Fan Confidence Poll: November 6th, 2017

Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE
Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS

Top stories from last week:

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Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Weekend Open Thread

The first weekend without baseball since February. I forgot how much these stink. Once the hot stove heats up things will be more lively. Right now we’re in that post-World Series/pre-free agency lull. Anyway, I only have two links to pass along this weekend:

Friday: Here is an open thread for the night. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing tonight, and that’s pretty much it. Anything except religion or politics is fair game here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. If you’re jonesin’ for some baseball, the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game is on tonight (8pm ET on MLB Network). Justus Sheffield, Thairo Estrada, and Billy McKinney will play in the game. (McKinney won the fan voting for the final spot.) Also, the (hockey) Rangers are playing, and you’ve got all the day’s college football action as well.

Sunday: For one last time, this is the open thread. The Knicks, Islanders, and Devils are all playing tonight, plus there’s all the day’s NFL talk action. Have at it.

The Domino Effect

(New York Post)
(The face I made when my wife read me a tweet saying Tanaka would be back/New York Post)

All week I was preparing myself for the inevitable announcement that Masahiro Tanaka would opt out of his contract with the Yankees, leaving them with a big hole in the rotation. I had visions of a rotation without Tanaka and without CC Sabathia to balance the end, leaving the Yankees with only Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and….who knows what else? Granted, the Yankees have come into years with rotations featuring way less than a top-3 Cy Young finisher, a solid veteran, and a promising youngster, it still wasn’t, as a former manager ’round here might say, what you want. Then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t leaving. He was coming back. He is coming back. And positivity falls into place.

Worst case scenario now, the Yankees are only looking to fill one rotation spot, and only if they opt not to give CC Sabathia the Andy Pettitte treatment, which he’s definitely earned. The best case scenario stays the same, though, as unlikely as it may be. That includes the Yankees retaining Sabathia and also landing the (potential) prize of the offseason, Shohei Otani. Yes, this would give the Yankees six starters, but as we’ve seen–hell, just look to Queens–pitching depth can disappear in the rotation of a pitch. Stocking up on starters is always a team’s best case scenario.

Even without Otani, a rotation of Severino, Tanaka, Gray, Montgomery, and Sabathia is formidable. Throw in a full season of Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson, a hopefully resurgent Dellin Betances, a healthy Adam Warren and Chad Green, and normal Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees could challenge anyone for the best pitching staff in baseball.

As he does when he pitches, Tanaka has–with this decision–inspired confidence in me for 2018. Sure, that confidence was there given the success of the team this year, but Tanaka helps push that over the edge. Starting pitching has been a weakness of the Yankees heading into the season for…many years and now, that’s not the case, regardless of what happens with CC.

A pitching staff makes, like dominoes do, things fall into place. A strong rotation gives the Yankees balance to their potent lineup. Now, as they did for parts of last year, they have a rotation and a bullpen to buoy them when the lineup goes through slumps and a lineup to push through the wall when the rotation has an off week.

Would or could all of this be true without Tanaka? Sure, they could’ve found someone to replace him and not necessarily missed a beat or a step. But I’m more fond of and confident in Tanaka than I would be or would have been in any sort of replacement for him. Is that a case of blinders or pinstripe-tinted glasses? Maybe, sure. But all I know is I’m damn glad Tanaka is going to be with the Yankees for the next few years, and I hope you are, too. Welcome home, Masa, even if you never left.

Saturday Links: Otani, League Top 20 Prospects, Cessa

The most fun player on Earth. (Getty)
The most fun player on Earth. (Getty)

The offseason is off to a pretty good start. Last night we learned Masahiro Tanaka will not opt-out of his contract, and instead give the Yankees his age 29-31 seasons for $67M. Not bad. Not bad at all. Now the Yankees can now move on to other things, like finding a new manager. Here are some notes and links to check out.

