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The Rays are considered leaders in analytics, so perhaps it’s no coincidence they hired former catcher Kevin Cash, writes Michael Kolligian of MLB.com. Former catchers account for 12 of the last 19 World Series winning managers. Joe Torre is responsible for four of those victories. While there are a number of confounding variables, former catchers are always popular managerial candidates. Here’s more from the AL East.
- While most teams are quick to name a closer, the Yankees are taking a wait-and-see approach, writes Andrew Simon of MLB.com. New York has two excellent but unproven options in right-hander Dellin Betances and southpaw Andrew Miller. Selecting a closer could come down to bullpen composition, said manager Joe Girardi. “I think it’s affected by possibly losing someone out of your bullpen to a starting role. That changes things. So we’ve got to figure that out first, then we put the rest of it together.” To me, this means that Miller is more likely to close if Adam Warren earns a gig in the rotation. Betances provided great value in multi-inning appearances last season. If Warren returns to the pen, the Yankees may prefer Miller to be available for tough left-handed hitters.
- The trickle down effect from Marcus Stroman‘s season-ending injury could cause the Blue Jays to roster a third left-handed reliever, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. With Stroman out, prospect Aaron Sanchez is likely to make the rotation with lefty Brett Cecil filling in as the closer. Southpaw Aaron Loup is also expected to make the roster. Jeff Francis and Colt Hynes are internal options for the third lefty role. Externally, Cardinals reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals pitcher Xavier Cedeno were connected to the Mets earlier this evening.
- John Jaso suffered two concussions in the last two seasons that have put his career in jeopardy, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Presently, Jaso feels fine, but he’s unsure if he can catch. Per Jaso, “if they were to say, ‘Here, catch tomorrow,’ I don’t know. That’s the scary part. Like I don’t know if I could take one, take 40 foul tips, what it would be…What I do know is that the longer I have between episodes, the stronger I’ll be. It’s letting the brain heal all the way again. You might think it’s gone, you might think you are all right, but it’s still there.“
Now that David Robertson has agreed to terms with the White Sox, the Yankees should forget about traditional closer usage and instead use their best relievers situationally, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances don’t have significant track records as closers, but established free agent closers like Jason Grilli and Sergio Romo aren’t better pitchers than Miller or Betances. So if the Yankees sign someone like Grilli or Romo, they should treat them only as potential options to pitch in save situations, not as closers in the usual sense. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Marlon Byrd is a good fit for the Orioles, but the Phillies shouldn’t give him up freely, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. Byrd is a quality hitter on a reasonable and relatively short-term contract, so his age (37) should not be a major detriment. If the Phillies can’t get the right return for Byrd, they shouldn’t trade him, Seidman suggests. The two teams met to discuss Byrd yesterday.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter marvels at this offseason’s spending by Baltimore’s fellow AL East teams, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. “They run out of money yet? God bless them, that’s the system. If we were in their shoes, we’d do the same thing,” says Showalter. “We just have to be good at some things that allow us to compete with them.” The Orioles have been relatively quiet this offseason while the Red Sox have spent heavily on Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Blue Jays on Russell Martin, and the Yankees on Andrew Miller.
Offensive catchers like Gary Sanchez and the recently demoted John Ryan Murphy surely come up in the conversations that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has had with other clubs, writes David Lennon of Newsday. Cashman told reporters yesterday that he expects to make a trade or multiple trades between now and the deadline. “Everybody’s making their phone calls,” Cashman said. “There are some big players that are available, but the price tags are going to be extremely high. There might be smaller pieces that can pay big dividends for teams.”
More afternoon links pertaining to the Yanks…
- Brett Gardner tells NJ.com’s Kevin Manahan that despite his strong season that could potentially have led to a larger free agent deal, he has no regrets about signing a four-year, $52MM extension with the Yankees. Gardner, who is hitting .291/.355/.415 with six homers, 14 steals and strong outfield defense, says he thought he was a goner when New York signed Jacoby Ellsbury but is as happy right now with his four-year extension as he was when he signed it.
- A spokesperson for Alex Rodriguez tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that all legal matters pertaining to A-Rod have been resolved (Twitter links). Rodriguez fully plans to play in 2015, the spokesperson adds.
- GM Brian Cashman spoke with the Daily News’ John Harper about trades, stating that he didn’t want to wait for the return of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda to improve his club. Harper agrees with previous reports saying that Cashman isn’t going to move breakout reliever Dellin Betances, but he notes that slugging Double-A catcher Peter O’Brien has been moved around the field in an attempt to showcase him for trades. Many scouts question his ability to catch in the big leagues, however, and he’s not believed to be close to MLB-ready. He’s hitting .266/.305/.591 with 23 homers this season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Blue Jays sit atop the AL East but most feel that the club will try to fortify its starting rotation before the trade deadline. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hinted to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com that if his team did make a move, the price might be too high for a big-name arm. “We are pretty much maxed out in terms of payroll, but more important, we cannot keep trading our young [minor league] pitchers,” Anthopoulos said. “We also have to be realistic about whom we can extend if we make a trade for him….We have been feeling out teams and doing background work. I think we’d probably look at something where we have a pitcher for the rest of this season. That makes sense.” Gammons wonders if this means the Jays wouldn’t pursue David Price or Jeff Samardzija since neither pitcher is likely to sign an extension with Toronto to becoming a free agent after 2015. James Shields (a free agent this winter) would also cost a lot, while Gammons suggests names like Francisco Liriano, Jason Hammel or Justin Masterson as possible fits.
