Robinson Cano Rumors

Dipoto On Marte, Wilhelmsen, Mariners’ Core

New Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto touches on a variety of topics in a wide-ranging interview with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Dipoto says he is not planning a full-scale rebuild, and therefore is not looking to trade core players like Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz or Felix Hernandez. “The greater likelihood is, we’ll focus on those four guys, and Taijuan Walker, as the core we’re trying to build around,” says Dipoto. “And we’ll have to be more creative in finding ways to augment that group, rather than using that group to build a new program.”
  • Dipoto hasn’t yet seen rookie shortstop Ketel Marte play live much, but he sounds open to the possibility that Marte could play the position full-time.
  • The GM reiterates that re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma will be a priority, as was previously reported this week.
  • Dipoto says he would be happy with Tom Wilhelmsen as the Mariners’ closer next year, but adds that another possibility is that he could also acquire another reliever to close and use Wilhelmsen as a setup man.
  • Dipoto praises hitting coach Edgar Martinez but has not yet committed to Martinez remaining in that position 2016.
  • The GM is aware that the Mariners could get a protected top-ten pick in next year’s draft if they do poorly this weekend, but he says he hasn’t discussed that topic with manager Lloyd McClendon. “It’s something that as a team-planner, an organization builder, I’m aware of the value that’s associated with that,” Dipoto says. “But as a former player, and understanding how it works out there, I try to turn the volume down in my head. Because these guys have to go out and compete.”

Reactions To And Effects Of Mariners’ Hiring Of Jerry Dipoto

Jerry Dipoto was officially named the ninth general manager in Mariners history today, and the former D-Backs/Angels GM addressed the media in a press conference at Safeco Field (some video highlights via and 710 ESPN).

A few of the more meaningful quotes from the presser as well as some reactions to Seattle’s decision…

  • Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune breaks down Dipoto’s timeline for his initial wave of priorities. Dipoto wouldn’t commit one way or another in regard to manager Lloyd McClendon’s future but said the two planned to take the time to get to know each other in the coming weeks. “I wouldn’t say bringing in my own guy is critically important,” said Dipoto when asked about McClendon’s job status. “To have someone that I believe in, that I trust, who trusts me and believe in what I’m doing, is terrifically important.” Of course, his relationship with a manager probably holds extra importance to Dipoto, whose resignation with the Angels reportedly stemmed largely from issues with manager Mike Scioscia.
  • Regarding possible front office changes (also via Dutton), Dipoto said he did expect new recruits from outside the organization to come join him in Seattle. However, he also had positive things to say about many of the existing baseball ops staffers. “I’m also 100 percent sure that many of the people you see here today are going to be key figures as we move forward,” said Dipoto.
  • Team president Kevin Mather said the Mariners began with a list of about 40 candidates that was pared down to 10 — six of whom were interviewed. According to Dutton, the finalists for the position were Dipoto, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler and Jeff Kingston, the Mariners’ assistant GM who had been serving as GM on an interim basis since the firing of Jack Zduriencik.
  • Dipoto spoke highly of the foundation of the current Mariners — Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager as well as up-and-coming talent like Brad Miller, Ketel Marte, Chris Taylor and Mike Zunino — and he offered a particularly glowing review of another well-regarded young player. “…And a guy I think has the chance to shoot the moon in Taijuan Walker,” said Dipoto.
  • Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times hears a bit differently when it comes to the team’s finalists, writing that it was Blue Jays special assistant Dana Brown who was the third finalist, not Kingston. Divish also talks about the frank assessment of the organization that Dipoto gave Mather in the interview, noting that Dipoto mentioned a lack of depth on the 25- and 40-man rosters, minimal athleticism throughout the organization and defense that doesn’t line up with the team’s spacious home park.
  • Divish also provides a transcript of a Q&A with Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, who notably said that the team’s payroll won’t be going down from its current $130MM mark in spite of the losing season. Lincoln said ownership will provide Dipoto with as many resources as possible, and he added that, as he’s done in previous seasons, he’s taken a personal “financial hit” as a result. Asked specifically if that meant he’s cutting his own annual salary, Lincoln replied, “I’m taking a significant financial hit and have in the past when we’ve had losing seasons. When we’ve had winning seasons, that’s the opposite.” He also added that he has no plans to retire in the near future, and he’d like to have a World Series trip or at least some playoff seasons behind him before he does.
  • As 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer writes, Dipoto expressed that pitching may be a bigger need for the Mariners than offense, which he admitted is strange given the previous narrative surrounding the team. Dipoto did state that it’s “critical” to lengthen the bottom of the lineup, but he offered high praise for Miller and Seth Smith, specifically, when discussing some of the perhaps unheralded assets in the team’s present lineup.
  • “Dipoto exudes passion and oozes competence,” writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times“and his likability factor is off the charts.” However, Stone remains somehwhat skeptical, noting that predecessors Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik have promised change and come up short in that regard. Stone notes that Dipoto’s transparency into his strong belief in both scouting and analytics was encouraging, as was the new GM’s candid admission that he was “a little disheartened” by seeing the lofty strikeout rates throughout the minor league system. “You’ve got a lot of guys striking out a lot,” said Dipoto. “Now, it’s a lot of very talented players with a lot of upside potential to tap into. That’s only going to happen if we can somehow develop more contact. I think that’s important. That’s going to be Step No. 1.” Though he came away impressed, Stone notes that “winning” the press conference is far easier than turning around a struggling organization.
  • Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had hoped to be able to retain Dipoto, he told’s Rob Bradford. However, Dombrowski characterized the chances of keeping Dipoto as a “long shot” once he began interviewing with the Mariners, seemingly offering high praise and respect for the veteran executive’s front office acumen. As Bradford writes, Dipoto’s time with the Sox was limited, but it left a mark. “His basic task was to review our personnel in the organization and then report on them, which he did,” Dombrowski explained. “He did a great job, had a very thorough assessment of our talent, and gave me the information. He also, when he was around, contributed to other ways in talking about general baseball.” Also of importance, Dombrowski said, was the ability to receive internal assessments from pre-existing Red Sox baseball operations members as well as what was essentially an external review of the talent from a well-respected peer.

