Report: Yanks Have "Expressed Interest" In Carlos Torres

We're a shade over a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting and the Yankees might not be done adding pieces to bring to camp.  According to a report by Brendan Kuty, the Yankees are among 20 teams who have contacted right-handed reliever Carlos Torres after he elected free agency on Monday.  He was designated for assignment by the Mets a few weeks ago to open a 40-man roster spot for Antonio Bastardo. Torres, 33, was a late-blooming pro after scrapping starting and converting to a reliever in 2012.  He was a useful piece of the Met bullpen for the last 3 seasons, soaking up innings, working in a variety of different middle relief roles, and posting some decent numbers.  He posted a 4.68 ERA/3.53 FIP with a 19.8% K rate in 57.2 IP last season, his lowest IP total as a Met.  His flexibility would be valuable to the Yankees, who have a wide open competition for middle relief spots behind their big 3.  I don't think they would experiment with Torres as a starter at this stage in his career.  But as a multi-inning, middle-leverage reliever capable of getting a big out every now and then?  Sure.

If nothing else, signing Torres would put an end to the tired "the Yankees haven't signed a single Major League free agent this offseason" talking point that has crept into almost everybody's narrative over the last few weeks.  And in a large group of mostly unproven candidates, his track record would bring a little more sense of reliability to the middle relief competition.  But the Yankees are so deep in unproven candidates and seemingly committed to using that depth as the way to build a bridge to the big 3 that I don't think we'll see them sign Torres.  If there are 20 teams interested, one of them has to be more interested and more in need of Torres' services than the Yanks.

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Why Sell Low on Nova?

[caption id="attachment_79945" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Nova vs TOR 2015 Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption] I had a four year-old Chevy Tahoe with a lot of life left, but a fender-bender left it dinged, scratched, and missing a side window. The needed series of cosmetic repairs would’ve cost maybe $3K over a few months, and by using it over those months, I could’ve verified that nothing structural was wrong. But I was kind of sick of it, so I left it looking like a Sanford & Son junkyard prop, and I sold it for $9K less than bluebook value.

OK, I made that up. I just envy the southern/midwestern trial lawyers who sell their points with homespun anecdotes about good ol’ American cars, horses, and cheese grits. I was really talking about Ivan Nova: I don’t understand the sell-low strategy of trying to trade a potentially useful player exactly when his value is at a low point.

The problem isn’t just trading him after a bad half-year. The bigger problem is that we don’t know whether his 2015 performance (1) was just bad because he’s bad now or (2) was suppressed by injury recovery and rust that he could get past in 2016. And the biggest problem is that possible trading partners have less idea whether it’s #1 (bad) or #2 (rusty) than the Yankees do.

Let’s say the team's assessment is that Nova has a 50% chance of returning to second/third-starter form, but a 50% chance of remaining bad. That may be a decent expected value – call it “back-end of rotation,” on average. But another team has to wonder: is it because the Yankees know he’s not improving that they’re posting a “Buy It Now” Nova on eBay?

This asymmetric information problem is why it’s hard to get good value trading a player with injury recovery uncertainty: the acquiring team has to be wary that maybe the fellow is for sale because he’s like a lemon of a used car, a dud that the selling team knows to have low odds of returning to form. You just can’t easily trade your assets for good value when you have a more confident, inside-information-driven valuation than the other team does.

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Report: Actual MLB Team "Has Had Interest" In Ivan Nova

Deep in the underbelly of his latest weekend MLB column, Nick Cafardo did something that I honestly didn't expect to see done this offseason.  He provided some real, actual, reported evidence that another MLB team is interested in trading for Ivan Nova.  The Yankees have had Nova on the market for a while now, although I think it would be a stretch to say they're actually "shopping" him.  Team-friendly arb deal or not, there's not much about Nova's recent track record that would inspire teams to want to trade something away for him.  And yet Cafardo managed to tie the Marlins to Nova, saying "Miami has had interest." Whether that interest still exists now in the present or only in the past is unknown, and either way there isn't a great match to be made between the Yanks and Marlins.  Miami doesn't have any non-Jose Fernandez young starting pitching of value and there's no way they're trading Marcell Ozuna back to the Yankees for Nova.  Cafardo's report did go as far as referencing additional past interest in Nova and said the Yankees could decide what to do with him within the next month.

