In a span of roughly 48 hours, the Yankees introduced Brian McCann, lost Robinson Cano, announced new contracts for Jacoby Ellsbury, Hiroki Kuroda and Kelly Johnson, and put a deal in place with Carlos Beltran.
Hard to believe this was also the same week that the Yankees traded Chris Stewart, non-tendered Jayson Nix, and found out Masahiro Tanaka might not enter the market after all.
It’s been an intense past seven days, and the winter Meetings haven’t even started yet!
The video above is from the McCann press conference, which came right in the middle of the craziness. Late Tuesday night came word of the Ellsbury deal. Wednesday brought news of changes to the Japanese posting system, and the early reports of the Yankees being close to a deal with Johnson. Thursday was the press conference, then Brian Cashman saying Hiroki Kuroda wanted to pitch again, then word of Cano traveling to Seattle. On Friday, Cano’s talks with Seattle seemed to be falling apart, and then he was suddenly signing with the Mariners right around the same time that Curtis Granderson was finalizing a deal with the Mets. And within hours, the Yankees had Beltran on a three-year deal.
You learn to expect anything on this beat, but this is my fifth offseason covering the Yankees, and I can’t recall a stretch of consecutive days quite like what we just experienced. The Yankees are a drastically different team today than they were a week ago. And the offseason still has two months to go.
• One lingering issue this week was the Japanese posting system, which is reportedly close to a significant change. Instead of teams offering massive posting fees for the right to negotiate with Japanese players, the system is going to have a posting cap — reportedly $20 million — and any team who offers that much will have full negotiation rights, competing with other teams who have matched the posting offer. The impact on the Yankees is that Tanaka might not be posted at all — his team is upset at the cap, which will cost them tens of millions — and if he is posted, his contract will surely skyrocket from what it would have been under the old system.
• The Yankees have acknowledged several teams asking about the availability of Brett Gardner as a trade candidate. A source has also said that the Yankees have actively shopped Ichiro Suzuki. Gardner’s availability surely depends on what the Yankees can get in return (he’s not very expensive and the Yankees like him, but he could be flipped to fill another hole). Ichiro’s trade viability surely depends on finding another team interested (he’s more of a fourth outfielder these days, but he’s making pretty good money in 2014).
• Cashman announced that the team is close to signing Gary Tuck to be the Yankees new bullpen coach, replacing Mike Harkey who left to be the Diamondbacks pitching coach. Tuck was a coach under Joe Girardi in Florida, and he has a history with the Yankees. Also, former Cubs manager Mike Quade has joined the Yankees as a roving minor league instructor.
• This is also the week the Yankees officially announced their new deal with Brendan Ryan. He and Johnson are lined up to play utility roles next season. For the time being, they also provide solid insurance at shortstop (in case Derek Jeter isn’t up to play the position) and second base (in case the Yankees can’t find a better replacement for Cano).
• Instead of non-tendering Stewart, the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for a player to be named later. Stewart essentially lost his job when the Yankees signed McCann. They’re likely to use either Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine as the backup catcher.
• Three players were non-tendered by the Yankees: Jayson Nix and Matt Daley hardly came as a surprise. There was some mild surprise that David Adams was non-tendered. The Yankees long liked his bat, but a lingering ankle injury slowed his minor league development, and he struggled in his big league debut. Ultimately, the Yankees decided to move on an look other places for infield depth.
• The Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with corner utility man Russ Canzler, a right-handed hitter who’s had significant minor league success against lefties. He can play left, right, third and first and could be a bench option at some point. He’ll be in big league camp. The Yankees had Canzler on their roster for about a month last winter before DFAing him just before spring training.
• It is, of course, worth mentioning that Nelson Mandela died this week. The news has little direct connection to baseball, but it’s hard to ignore just the same. Not many people who so clearly changed the world for the better, and Mandela’s death sparked a fitting celebration of his life. May the man rest in peace.
Associated Press photo