This photo is now on its final legs, and for that I am thankful.

These Winter Meetings were very good, in my opinion. They wrapped up today and there were a few signings and rumors, but before we get to those, let’s take a step back and recap the last few days:

  • Monday: Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract on Monday afternoon. There were also plenty of Cole and Rendon rumors, as expected. Check out our recap here.
  • Tuesday: Gerrit Cole and the Yankees agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract late on Tuesday night. That was cool! I liked that one a lot. There were also Rendon rumors and other signings, too. Check out our recap here.
  • Wednesday: Anthony Rendon and the Angels agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract last night amid other rumblings. That happened right after I posted my recap, of course.

Anyway, the point here is that the market moved this year and it moved quickly. I distinctly remember following the Manny Machado saga late on New Year’s Eve last night and that was not fun. This has just been so much better for a million reasons. Keep it up, MLB. (I am not holding my breath.)

The Yankees were once again in the news today. Shocking, I know! Here is today’s news roundup, followed by a much shorter look around the league.

1. Brett Gardner Forever: The Yankees and Brett Gardner inked a one-year deal that will pay the longest-tenured Yank a $10 million in 2020. There is a team option for 2021 that carries with it a $2.5 million buyout if the team declines the option. This all happened a few minutes after I posted a new primer on the payroll situation, because of course it did. I updated the post, which you can read here. It’s current now.

Anyway, the Gardner deal sure did feel inevitable and it turns out that was for good reason. I am glad to have Gardy back. Gardner is now one of just 18 players to log 1,500 games for the Yankees, which is crazy. It makes sense though. He’s been around since 2008 and he’s had a very nice career. Look at the bWAR leaderboard for Yankees players over the last 20 years (1999-2019):

  1. Derek Jeter: 57.0
  2. Alex Rodriguez: 54.2
  3. Robinson Cano: 45.5
  4. Brett Gardner: 41.6
  5. Jorge Posada: 39.5

I know there is a “counting stats” argument to make here–Gardner has been a Yankee for 11 seasons, which limits the pool–but it sure is cool to see. Who would have guessed when he came up that Brett Gardner would have a career like this? It rules. His 100th home run–not an insignificant accomplishment!–also ruled, so I am going to link it here because there is no new baseball now:

2. A New Backup Catcher: Happy Trails to Austin Romine, who was baseball’s best backup in 2019, and a subject of much fan criticism during his eight (!) seasons with New York. He hit .239/.281/.366 (73 OPS+) in 368 games with the Bombers and was often a sturdy backup when Sánchez has gone down in 2018 and 2019. Miraculously, Romine was also the Yanks’ third-longest tenured player in 2019, behind just Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia.

He will now probably start in Detroit while Kyle Higashioka takes the mantle as the Yankee backup. Unless…the Yankees go after Cole’s personal catcher in Martín Maldonado, which Derek will address tomorrow. Backup catcher talk. Exciting!

3. Rule 5 Draft: As always, the Rule 5 Draft concluded the Winter Meetings today. The Yankees lost one player–Rony Garcia–in the Major League phase of the draft and four players in the Triple-A phase. The team has the details here:

Rony is a nice piece who might be a decent long reliever as a part of a truly putrid Detroit team–seriously, Detroit is historically awful–so good for him. There was never a chance that he was going to make it with the Yanks, so this is a personal victory. Owen Surrett of Pinstriped Prospects has a good profile of him here that you should check out. Rob Pimpsner of the same site reacted to the news today, highlighting the Garcia pick as well as the loss of the four minor leaguers. Be sure to read those for more info on all of this. They’ve got you covered.

4. Other Yankee News: Here are the leftover tidbits from the Winter Meetings now that the Yankee contingent is headed back to the five boroughs:

  • Dellin Betances: The Dodgers are among the most aggressive teams pursuing the former Yankee reliever. (Joel Sherman)
  • Josh Hader: The Yankees are active in conversation with the Brewers over Josh Hader, but that sounds like an “if we missed out on Cole” contingency plan more than anything else. (Ken Rosenthal, subs req’d)
  • Coaching Staff: The 2020 coaching staff is all set. (Brendan Kuty)
  • Rachel Balkovec: Meredith Marakovits spoke with the new Yankee instructor in an interview on YES Network. (YES Network)

Around the League

Finally, here are the latest signings, rumors, and all the other interesting news items from the league today:

  • After missing out on Cole, the Angels are exploring the trade market for starting pitching help. (Jon Heyman)
  • The Braves, Dodgers, Twins, and Blue Jays are in on Hyun-Jin Ryu. (Jon Heyman)
  • Washington is interested in Josh Donaldson but also Kris Bryant, as everyone should be. (Jon Heyman)
  • One New York team has signed a Cy Young pitcher this offseason, and that’s the Mets, who inked a deal with Rick Porcello. (Ken Rosenthal)
  • As I said the other day, the new opioid agreement–now finalized–means that MiLB players can smoke weed. MLB players already weren’t tested. (MLB Communications)

And that, folks, is that. That marks the end of the 2019 Winter Meetings. Have a great night everyone.