I was going to start this post by saying that, despite a storm of rumors, there haven’t been many actual signings or trades at this year’s Winter Meetings and that it was kind of boring. However, Didi Gregorius had to go ahead and sign a deal with the Phillies, which was definitely NOT what I had in mind. I had a brief reaction to that move earlier, but have a few more fleshed out thoughts below as well.
Even still, though, it’s been a pretty quiet few days. Jon Heyman and a few other reporters have posted the same tweet 50 times–did you know the Yankees, Angels, and maybe a few others are into Gerrit Cole?–but otherwise, it’s been quiet. The one redeeming factor is that the Yankees have been connected to it all, so there’s a lot to say anyway. Let’s get right to it.
1. Gerrit Cole Sweepstakes: I am ready for the Gerrit Cole saga to end. These last few days have been exhausting. It feels like it should wrap up any day now, and it probably will, but the minutes and hours are starting to feel really long, aren’t they? Today was basically a repeat of yesterday. The biggest difference was that both Brian Cashman and Scott Boras addressed the media, which led to the predictable Twitter meltdowns over the order in which Boras listed the teams, how Cashman described the Yankees’ pursuit, the timeline, and on and on.
It’s understandable–and I am certainly guilty of it, believe me–but it’s important to remember the facts. Most of these statements and rumors are just windows into our own preconceived notions just confirm our own biases, after all. The actual landscape hasn’t changed much. For example, we know that the Yankees are making Cole their top priority and are prepared for a bidding war. We know that Cole hasn’t signed yet. We know that Boras will use the media to try to create leverage and that teams can’t say much publicly. None of this changed today. Remember this to stop yourself from going insane. It’s easy to go insane.
(Take it from me, a guy getting Twitter alerts from Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Passan, Jack Curry, and Joel Sherman all day. I know a little something about “going insane.”)
Anyway, with this all in mind, here is the latest:
- The Yankees made their first offer late on Monday night, though it wasn’t exactly where Cole wanted it to be. Obviously. (Jon Heyman)
- That offer, according to ESPN sources, eclipsed Stephen Strasburg’s record deal inked yesterday. While we should file this into the “well, obviously” category, that’s good. (ESPN) Word on the street is that the offer is around eight years and $292 million, which passes the sniff test. (Mike Axisa)
- The Yankees are in a “holding pattern” until Cole signs. (James Wagner)
- Arte Moreno and the Angels are “all-in” in their pursuit of Cole. (Andy McCullough, subs req’d) This, again, isn’t anything new, but it’s real confirmation that the Angels are serious. They met with Boras this afternoon. (Fabian Ardaya) They also traded Zack Cozart and 2019 first-round pick Will Wilson in a salary dump move reminiscent of the NBA. (Maria Torres) That clears salary but also opens up a spot for Anthony Rendon, so be careful what you read into this.
- As expected, Scott Boras argues that there are a few mystery teams in on Cole. (Jon Heyman) One of those teams is the Houston Astros. (Joel Sherman) The Giants are also one of those teams. (Mark Feinsand) The Dodgers are also expected to make a push. (Jon Heyman)
- For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman just now said on MLB Network that, unless the Angels go ten years, it’s most likely going to come down to the Dodgers and Yankees. Who knows?
2. A J.A. Happ Trade is Real: The Yankees are looking to move J.A. Happ to free up some space, according to Joel Sherman. SNY’s Andy Martino says that there are several NL teams interested in Happ in addition to the Blue Jays. This makes sense to me. My guess is that teams–including the Brewers, who are linked to him–expect the ball to return to normal next year. If that happens, a fly ball pitcher like Happ, in a bigger stadium and less powerful league, is probably a good candidate for a rebound season. It’s a bet I’d be willing to take, but I’m pretty much in the “Happ was a perfect candidate to get screwed by the rocket ball” camp. Take that for what you will.
