NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: Yanks Won’t Go “Happ”-Less, Mets Are In For “Real”

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Missing out on Patrick Corbin may not be the worst thing for the Yankees. In fact, they may be better off with “Plan B.”

The Yankees will intensify their efforts to sign free agent left hander J.A. Happ. There are reports that teams like the Phillies and Blue Jays are interested in the 36-year old, but I don’t think the Yankees will allow themselves to be outbid for a pitcher who doesn’t figure to get any more than a three year deal at the most.

Putting aside their differences in age, Corbin and Happ are similar in their pitching styles but, as far as the Yankees are concerned, Happ’s experience with having pitched in New York and pitched in the post season would serve them better. Corbin was asking for “Yu Darvish” money. The Yankees did the right thing by walking away and metaphorically telling Corbin, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ‘you know what’ on your way out.”

A trade with the Indians is still a possibility. Apparently, Trevor Bauer could be an “inexpensive” acquisition if Jason Kipnis and his costly contract is also part of the deal. Kipnis is owed $14.7 million dollars next season with a $2.5 million dollar buyout for 2020. In John Harper’s column for SNY.tv, there is a quote from a major league club executive stating, “You can get Bauer cheap. The catch is that you have to take Kipnis’ money too.” “Cheap” as in not many prospects would be needed to complete a deal.

As Harper pointed out, the Yankees could take Kipnis back, play him at second base, move Gleyber Torres to shortstop and pick up a quality starting pitcher who may just be coming into his own. The soon to be 28-year old Bauer posted a 2.21 ERA with 221 K’s in 175 IP last season. Bauer is expected to earn about $11 million dollars in arbitration and is under team control for two more years. Cleveland needs outfielders and is looking for a bullpen arm but they’re also operating with a tight budget so they won’t be too demanding in any deal for their assets.

The shortstop/second base situation is still one that the Yankees seem to have put on the back burner until they secure more pitching. The Yankees have a dilemma and that is, do they bring in a second-baseman, like a Kipnis, or someone else, maybe a more versatile player, (Ronald Torreyes was not the answer despite being a fan favorite) and play Torres at short with the hope that Didi Gregorius will return at some point next season, or are they really serious about signing Manny Machado to be their starting shortstop when the 2019 season begins.

Let’s say the Yankees sign Machado and Gregorius does come back in June or July, what then. Would the Yankees have a tentative plan as how to proceed under that scenario. Would Machado want to make a move to third base at that point. Do the Yankees have any thoughts of extending Didi, who is a free agent following next season. That has to come into play here as well. There are a number of factors in play but making the correct decision to solve this problem will be one of the keys to the 2019 season.

If the Mets really want to land Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, they’re going to have to get ultra-creative.

Here’s a thought. If you were the Mets would you trade Brandon Nimmo and Peter Alonso to Miami for catcher J.T. Realmuto. Miami is reportedly asking for Nimmo or Michael Conforto and one of the Mets’ remaining top prospects.

The Mets will not and should not move Conforto who started to look like his old self towards the end of last season. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen stated that Alonso will get the shot to win the first base job next spring. There has been some talk that Miami would accept a deal of Nimmo and Alonso, with possibly another lower minor league prospect thrown in. No matter how much the fans like Nimmo, he is essentially a fourth outfielder and what do we really know about Alonso. The Mets probably made a mistake last September by not adding Alonso to the roster, but is he really worth holding up a potential deal for a top notch catcher.

At some point, Cano is going to have to either move to first base or third base. Todd Frazier has one year left on his deal and Jeff McNeil is “twisting in the wind” so to speak. If the Mets moved Alonso, they could shift Frazier to first and Cano to third with McNeil at second, or Cano could go to first, a position he began playing last season.

I think Realmuto is in another uniform by the time next week’s Winter Meetings are over, or very shortly thereafter.

If you’ve kept up with “Karpin’s Korner,” you know that I’ve felt A.J. Pollock would be a good fit for the Mets. Apparently, the Mets feel the same. During a guest spot on MLB Network Radio, Van Wagenen confirmed that the club has been in contact with the reps for the 31-year old center fielder.

Pollock’s inability to stay on the field the past three seasons is something that the interested clubs will harp on to keep the price down, not to mention he will cost a draft pick because he turned down Arizona’s qualifying offer. Reportedly, Pollock is seeking a deal that is similar to the 5-year, $80 million dollar deal that Lorenzo Cain got last season. The Reds are one of the other teams showing interest.

With all that’s happened already in this off season, you can expect a lot of activity at next week’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

HKLooking: One team that you may not think will be active is Tampa Bay. Fresh off their surprising 90-win season, the Rays feel they’re a couple of moves away from serious contention. Reportedly, the Rays are eyeing free agent pitcher Charlie Morton…..Astros have explored the possibility of making a deal with the Pirates for catcher Francisco Cervelli…..A robust market for Michael Brantley must not be materializing. Atlanta was reportedly showing interest, but Brantley’s agent is letting it be known that he’d be willing to play first base. That could be a “carrot” for the Yankees (who are subtly looking for a left handed bat) but they’ve already “pooh-poohed” the idea of signing Bryce Harper to play first base…..Would the Braves want a reunion with closer Craig Kimbrel. Atlanta has reportedly spent half the money they budgeted for off season signings on Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann. Kimbrel is reportedly looking for a six year deal but would accept less if there are no offers of that kind.


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