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GM Brian Cashman explains how the Yankees nearly traded Mariano Rivera for shortstop Felix Fermin in spring of 1996, as noted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. To describe the deal as "franchise-altering" would be an enormous understatement, since it would have affected not only Rivera but also then-rookie Derek Jeter.
Cashman, then an assistant GM, says that then-owner George Steinbrenner was concerned about entrusting Jeter with the starting shortstop job, and "it was a fight to convince The Boss to stand down" and avoid trading Rivera or Bob Wickman to the Mariners for Fermin. "And it wasn't because we knew what we had in Mo or Wickman," Cashman says. "It was, we had committed to go with young Jeter, and thankfully we didn't do that deal." As it turned out, Jeter won the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, Rivera finished third in Cy Young balloting, and the Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978. The Mariners, meanwhile, released Fermin in April, and he only ended up posting 19 more plate appearances in the majors. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- David Robertson tops the list of potential Yankees closer candidates once Rivera retires at the end of the season, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are also possibilities, Berry says. The Yankees have an entire year to choose a successor, however.
- The Orioles are on the lookout for catching depth, report Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com and Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Matt Wieters is, clearly, entrenched as Baltimore's starter, and Taylor Teagarden will likely serve as his backup, but the Orioles are concerned about their depth beyond those two. The only other catcher on their 40-man roster is Luis Exposito, although manager Buck Showalter is also curious about new addition Luis Martinez, who spent much of 2012 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock. With Wieters and several other options in the fold, it seems unlikely the O's will make a major move for a catcher, despite what Kubatko calls their "sloppy" play behind the dish this spring. Dubroff suggests that Eli Whiteside of the Rangers, Miguel Olivo of the Reds and Chris Snyder of the Nationals might be possibilities.
- The Dodgers' Aaron Harang says he isn't worried about rumors that he'll be traded, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes. "I don't even think about that," says Harang. "We know [scouts are] in the stands. I look at them as fans as well. I'm not worried about that." The Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitching, and Harang currently doesn't have a clear shot at a rotation job. The Brewers and Orioles could be potential suitors for Harang.
Economist Andrew Zimbalist says Terry Francona's portrayal of the Red Sox ownership group in his new book gives an unfair representation of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino's level of investment in the team, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I think they’re all really smart. And I think they all really do love baseball, and I think they understand the intricacies of baseball,” said Zimbalist. “John Henry is a stats guy. John Henry brought Bill James to Boston — along with some other very good sabermetricians, by the way."
Here's the latest stories and headlines making news out of the AL and NL East Divisions…
- Former Mets prospect Scott Kazmir will attempt to make a return to the big leagues this season and believes he can regain the form that made him an All-Star with the Rays, writes Mark Hale of the New York Post.“If his velocity’s back and his confidence is back,” Kazmir’s former pitching coach with the Angels, Mike Butcher, said, “this guy still could be an impact in the major leagues.”
- Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the Mets' radar as he could be an option for either the starting rotation or in the bullpen, write Matthew Cerrone and Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com. Matsuzaka, 32, just completed a six-year, $52MM contract with the Red Sox.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman celebrates 15 years in his current post with New York today, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. The hiring of the former Catholic University second baseman in 1998 marked owner George Steinbrenner's 14th general manager in 25 years.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News looks at the Yankees' offseason so far and examines deals the team hasn't made given budgetary concerns (all Twitter links)…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman blames the team's lack of pursuit of Raul Ibanez on the club's priority of acquiring a right-handed hitting outfielder. Beyond finding an outfielder, Cashman says that the team does not have an unlimited budget and must work within its means.
- Feinsand points to right-handed outfielder Matt Diaz as a potential fit for the Yankees. Diaz has regained his health, should be an inexpensive sign and would bring a career batting line against lefties of .324/.364/.498.
- The Yankees will open the 2013 season with a payroll over $200MM but remain in a situation similar to last year where Cashman had to move expensive contracts before adding anyone new.
