After a ridiculously busy Monday that saw the signing of the top pitcher on the market, a blockbuster 3-team deal, and the news that the Cardinals may offer Matt Holliday an 8-year deal, the hot stove is still burning. While Boston made some big acquisitions yesterday in the form of John Lackey and Mike Cameron (and might add another bat via free agency or trade), Brian Cashman is not sitting pat.
Ken Rosenthal, via twitter, is reporting that the Yankees are “very interested” in signing RHP Ben Sheets. Sheets, who missed the entire 2009 season after having surgery, is reportedly seeking as much as 12 million per year, a lot for a player who is coming off surgery, and has not pitched over 200 innings since 2004. The Yankees would likely hope to offer Sheets a similar contract to that of Rich Harden, another oft-injured righty who can pitch like a front of the rotation starter when healthy. Harden got a 6.5 million dollar deal with a mutual option for 11.5, for a total of 7.5 million guaranteed over 2 years. The Yankees will probably offer Sheets a 1 year deal with a base salary in the 6-8 million range, with incentives for starts, innings pitched, or some other measure of durability that could bring the value of the deal up to the 12 million dollar range that Sheets is demanding.
Sheets is an intriguing buy-low opportunity, and as a guy with great control and the ability to strke batters out (k:bb ratio of almost 4:1 for his career with a career 1.201 WHIP), he could be a nice addition to the Yankee rotation. If signed, Sheets would likely compete with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain for the 4th and 5th spot in the rotation, though he may want a guaranteed spot in the rotation as part of the deal. If he insists on demanding more than a reasonable 1-year deal with incentives and a team option for a 2nd year, then it may be too expensive to justify the risk in signing a guy coming off elbow surgery. An additional risk that Sheets entails is that he has never pitched in the AL before, but he is certainly talented enough to succeed in the AL East. Sheets may not want to sign right away according to Rosenthal, so the Yankees may have to wait this one out.
Rosenthal also reports that the Yankees have contacted Jason Bay’s representatives, and may be interested in him. I can’t imagine Cashman will want to shell out the kind of money for Bay that he appears to be demanding (considering he turned down a 4-year 60+million offer from Boston), considering Bay’s horrendous defense. However, if Holliday signs with the Cardinals and Bay doesn’t have many suitors left, his price could drop, at which point Cashman and the Yankees might be willing to swoop in.
From what it sounds like, the Yankees are looking for at least another bat and likely a starter as well. Johnny Damon, who can DH and play left field, is probably still the Yankees’ top choice (though not for a 4-year deal that Boras has reportedly demanded). Other intriguing DH possibilities could include Nick Johnson, Jack Cust, and Carlos Delgado. Justin Duchscherer is another pitcher the Yankees may be interested, and he has had success both as a starter and a reliever. More updates will be posted when we hear them.