Otani’s move on hold while MLB, MLBPA, NPB haggle

According to Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman, Shohei Otani’s move to the big leagues is on hold while MLB, MLBPA, and NPB haggle over the posting agreement. The posting agreement expired last month, though MLB and NPB agreed Otani would be grandfathered in under the old agreement, meaning the Nippon Ham Fighters would still get the $20M release fee. The players’ union doesn’t like that arrangement. From Sherman:

But MLB cannot enter into any transfer agreement with any country — Japan, Korea, Cuba, Mexico, etc. — without approval from the MLB Players Association, as stated in the CBA. And the union, to date, has refused to make an exception for Otani, concerned about the precedent and fairness of the player receiving, say, $300,000 and his former team $20 million.

Under the international hard cap Otani can only receive a small bonus — the Yankees and Rangers reportedly have the most bonus money to offer at $2.5M or so — and sign a minor league contract, which is nothing. He’s getting screwed beyond belief, financially. I get why MLBPA doesn’t want to set this precedent, but maybe do something about it during Collective Bargaining Agreement talks? It’s a little too late now. You agreed to the hard cap, you dolts.

Anyway, my guess is Otani will indeed end up coming over at some point this winter. It seems like he really wants to despite the hard cap. So far this Otani stuff is following a similar path as the Tanaka stuff a few years ago. He wants to come over, oh no his team might not post him, now MLB and the NPB are at an impasse during posting system talks … blah blah blah. Same story, different year.

Otani undergoes ankle surgery

Oh, by the way, Otani had ankle surgery last month, according to the Kyodo News. The ankle had been bothering him since late last year, when he rolled it running through first base in October. He then reaggravated it in November. The ankle injury as well as a nagging quad problem limited Otani to only 231 plate appearances (.332/.403/.540) and 25.1 innings (3.20 ERA and 10.3 K/9) in 2017.

The surgery comes with a three-month rehab, meaning Otani is expected to be back on his feet by January. That could throw a wrench into his offseason workout routine. Obviously the surgery is a red flag and something MLB teams must consider when pursuing him, but given the nature of the injury — rolling your ankle while running through first base is kinda fluky — and the fact his arm is sound leads me to believe it won’t hurt his market at all. It could mean Otani is brought along a little more slowly in Spring Training, however.

More Yankees among BA’s league top 20 prospects

Florial. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Florial. (Rob Carr/Getty)

It just dawned on me that I never passed along Baseball America’s remaining league top 20 prospect lists. I did post Triple-A, Double-A, and High-A, but that’s all. There are still four more levels to cover, and many Yankees prospects. Let’s get to them quick:

  • OF Estevan Florial (Low-A No. 2): “He’s a higher-risk, high ceiling prospect who has further refinement to come, but special tools.”
  • RHP Jorge Guzman (NYPL No. 2): “(The) 21-year-old took a big step forward as a pitcher this year … He mixed in his curveball and changeup more regularly, which only made his plus-plus fastball more effective.”
  • RHP Trevor Stephan (NYPL No. 9): “Stephan sat 92-94 mph but touched 95-96 regularly. His slider got plenty of swings and misses thanks to his ability to bury it.”
  • RHP Juan De Paula (NYPL No. 14): “De Paula was one of the more skilled pitchers in the league, showing an ability to control the strike zone and throw in and out, up and down, raising and lowering hitters’ eye levels and never letting them get real comfortable in the batter’s box.”
  • IF Oswaldo Cabrera (NYPL No. 16): “Managers and scouts felt confident about Cabrera’s ability to hit for average and get on base … Scouts are concerned that Cabrera’s tools are more modest than his work ethic and feel for the game.”
  • RHP Luis Medina (Appy No. 6): “Medina’s upside is enormous. He attacks hitters with a true 80-grade fastball on the 20-80 scouting scale and sits anywhere from 96-100 mph … Medina pairs his heater with two potentially above-average secondaries. His curveball works in an 11-to-5 arc and is his preferred knockout pitch, whereas his changeup lags a little behind.”
  • RHP Deivi Garcia (Appy No. 15): “Garcia’s fastball sits in the low 90s and touches as high as 96 mph … His curveball is nearing plus status and boasts high spin rates and firm shape.”
  • SS Oswald Peraza (GCL No. 14): “Peraza is a smart, savvy player and a good athlete. He has a smooth, efficient stroke, good bat-to-ball skills and manages his at-bats well with a good sense for the strike zone.”
  • SS Jose Devers (GCL No. 19): “Devers’ glove is ahead of his bat, but he held his own against older competition in the GCL, showing a sound swing and contact skills, though without much power.”

