Empty-handed at Winter Meetings, Yankees ready to deal
“I didn’t do anything,” Cashman said. “We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we’ve got a long way between now and Opening Day. We’ll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive, and just wait and see.”
The Yanks tried to join the frenzy at a wild Winter Meetings, but their experience will be remembered more for who they lost. It was a week in which the Yankees watched David Robertson take a four-year, $46 million deal from the White Sox, then learned that Brandon McCarthy had scored a four-year, $48 million pact from the Dodgers.
In both cases, the Yankees declined to extend a proposal, other than the qualifying offer that Robertson turned down last month. In Robertson’s case, they decided that they’d rather have the package of Andrew Miller on a four-year, $36 million deal and a compensatory Draft pick, giving them a few extra dollars to spend. As for McCarthy, Cashman said that he “figured the market would take him at a level that we couldn’t play on.”
Thus, the Yankees’ needs are exactly what they were five days ago. Here’s a handy recap of how we covered the team’s business at the Winter Meetings:
Day 1: Miller joined the beat reporters on a conference call and said that he feels capable of handling the closer’s role, though that opportunity did not come up in his talks with the Yankees and he plans to accept any role that manager Joe Girardi hands to him. Now tracking the Yanks’ Hot Stove moves as an interested observer, Miller said he feels that New York’s bullpen already looks formidable on paper.
“I think I can get three outs at any point in the game, wherever that may be,” Miller said. “Whatever it is, it’s fine with me. I want to win. I want to shake hands and high-five at the end of the game more than anything. If I have to get two outs in the sixth, there’s value in that.”
Cashman and the Yankees contingent arrived just before noon and sequestered in their suite for conversations with teams and agents. Sometime during the day, Cashman met with agent Scott Leventhal and told him that the Yankees would not bid on Robertson. Word of Robertson’s agreement with the White Sox then moved through the hotel lobby around midnight.
“We feel that our bullpen is going to be very strong again,” Girardi said. “We feel like we have a number of great arms. I’m not really worried about that because of the arms we have down there, and I feel like we’ll have a very good bullpen.”
With Miller and Dellin Betances potentially in line to jump into the closer’s role, Girardi also mentioned Justin Thomas, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley as options to help out in a closer-by-committee situation. The Yanks would prefer to have a set closer by Opening Day. Cashman revealed that he publicly kept the Yankees in Robertson’s mix following the Miller signing to help him maximize his free agent value.
During the week, Cashman confirmed that he spoke to several teams about trades that hit dead ends. Among them — the A’s for Jeff Samardzija, the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, the Tigers for Rick Porcello and the D-backs for Wade Miley. In Porcello’s case, Cashman says that he obviously didn’t have a player like Yoenis Cespedes to offer; in Gordon’s case, the Dodgers were already moving forward in talks with the Marlins.
“I just said, if you see any fits, let me know,” Cashman said.
Prior to last week’s Didi Gregorius trade, the Yanks had also talked to the Phillies about Jimmy Rollins. One minor note from this day – earlier reports that the Yankees hired Marcus Thames as an assistant hitting coach are said to be false, according to Cashman. In fact, Thames was never interviewed. The search to replace Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher is taking a back seat to pursuing trades and free agents.
Day 3: Following the news of Jon Lester choosing the Cubs over the Red Sox, Scott Boras took his annual place as the center of attention at the Winter Meetings (hey, I’m in this photo!) and attempted to dangle Max Scherzer in front of the Yankees’ eyes.
“I can’t predict what the Yankees are going to do,” Boras said, “but I can tell you that a guy like Max fits into their starting rotation to develop a World Series-caliber set that is similar to what they’ve had in the past when they won.”
Cashman replied: “Good, that means he likes the four we’ve got!” Yankees people still state that they do not plan on issuing another nine-figure pitching contract; industry people are saying they aren’t so sure about that.
By this point, the Yanks had checked in with free agent closers Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli. There was also an Alex Rodriguez update – A-Rod was seen in Miami by strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause, who issued a positive report. Rodriguez is heavier than his listed playing weight of 225 pounds, but Cashman said there has been progress.
On the third base front, the Yankees continued to talk to Chase Headley. The switch-hitter is reported to have a four-year, $65 million offer in hand from an undisclosed team, and if that is true, the Yankees are unlikely to match it. Cashman said the Yanks are ready to roll with Martin Prado at third base if it comes to that, giving Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela a crack at the second base job. They could also go after the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie. Boras mentioned that Stephen Drew is willing to sign as a second baseman.
Cashman also reaches out to Hiroki Kuroda’s agent, Steve Hilliard, who tells the Yankees that Kuroda has not reached any decisions about 2015. Kuroda is said to be once again entertaining thoughts of retirement, though Cashman has said that he expects Kuroda to pitch next season.
News of McCarthy’s deal with the Dodgers breaks late in the evening. Cashman soon confirms that the Yankees didn’t make him an offer. I file a fun story about Eric Chavez’s new front office/coaching gig.
The Yanks’ only pickup of the meetings? The reported Minor League signing of infielder Nick Noonan, a move that has not been announced by the club.
Day 4: The quiet Winter Meetings conclude with the Yankees idle in the Rule 5 Draft, opting to keep their three vacant 40-man roster spots clear for future trades and free agent signings. They also do not lose any players. Rumors briefly connect the Yanks to free agent Ervin Santana, who signed a four-year deal with the Twins.
The Yanks’ adjoining suites on the 29th floor are vacated; the room service bill is likely substantial. In wrapping up the meetings, assistant GM Billy Eppler said that the Yankees’ attitude has been one of patience rather than frustration.
“You always want to walk out of here with something to show for it, but when you make headway in certain arenas, it makes you feel like you’ve been able to drill down on some things that hopefully will present themselves in the coming days,” Eppler said.