• The Yankees will tender a contract to Francisco Cervelli, who seemed to be a mild non-tender contract after missing most of the season and being suspended. But, fact is, right now he might be the best catcher on the roster.
• This is the time of year when the Yankees tend to check on several possibilities, “casting a wide net” as Brian Cashman says. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees have reached out to infielder Kelly Johnson, who’s an obvious fit as a backup plan at second base and a potential alternative at third. Cashman has said he feels the need to be proactive about making sure the Yankees have backup plans for their many infield uncertainties. Johnson doesn’t hit for much average, but he has hit 16 homers each of the past two years. He’s also a left-handed hitter with some defensive flexibility.
• Now that Curtis Granderson has officially turned down the Yankees qualifying offer, Jon Heyman reports that both Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo have jumped to the top of the pecking order. Hard to define the Yankees “top target” right now — too many holes to fill, the Yankees are focused many directions at once — but right field is an obvious position of need, and Beltran and Choo would represent impact solutions.
• The Yankees will at least test the waters for an upgrade behind the plate. It’s worth noting, then, that Carlos Ruiz has reportedly told at least one team that he can get two years, $20 million this winter. That’s $10 million a year for a 34-year-old who hit .268/.320/.368 last season.
• Interesting story from Ken Davidoff about the uncertain role of Jay-Z in Robinson Cano’s free agency. Right now, it seems that the veteran rapper is letting the veteran agents do the talking and negotiating.
• Setting a pretty high price on right-handed power, the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16-million deal today. Matt Gelb points out that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has proven willing to set the market price, and he’s done that with the early Byrd signing. Wonder if other hitters who didn’t get qualifying offers will come off the board early. Teams could get aggressive with those guys.
Associated Press photo