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Source: Yankees recently talked with Gardner
Jan. 25: After staying quiet for much of the offseason, the Yankees have been busy lately. The club is close to finalizing deals with second baseman DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Corey Kluber, per sources, and it traded for righty Jameson Taillon on Sunday. New York also spoke with free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner’s camp a little over a week ago, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
Gardner was the team’s longest-tenured player in 2020, appearing in his 13th season as a member of the Bronx Bombers.
The Yankees and Brett Gardner’s camp last spoke a little more than a week ago, per source. Gardner intends to play somewhere in 2021, though the Yankees are clearly his top choice.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand)
Jack Curry of the YES Network was the first to mention the recent talks between the two sides. Curry expects the Yankees and Gardner to eventually reach an agreement.
Gardner is a capable defender who can play all three outfield spots, and he owns a career .259/.343/.401 slash line (101 OPS+) with 129 homers and 270 steals in 1,548 games.
The Yanks re-signed Gardner to a one-year, $10 million contract last offseason after buying out his 2020 club option for $2 million. At the end of the 2020 season, New York declined its $10 million option on Gardner for ’21, paying him a $2.5 million buyout.
The Yankees are close to the first competitive balance tax threshold of $210 million, but they created some space by trading reliever Adam Ottavino — whose contract has an average annual value of $9 million — to the Red Sox on Monday, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
Sources: Yanks reach agreements with LeMahieu, Kluber; more additions coming?
Jan. 15: The long dance between the Yankees and star infielder DJ LeMahieu appears to be reaching its conclusion, with sources telling MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Jon Paul Morosi that the two sides are finalizing a six-year, $90 million deal.
That would mark the resolution of general manager Brian Cashman’s stated “top priority” for this offseason, and he wasn’t done Friday. Hours later, a source told Feinsand that the Yankees had agreed to a one-year deal with two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, pending the successful completion of a physical.
Kluber marks a low-risk, high-ceiling addition to a New York rotation that featured uncertainty behind ace Gerrit Cole. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ are all out on the free-agent market, and The Athletic’s Jim Bowden speculated Friday on MLB Network Radio that the Bronx Bombers would attack that need quickly. Bowden correctly identified that the Yankees were in on Kluber, but he also reported that they had reached out to the Reds regarding a potential trade for star right-hander Luis Castillo. Bowden clarified, however, that those discussions have died down in recent days.
LeMahieu was clearly atop New York’s shopping list, and the club held firm to that priority since the end of last season. But now that the Yankees can cross that task off, we may begin to see a flurry of activity in the Bronx.
Report: Despite LeMahieu growing impatient, Yanks still favorites to re-sign him
Jan. 14: In a radio interview with WFAN on Thursday, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said the Yankees are “still the clear favorite to sign” LeMahieu, who finished no lower than fourth in AL MVP Award voting in each of the past two seasons with New York. More >
Yankees reportedly among teams in attendance at Kluber’s showcase
Jan. 13: The Yankees were among 25 teams in attendance at free-agent righty Corey Kluber’s showcase on Wednesday, according to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman. The Mets also had scouts at the session, per Sherman’s report.
A source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that Kluber was impressive, showing good command and typical velocity for this point in the offseason.
#Mets, #Yankees had reps at Kluber’s 30-pitch mound sessions today in Fla. About 60 scouts from 25 teams attended, Kluber was near normal for begin of spring training (88-91mph). Looked healthy. Only 8 GS last 2 seasons, but great pedigree. #InterestingMarket
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 13, 2021
While their crosstown rivals have been busy, the Yankees have largely remained in the background the past few months.
The club saw three-fifths of its rotation enter free agency when Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ hit the open market in November.
With Luis Severino set to return from Tommy John surgery at some point this summer, Domingo Germán due back from his suspension and youngsters Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt and Michael King potentially ready to take on more prominent roles, the Bronx Bombers could look to replace their free-agent pitchers internally, especially if they plan to dole out a sizable contract to re-sign DJ LeMahieu.
Kluber, though, could represent a solid buy-low opportunity. The 34-year-old was one of baseball’s top pitchers from 2014-18, posting a 2.85 ERA (151 ERA+) with a 10.1 K/9 rate over 1,091 1/3 innings and winning two American League Cy Young Awards in that span.
However, he missed most of 2019 after he fractured his right arm when he was hit by a line drive while pitching against the Marlins, then made just one start with Texas in 2020, exiting his debut after one inning with a torn teres major muscle in his right shoulder.
Voit: ‘We need’ LeMahieu
Jan. 13: It’s not lost on Yankees players how important LeMahieu has been for the Bronx Bombers the past two seasons, and the latest to chime in on LeMahieu’s pending free agency is first baseman Luke Voit, who led MLB with 22 homers last season.
