The Yankees could move on from DJ LeMahieu in one blockbuster scenario

New York yankees, Francisco Lindor

For all intents and purposes, the New York Yankees should 100% be looking to retain star infielder DJ LeMahieu, but there is one blockbuster scenario where things are completely bouncing off the walls. The Yankees tend to appeal to the biggest players in baseball, and shortstop Francisco Lindor has been linked to the Bronx for quite some time.

The rumor mill always has Lindor and the Yankees on the same wave-length, and why would it be any different in 2020?

With Lindor still under team control by the Cleveland Indians, he’s arbitration-eligible in 2021, so selling high on him is the perfect move for Cleveland, especially if they can gain back some essential prospect value.

The Yankees are a suitable option for Cleveland in a potential trade, but so are the New York Mets. Yankee fans have been calling for Lindor for quite some time, given his consistency and absolute dominance in the MLB over six seasons. This past campaign, he hit .258 with eight homers and 27 RBIs. This was his worst season by far, but the sample size was also slashed.

In 2019, Lindor hit .284 with 32 homers and 74 RBIs, ranking 15th in MVP voting and winning a Gold Glove. Not only is he an offensive weapon, but he’s also one of the best defensive short stops in the MLB. This is where the Yankees come in to play, as they currently have Gleyber Torres trying to fill a spot that he simply has struggled to adapt to.

Lindor has never dropped below a .974 fielding percentage, which came in his rookie season. In 2019, he had 10 errors over 137 games, turning 68 double plays, and had 11 defensive runs saved above average.

When flashing over to Gleyber, his defensive statistics don’t even match up remotely. In 2019, he spent 77 games at shortstop, earning a .961 fielding percentage with 11 errors. Just from those numbers alone, you can see the difference.

How are the New York Yankees acquire Lindor, and where would DJ LeMahieu go?

This is the only outside chance I see regarding LeMahieu’s departure. I feel as though the Yankees understand his value and will do anything they can to retain him, but the only way they let him walk is if they acquire Lindor and move Torres back to second base. They will have a stellar infield, moving Torres back to a more comfortable position and injecting of the best shortstops of this generation at a spot of defensive liability.

3 players the New York Giants should bring back in 2021

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants went into the 2020 season with weaknesses at multiple positions, allocating money in free agency to sure up voids. Luckily for them, their free-agent signings turned out to be stellar, even if they were forced like cornerback Logan Ryan was after the injury to second-round pick Xavier McKinney. Sometimes, things just work out in your favor.

Schematically, the veteran players they installed turned out to be perfect, but the Giants have three significant players that will be hitting the market after the 2020 season. Keeping them for 2021 would be preferable, even if it means spending a little bit more to retain them.

Three players the New York Giants should bring back in 2021:

1.) CB Logan Ryan

The first on the list is cornerback Logan Ryan, who has found a home with the Giants after spending his college career at Rutgers not too far away.

He has always felt at home in the tri-state area, so finding his way to Big Blue was a blessing in disguise. In addition, the training staff might have saved his wife’s life this past week, as she experienced an ectopic pregnancy, which could’ve been life-threatening.

Ryan, on the football field, has been a stellar addition to Patrick Graham’s defense. He has experience in multiple schemes and the ability to communicate has not only helped the youngsters adapt but the veterans come together and develop chemistry quickly. So far this year, he has 47 combined tackles, three quarterback hits, 1.0 sack, five passes defended, and one forced fumble.

In coverage he is holding up quite well, allowing a 61.8% completion rate and one touchdown through eight games. While his missed tackle rate is a bit higher than you might like at 11.3%, he has been a catalyst for the Giants on defense and is worthy of a second contract next season.

Per PFF, Ryan has been about average in every category, which is exactly what the Giants hoped for when they signed him to replace McKinney for the short term. He ended up being a more integral part of the defense and could find his way back to the Giants next season. His run defense has been solid and coverage adequate.

Contractually, Ryan is on a one-year, $5.05 million deal, including a $3.5 million signing bonus and $3.5 million guaranteed.

