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. For all the latest on this offseason's signings, be sure to follow our Free Agent Tracker.
Now here's the latest from Thursday's MLB rumor mill.
Pettitte was at Yankees meetings with Cole, Strasburg
The Yankees met with top free agent aces Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg earlier this week, and the club is pulling out all the stops in order to persuade one or both to join the Bronx Bombers. Former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was a part of the club's meeting with Cole and Strasburg, according to ESPN's Buster Olney and New York Post's Joel Sherman.
Pettitte, 47, spent 15 seasons with the Yankees and three seasons with the Astros. The five-time World Series champion finished with a record of 256-153 (.626 winning percentage) with a 3.85 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 2,448 strikeouts. He leads the Yankees franchise in strikeouts (2,020). Last winter, he was named a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
In these initial meetings of the winter, it appears the Yankees contingent has been Pettitte, Cashman, manager Aaron Boone along with new pitching coach Matt Blake.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Cole, a native of Orange County, California, let the Yankees know during their meeting that regional biases aren't in play. The Yankees have had interest in Cole for years now, the club drafted Cole out of high school with their first round pick in 2008, but he decided not to sign and instead followed through on his commitment to UCLA. Then after, the Pirates selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, the Yankees were in trade talks for the right-hander in 2017.
Strasburg, meanwhile, is a relative new addition to the free-agent market, having opted out of his deal shortly after the postseason ended. The 2019 World Series MVP met with the Yankees in New York, and the visit is reportedly said to have gone 'well,' according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
Cole and Strasburg ranked No. 2 and 3, respectively, on our top 50 free-agent list.
UPDATE: There's a report that Cole is the top priority for the Yankees this offseason and they are willing to set a record with their offer. Full story there.
Nationals owner says they can't afford Rendon and Strasburg
Nats owner Mark Lerner said they are going to have to choose between star free agents Anthony Rendon and Strasburg. Full story here.
Cards latest to enter MadBum sweepstakes
It seems we have a new team joining the competition for free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the St. Louis Cardinals are the latest club to express interest in the lefty. The Cards join a long list of potential bidders that include the Twins, Reds, White Sox and Braves. The Yankees, Padres, Angels and Phillies have also been cited as clubs in the mix for the longtime Giant. Feinsand notes that one MLB executive has predicted Bumgarner will sign before the Winter Meetings start on Monday.
Since Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies for a five-year, $118 million contract on Wednesday, Bumgarner's market has been picking up steam. Feinsand notes that Bumgarner is also expected to land a deal worth at least $100 million. While the 30-year-old is in the second half of career, and no longer in his prime, he did re-establish himself as a workhorse in 2019 for the San Francisco Giants.
Bumgarner would make any rotation stronger, and if he were to go to the Cardinals, he'd pitch alongside Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson. Veteran Adam Wainwright will also be a factor in St. Louis' rotation, as the club re-signed the right-hander to a one-year, $5 million deal in November.
Twins bring back Pineda
The Twins have reportedly re-signed starting pitcher Michael Pineda on a two-year, $20 million deal, per reports. Full story here.
Mets acquire Marisnick
The Astros sent center fielder Jake Marisnick to the Mets in a trade on Thursday. Houston will receive two Mets prospects in return. Here's the full story.
Brewers trade for catcher
With the Brewers losing catcher Yasmani Grandal to the White Sox on a four-year, $73 million deal, they struck up a trade for Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez, the clubs announced on Thursday. The Brewers would send their No. 24th ranked prospect, 22-year-old right-hander Adam Hill. Along with Hill, the Mariners will also receive a 2020 Competitive Balance Round B selection from the Brewers.
Narvaez, who turns 28 in February, would be a solid replacement for Grandal. The left-handed hitter hit .278/.353/.460 with 22 home runs, 55 RBI and a career-high OPS+ of 120 in 132 games last season for the Mariners. Narvaez's defense isn't up to par with Grandal's, but he should be able to split time behind the plate with Brewers veteran catcher Manny Pina. Narvaez is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his four-year MLB career.
Cubs considering trading Contreras
Speaking of catchers, the Cubs could be mulling a trade scenario for Willson Contreras, according to The Athletic's Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma. Contreras would be a good fit for teams that missed out on top free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal this winter, and The Athletic notes that the Astros, who are in need of a starting catcher, are a team with interest in acquiring Contreras.
Contreras, 27, hit .272/.355/.533 with a career-high OPS+ of 125 last season in 105 games for Chicago. The two-time All-Star is already a World Series champion, having won the title with the Cubs in 2016. Contreras is projected to earn $4.5 million for the 2020 season in his first time as an arbitration-eligible player. Contreras' value on this year's market certainly is high now that Grandal has already signed, as well as Travis d'Arnaud signing with the Braves.