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.
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.