We've discussed a few times this winter Brian Cashman's reluctance to give up a first-round draft pick to sign Rafael Soriano as a setup man. Today, Cashman came right out and told Chad Jennings of the Journal News that he wouldn't sign Soriano, because of the draft pick.
I don't think it's fully a bluff. This is consistent with Cashman's philosophy on the draft. Since getting full power as GM after the 2005 season, he has surrendered just two picks by signing Type A guys: His 2006 selection, as the cost for signing Johnny Damon, and his 2009 pick, as the cost for signing CC Sabathia.
Both times, the Yankees were covered with a first-round pick through another means. In '06, they had the Phillies' pick, after Philadelphia signed Tom Gordon. And in '09, they had a first-round selection because they failed to sign Gerrit Cole in 2008.
Now...if Soriano's market continues to dry up - and it's clearly not going great, given his willingness to set up for the Yankees - them maybe it becomes worthwhile for the Yankees to change gears at some point. I do think, however, that Cashman feels very strongly about balancing his proverbial one-year plan and five-year plan, as evidenced by his comments today.
Speaking of guys who pitched for the 2010 Rays, Matt Garza will go to the Cubs in an eight-player trade.
Based on what the minor-league experts are saying, it seems like the Rays did well. Losing Garza obviously strikes another blow for Tampa Bay's playoff hopes, but I wouldn't write them off altogether, not with Jeremy Hellickson set to replace Garza. Yes, the Rays will be a long shot, yet they have too much young talent, still, to ignore.
As for Garza and the Cubs, Garza surely will find pitching in NL Central a rather pleasurable experience compared to the AL East. The Cubs still don't look like the favorites in their division, but it's not like Cincinnati, Milwaukee or St. Louis look close to flawless.
One item of interest: A baseball person who has seen a lot of Garza notes that the right-hander isn't very good at making good throws on bunt plays back to him. In the NL, he'll obviously be dealing with more bunts.
--Brian Fuentes is still out there, and he actually pitched better in 2010 than he did in 2009. Nevertheless, given the tough closers' market now (see Soriano, above), Fuentes at least feels like a "buy low" guy.
I'm hearing that the Blue Jays rank among the most serious suitors for Fuentes. Toronto already has signed Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero and Wil Ledezma, and Jason Frasor accepted arbitration to return.
However, Toronto lost free agents Scott Downs (Angels) and Kevin Gregg (Baltimore) as well as Brian Tallet (whom they released - now he's with St. Louis), and GM Alex Antopoulos is on record that he'll continue to explore the relief market.
--Have a great night.