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- Dellin Betances no longer frets about trade rumors like he did in his younger days, the Yankees reliever tells Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “I try not to pay too much attention,” Betances said. “Actually, I haven’t heard anything. But this has happened so many times that — you always hear rumors that are coming up.” CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman recently explored Betances as a possible trade chip the Yankees could use in a package for Samardzija, though with Betances pitching so well, Heyman noted New York would be hesitant to move the right-hander.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Christopher Crawford breaks down what each of the five AL East teams could look for in the upcoming amateur draft.
- The struggling Red Sox may not look to help their lineup by trading for a notable hitter, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said in a recent radio appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show (WEEI.com’s Nick Canelas has a partial transcript). “To expend what you’d have to expend to get that player, I’m not sure the Red Sox want to do that because right now they’re in a situation where they are protective of what they have,” Rosenthal said. “They have depth in young talent all over the place, we know that; left side of the infield, catching, pitching to some extent. But their idea is to keep this going, and I’m not sure you keep it going by trading for a big-money hitter and expending prospects to do it with one or two years left on the guy’s contract.”
- From that same interview, Rosenthal also touched on Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz, who “looks like a player that a lot of people underestimated” coming off his PED suspension in 2013. “The price was not to the liking of a lot of teams early on, and he’s not that offensive-defensive mixture that most teams seek now….He’s a guy that clearly has shown that whatever was going on with him, assuming that nothing is going on now, he is back to the player that we thought he should be.” Cruz is currently slashing .295/.361/.612 with a Major League-leading 16 homers.
- Rosenthal notes that the Red Sox didn’t pursue Cruz last winter. Cruz’s success notwithstanding, I’d say it’s hard to fault Boston for that non-move since the club was seemingly set in the corner outfield spots and David Ortiz is the everyday DH.
It sounds as though 2012 may be the final season of what will surely be a Hall of Fame career for Mariano Rivera. Here’s the latest on the Yankees and the back end of their bullpen as Spring Training 2012 gets underway…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post doubts the Yankees will spend on the best free agent closer available, though it’s a strategy they might have chosen in the recent past. Brian Cashman believes it’s unwise to sign relievers other than Rivera to significant contracts, and the GM aims to keep payroll under $189MM by 2014.
- David Robertson and Rafael Soriano are internal candidates to close if Rivera retires, as Sherman points out. Many baseball people believe the Yankees should use prospect Dellin Betances out of the bullpen, but he has just two MLB games to his name at this point.
- The Yankees don’t expect Alex Rodriguez to be a vital part of their team four or five years from now, but there’s $143MM remaining on his contract, so the team needs to get as much value as possible from A-Rod.
- The Yankees will obtain another closer, but they won’t replace Rivera, Sherman writes.
- Robertson, Soriano and Joba Chamberlain told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger that they aren't thinking about replacing Rivera just yet.
8:16pm: At the beginning of the offseason, the asking price for Jackson was in the Lackey/Burnett range ($82.5MM), tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. The Yankees haven’t had talks with Boras about Jackson, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. No talks are expected unless his asking price drops.
TUESDAY, 2:53pm: Jackson seeks $15-17MM per year, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Boras' promotional book on Jackson compares him to C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, John Lackey, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe. All of those pitchers received at least $14.5MM per year, averaging $15.6MM. Of course, Wilson and Buehrle just signed and the other three contracts were regrettable. The Yankees will continue dialogue with Jackson, writes Heyman. The process is starting to remind Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues of the Yankees' signing of Rafael Soriano last year.
MONDAY, 11:21am: Edwin Jackson's asking price is approximately $60MM over five years, writes ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews. The Yankees like the free agent righty, "but not at that price," writes Matthews. Matthews' colleague Buster Olney tweeted the same, saying that unless the Yankees' budget grows, there's no room for Jackson.
Ultimately I expect Jackson to settle for something closer to four years and $44MM, which wouldn't be an awful price for a 28-year-old innings eater with a touch of upside.
Additionally, Matthews writes that the Cubs' asking price for Matt Garza is "out of the question" for the Yankees. He says the Cubs want at least two and possibly all three of Yankees top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Marlins have also been connected to Garza in recent days.
A week ago, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were unwilling to trade Manny Banuelos or Jesus Montero for White Sox lefty John Danks. The newly-minted CBS Sports scribe now tweets that the White Sox asked for two of Montero, Banuelos, or Dellin Betances, and the Yankees might give up one in a package.
It's easy to see why the Yankees have resisted so far, as Danks is only under team control for one year. He'll certainly be motivated with free agency on the horizon, and he would be just 27 years old on the open market. If Danks can put up 32 starts with a sub-4.00 ERA, as was his custom prior to 2011, I think he'll be able to top four years and $50MM. Edwin Jackson's upcoming contract may set the bar.