If they could retain him on a two-year, $12 million deal, it might be beneficial to keep him in blue.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Infielder Eduardo Nunez

The New York Mets brought Eduardo Nunez back to the state where his career started, but it was not a successful return. Nunez only played in four innings over two games and lost his season to a knee injury.

Nunez looked like a promising addition to the Mets infield depth. Though he has not been a stellar defender in his career, he can play multiple infield and outfield positions. Nunez was also coming off two solid seasons before struggling during the 2019 season with the Boston Red Sox.

Gone Too Soon

Nunez made his Mets debut in the second game of the season as a pinch-runner. He successfully stole a base then remained in the game as a designated hitter. Nunez recorded his first hit with the Mets the following night in their 14-1 loss. Unfortunately, it came with pain as he stumbled after legging out the infield single and fell to the grass. Nunez ended up spraining his left knee, and the pain lingered long enough to land him on the 45-day injured list, ending his season.

As Nunez heads into free agency again, he will likely serve the same role again. As he heads into his age-34, his best years are behind him but still serves his worth as a utility infielder. With Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez stepping up in his absence, two games are all Nunez will play with the Mets.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 50 (45)

Power: 30 (25)

Run: 55 (50)

Arm: 45 (40)

Fielding: 45 (45)

Overall: 45 (40)

This New York Yankees’ young star will play winter ball this year

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

Another New York Yankees player will participate in winter ball. The team needs some of its most important ballplayers to make up for the lost time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Caribbean leagues are shaping up as an excellent opportunity for them to compete at a high level.

Just a few days after it was reported that Domingo German, Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar will be playing for Toros del Este of the Dominican League, Tigres del Licey announced they have permission from the New York Yankees to use Deivi Garcia in the same circuit.

The news was reported this week by ESPN’s Enrique Rojas. Garcia made his MLB debut for the Yankees this summer, and was a revelation in the starting rotation. He pitched had starts and pitched 34.1 innings, with a 4.98 ERA and a 4.15 FIP. He struck out 22.6% of the batters he faced, walking only 4.1%.

Licey’s general manager Junior Noboa confirmed the news to Rojas on Thursday. Conversations between the Yankees and the Tigres were taking place for days, as the latter was actively seeking permission to use the talented 21-year-old hurler.

The Yankees want him to get some more innings

“It looks like fans will get their wish of seeing (Deivi) pitch, we have already gotten permission from his organization and he will be with the team this season,” Noboa said to Rojas.

Garcia, who rose through the Yankees’ minor league system in 2019 by making the jump from Class A-Advanced to Double-A and then to Triple-A, had struggled a bit in the last level. However, with no minor leagues and a hole in the rotation following the injuries to Luis Severino and James Paxton and the Domingo German suspension, the Bombers had to call him up to fill a spot.

He was very impressive in his short stint, with only six bases on balls and 33 strikeouts. Garcia will, most likely, have a spot in the Yankees’ rotation next year.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: “La Machine” is Silver Slugger and the case for Francisco Lindor and Lance Lynn

New York Yankees, Lance Lynn

In 2019 the New York Yankees acquired DJ LeMahieu before the 2019 season from the Colorado Rockies. General Manager Brian Cashman has had some failure with a few players; this acquisition was a winner right from spring training 2019. The Yankees couldn’t have asked more from the second baseman. In his first year, he won the Silver Slugger Award for 2nd base. He hit .327 with 26 home runs. The Yankees would have been happy in 2020 if he just approached those stats. What they got was an even better performance hitting .364 in the shortened coronavirus season.

Looking at his 2020 stats and recalculating them for a normal 162 season, he would have 27 home runs with 192 hits. In 2019 his on-base percentage was .375, which also increased in 2020 to .421 thus earning that nickname, “the machine.” He was bestowed that nick because it seems when he gets to the plate, he nearly always puts the ball in play. Now at the end of this season, he has won his second Silver Slugger Award. He also won the batting title, being the first player ever to win the batting title in both leagues. He also is a finalist for American League MVP.