Earlier today, we learned the Indians agreed to sign Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56MM deal, which is the largest free agent contract (in total value) in franchise history, according to ESPN (via Twitter). Here are the reactions to the Indians' big splash into the free agent pool:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman had kind words for Swisher, as tweeted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, "He was great for us. We’ll miss him, but I’m happy for him. I think Cleveland got a bargain."
- The Swisher move is stunning but it reflects a willingness on the part of ownership to spend (signing Swisher and Mark Reynolds) and make bold moves (the Shin-Soo Choo trade and the hiring of Terry Francona), writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) has yet to identify one other team on Swisher's free agent "tour" of prospective suitors. Heyman adds that it's possible that there were other teams in the hunt, but it's a mystery as to who they could be.
- Swisher and Jayson Werth have comparable regular season stats, but Werth got $70MM more in part because of his October play and defensive ability, Heyman tweets.
- The Indians considered all of their free agent pursuits to be longshots, but the fact that Swisher is from Parkersburg, West Virginia and went to Ohio State helped to lure him to Cleveland, Ken Rosenthal tweets. Manager Terry Francona's pitch also factored in for the veteran.
- While the Indians’ decision to sign Swisher while entertaining trades for right-hander Justin Masterson, closer Chris Perez, and others seems curious, the club has an explanation, Rosenthal writes. The Tribe is trying to thread the needle and improve the team both short- and long-term.
- The Red Sox valued the second round draft pick they would have had to forfeit by signing Swisher more than Swisher himself given the new spending restrictions on draft choices, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With that in mind, MacPherson wonders, in a second piece, if the Red Sox erred in not tendering a qualifying offer to Cody Ross.
- Swisher's deal is a bit startling in terms of free agent prices and makes B.J. Upton's $15MM/year agreement with Braves look better, opines the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien (Twitter links).
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer puts the Swisher contract into historical context by listing the Tribe's five best and five worst free agent signings.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
The Yankees share the AL East lead with the Orioles after losing again to the Rays last night. It's been a rough week for the Yankees, who have lost five of six, but the team still has an 87.7% chance of making the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus. Here’s the latest…
- The Yankees have made it clear that they intend to reduce payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014. But Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders if Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner will change his mind if the team misses the postseason this year. Promising young pitchers such as Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos dealt with injuries in 2012, which will make it harder for GM Brain Cashman to build an affordable rotation.
- Steinbrenner told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that he's "frustrated" and still expects great things from his team. However, the jobs of Cashman and manager Joe Girardi aren't at stake, Davidoff reports. "No, not at all," Steinbrenner said.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks beyond the reasons often offered for the Yankees’ recent struggles — injuries and a lack of timely hitting — and suggests the team has an offensive attack that’s too one-dimensional and a rotation that surrenders too many home runs. New York’s starting pitchers have allowed 125 homers, more than any other MLB rotation.
Michael Pineda will miss the rest of the season to undergo and recover from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The injury weakens the Yankees for the current season and creates questions about what the 23-year-old will contribute long-term. Here are the latest links regarding the Yankees and their pitching staff…
- The Yankees were looking forward to strong pitching performances from Pineda at reasonable salaries that would help keep the team's payroll beneath the $189MM luxury tax threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he regrets the injury, but not his team's decision-making process. “The deal we did I would do that ten times out of ten,” Cashman told Sherman.
- Andy Pettitte's return is suddenly much more vital to the Yankees, Sherman notes. The left-hander pitched five innings at Double-A Trenton last night, allowing three earned runs.
- John Harper of the New York Daily News says it's not reasonable or fair to blame Cashman for Pineda's shoulder injury. The Yankees evaluated the right-hander's elbow and shoulder carefully at the time of the trade and his arm seemed fine. "He was strong as a bull in resistance testing," Cashman said.
- Harper points out that scouts and executives liked the Pineda-Jesus Montero trade for the Yankees back in January.
