Blake Snell rumors veering from Yankees nightmare to acceptable outcome

Snell won't really do what we thought he was going to do...will he?
San Francisco Giants  v San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

Good news for Yankees fans: the Friday momentum that seemed to be sending Blake Snell to the worst possible landing spot seems to have calmed down just a bit.

Bad news for Yankees fans: there's a new "favorite" for Snell, which has been an entirely meaningless phrase for the duration of the left-hander's free agency, and surely remains equally meaningless now, until some team dares to approach his sky-high asking price.

With less than 11 days remaining before Opening Day, Snell is certainly resigned to miss a good chunk of the 2024 season, at this point, holding out for a heroic team to start talking dollars and cents in a range that befits him. That team seemed likely to be the Houston Astros on Friday night, who paired a Jose Urquidy rotation-thinning elbow injury with a long-held desire to make a Snell/Josh Hader splash that dates back to at least last year's trade deadline.

Houston, after being on the outside looking in all winter, was suddenly in "serious pursuit" of Snell on Friday evening, with the two sides discussing a short-term, high-AAV offer. Then, against all odds ... it ... didn't get done?

Per Bob Nightengale, Houston balked at Snell's request for a two-year, $60+ million guarantee; if they offer him over $20 million annually, they'll pass the third luxury tax threshold. That paved the way for San Francisco to once again vault into "favored franchise status" by the end of the weekend -- though, again, both SF and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been flitting around Snell for months now. Neither has landed him. Naming favorites for a left-hander with a rigid financial ask is a fool's errand.

Yankees could watch Blake Snell sign with San Francisco Giants. Or Houston. Or neither?

No matter the ultimate result, it was extremely telling on Friday that the Astros lost their fourth or fifth starter in Urquidy, then immediately pivoted to exploring an ace in Snell. When the Yankees lost their ace in Cole, they looked internally.

One team appears to want to get better at all costs. The other is more than happy to get better, as long as the parameters are convenient.

If the Astros balk at Snell's asking price (or the price never comes down), refusing to wade into the third level of luxury taxation, we'll take aim at them, too. But, based on the Josh Hader saga, when the Astros "seriously pursue" a player, they usually get him. It's hard to count them out just yet when the mutual interest is there and the money is being safeguarded until the last possible second.