The Mets left the Winter Meetings with a new arm in the bullpen but still needing a second baseman.
Anthony Swarzak adds some depth to the Mets’ bullpen but they couldn’t corral Ian Kinsler from the Tigers so there’s still a hole at second. Not that the Mets didn’t try. Kinsler has a limited, no trade clause in his contract that included both the Mets and the Yankees. That would lend one to believe that the 35-year old did not want to play in New York and if that was the case, good riddance.
The Mets have moved on to other options. Reportedly, they’re trying to work a deal with the Indians for second baseman Jason Kipnis. The 30-year old is coming off an injury plagued season but he’s a player who still has a lot of upside. Kipnis is a tough out, gets on base (.340 career) and may not have hit his “ceiling” yet. Cleveland is looking to unload some salary and with Jose Ramirez in place, Kipnis is a perfect candidate to be dealt. It appears (and I’m pleasantly surprised) that the Mets are willing to pick up the remainder of Kipnis’ contract. (Kipnis is owed over $28 million dollars over the next two years with a $16.5 million dollar team option for 2020 that includes a $2.5 million dollar buyout)
The Mets reportedly had Pirates’ utility man Josh Harrison on their radar but they probably don’t have the trade chips to pull off a deal. Pittsburgh is reportedly seeking a left hand power bat and a pitcher.
Don’t underestimate what impact the signing of catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract can mean. The Mets may have found some value on the trade market for Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki who are both right handed bats. Loboton, who is a left hand hitter, provides some insurance if that is the case.
Fan Rag Sports’ Jon Heyman cited a source reporting the Yankees are “continuing to talk about Gerrit Cole.” The Yankees are in the market for a starting pitcher to add to the rotation and have talked to Pittsburgh about Cole and Arizona about left hander Patrick Corbin.
NY Post long time Yankee beat writer George King reported outfielder Clint Frazier would “possibly” have to be included in any deal for Cole. On the surface, the Yankees now have six outfielders for four spots plus they have additional outfield depth in the minors, so the popular notion is to use Frazier in a trade for a starter. Cole is a nice arm who did not want to sign with the Yankees in 2008 after they drafted him with the 28th overall pick and instead chose to go to UCLA, but Frazier is a special talent.
When the 22-year old joined the Yankees in July he provided a spark with his talent and his charisma and he has a very high ceiling. Brett Gardner is 34 years old and is a free agent after next season, and do you really know what you’re getting in Aaron Hicks. Will we see the Aaron Hicks of the first half of 2017 or the Aaron Hicks of the ALCS who was 2 for 24 with no homers and no runs batted. I suspect the latter. That depth could dry up quick. Ellsbury will never live up to the contract he signed and is past his prime. I’m sure they’d like to unload Ellsbury before they trade Frazier.
Speaking of the veteran outfielder, Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media reported Ellsbury’s name was discussed in trade talk with the Diamondbacks but that Arizona was lukewarm to the idea. Ellsbury would still have to waive his no trade clause, (my nysportsday.com colleague Hal Bock wrote an interesting column on no trade clauses) and despite his claim that he wants to remain with the Yankees, he’s “clogging the works” and would be better off in another uniform. His playing time has been a point of contention under Joe Girardi and will continue to be as long as he remains on the roster.
Arizona is looking to move Zack Greinke. Some outlets have proposed an Ellsbury for Greinke swap, but the right hander has a no trade clause where he can block deals to 15 teams and the Yankees are reportedly on that list. Not to mention, Greinke has a one time, no trade clause that pays him $2 million dollars if he’s dealt to another club. Greinke has been resistant to joining a New York team. Maybe now that he’s a 14-year veteran (he’ll be 35 years old next October) he’d be amenable to coming to a Yankee team that is primed to make a championship run.