“I think he’s the best hitter in baseball,” Voit told NBC New York’s Bruce Beck. “I’m literally sitting next to a printer right now and it makes me think of DJ because he’s a freaking machine. We need him!” More >
Here’s a guy who really wants @DJLeMahieu back in pinstripes! @LLVIII40 – “I think he’s the best hitter in baseball. I’m literally sitting next to a printer right now and it makes me think of DJ because he’s a freaking machine. We need him!” #Yankees pic.twitter.com/19G4ji90qr
— Bruce Beck (@BruceBeck4NY) January 13, 2021
Report: LeMahieu ‘dismayed’ at Yanks’ slow pace, is engaging with other clubs
Jan. 10: He was the most valuable Yankee in each of his two seasons in their pinstripes. And now that he’s into his third month as a free agent and the club with which he’s stated he prefers to stay is “slow-playing” his market, LeMahieu is “dismayed” and has told his agent to engage with other clubs, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.
“Teams that have engaged with the LeMahieu camp say LeMahieu expects more than Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox,” Brown writes. “The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms.”
The Yankees lost a potential backup plan for LeMahieu when the Mets acquired Francisco Lindor in a blockbuster trade on Thursday, but the team doesn’t appear to be operating with a greater sense of urgency in its pursuit of the free-agent second baseman. So according to Brown, he’s looking to other clubs who have shown interest, including the Blue Jays, Dodgers and those very same Mets. Brown’s source also told him LeMahieu expects to meet with several clubs virtually over the next week.
According to a report from Dan Martin of the New York Post, the Yankees’ timeline regarding LeMahieu hasn’t changed. The two sides still aren’t close to a deal, though New York continues to have optimism it will find common ground with the 32-year-old. It’s unclear if they’ve made any progress since mid-December, when multiple reports put them at least $25 million apart. More >
Lindor trade could help LeMahieu’s market
Jan. 7: According to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, the Yankees checked in with the Indians about Francisco Lindor before the superstar shortstop was traded to the Mets along with right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Thursday. However, it was only as a potential backup plan for their primary target, DJ LeMahieu.
Per Sherman, the Yankees have remained committed to seeing their pursuit of LeMahieu through to the end.
#Yankees inquired with the #Indians on the price for Lindor as a backup plan if they did not sign LeMahieu, but have remained committed to seeing it thru with LeMahieu even as other options — such as Lindor — come off the board.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 7, 2021
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand thinks the trade could have a positive impact on LeMahieu’s market, as it may cause the Yankees and Blue Jays to ramp up efforts to sign the infielder, with Lindor no longer available.
Yankees should target Kluber
Jan. 5: The Yankees should target veteran free-agent starter Corey Kluber, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman argues in a column for the New York Post.
Kluber is scheduled to throw in front of MLB teams on Jan. 13 in Florida — specifically, at Cressey Sports Performance, which is run by Yankees director of player health and performance Eric Cressey. Cressey has been working with Kluber this offseason as the 34-year-old right-hander rehabs from a torn right teres muscle in his pitching shoulder, which he suffered in his first start of 2020 and caused him to miss the rest of the year. Cressey told Sherman that Kluber’s rehab has been going smoothly and that he’s thrown off a mound several times.
The Yankees have not said whether they’ll attend Kluber’s workout, but Sherman writes that it would be a surprise if they didn’t.
Though Kluber has made only eight total starts in the last two seasons, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball from 2014-18 with the Indians. Kluber went 83-45 with a 2.85 ERA over that time, averaged 218 innings and 246 strikeouts per season and won two AL Cy Young Awards.
Sherman thinks the Yankees could offer Kluber a short-term deal with performance incentives for number of starts or innings. If Kluber proves healthy for 2021, he could slot in nicely behind Gerrit Cole in New York’s rotation, with Luis Severino still recovering from Tommy John surgery and a lot of questions about the rest of the Yankees’ starters.
If Yankees don’t re-sign LeMahieu, would this outfielder fit?
Dec. 30: The Yankees’ offseason rumors have primarily focused on whether or not the team will re-sign DJ LeMahieu. But if the club misses out on bringing him back, here’s another veteran they might consider. Discussing Michael Brantley’s free agency on MLB Network, Dan Plesac suggested the Yankees might look into him, if the team doesn’t bring back LeMahieu. Brian Kenny, Adnan Virk and Plesac all note that Brantley is a throwback-style hitter, making frequent contact. Though Brantley also DHs, he was also a plus defender in left field in 2020.
Is Yankees’ LeMahieu strategy working?
Dec. 27: The Yankees are waiting things out when it comes to offseason moves beyond the club’s stated top priority: signing DJ LeMahieu. And according to the New York Post’s Dan Martin, that strategy seems to be working out just fine so far, since most other teams are waiting to make moves as well.
