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David Robertson Rumors
Before the deadline, the Rockies seemingly took the Mets‘ bid to acquire Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez at least somewhat seriously, with GM Dan O’Dowd and other top evaluators scouting the Mets’ minor leaguers in person, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Rockies were especially interested in Noah Syndergaard, but they also considered Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Matt den Dekker, Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds. Talks between the two teams didn’t get far, but they might lay the groundwork for future discussions. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Former Red Sox pitcher John Lackey is “happy where he is now,” guesses Sox GM Ben Cherington in an interview with Dennis & Callahan at WEEI. Cherington says that Lackey’s unusual contract, which allows his team to pay him the league minimum salary next year, enabled the Red Sox to get the value they did, picking up Allen Craig and Joe Kelly from the Cardinals. “[W]e wouldn’t have traded both [Jon] Lester and Lackey without getting a) major league talent back and b) at least one major league starter back,” says Cherington. “That was sort of the standard.”
- Closer David Robertson says he might have given the Yankees a discount last winter if they had signed him to an extension, George A. King of the New York Post reports. Now, he says, he’ll likely wait to become a free agent this offseason. “It would have to be a legit offer at this point of the year,” he says. Robertson has pitched brilliantly while replacing Mariano Rivera at closer, posting a 2.68 ERA in 43 2/3 innings this year, with 14.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. King notes that the Yankees will probably extend Robertson a qualifying offer this fall.
The Yankees and standout closer David Robertson haven’t had any discussions about a contract extension, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog (Insider subscription required/recommended). The free-agent-to-be could end up being hit with a qualifying offer this winter, Olney writes, and given the declining willingness teams have shown to pay big money for relievers, he could be inclined to take the deal. Doing so would give the Yankees an elite arm at a decent price without assuming any long-term risk.
More from Olney’s blog and the rest of the AL East…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington hasn’t made a formal offer to Jon Lester since the four-year, $70MM pact the team offered in Spring Training. Cherington wouldn’t be doing his due diligence if he didn’t at least listen to offers for his ace, in order to gauge whether or not a club like the Dodgers would offer up a top prospect like Joc Pederson or Corey Seager, Olney continues.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes things a step further, writing that it is time for the Red Sox to trade Lester. MacPherson notes that the lack of a competitive offer shows a clear unwillingness to take that type of risk on the organization’s part. If the team wasn’t willing to go to $100MM or so in Spring Training, MacPherson asks, why then, would it vault into Zack Greinke territory by offering a market value extension or free agent contract? Collecting a draft pick and letting Lester walk is a “timid half-measure,” MacPherson concludes.
- The Blue Jays have shown interest in Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, while the Jays have scouted Barnes extensively, they’ve yet to put together an offer.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports (via Twitter) that Blue Jays top prospect Dalton Pompey has changed representation and is now a client of CAA Sports. The toolsy center fielder hit his way onto Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospect list, ranking 47th overall.
- While the Yankees are focused on adding pitcher, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines that the team should turn its focus to Marlon Byrd. Injuries to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira have left Brett Gardner looking like the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, Harper writes, and Byrd has more homers than the entire outfield of Ichiro Suzuki, Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury combined. While there’s been no indication that the Yanks are interested, one executive tells Harper that GM Brian Cashman has gotten very good at keeping acquisitions under wraps.
It was on this day in 1934 that Lou Gehrig made his only career appearance at shortstop, though the Yankees legend never actually took the field at the position. Gehrig was battling lumbago when the Yankees traveled to Detroit to face the Tigers, yet the “Iron Horse” was in the doubly-unusual lineup spot of both playing short and hitting leadoff. After Gehrig singled to begin the game, he was removed for pinch-runner Red Rolfe, who played short the rest of the way. This game was one of a few unofficial rest days Gehrig occasionally received while continuing his consecutive game streak into the 1939 season.
Here’s some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are having “active discussions with a number of teams” about possible trades, O’s executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski, though the talks have “not really” gotten very serious. Duquette implied that teams are asking for Baltimore’s top prospects in return and he didn’t outright deny the possibility of dealing one of those minor leaguers. “Young talent is going to be the lifeblood of our organization, but at the same time we want to advance the organization in the postseason, so that is kind of what you’re looking at,” Duquette said. “We hope our top prospects are going to help us for a long time.”
