Despite news that the Houston Astros were checking in on Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole, the New York Daily News’ John Harper cites an unnamed rival executive calling a trade of Cole to the Yankees “inevitable”.
Two important quotes:
“I think it’s inevitable they’ll get together on a deal,” a rival exec told me Monday. “The Yankees have the pieces and Pittsburgh needs to tear it down. They’ll find common ground.”
“They’re one of the few organizations that have the depth, at the big-league and minor-league level, to match what the Yankees can offer,” an AL scout said. “But (GM Jeff) Luhnow has shown he doesn’t want to give up top prospects if he can help it, so I’d still favor the Yankees.”
The report from Harper comes as Astros’ owner Jim Crane told reporters that his team is pursuing “a high-end starter”. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported the same day that the Astros checked in with Pittsburgh on Cole. The Astros and Pirates reportedly discussed outfielder Derek Fisher as a return, The Pirates are aiming higher at top prospects Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley.
Reports linking the Yankees to the Pirates have died down in recent weeks, since Brian Cashman told Neil Huntington that top prospect infielder Gleyber Torres is off-limits. The Yankees have also been connected to the Pirates’ versatile utilityman, Josh Harrison. In his column, Harper suggests Cashman would make the deal if it were to be Clint Frazier and someone like Chance Adams for Cole.
Though the Yankees already have five starters on their roster, it would appear as though they would like to add one more quality arm heading into Spring Training. They have been linked to other controllable young pitchers in the trade market like Arizona’s Patrick Corbin and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Plus, they have kicked the tires on free agent Yu Darvish.
Since they can field a rotation with their current personnel, Brian Cashman does not need to overpay for pitching. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordon Montgomery already represent an intimidating pitching staff. That said, expect Cashman to pounce if the deal is right.
UPDATE (Dec. 26 at 3 p.m. ET): The Yankees officially announced the signing on the day after Christmas via Twitter.
The Yankees locked up a pivotal part of their 2018 starting rotation Saturday, agreeing to a one-year, $10 million contract with veteran lefty CC Sabathia.
“CC feels there’s unfinished business to attend to,” agent Kyle Thousand of Roc Nation Sports told MLB.com. “There were competitive offers that CC was weighing, but in the end, CC wanted to come back and win a championship with the Yankees. He loves his teammates, the clubhouse and the moves the Yankees are making. He wants to bring home another championship to the Yankee fans.”
CC made it clear after the Yankees were eliminated in Game 7 of the ALCS that he wanted to return to the Bronx to finish out his career. He has not commented on his future in baseball beyond the 2018 season.
“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great,” Sabathia said after Game 7. “This is my home, and I want to see this thing through.”
Sabathia will simply need to pass a physical for the deal to be official. The 37-year-old was a huge part of the Yankees rotation in 2017, pitching to a 14-5 record and 3.69 ERA in the final year of the deal he signed prior to the 2009 season. He won a World Series with the Yankees that year, and has been crucial to the team ever since.
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The veteran brings expertise and consistency to the back of a Yankees rotation in need of a few more arms. With innings limits looming on young starters Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, the Yankees will have to rely on the veterans like Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray to pitch well consistently.
The Yankees may continue their pursuit of another starting pitcher even with Sabathia back in the fold. The team has been linked in trade talks recently to Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin, Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer and Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole.
Many Yankee fans will remember the gruesome knee injury suffered by ex-Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler June 29 at Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of Chicago. Fowler is suing the White Sox and the state agency that manages the ballpark for negligence, per the Chicago Sun-Times.
Fowler, who was traded by the Yankees to the Oakland Athletics in July, is suing because the team and agency failed to secure a metal electrical box attached to a railing down the right field line in the stadium. The outfielder suffered an open rupture of his right patellar tendon after colliding with the railing and electrical box. The injury left him unable to walk, and required him to be carted off the field.
The suit claims that the White Sox and the agency were aware of how unsafe the electrical box was, but did nothing about it. It also states that Fowler suffered “severe and permanent” internal and external injuries along with having to pay large sums in medical bills.
Fowler was injured in his MLB debut, and had to be removed from the game before getting his first plate appearance. He slashed .293/.329/.542 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 70 games with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders prior to his promotion to the big leagues.
He is expected to make a full recovery from his injury, and has already begun working out in Arizona. The A’s Spring Training facility is in Mesa, Arizona, though it is unclear if Fowler is working out there.
The Yankees were able to acquire RHP Sonny Gray from the Athletics in exchange for Fowler, SS/OF Jorge Mateo and RHP James Kaprielian ahead of the 2017 trade deadline. Fowler, Mateo and Kaprielian are ranked as the third, fourth and tenth-best prospects in the A’s system, respectively.
The Yankees may look to the trade market to fill in a gap in their starting rotation, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. On their radar: the Pittsburgh Pirates’ RHP Gerrit Cole.
King reports the Yankees are in contact with the Bucs about a deal that could include OF Clint Frazier and potentially more. King mentions that the Pirates would also look for “a pitcher ready to work in the majors,” which would imply someone like Chance Adams. There is no indication that a deal was close to done.
Cole had a down year for the Pirates, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9. The Yankees would likely try to buy low on Cole, who they drafted No. 28 out of high school in 2008. Cole did not sign, instead opting to pitch at UCLA. He became the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.
Frazier has become a bit of an odd-man-out in New York. He was ticketed to take over left field once Brett Gardner‘s contract expired, but the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton made that seem less likely since both Stanton and Aaron Judge may see time in left field. He made his MLB debut July 1, and posted a .231/.268/.448 line with four home runs, 17 RBIs and a 30.3% K-rate to a 4.9% BB-rate.
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Adams is seen as one of the most MLB-ready arms in the Yankees system. Many fans clamored for him to be promoted in 2017 when the Yankees needed starting pitching reinforcements. Split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017, Adams pitched to a 2.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9. His command could use some work, and many think he could profile better as a reliever because he only averaged five innings per outing.
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This deal would allow the Yankees to grab a high quality arm in Cole with hopes that he rebounds toward his All-Star season in 2015. The 27-year-old would not be a free agent until after the 2020 season, like current Yankee RHP Sonny Gray. He would shore up a Yankees rotation that is relying on a big bounce-back season from Masahiro Tanaka, and young arms like Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery.
In a surprising twist, Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka announced that he will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, and will play out the remaining three years from his original contract.
Many thought that Tanaka would ride his stellar second half finish and fantastic postseason run into an opt-out and free agency. However, Tanaka cited that he’s “excited to continue to be a part of this team,” from his statement.
Tanaka got off to an awful start in 2017, posting a 5.47 ERA and allowing 23 home runs in 18 first half starts. The righty, however, figured things out in the second half, where he posted a bounce back ERA of 3.77 and cut his home run total to 12 in 12 starts. Tanaka was a force in the postseason this year, where he went 2-1 with a stingy 0.90 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
The Yankees will pay Tanaka $22 million each year for 2018 and 2019, and he will make $23 million for his age-31 season in 2020. If he can match the 3.12 ERA he posted excluding 2017, then he will certainly be worth the money. Plus, this move also solidifies a rotation that would have question marks without him.
He will join Luis Severino, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery in next year’s rotation. It’s likely that Chance Adams or someone else within the MiLB affiliates will battle for the fifth starter spot with a veteran. If the Yankees are able to land Shohei Ohtani, then their rotation will be one of the best in the league.