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Yankees probably won’t be in on Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes may keep playing baseball in New York, but it probably won't be in the Bronx. Christian Red of the New York Daily News is reporting that the Yankees have decided not to pursue the player who’s widely considered to be the crown jewel of this year’s free agent class. This is despite the fact that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently told reporters he would be speaking with Cespedes’ camp in the future.

The lack of pursuit on the Yankees' part makes sense. Cespedes will be entering his age-31 season and, as we pointed out in Wednesday’s Rumor Roundup, he’s reportedly looking for a five-year deal. Even though he’s been playing at a very high level for the past couple of seasons (including a career-high 5.3 WARP in 2016), Father Time catches up with everybody and a team that’s currently focusing on a youth movement probably won’t want to have an expensive player on the wrong side of 30 on their roster. That would be the case if the Yankees signed Cespedes, so it’s definitely understandable to see why the Bronx Bombers would pass on Cespedes.

However, there’s always a chance that this situation could change as the offseason progresses. Cashman was quoted in the article as saying that he’s still keeping his options open just in case “trade opportunities” come up with regard to outfielder Brett Gardner. If that’s the case, then maybe we’ll see the Yankees go after Cespedes. But until then, it doesn’t seem likely.

Cardinals could pursue Ozuna

The Cardinals are currently in the market for a center fielder, and one name that has come up in rumors related to their search is Marcell Ozuna of the Marlins. Mark Saxon of ESPN was the one who linked Ozuna to the Cardinals, with his reasoning being that Ozuna could provide power that they’ll be losing with the departure of Matt Holliday and Brandon Moss.

Holliday and Moss each delivered 20-plus homers for the Cardinals last season, and Ozuna himself hit 23 dingers for the Marlins. Ozuna also had a TAv of .292, compared to Holliday and Moss both having a TAv of .279. However, Ozuna had the inferior ISO numbers compared to those two, as his ISO was .187 while Moss and Holliday hit for .259 and .215, respectively. Still, the numbers suggest that Ozuna could stand in as a capable replacement for the Cardinals in center field as far as the bat is concerned.

While it seems like a relatively good fit, the obvious concern would be cost. Ozuna’s under team control until 2020 and his contract is very team-friendly–that, plus the production would make him an attractive candidate for anybody. As far as the Cardinals and Marlins being trade partners, the price for Ozuna would have to be starting pitching. The Marlins are definitely in need of some arms and St. Louis would probably have to throw in a starter or two to make it happen. Nothing seems particularly close here, but this should be an interesting story to follow if the rumor actually picks up steam.

Owners and union are “optimistic” about a deal

It was all good just a week ago, right? It seemed like baseball’s long and prosperous period of labor peace showed no signs of being in jeopardy until reports came out that it actually was in jeopardy. There’s a chance that the owners could stage a lockout if an agreement isn’t reached by next Thursday, so naturally things began to pick up a bit as far as negotiations between the union and the owners are concerned.

In fact, the negotiations have progressed to the point where Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that both sides are expressing optimism at the possibility of avoiding a lockout. The two parties have been stuck on issues related to the qualifying offer–particularly the draft-pick compensation that comes with it–and an international draft, but apparently they're beginning to realize that even a lockout in the middle of the offseason would be bad for the sport. As a result, the two sides appear to be working hard to get close to a deal and it seems like they could reach one sooner rather than later.

The good news is that it doesn’t seem like there’s any danger of actual games being missed. According to Stark’s sources, both parties are trying their hardest to avoid even an offseason lockout, so I’d imagine that the ultimate goal for the owners and the union is to make sure that no games are canceled. There’s still a possibility that this could result in the winter meetings being altered, but even then it seems like they don’t want this to have an effect on a big event within the baseball calendar. However, it’s definitely nice to see that there’s optimism that a deal can be reached–even if it means that some big compromises will have to be made.