One executive told ESPN's Buster Olney during the Winter Meetings that the White Sox sought a "Ubaldo Jimenez" package for Danks, which would be hard to defend since Jimenez came with two-plus years of cost certainty. In addition to the Yankees, AL East rivals such as the Blue Jays and Red Sox appear to have checked in.
The Tigers contacted the Rockies about Ubaldo Jimenez yesterday and they're far from the only team in the mix. The Yankees, Red Sox, Reds and Indians are still involved and the Rockies are eyeing each team's top prospects in possible deals. Colorado's asking price hasn't dropped, so it will still take multiple top young players to pry the right-hander away. Here are the latest rumors, with the most recent updates up top:
- Danny Knobler tweets that the Tigers are out on Jimenez for now, and while the Indians have tried it looks like the Yankees or Red Sox if there's a trade at all. He says the door is slightly open for the Tigers to have another go at it, but that's not expected to happen.
- A Rockies source pegs the chances of a Pence deal at less than 50%, with the Yankees and Red Sox most likely, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
- The Tigers have strong interest and are willing to include top prospect Jacob Turner in a Jimenez deal, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Turner is ranked anywhere from #11 to #26 among all prospects by the gurus.
- The Yankees have made no calls to the Rockies thus far today, tweets Ken Rosenthal.
- Others believe the Indians are a big threat to acquire Jimenez, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- The Yankees’ interest in Jimenez appears to be waning, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. However, the Indians are sending signals that their “untouchables” might be available in a deal for Jimenez, according to Stark.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Rockies are "mad" at Jimenez for for the way he has acted this year (Twitter link). However, Troy Renck of the Denver Post weighs in on Ubaldo the person: "There are no questions about his character," Renck tweets. "Zero."
- The Red Sox are aggressively pursuing Jimenez while the Indians, Reds, and Blue Jays are also interested, tweets Jon Heyman of SI. Meanwhile, Heyman says that the Yankees are "lurking".
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that the Yankees would only package Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances in the same deal in exchange for a sure thing, and they don't view Jimenez as a sure thing.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that talks between the Yankees and Rockies have not gone well (Twitter link).
- Any Jimenez deal with the Tigers would "almost certainly" include Jacob Turner and/or Rick Porcello, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Rival teams expect to know the Rockies’ true intentions regarding Jimenez tomorrow, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. If the sky-high asking price drops in the next day and a half, other teams will see the price reduction as a signal that Colorado intends to move Jimenez.
Yesterday's Ubaldo Jimenez info: about seven teams are in on him, but the Yankees and Reds are best-positioned to make a deal if the Rockies are as motivated as has been reported. So far, the Rockies' asking price of "three sure-thing young players, including one pitcher who goes into their rotation immediately" has not dropped. The latest:
- The Red Sox are still in on Jimenez, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- The Indians have asked about Jimenez, but are a "real longshot," according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- The Indians are strongly in the mix for Jimenez, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Indians have been working aggressively to upgrade their offense and rotation, Rosenthal writes. They're "thinking big in multiple deals."
- Though the Yankees and Reds have been the most active suitors for Jimenez, they aren’t close to a deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Yankees aren’t close to matching Colorado’s asking price and it’s hard to imagine the Reds obtaining Jimenez without surrendering Mesoraco. The Tigers and Red Sox are ‘on the fringe’ of the trade talks and the Rangers are no longer considered a candidate to acquire the right-hander.
- The Yankees have the best chance of landing Jimenez, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The Rangers are all but out, while the Tigers and Blue Jays are remote.
- The Rockies do not require Reds untouchables Devin Mesoraco or Billy Hamilton in a deal with the Reds, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Rockies are in active trade talks with six to eight teams, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. A source tells Stark that two NL teams, yet to be identified, are in the mix, and the guess is that one of them is the Nationals.
- As of yesterday, the Reds were the most motivated Jimenez suitor and the Red Sox were more seriously inquiring than the Yankees, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Still, the Rockies appear amenable to doing a Jimenez deal for three of these Yankee youngsters: Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Ivan Nova. The Yankees, however, are hesistant to even include two. Ownership is not pushing Yankees GM Brian Cashman to make a deadline splash, writes Sherman, and the front office is more focused on relievers.
The latest on the Yankees…
- Though the Yankees think Edwin Jackson is solid, they aren't pursuing him now, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter).
- A rival executive believes the Yankees will add a left-handed reliever via trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Left-handed relief is a weakness of this trade market, though perhaps the Yanks could take on a bad contract like that of Baltimore's Mike Gonzalez.
- Unless a no-doubt number one starter appears on the market, the Yankees have made it clear they won't move prospects Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Austin Romine, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The White Sox are spending a lot of time scouting the farm systems of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies in case Kenny Williams and company decide to sell, tweets Sherman.
- The Yankees would pay big for A's lefty Gio Gonzalez, tweets Sherman, but Oakland still refuses to discuss the southpaw. The 25-year-old ranks eighth in the American League with 124 strikeouts and seventh with a 2.67 ERA, and is not arbitration-eligible until after this season.