Quick Hits: Mariners, Holdzkom, Indians, Furcal

The Mariners have unfinished business heading into the new year, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. They’ll need to find a platoon partner for righty Justin Ruggiano in right field, with Seth Smith of the Padres as one possibility. They could also move Brad Miller to the outfield if he loses the shortstop job to Chris Taylor. The M’s could also find a catcher in the Humberto Quintero mold to provide depth at Triple-A Tacoma. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Signing Robinson Cano to a $240MM contract last offseason helped the Mariners press the reset button, Dutton writes. Led by Cano and their pitching staff, the Mariners improved by 16 games in 2014, although they just missed the last AL Wild Card berth.
  • The remainder of the offseason could feature plenty of trades for outfielders, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Phillies, Reds, Rays, Padres, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Indians and Angels could all have outfielders available, with about the same number of teams looming as potential buyers. Still, it might take time for the market to resolve itself — the key to the outfield market could be the rumors about the Padres trading a package centered around Wil Myers to the Phillies for Cole Hamels, and that might not be resolved until Max Scherzer and James Shields sign.
  • Pirates reliever John Holdzkom has been released “five or six” times, he tells’s Tom Singer. Some of those releases were no doubt even more depressing than such transactions usually might be. “I got released without the team even calling me. I looked on the Internet and saw my name next to ‘Transactions’ — five days before I was supposed to report,” says Holdzkom. “Yeah, that was bad.” And that team wasn’t even a Major League organization, but the independent Laredo Lemurs. Holdzkom emerged seemingly from out of nowhere to become a key part of the Pittsburgh bullpen down the stretch in 2014.
  • The Indians‘ signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn haven’t worked out so far, at least not from a baseball perspective. But they were still the right moves, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. The signings prevented a big drop in the Indians’ season-ticket sales and helped them increase revenues while also helping make them more relevant. Bourn’s presence also allowed Michael Brantley to move to left field.
  • Infielder Rafael Furcal has a torn hamstring and will miss Winter League playoffs in the Dominican, Dionisio Soldevila of tweets. Furcal had hamstring issues in the 2014 regular seasona and only made 37 plate appearances with the Marlins, so this latest injury could affect his attempt to come back next season.

