Robinson Cano Rumors

Yankees Notes: Granderson, Jeter, Chavez, Joba

By all accounts, it looks like the Yankees will be big players in free agency this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  The Yankees may have at least a dozen players in mind, and Heyman adds the names of Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to the long list of free agents who have already been linked to the Bombers.  One would suspect that Feldman and Arroyo would be backup plans should New York not be able to land a higher-profile starter like Masahiro Tanaka.  Here's the latest out of the Bronx…

  • The Yankees "obviously" want Curtis Granderson to reject the team's $14.1MM qualifying offer so they can pursue other free agent outfield options.  While Granderson says he's still considering accepting the one-year deal, he seems likely to find a solid multiyear offer on the open market, his injury-shortened 2013 season notwithstanding.
  • Hal Steinbrenner was the one who negotiated Derek Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014, Heyman reports.  Steinbrenner is "very involved" in the team's dealings this winter, according to a source.
  • The Yankees have discussed bringing back Eric Chavez, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  Chavez would provide needed bench depth, and he wouldn't require a big commitment since he only wants a one-year contract.  There does seem to be mutual interest between Chavez and the Diamondbacks for 2014, however.
  • Joba Chamberlain hasn't received any attention from the Yankees but over a dozen other clubs have checked in on the free agent reliever, WFAN's Sweeney Murti reports (Twitter link).  It has been widely reported that the Yankees will part ways with their former top prospect.
  • The 10-year contracts given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols when both men were in their 30's are reasons why the Yankees shouldn't make a decade-long commitment to 31-year-old Robinson Cano, MLB.com's Mike Bauman opines.

Yankees Notes: Cano, Rodriguez, Closer, Starters

Baseball's best rivalry … Dodgers-Giants? Yanks-Sox? Or, perhaps, Scott Boras-Jay-Z. As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes in a fascinating piece, the rapper-turned-mogul's challenge to baseball's old school super agent is a real one, but the success of the gambit could turn on whether or not Jay-Z lands Robinson Cano a contract that befits his status as the game's premier free agent. Here's more on Cano and the Yanks:


Yankees Notes: Cano, Granderson, Jay-Z

Robinson Cano's agent, Jay-Z, may have inadvertently violated the MLBPA's agent regulations by giving his client a $33,900 watch as a birthday gift, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  The regulations state the following: "No Player Agent or Applicant shall provide, cause to be provided or promise to provide, any money or any other thing of value to any player, or any person related to or associated with such player, the purpose of which is to induce or encourage such player to use or continue to use any person's or firm's services as a Player Agent, Representative, or Draft Advisor.''  Agents are allowed to give their clients gifts, but anything with a value over $500 must be reported, writes Crasnick.  Here's more on the Bombers…

  • Cano's $300MM asking price was the cost for the Yankees to keep him from hitting free agency, not his contract demands for right now, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The ten-year, $300MM proposal was given to the Bombers before the All-Star break.  Meanwhile, a return to the Bronx is still the most likely outcome, Rosenthal writes.
  • In a radio interview earlier today, Curtis Granderson said he is considering accepting the Yankees' qualifying offer of $14.1MM, echoing what his agent said last week, writes Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News.  "Well, it's definitely something you've got to think about and I appreciate the Yankees extending that offer to me," Granderson said during an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. 
  • In today's mailbag, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com addresses the Yankees' potential pursuit of McCann and their bid to avoid the luxury tax.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.



Yankees Make Qualifying Offers To Cano, Granderson, Kuroda

The Yankees made qualifying offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda, according to a team press release.

As the top free agent on the market, making the $14.1MM qualifying offer to Cano was a no-brainer and ensures the Yankees will at least receive a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.  Kuroda was considered likely to get a qualifying offer, after the 38-year-old posted a 3.31 ERA in 201 1/3 innings.  There is a chance he could accept, although that would be a mild pay cut from this year's $15MM.  

Granderson was the biggest question mark, after a couple of broken bones limited the slugger to 61 games this year.  Agent Matt Brown recently admitted to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News there's "definitely a possibility" of his client accepting the offer.  I think Granderson will decline, however, as he can still do well in the free agent market with a draft pick attached.  Granderson has until 4pm central time on November 11th to decide whether to accept.

To keep track of all of today's qualifying offers, check out MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker and filter by Qualifying Offer Type.


Yankees Interested In Infante If Cano Signs Elsewhere

Though the Yankees remain the odds-on favorite to employ star second baseman Robinson Cano for the foreseeable future, GM Brian Cashman has reached out to Omar Infante as a fall-back option, report George A. King III and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Cashman was vague when approached for comment by the Post, and there is no reason to believe that this report indicates any change in Cano's status.

