Archive for 2012 Winter Meetings

Via Jon Heyman & Jack Magruder: The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign Eric Chavez. It’s a one-year deal worth $3M, and Ken Davidoff says the Yankees never held substantive contract talks with their former backup corner infielder. The third base options continue to come off the board.

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2012 Winter Meetings Chat

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(Marilyn Indahl/Getty)

Day Two of the Winter Meetings was busier than Day One for the Yankees even though they didn’t make any moves or announce another Alex Rodriguez injury. Brian Cashman confirmed speaking to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez. Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds were also said to be on the team’s radar.

Here are Monday’s rumors and Tuesday’s rumors. We’ll keep of any Yankees-related rumblings here throughout the day, with the latest up top (all times ET).

  • 5:14pm: Reynolds is seeking a similar salary to the $7.5M he made in 2012. [Bryan Hoch]
  • 4:42pm: The Yankees have been talking to the representatives for Mark Reynolds about playing third base. [Sherman]
  • 1:20pm: The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams about their players, including Curtis Granderson according to¬†Buster Olney. He cautions that this is typical and the not necessarily an indication that something serious is brewing.
  • 1:11pm: A deal between the Yankees and Youkilis is unlikely, and Keppinger remains the team’s top third base target. Agreeing to a contract length will be an issue. [Mark Feinsand]
  • 10:56am: The Yankees checked in with Hannahan but are not very serious about signing him. Due diligence, I suppose. [Jordan Bastian]
  • 10:16am: Nate Schierholtz is making “good progress” towards his next deal and the Yankees are considered the early front-runner to sign him. That would be swell in my opinion. [Buster Olney]
  • 9:30am: The Yankees “really want” Keppinger and he could wind up with a three-year deal worth $13M. They’ve let Keppinger’s camp know they’ll give him two years. [Danny Knobler & Joel Sherman]
  • There are “strong indications” the Yankees will not seriously pursue Pierzynski. A White Sox official indicated the catcher would be more willing to take a one-year deal with the Bombers than with any other team. [Sherman]
  • Free agent infielder Jack Hannahan is also of “some interest” to New York. The 32-year-old is a great defensive third baseman who will draw a bunch of walks, but otherwise he can’t really hit. [Paul Hoynes]
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Not from today, but basically the same thing. (Seth Wenig / AP Photo)

All 30 managers meet with the media for 30-ish minutes during the Winter Meetings, and Joe Girardi held his Q&A session late this afternoon. It’s pretty typical of Yankees people to speak a lot of words but not actually say much, and this was no different. I don’t have the audio to share because the quality is awful, but here’s a recap…

On Alex Rodriguez‘s injury

  • Girardi confirmed what Brian Cashman said yesterday, that A-Rod didn’t say anything about his hip until being pinch-hit for in Game Three of the ALCS. “His hips weren’t firing right. It wasn’t pain but he felt it was not the explosiveness … I was somewhat worried because he’d been through it on his right hip and you’d think he’d know what the feeling was like. It wasn’t firing the way he thought.”
  • A-Rod went for an MRI on his right hip after the game, and when it came back clean Girardi kept playing him. He did acknowledge Alex “did look different than he did before he got hurt.” The team doesn’t know exactly when the injury happened.
  • On losing A-Rod for the first half of next year: “It’s big. You go into an offseason and you feel you have to address certain areas and all of a sudden you get a little bit of a surprise. It’s a pretty big hole to fill, and it may not necessarily be (filled) with one person.”
  • “I’m not sure,” said the skipper when asked about any tension in his relationship with A-Rod. “It probably answers a lot of questions — he wasn’t the Alex we saw before the injury. Now we have a reason, possibly why.”

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Via Ken Rosenthal & Wally Matthews: The Yankees are insured for at least 70% and possibly even 100% of Alex Rodriguez‘s contract should his latest hip injury be so severe that he’s unable to play going forward. There are conditions that would have to be met (so many days on the DL, etc.) before the insurance payouts are triggered.

A-Rod, 37, is still owed $114M over the next five years. I doubt this new injury is that debilitating — Brian Cashman said doctors informed him Alex would have zero restrictions following the procedure and rehab — but I guess it’s good to know the team is covered in case it is. A-Rod would still get paid and his salary would still count against the luxury tax, so the only way the insurance money would be reinvested in the team would be if the Yankees increase payroll back over the luxury tax threshold in 2015.

