The four busiest days of the offseason have arrived. Well, the three busiest days, really, because everyone heads home Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft. The 2018 Winter Meetings begin today at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and, as always, there will be a ton of trades, free agent signings, and rumors these next few days. Lots of rumors. Lots and lots of rumors.
The Yankees have already had a fairly active offseason. They traded for James Paxton and re-signed both Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia, most notably, and they’ve also brought in some depth options like Hanser Alberto, Tim Locastro, and Parker Bridwell. The Yankees still need another starter though, plus a Didi Gregorius middle infield replacement and bullpen help. Brian Cashman’s work is far from done this offseason.
“Obviously, we have a number of things to accomplish that I consider heavy lifting. We need to fill our club out. Usually most things get concluded by the end of the Winter Meetings based on the last two years,” said Cashman to George King recently. “Things have dragged out longer, but for the most part, now momentum will kick in for everybody — players, agents and clubs. Hopefully we will be in position to improve ourselves, but part of this is having patience. We don’t want to make a mistake and rush this process. If it takes longer, it takes longer. Optimally, you would like to get something done between now and the conclusion of Vegas.”
The last time the Winter Meetings were held in Las Vegas the Yankees left town with a newly signed CC Sabathia and momentum toward a deal with A.J. Burnett and having started discussions about a deal with Mark Teixeira. I can’t say I expect the Yankees to be that active again this year — that was one of the largest free agent spending sprees in baseball history — but I do expect them to be busy this week. There’s still a lot of needs that have to be addressed.
As we do every year, we’ll keep you updated on the latest Yankees-related rumors in this one handy post throughout the day. The Winter Meetings are in the Pacific Time Zone this year, so we East Coasters may have to wait a little longer than usual each morning for everyone in Las Vegas to wake up and start cranking out rumors. Anyway, make sure you check back through the day for updates. Here’s the latest (all timestamps Eastern Time):
- 5:59pm: The Yankees scouted Yusei Kikuchi “extensively” this past season and Brian Cashman said he’s been in touch with agent Scott Boras about the left-hander. Here’s everything you need to know about Kikuchi. His 30-day negotiating period closes Thursday, January 3rd. [Joel Sherman]
- 5:54pm: Brian Cashman more or less shot down speculation the Yankees could sign Bryce Harper to play first base. “The Harper stuff, I’m surprised you are still asking,” he said. Cashman did admit he’s “had several conversations” with Manny Machado‘s agent, though not in Las Vegas at the Winter Meetings. [Bryan Hoch, Joel Sherman]
- 4:35pm: The Yankees have considered Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed as they look for a Didi Gregorius replacement. They’ve had interest in him before. Ahmed is a fantastic defender and he discovered some power this year, but he’s still a below-average hitter. The D’Backs aren’t expected to part with Ahmed for anything less than a big overpay, so forget that. [Brendan Kuty]
- 2:06pm: The Yankees are aiming high in Sonny Gray trade talks and asked the Reds about top prospect Taylor Trammell. MLB.com ranks Trammell as the 17th best prospect in baseball. Hey, you’ll never got Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano if you don’t ask. [Joel Sherman]
- 12:38pm: Unlike Harper, Manny Machado will travel to meet with teams in their cities. That all but guarantees he will not sign during the Winter Meetings this week. I could see Machado’s and Harper’s free agencies dragging out into January. [Bob Nightengale]
- 12:17pm: The Yankees and Padres remain in contact about Sonny Gray. San Diego doesn’t have much MLB talent to offer at this point — Matt Strahm would be nice, though I’d bet against it — so, if a trade does happen, it figures to be Gray for prospects. [Jon Morosi]
- 11:52am: “Industry buzz” says the Yankees want to limit a potential J.A. Happ contract to two years. He’s shopping around for a three-year deal this offseason though. Always remember to take these secondhand “industry buzz” rumors with a grain of salt. [George King]
- 11:30am: The Yankees will meet face-to-face with Bryce Harper at some point this week. Harper lives in Las Vegas, which is convenient. We haven’t heard the Yankees connected to Harper much this offseason and I suppose it’s possible this week’s meeting is just due diligence since everyone will be in the same place at the same time. [Jeff Passan]
- 11:30am: In addition to Harper, the Yankees will also meet with Manny Machado at some point. I’m not sure if it’ll be during the Winter Meetings or later. They will not bid $300M to get him, however. If that’s true, the Yankees almost certainly won’t get Machado then. Either he’d have to take a deep discount or his market would have to collapse for that work. [Jon Heyman]
- 11:30am: The Yankees have interest in free agent multi-position players Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Harrison. Both would fit as a Gregorius replacement though one (Gonzalez) is much more desirable than the other (Harrison) in my opinion. [Jon Heyman]