Yankees Get Their Man
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Tuesday that a mystery team was involved on free agent right-hander Gerrit Cole.
This couldn't be a true Winter Meetings drama without the emergence of a mystery team or two. It's anyone's guess who it could be -- that's why it's a mystery -- but another serious suitor will only help his leverage, at the very least.
As is typically the case in these situations, the agent for Cole -- Scott Boras -- told reporters on Tuesday that he believed the negotiations for Cole could be resolved “in the short term.” Boras also noted that geography would not be a factor in where Cole ultimately decides to sign.
Boras also dropped the bombshell that there was not one -- but two -- mystery teams involved in the bidding for the prized right-hander.
We knew the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers were the most serious suitors at this stage. As far as the mystery teams go, one of them seemed to be the Astros. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Tuesday that the Astros were “contemplating” an effort to keep Cole in Houston. There were rumblings that the other mystery team could have been the Giants.
Heyman noted late Tuesday that the "Gerrit Cole sweepstakes appears to be heading toward the finish line." It sounds like a deal may be in place for the 29-year-old right-hander before the Winter Meetings in San Diego finish up on Thursday. There might even be something to announce on Wednesday.
It didn't even take that long. Just before midnight, Heyman reported that the Yankees had agreed to a record-shattering nine-year, $324 million contract with Cole. It sets a new record for both largest contract and highest average annual value ever given to a starting pitcher. The $36 million average annual value matches the amount that Mike Trout received in his recent extension from the Angels.
Jeff Passan of ESPN added that the contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2024 season. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that there are no deferrals in the contract, the full $324 million will be paid out over the nine years of the contract.
For those teams that wind up missing out on Cole -- with Strasburg and Zack Wheeler already off the board -- it's only going to add to the urgency and the dollars that the next tier of free agent starting pitchers are going to wind up with. Two of the biggest beneficiaries there are likely to be Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported after the Cole news broke that the Dodgers will now turn their attention toward Bumgarner. With teams now in desperation mode -- it wouldn't be surprising to see the next tier of free agent hurlers get gobbled up quickly.
Rendon Market Heating Up
Scott Boras has been a very busy man at the Winter Meetings. Not only is he involved in the bidding war that’s erupting for Gerrit Cole, but he’s also fielding multiple offers on superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon -- widely regarded as the top hitter available on the open market.
Boras told reporters on Tuesday that negotiations for Rendon are “progressing” and that he already has multiple offers on the table for his client.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network noted Tuesday that the Braves had checked in on Rendon and that the Angels were interested as well. They join the Rangers and Phillies who are both reportedly pursuing Rendon aggressively. The Nationals had interest in bringing him back as well, but after re-signing Strasburg, they’re probably priced out on this one.
Sir Didi joins Phillies
Phillies’ new manager Joe Girardi will be reuniting with one of his former players. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Tuesday that they had agreed to a one-year contract with shortstop Didi Gregorius.
It'll come with a $14 million guarantee, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Gregorius generated enough interest this winter that he probably could have fetched a multi-year contract, but he'll take a pillow deal with Philadelphia and try to resuscitate his market value leading into the 2021 campaign.
The 29-year-old shortstop returned from Tommy John elbow surgery this past June and went on to bat .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 82 games for the Yankees. His arrival is expected to push Jean Segura over to second base.
In early NFBC drafts, Gregorius has been going off the board around pick 224 overall -- which puts him 24th among all players that are shortstop-eligible. With a secure spot in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup and in a favorable hitters park, Gregorius should creep up closer to pick 200 overall in the coming weeks.
Giants Making Moves
The Giants were busy on the second day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reported that the Giants had acquired Zack Cozart and minor league infielder Will Wilson from the Angels for a player to be named or cash considerations.
Cozart signed a three-year, $38 million contract with the Angels back in December 2017, but he fought a number of injuries during his time in Anaheim and posted a wretched .190/.261/.296 batting line in 360 plate appearances when healthy.
For the Giants, this swap is mostly about getting Wilson, the 15th overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. He batted .275/.328/.439 with five home runs, 10 doubles, and three triples over his first 46 professional games this summer with the rookie-level Orem Owlz. He made 28 starts at shortstop and 13 starts at second base. MLB.com Pipeline had him as the No. 4 prospect in the Angels' system.
That wasn’t the only move that Gabe Kapler’s club made on Tuesday though -- they also inked free agent right-hander Kevin Gausman to a one-year, $9 million contract. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area says the deal carries $1 million in performance bonuses, triggered by the number of starts that Gausman makes in 2020.
The 28-year-old right-hander was non-tendered by the Reds earlier this month after struggling to a 5.72 ERA over 102 1/3 innings between Atlanta and Cincinnati in 2019. He finished the year in a relief role but will open the 2020 campaign as a member of the Giants' starting rotation.
