|Thursday, October 31
Updated: November 4, 12:33 PM ET
Yanks will at least listen to Posada offers
ESPN.com news services
One little stipulation might lead to Jorge Posada's departure from the Yankees.
With the Yankees set on lowering their payroll in response to the new collective bargaining agreement, New York might consider trading the All-Star catcher, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Out of the five Yankees signed to lucrative long-term deals -- Posada, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Mike Mussina and Bernie Williams -- Posada is the only one who does not have a no-trade clause as part of the contract.
According to The Times, a major league scout said the Yankees were prepared to deal Posada, or at least listen to offers. Owner George Steinbrenner could scuttle the idea or reverse course and jump at an attractive free agent, like other decisions by the Yankees.
But general manager Brian Cashman did not deny a possible Posada deal Wednesday.
"I'm looking to cut payroll and put a championship-caliber team on the field," Cashman told The Times. "Certainly there are teams that would be interested in stuff. Any opportunity that might present itself, I would listen to, but I'm not looking to trade Jorge Posada, because he's an All-Star catcher.
"He doesn't have a no-trade clause. I'm certainly open to listening, but if someone wants to inquire about him, they'd better come with frankincense and myrrh and make me an offer I can't refuse. He's obviously one of the best at his position in the game. Is it realistic that we'd end up trading him? No. If he ever is moved, it would be at a steep price."
Meanwhile, Posada seemed perplexed after learning Thursday that the Yankees would at least listen to trade offers.
"I think he's a little puzzled about it," Luis Espinel, Posada's agent, told The Times. "The important part of this is the chemistry with the rest of the team. Jorge has chemistry as one of their leaders. I think that chemistry will be disrupted without him there. I think that kind of puzzled him."
If the Yankees say they are considering trading Posada to save money, Cashman can use the specter of financial constraint to influence other negotiations. Roger Clemens, Robin Ventura, Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza are prominent free agents, and by Nov. 15 the Yankees must also decide whether to exercise Andy Pettitte's $11.5 million option.
"Salary motivation is what's going on," Espinel said in a phone interview. "They're putting it out there so people know they want to cut salaries. Their salaries are too high."
One executive from another American League team said the Yankees would have a hard time persuading anyone of their sudden poverty because Steinbrenner has long targeted what he wanted and paid an appropriate, or inappropriate, price. If the Yankees maintained a $135 million payroll for 2003, they would probably pay an extra $24 million in payroll taxes and in revenue sharing. Still, the executive doubted that the Yankees would wind up trading Posada.
"I would be shocked," he said. "Who are they going to replace him with? I don't see how you replace him."
Posada hit .268 with 20 home runs and 99 RBI last season, the first year of a five-year, $51 million deal. Although his RBI represented a career high, his average and home-run count have declined in each of the last two seasons. Posada still has the rare characteristics of a switch-hitting catcher with a high on-base percentage (.370) and dependable extra-base power.
A baseball official told The Times that if they kept the same payroll -- roughly $135 million -- the Yankees could be responsible for an additional $8 million to $9 million next season in payroll taxes, plus a possible $15 million payout in revenue sharing. Even agents understand the potential impact.
"The Yankees always have the money, but I can't spend it for them; I'm not privy to the books," John Boggs, who represents Ventura, told The Times. "The only thing you can judge is their actions. The new collective bargaining agreement obviously is targeted dead straight at them. They're going to take a hit, more than likely. It just depends on how hard."