Every team has big meetings in the offseason in which the future course is charted, but only the Yankees make a huge production out of it. It’s happening today. On the agenda:
- Setting the 2010 payroll. This has to be the most hilarious portion of the meeting. “What’s our budget this year, Hal? [snicker!]” “Well, let me check our balance sheet [guffaw!]” “Ah, screw it: MONEY FIGHT!!!“
- Figuring out left field and DH. Girardi said yesterday that he wouldn’t mind having DH kind of open so he could cycle A-Rod, Posada and Jeter through it in order to rest their aging bones once a week or so. It’s not the worst plan in the world, but it would require Girardi to think extra hard, and that’s not always in the best interests of the ballclub. I still think they keep Matsui.
- Figure out the rotation. Right now the depth chart is Sabathia, Burnett and three open slots. Andy Pettitte’s annual hokey pokey will probably end with him coming back again, so there’s three. Either Joba or Hughes will likely fill another slot, but I’d be shocked if they gave both of them a place in the rotation. You have to figure that either Lackey or Halladay (or — gulp! — both) will be in pinstripes come spring.
- Off the table is Joe Girardi’s contract status. Despite being the manager of the World Champs, Girardi is a lame duck and there are no current plans to give him an extension. Which is only surprising if you think that Girardi is really one of the, oh, five most critical ingredients to the team’s success. I won’t say that you could put just anyone in the manager’s office and still win in New York, but that’s probably more true for this team than any other. Girardi is fine. He’s not irreplaceable. He knows that and the Yankees know that so don’t expect him to rock the boat.
There’s no word about whether the meeting will end with the assembled brass carving up a giant Earth-shaped cake, Hyman Roth-style, but would it really shock you if it happened?
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.