With the move to an extreme pitcher’s park, there’s profit to be had at Gausman’s current NFBC average draft position of 466th overall.
Mazara on the Move
TR Sullivan of MLB.com reported Tuesday that the Rangers are looking to unload one of their left-handed hitting outfielders. As the day progressed, so did those rumblings. Later, Jim Bowden of The Athletic heard that the White Sox are "working hard" to acquire Mazara from the Rangers.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers "expect to complete a trade" involving Nomar Mazara "as soon as Wednesday.
It's unclear if the deal was finalized before midnight on Tuesday or just into Wednesday morning, but the White Sox were able to get the deal done according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. In return, the Rangers are reportedly receiving Steele Walker -- a Class-A outfielder. The 23-year-old was a second round pick of the White Sox in 2018 and slashed .284/.361/.451 with 10 homers, 62 RBI and 13 stolen bases over 120 games in 2019 -- most of them at High-A Winston-Salem.
The Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and White Sox were all trying to land Mazara, who batted .268/.318/.469 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI over 116 games this past season for Texas. The 24-year-old has never hit more than 20 home runs in his four years as a big leaguer, but a change of scenery could maybe unleash some of the upside that led to him making his MLB debut at the ripe age of 20. He is under control through the 2021 season via salary arbitration.
The hard-hitting outfielder should slot somewhere in the middle of what's starting to look like an extremely formidable White Sox lineup that includes Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal -- and will soon add prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal as well.
It's a terrific landing spot from a fantasy perspective, as he moves from one hitter's paradise to another -- so there shouldn't be a significant drop off in his power production. Mazara is currently going just outside the top 240 players overall in early NFBC drafts and he should climb up an additional round or so based on his new landing spot.
American League Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Twins are pursuing Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel, and Madison Bumgarner… Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that David Price has become a trade target for multiple teams, though Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes that there hasn’t been any progress made in those trade discussions… According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Astros have "entertained" the idea of trading Carlos Correa this offseason… Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports that the Blue Jays have been in touch with the Yankees about a possible reunion with J.A. Happ… Darren Wolfson of 1500 SKOR North writes that the Twins have expressed interest in Blake Treinen, though they’re unlikely to sign him due to his high potential price tag… T.R. Sullivan also notes that there’s mutual interest between the Rangers and free agent backstop Robinson Chirinos... According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Orioles are one of at least four teams interested in Jose Peraza… Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Rays are interested in re-signing Avisail Garcia… According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are looking into free agent catcher Matt Wieters… MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that the Angels, Astros, and Rangers have shown interest in free agent catcher Jason Castro… Royals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that Adalberto Mondesi (shoulder) is on schedule to be ready for Opening Day in 2020… According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Padres have been trying to work out a trade with the Royals for Whit Merrifield… The Angels inked Arismendy Alcantara to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers have "checked in on" free agent Nicholas Castellanos… The Twins officially signed Alex Avila to a one-year, $4.25 million contract and re-signed Michael Pineda to a two-year, $20 million pact… Chad Pinder is drawing "significant" trade interest, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
National League Quick Hits: Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Nationals have made an "initial inquiry" on a possible trade with the Cubs for Kris Bryant… The Nationals re-signed Javy Guerra to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training… Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that the Mets haven't totally ruled out the possibility of acquiring Starling Marte from the Pirates…Heyman also hears that Adam Frazier has been the Pirates' most popular player in trade talks… Curtis Granderson, who turns 39 in March, is still interested in continuing his playing career… Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals remain interested in free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson… MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports that free agent reliever Craig Stammen is drawing interest from the White Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Padres, Astros, Diamondbacks, and Reds… The Pirates signed Hector Noesi to a minor league contract… The Brewers avoided arbitration with Corey Knebel, agreeing to a one-year contract for 2020… The Nationals officially re-signed Yan Gomes to a two-year, $10 million contract and Howie Kendrick to a one-year, $6.25 million deal with a mutual option for 2021… MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds have expressed interest in Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama… The Braves re-signed outfielder Rafael Ortega to a minor league contract… Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday that Gavin Lux could be in the outfield mix in 2020… MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports that the Braves have expressed interest in free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna… Dodgers president Andrew Friedman confirmed Tuesday that he has had conversations with agent Scott Boras about re-signing Hyun-Jin Ryu… According to SNY's Andy Martino, the Mets are "working to find a taker" for infielder Jed Lowrie… Martino also notes that the Mets are open to trading outfielder Brandon Nimmo… Veteran outfielder Adam Jones agreed to a two-year contract with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says the deal will carry $8 million in total guaranteed money and also contains a club option for the 2022 season… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that teams have inquired on Marlins starter Caleb Smith.