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New York Yankees Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterOctober 31, 2012

New York Yankees Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    The New York Yankees did not win the World Series in 2012, and you know what that means.

    Yup, it means that they're going to be very busy this offseason doing their best to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    However, this will be no ordinary offseason for Yankees GM Brian Cashman. With several players set to hit the open market and a few others on the trade block, the Yankees are bound to see quite a bit of turnover this winter. Come Opening Day in 2013, they're going to look drastically different from when we last saw them on the field in the American League Championship Series.

    Perhaps this will be a good thing.

    Regardless, it's going to be a long winter. Along the way, there will be plenty of rumors, transactions and announcements to keep track of.

    Here's where you can keep track of such things. Every Yankees-related update will be addressed in the following slideshow, with the freshest ones right up front.

     

    Note: Any stats within come from Baseball-Reference.com. Salary figures will be from Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Orioles Claim Russ Canzler

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    Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 12:20 am ET

    Oh, Russ Canzler. We hardly knew ye!

    Canzler, designated for assignment last week to clear space for Travis Hafner, was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

    So let's see here. So far this offseason, Canzler has been selected off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays from the Cleveland Indians, then was picked up back off waivers by the Indians, then was picked up off waivers by the Yankees, and now he's going to the Orioles.

    Don't worry. I'm sure he's confused too.

    I'm a little surprised the Yankees weren't more keen on keeping Canzler around. They need a right-handed stick with power for their bench, and Canzler fits that bill pretty well. He's crushed lefties in his brief major league career to the tune of a 1.086 OPS, and he can play the outfield and both corner infield spots.

    He'll have a chance to stick it to the Yankees if he makes it with the Orioles, and he just might. The O's don't have much depth at first base, and that's where Canzler could come into play.

Yankees to Sign Travis Hafner

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    Posted: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 3:15 pm ET (Updates below)

    Well, this came together quickly.

    According to Chad Jennings of The Journal News, the Yankees are close enough to a deal with veteran DH Travis Hafner that they could announce something either later today or tomorrow. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has also heard that the two sides are close to an agreement on a major league contract.

    I'm assuming the deal will only be for one year at a very low base salary with incentives, which would make this an extremely low-risk signing for the Yankees. The reward could potentially be high.

    Hafner has only played in 160 games over the last two seasons and in 429 games over the last five seasons, but he's tended to be a solid producer when he's been healthy. Since 2009, he has an .814 OPS and a 125 OPS+.

    Conceivably, regular action at Yankee Stadium could help boost Hafner's power numbers, as he'd be taking aim at the short right field porch. If that could help Ichiro boost his power numbers, it could surely help Hafner.

    Keeping him healthy will be the hard part. And to that end, all the Yankees will be able to do is cross their fingers and hope for the best. If Hafner does come alive, however, they'll have themselves a steal.

    UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 1 at 3:35 pm ET

    According to Jon Heyman, Hafner's deal is for one year at $2 million, plus incentives.

    UPDATE No. 2: Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4:40 pm ET

    ESPN's Buster Olney reports that Hafner can make up to $4 million in incentives.

A-Rod May Be Done with the Yankees, but Probably Not

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    Posted: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 11:50 am ET (Update below)

    No matter what happens with the latest PED scandal, sources tell the New York Daily News that Alex Rodriguez may have already played his last game with the Yankees.

    It's A-Rod's latest hip surgery that could do in his career. He's expected to be back in 2013, but there's at least a chance that his rehab will hit too many bumps to allow him to return. And even if he does, the surgery is likely to derail his career and render him, perhaps at best, a below-average reserve player.

    Also, he'll be returning to a team that is fed up with him and doesn't really want him anymore.

    “I don’t know why he would want to go through the pain of rehabbing and trying to play up to the caliber of player he was, and come back to a game where nobody wants him,” said a baseball official.

    Rodriguez could be forced into an early retirement by his health, in which case the Yankees would be able to collect insurance on his contract. Or he could voluntarily retire after returning to a diminished role. If that happened, he and the Yankees would have to work out a settlement.

    There's still the possibility of the Yankees voiding Rodriguez's contract, but that's highly unlikely to happen. They need MLB to suspend him for his alleged PED use first, and the league is going to have a hard time doing that without help. 

    The feds aren't helping MLB. Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times says the government is reluctant to provide information from its own investigation into the wellness clinic that was the subject of this week's Miami New Times report. Players, naturally, are unlikely to help MLB's investigation into the matter as well.

    So if A-Rod is going to walk away, it's going to be A-Rod's choice in some form or another.

    In the past, I would have said good luck with that. Rodriguez has always had a sort of stubbornness about him, and he continued to be stubborn even after his 2012 season ended in embarrassing fashion. He insisted that he was going to be back, even going so far as to say he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause if the Yankees were to find a trade destination for him.

    But things have changed over the last couple of months. I'm assuming that Rodriguez wasn't expecting to undergo another major hip surgery, nor was he anticipating this latest PED mess to come to light. Regardless of whether or not the allegations are true, his public perception has taken another huge hit. Nothing he does is going to rescue him from the bad graces of fans (and probably some teammates as well).

    So the scenarios outlined by the Daily News certainly add up. A-Rod can be a broken-down player who nobody wants, or he can wash his hands of the game and dissolve into the background.

    If he makes that decision, it probably won't be for a while still. But right about now, there is indeed a reasonable doubt as to whether A-Rod will ever suit up for the Yankees again.

    UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:25 pm ET

    Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports has it on good authority from sources that A-Rod has no plans to retire. Put simply, he "will not retire, has no interest in a discounted buyout on the $114 million he is owed over the next five years and, if it came to it, likely would not approve a trade away from the Yankees."

    As much as the Yankees want Rodriguez to go away, he's intent on sticking around.

Yankees Nearing Deal with Travis Hafner?

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    Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 1:10 pm ET

    Left-handed sluggers tend to do well at Yankee Stadium, so this latest report doesn't come as too much of a surprise. 

    According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Yankees might be close to a deal with veteran DH Travis Hafner. The longtime Cleveland Indian was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball in 2005 and 2006, but he's a solid buy-low option following several subpar seasons over the last few years.

    However, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has heard otherwise. He confirms that the Yankees have expressed interest in Hafner, but he says a deal isn't believed to be imminent. 

    There are certainly complications to the idea of the Yankees signing Hafner. Chief among those is the fact that it may not be such a good idea for them to have a full-time DH. They're going to need that spot open so they can give older players like Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira easier days at the office on occasion.

    Though Hafner wouldn't cost that much to bring aboard, the Yankees have every reason to be skeptical about his ability to produce on a consistent basis. He's still a solid on-base guy, but he hasn't been a legit power threat since 2007.

    The Yankees could decide that they have nothing to lose in bringing Hafner aboard, but they may have nothing to gain either.

How Alex Rodriguez Can Help the Yankees Clear His Contract

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    Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 12:00 pm ET

    Following hip surgery and the latest report connecting him to performance-enhancing drugs, maybe Alex Rodriguez will just retire.

    The Yankees would love that, as A-Rod would be forfeiting the $114 million still owed to him over the next five seasons if he were to retire. But, obviously, he's not going to do that. 

    What A-Rod could do, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, is find a doctor who could vouch that he has suffered career-ending injuries. If he did, he would still collect the money owed to him, but insurance would cover 85 percent of the cost for the Yankees.

    It may actually come to this. A-Rod had had two hip surgeries in four years, and it's possible that this latest one will force him to miss the entire 2013 season. It will come to that if his rehab slows and he suffers setbacks, in which case the writing will be on the wall that his body is no longer fit to play baseball.

    A-Rod would have to miss the 2013 season for the Yankees to collect insurance on his contract. Knowing that, he probably won't have many people in the organization's front office rooting for a swift return.

Yankees Will Try (Unsuccessfully) to Void Alex Rodriguez's Contract

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    Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 10:55 pm ET

    Because there isn't enough A-Rod drama in your life already...

    By now, you've heard that Alex Rodriguez is a key player in a bombshell of a report from the Miami New Times about a PED-supplying wellness clinic in the Miami area. His name was mentioned repeatedly in conjunction with performance-enhancers like HGH and testosterone, and records referenced by the report claim that he was in contact with the clinic during the 2012 season.

    There's a big fuss being made, and the Yankees are making one of their own behind the scenes. According to Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, the Yankees are looking into whether they'll be able to void what's left of Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract.

    The hurdles, however, are plentiful.

    One: The Yankees can't do anything until MLB does something, and the league may not be able to do anything. A-Rod hasn't failed a drug test, so MLB can't suspend him unless it can find definitive proof that he bought and used the PEDs he supposedly bought and used. That won't be easy, especially given the reality that the documents referenced in the New Times report are all handwritten.

    Two: Even if MLB does punish A-Rod, there's no precedent for a player having his contract voided because of PEDs. Furthermore, there are rules: 

    According to two baseball sources -- one of whom is familiar with the wording of Rodriguez's contract -- even if it is proved that Rodriguez received PEDs and HGH from Bosch, the Yankees would not be able to impose a punishment greater than the mandatory 50-game suspension stipulated for a first-time offender by baseball's collectively bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

    Three: A-Rod has already admitted to using PEDs once during the life of his current contract. That's another complication: 

    According to a source, the fact that the Yankees continued to honor Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract extension after his public admissions of PED use in 2009 might further weaken their case to void the contract.

    By their failure to act in 2009, the Yankees can be legally found to have "ratified" Rodriguez's behavior, defined as one party "accepting and approving the conduct of the other."

    Long story short: Rodriguez is protected by miles and miles of red tape. As much as the Yankees would love to blow up his contract and blast the particles into space, they can't do a single thing unless MLB acts first and then the lawyers let them.

    Good luck with that.

Yankees to Sign Juan Rivera

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    Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 12:40 am ET

    The Yankees will find their right-handed-hitting outfielder with power, but not before they stage a competition before the job.

    According to ESPNNewYork.com, veteran outfielder/first baseman Juan Rivera is the latest to join the battleground. The Yankees are signing him to a minor league deal, and will have him compete with Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler for a spot on the Yankees' bench.

    Rivera came up with the Yankees in the early 2000s, but has spent the bulk of his career on the west coast playing for the Angels and Dodgers. He played in 109 games with the Dodgers in 2012, posting a .661 OPS and hitting nine home runs.

    Rivera did, however, have a .745 OPS against lefty pitching in 2012, which is better than what Andruw Jones managed. For his career, Rivera has an .820 OPS against southpaws.

    There's no risk to this signing for the Yankees. They're giving Rivera a chance to prove he has anything left in the tank. If he doesn't, oh well.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration with David Robertson, Sign Dan Johnson

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    Posted: Friday, Jan. 25 at 3:10 pm ET

    A couple of minor things to catch up on real quick.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees agreed to a deal with righty reliever David Robertson on Thursday, thus avoiding arbitration. He'll make $3.1 million in 2013, a nice raise on the $1.6 million he made in 2012.

    Robertson wasn't as dominant in 2012 as he was in 2011, when he had a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances and actually finished 11th in the AL Cy Young voting. However, he still managed a 2.67 ERA in 65 appearances and upped his K/BB ratio to 4.26.

    Elsewhere, Sweeney Murti of WFAN reported that the Yankees signed Dan Johnson to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He hasn't been a regular player since 2007, but he does bring some decent pop to the table that he tends to show off in clutch situations.

    If Johnson performs well, he could find his way onto the 40-man roster as a backup for Mark Teixeira and a lefty bat with power for Joe Girardi to bring off the bench.

Boone Logan Avoids Arbitration

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    Posted: Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3:20 pm ET

    After avoiding arbitration with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees managed to avoid it with left-hander Boone Logan too.

    Via CAA Baseball:

    #Yankees Boone Logan agrees to $3.15M contract to avoid salary arbitration. #MLB #Arb2013

    — CAA Baseball (@CAA_Baseball) January 18, 2013

    Logan only made $1.875 million in 2012, a year in which he made 80 appearances and compiled a 3.74 ERA. He's getting a well-deserved raise.

    Cot's Baseball Contracts now has the Yankees' 2013 payroll at over $201 million. They opened the 2012 season just south of $210 million.

    As strange as it sounds, they won't have far to go to get under $189 million next year.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration with Joba Chamberlain

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    Posted: Friday, Jan. 18 at 1:10 pm ET

    After avoiding arbitration with Phil Hughes earlier this week, the Yankees have now avoided arbitration with Joba Chamberlain.

    The club announced on Thursday that Chamberlain will earn $1.875 million in 2013, a nice $200K raise over what he made in 2012. 

    Chamberlain had a 4.35 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 22 appearances in 2012 after missing the first four months recovering from various injuries. However, he did pick it up towards the end of the year, posting a 0.69 ERA and holding opponents to a .517 OPS over his final 13 appearances.

    Chamberlain will be a free agent for the first time after the 2013 season is over. If he has a nice bounce-back year after two straight injury-ruined seasons, he should be in line for a good contract.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration with Phil Hughes

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    Posted: Thursday, Jan. 17 at 1:00 pm ET

    The Yankees will not be going to arbitration with Phil Hughes.

    The club announced on Wednesday that the right-hander agreed to a one-year deal worth $7.15 million. He made $3.2 million in 2012.

    The 2013 season will be Hughes' walk year, and he stands to benefit greatly from a big year. He'll only be 27 when he enters the open market next winter, right in the middle of the prime of his career. The multi-year offers will come pouring in if he makes the 2013 season his best yet.

    That could mean 2013 will be Hughes' last campaign in pinstripes, but the Yankees won't complain if Hughes has a big season. He would make their starting rotation among the deepest in baseball, and they would have an excuse to make him a qualifying offer at season's end.

    But since Hughes has a 4.39 career ERA and has never pitched over 200 innings in a season, expectations for a huge 2013 season shouldn't be too high.

