INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The New York Yankees declined the 2006 option on first baseman Tino Martinez, opting to pay a $250,000 buyout rather than bring him back at $3 million for 2006.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman denied that the club would use catcher Jorge Posada as their first baseman, with Jason Giambi filling the designated-hitter role full time.
According to baseball executives at the general managers meetings here, the Yankees have floated Posada's name on the trade market. He does not have a no-trade provision. The Yankees, though, have no real expectations of moving Posada because of his hefty contract.
At 34, Posada is entering what traditionally has been an age of declining production for catchers; his on-base and slugging percentages have dropped two straight seasons from his career year of 2003. Posada is scheduled to earn $8 million next season, and if he catches 63 games next season his $12 million option for 2007 becomes guaranteed. (The option vests with 330 games caught from 2004-06. Posada caught 267 games over the past two seasons.)
Not even the Yankees, with all their resources, are thrilled about paying $12 million for a catcher who turns 36 that year. Of course, that clause makes a trade difficult, which explains why New York also had given some thought to using Posada, who was signed as an infielder, at first base. (Without the vested option, the Yankees hold a $4 million buyout for 2007.)
Cashman, however, said the club has no plans to play Posada at first base.
Heard elsewhere at the meetings
After the Yankees indicated they have no interest in trading Robinson Cano for Torii Hunter,Minnesota is telling people it intends to keep the center fielder. Hunter, though, may need to make sure no ill will remains in the Twins' clubhouse. A source said it was Hunter who took a swing at Justin Morneau in their late-season scuffle and that Hunter, who questioned his teammate's desire to play through an injury, previously angered Morneau by chirping at him from the on-deck circle while Morneau was preparing to bat. ... The Yankees have kicked around the idea of acquiring Milton Bradley from Los Angeles to play center field. Brad Wilkerson of Washington is another center fielder being discussed. ... Carlos Delgado did not secure a no-trade contract from Florida when he signed there last year as a free agent, which explains why his name is circulating on the trade market. However, Delgado earned only $4 million this year, leaving a whopping $47.9 million over the next three seasons (buyout included). The Mets still like him, but do they like him at that number? ... Teams that have indicated an interest in signing A.J. Burnett: 21. ... The Red Sox plan to interview Jim Beattie and Jim Bowden this week for their GM opening. Bowden is also a strong contender for the Los Angeles job, which seems to be the better fit for him. If Bowden leaves -- his contract was extended only through March while the team is up for sale -- Theo Epstein becomes the top candidate in Washington. ... The Dodgers already must pay the $2.1 million left on the contract of ex-GM Paul DePodesta and some observers anticipate a payroll cut in L.A. as owner Frank McCourt operates on slim margins. Remember, the Dodgers had reached agreement with free agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero two years ago, only to have McCourt decide he didn't want him and watch him sign with the Angels for more money than what the Dodgers would have paid him. ... Is Phillies first baseman Jim Thome tradeable? Here's one executive's take: "We need a bat, but there's no way we'd take that kind of risk.''