New York Yankees: Another potential target gone as 2021 season takes shape

For the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams, issues become clearer on what a 2021 baseball season will look like. It appears that spring training will start on time, the season will be a full 162 games, and that fans will be let into major league parks in some fashion. Other issues like rules and an expanded postseason are yet to be dealt with.

Last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo allowed fans in the stands at a Buffalo Bills game while adhering to social distancing and plans to allow them again this weekend. The present posture does not allow fans in large venues. Cuomo will not have to make that decision for Yankee Stadium or Citi Field for several months. However, fans will likely be allowed in the stands even if it is not for the first few games at home parks.

MLB can allow anything it wants, but ultimately those decisions remain in the local health authority’s hands. Some parks may allow fans socially distanced with tickets sold in small pods. Some parks may require vaccinations or negative coronavirus tests, while others may not require anything at all. At least at the beginning of the season, do not expect to see stadiums jam-packed.

As first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Commissioner Bob Manfred has contacted teams telling them they aim to have a complete 162 game season. This after previously saying that team owners wanted to delay the season by a month. That proposal was immediately put down by Players Union Director Tony Clark. In the communication, he also told owners to prepare to start spring training on time in February.

As soon as this news came out, the Chicago White Sox, the second most active team in the offseason, went ahead and signed one of the most coveted relievers in the game. They signed Liam Hendriks to a five-year $54 million deal. Hendriks has been on the wish list of the New York Yankees who need bullpen help with the loss of Tommy Kahnle. The Australian born Hendriks pitched in 24 games last season for the Athletics with a tiny 1.78 ERA.

Now that the 2021 revenues are becoming clearer, the New York Yankees may get more aggressive after doing relatively nothing this offseason. They have made it a priority to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, but they have not yet come to a deal. With this news, they may push LeMahieu for an answer, and if they can not get a positive response, move on and get to the business of improving the team for the upcoming season. The Yankees have seen any number of potential targets now sign with other teams.

 

 

 

 

New York Mets: Offseason Moves Progressing As Expected

The New York Mets are still in a good spot after Liam Hendriks signed with the Chicago White Sox. Hendriks is the first big name to fall off the extremely slow-moving free-agent market. His signing leaves George Springer, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, and D.J. LeMahieu as the final big names looking for deals.

Hendriks was always on the Mets’ radar but was a “want” not a “need” for their bullpen. Their bullpen already had plenty of dominant hard-throwing righties, making left-hander Brad Hand a perfect fit for them. Once the Mets signed James McCann, they were already out on Realmuto. For the Mets’ sake, they hope Reamulto signs in the American League.

Two Controversial Figures

Trevor Bauer’s free agency went from something exciting to a Bauer-esque annoying, drawn-out episode. Bauer is commanding the highest AAV in baseball history, which has to make Jacob deGrom chuckle. If anyone deserves Bauer’s asking price, it is deGrom or current AAV record holder Gerrit Cole. After trading for Carlos Carrasco, the Mets are out on Bauer until the price becomes reasonable.

The Mets got a dynamic bat when they acquired Francisco Lindor, which brought George Springer’s future into question. Springer is also commanding a large deal, but the Mets also have huge contracts on their books. Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Lindor are some of the names that warrant contract extensions. Robinson Cano’s hefty contract is also a burden thanks to Brodie Van Wagenen and steroids.

The Mets are the only team that can afford to pay Springer his asking price. MLB’s uncertainty with the designated hitter also puts the Mets in a tough roster situation. Despite the questions surrounding the roster, the Mets are still the front runner for Springer.

The Silent Assassin

It takes a lot to frustrate D.J. LeMahieu, but the New York Yankees did it. Whether the anger is real or a hardball tactic, LeMahieu urged his agent to reach out to a handful of teams, including the Mets. LeMahieu is a huge wild card for the Mets because there technically is nowhere for him to play on the infield.

