Happy Saturday, everyone. The Winter Meetings are almost here and I have to say: the Hot Stove is sufficiently hot. At least with real rumors. I’m very surprised. Pleasantly surprised, to be clear, but surprised nonetheless. We’ll have to see what happens this week. I’d like to see the Cole/Strasburg sweepstakes come to a quick–and satisfying–conclusion but I’m still not holding my breath. Agent Scott Boras will prey on teams’ desperation. But we’ll see. I’m more hopeful than I was two weeks ago over this not drawing out, that’s for sure.
Anyway, today is the 24-year anniversary Tino Martinez trade, which is a good excuse to post some 90s dynasty highlights. Here’s his famous grand slam in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series:
And here is his game-tying two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series:
Those are two moments that have never once gotten old for me, even knowing how 2001 turned out in the end. (Not to mention, it’s always great to hear Sterling back then, and “The Bamtino” is one of my favorite HR calls of his.) All told, Martinez hit .279/.348/.488 (114 OPS+) in 923 games with the Bombers and won four World Series. Not bad.
Back in 2019, though, there are many rumors swirling around the Yankees. Let’s get right to them.
Not much has changed since I wrote this the other day, really, but this is why everyone is here. Here’s the quick rundown of the latest news regarding Cole and Strasburg, who are the Yankees’ big targets this offseason:
- The Yankees would be surprised to see Strasburg leave Washington. (Jon Heyman)
- That said, they pulled out “all the stops” in their meeting with him and treated it exactly as they treated the Cole meeting. Makes sense! (NBC Washington)
- Brian Cashman repelled down a building yesterday and a fan put up a sign in the window of the building saying “Please sign Gerrit Cole.” He also spoke about the team’s meeting with the players with reporters afterward. (ESPN)
- The Phillies are also interested in Cole and Strasburg, even after signing Zack Wheeler. That brings the list of known suitors to four: the Yanks, Dodgers, Angels, and Phillies. Washington is also in on Strasburg. (Jon Heyman)
That’s that, folks. Nothing really new. We will continue to keep you posted on this front in real-time, obviously.
Yanks Offer Brett Gardner A Deal
File this one in the “not at all surprising” department, but the Yankees recently offered Brett Gardner a contract. Here’s the Heyman report:
I think it’s interesting that they made “another” offer but not too interesting. It makes no sense for either party to accept the first deal offered. That’s not how negotiations work!
Gardner is coming off a great year in which he hit .251/.325/.503 (115 wRC+) and looked like his old self in the second half. He probably wants a two-year deal at a higher annual salary than the $7.5 million base salary he earned this year. There is probably just a small difference between the teams as they hash this out, as even Hal Steinbrenner was laudatory of Gardner in a recent interview. He will be back. That’s good news.
I expect this to be done sooner rather than later, although it is certainly a chance it draws out until after the Cole/Strasburg saga wraps up. I just can’t imagine Gardner suiting up anywhere else, and I don’t think he, or the Yankees, can either.
Robbie Ray, We Meet Again
Multiple sources are listing Robbie Ray as a potential backup plan for the Yankees, should Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg elect to take their services elsewhere. ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote a piece outlining a potential Clint Frazier for Ray swap, which you can check out at that link. ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned Ray as a potential backup option as well.
Remember, this is not the first time we’ve heard this. The two sides were linked at the trade deadline. This exact deal came up, in fact, and the Yankees turned it down. That’s why I personally would be surprised to see this deal go down. Of course, things change, and maybe the Yankees’ internal valuations of Frazier and Ray have changed, too. You never know!
A lot of fans, including my co-writers here, are not very excited by the prospect of Robbie Ray, which I understand. On the other hand, I don’t think you have to squint very hard to see his under-the-hood stuff and dream about unlocking his full potential. That said, he’s a complementary piece, not the big fish. Just sign Cole, please, then we can talk about this.
Luke Voit Injury Update
Finally, Luke Voit is determined not to rush back from his latest injury. He won’t play until he’s 100% healthy, he told the YES Network the other day, by way of Bradford William Davis of the New York Daily News. Here is the money quote:
“After that thing in London, I was fighting through it and you know it’s one of those things where (the training staff) told me ‘just rehab and everything’s gonna get better’ and I just couldn’t get over that hump.I wasn’t the most truthful in telling them that, you know, everything was hurting down there.”
Not great! It’s a common issue though with athletes, though. They want to play and help the team. I probably would in their shoes, too. But even though I understand it, I do hate it. Voit says it’s a lesson learned going forward, which is good to hear.
Anyway, Voit’s self-described “thickheadedness” definitely hurt his performance down the stretch and may have even exacerbated his injury. It’s too bad because 2019 was an otherwise excellent campaign for him and I do believe his absence cost the Yanks in the playoffs. Hopefully, Voit is able to rest and get healthy following his surgery and return to form next season. That sure would be nice.