In the Appalachian League chat, 3B Dermis Garcia was called “a very divisive player” because his pitch recognition isn’t great and he’ll probably end up at first base, but “(on) the flip side, he’s got enormous raw power and a strong throwing arm.” Also, OF Blake Rutherford placed 18th on the Low-A South Atlantic League list. Eek. Hopefully he bounces back next year. Rutherford’s a good dude.

Cessa activated off 60-day DL

A small transaction to note: Luis Cessa was activated off the 60-day DL yesterday, the Yankees announced. The Yankees now have four open spots on the 40-man roster. They’re going to go to Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects later this month. Chances are the Yankees will have to open a few more 40-man spots, in fact. Cessa, 25, had a 4.75 ERA (5.75 FIP) in 36 swingman innings this year before going down with a rib cage injury. I like him more than most. I think Cessa has a chance to be a nice little back-end starter and soon.

Not opting out: Masahiro Tanaka decides to stay with Yankees

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The biggest question of the offseason has been answered. Masahiro Tanaka is staying in New York.

Friday night Tanaka announced he will not opt out of the final three years and $67M remaining on his contract with the Yankees. The deadline to opt-out was Saturday night. Here is Tanaka’s statement:

“I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons. It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York.

“I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization, and the great fans of New York.”

This really surprises me. I’ve been saying that, as long as he’s healthy, Tanaka would opt-out basically since the day the Yankees signed him. And I know I’m not the only one who felt that way. Most RAB readers expected him to opt-out. My guess is either Tanaka really loves New York, the Yankees took a hard line and said they wouldn’t re-sign him if he opts out, or Tanaka is really worried about The Elbow™. Maybe some combination of all three.

So, rather than worry about finding another starting pitcher this offseason, the Yankees will get Tanaka’s age 29-31 seasons for $67M total. That is a pretty great deal. Any contender would’ve signed him to that this offseason, preferring to trade the higher average annual value for fewer years. Based on my rough numbers, the Yankees still have roughly $33M to spend this winter before hitting the $197M luxury tax threshold.

Tanaka, who turned 29 this past Wednesday, had his worst season with the Yankees in 2017. He had a 4.74 ERA (4.34 FIP) in 178.1 innings, though he was much better in the second half (3.77 ERA and 3.41 FIP) than the first (5.47 ERA and 5.04 FIP). And, of course, Tanaka was brilliant in the postseason, allowing two runs in 20 total innings in his three starts. That includes seven shutout innings against the Indians with the season on the line in Game Three of the ALDS.

The Yankees now know they’ll go into next season with Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery in their starting rotation. CC Sabathia is a free agent and it stands to reason the team will try to bring him back on a short-term contract. The Yankees don’t figure to spend much on a fifth starter either way, Sabathia or no Sabathia. Luis Cessa, Domingo German, and Chance Adams are then the Triple-A depth arms.

For now, the Yankees don’t have to worry about re-signing or replacing Tanaka. They’ve got the real thing. The Yankees are ready to win right now, they showed it this season, and getting the 2014-16 versions of Tanaka will make this club that much more dangerous in 2018. Welcome back, Masahiro.

Update: Yankees name Kevin Reese new farm system head

Reese during his playing days. (Getty)
Reese during his playing days. (Getty)

Friday: The Yankees announced Reese’s move this morning. His official title is senior director of player development. There’s no word yet on who will replace him as the head of the pro scouting department.

