As spring training approaches, there are still some roster decisions in front of the Yankees as they try to push to the head of the pack in the American League in the chase for a 28th World Series title.
Here is an update of rumors surrounding the Yankees pursuits, followed by my take on how things currently stand and may shake out…
Yankees keeping an eye on Machado, discussing Arenado
SNY's Andy Martino reported Saturday morning that the Yankees are keeping an eye on the Manny Machado pursuits. Meanwhile, Martino reported Friday that the Yankees are considering a run at Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, either via trade or as a free agent next offseason.
MY TAKE >> As I've stated all along the Yankees will not be removed from the Machado conversation until he signs elsewhere. With the roster moves already made, the chances seem quite slim, but with varying reports as to the level of the Machado bidding, if the Yanks see an in they could jump back in.
Regarding Arenado, the Yankees have been tied to him in the past and for good reason, as he is arguably Machado's equal on the field (and without perceived baggage). Arenado, like anyone who has played in Colorado, would have a hard time escaping the "Coors Field makes one a better hitter talk." However, to be honest, Machado played at Camden Yards and around the AL East, providing him ample hitter's ballparks to play. Arenado's defense is every bit as good as Machado's and he actually enjoys playing third base where Machado appears hell-bent on playing shortstop. In my opinion, that mentality matters.
There is a chance that the Yankees believe that Machado's ultimate contract terms will set the market for Arenado and the result might be less than initially expected. All the while, the Yankees may not have been as interested in Machado as many thought they should be (as Martino reported from the outset of the offseason).
Additionally, Arenado is a year older, so maybe there's a chance he would come with a slightly total lower cost and length of deal on top of a potential decrease in the market rate for an elite third baseman.
Finally, passing on Machado now also allows the Yankees to see exactly how improved Miguel Andujar is defensively at third base. If there is improvement, maybe the Yankees shy away from Arenado and ride with Andujar. But, if Andujar has not improved as necessary, New York could pull the trigger on a trade for Arenado with the intention of signing him to an extension right then and there to an extension.
Gray trade talks picking up steam
Martino also confirmed reports that Sonny Gray's market is heating up with the Reds seemingly "closest," while other clubs remain in the mix. The Reds are said to be offering two prospects with one being either catcher Tyler Stephenson or second baseman Shed Long and potentially a draft pick according Fancred's Jon Heyman.
MY TAKE >> According to MLB Pipeline's rankings, Stephenson ranks sixth and Long seventh in the Reds organization with the former regarded as the 10th best minor league catcher in the game.
So, it seems that despite Gray's uninspiring tenure in the Bronx, his value has not exactly plummeted in extreme fashion. Whether the Yanks would get two players and a draft pick or one and a pick remains to be seen, receiving a catcher would seem to be a priority over a second baseman in the organization simply because teams cannot have enough catching depth.
The importance to trading Gray now is every bit about saving his $7.5 million salary for 2019 as it is to remove him from the roster equation considering the pointed and critical commentary from Yankees GM Brian Cashman early in the offseason.