime and into his mid-30s at a slightly below market rate. A reasonable guess as to a new extension for Cano might be replacing his 2012 and 2013 options with a six-year, $100M deal. This would pay Cano $16.67M per year through the 2017 season. Mike threw around the idea of a six-year, $120M deal back in August, an average of $20M per season.

If the Yankees have designs of keeping Cano around for the next half-decade, it would make sense to pursue this sort of deal now. It’s better to own Cano from 2012 through 2017 at $16 million per year than it is to own Cano from 2012 and 2013 at $14 and $15 million per year, respectively, and then from 2014 through 2019 at $20 million per year, assuming he can get that on the unrestricted free agent market.  Not only do they Yankees get a slight discount on the salary, but they also avoid paying him into his late-30s. It hardly even needs to be said that it’s dangerous to guarantee double-digit salaries to players throughout the inevitable decline that occurs as they enter their late thirties. If the Yankees can avoid that with Cano by paying him now and figuring out what happens after 2017 later, then they’re in a better and more flexible position than they would be if they signed him to the same deal two years later.

There’s risk, of course. Cano could regress back to the player we saw in his 2008 campaign and prove to be a poor value for the money, but it’s hard to find anyone who expects that to happen. Cano is among the very best players in the game, and he’s easily one of the best players on the Yankees.  Working out a deal now might be best for all parties. Something tells me it won’t happen, though. Boras is good at getting his clients the very best of paydays, and he may advise Cano to sit tight and wait until the terminus of the 2013 season if the Yankees aren’t interested in paying market value right now. They shouldn’t, of course, and they won’t. Brian Cashman wasn’t born yesterday.