“So while the Yankees and other big spenders wait to set the market on the most high-profile free agents — including LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer and George Springer — available players with lower price tags are left in limbo. … That could work to the Yankees’ advantage, as they are expected to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold in 2021 and figure to have roughly $30 million-$35 million to spend — including LeMahieu, or not.”
LeMahieu is reportedly looking for a contract in the neighborhood of five years and $125 million after finishing third in AL MVP Award voting in 2020 and fourth in ’19 for the Yankees. Martin notes that if LeMahieu does leave the Yankees, the club could pivot to the free-agent shortstop market, which hasn’t moved thus far either. Acquiring a shortstop would enable Gleyber Torres to move back to his natural position of second base.
Watch the Dodgers in Bauer, LeMahieu sweepstakes
Dec. 26: The Dodgers are in play for top free agents this offseason, including Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu, according to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman. Sherman notes that Bauer’s previously-expressed desire for a short-term deal could fit the Dodgers well, as they’re unlikely to offer the longest contract with the most money. This also hinges on their willingness to exceed the luxury tax threshold yet again. LeMahieu’s suitors other than the Yankees are similar to Bauer’s: the Mets, Blue Jays, and, according to Sherman’s report, keep an eye on the Dodgers. LeMahieu could play third base if the team does not re-sign Justin Turner, or second base if Gavin Lux played a utility role. Sherman notes that for LeMahieu, the Dodgers offer a “professional, winning environment” similar to that with the Yankees, which he enjoyed in his time in New York.
Familiar infielder is best fit for Yankees
Dec. 26: MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince sums up the best fits for each remaining free agent from the top 25, doling out only one free agent per team. He says the Yankees are DJ LeMahieu’s best fit, noting that the infielder is one of the best free-agent position players available. He thrived during his time in New York, and “sometimes the simplest answer is the correct one,” Castrovince notes.
Yanks need bullpen pieces, not just DJ
Dec. 24: Even though DJ LeMahieu is getting all the attention, the Yankees should be focusing just as much on improving their bullpen this offseason, writes the Daily News’ Kristie Ackert.
The Dodgers landing former Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle on Wednesday was a reminder that New York now has openings to fill in the super-bullpen it built a few years ago … especially with Adam Ottavino struggling in 2020.
“They are going to need to rediscover confidence in Ottavino or go out and find some arms for insurance,” Ackert writes of the Yankees.
Ackert suggests right-handers Archie Bradley and Ryne Stanek as examples of relievers the Yankees could target in free agency.
Report: Mets have reached out to LeMahieu
Dec. 22: The Mets recently reached out to DJ LeMahieu, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, potentially setting up a Big Apple showdown for the free-agent second baseman.
The Mets recently contacted D.J. LeMahieu, which could set up a New York-New York battle for the Yankees’ best player two years running.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2020
The Yankees have made it clear that re-signing LeMahieu is a top priority, but there was reportedly still had a sizable gap in contract talks between the two sides earlier this week, leaving the door open for another club to swoop in.
The Mets addressed their hole at catcher by signing James McCann to a four-year, $40.6 million contract, but the club likely isn’t done spending. The Amazin’s have been connected to George Springer and Trevor Bauer, and LeMahieu may now be a target as well. More >
Cashman: Yanks need “more certain innings” in starting rotation
Dec. 20: Re-signing DJ LeMahieu may still be the Yankees’ No. 1 task, but general manager Brian Cashman hasn’t forgotten about the questions surrounding the club’s starting rotation. In an interview Sunday with MLB Network Radio, Cashman went through New York’s young arms — including Luis Severino, Domingo Germán, Deivi García and Jordan Montgomery — that possess plenty of upside, but acknowledged that the pinstripes could use a veteran presence or two to stabilize the rotation in 2021.
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) December 20, 2020
“I think we have a framework at the very least to fall back on,” Cashman said of those young arms, “but I definitely feel like we need to try to address more certain innings. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re scrambling. … No one ever wants to be in a scrambling mode, because then it dominoes into your bullpen and can have an adverse negative effect on you.”
Severino is coming off Tommy John surgery and Germán will be coming back from a lengthy suspension, and neither starter is guaranteed to replicate his former level. Ace Gerrit Cole is seemingly the only “sure thing” in the Yankees’ rotation at the moment. There are a couple familiar faces out on the free-agent market in Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, alongside “Tier 2” veteran free-agent starters Jake Odorizzi, José Quintana and Adam Wainwright.
“If I can add to what I have sooner than later, all the better,” added Cashman, “but if I have to wait to do it in-season, so be it. We might have enough here before us that’s just untested.”