The 2011 MLB Winter Meeting have come and gone without much noise from the New York Yankees. Instead, the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made all the noise in this years very active Winter Meetings. What would George Steinbrenner think about all of this if he were alive? The Yankees have so far refused to overpay for anybody, or give up any top prospects. The only thing they did was win the rights to sign Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. There were some interesting rumors out there for starting pitchers that maybe will develop down the road this offseason.
First let’s start off with the only concrete thing that happened with the Yankees winning the Nakajima bid. It sounds like the Yankees really did not expect to win the bid and that Nakajima probably will not sign with the Yankees. He probably does not want to come to the Yankees in a backup role when he can be an MLB free agent next offseason. If Nakajima did sign with the Yankees he has good power and would be able to help the Yankees give their middle infielders and A-Rod a breather. There was the idea that they could sign Nakajima and then dangle Eduardo Nunez in a trade, but I do not see that to be the case.
The major trade rumors involving the Yankees were about Oakland A’s pitcher Gio Gonzalez. One trade that was rumored by Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest was the Yankees getting Gonzalez, the Royals getting David Phelps and Michael Taylor, and the A’s getting Brett Gardner and Clint Robinson. Also, Silva said the Yankees were the front runners for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespesdes. I believe this would be an absolute steal and a no brainier for the Yankees. They would only have to give up Gardner and Phelps in this scenario. Gardner is a nice player and great on defense. However, he is replaceable especially by Cespesdes, who offers a similar kind of speed and defense. Doing that trade would be the much better alternative to what Bob Klapisch reported the A’s wanted, which was Jesus Montero, one of Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances, and new stud prospect outfielder Mason Williams. That is obviously an asinine offer but I would be inclined to do a trade package around Montero for Gonzalez. The Yankees have a huge need for a number two pitcher and there is no way around it. Gonzalez I think would fit that bill well. Gonzalez is only 26 and is not a free agent until after the 2014 season year. He had an outstanding year last season going 16-12, with a 3.12 ERA, 197 strikeouts, and a 1.31 WHIP. His one negative is that he issued 91 walks last year. Scouts told New York Daily News writer John Harper, that they believe he was pitching too carefully due to lack of run support in Oakland, and that it would change in New York. I tend to agree with that theory. I think Gonzalez is the most talented pitcher on the trade market and has a very nice contract. The Yankees should be trying hard to land him.
The other relevant Yankees information that came out of the Winter Meetings is that Yu Darvish will be posted. As I said with Gonzalez, if the Yankees feel Darvish is a number two caliber starter the Yankees need to win the bid on him. It is currently all question marks behind CC Sabathia in the rotation. Will Ivan Nova have a sophomore slump? Can Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett be trusted? Can Freddy Garcia repeat his 2011 year? Can Hector Noesi come in and live up to the potential the Yankees think he has? Do not relate Darvish to other Japanese pitchers like Dice- K or Kei Igawa, as he has much better stuff. Cashman has been lukewarm in the media regarding whether or not they will bid highly on him, although Yankee scouts are said to love Darvish.
Cashman has done a nice job of protecting his assets so far and not doing anything regrettable. However, one has to wonder with the Angels gaining a ton of talent in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, if he will get more aggressive. The strategy paid off for Cashman last year, but he may be hedging his bet if he goes with the same starting rotation as he did last year. It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out.