Archive for the ‘ Hot Stove ’ Category

Yankees officially bring back Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki KurodaNow there are three guarantees for the Yankees rotation, as Hiroki Kuroda has joined CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. Kuroda’s contract is for one year and $16 million, representing a $1 million raise over last year’s salary.

Here’s the Yankees’ official press release.

The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year Major League contract, extending through the 2014 season.

Kuroda, 38, went 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA (201.1IP, 74ER) in 32 starts with the Yankees in 2013.  He made nine scoreless starts, the most such starts among all American League pitchers and second-most in the Majors behind only the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (10).

Kuroda is one of just four American League starters to post sub-3.33 ERAs in each of the last two seasons (3.31 in 2013 and 3.32 in ’12), joining the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, the White Sox’ Chris Sale and the Angels’ Jered Weaver.  Since joining the Yankees prior to the 2012 season, he has tossed at least 7.0 scoreless innings in 14 of his starts, tied with Kershaw for most in the Majors over the two-year stretch.

Prior to joining the Yankees in 2012, Kuroda spent his previous four seasons with Los Angeles-NL (2008-11), going 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA (699.0IP, 268ER) in 115 games (114 starts).  Among pitchers who changed leagues during the 2011-12 offseason, his 16 wins in 2012 were tied with the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett for second-most in the Majors behind only Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (21).

A native of Osaka, Japan, Kuroda became the fourth Japan-born player and third such pitcher to appear in a Major League game for the Yankees, joining outfielder Hideki Matsui (2003-09), left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa (2007-08) and right-handed pitcher Hideki Irabu (1997-99).  Since Kuroda’s Yankees debut, right-handed pitcher Ryota Igarashi (2012) and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (2012-13) have also played for the club.

Over his six Major League seasons, Kuroda has gone 68-70 with a 3.40 ERA (1,120.0IP, 423ER) in 180 career appearances (179 starts).  He has made at least 30 starts and tossed more than 180.0 innings in five of his Major League campaigns (all but his injury-shortened 2009 season).

Among all Japan-born pitchers ever to play in the Major Leagues, his 3.42 career ERA is the lowest all-time among pitchers who have made 75-or-more career starts or pitched at least 500.0 innings, while his 68 wins and 840 strikeouts trail only Hideo Nomo’s career totals of 123 wins and 1,918 strikeouts.

Originally signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on December 18, 2007, Kuroda spent 11 seasons (1997-2007) pitching for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League. In 271 appearances (244 starts) for the Carp, he went 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA (1,700.1IP, 697ER). 

Carlos Beltran joins the Yankees on a dizzying day of spending

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Did everyone forget that the Winter Meetings are coming up next week down in Florida? Should I cancel my flight? The Hot Stove is in a full-blown boil, and I honestly cannot remember a 48 to 72 hour period of so much frenzied activity and player movement in December.

If you thought the fun was over on Friday, then Carlos Beltran and the Yankees had something to say about it, agreeing to a three-year, $45 million pact that finally dresses the switch-hitter in pinstripes. Beltran’s arrival comes nearly a full decade after he offered his services to the Yankees at a reduced rate, only to join the Mets when the Bombers said they were sticking with Bernie Williams as the center fielder.

The deal comes as a direct result of Robinson Cano’s decision to accept a 10-year, $240 million pact from the Mariners. Cano finally scored the decade-long deal he coveted and wasn’t going find from the Yankees, who finished with an offer that is believed to have been seven years at $175 million.

I was surprised. I do believe that Cano wanted to stay with the Yankees, and I don’t think he linked up with Jay-Z and this Roc Nation Sports venture to establish his brand in the Pacific Northwest. He will probably talk about all of that at some point in the future, but few people would leave $65 million on the table. He had made it clear that there would be no hometown discount, and the Yankees weren’t budging. So, Seattle it is.

This was a day that started by watching the sun come up over Connecticut, strangely enough. Brian Cashman was on the roof of the Landmark Building in Stamford, practicing his rappelling once again for Sunday’s upcoming ‘Heights & Lights’ holiday event. Cashman checked his cell phone a few times and ducked behind a storage room to make a few calls, but he said that he hadn’t been briefed about any of the developments between Cano and the Mariners.

Twitter filled in the gaps: the Cano deal was reportedly on late at night, reportedly off during breakfast, then reportedly finalized before lunch. Cashman shrugged during the coffee and donut hours — the Yankees had made their proposal and felt comfortable with it, and if it was not good enough, they still had offers out to other free agents. Some of those balls in the air would find their way to the Bronx.

