MLB WINTER MEETINGS
The mood at the Hotel Anatole in Dallas is edgy as there is just one major player this winter and it is not the New York Yankees.
Nor the Boston Red Sox.
Nope, it is the Miami Marlins, who seem to be like the woman who used pepper spray on other shoppers at a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. They have landed a closer in Heath Bell, a shortstop in Jose Reyes and they are trying to land the biggest fish (pardon the pun) in the free-agent waters in Albert Pujols with a 10-year offer.
OK, Red Sox Nation, where are the angry posts and tweets about the Marlins trying to buy a pennant?
Yankee general manager Brian Cashman has not been invisible but he is finding potential moves to improve the roster frustrating. To carry the Marlins pun a bit further, the big fish are at the deep end of monetary limits and Cashman is finding it hard to find the right bait on the hook to land the mid-priced filets.
The Oakland Athletics are shopping 26-year-old Gio Gonzalez, who was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 2011. Gonzalez figures to command a lot of money come arbitration and the A’s know they likely can’t afford to keep him. However, the A’s are looking for a young power-hitting outfielder in return. The Yankees do not have anyone fitting that description on their roster. So it is not likely that this will be a trade that bodes promise.
The White Sox dealt their 2011 closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays on Tuesday and now general manager Ken Williams is saying that it is unlikely that they will trading anyway of their other pitchers.
“As we currently sit, I do not like what is currently being offered for any of our valuable veteran pieces,” Williams told reporters, “so I’m of the mindset that … we’ll probably keep most of the pitching intact.”
Which means that any potential interest the Yankees might have had in 26-year-old left-hander John Danks is pretty much dead in the water. The White Sox were asking for a combination of young Yankee prospects including catcher Jesus Montero and lefty pitching prospect Manny Banuelos or right-hander Dellin Betances. In other words, the Chisox were seeking two of the Yankees’ three best prospects.
That price may be bit too high for Cashman.
Cashman has also heard trade offers for Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Ivan Nova and Brett Gardner. But it does not seem to make much sense to open an outfield spot, a starting rotation spot or give up an important piece of the bullpen in order to acquire a No. 2 or No.3 starter in return.
Oh, and by the way, you notice that teams are asking for the Yankees’ homegrown talent? For all the talk about the Yankees “buying pennants” they have made significant strides in bringing up talented players out of their minor-league system and this winter we are seeing how valuable those commodities are to other teams.
One potential Yankee free-agent target could be 37-left-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who apparently has dropped his objection to pitching in New York. The Yankees actually discussed acquiring Kuroda last July but the deal fell through and Kuroda ended up 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA wit the Dodgers. Besides never having pitched in the American League, Kuroda also is 36. So there are some concerns with the former Japanese All-Star.
Cashman is still listening but he feels he can wade through the offers carefully since the Yankees can leave Dallas empty-handed and still be happy about their current roster. At some point the GMs positions will have to soften and the agents representing the free agents might have to lower their sights.
Cashman is betting on that. But the timing for those bargains will not be in Dallas. It likely will come in January. In this game, patience can be a virtue.
Fortunately, Cashman has lots of it. Like the Marlins, he can do a little fishing of his own.