Robinson Cano Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter want to be starters again, but they've already proven themselves to be successful in the bullpen, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. While manager Buck Showalter will work to stretch them out in spring training, its possible that the O's would have sent Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk to work as a starter if that were an option. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reached out to nine baseball executives yesterday to ask if they felt David Price would get moved this winter and they all said yes. Price, like Matt Garza and James Shields when they were dealt from Tampa Bay, is two years away from free agency, meaning that this is the time to move him. The Rangers came up most often as the most likely destination followed by the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Padres, Red Sox, Giants, and Reds.
- The perception around baseball that free agent Robinson Cano doesn't work hard could hurt his value, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that's its an unfair label. The second baseman has a tendency to not run out grounders, but generally speaking, he has impeccable work habits. “When he hits a groundball to the second baseman or shortstop, I know what it looks like,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “I get it. I know it is part of the perception. He’s been talked to a million times about it. But I am telling you that is not a true picture of how hard he works or cares, and so if that is his only downfall, it is not the worst thing in the world.”
- Kubatko revisited the Orioles' trade for Bud Norris and wonders if it will be worthwhile when all is said and done.
Magic Johnson is getting his first taste of the baseball postseason, and the Dodgers co-owner discussed some topics with reporters (including USA Today's Bob Nightengale and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) before Game One of his team's NLDS series with the Braves.
- Johnson gave no hint about why negotiations with Clayton Kershaw on a seven-year, $210MM extension fell apart over the summer, but Johnson was confident that a new contract would be worked out this winter. Kershaw is currently scheduled to hit free agency after the 2014 season and his price tag could get even largest with a big October, but Johnson isn't worried: “We already know we've got to give him a lot of money. What's a few more zeroes? I'm hoping we give him a lot of money.”
- The Dodgers' are focusing on retaining their current stars, such as Kershaw or Hanley Ramirez. “We know we can't lose our guys,” Johnson said. “Unless something crazy happens, we won't lose them.”
- This strategy means that the Dodgers won't be players for Robinson Cano this winter, as Johnson hinted his club to can't afford both a major Kershaw extension and a big deal for Cano. "Though I can't talk about it, that other guy in New York is going to get paid -- not by us, but he's going to get paid.” Johnson said. "It's common sense for anybody who knows numbers. The numbers probably just don't add up." Johnson's statements confirm past rumors about the Dodgers staying out of the Cano market.
- Johnson likes how Don Mattingly has managed the team and the two sides will meet after the playoffs to discuss a new deal. This is Mattingly's last year under contract with L.A., though FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that the Dodgers hold a $1.4MM option on Mattingly's services for 2014.
The Rangers contacted the Yankees earlier this season about the possibility of trading Robinson Cano, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reports. Talks went nowhere as the Yankees simply said that Cano was unavailable. The Rangers' interest, however, places them atop Marchand's list of the nine teams who could land Cano in free agency this winter. Cano's presence would crowd a middle infield situation that already includes Jurickson Profar fighting for playing time with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, though one scout told Marchand that Texas could move Kinsler to first base.
Here are some more items from the Bronx...
- The Dodgers, Phillies, Mariners, Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, Mets and the "mystery team" round out Marchand's list. The Dodgers are reportedly not planning to bid on Cano this winter but one official tells Marchand "I'll believe it when I see it." Another official noted that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro likes to be "creative," so he could try to sign Cano and move Chase Utley to third.
- Curtis Granderson's agent, Matt Brown, tells Dan Martin of the New York Post that the Yankees are his client's "first choice" and that "he absolutely wants to stay" in New York. Brown admitted that Granderson's injury-shortened 2013 season could impact his next contract "but I think people remember what he did the previous two years.”
- Scouts tell Martin that Granderson isn't considered an injury risk going forward (his broken and forearm and fractured pinkie were both caused when he was hit by pitches) and there is speculation that the Rangers or Red Sox could be interested in Granderson's services. One scout wonders how Granderson will fare away from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium while other expected Granderson should find a big contract given the lack of power bats on the open market.
- An AL scout who saw Michael Pineda pitch three times this year described the right-hander as a "back-end" starter, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. "He progressed and his arm strength improved, but he still had unreliable command and mechanics," the scout said. Pineda averaged a 94.7 mph fastball with the Mariners in 2011 but the scout clocked him at between 91-93 mph in the minors. Pineda has yet to throw a Major League pitch for the Yankees since he was acquired in January 2012. He missed the entire 2012 season due to shoulder surgery and was limited to 10 minor league starts in 2013, though he posted a 3.32 ERA, 2.93 K/BB and 9.1 K/9 over those starts.
- Earlier today, we collected the latest rumors about Joe Girardi's managerial future.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman spent 50 minutes addressing the media on Monday, and Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger has much of the transcript. Some highlights:
- The Yankees have made, or will make, a "significant offer" to keep second baseman Robinson Cano. Cashman suggests that Cano has a chance to "experience what you just saw a little bit from Mariano," meaning that, by sticking with the Yankees, Cano would have a chance to build a legacy in New York.
- The Yankees would like to keep manager Joe Girardi. Cashman will not confirm whether the Cubs had asked to speak to him, and would not say whether he would grant the Cubs permission. Girardi is under contract until November 1. "I can’t speak to other opportunities. I can’t control what other options or interests may be out there," Cashman says of Girardi. "If you’re good at what you do, people are going to have some interest. You can’t predict the future on that. You can only control your side. But I feel we hired a good one."
- Cashman lists the starting rotation, second base, shortstop and third base as areas the Yankees might address in the offseason.
- Cashman cites signability and injuries as issues that have affected the Yankees' drafting. For example, the Yankees drafted Gerrit Cole in 2008 and did not sign him; another first-round pick, Ty Hensley, got hurt. Cashman also says the Yankees have sometimes had trouble keeping prospects healthy and moving in the right direction, mentioning Manny Banuelos as an example of the former and Dellin Betances as an example of the latter.
- The team's attempt to stay under the $189MM luxury-tax threshold is a "goal," not a "mandate," Cashman says. "It’s possible that there’s a lot of benefits to staying under that. But it’s not a mandate if it’s at the expense of a championship run."