I still stand by my assertion that the Yankees are better off keeping Nova than trading him.  This report, while better than nothing, is not exactly a major stoke to the Nova trade fires.  There simply isn't much interest in him, not enough to match the value that Nova could have to the Yankees as additional rotation depth and a potentially useful piece in a retooled bullpen.  There's also the lack of activity on the Yankees' part in adding more rotation depth, depth which would hardly be better than Nova if it comes in the form of a cheap 1-year deal or a MiL offer with an invite to spring camp.  I don't blame the Yankees for trying to move him, but at this point keeping Nova for 2016 seems like the smarter move.

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Winter Meetings Day 3 Wrap-Up

The Yankees kept moving and shaking after the Castro deal on Tuesday, trading another piece of their Major League bullpen away yesterday to add some upper-level rotation depth.  Today is the final day of the meetings and the Rule 5 Draft is later, so maybe we'll see another move.  Here's a quick update on where we stand after yesterday. - The aforementioned trade was the Justin Wilson one.  The Yankees got right-handed starters Luis Cessa and Chad Green in return, and both figure to start next season in the Triple-A rotation.  Cessa sounds like the better prospect from what I've read, but neither is a stud.  Wilson figures to be replaced internally by someone from the Lindgren-Pazos-Webb triumvirate.  Just kidding, it's going to be Lindgren.

- Via Jon Heyman, Brett Gardner is "still out there" in trade talks, although nothing is close for now.  I think Gardner stays.

- Via Joel Sherman, the Yanks are still shopping Andrew Miller around to the D'backs and Astros.  Houston traded for Ken Giles yesterday and it doesn't sound like anything is going to happen with AZ, so Miller probably stays now too.  I can't see Cash trading him and Wilson.

- Oh and in case you were wondering, Cash confirmed that the Yankees are still poor as $h*t and crippled by their payroll restrictions with this winner of a quote to Pete Caldera: 'It's accurate to say flexibility is limited currently because we're committed to a lot.''

- Via Bryan Hoch, the Yankees expect to lose somebody in the Rule 5 Draft and are also considering taking someone.  Jake Cave is the popular name I've seen suggested as the player they'll lose.

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Report: Nothing Close On The Gardner, Miller, Or Nova Trade Fronts

Yesterday George King posted a short article on the Jordan Zimmerman contract and what it meant for the Yankees' search for starting pitching on the free agent market.  If he would have waited a little longer, he could have included David Price in the piece and expanded on his idea, but that's neither here nor there.  While King's argument that the high price for Zimmerman (and now Price) could push the second and third-tier pitching markets out of the Yankees' desired price range is completely spot on, it wasn't the most important part of the article.  The most important part was the end, when King provided an update on the Brett Gardner, Andrew Miller, and Ivan Nova trade situations. That update is that there is nothing going on worth updating.  According to King, the Yankees haven't been impressed by any of the trade offers that have been made for Gardner or Miller and are not close to trading either of them.  King added that there has been little interest on the market for Nova, who is reportedly being shopped around.  For the time being, unless they've really kept something under wraps, it doesn't appear as though there is another major trade in the works for the Yanks.

And none of that is surprising.  Gardner and Miller are very good to great players at their positions who are still in their primes and on pretty reasonable contracts.  Teams would need to put a really good package of players/prospects together to get the Yankees interested and the Yankees have every right to ask for top names in return.  In the same way that they are unlikely to give up Luis Severino to get Shelby Miller, other teams have probably been unwilling to include their blue chippers in their proposals.  No big deal, just both sides doing what's best for their own interests.

Nova's case as a young-ish, cheap, future free agent to be with a 4.33/4.29 career ERA/FIP split, 50.1% career GB rate, and something to prove would be more appealing on the trade market if he wasn't coming off a major injury and 2 pretty bad partial seasons around that.  I said it the other day, Nova isn't going to bring anything of value back on his own.  He's a throw-in piece to a bigger trade at best, and at that market value the Yankees might be better off keeping him.

We'll see what develops heading into next week's Winter Meetings, but right now the stove ain't that hot in the Yankee kitchen.  It's probably safe to touch.

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Report: Yankees Shopping Ivan Nova

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a quiet week in Yankeeland, but there was one small story I wanted to go back and touch on before we pressed on into the heart of the offseason. Last week Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees had "let teams know Ivan Nova is available" in a trade if they were interested.  This is noteworthy for two reasons.  One, the Yankees are on the record as being in the market for starting pitching this offseason and Nova is a starting pitcher, and two, Nova really wasn't good this past season and hasn't been anything special in his MLB career.  The idea of teams lining up to make the Yankees a trade offer after finding out he's available is borderline laughable.

