UPDATE: It’s not Zambrano, according to Feinsand. The Cubs haven’t asked him to waive his no-trade clause as of this evening, which would seem to be a precursor to any serious talks. I’m starting to get more enamored of the Javy Vazquez stuff. For one thing, the Braves are about the only other team in a position to trade starting pitching. For the reasons we’ve said, Lowe makes little sense. The only thing that doesn’t make sense re: Vazquez from the Yankees’ perspective is that he was there once and didn’t pitch all that great. But haven’t the Bombers given up such provincial thinking? He’s a lot better now than he used to be.
11:14 P.M: No news, but let’s speculate. That “this is not a salary dump” stuff could be interpreted loosely, right? I mean, Derek Lowe is owed $45 million, but Nick Swisher is owed $16.75 million on his deal. Braves kick in a little money and maybe we’re out of salary dump land? OK, yeah, that’s dumb and I still see no reason the Yankees would want Derek Lowe. Chalk it up to boredom and wishful thinking. New guess: Javy Vazquez’s triumphant return to Gotham . . .
10:24 P.M.: Mark Feinsand doesn’t know who it is, but he says that it’s not a salary dump deal, so there goes my Derek Lowe-for-Nick Swisher fantasies. Zambrano? That’s my guess for now. Zambrano. Guesses will change every seven minutes until I run out of pitchers.
9:52 P.M.: Rosenthal is on it too, though he says it’s not Aaron Harang.
8:46 P.M.: Buster Olney tweets “Heard this:
Yankees working very hard tonight on deal for starting pitcher.
Remember that they came close to deal for Aaron Harang in summer.”
Not sure why he’d mention Harang if the deal they’re working on wasn’t for Harang.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.