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The Perfect Offseason Storm

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Offseason surgery for three of the most important players on the team? Check.

A free agent class short on players who adequately fill the team’s needs? Also check.

Ownership mandating a payroll reduction in the near future? Another check.

One-year contracts only? Here’s your likely 2013 right fielder. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

While re-signing the veteran trio of Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera to one-year contracts solves most of the team’s pitching issues, the Yankees have a long hill to climb on the position player side. Russell Martin has already left for the Pirates and Nick Swisher will soon sign with another team while the Bombers give him a little “thanks for the last four years” pat on the behind but not a contract offer. The Yankees are open to discussing Curtis Granderson in trades, though if he’d done what he’s done the last two seasons with say, the Twins, we’d be talking about him as a buy-low bounceback candidate.

Thanks in part to the draft and international free agent spending limits implemented by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as well as lucrative new national television deals, teams have more money to spend than ever before these days. With no way to funnel it towards amateur players, all of that money is going to big league free agents this offseason. Hence a four-year contract (!) for Angel Pagan and a $5.5M guarantee for a 31-year-old Phil Hughes clone (Scott Baker) who didn’t throw a single pitch last season. It’s a good time to be a free agent, even a mediocre one.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are intentionally scaling back their payroll in an effort to save luxury tax and revenue sharing dollars in 2014. Although they could spend as much as they want (or are able to, really) in 2013, the team is fixated on one-year contracts to save those precious future dollars. One-year contracts are great in theory, but they limit the team’s market severely. The Yankees are basically stuck digging through assorted veterans trying to hang on and guys coming off injury looking to rebuild value. The one-year gems like Kuroda are the exception, not the rule.

Moreso than at any other point in the last … I don’t know, 15 years? … the Yankees have questions at more of the nine offensive positions than not. We have no idea who will play right field, no idea who will play catcher, no idea who will DH, and no idea how much Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be able to contribute following offseason surgery for significant injuries. These questions coincide with a plan to reduce spending while other teams are increasing their spending. The financial advantage the Yankees have enjoyed basically since the advent of free agency has been willfully eliminated at what might be the worst possible time. More questions than answers and limited solutions.

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(Bob Levey/Getty)

Here’s a nugget from Paul Hoynes, Indians beat writer extraordinaire for The Cleveland Plain-Dealer…

The going price on [shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera] is three to four players, preferably four. The Indians had the framework of a deal in place in which they would have received one big-league pitcher and two high-level prospects. When the Indians asked for a third prospect, the deal dissolved.

The particular team the Indians were negotiating with planned to change Cabrera’s position, but right now he’s the top shortstop available this winter through free agency or trades.

Tell me that doesn’t have the Yankees written all over it. One big league pitcher? Take your pick of Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps. Two high-level prospects? Pick two, though I’m not sure if “high-level” means top prospects or guys who played at Double-A and Triple-A. Asking Cabrera to change positions? Makes sense now that Alex Rodriguez will miss the start of next season. Could be a coincidence, but the glove sure does fit.

Cabrera, 27, has hit a solid .272/.335/.443 (116 wRC+) with 41 homers over the last two seasons. He’s a switch-hitter with no platoon split (115 wRC+ vs. RHP and 117 wRC+ vs. LHP since 2011) and depending on your choice of defensive metric, he’s either a slightly-above-average (DRS and FRAA) or well-below-average defender (UZR) at short with minimal experience at the hot corner (four defensive outs in 2007). The Indians signed him to a short-term extension this past April, and he’s owned $6.5M next year and $10M the year after ($8.25M average annual value for luxury tax purposes) before qualifying for free agency. With A-Rod out and Nick Swisher‘s and Russell Martin‘s offense unlikely to be fully replaced, it’s easy to see why the Yankees would have pursued Cabrera to the point where they were on the verge of a deal.

Just to be clear, this is total speculation. Hoynes reported the Indians had a deal in place that fell through, and I’m just connecting the dots. Given the number of teams that need a shortstop and could offer a similar package (the Rays, Red Sox, Athletics, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks), it’s the part about asking Cabrera to change positions that sticks out. That said, the Dodgers are reportedly committed to Hanley Ramirez at short and could have interest in Asdrubal as a third baseman. The Phillies could want him at the hot corner as well. Even if the team in the rumor was not the Yankees, Cabrera is a player they should look into acquiring since seems the price reasonable (at least to me).

