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Report: Yankees to sign Corey Kluber

After a totally dormant few months, the Yankees have made two significant moves in a single day. First it was DJ LeMahieu, now it’s Corey Kluber. Kluber gets a one year deal from the Yankees for $11 million. The Yanks will need to clear another spot on the 40-man roster once this deal is official.

The Yankees needed rotation help and already had a couple of organizational connections in Matt Blake and Eric Cressey, so this deal doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Still, it’s a gamble and eats away at most of what was left under the team’s self-imposed $210 million budget. Kluber, 35 in April, is now two years removed from his Cy Young form in Cleveland. Injuries have caused the righty to make just eight starts since 2018 (5.65 ERA).

We know what Kluber can do at his best. He won two American League Cy Young Awards for Cleveland and recorded a 3.16 ERA (135 ERA+) from 2014 through 2018. If he can get back to that form, or even find some semblance of it, this is a huge bargain for the Yankees. Whether or not he can do that coming off a significant shoulder injury isn’t certain, of course. Perhaps the team liked enough of what they saw in his showcase and had some additional insight from Cressey, who helped Kluber’s rehab this offseason.

Report: DJ LeMahieu finalizing agreement to return to the Yankees

Finally, some good news to wake up to. The staring contest between the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu is mercifully over.

The deal is for six years and $90 million, per reports by Pat Ragazzo and Jeff Passan. Clearly, the Yankees tacked on an extra year or two to bring down the average annual value. LeMahieu’s deal will count $15 million towards the team’s 2021 luxury tax payroll. That leaves the Yankees somewhere around $15 million under the initial $210 million tax threshold. Time to add pitching, folks.

LeMahieu, 32, put up MVP-caliber numbers in his first two seasons with the Yankees. The infielder hit .336/.386/.536 (146 wRC+) and racked up 7.8 fWAR. He’s been money in the clutch, too. Losing him would have been a pretty big blow, but the Yankees clearly made it priority number one to retain him, even if it took until mid-January to wrap up.

Today’s news comes on the heels of weeks of negotiating through the media. I wouldn’t say things were contentious, but I also wouldn’t say it was pleasant. Back in December, reports indicated that the two sides were as much as $25 million apart in negotiations. Other teams, namely the Dodgers, were in the mix. The Mets lurked. Even the Blue Jays, consistently in second place in all free agent negotiations and trade talks, were an option. Most recently, there was a story about LeMahieu’s frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with the Yankees. Perhaps that was the final push the Yankees needed to get something done.

The Yankees have a full 40-man roster, so a corresponding move will have to be made once the deal is official. Mike Ford and Albert Abreu seem like prime candidates to get the boot.

More details surely to come. We’ll update this post as information trickles in. A happy Friday, indeed.

Rule 5 Draft Recap: Yankees lose Garrett Whitlock, Kyle Holder, and Trevor Stephan

Don’t get too excited.

As expected, the Yankees lost a few prospects in today’s Rule 5 draft. Garrett Whitlock, Kyle Holder, and Trevor Stephan will start 2021 in new organizations, though there’s still the possibility that they will return to the Yankees before season’s end.

Boston, badly in need of any sort of pitching, took righty Garrett Whitlock with the 4th overall selection. Whitlock had Tommy John surgery mid-2019 but should be a full go come spring training. Perhaps he cracks a spot in the Red Sox rotation. The former 18th round pick in 2017 made 14 Double-A starts in 2019 and posted a 3.07 ERA and 3.14 FIP.

The Phillies grabbed shortstop Kyle Holder, the Yanks’ first round pick in 2016. Holder spent time at the Alternate Site this summer and now possibly could replace Didi Gregorius as the Phillies’ shortstop. He’s best known for his defensive chops at short.

Lastly, Cleveland selected righty Trevor Stephan. He was the Yanks’ third round selection in the 2017 amateur draft. Somewhat surprisingly, he wasn’t at the Alternate Site this summer as he seems prime for a big league relief gig soon. Granted, 2019 was a bit of a roller coaster for him. The year included a demotion from Double-A to High-A, but he did look better and returned to Trenton by the end of that season.

These three aren’t lost for good, so you know. They must stick in the big leagues for the entirety of the 2021 season, so all three could be back in the Yankees’ organization before too long.

The Yankees will also lose a few players in the minor league phase this afternoon. That said, the minor leaguers taken during this phase rarely are notable prospects. I’ll update this post if there are any surprises.

Meanwhile, because the Yankees have an open 40-man roster spot, the team could have made selection in today’s draft. But to no surprise, the organization passed. The Yanks haven’t made a pick in the Major League phase since 2011 (RHP Brad Meyers, Nationals).

Winter Meetings Day 3 Recap: Mets get moving, Cleveland listening on Lindor, MiLB announcement

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While the Yankees remain quiet, there are rumors involving other ballclubs to pass along today. Particularly with the Yankees’ crosstown rivals, the Mets. The Yankees will do something…eventually…but that day doesn’t appear to be today, unless something comes out of the blue. For now, let’s get to the latest around the league:

Mets closing in on deal with James McCann — or are they?

Conventional wisdom indicated that the Mets would be in hot pursuit of JT Realmuto this offseason. Instead, it appears the team is going with James McCann instead. There’s no doubt that Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball at this moment, but McCann certainly will come at a lower cost.

McCann has been quite good since 2019, albeit after an extended stretch of pretty lousy play in years prior. Through 2018, the soon-to-be Met had a .240/.288/.366 (75 wRC+) and -0.1 fWAR in 1,658 plate appearances. Since, in his age 29 and 30 seasons, he’s batted .276/.334/.474 (116 wRC+) and racked up 3.8 fWAR. Not only did the bat come around, but so did the defense.

Obviously, the Mets are banking on McCann’s recent success to continue. Realmuto would be the safer bet, but there is potential for McCann to provide similar production at a lower cost. At the same time, there’s a much lower floor here than what Realmuto offers.

All that said, perhaps Rosenthal’s report is a tad premature. Jon Heyman indicates that the Angels are in on the backstop too:

Winter Meetings Day 2 Recap: Lynn trade, all quiet on Yankees’ front, other moves

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The Hot Stove is finally starting to warm up on the second day of this year’s Winter Meetings. It’s far from hot still, but teams have started to make some moves. Just not the Yankees, at least, not yet. Let’s get today’s happenings:

Lance Lynn goes to White Sox; Yankees did not engage Texas

The biggest move of the Winter Meetings (so far) went down late last night. Texas sent righty Lance Lynn to the White Sox in exchange for Dane Dunning and prospect Avery Weems. Dunning is still technically prospect eligible I believe, but he had a nice season for Chicago in 2020 (3.97 ERA in 34 innings). He was a first round pick back in 2016 by Washington.

Lynn has been nothing short of excellent since he joined the Rangers in 2019. He’s thrown 292 1/3 innings and recorded a 3.57 ERA and 3.43 FIP. This came right after the Yankees had acquired him mid-2018, by the way. He would have been a really good fit back in pinstripes.

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