“Everybody is replaceable,” Cashman said. “That’s a team concept. Some people are harder to replace than others, no doubt about it. I don’t think anybody would have the attitude that anybody is going to make or break your future, but you certainly can invest for good reason into players that can try to make your future brighter. That’s what we’re trying to do with Robbie amongst others. If it’s not to be, it’s not to be, and we’ll continue to do business as we have and try to collect as many great players as we can.”

Cashman had said that the Yankees were “on the one-yard line” with more than three players, shaking his head when asked to identify them. We can fill in the gaps: Hiroki Kuroda (one year, $16 million), Kelly Johnson (one year, $3 million) and Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million, still not official). Somewhere in the middle of all this, Curtis Granderson became a Met.

Now Beltran is in the Bronx, and there’s more to come. The Yankees want to add another starting pitcher, bullpen help, support for the left side of the infield and – oh yeah – a second baseman.

No one should be surprised to hear free agent Omar Infante’s name pop up for that last need. No, he’s not Cano – players of that caliber are few and far between. But the Yankees intend to move on, and what’s more, they already appear to be well on their way.

So, yep, I’ll keep that flight to Florida. I want to see what happens next.

Mariano: Now Yanks need to address pitching

Mariano Rivera has moved rather seamlessly into life as a retired player, and along with that comes the freedom to serve as an armchair general manager.

The former Yankees closer voiced his reaction to the free-agent signings of catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and as he told MLB.com, they’ll help the Yankees in 2014. But Rivera still wants to see some movement on the mound.

“They have made good moves,” Rivera said. “I want to see pitching. I want pitching. Offense is good, but we need pitching. But those two players will be two great acquisitions, two good players, and hopefully they do it here in New York.”

On the pitching front, the Yankees have no sure things in the rotation beyond CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. They’ve made Hiroki Kuroda an offer to return, and are monitoring developments with Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. David Phelps, Adam Warren and Michael Pineda are among the others in the mix. They also need bullpen help.

Rivera also touched on the situation with Robinson Cano, pointing out that he had several opportunities over his career to leave the Yankees via free agency (remember, the Red Sox even made a serious bid for his services). Rivera stayed in New York, and he is hoping that Cano does the same.

“I chose to stay home because I grew up here,” Rivera said. “The New York Yankees are the best organization there is in sports, period. Hopefully Cano does the right thing, but I want him to be happy. Whatever he does, I want him to be happy.”

Yankees make Brian McCann signing official; press conference scheduled for Thursday

The Yankees will create the tangible proof on Thursday in the Bronx, parading new catcher Brian McCann before a gathering of reporters and photographers to herald the slugger’s first moment wearing pinstripes.

For now, a brief news release has made it official. The Yankees announced on Tuesday that they have signed the 29-year-old McCann to a five-year contract extending through the 2018 season, including a vesting option for the 2019 campaign.

The deal, worth a reported $85 million over the first five years, gives the Yankees a much-needed offensive upgrade behind the plate. A seven-time All-Star, McCann owns a career .277 batting average and leads all Major League catchers in home runs since 2005.

“The singular and unwavering desire of this organization is to construct a team each and every season designed to play meaningful baseball deep into October,” Yankees managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.

“In Brian McCann, we feel we have made a significant improvement to a key position, while adding a high-character presence to our clubhouse. Our work this offseason has just begun, but we feel this is an important step towards what will be an exciting and rewarding 2014 season for our fans.”

The Yankees and McCann reached agreement on a contract before the Thanksgiving holiday, but the deal was held up from being officially announced until McCann could undergo his physical.

A time has not yet been given for the press conference, which will be carried live by the YES Network.

Yankees trade Chris Stewart to Pirates

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Yankees have traded Chris Stewart to the Pirates for a player to be named later. The deal was officially announced on Monday morning.

The soon-to-be-completed signing of free agent catcher Brian McCann displaces Stewart, who served as the Yankees’ starting catcher for most of last season. Stewart had been a prime candidate to be non-tendered in advance of tonight’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline for arbitration-eligible players.

The Yankees project to have Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy in camp to compete for a job as McCann’s backup next spring. General manager Brian Cashman has said that he “absolutely” expects to tender a contract to Cervelli, who is also arbitration-eligible.

Stewart turns 32 in February and batted .219 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 109 games (97 starts at catcher) for the Yankees in 2013, which seemed to be a bit too much exposure for the career backup. With the Pirates, he’ll once again be backing up Russell Martin.

One last thought: Let’s take another look at the ridiculous double play that Stewart turned against the Red Sox back in July (where was Daniel Nava going, anyway?).

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