Bryan Hoch: Ivan Nova, Brian McCann, Mariano Rivera & More

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Outside Pitch Sports Network’s Shane Miller had the opportunity to conduct an interview with MLB.com’s New York Yankee beat reporter Bryan Hoch. In the interview, Hoch discusses Alex Rodriguez‘s pending suspension, the emotion that was felt during Mariano Rivera‘s last appearance at home, Brian McCann‘s signing and more below.

Shane Miller: In 2013 Ivan Nova really took the next step in his career, is he going to be the Ace of the Yankees for the next 5 to 8 years or is there another pitcher to keep an eye on for the Yankees in their farm system? 

Bryan Hoch: No, to be honest, I don’t see Nova as ace material, but that’s not to say he can’t be a useful rotation piece for the Yankees going forward. They continue to talk about how CC Sabathia is their ace, and I don’t see any reason why that would change. If you sketched it out right now, Nova would be their No. 2. He’s young, under team control and relatively inexpensive at this point. You can definitely look at his 2013 season and say that he was one of the team’s bright spots.

As far as younger pitchers to keep an eye on, Michael Pineda could wind up pitching in the back end of the rotation this season if he’s healthy. That’d be a big score for the Yanks. Expectations are being kept pretty low after Pineda missed the last two years, but when he was with Seattle in that first half of 2011, he was a promising No. 2 behind Felix Hernandez.

Hal Steinbrenner said that the Yankees have been disappointed thus far with the progress of Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, two guys that they were really counting on to help them get under $189 million this year. Betances may project better as a reliever moving forward, and if Banuelos comes back healthy, he can still make an impact. They’re also keeping hopeful eyes on guys like Rafael De Paula, Ian Clarkin and Ty Hensley, though they’re not factors for 2014.

SM: What was the atmosphere like in Yankee Stadium for Mariano Rivera‘s last appearance and when you saw Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter coming out to get him off the mound what did you feel like?

BH: That was a very cool moment. All season long, you saw Rivera being celebrated in every city that the Yankees visited, so it was going to be a challenge for the Yankees to top their tribute to Rivera in their own house. They did hold a very nice ceremony for him the weekend before, including a surprise appearance by Metallica, but Mariano’s final game really topped them all. Joe Girardi executed it perfectly, giving up his moment in the spotlight to allow Pettitte and Jeter to come out and get the ball, and when you saw Rivera bury his head into Pettitte’s shoulder — wow, that was just raw emotion. I don’t think anyone who was there at the Stadium that night will forget that moment anytime soon.

SM: With the Alex Rodriguez suspension in limbo for the moment, what would be the corresponding move for the Yankees if A-Rod is suspended, would it be a trade or would Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi look in house, and if so who would that be? 

BH: The in-house options don’t knock you out – you’d be looking at the likes of David Adams or Eduardo Nunez and being unable to patch it together from within after Kevin Youkilis injury was one of the Yankees’ big problems last season. I could see the Yankees using the savings from A-Rod’s contract to plow into guys like Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran, Hiroki Kuroda and making a strong run at Masahiro Tanaka. Youkilis won’t be back, but then they could probably go re-sign Mark Reynolds or get a similar player for third base while coming close to staying under $189 million. I suppose Stephen Drew could also fill that need while giving them another choice to support Jeter at shortstop. The problem is that a ruling may not be heard on A-Rod’s suspension until January, and you’re already seeing some names come off the free-agent board.

SM: What are the odds of Robinson Cano getting $300MM from the Yankees or do you think a team sneaks in and scoops Cano up like the Los Angeles Angels did with Albert Pujols?

BH: I don’t see Cano getting $300 million from the Yankees, since they refuse to discuss a 10-year deal. We’re hearing reports that Cano’s camp has already started to budge off that initial asking price, and that was to be expected. Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t receive. Cano has to realize that the Yankees are moving on their other needs and might not have the kind of money he’s looking for if the stalemate continues. The Yankees’ original offer is believed to have been around seven years and $160 to $170 million, which isn’t the worst package in the world.

I could see the Yankees bumping it up a bit, but I’m not sure how much more wiggle room they’ll have to do it and still fill their needs. In general, I think teams have become wary of huge commitments like the Pujols deal you mentioned. When the Dodgers said very early in the process that they weren’t going to get involved, I think that calmed down what could have become a frenzied bid process for Cano. I’d still keep an eye on the Rangers as one possible landing spot.

SM: With the Brian McCann signing how does this affect the Yankee lineup and where does Brian Cashman go next?

BH: McCann is going to upgrade their lineup in a big way. Consider that their four catchers last season – Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy – combined for just eight home runs. That was the lowest total of any team’s catchers. The Braves have counted on McCann for 20 homers each year, and I think putting him in Yankee Stadium with that short porch might make him more of a 25 to 30 homer threat. He’s a middle of the order bat and pitchers seemed to enjoy working to him. I think Yankees fans are going to like what they see from McCann in the next few years.

Beltran is the Yankees’ next target, and there’s mutual interest between the two sides. The only question is if Beltran will agree to a two-year deal or hold out for three; obviously the Yankees would prefer to get it done for two, and Beltran will be looking for more than $14 million annually.  They’ll hope Kuroda re-signs and get involved heavily if/when Tanaka’s posting process is sorted out. Cano is still floating out there, and the Yanks probably will add at least one bullpen arm to complement David Robertson, maybe Joe Nathan or Grant Balfour.There’s lots of moves to make, and it’ll be fun to watch which names come off the board first.

Outside Pitch Sports Network appreciates Bryan Hoch for allowing us to conduct this interview. Follow OPSN’s Shane Miller on Twitter @ShaneMiller

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