The Tigers and Giants signed their franchise players to long-term contract extensions last week, now it looks like the Yankees are about to do the same. During a recent ESPN Radio interview, agent Scott Boras confirmed the Yankees and second baseman Robinson Cano are on the verge of a “historic” contract extension. Here’s the money quote, pun intended:
“Mr. Steinbrenner and the Yankees have made it very clear they want Robinson to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career … We are finalizing a historic contract that will make the Robinson the highest-paid player in baseball and keep him in New York for the next 12 years and the duration of his career. Both sides are pleased with the progress we’ve made in recent weeks and expect an official announcement soon.”
Boras went on to say the contract is “heavily front-loaded” and indicated the last few years of the deal would have a low base salary. It sure sounds like the two sides agreed to tack on some extra years at a dirt cheap salary to drag down the average annual value for luxury tax purposes. Cano and Boras get to say they got a historic contract while the Yankees presumably maintain payroll flexibility for their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014. Seems like a win-win.
Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees made Cano (and Boras) a “significant offer” late last month, and it appears the two sides continued to negotiate through Spring Training. Robbie had been scheduled to become a free agent after this season. There’s no word on the money yet, but the whole “highest-paid player in baseball” thing suggests the contract could be in excess of the $275M deal Alex Rodriguez signed prior to the 2008 season.
Obviously it will be very interesting to see the terms and structure of the contract. If the two sides did agree to low salaries in years 8-12 or 11-12 or whatever, MLB might get involved because it would qualify as blatant luxury tax circumvention. The NHL had an issue with similar contract structures in recent years before stepping in, so I’m sure this is something on MLB’s radar. Especially since the Yankees have been so vocal about getting under that luxury tax threshold going forward. We’ll see. Obviously we’ll have much more in the coming days.
Now, just to be clear, this is absolutely, 100% an April Fool’s joke. Literally nothing about the post is true. Not the radio interview, not the quote, not the 12-year contract term, nothing. It’s all completely made up and an attempt to have some fun on the eve of Opening Day. Pretty convenient timing this year, I must say. Hope you enjoyed the post, and if not, well then too bad. The Yankees season starts in 13 hours, so cheer up.
Yes, technically the 2013 season begins tonight with the Astros and Rangers, but I think we all consider tomorrow to be the real Opening Day. It’s not just a Yankees thing either, tomorrow is the season’s first full slate of games. That is Opening Day to me. Anyway, the Yankees finalized their roster today and will open the season against Jon Lester and the Red Sox tomorrow afternoon. Less than 24 hours away from real, meaningful Yankees baseball. It’ll be glorious.
Here is your open thread for the evening. That Astros-Rangers game starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. Bud Norris and Matt Harrison is your pitching matchup, the second least appealing of the 15 Opening Day pitching matchups. The Knicks are also playing and apparently the Walking Dead season finale is on. I’m a few episodes behind and I’m not sure how I’ll be able to catch up with the season starting. Oh well. Talk about whatever you like here. Enjoy.
The Yankees have designated Clay Rapada for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Lyle Overbay, the team announced. The move allowed them to finalize their 25-man roster by today’s 3pm ET deadline.
Rapada, 32, hasn’t pitched in about three weeks due to shoulder bursitis and he wasn’t particularly close to returning. He is crazy effective against left-handed batters (career .231 wOBA against), but righties do hit him hard (.453). Rapada’s a true lefty specialist and the Yankees have lefty relief depth (Juan Cedeno, Josh Spence Vidal Nuno, Francisco Rondon, Cesar Cabral when healthy), though he’s a useful piece the team doesn’t have anymore. I don’t see much of an alternative, really. · (18) ·
Ladies and gentlemen, after weeks of position battles and scrap heap pickups, here are your 2013 New York Yankees…
|Frankie Cervelli||Robinson Cano||Brennan Boesch||CC Sabathia||Mariano Rivera|
|Chris Stewart||Lyle Overbay||Ben Francisco||Hiroki Kuroda||David Robertson|
|Jayson Nix||Brett Gardner||Andy Pettitte||Boone Logan|
|Designated Hitter||Eduardo Nunez||Ichiro Suzuki||Ivan Nova||Joba Chamberlain|
|Travis Hafner||Kevin Youkilis||Vernon Wells||David Phelps||Shawn Kelley|
|Disabled List (* denotes 60-day DL)
|Cesar Cabral*||Phil Hughes||Alex Rodriguez*|
|Curtis Granderson||Derek Jeter||Mark Teixeira|
The pitching staff, specifically the front of the rotation and the back of the bullpen, is the clear strength of the club right now. Cano is the focal point of the offense and he won’t get a damn thing to hit with men on-base or the late innings of close games. It will be up to Youkilis, Hafner, and Wells to make the other club pay in those spots, and it’ll also be up to Robbie to not get himself out by chasing pitcher’s pitches off the plate. He did that quite a bit in the postseason last year.
Wells takes over as the everyday left fielder while Overbay will start at first base against righties — Youkilis will slide over to first with Nix playing third against southpaws. Francisco could replace Hafner, Ichiro, or Gardner against lefties. Boesch … I’m not quite sure what the plan is there, but he figures to get some work as a left-handed bat off the bench, particularly as a pinch-hitter for the Stewvelli catching tandem against tough righties late in close games. Eppley and Warren are just keeping the bullpen seats warm until Hughes (mid-April?) returns.
Thankfully, the Yankees are not married to this roster all season. It’s just the Opening Day roster. Jeter, Granderson, and Teixeira are all expected back at some point in the first half and are better than their replacements, even if their performances suffer a bit as the result of the injuries. Pineda, Cabral, and A-Rod are all second half players, if anything. I think it’s very safe to call this a patchwork roster in need of major in-season reinforcements, either by players returning from injury or through trades.
Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus released his 2013 organizational rankings a few days ago (no subs. req’d), and the Cardinals unsurprisingly claim the top spot thanks to their bevy of high-upside, MLB-ready prospects. The Rangers and Padres round out the top three while the Angels are deal last.
The Yankees placed 14th, with Parks saying the system “has some impact talent and several high-risk prospects that could develop into high-end players, but the field thins out quickly after the top tiers erode.” He lists righties Rafael DePaula and Ty Hensley as breakout prospects and High-A Tampa as the affiliate to watch, though I disagree there. Double-A Trenton is where it will be at with the Ramon Flores/Slade Heathcott/Tyler Austin outfield and Jose Ramirez/Nik Turley/Francisco Rondon led pitching staff.
All of the major farm system rankings are out and they all have the Yankees in the 10-14 range — Keith Law (10th), Baseball America (11th), and Minor League Ball (14th). I guess that means the consensus has them middle of the road but slightly better than average, no? Seems reasonable. · (17) ·
Alex Rodriguez and his ten-year, $275M contract are a noose tied around the Yankees’ neck as they try to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014 and beyond, but it’s easy to forget that when the contract was signed, A-Rod was the best player in the world. It was a big blow to the team when he exercised the opt-out clause in his previous contract after 2007 because his bat, fresh of an MVP-winning season, was irreplaceable.
David Waldstein put together a must-read article about birth of that contract, starting from the opt-out clause and right through contract negotiations, which did not include Scott Boras even though he was mandated to supervise talks as his agent. A-Rod met with team ownership and literally apologized for opting out, saying it was Boras’ idea and he never wanted to the leave the Yankees. As I said, it’s a must-read article. Waldstein covers the contract talks, the team’s anger over the opt-out, the contract insurance, basically everything. Check it out. · (58) ·
Via Ian Duncan: Long-time Yankees right-hander “Bullet Bob” Turley passed away on Saturday morning after a bout with liver cancer. He was 82.
Turley, who pitched for the Yankees from 1955-1962, won the 1958 Cy Young Award after going 21-7 with a 2.97 ERA (4.04 FIP). He was named World Series MVP the same year. Turley spent parts of 12 years in the show and also pitched for the Browns, Angels, and Red Sox. Supposedly there is some distant relation to current Yankees farmhand Nik Turley — I remember Michael Kay mentioning it during a Spring Training broadcast — but I can’t find anything to confirm that. Condolences go out to Turley’s family and friends. · (12) ·
The Yankees beat the Army Black Knights in their final exhibition game of 2013 this afternoon. Both Brennan Boesch and Melky Mesa went deep while Vidal Nuno threw two scoreless innings. Boone Logan got roughed up, surrendering four runs in one-third of an inning. Other than that, not much else happened. Here is the box score and here are the final notes from Spring Training…
- Following the game, Joe Girardi confirmed Boesch, Cody Eppley, and Adam Warren have all made the team. The Yankees still need to clear a 40-man roster spot for Lyle Overbay. The deadline to finalize the roster is 3pm ET tomorrow. [Chad Jennings]
- Brian Cashman confirmed Alex Rodriguez will be at Yankee Stadium for Opening Day on Monday. It’s unclear if he’ll be in uniform and part of the pre-game introductions, but it’s not like the Yankees ever cared about A-Rod getting booed before. [Erik Boland & Bob Klapisch]
- Minor leaguers Craig Heyer and Evan DeLuca were released. Heyer made my 2011 Preseason Top 30 Prospects List while DeLuca never put it together after signing for $500k back in 2009. [Josh Norris]
- The next game the Yankees play will actually count in the standings. They’re off on Sunday and will welcome the Red Sox to the Bronx for a three-game set early next week. CC Sabathia vs. Jon Lester is your Opening Day pitching matchup for Monday.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Rangers, Devils, and Nets are all playing, plus MLB Network will air a Spring Training game as well. Talk about any of those games or anything else here. Enjoy.
3:56pm: Joe Girardi said during the YES Network’s in-game interview that there is no concern about Hafner on his part. They’re just playing it safe.
2:06pm: Travis Hafner has been scratched from this afternoon’s game against Army with what the Yankees are calling “general stiffness.” I’m guessing the team is just being cautious so close to opening day, but Hafner’s lengthy injury history means every little bump and bruise is worth monitoring. We’ll probably find out more after the game. · (22) ·
The Yankees are playing their final exhibition game and what we hope is their final meaningless game of 2013 this afternoon. They’re in West Point for a date with the Army Black Knights, their first visit to the academy since 1974. The Yankees played annual exhibition games against Army in the 1930s, but their appearances have waned over the years.
Army’s top prospect is right-hander Alex Robinett, who last started six days ago and I assume will some work this afternoon. He’s not draft-eligible until 2014. Army is 7-11 overall this season. The Yankees will counter with Vidal Nuno and not Adam Warren, who was originally scheduled to pitch. That’s a pretty good indication Warren will open the year as the long-man — pitching today would have made him unavailable for Opening Day on Monday. Here’s the starting lineup…
- CF Brett Gardner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
Travis HafnerBrennan Boesch
- LF Vernon Wells
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Frankie Cervelli
No word on who will back-up Nuno out of the bullpen today, though most of Joe Girardi‘s regular relievers pitched against the Nationals yesterday. I doubt we’ll see any of the late-inning guys. The game is scheduled to begin a little after 2pm ET and can be seen on YES and MLB.tv (no local blackout). Enjoy.