Thursday: According to George King, the Yankees will name Kevin Reese their new farm system head, replacing the departed Gary Denbo. Denbo ran the farm system from 2015-17 before leaving to join Derek Jeter and the Marlins last month. The Yankees have not yet officially announced Reese as the player development chief. I imagine it’ll happen soon.

Reese, 39, spent the 2002-07 seasons as a depth outfielder in the farm system, and he did manage to appear in 12 games with the Yankees from 2005-06. He joined the club as a scout in 2008 and has gradually worked his way up the ladder. Most recently, Reese was the director of pro scouting. He took over the department when Billy Eppler left to join the Angels.

Over the last three years Denbo turned the farm system into a player development machine after it’d been unproductive for years under Mark Newman. It’s not just the Aaron Judges and Gary Sanchezes and Luis Severinos. Others like Jordan Montgomery are quite valuable too. Now Reese will be in charge of making sure the pipeline remains productive. If nothing else, he still has a lot of talent to work with.

The Yankees reportedly interviewed four candidates to replace Denbo, all internal: Reese, director of minor league operations Eric Schmitt, director of performance science John Kremer, and field coordinator Carlos Mendoza. The Yankees tend to promote from within for these jobs. Now they have to replace Reese as the pro scouting department head, though I’m sure they have someone lined up.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: October & November 2012

(Jeff Gross/Getty)
(Jeff Gross/Getty)

We’re now into yet another new month, which means it is once again time to go back through the MLB Trade Rumors archives. We have two months to cover, actually. I forgot skipped October because things were hectic during the postseason. October is a slow month for trade and free agent rumors anyway. So I’m going to combine October and November here. Easy enough, right?

Anyway, the Yankees finished the 2012 season in first place at 95-67. They beat the Orioles in five games in the ALDS before getting swept by the Tigers in the ALCS. A disappointing finish to the season, that was. The big story going into the 2012-13 offseason was the futures of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, as well as the impending free agencies of Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda, and Rafael Soriano‘s opt-out clause. Let’s go back through October and November rumor mill.

October 2nd, 2012: AL East Notes: Banuelos, Farrell, Ortiz, Steinbrenner

Though the Yankees went from a big AL East lead in mid-summer to fighting for the division title with two games left, managing general partner Hank Steinbrenner told reporters (including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch) that the team’s minor collapse won’t lead to any offseason changes.  “Are jobs riding on this? Not that I know of,” Steinbrenner said. “Jobs are not riding on this, but that’s not something I’m concerned about right now. We look at everything in the offseason, as we always do.”

There was a lot of talk about coaching staff changes following the 2012 season because the Yankees collapsed. No one remembers because they won the AL East anyway, but they had a ten-game lead on July 18th. It was gone completely by September 4th, and the Yankees eventually won the division by two games. Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long were on the hot seat, at least in the minds of many fans and media members, though that wasn’t really the case. Hal Steinbrenner said so.

October 8th, 2012: Pettitte Likely To Return Next Season

Throughout the 2012 season, Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte has been non-commital when asked whether he would return next year.  However, the 40-year-old gave a strong indication that he will be back in 2013 as he gets ready to take on the Orioles in Game 2 of the ALDS, writes Mark Hale of the New York Post.

I know one thing: I know the competition and the desire to compete is still there, and I don’t feel like I kind of got that itch out from the 70 innings or so that I threw this year,” Pettitte said.

Ah yes, another offseason of “will Pettitte retire or won’t Pettitte retire?” I love Andy. He’s the man. But the annual offseason waffling got old after a while. Of course, this time things were different, because Pettitte had retired and unretired earlier in the year. He came back and had his leg broken by a comebacker, cutting his comeback short. Andy eventually admitted he was planning to call it quits (again) after the season before the injury. He didn’t want to go out like that though.

October 8th, 2012: Yankees Designate Cory Wade For Assignment

The Yankees have designated right-hander Cory Wade for assignment, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).  In a related move, Dellin Betances was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Awww, Cory Wade. He was a personal favorite. The Yankees grabbed him from the Rays at midseason in 2011 and he threw 39.2 innings with a 2.04 ERA (3.76 FIP) that year. What a find. It didn’t last though. Wade couldn’t keep the ball in the park in 2012, and finished with a 6.46 ERA (4.51 FIP) in 39 innings. An upper-80s fastball never left him much margin for error.

