Yanks have their hands full at Winter Meetings

When your most notable move during a typically transaction-heavy week is dealing Brian Bruney for a Rule 5 pick, times might seem slow. For the Yankees, though, that’s not the case. They’ve been working towards their goal of acquiring “pitching, pitching, pitching — and left field” this week. Just because nothing has come of these talks doesn’t mean nothing’s happening.

The three-way trade talks from last night have died, and it appears that the Yankees aren’t interested in revisiting it. They didn’t like giving up all four players just for Granderson (the latest on the matter said that “the Diamondbacks currently aren’t willing to send prospects to New York in the exchange.”). That doesn’t mean the Yanks are out on Granderson, however. As Mark Feinsand notes, the Yanks are still talking about Granderson, but without the Diamondbacks involved. There’s that.

Then there is the matter of Andy Pettitte, who started the week atop the Yankees’ priority list. He still remains up there, though the Granderson talks might have taken the top stop temporarily. According to Ken Davidoff, the Yanks are still talking with Pettitte’s agents, the Hendricks brothers. Those are two pretty major negotiations, so it’s understandable if we don’t see the Yankees connected with anyone else.

So when you see something about the Yankees not being interested in Rafael Soriano, that might be a temporary thing. Right now they have two big deals on their plate, and that requires plenty of attention. We might just have to wait this one out.

Updated by Mike (12:03pm): Turns out the three-way trade might be back on.

What are the Yankees going to do with the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft?

Update (10:30am): I’m an idiot. Tosoni was drafted in 2005, but not signed until 2006 as a draft and follow. He has one more year left before he’s Rule 5 Draft eligible. So, this is embarrassing…

Rene Tosoni's backTalk about topics I didn’t think I’d be writing about when I woke up yesterday morning. When the Yankees traded enigmatic reliever Brian Bruney to the Nationals, they received one of those generic players to be named later, and no one thought much of it. Bruney was gone, meaning the Yanks saved some cash and I would need a new reliever to despise (early favorite: Phil Coke). Not long after the trade, I mused that maybe the return would be the rights to the first pick of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, and whaddya know? That’s exactly what they’re getting.

Trades involving Rule 5 picks aren’t uncommon. The Reds worked out a deal with the Cubs to get Josh Hamilton in 2007 because they were afraid the Marlins would take him before they got a chance to pick. The Cubs took Hamilton with the third pick, then immediately send him to Cincinnati for $100,000.  The same basic thing is happening with the Yanks and Nats this year, except the player the Nats take will be sent to the Yanks as the PTBNL. And yes, the Yanks will tell the Nats who to pick, otherwise this deal wouldn’t make sense.

As per the Rule 5 Draft rules, the Yanks will have to keep the player on their 25-man Major League roster all season in order to retain his rights permanently. If they don’t, then the player has to pass through waivers (if a team claims him, the Rule 5 rules follow him) before being offered back to his original team. I thought it was a very shrewd move by the Yanks, because now they get to choose their return for Bruney from a massive pool of players, rather than being limited to one organization and the players they’re willing to move.

Through the magic of common sense, we know that players from 28 teams are possible picks. A team can’t pick a player from it’s own system, so that rules out everyone in the Nats’ system, and the Yanks aren’t going to have the Nats take one of their own (New York’s) prospects. It’s possible to unearth a gem in the Rule 5 Draft (Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, and Johan Santana are R5D alumni), thought it’s extremely unlikely. The latest CBA took all the fun out of the Rule 5, because it gave teams another year before they had to protect players.

So, realistically speaking, the Yanks don’t have many places to hide a Rule 5 player. There’s always the back of the bullpen and the bench, and given their current situation, leftfield. I’m going to rule out an infielder because the Yanks felt compelled to add the likes of Eduardo Nunez and Reegie Corona to the 40-man last month. Let’s run down some possibilities after the jump, listed alphabetically.

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Yanks, D-Backs, Tigers talking blockbuster

Updated 12:15 a.m.: It looks like Monday was a busier day for the Yankees than we thought. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, they discussed a three-way trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks that would have sent Curtis Granderson to New York and Edwin Jackson to Arizona. Talks, however, reached an impasse. The D-Backs are pushing hard, but the deal “was rejected by at least one of the other two teams.”

I originally thought that team to be the Yankees, and Joel Sherman confirmed as much a few minutes ago. The Yanks thought the costs were too high, and the Tigers were lukewarm on their returns as well. Although the three-way talks are dead, the Yankees are still very much interested in Granderson, not least because their interest could drive Johnny Damon‘s price down.

So what then were the costs to this proposed deal? The Yankees would have lost Ian Kennedy, Mike Dunn, Phil Coke, and Austin Jackson in the trade and gotten back Granderson and “one or two prospects from the Diamondbacks.” The Diamondbacks would have sent the Tigers Matt Scherzer and another prospect or two for Edwin Jackson. So, even though they’d be losing two to four prospects in the deal, the Diamondbacks were the ones pushing for this. It made the situation a bit more interesting.

We can forget about Dunn and Coke, because they’re not the ones who were holding up this deal. I doubt Kennedy was, either. If the Yanks are the stalling party, it’s likely over Austin Jackson. He’s still developing, and his lack of power in 2009 is concerning, but he’s still a good prospect, probably the second best in the Yankees system. The Yankees are reluctant to deal him, and for good reason. If that power tool comes around, he could be a very good MLB center fielder.

