Hot Stove Notes: Gray, Happ Harper, Indians, Kikuchi, Soria

The Yankees lost out on lefty Patrick Corbin because they would not stretch their offer to six years. Neither would the Phillies, but Washington did. That’s how it goes sometimes. With the Winter Meetings coming up this weekend, let’s look into what storylines have been involving the Yankees recently:

Brewers, Padres Still Pushing for Sonny Gray

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Brian Cashman said recently that as many as 11 teams have enquired about Sonny Gray. Most recently, it’s been the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres who are in contact with the Yankees. Those are the two teams Jon Morosi of MLB.com mentioned in tweets Tuesday. The Yanks could look to deal Gray soon as they look to clear his projected $9.1 million arbitration salary from the payroll. The narrative continues to be that the Yankees want their starting pitching figured out by the Winter Meetings, so we’ll see if Cashman gets anything done before the weekend.

Yanks, Happ One Year Apart in Early Talks

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As the Yankees look to finalize that starting rotation now that Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi are off the market, they’re said to be in contact about the return of J.A. Happ. Max Wildstein of Gotham Sports Network reports that the Yankees want Happ back on a two-year deal, while Happ is looking for a three-year contract. The Phillies are reportedly interested in a reunion with Happ as well. Jon Heyman also reported that Happ was the team’s “next pitching target”.

Yankees Will Meet With Bryce Harper

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Despite the consistent narrative that the Yankees have had minimal interest in Bryce Harper, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan has indicated that the Bombers “are among upward of a dozen teams that have traveled or plan to travel to Nevada to meet with Harper”. Of course, Nevada also plays host to the Winter Meetings, which start Sunday at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Passan continues about Harper’s fit in the Bronx:

The Yankees are a wild card, or as much as a team with the highest revenues in the game can be a wild card for a player who may receive the largest contract in American sports history. Harper grew up a Yankees fan, always dreaming of playing in pinstripes, and no matter their ultimate interest, meeting with him was, at very least, an exercise in due diligence for a New York team playing extra coy with Harper’s actual appeal.

There have been reports that the Yankees have discussed Harper internally as a solution at first base, a position where he has yet to appear professionally. The more obvious fit for Harper in New York would be in left field, where he’s logged 1,596 innings since his 2012 debut. This, in turn, would push Brett Gardner into a more useful fourth outfielder role. Acquiring Harper would all but mandate moving a portion of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s contract to another team.

Yankees Re-Engage Indians About Starters

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Max Wildstein of Gotham Sports Network is reporting that the Yankees have circled back with Cleveland about starting pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco in trade talks. He did note, however, that each pitcher has a very high asking price at the moment. Wildstein had reported earlier in the offseason that the Yankees balked at the asking price where Cleveland had wanted top lefty Justus Sheffield (since traded to Seattle) and top outfielder Estevan Florial in a deal for Carrasco. There doesn’t appear to be any momentum in current talks.

Kikuchi Posted to MLB; Must Sign by Jan. 2

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Though not nearly as hyped up as Shohei Ohtani was last offseason, Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi was posted by the Seibu Lions. All 30 MLB teams can negotiate with the 27-year-old, and he must agree to a contract before January 2. The lefty owns a stellar 2.58 ERA over his last four seasons, while averaging 24 starts per season. He’s projected to have the upside of a No. 3 or 4 starter in an MLB rotation. The Yankees have scouted Kikuchi and have also discussed his free agency, according to Hal Steinbrenner. Kikuchi will be represented by Scott Boras.

Yanks Interested in Joakim Soria

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Brian Cashman told reporters earlier this winter that his plan includes signing two relievers, and they apparently have interest in 34-year-old right-hander Joakim Soria. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, the Yankees are joined by the Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Reds in their pursuit of the veteran. Soria made 40 appearances with the White Sox before a midseason deal sent him to the Brewers. He finished with a 3.12 ERA in 60⅔ innings.

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