After the slumber of their quiet offseason, the Yankees are strongly considering adding payroll in a deal to bring in a starting pitcher via free agency or a trade, a baseball official with knowledge of the team’s thinking told ESPN New York.
The official said that with prices coming down as spring training approaches, the odds were “60-40” that the Yankees will become more aggressive and add to a roster that has been unchanged from last year’s club. A source predicted that things will heat up next week.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner met with agent Scott Boras to discuss starter Edwin Jackson, but he is not the only free agent on the team’s radar. Hiroki Kuroda may turn out to be their top choice over Jackson. Roy Oswalt seems more unlikely, but can’t be completely ruled out.
The key to any contract will be the length. The Yankees are looking to make a one-year deal. A source said that while Boras is no longer looking for five years for Jackson, he is still asking for a multi-year contract. If Boras doesn’t come down further, it seems highly unlikely the Yankees will sign Jackson.
A source termed a two-year offer unlikely, but didn’t completely rule it out. The Yankees will not go three years because they want to get beneath the $189 million luxury tax number by 2014. This would cut their payroll tax more than half, down to 17 percent, if they were able to do so.
Kuroda, who turns 37 next month, has been a pitcher the Yankees have had interest in dealing for, but he has been hesitant to leave Los Angeles. However, with the Dodgers not having room for him, he may be more open-minded about coming to the east coast. Kuroda may also return to Japan.
Oswalt’s agent, Bob Garber, said last month that Oswalt will accept a one-year offer. Sources have indicated the Yankees are not as high on Oswalt’s ability at this point as they are on Kuroda and Jackson.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman is still working the phones and a trade can not be ruled out either. If Steinbrenner wanted Cashman to create payroll flexibility, then right fielder Nick Swisher could be made available. Swisher can become a free agent after this season. He will make $10.25 million. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported earlier this winter that the Yankees have been quietly shopping Swisher.
Of course, if they dealt Swisher, the Yankees would need a right fielder and unless they changed course and went hard after Yoenis Cespedes, there doesn’t seem to be a match.
Overall, this seems like a cosmic shift, setting up what could be an exciting week in what has been a dull winter.