The Yankees began this offseason by making a strong trade for an outfielder, Curtis Granderson. Then, last week, they completed a deal for Nick Johnson (that’s still being finalized) which shored up the DH spot left open by Hideki Matsui’s departure. Now it appears that a starting pitcher is the next target.
Who is it? Rumors abound. Word is that this move, whatever it turns out to be (if it does indeed turn out to be something) is substantive. The last source I spoke to about the Yankees earlier today said pitching was clearly the Yankees next priority but didn’t indicate anything was close so it seems that something either a) heated up quickly; or b) was revived from previous discussions.
Aaron Harang would fit the latter since he was someone the Yankees had discussions about in the past, but he’s been ruled out as a possibility in several reports. To me, that makes a deal with Atlanta as an obvious possibility with Derek Lowe being one intriguing option as well as teammate – and former Yankee – Javier Vazquez.
Several sources have said that Braves GM Frank Wren plans to move a starter this winter to free up money, and Lowe was quoted in an MLB.com story just last week saying he has basically resigned himself to the idea that he won’t be in Atlanta to start 2010. “I’m just waiting for it to happen,” Lowe said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of if anymore. It’s just a matter of when.”
For what it’s worth, Vazquez would be the more cost-effective option at this point. Lowe is owed $45 million over the next three years, while Vazquez – whose time in New York was, admittedly, hardly idyllic – is owed $11.5 million next season before becoming a free agent. Given that, one would think he’d cost less, player-wise, in any deal. It’s also worth nothing that Vazquez has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, but it doesn’t include any AL East teams (he can veto deals only to NL West and AL West clubs).
Are the Yankees going to get Lowe or Vazquez? Not necessarily. But it seems more and more likely that we’re going to find out who is behind Door No. 3 for the Yankees sooner rather than later.
UPDATE, 12:25 a.m.: I know that Josh Johnson is a name that has been mentioned and bandied about both tonight and over the past month or so, and it’s interesting to hear that Johnson was apparently very angry about the Marlins reportedly offering a five-year deal to Aroldis Chapman.
That said, Florida has Johnson under control for two more years and has indicated previously that they aren’t interested in dealing him. Back in November, Johnson’s agent, Matt Sosnick, gave this fantastic quote to Fox Sports: “I’d be less surprised if Elijah showed up at my parents’ house this Passover than if they trade (Johnson) before the start of the season.”
(For those not getting the reference, here’s a quick primer.)