UPDATE: Well, now it makes more sense. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was told by an NL source that before the Yankees turned down the deal, Phillips asked to the Reds re-open his contract and give him more money as an incentive to agree to a trade.
Phillips has a limited no-trade clause which allows him to block trades to 10 teams, so apparently the Yankees are one of them.
10:34 p.m. ET: Here’s an interesting one. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Yankees have turned down a trade that would have sent outfielder Brett Gardner to the Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
It sounds like a pretty good match on paper, as the Yankees have a surplus of outfielders and Phillips would help fill the void at second base now that Robinson Cano has agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners. Meanwhile, Gardner would give the Reds a quality option to take over the leadoff spot (and potentially center field) with Shin-Soo Choo expected to sign elsewhere. However, the Yankees passed on the opportunity.
It’s worth wondering whether Phillips’ contract had something to do with the Yankees passing here, as he’s owed $50 million over the next four seasons and is already 32 years old. There isn’t much out there among free agent second basemen beyond Omar Infante, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them revisit the possibility later on.
Phillips amassed 18 homers and a career-high 103 RBI this past season, but he posted a mediocre .703 OPS in the process. Gardner, a popular trade target at this year’s Winter Meetings, batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers and 24 stolen bases over 145 games this past season. He can become a free agent next winter.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.