West Notes: Cruz, Mariners, Hellickson, Rangers

The Mariners make sense as a suitor for Nelson Cruz, but their organizational philosophy regarding players who have been suspended for PED could be an issue, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. There are conflicting details regarding whether the Mariners might have a policy in place preventing them from signing PED players and whether Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln refused to approve a deal for Cruz last winter. If they team does have such a policy, however, it could have a significant impact on their offseason, given that both Cruz and Melky Cabrera, who play positions the Mariners could try to upgrade, have PED suspensions in their pasts. A source within the Mariners tells Morosi that the team does not have a policy against PED players, and, further, that the team has spoken to Cruz and his agent this offseason. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano fractured his toe while playing in Japan Saturday and will miss the rest of the Japan series,’s Anthony DiComo reports. Cano will only be out three to four weeks, however, and should easily be ready for spring training.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart is a big fan of new acquisition Jeremy Hellickson, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona writes. “He is going to be outstanding here,” says Stewart. “He is going to pitch well. This is one guy I believe is really going to help our rotation.” The Hellickson deal, which sent two prospects to Tampa, became official last night. The Diamondbacks will continue to search for starting pitching, Magruder adds, with Kenta Maeda or Chad Billingsley (a former client of Stewart’s when he was an agent) as possibilities.
  • The Rangers‘ recent extensions for GM Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine help provide continuity and stability throughout the organization, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. “We want to build from within and keep the group together,” says Daniels. “Thad and I are the ones mentioned in the press release, but [ownership] has allowed us to do good things for others.” Daniels adds that Levine is likely to one day be a GM, perhaps in Texas.

New York Notes: Sabathia, A-Rod, Myers

C.C. Sabathia received a stem cell injection in his right knee last week and will be out of action until at least July, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Cashman said he has checked in with teams about trade possibilities and while “nothing has materialized,” Cashman “will keep an eye out to see if something does.”  Three-fifths of the Bombers’ regular rotation is currently injured, with Ivan Nova out for the season and Michael Pineda on the DL until mid-June at the earliest.

Here’s the latest from the Yankees and Mets in this roundup of Big Apple baseball news…

  • Alex Rodriguez told advisers last summer that he was considering retirement rather than go through a lengthy battle with Major League Baseball over his record PED suspension, reports Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.  A-Rod was convinced to fight his suspension, however, after consulting with Desiree Perez, a New York nightclub manager affiliated with Jay Z and who also played a role in Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.  Rodriguez may have been motivated to listen to Perez in part because, as the article states, he would like to become a player agent, possibly with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.
  • Back when Wil Myers was still a Royals prospect, Kansas City offered him to the Mets for a trade package of Jonathan Niese and Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  Myers, of course, ended up being the centerpiece of the five-player package the Royals sent to the Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.  It’s an interesting what-if to ponder for both the Mets and Royals; Myers would’ve given the Amazins a cornerstone player in the outfield, but at the cost of two quality young arms.  For K.C., Shields was the better win-now move, though he had only two years of team control and Davis has become a relief pitcher.  Wheeler is controllable through the 2019 season while Niese’s five-year contract has club options that could’ve extended the deal through 2018.
  • Also from Martino, he looks at some trade possibilities for the Yankees and Mets this summer.  The Mets looked at LaTroy Hawkins, Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour over the winter and could explore trading for veteran closer help, plus shortstop could still be a position the Mets are looking to upgrade.  As for the Yankees, they could also use shortstop help but acquiring a big name could be awkward given the awkwardness of benching Derek Jeter during his final season.  A move for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius makes sense for both New York clubs.
  • Particularly in the wake of the Sabathia news, the Yankees also need starting pitching.  Martino writes that while the Yankees may not have the prospect depth to attract a major trade chip, their financial resources could help them take big contracts off the hands of losing teams.  Possible trade candidates in this vein could be the Diamondbacks’ Bronson Arroyo or the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey (if Toronto falls out of the race, that is).
  • In an Insider-only piece for, Paul Swydan criticizes both the Mets front office and manager Terry Collins for some transactions and personnel moves that Swydan feels “have left the Mets in an all-too-familiar middling position.”

