The winter meetings have wrapped up in Nashville and neither the Yankees or Mets made any significant moves. With just about two months left before pitchers and catchers report, I thought I’d take a look at where both teams stand roster-wise.
The one move the Mets did make was to lock up third baseman David Wright through 2020. Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey is still in limbo as the Mets mull trade offers and a possible contract extension for their knuckleballing ace.
C: Josh Thole/?
Josh Thole and Anthony Recker are the only catchers on the Mets’ 40-man roster, which means they’re all but certain to pick up another backstop before the season begins. The light-hitting Thole is probably best-suited for a back-up role, but the catching market is thin at this point. The Mets’ best bet for adding a catcher would be through a Dickey trade.
1B: Ike Davis
Davis had a strong second half in 2012, which means he should be the everyday first baseman on opening day. Lucas Duda could also see some playing time at first.
Murphy won’t hit for much power, but he is a career .292 hitter. He’ll be an everyday-type player in 2013.
3B: David Wright
This is Wright’s job until he retires, most likely.
SS: Ruben Tejada
Barring injury, Tejada should be the regular shortstop, but his name has been rumored in possible deals with Dickey. Wilmer Flores is probably a year away, so the Mets might have to make due with a stopgap option if that’s the case.
LF: Lucas Duda
Here’s where it starts getting tricky for the Mets. Duda, who was sent down to Triple-A midway through the 2012 season, probably has a lock on one of the corner outfield spots.
CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
I find it a bit hard to believe the Mets would give Nieuwenhuis the keys in center to start 2013, but as of right now, he’s the best candidate. Here is another position where the team could acquire a player via trade. Michael Bourne is still out there in free agency, but the Mets aren’t going to spend that type of money this winter.
With Scott Hairston still on the free agent market, this space is wide open. Hairston could be resigned, but it would take a multi-year deal and eight figures to bring him back. I’m not sure if the Mets are willing to do that.
Bench: Justin Turner, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, ?
Counting the backup catcher and these three, that’s a four-man bench for the Mets. Look for them to add an inexpensive veteran middle infielder or two.
1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathan Niese
4. Dillon Gee
5. Matt Harvey
That’s is a pretty darn good rotation if Dickey returns and if Gee is ready to go by opening day. If Dickey does get traded, slide everyone up a spot and insert journeyman starter X into the No. 5 spot. Former Nationals pitcher John Lannan, a Long Island native, could be a fit.
Closer: Frank Francisco
Set-up: Bobby Parnell
Lefties: Josh Edgin, Robert Carson
Righties: Jeremy Hefner, Collin McHugh, Elvin Ramirez
This group is obviously subject to change based on any free agent signings and trades the Mets may make. Tim Byrdak was resigned to a minor league deal and could be a lefty contributor late in the season. The bullpen was a major problem last year, but so far, the Mets haven’t really addressed the issue. Expect some more movement on this front.
Outlook: Right now, everything hinges on a potential Dickey deal. If they do trade him, the Mets should get back two pieces for the 2013 team, likely a catcher and on outfielder. More Mets players could be thrown in to get a bigger haul. It would certainly be tough for the Mets to trade Dickey, a fan favorite, but it’s probably the right move if the team wants to take the next step forward toward the future. If they stand still, they’re bringing back the same team – if not a slightly worse team at this point – that fizzled after the all-star game in 2012.
So far, the Yankees have had a quiet offseason, at least on the transactions front. The team did resign Mariano Rivera, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte to one-year deals, which leaves the pitching strong. With holes in the lineup, they were outbid on Jeff Keppinger, Russell Martin and Nate Schierholtz. As of right now, they’re waiting on Kevin Youkilis to accept a one-year $12 million deal to fill in for Alex Rodriguez at third base, but Youkilis also has a two-year $18 million offer from Cleveland to play first base. Once that domino falls, the Yankees will be able to get on with the rest of the offseason.
C: ?/Chris Stewart/Francisco Cervelli
With Russell Martin bolting to Pittsburgh, the Yankees could possibly be in search of a new catcher. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick with a 50-50 platoon between Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli until Austin Romine is ready in Triple-A. With Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy also progressing through the minors, the Yankees aren’t looking for an external long-term solution.
1B: Mark Teixeira
One of the game’s best defenders at first base and a productive middle of the lineup hitter will be back in 2013.
2B: Robinson Cano
Cano, of course, will play nearly every day. He’s also going to get paid in a big way after the 2013 season, something along the lines of seven or eight years for $175-200 million.
