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The Yankees and John Lackey -- a little more speculation

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IF the New York Yankees pursue an expensive free agent who did not just help them win a World Series -- and at this point that appears to be a big IF -- the early speculation is that their target will be Angels' starting pitcher John Lackey.

From Jon Heyman of SI.com

The world champion Yankees have top free-agent pitcher John Lackey on their free-agent shopping list, sources said. The Yankees aren't expected to be as aggressive this winter on the free market as last offseason and they haven't firmed up all their plans as yet, but one league source said of Lackey, "He's definitely on their radar.''

Word is that the Yankees probably will be willing to repeat A.J. Burnett's $82.5 million, five-year contract for Lackey. Although, one person close to Lackey -- whose offer to stay with the Angels this spring was for less than $40 million over three years on top of this year's $10 million salary -- indicated the longtime Angels right-hander sees himself in a higher echelon than Burnett. Lackey was 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA for the Angels last year and has been their ace for some of his eight seasons there.

Even if postseason hero Andy Pettitte returns to the Yankees -- and he told a few teammates he believes he'll come back for one more year, though there's no definitive word on this -- the Yankees envision themselves looking at the starting-pitching market

We are hearing a lot already about how GM Brian Cashman wants to reduce the payroll. Of course, we have heard that for a couple of years now. From an unlikely source -- the Orange County Register -- comes a voice opining that the Yankee GM should not bat an eye when it comes to his team's payroll.

Should he be embarrassed? No more than Yao Ming should be of his height advantage. While it’s certainly something that we can use to make fun of him, the Yankees’ payroll advantage is something for all of us to gnash our teeth over, not Cashman.

The bigger question for the rest of the league is whether it is true that "this winter’s top priority for Cashman is to substantially reduce the Yankee payroll." The Yankees will shed about $50 million in contracts, and give about $15 million in automatic raises. To reduce payroll by even $20 million would likely leave them out of the bidding for Lackey, Holliday and Bay. Which seems awfully unlikely.

  • By the way, in case you didn't notice Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were among the Yankees who filed for free agency Monday.
  • One more free-agent note. MLB Trade Rumors is out with its list of the top 50 free agents, and its guesses as to where they will end up. By the way, their prediction is that Lackey ends up a Yankee.