Granderson is attractive for a number of reasons, as I outlined in this post. He’s trended downward since his breakout 2007 season, but as with Nick Swisher‘s 2008, 2009 could have just been a bad season for Granderson. As I noted, he hit way, way more fly balls than normal, which led to a lower BABIP and, accordingly, batting average. I can definitely see Granderson recovering to his 2008 form, which would be great news for the Yankees. He could instantly replace Johnny Damon in the outfield and in the two-hole.

Getting two prospects back from the Diamondbacks would have helped soften the blow of losing Jackson, but we still don’t know which prospects were under discussion. Without mentioning prospects, the Diamondbacks are getting both Kennedy and Edwin Jackson and giving up only Scherzer. Maybe both the Tigers and the Yanks get a B-prospect from the D-Backs. So is Granderson and a B-prospect worth Austin Jackson?

As with most rumors, I discussed this one with both Ben and Mike for a while before even starting to write. All three of us are on the fence. If the Yanks pulled the trigger, we’d welcome the new center fielder. If they didn’t, we’d maintain hope for Jackson. It’s nice not to be disappointed either way. But, gun to my head, I do the trade. I have faith that Granderson can recover, and while I do want to see Austin Jackson grow into his pinstripes, there are some situations where trading prospects makes sense. I can see this being one of those situations.

Yanks want the coaching staff back

The Yankees have made no official announcements regarding their 2010 coaching staff, but according to Marc Carig, the team “told entire coaching staff that they’d be offered jobs again.” Hitting instructor Kevin Long is already under contract for next year, while Tony Pena, Rob Thomson, Mike Harkey, Dave Eiland, and Mick Kelleher remain in limbo. It’s good to know the Yanks want that crew back. The question now is of whether the parties agree on a price.

Heyman: Damon offer may be $10 million per for two years

In one of this news-and-notes columns from Indianapolis, Jon Heyman dropped in a brief rumor about Johnny Damon. He says that the Yanks “are expected to offer about $20 million over two years to keep him.” Back-up plans include Curtis Granderson, Jermaine Dye (yuck) and Mike Cameron. It’s interesting to see Heyman noted this offer because the Sports Illustrated scribe has been close to Scott Boras, Damon’s agent, for a while. Is this what the Yanks actually plan to offer or is this what it would take to keep Damon in the Bronx? Either way, I hope the Yanks don’t plan to keep Damon as the only starting left fielder. His defense simply isn’t good enough to warrant the commitment, and he would be far better suited for the DH/LF spot with an appropriate complement.

Open Thread: Evolution of a rumor

We’re just one day into the Winter Meetings, and already we have a week’s full of false reports. Exactly how these start is anyone’s guess. Maybe it was overheard in the lobby. Maybe it was an overzealous team official. In any case, most of what we’ve heard today is crap, but there is no crap greater than a report on MLive regarding Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

It all started with a relatively benign line from a Chicago Tribune post: “Yankees apparently are trying to put together a package of young players.” Notice the words “apparently” and “trying” in that sentence. It is complete speculation, and I don’t think it was intended to be anything else. Yet somehow, over the course of just a few hours, that morphed into “Tigers close to dealing Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson to New York Yankees.” Even in the body of the article, James Schmehl says that “the Tigers are closing in on a deal” with the Yankees, so we can’t just blame this on a copy editor. Again, no source — anonymous or not — was cited in this, other than the Tribune article.

Look, blogs and Twitter are great media tools. They allow a faster, more direct dissemination of information. But, as we’ve seen in Day 1 of the Winter Meetings, they can, like other types of media, be misused. Fans love a juicy rumor, and through reporters and aggregators we hear everything. But let’s just make sure we’re labeling rumors as such, and not escalating them for no apparent reason.

Buster Olney has an actual rumor on the Granderson part, something that is assumed to be speculation. Apparently, the Tigers seek both Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson from the Yankees. Speculative, of course, but if true it’s clear that Granderson will not be a Yankee. That’s way too high a price. Thanks to Doug for sending in the screen shot. It’s tough to link to ESPN’s rumor updates.

In actual Winter Meeting news:

Umpire Doug Harvey and manager Whitey Herzog were elected to the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to those two. I would have posted it at the time, but the wireless Internet is horrible at the Marriot. It was pretty much down all day, and spotty when it was working. As many others noted, it’s a shame that Marvin Miller still hasn’t gotten the nod.

The Yanks have checked on Kelvim Escobar, as they should. When he’s healthy, he’s nasty.

Via Ken Davidoff, Cashman’s priorities: “Pitching, pitching, pitching — and then left field.” Sounds good to me. First up: signing Pettitte.

And with that, we turn it over to you, the commenter, for this evening’s open thread. There’s plenty to talk about, so have at it. As long as we have no e-decapitations, it’s cool.

Updated: Yankees send Bruney to Washington for Rule 5 pick

Update (5:15 p.m.): The Yankees, according to Mark Feinsand, will receive Washington’s Rule 5 draft pick in exchange for Bruney. The Nationals pick first during Thursday’s draft.

Posted at 12:15 p.m.: Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees have traded reliever Brian Bruney to the Nationals for a player to be named later. There was talk this morning about Bruney possibly being shipped to Atlanta, however those are obviously false.

Bruney was set to earn a decent raise over last year’s $1.25M salary through arbitration, and frankly he was a non-tender candidate. Considering the Yanks are looking to trim payroll, this is about $2M they can better spend elsewhere.