This week has almost felt more like the Winter Meetings than the Winter Meetings felt like the Winter Meetings, eh? Clearly, some players/teams are looking to get things wrapped up before the holidays.
Here’s the latest from the stove …
- During the actual Winter Meetings, a rumor arose connecting the New York Yankees to Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole. In fact, the rumors were so hot that a potential return – centered around young outfielder and former top prospect Clint Frazier – even leaked out. Since then, however, things may have cooled off:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 20, 2017
- If you recall, the Pirates had apparently preferred a package centered around former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres, but the Yankees were trying to send Frazier instead (which makes plenty of sense, given that their outfield picture now includes Giancarlo Stanton). Perhaps that divide created the stalemate we see today.
- Now, the Yankees may look elsewhere for their starting pitcher needs, which will theoretically drive up prices on the Cubs – especially because Cole isn’t a realistic option for Chicago. And, hey, for what it’s worth, the Yankees interest in Yu Darvish was reported late last night, so … maybe. There were also reports earlier in the offseason that the Yankees were in on Alex Cobb.
- Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Rays traded Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in a move potentially signaling the beginning of a broader tear-down:
Longoria said #Rays were open with him throughout process + he appreciated way they handled the trade, allowing him to go to #Giants team with a chance to win: "I don't blame them. I feel they feel they are in a position where they need to make some drastic changes.''
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 20, 2017
- Longoria gets the sense that the Rays feel they need to make some drastic changes, eh? Well, that might start with finally trading top of the rotation starter Chris Archer, and lesser pieces like fellow starter Jake Odorizzi or closer Alex Colome. The Rays did save some money long-term in the Longoria deal, so the pressure to trade Archer might seem less than before, but they’re a smart organization. They’ll look – first and foremost – to maximize his return, and if that means trading him now, then it’ll happen.
- Flipping to the Baltimore madness, Mike Petriello offers a very good point on their supposed unwillingness to move Manny Machado to the Yankees:
Not wanting Machado to be flipped to the Yankees is weird to me. If you're trading him, you aren't caring much about what he does to the division race — and you might as well take the prospects away from NYY that you can.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) December 20, 2017
- While this is a really good point (one I agree with more than I don’t), allow me to play devil’s advocate, for a second: As confident as we are that Machado *will be* testing free agency next season, we all know the ability to have a year-long pitch (plus an exclusive negotiating window) isn’t valueless. And if the Yankees are able to stay under the luxury tax threshold this year, they figure to go hog wild next winter and Machado could make as much sense as anyone. In fact, now that they’ve added Stanton, Bryce Harper really doesn’t make as much sense for the Yankees, which eliminates one big-ticket item from their wish list. If the Orioles thought this would give the Yankees a serious leg up on extending/re-signing him, they would be wise to avoid it.
- However, Machado is very much likely to land a killer deal in free agency next season and it won’t necessarily come from the Yankees. The Cardinals, Phillies, White Sox, and even Cubs could all make sense in one way or another, so it’s not like New York is a foregone conclusion. I think the Orioles would be fine trading him to the Yankees if they pried away a bit extra (vis a vis other offers) in the exchange.
- The other bit of Orioles news today is that Zach Britton – a free agent at the end of the 2018 season – ruptured his Achilles tendon and might miss most of the first-half of the season. Obviously, this changes the Orioles plans a bit (we discussed some implications earlier), but maybe we didn’t consider all of the Orioles options:
Yes. It's possible they release him. https://t.co/iCOx0anlRA
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) December 20, 2017
- In 2018, Britton was headed into his final year of team control via arbitration. According to MLB Trade Rumors, he was expected to earn something close to $12.2M – which is an extremely expensive price to pay for, at best, a half-season of a dominant closer (with almost no chance of spinning him off for an appropriate (when healthy) return).
- Of course, arbitration-level contracts are not fully guaranteed and the Orioles could theoretically release him before Opening Day and pay him just a portion of what he’s owed (though doing that for injury, not performance-related reasons is questionable). “I know it’s a possibility [that I get released],” said Britton via MLB.com. “[Scott Boras and I have] kind of discussed it, but until they make a decision, we will go from there.” The Cubs did have interest in trading for Britton this winter, but obviously the injury changes things quite a bit. If he’s actually released, I’d say all bets are off on which teams would pursue him. You could see almost any team in baseball having interest on the right deal.
- Earlier this afternoon, Ken Rosenthal mentioned that the Nationals were in “serious discussions” with free-agent first baseman Matt Adams and, apparently, that deal’s getting done:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 20, 2017
- Adams was an above average overall offensive performer last season, but is a pretty clear negative on defense and doesn’t offer much as a starter. Then again, as a left-handed alternative to Ryan Zimmerman at first base, maybe they’re onto something:
Zimmerman v. LHP: 162 wRC+
Adams v. RHP: 126 wRC+
- Then again, Zimmerman was better against right-handed pitching than Adams anyway (130 wRC+), so it’s not like it would be a platoon situation. Maybe they just wanted an extra, quality bat lying around for pinch-hit situations.
- Earlier, it was reported that the Brewers and starter Jhoulys Chacin were closing in on a deal, and here’s what it looks like he’ll be getting:
Jhoulys Chacin's 2-year deal with the #Brewers is for close to $8M per year, source says.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 20, 2017