- David Robertson says there have “been zero talks” between his representatives and the Yankees about a contract extension, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. “When the offseason comes, it comes and we’ll hear what other teams and everybody else wants to say,” Robertson noted, though he said he would like to remain with the Yankees. The closer will become a free agent this winter and he’s set himself up for a nice contract after an impressive first half as Mariano Rivera‘s replacement. The Yankees generally don’t discuss extensions before a player’s contract is up, so the lack of talks shouldn’t necessarily indicate any disinterest in retaining Robertson, though Dellin Betances could be waiting in the wings as a future closer.
- For the second straight year, Joe Girardi is leading an injury-depleted Yankees team to a record that outperforms a negative run differential, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While questions are being raised about several other aspects of the Yankees organization in the face of another postseason absence, Davidoff notes that “Girardi keeps enhancing his status, both within the organization and among other teams.”
- The names of Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey have already been frequently mentioned in Blue Jays trade rumors, and Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi profiles the two prospects who are both big parts of the Jays’ future, whether it be in a Toronto uniform or as bait to obtain upgrades before the deadline.
- Extending Gardner was a wise move for the Yankees, argues Jack Curry of the YES Network. The club never intended to deal him unless it was "overwhelmed," says Curry. "He really has developed into a real solid, every day player," said GM Brian Cashman. "He's tough and he's a gamer. I think he's part of the solution here."
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News opines that the deal was a win-win. "I think Brett would be valuable to any team," said Cashman. "He's got that type of dynamic speed and defense, and the ability to get on base that would fit with any franchise." From his perspective, Gardner said that signing the deal was "probably the biggest decision I've ever had to make in my life." He continued: "I've put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day, that's a lot of money, and where I come from, at that money, or twice that much money, I'm not going to change the way I live."
- Bailey is not expected even to begin throwing until July, at the earliest, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. "The bottom line is focus on August or September for him to help the major league club, if at all," said Cashman. But the Yankees were moved to make the deal given Bailey's upside, even if they remain less than certain that it will reap any dividends. "When he is healthy, he is an exceptional reliever," Cashman explained. "He's coming off shoulder surgery so we're taking a flier, a low risk. If we can get a reward out of it, great. If not, it's one of those nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's his shoulder — more likely than not it's an uphill battle, but we'll see."
- Meanwhile, New York may be open to discussing an extension with new closer David Robertson but has yet to engage him in talks, reports Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger. Cashman was noncommital when asked about a new deal for Robertson, who is set to reach free agency after this season: "Would we be opposed to it? We'll see." The dominant setup man will earn $5.215MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. He will hit the market at age 30, and with another strong season could be in line for a sizeable new contract.
- The Yankees will not make an offer to shortstop Aledmys Diaz or pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, reports George A. King III of the New York Post (hat tip to River Ave. Blues). The pair of Cuban free agents recently auditioned for New York, with the former a particularly intriguing possible target given the Yanks' long-term needs up the middle.
The Yankees dominated the headlines in baseball today with their signing of Masahiro Tanaka. Earlier today on MLBTR, we looked at some of the reaction and fallout to the big move, while MLBTR's Zach Links took part in a conference call with Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Here's some more from around the AL East…
- For now, Mike Carp's future with the Red Sox isn't likely to be impacted by the club's signing of Grady Sizemore, an industry source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Carp received a lot of trade interest earlier this winter and now another left-handed outfield bat has joined the team, Carp could be the odd man out. I'd guess that Boston wouldn't do anything with Carp, however, until they get a long look at the injury-plagued Sizemore during Spring Training.
- The Blue Jays' self-imposed five-year limit on free agent contracts is hurting their ability to upgrade the roster, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi opines. The Jays' inability to develop young talent like the Rays or spend like the Yankees (or Red Sox) leaves them somewhat hamstrung in the tough AL East.
- While the Yankees' big free agent splurge was necessary to improve the team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the club needs to focus on more cost-effective strategies. "It is a horrible business plan, a caveman way to build a roster (no art, all financial bludgeoning). It is a tactic that leaves the Yankees susceptible to this current crew wilting and forcing a rinse, repeat, spend a half a billion in a few more years to cover up more malfeasance in drafting, international signings and development," Sherman writes. Sherman further explores this idea in a separate piece, with quotes from co-owner Hal Steinbrenner.