Who knows what a deal will look like, but remember that Happ brings with him a $17 million salary and a vesting option for 2021. Cozart, who the Angels just traded in a salary dump, has a $13 million salary for 2020 and that took a 2019 first-round draft pick to unload. I know pitchers are rarer, but it will take more than Bryan Mitchell to unload Happ, I think. Even without the rocket ball. Perhaps this is the impetus for finally trading Clint Frazier. For what it’s worth, I swear I saw somewhere that they don’t need to deal Happ before potentially signing Cole, but I can’t find the citation now. Whatever. We’ll keep you posted on this.
3. More Didi Gregorius Fallout: I am still sad about Didi Gregorius, guys. I loved Didi and it’s not just because I was in the house for his Wild Card homer and his grand slam in the ALDS this year (though that didn’t hurt). Dude was just so much fun to root for. I get why he’s gone, honestly, but I was playing around on FanGraphs–as one does–and saw a few notable stats that popped out. It feels like Didi’s excellence slipped under the radar a bit recently, so here are his rankings among 19 qualified shortstops from 2017-18 in a few key areas:
- fWAR: 8.9 (3rd)
- Strikeout Rate: 12.2% (3rd)
- ISO: .208 (5th)
- SLG: .486 (5th)
- wRC+: 115 (5th)
- HR: 52 (5th)
In other words, not only was Gregorius a great guy to root for, he was a solid anchor up the middle for two very excellent Yankees teams. Not bad for a guy just a few of us believed in back in 2015.
4. Other Yankees News: I covered most of the big stuff above, but there were still a few other relevant notes from throughout the day if you can believe it. I told you the Yankees were involved in everything this year. Here’s the rest:
- Brett Gardner: The Yankees want Gardner back, but aren’t going to sign him until at least after the Cole saga wraps up. (James Wagner)
- Dellin Betances: Dealin’ Dellin is working out with the same doctor who treated Kevin Durant. (Joel Sherman)
- Luis Medina: Tim Naehring said on YES Network tonight that Luis Medina could follow the “Luis Severino path.” That Medina, who will be 21 during the season, may make his debut in 2020, as Severino did at that age. Exciting! (YES Network)
Around the League
Of course, there was plenty of non-Yankees news today, too. Here is the latest from around the league:
- The Astros want to cut payroll and are shopping Carlos Correa, which is absolutely insane. (Ken Rosenthal)
- Speaking of insane and stupid, the Red Sox are trying to trade David Price to cut salary. As expected, there are many suitors. (Jeff Passan)
- The Twins are interested in Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, and Dallas Keuchel. (Jon Heyman) MadBum will probably clear nine figures. (Jon Heyman) The Twins are a top target.
- A reunion between Anthony Rendon and the Nationals appears unlikely as Rendon is not interested in the Nationals’ deferment strategy. (Ken Rosenthal) The Angels, as well as the Dodgers, have expressed interest in the third-basemen. (Jon Heyman)
- Matt Boyd, who I profiled here back at the trade deadline, is drawing interest. (Jon Heyman)
- The Pirates are shopping Starling Marte, with the Mets as possible suitors. (Jon Heyman) They want a “young, controllable” catcher for the 31-year-old outfielder, which, lol. I too would like one million dollars. (Jon Heyman)
- Adam Frazier, though, may be the most popular Pirate on the trade market this year. (Jon Heyman)
- The Reds are talking to Marcell Ozuna. (Jon Heyman)
- Former friend Hector Noesi signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates. (Ken Rosenthal)
- Adam Jones inked a two-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. (Joel Sherman)
- The 2020 MLB Draft will be held in Omaha on the eve of the College World Series from June 10-12, which makes sense. (Kendall Rodgers)
That’s a wrap from today, folks. It’s about 8 pm over in San Diego, so more could still come. Like I said last night, hopefully, I rush to my computer soon to write the post we’re all waiting for. That sure would be nice. Until then, tomorrow will be another day of reading tweets about how the “Angels, Yankees, and possibly Dodgers are in on Gerrit Cole.” Get pumped! Have a great night, everyone.