The Yankees saw the Judge and paid up, while the Mets A-Justin-ed to losing Jacob deGrom. Those were the headline moves for the locals as baseball’s Winter Meetings came to an end, but what now?
After deGrom left, the Mets literally wasted no time in securing the signature of three time Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander.
For a second straight season, the Mets will envision a top of the rotation with multiple Cy Young Award winners, but they’re going to need reliable depth in the rotation and the bullpen. If the Mets get approximately 55 starts from Verlander and Max Scherzer, they’ll likely be right in the thick of things.
Last night, the Mets brought back Brandon Nimmo on an eight-year, $162 million dollar contract. An eye opening deal for sure, but the Mets mean business.
Nimmo, who will be 30 years old when next season starts, comes off his best season but he’ll need to improve his stolen base total. In 151 games last season, Nimmo had only three stolen bases. With the new rule limiting pickoff throws next season, the running game will become more of a factor, but Nimmo will also benefit from the shift ban.
Bringing Nimmo back means Starling Marte can remain in right field. Mark Canha remains one half of a left field platoon. The Mets were reportedly showing interest in Kevin Kiermaier as an alternative had Nimmo not been signed. Kiermaier underwent hip surgery last August, but, if healthy, he could be a fit as part of a platoon in left field, while backing up Nimmo in center.
The Mets also went out and got 37-year old David Robertson as another bullpen piece. Despite his age, Robertson still knows how to get people out and not just the righties. Left hand hitters have hit .187, .547 OPS against Robertson in his career.
The Mets weren’t done in San Diego as they signed left hander Jose Quintana and acquired left hander Brooks Raley from Tampa Bay. Left hand hitters batted .219 against Quintana last season, while Raley was even better with a .155 average against.
The NL East rival Phillies and Braves have tough left hand hitters like Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Matt Olson and Micheal Harris, not to mention Juan Soto in San Diego, so it doesn’t hurt the Mets to have some southpaws, along with Robertson, to try and negate those weapons.
Francisco Alvarez may not be ready to grab a spot on the big league roster. He’s still only 21 years old and the rookie could need a little more “seasoning,” but the Mets will be seeking more offense from the catching position. If they can move James McCann, the underrated free agent catcher Christian Vazquez could be a nice addition.
Third baseman Eduardo Escobar had a much better second half, but will that translate to a full season. Could there be a reunion with Brandon Drury? Otherwise, the rest of the infield is set.
Aaron Judge was re-signed and you’ve heard all the details by now. You can’t expect Judge to have another season like the last one. It will be difficult to top or even match what was most likely his career year, and the numbers will likely drop off somewhat, but Judge is also being paid to lead the Yankees.
Judge will rightfully be named the next captain with the hope that he will add his name to the long list of players who have won a World Series with the Yankees. He’ll need some help from the front office to do that.
Left field has yet to be decided. The Yankees would like Andrew Benintendi back but there is stiff competition for his services, including from the rival Astros. I don’t know if Michael Brantley would be a good fit considering his recent injury history.
The Yankees have had their eye on trading for Pirates outfielder and switch hitter Bryan Reynolds, who would fit nicely in left field. The 27-year old, who has 117 extra base hits, including 51 home runs over the past two seasons, has asked to be traded but the Pirates have stated they wouldn’t trade him. That sounds like, “It’s going to take a really nice package for us to start talking.”
Pittsburgh has the leverage because they have three years of control, but with the #1 pick in next year’s amateur draft, they could make a haul by acquiring a major league ready player or two and some top prospects to help strengthen their farm system even more. Gleyber Torres is a major league ready player with two years of control. Could be a starting point?
Adding Tommy Kahnle for a second go round is a good addition to a bullpen that needs a few more weapons. Right now, Clay Holmes is the Yankee closer and Jonathan Loaisiga has shown he can be reliable.
The hope is Michael King can come back from his elbow injury. King was the most valuable arm in the bullpen last season. The Yankees were devastated by injuries to the pen. They had already lost Chad Green and when King went down, things seemed to go haywire.
The Yankees were a top heavy lineup that was camouflaged in the early going by the unexpected contributions from Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Unfortunately, the bottom of the order was exposed in the playoffs. Trevino would be a solid part of a platoon, if the other catcher was a little better hitter.
Catcher Ben Rortvedt (remember him) will get a chance in camp to win a job. Rortvedt was part of the deal that brought Josh Donaldson and sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to Minnesota. The left hand hitting catcher dealt with an oblique injury that occurred in spring training. In 2022, Rortvedt worked his way through the Yankee minor league system and ended the season with Scranton Wilkes Barre.
Both teams are in win now modes. It will be interesting to see what the respective rosters will look like when they convene for spring training in February.