Brett Gardner Rumors

Ellsbury Notes: Yankees, Red Sox, Gardner, Choo

After the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, it's hard to see how the Yankees can sign Robinson Cano and still stay under the $189MM luxury-tax threshold, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. The only clear path to the Yankees being able to sign Cano and stay under the threshold would be if Alex Rodriguez's suspension were upheld. Here are more notes on Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees.

  • Paying $20MM per season for Jacoby Ellsbury makes more sense for the Yankees than it does for other teams, including the Red Sox, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Not only do the Yankees have a huge payroll, but they also have a stadium that should be favorable to Ellsbury, and they don't have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings, as the Red Sox do.
  • With Ellsbury in the fold, the Yankees have no plans to trade Brett Gardner, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. Instead, they'd like to play both of them at the top of the Yankees' batting order.
  • Despite already having a relatively crowded outfield, with Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki along with Ellsbury and Gardner, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees could still pursue Shin-Soo Choo, primarily as a backup option if Robinson Cano goes elsewhere. Such a move would make a Gardner trade more likely, McCullough writes.
  • Choo has plenty of interest now that Ellsbury is off the board, tweets Yahoo!'s Tim Brown. Brown guesses that the Rangers are favorites to sign Choo.

Yankees, Brett Gardner Avoid Arbitration

2:22pm: It's a $2.85MM contract, the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). The deal also includes $150K in performance bonuses. 

1:09pm: The Yankees announced that they avoided arbitration with Brett Gardner, Chad Jennings of the Journal News reports. Gardner, a client of Pro Star Management, Inc., agreed to a one-year deal for the 2013 season.

The 29-year-old had a projected salary of $2.8MM, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. That's the amount Gardner earned in 2012, when he was limited to 16 games because of an elbow injury. As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Yankees now have four unsigned arbitration eligible players: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan and David Robertson.

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. It sounds as though Ichiro could be retained for a one-year deal in the $5-8MM range.

The Yankees still intend to build around left-handed power, Sherman reports. This will make it difficult to accommodate both Ichiro and Brett Gardner without shifting Gardner to a reserve role. Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently said the Yankees will have a better sense of how Ichiro fits in their plans when they hold their upcoming pro scouting meetings.

Cafardo On Phillies, Blanton, Lannan, Ramirez

In this morning's column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe takes a look at some of the emerging storylines in the American League East.  In New York, Francisco Cervelli is set to be the backup catcher, but could become trade bait for the Yankees with Austin Romine knocking on the door.  The catching situation with Tampa Bay is also worth keeping an eye on as Jose Molina needs a backup.  The Rays could pick up Ivan Rodriguez or deal from their pitching surplus to fill the vacancy.  If they trade Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, Cafardo writes that it would be for a catcher.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • The Phillies are making it clear to teams that they would eat as much as $2MM of Joe Blanton’s $8MM deal in a trade.  Moving Blanton would allow the Phillies to have payroll flexibility and bump Kyle Kendrick into the No. 5 spot in the rotation.  Yesterday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos scouted the Phillies game and left after Blanton's exit.
  • Meanwhile, the Nationals continue to dangle left-hander John Lannan.  The club is spreading word that the 27-year-old is available in a deal, particularly one for a center fielder.
  • The Braves are in need of a left field power bat and right-hander Jair Jurrjens could be the trade bait for one.
  • At some point, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar will have to move to second base to make room for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.  Escobar loves being a shortstop, so there is a bit of trepidation among some in the organization as to how he will accept this.
  • Meanwhile, many feel that the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez won't stay happy for long at third base and eventually will demand a trade.
  • With several teams in the market for a center fielder, Cafardo asked a National League scout if the Yankees would entertain a deal for Brett Gardner.  Gardner is currently slated to start in left field for the Yanks but a National League scout said that at some point the club might seek out a more traditional left field option.
  • The Red Sox are impressed with Chris Carpenter's live fastball but privately they are not happy with what they wound up getting in exchange for Theo Epstein.

Yankees, Gardner Avoid Arbitration

The Yankees and Brett Gardner have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal, Jon Heyman of tweets. The Pro Star Management client will earn $2.8MM in 2012, the midpoint between his asking price of $3.2MM and the Yankee's offer of $2.4MM.

Gardner was arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason after posting a .259/.345/.369 line in 2011. The 28-year-old led the American League with 49 stolen bases last year. As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, Boone Logan and Russell Martin are the Yankees' remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players.

Nationals Center Field Rumors

The latest Nationals news…

Zack Greinke Rumors: Monday

10:30pm: The Yankees are reluctant to pursue Greinke if Cliff Lee signs elsewhere, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Jack Curry of the YES Network reports that the Yankees won't make Greinke their Plan B, though they have discussed him (Twitter link). Heyman suggests the Yankees will spend aggressively on relievers if they don't sign Lee.

12:09pm: Royals GM Dayton Moore is "actively gauging" the trade market for Zack Greinke, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  Moore "has focused on adding up-the-middle position players who are close to major league ready," and the Yankees, Rangers, and Brewers are not considered among the best matches.

The Blue Jays and Nationals have been actively pursuing Greinke, and the Jays theoretically do have the players to pull off a deal if the righty's no-trade clause can be addressed.  However, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted on Saturday that the Blue Jays "have no intention of giving up Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider" for Greinke.

Brett Gardner's name has come up in talks between the Royals and Yankees, according to Crasnick. 

SI's Jon Heyman covers Greinke today as well, adding that the Dodgers have been linked to him and the Angels could make sense.  Heyman feels that the Yankees do have the players "to form a respectable deal."

Yankees Rumors: Upton, Lee, Soriano, Jeter

Joel Sherman of the New York Post dishes out the latest Yankees buzz in a series of articles…

  • Sherman notes that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has knowledge of the Yankees farm system after working for the team last year, which makes a Justin Upton match intriguing.  However, Sherman feels that the Yankees would get involved most likely if Cliff Lee signs elsewhere and they look to trade an outfielder for a starter.  Teams have inquired on Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner, notes Sherman.
  • Executives Sherman spoke to continue to express the opinion that the Yankees will land Lee.
  • The Yanks are also working hard to find a setup man, calling on about a dozen free agents including Pedro Feliciano.  They've checked in on Rafael Soriano "as a fallback position in the incredibly small likelihood that Mariano Rivera does not re-sign."  Sherman says to forget the idea of Soriano signing as Rivera's setup man and closer-in-waiting.  Neither side is interested in that scenario.
  • Sherman analyzes the Derek Jeter situation, which he feels could become "one of the most interesting games of contract chicken in history."  The main sticking point seems to be the number of years.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Rasmus, Manny, Phillies

On this date in 1969, the Mets moved into sole possession of first place for the first time in franchise history. They swept the Expos in a doubleheader to move ahead of the Cubs by a full game in the NL East. The Miracle Mets went on to defeat the Orioles in the Fall Classic for the first World Championship in their history, more than eight years after they played their first ever game.

Let's take a look at some links from around the baseball netweb…

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Odds & Ends: Bautista, Red Sox, Dunn, Greinke

Links for Friday, exactly two years after the Rockies claimed Livan Hernandez from the Twins…