Obviously, LeMahieu is better than J.D. Davis and the Mets would make a trade if he was signed. Davis is too valuable to keep on the bench and becomes the odd man if LeMahieu signs. Opening the wallet for LeMahieu would benefit the offense and defense more than signing Springer. LeMahieu is the better hitter, and the Mets can settle with signing Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar.

Even though all three players have different odds to join the Mets, you can throw those away with Steve Cohen as the owner.

 

New York Yankees Analysis: What could happen if Steinbrenner opens up the purse strings?

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

Today let’s take a look at a New York Yankee fan’s dreamworld where Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman decide they see a great opportunity to reach the World Series now that their greatest opposition, the Tampa Bay Rays seem not to be as strong a team now that pitcher Chalie Morton has walked to the Atlanta Braves and their ace Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres. Please make no mistake about it that the Rays are a smart team and will still be a potent opponent, so the Yankees will have to have a very talented team in the 2021 season to take advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead.

In this scenario, the New York Yankees sign DJ LeMahieu and cave to his demands for a five-year contract. Assuming they do that, they then have to address the starting pitching. In this scenario, we suggest that Steinbrenner will allow a payroll similar to the Yankees 2020 level, going over the luxury tax threshold.

The Yankees have a base salary on the books at about $133 million. Should they spend to 2020 levels, it gives them just over $100 million to spend, less LeMahieu’s signing leaves them $75-80 million to spend.

The New York Yankees starting pitching situation is not quite as dire as some assume it is. They have leading the rotation, ace Gerrit Cole, they have the returning Domingo German, 2019’s best Yankee pitcher, and before a mid-season, Luis Severino’s return who’s 2017 2018 record was 33-14. Besides those three, they could bring back Masahiro Tanaka and let the promising young up and coming pitchers to fight it out for the fifth spot on the rotation. The only problem with this look is that German, after not pitching for a year, has been beaten up in Winter ball, and the Yankees have no way of knowing how Severino will pitch after not pitching for two years.

Under this scenario, the Yankees will not take a chance and hire a true number two pitcher in Trevor Bauer. A Cole/Bauer one-two would be devastating to opponents. The Yankees would also re-sign Masahiro Tanaka.  The Yankees have questions in the bullpen; they have the undependable relief of Adam Ottavino and losing Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers. To correct this, the Yankees will hire Liam Hendriks and Aaron Loop. Hendriks had the best ERA out of the bullpen last season, and Loop will provide a left-hand mix and match reliever. The Yankees will also stop depending on Aroldis Chapman as their closer considering he has given up the winning run in the postseason in the past two years. Instead, they will look at the lineup ahead and choose either Chapman or Britton using analytics.

The Yankees will hire Andrelton Simmons as their new shortstop replacing the deficient Gleyber Torres and allowing him to go back to second base, his normal position. That will put the Yankees to use the returning DJ LeMahieu just as the Dodgers would have should they be able to sign him, as a player that will play all infield positions and DH to keep him in the everyday lineup. He will also provide across the board insurance in case of injuries.

The Yankees will sign Yadier Molina to alternate with Gary Sanchez as the everyday catcher. Kyle Higashio will be the backup catcher and the personal catcher of ace Gerrit Cole. Molina will provide a veteran presence that may aid Sanchez in his long term development.

With all of these changes, the New York Yankees will be hard to beat and have the best chance since 2009, the last time they won a World Series. If there is a year to spend, this is it. The “Baby Boomers” are aging, and this may be their last chance to take advantage of their talents if the Yankees choose to do nothing. Okay, so what will all these mentioned changes cost the Yankees? $233 million, seven million than last year.

Here’s the breakdown: Base salary $133 million, DJ LeMahieu ($25M), Trevor Bauer ($25M), Masahiro Tanaka ($12M), Andrelton Simmons ($12M), Yadier Molina ($10M), arbitration ($10M), Hendriks ($5M), and Loup ($1M). Of course, these figures are not exact but are in line with probable amounts these players can expect, and the Yankees still have $7 million in wiggle room and still stay below last year’s payroll. They could also still sign Brett Gardner for outfield insurance. The only serious question here is if they can sign Bauer on a one-year contract after announcing he is looking for a long-term deal, something the Yankees will not commit to. It is possible the Yankees could work out an inflated one year deal like the $25 million mentioned to allow him to wait for a better deal after 2021. With a team built like this one, he might think getting a World Series ring is worth the deal.

