From Joel Sherman:
One AL executive went so far as to say last week, “I have no doubt that the Yankees will sign Cliff Lee.”
The assumption is logical. Javier Vazquez ($11.5 million) will come off the payroll, and Andy Pettitte ($11.75 million) contemplates retirement annually. Their combined salaries are roughly what it is going to take on an annual basis to secure Lee.
There is no doubt the Yankees front office is enamored of Lee. The Yankees can imagine going forward with Lee and his former Indians teammate, Sabathia, heading the rotation followed by A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, and if he wanted to come back again, Pettitte. If not Pettitte, then the presence of horses such as Lee and Sabathia would more comfortably allow the Yankees to break in someone such as Ivan Nova as a low-cost No. 5 starter.
It has long been the contention of the writers here at TYU that the Yankees will focus their available money and resources for the 2010 offseason on Cliff Lee. It simply makes more sense than investing that money in a corner outfielder, particularly with Brett Gardner emerging as an adequate option in the outfield. Building an incredibly deep and talented rotation should be the priority for Brian Cashman this winter, and Sherman’s piece suggests that the Yankees have already begun scouting Lee in advance of their pursuit.
Sherman goes on to note that the Yankees are unlikely to acquire Lee during the 2010 season, a contention that I have to agree with. Starting pitching is unlikely to be a major issue for this club, as they should have at least 4 solid starters to depend on. Their in-season resources will likely be focused on building more depth for the lineup and the bullpen, and rightfully so. He suggests that a package would start with Jesus Montero and Joba Chamberlain, although I am uncertain as to what sort of value Joba has at this point. I would be loathe to trade Montero for a rental player, particularly one that seems determined to reach free agency under all circumstances.
Finally, speaking of Montero, Sherman has a brief blurb on him that, if accurate, further cements his status as practically untouchable:
Montero has endured a tepid offensive start this season. But the Yankees have come to strongly believe that his defense has improved and he will catch in the majors. A veteran scout backed up that thinking, saying, “His body looks better, leaner, and he is moving better and quicker behind the plate. He also is throwing much better. He has shown indications he can catch.”
I would take quotes from unnamed scouts with a grain of salt, but Sherman seems to be echoing the comments of some other evaluators who have found that the team itself believes Montero will defend well enough to catch in the majors. That sort of belief should make him untouchable, particularly in a deal for someone like Lee. For that reason, Lee is unlikely to be a Yankee in 2010. 2011, however, may very well see him pitching in pinstripes.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees