By Joel Sherman
Chase Headley and Martin Prado
SAN DIEGO — The acquisitions of Martin Prado in July and Andrew Miller last week were, of course, designed to improve the Yankees.
But in each case the Yankees also saw players who would create depth to withstand defections and, perhaps, give them leverage in negotiations.
One of Brian Cashman’s selling points to ownership on taking on Prado not just for the rest of 2014, but also the two years at $22 million he is owed through 2016 was that players of Prado’s skill level would cost far more in free agency.
Prado and Miller also give the Yankees some peace of mind in dealing with Chase Headley and David Robertson.
The Yankees, obviously, want Headley and Robertson back. Prado’s offense plays better as a second baseman. Plus, having the steady, professional Prado and Headley as bookends would be a more ideal way to break in Didi Gregorius as Derek Jeter’s successor.
Meanwhile, in the Yankees’ ideal scenario in the pen they would have Robertson, Miller and Dellin Betances forming a late-inning Iron Curtain.
But, for now anyway, the Yankees are acting as if they will get Headley and/or Robertson at a price with which they are comfortable or simply go with their current alternatives. This is where Prado and Miller provide comfort. Prado can play third and let second base become a duel between prospects Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. They can try to close with Miller or Betances or a combo of both, or sign a less pricey closer such as Jason Grilli.
The Yankees’ current negotiating strategy with Headley/Robertson seems similar to the one followed with Miller. They offered three years and eventually moved to four years as long as the average annual value was less, and got Miller for four years at $36 million. The Yankees had seemed hard-line on not going to four years with Headley or Robertson, but are believed willing to go there now as long as they can lower the average value. They remain committed to not giving Robertson four years at $52 million. Also, if reports are accurate that Headley has a four-year $65 million offer, they will not come close to matching it.
In both cases, the Yankees hope the market has not reached the highest levels and/or two players they thought loved being Yankees put value in that, too.