The bottom line is that it is not likely any of this will happen even though the New York Yankees have the financial wherewithal to accomplish all of these deals. I previously wrote an article stating why this is the year for the Yankees to spend. You can find that article here.

EmpireSportsMedia, com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: How will the Yankees spend if they can’t sign DJ LeMahieu?

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

It’s an understatement to say that the New York Yankees have been very quiet two months into the offseason. The Yankees have been stagnant in the free agency for their many needs. Why? Because the Yankees feel with so little money to spend that they can’t really do anything significant until they find out if they can re-sign batting champ DJ LeMahieu.

At the end of the season Yankees, fans were sad that LeMahieu refused the only qualifying offer that the Yankees issued. The Yankees fans gained excitement with the news that the Yankees were negotiating for the star’s return. Every day a new story came out about the negotiations. But now, two months later and the negotiations seemingly further apart, writers are getting tired of writing about it and fans tired of reading the stalemate.

As the negotiations dragged on, it seems that DJ LeMahieu has gotten more adamant that he wants a 5-year contract to protect his security through age 38, when he will probably retire from baseball. The New York Yankees don’t want to take the risk that LeMahieu will be the player he has been the last two years in the final two years of a five-year contract. The Yankees would like to see a three-year contract for about $75 million. So the sides are $50 million apart, and that’s not chicken feed.

Many fans are wishing that the Yankees would give DJ a final offer and if he doesn’t accept it, move on to fill the other needs of the club. With those that have left the team through free agency, it appears the Yankees have taken $74 million off their 2020 payroll. That may seem like a bundle of money, but it’s not. Owner Hal Steinbrenner has, as of this point, ordered general manager Brian Steinbrenner to stay below the luxury tax threshold. If that’s the case, the Yankees only have $44 million to spend. If they sign LeMahieu, they will only have $19 million left in the cash box to spend on their other needs.

Don’t expect the Yankees to sign any front-line players, either hitters or pitchers, with that little money. If the Yankees decide to try to resign Masahiro Tanaka, feeling that for the money, there are no better pitchers out there, that will take another $10-12 million off the available money leaving $7-9 million. If you include a reunion with veteran Brett Gardner for outfield backup, the Yankees only have a few million to upgrade a bullpen that direly needs help.

It would be irresponsible for me not to add that everything could change between now and spring training. Two major scenarios are in play. DJ doesn’t resign, giving the Yankee over $40 million to spend. The other is that Steinbrenner could relent and allow Cashman to spend more while staying under last year’s payroll.

If the New York Yankees have $40 million to spend or if Hal allows Cash to spend more, they could pick up a number two-like starting pitcher. (Ordorizzi $12 million, Tanaka 10-12 million, Kluber $7 million). Bullpen (Hendriks $5 million, Joakim Soria $5 million, Aaron Loup $1 million. SS (Didi Gregorius $10-12 million, Andrelton Simmons $10-12 million.

If I was a betting man, which I’m not, I would guess that the New York Yankees will ultimately sign LeMahieu for four years and 100 million dollars, which would still be a bargain for a player of this caliber. The Yankees will add Tanaka or a mid-rotation guy to the pitching rotation and find a cheap mid-tier arm for the bullpen. They will do nothing with Torres at short and nothing more than signing a low-level backup catcher to the minor league team so that if Sanchez or Higashioka become injured, they will have someone qualified to call up.

In addition to these expenditures, the Yankees do have to give raises to their arbitration-eligible players their 2021 raises. Keep in mind that the Yankees do have the financial wherewithal of going over that tax threshold if they chose to take advantage of a golden opportunity this season when the Tampa Bay Rays seem not to be a threat they were in 2020.

