Monday, April 22, 2024

MLB rumors: Yankees talk to top free-agent pitcher, Giants aim high, Rangers weigh options for Wyatt Langford

Spring training is fully underway in Arizona and Florida, and Cactus and Grapefruit League games are being played. Typically that means the focus shifts to the upcoming regular season, but this time around it’s a bit different. The occasionally glacial pace of the 2023-24 offseason means that a handful of compelling free agents remain. That, in turn, means a daily supply of rumors. You can find Tuesday’s just below.

Yankees, Snell still talking

Blake Snell, the reigning National League Cy Young winner, remains on the free-agent market even though it’s almost March. He’s been linked to a number of aspiring contenders with rotation needs, and the New York Yankees are among those clubs. As Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports, Snell and the Yankees are continuing to have ongoing discussions and did so again on Monday. However, Heyman characterizes the discussions as “just talk without much progress.” As Heyman points out, any Yankees’ signing of Snell would entail a substantial luxury-tax hit, and owner Hal Steinbrenner may not have the appetite for such an expense. 

No doubt, though, Snell would help the Yankee cause in 2024 and beyond. Coming into the offseason, we ranked him as the No. 6 available free agent. While Snell has control issues and isn’t much of a workhorse, he also has exceptional velocity and is one of the best strikeout artists in baseball today. He’s also won two Cy Youngs, and he boasts a career ERA+ of 127. Even after the addition of Marcus Stroman, the Yankees could still use some help in the rotation behind reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole. Snell would certainly address that need.

Giants after Chapman, Snell

The Yankees are not the only team in on Snell, it should be noted. The Giants have had several projected rotation members deal with injuries this spring — Keaton Winn has an elbow issue and Tristan Beck is now dealing with a hand issue — and they could use more depth on the infield as well. The club remains interested in Snell and Matt Chapman, and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the potential for the Giants to sign one of them is 50/50.

San Francisco lacks sure things behinds ace Logan Webb, at least until veterans Alex Cobb (hip) and Robbie Ray (Tommy John) return from their surgeries. Snell is an obvious fit. J.D. Davis and Wilmer Flores are penciled in at third base, though neither is the defender Chapman is, and Chapman offers more offensive upside as well. There has been speculation a team could sign Chapman and move him to shortstop, a position that is wide open in San Francisco. Perhaps Chapman fits that way.

Langford in mix for roster spot with Rangers

Rangers outfielder Wyatt Langford is among the top prospects in baseball. The No. 4 pick of last year’s MLB draft, Langford came to the Rangers as a nearly finished product. In part that’s because he was a college-hitter draftee who played in the SEC (Florida), and in part it’s because his skills at the plate were already close to major-league grade. While Langford has spent just 44 games in the minors, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s quite possible Langford will crack the Opening Day roster for the reigning World Series champs. Passan writes: “What’s clear is that the Rangers won’t keep Langford down just to keep him down — not with MLB’s rules that award a full year of service time to top rookies and incentivize teams to promote them by giving draft picks.”

The 22-year-old righty slugger is in camp on an NRI, which means he’d need to be added to the 40-man first. The skills, though, may merit such an aggressive step. Speaking of which, our R.J. Anderson recently ranked Langford as the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball – one spot behind fellow Ranger Evan Carter – and noted that “it’s possible he gets the chance to make the team out of camp.”

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