Saturday, December 3, 2022

The Yankees and the MLB Winter Meetings...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Mark J Terrill/Associated Press)

The Hot Stove is ready to boil over…

The Winter Meetings are upon us.

The 2022 MLB Meetings begin tomorrow, Sunday, December 4th, and run through Wednesday, December 7th. I guess it is a reminder to us that Winter is also here even if it technically does not start until December 21st. All eyes and ears will be on San Diego, California for the next few days. 

If last night’s announcement that the Texas Rangers had signed Jacob deGrom to an insane contract is any indication, it should be a furious and bumpy road ahead. As much as I respect deGrom, I am glad the Yankees did not invest five years and $185 million in a 34-year-old pitcher who has not pitched over 100 innings since the 2019 season. Sure, when deGrom is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. It is the “healthy” part that concerns me. Pay a pitcher an average annual value of $37 million, only to see like a guy such as Domingo German make most of his starts. I hope deGrom stays healthy and has a productive five years in Texas. It is just not a bet that I would want to make, and I am glad the Yankees did not either. Justin Verlander would be nice but bring me Carlos Rodon and I will be quite happy. 

Carlos Rodon (Photo Credit: Thearon W Henderson/Getty Images)

To the Mets’ credit, their reported offer of three years for $120 million was extremely fair. So was the unsuccessful $175 million the Yankees offered Robinson Cano nine years ago. Sometimes other teams are more desperate. Oh well, life goes on. The desperation of other teams is probably what concerns me most about the current state of negotiations between the Yankees and Aaron Judge. How desperate are the San Francisco Giants to bring one of the biggest names in baseball, a high-profile Northern California native to the Bay Area? I suppose we shall soon find out.

My biggest frustration with the Judge situation is the Yankees could have avoided this. They had an opportunity to sign Judge to an extension prior to the season and chose to lowball him. Of course, that was before one of the most historic player seasons in Yankees history, but it seems that the two sides could have found common ground if they had tried. It has been reported that Hal Steinbrenner is willing to pursue Judge more aggressively than general manager Brian Cashman. If true, Steinbrenner should have gotten involved earlier to avoid Judge’s free agency. I find it hard to believe that Cashman would not be as aggressive as Steinbrenner wants him to be. If anything, the general manager should be more aggressive to push the owner’s comfort zone. 

While I respect Aaron Judge and his right to actively market his services to all teams, it is a complicated process for fans. One moment, the player is free to sign anywhere including the desired return to Pinstripes, but then the harsh, cold, and final words appear on MLB Trade Rumors…“Giants To Sign Aaron Judge”. I remain hopeful the Yankees bring back their brilliant right fielder. Honestly, it is hard to find solace in the experts who say that Judge will return to New York. No one knows what Aaron Judge is thinking or what his motivations may be for his next contract beyond the dollars. The truth is the Giants, or the Los Angeles Dodgers could win this lottery before it is over. We know one thing with absolute certainty, Aaron Judge will be a very rich man wherever he may go. 

Player Moves

The Yankees lost a bullpen member when free agent Miguel Castro signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks for a guaranteed $3.5 million. There is a $5 million vesting option for 2024 if Castro makes at least 60 appearances next season and passes a physical at the end of the year. Good for him. I did not really expect the Yankees to bring Castro back although I did appreciate his work when he was healthy. 

The guy the Yankees traded to acquire Castro last Spring, Joely Rodriguez, was recently signed by the Boston Red Sox. 

The Yankees need bullpen help and I would like to see a reunion with Zack Britton. Even if the Yankees were to sign Britton, he should not be the only answer. 

Zack Britton (Photo Credit: J Conrad Williams Jr/Newsday)

It will be interesting to see if the Yankees sign any ‘name’ relievers or if they go the ‘build your own’ route with signings or trades for under the radar guys like the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees trust their development team and feel they can help transform guys into better versions of themselves like they did with Clay Holmes. 

The price of proven relievers will not be cheap as evidenced by the two-year, $17.5 million contract signed by 37-year-old reliever, and ex-Yankee, Chris Martin with the Boston Red Sox.

