Coming off a peculiar 2020 the MLB offseason was going to be an odd one, to say the least. Many teams are suffering financial hardships caused by the pandemic, but there are plenty of big-name stars seeking big free-agent contracts. Change is inevitable and there was a question of how much change would take place going into the new year after the financial uncertainty of the league. That was no question for the New York Mets, who have a new identity and certainly have "entered the chat".
All eyes have been on the San Diego Padres, after making a splash and trading for two dominant pitchers, in Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. New owner and multi-billionaire Steve Cohen took this news and laughed. His response? Well, he just landed perennial superstar Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco for Rosario and three prospects. The Mets absolutely fleeced the Indians. Congratulations to the New York Mets. You are building a contender and the fans are happy as can (and as they should).
Heading over to the other side of the city, the "Kings of New York" are starting to lose their luster. It has been nearly 12 years since the Yankees won a World Series, let alone get to one. It is hard to be critical with the Yankees, as this squad went back-to-back years winning over 100 games and four straight seasons of making deep postseason runs. At the end of the day though, it's "World Series or bust".
I am not sitting here and saying that Lindor was going to be a Yankee. It was never out of the question, as his name has been tied to the team for years, but it wasn't going to happen this year. What the purpose of this blog should iterate is the Yankees watching the American League worsen should not be a "win" in their book. Yes, the Rays and Indians got worse, the AL East is back in contention, and nobody is comparable to the Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, and Padres. Being stagnant and complacent is not the New York way. As of now, the Yanks will be without their best player in the past decade (DJ LeMahieu), three starting pitchers (Tanaka, Paxton, and Happ) a reliever (Khanle), and a veteran leader in Brett Gardner. With negative moves being made, how is this a World Series mentality? The Steinbrenners need to cough up their wallets. Their father is disgusted that this what his legacy is being viewed as. Brian Cashman needs to enshrine himself as the best in the business and actually wake up. No more time for mediocracy. Here is what should take place going forward.
Plan A - The "do what's right" plan
- Sign DJ LeMahieu
Very simple. Sign him. Sign him as in right now, this very moment. Why are we hearing the Mets, Dodgers, and Blue Jays all will pay this man and the Yankees are in a stalemate? He wants to be a Yankee and deserves the money he is asking. I don't care what year four or five are going to look like. DJ is the team's MVP, a gold glove caliber defender, and the reigning batting champion. This a no-brainer, and it is heartwrenching that this hasn't been done yet.
-Bolster the depth
What moves could the team make to help prepare for injuries? Bringing back Brett Gardner should be a consideration. He is a leader, he is an above-average player, and he has done so much for the team. A one-year deal is not too heavy of a price. If not Gardy, then maybe a Yasiel Puig or Joc Pederson?
A lefty bat would be nice as well. Kyle Schwarber would fair well at Yankee stadium too. It could be the ultimate rotating door of outfield rest and DH use.
The Yankees have one of the top bullpens in the league, headlining with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green. Why not make it even stronger? Liam Hendricks, Brad Hand, Archie Bradley, and Kirby Yates all come to mind as available relief pitchers. Having one if not more of these guys on the team would be a scary sight for opposing lineups.
- Starting pitching, starting pitching, and yes; starting pitching
The starting rotation is such a glaring hole for this team. Yes, Gerrit Cole is incredible, but where is his help? Luis Severino is out until the summer. Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, and Mike King are young and raw, but they aren't ready to be it guys just yet. Paxton and Happ are sure as gone and as of now, there is no insight on bringing back Tanaka.
Would I love Trevor Bauer? Absolutely. The problem would be the financials if they are scared to spend too much. Whatever, I guess.
Looking at cost-efficient free agents, I am all for the Yankees taking a look at Corey Kluber, Taijuan Walker, Jake Odorizzi, and Ivan Nova. None of those names jump off the page, but they all have had good careers, and they would create a very formidable depth to the rotation.
Where the Yankees could make a true splash would be through a trade. We just saw the Indians, Cubs, and Rays all trade valuable starters because they are cash strapped and are looking to replenish their farm systems. This would be the opportunity for the Yankees to get solidified starters who would make immediate impacts. Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) and Luis Castillo (Reds) are the two names the Yankees need to look at. Both those teams have discussed the sense of trading their starters, and the Yankees have the minor leaguers to acquire them.
I think the Yankees should resign Masahiro Tanaka out of all their impending free-agent pitchers. He has done more than the team could have ever asked for. He is a positive light in the clubhouse and wants to remain a Yankee. Tanaka has been a constant and would be extremely valuable in the rotation. Do what's right and bring this man back so he can win a ring.
Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP
Plan B - Win now and spend the house
- Rearrange the infield
With DJ gone, what should the Yankees do? Gleybar is the cornerstone, so move him back to second base. They should consider a reunion with fan-favorite Didi Gregorius. This could take away the sting of losing LeMahieu. They should also give a call to Marcus Semien who has been tremendous for Oakland. They could also keep Torres as SS and sign a Tommy La Stella, Kolten Wong, or Jonathon Villar. Not the same flare, but it could work just as fine.
Now we all love Voit and Gio. How couldn't you? They are excellent defenders and have elevated their offense tremendously. But what if you could replace one of them with either an Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, or Nolan Arenado? They are all on the so-called trade block, it could be an interesting avenue to look at. They would all be massive improvements and they would help create a juggernaut of an infield.
- Make a major move
Pieces can be moved around if the Yankees decide to go all out and sign a Michael Brantley and JT Realmuto. Both are at the top of their game and rank as one of the best in their position. If the Yankees want to rely on their old ways and make a big name splash, then those are the two they should do it for. If not those two, maybe they can take a look again at Trevor Bauer?
- Starting Pitching, part two
Like I said, Bauer would be incredible. The money would be the only issue. Now without DJ's contract, the Yankees should hand that to his agent Rachel Luba and call it a day. The money that was supposed to go to DJ can go to Trevor. A duo of Cole and Bauer would be lights out in New York and would help with a lot of their problems. When the Yankees missed out on Verlander, Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin, every fan was heated. Let's not miss out on the next best thing again.
I was going to include a "plan c", but that would be literally do nothing, and that is how you lose fans. There isn't much more to say at this point. The Yankee organization has more money than an average person could ever imagine. They have profited so much over the years. 27 rings is a cool thing to say, but none of that even matters. The Yankees should be winning the world series every year if not every other.
Money and contract length shouldn't be a question when bringing back the best player the team has seen in years. Signing Gerrit Cole and not providing him with a supporting cast shouldn't be a win. Not bolstering the team with depth and talent because they "have the right guys" is a foolish thing to say.
The Mets may have won today, but the Yankees shouldn't let them win the title of the town. Cashman, it's your turn now, what are you going to do?