It seems the Yankees and Pirates have lost momentum toward a prospective deal involving righty Gerrit Cole. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, via Twitter, talks have “cooled” since the Winter Meetings wrapped up. While Cole’s talent would be a welcome addition to just about any big league rotation, the Bucs are reported to have a lofty asking price on the former No. 1 overall pick, and the Yankees don’t necessarily need to feel urgency to finalize a deal. New York has already agreed to bring CC Sabathia back on a one-year pact, and he’ll join Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery in a mix of quality rotation options (with prospects Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams looming in the upper minors).
A few notes out of the Bronx…
- Rosenthal also writes in a notes column (subscription required/recommended) that despite that group of starting options, the Yankees have some interest in free-agent righty Yu Darvish. A serious pursuit could require shedding some other salaries, as the Yankees have a known preference to dip under the luxury tax threshold and surely would like to enter the season with some degree of leeway in that regard, should the need for in-season additions on the trade market arise.
- While Darvish may seem a curious fit given that quality group of options, George A. King III of the New York Post also hears that the Yanks do have some degree of interest. New York is monitoring the Darvish market to see if his price comes down at all, per King, who adds that the Yankees do still want to add another starter even with the aforementioned arms in tow. Even if Darvish’s price drops to a lower level than expected, the Yankees would likely still need to move Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary (or a significant portion of it) in order to work him into the mix and remain under the tax barrier.
- Jacoby Ellsbury “might consider” waiving his no-trade clause for a few teams, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, who suggests the Giants as a possibility in that regard. That’s probably music to the ears of many Yankees fans, though it’s worth noting that there’s no indication that the Giants would want any part of Ellsbury’s enormous contract. San Francisco has a need for a center fielder, but the Giants have their own luxury tax concerns. Even if the Yankees are willing to absorb a significant amount of the remaining $68MM+ that Ellsbury is owed, there’s no indication that the Giants view him as an upgrade. San Francisco could, for instance, simply sign a player in the Jarrod Dyson mold to a considerably shorter-term deal, knowing that he’d be a vastly superior defensive option with lesser financial risk.