New York Yankees Rumors
The Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda finalized a one-year, $16MM contract last night that will allow the right-hander to earn up to $500K worth of incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Kuroda, a client of Octagon's Steve Hilliard, will earn $250K for reaching the 190-inning and 210-inning milestones, according to Sherman.
Kuroda will turn 39 years old in February and was reported to be weighing a return to Japan or a return to a Southern California team in order to be closer to his family, who currently reside in that area due to Kuroda's days with the Dodgers. Kuroda turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees in November, getting tagged with the potential cost of a draft pick had he signed with a different MLB team. Instead, Kuroda will return to New York for a third season. Over the past two years, Kuroda has posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings in Yankee pinstripes. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary represents a slight raise, as predicted in MLBTR's September free agent profile.
The Kuroda signing restores some much-needed depth to the Yankees' rotation, which had only C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova penciled in. With Robinson Cano agreeing to a contract with the Mariners today, the Yankees are now flush with payroll flexibility to bid on the best remaining starters. Masahiro Tanaka will likely be the top target if posted, while traditional free agents Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez remain on the board.
9:18am: Talks between the Mariners and Cano are still alive, according to Ken Rosenthal on FOX Sports (on Twitter).
7:43am: The Mariners talks with Robinson Cano have broken down after Seattle made an offer of nine years and $225MM, two sources told Mark Feinsand, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The Mariners are no longer in the mix to sign Cano, reports Feinsand.
According to the New York Daily News team, Cano and his representatives from CAA and Roc Nation Sports arrived in Seattle with an eight-year, $200MM offer in hand from the Mariners and eventually received assurances that the Mariners would go to nine years and $225MM. However, a late change by agent Jay-Z in which he once again demanded $252MM over 10 years caused Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln to "explode," prompting the meeting to end.
Seattle's offer of $225MM over nine years topped the Yankees' best offer by two years and $50MM, Feinsand notes. However, the Yankees appear to be Cano's lone serious suitor once again. The Yankees reportedly have never been willing to exceed the $200MM barrier for Cano.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Yankees were optimistic about their chances of re-signing Kuroda, who has spent the past two seasons in Yankee pinstripes, posting a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary would represent a slight raise for the 38-year-old.
Kuroda's situation has been up in the air so far this season, as he's reportedly also been weighing a return to Japan and possibly returning to Southern California, where his family currently resides.
Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners would be "dumb" for both player and team, argues FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Mariners need more than just one more player to become a contender, and "store-bought teams often prove to be disasters," as recent iterations of the Blue Jays and Marlins suggest. The Yankees, meanwhile, won't go past $170MM or so, even though they just agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury for $153MM. For Cano, signing with Seattle would be an "inexplicable money grab." It wouldn't make sense for Cano, the Mariners, or the Yankees if Cano went west. Speaking of which, here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Bronson Arroyo and Bartolo Colon currently aren't high priorities for the Angels, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman remain possibilities (Twitter links). Earlier this week, a report indicated that the Angels were interested in Arroyo.
- After dealing Dexter Fowler to the Astros and working out a two-year deal with first baseman Justin Morneau, the Rockies aren't through making moves, assistant GM Bill Geivett tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. "I think we are still in the marker for a starting pitcher, another bat, and as I’ve said before, our bullpen is not closed," says Geivett, who also says that history will not be remembered as a "salary dump."
- Pitcher Daniel Hudson is "optimistic" he'll re-sign with the Diamondbacks, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Arizona non-tendered him on Monday after he missed most of the last two seasons due to injury. "I don't really want to go anywhere else," Hudson says. "Obviously if something doesn't work out then we'll have to figure something else out, but as long as we're cordial and we're talking and everything, I really want to make sure I stay working out with those guys."
Free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson wants four years and $64MM, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. The Mets are interested in Granderson, but they don't want to offer a fourth year. Mike Puma of the New York Post, meanwhile, tweets that Granderson and the Mets probably won't be able to work out a deal tonight. Here are more notes from New York.
- The Mets were interested in Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (on Twitter). The Brewers, however, liked pitcher Will Smith more than a player like Mets first baseman Ike Davis, so they shipped Aoki to the Royals instead.
- If Robinson Cano goes to the Mariners or some other team, the Yankees could pursue Shin-Soo Choo instead, USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets. The Yankees, of course, already have plenty of outfielders, with Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in addition to newcomer Jacoby Ellsbury, but after Cano, Choo is the next-best position player on the market.
- Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says the Yankees are still hoping to keep their luxury-tax figure under $189MM, but they'll also prioritize fielding a strong team, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. Steinbrenner says that the Yankees' offense was its "Achilles heel" in 2013, and they'll continue to look for hitting, as well as trying to re-sign starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman is optimistic that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda wants to play in 2014, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. "He wants to come back," Cashman says. "He’s going to pitch here, in Japan, or somewhere else, I don’t know yet. But all indications are, he is definitely interested in coming back to the Yankees. But there’s no guarantee that comes with that."
