Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has a good piece up today talking about the second wild card has changed the competitive landscape (i.e. put far more teams in contention longer) and thus creates some real benefits to teams’ bottom lines. If you have a chance, people watch and buy tickets and beer and foam fingers and stuff.
Another consequence: a lot of inactivity at the trade deadline. Or at lease leading up to it. Since everyone thinks they’ve got a chance — or, at the very least, want their fans to think they have a chance — there are way fewer sellers at the deadline and way more buyers. That, in turn, makes the few players who are available go way up in price and makes trades even harder to come together. We still may see a lot of deals in late July, but they’ll be minor ones, as fewer teams decide that they need to mount a fire sale.
Given the more-teams-are-in-it-longer dynamic of the two-wild-card era, it would behoove Major League Baseball to look into extending the non-waiver trade deadline a couple of weeks into August instead of having it stop in late July. We need more things to shake out if we want more players to shake loose.
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.