Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has an update on the Yankees’ odds of re-signing Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui:
Multiple sources have indicated that the Yankees would like to bring Johnny Damon back on a two-year deal, but Hideki Matsui’s time in pinstripes is likely over as they would prefer to keep the DH slot open for Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.
Should Damon bolt for a new team, however, Matsui could be brought back on a short-term deal to remain the Bombers’ DH, since Cashman has made it clear he no longer considers the World Series MVP to be an outfielder, even on a part-time basis.
Last week Scott Boras suggested that Damon is looking for a four-year deal, but like many things said by the hyperbole-fueled agent that has zero chance of happening. Damon hasn’t lost anything offensively and has played at least 140 games in 14 straight seasons, but he turned 36 years old earlier this month and has seen his range in the outfield diminish significantly to go along with his always horrendous throwing arm.
With that said, Feinsand speculates that the Yankees are unlikely to jump heavily into the mix for Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, and Damon is one of the best options among the second-tier outfielders in a weak crop of free agents. If not him and not Matsui, then the Yankees would be left to choose from other aging veterans like Vladimir Guerrero and Jermaine Dye. A two-year deal seems like a worthwhile fit for both sides.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.