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Yankees owners give Brian Cashman a blank check for Gerrit Cole

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the ownership of the New York Yankees have given general manager Brian Cashman approval to offer Gerrit Cole a record deal. Basically, he has a blank check to go get their man.

The question is whether money is enough.

Cole, as you may recall, was drafted by the Yankees in 2008 but chose go to college at UCLA. Sure, a lot of guys go to college in order to up their draft stock — and Cole was, in 2011, the first overall draft pick by the Pirates, so he accomplished that mission — but Cole was still a first round pick in 2008. Normally it’s later-round guys who go back to school after getting selected. Some in the New York press have suggested that part of his decision to go back to college was because he didn’t want to be in the Yankees’ organization.

I’m not sure about that — again, the chance to be the number one overall pick got Cole more cash — but there has been a lot of chatter that Cole, a native of Southern California, wants to return there on what will no doubt be a record deal for a starting pitcher. The Angels have been mentioned prominently as a suitor. Some think the Dodgers will come to the table before it’s said and done. It’d be something of a shock if, a year after giving Manny Machado a $300 million contract, San Diego ponied up the kind of money Cole is expected to command, but even the Padres seem to be going for it right now. It’s still early and there are still a lot of moving parts.

Either way, the Yankees’ big wallet and, apparently, their big willingness to go all-in for Cole, will no doubt set the tone here. Executives told Passan that the bidding for Cole figures to “reach well beyond $250 million-plus.”

The Yankees met with Cole on Tuesday. There is not yet an offer on the table. They tend to roll this stuff a bit slower than other teams. But they will likely be in the Gerrit Cole Sweepstakes until the very end.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.