Yanks turn up heat on quest to ink CC
Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 5:07 pm
By: By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Yankees general manager Brian Cashman dashed off to California after CC Sabathia, while the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians closed in on big-name closers at baseball’s winter meetings.
The New York Post reported on its Web site early this morning that Sabathia has agreed to sign with the Yankees. No other details were available.
Cashman left Las Vegas and traveled to the San Francisco area Tuesday to meet with Sabathia for the third straight day. The prized pitcher was thought to prefer playing near his California home.
“He would look good in pinstripes,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Cashman’s trip to the Bay Area was disclosed by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Yankees didn’t say where the GM had gone — only that he left the Bellagio hotel. Cashman traveled after being invited by Sabathia, the official said.
The crosstown Mets already made a free-agent splash by landing Francisco Rodriguez, and fellow reliever Kerry Wood was close to a deal with the Cleveland Indians.
K-Rod became the first top-tier free agent to pick a team when he decided to join the Mets, desperate for bullpen help. Coming off a record 62 saves for the Los Angeles Angels, Rodriguez reached a preliminary agreement early Tuesday on a $37 million, three-year contract with New York.
The sides still have to work out a written agreement and the pitcher must pass a physical, two people familiar with the negotiations said.
They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been completed.
“He got a terrific deal from the Mets and he’s going to do a great job for them,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s got great postseason experience. I don’t know that I’ve met a guy mentally as tough as Francisco on the mound. … The offers that were made to Francisco over the last couple years obviously were not the ones that he was looking for to stay here with the Angels.”
Rodriguez’s deal with New York is unlikely to be finalized before next week.
“The way that we lost so many close games late, I think that was critical for us to — theoretically — address this thing here. We have addressed it very well,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said, laughing. “I mean, they say the word on the street is good. It’s good. That’s just the word on the street. We’ve got to get it written down.”
Cleveland was on the verge of a two-year contract with Wood, the former Chicago Cubs starter-turned-reliever, a person familiar with that deal said on condition of anonymity because the sides still were working through details. Wood, who has had numerous injury problems in the past, also needs to pass a physical before the deal can be completed.
The Yankees made a six-year offer to Sabathia on Nov. 14 worth about $140 million and met with him on Sunday and Monday. Cashman’s daily briefing with reporters was canceled by the team, with spokesman Jason Zillo saying, “Brian is off hotel property and unavailable for the rest of the evening.”
Sabathia and his wife have three young children, so family concerns are expected to factor into his decision.
“If we decide that we’re going to get involved, we will have a meeting and make our presentation,” San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “It hasn’t gotten to that point. They’re in no hurry. We don’t have any expectations. He’s certainly playing the field. Why wouldn’t we be involved if he’s interested? It’s as simple as that.”
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Sabathia told him he wants to join Los Angeles, and manager Joe Torre said that statement “teases you.”
A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe likely will wait for Sabathia to make a move before striking deals of their own. Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez also could become lengthy negotiations.
In the second trade of the four-day session, the Cincinnati Reds acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez and cash from the Baltimore Orioles for utilityman Ryan Freel and two minor leaguers.
The Dodgers completed a $17.5 million, three-year contract with third baseman Casey Blake and reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with infielder Mark Loretta, pending a physical.
So far this offseason, teams are being more cautious about spending money on players, causing agents to play a waiting game to determine whether prices will go up.
“I would suspect that it has mostly to do with the economy and both sides trying to gauge what impact that should have on the market,” San Diego Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson said. “We are more mindful of the economy than we have been in the past.”
The Yankees also spoke with the agents for Burnett, saying they were prepared to exceed $60 million over four years, and they examined the medical records of pitcher Ben Sheets.
• World Series champion Philadelphia exercised manager Charlie Manuel’s 2010 option and added a guaranteed salary for 2011.
• MLB announced it will toughen rules on bat manufacturing for 2009 to reduce broken bats and will double the authorization fee to $10,000 per supplier.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum, AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.