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.