New York Yankees Rumors
SATURDAY, 4:17pm: The Yankees confirmed the signing via press release. The seven-year contract takes the outfielder through 2020 with a club option for 2021.
WEDNESDAY: Ellsbury is guaranteed $148MM over the first seven years of the contract, and there is a $21MM option for an eighth year that comes with a $5MM buyout, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that an option year has not yet been agreed upon.
TUESDAY, 11:45pm: Ellsbury's deal includes a no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Ellsbury would get a seven-year, $150MM deal in his free agent profile earlier this offseason.
7:31pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford's $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things have stalled somewhat with Cano, however, as the Yanks don't want to go far beyond $170MM over seven years and Cano's team looking for about $260MM. Heyman spoke with sources who didn't rule out the Yankees continuing their purusit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem unlikely at this point. One source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that a deal with Ellsbury or another top outfielder won't preclude the Yanks from re-signing their star second baseman.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Monday that talks were moving faster than expected for the Scott Boras client. Boras is notorious for waiting out the market to find the right deal as he did with Prince Fielder (signed in late January) and Michael Bourn (February).
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. However, the left-handed batter wasn't much of a threat against southpaws this year, posting a .246/.323/.318 line in 237 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since '11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Of course, much of Ellsbury's game is predicated on speed. Now, the Yankees have to hope that Ellsbury can stay fleet-footed for some time and will be able to adjust when his motor eventually wears down.
The Yankees have been vocal about their desire to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold this winter, but it remains to be seen where they'll stand after the Ellsbury deal and Brian McCann's five-year, $85MM pact. Now more than ever, one has to imagine that the Yankees are rooting for MLB's side in the Alex Rodriguez saga.
The market for Ellsbury has been somewhat cloudy, but the Mariners and Giants were both believed to have interest.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left, Heyman writes. The 30-year-old was ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings. With Ellsbury and McCann in the fold, the Yankees have now forfeited their first and second round picks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
SATURDAY: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing Kuroda's re-signing.
FRIDAY: 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. The Yankees have already committed $254MM to free agent position players this offseason, most notably $153MM to Jacoby Ellsbury and $85MM to Brian McCann.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Last night's signing of Carlos Beltran emerged out of multi-team negotiations, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. As Heyman explains, Beltran's representatives at MVP Sports Group told the Yankees that two teams had offered three years and $48MM. GM Brian Cashman responded by offering $45MM for that term, but said the club would move on to Shin-Soo Choo if it did not receive a quick response. Obviously, Beltran took the Yanks offer. Here's more from the AL East:
- The Orioles allowed Nate McLouth and Scott Feldman to leave Baltimore for other teams yesterday without making formal offers to retain them, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday. Connolly discussed those decisions this morning, arguing that the pair is not irreplaceable, but nevertheless must be replace in some manner. While executive vice president Dan Duqutte is excited about the recently-added Francisco Peguero, Connolly notes, the club ought to add at least one "legitimate free agent" to fill one of the club's holes.
- O's skipper Buck Showalter acknowledged that the team will need some players to step up to fill some roles, reports the Sun's Eduardo Encina, but he sees that as a challenge and an opportunity for some of the team's younger players. He also said that he anticipates more additions, particularly in the outfield. "We're looking at everybody and who's available, whether it be a free agent or a trade," said Showalter. "I'm personally looking from within to what I would do, where I would go." Though the club is actively shopping, Showalter noted the difficulties facing Baltimore in the present market. "As people become available and an option for us, Dan [Duquette] and I talk about it," he said. "It's obviously a player's market right now."
- For the Red Sox, the decision to bring back Napoli leaves the club with ample depth in left field and at first, notes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. (Twitter links.) Nevertheless, Boston GM Ben Cherington is not expected to address the team's remaining needs -- namely, another left-side infielder and another outfielder capable of playing center -- by dealing from that depth. As Speier notes, Jonny Gomes and (in particular) Mike Carp could bring back a useful return if they were to be shopped.
- Speier also took a deeper look at Boston's payroll and financial considerations in the wake of the Napoli signing.
- Boston remains more likely to deal one of its own starters than to add a new one, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Though the club was burned in the past when it dealt Bronson Arroyo, says MacPherson, the team's organizational depth is in much better shape this time around.
