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?
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.