Yankees Cool on Justin Upton

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    Posted: Monday, Jan. 14 at 1:10 pm ET

    Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton would fit the Yankees' desire for a right-handed outfielder with power, but the word is that he doesn't feature prominently on their radar.

    According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Yankees haven't picked up their pursuit of Upton in recent days even despite the fact that it's clear now more than ever that he's available. In fact, he would be a member of the Seattle Mariners right now had he not blocked a trade to them.

    There are a couple things standing in the way of the Yankees acquiring Upton. Morosi indicated that the biggest roadblock is the nearly $40 million owed to Upton over the next three years, which is apparently too much money for the payroll-conscious Yankees.

    Another big roadblock is the price the Yankees would have to pay to acquire Upton. As I wrote on Friday, the Yankees don't have the prospects to match the offer that the Mariners made the Diamondbacks, as they were prepared to send their top pitching prospect and several other top young players to Arizona.

    This means that the Yankees would have to go through another team to get Upton, and even that would be difficult because of the club's lack of desirable assets. Morosi suggested that the Yankees could move Curtis Granderson for prospects and then swing those prospects to Arizona, but that's going to be hard to do given Granderson's impending free agency.

    Plus, even if the Yankees were able to swing a deal like that, they'd still have the money to worry about. The roughly $40 million owed to Upton over the next three years isn't that much money in the grand scheme of things, but the Yankees are doing everything in their power to make sure their payroll isn't clogged in 2014 and beyond.

    The Yankees may just be biding their time on the Upton front, but Brian Cashman is going to have to get very creative to get something done.

Yankees Interested in Mike Morse

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    Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7:40 pm ET (Updates below)

    Adam LaRoche is re-signing with the Nationals, and that means they need to find a taker for Mike Morse.

    According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, the Yankees are among the teams interested:

    Just Filed: Yanks have interest in trading for Morse.

    — Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) January 8, 2013

    Makes sense. He's a right-handed-hitting outfielder with power. The Yankees are looking for one of those.

    As for what it will take to land Morse, Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM has the scoop:

    Nationals looking for LH relief help and/or prospects to help replenish farm system in a Michael Morse swap according to #Nats source

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 8, 2013

    Not surprisingly, the New York Daily News pointed Boone Logan out as a potential fit for the Nationals. The 28-year-old lefty has a 3.42 ERA in 195 appearances over the last three seasons.

    The Yankees could offer the Nationals some low-level prospects instead, and they may be willing to do a deal like that. Most other trade scenarios have the Yankees in a bind because of their lack of major league-ready prospects, but the Nats have less of a need for such prospects than most. Their big club is already stacked with young talent.

    Morse hit 31 homers in 2011 and 18 in only 430 plate appearances in 2012. He would be a fine addition towards the end of what's so far been a lackluster offseason for the Yankees.

    UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 4:40 pm ET

    Chad Jennings of The Journal News has a less-than-encouraging update:

    Heard today that the Yankees have "nothing alive" on potential trade target Mike Morse.

    — Lohud Yankees Blog (@LoHudYankees) January 10, 2013

    Par for the course.

    UPDATE No. 2: Friday, Jan. 11 at 2:50 pm ET

    Jack Curry of the YES Network has a slightly more encouraging update:

    Yankees called the Nats about Morse after LaRoche signing, but Nats weren't ready to talk trade yet. The two teams will eventually talk.

    — Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) January 11, 2013

    This may be why there's "nothing alive" on Morse. If the Nats aren't ready to talk specifics yet, then every team probably has "nothing alive" going on.

Hal Steinbrenner Speaks!

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    Posted: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 6:30 pm ET

    Yankees fans who think the team hasn't done enough to get better this winter are way more pessimistic than the man running the show.

    Here's what team boss Hal Steinbrenner said at the MLB owners meeting today, via Ken Davidoff of the New York Post:

    Steinbrenner, re: fans angry about team's direction: "I’m surprised to hear that there’s anger, if you see what we’ve done this offseason."

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013

    He did, however, admit that the team isn't done yet:

    #Yankees boss Hal Steinbrenner, today at #MLB owners meetings: "We’ve got some work to do, still. We need another bat. We’re not done yet."

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013

    That's not exactly a big secret, as it's common knowledge that the Yankees could use a right-handed stick for their outfield. They've been linked to Scott Hairston and Mike Morse, but the rumor mill says the Yankees aren't top suitors for either of them.

    Cheapness is partially to blame, as the Yankees are hesitant to make any moves that would compromise their plans for the future that involve getting their payroll below $189 million in 2014.

    Hal, however, hinted that these plans aren't necessarily set in stone:

    Hal: "Is our goal 189 next year? Yes. But only if I’m convinced if the team I see, that we’ve put together, is a championship-caliber team."

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013

    Getting one's hopes up is not advised here, however. Hal went on to insist that it doesn't take a payroll over $189 million to construct a championship team:

    Hal: Getting under $189 mil isn't just a 1-year goal: "I believe that you don’t have to have a $220-million payroll to win a championship."

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013

    He still doesn't sound like his late father, which means that the Yankees probably will remain committed to their plans in the long run.

    And if so, that means it's still iffy as to whether Robinson Cano will be a Yankee in 2014 and beyond. He's going to command a lot of money when he hits free agency next winter, and Hal says they haven't even tried jumping the gun yet with an extension offer:

    Hal Steinbrenner: "There’s been no real, significant dialogue" with Robinson Cano about an extension. #Yankees

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013

    If I had to sum up these comments, I'd choose two words:

    Status quo.

Will Derek Jeter Opt out After 2013?

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    Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 6:05 pm ET

    Everyone's worried about whether the Yankees will be able to pay Robinson Cano what he wants after the 2013 season is in the books, but what about Derek Jeter?

    Kudos to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com for bringing up a topic of discussion that never even occurred to me as a possibility. He writes that the $8 million player option on Jeter's contract for 2014 may not be good enough for him if he enjoys another strong season in 2013.

    Now, my understanding is that Jeter's 2014 option will actually be for $9.5 million, as his deal calls for the option to raise with a Silver Slugger won between 2011 and 2013. He happened to win one of those in 2012 after hitting .316 and leading the league in hits.

    But even that may not be good enough. If Jeter enjoys a strong season in 2013, he could opt not to pick up his 2014 option and instead pursue a contract worth more money. He could want either a lot of money for one final season or he may even want multiple years.

    That would put the Yankees in a tight spot. They'd either have to give Jeter a raise, which would compromise their payroll plans for 2014, or wash their hands of him and pursue a replacement for him.

    That would be pretty cold, and it's not likely to happen because there aren't any star shortstops set to hit free agency next winter. The best of the bunch is probably Stephen Drew, and he has much to prove in 2013.

    Thus, the best hope for the Yankees is that Jeter proves able to be their everyday shortstop once again in 2014. But if he does, he may make them pay him.

    Just what the Yankees need: Another complication.

The Latest on Rafael Soriano

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    Posted: Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:10 pm ET (Update below)

    Rafael Soriano is still out there somewhere looking for a job. So far, the rumor mill has been very quiet about where he might end up next.

    According to Bob Klapisch of The Record, Soriano's agent, the great Scott Boras, made an interesting proposal to the Yankees last month:

    Told Scott Boras asked #Yankees last month if they'd consider taking Rafael Soriano back on a 1-yr deal. Request flatly denied.

    — Bob Klapisch (@BobKlap) January 7, 2013

    ESPN's Buster Olney has a look as to why the Yankees were to so quick to reject the idea:

    The Yankees want the draft pick/draft dollars they'll get when Soriano signs elsewhere more than they want him back, no matter the contract.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 7, 2013

    Yeah, the Yankees are serious about this whole going cheap thing.

    That Boras even thought to approach the Yankees about a one-year reunion could be an indication that the market for the reliever is as quiet as it seems to be. It was apparent before that he and Soriano overplayed their hand, and now it seems like a fait accompli that they did.

    Still, I think a one-year deal between the Yankees and Soriano is a possibility, for reasons I discussed in an article posted today. I'd say a deal is highly unlikely, but the notion of bringing Soriano back as Mariano Rivera insurance is going to be awfully tempting for the Yankees if Soriano is still unsigned during spring training. 

    We shall see.

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 8:05 pm ET

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has heard that Soriano has not approached the Yankees about a one-year deal, seemingly contradicting Klapisch's report.

    But maybe not. Klapisch never said that Soriano approached the Yankees about a one-year reunion. He said Scott Boras did, which may be true.

Scott Hairston Weighing Yankees and Mets

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    Posted: Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 pm ET (Updates below)

    The Yankees want Scott Hairston, and the word is that they stand a 50-50 chance of signing him.

    According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, the bidding for Hairston "mainly involves" the Yankees and the New York Mets, who have employed Hairston for the last two seasons.

    The potential hang-up for the Yankees hasn't changed. Whereas the Mets can offer Hairston a chance to play in the outfield every day, the Yankees are looking at him as a fourth outfielder who can share time with Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki.

    Plus, it's unknown whether Hairston would settle for a one-year deal from the Yankees, or if the Yankees are willing to give him the multi-year deal he seeks.

    The Yankees have already missed out on a couple of intended targets this winter. I wouldn't be shocked if they miss out on another here, as the Mets can offer Hairston what he wants more easily than the Yankees can.

    Hairston's mind should be made up in the next few days. My money is on him signing with the Mets.

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 12:20 pm ET

    Here's an update from Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com that isn't encouraging:

    Yankees are pessimistic about signing Hairston. Feeling is he will get more ABs elsewhere.

    — Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) January 8, 2013

    This could be changed with the right offer, but the Yankees aren't in the overpaying business anymore.

    UPDATE No. 2: Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 8:05 pm ET

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted today that the Yankees "don't seem" involved on Hairston. They may have already bowed out.

Ben Francisco on Yankees' Radar, but Not Jim Thome

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    Posted: Monday, Jan. 7 at 3:20 pm ET

    Another name can be added to the pile of righty-hitting outfielders the Yankees are considering.

    According to Mark Hale of the New York Post, the Yankees are interested in Ben Francisco:

    Ben Francisco's agent, John Boggs, says #Yankees and #Mets have expressed interest in OFer. Three other teams interested too.

    — Mark Hale (@HaleMark) January 7, 2013

    However, this could be problematic for the Yankees:

    Boggs says they're evaluating to determine "best opportunity" for Francisco "and who will offer the most at-bats." #mets #yankees

    — Mark Hale (@HaleMark) January 7, 2013

    The fact that the Yankees are looking for a part-timer could take them out of the running for Francisco, but that may depend on the Mets. If they re-sign Scott Hairston, they'll view Francisco as a part-timer as well, and that could steer him towards the Yankees.

    Not that Francisco would be much of a prize acquisition, mind you. He played with three different teams in 2012, and he owns a career OPS of .751. 

    Elsewhere, Hale notes that the Yankees aren't interested in bringing veteran slugger Jim Thome aboard:

    On #Yankees, no interest in Thome. And as I posted yesterday, have not tried to coax Chipper out of retirement. Although other teams have.

    — Mark Hale (@HaleMark) January 7, 2013

    Makes sense. With so many old players on their roster, the Yankees don't want one guy hogging the DH spot.

Brian Cashman Not Looking at Catchers or Relievers

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    Posted: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 7:20 pm ET

    The Yankees' roster is pretty well set, but it wouldn't hurt for them to bring in a catcher and/or a reliever from the free-agent market.

    But they won't. Brian Cashman spoke with Anthony Rieber of Newsday, and he told him flat-out that he's not looking for catchers or bullpen help on the open market.

    "Our catchers are here on the roster," Cashman said. "It was either Russell Martin or we're going from within."

    As for relievers, Cashman said: "I am not looking for bullpen help, I can tell you that."

    If these two areas are indeed set, then the only thing the Yankees may still be looking for on the free-agent market is a righty-hitting outfielder. They've been rumored to be interested in Scott Hairston, but after him their options are pretty slim.

    These things considered, it sounds like Cashman is pretty much done with his offseason shopping. 

Yankees Among Teams Interested in Lance Berkman

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    Posted: Friday, Jan. 4 at 10:30 pm ET (Update below)

    Lance Berkman may be donning pinstripes again in the near future.

    But then again, he probably won't be.

    According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Yankees are interested in the veteran switch-hitter, but the interest may not necessarily be mutual:

    The #Yankees are interested in Lance Berkman, but it's not clear whether he'd consider a return to NY given the Texas teams' involvement.

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 4, 2013

    Berkman has both the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers on the line, and the word from Mark Berman of FOX 26 is that the Rangers even have an offer out to Berkman.

    It's hard to see where Berkman would fit on the Yankees anyway. Their biggest need is for a righty-hitting outfielder, and Berkman is more of a DH/first base-type player now. The Yankees have Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis to play first, and they're going to need to keep their DH spot clear to rest some tired old legs now and then.

    Whether or not Berkman would even help the Yankees is another question. He'll be 37 in February, and he's coming off an injury-riddled season in which he only played in 32 games.

    The last thing the Yankees need is another old guy with too many miles on his body.

    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 7:20 pm ET

    Berkman signed with the Texas Rangers on Saturday, so there goes this possibility.

Austin Romine Likely to Begin 2013 Season in the Minors

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    Posted: Friday, Jan. 4 at 4:45 pm ET

    With Russell Martin gone, the plan is for the Yankees to fill their need for a catcher with internal options.

    It sounds like they're down to two options, as Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News has heard from Brian Cashman that catching prospect Austin Romine is likely to begin the 2013 season in Triple-A.

    "I expect Romine to go to Triple-A,” Cashman said. “He missed all of last year, almost . . . I don’t expect him to be our everyday catcher out of the gate. He always has the possibility of taking it, but realistically, if I were in prediction mode, I’d say Triple-A.  But he has a chance to alter that.”