- David Robertson will be the Yankees' closer in 2014, Steinbrenner told Sherman and Dan Martin of the New York Post. Cashman wasn't quite as firm during a media conference, saying that Robertson is "obviously…the odds-on favorite" but not ruling out any further bullpen additions.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, the Yankees designated southpaw David Huff for assignment, the Red Sox signed Grady Sizemore and designated Brayan Villarreal for assignment, Zach Links spoke with Sizemore during a conference call, the Orioles may have hit a snag in their agreement with Tyler Colvin and the Rays officially announced a seven-player deal with the Padres. We also collected more news from Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the latest editions of Orioles Notes and Rays Notes.
Robertson, a client of Damon Lapa and Scott Leventhal's All Bases Covered agency, is currently in line to replace the legendary Mariano Rivera as the Yankees' closer. Doing so would be of particular benefit to he and his agents, as it would boost his stock heading into free agency next offseason. Though he's struggled in a small sample when used as a closer, Robertson has been one of the game's premier setup men over the past three seasons and certainly has the talent to succeed in a ninth-inning role.
11:06am: The Yankees have avoided arbitration with Brett Gardner by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.6MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Gardner is repped by Pro Star Management, Inc. Agent Joe Bick looks to have done quite well for Gardner, as MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $4MM.
The 30-year-old Gardner enjoyed another solid season at the plate in 2013, batting .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 33 doubles, a league-leading 10 triples and 24 stolen bases. Gardner tallied a career-high 609 plate appearances despite being sidelined for two-and-a-half weeks with an oblique strain, and he played solid defense in center field as well (particularly according to Defensive Runs Saved, which rated him at +6).
This is Gardner's final season of team control before he's eligible for free agency. In 2014, he'll team up with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to comprise the Yankees' primary outfield. The Yanks have ducked arbitration with Gardner, Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Francisco Cervelli, but they still have a potential hearing to avoid with Ivan Nova.
Should Yankees fans be rooting for Alex Rodriguez to avoid a lengthy suspension? Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that the Yankees' only chance of staying under the $189MM luxury tax limit is if A-Rod is suspended for the entire 2014 season, but the club would then have very little spending room to address its remaining needs. If Rodriguez is only suspended for 50 games or so, Sherman argues that the Yankees should abandon their plan of staying under the tax limit and spend freely to improve next year's roster. “We either have to be under $189MM or up over $200MM or more," a member of the organization tells Sherman. "Think how dumb it would look if we worked for a few years to get under $189MM and we didn’t and we were at like $192MM and just missed. Either we go under or way over.”
Here's some more from the Bronx…
- Also from Sherman, while the modified posting system will hurt the Yankees' chances of signing Masahiro Tanaka at a relative bargain (in terms of avoiding the luxury tax), the delay in finalizing the new posting agreement puts Tanaka's market closer to the Rodriguez arbitration decision. This will give the Yankees a better idea of their payroll situation and a better idea of what they'll be able to offer Tanaka. Sherman predicts a Rodriguez decision will come on either January 3rd or January 13th, with the latter date being preferable to MLB since it be after the Hall of Fame announcements.
- Brian Roberts' contract with the Yankees contains $2.6MM worth of incentives, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. All of the incentives are tied to plate appearances.
- The Yankees have stayed away from the closer market this winter, which The New York Post's Ken Davidoff interprets as a sign that the club has a lot of confidence in David Robertson to finish games in 2014. While the Yankees could still acquire a reliever with closing experience, Davidoff believes such an acquisition would likely be for depth rather than as legitimate competition for Robertson.
- Johan Santana could be a good investment for the Yankees on a minor league deal, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews opines. Matthews also suggests Roy Oswalt could be a similar type of low-cost veteran signing, while Paul Maholm could be a safer (if more expensive) choice for the back of the rotation.