 

New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees need a stronger consistent Bullpen in 2021

Other than inconsistent hitting from the lineup, the New York Yankees deficiency that caused them another early exit from the postseason in 2020 was lousy pitching. The Yankees haven’t had really good starting pitching quite a while. Yes, they went out and got the best pitcher available in 2019, but that’s really all they had. The rest of the pitchers were bluntly tired veterans that couldn’t go deep into games. That put added stress onto a bullpen that was also deficient.

The simple fact is that the Yankees must improve their overall pitching if they have any hope of a postseason play or even winning the division that was taken away from them this last season by the Tampa Bay Rays, who had excellent pitching. The Yankees have got to realize just how vital the bullpen is in this era of pitchers generally not going deep into the game. You rarely hear of a complete game anymore.  And the Yankee starters were worse than most. Only Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia went more than 5 1/2 innings. And Cole only went 6.08 innings.

Being super critical, the 2020 New York Yankee bullpen flopped. With the loss of Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery, the one loss seemed to break the back of the bullpen. Even in the short season, the bullpen was overworked. Besides the loss of Kahnle, they might have well lost Adam Ottavino because he was terrible. Cessa was Cessa; he didn’t lose a game and even got a save. Loaisiga didn’t lose a game either and even improved his ERA by a full point. Being overly harsh, Chapman sucked again, losing the final game of the postseason for the second year in a row.

The only real bright spot in the bullpen was Zack Britton; he was brilliant, saving eight games in Chapman’s absence after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kahnle has signed with the Dodgers, and Jonathan Holder has signed with the Cubs. With a very doubtful rebound of Adam Ottavino the bullpen has been most gutted. The Yankees need two dependable and consistent arms to be added.

There are 80 availble relief pitchers on the free agent market with out considering those available via the trade route. The New York Yankees certainly are able to find two to help them out. They have two methods of filling the void, one a closely path and the other going on the cheap to fill holes. The top names are obvious, Hendriks, Hand, Yates, Bradley, Osuna, Colome, and others. But there are also some good arms that won’t cost the Yankees an arm and a leg.

Aaron Loup:

The addition of Aaron Loup would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look the the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays.

Loup, after a regressive tenure in Toronto, found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.

Andrew Chaffin:

Staying with Lefty relievers, Andrew Chaffin could be an interesting addition to the Yankees bullpen. Chaffin is equally as good at getting right-hand and left-hand hitters out. In four games with the Chicago Cubs last season he gave up just one run for an ERA of 3.00. He also struck out more than 9 hitters over nine innings. He also would be a low cost addition to the bullpen although more expensive than Loup. He would likely cost the Yankees somewhere around $2 million.

Ryne Stanek:

The Yankees could do worse than signing Ryne Stanek. He had a horrible 2020 season, so he might be able to be gotten on a steal. Stanek began his career with the Rays, who chose him 29th overall in the 2013 draft, and had his best seasons with the club. He was a regular opener with the Rays from 2018-19, during which he pitched to a 3.17 ERA/3.64 FIP and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He is the only righty on this list.

Reunions:

There are several free agent relief pitchers out there that a very familiar with as they have pitched for the New York Yankees before. The most notiable one is David Robertson. Robertson is the not the reliever he once was but is very serviceable and we know he can pitch under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. Others include Chasen Shreve, Tyler Clippard (3 stints), Mark Melancon, Ian Kennedy, David Phelps, Nick Tropeano, and Luis Avilán. As I have said in a previous article, I am not against giving David Robertson another go at the Stadium.

The best thing for the Yankees to do in this writers humble opinion is get a big name like Hendriks or Hand to replace Kahnle and a lefty like Aaron Loup to add a dynamic mix to the right hand heavy Yankee bullpen. But it appears that the Yankees will be waiting to make any significant moves until the see if they can resign DJ LeMahieu. Hopefull all the good arm relievers won’t be gone by then.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam. Photo accompanying the article is of Aaron Loup.

