A new week in MLB begins with a bang as the New York Yankees will formally introduce Giancarlo Stanton at the Winter Meetings in Orlando this afternoon. Stanton was acquired over the weekend in a deal that makes GM Brian Cashman look like even more of a genius as RealSport's own Dominick Renna profiled this morning. But as will be discussed soon, the Yankees are not done yet.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs have boosted their bullpen with a veteran arm as they look to make last year's underperformance a distant memory.
Oh, and most important of all, how will the Boston Red Sox react to Stanton being a Yankee?
Happy Monday, baseball fans. This is the Rumor Roundup.
Yankees aren't done at Stanton
Even though the Yankees scored the grand prize of the offseason, and at a ridiculous discount, the Bronx Bombers are not done yet. Beat writer Bryan Hoch reported comments made last week by owner and managing partner Hal Steinbrenner that the team would indeed be active in this year's free agent market despite aiming to get under the league's luxury tax threshold. This would suggest New York is looking to add a starter to fill out the back end of the rotation, especially if talks with veteran CC Sabathia have stalled.
The Yankees would also love to unload outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and the $68m remaining on his contract, and FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted the team would offer to cover about half of it in any deal. The only hangup is that Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause and would like to remain in New York despite having lost his starting job in center field to Aaron Hicks, but the rumor is worth following in spite of that.
The team's coaching staff is also about to look different. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen coach and former MLB catcher Josh Bard will serve as bench coach under new manager Aaron Boone, with San Francisco Giants third base coach Phil Nevin will come to the Bronx in the same role. Bullpen coach Mike Harkey will also return.
Make no mistake, folks. Love them or hate them, the Yankees will be exciting in 2018.
Cubs add Brandon Morrow
The Chicago Cubs have boosted their bullpen in signing righty Brandon Morrow. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets the deal is worth $21m over two years and contains a $12m vesting option with a $3m buyout for 2020. The deal is also pending a physical as Morrow is diabetic and has dealt with several injuries throughout his career. It's a lot of money to commit to a 33-year-old, but well worth the potential payoff.
Morrow spent 2017 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a key arm out of the bullpen, going 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 45 appearances. Morrow also walked just nine batters in 43.2 innings and struck out 50 hitters, posting a FIP of 1.55.
The man isn't a perfect addition by any means, but is a great option to have in a bullpen that could well lose closer Wade Davis to free agency soon. Perhaps Morrow himself could step in as the new closer, though that seems unlikely at this point. Either way, he is a great get by front office head Theo Epstein as the Cubs look to get back to the winning ways that propelled them in 2016.
Red Sox shopping Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Red Sox are, not surprisingly, looking to counter the Yankees' acquisition of Stanton with a move of their own. Nightengale reported earlier Boston has let other teams know it is in the hunt for a power bat and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is available in trade negotiations.
Trading Bradley, who turns 28 in April, could prove difficult. He is a terrific center fielder, having posted a defensive runs saved (Rdrs) of 35 at the position for his career along with a career Ultimate Zone Rating of 30.6, but his hitting leaves plenty to be desired. Bradley is only a .239 career hitter in five seasons and doesn't have elite speed on the bases to compensate for that.
Bradley hit 26 home runs in 2016 and looked to turn a corner in batting .267, but injuries limited him to 133 games in 2017 and his average dropped to .245, though he did hit 17 home runs. Despite his newfound power, his isolated power dropped to .158 last season compared to .219 in 2016. His WAR dropped from 5.0 to 2.3.
Bradley's walk percentage (BB%) dropped a full point from 9.9% to 8.9% and his hard contact dropped from 36% to 33.3%. To be in his late twenties and a hitter who is very much feast or famine does not bode well for his future in Boston. Bradley earned $3.6m last year and will surely get a raise in arbitration, and Andrew Benintendi's presence allows for Boston to deal Bradley for a more consistent corner outfielder while sliding the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up to center field.
No major talks have come to fruition yet but there could be a strong market for Bradley, so pay attention to his name in the coming days.