New York Yankees Rumors
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.
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).
WEDNESDAY: Johnson's deal may end up being in the $3-4MM range upon completion, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
TUESDAY: The Yankees are close to signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal worth $2.75-$3MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The plan is for Johnson to move around the diamond and serve as a potential second base option if Robinson Cano goes elsewhere.
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. 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, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder. Here's more from around baseball..
- While the Red Sox have been engaged in talks with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, the team is unlikely to pursue a three-year deal for the 36-year-old, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The rival Yankees also won't go to three years, reportedly.
- The Angels are unlikely to trade Mark Trumbo, according to jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). The Halos believe that a fair return would be top notch young starting pitching for the slugger and that deal doesn't exist. The Angels also aren't sure if they can get a good enough starter in exchange for Howie Kendrick, which could leave them to try and net two starters on the open market with limited money (link).
- The Yankees' $153MM deal for Jacoby Ellsbury is supposed to put the squeeze on Robinson Cano, but it could backfire, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Red Sox's offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years for about $18MM, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Gordon to a minor league deal, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Ryan Webb was surprised to learn that he was non-tendered by the Marlins, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (on Twitter) expected Luke Gregerson to fetch more than Seth Smith. The Padres and A's swapped the two in a one-for-one swap earlier today.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe takes a closer look at the Red Sox's deal for A.J. Pierzynski.
Tonight, the Yankees agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153MM deal with an eighth-year option that could boost the total value of the pact to $169MM. The mark tops Carl Crawford's hefty deal signed prior to the 2011 season by a healthy $11MM. Here's a look at the latest reacions and fallout from the blockbuster signing..
- A source tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that the Yankees not only believe they've got room for Ellsbury and Robinson Cano or Shin-Soo Choo, they still plan on signing at least one starting pitcher as well.
- According to a major league source, the Red Sox’ offer to Ellsbury was ” a ways off” from the seven-year, $153MM deal that he inked with the Yankees, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI. Another source suggested Scott Boras had set the bar at seven or eight years early on in the offseason, a level Boston was not comfortable going to for the 30-year-old.
- John Harper of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) spoke with one agent who likes what the Yankees are doing so far. "Yanks have played it smart with Cano. But $170MM doesn't sound like quite as much when you give Ellsbury $153MM.''
- One rival exec who spoke with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter) isn't a big fan of the deal from the Yankees' perspective. "He’s a good player, but he gets hurt a lot. And not enough power for that kind of money, for me. And he's 30."
- In talking with evaluators, Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger (via Twitter) finds that the consensus is that seven years is a long time, but Ellsbury is one heck of a player when healthy.
- Passan (on Twitter) crunched the numbers to find that of the $524MM spent on free agents (as of Tuesday night), the Yankees account for $238MM of it, or 45.4%.
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal looks at the departure of Ellsbury and what it means for the Red Sox both logically and emotionally.
- The Yankees, who watched their TV ratings and attendance plummet last year, are back in the business of star power, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The Yankees have made offers to several top free agent hitters, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The list of players on whom the Yankees have bid Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew and Omar Infante. (ESPN's Buster Olney, however, tweets that the Yankees do not have an offer to Drew pending.) Morosi also tweets, however, that the Yankees did not extend the offer to Infante particularly recently, and that other teams appear more interested. Here are more notes from New York.
- Earlier today, we heard that Beltran had already received an offer of three years and $48MM. Newsday's Mark Carig reiterates, however, that the Yankees aren't likely to give Beltran three years (Twitter link).
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, meanwhile, tweets that Nelson Cruz could also enter the Yankees' sights if the team loses out on Carlos Beltran.
- Feinsand also notes that, while the Yankees have shown some interest in closers, finding a closer is not their highest priority, and they're only likely to spend on one if Robinson Cano signs elsewhere.
4:46pm: A three-year deal for Beltran isn't a dealbreaker for the Yankees, but it's a long-shot, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
4:16pm: Olney tweets that rival teams are becoming convinced that Beltran is going to return to the Royals on a three-year, $48MM contract.
1:00pm: The Royals are making a strong push for Beltran, who is currently in Kansas City meeting with the team, according to George A. King III and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. The Royals are believed to be willing to go to three years to pry Beltran away from the Yankees, though it's not clear from King and Kernan's report if Kansas City is the team that has extended the $48MM offer referenced by Olney.
12:56pm: Carlos Beltran has a three-year, $48MM offer currently in hand, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). While Olney isn't sure which team has extended the lavish offer, he notes that the Mariners are being very aggressive on the Beltran front.
Beltran is coming off a strong season with the Cardinals in which he batted .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs. The switch-hitter also saw his plate discipline and defensive metrics take a turn for the worse, however, and $16MM per year for Beltran's age 37-39 seasons would be a significantly higher price than most pundits believed he would fetch on the open market.
The Yankees have been said to be the favorites for Beltran, but the they're reportedly not keen on the idea of offering more than a two-year contract.
3:54pm: The Yankees are also interested in Anderson, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan (on Twitter). According to Passan, the A's are likely to deal Anderson at next week's Winter Meetings.
3:08pm: The Athletics aren't going to trade Anderson today, tweets John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter). However, the A's are seeking bullpen depth.
1:15pm: The Blue Jays are "infatuated" with Anderson, and the Twins are interested in the lefty as well, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). One Major League executive told Slusser that it's likely the A's will make another trade this week, perhaps even today.
Anderson has been around for five years already, but he's still just 25 years old (he'll turn 26 in February) and is under control at $8MM in 2014 with a $12MM club option for 2015. Those final two seasons were both option years on a four-year, $12.5MM extension he signed with the A's in April 2010, coming off a season in which he posted a 4.06 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Anderson was even better in 2010, posting a 2.80 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 54.6 percent ground-ball rate, but injury problems set in that season. A pair of left elbow issues limited Anderson to 112 1/3 innings that season, and he went on to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2011. He missed most of 2012 recovering from that surgery but was brilliant in his return. In 2013, he missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot and pitched to a 6.04 ERA (3.85 FIP, 3.26 xFIP) in the 44 2/3 innings he was healthy.
The A's exercised his $8MM option anyway, believing him to be capable of exceeding that value in 2014, whether in Oakland or with aother team. Though he's totaled just 163 innings over the past three seasons combined, Anderson's talent and youth make him a solid buy-low candidate for teams that don't wish to pay the rising prices for free agent pitchers.
The Indians make sense as a fit after losing Scott Kazmir as a free agent (to the A's themselves, no less) and with the likelihood that they will also lose Ubaldo Jimenez. A starting pitcher is a known desire for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and adding Anderson would accomplish that goal while still leaving plenty of money to pursue big bats like Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Nelson Cruz.