UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that there are “no legs” to this. Sorry to hear about your legs, Justin Masterson. But you can live a full healthy life without them, I’m sure.
9:16 AM: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Yankees are interested in Justin Masterson. Which makes sense, as the Yankees can use starting pitching and Masterson is a good starting pitcher.
As Nightengale notes, though, the best trade chit New York has at the moment is Brett Gardner, and the Indians don’t need a center fielder with Michael Bourn hanging around, so a three-team trade might make sense. Certainly one to watch over the next day or two. We learned yesterday that it’s fun to watch three-team trades develop.
But to be honest, I’m not sure why New York would be considerably better off trading Gardner for Masterson when there are so many starting pitchers available on the open market right now that would cost them nothing but money. Especially considering that Masterson is in his walk year. A Bartolo Colon reunion would be a useful, short-term thing for the Yankees, no?
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.