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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Baseball

Report: MLB unlikely to conclude Astros sign-stealing investigation by end of year

Those waiting excitedly to hear about Major League Baseball’s findings regarding the Houston Astros’ alleged sign-stealing operation are likely going to have to wait a bit longer.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, the league is unlikely to conclude its investigation by the end of the year due to the amount of evidence that investigators must go through. MLB has over 70,000 emails in its possession as they investigate what the Astros were up to, and that work is likely to go into 2020.

The league is also dealing with an extended time period. While the bulk of the investigation focuses on the 2017 season, they are also trying to figure out what, if anything, was taking place in both 2018 and 2019. While there are leads relating to the 2018 season, those are said to be more sporadic.

Commissioner Rob Manfred wants a thorough investigation that will “stand the test of time,” and he knows that anything short of that will call the league’s credibility into question.

While the evidence that cheating took place is pretty clear, MLB will want to know details. They will want to deduce how prevalent it was, who was behind it, and how high up in the organization it went so the appropriate people will be hit with the appropriate punishments. That’s going to take time, even though the league will want a report done as soon as possible.

Here is what Aaron Judge tweeted after the Gerrit Cole signing

Aaron Judge

Wondering how some of the New York Yankees are feeling about the Gerrit Cole signing? Look no further than Aaron Judge’s Twitter account for the answer.

Judge sent a tweet not long after the Cole news emerged. His reaction was to tweet an emoji of a smirking face:

It’s safe to say he’s a happy man.

And why wouldn’t he be?

The Yankees are loaded, as usual. They have Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez and DJ LeMahieu. Their pitchers include Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and Domingo German. Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino are part of their stellar bullpen.

Judge has three more arbitration seasons left with the Yankees before it’s his turn to cash in. For now, he’s focusing on bringing home a World Series trophy.

Report: Dodgers to pursue Madison Bumgarner after missing out on Cole

Madison Bumgarner

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have pursued Gerrit Cole in free agency, but their chances of landing him were always unrealistic due to a combination of heavier interest from the Yankees and Angels, and the Dodgers’ restraint with money. The Dodgers are not a team that drops $200 million on a player. Around $100 million or so is more their speed. That’s why their next free agent target makes much more sense.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers will shift their focus to Madison Bumgarner.

Bumgarner is reportedly looking for more than $100 million over five years.

Bumgarner is 30 and has already pitched 1,846 career regular season innings and 102.1 postseason innings. He made 34 starts last season but posted a 3.90 ERA — the worst of his career. His stuff seems good and his fastball velocity was fine, so a return to form seems like it could still happen.

The question is whether Bumgarner would ever join his rival after playing for the Giants for 11 seasons. One thing the Dodgers can offer him is the opportunity to bat, which is something that will likely appeal to him since he’s a good hitter. The Angels, who also missed out on Cole, could be another team to have interest in Bumgarner.

Dodgers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt:

Gerrit Cole agrees to record 9-year, $324 million deal with Yankees

The New York Yankees said they were not going to be denied when it came to Gerrit Cole, and it seems like they were right.

Cole has agreed to a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees.

The market for Cole was hot all offseason, and his agent Scott Boras indicated Cole would sign this week. That ended up happening, and it comes a day after Stephen Strasburg got a 7-year, $245 million deal from the Washington Nationals.

Cole’s deal blows away Strasburg’s as the richest ever by a pitcher, by $74 million.

Only Mike Trout ($430 million), Bryce Harper ($330 million), and Giancarlo Stanton ($325 million) have signed for more money than Cole. Cole was $6 million shy of Harper’s record for a free agent, and he’s doing it as a pitcher.

The Angels and Dodgers were among the other teams reportedly involved in the bidding for Cole, but the Yankees have won out. This is no surprise given all the reports of the offseason saying the Yankees were making Cole their total focus and top target. They were probably willing to give more years and total money to Cole than anyone else.

It’s easy to understand why; Cole is 29 and coming off a season where he finished second in Cy Young voting for the Houston Astros. He posted a 2.50 ERA with 326 strikeouts in 212.1 innings in 2019.

This deal brings things full circle for Cole and the Yankees. The Yanks drafted Cole in the first round in 2008, but he decided to go to UCLA instead and became the No. 1 pick by the Pirates in 2011. Now the Yankees finally get their man.

Report: Astros considering trade of Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa home run ear

The Houston Astros are eventually going to have to make some tough decisions about which players to keep on their star-studded roster, and they have reportedly considered trading one of their core players this offseason.

Houston is considering a trade of Carlos Correa, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday. Though that is a consideration, Rosenthal states that such a move might not come immediately.

The Astros have a payroll projected to run over $210 million for 2020. Their owner previously stated that they would likely not be able to afford to keep Gerrit Cole (though they’re not giving up). They are committed to Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve for the future, and they owe big money to Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander through 2021. Guys like Lance McCullers and Brad Peacock will soon become more expensive, while the likes of Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley are free agents after 2020. Then there is George Springer, who is probably the guy they would like to retain the most, who will also be a free agent after 2020.

All of this tells you that the Astros will have many players to either re-sign or replace, so having multiple players earning $25-plus million is likely untenable.

Though trading Correa is not something Houston would want to do, you can understand why they might choose to part ways with him when forced to a decision. As good as Correa is, he deals with frequent injuries and hasn’t played a full season since 2016. He only played in 75 regular season games last season.

Correa, 24, is set to make around $7.4 million next season in arbitration, and he’s still under team control for two more years. He is a young, talented shortstop with power. Teams will want him, and he could fetch a significant return on the trade market if the Astros choose to deal him.

David Price reportedly being targeted by multiple teams in trade talks

David Price

The Boston Red Sox have openly said they are looking to shed payroll this winter, and one of the ways they could do that is by trading their most expensive player, David Price. If they do decide to move the left-hander, multiple teams apparently have interest.

More than one team has inquired about potentially trading for Price, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. The Red Sox would likely have to attach another player to the deal or eat some of the $96 million Price is owed over the next three seasons, but they are open to the possibility.

Although he finally exorcised his demons and pitched well in the postseason two years ago, Price has never really seemed like a fit in Boston. He has clashed with the local media and had a highly-publicized feud with Hall of Famer and Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley. While Price chose not to opt out of his contract before last season, that was almost certainly only about money. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t welcome a trade to the right team.

Price went 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA in his fourth season with the Red Sox last year. He has also battled same elbow issues, so his medical records would have to check out before he can be traded.

If the Red Sox do trade Price, that might allow them to re-sign former AL MVP Mookie Betts. Betts is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

Astros reportedly are ‘mystery team’ for Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole

Agent Scott Boras loves to play the “mystery team” game when it comes to his top free agent clients, and that is the case for Gerrit Cole.

Cole, who is the top free agent pitcher this offseason, has a developing market that is believed to include the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Jon Heyman reported Tuesday that there was also a mystery team involved.

Later in the day, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Houston Astros appear to be one of two mystery teams for Cole. He says the Astros are contemplating whether or not they should make a run to retain the ace.

The Yankees are said to be making Cole their top target, as are the Angels. Even the Dodgers, who have stuck to strict budgets recently, are said to be serious about the pitcher.

Houston’s owner Jim Crane said in October he was not sure whether the team would be able to re-sign Cole. As bidding is expected to reach $300 million or so, the Astros may decide that’s too much for them.