    If so, that leaves Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli to battle it out for the starting job. Stewart may have the inside track after playing 55 games with the Yankees in 2012, whereas Cervelli only played in three games.

    Cashman indicated that it will come down to who gives the team better defense behind the plate, so the guy who hits better during spring training may not necessarily get the nod.

    Should be fun. You know, if you like position battles between two mediocre players.

Yankees Claim Russ Canzler

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    Posted: Friday, Jan. 4 at 4:40 pm ET

    Man, is that an awesome picture of Russ Canzler or what?

    I only bring up Canzler because he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees today, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. He's a right-handed hitter who can play some left field and first base, so he fits with the club's needs pretty well.

    Canzler has played in 29 major league games, all in the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians. He has 26 hits, including three home runs, in 96 career at-bats.

    Expect Canzler to compete for a job in spring training with Matt Diaz for now, but he probably won't be the last right-handed hitter the Yankees grab before pitchers and catchers.

    UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 4 at 2:25 pm ET

    According to Chad Jennings of The Journal News, the Yankees have designated outfielder Chris Dickerson for assignment as a corresponding move.

Yankees Not Interested in Delmon Young

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    Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 6:50 pm ET

    The Yankees still need a righty-hitting outfielder. Might they consider Delmon Young?

    The answer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, is no. With a capital N to boot.

    He explained why in two separate tweets on Wednesday. Here's one:

    Even after sign Matt Diaz to minor deal, #Yankees looking for RH punch v. LHs. Have no interest in Delmon Young, who is still fr agt (con)

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 2, 2013

    And here's two:

    Young v. LHs:.307/.341/.483, plus 3 strong DS v. #Yankees. But NYY views as horrible OF plus anti-semitic rant makes untenable in NYC

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 2, 2013

    This all adds up pretty well. There's no point in having a fourth outfielder who can't field, and the last thing the Yankees need is people calling attention to Young's arrest in New York last April every chance they get.

    Besides, Young probably doesn't view the Yankees as a fit either. He shouldn't be looking to take a part-time job at this stage of his career, when he could put himself in line for a multi-year deal next winter with a strong season on a one-year deal in 2013. And if he is going to play full-time, he may prefer it do be as a DH rather than as an outfielder.

    I wouldn't give this any more thought. It's not happening.

Yanks Still Interested in Scott Hairston

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    Posted: Friday, Dec. 28 at 12:45 pm ET

    Earlier this week, the Yankees picked up Matt Diaz to help balance out their all lefty-hitting outfield.

    They may not be done adding just yet. According to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, the Yankees are still interested in Scott Hairston, another righty-hitting outfielder who has carved out a nice living as a part-time player.

    The circumstances, however, haven't really changed. Hairston would be a good pick-up for the Yankees, but it won't be easy for them to acquire him because he's looking for a multi-year deal and a chance for regular playing time.

    The Yankees have avoided multi-year deals this winter, and they don't have a starting job to offer Hairston with three starting outfielders already locked up for 2013. To sign Hairston, they'll probably have to overpay him.

    They would probably be more than open to doing that if Hairston was only looking for a one-year deal, but overpaying him for two years would impact their plans for a lower payroll in 2014.

    This would be your daily reminder that these aren't The Boss' Yankees anymore.

Yankees to Sign Matt Diaz

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 7:20 pm ET

    The Yankees have filled their need for a right-handed outfielder with a bit of power.

    According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Bombers have agreed to sign former Atlanta Braves great Matt Diaz:

    BREAKING: Yankees have agreed to terms on minor-league deal with outfielder Matt Diaz. Invite to big-league camp and will compete for spot.

    — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 26, 2012

    And the terms:

    Source says Diaz will earn $1.2 million plus incentives if he makes the big-league club. #Yankees

    — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 26, 2012

    Diaz has compiled a .291/.339/.431 slash line during his 10-year major league career, in which he's been used primarily as a left fielder. He has logged a significant amount of time in right field as well, however. 

    With Diaz aboard, the Yankees are pretty much all set in regards to their offense. They may go out and shore up their catching depth, but such a move isn't vital with Austin Romine, Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli lined up to share catching duties in 2013.

    UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 12:45 pm ET

    Marc Carig of Newsday has the details for Diaz's incentives:

    Source also confirms just how low-risk this will be for Yankees: Diaz could max out at $2m if he makes majors. All incentives worth 800k.

    — Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 26, 2012

    Also, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com doesn't think this signing is going to end the Yankees' search for righty-hitting outfielders:

    Matt Diaz to #Yankees on minor-league deal, according to @feinsandnydn. Seriously doubt search for RHH OFer ends there.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 26, 2012

    If so, that means Scott Hairston and others are still in play.

Yankees' Rotation Not Getting Another Upgrade

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2:20 pm ET

    The Yankees re-signed both Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda earlier this offseason. Because they did, their rotation is one of the only areas on the team that doesn't appear to need upgrading.

    Brian Cashman doesn't think so either. He told Christian Red of the New York Daily News that there are no plans in place to tinker with the rotation the team has in place. And for what it's worth, veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano was never on their radar before he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    As things stand right now, the Yankees' rotation will consist of CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. Health permitting, that's a rotation that could do some damage.

    If the Yankees do make a move in regards to their rotation, it will probably be to add some depth. They could use a long man/spot starter along the lines of Freddy Garcia just in case of an injury.

    And rest assured, injuries will happen. Not every team can be the 2012 Cincinnati Reds.

Outfield Notes: Swisher and Ibanez Are Gone, Scott Hairston Still in Play

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2:10 pm ET

    It's official. Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez will not be returning to the Yankees in 2013.

    Swisher agreed to a four-year deal with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday that could pay him as much as $70 million when all is said and done. Ibanez agreed to a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on Saturday that will pay him $2.75 million.

    Meanwhile, ESPN's Buster Olney reported on Saturday that the Yankees are not close to a trade for an outfielder. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com provided a list of their options on both the trade and free-agent markets:

    #yankees looking for righthanded hitters. Among options are vernon wells, scott hairston and jeff baker. Plus #others

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 22, 2012

    Hairston has seemed to be the Yankees' primary target all along, as he's a righty hitter with power who can play all three outfield spots. However, they don't have a starting job to offer him, and Heyman says that could put the Yankees at a disadvantage:

    Scott Hairston tougher fit for #yanks since at moment have 3 starting OFs. Phillies, braves, mets, #others also in play

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 22, 2012

    If so, the Yankees may have to drastically overpay Hairston in order to get him. And since he's looking for a multi-year deal, they may not be willing to do that.

    Given the way this offseason has already gone for the Yankees, it would be fairly typical if they missed out on Hairston next.

No Pierzynski for Yankees, Plan Is to Stick with What They Have

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    Posted: Friday, Dec. 21 at 1:35 pm ET

    So much for the idea of A.J. Pierzynski joining the Yankees. He signed with the Texas Rangers on a one-year deal on Thursday.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees never even made the veteran catcher an offer:

    #yankees did NOT make an offer to AJ pierzynski. plan at present is to go with cervelli/stewart/romine

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 21, 2012

    There you have it. The Yankees are going to go with a motley crew behind the plate. Should be fun.

    Unless, of course, they're just posturing here. Maybe they're planning something bigger?

    Perhaps, but it's hard to tell what it could be. The free-agent market is devoid of quality starting catchers, and there are only so many catchers out there who could be had in a trade.

    Joe Mauer could be one, but it would take an overwhelming offer to land him and the Yankees would have to abandon their payroll plans for 2014 in order to accommodate his contract.

    It could very well be that they are indeed willing to suffer through what will likely be very poor production from their catchers in 2013 and then reassess the situation next offseason. 

    Memo to Gary Sanchez: Please hurry.

Yankees Iffy on A.J. Pierzynski

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7:55 pm ET

    A.J. Pierzynski is the obvious solution to the Yankees' catcher quandary, but that doesn't mean he's the best solution.

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has heard that this is precisely what the Yankees are thinking:

    #yankees still cant get excited about pierzynski (looking to go with romine), so #rangers may be best bet. aj hit 27 bombs

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 19, 2012

    The Yankees have more than a couple reasons to be skeptical about Pierzynski.

    One, his power surge in 2012 was probably too good to be true. He hit 27 home runs at the age of 35 after never hitting more than 18 in a single season. Odds are he's not going to show off that much power again.

    Two, Pierzynski's personality would be an odd fit for the Yankees' clubhouse. He has a reputation for saying and doing what he wants, and that may not fly as well in New York as it has in Chicago these last few years.

    Three, he may want a multi-year contract. With the exception of Ichiro's deal, the Yankees have avoided multi-year contracts like the plague this winter.

    Going with Austin Romine would be risky given his lack of experience, but it could be that the Yankees know something about him that the rest of us don't.

    Either that, or this is just them posturing.

Ichiro's Deal Finally Official

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7:40 pm ET

    Ichiro's deal with the Yankees is official.

    Like, officially official. O-finally.

    The team announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to a two-year contract with the veteran right fielder. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has reported that the deal is worth $13 million.

    That takes care of the Yankees' need for an everyday right fielder, and in Ichiro they're retaining a player who's still a plus defender who was a surprisingly productive hitter for them in 2012. In 67 games as a Yankee, Ichiro hit .322 with a .454 slugging percentage and 14 stolen bases.

    Ichiro's age is a concern, as he's 39 now and will be 40 in the second year of the deal. He addressed this concern in a statement:

    I believe the Yankees organization appreciates that there is a difference between a 39-year-old who has played relying only on talent, and a 39-year-old who has prepared, practiced, and thought thoroughly through many experiences for their craft. I am very thankful, and I will do my best to deliver on their expectations.

    In other words: The Yankees may have old players, but at least they have dedicated old players.

    OK, then...

Yankees' Luxury Tax Payment Increased

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 1:15 pm ET

    This isn't a rumor, but it's worth passing along anyway.

    According to the Associated Press, the Yankees' luxury tax payment this year is $19,311,642. It was initially calculated at $18,917,994, but Major League Baseball revised the total on Tuesday.

    Luxury tax included, the Yankees paid a total of $223.4 million for their roster this season. No other team had a payroll over the $178 million threshold, so the Yankees are the only team that has to pay the luxury tax this year.

    The luxury tax threshold will increase to $189 million in 2014. If the Yankees are over the threshold then, they'll have to pay a 50 percent tax. Right now, they're paying a 42.5 percent tax.

    You've no doubt heard by now that club boss Hal Steinbrenner would rather not do that if he can help it. From a business perspective, his goal makes perfect sense. It's also worth (re-) noting that the club's luxury tax status will reset if they avoid paying the tax in 2014, meaning they'll be free to escalate their payroll again if they choose.

    That would seem to be their endgame. If they're going to go cheap permanently, however, they're going to have to change the way they do things for more than just one year.

Don't Count on Michael Bourn Ending Up in Pinstripes

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 11:20 pm ET

    A rumor came out this weekend that the Yankees may be interested in free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn.

    Today, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com shot that rumor to pieces. A source told him there is "no chance" that the Yankees will sign Bourn for the following reasons:

    For one, the price tag is too high. For another, Bourn is a left-handed hitter, and the Yankees already have three of them in their projected starting outfield for 2013. And for a third, until further notice, the Yankees already have a center fielder in Curtis Granderson. 

    You can count me among those who think the Yankees could make it work, but either they don't want to make it work or they don't want people to think they could make it work.

    Judging from Matthews' tone, though, this is legit. Bourn may not be on the club's radar at all.

    Instead, Matthews says that the front-runner in the Yankees' search for an outfielder is Scott Hairston. He'd be considerably cheaper, and he's the right-handed outfielder with power and versatility that they need.

    Hairston, however, would apparently prefer to return to the Mets rather than sign with the Yankees.

    Mayans, dude. Mayans.

Curtis Granderson Knows Free Agency Is Coming

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 12:55 pm ET

    Everyone knows that Curtis Granderson is not going to sign an extension with the Yankees at any point in the next few months.

    Even Granderson himself understands this. He told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post on Monday that he fully expects to hit free agency at the end of the 2013 season:

    Especially with this team being the way it has been, historically, the talks of extending guys out before the end typically isn’t their M.O. If it happens, we’ll address it as that time comes. But I’m just excited to play this year, and then, once we get to the end, we’ll take it at that point.

    Davidoff notes that Brian Cashman has floated the idea of changing the team's practice of not extending its players before they hit free agency, but the Yankees seemed to cool on the idea of extending Granderson after he finished the season poorly. He managed just a .758 OPS in the second half, and then continued his struggles in the postseason.

    As such, Granderson is heading towards the 2013 season with much to prove. He'll need to make the most of his contract year if he wants to maximize the value of his next contract, but good luck getting him to admit that he's on the lookout for a huge payday.

    “It’s interesting to know that that’s coming,” he said. “It’s amazing just to look back and where I’ve been, where I’m at right now, and know that time is approaching. I’m excited for it. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, something I’ve never had to deal with. But I’ll just get ready for it and accept all of the changes and challenges that come with it.”

    Typical Granderson quote...and there's nothing wrong with that.

Is Michael Bourn on the Yankees' Radar?

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2:20 pm ET

    The Yankees already have a pretty good center fielder. They have two if you count Brett Gardner.

    But they may be interested in Michael Bourn anyway. According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, there are some who believe that the Yankees are "quietly interested" in Bourn, and that they could be the team to sign him if the price drops.

    To make room for Bourn, the Yankees would have to trade either Gardner or Curtis Granderson. Granderson would be the more likely of the two to go, but it would be hard for the Yankees to find a taker for him.

    Several free-agent center fielders have already signed and the Minnesota Twins have dealt two of their center fielders to needy teams. Thus, the demand for center fielders is pretty well dried up.

    Factor in the reality that Granderson is owed $15 million in 2013 and will then become a free agent, and there really aren't that many potential suitors.