McCullough writes that the Yankees seem to have offered Kuroda a one-year deal with a raise over his $15MM 2013 salary. Earlier this week, a report indicated that the Yankees had offered around $15MM-$16MM for 2014. That offer has reportedly been on the table for some time. Kuroda, who will be 39 in February, posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 2013.
The Yankees and Kelly Johnson are in agreement on a one-year deal worth roughly $3MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The deal is pending a physical. ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the deal is for exactly $3MM (Twitter link).
Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013. As such, he can serve as an insurance policy for both Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Johnson, 32 in February, owns a career slash line of .253/.335/.427 across eight seasons with the Braves, D'Backs, Blue Jays, and Rays. Over the last three seasons, however, he has slashed just .226/.307/.395.
The deal marks a small pay raise for the veteran, who made $2.45MM with Tampa Bay in 2013. Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX Baseball), according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
For a fascinating look at some of the background motivations for the Yankees' recent signings of catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, be sure to read this excellent article from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. As Costa explains, New York's singular spending capacity is closely connected to its unique financial circumstances. The club's ticket sales and stadium seat licenses took a greater-than-$50MM hit last year due to missing the post-season, Costa reports. When one factors in the impact to merchandise, concessions, and future ticket sales, says Costa, the club's massive free agent investments begin to look more like a necessity. As Vince Gennaro notes in the piece, "If the Yankees were an 85-win team or an 83-win team for three or four years in a row, they would suffer financially orders of magnitude more than any other franchise."
Here are some more notes out of the Bronx and the rest of the AL East:
- If the Yankees have any chance of staying under the $189MM luxury tax level, a source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the club needs for Alex Rodriguez to remain suspended for all of 2014. If the suspension is upheld, the Yankees will avoid both his $27.5MM salary as well as the $6MM bonus they stand to pay if Rodriguez passes Willie Mays on the all-time home run list.
- The Yankees initially pursued Carlos Beltran more aggressively than Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but shifted their attention to Ellsbury as a third year became more and more likely for Beltran. The Mariners were seemingly willing to give Ellsbury a stunning nine-year deal, but the center fielder was apparently less than enthused about going to Seattle. Talks accelerated over the weekend when the Yanks agreed to exceed the Carl Crawford contract, Sherman reports.
- Meanwhile, Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI's Salk & Holley (via WEEI.com's Alex Speier) that the field staff and players were "jolted" by the news of Ellsbury's departure. With about a half-dozen current players reaching out for more information, Farrell told them that GM Ben Cherington was "doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew]." "We're going to do anything we can to bring both guys back," Farrell told his players. Be sure to check out the link for a lot more quotes from Farrell on the team's recent moves and path forward.
- While Ellsbury's parting may have surprised Sox players, it seemed to be rather expected by the front office, as Speier notes. Indeed, as John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter), the club never made its star outfielder a nine-figure offer. Looking ahead, Boston still has plenty of work to do after resolving its catching opening by signing A.J. Pierzynski. But given the club's slate of young players already in the fold, says Speier, there are plenty of ways that Cherington can maneuver in addressing Boston's remaining questions.
- We just learned that the Orioles could be chasing some big-money free agents, but the club's most immediate move is expected to be the addition of outfielder Francisco Peguero, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had previously reported (via Twitter) that a deal was in place, but executive vice president Dan Duquette said that "it's not a done deal." Duquette did, however, confirm that an agreement was close. The top Orioles baseball man noted that the club likes Peguero's defensive flexibility and hit tool. Adding Peguero would leave Baltimore with two vacant 40-man spots, Kubatko notes.
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.
3:07pm: The Mariners may have topped the Yankees' offer to Cano, a source tells Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. That same source indicated to McCarron that the Mariners are pursuing Cano "guns-a-blazing," and making the pitch to Cano that he can either be a Yankee legend or be a baseball legend by helping the Mariners win their first World Series.
Seattle has recently emerged as a major player in the Cano sweepstakes according to recent reports, and Kernan notes the club's long history of finishing as the runner-up to coveted big-name free agents. The Mariners "want to do everything in their power to come up a winner this time around," writes Kernan.
Cano's asking price has reportedly come down into the $250-260MM range, but an enormous gap still remains between that figure and the Yankees' reported offer of $160-175MM. Kernan adds that Cano will likely have to choose between millions of extra dollars to venture to a new team like the Mariners or the familiarity of returning to the Yankees in what should be an elite lineup. The Yankees have already signed Brian McCann and last night agreed to a seven-year pact with Jacoby Ellsbury.
Earlier today, Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger heard that the Yankees are still not interested in going beyond $200MM or seven years to retain Cano (Twitter link).