Curry: Yanks not getting Lee

Update by Ben (4:20 p.m.): According to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the Yankees will not be getting Cliff Lee. Despite earlier rumors to the contrary, talks hit a snag this afternoon over the identity of a few prospects involved in the trade, and the Texas Rangers have jumped back in. “Sometimes, these things just don’t get done,” he said.

Sweeny Murti reports that the Yanks thought they had a deal. The team was prepared to deal Jesus Montero, David Adams and Zack McAllister for Lee, but Seattle wanted to shop the lefty ace to other teams as well. If the Yanks are out of the running, I can’t imagine GM Brian Cashman is pleased with this turn of events. Good luck to Jack Zduriencik in his search for a better prospect than Jesus Montero. If the Rangers are willing to part with Justin Smoak, so be it.

To recap the afternoon: A short while ago, we heard via Joel Sherman, the Mariners appear to be backing away from the reportedly imminent Cliff Lee trade, and that the Yankees are no longer in the running for the southpaw. Seattle apparently had concerns about David Adams’ injured ankle while another club jumped into the bidding. Buster Olney says they have concerns about the “identity” of the second player, and it seemed as if the deal would survive without Adams.

A short while later, Olney, who seems to be co-owning this story with Sherman right now, had an update: The Yanks wanted to “strike aggressively, strike quickly, and get a resolution to this,” but the Mariners appear to be shopping for alternatives. The Rangers, hamstrung a bit by their financial troubles, says Sherman, are still “working hard” to land Lee.

We then learned that Bob Kalpisch’s Yankee sources believe the Lee-for-Montero deal to be dead. Meanwhile, Mark Feinsand’s sources said the Yanks are still in it but that no deal is done yet. Either way, it sounds as though the Yanks won’t have to face Lee tonight.

Yankees monitoring Michael Wuertz

While adding Cliff Lee strengthens the rotation, the Yankees still need to address their bullpen. They’re reportedly monitoring A’s righty Michael Wuertz, who had a simply absurd season in relief last year: 2.61 xFIP, 102-23 K/BB ratio in 72.2 IP. Success has been as easy to come by this season, as he’s posted a 5.01 xFIP with just 6.75 K/9 after missing April with shoulder tendinitis.

There’s no indication that Oakland is shopping the 31-year-old, but Billy Beane isn’t shy about making moves. For what it’s worth, the A’s bought out the rest of Wuertz’s team control seasons this winter, so he’s under contract for $2.8M next year with a $3.25M for 2012. Meh.

Joe breaks down the Lee deal

In case you haven’t seen it yet, our own Joe Pawlikowski broke down the seemingly inevitable Cliff Lee trade from the Yankees perspective over at FanGraphs. It’s kinda long, Joe’s good at that, but it’s well worth the read. Make sure you check it out.

RAB Live Chat

Rumor: Lee deal ‘just about done’

I’m never sleeping in again….

Late last night Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees are “on the brink” of landing Cliff Lee. There aren’t many details other than the inclusion of Jesus Montero in the package. Sherman mentions David Adams, too and Tweeted that another prospect would be involved as well. We’ll save commentary until we get further word, but I will say that if this does happen: 1) Please let it happen before they face Lee tonight, and 2) This will not be the last major move the Yanks make this month.

Update by Ben (10:40 a.m.): AOL. FanHouse’s Ed Price has an update. According to his sources — an official from another team interested in Lee — the Mariners are now “negotiating exclusively” with the Yankees, and Buster Olney’s sources say the trade is “just about done.” We could be in for an interesting day indeed. For our analysis of this potential deal, be sure to check out Mike’s take on the rumors.

Update by Mike (11:07 a.m.): Olney says that the Yankees will not receive a window to negotiate and extension with Lee as part of the trade, but Ken Davidoff says they’re confident they’ll sign him long-term. Remember, the Yanks don’t negotiate with potential free agents until their contracts expire anyway. Olney also says that the Yanks informed the Mariners that their current offer is their final and best one.