 

 

New York Yankees: Who would be the best reliever pickup for the Yankees? You choose

With the New York Yankees centered on re-signing DJ LeMahieu, it will probably leave little money to sign a true number two starting pitcher. That will put more strain and stress on the Yankee bullpen. With each passing year, the bullpen of all teams takes on more significance, with starters not going as deep into the game as the one did. And for the Yankees, it will be even more important this season with a starting rotation that will lack experience following ace Gerrit Cole.

Today I will examine my picks for the New York Yankees’ best options to replace the important Tommy Kahnle, who has had Tommy John surgery and is now a free agent unable to pitch in the 2021 baseball season. Any replacement for Kahnle takes on even more significance because of the unknowability of Adam Ottavino bouncing back from a dismal season in 2020. Here are my picks in no particular order.

1.) Liam Hendriks: ($5M) Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons. Since 2019 Hendriks has an ERA of 1.79 in 99 games with an astounding 13.1 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.

2.) David Roberson ($7M) Yes, he has been with the Yankees twice already, and each time he left, the Yankees lost out. Here is where the risk comes in, D-Rob is now 36 years old and is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but in my opinion, the potential reward far outweighs the risk involved. Before the 2019 season, he became a Philadelphia Philly for $23 million and a two-year contract. Unfortunately, his time with the Phillies was not a productive one; he required Tommy John surgery and pitched in only seven games in 2019 and none in 2020. The Phillies did not exercise his $12 million option for 2021. For the Yankees, few pitchers have pitched better than David Robertson during the last 12 years. He has a 38-22 record with the Yankees with a tiny ERA of 2.75.

3.) Brad Hand ($6M) For the New York Yankees, it’s intriguing that Brad Hand is available. The Indians declined Hand’s $10 million option in a cost-cutting measure, and now the man who led MLB in saves in 2020 and has a 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, and a 157 ERA+ over the last five years is on the market. It should be a no-brainer for the Yankees.  A southpaw, Hand is particularly stingy against left-handed hitters. They haven’t hit better than .196 against him over the last four years, and a lefty hasn’t taken him deep in two seasons. What makes Hand most remarkable is that he is insanely consistent in an art that is seldom consistent.

4.) Mark Melancon ($6.5M) Last year with the Braves, he helped bring them to a near World Series win going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.78 in 19 games, allowing only one home run on the season. Although primarily a closer, he has pitched middle innings for the Braves. Obviously, the Yankees don’t need a closer, but Melancon would be an excellent replacement for free agent Tommy Kahnle as a setup man for both Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman and could fill in closing any game for the Yankees. Melancon is a perfect fit for the Yankees and Yankee Stadium’s short right porch. Hitters can’t take advantage of the short porch if they can’t get the ball in the air. Mark is a ground ball pitcher, getting ground balls 56% of the time. He has an excellent curveball and cutter and will throw an occasional fastball and changeup.

5.) Shane Greene ($5M) Greene throws a mid-90s two-seam fastball with great movement and a nasty slider effective against both lefty and righty batters. Greene has a “short-arm” throwing motion, which is deceptive to hitters and can provide a fastball’s sneaky fast feeling. In 2018, he recorded 32 saves but had a 5.12 ERA. The next season, he bounced back with 22 saves and a 1.18 ERA before the trade deadline. When Greene arrived in Atlanta, he was used as a late-inning reliever and did okay. Most recently, Greene bounced back with a 2.60 ERA in 28 games during the shortened 2020 season. He was an important member of the solid Braves bullpen in 2020 and will be wanting a good contract offer during the offseason.

My pick to shore up the New York Yankee bullpen would be Liam Hendriks due to his record over the last two seasons, but I will put him as my number two choice. Here is my reasoning for choosing David Robertson as my number one pick. Robertson we know can pitch under the bright lights of New York and the demanding fans that sit in its stands. A lot of good pitchers have failed in New York. Hendriks has never pitched for a huge market team that eats up its players with extreme scrutiny.