Sherman's report went on to explain that the Yankees are looking for starters with more years of team control remaining, something that Nova does not have.  The 2016 season will be his final arbitration year before free agency and the Yankees must be hoping they can move him for somebody who will be around a little longer rather than keep him next year and then lose him for nothing.

And therein lies the real story in this report.  This isn't about the Yankees trying to add more cost-controlled starting pitching in 2016 so much as it's about the Yankees' plans for Nova in 2016 and beyond.  What this report tells me is that the Yankees not only don't see Nova as part of their starting rotation plan next year, but they also aren't planning on re-signing him after next year.  They've already started the process of moving on from Nova and they'd rather trade him now and get something back that they need than hold onto him next year as a redundant, unnecessary part of the roster.

That organizational mindset is spelled out in Sherman's report.  He takes special care to point out that the Yankees "are not selling low on Nova" and then rattles off all the positively spun things that could be used to up his trade value in talks.  He'll be healthier next year, he'll be motivated, he's cost-efficient in his final arb year, and he's still in his physical prime at age 29.  All of those things are or could be true, but if they're all true then why are the Yankees trying to trade the guy?  He's a young, cost-controlled starting pitcher and they have said they're looking for young, cost-controlled starting pitchers.  The only reason they would be looking to move him is if they were selling low.

So take the report however you want, but the truth is that Nova has been inconsistent in his Yankee tenure and he's lost the position he once held as an important piece of the team's future plans.  By my count he's the 7th starter on the current 40-man roster, and if the Yankees think they can turn their 7th starter into a better starter, that's something they should pursue.  Nova isn't going to bring that kind of return back on his own, but I could see a scenario or two in which he's part of a multiple player package that brings back a better young starter.

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Report: Yanks Talking Outfielder-For-Pitcher Trade With Indians

The Brett Gardner trade rumor train keeps rolling down the offseason tracks, gathering speed as it goes.  Via Jon Morosi, the Yankees are one of several teams talking to the Cleveland Indians about putting a trade together involving an outfielder and one of Cleveland's starting pitchers.  As Morosi points out, the Indians are dangerously light on quality MLB outfielders right now and won't have Michael Brantley at the start of next season.  They also have a very deep starting rotation, with 6 legit big league starters in the mix. If the Yankees are involved and the trade revolves around Cleveland acquiring an outfielder, of course it's going to be Gardner whose name comes up.  There's no way Cleveland would even entertain the idea of taking on Jacoby Ellsbury's contract.  But Gardner would be a good fit for them thanks to his well-rounded offensive skill set and ability to play center field.

With the Yankees openly looking to add more starting pitching, any of Cleveland's young starters would be a good fit.  Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the big prizes.  Yankee players and fans should be very familiar with Carrasco after his 2 stellar outings against them in a 10-day span this past August.  But the team could also take interest in the potential of younger guys like Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar.  One thing worth noting about all 4 of those pitchers- they all had home run problems last year.

The other teams mentioned in Morosi's report were the Dodgers and the Blue Jays, and to be honest the Dodgers are probably a better trade partner than the Yankees here because of their depth.  They could offer Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, or Scott Van Slyke.  The Yankees can offer Gardner and Aaron Judge.  It's not a bad option to pursue to add more starting pitching without spending "too much" money, but at first glance I'd call this a longshot for the Yankees.

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Report: Yankees Unlikely To Pursue Zobrist

Looks like I didn't miss too much over the weekend.  The one new rumor with some juice that came out last night comes to us courtesy of The Post and concerns both the Yankees and the Mets and their respective plans to pursue Ben Zobrist this offseason. Via Dan Martin and Ken Davidoff, the Yankees are unlikely to go hard after Zobrist because of his expected price tag.  The exact quote from the report says "the Yankees aren’t willing to spend as much as Zobrist likely will receive", and that the Mets will make "a strong push" for Zobrist to address their multiple roster needs.  That information comes from the always reliable unnamed "industry sources".  They're better than just regular unnamed sources because they're definitely in the industry, you see.

All jokes aside, this report makes sense to me.  The MLBTR projection for Zobrist was 3 years/$51 million, this report mentions 4/$60 mil as a possibility, and I've already said I don't see the Yankees going all in on Zobrist for those types of commitments.  They have players in-house who they are seemingly comfortable with handling second base, they've got a crowded outfield, and they have greater needs elsewhere.  Giving a 4-year deal to a 35-year-old also doesn't fit the current roster building plan, even if that 35-year-old is very versatile.

