Brett Gardner Rumors

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 CBSSports.com 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…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


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

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


Looking At The Needs Of Some Contenders

With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season…

  • Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
  • Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
  • Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
  • Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him. 
  • Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.

That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan. 

What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?


Yanks Could Be Shopping For Outfielder Soon

Some in the industry are already wondering if the Yankees could be in the market for outfield help soon, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

Both Randy Winn and Marcus Thames have struggled this spring, though Thames officially made the club's Opening Day roster today.  The club may find themselves uneasy with the two veterans as starting left fielder Brett Gardner is not yet an established major league hitter.  They would be especially thin in the outfield if Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher are bitten by the injury bug.

Rosenthal writes that the Yankees figure to be more patient with Winn as he is more than four years removed from playing in the AL.  

The Yankees investment in Winn and Thames amounts to just $2MM combined.  Rosenthal writes that if one or both struggle, and Gardner also stumbles out of the gate, then the team could be seeking an outfielder quickly.


Rosenthal On Beckett, Lee, Gardner

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports examines the Red Sox' negotiations with Josh Beckett and the Yankees' center field decision in a pair of new columns. Let's check out some noteworthy points:

  • Rosenthal points to the lack of top starting pitching talent available in the next two or three free agent classes, suggesting that this could make signing Beckett more important for the Red Sox.
  • Although the Sox generally don't like committing long-term contracts to pitchers, Rosenthal opines that keeping Beckett might be less risky than losing him, due to the lack of viable replacements.
  • The other top starting pitcher whose contract expires this season is Cliff Lee, who "most baseball people agree" will go to the highest bidder. That may end up being the Yankees, who could use Lee to replace Javier Vazquez.
  • At least four teams (the Royals, Reds, Padres, and White Sox) attempted to acquire Brett Gardner this winter, hoping to start him in center field.