As for Betances, he started the 2012 season in Triple-A and eventually earned a demotion to Double-A. His line in the minors that year: 6.44 ERA (5.11 FIP) with 19.6% strikeouts and 15.7% walks in 131.1 total innings. Shoulder inflammation sent him to the disabled list in mid-August. That was back in the “please figure out how to throw strikes, Dellin” days. Funny how history repeats itself.

October 18th, 2012: Yankees, Marlins Had Preliminary A-Rod Talks

THURSDAY: Marlins president David Samson told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that there have been “no conversations between the Yankees and the Marlins.”

WEDNESDAY: Earlier today, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman shot down a report from Keith Olbermann which indicated that the club has talked with the Marlins about a possible trade involving Alex Rodriguez.  However, Yankees president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria have in fact had a casual conversation about relocating the embattled third baseman to Miami, a source tells Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com

Good times, good times. This was shortly after Raul Ibanez pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the postseason, kicking off the annual “how will the Yankees get rid of A-Rod this offseason?” chatter. Every year, like clockwork. This time we had organizational higher ups involved. Levine said he talked to the Marlins about an A-Rod trade. Samson said no, that conversation didn’t happen. Hmmm, which completely unlikable team president to believe?

October 25th, 2012: Latest On Ichiro, Yankees

Ichiro Suzuki strongly wants to re-sign with the Yankees, a person close to the free agent outfielder told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Ichiro enjoyed playing in a winning atmosphere with players in his age range this past season, Sherman reports

The “enjoyed playing … with players in his age range” line is too funny. Sad, but funny now looking back on it. Ichiro was 39 years old at the time of this report! Among his teammates in 2012: 38-year-old Derek Jeter, 37-year-old A-Rod, 40-year-old Ibanez, 40-year-old Pettitte, 37-year-old Kuroda. Oy vey.

October 29th, 2012: Yankees Exercise Options For Aardsma, Cano, Granderson

The Yankees announced that they have exercised the 2013 options for right-hander David Aardsma, second baseman Robinson Cano and outfielder Curtis Granderson.

The Cano and Granderson options, both worth $15M, were easy calls. I forgot the Yankees picked up the Aardsma option. They signed him the prior offseason, as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. He had a few setbacks and wound up pitching one whole inning in pinstripes in September 2012. The Yankees picked up his $500,000 option for 2013 … and then released him at the end of Spring Training.

October 31st, 2012: Rafael Soriano Opts Out Of Contract

7:45am: Rafael Soriano will opt out of his contract with the Yankees and elect free agency today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Soriano’s contract includes a $14MM player option for 2013 with a $1.5MM buyout.

Rivera blew out his knee on the Kauffman Stadium warning track, pushing Soriano into the closer’s job, and he was great. Dude went 42-for-46 with a 2.26 ERA (3.32 FIP) in 67.2 innings. After that, Soriano used the (second) opt-out clause in his contract and eventually landed a two-year deal worth $28M with the Nationals. Fun fact: that contract included a ton of deferred money, and the Nationals have to start paying it next year. Soriano will get $2M each January 5th from 2018-24.

October 31st, 2012: East Links: Ortiz, Hunter, Oliver, Marlins, Phillies

The Yankees have some interest in Torii Hunter, reports Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News (on Twitter). Since the Angels are unlikely to make Hunter a qualifying offer, it wouldn’t cost a draft pick to sign him.

I was very much against signing Hunter at the time. He was 36 and I wanted the Yankees to get younger. They had an opening in right field given Swisher’s free agency, and it seemed like a chance to find a younger player to potentially build around going forward. The Yankees wound up re-signing Ichiro. Womp womp.

