I'm dying for something sports-related, so let's talk Yankees hot stove. Two rumors out of the GM meetings caught my eye today, and if you put them together (and believe both of them), they could point toward something unexpected.
First, Jon Heyman has a column which notes that sources have said the Yanks may sign three free agent starters
. Most notable among them, CC Sabathia, which isn't really news. He lists the usual suspects, Burnett and Lowe, as two other possibilities, with Oliver Perez and even Ben Sheets rounding out the list. The thought had been the Yanks going after two free agents for their rotation, why would they need three? (more on that later)
The second piece of the puzzle came much later when Heyman said the Yanks are showing interest in Orlando Hudson
(scroll down to the 1:59 p.m. entry). Heyman speculates the Yanks could be thinking about playing Hudson in center, but I don't buy that for a second. If you get Orlando Hudson, you aren't going to play him in center when he's a better second baseman than Robinson Cano.
In fact, I believe if the Yankees are seriously courting Orlando Hudson, that means Robinson Cano is on his way out of town. Put in the context of the first rumor (3 new starters), it looks like the Yanks could be lining up a big trade for a bat. So, if this is the case, and the Yanks go out and sign Sabathia, Lowe and Oliver Perez, what type of deal could they swing for a bat with say Cano, Hughes and/or Kennedy?
After the jump we'll take a look at the candidates.
- Prince Fielder: Possible. The Brewers are probably going to lose Sabathia and Ben Sheets. They need pitching help and I don't know if they're going to have the money to find it in free agency. They could be looking to restock their system with young arms. Fielder is under team control for a couple more seasons, but he's about to get very expensive in arbitration.
- Ryan Howard: Doubtful, but I'd love it. Philly doesn't have many decisions to make, and I don't see them trading Howard after their World Series win. He's going to get more expensive in free agency, but they can afford it. Their rotation is also set and they'd have to move Cano to third or first.
- Matt Kemp: Possible, but I doubt they'd be including pitching in the deal if they were to make that move. At least not a pitcher at Hughes' level. Andre Eithier may also be an option if the Yanks really want a lefty bat (which they should)
- Matt Holliday: Now we might be getting somewhere. It's no secret that the Rockies are at least thinking about moving Holliday. The Yanks may just be able to put together a package worthy of him. I think the odds are long, though. And just as with Manny, I don't think they go after a corner outfielder. They don't need one at this point.
- Garret Atkins: Same boat as Holliday, just less expensive and not as good of a player. I don't think even a Cano for Atkins swap straight up is beneficial to the Yanks.
- Adrian Gonzalez: Interesting, but they'd have to pay through the nose to get him. Cano plus Hughes and Kennedy, and I'm not sure he's worth that.
- Ryan Ludwick: Who knows? There was a rumor earlier today that the Braves had discussions with the Cardinals about a Ludwick for Kelly Johnson trade. I think Cano is the better second baseman, all around. Ludwick is coming off a monster season that came out of nowhere, and he's a corner outfielder, so I doubt it. I guess you could throw Rick Ankiel into the discussion as well. I think he's probably a better fit, but he can't stay healthy.
Personally, I wouldn't be against signing Hudson and moving Cano, if you don't have to put Hughes in the deal. Call me crazy, but I'm still on the Hughes bandwagon (he's coming off a strong start in the AZ league, one of the few good ones he's had there). My patience with Cano is running extremely short and Hudson would be a fine replacement for him at second. Cano's upside is obviously off the charts, but Hudson is a superior defender, and he isn't going to kill you with the bat (.800+ OPS each of the last three seasons).
The first rumor, signing three free agent starters, is crazy talk if you ask me. If they did land Sabathia, Lowe and Perez, their rotation would be Sabathia, Wang, Lowe, Perez, Chamberlain (assuming Pettitte and Mussina do not come back). I'd much prefer Sabathia, Wang, Mussina, Chamberlain, Hughes/Aceves. The Yanks should throw a boatload of money at Sabathia as early as possible. Blow Johan's contract out of the water, get him to sign as quickly as possible, then go to work on Mussina. Convince him he wants that 300th win, and get him back in pinstripes. Let Pettitte walk.
The only free agent starter besides Sabathia who really interests me is Dempster. He put up excellent numbers in his return to the rotation last season across the board and I don't think his price tag will be as high as guys like Burnett. Unfortunately, it looks like the Cubs are going to do what it takes to keep him.
One final note: Take all of these rumors with a grain of salt. Brian Cashman is typically very good at keeping his intentions under wraps until the last second.