Now in the offseason, he is a free agent for the first time while being a Yankee. He got a two-year contract to play for the Yankees at $24 million. Being one of the best players in either league, he most certainly will demand more money and a more stable contract as he is now 32 years old. Most analysts project that he will command something in the range of $20 million a year, most likely for four years, when he will be 36 years old. If he wants much more than that or for a longer period, the Yankees could let him walk in this cash strapped season. There is no question that the Yankees will do everything in their power to keep the slugger in pinstripes.

Is Franciso Lindor headed to Yankees Stadium?

Forget free agency for a minute; the non-free agent Francisco Lindor is one of the biggest prizes out there this offseason. USA Today first reported that the financially hurting Cleveland Indians are looking to dump their All-Star shortstop by trading him with just one year left on his contract.

Lindor is arguably the best shortstop in baseball, and the New York Yankees need a shortstop after a mostly failed season at short by Gleyber Torres. Another team that needs help at short is the cross-town New York Mets. If Lindor goes to either New York team, he will be more likely to go with the Mets. Although the Yankee need is great, the Yankees will more likely put their resources to improving their pitching rotation and bullpen.

Although it is doubtful that the Yankees will make a strong play for Lindor, they may get creative and try to find a way to get him in pinstripes. Like Derek Jeter, Aaron Judge, and Mike Trout, Lindor is the type of plays that can sell tickets to fill the stands at Yankee Stadium, just to see him play. Over the past five years, he tallied a total of 28.4 wins above replacement, as per Baseball-Reference.com. That ranks him sixth in all of Major League Baseball during that juncture. With nearly $70 million off the payroll, the Yankees will have to decide if they spend money on short or on pitching. They most likely will want to stay below the $210M luxury tax threshold, but that could change as the offseason hot stove heats up.

The New York Yankees should look to trade for Lance Lynn

The Yankees have lost out on the last several postseasons, and many believe that it is because of less than stellar pitching. It’s hard to argue against that notion. If you look at the dynasty years of the last ’90s and early 2000s, you see a consistent quality pitching display. If you compare that to now, regardless of Gerrit Cole, the pitching looks like the grocery store shelves before a natural disaster. There really outside of Cole doesn’t appear to be much left on the shelves except for a few things no one wants or needs. The Yankees must fix that. If the Yankees can afford to make only one or two big moves in the offseason, one of them should be trading for Lance Lynn.

Why does Lance Lynn fit for the Yankees? One big thing is that Lynn is a workhorse like CC Sabathia in his prime. He can eat innings and keep the bullpen pitchers in the bullpen. Even at 33 years old, Lynn pitched 84 innings this past season, the most in all of baseball. Think for a moment about Masahiro Tanaka, who can eat innings; he pitched only 48 innings.

Lynn is not an ace type pitcher but a solid middle of rotation guy. With Cole leading the rotation and a returning Luis Severino and possible return of Domingo German, Lynn would be a firm number four in the rotation. If the Yankees decide to negotiate with Masahiro Tanaka and bring him back at a discount, that will produce an extremely strong starting rotation, leaving Montgomery, Garcia, and Schmidt to fight for a place in the rotation and give the Yankees a really good backup of pitchers should someone become injured.

Lynn is a veteran pitcher with an uncanny ability to adapt to any situation. With the Texas Rangers in 2020, Lynn got off to a slow start, made adjustments, and came out of the season fifth in the Cy Young Award voting. The bottom line is that the is a near-perfect fit for Yankee Stadium. He pitches over six innings per game and a 6-3 record close to Cole’s performance of 7-3.

There are ups and downs to this trade. Lynn, as good as a pitcher as he is, is less costly than either Paxton or Happ, last year he earned only $8 million. In a year that the New York Yankees will want to save money, acquiring Lynn to solve the pitching situation is very economical. Lynn in 2018 with the Yankees when 3-2 in 9 starts, so we know the bright lights of Yankee Stadium are not a factor with Lynn. The downside to that trade is that the Yankees will most likely have to give up prospects that they may not want to give up, which will hurt. But the Yankees may have to take on some hurt to bolster the pitching rotation.

