New York Yankees' Winter Meeting Talk

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IDecember 8, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 16:  General Manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice before his team plays the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game One of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs on October 16, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Brian Cashman is in Indianapolis for the winter meetings of major league baseball. And, as you may be able to tell from his hair in the picture above, he is again the center of the storm.

The latest speculation is that the Yankees, Detroit, and Arizona are involved in discussions of a three-team deal that would bring centerfielder Curtis Granderson to New York.

But in return, the Yankees would have to yield Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke, Austin Jackson, and another prospect.

In all prior talks it was thought that young Jackson, the brightest prospect in the Yankee minor league system, was off limits. He may still be, but the discussion seems to center on him.

Phil Coke was also an important cog in the Yankee bullpen that was one of the biggest strengths leading to World Series triumph.

It is difficult to understand how Cashman could consider giving up so much to get Granderson who hit .249 last year.  Granderson has averaged 25 home runs per season over his career and has a .344 on base percentage and an OPS+ of 113. And he will be only 29 years old when the season begins.

Speculation centers on the fact that the Yankees will need to replace some of the power that will be lost if both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui sign elsewhere. 

Granderson would replace some of that power and his occupation of centerfield would allow the Yankees to upgrade their outfield defense by playing Melky Cabrera in left.

But the price would still seem very high. If the Yankees were willing to throw Jackson and Coke in with Kennedy to Toronto, one would think the Jays would seriously listen to that trade for Doc Halladay.

No one could seriously question that Halladay would be a better acquisition than Granderson, since Cashman has made it clear that starting pitching is still a priority for him.

With Andy Pettitte having announced he wants to pitch in 2010 and the Yankees being the best bet to re-sign him for one year, the Yankees have three solid starters.

Question marks remain about whether Joba Chamberlain and/or Phil Hughes will fill the remaining slots.  But acquiring Halladay from the Jays would allow Hughes to be used in the bullpen again, where he was very strong in 2009.

The cost of Halladay has been presumed to be too high. But he has already told the Jays to trade him by start of Spring Training or forget it. That has to bring the price down.

If the Jays do not accept a trade they will get nothing for Halladay who will walk after 2010 and will not resign with the Jays because he has made it clear he wants to play with a winner.

So if there is serious discussion of letting AJax and Coke go with Kennedy for Granderson, they better get back in touch with Toronto first.

There is even discussion that the Yankees might consider getting Granderson and Mike Cameron who is a free agent.

But Cameron will be 37 when the season starts and he has a lifetime batting average of .250.  He has averaged 23 home runs and 82 RBI per season.

But Cashman has shown determination over the past three seasons to get younger.

For that reason and that reason alone, it makes no sense to bring in Cameron. Melky Cabrera will be 25 when the new season starts and over parts of five seasons he has a career average of .269.

Cabrera is a very good outfielder and nothing about signing Cameron makes any sense at this point.

The Yankees still need to replace bats if Damon and Matsui both walk, which seems pretty likely.  Damon's agent, Scott Boras, has made it clear that he thinks Damon deserves a long term contract. 

But Damon is an absolute liability on defense and despite a surge in the postseason, his overall performance for 2009 would seem to mandate a reduction in salary and no more than a two-year contract.

Matsui is only a DH. He cannot play the outfield anymore with two surgically repaired knees and replacing him in critical situations on the bases is a must.

Girardi has made it clear he wants flexibility in the DH spot so he can rest Posada, ARod, Jeter and Mark Teixeira.

For that reason alone, Matsui is not likely to come back to the Yankees. 

If Granderson is acquired, Damon may be re-signed with the thought of using him almost solely as DH. But he has to come cheap to make that worthwhile.  If he is looking to match his $13 million salary from last year, he is too expensive at that price.

The Yankees will also shed $13 million in salary by letting Matsui go.

That kind of money would be better spent on acquiring Matt Holiday to play left, forgetting Granderson, keeping the prospects to go after Halladay, and leaving Melky Cabrera in centerfield where he is a superior defensive player and more than adequate at the plate.

If Matt Holiday were signed to play left field, he probably hits fifth in the order, with Posada and Cano following him. That leaves Swisher and Cabrera hitting eighth and ninth and no team could match them at the bottom of the order.

A lot of work remains to be done in Indy. But Cashman's hair will probably still be messed up when the winter meetings end with deals still to be made.


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