    Still, one thing that's for sure is that Bourn would fit well on the Yankees. He'd be a huge defensive upgrade in center, and he could slide into the leadoff spot with Derek Jeter moving down to the No. 2 hole.

    The Yankees could be able to get away with paying Bourn less than $15 million per year, which wouldn't necessarily compromise their payroll plans if Granderson is moved. The Yankees have a lot of money coming off the books after 2013, and they'll have a ton of payroll space to work with if they don't extend Robinson Cano.

    I wouldn't count on this actually happening, but it's an interesting possibility.

Yanks Have Discussed Vernon Wells, Still Looking at Scott Hairston

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    Posted: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 10:55 pm ET

    Those who think the Yankees are getting too old and less talented are going to just love this rumor.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Yankees discussed a trade with the Angels for veteran outfielder Vernon Wells, who has a .667 OPS over the last two seasons, at the winter meetings earlier this month.

    Wells would fill the Yankees' need for a right-handed outfielder, and he likely wouldn't cost them that much. The Angels understand that nobody is going to take on the $42 million still owed to Wells, and they thus know that they'd have to eat the bulk of it in order to move him.

    So if the Yankees were to acquire Wells, he wouldn't get in the way of their plans for their payroll. He would still, however...well, get in the way.

    Wells still has pop in his bat, but he can't hit or field like he used to. He'd basically be just another version of Andruw Jones, who was next to useless in the final couple months of the 2012 season. 

    The Yankees are better off going with Scott Hairston to fill their need for a right-handed outfielder. They're interested in him, but they may be scared off by Hairston's desire for a two-year deal. After the year Hairston just had, the Yankees would likely have to overpay him as well.

    The Yankees can pick their poison here. My vote would be for Hairston, but neither he nor wells is a slam-dunk option.

Yankees to Sign Ichiro

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 12:50 pm ET (Updates below)

    Consider the Yankees' hole in right field taken care of.

    As first reported by Craig Carton of WFAN, Ichiro is coming back to the Yankees:

    ichiro is ayankee for 2013

    — Craig Carton (@cc660) December 12, 2012

    The bigger question now is what the exact structure of his deal is going to be like, as all anybody really knows at this point is that he's coming back, period. 

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Ichiro's deal could be for one year, two years or one year with a vesting option for 2014. Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that the deal is likely to be a two-year pact worth $12-14 million.

    Two guaranteed years for Ichiro isn't the greatest idea. He was certainly a productive player for the Yankees in 2012, hitting .322 in 67 games, but he's pushing 40 and it must be remembered that he was a liability for the Seattle Mariners before he was traded.

    A one-year deal with a vesting option, though? That's not such a bad idea. If Ichiro is really willing to go back to The Bronx that much, perhaps he'll settle for such a deal.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 8:20 pm ET

    This deal still isn't done, and Jeff Bradley of The Star-Ledger says it's not getting done tonight:

    Source just told me Ichiro contract won't be done tonight. But, guess what? It's close. #yankees

    — Jeff Bradley (@JerseyJBradley) December 12, 2012

    No reason to panic. Just crossing T's and dotting I's is my guess.

    UPDATE No. 2: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 5:45 om ET

    Ichiro's deal still isn't done yet, but it soon will be. Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the delay is thanks to those meddlesome Philadelphia Phillies:

    #Yankees still positive deal gets done with Ichiro, but resigned now it's going to take 2 yrs, in part because #Phillies offered 2-$14M.

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 13, 2012

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the potential parameters of the deal:

    ichiro, yankees deal will be for between $12-13M, still working on structure.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 13, 2012

    Two guaranteed years for a 39-year-old outfielder? This could be fun. 

    UPDATE No. 3: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 9:25 pm ET

    Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News says the deal is just about there:

    Source says Yankees and Ichiro close to finalizing two-year contract worth $12-13 million. Two sides putting finishing touches on deal.

    — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 14, 2012

    The money is fine, but the "two years" part is still squirm-worthy.

Yanks Extend a Hand to Bobby Wilson and Gil Velazquez

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    Posted: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6:55 pm ET

    Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster have both signed today, and Anibal Sanchez may soon be next.

    Meanwhile, the Yankees have picked up catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Gil Velazquez!

    The Wilson news came from ESPN's Buster Olney:

    Catcher Bobby Wilson has agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with the Yankees, with an invitation to spring training.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 13, 2012

    The Velazquez news came from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

    Sorry that is Gil Velazquez signed to a minor league deal by #Yankees.

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 13, 2012

    So the Yankees picked up another catcher who isn't an everyday starter and an infielder who's probably no better than Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix.

    Cool story, bro.

Contract for Ichiro Up Next?

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 7:05 pm ET

    The Yankees have signed Kevin Youkilis, thus taking care of the hole at third base that was opened up by Alex Rodriguez's pending hip surgery.

    Right field may be next, and Jack Curry of the YES Network says that Ichiro looks to be the man for the job:

    With Youkilis in the fold, the Yankees will next look to complete a deal with Ichiro. Source said that could happen in the next 48 hours.

    — Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 11, 2012

    I can't say I'm surprised. The Yankees have been looking for cheap, one-year commitments, and that's all it's going to take to re-sign Ichiro.

    Ichiro hit .322 with a surprisingly high .454 slugging percentage in 67 games for the Yankees in 2012, and he's still a capable defensive outfielder. If Brett Gardner stays healthy, Ichiro can provide a little offense at the back end of Joe Girardi's batting order.

    The Yankees will be signing up to have a shortage of power in their outfield in 2013 if they re-up with Ichiro, but the other options before them don't appear to fit with their financial plan. Ichiro does, and the Yankees know from experience that he can help them.

Yankees Sign Kevin Youkilis

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 6:15 pm ET

    It's (kinda/sorta/almost) official. Kevin Youkilis is a Yankee.

    This is according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com:

    Source: #Yankees sign Youkilis, one year, $12M.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2012

    He then clarified that it's not quite 100 percent official yet:

    To clarify on Youkilis and #Yankees: Two sides in agreement, one year, $12M. Deal almost certainly pending physical.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2012

    Once the formalities are all taken care of, the Yankees will have themselves an experienced third baseman they can plug in until Alex Rodriguez gets healthy.

    There's not much of a difference between A-Rod and Youkilis from an offensive standpoint these days. A-Rod finished 2012 with a .783 OPS and 18 home runs in 122 games. Youk also played in 122 games, posting a .745 OPS and hitting 19 home runs.

    Still, it's going to be really awkward if Youk turns back the clock and mashes the ball in the months before A-Rod comes back. What do the Yankees do with Rodriguez if Youk is a star hitter again?

Sounds Like Ichiro Is Coming Back

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    Posted: Monday, Dec. 10 at 9:45 pm ET

    The Yankees' vacancy in right field may soon be filled with a familiar face.

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Yankees are showing "strong interest" in re-signing veteran right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. A source said that the club is "all over him" and that a deal "will happen."

    If so, it's presumably going to be a one-year deal, the likes of which the Yankees are collecting at a rapid pace this offseason. Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera have all signed one-year contracts, and Kevin Youkilis may also sign a one-year contract now that the Cleveland Indians no longer need him.

    If Ichiro is brought back, the Yankees' outfield will be exclusively left-handed with Brett Gardner in left field and Curtis Granderson in center field. That's a problem that could conceivably be solved with a trade of Granderson, but that may not happen now that the demand for center fielders has dried up in the last couple weeks.

    However, even despite the club's abundance of left-handed hitters, Rosenthal says there's still a chance that Raul Ibanez will be brought back as a fourth outfielder/designated hitter. He wasn't much good away from Yankee Stadium in 2012, but he definitely took advantage of the stadium's short right field porch when he played at home. He slugged .545 at home, as opposed to .365 on the road.

    For that matter, Yankee Stadium proved to be a good fit for Ichiro as well. He hit .338 with a .531 slugging percentage in Yankees home games, with five of his nine home runs in only 37 games.

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 10 at 5:50 pm ET

    Here's this from ESPN's Buster Olney:

    The Yankees are moving closer to a deal with Ichiro Suzuki; it's expected to be done within the next few days.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 10, 2012

    So there's that. I still can't get over how shrug-worthy this is compared to what things would have been like a couple years ago.

Kevin Youkilis Nearly in the Bag?

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    Posted: Monday, Dec. 10 at 3:30 pm ET

    Go ahead and start ordering your Kevin Youkilis Yankees jerseys if you must. A deal isn't done yet, but it's probably just a matter of time now.

    It's already been reported that the Yankees have a one-year offer worth $12 million out to the former Boston Red Sox All-Star. Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com has heard from Youk's agent, Joe Bick, that the offer is "very legitimate" and that his client is "seriously considering" it.

    And for what it's worth, Youk's uncle is excited about the prospect of his nephew joining the Yankees. He's a bistro owner in Manhattan, and my understanding is that such people are legit authorities on a great many things in New York.

    I kid, of course, but I'll say again that this deal should get done. In fact, I'm surprised it's not yet official. 

    The Yankees need a third baseman to fill in for Alex Rodriguez, and Youkilis is a third baseman who can fill in for Alex Rodriguez. He wants to be paid handsomely, and the Yankees want to pay him handsomely.

    Since the parts match up so well, it's hard to see this not happening.

The Yankees and Josh Hamilton

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    Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 12:50 pm ET

    We're not used to disregarding the Yankees as an option whenever a marquee free agent is looking for work, but that's precisely what's happened with them and Josh Hamilton.

    But wait just a minute. Here's this from Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

    The #Yankees, but not GM Brian Cashman, quietly running background check on Josh Hamilton, rival GM says

    — Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 7, 2012

    Is this a case where smoke could lead to fire?

    Absolutely. The Yankees have had a (much too) quiet offseason to this point, and the market for Hamilton is pointing towards a three- or four-year deal rather than a six- or seven-year deal. As such, the Yankees wouldn't necessarily be repeating a past mistake if they were to sign him, as they may not have him on their hands for all that long.

    Yes, there are the payroll restrictions to worry about. But in this case, where there's a will, there's surely a way. The Yanks could clear some payroll space right away by trading Curtis Granderson, and they're going to have a lot of money coming off the books next year when Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all have their contracts expire.

    Exactly how Hamilton would fit in New York is the iffy part. What isn't so iffy is the reality that he would be an utterly perfect fit for Yankee Stadium.

    UPDATE: Sunday, Dec. 9 at 5:55 pm ET

    Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has thrown some water on this idea:

    #yankees not involved with hamilton at this point. hear they'd only consider if fell into lap at low #. not happening.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 9, 2012

    The Dodgers' signing of Zack Greinke could be the true death of this possibility. The Rangers supposedly wanted Greinke more than they wanted to re-sign Hamilton. Now that they can't have him, they may settle and give Hamilton what he wants.

    If so, then Hamilton probably will be way too expensive for the Yankees.

Robinson Cano May Not Be Sticking Around

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    Posted: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1:40 pm ET

    The Yankees may lose their best player after next season comes to a close.

    According to Mark Feinsand and Christian Red of the New York Daily News, it's already being speculated among people in the know that the Yankees won't be able to keep Robinson Cano beyond the 2013 season. He's due to become a free agent next winter, and he may end up seeking a deal similar to Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million monstrosity of a contract.

    “I don’t think he’ll be with the Yankees beyond next season,” said a source. “He’s not giving them a hometown discount, and they seem to be more interested in keeping their payroll down than winning.”

    Said another source: “He knows he’s the best player on the Yankees. There’s no reason for him not to be paid that way.”

    Cano will be 31 years old next winter, the same age as Albert Pujols when he signed his 10-year deal with the Angels last year and a year younger than A-Rod was when he signed his 10-year deal in 2007.

    If the 2013 season follows the same pattern as most of Cano's other seasons, he'll be perfectly able to demand such a ridiculous contract. With his powerful bat and excellent defense, Cano has a strong case to proclaim himself the best second baseman in the game.

    He'll certainly be paid like the best second baseman in the game, and that could indeed mean a $25-plus million per year deal at the rate the salaries for impact players are increasing.

    The Yankees could find a way to make a deal like that work for them, but they may opt to have a ton of extra payroll space instead. It will also be a lot easier for them to stay under $189 million if they avoid putting another super-expensive player on their books.

Latest on A.J. Pierzynski

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    Posted: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 4:25 pm ET

    With Russell Martin gone and Mike Napoli off the market, A.J. Pierzynski is the only difference-making catcher left on the free-agent market for the Yankees to sign.

    To date, though, they haven't been in much of a hurry to sign him. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com shed some light on why:

    #yankees hesitating on pierzynski because they view him as only average defender. AJ had big yr but market a mystery

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 8, 2012

    They're right, of course, but it's not like the Yankees are trying to find a replacement for Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate. Their bigger concern is replacing the power they lost when Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates

    Pierzynski can provide that. It's hard to see him hitting 27 home runs again like he did in 2012, but he could be good for 15-20 if he were to play half his games at Yankee Stadium.

    The bigger concern for the Yankees should be how Pierzynski's personality would fit into their clubhouse. His take-no-prisoners approach to the game probably wouldn't fly as well in The Bronx as it did in Chicago during his eight years with the White Sox.

    Granted, whatever hesitations the Yankees may have about Pierzynski may just be a ruse meant to lower his price. If that's the case, Pierzynski and his people can't fall for it. The Yankees may need him more than he needs the Yankees.

Update on Ichiro and Youk

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    Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:10 pm ET

    The Yankees have been quiet this winter, but you'll be happy to know that they are actually still working.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees are focused on right field and third base at the moment:

    #yankees are still talking to ichiro. main thing today, tho, is waiting on youk.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 7, 2012

    Ichiro seems to be the easy answer for the club's vacancy in right field. There have been rumors about the Yankees preferring to have a power bat in right, but they may not like the options they have or the money they're asking for. In Ichiro, they at least know what they'll be getting.

