Seattle missed the playoffs by one game, so this report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune is interesting regarding the Mariners’ offseason pursuit of free agent Nelson Cruz:
The Mariners had a deal in place last winter with Cruz, then a free agent, for roughly $7.5 million in 2014 with a club option of about $9 million for 2105…before ownership backed away. The primary concern, which all clubs shared, was how Cruz, then 33, would respond after being caught and suspended as part of the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Still, officials with several clubs say they stopped viewing Cruz as a potential target because they expected he would bridge any differences with the Mariners. “I still don’t know what happened there,” an official with a rival club said. “We were told it was done. And it seemed such an obvious fit for both sides. There was risk, certainly, but…”
Cruz eventually signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles and led the league with 40 homers, hitting .271 with an .859 OPS in 159 games. By comparison, the Mariners’ designated hitters–mostly Corey Hart and Kendrys Morales–batted a combined .190 with 15 homers and a .567 OPS.
Not only would replacing their DHs with Cruz have gotten the Mariners to the playoffs this season, as Dutton notes they would have had him under team control for $9 million next season as well.
St. Louis left A.J. Pierzynski off the NLDS roster, but now the Cardinals have added the veteran catcher to the NLCS roster.
Pierzynski was signed in late July to fill in for an injured Yadier Molina and hit just .244 with one homer and a .600 OPS in 30 games. For the Dodgers series the Cardinals opted to keep two catchers and preferred Tony Cruz as Molina’s backup, but now they’ll go with three catchers against the Giants.
Left-hander Sam Freeman was removed from the roster to make room for Pierzynski, who last played in the postseason for the White Sox in 2008.
Just minutes after announcing a three-year contract extension with general manager Brian Cashman the Yankees have fired hitting coach Kevin Long, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Long has been New York’s hitting coach since 2007, during which time the Yankees lineup scored the second-most runs in all of baseball. However, they ranked 13th in runs among AL teams this season after ranking 10th last year.
It’s hard to blame Long for guys like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Ichiro Suzuki getting old/hurt, but big-money free agent pickups Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury also underwhelmed this season.
Mostly this just seems like the Yankees wanted to find a scapegoat while not wanting to part ways with Cashman or manager Joe Girardi, in which case it’s easiest to cut the hitting coach who presided over a terrible offense regardless of how much blame he deserved.
Brian Cashman isn’t going anywhere.
The impending free agent general manager has agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Yankees, who’ve missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992/1993.
Cashman has been the GM since 1998, when he replaced Bob Watson and the Yankees made him an immediate winner with three consecutive World Series titles in 1998, 1999, and 2000 before losing the Diamondbacks in 2001.
During his run as GM the Yankees have advanced to the playoffs 14 times in 17 seasons, winning four World Series and six American League pennants.
His previous contract was also three years, signed in November of 2011. But this time around the challenge ahead of him is far different, as the “Core Four” is gone and the Yankees’ aging roster is in desperate need of a rebuild while the farm system is hardly overflowing with high-upside young talent.
At the end of this contract extension the now 47-year-old Cashman will have been the Yankees’ general manager for 20 seasons.
J.J. Hardy bypassing free agency to sign a three-year, $40 million contract extension with the Orioles yesterday has further weakened the always shallow pool of free agent shortstops.
All of which makes this interesting: Asdrubal Cabrera, who’s been a shortstop for most of his career, indicated that he’d like to re-sign with the Nationals after playing second base for Washington down the stretch.
Cabrera’s agent will probably get in his ear and point out that he’d be one of the only veteran shortstops on the market and might be able to coax some team into overpaying, but here’s what Cabrera told James Wagner of the Washington Post:
I really enjoy it to play with this team. Great guys. Good front office. I was really happy to be here and be in this moment with the team. I would love to stay here. A lot of good guys. A good team. I would love to stay here. But it’s not my decision.
Wagner specifically asked Cabrera if he’d be willing to play second base to remain with the Nationals and he replied “I don’t know, it depends” while mentioning wanting to win a World Series.
Cabrera is 29 years old and defensive metrics no longer think he’s much of a shortstop, so second base is where most teams should want him, but supply and demand may dictate remaining at shortstop and getting paid a whole bunch to do so.