News & Notes: Lopez, Sabathia, Sterling, Waldman, Franklin

(Wall Street Journal)
(Wall Street Journal)

Got a few smaller miscellaneous updates of various importance to pass along. Away we go …

Diamondbacks sign Yoan Lopez

According to multiple reports, the Diamondbacks have signed free agent Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez. His $8.25M bonus is a record under the new international spending rules. Arizona will have to pay a 100% tax on the bonus. Jesse Sanchez says Lopez turned down more money to sign with the D-Backs because he feels it’ll be easiest to crack their rotation. I guess that’s a compliment?

The Yankees reportedly had “strong interest” in Lopez along with several other teams. Meanwhile, the baseball world continues to wait for infielder Yoan Moncada to be unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control so he can sign. That needs to happen before June 15th for the Yankees to have a shot at signing him, and by all accounts Moncada is a potential star at age 19. Moncada is definitely the greater of the two Yoans.

Sabathia feels good, will begin throwing bullpens soon

For the third straight year, CC Sabathia has spent part of the offseason rehabbing. Two years ago it was the bone spur that had to be removed from his elbow. A year ago it was the Grade II hamstring strain he suffered late in September. This year it was the clean-out procedure on his balky right knee.

Sabathia started playing catch in September and, after deciding not to throw off a mound before Thanksgiving, he plans to start throwing bullpen sessions soon. “I’ve been good. I’ve been playing catch. I’ve been throwing. I’ll probably start throwing bullpens by the end of the month … I feel good, I don’t have any pain, no nothing. My arm feels good,” said Sabathia to Mitch Abramson over the weekend.

There’s no real way to know what Sabathia will give the Yankees next season. It could be the knee injury was the root cause of his problems from 2013-14, and this procedure will get him back to being an effective pitcher every fifth day. Or it could just be that he’s a 34-year-old with a ton of innings in his arm and he won’t be much of a help from here on out. Sabathia is going to be one of the most important players to watch in Spring Training.

Sterling and Waldman officially coming back in 2015

This isn’t much of a surprise: John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are officially returning as radio voices of the Yankees this coming season, according to Neil Best. WFAN operations manager Mark Chernoff confirmed the duo will return for their 11th season together. The Yankees don’t have hiring or firing power over the radio announcers, but they do have input.

Sterling hasn’t missed a game in 26 years, and, back in September, he said he is “never going to retire. I don’t understand why people would.” I seem to be in the minority that doesn’t mind Sterling and Waldman, though then again I don’t listen to more than a handful of games on the radio each year. Sterling is an icon at this point. I can’t imagine a Yankees radio broadcast without him.

Franklin set to take over as “roving evaluator”

Over the weekend, Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton announced their coaching staffs for the upcoming season, and a report said longtime Thunder manager Tony Franklin will be taking over manager of the team’s new rookie ball affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees. That isn’t the case though. Franklin told Nick Peruffo he is moving into a “roving evaluator” role.

“I’m extremely happy. It’s given me some renewed energy,” said the 64-year-old Franklin to Peruffo. “(New player development head Gary Denbo) asked me to do something for him. It was an honor for me that he asked … I’m very happy he thought enough of me to do that.”

According to Peruffo, Franklin is going to travel between the team’s minor league affiliates — with an emphasis on the lower level affiliates — and help the organization’s players, managers, and coaches. His official title has not been finalized but he’s basically going to be a roving baseball guru. Franklin had been Trenton’s manager since 2007. Now he’ll have an opportunity to impact more people. Neat.

Best: Sterling and Waldman both likely to return in 2015

Via Neil Best: Both John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are likely to return to the WFAN radio booth in 2015, which will be their 11th season together. Both are under contract next year but they’re getting up there in age — Sterling is 66 and Waldman is 68 — so they are very much on a year-to-year basis right now. “I’m never going to retire. I don’t understand why people would,” said Sterling, who has not missed a game in 26 years.

The Yankees do not have hiring and firing power over WFAN’s announcers but they do have input and Best says they do not seem inclined to push for a change. Sterling’s errors can be annoying but for the most part I don’t mind the duo in the radio booth. I guess that puts me in the minority. Sterling has become something of an icon at this point and I think Waldman works well with him. At least better than Michael Kay did. Either way, it sounds like they’ll be back in the booth next season.

It’s official: Yankees moving radio broadcasts to WFAN in 2014

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and CBS Radio have announced a multi-year agreement that will move the team’s radio broadcasts to WFAN-AM 660 and WFAN-FM 101.9 starting next season. We heard a deal was in the works yesterday. The agreement is reportedly worth $15-20M annually for the next ten years.

“We are extremely excited to have reached an agreement with CBS Radio,” said Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “The paramount consideration was how our fans would best be able to hear our games. Having the Yankees on WFAN-AM/FM provides listeners in the New York metropolitan area and beyond with superior broadcast quality and vast territorial signal strength.”

“We are privileged to welcome the New York Yankees to WFAN,” added Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio. “There is no bigger name in baseball than the Yankees, nor an organization so steeped in tradition.  As the nation’s premier sports radio station we look forward to capturing all the excitement surrounding the team, and bringing it to millions of fans for many years to come.”

It’s unclear what the new deal means for John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, if it even means anything. Sterling’s return is all but guaranteed according to yesterday’s report, but Waldman’s future is less certain. The two have been together since 2005 and, frankly, I would be surprised if one or both did not return. Sterling has been broadcasting the team full-time since 1989 and Waldman is a long-time Yankees booster.

The Yankees and CBS have had a relationship since 2002, when their games shifted from 770 AM to 880 AM. The 660 AM and 101.9 FM signals are much stronger and farther-reaching. It’s unclear where the Mets will take their radio rights going forward. They’ve been with WFAN since 1987 and at 660 AM since 1988. They could wind up on ESPN Radio.

Newsday: WFAN to host 2014 Yanks’ radio games

In a move surely designed to annoy tri-state area Mets fans, the Yankees and CBS are close to a deal that move the team’s radio broadcasts for 2014 and beyond onto WFAN, Newsday reports. The Yankees and CBS have had a relationship since 2002 when games shifted from 770 AM to 880. The move, still not yet official, would put the Yanks on the strong 660 AM station as well as on CBS’ new FM origination of the FAN on 101.9 and, according to the Daily News, could be worth as much as $15-$20 million a year for the next ten years.

According to the reports, though, we may not yet have the chance to hear John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman coming to us on the crystal clear FM dial. According to Newsday, Sterling’s return is all but guaranteed, but Waldman’s future remains hazy. Neil Best notes that “if the team gives its blessing, they will continue the on-air partnership that began in 2005.” Despite Waldman’s shortcomings, she’s been a long-time Yankee booster, and I can’t imagine the club is quite ready to dump her.

Nothing though has been finalized, and Lonn Trost said as much to Newsday. “Right now we’re in negotiations and everything is confidential,” the Yanks’ COO said. “Part of the agreement we’re drafting has a confidentiality agreement. I can’t even get into it. I am close with some entity for next year.” The Mets could end up on ESPN Radio or the Clear Channel-owned WOR, an early bidder for the Yanks’ rights.