  • Hunter (two years, $26M): .295/.327.456 (116 wRC+) and +2.7 WAR
  • Ichiro (two years, $13M): .271/.308/.341 (79 wRC+) and +2.6 WAR

WAR says their production was equal from 2013-14. Me? I’ll take the good bat/bad glove guy over the bad bat/good glove every day of the week.

November 2nd, 2012: Soriano, Swisher, Kuroda Obtain Qualifying Offers From Yankees

The Yankees extended qualifying offers to Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The players now have one week to accept or decline the offers.

Fun fact: the qualifying offer was worth only $13.3M during the 2012-13 offseason. It’s $17.4M this offseason. It was an easy decision to give all three guys the qualifying offer. And they all declined it. Kuroda wound up re-signing with the Yankees. Swisher went to the Indians and Soriano went to the Nats, and with the compensation draft picks, the Yankees took Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin, respectively. That Swisher trade, man. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Four great years from Swisher and now at least one MVP caliber year from Judge.

November 3rd, 2012: AL East Links: Swisher, Orioles, Ross, Cabral

The Yankees intend to keep 2011 Rule 5 Draft pick Cesar Cabral and give him another look in Spring Training, reports Chad Jennings of The Journal News. Cabral, a left-hander, missed all of this season with an elbow injury.

The Yankees liked Cabral so much they traded up to get him in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft — in a prearranged deal, the Royals selected Cabral and traded him to the Yankees for $100,000 (Cabral wouldn’t have made it to New York’s pick) — then kept him around for a second Rule 5 year. Rule 5 players have to spend 90 days on the active roster, and since Cabral missed 2012 with the elbow injury, the Rule 5 Draft rules carried over to 2013. All told, he allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings for the Yankees. He plunked three batters in his final appearance, you may remember.

November 3rd, 2012: Mariano Rivera To Return In 2013

Mariano Rivera informed Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman that he wants to return next season, tweets Erik Boland of Newsday.  The closer is now a free agent after finishing up his two-year, $30MM contract.

This was when we found out Rivera was planning to retire following the 2012 season. Then he blew out his knee in Kansas City, and decided he didn’t want to go out like that. I wonder what would’ve happened had Mo not hurt his knee, and instead followed through on his plan to retire following 2012. Hmmm. Do the Yankees re-sign Soriano to close? Do they hand the reins to David Robertson a year earlier? And if so, do they re-sign Robertson after two great years as closer? That likely means no Andrew Miller, and then no Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield. Intrigue!

November 5th, 2012: Yankees Claim Eli Whiteside

The Yankees announced that they claimed catcher Eli Whiteside off of waivers from the Giants.

In the coming days lots of players will hit the waiver wire as teams clean up their 40-man roster. These days the Yankees are a team that loses players on waivers in November, like Blake Parker and Kirby Yates last year. Once upon a time they were a team claiming random players for depth. That was the case in 2012.

A complete list of players the Yankees claimed on waivers during the 2012-13 offseason: Eli Whiteside, David Herndon, Josh Spence, Mickey Storey, Jim Miller, Russ Canzler, Dan Otero, Sam Demel. Whiteside, Storey, Canzler, and Otero were all lost on waivers later in the offseason. Otero’s gone on to have a few solid years as a middle reliever for the Athletics and Indians. Everyone else? Nope. Yet they all spent time on the 40-man roster. Miller actually had cups of coffee with the Yankees in both 2013 and 2014. Huh. Had a 20.25 ERA both years too. Gave up Xander Bogaerts’ first career dinger.

I embedded that just so any visiting Red Sox fans can remember what it looked like Bogaerts had power.

November 5th, 2012: Soria Would Set Up For Yanks; Eight Other Teams Interested

Oscar Suarez, the agent for Joakim Soria, has received calls from eight contending teams expressing interest in his client, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. Suarez has yet to hear from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, but says that Soria would be more than willing to pitch in a setup role for his idol, Mariano Rivera.

