MLB trade rumors and free agency whispers begin to fly around the news wires every offseason and the New York Yankees normally have their own column stretching on for miles.
Due to their annual payroll advantage and relentless desire to improve at every position, the New York Yankees are usually linked to each and every high-priced athlete put up for grabs.
While some rumors (such as Cliff Lee currently or CC Sabathia in 2008) have plenty of credibility attached to them, many others are nothing more than empty hopes and dreams. Often times these rumors are ways for teams to posture and improve their standing in other negotiations.
This list will help to cut through the nonsense and play a little New York Yankees "Fact or Faction" with regard to the offseason rumor mill.
Here are 10 often-discussed Yankee rumors that you should not at all believe:
Any time a disgruntled star demands a trade, or an aging veteran demands too much money, one of the first teams mentioned is the New York Yankees.
There are plenty of aging stars on this roster as is, and many of them are offensive players in need of DH time and days off to stay fresh. Any rumors such as these, though tempting in the event of a Posada injury, are to be ignored.
There have been a lot of whispers that the Yankees were not happy with the play of Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher down the stretch and in the postseason and that change was on the horizon.
Carl Crawford is as good as it gets for a 5-tool LF and the Yankees have the money, right?
Forget about these rumors, as Gardner and Swisher are “Girardi Guys” and Gardner provides the speed, defense and on-base percentage of Crawford for one-twentieth the cost.
Though riddled with injuries, 2010 was a successful year for veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte.
Pettitte made the All-Star team, he was the best Yankee pitcher in the postseason and he continued to show the ability to win without his best stuff—a key for pitchers as they lose a tick or two off the radar gun.
The itch to return for one more season will be too great to pass up, especially after being offered about $12-13 million for a last hoorah.
As stated earlier, Nick Swisher is a “Girardi Guy.” He loves the way he approaches the game and he will fight to keep him on this roster, especially with the assurances awarded with his new managerial contract.
Jayson Werth is a better defender, baserunner and clutch performer than Swisher, but it is not worth shaking up the locker room that drastically for a nearly 32-year-old OF looking for a middle-of-the-order payday.
It will be hard for management to ignore Swisher’s career .162 postseason average and just 5 RBI in 105 AB (including 12-for-81 or .148 in New York), but expect no change in the Yankees outfield.
There is only one suitor for Derek Jeter’s services. Both the Yankees and Derek know this. No other team would even entertain paying a 36-year-old shortstop coming off a career worst season the $15-20M/season he seems to prefer.
Due to this severe lack of demand, the Yankees are essentially bidding against themselves—their only competition being whether or not they can get a deal done without ruffling too many feathers.
Jeter will not entertain playing elsewhere regardless of the offer coming out of NY because whatever it is will still be the best offer around.
Priced prospect Jesus Montero has been told by Brian Cashman that the 2011 catching job is up for grabs. He is the man that everyone within the organization hopes can win the competition, but it won’t happen coming out of spring training.
Montero is an offensive weapon and a positional player prospect the Yankees haven’t seen since Jeter in 1996. That said, his defensive skills are still very raw, and he will be exposed before he begins to mature.
Francisco Cervelli will start the season behind the plate as Montero gets some more time in Triple-A, but it will not be long before the Montero era officially begins in the Bronx. My educated guess is the end of May.
There are a lot of reports circulating that Cliff Lee is seeking a similar deal to the 7 year/$161 million contract signed by his close friend CC Sabathia.
Unfortunately for Lee, two major differences exist between those two negotiations.
First of all, he is 32 years old—historically closer to exiting his prime than continuing in it. Secondly, the Yankees are not anywhere near as desperate as they were in 2008.
Roy Halladay recently signed a three-year extension for $60 million in Philadelphia through his 36th birthday. This is similar to what Lee will receive, as a 4-5 year deal will stretch him into a similar time frame.
Lee will receive the annual salary of Sabathia’s contract, but even the Yankees will never stretch its length beyond five years.
Though there has recently been some tempering of expectations in this area, there are still far too many reports linking a Yankees team sans Cliff Lee to a trade option for Zack Greinke.
There absolutely will not be a deal here because Greinke’s social anxiety disorder makes him incompatible with the microscope that is New York City.
The Yankees have seen many players fall victim to the bright lights of sports’ toughest environment and Greinke is a risk far too big to be worth taking. He is as likely to have a nervous breakdown as pitch to 15-18 wins and Brian Cashman knows this.
The Yankees have to say something in order to prove their lack of desperation in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. This is their method of stating publicly that there is a Plan B if his demands get out of hand.
That said, an injury-prone lefthander from the National League is not the kind of backup plan a World Series contender takes seriously.
Jorge De La Rosa had a 4.49 ERA in three seasons starting in Colorado, which translates to a near-5.00 ERA in the American League (Coors Field or not). In fact, in two of those three seasons De La Rosa had a higher ERA on the road than at Coors.
You don’t pay a mediocre pitcher this much money when a young prospect like Ivan Nova could easily duplicate his performance. Consider this nothing but posturing on Cashman’s part.
Every offseason, fans and GMs alike speculate on what the limits to the Yankees payroll might be. It is widely rumored that their salaries could balloon to $250M in a heartbeat, but these whispers can be put to bed.
Hal Steinbrenner knows what his fans want and he knows that he has more resources than any other franchise in the league. That being said, he also holds firm on his demands to limit his payroll totals to around $205-215M.
In fact, the Yankee payroll has actually gone down since the end of 2008, even after missing the postseason for the first time since 1993.
Every single penny that comes off the books will be reinvesting into the payroll year-to-year, but look for this already bloated number to remain constant until Robinson Cano’s contract renegotiation in a few years.