The Twins have interest in signing free agent first baseman Mike Napoli and have been in touch with Napoli’s agent. There isn’t any sign yet that the two sides are close to an agreement. This isn’t the first time that Minnesota has been linked to Napoli, as the club originally tried to sign Napoli last offseason and actually offered him a larger deal than the one he eventually signed with the Rangers — a one-year, $6MM deal with an $11MM club option for 2019 that included a $2.5MM buyout. At the time, Napoli chose the Rangers because they looked like a better bet to contend in 2017, though it was the Twins who ended up making a surprise run to the AL wild card game while Texas posted a losing record. It was a tough year for Napoli as well, as the veteran hit only .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances for the Rangers, though he did slug 29 home runs. A torn right hand ligament may well have contributed to Napoli’s struggles, though the Rangers chose to buy the veteran out rather than bet $8.5MM more on a rebound year for a player who turned 36 on Halloween.
Chance Adams and Miguel Andujar could be part of a hypothetical Yankees/Pirates trade for Cole. If those two prospects and Frazier are all included, that could mean the Pirates will also include Josh Harrison in the deal. While the Yankees have also talked to the Diamondbacks about Patrick Corbin and the Tigers about Michael Fulmer, it seems as if Cole is New York’s preferred target of the three pitchers; Corbin is under control for just the 2018 season while Detroit is putting an enormous asking price on Fulmer’s services.
The Indians have agreed to a deal with free-agent first baseman Yonder Alonso. It’s reportedly a $9MM vesting option that vests following a successful physical after 2019, on the added condition that he makes 550 trips to the plate during the 2019 season, or accumulates 1,100 PA combined across the 2018-2019 campaigns. In line with previous reports, the option becomes a $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout if the vesting criteria aren’t met. Alonso was, for much of the 2017 season, the poster boy for the “fly-ball revolution,” as he made a concerted effort to lift the ball and experienced great success with that newfound approach in the season’s first half. Through 298 plate appearances prior to the All-Star break, Alonso sported a 48.7 percent fly-ball rate and batted a hefty .275/.372/.562 despite playing his home games in Oakland’s cavernous Coliseum. Alonso’s fly-ball rate fell to 36.1 percent in a second half that was far more pedestrian, though his post-break output of .254/.354/.420 was still generally solid.
The New York Yankees are baseball’s Evil Empire. The trouble with this description, however, is the Yankees haven’t been all that evil in recent years. They haven’t won or even reached a World Series since 2009, an eight-season drought. Until Aaron Judge arrived in 2017 and helped the Yankees come within one win of reaching the World Series, for most of this decade, the Yankees have been mediocre and boring. You couldn’t even hate the 2017 Yankees. Judge is humble and likable and astonishing to watch with his freakish power. the Yankees were able to take the risk on Stanton’s long-term contract in part because general manager Brian Cashman has done such a good job of rebuilding the roster that they could afford Stanton while still keeping their payroll under the luxury tax. That resets their tax percentage for 2019, which will make it easier for them to go after one of the premium free agents such as Manny Machado. The Judge-led Yankees drew 114,432 more fans on the road than the ordinary team of 2016. If we conservatively estimate that the average fan spends $60 at a game, a good Yankees team provided the league an addition $7 million in revenue (and that’s before the higher TV ratings and merchandise sales). That’s on top of how the Yankees draw more fans than other teams to begin with. Everybody makes money off the Yankees; they make more when the Yankees are good. Imagine if the Astros and Indians had played each other in the ALCS. If you’re not an Astros or Indians fan, it would have presented an impossible scenario: Who to root for? With the Yankees in there you always have a dangerous team that brings excitement in the game.