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?).
At age 37, Alfonso Soriano may not be what he once was, but there’s little question that he could help the offensively-challenged Yankees. It’s not surprising, then, that the Yankees and Cubs are discussing a deal that would bring Soriano back to the Bronx.
The discussions are believed to be in the early stages, and nothing is imminent. The Yankees clearly would take Soriano, especially if the Cubs are willing to pick up a large chunk of his remaining salary, and Chicago would be looking for one or two Minor League prospects as they continue to sell off pieces of their team in advance of the July 31 Trade Deadline.
What would Soriano offer the Yankees? For one thing, a quality bat against left-handed pitching, something they sorely need. Here’s one notable chunk from the story posted above:
New York has been particularly vulnerable against left-handed pitching, one area at which Soriano has excelled this season, batting .280 (33-for-118) with six homers, 13 RBIs and an .820 OPS.
The Yankees’ team OPS against left-handers is .649, which ranks 28th in the Majors; only the White Sox (.640) and Nationals (.621) have been weaker against southpaws.
I could see a scenario where Soriano plays some outfield while helping to push the struggling Travis Hafner out the door. It is remarkable that there’s a situation where the Yankees might have Soriano and not Alex Rodriguez for the rest of the season, but that also would be premature. We’ll have more updates as this develops.
TONIGHT: Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.57 ERA) has the ball for the Yankees. Alexi Ogando (4-2, 2.93 ERA) is going for the Rangers. First pitch here at Rangers Ballpark is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
Here’s the Yankees lineup: Gardner 8 Ichiro 9 Cano 4 Overbay 3 Wells DH Nunez 6 Lillibridge 5 Mesa 7 Romine 2 Hughes RHP
Brian Cashman and his cell phone have been inseparable since the spring, when this rash of injuries started doing some real damage in the Yankees’ clubhouse, and that doesn’t figure to change as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.
“Man, I’ve been active already,” Cashman said today on a conference call with reporters. “I feel like up until recently we’ve been getting a new player in here [often] — they weren’t relatively big splashes, but it just feels like from mid-Spring Training on, we’ve been on overdrive mixing and matching stuff. I’m always open for business, if it feels like they’re incremental upgrades or significant ones.”
Cashman has shown that to be true this season — there have been the bigger moves, like trading for Vernon Wells and signing Lyle Overbay as a free agent, but the Yankees have also made tiny tweaks like acquiring infielder Reid Brignac from the Rockies in May because they believed Brignac represented an incremental upgrade over Chris Nelson (who was also acquired from the Rockies in May).
Now, with the First-Year Player Draft in the rear-view mirror, Cashman believes the stage could be set for transactions of a larger magnitude.
“The opportunity for significant upgrade trades obviously don’t usually take place until after the June Draft,” Cashman said. “We’re past that date so I think the atmosphere should be right about there. Activities in terms of conversations have definitely increased where clubs have turned their attention to, ‘All right, what are you guys looking to do, who do you need, who’s available?’
“Every GM is kind of cataloguing the available players and team needs. From that, obviously something can transpire over time with a few more conversations. Listen, because of the injuries that have hit us from the winter and March, we’ve been active and open to try to do something that would make sense for us. I think we’ve done a lot and we’re going to continue to try to do a lot. We’ll see where it takes us.”
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.”