There’s been some speculation that the Rays would make a run at Colby Rasmus should the Cardinals make their center fielder available. Now we know whom the Cardinals would ask for in return. According to the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, Jeremy Hellickson is the pitcher the team most covets in any potential deal.
And for good reason. Hellickson entered the season as one of the top three pitching prospects in baseball, and he’s very much in the Rookie of the Year race with an 8-7 record and a 3.21 ERA in 16 starts for the Rays. He might not quite have Michael Pineda’s ceiling, but he could be one of the game’s top 30 starters for a long time.
So, even with Rasmus as a potential return, it’s highly unlikely that the Rays will move Hellickson. He’ll make barely more than the minimum through 2013, and he’s not going to be a free agent until after 2016. If the Rays were to dip into their stellar rotation depth in order to upgrade elsewhere, then such a deal would be far more likely to involve Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.