Mets And Yankees in Holding Pattern

nysportsday wire

Perhaps it will take the first big name to come off the board but the first two days of the annual Baseball Winter meetings in Nashville are dull. No major trades or putting names on contracts and at this point all talk with the Yankees and Mets is in a holding pattern.

But things picked up a bit late Tuesday with the Yankees and Red Sox making a trade, their 7th in the last 50 years with outfielder Alex Verdugo headed to the Bronx.

Then again, as I stated here in my column last week the meetings have become a spectacle of press briefings, MLB business, and a gathering of baseball minds. I opted to not cover the meetings in Nashville and I was expecting the dormant activity.

The Yankees made their first splash acquiring Verdugo from the Red Sox for right handed pitching prospects Richard Fitts, Greg Weissert, and Nicholas Judice. The Yankees quest to obtain Juan Soto from the Padres could resume if the asking price does not involve pitcher Michael King as reported.

And the Yankees acquisition of Verdugo could be that jump start to other trades. Sources informed me also that Soto talk will be ongoing. And that same source said that Cody Bellinger and the Yankees could be that free agent splash that comes out of the meetings.

Verdugo, 27, hit .264 with 81 runs, 37 doubles, 5 triples, 13 home runs, 54 RBI in 2023. His career high in extra base hits (55) is a plus for the Yankees lineup, assuming he gets a constant outfield role and 108 doubles over the last three seasons are fourth most in the American League.

Regardless, the Yankees also got Verdugo for needed left handed punch in their lineup, also a defensive plus with his 12 outfield assists tied for third-most among MLB outfielders. His nine defensive runs saved were the third-most among MLB right fielders.

The X chat (formerly Twitter) is constant. And my sources in Nashville, as you have probably heard, are hearing the same regarding Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the highly touted pitcher from Japan. The right-hander is in demand and could go to the highest bidder.

The Mets as well as the Yankees continue to be in the hunt for the 25-year old who got plenty of looks at the World Baseball Classic, but as of Tuesday evening both teams are in that holding pattern.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone in his media scrum Tuesday said about Yamamoto, “Our reports are that this guy is really good, as I think the industry sees it the same way. It feels like there’s going to be a lot of suitors for him, But I feel quite confident that he is going to come over here and be a really special top of the rotation type pitcher.”

The Yankees and Mets certainly have the ability to outbid others with their financial flexibility and resources. You would expect the Mets to continue their pursuit and look at the contracts that owner Steve Cohen granted to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander before they were traded at the July trade deadline.

The Mets hold similar regard in their quest to sign Yamamoto. They have made it known that joining Kodai Senga as a one-two punch is a good start to restructuring their starting rotation, though the Mets are also looking at contingency options if Yamamoto opts to sign across town in the Bronx. The Dodgers and Giants are also reportedly in the discussion.

Yamamoto will likely keep the suspense ongoing after the meetings conclude Thursday. A member of NPB’s Orix Buffaloes since 2017, Yamamoto won three MVP awards and was instrumental in their Japan Series victory in 2022.

I don’t expect the Mets to leave the meetings empty handed, but a big splash should not be expected. Sources informed me the Mets were looking into having a reunion with Seth Lugo as a possible backend starter but that has been quickly squashed.

So for now the Mets have been signing contracts to a lower tier of position players and bullpen, an indication of not repeating their offseason of last year, contracts that placed them with the highest payroll in baseball.

And for now, Luis Severino with a one year $13 million contract is a low risk signing that could help the Mets pitching rotation. All pending of course on Severino, who has been injury prone and coming off the worst season of his career across town with the Yankees.

Soto not being traded, where and how much will Shohei Ohtani will land, has also put many teams in that holding pattern. Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow, Chicago White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease have yet to be traded. Free agents such as AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, and reliever Josh Hader are others up for grabs.

But as one longtime executive informed me, the Ohtani watch will be ongoing, especially with no climax to his situation expected when the meetings conclude, And the Mets and Yankees are not expected to be in that process.

More to come for sure in what has been an otherwise dormant meeting of the baseball minds at work. Then again plenty of time with spring training and Opening Day months ahead.

Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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