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What a Brandon Phillips Trade Would Mean for the New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are preparing for life after Robinson Cano, or so it seems.

According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Yankees have made contact with the Cincinnati Reds about second baseman Brandon Phillips:

Phillips is said to be available in the right trade, but word is, the initial price is way too steep. Of course, that’s the way the Yankees look at Cano’s $300 million asking price, as well.

Phillips batted .261 with 103 RBI for the Reds, but is on the market after a couple incidents—one where he complained in a Cincinnati magazine article about how ownership handled his negotiations and another where he went ballistic on a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter after the reporter, Trent Rosecrans, formerly of, tweeted about Phillips’ low on-base percentage.

Phillips still has four years and $50 million left on his current deal. Compared to what Cano is seeking, that would be a bargain. Then again, what would it cost the Yankees in terms of prospects?

But let’s say the Yankees were able to pull off this trade. What kind of domino effect would it have on the rest of the offseason? What would the Yankees gain or lose replacing Cano with Phillips, and how would it affect Cano’s value on the free-agent market?


What the Yankees Would Gain/Lose

The most obvious thing the Yankees would lose, first and foremost, is prospects. There’s no way that any team can acquire a four-time Gold Glover, and one that had 18 home runs and 103 RBI last year, without giving up something.

Outside of Gary Sanchez, no prospect is truly untouchable for the Yankees, so you could likely see the Reds ask for Mason Williams or Tyler Austin, along with a few pitching prospects.

The Yankees are likely going to want to keep both outfielders since Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano will all be free agents after next season. They’re going to need some young bodies to place alongside Brett Gardner.

But if Phillips is the target, there’s no way the Reds aren’t getting at least Williams or Austin.

The Yankees would also be giving up on signing Cano, who kept the Yankees afloat this year, batting .314 with 27 home runs and 107 RBI.

Here’s how Phillips and Cano compare over the last two years:

Obviously Cano is better, but Phillips would come at a cheaper price, compared to what Cano wants.

Heyman reported in September that the Yankees balked at Cano’s request of $300 million over 10 years:

The Yankees have said they do not want to repeat a contract of (Alex) Rodriguez’s size. They obviously now view Rodriguez’s contract as an error, though his career path took its own turn with the steroid revelations and two hip surgeries. Cano is healthy and has never been linked to anything untoward.

By trading for Phillips, the Yankees would be guaranteeing Cano won’t be in pinstripes next year.


How Cano’s Free-Agent Value Would Be Affected

Despite the multiple teams that are interested in Cano in free agency, very few would (or even could) make an offer in the neighborhood he is seeking.

The one team (outside of the Yankees) that could easily bankroll the deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers, doesn’t seem like a candidate after signing Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero.

Heyman did mention that teams like the Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Tigers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles, White Sox, Angels and Giants could also have interest in Cano:

In the case of many of these teams, there’s a reason or two Cano may not be a perfect fit (mostly, it’s the money). But with a player of this stature, teams have been known to make room.

The Rangers don’t have much of an infield need since they have Ian Kinsler and Jurickson Profar for second base. The Tigers already have a high payroll for their market. While the Angels are expected to consider trades for second baseman Howie Kendrick, their bigger need would still be pitching.

The Orioles haven’t spent for a top-tier free agent in years. The Nationals like Anthony Rendon, who’ll presumably have to stay at second since Ryan Zimmerman bounced back to finish strong at third base. The Cubs seem to prefer even younger players for their major expenditures.

So, the market wouldn’t look good for Cano to get the kind of money he is seeking.

This doesn’t mean Cano wouldn’t sign with one of those teams. But with a $300 million asking price, most teams won’t come near that. That means Cano is going to have to come down on his asking price.

The bottom line is the Yankees trading for Phillips would be the worst thing for Cano. Without the Yankees, he’s not getting anywhere close to the amount of money he wants.


What Else the Yankees Could Do

By trading for Phillips and not re-signing Cano, the Yankees would have a lot more cap space to make the necessary improvements on the free-agent market this offseason.

The main thing it would allow them to do is to get into a bidding war for free-agent catcher Brian McCann:

When you look at what McCann did last year compared to Yankees’ catchers, it’s really not a contest:

There really is no comparison as McCann is clearly the better choice for the Yankees, at least until Sanchez makes it through the minor league system.

