There have been rumblings that the Yankees could pull off a sign-and-trade with Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, who otherwise figures as a backup to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano if they sign the player.
MLB.com looks a little deeper into the situation and speculates the Yankees were actually surprised to land Nakajima with their $2.5 million posting bid, suggesting that the San Francisco Giants might be interested (video link):
NEW YORK – The Yankees have not made an offer to free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, according to a person with knowledge of the club’s thinking.
A report by the Japanese news outlet Sponichi suggested that the Yankees had already presented a one-year, $12 million offer to the hurler, who turns 37 in February.
The Yankees continue to look for ways to add starting pitching that could slide behind ace CC Sabathia, and they did show a level of trade interest in Kuroda last summer when he was with the Dodgers. But the person said that the report of an offer is not true.
Kuroda finished 2011 with a 13-16 record and 3.07 ERA in 32 starts for Los Angeles, striking out 161 and walking 49 in 202 innings.
In four Major League seasons, Kuroda is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in 115 games (114 starts). His catcher for the first three seasons with the Dodgers was Russell Martin, who is entering his second season in New York.
You’ve almost certainly noticed how much quieter the Yankees figure to be during these Winter Meetings. Brian Cashman says it isn’t for a lack of trying; he just seems to be having conversations with other general managers that are hitting dead ends. But why?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think everybody values prospects a lot more now, while at the same time trying to retain maximum value on players toward the back end of their contracts. It’s just hard to find matches. Money is a real issue for everybody; everybody has various different budgets, some higher than lower. It’s just hard to find a match – and it feels like it’s harder now than ever. You don’t see those old-school 7- to 11-player deals.
“You don’t see stuff like that anymore. I think people are smarter, also; it’s not a complaint, but a lot of people are a lot smarter and therefore more careful. This isn’t the old seat-of-the-pants, get drunk in the lobby and write names on the napkin. People don’t conduct business that way any more. They just don’t.”
It’s not like the Yankees don’t have chips that teams are asking about. In fact, Cashman said he’s getting requests about some names you might not even have thought of.
“I’ve got a lot of teams expressing interest in [Ivan] Nova, [Brett] Gardner, [Phil] Hughes, [Jesus] Montero, [Hector] Noesi, [Manny] Banuelos, [Dellin] Betances; I’ve had teams ask me about [David] Robertson,” Cashman said. “The ones that people don’t ask me about are [Robinson] Cano and [Curtis] Granderson. Outside of that, I’ve had basically hits on everybody else.”
And, obviously, there has been no rush to deal those players away.
“All those guys are either future high performers or currently high performers, they’re under control and they’re cheap,” Cashman said. “It’s, ‘Hey, take my older, expensive, over-the-hill guy for your young, better-performing guy.’ I’m like, ‘Let me think about that and get back to you.’”
While there have been some rumblings about free agent Mike Gonzalez, to mention one name, Brian Cashman isn’t painting a very optimistic picture of finding another lefty to complement Boone Logan in the Yankees’ bullpen.
“It’s a luxury to have. I don’t expect to find that whatsoever,” Cashman said. “If you told me, would you like to have a lefty in your bullpen to go with Boone Logan, my answer would be yes, but I don’t expect to get that whatsoever.
“We have a lot of righties that are high-end that get lefties out, with [David] Robertson and [Rafael] Soriano and [Joba] Chamberlain coming back from the DL at some point. So, we’re covered getting lefties out of the pen.
“I would like to get another lefty, but I don’t think any of you here should focus on how I’m going to do that, because I don’t anticipate that whatsoever. Is it on the wish list? It is. If anybody tells you that we’re focused on any left-handed reliever, they’re lying.”
Pedro Feliciano is under contract for ’12, but isn’t expected to pitch at all. Damaso Marte is a free agent, but it’s difficult to see the Yankees going that way again.
Veteran infielder Eric Chavez has decided to play in 2012 and remains interested in a return engagement with the Yankees, among other clubs that have drawn his attention.
The Yankees enjoyed having Chavez as a reserve corner infielder, backing up both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in 2011.
