Oh hey, look at that, the Yankees aren’t interested in Soriano

Via Buster Olney, it turns out the Yankees don’t have any interest in Rafael Soriano as of yesterday afternoon. We previously heard that the two sides were at least “in contract” with each other. Olney says Soriano would have to make himself very cheap on a short contract before the Yanks will even consider him. I suspect that if his asking price comes down that much, other teams will jump in the mix. I actually feel kinda foolish for not picking up on the “Scott Boras is trying to drum up interest” angle yesterday, but Ben took care of that last night.

Whatever Scottie wants…

The Yankees have millions to spend. After missing out on Cliff Lee and with Andy Pettitte off of their payroll ledger for now, the Bombers are going to be hard pressed to spend their $200 million. The team finds itself in this situation unwillingly, and everyone in baseball knows it.

Enter Scott Boras. No one can sniff out a money trail better than Boras. Despite the fact that he’s been operating in the league for what seems like eons, he still manages to eke out more dollars for his top clients than anyone else. He creates mystery teams and player comps that leave most people rolling their eyes in amusement, but when the Hot Stove League cools, his clients manage to get their paydays. Adrian Beltre can attest to that.

Right now, Boras can smell blood. As Mike detailed earlier, Boras is trying to get the Yanks interested in Rafael Soriano, and while the Yanks would love to add the former Tampa Bay closer to their bullpen, they’ll do so at his price. It’s time, in other words, for a standoff between two of the game’s top financial institutions.

When it comes to Soriano, Boras is saying all the right things. In an extensive interview with ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand, Boras laid it on hot and heavy. “That door is open for a number of different reasons…I don’t think there is a team in baseball where he could be asked to be a setup guy other than the Yankees,” Boras said of his free agent client who clearly wants a good job next year. “There is also a value in playing with Mariano Rivera.”

Boras clearly is trying to sell Soriano to the Yanks as Rivera’s heir apparent, but it might be a tough sell. Rivera will pitch in the Bronx for at least two more seasons, and the Yankees aren’t going to want to give Sorianonear-closer money to set up for three years just so he can close in 2013. Brian Cashman and the Yanks have learned over the last few seasons that it’s easy to build a bullpen out of low-cost players, and the marginal win upgrade that established bullpen arms bring isn’t usually worth the additional salary. Will having insurance for Rivera change that approach? I wouldn’t bet on it.

But Soriano can be a useful piece for the Yanks. While we might not want to face the facts, Rivera is 41, and the Yanks could do with another arm behind him. It would also free up Joba Chamberlain as either a starting rotation — my unrealistic pipe dream that flies in the face of Cashman’s words — or as a trade chit for a pitcher. If the Yanks can lower Boras’ asking price, this is a match that could just work.

But Scott Boras isn’t stopping with just Soriano. He’s again beating the Johnny Damon drum. “As Johnny has said he is more than willing to return to New York,” Boras said.

Now, Boras was of course the agent who told Damon not to sign a two-year deal with the Yanks after the 2009 season and who didn’t get Johnny a better deal. This year, Boras is trying to do right by Damon, but the Yankees again aren’t interested. They don’t need an old lefty bat who plays suspect defense in left field. Rather, they need a right-hand power bat or a defensive fourth outfielder who can hit better than, say, Greg Golson. Damon wants more playing time than the Yanks would give him, and it’s just not a fit.

So here we will have to watch Boras go to work. He has two clients who want to get paid, and he has a target who has money to spend. Even as we hit a slow stretch of the off-season, it’s worth watching these two dramas unfold. Can a master agent who gets more money for his clients than would seem possible pull it off now? The Yankees are clearly in his sights whether they want to be or not.

Keppinger goes under the knife

Via Brian McTaggart, Astros infielder Jeff Keppinger will likely miss the start of the season after having surgery to clear out some inflammation in his left foot next week. The Yankees had talks with Houston about acquiring Keppinger for the bench, but those talks eventually fell apart. The injury effectively ends any chance of talks being resumed and a trade being made. For shame, he would have been a nice little fit.

Open Thread: From football back to baseball

That photo of Yankee Stadium comes courtesy of Ryan Ruocco, who works for YES and ESPN Radio, among other outlets. As you can see, the process of converting the field back to baseball is now underway since the Pinstripe Bowl has been played. Baseball is still a few weeks away, but it’s slowly drawing closer and the Stadium is being prepped. Yay.

Anyways, here is the open thread for the night. Both the Devils and Islanders are in action, plus the GoDaddy.com Bowl (Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (Ohio)) is on ESPN if that’s your thing. The thread is yours, teach it as you see fit.

Yankees willing to give Pettitte $13M or so

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees are willing to give Andy Pettitte a raise to perhaps as much as $13M for the season. Andy made $11.75M last season, so this really isn’t that big or a pay increase. Unless he signs for that much out of the kindness of his heart, Pettitte will command a much higher salary if he decides to come back. He’s the one with the leverage given the pitching market, so if he asks for $15M or $16M in 2011, are the Yankees really going to say no? Doubt it.

Yankees “in contact” with Rafael Soriano

Update (5:17pm): For what it’s worth, Heyman says the talks are just preliminary.

5:01pm: Well this was inevitable. Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are “in contact” with free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, while Andrew Marchand hears from Scott Boras (Soriano’s agent) that the righty would be willing to take a setup role in New York. We’ve covered the possibility of the Yankees adding the former Rays’ closer ad nauseum this offseason, so there’s not much more to add. We just spoke about him on today’s podcast.

Like I said though, it was inevitable that the two sides would be connected at some point. Even if it’s just to feign interest and drive up the price for others.

The RAB Radio Show: January 6, 2011

We’re talking about pitching again, but this time it’s of the relief type. Mike and I both had posts today on the subject, so we dive into things that we didn’t get to in our posts. For instance, what aspect of a one-year deal for Soriano did I overlook? Also, we shoot down the idea of Soriano ever taking a one-year deal with New York.

We do hit on the idea of big time relievers signing late and still getting a multi-year deal. It’s happened before, and I’m willing to bet it happens again with Soriano this year.

Then we dive into the A’s relievers, since they could have something of a surplus. Where do the two match up? We look a bit closer at a couple of the guys and how they’d fit at Yankee Stadium.

Podcast run time 21:21

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