- In news from earlier today, the Yankees' signing of Carlos Beltran was made official, and New York created 40-man roster space for the slugger by designated righty Brett Marshall for assignment.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post feels that the Yankees recent connections to Omar Infante and Brandon Phillips are perfect examples of why the team cannot afford to lose Robinson Cano. Davidoff writes that while both fallback options are fine players, neither is on Cano's level. The reason Cano can afford to make such seemingly outlandish contract demands, says Davidoff, is that he's dramatically better than alternative options. Here are some more Yankees-related links…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports doesn't think it makes sense for Curtis Granderson to accept a qualifying offer from the Yankees. Rosenthal points out that Granderson shares the exact same career OPS — .828 — that Nick Swisher carried into last offseason before signing a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians. I agree with Rosenthal's take that Granderson can do much better than a one-year, $14.1MM deal on the open market, even with draft pick compensation attached.
- Rosenthal also spoke with one GM who thinks that the threat of Hiroki Kuroda returning to the Hiroshima Carp will force the Yankees to make an offer more lucrative than the $14.1MM qualifying offer (Twitter link).
- General manager Brian Cashman told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that the team isn't annointing David Robertson as the closer just yet. Cashman said he will consider all avenues of improving the team this winter, though he declined to comment on specific free agent relievers. The Yankees were connected to Grant Balfour yesterday.
- History could give us a glimpse into the Yankees offseason plans, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees could have as much as $90MM to work with (depending on the fate of Alex Rodriguez), and Cashman has prioritized strikeout pitchers and left-handed power bats in recent free agent spending sprees.
The Yankees should sign reliever David Robertson to an extension, River Ave Blues' Mike Axisa argues. By signing Robertson now, Axisa argues, the Yankees will get to pay setup man rates for him. If, in the wake of Mariano Rivera's retirement, Robertson takes the Yankees' closer job in 2014 and performs reasonably well, he'll stand to make much more money after the season, when he becomes a free agent. But signing him now could be tricky, Axisa notes, since it will also be clear to Robertson what he stands to gain by closing for a year and then hitting the free agent market. Axisa proposes a three-year, $21MM deal. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Dodgers' pursuit of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka appears to be "the most obvious move since Brad Pitt sidled up to Angelina Jolie," writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Dilbeck cites the Dodgers' signings of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Yasiel Puig and Alexander Guerrero as evidence that the team will use its considerable financial heft to pursue the biggest-name international free agents. "We've scouted him a lot, we're very much aware of him," says GM Ned Colletti. "We saw him as recently as two days ago."
- Pitchers Tim Berry and Chris Jones and catchers Caleb Joseph and Michael Ohlman are all candidates to be added to the Orioles' 40-man roster this offseason, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski writes. Jones, who spent most of the 2013 season pitching in relief at Triple-A Norfolk, is eligible for minor-league free agency, but Baltimore would like to keep him.
It was 10 years ago today that the old Yankee Stadium hosted the last World Series game in the building's storied history. It wasn't a memorable one for the Yankees, as they were shut out by Josh Beckett in Game Six of the 2003 World Series and the Marlins clinched the title. Here's the latest news about the Bronx Bombers…
- Damon Oppenheimer will remain as the Yankees' amateur scouting director, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Oppenheimer's job was rumored to be in jeopardy due to a series of less-than-fruitful drafts but the Yankees' highly-regarded 2013 draft class may have saved him. Mark Newman, the club's senior VP of baseball operations, could still be in danger of being fired, Feinsand notes.
- Even if the Yankees spend $300MM on free agents this offseason, ESPN's Mike Petriello (Insider subscription required) doesn't think it will be enough to offset its declining veterans and lack of farm system reinforcements.
- Joba Chamberlain's days as a Yankee are finished, according to Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog in his review of Chamberlain's 2013 season. "I don’t think [the Yankees] will bring him back under any circumstances, not even on a minor league contract," Axisa writes. Chamberlain posted a 4.93 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9 in 42 relief innings last year and has fallen out of favor with the Yankees.
- Stephen Drew's ability to play both shortstop and third base would fill a valuable need for the Yankees next season, but ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand doesn't think Drew would sign for a team that might not have a regular starting job for him if Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are around. The Bombers also wouldn't want to give up their first round draft pick to sign Drew if the Red Sox make Drew a qualifying offer.
- David Robertson doesn't know if he'll be the Yankees closer next year but the reliever tells MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he's ready for the challenge of taking over from Mariano Rivera. As I wrote in my Offseason Outlook piece about the Yankees, it wouldn't be surprising if New York brings in a veteran with closing experience to at least compete with Robertson for the job.