The Yankees are unlikely to get Hamels; are cool on Zack Greinke, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster

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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.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.