With their payroll flexibility increasing, their farm system among the majors’ elite and their attendance down, the Yankees could be in position to make major splashes, observes FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Even if New York signs closer Aroldis Chapman and designated hitter/outfielder Carlos Beltran, which it’s interested in doing, general manager Brian Cashman might not stop there. Picking up another reliever to team with Chapman and Dellin Betances would become possible, writes Rosenthal, who adds that the Yankees could also improve their pitching by using their prospect pool to acquire a top-tier starter via trade. The Yankees do have Tyler Clippard on hand as an accomplished option capable of setting up Betances and Chapman, though, and Rosenthal concedes that the Bombers could decide this offseason is too early to surrender a haul for a starter.
More from Rosenthal:
- The Cubs have done background work on Kenley Jansen, arguably the top free agent closer, but it doesn’t appear they’re seriously pursuing him, major league sources told Rosenthal. The World Series champions don’t want to overspend on a closer because it could preclude them from making a big signing in the near future (Japanese superstar Shohei Otani, for instance), notes Rosenthal. That would seemingly rule out the Cubs re-signing Chapman, who joins Jansen as one of the two best relievers available. MLBTR projects record contracts for both Jansen and Chapman, and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has already indicated that the team isn’t necessarily looking to splurge on a reliever.
- The Rays are primed to base their 2017 approach on which starting pitcher they trade, writes Rosenthal. If the Rays deal right-hander Alex Cobb or southpaw Drew Smyly, both of whom have two or fewer years of team control remaining, they’re likely to make an attempt at competing next season. On the other hand, shipping righties Chris Archer (five years of team control) or Jake Odorizzi (three) out would signal a rebuild. Even if Tampa Bay chooses the latter route, it’s still unlikely to move third baseman Evan Longoria, the longtime face of the franchise. Longoria has demonstrated remarkable durability since 2013, missing just six games, and has Rays officials convinced he could be part of winning Tampa Bay teams down the line. The 31-year-old is controllable through the 2023 season.
- The Padres are high on first baseman Wil Myers and won’t trade him unless they’re “blown away” by an offer, sources informed Rosenthal. San Diego and Myers are in the early stages of long-term extension talks, so the plan is to retain the soon-to-be 26-year-old for the long haul. Myers, a 2016 All-Star who slashed .259/.336/.461 with 28 home runs and 28 steals in 676 plate appearances, is set to make his first of as many as three arbitration trips.
- The Cardinals have floated right-hander Michael Wacha’s name in trade talks, according to Rosenthal, who’s skeptical that the club would receive much in return for the 25-year-old because of his injury issues. Wacha threw 181 1/3 innings in 2015, but he missed significant time each of the two seasons in between because of shoulder troubles. He was terrific from 2013-15, recording a 3.21 ERA, 7.95 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 in 353 frames, though he posted a bloated ERA (5.09) in 138 innings this past season. While Wacha’s strikeout and walk rates of 7.43 and 2.93 per nine were close to previous norms (he also registered a career-high ground-ball rate of 46.6 percent), it’s possible the Cardinals will move him to the bullpen next season in his first of three arb-eligible campaigns.
- The Rangers had interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez before reaching an agreement Friday with fellow righty Andrew Cashner, per Rosenthal. Volquez began his career with the Rangers, who signed him as an international free agent in 2001, and went to Cincinnati in 2007 in the trade that brought outfielder and eventual five-time All-Star/2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton to Texas.