New York Giants: Louis Riddick speaks on Daniel Jones turnover problem

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

This season will be a big deal for the evaluation of New York Giants QB Daniel Jones. The team might have a new GM next year and one of the big questions will revolve around what Jones’ future with the franchise is. That means that even if the games later this year end up being meaningless, there’s still a huge incentive for Daniel Jones and other members of the offense to perform.

The takes about Jones vary greatly depending on who you talk to, but one of the main narratives is that the Giants have to wait and see. After all, the supporting cast around Jones isn’t a good one right now. The offensive line has blocked poorly all season and top weapon Saquon Barkley is out for the year, forcing more work onto Jones’ shoulders.

One person who supports the ‘wait and see’ narrative is Louis Riddick, who was considered himself for the General Manager position in the past. But instead, it went to Dave Gettleman and everyone is familiar on how the results have been from that.

Daniel Jones and the turnover problem

A problem that has plagued Jones specifically is turning the ball over. He’s done it almost as much as any other player in the league this season.

“If he doesn’t correct it and it becomes a bigger problem, then you go to the next phase of the evaluation: Is this his surroundings or is this who he is now? They are not at that point yet — and I don’t think anybody needs to be at that point until you get a more stable supporting cast, and you keep a coaching staff in place for more than one year,” Riddick told the New York Post.

“You can’t make sweeping decisions about what kind of player he is going to be because there are too many things around him that are uncertain,” Riddick continued on the subject. “The one thing he does need to cut down is turning over the football because then you have no shot of winning. If he keeps doing that, you are not going to win games. If you don’t win games, people look to replace you.”

Jones has 19 career interceptions and 20 career games with a number of fumbles too for added measure. His turnover problem has hardly been exaggerated by critics, and against a good defense like Tampa Bay, we’ll get a chance to see if Jones can take a step forward or if he’ll fall further backwards in that regard.

BREAKING NEWS: New York Jets trade LB Avery Williamson to Pittsburgh (Report)

The veteran linebacker has been dealt from the winless New York Jets to the undefeated Steelers after two-plus seasons in green.

Reports have dictated that the New York Jets will be trading linebacker Avery Williamson to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft in exchange for a fifth-round choice that same year. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News first reported the transaction, while Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed it.

Williamson, 28, was in the midst of his third season with New York, joining the team on a three-year, $22.5 million contract signed during the 2018 offseason, which included $16 million guaranteed. He would later earn a team-best 120 tackles during his debut season, as well as six pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. In his most notable game in green, Williamson earned five tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception during the Jets’ 42-34 win over Indianapolis.

The middle season of that deal was cut drastically short due to injury, as Williamson was lost for the season after tearing his ACL during a preseason game in Atlanta. He returned to action this season, posting 59 tackles over seven games, including a team-best nine in their 35-9 loss to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. Williams previously earned another interception in another loss to Arizona back on October 11.

Being in the final year of his deal made Williamson prime trade bait with the league deadline approaching at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Jets have dealt with problems in the interior linebacker spots with Blake Cashman dealing with another injury, forcing Neville Hewitt and Harvey Langi to step up. According to Over The Cap, the trade of Williamson will save them just over $2.9 million in 2020 cap space. New York is now armed with nine picks in the 2022 draft, including two in the first (the extra coming from Seattle in the trade for Jamal Adams) and three in the sixth (with the incoming choices from Tampa Bay and San Francisco for Steve McLendon and Jordan Willis respectively).

The Jets (0-8) will return to action next Monday night against the New England Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR: Chase Elliott earns a spot amongst championship quartet

Chase Elliott entered NASCAR’s final four for the first time with a dominant win at Martinsville Speedway while Kevin Harvick was eliminated.

Forced into a must-win scenario, Chase Elliott earned the biggest victory of his NASCAR Cup Series career, while the circuit’s regular season champion saw his luck run out.

Elliott and the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team dominated the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the penultimate race of the 2020 season that set up the Cup Series’ quartet of drivers that will compete for a championship at Phoenix Raceway next weekend. The two-time defending winner of the Cup Series’ Most Popular Driver Award advanced to the final four for the first time in his career. He joins Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin in the title-contending group, while Kevin Harvick, the regular season champion and winner of nine races in 2020, was eliminated.

