Yankees are focused on pitching, not Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has had a busy week, signing CC Sabathia to a contract extension and inking a three-year deal of his own to stay in New York.

Today he held court with the media and indicated pretty strongly that the Yankees won’t be pursuing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder as free agents because they’re still focusing on adding more pitching even after locking up Sabathia long term:

Offense is not a problem with this club. Our main focus and effort is going to be try to reinforce the pitching rotation and bullpen and depth and insurance policies we would have. It is pitching, pitching, pitching. That will be the main thrust of this stuff.

This morning there was a report about the Yankees being interested in re-signing Freddy Garcia, but C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle also figure to be on their radar. Yu Darvish could be too, although Cashman hinted that Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa might make him a little more hesitant than most teams to pursue the highly touted Japanese ace.

American draft prospect Carter Stewart signs in Japan

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The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.

The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.

He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.