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Weekly Mailbag: Taking Stock of the AL, Analyzing the Betances Signing, and Predicting Deivi Garcia&



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Welcome back, everyone! I hope everyone had a great holiday – I know that I’m sufficiently weighted down from constant feasting the last few days. So, let’s get right to it today.

In this week’s mailbag, we’ll take stock of the American League, analyze the Betances signing, and predict Deivi Garcia’s arrival. Let’s get at it:

Mike asks: What AL team do you think is most improved this off-season? Who is least improved? Where do the Yankees rank?

A lot of questions in one shot, but I’ll let it slide and hit the trifecta. Before I answer, I think that it is important to note that there is a fair amount of off-season left, so I don’t think that we can truly answer these questions fairly now. What I’ll say is that my answers to these questions are as of 12/27/2019, and I reserve the right to change my answers in March.

Looking around the AL, I think that the award for most improved goes to either the White Sox or the Blue Jays. The White Sox, in particular, have added a significant amount of Free Agent talent around the field and on the mound to add to their already impressive group of young, homegrown talent. In addition to bringing back Jose Abreu on a multi-year deal, the Sox added Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez to the rotation, while grabbing Edwin Encarnacion to DH, and the pair of Yasmani Grandal and James McCann behind the plate. With the young core of Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, and players like Luis Robert on the way, this is a roster that is quickly shaping up to be a force in the AL Central for years to come. I’m not sure that the White Sox get all the way to contender status this year, but they are getting close.

I also like what the Blue Jays have done in signing Ryu and trading for Chase Anderson to bring a little more stability to the pitching staff. Based on the moves they’ve made thus far, I think that more is on the way in Toronto, so I give them an incomplete grade, but they are an interesting team to watch with a good, young position player core. In the end, I think the White Sox are the most improved team this off-season.

My least improved team in the AL is the Cleveland Indians. Some may be surprised that I didn’t say the Angels, but at least they’re trying to build a winning team, and they’ve added rotation depth this off-season (oh, and they’ll return Shohei Ohtani to the starting rotation). The Indians, on the other hand, have done nothing to improve a roster that was on the playoff bubble in 2019, and are kicking the tires on a fire sale…as you well know from all the discussion we’ve had around here about Francisco Lindor. It’s sad, but I think Cleveland is falling quickly from contender status.

On paper, the Yankees have the best roster in the AL – I don’t have any problem saying it now, and I think that the Yankees’ roster was at least number 2 last off-season as well. The devil is keeping the roster healthy.

Joe D asks: So Betances signed with the Mets – are the Yankees going to regret letting him sign in Queens? He was the best reliever the Yankees had for years! The contract seems reasonable…

For those unaware, the Mets signed Dellin Betances to a 1-year/$10.5 million contract that could go up to $13 million if he pitches in 70 or more games. I loved Betances, and I really hoped that the Yankees would retain the last of the “Killer B’s” this off-season. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Do I think that the Yankees will regret it? I’m not sure. My gut tells me that the fact that the Yankees were almost entirely silent on the Betances front speaks volumes. We know now that the Yankees held on to information for years that Betances had a structural abnormality in his shoulder. I think that it is entirely possible that Betances’ medicals look worse than we assume.

At the end of the day, the Yankees benefited from Betances’ services on the mound for 5 years of premier performance at rock bottom prices. The Yankees have gained so much surplus value for their investment that it really doesn’t make much sense for them financially to dip into that pot again when they will spend more money for likely lesser performance. I don’t like it, but that argument is perfectly valid.

The other side of this coin is that the Yankees have multiple young pitchers coming up through the minors that may be converted into high octane relief arms. The bullpen is one area of the team in which they have already invested Free Agent dollars, so they will be content to look for value to fill out the remainder of the pitching staff.

I’m glad Betances was able to get a decent guarantee on the open market, and I’m happy that he’ll get to pitch in front of New York fans again. I loved watching Betances pitch, and I hope that he rebuilds his career in Queens.

Greg asks: You like Deivi Garcia. I know that he probably won’t start the season in the Majors, so when do you think we see him in 2019? Or do we not see him at all?

No, I think we’ll see Deivi Garcia this season. Garcia is a top prospect who already got a taste of AAA in 2019, so I think that Garcia is a realistic option in either the rotation or the bullpen in 2020. I agree with Greg that Garcia likely does not start the season on the MLB pitching staff for a couple of reasons. For one, the Yankees want to delay his service time clock, so I doubt they’ll slot him into the rotation out of the gate even if he impresses in Spring Training. On the other hand, the Yankees also have other decent options for filling out the last slot of the rotation to begin the season, like Monty, so it makes good sense to send Garcia down to AAA at the start of the season to allow him to throw some innings and find some success at the highest level of the minors.

The more I look at the pitching landscape for the Yankees, I think that Garcia will debut as a bullpen arm that also makes an occasional spot start. Unless Garcia really forces the decision (and he might – I really think he’s that good!), I think that we won’t see Garcia in the Bronx until June.

I should mention that we still can’t rule out the idea that Garcia becomes one of the prizes in a blockbuster trade this off-season. I’d be pretty picky about trading Garcia given his upside, but it would be nearly impossible to turn down if the right package existed for someone like Lindor. That said, I’m not sure that scenario will come to pass, and I admit to hoping against all hope that we get to see Garcia in pinstripes in 2019.

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That’s all for this week! I’ll be around the blog next week, but since this is the last mailbag before the New Year, I just want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe New Year. Keep sending in your mailbag questions to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com, and I’ll see you in 2020!

#DeiviGarcia #DellinBetances #FranciscoLindor

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