Yankees develop conscience, will cut payroll

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From the I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it department comes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney’s latest tweet:
Yankees finished org. meetings — they’re cutting payroll. I’m not sure yet by how much, but during season, expectation was to $185 mill.
$185 million would be the team’s tiniest Opening Day payroll since 2004. The team did drop payroll slightly last year, going from $209 million to $202 million, but it’s really hard to imagine that the team would open 2010 under $200 million.
The club is currently on the hook for almost exactly $150 million to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Damaso Marte. That doesn’t count the $4 million due to Kei Igawa, who is no longer on the 40-man roster.
Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Chad Gaudin, Brian Bruney and Sergio Mitre are all arbitration eligible. Perhaps Wang will be non-tendered, but the other four figure to cost about $7 million total.
So, that’s 14 players at $157 million. Other spots will go to Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke, all of whom make the minimum. Now we’re at 20 players and $160 million.
Still, that doesn’t count Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui or their replacements. If Hughes and/or Chamberlain are going to be rotation candidates, then a new setup man will be needed. The team will also want a couple of veteran reserves to fill the roles occupied by Eric Hinske and Jerry Hairston Jr. at season’s end. A backup catcher is another possibility, though Francisco Cervelli is a candidate for the job.
Could the Yankees really take care of those needs for $25 million? Pettitte, Damon and Matsui would cost at least $30 million to re-sign, and it’s hard to imagine the Bombers going a whole lot cheaper in any of those spots.
My guess is that the Yankees will be right around $200 million one more time. And they’d probably be doing the rest of the league a favor if they stayed there. While they might not have squeezed as much revenue out of their new ballpark as hoped last season, they still did remarkably well and they made a bunch of money as a result of their World Series victory. There’s every reason to believe the Yankees could squeeze both Matt Holliday and John Lackey into their budget if they really wanted to.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.