Of course they can. But are they willing to take the payroll to that level? That remains to be seen. Buster Olney says Brian Cashman had a long meeting with Carl Crawford’s people last night, and that Crawford himself might have even been there. Jayson Stark adds that if Andy Pettitte does indeed retire, the team is hinting that they’ll have room for both Crawford and Cliff Lee. I suspect this is all posturing though, Darek Braunecker is playing games and Cashman wants to get the ball rolling with Lee. Showing interest in Crawford is likely nothing more than a decoy.
We have definitely heard this before. In August, speaking to the New York Post, CC Sabathia discussed the opt-out clause in his contract. Unlike three prominent opt-out cases — Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett, and J.D. Drew — that came before him, Sabathia said that he’s a Yankee, “hundred percent.
I think you know I’ve built a house here, right? My kids go to school here. We live here year round. So I’m not going anywhere.
Situations can always change, and we could certainly see that with Sabathia. This winter another left-handed ace, Cliff Lee, figures to get six, or maybe even seven, years at a similar average annual value to Sabathia. Why, then, wouldn’t Sabathia use that leverage to turn what is essentially a four-year, $92 million player option into another seven-year deal?
According to the Post, Lee’s situation will not influence Sabathia. “It has no effect on me at all,” he said. Unfortunately, that is the only quote that the Post article provides. Apparently Sabathia’s stance hasn’t changed since the summer. We can refer back to the above quote for Sabathia’s stance on the matter.
Still, I can’t help but notice a glaring omission. Never has Sabathia said the words “I will not opt out of my contract.” He has just talked about how he’s sticking around. I don’t think this means he’s seriously considering an opt out, but I do think that he’s not prepared to surrender all of his leverage by saying, in no uncertain terms, that he will decline to exercise the clause. It’s hard to fault him for that.
The lesson, as always: don’t trust Post headlines. In this case it was, “Sabathia won’t opt out,” but he didn’t say that. He just said it has no effect on him, which references a previous statement, which also didn’t explicitly mention the opt-out clause. I don’t think he will, but it’s definitely a stretch to take Sabathia’s words and say that he won’t.
I honestly hope you had something better to do than follow the Cliff Lee saga today. Because unless you favor the theater of the absurd, you likely got nowhere but frustrated. Here’s what happened, in essence.
- The Nats are “very much” in on Cliff Lee, to the point that they’d offer seven years.
- Two hours later: oops, the Nats aren’t in on Lee.
- A team not named the Nats has offered Lee seven years.
- Wait, now there are two teams who have offered seven years. It’s a double mystery!
- Right on cue, the Angels are mentioned as suitors. Not only that, they could trade a pitcher to make room for him.
- Of course, amid all of these rumors, we hear that the two presumed suitors, the Yankees and the Rangers, not only won’t go to seven years, but also haven’t been allowed to make an offer. So random mystery teams can offer seven years when seven years is insane, but the Yankees can’t make their own offer.
It adds up to nothing but a mockery. Given the way this week has unfolded, there’s absolutely no reason to pay attention to anything said about Lee until he’s on the verge of signing a deal. It’s pretty clear that Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, is trying to play everyone. I don’t blame him. But he can’t blame me for tuning out.
Well, so much for that idea. Matt Diaz signed with the Pirates most likely because they offered him a two-year deal. Guess the Yankees will have to look elsewhere for a righty platoon outfield bat.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees and free agent right-hander Mark Prior have mutual interest in what would surely be a minor league deal. Prior has not yet worked out for the team, though they have scouting him during his various independent league stints over the years. Prior did through one inning in Triple-A this past September (for the Rangers), his first action in affiliated ball since 2006. There’s no such thing as a bad minor league contract, but sheesh.
The Yankees, of course, drafted Prior 43rd overall in 1998 but the two sides could not come to terms with a contract. He then went to Vanderbilt for a year before landing at USC and eventually went second overall in 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.
Via Joel Sherman, former Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland has been hired by the Rays to work in an executive capacity, though the team has not announced it yet. I presume he’ll be able to stay in Tampa all year round, which is where he probably lives after spending so many years in the Yankees’ organization. After his month long absence this past June, maybe this is exactly what he wanted. I’d wish him good luck, but not when he’s employed by a direct competitor. Sorry Dave, nothing personal.
The last two days have featured plenty of talk but basically no action on the Cliff Lee front, but Brian Cashman told reporters today that he’s ready to make the free agent lefty an offer. “If they’re willing to take [an offer] and they’re ready to close something out, I’m willing to get serious,” said Cash. “We’re just waiting for them to get to that position.” Apparently Darek Braunecker isn’t ready to take offers just yet, though he reportedly has two seven-year offers in hand. That sounds like nothing more than agent speak to me.