Gerrit Cole is headed for a massive payday in free agency on the heels of the best season of his career, and the New York Yankees want to be the team to award him with it.
The Yankees are making Cole a top priority this winter and are planning to sit down with him this week ahead of next week’s winter meetings, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. They will also meet with Stephen Strasburg, but the Yankees have tried to acquire Cole in the past and have long been enamored with the right-hander.
Cole was drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft, but they were unable to sign him. He attended UCLA instead and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being drafted by them in 2011.
The Los Angeles Angels are also expected to pursue Cole, and the 29-year-old is originally from Newport Beach. Even one of his former Houston Astros teammates hinted that Cole was likely to sign with a west coast team, though Cole did grow up a Yankees fan since his father was raised in New York.
While the Yankees can never be counted out for a top free agent, they are not the only team with Cole at the top of their wish list this winter. Between the competition from teams with deep pockets and Cole’s affinity for the west coast, the odds of the ace ending up in pinstripes may not be all that great.
Cole went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA with the Astros last season. He was also dominant in the playoffs, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.72 ERA in five starts.
The Oakland Athletics are engaging in their usual payroll management as the MLB offseason gets underway, and one big AL East team may be preparing to take advantage.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Athletics are looking into trading reliever Blake Treinen as a way of managing payroll. The New York Yankees are said to be one of the teams interested in the reliever.
#Yankees one of teams interested in #Athletics’ Blake Treinen, sources tell The Athletic. Wrote Tuesday about OAK’s willingness to move Treinen and other non-tender candidates. https://t.co/f5wHdir05C
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 29, 2019
Treinen is a non-tender candidate who would have been expected to earn just shy of $8 million in arbitration. That’s a price the Athletics aren’t willing to pay after a down year that saw him post a 4.91 ERA and lose his closer’s job.
The upside, however, is clear. The 31-year-old right-hander posted an 0.78 ERA in 2018, striking out 100 batters in just over 80 innings. Plenty of teams would be willing to take a chance on Treinen just in case he even comes close to rediscovering that form.
Between this and a recent contract extension, it may be an indication that the Yankees are prepared to persist with their bullpen-reliant strategy from recent seasons. While it largely worked, Adam Ottavino’s postseason struggles definitely hurt the Yankees, and may inspire them to go hunting for more arms.
The New York Yankees reportedly alerted Major League Baseball to another instance of potential cheating on the part of the Houston Astros.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the Yankees complained to MLB about blinking lights in center field early in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS. The lights stopped early in the game, which the Astros won to advance to the World Series.
The Yankees also suspected that the Astros were alternating whistling and hand signs to tip off their hitters, and the type of whistling was different depending on the pitch.
This was the same series in which the Yankees complained about some suspicious whistling early in the series, which appears to have been picked up during game broadcasts. By 2019, MLB had standardized its camera angles, meaning that the infamous trash can approach Houston allegedly used would have been rendered less effective. Lights in center field would certainly be one way to get around that, though it’s not clear how they may have been used.
Aroldis Chapman has been one of the best relievers in baseball with the New York Yankees over the past three-plus seasons, and he wants to remain with the team going forward. But if he does, it will not be under his current contract.
Chapman holds a player option for the next two years and $30 million total remaining on his deal, and Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that he is not planning to opt in. The left-hander prefers to continue pitching in New York, but he wants an extension from the Yankees.
Aroldis Chapman prefers to remain a Yankee and will pursue an extension with the team. If no extension can be done quickly, he will opt out of the $30M and 2 years left on his contract. Whereupon the Yankees will extend the $17.8M qualifying offer (which he obvs would decline)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 1, 2019
Chapman had 37 saves in 42 opportunities this season, and his 2.21 ERA was the lowest of his three full seasons with the Yankees. He’ll turn 32 in February, but Craig Kimbrel signed a three-year, $43 million deal with the Chicago Cubs after sitting out a significant portion of the 2019 season. You can understand why Chapman feels good about his chances of getting a big deal on the open market.
While some opponents think Chapman has lost some of his intimidation factor, he’s still one of the best relievers in baseball and has proven he can perform in a big market. It would not be a surprise if the Yankees pay to keep him.