“Obviously, (for) me personally, it’s a huge deal. (I’ve) ever been in this position before. That’s exciting,” Elliott said after the race. “But for everybody that is a part of our organization, obviously NAPA is a huge partner, super pumped to have them on the car tonight, a big moment. They’ve been a big piece of my career. Hendrick Motorsport, everyone that lays a hand on our cars. It’s a big deal for everyone to have a chance to win a championship.”

The NASCAR Cup Series’ ten-race playoff system was introduced in 2004, with elimination rounds arriving a decade later. This adjust system invites 16 drivers with four eliminated after every three races, leading to four drivers battling for a championship in the 36th and final race of the season. Drivers can earn automatic advancement to the next immediate round with a win, much like Joey Logano did at Kansas Speedway earlier this month.

Elliott entered Sunday’s event 25 points outside the top four, more or less necessitating a win for the No. 9. He started the race in eighth but worked his way to the lead for the first time at lap 89 of 500. His Chevrolet would go on to lead 236 of 500 laps, including the final 44 when he passed two-time defending Martinsville winner Martin Truex Jr., who likewise needed to win to advance.

His victorious moment, the 10th win of his Cup Series career, nearly never came. When debris from Timmy Hill’s damaged car brought out the yellow flag at lap 352, Elliott not only endured a slow pit stop that not only relegated him to fourth, but was nearly forced to go to the rear of the field when it appeared one of his pit crew members jumped over the wall too early, warranting a penalty from NASCAR. Elliott’s No. 9 team appeared with officials, noting that the crewman made it back to safety before Elliott’s car arrived. Officials agreed upon review and rescinded the penalty.

“This is a moment that we haven’t experienced together. I said that a few times tonight, Elliott said of his team. “You just don’t know those emotions until you go through it, are able to experience it. We obviously all put a lot of effort in to try to do our jobs to the best of our ability.”

“It absolutely is a team sport. We can’t do it on our own. I can’t do it by myself. No one on our team can do it alone. We recognize that. Feel like we have a great group, a group that’s capable of winning. I thought we showed that and proved that tonight  I think we can have a great shot next week.”

The pass for the lead came just at the right time, as he sped away from the rest of a field that erupted in clean chaos with other playoff contenders racing for points. Truex was later eliminated when he fell back due to a loose wheel, but other contenders needed to race their way into the title through points with Elliott racing away and non-playoff driver Kyle Busch winning the prior event at Texas.

The most prominent case was Harvick, who won nine races and took home the regular season title. He finished in the runner-up spot behind Logano at Kansas but struggled to a 16th-place posting at Texas last week. With Elliott and Truex, a pair of drivers behind him that were dominating the race (the two uniting to lead 375 of 500 laps), Harvick was forced into a desperate situation of his own. The feeling only increased when he lost a tire on lap 180 and the ensuing repairs put him two laps down. His No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was forced to scratch and claw its way back to the lead lap, finally earning the caution-induced free pass back to the lead lap granted to the first car lap down when the stalled car of James Davison bringing out the yellow flag.

Harvick was then embroiled in a three-way battle for two spots with Hamlin and Keselowski, the latter of whom started from the rear of the field after speeding during the Davison caution. But, like Elliott, he recovered from pit road miscues to reach fourth place and secure his spot alongside Logano and Elliott. With Hamling trying to hold off teammate Erik Jones in holding the 11th position, Harvick needed a mere point to reach the playoffs, owning the tiebreaker over Hamlin through wins. In desperation, Hamlin bumped Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch, the car just ahead of him, out the way to earn one final position, but wound up wrecking himself in the process. The endeavor relegated Harvick to the 17th spot, eliminating the 2014 Series champion.

Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman respectively finished fifth and sixth, but were likewise eliminated from contention through points. Ryan Blaney finished in the runner-up spot, while Logano came back third.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series ends next weekend at Phoenix Raceway next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC). This is the first time that the season finale comes to Phoenix, after 18 years at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Race Notes

  • Elliott will appear in the championship four for the first time in his career. Keselowski and Logano are each looking for their second championship, having won the Cup Series title in 2012 and 2018. Hamlin is seeking his first Cup title, having finished in the top five on five occasions (including a fourth-place posting last season).