TUESDAY: The Yankees officially announced Cashman's new three-year deal, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
FRIDAY: Theo Epstein is gone, Andy MacPhail isn't coming back, and Andrew Friedman appeared to entertain the idea of leaving. But the longest-tenured general manager in the American League East is staying put. The Yankees have agreed to an extension with GM Brian Cashman, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The sides agreed to a three-year deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter) and they are waiting for the World Series to end before making any announcements.
The Yankees have won four championships under Cashman, who took over New York's baseball operations department before the 1998 season. The 44-year-old has built playoff teams in 13 out of a possible 14 seasons. MLBTR's Transaction Tracker offers a look back at his many moves. I looked ahead to the Yankees' offseason earlier in the week. Cashman's primary offseason goal will be acquiring starting pitching.
- The Yankees are considering Carlos Beltran as a possible right fielder, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. The Yankees have a $10.25MM option for Nick Swisher that they have to make a decision on after the World Series, but they could pick up the option, sign Beltran and trade Swisher.
- The Yankees’ negotiations with C.C. Sabathia could come down to the team's willingness to guarantee the left-hander a seventh year, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. While the Yankees would be comfortable with a five or six-year deal worth roughly $25MM per season, the Yankees would pause if Sabathia wants a seven or eight-year deal. Sabathia is expected to opt out of the four years and $92MM remaining on his contract.
- Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News hears that Brian Cashman’s extension with the Yankees is “just about” complete. The GM’s deal, which appears to be for three years or more, could be announced as soon as the World Series ends.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post draws parallels between Mike Napoli of the Rangers and Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero. Montero can hit despite questions about his defensive ability, so Sherman suggests it might be wise for the Yankees to keep Montero instead of trading him for starting pitching.
The Cubs and Red Sox introduced the new leaders of their respective baseball operations departments today. Theo Epstein met with the media in Chicago and Ben Cherington did the same in Boston. Here are some more notes from front offices around MLB…
- Epstein sounded extremely confident in Cherington’s ability to bring the Red Sox back to the playoffs. “He’s had such a well-rounded development,” Epstein said of Cherington. “He’s got so much integrity. He’s so bright. He’s got great management skills of people. This guy is going to do a fantastic job.” Alex Speier of WEEI.com has more quotes from Epstein.
- Speier hears from an insider who won't be surprised if the Red Sox and Cubs need the help of the commissioner's office to resolve the issue of compensation for Epstein.
- Former Mets and Expos GM Omar Minaya is one of top candidates for the Angels’ GM job, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
- The Yankees expect to have a new deal with GM Brian Cashman by Monday, according to Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff explains that Rangers executive A.J. Preller rooted for the Yankees before getting his first job in professional baseball. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes spoke to Preller earlier this month for our GM Candidates series.
- The Diamondbacks announced that they promoted Junior Noboa to VP of Latin Operations. Noboa, Arizona's first ever international hire, enters his 18th season with the organization. He has overseen the acquisition of players such as Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra.
- For the latest on the Orioles’ GM search, click here, for notes on MLB managers click here and for more front office rumors click here.
Theo Epstein is officially the Cubs' president of baseball operations and the Red Sox have announced that Ben Cherington will be Boston's next GM, but there's still lots of front office turnover on the horizon. Here are the latest details from around MLB:
- De Jon Watson's interview for the Orioles' GM job will take place on Wednesday, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). I spoke to Watson, the Dodgers' assistant GM, last month. He's up against Jerry Dipoto of the Diamondbacks and Tony LaCava of the Blue Jays.
- Chase Headley and Heath Bell told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune that they expect a smooth transition from Jed Hoyer to Josh Byrnes when Hoyer leaves the Padres to become the Cubs' new GM.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune explains that Cubs president Crane Kenney will move exclusively to the business side now that Epstein is the club's president of baseball operations. Kenney is a polarizing figure in Chicago and the role he played in obtaining Epstein is unclear, according to Sullivan.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says letting assistant GM Randy Bush go would be a mistake for the Cubs.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman met with Hal Steinbrenner in New York today and Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the sides expect to be able to complete a new deal for Cashman with relative ease (Twitter link).