Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Here's the ideal Winter Meetings headline for Yankees fans:
"Happy Holidays! Yanks Get Cole in their Stocking."
Gerrit? Er, get it?
All corniness aside, the Yankees pursuit of Gerrit Cole should suck up most of the pinstriped air in San Diego as GM Brian Cashman and his staff try to convince the most attractive pitcher on the market to come to the Bronx and set contract records in the process.
Amid SoCal sunshine - who are we kidding, no one goes outside during this baseball-fest - the Yanks must sway Cole, a California kid who's spurned them before, that they're a better destination than Los Angeles or Anaheim.
Maybe Cole joins the Yanks and pushes them over the top, starting a new dynasty. Maybe he keeps it mellow and stays home. Maybe we don't find out for sure at the Winter Meetings, but enjoy the scene as his free agency continues to matriculate down the field, to paraphrase Hank Stram, and concludes later this winter.
That's OK. There's more to watch with the Yankees at the Winter Meetings. Here are seven other things to keep an eye on:
Plan B for…Bumgarner?Or someone else?
If the Yanks don't get Cole, they'd better have contingency plans in motion. San Diego is ideal for meetings to keep that process going. Figure Cashman peeps the other high-end starters, such as Madison Bumgarner or, especially, Stephen Strasburg. Though Cole is the priority, Cashman has shown he's willing to pivot, if the market makes it necessary. The Dodgers and Angels crave Cole, too. Strasburg is from San Diego and the Nationals would like to keep him.
The Yankees have plenty of starters already, including a strong top 3 of Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. But Tanaka and Paxton are free agents after next season and a beast like Cole would make the Yanks everyone's favorite to win their first World Series since 2009.
Line up Lindor
There's been some talk that now would be the perfect time for the Cleveland Indians to trade Francisco Lindor, the charming, all-world shortstop who has two years of control left. With Didi Gregorius a free agent, it's worth it for Cashman to explore Lindor's price tag at the meetings, maybe even if it costs prized pitching prospect Deivi Garcia. Hey, not every Yankees prospect is going to grow up to be Gleyber Torres, so why not deal a few for a true impact star with an irrepressible grin?
They Yanks have undoubtedly been doing this already, but San Diego is a good spot to further their intel on what they could get for players such as Miguel Andújar, Gio Urshela and Clint Frazier.
Could they sell high on Urshela, who had a breakout 2019 on offense and give Andújar his old job back at third base. Would they even get fair value for Andújar, who missed all but 12 games last year because of injury, or Frazier? Maybe both players would be worth more to the Yanks on the roster, but perhaps any of those three fit into a Lindor deal, too.
Center of attention
Is Brett Gardner coming back or what? Obviously, he's not a front-burner issue, at least compared to Cole. But the Yanks need help in center as Aaron Hicks heals and Gardner would be a fine outfield complement, even if Mike Tauchman, so impressive last year, becomes the everyday center fielder.
They wouldn't need to bring Gardner back to play every day - he got 550 plate appearances last year because of all those injuries. But Gardner can still play and his 4.0 bWAR last season was third among Yankee position players.
There would be a bunch of infielders around if Gregorius re-signs. Depth, as the Yanks found out last season, is a nice problem to have, though. He's had an impressive Yankee career and is probably the best free agent shortstop out there, so maybe the market takes him away from the Bronx, even if Lindor's availability is just the stuff of fantasy baseball.
The following has the least sizzle of any of these boldface tidbits
OK, so the second catcher isn't the job with the most pizzazz. It's still important, especially because it's probably smart to periodically use Gary Sanchez at DH. So the Yanks need a (heh) backup plan. Austin Romine is a free agent and maybe he's appealing to another team without a Gary Sanchez in the way. The Yanks have Kyle Higashioka in place to potentially take the job, but the Yanks will get informed about who else is out there nonetheless.
The Yanks love relievers, don't they? One of their own, Dellin Betances, is a free agent. So is Blake Treinen, who has been linked to the Yanks in media reports.