By not signing Cano to a $30 million-a-year deal, the Yankees could easily afford to pay McCann around the $16-17 million Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects he’ll get.

The Yankees could also make a serious run at Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka. While it’s impossible to know what Tanaka’s value is, he will be posted, and teams will have a chance to bid on him.

As Bleacher Report’s Joe Giglio wrote in September, the posting system is a huge guessing game:

When it comes time for posting fees and free agent contracts, Tanaka is likely to receive less than Yu Darvish’s total package, but, considering the dearth of free agent arms outside of Matt Garza, could be worth a total deal around what Anibal Sanchez received last offseason.

Of course, the nature of posting fees and the guessing game around which team will win the rights to offer Tanaka a deal will be just as intriguing as the actual contract he garners.

But given the Yankees’ history of spending money, there’s no doubt they’ll put up a huge bid for Tanaka. By adding Tanaka, the Yankees will have another ace-type starter in their rotation to help take some of the pressure off CC Sabathia.

The Yankees could also look at bringing in a closer like Joe Nathan or Grant Balfour if they don’t feel like David Robertson is the man for the job.

There are so many avenues the Yankees could go if they traded for Phillips and let Cano walk.


The Bottom Line

While it is fun to think about what would happen if the Yankees decided to go another direction, the bottom line is there is no way they’ll let him go to another team.

Cano won’t get the $300-million contract he is seeking, but he’ll get close to what Rodriguez got on his last 10-year deal.

After losing Mariano Rivera to retirement and the end of Derek Jeter’s career coming up, the Yankees need a face of the franchise moving forward. Cano is that guy, and there is no way the Yankees would mess that up by trading for Phillips.

The Yankees may get a little disgruntled by having to shell out more money than they would like to keep Cano in the Bronx. But the bottom line is, they need Cano, and Cano needs them.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Biggest MLB Names on the Trade Block

With MLB free agency set to begin, so too are the rumors and speculation of players who will be traded.

Last year, it was guys like R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Justin Upton and James Shields who were traded to new teams. And this year is no different, as many big names have already been rumored to be moved. But will those deals happen? 

Here’s a look at some of the biggest names on the trading block this offseason.


Note: All stats obtained from ESPN unless otherwise noted.

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What’s Next for Paul Konerko After White Sox Sign Jose Abreu?

Paul Konerko‘s days with the Chicago White Sox seem to be over after the team signed international free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal.

In addition to Abreu, the White Sox also have Adam Dunn under contract, creating a logjam at first base and DH.

With the signing, what does that mean for Konerko since he’s a free agent? If he decides to continue playing, does that mean he’s going to have to find a new team? And if so, what teams would likely be interested in him?


White Sox Interest Still There

Even with the Abreu signing, Chicago still has interest in re-signing Konerko, according to Dan Padilla of ESPN Chicago:

General manager Rick Hahn insisted the White Sox remain interested in talking to Konerko about a one-year deal. Konerko said before the season ended that if he does come back it would only be for one more season and then he would slip into retirement. 

The biggest obstacle to bringing back Konerko wouldn’t seem to be financial as much as it would seem to be too many versions of the same type of player.

With two first base/DH-type players already on the roster, it must be asked: Why are the White Sox still interested? Could it be the fact that Konerko has been in Chicago for 15 years?

They could use Konerko and Dunn in a platoon-type role. Konerko could face the lefties, while Dunn gets the righties.

But let’s look at how each has compared against righties and lefties over the last three years:

The numbers clearly show that outside of home runs that Konerko has been superior, but Dunn is still under contract for one more year.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Dunn could walk away from the game this offseason as well. If that happens, then there’s no question Chicago would bring Konerko back. That would be the scenario that would make the decision easiest for Konerko.

The White Sox currently have $56.9 million committed to next year’s team, according to Baseball Prospectus. This past season, the payroll was at $118.9 million.

If they wanted to, the White Sox could swing a deal to re-sign Konerko and give him one final season in Chicago, even if it was in a platoon role. But what if that doesn’t happen and Konerko still wants to play?


Teams that Could Have Interest in Konerko

The Los Angeles Angels would be a team that could be considered in the running for Konerko should he pursue free agency.

With the Angels currently looking for starting pitcher, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this out:

If Trumbo were the one to be traded, then there would be a hole that Konerko could fill. He could even switch between first base and DH with Albert Pujols so that neither player has to play the field as much.

