Yankees still have a Blake Snell chance

Top free-agent pitcher Blake Snell’s camp and the Yankees are continuing to discuss potential scenarios — they talked again Monday — but so far it’s just talk without much progress.

It’s obvious why the Yankees keep these discussions going. Snell would give the Yankees both reigning Cy Young winners and make them the clear favorite in the American League.

As enticing as that is, the negative is clear, too. Any deal for Snell now would trigger a 110 percent tax, meaning the move would cost more than double his salary.

The Yankees continue to keep the lines of communication open, which illustrates the resolve club owner Hal Steinbrenner has to win. Unfortunately, the call Monday appeared to put the sides no closer. (One Yankees person characterized the chances for a deal as extremely low.)

However, as long as they’re talking, we have to assume there’s a chance.

The Yankees like Snell and can afford Snell (although they obviously don’t love the tax implication). What’s more, it’s unclear how many teams remain in the market for a $30M player. The Yankees also like former Yankee Jordan Montgomery, the other top starter left on the free-agent market, but word is they prefer Snell.

It’s clear though: This is a discussion in need of a breakthrough.

Starting pitcher Blake Snell #24 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers
Blake Snell and the Yankees continue to talk, but aren’t doing much else. Getty Images

Both sides have floated concepts, but neither side has liked the other’s idea.

Snell’s agent, Scott Boras, is the latest to suggest an alternate concept, which was a shorter deal with higher AAVs (salaries) plus opt-outs, much like Cody Bellinger just did with the Cubs. However, the Yankees don’t believe that works for them because the higher AAV would mean a higher tax, and opt-outs could mean surrendering draft choices for a short-time star.

The Yankees several weeks ago made the one publicly known offer to Snell, the one first reported by The Post. The bid was for five years, with the Yankees thought willing to go to a sixth year at close to $28M a year (or slightly just over the $27M they gave Carlos Rodon). That didn’t work for Snell.

Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner sitting in the dugout speaking with pitcher Gerrit Cole
Hal Steinbrenner isn’t opposed to adding another pitcher, though the tax implications for the Yankees are big. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

While the sides are talking, there’s plenty of clubhouse chatter about the possibility, too. Superstar, team captain and sometime adviser Aaron Judge spoke hopefully upon arrival about the potential for one more pickup (though Judge didn’t specify who he was talking about or if he had any inside info). “I definitely think there might be another move on the way. But you never know. We’ll see,” Judge said then. While Snell’s name was unsaid, a couple of the big voices in the clubhouse are thought to be endorsers of Snell.

They all understand this much: A Snell signing would solve the one remaining question hanging over the heads of the AL East favorite, a star-studded team that’s otherwise on a roll — yes, the rotation depth.

“Having seen our starting rotation, I’m pretty comfortable with them,” Steinbrenner told The Post. “Look, we lost some guys in trades, right? So depth is something of a concern. But we have [Luis] Gil. We have [Will] Warren. You’re going to see him at some point. Both of them probably.”

That’s the thing about pitching. It doesn’t stay healthy.

We’re going to see all of them at some point, and more. While the reviews are mixed to mostly positive after the initial spring outings of Rodon, Marcus Stroman and Nestor Cortes, the questions remain many.

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No. 5 starter Clarke Schmidt looked fantastic in a live batting practice session (he averaged over 95 mph). If they were to add Snell, he might lose his spot (assuming everyone else is healthy). He hears the chatter, but to his credit, he seems unfazed. “Every rumor that’s out there I can’t worry about it because I’d be worried a lot throughout the day, especially here,” Schmidt said.

But Schmidt gets it.

“I’m a sports fan as well,” Schmidt said, “so I know if I was a fan of a team I’d want [stars] as well.”

Teams do, too, and it would be folly to assume there’s no market for a two-time Cy Young winner. It just isn’t clear what it is yet.

The Red Sox obviously need pitching help, but they seem to be looking more closely at Montgomery (and don’t necessarily seem in a spending mood anyway).

The Angels need help, too, and they have plenty of room under tax thresholds. But it remains uncertain whether they will be spending anything.

The Giants could use help, especially since they are competing in the NL West with America’s super team, the Dodgers. They’ve suggested they don’t expect any more big signings, but they want to win.

The Phillies, arguably baseball’s best free-agent player, were one of many to offer $300M for Yoshinobu Yamamoto. So they, and others, have loot left over.

As for the Yankees, though they are far from optimistic, they can never be discounted. While Schmidt is unworried about his spot, as he put it, rumors fly, “especially here.”

That’s the thing. The Yankees do make news, and they do mean business. While the chances for a Snell-Yankees deal don’t look especially promising today, it’s hard to ever count them out entirely.

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