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The Winter Meetings are only a day old, but they have yet to bring anything resembling good news to the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery to repair some serious damage in his left hip next month, which will cause him to miss the start of the season. Now the club has to add a stopgap third baseman to a shopping list that already includes a starting right fielder, a starting catcher, a DH, a bench, and various depth players. Thankfully Spring Training is still more than two months away.

Joe Girardi will meet with the media at 5:30 ET today, but those things usually lack major news. Either way, I’ll have a recap. We’ll keep track of all the Yankees-related rumors and rumblings throughout the day right here, so make sure you check back in. Here are Monday’s rumors and here are today’s, with the latest up top (all times are ET):

  • 8:56pm: The Yankees have asked to see Youkilis’ medicals, though the two sides remain far apart on the dollars. I do not like where this is going. [Barbarisi]
  • 8:19pm: The Yankees remain in the mix for Scott Hairston. [Rosenthal]
  • 7:25pm: Brian Cashman confirmed that they’ve had conversations with both Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski. [Dan Barbarisi]
  • 7:06pm: The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Mark Reynolds. [Heyman]
  • 7:05pm: Updated demands! Keppinger is reportedly seeking $12M across three years now. [Heyman]
  • 6:02pm: The Yankees don’t want to break the bank on a third baseman even on a one-year deal. They’re nowhere close on money with Youkilis. [Curry]
  • 4:15pm: The Yankees have met with Chavez’s agent at some point during the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in re-signing him for next season. This was inevitable following A-Rod‘s injury. [Ken Davidoff]
  • 3:33pm: Scutaro is seeking $24M across three years (!) while Keppinger is seeking $8M across two years. They’re basically the same player except Keppinger is five years younger. [Olney & Ken Rosenthal]
  • 2:01pm: The Yankees have “very strong” interest in Jeff Keppinger and met with his representatives yesterday. The A-Rod injury accelerated their timetable. [Jeff Passan]
  • 1:15pm: Kevin Youkilis is the top third baseman on the free agent market and the Yankees have spoken to his agent. The long-time Red Sox player is apparently open to a one-year contract if the money is good enough. [Jack Curry]
  • 12:55pm: The Yankees have checked in on Shane Victorino, who figures to get multiple years. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • 12:44pm: The Yankees have “likely interest” in Marco Scutaro, which means no one really knows if they have interest and are just guessing in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 9:43am: The Yankees are talking to multiple nameless third base candidates. Speculate at your own risk. [Heyman]
  • 9:30am: The Yankees are open to discussing Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes in trades. I wrote about what they could expect in return for their center fielder in a mailbag a few months ago, and I have a hard time seeing a realistic deal that would be worthwhile. [Buster Olney & Joel Sherman]
  • Although he intends to play in 2013, the Yankees have yet to talk to Eric Chavez about a new contract for next season. That figures to change pretty quickly in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Sherman]
  • Depending on who you ask, the Yankees either are or are not in on Yunel Escobar. I suppose they could have checked in before backing off. Considering their emphasis on strong makeup and character, I can’t imagine they would push hard to acquire him unless he came dirt cheap. [Jon Heyman, Jayson Stark & Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

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Two late night links

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Two quick and self-promoting links for you. First, the Alex Rodriguez hip injury post has been updated quite a bit since being published early this morning, so make sure you check back for updates and quotes and all that. Secondly, I wrote this Winter Meetings Day One recap for the YES Network’s site. It’s nothing you haven’t already seen on RAB today and it’s more of a MSM-esque (i.e. dumbed down) recap than any kind of serious analysis, but still give it a click.

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Via Ken Rosenthal: The Rangers have agreed to sign free agent reliever Joakim Soria to a two-year contract. Soria had expressed interest in setting up for the Yankees so he could be around idol Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees are very unlikely to offer anyone a two-year deal with offseason. Guaranteeing two years to a reliever coming off his second Tommy John surgery is pretty sketchy anyway. One year with a vesting option was my personal limit, but I’m not the one calling the shots.

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