The return to calm and quiet PR-friendly negotiations between the Yankees and Derek Jeter is easily the worst thing to happen this week. Really, wasn’t life much more fun when they were slamming each other in the media? And then, in turn, causing those of us in column-and-blog land to say equally silly things? Things like Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star said in his column this afternoon:
Yankee Stadium is an enormously successful sports museum. Derek Jeter is its Mona Lisa. The residual financial impact of Jeter on New York and the Yankees would make a pretty decent Ph.D. thesis. Let’s agree that his real-dollar value is greater than playoff games can tell … Cashman is a good guy and, better yet for the Yankees, an egoless pragmatist. But he’s already lost this fight. He lost it just by having the money.
At some reasonable point, the Yankees will vastly improve their current offer. It will be slightly less than Jeter’s opening gambit — six years, $150 million (U.S.). Then Jeter will do himself and the Yankees the favour of agreeing to lower his price because of his love for the pinstripes. Yankees fans will fall in love all over again — with the man and the club.
I’ll preface this by saying that Mr. Kelly’s picture shows him wearing large, heavy-framed glasses not unlike those frequently sported by irony-loving hipsters, so I guess there’s a chance that this is all sarcasm. But assuming it’s not:
1) The Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and was gone for two years; the Louvre somehow survived;
2) Cashman hasn’t lost this fight;
3) The Yankees won’t vastly improve their offer; and
4) Even if they do, Jeter will not reject said vastly-improved offer.
Other than that, the column is all aces.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.