Hearing news that Manny Ramirez has applied to Major League Baseball for reinstatement, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was succinct in summing up his interest level, telling the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t think so.”
Playing for the Rays, Ramirez retired in April after being hit with a 100-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. The Washington Heights product was 1-for-17 with Tampa Bay this year.
David Ortiz mentioned earlier this offseason that he had a lot of respect for the way the Yankees do business, and Robinson Cano is among those who believe that Big Papi could be a welcome fit in pinstripes.
“It would be a good idea, having another lefty on the team,” Cano told the New York Daily News on Friday, attending Ortiz’s golf tournament in the Dominican Republic. “We all know he’s a great hitter. Last year, a lot of people were saying, ‘He’s done.’ He proved a lot of people wrong. I like people, when they’re down, they prove people wrong. He came back, did a great job.”
Cano might have to convince general manager Brian Cashman, who has said repeatedly that he doesn’t see pursuing a big bat as a need. Pitching has been the Yankees’ main winter focus, as Cashman says that offense is not a need for New York, despite their outages in the playoffs. The DH role figures to be filled by 21-year-old Jesus Montero, who impressed in September duty.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi tells the New York Daily News that he expects to go into the 2012 season with a rotation that includes CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett.
“I think we’ll look at maybe possibly adding some more depth to it, but I feel pretty good about these guys,” Girardi told the newspaper in a Tuesday telephone interview. “Our pitching was really overlooked last year, I thought. We threw the ball well all year long. Will we try to add one more veteran arm? It’s possible, but I feel pretty good about the guys we have in camp right now.”
Girardi does not seem to be expecting a big free agent along the lines of C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson to be arriving in the Bronx.
“I think our club is starting to try to develop a little bit more,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you feel that you can overpay for pitching and it can cost you.”
The Daily News indicates the Yankees may be interested in trading for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but are unwilling to move blue chip prospects like Jesus Montero or Manny Banuelos for him. The New York Post also notes that the Yankees could consider dealing Dellin Betances to the White Sox for John Danks.
It is little secret that the Yankees would like a big-time arm to slot behind CC Sabathia in their rotation, given the uncertainty their current hurlers may offer come October, but the Rockies’ asking price for Ubaldo Jimenez is still believed to be too rich.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that the Yankees have spent more time discussing relievers and, internally, have pessimism that they will be involved in a major deal before the Trade Deadline. Ownership is also not pushing general manager Brian Cashman to make a big move.
The Rockies’ original asking price for Jimenez, according to the Post, was left-hander Manny Banuelos, right-hander Dellin Betances and catcher Jesus Montero, plus right-hander Ivan Nova.
Cashman has been generally protective of those players, though he was willing to part with Montero last July when the Mariners were dangling Cliff Lee. He balked at including Nova in that deal.
Boone Logan has been the Yankees’ lone left-hander in the bullpen for nearly all of the season, and general manager Brian Cashman gave him a vote of confidence after a rocky start to the season. But the team is still looking for help in that department.
The New York Post reported that the Orioles and Cubs had scouts at Yankee Stadium on Monday, fueling speculation the Yankees have interest in left-handed relievers Mike Gonzalez of Baltimore and John Grabow of Chicago.
The Post also mentioned the White Sox’s Wil Ohman and the Marlins’ Randy Choate – a former Yankee – as possible Bombers targets, while noting that the Padres were surprised how tepid the Yankees’ interest was in Heath Bell and Mike Adams.
The Yankees also have veteran J.C. Romero in their system, having stowed him for the moment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He could be summoned to supplement Logan, who has been recently joined by 24-year-old lefty Steve Garrison, a call-up from Double-A Trenton who made his big league debut on Monday.
In the starting pitching department, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reports that the Yankees have dispatched scouts to watch the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, but have not inquired upon either player. The Star-Ledger noted that the Yankees have the prospects to acquire either pitcher, if they wanted.
The Yankees are also said to have expressed some level of interest in Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, though Kuroda hasn’t yet been asked to waive his no-trade clause for any specific club.