Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, during a Q&A session, Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that catching prospect Tony Sanchez will get some work at first base in the upcoming season. Sanchez won’t exactly be replacing Gaby Sanchez, as Pedro Alvarez is expected to play every day, even against left-handed pitchers, Brink writes. With Francisco Cervelli likely to get the starting nod behind the plate, Sanchez would be the back-up at two positions and would serve as a right-handed bench bat.
Sanchez, 26, ranked among the game’s 100-best prospects going into the 2010 and ’11 seasons according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. In limited action at the major league level, Sanchez has underwhelmed, hitting .252/.295/.378 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 146 plate appearances.
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.