NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: Winter Meetings Fallout: Not Much Dice Rolling in Vegas

Neil Miller/NYSportsday

There wasn’t a whole lot of activity at Baseball’s Winter Meetings but there certainly was no lack of a “buzz” from Las Vegas, and much of that “buzz” was courtesy of the NY Mets.

The J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes is coming down to the wire. Reportedly, the Mets are still involved. Miami has narrowed the list of suitors down to six teams with the Mets among a list of the Reds, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, and Padres.

Earlier this week there was a “wild” rumor that the Mets, Yankees and Marlins were discussing a three-way deal where Realmuto would end up in Queens and Noah Syndergaard would be moving to the Bronx. That trade proposal never had any real traction and was never going to happen. Those names were tossed around but that was about it.

There was no way in the world that Mets COO Jeff Wilpon would okay a trade of a young, stud pitcher going to the Yankees. So much for that autonomy for new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. You can’t fault BVW for a lack of trying but reportedly the new GM is coming to realize that he will be handcuffed on certain decisions.

With three years of control and a lot of upside, it was ridiculous for the Mets to entertain any offers for Syndergaard but there are conspiracy theories out there. Van Wagenen, who was previously Syndergaard’s agent, does possess personal and delicate information about his former client, so some believe he knows something underlying and that’s why it appears that he’s been willing to offer the right hander around.

Amed Rosario should not be used in any trade for Realmuto. There have been some who have suggested that the Mets use Rosario as part of a deal for the talented catcher and sign someone as a buffer until Andres Gimenez is ready. Another thought has the Mets trading Rosario and promoting Gimenez.

The Mets have already put a whole year into Rosario’s development at the big league level and what’s encouraging is that the 23-year old showed a decent amount of progress in the second half of the season. What’s to say that, in the long run, Rosario would not turn out to be the better player of the two.

The Mets could also hang on to both young players and consider moving Gimenez to third base down the road. The 20-year old infielder projects a high ceiling defensively and he has a pretty good arm to a move to third or even second down the road is possible.

Van Wagenen has gone on record with the right idea by stating he “doesn’t want to fill one hole by creating another.” Sounds like Omar Minaya is having some influence, and that’s a good thing for the Mets. I get a feeling that Minaya was the impetus behind the decision to pull back on trading Rosario.
Minaya is the best talent evaluator that the organization has on staff and according to some in the know, BVW has been leaning on that resource. Van Wagenen is like a “young buck” who needs to be “reined in” at times and Minaya is just the person to fill that role.

Free agent Yasmani Grandal is not off the table for the need at catcher and there is still the matter of a right handed bat. Reportedly, the Mets asked the Tigers about right handed hitting outfielder Nick Castellanos.

There was some chatter that if the Yankees don’t get Manny Machado, then they would pursue other options. The Yankees have looked into luring Jurickson Profar away from Texas. The Yankees have shown interest in the 25-year old before, but they may not get the opportunity of waiting. Reportedly, the Padres and Rangers have discussed a deal involving Profar for some of the Padres’ coveted prospects.

The Yankees have a big decision to make concerning the middle infield. On the surface, signing Manny Machado makes sense. Sign Machado, play him at short, keep Gleyber Torres at second and then move him to third when Didi Gregorius comes back. There’s an assumption that Machado would gladly sign off on moving to third base when that occurs. Remember last spring training with the Orioles when he demanded to be moved to shortstop. If Machado is insistent on being a full time shortstop, he could end up with the Phillies.

Right now, Torres and Miguel Andujar are the only staples in the infield and they’re still young players who are not polished major leaguers yet. The Yankees have discussed the possibility of moving Andujar for pitching, but can they really trust a first base platoon of Luke Voit and Greg Bird?

The Yankees have been downplaying their interest in Bryce Harper by referring to the glut of outfielders that they already have on the roster. The glut is in left field where the roster currently features a “clearly on the downside” Brett Gardner, a Jacoby Ellsbury, who has not played since 2017 and Clint Frazier, who is coming off a concussion filled season. If you’re a Yankee fan, do you want one of those three options or Harper?

The Yankees need more “contact” in their lineup and I know Harper strikes out a bunch, but the Yankees sorely need a left hand bat to balance out the over abundance of right handed hitters. He would also provide more protection for those right handed bats like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When Stanton won the NL MVP in 2017, he had Christian Yelich (the 2018 NL MVP) batting behind him, a lethal left handed bat.

I’m high on Frazier, who could potentially fill a need at the lead off spot, but he’s a huge question mark with his concussion history. (BTW: Frazier tweeted that he’s back to doing baseball activities for a few weeks already, so that’s some good news on the front) Again, I’m not advocating the Yankees to spend on a big money deal. Those kind of deals have blown up before, but remember this, Harper has made it known that he dearly wants to play for the Yankees. Something to think about for a team that won more regular season games in 2018 but failed to, at least, match their post-season run of 2017.

Something else to think about is Gary Sanchez’ defense.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery in October and is rehabbing with the hope of being ready for spring training. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said they’ll be cautious with Sanchez in spring training. That’s all well and good, but does the rehab include improving his defense.

Cashman said Sanchez’ main defensive deficiency was “blocking” balls. Last season, Sanchez led the league with 18 passed balls (I definitely called some of those and some I did not call that some thought should’ve been called) after tying for the league lead with 17 in 2017, not to mention the ones that Sanchez failed to block but have to be ruled wild pitches by the scorers.

Cashman said Sanchez is “exceptional” at calling a game and is “terrific” at throwing out runners.

The Yankees can “sugarcoat” his defensive shortcomings all they want with the advanced metrics and whatever, but the bottom line is that Sanchez was not a good defender and it got to the point where you were holding your breath on almost every pitch. Sanchez showed improvement in 2017 and then went backwards in 2018.

Maybe the shoulder and groin injuries had something to do with his poor performance but Sanchez is a big kid and maybe he just can’t move that quick laterally to be consistent with blocking balls in the dirt. If Sanchez doesn’t improve his defensive work, it may be time for a position change.

HKLooking: Dodgers have reportedly inquired about Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has one year remaining on his contract, and free agent catcher Wilson Ramos. Sounds like Los Angeles is exploring other options because there are doubts whether they can satisfy or want to satisfy Miami’s needs…..Nationals have reportedly reached out to free agent and former Met Matt Harvey…..Angels are reportedly close to signing FA catcher Wilson Ramos. The Mets inquired but don’t trust Ramos defensively.


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