 

  • Elliott is the first Chevrolet representative in the championship four since teammate Jimmie Johnson won the 2016 title

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Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees extend qualifying offer to DJ LeMahieu, what does this mean?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

It is clear the New York Yankees want star infielder DJ LeMahieu back on their team in 2021, which is why they extended a qualifying offer to him on Sunday evening.

The qualifying offer to DJ  is worth $18.9 million on a one-year deal, but the expectation is that he won’t sign it and pursue a lengthy extension with the Yankees or an alternative team. Considering how well he has played over the past two years, LeMahieu can likely earn more in free agency, but other factors are included in a qualifying offer.

By definition, a club is able to offer a one-year contract, which is worth a mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. The player that is hit with this offer cannot have received it previously in his career and has to have spent the entire previous season on the team’s roster. In-season acquisitions are ineligible.

In addition, a team that signs a player who rejects the qualifying offer is subject to the loss of one or more draft picks. So, in this scenario, if LeMahieu declines the offer and signs with a new team, that new team will have to give up a draft pick to the Yankees, which could be as high as a first-round pick. The team’s highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture.

Losing DJ would be a significant hit to the Yankees’ infield, considering his ability to play multiple positions and act as a fantastic lead-off hitter.

He won the batting title in 2020, hitting .364 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. In 2019, he ranked fourth in MVP voting and was an All-Star, hitting .327 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.

Defensively, he has three Gold Gloves to his name over 10 seasons and has cemented himself at second base for the Yankees. However, with their issues at shortstop, there could be an alternative method here that includes LeMahieu moving to first base and Gleyber Torres moving back to second base.

I imagine that the coaching staff believes in Torres at short and wants to retain LeMahieu at second base, but the Yankees lost a significant amount of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they are attempting to cut salary in as many ways as possible. Nonetheless, managing partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that he understands LeMahieu’s value to the team and that they are working to find a compromise.

Four plays that shaped the New York Jets’ Sunday fate in Kansas City

New York Jets

Another loss awaited the New York Jets in Kansas City, but they put out a respectable effort against the defending champs.

Only in modern New York football could a 21-9 deficit at halftime spell progress. But even that rare display of gridiron understanding from the New York Jets fell by the wayside in yet another brutal defeat.

Patrick Mahomes earned 416 and five touchdowns, two of which went to Tyreek Hill, and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 35-9 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. The Jets (0-8) wound up scoring on each of their first three possessions (albeit only through Sergio Castillo field goals) but were unable to keep the momentum rolling in the second half under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ playcalling. New York put up only 63 yards over the final 30 minutes, allowing Kansas City (7-1) to mostly coast the rest of the way.

ESM looks back on the four plays, one from each quarter, that shaped the Jets’ present and future in Kansas City…

1st Quarter: Denzel Wins

“Needings” a fake punt against the winless Jets potentially says more about Kansas City than it does about New York, but that’s a conversation for another day. But the Jets were able to leave the quarter on a good note thanks to the antics of second-round pick Denzel Mims.

Earlier this week, ESM spoke about the importance of including rookies in the game plan. At least in the first quarter, the Jets seemed to follow through on that philosophy when it came to Denzel Mims. The Baylor product managed to tally 42 yards on a pair of catches, including this 27-yard spectacular to end the frame. Earned on 2nd and 10, it eventually led the Jets to boot a Castillo field goal, his second of the day.

Alas for the Jets, they failed to capitalize on the potential Mims displayed over the rest of the game. He was targeted only one other time, as the Jets offense struggled in the second half for the second consecutive week after displaying some promise over the first half-hour. The playcalling became a lot more conservative, with little, if any chances taken downfield. Yet, Mims was still the Jets’ leading receiver for the second straight week.

2nd Quarter: Segi-Noooooo

If the Jets send any representatives to the 2021 Pro Bowl…or at least the symbolic rosters…it’ll probably whichever one of their kickers stays healthy over the final stages. Castillo, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, accounted for the Jets’ points, and even booted a 55-yard triple, the longest since Jason Myers’ departure. His field goals weren’t making a maximum impact in the grand scheme of things…Kansas City led 21-9…but some strong offensive execution showcased by Darnold and company allowed Castillo and company to line up for a 47-yard try that could’ve narrowed the gap to single digits.

The kick became a turning point…for the Kansas City hosts.

New York’s special teams have been a rare silver lining this season, but failure to adjust blocking allowed Armani Watts to invade the kicking area and ruthlessly block the attempt. The Jets were able to prevent the ultimate disaster with a tackle on the run back, but it permanently shifted momentum to the Chiefs’ side.

