Taking stock of local MLB teams' offseasons thus far
Attention baseball fans: 2019 Major League Baseball spring training is just more than a month away.
Now in early January, it's fair to say we are in the heat of the MLB offseason, but for the second consecutive year, the free agent market seems to be moving a bit slowly.
The major prizes of this year's class, in Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, remain on the board, but a flurry of action has happened around them.
Deep in the heart of winter, sometimes it's refreshing to think about the sweet smells and spring and summer, so let's dive into the local MLB teams' offseasons to see which holes they've filled and ones that remain vacant.
The New York Mets have without a doubt been the most busy team of this offseason.
New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has taken an aggressive approach to improving the Mets in a NL East division that figures to be one of the best in the league in 2019.
Looking at some of the major moves the Mets have been made has to start with their trade to acquire second baseman Robinson Cano and closing pitcher Edwin Diaz.
The Cano trade was a great move for the Mets, giving them a middle-of-the-order presence that is a must, especially with the health of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes very much in question.
Cano proved that he is still one of the best offensive second basemen in the game, following his performance-enhancing drug suspension last year. Teaming him with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and a hopefully healthy Cespedes could be a strong lineup to deal with.
Diaz is one of the best young closers in the game and his sub-one million dollar contract for 2018 is another cherry on top for the Mets. Pairing him with Jeurys Familia is a deadly back of a bullpen.
They also added catcher Wilson Ramos, who is one of the best offensive catchers. Add in a Cespedes insurance policy, in outfielder Keon Broxton, and it seems like they've filled all the necessary holes.
There really doesn't seem to be much left for the Mets to do, but if they are still looking to make moves, signing utility player Marwin Gonzalez could be a good play.
Gonzalez can play any of the infield positions, along with some corner outfield, and his versatility could be a boon for the Mets, who have struggled mightily with injuries in the past.
Moving to another New York City borough, the New York Yankees seem to have a few more moves up their sleeves.
Thus far, they have bulked up their starting rotation by trading for James Paxton and re-signing JA Happ.
Those two figure to slide in behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka to provide some solid depth to the Yankees rotation.
I could see the Yankees checking on on the trade market for someone like Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer of the Indians, but I wouldn't see them following through on those moves.
Staying with starting pitchers, Yankee general manager Brian Cashman has publicly come out and made it clear he wants to trade Sonny Gray. Assuming he eventually gets fair value in return, I would expect Gray to be traded as well.
An intriguing move the Yankees recently made was signing shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, bringing some question into their pursuit of Machado, who is also a shortstop.
I wouldn't expect the signing of Tulowitzki to deter the Yankees or Machado from linking up. If anything, the oft-injured Tulowitzki is just an insurance policy for the injured Didi Gregorius and could easily slip into a platoon role to get at-bats.
To me, Machado's decision probably comes down to the Yankees and Chicago White Sox. The Yankees provide an indefinite championship window and the obvious prestige of playing for them, while the White Sox provide a budding core and a bunch of cap space to make him paid quite handsomely.
I would expect Machado to be in pinstripes this spring if I had to guess.
Another intriguing move the could make would be to go after Gonzalez, much like the Mets. If the Machado splash is too big, Gonzalez would be a much cheaper and more versatile option to fit their needs.
A similar player like Josh Harrison, who has played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is another option.
Along with those moves, the Yankees seem intent on creating another potent bullpen, so a move for reliever Adam Ottavino could be a strong play.
The Boston Red Sox offseason has been alarmingly quiet.
When you win the World Series, a lot can be said about the "get the band back together" method to an offseason and that seems to have been their plan.
As of now, the only moves they've made have been the re-signing of pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and first baseman Steve Pearce.
Both are strong moves, but the Red Sox have failed to address the biggest hole of their 2018 squad, which was their bullpen.
Sitting here just about a month out of spring training, the Red Sox are without a closer.
Contrary to what was expected at the beginning of the offseason, the Red Sox seem to be in play for closer Craig Kimbrel, who has closed for them over the past few years.
With his market shrinking and possibly a change in how many years he's asking for, a reunion with the Red Sox could be a beneficial for both sides.
Outside of Kimbrel, the Red Sox need to add another bullpen piece. Unless they are comfortable in Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier at the back end of their bullpen, a move for someone like Ottavino, Tony Sipp or Kelvin Herrera seems like smart move.
On top of that clear need, the Red Sox should look into an insurance policy for second baseman Dustin Pedroia. There are plenty of affordable options on the free agent market that could fill the role.
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