Matt Garza has changed uniforms, moving from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Chicago Cubs, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman tells the New York Daily News that they were never close to putting the right-hander into pinstripes instead.
“We never got off the dime, but strong impressions were that it would be something that would cost us more because we are in the division, kind of like Roy Halladay,” Cashman told the newspaper Saturday.
“We like Matt Garza and I had a conversation early in the winter and it was clear that what it would take would be more significant than I wanted to do. And there was also reluctance from them to trading within the division.”
Garza was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 33 games (32 starts) for Tampa Bay in 2010. In that same report, Cashman also reiterated that the Yankees plan to keep their top Draft pick for 2011, removing them from the running for free agent reliever Rafael Soriano.
“I would’ve given up the draft pick for Cliff Lee,” Cashman said. “But I’m going to retain our No. 1 pick for ourselves. Once Cliff Lee came off the board, I called Damon (Oppenheimer, the Yanks’ vice president for amateur scouting) and said, ‘You’re going to have your No. 1 pick, you’re in the hunt for a first-round pick.’
“It’s a strong draft and I’m going to leave that pick to Damon and his staff for another good pick. That pick is going to be a Yankee player.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has decided that the team will not surrender its top Draft pick as compensation, effectively taking them out of the running for free agent Rafael Soriano, the top reliever on the remaining free agent market.
Cashman told the Westchester (N.Y.) Journal News
on Friday that he wouldn’t sign a Type A free agent like Soriano, who would net the Rays a compensatory pick if he signs elsewhere. Setup man Grant Balfour is also a Type A player, as is Carl Pavano – not that the Yankees were going to bring him back.
“I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,” Cashman told the newspaper. “I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.”
The rest of the free agent market doesn’t entice the Yankees. There are designated hitter types out there, but with Jorge Posada entrenched as their everyday DH, they have little room for the likes of Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Ramirez.
reported Friday that there has been some contact with free agent outfielder Andruw Jones, but that would be in a reserve role similar to the tasks Marcus Thames filled last year.
“Bottom line is, it’s a bad free-agent market,” Cashman said.
Some quick-hit items and rumors from around the Yankees, on a day when Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven meet the media in New York as Hall of Famers:
- Could Jeremy Bonderman be on the Yankees’ radar to add starting pitching depth? Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York thinks so. There have been reports of the Yankees’ interest in Bonderman, who was 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 30 games (29 starts) for the Tigers last year.
- If Andy Pettitte doesn’t return, Jon Heyman of SI.com believes they will sign free agent Rafael Soriano as a setup man. Cashman had said earlier this winter that he wasn’t inclined to spend closer money on a setup man, but that was in Kerry Wood‘s case — before Cliff Lee came off the board — so perhaps that stance is flexible.
- Cashman told us this week that he’d prefer to sign a starter over a reliever, and the Yankees are also reported to have “a modicum” of interest in Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood, according to Heyman.
- Brian Schlitter is the newest Yankee, claimed off waivers from the Cubs on Wednesday. He figures to get a look in Spring Training and might pop up in the Bronx at some point this season. Schlitter had a 12.38 ERA in seven big league outings last year, but had a 3.15 ERA and 13 saves at Triple-A. Here’s a Q&A with Schlitter.
- Nick Swisher will play himself in two episodes of ABC’s ‘Better with You,’ joining his new wife, Joanna Garcia. They’ll be set to air in February.
The all-important handoff to Mariano Rivera was locked down in the second half this year by Kerry Wood, who took over the duties and ran with it after his July 31 trade, making the Yankees’ bullpen a strength as they headed into the playoffs.
With Wood taking much less money to go back to the Cubs, the Yankees are carrying eighth inning options like the ones they had on July 30. The top two choices in-house seem to be Joba Chamberlain, who lost the role due to inconsistency, and Dave Robertson, who was effective for much of the year but endured a rough postseason.
But there are at least a couple of intriguing choices out there. Royals closer Joakim Soria reportedly told a Mexican newspaper this week that he would not block a trade to the Yankees.
“There is a no-trade clause to the Yankees in my contract, but I did not put it there,” Soria told Vanguardia in Spanish. “My agent put it in, as a strategy, but if the Royals decide to move me to New York, I would be happy to play with the Yankees or any team. …
“Again, I wouldn’t block a trade to the Yankees. I like to play baseball and will play with any team. That is the important thing, to do it with passion and great dedication.”
The Royals haven’t shown an indication that they will trade Soria this winter. He’s owed an affordable $4 million for 2011, with club options for $6 million, $8 million and $8.75 million for the next three seasons. The Yankees reportedly had interest in Soria near the July 31 trading deadline this year, dangling Jesus Montero as a chip.
Multiple reports have pegged the Yankees as having some level of interest in Brian Fuentes, though they’d have company in pursuing him. As many as 11 teams could be in on Fuentes, according to a Sports Illustrated report.
Then there’s Rafael Soriano, who led the American League with 45 saves this year for the Rays and is still out there seeking closer money. Brian Cashman said earlier this month that the Yankees weren’t prepared to pay those kinds of dollars for a setup man in Wood’s case, but now that the Cliff Lee saga has played out, perhaps that mindset could change.
If Soriano would be willing to come to New York, with the understanding that he would be Rivera’s setup man, it could take a good deal of pressure off the 41-year-old Rivera. It’s very possible the Yankees will remain quiet into the New Year, but there could be more buzz on this and other topics in January.