3B: ?/Alex Rodriguez
This is the biggest hole at the moment for the Yankees, who are waiting to hear if Kevin Youkilis accepts a one-year $12 million deal to fill in at third until A-Rod returns, likely sometime around the all-star break. If Youkilis turns down New York’s offer, the Yankees will most likely have to pick up a third baseman in a trade. I wondered earlier this week if GM Brian Cashman could start looking for a longer-term solution at third base and shift A-Rod to a full-time DH role.
Former Orioles and Diamondbacks slugger Mark Reynolds is another possibility, but he’s a huge liability defensively and would probably rather land a first base or DH gig.
SS: Derek Jeter/Eduardo Nunez
Jeter says he’ll be ready by opening day after fracturing his ankle in the 2012 playoffs, but I’ll list Nunez here as well in an understudy role. I also wonder just how many games Jeter plays in the field this year. He could see significant time at DH depending on how he feels and who else is on the roster.
LF: Brett Gardner
Gardner had a lost year in 2012, going down with a wrist injury in mid-April. He returned in late September, but was unable to swing a bat during most of his DL stint. If he’s back at 100 percent, he’ll be a terrific defender and a threat on the basepaths. How high his batting average be, though?
CF: Curtis Granderson
It’s a bit hard to believe, but Granderson’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors ever since the season ended. Sure, he hit 43 home runs last year, but his average did drop to .232. He also struck out 195 times in 684 at-bats. His contract expires at the end of the 2013 season. Will the Yankees try to resign him? How much would that cost? How would that play a role in the Yankees trying to get the payroll under $189 million for 2014? If the Yankees are willing to also throw some young pitching in a potential Granderson deal, they could fill a few holes (catcher, right field, third base) and get younger if they find a trade partner.
With Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Ichiro both on the free agent market, the Yankees have a gaping hole in right field.
Swisher won’t be back, but Ibanez and/or Ichiro could return. Still, the Yankees would probably like to get another guy for a platoon, preferably a right-handed hitting slugger who could also fill in at DH. Scott Hairston or Cody Ross would fit the bill.
Manager Joe Girardi will again most likely use the DH spot to rotate his veteran starters and plug in platoon players depending on matchups. A-Rod could see a bulk of DH at-bats depending on who plays third the first half of the season.
Melky Mesa and/or Chris Dickerson could be options as a fourth outfielder.
The Yankees will probably try to find a utility-type player to round out the bench, perhaps a Mark DeRosa or Jayson Nix.
1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Andy Pettitte
4. Phil Hughes
5. Ivan Nova
It’s a solid rotation, but there are question marks. Will Sabathia remain healthy after making two DL trips in 2012? Will Kuroda and Pettitte continue to excel at their advanced age? Have Hughes and Nova hit their ceilings, or do they still have room to improve?
Michael Pineda could be back in the second half, but he’s still a wild card at this point. David Phelps or Adam Warren slide in if there are any injuries or if Hughes or Nova leave via trade.
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-up: David Robertson
Lefties: Clay Rapada, Boone Logan
Righties: Joba Chamberlain, Cody Eppley, David Aardsma, long reliever X
With Rafael Soriano looking for big money on the free agent market, the Yankees bullpen gets a bit thinner. Rivera’s return, of course, should help, but who knows what to expect from an aging closer coming off an ACL tear. It will be interesting to see if former Mariners closer Aardsma can once again become an effective reliever after Tommy John surgery has kept him essentially out of the game since 2010. Phelps or Warren could make the club as the long reliever, or the Yankees could go after a veteran Freddy Garcia/Derek Lowe-type again as well.
Outlook: The Yankees certainly did what they wanted to do on the pitching side, locking up Rivera, Pettitte and Kuroda on one-year contracts that will keep the books open for 2014. Barring any injuries or major declines in performance, the Yankees should be just as good if not better than they were on the mound in 2012.
The lineup, however, is a different story.
How do they address catcher, right field and third base? Say what you will about Russell Martin and Nick Swisher, but those players combined to hit .245 with 45 home runs and 146 RBI in 2012, also drawing 130 walks. Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Casey McGhee all combined to have a pretty solid season at third base as well.
If the Yankees fill those three spots with a league-average players, the offense is going to take a major hit. Will Granderson and Cano duplicate their 2012 seasons or will they tail off a little bit? What does Jeter have left in the tank after his injury? What will Gardner bring to the table?
Right now, there are plenty of question marks surrounding the Yankees’ offense. That hasn’t been the case in years.
Of course, Cashman could swoop in and make a huge trade that solves some of these problems, so time will tell.
Your thoughts on the Mets’ and Yankees’ offseasons so far? If you were the GM, what moves would you be making? Let me know on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.