My, how things can change in one week's time. Seven days ago, the Yankees were still without a manager, and were still widely considered frontrunners to sign Shohei Ohtani.
Now, they've got their skipper – Aaron Boone inked a three-year contract on Monday – but they won't be landing the prized international free agent.
Ohtani, who was officially posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters last Friday, hasn't decided on an MLB team yet but he has narrowed the field, and New York is out. It sounds like the Japanese star prefers to play on the West Coast, and right now the Mariners and Giants are looking like favorites.
As for Boone, he's a slightly more conventional choice than Carlos Beltran, who retired from playing a month ago, but has an equal amount of managerial experience – which is to say, none. In fact, Boone has never even coached at the pro level.
He's being handed the keys to a readymade World Series contender, and the Yankees roster will surely see significant additions in the coming weeks even with Ohtani out of the picture. So Boone is stepping into a very favorable first gig as a manager. We'll be curious to see what kind of tactician he is.
While the Ohtani derby rages on, there have been some other developments on the international free agent market.
The Cardinals signed Miles Mikolas, a former big-leaguer who's spent the past three seasons pitching in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants. It's a two-year contract worth $15.5 million. A former Padres prospect who washed out of the majors in his mid-20s, Mikolas has really turned it around overseas. He was sensational this year at age 28, posting a 2.25 ERA and 187-to-23 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
It's an interesting gamble for St. Louis. Mikolas was last seen stateside posting a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts for the Rangers, back in 2014. He averaged 7.6 K/9 in 344 minor-league innings. On the surface, he looks like no more than a marginal player who went and dominated inferior competition during his prime; but then, the same could have been said about Eric Thames a year ago.
Elsewhere, the Angels signed 17-year-old shortstop Kevin Maitan, the top prospect set loose from Atlanta during the Copalella exodus. Although his luster faded slightly during an unimpressive first season in affiliated ball, Maitan remains a tantalizing talent, and a critical add for a lackluster Angels system.
Minor, Texas Ranger
Buster Olney was right. He predicted weeks ago that Mike Minor would be among the first free agents to sign this offseason, and that's exactly what happened. The lefty agreed to a multi-year deal with Texas on Tuesday (terms are not yet known).
After sitting out the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injury, Minor returned in the Royals bullpen this year and excelled, posting a 2.55 ERA and 10.2 K/9 rate over 78 frames. It sounds like the Rangers intend to try him out as a starter, which makes him all the more intriguing. He had blossomed into a rotation fixture for Atlanta before shoulder issues derailed him. If healthy, Minor certainly has the potential to put up Danny Duffy type numbers in Texas.
Quick Hits: The Royals signed Wily Peralta to a one-year deal, hoping the right-hander can rebound from a disastrous 2017 with the Brewers ... The closer-less Cubs have reportedly shown interest in reliever Brandon Kintzler, who was an All Star closer for the Twins last year ... The Angels are said to have interest in free agent first baseman Carlos Santana ... The Tigers signed outfielder Leonys Martin to a one-year, $1.75 million deal, and it's entirely possible he could be manning center for Detroit on Opening Day.