Winter Meetings 2022- You Can't Always Get What You Want
by Ed Botti
December 8, 2022
As we discussed last week, for the first time since 2019 baseball's winter meetings are back to a live and in person event.
Use all the Zoom calls you want, nothing comes close to in person meetings, and negotiations.
As expected, it has been a very active week down in San Diego. We heard many rumors circulating. We saw a top tier journalist send shock waves across social media when he incorrectly implied that Judge to San Francisco was “likely”. We saw major players switch teams, and we saw the biggest name in the sport decide to stay with his current team. We even got see the longest tenured GM in the league get a 4 year extension, to further torment their fan base by ignoring what the paying customers wanted.
From my perspective, the two biggest news worthy transactions from the meetings are Aaron Judge deciding to take the Yankee offer (supposedly less than the Giants and Padre offers), and Jacob deGrom spurning the Mets and taking a deal with the Rangers. I say spurning, because all reports show that he never re-engaged the Mets after their first offer. Obviously, he wanted out of Queens in a bad way (not sure why) and moved on to the Dallas area.
It was an interesting move in many ways. deGrom was (not too sure anymore) beloved by the Mets fans. He was signed by them, and became the face of the franchise and even helped to lead them to a World Series appearance in 2015. He was 2 time Cy Young award winner as a Met, and considered by many the best pitcher in the League. Some (confusingly) even thought he was their best pitcher ever (I guess they never saw Seaver of Gooden!). What I found to be a little interesting, and maybe even a window into his moral compass, was when he went down injured again in 2022, he publicly stated he was going to opt out of his agreement with the Mets at the conclusion of 2022. Keep in mind, he was being paid $27,000,000 a year at the time for not pitching for the better part of two years. He made 38 starts in his last 3 years as a Met, was paid a king’s ransom for not playing, opted out and never gave the Mets the courtesy or respect of a follow up offer?
Sorry, I don’t get it.
I wonder, when the Rangers come to Citi Field August 28-30 will Steve Cohen and the Mets honor him in any way?
Based on the slap in the face, I would not do a thing for him.
Here’s my prediction, when the Rangers hit NY in August, deGrom will be hurt again.
The Mets, immediately pivoted and replace deGrom with the current AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander.
They then added left-hander Jose Quintana on a two-year $26 million contract (after Taijuan Walker left), and added lefty Brooks Raley from Tampa Bay to help in the Bullpen.
They then grabbed right-handed pitcher Zach Greene from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft.
Not a bad week, but they still need a bat.
The Padres and GM A.J. Preller was an interesting story line to follow. As we know, they added Juan Soto last year to team up with Manny Machado and make a serious playoff run. They then “reportedly” offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 MM to Aaron Judge this week. When he rejected that “offer”, they pivoted and signed Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts to an 11 year $280 MM contract.
All of that while paying shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr $340 MM not to play. With Bogaerts secured for the next 11 seasons, what will become of the much maligned Tatis, Jr?
Tatis missed the entire 2022 season because of an injured wrist suffered in an off-season motorcycle accident followed by a positive steroid test during the season.
The Padres now have three starting shortstops on their roster (Tatis, Bogaerts and Ha Seong Kim who played Gold Glove caliber defense at shortstop last season).
I predict Tatis will be traded, as the Padres already proved they can advance pretty far in the playoffs without him, and now have added a “pro’s pro” in Bogaerts to play shortstop.
Because of Tatis’ 2022 off field shenanigans and transgressions, he has put his team in a really bad spot. He is at the low point of his trade value. He also can block any trade through 2028.
Another reason why I hate these 10 year contracts!
Let’s not forget, in 2021 Tatis and Machado had to be separated in the Padre dugout because Machado felt Tatis wasn’t playing hard.
Preller has his hands full with this group. Good thing he was smart enough to hire a very good manager, Bob Melvin.
The Cubs seemed to put their “re-building” phase behind them and made some moves as well. This week they added ex Yankee Jamison Taillon to their rotation and took a flyer on ex-Dodger Cody Bellinger. Subtracted from the team was catcher Willson Contreras who agreed to replace Yadier Molina in St. Louis. Big shoes to fill!
Other big name players on the move this week include.
Trea Turner to the NL Champion Phillies on a 11 year $300 MM contract along with starting pitcher Taijuan Walker on a four-year, $72 MM contract.
The Red Sox acquired Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida on a five-year, $90 MM deal to go along with closer Kenley Jansen.
The Giants signed former Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger to a three-year, $43.5 MM deal.
The Rangers added to the rotation again with Andrew Heaney.
A move I Liked a lot is Cleveland adding Josh Bell to a 2 year $33 MM deal.
Tommy Kahnle is once again (3rd time) a Yankee.
The Astros added 1B Jose Abreu on a three-year contract.