The New York Yankees’ first meaningful offseason move is to make a change to their coaching staff.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees will part ways with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 28, 2019
Rothschild had been the Yankees’ pitching coach since 2011. That’s a long time to stick in one position in the sport, and the Yankees clearly felt things had gotten stale. Despite winning 103 games, the Yankees sat firmly in the middle of the road statistically with a 4.31 team ERA. Their starters in particular underwhelmed, going through one stretch that was so bad that Rothschild publicly took the blame for their issues.
Another reason for Rothschild’s removal, according to Sherman, is that he was more old school and did not entirely adapt to the team’s preference to use more “new-age” strategies.
#Yankees more and more are moving toward new-age techniques to develop/game prep their pitchers, from the minors up. Rothschild was not totally resistant, he used analytic data to meld a pitching plan. But he was clearly more old school, than new.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 28, 2019
Joe Girardi, who originally hired Rothschild, just found a new job. Rothschild may just follow him there now that his Yankee obligations are finished.
The Houston Astros won a dramatic ALCS Game 6 in the bottom of the 9th off Aroldis Chapman, but the New York Yankees made a strategic blunder that contributed to the 6-4 Astros win.
The Yankees had tied the game in the top of the 9th inning on a two-run home run by DJ LeMahieu, which allowed them to bring Chapman into a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. Chapman retired the first two hitters, catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielder Josh Reddick, relatively easily. He seemed to lose command of his fastball against George Springer and walked the Houston outfielder to bring Jose Altuve to the plate with one on and two out.
Normally, facing Altuve in that spot would be a no-win situation. The Astros’ normal No. 3 hitter is Michael Brantley, but he had been removed for defensive purposes in the 9th. Instead of Brantley, light-hitting outfielder Jake Marisnick was on deck behind Altuve.
Chapman’s fastball command was still failing him, and he went to 2-0 on Altuve. At this point, Chapman shouldn’t have given Altuve anything to hit. Marisnick hit just .225 against left-handed pitching in 2019, and with Chapman’s overwhelming stuff, he would have had a significant advantage over the reserve outfielder.
Instead, Chapman left a breaking ball up on the outer edge, and Altuve smashed it for a series-winning home run.
— MLB (@MLB) October 20, 2019
We already know what Altuve can do against elite left-handed pitching. He hit .311 with a .677 slugging percentage against lefties this season. As good as Chapman is, Altuve absolutely mashes southpaws. The Yankees surely knew that. At 2-0, Chapman should have just pitched around him. Their failure to do so may have cost them a chance to play in a Game 7 and keep their World Series hopes alive.
The New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 4-1 in Game 5 of the ALCS on Friday, setting up a situation where both teams will be piecing things together for Game 6 in Houston.
Thanks to Wednesday’s Game 4 rainout, both the Yankees and Astros lost what would have been a scheduled travel day Friday between Games 5 and 6. That meant that Justin Verlander and James Paxton could start Game 5 in New York, but it also left a void for Game 6.
After the game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Yankees manager Aaron Boone both confirmed they will work their way through a bullpen game for Game 6. The Astros, in particular, resisted any temptation to use Gerrit Cole on short rest, saving him for a potential Game 7 on what would be regular rest.
Boone also said Game 6 will be a bullpen game. “It will probably be a little bit of everyone.” Severino set for a potential Game 7.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 19, 2019
Hinch said bullpen game tmrw. So saving Cole on full rest for G7, if necessary #Astros
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 19, 2019
This is basically what Game 4 would have looked like had it been played as it was originally scheduled. The prevailing wisdom is that the Astros will likely try to get some length out of rookie pitcher Jose Urquidy. The Yankees’ situation is less clear, but they do have left-handed starter J.A. Happ, the losing pitcher in Game 2, available for length if they want it.
Both teams managed to save key relievers in Game 5. Justin Verlander got through seven despite the loss, and they only had to use Brad Peacock for an inning. The Yankees are in slightly worse shape, having used Zach Britton for 1.2 innings along with an inning of Aroldis Chapman, though they did get Chad Green a much-needed day off.
Cole has been dominant, and is the ace the Astros have left up their sleeve. Houston seemed to have potential Game 7 starter Luis Severino’s number in Game 3, but he settled in and limited the damage. The pitching matchup would favor the Astros in a potential Game 7, but if their pitching staff can outdo New York’s on Saturday, they would be able to save Cole for Game 1 of the World Series against Washington.