 

Clear-cut kings of the AFC East, Buffalo Bills ready for bigger challenges

After besting New England, control of the East belongs to the build. There’s work to do, but the team is officially ready for loftier goals.

Last Sunday, it finally happened. The rabbit got to have a bowl of Trix. Wile E. Coyote caught the Road Runner. The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots.

Buffalo is in the midst of a potential stretch of prosperity. Success in the NFL is anything but guaranteed…just ask, say, the conference finalist Jacksonville Jaguars…but the Bills, one of seven AFC teams with a winning record over the past four seasons, have set themselves up well in terms of the league’s long-term landscape. But something was missing, the slaying of a proverbial dragon, a monster that had dominated the lands for years. Buffalo’s first year mingling with the NFL’s elite saw then engage in a pair of competitive matchups with the fearsome Patriots but ultimately fall short on the scoreboard to create a 4-34 tally over nearly two decades of meetings.

But with the chief tormenter, Tom Brady, having absconded for pre-retirement in Tampa Bay and several other key contributors in the area dealing with injuries, inconsistency, or both, the Bills finally best their Foxboro foes. The 24-21 final, earned when Division II Ferris State alum Justin Zimmer stripped the ball from Cam Newton, wasn’t pretty but was enough to build a sizable distance between them and the Flying Elvises. It was a symbolic official passing of the AFC East torch in the eyes of some and the impact of such a win was not lost on the victors.

“Man, that was fun,” Bills defender Jerry Hughes said of the win per John Wawrow of the Associated Press. “It feels good, to be honest with you, to be on the other side of the spectrum, to be watching our offense hit that victory formation. It felt amazing.”

Buffalo (6-2) is now up 3.5 games up on the reeling Patriots and a game-and-a-half ahead of a Maimi Dolphins team that made it clear where its focus is when they sat the effective Ryan Fitzpatrick for future franchise man Tua Tagovailoa. Even if one of their immediate chasers pulls off an improbable…and the Bills own all tiebreakers with a 4-0 mark against divisional foes this season…the 6-2 mark should well sustain them in terms of an expanded playoff picture.

The playoffs seem clear. The division looms large. But the Bills know that this is no time to become complacent, even though they’ve managed to earn a sterling start under complicated circumstances.

“Most coaches would say they want to hit their stride in November, December, when the leaves are coming off the trees,” head coach Sean McDermott said of the team’s intriguing first half, per Mary Margaret Johnson of Informnny.com. “Overall, at the end of the day you’re trying to win one game. Rosters change week to week, lineups change week to week, challenges normally come, and with COVID, we’re trying to find one week wins and do the best you can to put the best lineup out there.”

One checkpoint has been reached. Now, it’s time for this team to set loftier goals for themselves.

As another New York state sensation that wore red and blue once learned, with great power comes great responsibility. The Bills need to set their sights on something higher, something bigger. No longer does the New England demon hover over Western New York. The video boards at Bills Stadium no longer need to highlight the Patriots on the out-of-town-scoreboard. Buffalo has taken care of business and has free reign of the division, at least temporarily.

A de facto reward awaits the Bills in the form of three nationally televised games over the final eight games, and that’s before flexible scheduling kicks in. The Week 14 team matchup with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers is currently placed in NBC’s Sunday Night Football package; it would be the first time the peacock network came to visit Buffalo for football reasons since 2007…a game that became a 56-10 shellacking at the hands of the unbeaten-in-the-regular season Patriots.

It’s time for the Bills to defend their newly earned spot amongst the NFL’s elite.

Strong as the Bills have looked, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Despite holding one of the NFL’s best records, they somehow have a negative point differential (-2) thanks to one-sided losses at the hands of Tennessee and Kansas City. The heroics of Zimmer notwithstanding, Buffalo would also like to see some more pressure generated by the pass rush.

Every week they know they’re the tip of the spear for our defense,” McDermott said of the pressure he’s hoping to generate with the front group, according to Alex Brasky of The Daily News (Batavia). “I’ve enjoyed watching them the past few weeks as we continue to build our defense. Their coordination and their chemistry and how they’re playing – that’s a work in progress at this point.

