Inbox: Will Yanks orchestrate Cano reunion?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers questions from Yankees fans
With the recent news of Robinson Cano being unhappy in Seattle and missing New York, is there any realistic chance the Yankees make a play for him, being that there had been rumors of Brett Gardner going to the Mariners?
-- Joe S., Mount Sinai, N.Y.
It's a fun idea -- especially since the Yankees have been looking for a sweet-swinging, slick-fielding second baseman for a few years now. (Hey, didn't they used to have a guy like that?) But whether Cano does or doesn't miss New York -- his camp sent word to the Mariners on Monday that everything is just peachy -- the money alone that remains on his monster deal seems to rule out a reunion; he still has eight years and $192 million remaining on his contract.
At a time when the Yankees are trying to dig out of their long-term commitments with aging veterans, and Hal Steinbrenner again stating that his team shouldn't need a $200 million payroll to win the World Series, it's difficult to see how this would be a fit. Just hypothetically, it has been suggested that the Yankees could pitch the Mariners on a Cano-for-Jacoby Ellsbury swap, flipping one massive contract for another.
The Mariners would have to eat a big part of the difference, as Ellsbury has five years and $105 million remaining. Ellsbury is from the Pacific Northwest, so maybe he'd waive his no-trade clause in favor of the geographical fit. But right now, this feels like fantasy baseball talk and not the real deal.
Do you think the Yankees move Gardner and/or Andrew Miller? And if they do move one or both, will that lead them to spend money on the free-agent market?
-- David F., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Maybe and probably, in that order. To reiterate, the Yankees have no absolute need to move Gardner or Miller, but they're attractive pieces with attractive contracts. It'd be silly not to at least be listening and see if someone blows the doors off with a great offer.
The Yanks absolutely want to add a starting pitcher, as well as upgrade the bullpen and second base. General manager Brian Cashman seems to be in a mode where he is searching for this year's Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi -- younger players with high upside who are about to take a step forward. Aaron Hicks may be the next entry in that mold.
Since the Yankees only had $12.5 million come off the books in free agency this year, it hasn't projected as one of their free-spending offseasons -- that may come more over the following two years, when they see their commitments to Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez expire.
But if the Yanks are clearing cash with Gardner or Miller, it'd be a surprise if they didn't sink it back into a big name.
With Chase Headley's throwing issues, is there any talk of moving him to second base and going after a third baseman like Todd Frazier?
-- Joe O., Carlisle, Pa.
That's a new one for me. The plan is for Headley to return to third base in 2016, though you raise a valid point with Headley's throwing. Headley committed 23 errors, 12 of which came on throws, and both of those marks represented career highs for him. It makes you wonder if he has wandered into the beginning stages of "the yips," and surely that will be an item to address in the spring.
There is much speculation that the Yankees will make a run at Bryce Harper when he is set to hit free agency. Could this be a reason why the Yankees might not be making any serious moves?
-- Evan W., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Let's put it this way: if he becomes a 26-year-old free agent after the 2018 season, Harper should check all the boxes of an elite talent that the Yankees will be interested in. The money is absolutely mind-boggling. As long as Harper stays healthy, agent Scott Boras will be in a terrific position to eclipse that 13-year, $325 million deal that Giancarlo Stanton agreed to with the Marlins.
The 2019 Yankees have just four players under contract as of this date -- Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million) and Ellsbury ($21.5 million), plus club options on Gardner ($12.5 million) and Brian McCann ($15 million). They'd still have to field a team around him, but should nothing develop between now and then with Harper and the Nationals, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Harper could become baseball's first $35 million player. We know he loves Mickey Mantle, and he'd sure have fun assaulting Yankee Stadium's short porch.
Any chance the Yankees move a starting pitcher?
-- Chad G., Dansville, N.Y.
Sure, they've got some room to shuffle the deck. As of this moment, they have at least eight starters in line for five spots. Tanaka and Sabathia aren't going anywhere, but you could sell the idea of cashing in on Michael Pineda's value if the thinking is that his continued injury issues will prevent him from reaching his true potential.
Eovaldi and Luis Severino seem to be the kind of talent that the Yankees will hang on to, though of course Cashman keeps saying he's "open to anything." Ivan Nova should be more available than those two -- he's arbitration-eligible, and even though this should be a better year as he returns from Tommy John surgery, maybe his inconsistency pushes a move. Three years ago at Fenway Park, Nova called himself "the best pitcher in the world." The numbers haven't agreed of late.
Beyond that, the Yankees have received plenty of calls on Adam Warren; the Athletics wanted him and Rob Refsnyder for Ben Zobrist in July, and that was shot down. Teams looking for depth might also be tempted to take a flyer on Bryan Mitchell, though if we've learned anything from the math of some recent Yankees springs, eight has a funny way of fitting into five easier than you might imagine.