What getting Cliff Lee means to the Yankees

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Off the top of my head it would mean a few things:

  • The Yankees would have too many starters: Lee, Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, Burnett and Vazquez. The obvious solution would be to trade Vazquez, and indeed, Buster Olney’s been beating that drum for a while.  The prospect of the Yankees not only getting the best starting pitcher this summer but also peddling a very valuable starting pitcher for even more useful parts has to be pretty sobering to the Rays and Red Sox.  Olney suggests the Phillies, who are in the market for a pitcher, but there are any number of possibilities.
  • While Lee in New York would obviously up the Yankees’ already considerable chances to repeat as World Series champions, one wonders if this move isn’t a bad thing for them long term. We’ve heard much about Jesus Montero’s stuggles behind the plate, but the fact is that he is the Yankees’ most promising hitting prospect in years.  With A-Rod, Jeter and Posada growing older, offense may be scarce sometime in the next couple of years (relatively speaking). The fact is that the Yankees could have waited until this winter to get Lee while still keeping Montero (or at least trading him for a bat) while still remaining a strong contender for the title.
  • Which gets at my beef — however limited it is — with this deal.  It’s kinda gilding the lily, ain’t it? However great a deal this is in the short term, the Yankees didn’t really need this.  That’s not their problem — the minute they stop trying to do everything within the realm of the possible to win is the minute they stop doing their job — but this does strike me as a bit excessive, with some risk, however minor, of hurting their competitive position in the long term.
  • Of course, if the Yankees trade Vazquez for a youngish
    bat or if one of their non-Montero catching prospects is gold, it might not
    matter.
  • Final thought: if the Yankees get Lee for prospects who aren’t missed and then turn Vazquez into a useful bat, doesn’t that make Brian Cashman the GM of the year?  After all: those aren’t mere money moves. Those moves —
    going back to getting Vazquez from the Braves — are all trades that (a) vastly improved the Yankees’ competitively speaking; but (b) were also trades that most any team could have
    made
    but didn’t. Lee and Vazquez werent/aren’t outrageously overpriced at the time they were acquired. Montero may be great, but he isn’t a prospect of a quality that is singular to the Yankees.

Fascinating deal in many, many ways (if it goes through).  My comments earlier this morning about there being “an uproar” don’t reflect my own personal feelings. I have questions about it, but hey, go with God, Yankees.  I’m still guessing there will be a lot of “rich get richer” disgust out there, but there’s a lot more going on here than all of that.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.