- Meanwhile, Cherington indicated that the club may not have any further major moves. "It could be we've done most of our heavy lifting for the winter," he told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. (Twitter links.) The club has now "probably shifted more to the opportunistic part of the offseason," Cherington said. The GM did confirm that the team is looking to make an addition on the left side of the infield, notes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (via Twitter), though it has not yet determined whether it will be a major addition or a more complementary piece.
After inking outfielder Carlos Beltran last night, the Yankees have received "significant interest" in Brett Gardner, reports Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (via Twitter). The club is willing to deal Gardner, says McCullough, though it is not actively shopping him.
Gardner, 30, is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4MM in his final go through arbitration before reaching the open market next year. The capable center fielder posted a .273/.344/.416 line in 609 plate appearances last year, good for 4.2 rWAR. Though his value is limited by the lack of significant team control, his low salary and ability to play any outfield position make him an intriguing trade target.
Meanwhile, for the Yanks, dealing Gardner is one possible way for the club to address other needs while using internal options in hs place. Though he played center last year in the Bronx, Jacoby Ellslbury figures to occupy that role going forward. The team could keep Alfonso Soriano in an outfield role, rather than shifting him to DH, if it were to make a deal. New York also still has Ichiro Suzuki under contract for next season, and the recently-signed Kelly Johnson spent a good deal of time in the outfield last year for Tampa.
Re-signing Hiroki Kuroda, signing Carlos Beltran and watching Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson sign elsewhere --- even for hot stove perennials like the Yankees, Friday was a particularly noteworthy day. Here are some more items from the Big Apple.
- Omar Infante could be the biggest beneficiary of Cano's departure, Mark Feinsand and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News report. The Yankees already extended an offer to Infante earlier this winter and, now that Infante is the top second baseman on the free agent market, he seems poised to command a larger offer from the Yankees or any suitor. Given position scarcity and the general rise of contracts this winter, Infante is in good shape to top the three-year, $25MM deal predicted for him by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes in September.
- Also from Feinsand (via Twitter), he doesn't think the Yankees are a contender to trade for David Price. The Yankees lack the prospects that the Rays would demand in return, and even if New York did have the minor league talent, it's unlikely that Tampa Bay would trade Price within the AL East anyway.
- Losing Cano won't slow the Yankees down, as the team plans to pursue several other free agents, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. Besides Infante and the already-signed Beltran, the Yankees will also continues talks with Shin-Soo Choo and Stephen Drew, as well as post a bid on Masahiro Tanaka if he's made available.
- With Beltran already in the fold, it would seem that Choo is no longer be a Yankee target, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes.
- For more Yankee-related material, check out this collection of reactions to Cano's signing with the Mariners.
Robinson Cano's reported 10-year, $240MM deal with the Mariners is the most expensive and surprising transaction of the offseason thus far, and there has already been a great deal of reaction to Seattle's major signing. Here are some of the thoughts on how Cano's contract will impact several parties around baseball...
- Cano was the one player the Yankees were unwilling to break the bank on, despite spending freely to acquire Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Cano's Mariners contract, however, is "a Pyrrhic victory" for the second baseman, as he'll now go from a perennial contender to a club with a short postseason history.
- An NL official describes Cano's contract as "a lose-lose-lose deal" for Cano, the Mariners and the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. "The contract is ridiculous and a desperate move from a desperate front office that seriously borders on moral hazard," the executive said.
- Despite calling the Cano deal "probably worse than you think," Jeff Sullivan of the USS Mariner blog is still excited by the signing as a transformative event for the Mariners. Even if the M's are going for it, however, Sullivan cautions that they should try to upgrade via signings and spending rather than trading their top prospects.
- Since the Mariners are already looking to make more moves, USA Today's Bob Nightengale (via Twitter) calls Cano "a $240MM recruitment tool" that proves Seattle is a serious player.
- "For everyone, respect trumped better judgment," Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan writes about the deal, arguing that Cano was turned off by the Yankees' contractual hardball when the team had already given Ellsbury a similar-sized contract. Passan also thinks the Mariners were desperate to regain some respect and stature within MLB, and while the contract will eventually be a burden for the M's, the team needs to do "everything possible to win the next five years" while Cano is still in his prime.