    As for Youk, it seems the Yankees have told him "take it or leave it" in regards to the one-year, $12 million offer they made him. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer says that Youk may have a two-year deal worth $18 million on the table from the Cleveland Indians, so he has to choose between being overpaid for one year or well-paid for two years.

    He may just choose to go to Cleveland. He'll make more money in the long run, and he'll also be reunited with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

    If Youk walks on the Yankees, they're going to get even more desperate than they already are.

Brett Gardner Avoids Arbitration

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    Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 3:35 pm ET

    The Yankees struck a deal with an outfielder on Friday, albeit one they already had under their control.

    The club announced that it avoided arbitration with Brett Gardner on a one-year contract. The financial terms aren't known, but he may have gotten a raise on the $2.8 million he made in 2012.

    This season was a lost year for Gardner, as he played in only 16 games due to a bad elbow. The Yankees missed him, as they could have used his speed on the basepaths and his defense in left field.

    There's been talk of the Yankees possibly moving Gardner to center field in 2013, with Curtis Granderson moving over to left. That's the best way the Yankees can maximize Gardner's value, as he could give them Gold Glove-caliber defense in center to go along with what will likely be 50 or so stolen bases if he stays healthy.

    If these things come to pass, Gardner is going to be a little more expensive next winter.

    UPDATE: Friday, Dec. 7 at 3:40 pm ET

    The Boston Herald reports that Gardner's new deal is for $2.85 million, and that he can earn $150,000 in performance bonuses.

Yanks Shopping Three

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    Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 a 10:50 pm ET

    It's already been reported that the Yankees are willing to deal Curtis Granderson this winter.

    Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com says you can add two names to the club's list of available assets:

    Yankees are listening to offers on Granderson, Hughes and Nova

    — Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) December 6, 2012

    Alright, let's go one at a time here.

    Nova doesn't have much value. He overachieved in 2011 and came back down to earth in a big way in 2012 with a 5.02 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. Opponents compiled an .860 OPS against him, which was so high mainly due to a .511 slugging percentage.

    Nova does have controllability working for him, but not so much talent. He's unlikely to fetch anything significant on his own.

    Hughes is a little different. He's a better pitcher than Nova, but he's due to hit free agency after 2013. That puts a natural limit on his trade value.

    Granderson is also a free agent after 2013, which complicates his value as well. Also complicating it is the fact that he took a few steps back in 2012 at the plate and in the field. He slugged a lot of home runs, but his other numbers fell pretty far.

    The Yankees can probably deal these three guys, but maybe not for anything that will help them in the short-term. Since they need help in the short-term, they may end up just holding on to them.

Yankees Talked to Mets About R.A. Dickey

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    Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 2:35 pm ET

    Yup, this actually happened. But don't get your hopes up.

    Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has the scoop:

    Source: Mets talked to Yanks, Nats re: Dickey this week. Both liked him, but no fit. Yanks don't have pieces, Alderson wouldn't trade in div

    — Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 6, 2012

    Sounds like a case of all involved parties simply doing their due diligence. 'Tis the season for that sort of thing.

    Martino is right about the Yankees not having the pieces. They're perilously short on tradeable assets at the major league level, and their top prospects are all in the lower levels. The Mets seem to prefer top prospects and/or major league-ready players they could control for a while in a deal for Dickey.

    The Yankees could probably throw an offer together, but not a competitive one.

    So yeah, don't expect this to happen.

Yankees Have Made Kevin Youkilis an Offer

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    Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 12:50 pm ET

    Yankees fans may want to start practicing their "YOOOOOOUUUUUUK" chant.

    According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the Yankees have made former Boston Red Sox All-Star Kevin Youkilis an offer:

    The Yankees' offer to Kevin Youkilis is one year at $12M, according to source.

    — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 6, 2012

    Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain on the same team. There's a fun idea.

    The first thought I had was that $12 million is way too much for Youkilis at this point in his career. His hitting skills have greatly diminished, particularly in regards to his power. He's also a much better defender at first base than he is at third base.

    But then again, this may be a sign of the times for the Yankees. They couldn't retain Eric Chavez, nor could they sign Jeff Keppinger or Nate Schierholtz. To land guys, it seems they're going to have to overpay.

    Overpaying for 2013 is fine. The Yankees will have to abide by Hal Steinbrenner's wishes in 2014, but their 2013 payroll can be as high as they want it. They can afford to go crazy on one-year deals.

    And at this juncture, Youk may be the best they can do as a placeholder for A-Rod.

Yankees Miss out on Nate Schierholtz

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 12:55 pm ET

    Indications are that the Yankees are looking for a cheap, short-term option to fill their hole in right field.

    Nate Schierholtz fits the bill pretty well, and the Yankees have apparently realized the same thing. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, they're in the lead to land the former San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder:

    The Yankees are the early frontrunner in Nate Schierholtz's talks for his next team.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012

    Olney also noted that Schierholtz is making "good progress" toward his next deal.

    Schierholtz has yet to receive more than 362 plate appearances in a season, but he's got decent career numbers across the board. He has a career slash line of .270/.319/.409, and he's posted OPS's over .725 in each of the last two seasons.

    If he were to be given as many as 500 plate appearances over the course of a full season, Schierholtz could easily provide good value for what is likely to be a small investment. He could post an OPS in the .725-.750 range, and he could hit as many as 20 home runs if he were to play half his games at Yankee Stadium.

    He's also a solid defender in right field, with a cannon for an arm.

    I'd say he's worth at least a one-year experiment.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 9:50 pm ET

    So much for this. Here's Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:

    Nate Schierholtz has agreed on 1 year deal with Cubs, source says

    — Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 6, 2012

    Why does it seem like nobody wants to sign with the Yankees all of a sudden?

More Infield Rumors

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1:10 pm ET

    The Yankees' search for help for the left side of their infield is ongoing. Here's the latest on their possible targets.

    It's already been reported that the Yankees are interested in Jeff Keppinger, who can play multiple positions on the infield. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says they're still very much interested:

    Keppinger seems to have become popular. There's talk he could get 3-year deal for $13 mill or more. Also talk that Yankees really want him.

    — DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 5, 2012

    The price for Keppinger is high, but the Yankees may be more willing to pay it than anyone else. It's obvious that they're going to need a guy who can spell A-Rod and Derek Jeter on occasion over the next couple years. Neither of them is getting younger, and both of them are dealing with significant wounds at the moment.

    Elsewhere, the Yankees are still being linked to former Boston Red Sox All-Star Kevin Youkilis, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com says that the Yankees don't appear willing to pay the market price for him, even on a one-year deal.

    If so, it's hard to blame them. Youkilis can really only play third base and first base (where the Yankees are set) and his offensive skills are quickly eroding. He may not be the answer they're looking for.

    Jack Hannahan, on the other hand, may be an answer. Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer says that the Yankees have some interest in the former Cleveland Indians third baseman:

    Marlins and Yankees have some interest in former #Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan.

    — paul hoynes (@hoynsie) December 5, 2012

    Hannahan doesn't hit much, but he's a stud defender at the hot corner. The Yankees may be willing to go with a guy like that while they wait for A-Rod to return from his hip surgery in 2013.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 3:20 pm ET

    You can cross several options off the list, including the guy who was probably the best fit for the Yankees' needs.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Jeff Keppinger has signed with the White Sox:

    Keppinger got $12M, 3 yrs w chisox

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012

    Elsewhere, Heyman reported that Eric Chavez is signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    #diamondbacks agree to terms with eric chavez.

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012

    Elsewhere-elsewhere, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News says that it's unlikely that the Yankees will sign Kevin Youkilis:

    I'm told Yankees-Youkilis is unlikely. Jeff Keppinger seems to be hottest third base target as of now, but years will be the issue.

    — Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 5, 2012

    Evidently, the Yankees are in no real hurry to address the left side of their infield. It could be that they have something big planned.

    Or it could be that Brian Cashman doesn't know what the heck he's doing.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5:30 pm ET

    According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the Yankees met with Mark Reynolds' agent today:

    Yankees met with agent for 3B Mark Reynolds today. Made $7.5M this year, looking for similar deal.

    — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 5, 2012

    The Yankees are presumably looking at Reynolds as a fill-in for Alex Rodriguez at third base. He strikes out a ton, has disappearing/reappearing power and a questionable glove, so I suppose he'd be perfect.

Yankees in on Mark Reynolds

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    Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 12:30 am ET

    Remember that one time Mark Reynolds hit about a million home runs in five games against the Yankees this year?

    Maybe that left an impression. Reynolds had his option declined and was non-tendered by the Baltimore Orioles, and the word from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is that the Yankees have an eye on him:

    Mark reynolds has nice market. Cubs, nyy, cle, miami, sea, balt, tb, plus

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012

    I'll be honest. I don't see it.

    The Yankees need a third baseman to hold down the fort until Alex Rodriguez gets healthy, but Reynolds is a rotten third baseman. The Yankees also don't want him clogging up their DH spot, as Joe Girardi is going to want to keep the position clear so A-Rod and Derek Jeter can fill in on occasion.

    Plus, Reynolds' production comes and goes. He's got tons of power, but he strikes out a ton and is prone to slumps.

    The interest here may not be mutual, anyway. Reynolds is probably looking for a starting job, and the Yankees don't have one to offer him.

    So yeah, I don't see it.

Latest Infield Rumors

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 1:00 pm ET

    With news coming out on Monday that Alex Rodriguez may not be back in June following surgery on his left hip, it's pretty clear that the Yankees need to find some help for the left side of their infield.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, one possibility is Yunel Escobar, who was recently traded from Toronto to Miami:

    #cubs, #athletics, #rays and #yankees have checked in on yunel escobar, who is available. #marlins

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012

    ESPN's Buster Olney, however, says that the Yankees are not interested in Escobar:

    The Yankees are not on Yunel Escobar...

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2012

    This is just a guess, but the Yankees may not be in on Escobar because of his personality. He got in some trouble this past season for putting a homophobic slur on his eye black, and he doesn't have a reputation for being a great clubhouse presence. His antics certainly wouldn't fly on the Yankees.

    Elsewhere, Olney says that Stephen Drew is a long shot for the Yankees:

    Rival evaluator on Drew:"There's no way he would sign with the Yankees to be a superutility guy, or part-time 3B. He wants an everyday job."

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2012

    This makes perfect sense. Drew is a shortstop by trade and he wants to start, and the Yankees would be likely to ask him to play short and third on more of a part-time basis. Drew is still too young to an accept a role like that.

    A much more realistic option is San Francisco Giants postseason hero Marco Scutaro, and the word from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com is that the Yankees are indeed interested.

    Scutaro can play third, short and second, and he's a solid hitter with a reputation for being a great guy to have around in the clubhouse. He would fit right in if he were to join the Yankees.

    For what it's worth, my opinion is that Scutaro should be the Yankees' top target. He fits their needs perfectly.

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 3:25 pm ET

    According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the bidding for Marco Scutaro is getting a little out of hand. His price tag is now in the range of three years and $24 million, and the Giants are considered the frontrunner for his services.

    That makes sense, as they have a starting job at second base to offer him. The Yankees don't have a starting job to offer him anywhere, and a price tag like that is probably too steep for them.

    Maybe that's why Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says they're so interested in Jeff Keppinger:

    Yankees interest in Jeff Keppinger very strong. Source says team met with representative yesterday. A-Rod injury accelerating timetable.

    — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2012

    No surprise here. Keppinger's versatility is something the Yankees need, and he's coming off a strong season with the Tampa Bay Rays. His price tag could be just right for them.

    Elsewhere, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has labeled the Yankees as one of the top suitors for Yunel Escobar, and Jack Curry of the YES Network says that the Yankees have spoken to Kevin Youkilis' agent.

    Youkilis is an intriguing possibility. The word is that he's open to a one-year deal, and he could fill in for both A-Rod at third and at first base for Mark Teixeira if need be. He's not the hitter he once was, but he still has a good eye and some pop in his bat.

Curtis Granderson Is Available

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    Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 1:10 pm ET

    Now's not a great time for the Yankees to sell high on Curtis Granderson, but they may trade him anyway.

    This according to ESPN's Buster Olney:

    NYY have been open to talks about Curtis Granderson. If they move his $15m salary, it would provide more flexibility to do other things.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2012

    To be sure, just because the Yankees are "open" to trading Granderson doesn't mean that they want to. On the contrary, they'd probably just as soon hang on to him for the 2013 season.

    The reasons are simple. Granderson may have hit a career-high 43 home runs in 2012, but he only managed an .811 OPS and 10 stolen bases, and he had a really rough go of things out in center field. If he stays the course in 2012, he's barely going to be worth his salary.

    Other teams know this, so there may not be a team out there willing to match the Yankees' price for Granderson, which is sure to be high.

    And if so, the Yankees should just hold on to him. They can move him to left field to save themselves some headaches when he's on defense, and they will gladly accept another 40-homer season from him. With Nick Swisher likely gone and A-Rod not due back until midway through the year, the Yankees are going to need as much power as they can get.

    The Yankees should trade Granderson if the right offer comes along, but only if the right offer comes along. They have no reason to settle.

Yankees Looking at Scott Hairston and Cody Ross

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    Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 4:40 pm ET

    The Yankees suddenly find themselves in dire need of help on the left side of their infield, but they haven't forgotten about their need for some power in right field.

    Indications are they'd prefer to find a cheap player with a right-handed stick. According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Yankees have two guys in mind as possible fits for their needs:

    #Yankees interested in both Cody Ross and Scott Hairston as RH outfield options.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2012

    This isn't the first time Hairston has been linked to the Yankees this winter, nor is it the first time they've been linked to Ross.

    The Yankees' apparent interest in both players makes sense. Hairston isn't likely to cost much, and he's in line for a nice deal after hitting a career-high 20 home runs in 2012.

