We'll kick off the first weekend of 2014 with a few quick AL East notes …
- The Orioles have had trade discussions with the Mets involving not only Ike Davis, but also Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, reports Educardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. But, as we learned already with regard to Davis, the talks never gained much traction given the Mets' focus on picking up a top young arm from the Orioles' system.
- Baltimore's first priority is adding starting pitching, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, taking precedence over the search for a DH and the possibility of adding a reliever. The O's are not shopping at the top end of that market, however. Meanwhile, the club's interest in Kendrys Morales is "waning," Kubatko senses. When asked whether the Baltimore roster was good enough to challenge for the post-season as presently constructed, executive VP Dan Duquette walked cautiously: "I think we have more work to do to accomplish that, but we're making progress. We added a couple left-handed hitters and there are some opportunities to help our pitching staff."
- Looking forward, the Yankees have six deals on the books that are likely to prove a burden, opines Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. The list (with remaining guaranteed years and money): Alex Rodriguez (four years, $90MM), Mark Teixeira (three years, $69.375MM), Ichiro Suzuki (1 year, $6.5MM), C.C. Sabathia (three years, $71MM), Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years, $153MM), and Derek Jeter (1 year, $12MM). Of course, each of these contract situations carries different kinds of concerns. Three are somewhat unsurprisingly problematic back-ends of long-term deals, though there is still some hope that the Yanks will get some value out of the remainder of those contracts. Two appear to be fairly substantial short-term drains for an organization that hoped to get under the luxury tax threshhold, but otherwise will not impact finances past 2014. And one is a freshly-inked long-term contract that could become a problem in the future — much in the way the earlier Rodriguez, Teixeira, and Sabathia contracts have shaken out of late — but which was presumably necessary to lure a top-tier talent to the Bronx.