Don’t get me wrong the Yankees would do well to pick up any of these five fine players. The dollar amount you see after each name is how much I believe will be required to sign them in this depressed market.

New York Mets Best Relief Pitching Options on the Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

The New York Mets may not need extra bullpen help but the more,, the merrier. Like the starting pitching market, there is a clear-cut top guy in Liam Hendriks, but the Mets already have a dominant closer. What are the other strong, late-inning options for the Mets to bring in for the 2021 season?

1. Liam Hendriks 

Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons. In 99 games since 2019, he has a 1.79 ERA, 39 saves, and an astounding 13.1 K/9. Hendriks only allowed six home runs in that span of games and would undoubtedly make the Mets bullpen the best in baseball. He is well within the Mets budget, but Hendriks may not be as high on their list as George Springer or Trevor Bauer.

Adding Hendriks would create a three-headed monster with Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo. It allows the Mets to mix and match their bullpen, similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays. Pitchers are creatures of habit, but all three have shown versatility to pitch prior to the ninth inning.

2. Brad Hand

Moving to the bullpen was the greatest thing that ever happened to Brad Hand‘s career. Since 2016, Hand has a 2.70 ERA, 104 saves, and three All-Star appearances. Despite the Cleveland Indians attempt to save money, it was still a surprise for the team to waive him after the season.

The Mets bullpen is desperate for a left-handed reliever after Justin Wilson became a free agent and the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve. Hand would create a different breed of a three-headed monster in the bullpen with his ability to neutralize lefties. Left-handers have no success against Hand; they have hit well under .200 since Hand became a reliever. Hand would be the perfect neutralizer for NL East lefties Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto.

3. Alex Colome

Alex Colome is a more likely right-handed option for the Mets. The 32-year old veteran only allowed two earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched. Colome is as close to Mariano Rivera 2.0 as anyone can get. He only features a cutter and 4-seam fastball, ditching everything else.

Versatility is the name of the game for relievers this offseason and Colome fits the mold. He has 138 career saves but is likely an eighth inning reliever with Lugo. The Mets have a lot of hard throwing, swing and miss relievers; Colome is a good change of pace in comparison. He is a master of inducing weak contact due to his tremendous cutter. Hitters had a 3.1% barrel rate in 2020.

4. Justin Wilson

The market is a lot quieter on Justin Wilson than it would have been last offseason. Wilson would agree 2020 was not his finest season but had a 3.66 ERA in 23 games. He fits perfectly into any role the Mets have and even lefty/righty splits in his career. Wilson was a big part of the Mets resurgence in 2019 and is an underrated part of their bullpen.

5. Keone Kela

Keone Kela comes with plenty of injury and personality baggage which is a huge risk in New York. His bad clubhouse reputation is well documented but partnering with the culture with the Mets could benefit him. The lights out stuff is proven with a career 3.27 ERA and 11 K/9 but he ranks low due to injuries and past suspension. Kela is primed for a one year deal with an option for a second due if the risk pays off.

 

New York Mets Opinion: Offseason Free Agent Targets Going Forward

New York Yankees, Trevor Bauer

The New York Mets have a good start to their offseason, but as always, fans want more. They secured Trevor May and James McCann and found themselves a highly regarded general manager in Jared Porter. With plenty of big names still on the market, where should the Mets look next?

1. George Springer

Obviously, the top spot is between George Springer and Trevor Bauer, but Springer is needed more. Partnering Springer along with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis gives the Mets lineup a perfect balance from both sides of the plate. Both of them will complement the outstanding left-handed power very well, and Springer is a proven clutch hitter. His versatility to hit in the top and middle of the lineup provides plenty of options for manager Luis Rojas.

