Optimism continues to build regarding a potential agreement between the Yankees and free-agent outfielder Brett Gardner. The Yankees are “hopeful” they’ll finalize a contract soon, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the two sides are “far down the line” in negotiations. With center fielder Aaron Hicks set to miss a large portion of next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and the Yankees having no established in-house replacements, the need for Gardner – the most accomplished CF option in free agency – is obvious. Although he’ll turn 37 years old in 2020, Gardner remains a valuable all-around contributor and a revered clubhouse presence.
Here’s more on New York and a few other AL clubs:
- The Yankees agreed to sign ace Gerrit Cole on Tuesday. Now they’re interested in free-agent catcher Martin Maldonado, who caught Cole 10 times last season in Houston, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. If he goes to the Yankees, Maldonado would presumably replace Austin Romine – who’s a free agent – and serve as a defensively gifted backup to slugging catcher Gary Sanchez.
- Fellow catcher Robinson Chirinos, who was teammates with Maldonado in Houston, has drawn widespread interest on the open market. The Rockies were already just put on the board along with the Rangers, Astros, Tigers, Rays, and Pirates. You can add the Tigers to the still-growing list of teams eyeing Chirinos, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets. It’s no surprise Detroit’s in on Chirinos, as he may be the top catcher left and general manager Al Avila has made it known the team’s serious about finding an upgrade behind the plate.
- Any catcher the Tigers sign will be managed by Ron Gardenhire next season, but his future’s murkier thereafter. Gardenhire doesn’t have a contract for 2021, and it doesn’t sound as if he’ll be signing an extension this winter. The 62-year-old said Wednesday that he won’t discuss a new deal with Avila until after next season, per Jason Beck of MLB.com. It’s possible, though, that the Tigers will choose to go in another direction by then.
- Several teams have shown interest in free-agent outfielder Kole Calhoun, who hit the market when the Angels declined his pricey 2020 option after the season. It turns out the White Sox had been involved in the race, but they’re now out after acquiring fellow outfielder Nomar Mazara from Texas on Wednesday, according to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. Between Mazara and Eloy Jimenez, Chicago no longer has a need for a starting-caliber corner OFer.
- The Rangers acquired outfield prospect Steele Walker from Chicago in exchange for Mazara. One day into his tenure with the Rangers organization, Walker has garnered almost as many calls from interested teams as Mazara generated, according to general manager Jon Daniels (via Levi Weaver of The Athletic). However, Daniels added the Rangers do not intend to flip the 23-year-old Walker elsewhere.