Update by Mike (11:57 a.m.): Sherman says that the Yanks refused to include pitching prospects David Phelps, Ivan Nova, or Hector Noesi in the deal. He adds that it’s entirely possible that the deal is just Montero and Adams for Lee. I recommend giving Sherman’s piece a read, he explains why this trade would be different that one for Johan Santana way back when. Long story short: the Yanks’ believe their farm system is simply better now, and they’re dealing from positions of depth.

Update by Mike (1:49 p.m.): Ken Rosenthal hears that the third prospect might be Zach McAllister, who has become quite expendable this season with the emergence of Noesi, Phelps, and others.

Yankees sign Chad Tracy

Via MLBTR, the Yankees have signed corner infielder Chad Tracy to a minor league deal. He’ll head to Triple-A Scranton and serve as depth. Tracy has been a below replacement level player for close to three seasons now, with his last hurrah coming in the form of a .342 wOBA in both 2006 and 2007. The lefty swinger has three year UZR‘s of -4.6 and -0.7 UZR’s at first and third, respectively.

It’s an unsurprising move given the team’s search for someone able to play third and hit for some power, but meh. At least it’s not Garrett Atkins.

Today’s Crazy Idea: Kerry Wood in the pen

Every contender could use some help in the bullpen, and the Yankees are no exception. Outside of Mo the unit has been a model of inconsistency this year. While the starters have helped mitigate the situation by pitching deep into games, the problem still remains. The Yanks do have options to fill bullpen spots, though most of them are unproven players. That might be what they’re stuck with. Teams out of contention typically don’t have bullpen help to spare, so deadline deals for relievers tend to be rare, and expensive when consummated. The Yankees have to really like a reliever if they’re going to surrender anything for him in the next three weeks.

Last week Mike presented one possible bullpen trade target, Octavio Dotel. He’s mowing down NL hitters, though he’s also walking plenty of them. I doubt the Yankees go for him, considering the failed post-Tommy John experiment, but he’d still present another option for a bullpen that could need a hand. Today I’d like to present another similar, if not more expensive, pitcher that the Yankees could seek to acquire later this month.

Photo credit: Mark Duncan/AP

After battling various injuries for three seasons, Kerry Wood moved to the bullpen in 2007 and experienced immediate success. During his second year in the role he acted as the Cubs closer and dominated the league, striking out 11.4 per nine innings to 2.4 walks. Even better, he allowed just three home runs all year. It looked like he had taken to his new role and could provide a quality closer option for whatever team signed him when he hit free agency after 2008.

That team was the Indians. They signed Wood to a two-year, $20.5 million contract with a $11 million team option, which had a vesting clause, for 2011. He didn’t have a terrible first season in the American League, but he saw his walk and home run rates increase. On the positive side, he did stay healthy. That didn’t last, though, as he started the 2010 season on the DL with a shoulder strain. He returned in May and had something of a rough start, allowing nine runs in his first 7.1 IP. Since then he has turned it around.

He has pitched only 11.1 innings since June 1, mostly because he’s Cleveland’s closer and the team sits in last place. But he has been quite a bit better, striking out 11 to three walks. His BABIP has been very low, .207, and he has allowed two home runs, so it’s not all positive. But considering the options on the market and Wood’s track record as an effective reliever, he might fit into the Yankees’ bullpen.

The biggest factor here is the money. If the Yankees get Wood on July 31, they’ll owe him somewhere around $3.5 million for the remainder of the season. Dotel, on the other hand, would cost just over a million for the rental. The Yankees, as they demonstrated last year when Brian Cashman had worked out a deal for Mike Cameron, aren’t necessarily willing to add salary. The remainder owed Wood is nearly equal to what the Yankees wold have owed Cameron had the team approved the trade.

Given the fickle nature of relief pitchers, I doubt the Yankees will pursue this path. They’d have to pay not only the $3.5 million owed to Wood, but they’d also have to turn over a prospect or two to the Indians. Wood certainly comes with a track record, which gives him a leg up on internal options like Albaladejo, but as we saw with Eric Gagne in 2007, reputation brings no guarantee. If the Yankees can get Wood for his salary and a C prospect a deal might make sense. But if that’s the case I imagine the Yankees would have competition for his services.