In a vacuum, I'd love to have Zobrist on the team next year.  He would provide flexibility and depth all over the roster and make it easier to move Brett Gardner, who is probably the team's best chance to get more young, cost-controlled MLB players back in a trade.  It's strange to accept money as the reason for the Yankees passing on a player who fits their needs, but that's the new model with ownership.  If they're waiting for more money to come off the books before spending big again, it makes sense that they'd bypass Zobrist and focus their attention elsewhere.

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GM Meetings Day 3 Recap: 1 Trade, 2 Trades, And The Rumor Mill Heats Up

[caption id="attachment_79335" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Aaron Hicks 2015 Your new fourth outfielder... for now (Courtesy of Getty Images)[/caption] Very busy day for Hipster Cash yesterday.  He started off by clearing a 40-man spot and kept the trade momentum rolling with an out-of-nowhere swap with the Twins that netted him at least his Chris Young replacement.  Here's a full recap of yesterday's activities.

- The first trade was a straight up roster dump.  Cash said so himself.  The Yanks sent utility man Jose Pirela to the Padres for 20-year-old right-hander Ronald Herrera.  The move got them down to 38 on the 40-man roster and gave them a potential sleeper pitching prospect.

- The second trade was the big one.  The Yankees acquired outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Twins for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy.  This trade, while unexpected, followed a pattern Cash has established recently of dealing from positions of depth to acquire young MLB players with lots of team control remaining.  Murphy really came into his own in 2015 as Brian McCann's regular backup, and like Francisco Cervelli before him he will now get the chance to expand into a regular starting role.  Hicks steps into Young's righty platoon outfield role for now, but Cash did say the Yankees see him as an everyday player.

- Naturally this ramped up the speculation on Brett Gardner's future with the club.  When asked about the possibility of trading Gardner now, Cash said "“I have been hit on Gardy over the years quite often, and he hasn’t gone anywhere.  I value Gardy a great deal. … He’s not an easy get.” (via Chad Jennings)

- In other hot stove rumor news, Ken Rosenthal reported the Diamondbacks as one of multiple teams that have asked about Andrew Miller.  These 2 teams have hooked up on trades before and Rosenthal pointed out the match in potential trade chips, so this makes sense.

- Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees might "make a serious run" at lefty free agent pitcher Wei-Yin Chen this offseason to give their rotation some balance.  Chen is coming off a solid year and has been a reliable mid-rotation guy since coming to the Majors in 2012.  He's also reportedly seeking a 5-6 year deal and will cost any non-Baltimore team that signs him their 1st round draft pick.  He's a good pitcher, but I don't see the Yankees going that hard for him at the cost of the pick and that many years.

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Report: Yanks And Mariners Have Had Talks About Brett Gardner

Here's the other new story I alluded to in the previous recap post.  According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees and Mariners have "discussed" a potential trade involving Brett Gardner.  This comes as the latest example of the "Brian Cashman is open to anything" storyline that's been gaining strength over the last week or so. Sherman's report is quick to state that the discussions are in the early stages and no specifics have been mentioned by either side, but there is a good fit and logical reason for both sides to pursue this.  The Mariners need to be competitive now and Gardner is the perfect type of top-of-the-order table setter they need in front of their big hitters.  Jerry DiPoto is the new GM in Seattle and has always liked Gardner.  From the Yankees' side, Gardner is arguably their most trade-able main roster piece as an above-average player with a reasonable contract.  With Ellsbury locked in, Beltran coming off the books after next season, prospects waiting in the wings, and some intriguing FA outfield options, Gardner is the best chance for them to move a piece while also helping another area of roster need.

The report mentions "high-end starting pitching" with team control as the desired return for the Yankees, and while Seattle is unwilling to discuss right-hander Taijuan Walker, the same does not hold true for lefty James Paxton.  The 27-year-old pitched to a 3.90 ERA/4.31 FIP split in 67.0 MLB innings in 2015, but has battled injury problems on and off for the past few years.

Stove's gettin' hotter.  It's definitely worth watching where this rumor goes over the rest of this week and in the weeks to come leading up to the Winter Meetings.  Gardner is one of the core members of the Yankees now and a well-known leader in the clubhouse.  Losing him would be tough, but it would also create more opportunities for young players to step in and could bring a good return to bolster the rest of the roster.

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