We’ll track the chatter here …
- The Cole sweepstakes is closing in on an ending, reports Heyman, who adds it would take “a major upset” for him to sign with someone other than the Yankees, Angels or Dodgers.
- There is “serious and intense” bidding going on for Cole, who looks more and more likely to reach an agreement at the Winter Meetings, Heyman tweets. It’s “likely” the Astros and the Giants are the mystery clubs in the Cole derby, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, though the sources he has spoken with have cast on doubt on the hurler ending up with either team. That seemingly leaves the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers to fight it out for Cole.
- The Astros may be one of the mystery teams, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who writes that they’re considering making a late charge to re-sign Cole. He was, of course, an enormously important part of the Astros’ pitching staff from 2018-19, and owner Jim Crane said last month the team would at least make an effort to keep him. Keeping Cole would likely at least push the Astros over the second level of the luxury tax ($228MM), as Sherman notes, but the reigning AL champions do have some holes in their rotation with him and Wade Miley as free agents. Perhaps a desire to keep Cole, AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke together atop the Astros’ staff will drown out any tax concerns for Crane.
- Agent Scott Boras confirmed recent reports that indicate a deal could come together quickly. He told reporters gathered for his annual media scrum that a decision may come “in the short term,” as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports (Twitter links). Boras also says there are two mystery teams involved in Cole’s market, though it’s not evident just what constitutes a mystery team from his perspective.
- Cole’s major pursuers are known (Angels, Yankees, Dodgers), along with a few lurkers (Rangers, Phillies). But there’s also a mystery team involved, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). Heyman himself casts doubt upon the legitimacy of this unidentified organization, noting that it is difficult to envision a new entrant to the market vaulting past the existing bidders. Indeed, it is quite difficult to peg a serious bidder among the remaining teams around the league. There are certainly other contenders that would love to add Cole, but in every case there’s reason to question the plausibility. That said, there have been surprises in the past and nothing can be ruled out entirely until there’s a team announcement on a signing.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes (via Twitter) that he has been given reason to believe that the Giants would represent “a desirable destination” from Cole’s perspective. But he says he is not aware whether the team is involved and cautions that he has no reason to believe the San Francisco organization is a serious possible landing spot for the right-hander.