Monday, January 6, 2014
Tanaka, A-Rod decisions loom
By Wallace Matthews
Will Tanaka or A-Rod go to spring training with the Yanks? Hal would like to know, too.
Spring training is still six weeks away, but today could mark the start of a tumultuous week in New York Yankees history. For one thing, the bidding war for the services of Masahiro Tanaka will begin in earnest now that the holiday season is behind us and Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, has returned from a family vacation. A team source told me today that there still has been no significant contact between the Yankees and Close, but that is expected to change soon.
For another, the Yankees could well find out if they will be on the hook for Alex Rodriguez's $25 million salary for 2014, which could have a huge impact on how much they spend the remainder of this offseason. Then again, it could have no effect at all if Hal Steinbrenner decides to channel his inner George and blow right past the self-imposed $189 million payroll ceiling. The decision on A-Rod's appeal could come any day, although as MLB CEO Rob Manfred told me last week, there is no real timetable on arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to render his decision. It could come today, tomorrow, or a month from now.
Back on the subject of Tanaka, his fate could very much decide the fate of Brett Gardner, as well. If Tanaka signs with the Yankees, the club may well hold on to Gardner as a fourth outfielder. If not, they might shop Gardner for a starting pitcher.
It all begins today, so check in periodically throughout the week.