Both New York teams, as well as three other clubs, have contacted the representative for free agent outfielder Ben Francisco, according to Mark Hale of the New York Post.
Agent John Boggs tells Hale that he and his client are looking for the “best opportunity” for Francisco “and who will offer the most at-bats.” Francisco, 31, batted .240 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 82 games last season with the Blue Jays, Astros and Rays.
The Mets and Yankees have also both expressed interest in signing Scott Hairston as they seek a right-handed hitting outfielder, but Hairston is believed to want at least a two-year deal.
- Bryan Hoch
The Yankees fielded a call from agent Scott Boras last month asking if they’d be interested in re-signing reliever Rafael Soriano to a one-year deal, according to Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record.
According to Klapisch, the request was “flatly denied.”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said that he is not looking for any upgrades in the bullpen, with Mariano Rivera’s one-year, $10 million deal restoring the all-time saves leader to the closer role. New York also has Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan and David Aardsma among those who will compete for setup slots this spring.
Soriano opted out of his contract with the Yankees following the season, forfeiting the remaining $14 million he was owed for 2013 in favor of a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees made Soriano a qualifying offer of one year at $13.3 million, which he rejected.
Because of that qualifying offer, there is draft pick compensation attached to Soriano, which appears to have impacted his free agent market.
- Bryan Hoch
The Yankees are making progress toward a new contract with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to multiple published reports.
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that Ichiro, 39, and the Yankees are expected to come to an agreement “within the next few days.”
Ichiro’s agent, Tony Attanasio, has said that Ichiro’s first choice was to return to the Yankees, where he batted .322 with five home runs and 27 RBIs in 67 games after being acquired from the Mariners on July 23.
Ichiro was reportedly irked by a lack of attention from the Yankees early in the free agent process when the club was prioritizing starting pitching.
If Ichiro returns, the Yankees will have an all left-handed hitting outfield, with Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson in place. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that if that happens, a right-handed bat in the role that Andruw Jones filled in 2011-12 will become a priority.
The Yankees are also waiting on a response from free agent infielder Kevin Youkilis, who is weighing a one-year, $12 million contract offer from the club.
- Bryan Hoch
The Yankees have acquired infielder Casey McGehee from the Pirates with cash considerations in exchange for right-handed reliever Chad Qualls.
McGehee is expected to join the Yankees tomorrow. He will help the Yankees at the corner infield spots with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez sidelined; the 29-year-old hit .230 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs in 92 games with the Pirates this season, appearing at first base (77 games, 56 starts) and third base (nine games, eight starts).
“This is a guy who has put up big numbers in his career,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re hoping he can help us.”
Qualls, 33, has combined to go 2-1 with a 4.89 ERA in 43 relief appearances with the Phillies and Yankees in 2012.
- Bryan Hoch
Two years ago, the Yankees nearly wrestled Cliff Lee away from the Mariners before seeing him head to the Rangers instead. With rumors swirling that the left-hander could again be available for the right price, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman lightheartedly shot down any suggestion that his club would again be involved in the bidding.
It’s not that the Yankees don’t like Lee or couldn’t use him in their rotation, mind you. Cashman pointed out that if the Yankees are going to achieve their goal of reaching a $189 million payroll by 2014, they can’t be taking on contracts like Lee’s. He’s owed a guaranteed $75 million over the next three years.
“I’m not allowed to speak about another team’s player,” Cashman said, “but if there was a hypothetical mythical beast that makes like $25 million a year for the next X amount of years that became hitting the market, we certainly could not participate in that type of level financial talent.”
Cashman added that he is “not at all” optimistic that the Yankees will pull off a move before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waivers Trade Deadline.
“It’s gotten really quiet,” he said. “Things have just gotten quiet all of a sudden. There have been a lot of moves before tomorrow so I’m not going to count anything out. A lot of buyers, not very many sellers.”
- Bryan Hoch
The Yankees were hit with a double-whammy of injuries to left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on Wednesday, but general manager Brian Cashman said that his preference is to search for answers within the organization before burning up the telephone lines.
Sabathia (left groin strain) is expected to return to the Yankees after the All-Star break, missing two starts, but Pettitte (fractured left ankle) is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
“I would prefer not to go outside,” Cashman said. “Obviously if we do go outside, we’ve done that before. This is part of the process. You have to have alternatives; this gives opportunities for people to step up. Just like some guys in the bullpen have allowed us to step up and withstand some injuries – that’s what Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and [Cody] Eppley have done – we’re going to have to ask for some other guys to do that for the rotation, as well. Let’s play it out and see where it takes us.”
