Olney: Yankees are talking to Carl Crawford

Via Buster Olney, the Yankees are “very much engaged in discussions” with free agent outfield Carl Crawford, though it’s unclear if they’re looking at him in combination with Cliff Lee, or as an alternative to the lefty. I suspect it’s the latter, and they’re just covering all their bases. Should they miss out on Lee, they could attempt to sign the other CC and then deal one of their spare outfielders for a sorely needed starting pitcher.

It was pretty busy last night, so in case you missed it: Mariano Rivera is on the verge of re-signing for two-years and $30M, and the Yanks came dangerously close to trading Frankie Cervelli for the since non-tendered Russell Martin. That would have been awesome.

A deal that almost was: Cervelli for Martin

As we celebrate Mariano Rivera’s inevitable homecoming, here’s something juicy for your late-night dreams: The Yankees, reports Michael S. Schmidt of The Times, were on the verge of trading Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers in exchange for Russell Martin. The Yankees and Dodgers exchanged medicals on Wednesday, but the deal seemed to slip away shortly before the non-tender deadline at midnight. The Dodgers eventually decided to drop Martin, and the Yanks could take a flier on him without surrendering Cervelli — my favorite Yankee punching bag.

Martin would be an intriguing addition to the Yanks. As a 24-year-old in 2007, he hit .293/.374/.469 with 19 home runs, but health problems have slowed him down of late. Due to an issue with his hip labrum, he played just 97 games in 2010 and hit only .248/.347/.332. Still, his walk rate has been above 10.8 percent for the past four years, and when healthy, he’s a very solid defensive catcher. He’d definitely be an upgrade over Cervelli, and he’s one upon whom the Yanks will probably keep an eye this month.

Welcome home, Mo

Via MLBTR, the Yankees will sign Mariano Rivera to a two year, $30 million contract (according to Christian Red of the Daily News). The deal isn’t official yet, but Red reports that it will be completed by Friday night.

The real interesting part of this is the following passage:

Thursday night, Rivera’s agent Fernando Cuza – who was one of the many guests at Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s celebrity golf tournament kickoff dinner – had said the Yankees and Rivera’s camp were “a little far apart” on getting a new deal done for Rivera, and that “hopefully we’ll be able to work it out.” But within hours, a deal came together, perhaps expedited because Rivera had recently received a three-year deal and more money (believed to be in the neighborhood of $17 million per year) from another team, according to the source. The source added that Rivera wanted to maintain his ties to the only team he has ever played for, and went with less money and fewer years to continue wearing pinstripes.

The smart money is on Anaheim as the team that offered Rivera three years at $17 million each. Maybe it was serious, maybe it was a ploy to get the Yankees to up their bid. In either case, it didn’t work. Red’s source notes that, “[Rivera] wanted to stay loyal to the Yankees.”

Still, that does seem a bit fishy. To rephrase the above quote, the deal got done because another team offered Mo more money and more years than the Yankees were willing to offer, and Mo chose less money and fewer years. That doesn’t sound quite right. If the Yankees were willing to go 2/34, maybe I could see it. But 3/51 vs. 2/30? That just doesn’t add up. Maybe Mo really is just that loyal to the pinstripes. But before we make that determination, I’d like to hear someone else confirm the story — if for no other reason than my unfamiliarity with Red.

Maybe Mo taking the same average annual value with fewer years has inspired Derek Jeter. Shortly after the Mo news Broke, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti tweeted:

I’m told Yanks/Jeter have made “significant progress,” could have deal before WM begin. Yanks sticking to 3yr deal, possible 4th yr option.

It would be fitting if both Jeter and Mo came back at the same AAV as their previous contracts, but for a shorter term.

Update: Jon Heyman hears that it was the Red Sox who made the three-year offer in question, and that two other teams offered three years. That’s an, uh, interesting twist to the story.

Update 2: Per Heyman again, another team was the Angels. I knew it!

Yanks non-tender Moseley, Aceves

The Yankees have non-tendered Dustin Moseley and Alfredo Aceves, Mark Feinsand reported a minute ago. In light of the team’s decision to re-up with Sergio Mitre, Moseley’s departure was a foregone conclusion. The Yanks do not need to mediocre right-handers clogging up the roster in the name of depth, but the decision on Aceves is surprising. My guess is that the Yanks did not want to burn a 40-man spot on a guy who missed most of 2010 and will be out for around the first six-to-eight weeks of 2011. The club will, in all likelihood, try to resign him to a minor league deal without burning a 40-man spot on a question mark.

Open Thread: ‘Cuse coming to the Bronx

(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

The Syracuse Orange (7-5 overall, 4-3 in conference play) have accepted a bid to play in this month’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium according to the team, though their opponent still hasn’t been confirmed. Based on my quick Google search, it appears that Kansas State is the favorite for the other bid. The game is scheduled for Monday, December 20th.

“We are thrilled to have Syracuse representing the Big East Conference in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Hal Steinbrenner. “We expect the historic backdrop of Yankee Stadium and the many attractions of New York City to create a one-of-a-kind bowl event for the athletes participating and … Syracuse fans that will have the opportunity to watch their team play in person.”

I know a few of our regulars are Syracuse alums, so any of you going to head out to the game? Based on what I heard, last month’s matchup between Army and Notre Dame was a rather cool experience.

Anywho, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Texans are at the Eagles and you can watch if you have the NFL Network, otherwise you’re stuck with the Rangers at the Islanders. It seems like all of the local teams have had the week off. Eh, whatever. Oh, and Lebron is going back to Cleveland tonight (8pm ET, TNT). I hear that’s kind of a big deal. Talk about whatever you want, so have at it.

Yankees make new offer to Jeter

Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees have made a new offer to Derek Jeter, though the details of that new offer are still unknown. The other day we heard that the Yanks were prepared to off three years and $51M with a fourth year option that included a $6M buyout, replicating the average annual value of the captain’s last contract. Jack Curry hears that the talks aren’t “in the zone” just yet, and there’s still some more work to be done.

Barring some seriously unlikely behind-the-scenes stuff, the Yankees are bidding against themselves here. The improved offer is out of nothing but good faith given the utter lack of competition for Jeter, especially since the annual payout will exceed that of Troy Tulowitzki’s new contract. If Jeter’s camp isn’t happy with that, I don’t know what comes next. At some point they have to reciprocate.