Remember Greg Holland last offseason? That was Soria back during the 2012-13 offseason. He was a formerly elite closer who hadn’t pitched at all the prior season as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. In Soria’s case it was his second career Tommy John surgery, which adds another layer of concern.

Everyone wanted Soria back then. It’s so very easy to dream on these guys coming back from elbow reconstruction good as new, and dominating. How often does that happen? Very rarely. Soria eventually signed a two-year deal worth $8M with the Rangers, and gave them 57 innings with a 3.16 ERA (2.15 FIP). That one worked out. Texas traded Soria to the Tigers for Corey Knebel at the 2014 trade deadline, then a year later they traded Knebel to the Brewers for Yovani Gallardo. D’oh.

November 12th, 2012: Yankees, Red Sox Interested In Napoli

2:38pm: The Yankees are also interested in Napoli, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter). The Yankees have a need at catcher, since Russell Martin has also hit free agency. Both Napoli and Martin have strong career numbers against left-handed pitching.

The Yankees lost Martin to the Pirates during the 2013-13 offseason without even making him an offer, which annoyed me to no end. He only wanted a three-year deal and later said he’d take a one-year deal, but nope, Yankees let him go, and we were saddled with the Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervelli/Austin Romine mishmash in 2013. Next time you feel like complaining about Gary Sanchez‘s passed balls, remember that season.

Martin and Napoli were the two top free agent catchers that offseason. And Napoli never caught again. He agreed to a three-year, $39M deal with the Red Sox, but it was discovered he had a degenerative condition in both hips during his pre-signing physical, so they cut their offer to one-year and $13M, and moved him to first base. I was very Mad Online about the catcher situation going into 2013.

November 13th, 2012: AL East Links: Ibanez, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox

Dan Martin of The New York Post reports that the Yankees have had “preliminary discussions” about bringing Raul Ibanez back as a platoon player next season. The 40-year-old played more than the club would have liked this year due to Brett Gardner‘s injury.

We all remember the clutch homers. They were awesome. The fact of the matter though was Ibanez was 40 years old, and he’d hit .240/.308/.453 (102 wRC+) in 2012, which pretty much sucks for a bad defense corner outfielder-slash-DH. There were plenty of reasons to stay the hell away. Then Ibanez went back to the Mariners and hit .242/.306/.487 (121 wRC+) with 29 homers in 2013. Go figure.

November 14th, 2012: Marlins Shopping Morrison; Nolasco May Be Traded

The Yankees are among the teams with an interest in Nolasco, Erik Boland of Newsday reports (on Twitter). The right-hander has one year and $11.5MM remaining on his contract with Miami. The Rockies had interest in Nolasco last winter and could inquire about him, Troy Renck of the Denver Post suggested this morning (on Twitter).

I was pro-Nolasco back then, when most baseball analysis was “ignore the hundreds and hundreds of innings of crummy run prevention because one of these years his ERA will match his FIP!” Nolasco had a 4.48 ERA (3.57 FIP) in 2012 and was a good bet to chew up innings. The Marlins didn’t trade him that offseason though. They sent him to the Dodgers at the deadline, a few months before he became a free agent, for nothing in particular. I’m pretty sure Nolasco in Yankee Stadium would’ve set a new single-season home runs allowed record. (Current record: 50 by Bert Blyleven in 1986.)

November 20th, 2012: Yankees Agree To Terms With Hiroki Kuroda

The Yankees have retained their most consistent starter from 2012 as the club has agreed to terms on a one-year, $15MM contract with Hiroki Kuroda, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter links).  Kuroda is represented by the Octagon agency.

Welcome back, Hiroki. Kuroda was just the best, wasn’t he? Three years with the Yankees, all one-year contracts, totaling 620 innings with a 3.44 ERA (3.68 FIP) and +12.0 WAR.

Man it would be so awesome to add 2012-14 Kuroda to the 2018 Yankees. What a stud.

November 20th, 2012: Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees Interested In Stephen Drew

Shortstop Stephen Drew is drawing interest from such clubs as the Tigers, Red Sox and Yankees, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.  Drew became a free agent after the A’s declined their half of a $10MM mutual option in October, though Oakland is still interested in re-signing the Scott Boras client at a lower price.