    Ross would cost the Yankees a little more, but he proved himself capable of handling AL East competition in 2012 with the Boston Red Sox. He hit 22 homers with an .807 OPS, though the big red flag where he's concerned is that those numbers were largely inflated by the Green Monster.

    The Yankees can always bring back Ichiro to play right field, but they could sign Ross or Hairston anyway just to add some power to their outfield. One of the best parts about both outfielders is that they can play all three outfield spots.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 12:30 am ET

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Yankees are still in on Hairston:

    Source: #Phillies, #Mets, #Yankees remain in mix for Scott Hairston.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012

    Nothing new to report, though. 'Tis the season for such updates.

A-Rod Needs Another Surgery...So Now What?

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    Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 3:10 pm ET

    Serious question: Can Alex Rodriguez's 2012 narrative possibly get any worse?

    I'm not so sure it can after hearing Monday's news. As first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post and subsequently confirmed by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, A-Rod needs surgery on his left hip. He may be out until June.

    So when Opening Day comes around, the Yankees are going to be without their starting third baseman, and they could also be without their starting shortstop. Derek Jeter is a question mark for Opening Day as he continues his recovery from a broken ankle.

    Bad vibrations all around, and the question is obviously what the Yankees can do to ease their suffering.

    Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio thinks they'll step up their efforts to sign free agent shortstop Stephen Drew:

    With Alex Rodriguez having another hip surgery the Yankees will probably step up efforts on Stephen Drew for left side of infield

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 3, 2012

    Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com thinks the Yankees may be able to swing a deal for Chase Headley:

    Free agent class thin at 3B (and SS), which gives #Padres all the more reason to sell high on Headley and trade him to #Yankees.

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2012

    A trade for Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is also a possibility, though Morosi noted on Twitter that his no-trade list includes the Yankees:

    Source: Asdrubal Cabrera has 6-team no-trade clause, covering Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Nationals, Giants, Mets. @mlbonfox

    — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2012

    Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com floated Marco Scutaro and Jeff Keppinger as possible (and much cheaper) targets:

    #Yankees already knew they needed additional help at SS and 3B. FA options include Scutaro, Keppinger. Latter coming off broken right fibula

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2012

    To sum up all this chatter, a good word would be "all."

    The Yankees have been sending out pretty strong signals this winter that they're not interested in making big moves that will impact their payroll plans for 2014 and beyond, but A-Rod's situation could force their hand. It's clearer now than ever before that he's not the answer at third base, and the Yankees may have to go find a legit alternative whether they like it or not.

    That said, you have to think that the club's preference is to find a player who can play third and short rather than one or the other. That could take them out of the running for big-name players like Headley and Cabrera.

    However, there's one big name that should be on their radar if they're looking for a star who could conceivably play short and third: Troy Tulowitzki.

    Tulo is obviously a shortstop by trade, but his own recent injury troubles point to a future at third base. He'd be hard to get and expensive to keep around, but the Yankees can't do any better than him given the circumstances.

Yankees More Desperate for Stephen Drew Than They're Letting On?

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:10 pm ET

    It's no secret that the Yankees need some more depth for the left side of their infield. Alex Rodriguez is old and Derek Jeter is old and coming off a major ankle injury, and there's not much behind them on the depth chart.

    It's been reported that Stephen Drew is being looked at as an option, and Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio reported on Twitter on Sunday that this is still the case.

    He also said this:

    Yankees seriously concerned about declining range of both Jeter and A-Rod are working hard to get #Drew

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 2, 2012

    If so, then the idea of the Yankees actually signing Drew may not be all that crazy.

    It certainly seemed crazy at first, mind you, as Drew is used to being a starter at shortstop and the Yankees appeared to be viewing him as a backup utility man. But since they're this concerned about A-Rod and Jeter, they may actually be able to sell Drew on being a part-time player because there would be more than enough playing time for him in New York.

    Drew has only ever played shortstop in the majors, but he could benefit from signing a one-year deal with the Yankees in the long run. If he gets back to hitting like he used to while filling in at shortstop and third base, his value in free agency next season would be significantly higher than it is right now.

    Remember, Drew is still only 29 years old. He doesn't necessarily have to be in a hurry to sign a multi-year deal. He should do what he can to increase his value as high as possible before he does.

The Latest on the Yankees' Hole in Right Field

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:00 pm ET

    The Yankees are suddenly in dire need of a catcher now that Russell Martin has signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but their hole in right field still needs to be addressed as well.

    Ichiro still seems to be the most sensible option, but it sounds like his camp is tired of waiting and perfectly willing to play hard ball.

    “At the beginning we talked a lot but since that time, zero," Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio, told the New York Post. “As far as we are concerned we don’t care what the Yankees do. We have had conversations with multiple clubs. If we see something we like he will go through with it."

    Brian Cashman, your response?

    “I’m really not in position to comment, but our focus was first on pitching and see the amount of dollars we needed to secure pitching," he said. “Now we’ll focus on players who want to talk to us."

    Cashman went on to tell the New York Daily News on Saturday that Ichiro was flat-out told that he would be in for a bit of a wait this winter.

    "He was informed of all that," Cashman said, referring to the club's desire to focus on pitching first. "Now that our pitching has been settled, which was our priority on the front end, we'll move from the defense to the offense and engage all the players we have interest in and have interest in us."

    Given all this, Ichiro's camp is probably just posturing. The idea is presumably to light a fire under the Yankees and force them to give the veteran right fielder an extra million bucks or two out of their desperation for a solution to their right field quandary.

    But the Yankees don't have to sign Ichiro, of course. They have plenty of other options, including Nate Schierholtz, who was recently non-tendered by the Philadelphia Phillies. ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Yankees are one of nine teams to show interest in him.

    Schierholtz is 11 years younger than Ichiro and an above-average defensive player. His career offensive numbers aren't great, but he could see an uptick in his production if he were to get regular playing time, especially if half of his playing time were to come at Yankee Stadium.

    Ichiro can vouch to Yankee Stadium's friendliness to lefty hitters. He hit more homers in 67 games for the Yankees than he did in 95 games for the Seattle Mariners.

Russell Martin Is a Pirate...So Now What Do the Yankees Do?

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:45 pm ET

    In the early weeks of the offseason, you got the sense that it was just a matter of time before the Yankees re-signed Russell Martin.

    Maybe they dragged their feet for a little too long. Martin agreed to a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates this week, thus leaving the Bombers with a shortage of options for their vacancy at catcher.

    The Yankees currently have Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine on their roster, none of whom really fits the bill as a potential starter. The Yankees could go after a top free agent, but Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com cautioned on Thursday that they're not in on Mike Napoli or A.J. Pierzysnki. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com indicated the same thing.

    The Yankees could go with who they have and put a low-cost catcher-by-committee platoon in place. They could also explore the trade market in search of a solid short-term option who can hold down the fort until top prospect Gary Sanchez is ready.

    Either way, replacing Martin's production won't necessarily be easy. He only hit .211 in 2012, but he did club 21 home runs while posting a halfway decent .713 OPS.

    If the Yankees choose not to replace Martin via a trade or free agency, they'll be putting pressure on some of their other players to step up their hitting in 2012, namely Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and, of course, Alex Rodriguez.

    On the bright side, the Yankees will be fine if those guys step up and the catchers they use provide solid defense. 

    If not, then the Yankees lineup could be weaker than we've seen it in some time.

Mariano Rivera's Deal Is Done Too

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    Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 pm ET

    I was out of town this weekend, so you'll have to forgive me for being a little late to the party on this one.

    But at any rate, the Yankees officially re-signed legendary closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. His deal includes a base salary of $10 million, and includes awards incentives.

    As far as his base salary goes, Rivera has thus agreed to take a $5 million pay cut on what he made in 2012. That's fair, though, as Rivera tore his ACL in May and he just turned 43 years old a few days ago. Plus, he's also made well over $150 million throughout his career.

    In regards to his knee, Mo said he's not pushing his recovery any more than he absolutely has to.

    "I have a long time to go. I'm not rushing," he said. "I just have to make sure that my knee gets stronger. It does. It's getting stronger and stronger every day. I'm happy with that. I just have to continue what I'm doing."

    The Yankees didn't end up missing Rivera all that much, as Rafael Soriano eventually stepped in and saved 42 games and 46 opportunities in Rivera's stead. But with Soriano looking for a ton of money after opting out of his contract with the Yankees earlier this winter, taking a chance on Rivera for one year was really a no-brainer.

    Rivera was as good as ever when we last saw him. In nine appearances early in the 2012 season, he recorded five saves and posted a 2.16 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. If he can replicate those numbers in 2013, the Yankees won't have to worry about the ninth inning.

    In other words, things will be as they have been for two decades now.

Andy Pettitte's Deal Is Done

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    Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 3:30 pm ET

    Andy Pettitte is coming back for a 15th season in pinstripes.

    According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, Pettitte has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Yankees:

    @kendavidoff The #Yankees and Andy Pettitte have completed a one-year contract for $12 million.

    — Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) November 28, 2012

    Pettitte only made $2.5 million in 2012. Evidently, the Yankees figured he was good enough in his 12 starts to warrant a nearly $10 million raise.

    But this could also be a past services rendered thing. Pettitte has meant a lot to the Yankees over the past two decades, and they're not really risking anything by paying him $12 million in 2013. They have the money, and their plans to lower their payroll are a year away from being a reality.

    Besides, Pettitte could be worth it. He posted a 2.87 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in his 12 starts in 2012. If he can put up similar numbers over 30 starts, a $12 million salary for him will be a steal.

    Regardless of his numbers, the Yankees won't complain about what they're paying him so long as he stays healthy and gives them close to 200 innings. They better hope his 40-year-old body holds up, and that no sharp ground balls find his legs.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7:35 pm ET

    reports that Pettitte's new deal also has some incentives:

    Andy Pettitte's deal with the Yankees is one-year, $12 million as reported. The deal also includes $2.5 million in awards bonuses.

    — Mark Feinsand (@BloggingBombers) November 28, 2012

    So he could go from making $2.5 million to $14.5 million. Not bad.

Pirates Making a Serious Run at Russell Martin

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    Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1:00 pm ET

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Russell Martin sweepstakes seems to be a two-horse race between the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    And the Pirates may very well come out ahead in the end.

    Heyman says that the Pirates are making a "spirited effort" to steal Martin away from the Yankees. They could be willing to offer him as much as $25 million over three years. The Yankees are believed to be offering nothing close to that. 

    Martin would be a nice upgrade for the Pirates. Their catchers hit 23 home runs in 2012, but they only managed a .692 OPS. Martin hit 21 homers all by himself and finished 2012 with a .713 OPS.

    The interest of the Pirates could light a fire under the Yankees. They've been slow to get to Martin so far this offseason, but their approach could change with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera nearly re-signed. They could either match the Pirates' offer or just convince Martin that he really doesn't want to go to Pittsburgh.

    And he may not. Indications are that Martin's preference is to stay in New York. If true, that's something the Yankees may be able to use to their advantage.

    Then again, money talks, and this may be Martin's only chance to land a contract worth as much as $25 million.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7:35 pm ET

    Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has heard that there's more to Martin's interest in the Pirates than just money:

    What intigues Russell Martin about #Pirates? Hurdle made impression on him at 2008 ASG. And, no lie, Martin also sees potential in team.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012

    Well, they did show some promise in the first half of the 2011 season and again in the first half of the 2012 season. Maybe Martin's not so crazy for liking what he sees when he looks at the Pirates.

Deals Nearly Done with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 1:00 pm ET

    All signs have pointed towards the Yankees bringing back Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera for 2013, and now the word is that deals with both pitchers will be struck very soon.

    According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Pettitte is close to agreeing to a one-year deal worth nearly $11 million. If so, he's going to make a nice raise on the $2.5 million he made in 2012.

    As for Rivera, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported on Twitter that something is probably going to get done with him this week. He's supposedly going to make more than Pettitte in 2013, which means that he's not about to take much of a pay cut on the $15 million he made in 2012. 

    And that's a bit of a surprise. Rivera is worth every penny when he's healthy, but he's coming off a torn ACL that he suffered early last May. I, for one, expected him to make a relatively low base with tons of incentives attached to it.

    Then again, the Yankees don't seem to be all that finicky in regards to their 2013 payroll. It's their 2014 payroll that they want to be lower, and they won't have any problem lowering it so long as they stick to one-year deals for free agents this winter. It doesn't seem to matter how much money these one-year deals are for.

    Pettitte and Rivera certainly won't be complaining when they sign their new deals. They'll both get to enjoy farewell tours in 2013, and they'll be handsomely paid as a bonus.

    UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 10:40 pm ET

    Just in case there was any doubt, here's this from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:

    Update: Pettitte "has committed to playing next year," a source said. No deal has been reached yet, however.

    — Mark Feinsand (@BloggingBombers) November 28, 2012

    At least we know for sure that he's coming back. His Brett Favre act is over.

Ichiro Deal Not Done Just Yet

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 12:45 pm ET

    There's a report out that Ichiro has agreed to a one-year deal with the Yankees, but it may be a little premature.

    The report that Ichiro has signed is coming from NikkanSports.com, a Japanese website (h/t Hardball Talk and Daigo Fujiwara). The word is that his deal is worth $5 million with incentives.

    However, Sweeny Murti of WFAN advised everyone on Twitter to hold their horses:

    Am told Ichiro deal is not done, just rumor. It is clear Yanks have interest in bringing him back, so entirely possible at some point.

    — Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) November 27, 2012

    Erik Boland of Newsday has also come out and said that the report that Ichiro has signed is not true.

    So there's that. It was fun while it lasted.

    I'll say this, though: One year for $5 million and incentives sounds about right. The interest between the Yankees and Ichiro appears to be mutual, and all signs have pointed towards him taking a big pay cut if he were to sign a one-year deal. He made $17 million in 2012.

