MLB rumors: Gerrit Cole reassures Yankees; Madison Bumgarner market taking shape

With the Thanksgiving holiday in the rear-view mirror, teams and players are now free to get back to business ahead of next week's Winter Meetings. As such, don't be surprised if a few deals get done ahead of time so teams know where they stand entering the process. Already, it's been a busy mid-week: 

Now here's the latest from Wednesday's MLB rumor mill.

Phillies sign Wheeler, but ChiSox made bigger offer

The market moved quickly for free agent right-hander Zack Wheeler. Hours after it was reported that the bidding was heating up for Wheeler, the Philadelphia Phillies emerged as the winners after reportedly signing him to a five-year deal worth $118 million. The addition of Wheeler gives the Phillies an impact arm to join Aaron Nola at the front of the rotation. Here's the full story on Wheeler's signing.

The Reds and White Sox were among the other clubs pursuing Wheeler. According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox offer to Wheeler was for more than the $118 million he'll get from the Phillies. Rosenthal notes that the proximity to New Jersey, where Wheeler's fiancé, Dominique, is from was an important factor in Wheeler's final decision.

The Angels and Rangers were also mentioned as clubs in the mix, but both fell out of the bidding on Wednesday. On Tuesday, it was reported that Wheeler received an offer worth more than $100 million

Strasburg meets with Yankees, draws interest from Phils

The Yankees -- another team in need of starting pitcher this winter -- will meet with right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The Yankees reportedly met with Gerrit Cole -- the other top-end starter on the market -- on Tuesday. 

Heyman also notes that the Phillies are "looking at" Strasburg. It remains to be seen if the Phillies are willing to write another large check to bolster their rotation after giving $118 million to Wheeler.

Mad Bum market taking shape

You'll note below that a certain NL East team still has eyes for free agent lefty Madison Bumgarner, but the most serious suitors may be in the AL Central. Andy Martino tweets that the White Sox and Twins have big interest in Bumgarner, and he also adds that the Yankees are keeping tabs on Mad Bum. The White Sox were pursuing Zack Wheeler, but since Wheeler inked with the Phillies they may have shifted their focus to Bumgarner. As for the Twins, they're facing significant free agent losses in the rotation, and Bumgarner makes sense for a win-now team like Minnesota. As for the Yankees, they no doubt have eyes for Gerrit Cole, but that doesn't rule out someone like Bumgarner, who may not even command half as much as Cole.

Elsewhere Jon Heyman tweets that the Reds are now among the teams with interest in Bumgarner. Heyman also name-checks the Padres, Angels, and Phillies as possibilities. 

And speaking of Cole and the Yankees

Gerrit Cole is probably going to fetch the largest contract ever by a pitcher this winter, and the deep-pocketed Yankees -- aiming for the World Series -- badly need a true ace like Cole at the front of the rotation. Cole, with his durability and elite swing-and-miss and run prevention numbers, is an upgrade for any team, but you can argue the Yankees need him more than most. Cole grew up a Yankees fan, but he's also a native of Orange County, which is why Angels speculation is running high (see below). Cole, though, during his recent meeting with the Yankees let them know that regional biases aren't in play: 

Obviously, you can file this under "what do you expect him to say." Even if Cole does prefer to play in Southern California, he's not going to put the Yankees of his trail by saying as much. Still, any dialogue is encouraging if you're hankering for Cole on your team. 

Angels meet with Cole

The Los Angeles Angels, the favorites to land Gerrit Cole this winter, have met with the ace in person, reports Jeff Fletcher of Southern California News Group.

Cole, 29, finished second in the Cy Young balloting thanks to his AL-leading 2.50 ERA and MLB-leading 326 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings. Cole also led the league in strikeouts (326), ERA+ (185), FIP (2.64) and finished with a career-best 20 wins.

Braves not closing door on Bumgarner

The market for Madison Bumgarner is as expected, picking up steam, with the Twins, Padres and Yankees having been among the clubs connected to the 30-year-old left-hander this winter. According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, the Braves are also in the mix, despite having signed Cole Hamels to a one-year deal on Wednesday. As Rosenthal notes, the Hamels signing doesn't take the club out of the running for Bumgarner.

Bumgarner finished the 2019 season with a 9-9 record and a 3.90 ERA in 207 2/3 innings. The four-time All-Star hit a career-high mark when he started 34 games last season for the Giants.

Jays eyeing Ryu

Might the Blue Jays actually spend some money this winter? Per Shi Davidi, Jays GM Ross Atkins suggests that a $100 million contract is doable for the team this offseason. Speaking of which, Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays may have interest in free agent lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. 

Ryu, who will turn 33 just before Opening Day, is coming off a 2019 season in which he pitched to an MLB-leading 2.32 ERA with a K/BB ratio of 6.79. 

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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