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Sweeny's Yankees Notes: D-Rob, 'Replacing Jeter,' Finding A Lefty Pitcher

By Sweeny Murti
» More Columns

I spoke to an MLB executive this week who believes David Robertson will get a three-year deal for $39 million or a four-year deal for $52 million. Some pretty good neighborhoods to occupy.

I would think the three-year deal is one the Yankees would easily do, but the four-year deal is something they might have to think more about. Consider that in two years Dellin Betances will hit arbitration and start to make more significant money, too.

Should the Yankees end up losing Robertson, they will be looking for another bullpen arm, even if it's not specifically as a closer. There will be a long list of names to consider should that happen, especially once the non-tender guys hit the market next month. One name that has already been discussed by Yankee brass and likely will be again if necessary is Jason Grilli.

Grilli is a well-traveled 38-year old right-hander who was an All-Star closer for Pittsburgh in 2013, but tailed off and was traded away in 2014. Grilli, a local boy from Seton Hall, pitched for the Tigers against the Yankees in the 2006 Division Series. He faced just one batter in the entire series, retiring Gary Sheffield on a ground out in Game 1. Why is that even slightly interesting? Because Sheffield is now Grilli's agent.


It's natural to be thinking of long-term solutions for the Yankee' shortstop vacancy. The whole idea of "replacing Derek Jeter" makes you want to think of someone who can be a fixture.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm fascinated by Jimmy Rollins. He turns 36 next week, but has only one year left on his contract in Philadelphia for $11 million. He's realistically only slightly above average at this stage, both offensively and defensively. But Rollins is also a veteran with leadership skills and some swagger. Those qualities will serve him well as the guy "replacing Derek Jeter." It's not a long-term commitment, and if the Yankees are willing to take on the entire salary it might not take a lot in prospect cost to get him.

A scout who watched Rollins a good bit this past season told me his "best days are behind him (not a secret).  He will need some off days (which makes Brendan Ryan a perfect backup)."

However, a source from the NL East told me Rollins "would be a good fit there. He can still play. He needs to go where there is a chance to get in the playoffs."

Another scout told me: "Jimmy likes the big stage and I think he would go to either New York or L.A."

Rollins has veto power over any trade, but the time may be right. Again, he might not be anything more than a slightly above average player right now, but if the perfect long-term solution isn't available, this isn't a terrible idea.

Of course, on a one-year deal Stephen Drew is a better defender who most believe will rebound offensively with a full spring training, which he didn't have last season.


A report this week from the great Ken Rosenthal mentioned the Indians considering moving Nick Swisher. It got some people buzzing about the idea of a fit with the Yankees considering the health of Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira.

Little chance of this happening in my mind for a big reason -- the contract. Swisher has $29 million left over the next two seasons, plus a vesting $14 million option for 2017. Remember that the Yankees got four very productive years from Swisher for less than $32 million total. That's why he was a good buy then, and why they were willing to let him go two years ago.


The Yankees need for another starting pitcher is obvious.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago here how the Yankees have historically depended on left-handed pitching and left-handed power to win championships and were missing both at this point. And as I thought out loud I wondered about the availability of Washington's Gio Gonzalez. A source told me the Nationals would likely discuss just about anyone on their roster if the deal was right.

Gonzalez has proven durable by averaging 31 starts and 191 innings over the last five years, is still just 29 years old, and has one more year on his contract at $12 million with two options (one team, one vesting) on top of that. His strikeout rates are good, his home run rate is low.

Lefties are essential at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees would love CC Sabathia to bounce back and Manny Baneulos to show his potential. But if they don't, the Yankees aren't winning without quality left-handed pitching. Not in that ballpark.


Yankees minor-league 1B Greg Bird was named the Arizona Fall League MVP.  And because I know my friend Chad Jennings at LoHud loves this so much, I thought it entirely appropriate to share this with you:

Betances and Omar Minaya will join Yankees scout Cesar Presbott to donate turkeys for underprivileged at Monroe High School in the Bronx next Tuesday Nov. 25 from 3-7 p.m.  Betances (one of Presbott's many finds) is a regular at this annual Thanksgiving week event.

Finally, a sad note about the passing of Jeff Taylor, who left us this week at only 58 after battling cancer the last two years. Taylor began his scouting career with the Yankees in 1987, was most recently working for the Cincinnati Reds, and was always one of the friendliest faces in press boxes and hotel gyms around the country. Here is a nice story on his life and career.

Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN

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