Earlier this offseason the Yankees were said to be pushing to acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. Those rumors cooled, but the Yankees are still reportedly interested. Their interest is now being matched, Jeff Passan of Yahoo says, by the defending champ Houston Astros.
Passan reports that Houston is dangling outfielder Derek Fisherin the talks, although he says the Pirates would want more, which makes sense. The Yankees, of course, have a loaded farm system themselves, so the Pirates are in a decent position to have two of the best teams in baseball bidding against one another.
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 either club’s rotation. For Houston, it would give them an outstanding 1-2-3-4 punch with Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Keuchel, of course, becomes a free agent after the 2018 season, so Cole could help cushion the blow of him leaving, assuming he leaves.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.