Just like that, the 2018 Winter Meetings have come and gone. While there existed a shortage of noteworthy moves, plenty of rumors and clues trickled out over the course of the gathering. Before the teams descended on Las Vegas, I asked four questions that the Yankees could answer. While not all of the items got addressed, the team did give us a few takeaways to keep in mind as the offseason progresses.
1. The asking price for Sonny Gray is astronomical
To be honest, I’m surprised that the Yankees still have Gray on the roster. I thought for sure he would have been traded before the Winter Meetings wrapped up. Nonetheless, the market has moved slower than anticipated, and the Bombers’ price tag may explain why.
George King noted early on Thursday that the Yankees have made steep requests for the right-hander. This checks out with what Joel Sherman reported on Monday, that Brian Cashman asked the Reds for elite outfield prospect Taylor Trammell. That’s bold. On his own, Trammell is a better prospect than anyone involved in the trade that brought Gray to New York.
At some point the Yankees will have to come down from their sky-high asking prices, right? There’s almost no way they go into spring training with Gray. Cashman destroyed that relationship. It just looks like we have to wait until someone blinks.
2. The Yankees are open to adding even more starting pitching
The Bombers rounded out their rotation when they signed J.A. Happ. That isn’t going to stop Cashman from looking to improve the starting staff, though. He said as much himself.
While a trade for one of Cleveland’s top starters isn’t likely, the Yankees GM has shown he can get creative. The three-team, J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard talks illustrate that. Nobody had Thor on the Yankees’ radar.
Cashman started the offseason with the goal of importing two elite starters. He took care of one with James Paxton, and adding Happ won’t deter him from keeping options open. If the Yankees find a scenario to improve the starting staff, expect them to capitalize.
3. The bullpen looks like the next target
Shoring up the bullpen appears to be the next item on the team’s agenda. The front office staff recently indicated that the relief pitching market is taking shape.
#Yankees assistant GM Michael Fishman said the free-agent market for relievers "is starting to move." Team is engaged with trade and free-agent possibilities.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 13, 2018
The club will want to find high-end arms to replace David Robertson and Zach Britton. Heck, they may want both back themselves. Other options like Adam Ottavino also are appealing. Cashman even touched base with Ottavino’s representatives at the Winter Meetings. Smart money says to keep your eye out on the bullpen.
4. Never count the Yankees out on anything
There’s also the matter of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. In the realm of the straightforward, Cashman expressed interest in meeting with Machado’s camp. The shortstop will visit teams in their locations. A club wants to sign a great player who fills a position of need? That’s easy enough, right?
Harper presents another case entirely. While Cashman dismissed signing the outfielder during his media scrum, Scott Boras painted a different picture. He went on a metaphor-laden soliloquy — par for the course with Boras — before explaining that one can never rule the Yankees out.
The interesting part here, however, is how Cashman reacted. Instead of playing defensive, he admitted that situations are fluid. “If something doesn’t make sense today, it doesn’t mean it won’t make sense tomorrow,” he explained to Bryan Hoch. “All I can keep telling you is, you know where my current focuses are, but at the same time we’re a fully operational Death Star.”
There’s still work to be done, and it may just involve big game hunting.