Infante, who played the last two seasons with the Tigers, is represented by Mato Sports Management. The interest from the Yanks is a second bit of good news for his open market status, since we just learned that the team signing him will not be required to give up draft pick compensation to do so. (Of course, the $14.1MM payday he could have had on a one-year deal might also have been enticing.)

The soon-to-be 32-year-old put up an excellent .318/.345/.450 line in 476 plate appearances last year, leading MLBTR's Tim Dierkes to peg his free agent value at three years and $25MM. But that number could rise if Cano bucks expectations by spurning the Yanks and signing with a team that does not have an obvious need at the keystone, leaving New York amongst the clubs vying for the market's second-best second bagger. That is probably the best case scenario for Infante, who otherwise will likely market his services to teams, like the Royals, that figure to dabble in the mid-tier market.


Nicholson-Smith On McCann, Tanaka, Hudson, Johan

With free agency underway, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reached out to 40 Major League Baseball executives and agents to gauge the markets for both pitchers and hitters. Here are just some of the highlights from each well-crafted analysis constructed by my former MLBTR colleague…

  • Brian McCann hasn't ruled out a return to the Braves, despite the fact that most pundits are projecting him to sign with an American League team on a contract that's far too expensive for Atlanta's liking. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes profiled McCann in September and predicted a five-year, $80MM deal.
  • Many executives and agents that spoke to Nicholson-Smith doubt that Robinson Cano actually has a chance at reaching the $300MM mark that he and agent Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last month.
  • Cuban catcher Yenier Bello is expected to work out for big league teams on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Mexico. The powerful 28-year-old hasn't yet been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), though MLB cleared him a month ago.
  • While we've heard several scouts predict that Masahiro Tanaka won't live up to the ace standards set by Yu Darvish, Nicholson-Smith found that there are several teams that do view Tanaka as a potential ace/top-of-the-rotation starter.
  • Tim Hudson's agent, Paul Cohen of TWC Sports, told Nicholson-Smith that his client wants to play for two or three more seasons and is interested in signing a multiyear contract this winter. I profiled Hudson last month, projecting a one-year, $9MM contract, but noted that some teams may be interested at two years.
  • Johan Santana wants to return to the Majors and recently began throwing. The two-time AL Cy Young winner didn't pitch in 2013, but he should be able to generate interest as a high-upside signing that comes with little risk.
  • Javier Lopez is seeking a multiyear deal this winter after another strong season with the Giants, and Nicholson-Smith gets the sense that there are many non-closing relievers eyeing multiyear deals. He spoke to some executives who feel that left-handed relief is one of the strengths of this year's market.

Yankees Could Dole Out ~$300MM In Total Salary

The Yankees, as we all know, are working on a plan to keep their payroll below $189MM to reduce their luxury tax bill.  However, that doesn't mean they'll be totally handcuffed this offseason.  The front office is currently working on a plan to stay under budget and spent roughly $300MM in total, sources tell Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com

The Yankees' initial main targets, besides re-signing Robinson Cano, are Masahiro Tanaka, Braves catcher Brian McCann, and Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to sources.  The Bombers believe they can add at least two top free agents this winter without breaking the bank.

A source estimates the Yankees are shedding $85MM-$90MM in payroll this winter, which includes the salaries of retiring players Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as well as free agents Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Curtis Granderson.  The Yankees have a strong interest in keeping Kuroda and would be open to Granderson if he accepted the one-year qualifying offer, but they aren't obligated to either player.  Beyond that, Derek Jeter exercising his $9.5MM player option (down from $17MM last year) and Alex Rodriguez's suspension being upheld would also help the cause.

Cano and Tanaka appear to be the Bombers' top two targets.  A source said the Yankees realize that Tanaka, while making baseball sense, would also demonstrate ownership's stated goal to reinvest the savings from falling beneath the $189MM threshold.  Beltran, another Yanks target, reportedly pushed to sign with the Bombers during his previous two trips through free agency and is eager to find his way to the Bronx this winter.


