Brian Cashman: “Plan B is patience”

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Brian Cashman just spoke to the media. Surprisingly, the signing of Russell Martin wasn’t the main topic of conversation. That kid from Arkansas who can’t hack the Big Apple was.  No, not Burnett. The other one.

Cashman’s remarks included a lot of expected spin.  Spin designed, it would seem, to disabuse other teams out there of the notion that he’s all panicky and is now willing to grossly overpay for a starting pitcher.  Stuff like:

I do stress Plan B is patience. It’s not like we’re in a rush to do anything … We have a great team … It would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal … I don’t think we have a lot of holes ..

With respect to plugging those holes, Cashman said “it doesn’t have to happen in the winter time,” suggesting that the Yankees could wait until the trade deadline next year.  He also talked up his current rotation, saying that Ivan Nova “has taken the next step” and that he likes his team as it is, even if it can stand some improvement.  All of which are smart things for him to say, even if all of his statements could be made more truthful by adding the phrase “but we really, really would like to add a top-flight pitcher.”

As for Lee himself, Cashman echoed what many people had already suspected. When the delay in an answer from the Lee camp occurred over the weekend, he knew it could be trouble.  That the Yankees did everything they could do to sign him.  That there are no hard feelings with Lee and no sense that Lee’s agent was jerking anyone around. It was a negotiation like any other. All in the game, yo.  [Cashman did not actually say “all in the game, yo.”]

So the air is now cleared from the Yankees side of things.  It won’t stop a half dozen columnists from writing about how this was a death blow for the Bombers, both competitively speaking and in terms of that Yankee Brand we keep hearing about. But hey, we need something to get us through the rest of the week, right?

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.