- Cano's representatives approached the Yankees earlier this week and lowered their demands to $235MM over the club's choice of eight, nine or 10 seasons, Joel Sherman reports. The Yankees countered with a seven-year, $175MM offer that they claimed was "their breaking point."
- Sherman chronicles the history of the Cano/Yankees negotiations and notes that the two sides never seemed particularly close to reaching an agreement. “This is a not a surprise to us,” a Yankees official told Sherman. “This is what the dialogue had been the whole time. There was never a warm, fuzzy we are getting close momentum. There was no traction. This is why we have been trying to cushion the blow with alternatives [Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, so far]."
- Writing for Grantland, Jonah Keri covers a number of topics about the signing, such as Cano's projected production over the next 10 seasons or how the signing is the best example yet of how MLB's national TV deal has been a windfall for mid-to-small market teams.
- Jay Z delivered a near-record contract to his first baseball client, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes, and it could help the rap mogul's Roc Nation Sports in attracting more big-name clients. That said, Crasnick notes that some in the industry believe that Jay Z was just a "figurehead" for a Cano management team that also included CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen. "If the only priority is to get paid, there's always a sucker -- and Seattle was the sucker," an agent tells Crasnick. "For everybody to say this is an A-plus for Jay Z, I just don't buy it. That would have been getting New York to pay $240MM. Getting Seattle to pay $240MM wasn't some masterstroke."
- Cano's departure will hurt the Yankees in the short term but it's "a victory for the organization," The New York Times' Tyler Kepner opines, since the team has learned to avoid handing out potential albatross contracts.
- The Mariners still need some other upgrades for 2014 and beyond, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron writes, making the Cano signing particularly risky since he isn't a final move to put the M's over the top as contenders. For Cameron, the signing reminds him of the Royals' acquisition of James Shields last offseason, an "all-in" kind of move that improved the Royals but didn't get them into the playoffs, leaving them just one more year of team control over Shields.
Robinson Cano's blockbuster contract with the Mariners has generated the most headlines, but on another wild day of free agency, there's plenty of more news to go around. Here are some stray items about three of Friday's other major signings --- Curtis Granderson's four-year deal with the Mets, Carlos Beltran's three-year deal with the Yankees and Mike Napoli re-signing with the Red Sox for two years.
- The fourth year seemed to be the sticking point between Granderson and the Mets, but GM Sandy Alderson made the decision on Thursday night to offer the extra year and received approval from ownership, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (all Twitter links).
- Granderson gives the Mets a much-needed outfield bat, ESPN's Keith Law writes, though with Granderson already showing signs of decline, Law figures the Mets are only really counting on him to produce in the first two years of his deal. 2015 could be the key year, as it appears the Mets are looking to contend once Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery.
- Also from Law, he thinks Beltran improves the Yankees lineup but it's a risky three-year commitment to a player entering his age-37 season. An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Law's pieces.
- The Royals were rumored to have been the mystery team who made Beltran a three-year, $48MM offer earlier this week but a source tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that those rumors were "not accurate." Kansas City's trade for Norichika Aoki on Thursday seemed to be a sign that they had moved on from the Beltran sweepstakes.
- That larger offer could have come from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs offered Beltran a three-year deal worth more than the $45MM he received from New York. The signing would have boosted Arizona's payroll, and Piecoro wonders if the Snakes are willing to surpass the $100MM-payroll threshold to fill their needs this winter, or if they were just focused on Beltran in particular.
- Several members of the Red Sox roster urged the front office to up its offer to Napoli from two years/$30MM, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. The players were responding to a rumor that the Rangers had made an offer "too good for Napoli to refuse," and the Sox indeed upped their offer to $32MM. The raise and the support from his teammates was enough to sway Napoli, who was already preferring to stay in Boston anyway.
- The Rangers actually never made a formal offer to Napoli, one source told Bradford.
The Yankees have signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract, the team announced today. Terms of the deal weren't made public but ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the deal is for exactly $3MM (Twitter link), giving Johnson a small raise from the $2.45MM he earned with Tampa Bay in 2013. Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX Baseball), according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
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. He currently stands as the Yankees' top option to replace Robinson Cano at second base, and if New York signs another second baseman, Johnson also serves as an insurance policy for Alex Rodriguez at third. 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.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement had been reached and that Johnson would be paid in the $3MM-range, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.
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.