The Yankees have been searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder with power, and the Nationals suddenly may be looking to move one. Michael Morse makes sense for the Yankees on a number of levels, and thus it’s no surprise to see that the two are being linked in trade discussions.
Five to six teams – one of which was the Yankees – have contacted the Nationals regarding Morse, according to Ken Rosenthal, following yesterday’s signing of Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal by Washington.
Morse is due $6.75 million this season and is a free agent for 2014, so he fits under the Yankees’ financial constraints. The Nationals are in the market for a left-handed reliever, suggesting that Boone Logan could be included in a potential package, but they’ll need to come to the table with more.
MLB.com’s Bill Ladson believes, “If the Nationals attempt to trade Morse, they would want top prospects in return. It’s doubtful they would settle for veteran left-handed relievers in a trade.”
Unfortunately, as John Harper notes in the New York Daily News, “[the Yankees'] farm system is utterly barren of big trade chips, a problem that has persisted for several years, particularly after Jesus Montero was dealt.”
Ladson adds that the Nationals see the pitching-rich Rays as “great trade partners” for Morse, and quotes Washington GM Mike Rizzo as saying that the Nationals don’t have to jump at the first offers that come their way.
“We are going to put the best 25 men on the field for Opening Day,” Morse said. “We are going to be patient. If there is a deal out there that makes great sense for us, and makes great sense for Michael Morse, we’ll certainly consider it. But there is no gun to our head that we have to trade Michael Morse. We won’t trade him just to trade him. It will be a good trade in our favor, or we will just keep him.”
Right now, the Yankees’ in-house answers for a right-handed bat figure to be Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler. If you’re wondering what Morse thinks about all this, it seems like we’ll have to wait.
Hey everyone ,going silent for a while
— Michael Morse (@Dc_BEAST38) January 8, 2013
The Yankees have liked Jeff Keppinger for a while, and now with Alex Rodriguez out until approximately June, the versatile infielder may be looking even more appealing.
Keppinger’s name continues to pop up in connection to the Yankees, who could use him to fill in for Rodriguez through the first few months of the season and then slide him into a utility role if and when Rodriguez is ready to reclaim his starting job at third base.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the current asking price for Keppinger is two years and $8 million; a pretty good raise over the $1.5 million he earned from the Rays last year.
It’s still likely cheaper than it’d take to chase former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis (whom the YES Network’s Jack Curry reports the Yankees have touched base with … wonder how Youkilis and Joba Chamberlain on the same roster would work out?).
The Yankees have seemed allergic to multi-year contracts, but Brian Cashman has repeatedly pointed out that he’s never said they can’t do them. A $4 million commitment for 2014 wouldn’t figure to destroy their chances of coming in under $189 million. Keppinger recently broke his right fibula but is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Before the Dodgers pulled the trigger on their big trade with the Red Sox last week, they asked the Yankees about the possibility of trading for CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
The Yankees told Dodgers executives that they had no interest in trading either player, according to the report. Sherman also noted that there were no signs that the Dodgers had any interest in acquiring Alex Rodriguez.
Los Angeles instead added first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto in a blockbuster, salary-dump with the Red Sox, agreeing to take on $260 million in future salary.
The Yankees have engaged in discussions with free agent Bill Hall about a possible utility role, the New York Daily News reported.
Citing a person with knowledge of the situation, the newspaper reported that Hall is considering “a couple of teams.” The Yankees would likely only offer Hall a Minor League contract with a chance to make the club in Spring Training.
Hall, 32, batted a combined .211 last season with the Astros and Giants. The Yankees currently have Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena in line as bench candidates who can play multiple infield positions and some outfield.
In a conference call with reporters discussing the Michael Pineda trade on Monday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he’d be more inclined to trade from his pitching depth to acquire a designated hitter than to sign one on the open free agent market.
When the Yankees officially announce the signing of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, they’ll have seven starters vying for five spots. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Pineda, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia are also in that mix.
“Maybe I use our excess pitching to find a bat,” Cashman said. “That’s a possibility. … We stretched the payroll to get [Kuroda] done, so I’m not sure what we have financially. I think we’ll look at the trade market first and foremost and see where that takes us.”
Among the DH options out there, the Yankees have reportedly heard from Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez, but are not thought to consider any of them an urgent priority.
