While the Yankees were assuredly disheartened upon being informed that they were not a finalist for Shohei Ohtani, that information looks to have largely paved the way for New York’s blockbuster acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. Yankees GM Brian Cashman joined Jim Bowden and Craig Mish on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today and discussed his club’s pursuit of both Ohtani and Stanton (Twitter link with audio). As Cashman explains, had the Yankees been among the finalists for Ohtani, or even signed him, they’d have been committed to keeping the DH spot largely open in order to accommodate Ohtani’s desire to both pitch and hit. However, being informed that they were out of the Ohtani sweepstakes fairly early in the process allowed Cashman and his staff to pivot and re-engage the Marlins on Stanton. New York and Miami had talked in the previous month, per Cashman, and negotiations quickly became serious once the Yankees knew they could use the DH spot that had been earmarked for Ohtani to rotate Stanton, Aaron Judge and others.
Elsewhere in the AL East…
- In that same appearance, Cashman also spoke about the possibility of Stanton and Judge seeing time in left field as well as trade interest in prospects Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier (both links via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch). Hoch notes that the DH spot is a more likely avenue to get both Judge and Stanton into the same lineup, though Cashman said that both players have expressed a willingness and level of excitement regarding the possibility of playing the opposite outfield corner. Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks figure to line up regularly in left field and center field for the Yankees, but it seems that there’ll be days when one of the two slugging career-long right fielders could see time in left. As for Andujar and Frazier, Cashman spoke highly of both and acknowledged the possibility of a trade, though he also said he could hang onto both young players. Cashman calls Frazier a “very valuable, attractive asset” not only to the Yankees but to other teams and later adds that Andujar is “…a very exciting talent — one that’s being insisted upon, it seems like, in every conversation I’m having with anything that’s high-end out there.”
- Red Sox ownership has given president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski more autonomy than his predecessors received, writes Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston, and it’s been Dombrowski who has primarily driven the Red Sox’ pursuit of J.D. Martinez. Drellich wonders if now is the time for Dombrowski and owner John Henry to begin showing this type of restraint — Boston has reportedly offered Martinez five years but drawn a line there — as New York and Los Angeles both loom as potential big spenders again next offseason. Drellich also takes a look at Dombrowski’s history of splashy moves (some of his own volition and some driven by late Tigers owner Mike Ilitch during Dombrowski’s days in Detroit) as well as his reputation as an executive that is, at times, willing to overpay on the free-agent and trade markets.
- Right-hander Mychal Givens drew persistent trade interest at the Winter Meetings, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but he’s among the players that the Orioles consider to be untouchable. With Zach Britton on the shelf due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, many are expecting Brad Brach to step into the closer’s role, though Kubatko writes that manager Buck Showalter isn’t anointing anyone. Rather, Showalter believes that in Givens, Brach, Darren O’Day and lefty Richard Bleier, he has a number of weapons that can help lock down games, depending on the situation. “In a perfect world you’d be able to spread it around, but I’m not there yet,” says Showalter. “…But I’m confident that we have more than one person capable of doing a good job with it. To think you’re going to have somebody to do it at the level that [Britton] did it, that’s historic. There’s not a guy out there like that.”
- Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 that his club does indeed have interest in Marlins star Christian Yelich, though he cautioned that virtually every team in baseball is in that boat as well (link via Sportsnet’s Michael Hoad). Atkins again voiced a desire to strengthen both his outfield and his pitching staff, though he acknowledged that the outfield is a greater need. The Jays, Atkins added, are heartened by the fact that they have both payroll capacity (a reported $20MM or so in 2018 space) and a strong farm system that allows them to trade. Certainly, the Marlins would be keen on top-tier talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette if they were to seriously entertain parting with Yelich. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that Atkins addressed the theoretical notion of moving those elite prospects, saying they’d only be available were the Jays to acquire a “young, controllable player that we feel could be as talented or more as those two players.” While Yelich arguably fits that description, Nicholson-Smith notes that it still seems likely that the Jays will hang onto both players.