Yankees get Mike Cameron; they're not done yet
LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas would certainly seem to be the Yankees kind of town. Flashy, brassy, a little over the top -- just like the team itself.
And the Yankees, who move into a new $1.3-billion home in April, have certainly made the most of their time at the gambling tables here, signing left-hander CC Sabathia to a $161-million, seven-year deal, a record for a pitcher. And this morning the team completed a trade that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera and a pitching prospect to Milwaukee for outfielder Mike Cameron.
Cameron, a 35-year-old former All-Star, fills the Yankees need for a sure-handed defender in center field. And he has power too, having belted 25 homers and driven in 70 runs in 120 games last season. The speedy Cabrera, 24, hit .249 with just eight homers in 129 games before being sent down to the minors in August.
Yet the team's still not done. Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman was reportedly negotiating into the early morning hours today with Darek Braunecker, the representative for free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett.
According to several media outlets, the Yankees have increased their offer to five years and $85 million -- meaning they could allocate nearly a QUARTER BILLION dollars to two pitchers in two days. What's that about the troubled economy?
"The numbers are kind of mind-boggling," said Yankee captain Derek Jeter, one of three Yankees who will make at least $18.9 million next season.
Yet even that apparently wasn't enough for Burnett, whose agent continued to negotiate in an effort to push the Yankees offer closer to the five-year $91.5-million contract the Chicago Cubs gave Carlos Zambrano last year. The Cubs, it's worth noting, are now for sale and their parent company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Despite the money, the 31-year-old Burnett would seem to be a bad fit with the button-down Yankees -- especially now that Joe Girardi's clubhouse has taken on the feel of a boot camp. The right-hander, who won a career-high 18 games last season while leading the American League in strikeouts with 231, has a history of arm problems -- including Tommy John surgery -- as well as an explosive temper that led to his suspension, and later explusion, from the Marlins during a pennant race in 2005.
Elsewhere, the Indians are expected to announce they have signed closer Kerry Wood to a two-year $20-million contract when the former Cub completes his physical today. The 31-year-old right-hander went 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 34 saves in his first season as a closer last summer.
The Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes are also expected to continue with some observers placing the Red Sox in the lead. The Nationals, Orioles and Angels aren't far behind, though. And the Yankees are also starting to show interest now that the bidding has soared past $160 million for at least eight years.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Mike Cameron. Credit: Morry Gash / AP.