The post-Gerrit Cole signing world has been rather quiet for the Yankees, as they await the official unveiling of the first $300 million pitcher in pinstripes.
Some other interesting notes not related to the Yankees newest ace:
No “Active Dialogue” Between Betances & Yankees
The Yankees have prioritized their bullpen over the past few years, but appear to be on the verge of seeing one of its more crucial members join another team. Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicated that the Yankees and Dellin Betances currently have no “active dialogue”. The tall right-hander’s excellence in pinstripes speaks for itself, with a 2.21 ERA (2.25 FIP) and 14.7 K/9 since becoming a full-time reliever in 2014. A right shoulder impingement delayed Betances’ season significantly, as he debuted Sept. 15 in 2019. However, after just two batters, he suffered a partial tear of his Achilles tendon and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees have been connected to Betances so far this offseason.
Yankees “the Most Active Pursuer” of Brewers’ Hader
The Brewers’ willingness to deal star reliever Josh Hader has turned some heads so far this offseason. After the Yankees inked the best available free agent starting pitcher, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that the Yankees have been “have been the most active pursuer” of the 25-year-old left-hander.
“The Yankees have been the most active pursuer of Hader, sources said, but a deal with any club remains unlikely. The Brewers understandably want a lot for Hader, who is 25, under club control for four more seasons and projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $4.6 million in his first crack at arbitration.”Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic (subscription required)
Hader, as Rosenthal notes, can be controlled via arbitration through 2023 and has been an All-Star in consecutive seasons. He jumped to stardom in 2018, with a 2.43 ERA (2.23 FIP) and 15.8 strikeouts per nine. He faltered a bit in 2019, almost doubling his amount of home runs allowed but still recording higher strikeout rates (16.4) per nine.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the sides remained in dialogue as recently as Saturday. He reiterated Rosenthal’s point that the Brewers would expect a lot in return, and that Milwaukee may not be “motivated to move him.”
Maldonado a Back-Up Catcher Option
The Yankees appear comfortable appointing out-of-options Kyle Higashioka as their backup catcher in 2020. Austin Romine has signed to be the starter in Detroit, leaving the Yankees without much upper-level catching depth. However, they may be in the market for an external signing as their backup catcher in Martin Maldonado, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
This connection came promptly after news of Cole’s agreement with the Yankees became public, given Cole’s improved statistics with Maldonado behind the plate. In a 10-start sample with Maldonado, Cole had his best ERA, strikeout to walk ratio and opponents OPS when compared with the rest of Houston’s catching corps (Robinson Chirinos, Max Stassi and Garrett Stubbs).
On the offensive side of things, Maldonado won’t really move the needle. He hit .213/.293/.378 (76 wRC+) in 105 games between the Royals, Cubs and Astros in 2019. That is pretty much in line with his .219/.289/.355 (73 wRC+) career batting line to this point in his career.
Would Maldonado accept a minor-league deal to help out the Yankees catching depth? The word is that the Yankees love Higashioka’s pitch framing abilities and it seems they don’t want to risk him being lost on waivers.