Andrew Miller’s name has been floated in trade rumors in the early stages of the offseason, and two Major League execs tell Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that Yankees GM Brian Cashman does indeed seem at least open to the idea of moving him. The Yankees would be comfortable with Dellin Betances serving as their closer, Feinsand writes, but the execs to whom he spoke stressed that Cashman would need to be overwhelmed to deal Miller. Still, Feinsand notes that with the team reluctant to part with any of Luis Severino, Greg Bird or Aaron Judge and a lack of money coming off the books, Miller is one of the team’s most appealing assets that could be used to add talent to the Major League roster. Feinsand writes that the Yankees probably won’t pursue any top-of-the-market free agents this winter and are also unlikely to add any free agents that come tied to draft pick compensation, meaning previous connections to Wei-Yin Chen and Jeff Samardzija may no longer be apt.
A few more notes from the AL East…
- Starting pitching is the Blue Jays’ top priority even after re-signing Marco Estrada, interim GM Tony LaCava told reporters, including Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. While LaCava recognized a need for bullpen help, he said the rotation is the primary focus, adding: “We may let the bullpen come to us a little bit.” Nicholson-Smith aptly notes that the relief market typically features many bargains later in the offseason, with names like Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales and Carlos Villanueva all among players who parlayed January minor league deals into strong 2015 seasons. Regarding internal rotation options, LaCava noted that Aaron Sanchez is more likely to transition to a starting role than Roberto Osuna, if the club decides to shift either’s role at all. LaCava explains that Sanchez has more experience starting, whereas health issues have prevented Osuna from going through a full five-month stretch as a starter.
- Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star relays some quotes from Estrada at the press conference to announce his new contract. Estrada told the Toronto media that his preference was always to come back, and once talks began moving toward a two-year deal following the qualifying offer, he barely considered testing the market at all. Estrada added that the number of key contributors returning to the club in 2016 also made re-upping in Toronto an appealing scenario: “I think even if they left [the roster] alone we’re going to do pretty well this next year. But I’m sure they’re working on stuff.”
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke to former Red Sox scout Dave Jauss (now with the Pirates) about his strong push to convince the Red Sox front office to take a chance on David Ortiz back in 2003. Ortiz had been let go by the Twins, who didn’t want to risk paying him a raise in arbitration after having nearly been contracted by the league. Jauss tells Kilgore that he was aware of all the red flags with Ortiz at the time — problems with left-handed pitching and an inability to stay healthy — but he firmly believed from his time spent managing in the Dominican Republic that Ortiz could flourish in an environment that didn’t force him to be so pull-conscious (i.e. Fenway Park). Kilgore’s piece chronicles Jauss’ workouts for Ortiz in the Dominican Republic while he was a free agent as well as what Jauss saw from Ortiz in winter ball early in his career.
- In light of the Giants’ recent extension of Brandon Crawford, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski explores whether or not now is the time for the Orioles to try to secure one of their own homegrown stars: Manny Machado. Crawford inked a six-year extension while he was two years from free agency, but the fact that Machado is still three seasons away and the Orioles have so many other pressing needs this winter mean that an extension isn’t near the top of their priority list at this time, Melewski writes. Melewski’s colleague, Roch Kubatko, tweets that GM Dan Duquette said again today that he is trying to re-sign Chris Davis but can’t handicap the chances of it happening at this time.