With the Winter Meetings one week away, here are five random thoughts on this first Monday of December.
1. What’s an $80-million gap mean at this time of the year? The Yankees and Robinson Cano clearly have a substantial gap in their negotiations — ESPN puts it at $80 million, with a two-year difference in contract length — but I think it’s hard to put the exact numbers into context on December 2. We know this is a negotiation, each side is trying to do what’s best for itself, and the important thing is that there’s some sense of coming toward a middle ground. What does $80 million mean? It means there are more conversations in order, and more time for this Cano situation to go one way or another. It’s a big number, but not necessarily an insurmountable number. I still think the Yankees should be the favorites to re-sign him.
2. I like Shin-Soo Choo — call me crazy, but I like high-OBP guys who can do a little of everything — but I tend to agree with the idea of Carlos Beltran being the Yankees best fit in right field. He should come on a fairly short contract, and his age won’t be as much of a factor next season when the other aging outfielders (Soriano, Wells and Ichiro) are off the roster. Choo is going to cost more and really needs a platoon partner, Jacoby Ellsbury seems like a poor use of resources considering what the Yankees have in place, and neither Curtis Granderson nor Nelson Cruz is the sort of all-around hitter that Beltran is. I almost entirely discount Beltran’s postseason success, but I still think he fits the opening pretty well.
3. At some point this week, the Yankees will likely have a press conference to introduce Brian McCann. Getting a feel for his personality is going to be interesting. He comes with a pretty good reputation, but his impact as a clubhouse leader could be significant. Last year, with Derek Jeter gone, there were times when it was hard to figure out who the Yankees clubhouse leader was. I wonder if McCann could become that kind of guy. Same for Beltran, if the Yankees finish off that deal.
4. If you didn’t know it before, you certainly know it now: Starting pitchers are very, very expensive. Phil Hughes just got three years, $24 million from the Twins. It’s a signing that sends Hughes out of New York, but also one that sends a very clear signal to a Yankees team that needs two starters. Brian Cashman has said he’s looking for 400 innings. To get those those 400 innings from remotely young pitchers with any sort of upside is going to be expensive and risky. That’s why the risk-reward of Masahiro Tanaka (chance of long-term, relatively affordable impact), and why a one-year deal with Hiroki Kuroda (no long-term risk) are so appealing.
5. Did you catch the Buster Olney report this weekend, the one in which Olney speculates that the Yankees will ultimately release Alex Rodriguez no matter what happens with the suspension? People have brought up that idea for a while, and I’ve always thought it was nonsense. At the end of the day, the guy is owed a ton of money and could be a reasonably productive player. But the longer this thing drags out — the more lawsuits are filed and radio interviews are conducted — the more it starts to feel like a real possibility that the situation could reach that sort of breaking point. It would still be stunning to see it actually happen, but no act seems too crazy for this circus.
Associated Press photo