Gerrit Cole trade not as close as first reported

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UPDATE: Hold the phone. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that a Gerrit Cole trade “is neither close nor imminent.” Looks like Bowden jumped the gun.

11:02AM: Jim Bowden reports that the Yankees and Pirates are close to a deal that will send starter Gerrit Cole to New York.

The two teams have been talking for some time about Cole, though talks supposedly hit a standstill in recent days. Cole has been at the top of the Yankees Christmas wish list, but the Pirates had reportedly been demanding top prospect Gleyber Torres in a trade, which the Yankees have no desire to do. Bowden says, however, that the deal he’s hearing about does not include Torres.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that the Pirates were “highly motivated” to trade Cole and that it was “a matter of when rather than if” he was dealt to the Yankees. If the Pirates backed down on that demand there are still any number of other solid prospects in the Yankees system who could make for a good deal for both sides, so odds are this gets done.

Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 196/55 in 203 innings across 33 starts for the Pirates in 2017. He is only two seasons removed from a 19-8, 2.60 campaign in 2015, and he’s still just 27, so adding him would go a long way toward strengthening the Yankees rotation. That, combined with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton, would make them the clear favorites in the American League East, if they aren’t that already.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.