Pretty much right after I clicked “publish” yesterday, the Yankees continued to make some announcements that certainly would have made yesterday’s post, especially due to all the contract lingo. They have non-tendered Jayson Nix, Matt Daley, and David Adams, which means they have released them to pursue other contract options (which can still technically include the Yankees). None of them have been major producers for the 40-man roster, but all have their moments, points of development, and youth that could definitely come in handy when negotiating a contract for the next season.
Today, the Yankees announced a press conference this Thursday in which they will officially sign catcher Brian McCann to his contract and unveil his number with the pinstripes. A friend recently mentioned that he will have to get used to wearing that catcher’s mask without the cushion (and warmth in those early spring months) of his trademark scruffy beard. All players know that being a Yankee means “clean-cut, clean-shaven”, and this has deterred some players (including recently a very notable, very bearded pitcher) from signing with the Bronx Bombers. Honestly, this seems like a rather superficial (not to mention vain) reason not to sign with a team that’s willing to invest their money in your career, as hair does this miraculous thing and grow on its own when you don’t cut it.
And the biggest news story has to be that the Yankees officially signed Jacoby Ellsbury for a 7-year, $153 million deal, with an 8th year option. Yet another Red Sox refugee to Yankee pinstripes. Ellsbury has played center field for the Red Sox since the beginning of his career and turned down their qualifying offer earlier this fall. Now, this doesn’t mean that Gardner is somehow out in the cold as Girardi has a way of working out an overly-packed roster for the overall benefit of the team. Much like Gardner, Ellsbury is known for his speed around the bases, stealing 52 last year alone (1st in the AL). The addition of Ellsbury actually signals a newer rotation for the “experienced” players that were in the outfield due to injuries last year (Soriano, Ichiro, and Wells), which could mean that the Yankees will now return to a rotating DH.
In smaller contract news: Curtis Granderson met with the Mets and had salmon (not joking), the Mariners might be interested in Robinson Cano (not joking), Phil Hughes signed with the Twins (still not joking), Alex Rodriguez’s arbitration could be over with a final decision by January 1 (not joking), and they cancelled Christmas (okay, that’s the bad joke). I think Hughes signing with a smaller-market team could certainly help his ERA and overall pitching career, as a change of scenery is often all that’s needed to put some fire into a player (think: Ichiro, Soriano, or even Raul Ibanez). Granderson and Cano are exploring their first time on the free agent market, and while personally I wish to see #14 and #24 back in pinstripes for 2014, the realistic side of me knows that there’s still a long way to go for both players (especially to bridge the gulf of Cano’s negotiations). And the Yankees will know whether they have a 3rd baseman for 2014 by the new year, and that’s really what’s holding up most of the larger contract signings for now.
Well, I say that because it’s the Yankees. They’re signing two very large contracts for McCann and Ellsbury before the end of the year, but to most people (especially those of us who remember the spending spree of 2008-9 grabbing Teixeira, Sabathia, and AJ Burnett), this seems like a “cheap year” for them. It’s amazing how relative all the contract talk seems.
I should note that today it’s been hard to keep up with my Twitter feed on the trade/contract news, which sort of flies in the face of my original assumption that it was going to be a little slow this off-season. It also forces me to push back some planned blog posts on Yankees history until there isn’t a million news stories. They say that “no news is good news”, but not to a blogger. No news means I have to be creative and original and can’t just comment and opine about current events. Of course, on days like today, I kind of wish I could have just been a little creative.
I guess part of me kind of loves that the Yankees just recruited to of its rivals to work for them — McCann from the (great 90’s rival) Braves and Ellsbury from the (forever infamous rival) Red Sox. There is a certain amount of justification and satisfaction. Of course, who doesn’t want to play in New York? Oh yeah, the bearded ones…