The Yankees’ recent strong stretch combined with the continued stumbling of the Orioles, Sox and Rays has given them a bit of a cushion. That said, they’d still probably want to add a starter if they can. Bur from the sounds of it, they aren’t terribly eager to go big game hunting at the deadlines.
After noting that the Yankees will stay “in the loop” on Cole Hamels, but likely won’t be big players for him because he’ll cost too much, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post handicaps the other top starters on the block:
The Yankees are not interested in Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, just as they didn’t engage Kansas City in Greinke talks during the 2010-11 offseason. They don’t view his personality as a good fit in New York. The other big-name starting pitcher in his walk year, the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster, doesn’t meet the Lee/Hamels threshold of being a decided upgrade over what the Yankees already have.
The “we’re worried about Greinke’s makeup” thing is kind of frustrating. I think we have enough random data points suggesting that Greinke wouldn’t necessarily crumble under the pressure of New York as opposed to just be kind of out-of-synch with it because he doesn’t play the media game like everyone else does. But we’ll never know, I don’t think, because it just doesn’t seem like someone is willing to take the chance. And Greinke himself may steer himself back to a place like Kansas City or down to Atlanta or something once he hits free agency. Just one of those what coulda been things.
As for Garza and Dempster: I’m a bit dubious of the assertion that at least Dempster wouldn’t be an improvement for the Yankees. Of course, there probably isn’t a team who has fewer legitimate leaks and rumors regarding their actual intentions when it comes to free agents and trades and stuff than the Yankees, so they could very well be doing something and we wouldn’t know much about it until it went down.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.