3rd Quarter: Not So Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith

It’s impossible to argue that the Jets’ defense isn’t innocent in this grand scheme of football affairs. But, frankly, they can only do so much.

Gregg Williams’ unit actually provided one of the brighter plays of the second half. They gave Kansas City a one-yard fourth down at their 14-yard-line, but a big stop by Henry Anderson, bringing down Le’Veon Bell of all people short of the first down, kept the deficit at the manageable 21-9 tally. Alas for the defense, the celebration might’ve lasted longer than their time off the field.

Conservative playcalling doomed the Jets over their next drive, as a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Braxton Berrios lost six yards on second-and-five. The idea of throwing downfield was more or less taboo in the second half, and the Jets paid the price. Their third down play was a throw short of the stick to Jeff Smith, who did what he could with the run after the catch, but he was stopped just short of the line to gain.

Possessing the ball for a mere 96 seconds (after winning the time-of-possession battle by nearly six minutes in the first half), the Jets immediately had to punt away. They wound up surrendering an 83-yard drive that took six plays to pull off, capped off by Mahomes’ penultimate score of the day to Demarcus Robinson.

4th Quarter: Opportunity Knock-Out

Injuries have provided opportunities for the Jets’ young talents. They have high hopes for both Bless Austin and third-round rookie Ashtyn Davis, but their first test was brutal. Mahomes knew to attack the pair’s area for the remainder of the game, and wounder capping off scoring with a scoring strike to Hill, a 41-yard toss that created the final margin.

There’s plenty of time for both Austin and Davis to recover, and situating their first opportunity against Mahomes and the high-voltage Kansas City Chiefs was an act of gridiron cruelty. But while it’s good that the Jets are giving their younger players opportunities, they need to post better result to give the team even the slightest reassurance going into an offseason of uncertainty.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Islanders: Why haven’t any signings been made official yet?

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have not made an official signing in a really long time. There was speculation about signing Cory Schneider and resigning Andy Greene and Matt Martin. But that was about a month ago. It’s been a full month, and none of those signings are official. Why is that? Well, it’s a simple reason, really, the Islanders are saving cap space.

$8.9 Million

This is the number, the one number every Islander fan has heard of every day since free agency started. Your top two players need contracts, and you only have $8.9 million to spend. Lou Lamoriello obviously knows this, and that’s a reason why he hasn’t been able to sign anyone else.

Mat Barzal is taking at least $8 million of the available cap space, and 900k isn’t going to reason Ryan Pulock. Now, I know that teams can spend 10% over the cap until training camp rolls around. The Islanders cannot use this method at all. The Isles do not have the trade bait that other teams have. No one is taking Andrew Ladd’s contract. There has to be a different way.

Burying Contracts

The Islanders have to bury their bigger contracts in the AHL. If you bury Thomas Hickey, Leo Komarov, and Johnny Boychuk, the Isles get a little under $4 million in cap space to work with. This $4 million will be used to sign Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Cory Schneider. And possibly another couple of guys. Now, Andrew Ladd gets put on LTIR, this frees up another $5.5 million.

The Islanders would have over $14 million to sign 2 players. Barzal takes up $8 million, Pulock gets $6 million, everyone is happy. This scenario is ideal for the Islanders if they can’t trade any of their big contracts away. But, the first method of trading is far and away, the best way to save cap.

Red Sox trying to poach Yankees coach to fill Alex Cora vacancy

New York Yankees, Carlos Mendoza

The New York Yankees could lose multiple coaches this off-season, as the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are/were looking to fill head-managing vacancies. The Tigers evidently hired AJ Hinch as their next manager, diving into the pits of hell to fill their vacancy.

One couch that could be on his way out his bench coach Carlos Mendoza, who scored a second interview with the Red Sox this week. Boston has been in contact with former manager Alex Cora, having spoken with him multiple times since his suspension ended last week.

Mendoza isn’t the only coach that has been looked at this off-season already, as third-base coach Phil Nevin and hitting coach and Marcus Thames were both candidates to fill vacancies.

Taking a look at Mendoza’s past, he spent 13 seasons in the minor leagues, entering the Yankees system in 2019 as a member of the Staten Island Yankees coaching staff. He eventually joined the Charleston RiverDogs in 2010.

