Conventional wisdom in baseball is that most teams have the majority of significant moves completed by Christmas. There are a lot of qualifiers in there – most, majority, significant – but, given the human element (players like to know what their future holds before they settle in for the holidays), the interplay of moves (free agents impact trades, moves on this team impact that team, etc.), and simple scheduling realities (pitchers and catchers report in mid-February, with many players preferring to show up to Spring Training in early February, there are a lot of reasons to have deals done by Christmas.
Obviously, this year is going to be very different. That said, I wouldn’t rule out a flurry of activity in the week between Christmas and New Years, because there will be a lot of organizations out there that want to have their rosters more or less set – for planning and budgeting purposes – by December 31. If we’re still at this level of inactivity come January 1, it will truly be unprecedented in recent memory.
In the meantime, a little bit from the rumor mill as that Christmas deadline approaches …
- The Cubs and Astros have had sit-down meetings with Yu Darvish, but his other so-far-identified major suitor has not:
#MNTwins hope to get a meeting soon with Darvish, I hear. No indication they've made an offer. Logically, that makes sense. Don't think you make an offer before a face-to-face. https://t.co/ypswV9Pgg6
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) December 23, 2017
- Although there were conflicting reports yesterday about the imminence of a Gerrit Cole trade to the Yankees, it sounds like the “it’s not happening soon” reports are winning the day:
The #Pirates have been engaged in talks with multiple clubs on Gerrit Cole since the winter meetings. This isn't a case of the #Yankees or bust. A trade doesn't appear imminent at this point. But things could pick up again between Christmas and New Years.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 23, 2017
- If and when a Cole trade does go through – recall, Jeff Passan indicates it’s happening eventually, to the Yankees or not – Bill Brink writes about the many implications for the Pirates from the local perspective. It does sound like, as we’ve speculated, that trading Cole would be the entree to moving Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, too. If the Pirates focus on getting big-league-ready talent in the deals, they could actually wind up with a very short rebuild – just one year – before spending big next offseason, given that their 2018 payroll would be peanuts.
- As for whether it will be the Yankees, Joel Sherman writes that the Yankees will be content to lay back and let the Pirates circle back to them when they realize, even with the Yankees’ top prospects unavailable, they’ll still have the best package. The Yankees certainly do have a robust set of prospects in the 4 to 10 range in their system, and if the Pirates do trade Cole to the Yankees, I’m not exactly rooting for them to get a huge return.
- Relatedly, Bill Brink reports that the Yankees first made offers to the Rays and Tigers for Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer, respectively, but had those offers rejected. As with the Pirates and Cole, the Yankees were unwilling to include Gleyber Torres, Estevan Florial, or Justus Sheffield. It is thus unsurprising that the Rays and Tigers were unmoved.
- Jon Heyman has a set of rumor notes to peruse, including the tidbit that led to our earlier discussion on Mike Leake as a contract comp for Alex Cobb. One random thing to remember when you see final contracts: sometimes, a team really has to go far and away ahead of the next highest bidder to get their guy. The Phillies signed Carlos Santana for three years and $60 million, but Heyman says the other team in the bidding – Santana’s long-time Indians – went no higher than $36 million. Wow.
- Heyman also notes that, for a variety of reasons (in his view), the Astros are an odd fit for Yu Darvish. To that I say … eh, I see it. With a fantastic offensive core that’ll be together for several more years, with Justin Verlander turning 35 next year, and with Dallas Keuchel a free agent after 2018, the Astros should have more incentive than most teams to bring in another great starting pitcher. And they have plenty of payroll space available to do it. Or, well, they should.