The Yankees have already assigned starts to Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia, and Cashman said that David Phelps could soon be promoted from Class-A Tampa, where he is building back into a starter. Phelps threw 55 pitches in his last outing at Class-A and could throw 65 to 70 pitches next time.
“Everybody’s dealing with a lot of stuff,” Cashman said. “You’ve just got to deal with it. If you want to be the best, you have to deal with it. Hopefully we’ll be capable of dealing with it.”
- Bryan Hoch
It was at Tropicana Field last Sept. 28 that the Yankees played a part in one of the most memorable closing games in baseball history, with Evan Longoria blasting a walk-off home run facing Scott Proctor in the 12th inning to lift the Rays to a Wild Card-clinching 8-7 victory, just minutes after the Orioles shattered the Red Sox’s playoff hopes with a victory at Camden Yards.
It’s impossible not to look out at the artificial turf here and think of that amazing night — Dan Johnson’s homer, Mark Teixeira’s grand slam earlier in the evening, and the Yankees’ carousel of 11 pitchers who showed differing levels of effectiveness. The Yankees wouldn’t have guessed their season was heading for an early end that night, as they finished a campaign with 97 wins and the American League East title, but they’re ready to try to avenge those losses now.
“I’m very anxious,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think you look forward to this day from the day we get to Spring Training. I’ve actually been looking forward to it since last year. We had a good Spring Training. I was happy with it. We got everything done we needed to. Now it’s time to play for real.”
Opening Day starts should be old hat by now for CC Sabathia, who will be making his ninth career Opening Day start and his fourth in a Yankees uniform, but the left-handed ace said he still feels the same raw emotions leading into the appearance.
“I still get butterflies before pretty much every game, but especially Opening Day,” Sabathia said. “It’s a brand new season and you want to start the season off right. It’s an honor to be able to go out there and take the ball.”
The Yankees were sporting t-shirts in the clubhouse before Friday’s game with the inspirational message “Mind, Heart, Guts” on the back, with the front reading, “Yankees 1°.” The shirts were the brainchild of director of mental conditioning Chad Bohling, unifying the team even without their game uniforms on. It’s not the type of clubhouse Sabathia necessarily envisioned in 2008, when GM Brian Cashman told him the team was broken and needed his presence.
“The perception is that it’s not a close clubhouse, that it’s not a place where guys want to go,” Sabathia said. “You hear that as a player. That’s something I was really concerned about, and coming from Cleveland, where I had grown up with all these guys, and being so close to those guys in Milwaukee over a two-month span, it was really something that was important to me, making sure the clubhouse was good.”
Players like Sabathia, along with newcomers like Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira, seem to have blended seamlessly with an old guard that features Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and — soon — Andy Pettitte. No wonder Cashman ranks Sabathia’s deal among the best he has ever presented to a starting pitcher, right alongside Mike Mussina’s contract.
“I know what our clubhouse is, and I know how much fun we have,” Sabathia said, “and what it means to us to be able to root for each other, and pull for each other and have fun. I don’t really worry about it anymore.”
Johnny Damon told the New York Post that he and the Yankees won’t be reuniting, calling the situation “unfortunate.” Damon had hoped to be the left-handed DH bat that the Yankees are looking for, but general manager Brian Cashman told Damon that wasn’t going to happen.
“He called and I told him the truth,” Cashman told the newspaper. “He’s not the No. 1 option if and when I turn to DH options.”
The Yankees are in a holding pattern until A.J. Burnett passes his physical with the Pirates on Sunday, but are expected to chase veteran Raul Ibanez as a DH instead. They’re also interested in bringing back Eric Chavez as a corner infielder.
- Bryan Hoch
The Yankees and Pirates have discussed a possible A.J. Burnett trade, with the Yankees willing to pick up a portion of the $33 million they owe the right-hander over the next two seasons.
That figure has been said to be in the $8 million range. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported in a blog post that New York and Pittsburgh are still separated by a few million dollars.
Burnett could be an extraneous piece for the Yankees, who currently have seven pitchers to fit into five rotation slots. He would head to Spring Training competing with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for New York’s fifth starter job. Heyman notes that the Yankees asked for slugger Garrett Jones, but were rejected.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweeted that the 10 clubs on Burnett’s limited no-trade list are all on the West Coast. Burnett signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees before the 2009 season and is 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA in his three seasons wearing pinstripes.
- Bryan Hoch
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.
- Bryan Hoch