The winter meetings haven’t even arrived, and we’re already seeing a daily flurry of rumors. Compared to the glacial pace of the past couple offseasons, the activity so far this winter has been downright feverish.
We’ve got more movement on a few Yankees rumors even from where we were yesterday. Let’s have a look.
Yankees have “very nice” meeting with Gerrit Cole
Jon Heyman reports via Twitter that the Yankees’ first meeting with the top player on the market went well. It doesn’t sound like money was discussed, with the team instead pitching Cole on everything else about joining the game’s premier franchise. That likely means selling the draw of pitching in the nation’s biggest market, and the prospect of competing for a title immediately and consistently.
As Tyler noted in yesterday’s rumors post, the Yankees’ push for Cole just feels, at least from the outside, different than last year’s half-hearted pursuits of Manny Machado and Patrick Corbin. There seems to be an understanding that the Yankees will need to pull out all the stops, including a record-breaking deal, to secure Cole’s services.
As WFAN’s Sweeny Murti notes, the last time the Yankees offered a record contract to a pitcher who wanted to head west, the results were decent:
The pitch is a lot like the one they gave CC Sabathia 11 years ago. He was also considered a west coast guy, but the largest contract ever for a pitcher played a little part in changing his mind. https://t.co/3VnvXojjGL— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) December 4, 2019
Cole may feel the pull of his hometown, but the Yankees have all the resources at their disposal to change his mind.
Yankees to meet with Stephen Strasburg as “due diligence”
The Yankees are following up their meeting with Cole with a trip to see the other elite pitcher on the market, Stephen Strasburg. Their chances seem a bit longer in the case of Strasburg, however:
Multiple reports have stated the Yankees are meeting with Stephen Strasburg in California tomorrow. While that is indeed the case, one person with knowledge of the situation called it “due diligence” and that he would “put the odds at 80%” that Strasburg returns to DC— Dan Federico (@DanJFederico) December 3, 2019
The buzz ever since Strasburg opted out of his contract has been that the right-hander intends to re-up with Washington. Nothing is set in stone, but it certainly sounds like the Nationals are still the front-runners for their ace.
Yankees in touch with Zack Wheeler, Phillies in the lead?
Heyman also has news on the third name on the pitching market:
Phillies are definitely a player in Zack Wheeler derby now. Reds, White Sox, others also in. All likely in at least at $100M/5. Question is how much over $100M it will go (6th year?). Yankees in touch but more focused on Cole/Strasburg. @Buster_ESPN 1st linked Philly/Wheeler— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 4, 2019
There seems to be a healthy appetite for Wheeler’s abilities, which will probably dent the odds the Yankees end up with the talented righty. As Heyman notes, the Yankees are working at the very top of the market right now. If Wheeler moves quickly, which appears likely, the Yankees may be out of the running simply because they’re focusing their energies elsewhere.
Targeting the best of the best is the smart play for the Yankees. It does come with risk, though, because the likes of Cole and Strasburg might just decide to go where they’re most comfortable, all while the Yankees’ best secondary options are coming off the board.
Yankees might be comfortable letting Austin Romine walk
And here’s a bonus rumor on a slightly less starry name:
Some with Yankees like Austin Romine more than others. He has his backers but team is certainly comfortable replacing him with Kyle Higashioka if he gets a better offer elsewhere.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 3, 2019
No, the Yankees’ backup catching situation isn’t as important as their efforts to sign the best pitchers in the league. Still, every aspect of the roster is significant, and it looks like the Yankees won’t have too much trouble letting Austin Romine head to greener pastures should he secure a strong offer.