The return to calm and quiet PR-friendly negotiations between the Yankees and Derek Jeter is easily the worst thing to happen this week. Really, wasn’t life much more fun when they were slamming each other in the media? And then, in turn, causing those of us in column-and-blog land to say equally silly things? Things like Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star said in his column this afternoon:
Yankee Stadium is an enormously successful sports museum. Derek Jeter is its Mona Lisa. The residual financial impact of Jeter on New York and the Yankees would make a pretty decent Ph.D. thesis. Let’s agree that his real-dollar value is greater than playoff games can tell … Cashman is a good guy and, better yet for the Yankees, an egoless pragmatist. But he’s already lost this fight. He lost it just by having the money.
At some reasonable point, the Yankees will vastly improve their current offer. It will be slightly less than Jeter’s opening gambit — six years, $150 million (U.S.). Then Jeter will do himself and the Yankees the favour of agreeing to lower his price because of his love for the pinstripes. Yankees fans will fall in love all over again — with the man and the club.
I’ll preface this by saying that Mr. Kelly’s picture shows him wearing large, heavy-framed glasses not unlike those frequently sported by irony-loving hipsters, so I guess there’s a chance that this is all sarcasm. But assuming it’s not:
1) The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and was gone for two years; the Louvre somehow survived;
2) Cashman hasn’t lost this fight;
3) The Yankees won’t vastly improve their offer; and
4) Even if they do, Jeter will not reject said vastly-improved offer.
Other than that, the column is all aces.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.
Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.
It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.
Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.
After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.
Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.
Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.
It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.