The Boston Red Sox may be another option since Mike Napoli was only signed to a one-year contract last offseason. Napoli could find bigger dollars going somewhere else, thus opening up a hole for Konerko. And it’s not like it would take much to entice Konerko. Boston could point to the fact that it has a club that is built for another World Series run next year, giving Konerko one more opportunity to be labeled a champion.

The New York Yankees would be another viable option considering Travis Hafner is leaving as a free agent this offseason as well. The Yankees are another team that has the talent in place, and the dollars to bring in the talent they don’t have.

Other teams could be considered. However, being that Konerko will be 38 next year, it’s hard to see him going to an NL team where he would have to play every day. A team that has the DH as an option would be what’s best for Konerko.



There’s no way Konerko will go somewhere else for one final year. Sure, he’d like to win another title, but he wants to do that with the White Sox.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports Konerko would prefer to stay with the White Sox:

Should Konerko return in 2014, it would be his last season. If he decides to play, he would prefer it be with the Sox.

The only place he would consider being a part-time player is in Chicago. Playing elsewhere next year would be tough but would be considered if he really wanted to play and couldn’t reach a deal with the Sox.

After 15 years, it’s hard to imagine him being able to put on another uniform.

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Were Giants Forced to Overpay Tim Lincecum with Lack of Depth on FA Market?

The San Francisco Giants have overpaid once again. This time, Tim Lincecum is the benefactor of the Giants’ generosity.

The Giants signed Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract Tuesday, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News. It’s a move that is being questioned by ESPN’s Buster Olney:

For a player that has a 4.76 ERA over the last two years and only 28 quality starts out of 65, $17.5 million per year seems like too much, especially considering the qualifying offer would have been around $14 million.

Keeping that in mind, what made the Giants give that much to Lincecum? Was it the fact that they have a history of overpaying guys (see Marco Scutaro)? Was it the lack of depth on the free-agent market or do they genuinely believe he will regain the form of a Cy Young winner?

Let’s dig into this further.


Giants’ Generosity with Marco Scutaro

We could bring up Barry Zito’s seven-year, $126 million deal the Giants gave him in 2007, but that would be too easy. For that money, the Giants got 63 wins and a 4.62 ERA. And not once did he have an ERA below 4.00.

Jeremy Affeldt would be another easy target, considering he was given closer-type pay with a three-year, $18 million deal. This season, Affeldt was good for 39 appearances and a 3.74 ERA.

Instead, let’s look at Scutaro’s circumstances.

Scutaro was a playoff hero in 2012, batting .500 in the NLCS (earning MVP honors) and lining a single that broke a tie in the do-or-die Game 4 against the Tigers. He also excelled in 62 games with the Giants after being traded from the Rockies, batting .362 with three home runs and 44 RBI.

For that, the Giants rewarded him with a three-year, $20 million deal.

However, Scutaro was in the midst of his best statistical season, having never hit above .300 in his career before. He had shown bits of power with 23 home runs between 2009-10, but none of his stats jump off the page.

So, what did the Giants get in return for $6.67 million this year? A .297 average with two home runs and 31 RBI.

Instead, they could have signed someone like Ryan Raburn, who hit .272 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI, and was on a minor-league contract with the Indians. Granted, Rayburn had an injury-plagued 2012, but he historically had produced at the play (45 home runs, 156 RBI) between 2009-11.

Now, it’s hard to predict what a player will do in a given season, but isn’t that what a scouting department is for? Somebody had to think Scutaro might not have been the best option, despite having a career year in 2012.


Bad Free-Agent Pitching Market

Another argument could be that there isn’t much value on the free-agent pitching market. With only a few big names out there this offseason, did the Giants figure it there was no alternative but to go ahead and keep Lincecum?

Matt Garza is the only true ace-caliber pitcher on the market this offseason, although an argument can be made for Tim Hudson because he has averaged almost 14 wins a season over a 15-year career.

Here’s how Lincecum’s numbers compare to other top free-agent pitchers over the last three years:

When you look at those numbers, there’s nothing to get overly excited about. It’s not like last year, when Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez headlined the class.

Whether it’s the injuries over the last few years to Garza and Hudson, or Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana having never shown the ability to be consistent in back-to-back seasons, each pitcher has question marks.


