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MLB rumor roundup: Yankees were willing to go big for Blake Snell

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Friday, including the Yankees’ final offer to Blake Snell and the Mets and Cardinals finding bullpen help.

The calendar has flipped to February, just weeks away from the official start of spring training — and with a decent number of our top 25 free agents still available, plenty of teams still have work to do if they plan on making a run at a World Series. So who’s heading where? Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Friday’s edition features plenty of interesting pitching items, including the Yankees’ final offer to Blake Snell and the Mets and Cardinals finding bullpen help.

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Friday, Feb. 2

Yankees out on Snell after major offer

New York had danced around Snell ever since missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but now it appears the team has officially moved on. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Yankees were willing to go “above Rodón” to land the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner — which would mean something above the $27 million in average annual value they gave to Carlos Rodon as part of a six-year, $162 million deal last winter. Snell and agent Scott Boras, however, had their sights set a bit higher, with Heyman adding that the lefty wants more than $30 million annualy.

The Yankees are now said to no longer be interested in Snell or other starters, entering spring training with Marcus Stroman as their lone rotation addition.

Cardinals add Middleton

The Cardinals have reached an agreement with righty reliever Keynan Middleton, according to Robert Murray of FanSided. The 30-year-old split last season between the White Sox and Yankees, posting a 3.38 ERA (133 ERA+) and a 2.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 51 combined appearances. He largely shelved his fastball and threw his changeup and slider more than 72% of the time, to great success — particularly in New York. If that usage sticks, he could be a nice add for a St. Louis team looking to rebuild its relief corps on the fly. Middleton is the second notable veteran addition the Cardinals have made to their bullpen this winter, having obtained Andrew Kittredge from the Rays back in January.

Mets sign Fujinami

Elsewhere in bullpen news: The Mets have inked righty Shintaro Fujinami to a one-year deal worth $3.35 million plus incentives, according to Heyman. Fujinami, 29, split last season between the Orioles and Athletics, and while his topline numbers — particularly a 7.18 ERA and 45 walks in 64 appearances — are a bit ugly, he’s got more upside than you might think. His fastball averaged 98 mph last year and his splitter generated more than 35% whiffs, and a lot of that inflated ERA is due to bad luck. The Mets are banking on being able to get more from Fujinami’s arsenal in 2024, at which point they could flip him to a contender at the trade deadline.