Fast forward to 2017, and Mendoza became the infield coach for the Yankees’ major league squad, eventually making his way to bench coach behind manager Aaron Boone. Now, he’s looking to take the inevitable step up, and the Red Sox represent a fantastic opportunity for him.

Brooklyn Nets: Ranking Steve Nash’s assistant coaches

Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash

In what is already turning into another wild offseason for the Brooklyn Nets, it was announced that the Nets will be finalizing terms with Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka to become assistant coaches under new Head Coach Steve Nash.

Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news via Twitter. D’Antoni joins two of his former players in Nash and Stoudemire, both of whom helped D’Antoni gain notoriety as one of the most brilliant offensive minds in basketball during the mid to late 2000s. The real question is, in terms of importance to the team, where do these assistant coaches rank amongst each other?

Ranking Brooklyn’s Assistant Coaches from Most Important to Least

#1 – Mike D’Antoni is coming off a 4-year run in Houston that included 4 straight Conference Semifinals berths, no easy feat in the daunting Western Conference. He is still respected around the league as a brilliant offensive mind and was able to manage personalities such as James Harden, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. Marks is hoping that D’Antoni will be able to not only support Nash but also figure out the best way for two ball-dominant superstars in Kyrie and KD to maximize their effectiveness together. Perhaps, Nash and D’Antoni will implement a more fast-paced, high-scoring offense as they executed to perfection during their tenure together in Phoenix. Because of his pedigree, I think D’Antoni should be ranked #1.

#2 – Jacque Vaughn is STILL the top assistant to Nash and has the most familiarity with the young players on this team. Vaughn proved he isn’t afraid of the spotlight during his run in the Orlando bubble as interim Head Coach. The Nets played hard and fought for Vaughn down the stretch, and while he was swept in the playoffs by Toronto, Marks felt it was important to keep Vaughn on the staff even with the hire of Nash. Because of these reasons, JV is my #2 most important assistant coach on this staff.

#3 Ime Udoka, a name many may be slightly less familiar with, Udoka spent last season in Philadelphia and received several interviews for Head Coaching positions, one interview being with the New York Knicks, but ultimately agreed to join Brooklyn’s coaching staff as an assistant. Udoka served under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for seven years before Philadelphia and won a ring with Sean Marks in 2014 when the two were on the same coaching staff together. A 7 year NBA veteran and a longtime assistant to Pop, Udoka the #3 assistant coach rank. FUN FACT: Udoka has been dating the beautiful actress, Nia Long, since 2010 (according to Wikipedia).

#4 Adam Harrington has been with the Nets organization since 2016 as an assistant and is definitely one of the more popular names amongst present and past players. Harrington can be seen on Twitter tweeting out videos of ball handling drills with his children or playfully responding to a picture of Joe Harris’s family as they engage in Halloween activities. A former NBA player himself, Adam has done a great job of engaging with players on this roster since he’s been here, most notably developing a fantastic relationship with Spencer Dinwiddie during Spence’s growth as a player. Harrington is my #4 selection

#5 Amare Stoudemire’s basketball accomplishments, both in the NBA and abroad, speak for themselves. As someone who has worked with Nash and D’Antoni in the past, he should be an easy fit with this new Brooklyn Nets culture. But don’t get it twisted; Stoudemire has one job and one job only. And that’s to continue to develop Jarrett Allen and Nic Claxton. Hopefully, with Stoudemire’s guidance, Allen will be able to improve his overall offensive game, and Claxton will be able to find his offensive game. Even though he is coming off a championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv, his lack of coaching experience puts him #5 on my list.

Hope you enjoyed my ranking of Steve Nash’s assistant coaches, be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!

3 moves the New York Jets should make right now

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets are a floundering mess, and if you’ve watched the inept in every category this season, you know that. One look at their 0-7 record shows change is desperately needed for the organization. We all would love to take the reigns of this mess and try to put the team back on the right tracks, but in this scenario, I made three moves that would immediately benefit the team.

Trade Avery Willamson

This is a move I was very against prior to the season, but now the move makes a lot of sense. Well, the team won’t fetch a lot for Willamson, the team is not competitive right now, and they should give the opportunity to younger guys to step up in Willamson’s absence.

