Yanks and Mets Look to Tighten Infield and Rotation
By Michael Papandrea
The 2014-15 offseason will not go down as a memorable one for Yankees and Mets fans. For the Yanks, General Manager Brian Cashman made all the responsible money saving moves he had to, while the archrival Red Sox made big splashes in the free agent market.
With six players making at least 15 million, including Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and C.C. Sabathia, the team has looked to make under the radar acquisitions. They traded for shortstop Didi Gregorious, who is a defensive upgrade over the 40 year old and now retired legend, Jeter. His left handed bat could also offer some pop in Yankee stadium.
The Yankees defensively locked down the left side of their infield when they signed Chase Headley for four years, $52 million. Headley won the gold glove award in 2012 in what was his best year in the big leagues. His defensive WAR has actually increased since then, but his offense has dramatically taken a hit.
The biggest names related to the Yankees, however, are the ones they let go. Closer David Robertson signed to the White Sox for $46 million over four years. Starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Hiroki Kuroda left for LA and Japan respectively.
Super utility player, Martin Prado, was traded away after batting .316 in 133 at-bats in his short stint with New York.
To combat these losses, they signed lefty reliever Andrew Miller, and traded for Nathan Evoldi, a hard throwing 24 year old starting pitcher. And just when you thought the team moved on from Stephen Drew, who batted .162 with the Red Sox and Yankees combined last season, they appear to be bringing him back as they have no second basemen on the Major League roster.
“The public, they don’t see the efforts of the deals that don’t come through,” Brian Cashman told the NY Post. “Our system just got closer [to producing major leaguers]. We’ve got guys closing the gap. This winter, we’ve made some moves because we have some younger players, controllable players, who are moveable pieces.”
On the other side, the Mets have had on and off rumors all offseason about acquiring shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. The chances of this happening are undoubtedly low, but the team did acquire his former teammate, Michael Cuddyer, for two years and $21 million to play a corner outfield position and bat in the middle of the order.
The Mets came right out the gate with the signing of Cuddyer, creating optimism around the fan base for other potential moves that could have been made. Unfortunately for Mets fans, this was the biggest move the front office would make.
John Mayberry Jr., who has been with the Phillies since 2009, was the next guy they signed. Mayberry wont be expected to play every day, but he will surely be in the lineup in place of Curtis Grandserson or Lucas Duda whenever the Mets face a left handed starter.
To help the bullpen, the Mets drafted left-hander Sean Gilmartin in the Rule 5 draft. Gilmartin has mainly been used as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but he will compete this spring training for a chance to come out of the Mets bullpen since their only lefty is Josh Edgin.
That is as exciting as it got for the Mets, aside from all the stories that came out about potential players they could trade. Daniel Murphy, Noah Syndergaard, Dillion Gee, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon are among the biggest names that have been reported as possible trade candidates.
Of course, no one was actually traded, so it looks like the Mets will head into the 2015 season with an abundance of starting pitching, which is a good problem to have.
Shortstop is a position that the fan base wanted to see improved this offseason. A trade for Tulowitzki was a mere fantasy, and the Japanese player they flirted with, Takashi Toritani, ended up staying in Japan. Instead, they will head into the season with the same two guys they had last year, Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.
With both New York franchises on the frugal side, MLB fans got a chance to see other teams handing out big bucks. The Dodgers replaced the Yankees as the team with the highest payroll by trading for Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick.
The Cubs found a new manager in Joe Maddon and improved their rotation with Jon Lester. The Padres re-amped their outfield and the Red Sox will have former shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, in theirs.
The biggest move of the offseason hasn’t even been made yet, as the 2013 Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer, is still available in what has shaped up to be an interesting offseason for baseball outside of New York. Come spring and summer time, Yankee and Mets fans alike will be hoping that their teams are able to make significantly more noise than they did this past winter.