MLB rumors: Yankees nearing deal with Justin Wilson; C.J. Cron inks minor-league pact with Rockies

We are fast approaching the start of spring training, and almost all of the big-name free agents are spoken for. That said, it’s still the offseason, and that means rumors can be found. We have found them and rounded them up for Monday. Here they are:

Yankees moving toward deal with Wilson

The Yankees are making progress on a contract with left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Wilson, 33, spent the last two seasons with the Mets. In 68 appearances in Queens, he posted a 2.91 ERA (143 ERA+) and a 2.39 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wilson relies primarily on two pitches: a mid-90s fastball and a cutter, a combination that has allowed him to suppress quality contact the past few years.

Wilson would be the second notable addition the Yankees have made to their bullpen recently, joining right-hander Darren O’Day, whom the Yankees signed after moving Adam Ottavino in a trade with the Red Sox.

The Padres have one of the busiest offseasons in the majors. That continued on Monday, with San Diego inking veteran reliever Keone Kela to a one-year deal, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Kela, 28 in mid-April, did not rank among CBS Sports’ top 60 free agents in the majors entering the winter. The reasons for his exclusion were straightforward: he had been limited by COVID-19 and injury to just two innings in 2020, and had been involved in too many off-the-field incidents in 2019 to merit inclusion.

Nonetheless, Kela has been an effective reliever when he’s been hearty and hale. In 231 career big-league appearances, he’s posted a 139 ERA+ and a 3.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Kela’s arsenal has largely consisted of just two pitches: a mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss breaking ball.

Kela is the second veteran reliever the Padres have added in the past week, joining former Braves closer Mark Melancon

The Rockies announced on Monday that they had signed veteran first baseman C.J. Cron to a minor-league pact. 

Cron, 31, entered the winter ranked as the 43rd-best free agent available. Here’s what we wrote at the time;

Cron played in just 13 games before he required season-ending knee surgery. He’s still one of the top first basemen on the market, a statement that says more about the paucity of good options available than it does about him. Cron is a serviceable option, mind you, one who can deliver 20-plus homers and an OPS+ in the 100-110 range. Alas, “serviceable” first basemen tend to change uniforms frequently. Cron sure has, as he’s played with four teams the past four years. Expect that to become five in five soon enough, and then six in six, and then …. 

Cron figures to compete with another recent signing, Greg Bird, for playing time at first base. 

The Brewers made a potential addition to their bullpen on Sunday, signing former All-Star closer Brad Boxberger to a minor-league deal, per ESPN

Boxberger, 33 in May, appeared in 23 games with the Marlins last season, accumulating a 151 ERA+ and a 2.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings. Time hasn’t been too kind to Boxberger since he made the 2015 All-Star Game: even including his success in 2020, he’s compiled a 4.27 ERA and more than five walks per nine in his last 151 innings.

The Brewers have a largely flexible bullpen, as only Ray Black lacks options. That said, Milwaukee is certain to carry Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brent Suter, and Freddy Peralta if healthy. Boxberger might be competing, then, with Justin Topa and/or J.P. Feyereisen for a spot in the Opening Day ‘pen.

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