The offseason rumor mill has been full of ‘Gleyber Torres to the Seattle Mariners’ talk, however, the Mariners are no longer in the market with their acquisition of second baseman Kolten Wong from the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Jesse Winker (an oft rumored Yankee target) and infielder Abraham Toro.

I personally do not feel the Yankees should trade Torres. At least not yet. There is a chance, a strong one, that DJ LeMahieu may not be ready at the start of the season, and I firmly believe Anthony Volpe needs more time at Triple A before he is ready to ascend to the Majors. He will be a major star, but the Yankees need to handle him right (as they have to this point). I have already penciled in Oswald Peraza as the starting shortstop (hoping manager Aaron Boone feels the same). Oswaldo Cabrera’s greatest asset is his ability to play multiple positions so I would not want to lock him into one position. Gleyber Torres is the Yankees’ starting second baseman…until he is not. 

The three guys I want to see on the transaction wire are the obvious candidates. Josh Donaldson, Aaron Hicks, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. If the Yankees could eliminate one, great; two, better; or all three, Yippee Ki-Yay M-Fers!

Despite teams making moves, the Yankees have been eerily quiet since November 18th when they signed Junior Fernandez. It seems they will be big participants this week, but then again, there have been years when I thought they would be active, and they were not. I know with certainty that the current roster cannot beat Jose Abreu and the Houston Astros and would have difficulty against their stronger AL East rivals. The Yankees need Judge and MORE…

Donnie Baseball behind Enemy Lines

As a longtime Don Mattingly fan, it was difficult to see him join the Toronto Blue Jays as their new bench coach. I know, for him it is a paycheck. It is his right to stay in a coaching position versus a role in a TV booth. I wanted him to join the YES Network and would have preferred that outcome as opposed to his upcoming stint north of the border, but I cannot fault him for his decision. 

I think as a fan, there is a preference that our heroes avoid going to our bitter rivals. Unfortunately, it did not stop David Wells or David Cone from pitching for the Boston Red Sox. Players and coaches view the game differently than we do. For them, it truly is a business.

It will be uneasy to watch Mattingly come into Yankee Stadium wearing a Blue Jays uniform, actively trying to help his players find ways to beat the Yankees while Monument Park holds his name and number.  I guess the solace is managers and coaches are hired to be fired. Until then, we must deal with Mattingly the Blue Jay. While I appreciate Mattingly, the player, Mattingly the coach is now just another coach I want to see fail. It was better when he was in the National League, and we rarely saw him in an opposing dugout.

I would have preferred the Yankees to hire Mattingly as their bench coach and reassign Carlos Mendoza to a different role. I suppose that would have been too uncomfortable for Aaron Boone. The hard truth, for as much as I have respected Mattingly, he has not really enjoyed great success in coaching. He was a better player than coach. He can be better (we all can), but I just hope it does not happen while he is in Toronto. 

Farewell to Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry passed away Thursday at age 84.

Most fans today do not remember when Perry was a Yankee. He pitched in the Major Leagues for eight teams from 1962 through 1983, compiling 314 wins and 3,534 strikeouts. The five-time 20-game winner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. 

I probably remember Perry most as a Texas Ranger where he pitched in the mid-70s. My family made annual treks to the Dallas/Fort Worth area to visit relatives for summer vacations, and I distinctly remember buying Slurpee’s at 7-Eleven convenience stores in Arlington, Texas with Ranger player-themed cups and adding Gaylord Perry to my cup collection. No idea where those cups are today, but the point is the childhood memory. 

Perry’s time in Pinstripes was short. He was acquired for the stretch run in August 1980 from the Rangers before departing that winter through free agency. He pitched in ten games, making eight starts for the Yankees at age 41. He did not appear in the 1980 American League Championship Series when the 103-win Yankees were swept by the Kansas City Royals. Overall, his time as a Yankee was forgettable but it does not detract from the greatness of the player or the man over the span of his career and life.

(Photo Credit: Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Rest in peace, Gaylord. May some spit ease your way into Heaven. 

As always, Go Yankees!

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