Both the Mets and Yankees have shown that trades are far better than the free agent market as a way to improve their teams. It should stay that way.
When the Yankees struck first and forcefully by trading for James Paxton, and the Mets bombed the Seattle Mariners by acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in one fell swoop, the need for both teams to dive heavily into the free agent Class of 2019 proportionally evaporated.
For the Yankees, it meant that with their primary need of a Class A starting pitcher in the fold with Paxton, they could stand by idly while Patrick Corbin did his thing negotiating an exorbitant long-term deal with the Washington Nationals. And if Paxton didn’t do it, the need certainly lessened when they resigned J.A. Happ.
For the Mets, the trade was significant because it elevated their new GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, automatically to a new and much-needed stature among his peers in the wake of what everyone was slowly used to with Sandy Alderson.
Of the remaining high profile free agents in this year’s class, only three have the interest of New York teams.
The Mets are looking at A.J. Pollock, but only because they have, and rightly so, reservations about the ability of Juan Lagares to play a full – and productive – season in a Mets uniform, something he’s been unable to do since God knows when. Pollack will not be inexpensive, and odds are the team will roll the dice with Lagares unless Pollack remains unsigned, thus commanding less money.
The Yankees have been hurt by the desertion of David Robertson to the Phillies, and this has upped the ante for them to pursue Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino. (Note: Britton will be returning to the Yankees – Reports) And then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room, Sir Manny Machado, who with the advice of his agent apparently, may not decide which team should be graced with his presence until February.
Fat chance of the Yankees waiting until then for an answer, and thus we have Brian Cashman’s diligent signing of Troy Tulowitzki for the major league minimum of $555,000 as insurance against both the injured Didi Gregorius and Machado, should he sign with another team.
Of all the other remaining free agents still, without jobs in 2019, the Mets and Yankees can do without all of them, and therefore it might be time to fold the tent, at least for now, with each team going pretty much with what they have until the July trade deadline.
By then, both the Mets and Yankees will have stock of themselves and a more accurate picture of what they have and don’t have to meet their goals for the 2019 season. Even after the trade deadline, the waiver wire comes alive August 1st and the biddings for help soar even higher, with bargains galore from teams out of the races wanting to dump salary and payroll.
Beyond that, the Mets and Yankees will be closer to focusing entirely on the free agent Class of 2020, which in many ways makes the Class of 2019 look like kindergarten. Hold onto your chips and look ahead – or go all in for 2019 is a decision each team will make in August.
For the moment, though, it looks like a little, but it could be a lot regarding what the Mets and Yankees have accomplished this offseason by exercising creativity instead of an open checkbook.