Plenty of moves to digest, and I sense many more to come in the weeks leading up to Pitchers and Catchers reporting.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray
A very loud sigh of relief was heard this week in all points of the Yankee Universe when it was announced that the Yankee did in fact sign Aaron Judge. But, many moves remain for the 2023 Yankees to catch and pass the Astros.
My top priorities are:
Left field- Andrew Benintendi needs to be resigned. He is a perfect fit. If for some odd reason he is not, Brandon Nimmo would fit in as well.
Third Base- This team cannot seriously tell us that they are in it to win it if they keep Josh Donaldson at third base. He is finished. The Yankees got him 3 years too late.
In 2024, the main target should absolutely be Third Baseman Munetaka Murakami. If you do not know about him, look him up. I will be doing a piece on him this off season.
Shortstop- Probably the most intriguing open spot on this team. With two very solid prospects knocking at the door (Peraza and Volpe) the incumbent, IKF, given a $6 mill extension, and several proven shortstops still on the open market, what do they do? I like the idea of going with the kids in an open competition this spring. If they can find a sucker for Donaldson, IKF can play some third base with DJ.
Second Base- This is somewhat tied to the shortstop situation. My position is that the Yankees have seen the best and worst of Gleyber Torres. In other words, he is what he is. He was forced to play Shortstop and suffered for it. I give him credit for trying. He is a fair fielding second baseman, but one I worry brings full focus on a daily basis to the field. He does not hustle enough for me, and gets very pull conscious at the plate. In no way, shape, or form am I taking away from his talent and abilities. But, I do think it is time to move on. I would try and package him in a deal for a starting pitcher.
I think that the either Volpe or Peraza can take over at second base and this team will not miss a beat. Of course, DJ is also an option when not playing third base.
Catcher- Yes, I know Jose Trevino won the Platinum Glove award this year (first Yankee ever to do so), but I feel he broke down in the second half of the season, and just may be best suited to be in a platoon situation, and keep his games under 90 a season. None of us know what 25 year old Ben Rortvedt can actually do at the MLB level, but if healthy, he should be given a legitimate shot in spring training to earn some playing time, and the Yankees should move on from Higgy.
Maybe, something good can come out of that terrible Gary Sanchez -- Gio Urshela trade after all?
Young catcher Austin Wells should also be given consideration.
Starting Rotation- As of now they have Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes as starters. Taillon is now a Cub and Montgomery a Cardinal. As it is each year, Domingo German is a swing man.
Moves need to be made to the rotation. As I say each year, they will need at least 10 starters for the 162 game season (they used 11 in 2022).
They do have Montas and Schmidt in their plans. But more is needed. Much more.
They missed out on Verlander, Quintana, Walker, and deGrom. Available via free agency we see Carlos Rodon waiting to be over paid and unknown Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga waiting for a team to overlook his command issues and sign him.
Unsigned as of today include Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Bassitt, Corey Kluber, Sean Manaea, and Ryan Yarbrough.
A Pitcher that I think should have been given more of a shot as a starter is Seth Lugo. I’d make that call. Worst case scenario, he fills a need in the Bullpen. I think he can start.
Bullpen - what was once a strength is now a weakness. They did bring in Kahnle and have Marinaccio, Effross and King coming back from injuries. Can Holmes rebound? All of the above are right handed. Britton is most likely gone, and Chapman is gone, leaving Wandy Peralta and Lucas Luetge as the only south paws in the pen, unless you assume that Matt Krook is an option.
I am openly critical of Brian Cashman, but I have always said he knows how to build a bullpen. So, I am cautiously optimistic that he will do so again.
A lot has to play out between today and the beginning of February to see how this 2023 Yankee roster is constructed. Many teams have improved, the playoffs are expanded so more teams will be less likely to make mid season trade deadline deals.
Despite my feelings about Aaron Boone staying on as Manager and Brian Cashman as GM, I would have liked to see the Yankees make improvements to their coaching staff, specifically at Hitting Coach. I have not seen any player get better under Dillon Lawson. There has to be a better option. Maybe they should have checked in with Don Mattingly instead of letting him go to Toronto.
After all, he does know a few things about hitting!!
Pitching coach Matt Blake is still unsigned, and I believe he should be retained.
The Yankees need to take a long and hard look at themselves and make an honest assessment on their expectations for 2023. Some players will have to be moved and some salaries will have to be eaten in order for them to make it back to the ALCS and finally get past Houston.
It comes down to 1 question for each player evaluation.
Is this player part of the problem or part of the solution?
Then, go to work removing the problem players, and bringing in the solution players.
Keeping Judge is great. But that has to be a starting point, not a finish line.
Hanging their collective hats on April - June of 2022 no longer works. They need to be aggressive and bring in winning players, and get rid of as much dead wood as possible.
Will they do that or will they continue to tell us that they trust the process?
If I was a gambling man, I’d put my money on the latter.
Today’s Fact: Lou Gehrig is one of only three MLB players to have at least 100 extra base hits in a season more than once. He did it in 1927 (117) and 1930 (100).
What would he be worth today?