After staying remarkably active last week, the Yankees were mostly silent during the Winter Meetings. Of course, they weren’t the only ones. For the most part, the 2013 meetings were uneventful.
“There are things that I’ve put out there that, if they’re yeses, I’m ready to go on them whether they’re trade or free agent,” Cashman said yesterday. “I’ve thrown things out there that are, ‘This is what my comfort level is, this is what we’re willing to do.’ We’re trying to match up that way. If we get the same feeling back, we’re ready to rock.”
Perhaps the most interesting Yankees development of the week came late last night when Jon Heyman tweeted that the Yankees turned down a trade offer from the Reds, who wanted to swap second baseman Brandon Phillips for outfielder Brett Gardner. On its surface, the trade makes obvious sense — the Yankees need a second baseman, the Reds need a center fielder — but I have yet to talk to anyone here who’s surprised the Yankees said no.
Phillips has been one of the game’s best second basemen, but he also turns 32 in June, his numbers are trending badly in the wrong direction, and he’s signed for the next four years at a total of $53 million. Granted, Phillips is a much better defensive player than Kelly Johnson, and the Yankees could use a right-handed bat, but Johnson actually had a better OPS than Phillips last season. Not saying Johnson’s a better player, just putting Phillips’ 2013 season in context.
If he really has regressed this much as a hitter — and his numbers have trended steadily downward since he turned 30 — then it’s hard to consider him an elite all-around player, and he’s most certainly being paid like one. Phillips would have plugged the hole at second base, but losing Gardner would have diminished the Yankees outfield defense, severely limited their outfield depth, and essentially opened a hole at designated hitter. All while adding an expensive, long-term contract.
Nothing about it strikes me as a particularly good trade for the Yankees, and in turning it down, they wrapped up a quiet four days without making a late splash.
Associated Press photo