What's the hot stove season without a little drama involving the New York Yankees?
As recently as two days ago it was believed Ichiro Suzuki's return to the Bronx was a foregone conclusion. That's where Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio, claimed the 39-year-old outfielder wanted to be. More importantly, that's where Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wanted him to be.
But apparently a few things have changed over the past 48 hours in the Ichiro camp — perhaps it's simply the beginning of leveraging for the forthcoming negotiations — because Attanasio remarked to the New York Post on Friday that he's opened up dialogue with several teams and his client is now prepared to jump if the right offer comes along.
"At the beginning we talked a lot but since that time, zero,'' agent Tony Attanasio said of discussions with the Yankees. "As far as we are concerned we don't care what the Yankees do. We have had conversations with multiple clubs. If we see something we like he will go through with it.'
In a week's time, Ichiro has completely reversed field.
"There has been a lot of interest [from other teams] but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it's hard for him to say no to the Yankees,'' Attanasio said a week ago yesterday. "His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we'll wait and see.''
That is a fairly significant change of direction to be sure.
When asked about their new stance on Saturday, Cashman told the New York Daily News that Attanasio knew of the Yankees plans to sort out their pitching issues first, but also pointed out that agent and player are free to go about their business as they wish, just as the Yankees have been this winter.
"He was informed of all that," Cashman said. "Now that our pitching has been settled, which was our priority on the front end, we'll move from the defense to the offense and engage all the players we have interest in and have interest in us.
"We've been very open and honest with everyone about the process we're going through and how we're going through it," Cashman added. "We can control our line of communication and or decision-making. We certainly don't control anybody else's decision-making. I respect everyone's ability to make choices.
"Free agency is free choice. It seems like I'm saying that a lot lately."
At the end of the day, I do believe all we have here is a some old good fashioned posturing. Nothing wrong with that, either, but sometimes posturing leads to hard feelings, and more times than not hard feelings lead to no deal.
It's way too early to tell if that will be the case here, but I'd say all bets are temporarily off in terms of a potential agreement until we see how or where the next exchange between the two sides goes down.
One thing I do know for sure is this will be one of the stories we'll be following closely when our winter meetings coverage begins on Monday. Hope you join us.