AL Notes: Rays, Cano, Johnson

Tonight, the Rays play their 1,000th game since changing their name from the Devil Rays,’s Bill Chastain notes. Their name change was not, obviously, the cause of their change in fortunes, but the name switch came just as they emerged as an AL East powerhouse. They played ten seasons as the Devil Rays, never winning more than 70 games in a season. Their first season as the Rays was 2008, which was also their first winning season, playoff appearance and World Series appearance. Since then, they’ve had five more winning seasons in a row, also going to the playoffs in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • Upon his return to New York, Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano expressed contentment about his choice to leave the Yankees for Seattle, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “Being in Seattle, I can’t tell you that much about Seattle. We’ve had two homestands there,” Cano says. “I could tell you, through the year, what’s different, but right now, I can tell you one thing: I’m happy there, the way they’ve embraced me — the fans, the organization and my teammates.” Cano is off to a .301/.353/.387 start in the first year of a ten-year deal with his new team.
  • Kris Johnson will be the 26th man and start the second game of the Twins‘ Thursday doubleheader against the Dodgers, the Twins have announced. The start will mark Johnson’s regular-season debut with the Twins. Johnson was a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2006, but they released him 2011 after he struggled in Triple-A. The Pirates signed him for the 2012 season, and he emerged as a very good minor-league starter who’s reasonably well suited to spot-starting in the big leagues. The Twins, after struggling through 2013 with a very weak rotation, acquired Johnson in a minor deal for reliever Duke Welker, and now Johnson is in position to help out, if only for a day.

New York Notes: Mets, Harvey, Yankees, Cano

Here's the latest from both Queens and the Bronx…

  • The Mets' financial situation is examined by Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson of the New York Times, as offseason spending on the likes of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon basically just amounted to a reinvestment of the payroll that was coming off the team's books from 2013.
  • Matt Harvey is under the Mets' control through the 2018 season, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks ahead to whether the Mets can address their payroll issues in time to sign Harvey to an extension.  If not, Harvey would be a prime free agent target for the Yankees, especially since Harvey grew up a Bombers fan and loves pitching in New York.  Scott Boras, Harvey's agent, feels the Mets have the resources to keep the righty in the fold: “They have David Wright signed [long-term], and in four years the idea is they can have another iconic New York player signed [long-term].  This is New York. It is about having iconic players.The bigger issue is the Mets have all the benefits of their market to keep an iconic player — the City, a relatively new stadium, a TV network. That fits the mold of good business in New York.”
  • It’s like growing up playing in your backyard. You never want to leave that place, those guys,” Robinson Cano tells GQ's Daniel Riley about his time with the Yankees. “The three high points as a Yankee for me: when [Derek] Jeter got 3,000 hits, Andy [Pettitte]’s last game, and Mariano [Rivera]’s final ceremony. Those are the things that stick in your mind, in your heart.”  The new Mariners second baseman also discusses his hiring of CAA and Roc Nation Sports as his new agents, and his life growing up in San Pedro de Macoris.
  • If Michael Pineda is healthy and pitches well in 2014, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Yankees to explore trading the young right-hander for an everyday player, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes as part of a reader mailbag post.  Pineda's history of shoulder problems could make it hard for the Yankees to rely on Pineda in the long term, so selling high for infield help could make some sense.

Mariners Notes: Zduriencik, Cano, Hultzen, Rays

As expected, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker both won't be ready for Opening Day, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters (including's Greg Johns) yesterday.  Iwakuma is dealing with a strained tendon on his right middle finger and will be sidelined until mid-to-late April, while Walker has been shut down for a week with shoulder inflammation.  With Seattle's rotation thinned, it will only increase speculation that the M's could increase their interest in Ervin Santana.  Here's some more from the M's…

  • While the Mariners could still use a pitcher and a right-handed bat, two sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the team has "little or no loot left to spend," which GM Jack Zudriencik wouldn't confirm.  A lack of payroll space could explain why the Mariners haven't extended offers to Santana or Kendrys Morales, and didn't make an offer to Nelson Cruz (before he signed with the Orioles) despite interest in all three players.
  • Missing Iwakuma and Walker early in the season could particularly hurt the Mariners since they play the A's 10 times before May 7.  "If Walker and Iwakuma miss the month of April, with our schedule that month it could get ugly," a Mariners source tells Heyman.  Robinson Cano and at least one other M's player expressed the opinion that Santana would be a great fit, while Cano would also like to see the switch-hitting Morales brought back.  "I'm not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat," Cano said. "We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don't want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters."
  • The Mariners have sent scouts to watch young Rays pitchers, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  The two clubs recently came close on a trade that would've sent Nick Franklin to Tampa, though Topkin believes that the M's can find a better fit elsewhere for the young infielder.
  • Danny Hultzen will miss the entire 2014 season as he recovers from major left shoulder surgery, but the highly-regarded prospect tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that he's optimistic about his recovery and resuming his pro career.

