The Winter Meetings are really fun to cover during the offseason because so much is going on and anything can happen. For Yankees fans it usually means shopping season too whether it’s chasing free agents like Cliff Lee, working out trades like the one for Curtis Granderson, or merely laying the groundwork for a later trade like with Michael Pineda.
This year it was a bit different. The Yankees are under orders from their owner Hal Steinbrenner to cut payroll not matter what the cost to the on-the-field product.
The goal is to get under $189 million by 2014 which is harder than it sounds considering the Yankees have four players with the average age over 35-years-old that are set to earn a combined tax hit of $83.9 million. In 2012 the quartet was worth just $58.8 million. There is no doubt that their value will be even less by 2014 putting the Yankees in a big hole even before they start trimming payroll.
So the Yankees were quiet. They couldn’t add any money to the 2014 payroll which meant that they couldn’t offer any players any multi-year deals. Which means any player with any sort of options is going to pass them up and that’s pretty much what happened.
THE WEEK BEFORE
- The Yankees a partial stake in the YES Network as News Corp. agrees to buy 49 percent of the TV company. The Yankees cut from the sale is roughly $400 million plus huge, guaranteed annual payments through 2042. On top of that there is an agreement for News Corp. to increase their share in the company over the next three years until they control 80 percent and the Yankees are expected to get a portion of that purchase as well (link).
- The Yankees wrap up their important internal business just before the meetings by re-signing Hiroki Kuroda (link), Andy Pettitte (link), and Mariano Rivera (link). The rotation and the bullpen are now pretty much set except for adding a few depth pieces.
- The Yankees still need to replace Nick Swisher in right field and re-sign or replace Russell Martin (all indications are that they will try to bring Martin back). A DH is also needed, the Yankees are interested in bringing back Raul Ibanez and replacement for Andruw Jones, possibly Scott Hairston.
- The New York Post prints a photo that supposedly shows an out of shape Derek Jeter (link).
- Early rumors are that the Yankees are interested in Nate Schierholtz (link).
- Yankees are also interested in Stephen Drew (link).
- Ichiro Suzuki is growing tired of waiting for the Yankees to make an offer and starts talking to other teams (link).
- Eric Chavez tells reporters he’s not retiring and has already begun talking to other teams. Has had no conversations with Cashman (link).
- The Yankees and Russell Martin discuss a two-year, $14 million deal, but Martin takes the two-year, $17 million deal from the Pirates instead. The Yankees tell him they don’t have the cash to match their offer. The Yankees now have to find a right fielder, a catcher, and a DH (link).
MONDAY – Day 1 (The Bombshell)
- The week started off with the bombshell announcement that Alex Rodriguez will need hip surgery. Similar to 2009, but this surgery is more intensive and he’ll be out until June at the earliest and probably more like July or later. Suddenly the Yankees need a third baseman in addition to catcher, right fielder, and a DH (link).
- MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds tweets a photo of him and Jeter in an attempt to show how misleading the Post’s photo of him was. Despite ankle rehab, he’s still in shape (link).
- Yankees fourth string catcher Eli Whiteside is claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays (link).
- Hairston is looking for a two-year deal (link).
- Jeter proclaims that he’ll be ready to start the season on Opening Day. This goes against what Joe Girardi previously said, but is in line with Cashman’s expectations (link).
- The Yankees are interested in Cody Ross and request his medicals from his agent (link).
- Jeff Keppinger has a broken foot, but the Yankees, and other teams, are not scarred off and will still pursue him (link).
TUESDAY – Day 2 (The Dash for a 3rd Baseman)
- The Yankees clearly prioritize finding a backup third baseman now. Talking to every possible candidate starting with the Marlins and Yunel Escobar (link).
- It gets out that the Yankees are willing to trade Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes (link).
- We find out that there is no way Stephen Drew will agree to play third base meaning there is no way he signs with the Yankees (link).
- The Yankees show interest in Marco Scutaro, whose market is picking up (link).
- The Yankees have checked in with Shane Victorino (link).
- The Yankees step up their pursuit of Jeff Keppinger (link).
- The Yankees are getting desperate and start talking with Kevin Youkilis (link).
- The Yankees like the idea of platooning Keppinger with Eric Chavez and let him know they want to bring him back (link).
