Without making the normal offseason splash this offseason, the New York Yankees and Mets might be shifting philosophies in approaching their ballclubs.
By Patrick Brewer
As the calendar nears the end of December with January right around the corner, the 2016 baseball season is drawing closer than ever.
So far this offseason there has been a flurry of activity all across the league. There has been no shortage of breaking news stories, blockbuster trades, and of money being thrown around in the free agent market.
Even with all this offseason spending, two big market teams have been strangely silent up to this point. While teams like the Boston Red Sox are once again showing their financial might, and the Arizona Diamondbacks and others are showing their new-found clout. The New York Yankees and Mets, two teams in the biggest market in all of sports, are surprisingly, and really eerily, quiet.
While both teams have made some not so insignificant trades, the Mets acquisition of Neil Walker, and the Yankees acquisition of Starlin Castro and, most recently, Aroldis Chapman, both teams have spent little to no money on the free agent market this season.
Obviously in years past, the Yankees housed the biggest payroll in all of baseball by a significant margin. The Mets, on the other hand, have not been huge spenders in recent years, although given their market size and World Series appearance last season, many expected them to be.
Rather than re-sign either Cespedes or Murphy to expensive, long-term contracts, the Mets decided to fix those holes through trade or by using in-house options. The Mets traded away surplus pitching in the person of Jon Niese to acquire Neil Walker from the Pirates, actually saving money in the deal.
Instead of Cespedes, the Mets decided to roll with Michael Conforto as the everyday option in left field, with a platoon of Juan Lagares, and newly acquired Alejandro De Aza, in center field. Not altogether inspiring moves, but moves nonetheless.
On the other hand, the Yankees had three main concerns going into this offseason: who would play second base, finding pitching depth, and how their aging roster would perform going forward. To this point, the Yankees have really only answered one of those questions. The Yankees made a trade with the Chicago Cubs, acquiring Starlin Castro, which pretty much mitigates their second base concern for the next several years.
On the other two points, the Yankees have not really done too much else to fix those concerns.
The Yankees did trade for Aaron Hicks, which allows the team some outfield depth behind the aging trio of Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. While not insignificant, this trade was more of a band-aid than the big impactful sort of moves we are used to seeing from the Yankees.
Now, the Yankees added closer Aroldis Chapman, to an already stacked bullpen. It seems that rather than create a stronger pitching staff, the Yankees have instead decided to build the scariest back end of a bullpen in all of baseball. Either way, this move comes with some inherent risk given Chapman’s legal situation.
While both the Mets and Yankees have made moves, they are not the moves we are used to seeing either team make.
On one hand, the Mets may be slightly handcuffed by past financial mistakes. On the other, they may be patiently waiting in order to have enough free money to maintain their strong pitching staff long term. The Yankees seem to be taking a similar path the Mets and other teams are taking. They are not spending too much money, while the large contracts they do have run their course.
All while building up their farm system.
Despite the uncharted territory that both New York teams are in, they seem to be charting the correct course. Rather than spend enormous sums this offseason, both teams appear to be biding their time for the future. Perhaps until a future free agent class (such as 2018, headlined by Bryce Harper), or perhaps in order to save money for their own players.
Whatever the scenario, the Yankees and Mets are being led by more than capable men who know what they are doing.