    If and when a deal between the two is struck, I wouldn't be surprised if it does indeed turn out to be worth $5 million with incentives.

Andy Pettitte's Decision Will Come Soon

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 11:20 pm ET

    Before the Yankees can sign Andy Pettitte to a contract, they first need to know if he even wants to pitch in 2013.

    His decision will be here soon, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He says the Yankees are expecting to hear from Pettitte "within the next few days."

    Jack Curry of the YES Network got in touch with Pettitte on Monday via text, and the veteran lefty indicated that he would indeed make a decision soon.

    Pettitte is taking his sweet time for a reason. As reported by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Pettitte wanted to get going with his offseason workout program “to see how his body will react” before making up his mind about 2013.

    Pettitte has indicated that he's probably going to end up pitching again, and the Yankees seem to be hoping that this is the case. They re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, but their rotation could use some more depth. And since they only seem interested in handing out one-year deals, re-upping with Pettitte would be ideal.

    My best guess: He's coming back, and he'll probably make a nice raise on the $2.5 million he made in 2012.

    If Pettitte decides he's better off retiring for good, Brian Cashman will suddenly find himself scrambling for other options.

Yankees Avoid Arbitration with Eli Whiteside

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 6:25 pm ET

    The Yankees have a deal with a catcher!

    ...Albeit a minor deal with a catcher who could spend the bulk of the 2013 season in the minor leagues.

    The Yankees announced on Monday that they have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran catcher Eli Whiteside. It's worth $625,000 in the major leagues and $200,000 in the minor leagues.

    The Yankees claimed Whiteside off waivers from the San Francisco Giants earlier this month. By agreeing to a deal now, the Yankees avoided going through the arbitration process with Whiteside.

    There's not much else to say, really. Whiteside if part of a pretty deep depth chart at catcher, but he'll still have to battle for playing time in 2013.

Russell Martin Talking with the Yankees

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 1:10 pm ET

    For a while there, the Yankees didn't seem to be in any hurry to re-sign Russell Martin. Now, that may no longer be the case.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Martin and the Yankees are talking once again. The market for him in general is supposedly "heating up," and he's believed to be talking to at least one other team besides the Yankees.

    That could be what inspired Brian Cashman to pick up the phone, as he may have realized that he'd be in a tight spot if Martin were to sign elsewhere. He fits well with the Yankees, and he won't demand a contract worth too much money over too many years. 

    Besides, indications were that the Yankees were prioritizing Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte over Martin, which made little sense. If either or both of them are going to play in 2013, it will be for the Yankees. They don't have to worry about outbidding anyone for Rivera or Pettitte, as they do with Martin.

    The smart money has always been on Martin returning to the Yankees. Now it sounds like a matter of when, not if.

Ichiro Prefers the Yankees

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    Posted: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3:10 pm ET

    The trade that brought Ichiro to the Yankees in July caught everyone off-guard. And fortunately for the Yankees, it worked out exactly as they hoped it would. Ichiro hit .322 in pinstripes, and was one of their lone bright spots in the postseason.

    The word from George A. King III of the New York Post is that Ichiro would love to do it all over again.

    “There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees," said Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio. "His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.’’

    The interest may be mutual. The Yankees don't seem to be in any hurry to address their right field vacancy, but that may be because they know that they can sign Ichiro to a team-friendly one-year deal. He's in no position to demand a multi-year contract at his age, and the Yankees are trying to give out as few multi-year deals as they can.

    Ichiro wouldn't make anything close to the $17 million he made this past season on a one-year deal with the Yankees in 2013, but money may not be much of a hold-up for him seeing as how he's made close to $150 million in his career already. He wanted to go to the Yankees to win, and he may be willing to go back to the Yankees at a discounted price for that exact same reason.

    Ichiro and the Yankees are a good fit for each other and there aren't many other free agents out there who the Yankees can sign only for one year. Something will probably get done.

    UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 26 at 6:20 pm ET

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees are confident they can re-sign Ichiro. He'll have to take a pay cut, but it sounds like the interest here is indeed mutual.

Yankees Making Plans to Make A-Rod a DH?

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    Posted: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 2:50 pm ET

    Joe Girardi used Alex Rodriguez as his designated hitter quite often in 2012, and A-Rod handled DH duties surprisingly well. In 38 games as a DH, A-Rod hit .307/.371/.467. By comparison, he hit .258/.348/.416 when he played third base.

    Given that production and his shaky health, might the Yankees choose to make A-Rod a full-time DH sooner rather than later?

    According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Yankees are saying no. Other people around the industry, however, are saying yes.

    Rosenthal is hearing that the Yankees are trying to land a veteran infielder who can play both third base and shortstop, with the idea being to move A-Rod off third and into a full-time DH role.

    The team apparently views free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger as a fit, and now would be a good time to bring him aboard seeing as how he just hit .325 with an .806 OPS in 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays. Stephen Drew has also been mentioned as a target for the Yankees, and Rosenthal suggests free agent Marco Scutaro and Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta as possible fits as well.

    Either way, Rosenthal says that figuring out the club's infield is not an immediate priority for the Yankees. They want to take care of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera first, and then make a decision on Russell Martin.

    The Yankees may not be willing to commit to A-Rod as their full-time DH right away, but you get the sense that it's going to happen eventually. They need to get as much value for his salary as they can, and maximizing his production by having him DH would be a good way to go about that.

Several Yankees Free Agents Awaiting Offers

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    Posted: Thursday, Nov. 22 at 3:25 pm ET

    The Yankees have re-signed Hiroki Kuroda. Now all they have to do is re-sign Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Russell Martin.

    According to George A. King III of the New York Post, none of those three has received a contract offer yet. The word is that the Yankees haven't made offers to any free agents, for that matter.

    There's no hurry as far as Pettitte and Mo are concerned, as the Yankees know that neither of them is going to test the market this winter. They'll only play for the Yankees.

    But Martin is different. He has a fair number of suitors outside of New York, and the thinking is that he could be in the market for a multi-year deal worth anywhere between $8 and $10 million. That's not ideal for the Yankees, who seem hesitant to hand out multi-year deals this offseason.

    Is a .211 hitter with a career .751 OPS really worth all the interest? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. Martin's not the best hitter in the world, but he's proven to be pretty durable over the last two seasons and he's only going to be 30 years old by the time Opening Day rolls around. In terms of pure catchers (i.e. people other than Mike Napoli), he's the best option on the market.

    The smart money is on something getting done between Martin and the Yankees, though. He fits well in New York, and a multi-year contract for him wouldn't be a payroll killer along the lines of some of the other contracts the Yankees have on their hands.

Andy Pettitte Is Probably Coming Back

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    Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:50 pm ET

    Andy Pettitte made a surprise comeback to the mound in 2012. Now everyone wants to know if he still wants to pitch again in 2013.

    Don't ask the Yankees. They don't know yet. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that all signs point towards Pettitte coming back for one more year:

    Pettitte yet to tell #Yankees plans, but everyone talk to seems confident will return. But expect him to want much more than $2.5M of '12

    — Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 21, 2012

    It makes sense that Pettitte would want a raise on the $2.5 million he made in 2012 after posting a 2.87 ERA. He also knows that the Yankees are trying to get their payroll under $189 million in 2014, not in 2013. They can afford to pay him what he wants for one year before cutting costs in 2014.

    If Pettitte really wants to come back, something will get done. He's not as young as he once was and his stuff is nowhere close to what it once was, but he showed in 2012 that he can still pitch. And had it not been for the freak injury he suffered in June, he could have piled up a significant amount of innings.

    A deal may not be struck soon, but it sounds like Pettitte will be back in pinstripes for one last season in 2013.

Yankees in No Hurry to Fill Catching Vacancy?

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    Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:40 pm ET

    Now that the Yankees have taken care of Hiroki Kuroda, they can move on to taking care of Russell Martin, right?

    Not so fast. The word from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com is that the Yankees are only focused on their pitching right now, with every other area of need on hold. That includes their catching situation.

    One assumes that the primary hold-ups in regards to the Yankees' pitching are whether or not Andy Pettitte will come back and Mariano Rivera's contract situation. The Yankees may be waiting until they have both of them locked up to turn their attention to Martin.

    This doesn't necessarily mean that the Yankees are committed to bringing back Martin when they do turn their attention to him, mind you. Rosenthal says that the Yankees are open to replacing Martin, perhaps with somebody like Mike Napoli or A.J. Pierzynski. 

    It's possible that Martin will just go sign somewhere else while the Yankees are taking their sweet time, but it's by no means a given that will happen. The catching market is apparently in wait-and-see mode, in part due to the Yankees and in part due to the fact that teams are waiting to see what the Red Sox and Blue Jays will do with their catching surpluses.

    As such, the Yankees can afford to not be in a hurry because the market is basically telling them that there's no hurry.

Hiroki Kuroda Signs

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:45 pm ET

    Yankees fans freaking out about Hiroki Kuroda can stop freaking out about Hiroki Kuroda.

    According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Kuroda has agreed to re-sign:

    Sources: The Yankees have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Hiroki Kuroda.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 20, 2012

    And the terms:

    The agreement with the Yankees and Kuroda is for $15 million, with some incentives that are worth less than $1 million.

    — Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 20, 2012

    That takes care of the Yankees' need for a No. 2 starter to slot behind CC Sabathia. They're returning the same guy who gave them 219.2 innings and a 3.32 ERA in 2012.

    And it's a good thing they are. As I've noted before, Kuroda was the only surefire No. 2 pitcher on the market that the Yankees were going to be able to sign for one year. If he had signed elsewhere, Brian Cashman would have been forced to make a tough call.

    Now that Kuroda has re-signed, the Yankees can get to work on bringing back Andy Pettitte and addressing the club's needs in right field and in the bullpen.

    They could also use an infielder. Read more about that on the next slide...

Stephen Drew on Yankees' Radar?

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:50 pm ET

    Here's an interesting rumor.

    According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yankees are showing interest in free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew. He's also drawing interest from the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox.

    This is interesting, of course, because the Yankees already have a shortstop. A pretty good one, too, if the legends are to be believed.

    By showing interest in Drew, it could be that the Yankees are hinting they're not overly confident in Derek Jeter's ability to bounce back from a broken ankle to play every day in 2013. Or they could be eyeing him for a utility role, even though Drew has never played anywhere other than shortstop.

    If that's what they want, I wish them luck signing Drew. If I'm him, I'm looking for a place to start, even if it's for only one year. If he proves himself on a one-year deal in 2013, he'll head back onto the market as a 30-year-old shortstop looking for a multi-year deal.

    There aren't too many teams out there that have starting jobs open for Drew, but there are some. The Red Sox, for example, could start him over Jose Iglesias. The Tigers have Jhonny Peralta, but the word from ESPN's Jim Bowden is that he could soon be traded to make way for Drew.

    Given the opportunities that are out there, I don't see Drew ending up on the Yankees.

Yankees the Favorites to Sign Hiroki Kuroda

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 5:20 pm ET

    The latest on Hiroki Kuroda sounds very similar to all the other reports that have come out about his situation recently, but it's framed in such a way that things suddenly look good for the Yankees.

    According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Yankees are "very confident" that they're going to sign Kuroda. This is according to agents and other teams, who indicate that the Yankees believe that Kuroda will only pitch for them or back in Japan in 2013.

    Pretty flimsy stuff as far as rumors go, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has a similar report out today. The thinking around the league is that the Yankees are the "likely favorite" to sign Kuroda as long as he wants to remain in the states.

    The Dodgers were interested, but Heyman says they've turned their attention to Zack Greinke and others. That's not good news for the Angels, who were also rumored to be interested in Kuroda, as they would love to retain Greinke after renting him from the Milwaukee Brewers.

    It's difficult to tell how close Kuroda and the Yankees are, but it sounds like the Yankees can afford to take their time.

Is Now the Time to Trade Curtis Granderson?

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 1:05 pm ET

    There are plenty of quality center fielders on the market, including Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan. Any team looking for a new center fielder and doesn't mind spending some money has no excuse not to pick one up.

    But maybe this year's center fielders want a little bit too much money. In fact, an anonymous executive told ESPN's Buster Olney that free-agent outfielders in general are scaring away potential buyers with their asking prices. Teams in need could therefore look to the trade market for alternatives.

    If so, Olney thinks the Yankees could benefit. If they were to put Curtis Granderson on the block, they could get offers for him and may actually get a decent prospect in return for him.

    Granted, this is just the latest piece of speculation regarding Granderson. Goodness knows Olney's not the first person to suggest that he could be traded, and he probably won't be the last.

    There's no question the Yankees should be willing to listen to offers for Granderson, but they have to know as well as anyone that his trade value is not as sky-high as it was this time last year. He may be coming off a season in which he set a new career high with 43 home runs, but his OPS dropped over 100 points from where it was in 2011 and he had a brutal time catching the ball in center field. Per FanGraphs, Granderson posted the lowest UZR of any qualified center fielder.

    Also, Granderson is on the books for $15 million in 2013. He may not be a long-term investment, as his contract is up after 2013, but he's certainly an expensive option for next season that relatively few teams can afford. The Yankees may have to eat part of his salary in order to move him.

    I don't think we're talking about an impossibility here, but I do think the Yankees would stand a better chance of getting a good haul for Granderson if the free-agent supply of center fielders didn't meet the demand so well. That's not really an issue this year.

Raul Ibanez Wants to Re-Up with the Yankees

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 19 at 1:00 pm ET

    Raul Ibanez gave the Yankees solid value in 2012, hitting 19 home runs and posting a decent .761 OPS in just 425 plate appearances.

    He was particularly good at Yankee Stadium, where he had an .895 OPS during the regular season. He also pitched in a couple dramatic home runs during the postseason.

    According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, Ibanez would like to do it all over again. He's free to sign wherever he pleases this winter, but returning to the Yankees is his first choice.