Mariners Sign Robinson Cano

After seeing their attendance totals essentially cut in half from 2001 to 2013, the Mariners have made a the biggest move in club history. On Thursday, Seattle officially announced the franchise-altering signing of Robinson Cano. The contract is reportedly a ten-year, $240MM contract that will pay Cano $24MM annually with no deferrals. Negotiated by CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z of Roc Nation Sports, Cano's contract ties Albert Pujols for the third-largest deal in Major League history. Cano will also receive a full no-trade clause as part of the deal.


Shortly before the agreement was reached, reports indicated that the talks had crumbled after Jay-Z upped his request to ten years and $252MM when the Mariners were prepared to offer nine years and $225MM. The two sides appear to have reached a middle ground, with Cano's camp dropping by $12MM and the Mariners agreeing to add a tenth season at $15MM. Seattle's first-round draft pick is protected, meaning that GM Jack Zduriencik will only have to forfeit his second-round pick in order to bring Cano to the Emerald City.

Cano, who turned 31 in October, batted .314/.383/.516 with 27 home runs in 2013 and has averaged a batting line of .314/.369/.530 and 28 home runs over the previous five seasons. Paired with plus defense at second base, Cano has been worth an average of 6.8 (Baseball-Reference) or 5.8 (Fangraphs) wins above replacement. He's also one of baseball's most durable players, having missed just 14 games over the past seven seasons.

By joining the Mariners, Cano likely displaces one of Brad Miller or Nick Franklin. Miller impressed by batting .265/.318/.418 with eight homers in 335 plate apperances and playing solid defense at shortstop as a 24-year-old rookie in 2013. Though Franklin entered the season with more prospect hype, he wilted down the stretch and finished with just a .225/.303/.382 batting line. The 22-year-old Franklin spent nearly all of his time at second base this season (he played just 20 innings at shortstop), so it would seem that he is more likely to be the one who is displaced by Seattle's blockbuster addition.

MLBTR's Jeff Todd recently examined the future payroll obligations of all 30 Major League teams — a study that showed the Mariners to be one of the best-equipped teams to accommodate a mega-deal of this nature. The only other players that the Mariners have signed beyond the 2014 season are ace Felix Hernandez and utility man Willie Bloomquist, who is a free agent following a 2015 campaign in which he earns $3MM. Despite the historic nature of this deal, the M's still have an annual commitment of roughly $50MM in the 2016-19 seasons — the years in which the Cano and Hernandez contracts overlap. That should leave some room for further long-term additions this winter.

For the Yankees, the departure of Cano leaves a gaping hole at second base. They've added a bit of insurance in the form of Kelly Johnson but will almost certainly require a further upgrade. Omar Infante is the top free agent option, but the trade market presents additional options. Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips are said to be available, and the somewhat ironic scenario of a Franklin-to-New York trade at least seems conceivable. Cano's enormous sum is just $2MM more than the combined $238MM that the Yankees paid to sign Brian McCann (five years, $85MM) and Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153MM). I noted the similarity in that $238MM spend and the rumored $240MM figure for Cano on Twitter yesterday, and Jeff Todd chimed, in noting that the Yankees have diversified their risk and committed fewer years for the same amount of money.

In my free agent profile for Cano, I projected a nine-year, $234MM contract. Cano, Jay-Z and Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports deserve tremendous praise for securing a contract that ties for the third-largest of all-time and topping most pundits' expectations. Cano's deal serves as a reminder that even when a top free agent appears to have few suitors, the market will typically materialize eventually, leading to a larger contract than appears likely at the onset of the offseason.

Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes was the first to report that the Mariners and Cano had a ten-year, $240MM agreement in place (Spanish link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first tweeted that the two sides were nearing a deal. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio first reported the full no-trade clause and the annual $24MM salary (Twitter links).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Yankees Agree To Sign Jacoby Ellsbury

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 (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

8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of (on Twitter).

7:41pm: Ellsbury's deal is worth $153MM over seven years, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).  That tops Carl Crawford's deal by $11MM.  

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 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.