Day 2 of the 2019 MLB Winter Meetings kicked off with a bang on Monday morning when the Washington Nationals came to an agreement with Stephen Strasburg for seven years, $245 million, setting the bar extremely high for Gerrit Cole bidders, including the New York Yankees.
*Editors Note: This interview took place before Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees.
On Tuesday, it was reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s offer to Gerrit Cole and Scott Boras had eclipsed the deal that Stephen Strasburg had signed on Monday with the Nationals. However, the details, regarding years and figures, had yet to be released.
The Bombers are also focused in on other players this week, as Cashman has made it a point to try and deal veteran pitcher J.A. Happ while in San Diego — as to clear potential payroll for Gerrit Cole, pending he signs with New York.
The Yankees are also said to be interested in bringing back Brett Gardner to the Bronx, whether it be for one-year or a multi-year deal. It does appear the current plan is to let long-time backup catcher Austin Romine walk, following Didi Gregorius’ signing a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies.
While covering all the MLB news this week at the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego, I got a chance to catch up with YES Network Analyst, Jack Curry, before hopping on the air for Yankees Hot Stove.
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Jack O’Hara: With Stephen Strasburg getting a record $245 million dollars on Monday, what is your expectation for Brian Cashman’s negotiations moving forward with Scott Boras and Gerrit Cole? Does he intend to stay under $300 million?
Jack Curry: That’s a great question, Jack. We’re all trying to cover this and trying to throw numbers around, and it’s all really up in the air. First off, I am very surprised that Stephen Strasburg got $245 million from the Nationals. This absolutely makes Gerrit Cole’s price rise, whether it’s eight years, $280M, eight years, $300M, or maybe even nine years, considering Cole is only 29 years old. From a Yankee perspective, the offer is going to be very, very competitive.
Jack O’Hara: With the Angels and Dodgers also pursuing Cole, do you feel that their offers are also coming this week, considering Boras said that he intends to leave San Diego with a contract in place for Cole?
Jack Curry: I think those are the perimeters that Boras set. He said he wanted to get those initial offers from every club. I was one of nearly a hundred reporters surrounding him downstairs earlier today, and the only team he seemed to mention was the Yankees. He said, ‘the Yankees and other teams have made very thorough presentations,’ but I agree with you, I think it’s the Angels versus the Yankees.
Jack O’Hara: Given Gerrit Cole is their top priority, are the Yankees also keeping tabs on the likes of Brett Gardner, who is said to be asking for a multi-year deal, as well as Austin Romine, who I’d say is one of the best backup catchers in baseball?
Jack Curry: Well, the two players that you mention, I’ve spoken to both of their agents this week. I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a reunion between Brett Gardner and the Yankees. He’s an elite defender in left field and centerfield; he’s coming off a career year in 2019, and he’s a leader in that clubhouse.
As far as Romine goes, I agree with you. The Yankees should value him this offseason. The Yankees are also high on Kyle Higashioka as a suitable replacement. The vibe I’m getting, is that Austin Romine will not be returning to the Yankees.
Jack O’Hara: Derek Jeter is a first ballot Hall of Famer — no question about it. But do you think Jeter will join Mariano Rivera as the only other unanimous selection, and if not, what do you think the argument against it will be?
Jack Curry: Well, I have a Hall of Fame vote, and Derek Jeter will definitely get my support. It’s hard to get into the mind of somebody who wouldn’t vote for Derek. It’s laughable to me for someone to try and find a flaw to vote against Jeter, but for some reason, I don’t think Jeter is going to be unanimous. In my mind, there’s going to be somebody that questions Derek’s defense, and tries to take a shot at a career that is completely worthy of being a unanimous selection.
Time will tell whether or not Brian Cashman and company will reach a deal with Gerrit Cole this week in San Diego, or Brett Gardner for that matter. But one thing is for sure, and that’s Cole will be one very rich man by the end of 2019. Will Brian Cashman get his man? Or will the Yankees have to turn to Plan B?