Coral Gables, Fla. — Passing on Yoenis Cespedes is one thing. But seeing him wearing pinstripes in the Bronx? That might be a nightmare scenario for the Mets, and Hal Steinbrenner said enough Wednesday at Major League Baseball’s owners meetings to at least rattle his crosstown rival, if nothing else.
When Steinbrenner was asked whether he was “out on Cespedes,” the Yankees’ managing general partner said: “I’m comfortable where payroll is right now.
“But we’re always looking to improve the club. You never know with us. We’ve surprised people in the past.”
Steinbrenner also said reliever Aroldis Chapman is “innocent until proven otherwise.”
New York acquired Chapman from Cincinnati last month, after a proposed trade between the Reds and Dodgers came apart when a Florida police investigation into an accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban left-hander became public.
“In this country, when allegations are brought against a person, that person is completely innocent until proven otherwise. Not the other way around,” Steinbrenner said.
According to a police report, Chapman’s girlfriend told officers he pushed her, put his hands around her neck and choked her during an argument.
Police said there was not sufficient evidence to charge Chapman, and the pitcher’s lawyer, denied the reported allegations.
Major League Baseball is investigating and could discipline the pitcher under its new domestic violence policy.
Around the horn
The Padres agreed with former Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney on a one-year deal worth $2 million in guaranteed money, according to multiple reports.
Rodney’s base salary for 2016 is $1.6 million. He has a club option for 2017 worth $2 million against a $400,000 buyout. The deal includes $5 million in annual incentives that also escalate the option.
If Rodney reaches all his performance bonuses in the first year, the option would be worth $7 million, with the $5 million in available incentives rolling over.
Rodney, a right-hander who will turn 39 in March, was 7-5 with 16 saves and a 4.74 ERA for the Mariners and Cubs last season.
... Catcher Jonathan Lucroy says the Brewers should trade him as the team begins a rebuilding process.
Lucroy says he wants to win, to go to a World Series, and that’s not going to happen with the Brewers in the foreseeable future. Lucroy tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy.”
In six major league seasons, all with Milwaukee, Lucroy has batted .282 with 66 home runs and 337 RBIs.
Lucroy says he hasn’t demanded a trade.
... Marlins Park’s center field wall is being moved 11 feet closer to home plate and will be 407 feet away this season.
In addition, the fence is being lowered from 11 to 13 feet to 6 to 11 feet.