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Aaron Judge picks the Yanks on the last day of Winter Meetings

Lots of players on the move — but still zilch for the White Sox

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
The 2022 AL MVP threw a scare into the Bronx, but will remain a Yankee.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings wrapped up today, with a whirlwind of activity to report.

Yankees fans are ecstatic today — and breathing a sigh of relief — with the biggest news of the Winter Meetings. The No. 1 free agent this offseason and the 2022 AL MVP, Aaron Judge, finally made his choice and will remain in New York for in all likelihood the remainder of his career. The new Captain agreed to a colossal, nine-year, $360 million contract with a $40 million AAV that is the most-ever in MLB history for a position player. The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres reportedly made offers as well, but in the end, Judge decided to stay in the Bronx, where he will attempt to lead the Yankees to their first World Series championship since 2009.

White Sox free-agent acquisition updates

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Other Sox notes

Hey everyone, the White Sox won something! They received the 2022 Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence for the Amateur City Elite (ACE) program. South Side Sox offers a HUGE congratulations to the staff that coordinates the program, and the players who participate.

In 2007, the Sox created the ACE program to increase interest in baseball among African-American youth in the Chicagoland area. It helps more than 150 students annually by offering mentorships and teaching life skills to participants. The White Sox charity arm is stellar, mainly due to the work of Christine O’Reilly-Riordan and her fantastic staff. This award and all the incredible programs that White Sox Charities coordinate makes me proud to be a fan of this team.

(It would just be nice to be proud of the actual product on the diamond, too.)

Also, the Sox selected RHP Nick Avila with the 15th pick in the Rule 5 draft. Year of the Hamster has a separate story covering all the details.

Additionally, right-handed swingman Ernesto Jaquez with the 13th pick in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Jaquez, 23, was in the Houston Astros minor league system, where he is pitching a tad old for his Single-A level and has a 4.61 career ERA over four pro seasons (68 games). This one is a bit of a curiosity, but the White Sox did OK with Moises Castillo in the Rule 5 last year, so we’ll see.

Finally, according to Scott Merkin of MLB, the White Sox may be interested in outfielder Victor Reyes.

Around the league

Wednesday gave us another old friend alert. The Mets reportedly are in agreement with left-hander José Quintana for a two-year, $26 million deal. Quintana had a solid season in 2022, pitching for both the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. In 32 starts, the soon-to-be 34-year-old was 6-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 165 23 innings pitched. Quintana performed well in his only 2022 postseason performance (Game 1 of the Wild Card Series), surrendering no runs on two hits in 5 13 innings. It is sad seeing all our former Josés with contending teams.

The Phillies strengthened their roster by adding 31-year-old lefty Matt Strahm to their bullpen with a two-year, $15 million deal. In 2022 Strahm had a strong season for the Red Sox, pitching 44 23 innings with a 3.83 ERA and 52 strikeouts.

The Red Sox entered the December Hot Stove action by adding veteran reliever Kenley Jansen. The 35-year-old All-Star closer is en route to Boston on a two-year, $32 million deal. Jansen spent the first 12 years of his professional career with the Los Angeles Dodgers before signing as a free agent in March with the Atlanta Braves. Helping to lead the Braves to the 2022 NL East title, Jansen proved he could still be a dominant closer, saving 41 games in 48 opportunities.

Late Wednesday, and right on the heels of him being posted, Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida has agreed to a five-year deal worth $90 million with Boston. Yoshida played seven seasons for the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball. The 29-year-old lefty slashed .335/.447/.561 with 21 home runs and 89 RBIs in 508 plate appearances. Boston is banking on Yoshida demonstrating moderate power and above-average defense.

Catcher Willson Contreras and the St. Louis Cardinals are in agreement on a five-year, $87 million deal. Contreras, the last player to leave Chicago from the 2016 Cubs World Series team, will replace long-time franchise favorite Yadier Molina behind the plate. The Cubs, the only team Contreras has ever played for, made him a qualifying offer at the end of 2022, but he refused, instead opting for free agency. Contreras was an All-Star in 2022 with a 132 wRC+, hitting .243/.349/.466 and 22 home runs. Jumping to a hated rival: bold play.

While the White Sox sit on their hands, the Cubs continue their quest to be the king of Chicago baseball spending. Late Tuesday evening, the Cubs added righty Jameson Taillon to their starting rotation in a four-year deal worth $68 million. Last season, Taillon pitched in 32 games for the Yankees, going 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA in 177 13 innings. Taillon appeared in two games during the 2022 postseason, including Game 2 of the ALDS against Cleveland when the Yankees brought him in to hold a 2-2 in the 10th inning. He surrendered two runs without an out. However, Taillon redeemed himself in Game 1 of the ALCS, going 4 13 innings and surrendering only one run on four hits.

Winter Meetings wrap-up

Rule 5 draft results

Here are the top five selections in the MLB Rule 5 draft:

Nationals (38 players on 40-man) — RHP Thad Ward, from Boston
A’s (38) — 1B Ryan Noda, from Dodgers
Pirates (38) — LHP José Hernández, from Dodgers
Reds (39) — OF Blake Sabol, from Pittsburgh
Royals (40) — Roster full

Lastly, what better way to end the Winter Meetings coverage than with a quote from our dear friend, Rick Hahn:

“We’ve had some productive conversations, both on the trade and the free agent front. Until there’s a deal, it really doesn’t matter. It was a productive week. Lots of conversations, lots of different ideas thrown about.”

If there were a World Series of Talking award, Hahn would have won it by now, hands-down. At least it would be a World Series for something, I guess.