Not to mention, Willamson has been an avid critic of how poorly the team has been practicing, which was likely viewed as defiance from Adam Gase. Mix in the fact that Willamson himself deserves a shot to play with a competitive team, so this is a move that would not be a bad idea. Pittsburgh just lost Devin Bush for the year, so Williamson could fit there among other potential spots. I would expect the compensation to be in the later rounds, but those are the picks Joe Douglas loves.

Willamson is still a fan favorite, but if he ends up elsewhere, it would be best for both parties. The Jets could look to other players as trade assets as well, but Willamson is the first guy I would set to trade based on how much value he brings.

Fire Adam Gase

So, this is the obvious move we would all make if we could. I want to preface this by saying that Adam Gase may be utterly incompetent, stubborn, unimaginative, and undisciplined. Yet despite those flaws and the many others, Gase has somehow got himself this job and likely will keep it at least a few more weeks.

At 0-7, this team is not playing for anything, but at least if they fired Gase, they could audition a prospective head coach and not who you would think. I will get to that in a second, but this move would at least revitalize the team and finally allow Douglas to build the franchise the way he would like without the tight reigns of Gase.

Coaching Re-alignment

I would immediately make a few key coaching changes if given the shot. I would promote Dowell Loggains to the lead offensive play-caller for the remainder of the season, contingent on two more good games.

If the offense continues to look lifeless, then I would choose RB Coach Jim Bob Cooter to take over due to his coordinating past in Detroit. As for the defensive side of the ball, I would like to see Gregg Williams ousted with Gase, but if he were to remain, then the team needs to give Dennard Wilson a promotion. He should earn more responsibilities to see if he has potential as a coordinator in his own right.

If Williams were fired, then I would make Wilson the DC immediately. So, I have not named an interim head coach. Those honors would be placed upon the shoulders of Current Special Teams Coordinator Brant Boyer. Boyer is the only other fixture in the organization who has been here for more than three years. Boyer has resurrected special teams in New York, but more importantly, he has shown discipline. In brief glimpses of his character, he would fit the type of structure Douglas would seemingly want. Boyer may not be the guy, but for at least the last couple of games, I’d love for him to get a shot at what he can prove.

New York Mets: Betances, Brach Opt In and Stroman Gets Qualifying Offer

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets have had a busy couple of days as they try to revitalize their roster after a disappointing 2020. As expected, Dellin Betances and Brad Brach, both underachieving relievers, exercised their offers for the 2021 season. The Mets also gave the $18.9 million qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman.

Betances is coming off another injury-plagued season where he gave up 10 runs in 11.2 innings pitched. He also never found his velocity as his 93.6 mph average fastball was the lowest of his career. Combine those numbers with the 12 walks he allowed, and it equaled a pitcher who could not be used.

The upside about giving Betances an option year was the ability to bring him back if he struggled. There is no market for Betances to make $6 million if guys like Brad Hand were being released for making $10 million. Betances will get a fully healthy offseason and spring training to return to his All-Star form. This could be an investment that works out for both parties.

Brach is Back

Brach was another pitcher who had to deal with time on the injured list. He started the season on the sidelines after testing positive for COVID-19, and like Betances, he struggled to limit the walks. Brach had a 5.84 ERA and walked 14 in 12.1 innings pitched.

In 2019, Brach was a low-risk addition to their bullpen, and it paid off for the Mets. As another veteran who did not adjust well to the shortened season, the Mets should be confident in his ability to return to a useful reliever. Brach is certainly a good option to deepen the bullpen after bringing in a couple of quality arms.

Stro-Show Back in Queens?

Stroman’s return to the Mets likely will not happen off the qualifying offer. After Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman is the best option on the starting pitcher free-agent market. $18.9 million is slightly lower than the per year value Stroman is aiming for, but if he was getting six years with that amount, I think he would accept that deal. The big question mark is how much of a risk teams want to take on him after spending a season injured and then opting not to play due to “safety concerns.”

If Stroman accepts the qualifying offer, he is banking on his 2021 to parlay it into a lucrative deal. It is doubtful that he accepts with teams like the Los Angeles Angels are desperately looking for good starting pitching. Do not count the Mets out of the Stroman sweepstakes if he declines the QO. The Mets need the starting pitching as well, and Stroman is perfectly suited to pitch in New York. Slotting him in the rotation with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard gives the Mets a formidable top-3.