ORLANDO, Fla. -- Welcome to the GM Meetings at the Walt Disney World Dolphin & Swan Hotel, where the Yankees figure to stay busy. While Brian Cashman is not due to arrive until a little after lunch on Monday, he will be talking into the night with GMs and agents. Right now, I think we may have a better idea of who he might trade than whom he might acquire.
By this time next week, Brett Gardner very well could be an ex-Yankee. We wrote a story about the Yankees engaging in trade talks on Saturday.
New York Yankees
There are several reasons why Gardner will be dealt. Some are obvious, some not as much. So let's go through them.
A) BOURN IDENTITY: The Yankees may be able to maximize Gardner's long-term franchise to the value by trading him.
When Michael Bourn was a free agent a year ago, there was not that much interest in him because he had a qualifying offer attached to him. Teams liked him, but did not want to give up a first round pick. Finally, he signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cleveland Indians -- who after finishing as one of the 10 worst teams in MLB the previous year -- did not have to surrender a first rounder.
The Yankees think that Gardner is a very similar to Bourn. They loved the fact that they only paid him $2.85 million in 2013. This season, in a year he will turn 31, he will probably make around $4 million.
The Yanks have decided that Gardner is a corner outfielder so next offseason, are they going to offer him the one-year qualifier that will be $14.1 million? If they did that, he could possibly accept it, because it is quite the increase. He may look at Bourn's experience and just go year-to-year with a huge raise in '15.
If Gardner has a good, but not great, year with the Yankees in 2014, the Yankees may decide not to extend him a qualifying offer. If he left as a free agent, they would get nothing.
So to maximize Gardner's value to the Yankees for over the next several years, the move might be to trade him.
B) WHO ELSE DO THEY HAVE TO DEAL? At the Triple-A level, they don't have any major players to deal. At the lower levels, they have some prospects (Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, etc.), but all are coming off poor years and the Yankees want to hang on to them -- to develop them for themselves or to eventually deal.
On the major league level, there is nothing expect for Gardner, Ivan Nova and David Robertson. But Nova is the No. 3 starter and Robertson is the likely closer.
C) OBEE-WON JACOBY: The Yankees just signed Jacoby Ellsbury. He and Gardner are very similar players, but the Yankees clearly think Ellsbury is superior. With Carlos Beltran also signed, the Yankees could have a platoon situation with Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki, rotating the three old-timers in the outfield. Beltran would play every day, while Soriano, until proven otherwise, would play a lot as a DH/OF.
Vernon Wells is also still on the team, right now.
D) HE COULD STAY: The Yankees do like Gardner so maybe he forms a dynamic duo with Ellsbury. But the more I think about it, the less I see that happening.
2) THE BOSS & TORRE IN THE HALL?: The Winter Meetings will get started with some news at 10 a.m. when the Expansion Era Committe will announce if Joe Torre and George Steinbrenner are worthy of the Hall of Fame. The committee denied The Boss three years ago. Torre will have to compete with Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa to get in as a manager. Should be interesting.
3) TANAKA TIME: Now, there are some indications that Masahiro Tanaka might be posted. The Yankees would be big suitors for him if he were. Ben Badler of Baseball America thinks that if the new agreement topping the posting fees at $20 million is put in place, then Tanaka's team might still let him go.
Rakuten Eagles president Yozo Tachibana spoke with the Japanese media, including Nikkan Sports and Jiji Press. The highlights of Tachibana's comments include:
• If Tanaka wants to go to MLB, they would like to let him leave
• It is questionable whether the $20 million posting fee cap is a fair price for his value
• The Eagles had valued Tanaka's posting price beyond $20 million
• Convincing Tanaka to stay is a high priority
So they want Tanaka to stay because the fee is too low, but if he wants to go they may let him. Very respectful. We'll see.
4) INFANTE ON-DECK: The Yankees like Omar Infante for second or third, but so do others.
5) THE TALK OF BASEBALL: Robinson Cano is headed to Seattle and an explosive article in the Seattle Times makes the franchise into a total joke. Here is one anecdote:
The sources say Wedge implored Zduriencik to stand up to unreasonable demands, like Lincoln and Armstrong wanting Felix Hernandez and other pitchers to throw live batting practice between starts so position players could work on bunting and situational hitting. Or wanting more early fielding work last September, which Wedge refused because team trainers warned too many players were worn out.
The sources say Wedge implored Zduriencik to stand up to unreasonable demands, like Lincoln and Armstrong wanting Felix Hernandez and other pitchers to throw live batting practice between starts so position players could work on bunting and situational hitting.
Or wanting more early fielding work last September, which Wedge refused because team trainers warned too many players were worn out.
Maybe they'll pick up that idea again next season. King Felix vs. Cano would be must-watch. Anyway, Geoff Baker did a sensational job on this story, you should check it out here.