The Mets also need a center fielder who is capable defensively. Springer is, at worst, is average defensively in center field. It will be a major upgrade from Brandon Nimmo‘s defense. Signing Springer would create a log jam in the outfield, but only if there is no designated hitter. If there is no DH, it makes Nimmo the odd-man-out between Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith

2. Trevor Bauer

Much like J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer is likely to drag out the offseason to get the perfect deal. He will likely be as expensive but differ in the number of years needed. Bauer’s biggest question is whether he is the Cy Young caliber pitcher from 2020 or the career 3.90 ERA pitcher. Any team would be happy to have either in their rotation, but each commands different contracts.

Put all the social media and on-field antics to the side, and the Mets need Bauer. His demeanor and hard-working personality are shown in an unorthodox way, but Bauer’s focus is on success. Bauer’s 4.55 ERA in his worst full season would have made him the third-best starter in the 2020 Mets rotation. The biggest question is if he wants to be a number second fiddle behind Jacob deGrom?

3. D.J. LeMahieu

D.J. LeMahieu is the signing that would open up trade options for the Mets. It would guarantee Jeff McNeil as the every day second baseman and leave Davis without a spot. The Mets could stock their depth or deal Davis, Amed Rosario, and a mid-level prospect for Francisco Lindor. With Andres Gimenez almost big league ready, they may not want to waste three players on a one-year rental.

This is not overlooking what LeMahieu brings to the Mets. He is a gold glove caliber defender at second and third base. LeMahieu has a rare combination of contact, power, and clutch hitting; the latter is what the Mets lacked throughout 2020. He will be 32 on Opening Day, and signing him may force the Mets to keep him through his age-37 season. As they look to go younger, LeMahieu’s length request may be a deal-breaker.

4. Liam Hendriks

Just the fact the Mets can be in on every free agent on the market is a luxury on its own. Signing Liam Hendriks gives the Mets the best bullpen in baseball. It potentially eliminates the typical closer role but in a good way. By no means is this a shot at Edwin Diaz; it allows the Mets to use their bullpen similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Seth Lugo and Trevor May would join Diaz and Hendriks at the high-leverage relievers. If healthy, Dellin Betances potentially fits into the same category. Instead of putting relievers in situations where they pitch in back-to-back days or four times in a week, they can pick and choose easier. With four, potentially five dominant relievers in the bullpen, they can have the firepower to end games after five innings.

5. Jake Odorizzi

What if I told you Jake Odorizzi might be just as good as Trevor Bauer? Odorizzi has made 192 starts, thrown 1042.1 innings, has a 1.24 WHIP and a 3.92 ERA in nine seasons. Bauer has made 195 starts, thrown 1190 innings, has a 1.27 WHIP and a 3.90 ERA in nine seasons. The biggest difference? One is coming off an injury-plagued season, while one is coming off a dominant Cy Young award-winning season.

If both were free agents last offseason, Odorizzi would have the upper hand. Unfortunately for Odorizzi, baseball has a major recency bias. The Mets need a reliable starter to round out their rotation, and missing out on Bauer does not stop them from doing so. Odorizzi likely will not have the Cy Young outburst like Bauer but is a quality, mid-rotation starter. If the Mets pass on Bauer, combining Odorizzi with someone like Masahiro Tanaka gives the Mets a strong rotation. They will have Noah Syndergaard returning by mid-season and potentially allows them to sign at least one of the other three names above.

The New York Mets are reportedly interested in the best reliever in the market

New York Mets

The New York Mets are collecting high-powered right-handed relievers. They know that a dominant bullpen is one of the keys to winning a championship, and new owner Steve Cohen is determined to earn a ring within his first five years in front of the franchise.

In recent weeks, the New York Mets have secured the services of several relievers, both in minor and major league deals. They have inked Sam McWilliams, Jacob Barnes, Jared Robinson, Trevor Hildenberger, and of course, Trevor May.

Now, according to SNY’s Andy Martino, they are showing interest in perhaps the best and most dominant bullpen piece available in the free agent market: Liam Hendriks, the former closer of the Oakland A’s.