Return to Cy Young Form

It’s also possible that the Giants believe Lincecum will return to his old Cy Young self, giving the team a real bargain with this contract.

Here’s what Lincecum has done year-by-year over the last six years:

With only Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and (possibly) Ryan Vogelsong ($6.5 million team option) guaranteed to come back in 2014, the Giants have some obvious needs in the starting-pitching department.

Maybe they’re hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. After all, it’s not like any other pitcher on the market is guaranteed to make a difference in 2014.



So, did the Giants overpay? Absolutely.

They could have just made him a qualifying offer and dealt with him for one more year (if he signed the offer). If he performed well, then they could have worked out another deal covering 2015 and beyond. But there’s no guarantee Lincecum would have accepted that qualifying offer, either.

However, the fact remains that this market is one of the weakest in recent memory and the available players stand to benefit. With such a weak market, subpar pitchers are going to get more money from the teams that are desperate to fill a void.

The Giants signed a familiar face at a price they were comfortable with. 

At least they have a fairly good idea what they’re getting in Lincecum, whereas they wouldn’t know exactly what to expect if they were to go after someone like Nolasco.

In the end, it’s all about what suits the franchise best, and Lincecum is a known commodity whom the Giants believe will offer a return on investment through 2015.

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Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers Game 6: Live Score and ALCS Highlights

The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are currently locked in a battle in Game 6 of the ALCS.

Top 9th: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2


Note: Hit me up on Twitter @chris_stephens6 with your thoughts and analysis. I will get in as many of your tweets as possible.

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Dodgers vs. Cardinals: Keys to Each Team Winning NLCS Game 4

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally showed some signs of life in the NLCS, as they got back on track with a Game 3 win on Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Still down 2-1 in the series, the Dodgers have some work to do as Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) takes the hill for the Cardinals. The Dodgers will counter with Ricky Nolasco (13-11, 3.70 ERA).

A win by the Dodgers puts them in great position, as Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will each get another start. Conversely, a loss gives the Cardinals three chances to win the series.

Here’s a look at a few keys for both teams in Game 4.


Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from

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Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox Game 1: Live Score and ALCS Highlights

The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are locked in a battle in Game 1 of the ALCS.

Bottom 9th: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0


Note: Hit me up on Twitter @chris_stephens6 with your own thoughts and I’ll do my best to get in as many as possible into the live blog.

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Dodgers vs. Cardinals: Keys to Each Team Winning NLCS Game 2

Saturday is Game 2 of the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, and if Game 1 was any indication, it’s going to be a great one.

The Cardinals took Game 1 by a score of 3-2 n 13 innings Friday, getting the series off to an exciting start. It was a big win, and the Cardinals maintain home-field advantage.

Now, both need to improve on some things before Game 2 on Saturday. Each team has certain things that need to go its way if it wants to come out on top.

Here’s a look at three keys for each team heading into Game 2.


Note: All stats obtained from ESPN unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers’ Bats Come Alive in Game 4 Win over Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers locked up in a great battle in Game 4, but the Tigers ultimately came out on top to tie the series at 2-2.

FINAL: Tigers 8, Athletics 6

The Athletics gave up three runs in the eighth inning, which ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.


Scoring Plays

Top 1st: Jed Lowrie singles to left to score Coco Crisp, who tripled to begin the inning.

Top 5th: Lowrie two-run home run scores Crisp.

Bottom 5th: Jhonny Peralta three-run home runs scores Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.

Top 7th: Crisp RBI singles scores Stephen Vogt.

Bottom 7th: Martinez solo home run.

Bottom 7th: Austin Jackson RBI single scores Andy Dirks.

Bottom 8th: Hernan Perez scores on wild pitch.

Bottom 8th: Omar Infante two-run double scores Dirks and Alex Avila.

Top 9th: Yoenis Cespedes two-run single scores Crisp and Lowrie. 

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Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox Game 2: Live Score and ALDS Highlights

FINAL: Boston 7, Tampa Bay 4

The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays battled in Game 2, with the Red Sox ultimately coming out on top, 7-4.

The Red Sox are now up 2-0 as the series heads to Tampa Bay on Monday.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while David Ortiz had two solo home runs.

David Price got rocked for seven runs in seven innings, as left-handed hitters were 6-for-12 with five runs scored and three RBI.

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