Yanks front and center as free agency begins

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

For the moment, it's the New York Yankees' time.

When the big pinstriped moments don't come in October anymore, mid-November is what they have left. And so on Friday, the first day of full-blown free agency, the Yankees had the motivation, they had the money, they had a new, eager Steinbrenner and they had luxury suites still to sell.

So, for the coming weeks and months, they'll be huge in the 92660.

That's the zip code for the offices of Legacy Sports Group and Scott Boras Corp., agencies located about a mile and a half from each other in Newport Beach, Calif.

Legacy – and agent Greg Genske – represents left-hander CC Sabathia, who, in turn, represents the Yankees' hopes to right their pitching rotation and the premature decision to hand it over to Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy.

The Yankees – Hank Steinbrenner and his GM, Brian Cashman – were believed to have opened the Sabathia bidding Friday with what would be the largest contract ever for a pitcher – six years for about $140 million – or bigger than Johan Santana's six years, $137.5 million.

They could go longer. They could go richer. And then they might have to convince him to pitch in New York.

Maybe there's more to free agency for Sabathia than record contracts. The Milwaukee Brewers, for whom he finished 2008, 14 days ago offered him $100 million over five years. Maybe Sabathia thinks warmly of the underdog. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels need starters, and Sabathia is thought to prefer the West Coast, where he was raised.

All things considered, the Yankees look ready and willing to buy up any of Sabathia's sentimentality, put him in that big pretty ballpark and maybe make themselves contenders again.

But Sabathia alone apparently isn't going to be good enough for the Yankees, who entered this winter thinking about spending to cover the missteps of last winter, and have more than Sabathia on their minds.

Scott Boras represents first baseman Mark Teixeira and right-hander Derek Lowe, and Steinbrenner and Cashman figure to be going there as well, and perhaps eventually to Manny Ramirez. Boras is calling Teixeira an iconic player, which he is. He's just not an iconic personality, which Ramirez is.

Regardless, after Sabathia, Teixeira holds the greatest potential for Yankee improvement, just ahead of, you know, Nick Swisher.

Boras is going to go very, very big on Teixeira – at eight years, about $20 million per. The Angels adored Teixeira, but maybe not that much. The Yankees desperately need to get back to the offense that grinded through plate appearances and wore out pitching staffs, but maybe not that much.

So, the early plan has them making offers on Lowe and A.J. Burnett. But don't count out Teixeira entirely, and certainly not because they acquired Swisher. As one Yankees official said of him this week, "He's an OK piece."

The Yankees tried pieces last winter. They missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Yeah, the Yankees are the Yankees again, at least in November.

Notes: Shortstop Rafael Furcal will have nine or 10 suitors, according to agent Paul Kinzer, and the action started early Friday. "It's crazy today," he said. Kinzer's plan is to pare the list and then hit the road. "We're not going to go on a big, flashy tour or anything," he said. "But, maybe the last two or three." The early vibe on Furcal: Dodgers, A's, White Sox, Cardinals. … Mets insiders are saying they aren't nearly as interested in Sabathia as is being portrayed. Put them in the second tier of free-agent pitchers, such as Lowe, Oliver Perez, Burnett and perhaps Ryan Dempster. … Padres manager Bud Black had surgery to repair his left rotator cuff a couple weeks ago. "At some point it gets you," said Black, who pitched more than 2,000 innings over 15 big-league seasons. "It was going to get me, too." – The Dodgers have assigned a personal trainer to Andruw Jones, who so far is sticking to the program. Really, if the Dodgers aren't going to re-sign Ramirez, and if they're going to go young in their starting rotation, and if they're going to lose Furcal, their only hope is for Jones to get in shape, get healthy and get hitting.

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