Dellin Betances, Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The possibilities for the New York Yankees and Mets remain immense with Brian Cashman and Brodie Van Wagenen prepping for the Winter Meetings.

Rich Mancuso

“We see that clubs are resistant to signing older free-agent players to long-term contracts. Teams are cognizant of the declining value of that older player who then becomes an albatross in the latter stages of a majority of those contracts.”

Those words come from the mouth of a high-ranking NL official, and a week from now, the annual Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego should hold true to form.

Don’t expect the long-term contract, and a week from now, don’t expect the Yankees or Mets to leave San Diego with that impact player. You see, the Winter Meetings are more about rumors and business these days.

It represents a vehicle for Major League Baseball to stay in the news as the days get closer to spring training.

The agenda at these meetings have become more business dealings for Major League Baseball. As much as everybody hates to see it, the trade market has shown minimal activity.

Regardless, the process to restructure begins at these meetings as general managers and executives huddle in their suites. Rumors do become a spectacle, as this has also become a media event.

So don’t expect anything significant to transpire with the exception of rule changes for the game and other business issues. There will be a transaction or two, and the stepping stones to more significant trades or free-agent signings taking place when the meetings conclude.

The New York Yankees hardly come home with that missing piece, despite desires. See Giancarlo Stanton in 2017.

Additions to the bullpen are possible, more so if the Yankees fail in their attempt to re-sign Dellin Betances. Of course, it comes down to that salary threshold the Yankees and 29  other teams see as an issue.

Didi Gregorius, depending on what route he travels, will impact Brian Cashman’s plans. Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler? Cashman may be in pursuit of one of the prime pitchers on the free-agent market.

When contacted, a source with close ties to the Yankees said about Gregorius, “Seems highly unlikely” he’ll return.

There seems to be more speculation about the Philadelphia Phillies and a reunion with his former Yankees manager, Joe Girardi.

Over in Queens, the New York Mets, they need to be active. Carlos Beltran, a first-year manager, inherits a team that won 86 games this past season. They are close to the October promise land and need a slight boost.

As expected, Wheeler is on the market. The Mets are not ruling out his return to keep a rotation intact with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz.

No surprise here. That high-ranking NL official said to yours truly of ESNY, “Teams with a strong and deep starting pitching staff will ultimately win. We see this with the Dodgers, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals, Braves and Indians.”

The Mets won with a rotation in 2015, not so long ago.  That included a forgotten Matt Harvey and 27 strikeouts in the postseason, which, by the way, is a top-five club record.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen should expect Wheeler to be elsewhere, causing a major void. Either Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo come out of the bullpen and fill the rotation spot, or the Mets shop for a lower-level free agent on the market.

But the bullpen needs a total revamp. Taking Lugo or Gsellman out of the pen creates another void. There is confidence Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia will turn things around. Justin Wilson, except for a limited time on the injured list, overall, was proficient as the lefthander out of the pen.

That NL official also said, “You got deGrom and Syndergaard. That’s as good as any two in a rotation.”

He also said that Van Wagenen, aggressive in his rookie year, will not sit still. But that does not translate into giving away top prospects that were a part of acquiring Diaz and Robinson Cano, Brodie’s first failed move out of the gate.

So there will be decisions and some shopping for help out of the pen. Take into consideration the fact that the Mets bullpen blew over 20 saves in 2019. Winning those games marks the difference between the Mets and an October berth.

And there is that possibility, from all reports, Yoenis Cespedes will be seen again. The Mets are looking to get him back on the field and be in that outfield mix that is minus Juan Lagares.

Van Wagenen has not ruled out a trade for an outfielder. Michael Conforto’s inconsistency has been an issue in the lineup. The Mets are rumored to be interested in signing a free agent,

“Starling Marte could be something to keep an eye on in San Diego,” said another source.

And then there is the business of baseball. The Mets seem to travel along those lines in their process of decision-making as they move towards 2020.

So, expect the Mets to be active in San Diego; maybe not a headline player or two, rather stepping stones to get where they want to be in October.


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