    “If I get an opportunity to play for the Yankees again,” he said, “it would be fantastic.”

    The interest would appear to be mutual, as it's been reported by Dan Martin of the Post that the Yankees have had "preliminary discussions" about bringing back Ibanez, 40, for one more season.

    The Yankees are also looking at righty-hitting outfielder Scott Hairston, who could conceivably form a platoon with Ibanez in right field. It's not Ibanez's natural position, but he did log over 100 innings in right field in 2012.

    You have to think there isn't too much demand for Ibanez elsewhere on the market. If the Yankees are willing to bring him back, something will get done.

Andy Pettitte Close to a Decision?

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 19 at 12:45 pm ET

    One of the more overlooked Yankees offseason storylines is Andy Pettitte's future with the club. This may be because nobody, including Pettitte himself, seems to have any clue whether the veteran lefty has a future with the Yankees.

    According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, we'll find out soon enough. The word is that Pettitte could give the Yankees "a timetable for his answer" sometime this week.

    Now there's a phrase you don't hear every day. The indication here is that Pettitte's decision could come in increments, rather than a simple "yes" or "no" right off the bat. 

    However, Pettitte did say that he won't make the Yankees wait too long. If he does decide to come back, he's apparently going to make up his mind a lot sooner than he did last year, when he didn't decide to pitch again until spring training was already underway.

    As Martin was quick to note, the Yankees could use a definitive answer from Pettitte sooner rather than later. Their rotation is currently in pieces with both Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda on the free-agent market. If Kuroda walks and Pettitte decides to retire again, the Yankees will have a rather serious problem on their hands in regards to rounding out their rotation.

    The idea of retaining Pettitte and Kuroda, after all, is that both of them would be short-term investments. Pettitte's deal would only be for one year, and the Yankees are eyeing a one-year deal for Kuroda as well. They're trying to keep their 2014 payroll as open as possible, and offering one-year contracts this winter is the best way for them to go about doing that.

    There aren't many pitchers out there who are looking for one-year deals, so the Yankees will be pretty short on options if Pettitte and Kuroda are not retained.

Yankees Talking to Scott Hairston

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 19 at 12:25 pm ET

    Finally, a Yankees offseason update that doesn't have something to do with Hiroki Kuroda!

    According to a report from Dan Martin of the New York Post, the Yankees are having conversations with free-agent utility man Scott Hairston. Indications are that the Yankees view him as a fit in right field, where he could form a platoon with Raul Ibanez if he is brought back.

    Going after Hairston is exactly the kind of thing we've come to expect from the Yankees in recent years, as he's a solid veteran player who could be had for cheap. In this case, the Yankees would be signing up to get some pretty good value, as Hairston would be coming to them fresh off the finest season of his career.

    Hairston played a career-high 134 games for the New York Mets in 2012, posting a career-high .803 OPS and hitting a career-high 20 home runs. He did it while playing all three outfield spots.

    The one big concern about Hairston is that he's not a big on-base guy. He had a .299 OBP this year, and he has yet to play a full season in which he's managed an OBP over .313. It's not in his nature to take walks.

    But if the Yankees were to use him as part of a platoon while batting him at the bottom of their order, Hairston's low-OBP tendency wouldn't be a killer. They'd be happy so long as he kept the power coming.

    It sounds like the Yankees will have to outbid the Mets if they want Hairston, but that shouldn't be a problem.

New York or Japan for Hiroki Kuroda?

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 19 at 12:15 pm ET

    You get the sense that the general expectation is that Hiroki Kuroda will end up re-signing with the Yankees when all is said and done, most likely on a one-year deal.

    Some, however, have suggested pretty strongly that he will head elsewhere instead. A return to Southern California to play for the Dodgers or Angels could be in the cards. A return to Japan could also be in the cards.

    But Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com would advise Yankees fans not to worry too much:

    Sense among execs - and not just those with #Yankees - is that Kuroda will stay with Yanks or return to Japan. Other options less in play.

    — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 19, 2012

    Obviously, you have to take this for what it's worth. Executives may feel one way. Kuroda himself may feel another way entirely.

    Still, this definitely bodes well for the Yankees. I've noted before that re-signing Kuroda is a top priority if for no other reason than the fact that he's probably the only No. 2-level pitcher on the free-agent market who is willing to sign a one-year deal. They really can't afford to let him go.

    I'm skeptical about whether Kuroda would sign with the Angels, but I still wouldn't rule out the Dodgers. He knows the organization well, they can pay him well, and they can offer Kuroda a better chance at a ring than the Yankees can.

    So if the Yankees want to keep Kuroda, they better prepare an offer that the Dodgers will conceivably be unwilling to match. Good luck with that.

Does Hiroki Kuroda Prefer LA?

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    Posted: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4:45 pm ET

    The more you hear, the more it sounds like Hiroki Kuroda may not come back to the Yankees after all.

    According to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Kuroda has told friends that his preference is to pitch in Southern California again. He of course spent the first four years of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his daughters still attend elementary school in SoCal.

    If this is true, then the Dodgers have to like what they hear. They need a starting pitcher and they're reportedly very much interested in bringing Kuroda back. And since they can offer Kuroda (and everyone else, really) the moon, there's certainly a deal to be made between the two sides.

    This doesn't mean the Yankees can't outbid the Dodgers, though. They want Kuroda on a one-year deal so they don't have to worry about him impacting their payroll plans for 2014, and he's said to be open to signing a one-year deal. It's not outside the realm of possibility that the Yankees will offer him more than he's worth and then waive goodbye to him after 2013.

    Heck, why not? The Yankees have the money, and they certainly have a need for him. If they lose Kuroda, they will have lost one of the top No. 2 starters in the game. There aren't many more like him on the free-agent market, and the ones who do fit the bill likely won't be accepting a mere one-year deal.

    If the Yankees don't get something done with Kuroda, they're going to be in a tight spot.

Yankees Still Hopeful on Hiroki Kuroda

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    Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1:25 pm ET

    The latest on Hiroki Kuroda is that the Yankees still want him, and that they're still hopeful they can re-sign him.

    Such is the gist of the latest report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Yankees are still busy negotiating with Kuroda, and they're hopeful that he'll choose to sign a one-year deal with them instead of bolting for the Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox or his native Japan.

    Returning to Japan seems to be a very legit possibility for Kuroda, who has promised to end his career where it started. When he does, he wants to be sure he has something left in the tank.

    Of course, this just could be a negotiating ploy. You'd have to ask Kuroda.

    One thing that's for sure is that the Yankees probably don't have to worry about the Red Sox. They can't promise him the same chance to win that the Yankees, Dodgers or Angels can promise him, and it doesn't help that Kuroda is far more familiar with New York and Southern California than he is with Boston.

    The Dodgers and Angels, on the other hand, are legit threats to steal Kuroda from the Yankees. Both of them need Kuroda, and both of them have riches, familiar territory and a chance to win to offer him.

    The smart money is still on Kuroda ending up with the Yankees. But the longer this drags out, the more likely he is to view the Dodgers and Angels as better options.

Yankees Interested in Ricky Nolasco

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    Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 12:35 am ET

    The Blue Jays are all set to contend in 2013 after their huge trade with the Marlins, putting all the other teams in the division on notice.

    The Yankees may have an idea for how to respond, and it involves going to the same well that the Blue Jays went to. According to Erik Boland of Newsday, they have some interest in Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco:

    With the Marlins selling off parts, source says Yankees, not surprisingly, have an interest in Nolasco, who has 1 yr $11.5 mil left on deal

    — Erik Boland (@eboland11) November 14, 2012

    Later on in the day on Wednesday, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that Nolasco had texted him, “I’m next anyways."

    So there's that. But is he a good fit for the Yankees?

    No. Not really. The Yankees need at least one quality starter, and it's way too debatable as to whether Nolasco qualifies as being "quality."

    Nolasco hasn't posted an ERA below 4.00 since 2008, and he's only posted an ERA+ over 100 once in his career. In 18 career starts against American League clubs, he's 6-10 with a 5.43 ERA.

    He'd surely give the Yankees innings, as Nolasco has logged at least 185 innings in each of the last two seasons and four of the last five. 

    But if the Yankees are looking for more than just a mediocre innings-eater, they can do a lot better than Nolasco.

Yankees Pleased That Rafael Soriano Opted Out?

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 4:55 pm ET

    Rafael Soriano could have made $14 million in 2013, but he decided to opt out of his contract instead. He could have then chosen to accept the $13.3 million qualifying offer that the Yankees made him, but he didn't want to do that either.

    And apparently, this is all just fine with the Yankees.

    Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a good column on the situation today. In it, he notes that the Yankees are "privately pleased" that they don't have to pay Soriano so much money in 2013.

    While the Yankees may be happy about the situation, Soriano himself may soon be the exact opposite of happy. It's been said that he's looking for a four-year deal worth $60 million, and he may have picked the wrong year to pursue a deal like that.

    Sherman notes that the last two seasons have seen closers come out of nowhere to play major roles for their teams. Jason Motte emerged as a shutdown closer to help the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011, and Sergio Romo did the same for the Giants this year.

    Elsewhere, Aroldis Chapman and Tyler Clippard found success as closers during the regular season after taking over for incumbent closers, and Jim Johnson led the league in saves in 2012 after entering the year with only 21 career saves.

    Indeed, Soriano himself wasn't supposed to be a closer in 2012. He's only in a position to ask for a big new contract because Mariano Rivera got hurt.

    Sabermetricians have long argued that the idea of the "proven closer" is a myth. In the last two seasons, reality has proven this to be true. If front offices around the league are coming to grips with the idea, Soriano may be forced to take what he can get.

The Latest on Torii Hunter, Right Field Hole

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    Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 1:05 pm ET

    Welp, it sounds like we can count the Yankees out of the Torii Hunter sweepstakes.

    All signs point towards the Detroit Tigers being the favorite to sign Hunter to a contract. They have much to offer him, most notably a legit chance at his first ring.

    The Yankees could certainly try to sell Hunter on the notion that he could win a ring with them too, but their problem is that they don't want to make him a competitive offer. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Hunter wants a two-year deal and the Yankees are only willing to offer him a one-year deal.

    “I’d say there’s little shot,” said a source of the Yankees' pursuit of Hunter.

    With Hunter apparently out of the mix and Nick Swisher's ship already well in the distance, the Yankees basically have to resort to Plan Bs at this juncture. 

    One option would be to bring back Ichiro, which Feinsand says is still a possibility. The Yankees could also bring back Raul Ibanez, who is coming off a season in which he posted an .895 OPS at Yankee Stadium.

    Dan Martin of the New York Post says that the Yankees have had "preliminary discussions" with Ibanez about him possibly coming back as part of a platoon in 2013. That would indicate that they'd also sign a right-handed hitter who could step in and play right field. Ryan Ludwick, for example, could be a possibility. But that's just me speculating.

    Regardless, the Yankees' willingness to only offer Hunter one year says a lot about their plans for 2013. It would seem that they're trying to avoid any commitments that they'll still be worrying about in 2014 and beyond. They may want to tackle 2013 with a bunch of hired guns and then see where they stand after the season before trying to get their payroll under the $189 million threshold.

    In other words, look for the Yankees to be pretty cheap this offseason.

Yankees Not Alone in Russell Martin Sweepstakes

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 4:50 pm ET

    There doesn't seem to be much doubt that Russell Martin will end up back with the Yankees for the 2013 season, but maybe there should be.

    According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, there are five other teams out there that are showing interest in Martin: the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, and another unidentified club.

    This is excellent news for Martin, as this amount of interest will invariably allow him to drive up his price tag. He's bound to get a significant raise on the $7.5 million salary he made in 2012.

    It may seem odd that so much interest is being shown in a player who hit just .211 last season, but Martin is appealing because he's a guy who can catch upwards of 130 games per season while hitting around 20 home runs. Other guys can do that, but Martin is more appealing than any of them because he's still on the good side of 30.

    There's still a deal to be struck between Martin and the Yankees, but odds are the Yankees are going to have to pay him more than they'd like to. They may also have to turn a short-term deal into a long-term deal.

    This could explain why they're kicking the tires on Mike Napoli (see the next slide). They may figure that they may as well get a more explosive catcher if they're going to spend big bucks on one.

    If so, it's hard to argue with that logic.

Yankees Eyeing Mike Napoli

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    Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 4:25 pm ET

    One of the more overlooked areas of need the Yankees are dealing with at the moment is at catcher. Expectations are that they'll bring back Russell Martin, but they'll be in a pretty tough spot if they don't.

    The Yankees probably will bring back Martin in the end, but it sounds like they're keeping their options open. The word from Bob Nightengale of USA Today is that the Bombers have their eye on Mike Napoli:

    Mike Napoli, the Texas #Rangers free-agent catcher, is drawing interest from the New York #Yankees

    — Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 12, 2012

    Two thoughts come to mind.

    One is that this could just be a bit of posturing meant to get Martin's attention. Martin may be more willing to settle for what the Yankees have to offer if they indicate that they can do better than him.

    And two, obviously, is that the Yankees' interest in Napoli could be legit.

    Napoli would fit well on the Yankees. His powerful righty bat would be a welcome addition to the middle of the club's lineup, which was missing a powerful righty bat by the end of the season when the ghost of Alex Rodriguez was trying and failing to recapture his old thump. And while Napoli probably wouldn't catch every day, the Yankees have more than enough catching depth to ensure that that wouldn't be a problem.

    The bigger issue is the money. Napoli is coming off a down year at the plate, but he's still going to command a multi-year deal worth a nice chunk of change. That may frighten the Yankees, who seem to be taking their desire to get under the luxury tax threshold by 2014 very seriously.

    That's what leads me to believe that this is probably just a bit of gamesmanship. But if Napoli is willing to take a little less money in order to h