The Stephen Drew love goes back a long, long time. The Yankees wanted him long before getting him at the 2014 trade deadline. They were after him during the 2012-13 offseason. Drew signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox that offseason and hit .253/.333/.443 (108 wRC+) in 2013. Why couldn’t he do that in pinstripes?

November 24th, 2012: Yankees Have Interest In Jeff Keppinger

The Yankees have “renewed (their) longstanding interest” in free agent utility man Jeff Keppinger, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. People within the industry think the team may be laying groundwork to use Alex Rodriguez as the primary DH as soon as 2013, which GM Brian Cashman refuted.

Good gravy Jeff Keppinger was still a thing in 2012? Apparently so. The internet tells me he hit .325/.367/.439 (128 wRC+) with the Rays in 2012. What the what. The White Sox gave him three years and $12M, then he hit .253/.283/.317 (62 wRC+) in 2013 and was released in May 2014. The Yankees always seemed to be connected to Keppinger because he could kinda sorta hit and play a few different positions. Keppinger, Ty Wigginton, Mark DeRosa … the Yankees were always connected to those dudes without ever actually signing one of them.

November 26th, 2012: Seven Teams Interested In Victorino

B.J. Upton‘s name has dominated the conversation regarding free agent center fielders lately, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Indians, Rangers, Yankees, Giants, Rays, Red Sox and Reds all have interest in another free agent center fielder — Shane Victorino.

Victorino, like Hunter, was not someone I wanted the Yankees to sign. He was 32 at the time, which isn’t old by any means, but he’d just hit .255/.321/.383 (94 wRC+) in 2012, and was trending down. I thought the Red Sox were asking for trouble when they gave him a three-year deal worth $39M. Then he hit .294/.351/.451 (119 wRC+) in 2013. Pretty much every free agent the Red Sox signed in 2013 worked out perfectly. Annoying! Victorino was awful in 2014 and 2015, but by then, no one cared. The 2013 World Series title made the contract worth it.

November 28th, 2012: Yankees To Sign Andy Pettitte

The Yankees announced that they have signed Andy Pettitte to a one-year, Major League contract. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, who first reported the deal, adds that it’s worth $12MM (on Twitter). The contract also includes $2.5MM in awards bonuses according to Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News (on Twitter). Excel Sports Management now represents the 40-year-old left-hander. 

Welcome back, Andy. He retired after the 2010 season and yet here were the Yankees, giving him $12M in November 2012. And everyone was totally cool with it.

November 29th, 2012: Yankees Agree To Terms With Mariano Rivera

The Yankees have agreed with closer Mariano Rivera on a one-year contract for 2013, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).  The deal is worth $10MM in guaranteed money, plus extra performance and awards incentives.  Rivera is represented by SFX.

Welcome back, Mariano. In the span of ten days the Yankees handled three major pieces of offseason business by re-signing Kuroda, Pettitte, and Rivera. They committed $37M to three players who averaged 41 years of age, and they were basically the three best pitchers on the team in 2013. Those three gave the team 450.2 innings of 3.32 ERA ball.

November 30th, 2012: Yankees Designate Jayson Nix For Assignment

The Yankees have designated Jayson Nix for assignment, the team announced. The move creates room on the 40-man roster for the recently re-signed Mariano Rivera.

We all thought this would be the end of the Nixy (Nixie?) era, but nope, just some clever roster manipulation by the Yankees. We later found out they signed Nix to a one-year deal worth $900,000 prior to this move, which was quite a bit more than everyone expected him to get. About $900,000 more then expected. The relatively pricey one-year deal meant he’d get through waivers, so the Yankees dropped him from the 40-man roster, Nix agreed to stick around as a non-40-man player until Opening Day, when he was re-added to the roster. The essentially bought a temporary 40-man roster opening by giving their utility infielder a few extra grand. Seems …. unnecessary?