Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed reports that he’s been in touch with Johnny Damon’s agent, but called it “just part of our canvassing process” and downplayed the outfielder’s chances of returning to New York.
“It’s something we do with every free agent,” Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. “I can’t tell you if anything’s going to happen there. There’s not a clear role for him here.”
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher are established as the Yankees’ starters in the outfield and Jorge Posada is expected to be the primary designated hitter, leaving no room for Damon in a regular role unless a trade occurs. He could potentially serve as a bench player, but the Yankees would likely want a right-handed hitter to fill that role and Damon has also indicated that he has other teams offering him starting gigs.
Mariano Rivera has confirmed reports that he had talks with the Red Sox prior to re-signing with the Yankees for $30 million over two years, saying: “It was real.”
Rivera didn’t verify reports that his agent actually initiated contact with Boston, but made it pretty clear that he viewed the Red Sox as a legitimate option if negotiations with the Yankees broke down.
“I made sure that I thanked [the Red Sox], because they took me into consideration,” Rivera told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. “But, again, this is business, and the Yankees did the right thing. And I’m here.”
Asked if he ever truly felt pitching for the Red Sox was a realistic possibility, Rivera said: “It would’ve been different. I don’t think so. I don’t think the Yankees will allow that to happen. I just had to make sure that I had a job, and the Yankees did that.”
Unlike the Derek Jeter negotiations Rivera’s talks with the Yankees (and Red Sox) mostly went under the radar, with various details emerging only after he’d already re-signed. Boston reportedly offered him the same two-year, $30 million deal that he accepted from New York.
Russell Martin officially signed his one-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees after passing a physical exam earlier this week, but it turns out he didn’t so much “pass” as the Yankees were only concerned with the status of his fractured hip.
Presumably they were encouraged enough by what they saw in his recovery from that injury to sign off on the contract, because Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the physical exam revealed Martin needs knee surgery.
Sherman classifies it as minor surgery and Martin is expected to be recovered from the operation in time for spring training, but going under the knife complicates things even further for the 28-year-old catcher who was already somewhat of a question mark coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons and a major hip injury.
Sherman opines that the Yankees’ willingness to sign Martin anyway “says lot about” their lack of faith in top prospect Jesus Montero being ready to catch in the majors in 2011, but realistically a minor knee surgery in mid-December seems unlikely to hold up a signing regardless.
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has the details of Russell Martin’s one-year contract with the Yankees. He’ll earn $4 million in base salary, which is less guaranteed money than he turned down from the Dodgers prior to being non-tendered.
Los Angeles reportedly offered him $4.2 million upfront and another $1.5 million in potential incentives, while Martin is said to have insisted on at least $5 million guaranteed.
There’s no word yet on if his deal with the Yankees includes more than $1.5 million in incentives, but either Martin simply wanted a fresh start after five seasons with the Dodgers or he miscalculated his market value coming off a fractured hip and back-to-back down years.
Initially last night the Cliff Lee storyline was that he left as much as $50 million on the table because he loved Philadelphia and simply wanted to pitch for the Phillies instead of the Yankees or Rangers.
However, now that the various contract details are trickling in it turns out he probably left at most $13 million on the table and may actually end up with more money (once deferred payments and other factors are taken into account) from the Phillies than he was offered elsewhere.
And this afternoon Rangers chief executive officer Chuck Greenberg revealed that Lee “was willing to remain a Ranger” and in fact offered to re-sign if Texas would guarantee him a seven-year deal:
In this instance, it was simply a matter of us saying, “yes.” But it would have been a matter of us saying “yes” on terms that we weren’t comfortable with. This was not a matter of Cliff making a decision not to come to Texas. He was willing to remain a Ranger, but it was on terms that we felt went beyond the aggressive parameters within which we were already operation. Had we been willing to go beyond the parameters that we were willing to go, he would be here. But we didn’t think that was in the long-term best interest of the franchise.
Greenberg and company turned down Lee’s seven-year proposal and their final offer was $138 million over six years with a seventh-year vesting option worth $23 million. Lee ended up signing a deal with the Phillies that guarantees him $120 million for five years and includes a sixth-year option for 2016 that vests based on his innings count.
So yes, Lee may have turned down slightly less money in choosing the Phillies, but according to Greenberg that’s only because the Rangers turned down his offer to re-sign for seven guaranteed years.