“Regardless of what type of QB you’re going against, you have to have the front to impact the QB. Your front has to play well every week. You have to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”

Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A trial by fire could be the best thing for the Bills at this point. It ignites this Sunday with a visit from the NFC-leading Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in Orchard Park (1 p.m. ET, Fox). Everywhere the Bills go, there’s going to be a larger spotlight on them. It’s better that they get used to it now rather than later.

Buffalo is worried about the surprises that Seattle and their MVP quarterback, Russell Wilson, have in store for them. They’re ready for such a challenge with both wariness and anticipation.

“(Wilson) does everything well,” cornerback Tre’Davious White said about the challenge to Ashley Holder of WGRZ-TV. “He knows the coverages and what makes the offense go. (There is) nothing he can’t do. He can make every throw on the run and always knows the coverages we are in. He’s the total package and a triple threat.”

Their New England demon exorcised at last, the Bills have earned their spot amongst the NFL’s elite. It’s time to prove they can stay there. Thus far, there’s indeed reason to doubt they can truly stick around. For example, they completed their season sweep against the lowly New York Jets but failed to score a touchdown. They’ve looked suspect against established contenders like the Titans and Chiefs. It’s something that the Bills are aware of…and yet another challenge they welcome.

“Our job is to put together a plan to do the things we need to do just to win a game,” offensive coordinator Brian Daboll remarked, per Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “The stats and all that other stuff, the only important one is the letter (W or L). That’s the most important thing to us, and that’s how we approach it.”

“Certainly, we’d like to improve in really every area of our game. We’re only half a season in, so there’s a lot of growth that we all need to have. We’ll just continue to work at it, grind it out and try to improve.”

The challenges of the NFL resemble the villainous Marvel Comics organization Hydra, where it’s said that if one head is cut off, another will take its place. Good teams find a way to tackle these challenges and fully establish their spot among the great teams. The Bills’ former tormenters from New England developed an endless stream of victorious football by tackling these challenges and taking care of business through doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well (as evidenced by their jaw-droppingly strong divisional record since the turn of the century).

Buffalo is handling the latter part. This trial by fire…with Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Arizona all looming large…will be their first chance to truly stick around the NFL’s great squads.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Rangers settling with Ryan Strome sends message of confidence in his abilities

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

Even though the New York Rangers initially offered Ryan Strome less, the team decided to avoid arbitration and settle with the center on a two-year contract with an average annual value of $4.5 million. The move leaves the Rangers with approximately $3,891,867 of space remaining for a roster that currently has 11 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders.

Strome will earn $4 million this upcoming season and $5 million in 2021-22 in this deal.

The biggest question in dealing with Strome was whether this was a true indication of his talent or whether his true stat line was inflated by playing with Artemi Panarin. The 27-year-old broke out in a big way in 2019-20, passing the 50-point mark for the first time since 2014-15.

Prior to the agreement, Strome filed for $5.7 million, with the Rangers countering at $3.6 million. On Thursday, the two sides agreed to the $4.5 million which signifies that the Blueshirts are more than happy to keep the center with Panarin, something that was very important to the regular-season success last season. Part of this can be contributed to a very shallow free-agent pool at center, especially for a team that does not have a ton of salary-cap space.

The Rangers also knew that the pairing of Strome and Panarin was very productive, as the two compiled a .6575 goal-rate (48 goals for, 25 against) in 700:48 of five-on-five play. Numbers that the Rangers brass was apparently impressed enough to not risk letting Strome walk away and try to reproduce with a center that costs less money. This also signifies that they believe that Filip Chytyl is not quite ready to be a top-6 forward.

Strome posted 18 goals and a career-high 59 points in 70 games this past season. He added two assists in three games during the playoffs following the postponement of the season due to COVID-19.

Selected fifth overall by the New York Islanders in the 2011 NHL Draft, Strome was traded to the Rangers early in the 2018-19 season from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Ryan Spooner, a move that is looking like one of Jeff Gorton’s best moves during his tenure in New York.