Updating this post to reflect the latest…
By now, you’ve probably heard the reports that the Yankees were involved heavily in trade talks to acquire Cliff Lee from the Mariners – maybe as soon as today. Lee is scheduled to pitch for Seattle tonight and, at last check, he’s still in line to do so. But if Brian Cashman can get this done, he’d be scratched and sent down the hallway to be fitted for a Yankees uniform.
There may have been a late snag as the two clubs worked on getting Lee into the Yankees dugout before first pitch. The New York Post was out front in reporting Friday afternoon that the Mariners were backing away from the deal, which had earlier been reported to be very close to completion.
It seems the deal would have included Jesus Montero, and reports have mentioned Double-A second baseman David Adams as well. Montero’s bat is considered close to big league ready, but he’s a catcher and the Yankees can deal from a position of strength there.
Jorge Posada is still under contract for another year, Francisco Cervelli is a capable backup and prospect Austin Romine projects as a better all-around catcher than Montero, whose big build might move him from behind the plate down the line.
So why make the deal at all? Lee would slide in as either the Yankees’ No. 1 or No. 2 starter, depending on where you want to put his old Indians teammate, CC Sabathia. All-Stars Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are also in the rotation, but A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez have been suspect at times this year.
With a six-man rotation, Vazquez could have become a trade commodity – he’s a free agent after ’10 and the Yankees aren’t likely to offer him arbitration. This could be a way to get some compensation for a pitcher who might be the odd man out, even though he’s had a 3.05 ERA since May 12. Also, with Nick Johnson out, the Yankees could have used Vazquez to acquire a bat.