“I think [the free agent market] would be secondary,” Cashman said. “Not that any of those players aren’t quality, but I do think it’s probably in our interest to first and foremost see what’s available in the trade market, because we have excess starter. There should be a demand and an interest at the various levels in our starting pitching that might prove beneficial.”
If the season started today, the Yankees would likely go with Andruw Jones as their DH, though they are curious about Minor League slugger Jorge Vazquez.
The Yankees have heard from the representatives for free agents Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez about their opening at designated hitter, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff reports.
Guerrero and Ibanez could join a crowd of candidates vying for the Yankees’ attention in the wake of last week’s Jesus Montero trade to the Mariners. New York is known to have reached out to the representatives for Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Carlos Pena, but it is believed that the Yankees have only between $1 and $2 million to spend on a DH.
Internally, the Yankees are touting a tandem of Andruw Jones and Minor League slugger Jorge Vazquez to tackle DH duties, while also using the spot to help rest players like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. Davidoff’s report also noted that Jack Cust’s representatives talked to the Yankees, but Cust agreed to a contract with the Astros on Tuesday.
Free agent slugger Carlos Pena is on the list of possible Yankees DH candidates for the ’12 season with Jesus Montero now heading to Seattle, alongside choices like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, plus in-house options like Andruw Jones and Minor Leaguer Jorge Vazquez.
Pena was on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio with hosts Rich Herrera and Mel Antonen on Sunday evening, and briefly acknowledged being contacted by the Yankees. Here’s the transcript of that exchange, provided by SiriusXM:
Host/Mel Antonen: “Carlos, your name keeps coming up as a DH for the New York Yankees. Would you be interested in being a DH at this point in your career or is it safe to say you want to be a first baseman and you would cross the Yankees off the list?”
Carlos Pena: “I think we explore all the options. You have to be humble enough to look at all different opportunities and obviously I think it is the smart thing to do, is just to sit down and listen to it and see what it is all about. So, that’s the right way to go about it. That’s the professional way to go about it. Obviously I feel incredibly healthy and I would say that I have a very good glove so I love to play first base. But I’m also not going to close any doors, that’s for sure.”
Antonen: “Have you heard from the Yankees?”
Pena: “Yes, I have.”
Antonen: “About being a DH?”
Pena: “You know, I heard about, you read that stuff that’s in the newspaper. That’s something that hasn’t been discussed at all.”
The Yankees have never seemed to be a likely landing spot for Cuban outfield prospect Yoenis Cespedes. There was further evidence of that on Friday, as Cespedes told the Associated Press that the Yankees are not among six teams in pursuit of his services.
According to the AP, Cespedes listed the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians as the potential suitors who have shown the most interest in him. Cespedes is in the Dominican Republic and has not officially become a free agent, though that could happen very soon.
The Yankees have shied away from adding long-term contracts this winter and do not have a ready-made fit for Cespedes to step into their lineup. New York figures to again open the season with an outfield of Brett Gardner in left field, Curtis Granderson in center field and Nick Swisher in right field.
The Yankees are balking at a high asking price for the Cubs’ Matt Garza and have instead turned their attention to free agent right-hander Edwin Jackson, CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday.
Noting that the Yankees and Jackson “aren’t in any way close to a deal,” Heyman suggests that New York and agent Scott Boras could eventually find middle ground. Boras has been reported to be looking for a four or five year pact for Jackson worth approximately $15 million per season.
That could prove too high for the Yankees, who have been preaching fiscal responsibility this winter and would not get involved with free agents C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle, despite their stated need for a starting pitcher to slot behind CC Sabathia in the rotation.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted on Tuesday that the Yankees like Jackson, but not enough to give him a big multi-year contract. They’d be more inclined to offer Hiroki Kuroda a one-year contract, but even that is too costly for their budget at the time.
The Yankees may have some company in trying to secure Andruw Jones for their bench. The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that the Red Sox are believed to have joined New York in pursuit of the 34-year-old outfielder, and that there are multiple teams with interest.
Jones provided right-handed power for the Yankees last year, slugging 13 homers in limited playing time, with most of his 48 starts coming against left-handed hurlers. The Daily News noted that while J.D. Drew’s contract has expired in Boston, neither Ryan Kalish nor Josh Reddick have a great track record against left-handed pitching.