AL Notes: A-Rod, Girardi, Starling, Red Sox

In addition to hurling six no-hit innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, Anibal Sanchez made history with his performance that night. As MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm points out, Sanchez became the first pitcher to record four strikeouts in one inning of a postseason game since Cubs right-hander Orval Overall in 1908. Here's more from the American League as the Tigers and Red Sox prepare to square off for Game 2 of the League Championship Series tonight…

  • In an appearance on ESPN Radio's Ian Connor Show, Yankees GM Brian Cashman shot down the theory that he'd rather have the roughly $25MM that a suspension for Alex Rodriguez would net the team than have A-Rod take the field next season. Said Cashman: "It's not like, all right, we'll take that money and go in this direction. I think … our fan base saw when we lost significant players at various positions, it was not easy to plug holes because the talent just doesn't exist."
  • In that same appearance, Cashman admitted that he thought the Cubs had a real chance to steal manager Joe Girardi from the Yankees before the skipper signed a new four-year deal last week. He also said he has no gut feeling as to whether or not the team can retain Robinson Cano to this point.
  • Royals assistant general manager J.J. Piccolo told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the team is pleased with the progress that former first-round pick Bubba Starling is making, even if it's slower than many fans hoped. Piccolo added that those who point to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper already being in the Majors at 21 and feeling disappointment that Starling is just at Class-A aren't being realistic. Those comparisons aren't fair to Starling or to other first-round picks, said Piccolo, as Trout and Harper are generational talents in his mind.
  • Newsday's David Lennon cautions that while Red Sox GM Ben Cherington deserves praise for the team's turnaround, there was more to Cherington's model than just adding a slew of middle-tier free agents. While many teams are hoping to emulate that model this offseason, the Red Sox were already well-positioned for the rebound with Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury in place.

Steinbrenner On Payroll, Cano, Girardi

Hal Steinbrenner sat down with Joel Sherman of the New York Post and gave interviews to ESPN Radio and WFAN earlier today about the offseason ahead.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • The Yankees are shooting to get under the $189MM threshold, but winning is still the priority.  “It is something to shoot for, but not at the expense of having a championship-caliber team,” Steinbrenner told Sherman. “It is not. It never has been and never will be. It has always been my contention you don’t need a $230MM payroll to field a championship-level team. We are going to get to that [under $189MM] at some point. That is the goal: We believe you can win a championship at $189MM payroll because plenty of teams have.
  • When asked on ESPN Radio if the team would consider a ten-year contract for second baseman Robinson Cano, Steinbrenner all but shot down the possibility, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger.
  • Steinbrenner hinted at changes in the team's drafting and development personnel and procedures in his chat on WFAN, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  The Yanks owner also acknowledged that he is hoping to get Joe Girardi's situation resolved sooner rather than later.

Quick Hits: Magic, Girardi, Pirates, Bailey

Magic Johnson's candor about the Dodgers likely not pursuing Robinson Cano this offseason has led Major League Baseball to look into Johnson's comments, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Officials on other teams aren't allowed to publicly discuss players who haven't officially become free agents yet, especially in cases where a player's market value could be affected.  General managers around the league told Olney that "their comments were watched more closely over the last year than in any time in recent memory," so Johnson could face some type of penalty for his remarks.

Here are some news items as we end another exciting day of four playoff games…

  • Joe Girardi "apparently remains torn" if he's going to accept the Yankees' extension offer or explore other manager jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  The Yankees "have made it clear" that they could pull back their offer if Girardi talks to other clubs, something he's not allowed to do until the end of the month since the Yankees aren't granting other teams permission to negotiate with their manager.  One such team, the Cubs, expect to learn by tomorrow if Girardi is staying in New York, a source tells Wittenmyer.
  • The Pirates want to keep Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez over the long term, team president Frank Coonelly tells MLB.com's Tom Singer.  Coonelly also discusses the Francisco Liriano signing, the farm system and other topics during the interview.
  • "It wouldn't be shocking" if the Reds traded Homer Bailey to create some payroll space, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon opines.  Bailey earned $5.3MM last season and MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that he could earn $9.3MM in arbitration.  Though Bailey has been one of the Reds' best pitchers over the last two years, he "has shown little interest in signing" a multiyear deal with the team, Sheldon writes, so the Reds could move him now before possibly losing him in free agency after next season.
  • Major League Baseball has filed a motion requesting that Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit against the league be moved to a federal court, and if the move is granted, MLB will likely file a motion to dismiss the suit, Newsday's Steven Marcus reports.
  • The Indians have a number of things to do before Opening Day 2014, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Hoynes' list includes adding an impact bat, adding at least one quality starter, bolstering the relief corps and locking up Justin Masterson to a long-term deal.
  • It once seemed unusual, but now its the norm for playoff teams to turn to inexperienced pre-arbitration eligible players, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes.  Among the 24 pre-arb hurlers in this year's postseason are Michael Wacha, Jarrod Parker and Alex Cobb, all of whom started today for their respective teams.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post