- The Yankees begin preliminary talks with A.J. Pierzynski (link).
- Marco Scutaro re-signs with the Giants (link).
- Escobar traded by the Marlins to the Rays (link).
- A story leaks that the Yankees have insurance to cover at least 70 percent of A-Rod’s contract, but he needs to sit out the entire season for them to collect (link).
WEDNESDAY – Day 3 (Disappearing Options)
- Based on what is happening throughout the week so far, Joel Sherman of the Post figures the Yankees have just $8-$10 million to spend on 2014 salaries (link).
- The Yankees are still in on Hairston (link).
- Contrary to prior reports, the Yankees have been shopping Granderson for about a month already (link).
- The White Sox sign Jeff Keppinger taking one of the Yankees top third base targets off the board. The Yankees never made an offer (link).
- Kevin Youkilis already has multiple offers (link).
- Eric Chavez signs with the Diamondbacks. The Yankees don’t even make an offer despite only signing for $3 million (link).
- The Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino comes off the board, signs with the Red Sox (link).
- The Yankees are front runners for Nate Schierholtz (link).
- Raul Ibanez prefers to re-sign with the Yankees, but is growing impatient as there have been no talks (link).
- The Yankees meet with Mark Reynolds who is said to be intrigued by them and willing to accept a one-year deal (link).
- The Yankees make their first offer of the Winter Meetings to Nate Schierholtz, but he signs with the Cubs anyway (link).
THURSDAY – Day 4 (The Last Day)
- There is a report that Cashman is “frustrated” by ownership’s budget (link).
- Scott Boras tells reporters that there have been no talks at all about re-signing Robinson Cano and says the Yankees made it clear that despite previous statements they will not renegotiate his contract until the deal is up (link).
- A report comes out where a Yankees official claims that Cashman didn’t even have authority to make offers during the Winter Meetings. Another Yankee official says that’s how lots of other teams operate, but a third official confirms that this is new for Cashman, his authority has been stripped (link).
- Perhaps desperate to try to prove stories wrong, the Yankees make a one-year, $12 million offer to Kevin Youkilis (link).
- The Rule 5 Draft goes down in the morning. The Yankees don’t lose any players, but with a full 40-man roster they are not eligible to take any players (link).
- Relief pitcher Mickey Storey claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros, the very team that the Yankees claimed him from a month prior (link).
- Another rumor leaks that the Yankees are shopping Granderson and Hughes, but Ivan Nova‘s name is included this time (link).
- The Yankees reportedly speak with the Mets about trading for R.A. Dickey, but the two teams quickly decide that they don’t match up well and talks die (link).
FRIDAY – The Day After (The Fallout)
- The Winter Meetings are done with and the Yankees have done nothing but make an offer to Youkilis. Still have to fill holes at catcher, third, right, and DH.
- The Yankees are
not soquietly doing a background check on Josh Hamilton (link).
- Youkilis is said to be choosing between the Yankees offer and a two-year, $18 million offer from the Cleveland Indians where he can play close to home and with his old manager (link).
- The Yankees avoid arbitration with Brett Gardner by signing him to a one-year, $2.85 million deal (link).
- Jayson Nix, who is technically the Yankees first-string third baseman still, clears waivers and is assigned to Triple-A (link).
- Andruw Jones signs with a Japanese ball club (link).
- The Yankees are still talking with Ichiro (link).
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE: The Yankees still have a lot of work to do and are limited by their inability to offer multi-year deals. If they sign Youk and Ichiro they will only need to find a catcher on the trade market. A DH would also be nice too. A-Rod is built in for the position, but at this point he can’t really be counted on. They can still sign Ibanez, but there is interest in him and based on losing Chavez for just $3 million, Ibanez is no sure thing. They’ll also need a right handed bat to platoon with him.
If the Yankees can fill all four positions they’ll still compete in the AL East. They have a strong rotation and the other teams, while good, are no locks. The Orioles still have a weak rotation, the Blue Jays have injury concerns throughout their roster, the Red Sox are still digging themselves out of the basement, and the Rays have an even weaker lineup than last year after losing B.J. Upton. If the Yankees can do something crazy and add a big bat, like maybe Hamilton, they could be back to the favorites in the division even though Hal’s budget is severely limiting what they can do.