Obviously they won’t be negotiating in the middle of the night, but they would like to be quick with the ace pitcher because it seems like he is just ‘Plan A’ for this offseason. The sooner they find out if ‘Plan A’ is going to work or not the sooner they can move on to ‘Plan B’.
The Yankees have liked Lee for a long time. They were very aggressive in their attempts to deal for him this summer and they will be this winter as well. But they’re not stupid either. They know that there is a chance that Lee liked his time in Texas and despite the dollars they offer him and his friendship with CC Sabathia he’ll skip out on the Yankees offer.
That brings us to ‘Plan B’. We don’t know for sure what that is, but it likely involved outfielder Carl Crawford. Right now the Yankees don’t have plans to pursue the free agent outfielder as they like the guys they have, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher. Their young and relatively cost effective. They’re also valuable to other teams.
So ‘Plan B’ would be the Yankees signing Crawford and trading one of their existing outfielders for a front line pitcher. Their outfielders are not worth top of the line pitchers by themselves so they would have to package one of them with some prospects, possibly even Jesus Montero.
It wouldn’t necessarily have to be Montero though, but teams would probably ask for him. Really thought it depends on which outfielder they deal.
Swisher might be the best offensively, but he’s the most expensive so a team might want a better prospect. Conversely Gardner is cheaper, but not as big an offensive threat. His overall value isn’t bad so it’s possible that they could get away without packaging him with Montero, but it isn’t likely. Granderson is probably the only one, because of his combined reasonable salary, offensive and defensive skills, that they might be able to avoid dealing Montero with. Even then we’re talking a top prospect that is going along with him if the pitcher is good enough.
That’s ‘Plan B’. Instead of signing Lee you sign Crawford and use an outfielder in a package for a front of the line starter in a trade.
Just because there is a ‘Plan B’ doesn’t mean that the Yankees would feel comfortable with ‘Plan A’ falling through. It’s actually very important that they are able to sign Lee and move on.
If they fail to sign Lee there are a few things that could force them on to a ‘Plan C’ as it were and right now there probably is no ‘Plan C’. Actually, I guess you could say that’s where Jayson Werth fits in, but that could fall apart for the same reason a deal for Crawford could fall apart. They might just be offered a better deal from another team or for different reasons not want to play in the Bronx no matter what the money.
For Crawford, there have been whispers that he would prefer the Angels over both the Yankees and the Red Sox. It seems far fetched, but it is possible that years of being beaten and overshadowed by the two AL East behemoths has generated a sort of resentment towards them. Or it could be that he doesn’t like the pressure or and attention of those two media hot spots. Whatever the reason, he’s given no signal that if the Yankees came calling that he would go running.
Werth is even more likely to avoid the Bronx. First of all, the Yankees don’t seem to value him as highly as some other teams do and they may be outbid for his services.
There has been the Reggie Jackson connection, whereas Jackson is a close family friend so some people think he might like the Bronx for that reason. However, a Sports Illustrated article came out on Werth early this season that painted him as a very private person who becomes surly when he feels that privacy is being invaded. So far he’s managed fine in Philadelphia, but early in his career there he wasn’t the star he is now. This might be his shot at exiting the big lights for a smaller market and he may not pass it up.
Perhaps a bigger issue than possibly not being able to sign one of those outfielders, because let’s face it – money talks and the Yankees have plenty of money, is whom exactly would the Yankees trade for?
The only top of the line starter that is definitely on the trade market is the Royal’s Zack Greinke. There are a few issues with him though. First of all he has a no trade clause which he could use to keep from being traded to the Yankees. Second, even if that NTC were not an issue there is his social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorders and New York probably don’t mix well.
After Greinke there really is no clear starter that is available for trade that the Yankees could use at the front end of their rotation. Take a look around the league, any pitchers whom the Yankees might want are probably staying put. The only starters that they are likely to be able to pry away from teams all would have huge question marks surrounding them or not be the front of the rotation type, not a player that could put their World Series chances over the top.
It’s very possible that after hearing about ‘Plan B’ some Yankee fans might actually want them to go that route. But there are too many variables and question marks that go with that route. The best thing for the Yankees is to sign Lee, hold on to Montero, and stand pat with their offense.