May, so far, has been the highest-profile free agent to sign with the Mets. However, they apparently want to build a super bullpen that can compete with every unit in the bigs. If Seth Lugo doesn’t start, the group could be dominant, and features Edwin Diaz, May, Lugo, Brad Brach, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Erasmo Ramirez, and others.

Will the Mets get Hendriks?

Martino entertains the possibility of the Mets going after starter Jake Odorizzi and Hendriks as opposed to focusing on Trevor Bauer, which makes sense if they fail to land the latter.

For what is worth, Ben Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported that the Blue Jays are also interested in Hendriks.

The 31-year-old flamethrower has been absolutely lights out in the last two seasons in the heart of the A’s bullpen. This season, he had a 1.78 ERA and a 1.14 FIP in 25.1 innings, with an amazing 13.14 K/9 and 1.07 BB/9.

He is perhaps more famous for his performance in 2019, though, where he had a 3.9 fWAR season in 85.0 relief innings. That is more than most starters can brag about. It’s easy to see why the Mets are interested in Hendriks, but he will likely command top dollar on a multiyear contract given his monster numbers.

New York Yankees Analysis: When the Yankees address starting pitching, don’t forget the bullpen

The New York Yankees have issues. When it comes to pitching, that is an understatement. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ gone to free agency, the Yankees have some holes to fill. When the Yankees fill those holes, they need to do it with pitchers that can give them innings, reducing the bullpen’s stress and overuse. During the last dynasty years, the Yankees had pitchers that could do that and even pitched complete games.  When they didn’t, they had Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, Medoza, Lloyd, and Rivera.

We all know the record of Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, but the strength of the bullpen was their set up men. Of Ramiro Medoza, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, and Jeff Nelson, four won 25 games for the Yankees in 1998. Every starting pitcher had a winning record. Of the Yankees 2020 six starters, only two had winning records. A big difference is that the bullpen this year had to pitch more innings based on a 162 game season than in 1998.

That brings me back to the Yankee’s need for length from their starters. Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia were the only starting pitchers to go more than 5 1/2 innings per game, and even Cole only went 6.08 innings per game. Ideally, in this age when pitchers don’t pitch complete games anymore, you would like to see your starters go seven innings leaving just the setup man and closer to close out the game. Of course, that is not realistic, making middle relief really important.

When looking at the bullpen as it now stands, you must remember that the New York Yankees will be without the services of Tommy Kahnle all of next season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. So we have Chad Green, Johnathan Holder, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman as the core left in the pen.  That’s great, but they can’t pitch in all 162 games. The Yankees need at least one more dependable arm in the pen, and that is in addition to Clark Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Miguel Yajure, Luis Cessa. Abreu, King, Kriske, and Lyons all pretty much bombed out and cant’ be counted on.

It seems that Cessa and Loaisiga have been criticized for their performance during the 2020 season. I don’t quite get that Cessa didn’t lose any games for the Yankees and Loaisiga was 3-0 in twelve games, three of which he started. He is young and has time to blossom. Ottavino has another year on his contract, but after failing two years in a row, he won’t be much help next season unless he can figure things out.

All the talk this offseason is on the importance of re-signing DJ LeMahieu and getting a number two premium starter, and rightly so, but don’t forget the bullpen. The bottom line to winning the division and succeeding in the postseason is effective starting pitching, a lineup that consistently hits, and yes, a bullpen that can win games when the starting pitching fails. Usually, you have to have all three components operating at a high level.

With Kahnle gone, ideally, the Yankees should add two quality arms to the 2021 bullpen. Here are some suggestions: Liam Hendriks, $6 million. Hendriks was one of the game’s top relievers over his last two seasons in Oakland. In 2019, he posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 75 appearances. He was just as dominant in 2020—32-year-old Alex Colome. In 2020, Colomé posted a sparkling 0.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 21 appearances with the White Sox. Shane Greene put up solid numbers in 2020 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 28 appearances for the Braves.  The Yankees could also deal on the trade market, but it doesn’t seem to be the way to go with so many in free agency.

Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.