Early off-season checklist for Yankees, Mets

Early off-season checklist for Yankees, Mets
By Zach Gewelb

While the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are still battling in the World Series, the Yankees and Mets are left to ponder their next move as the offseason is set to begin.

Both teams should have lengthy checklists to put together. But before we dive too deeply into that, let’s take a look at the three most important things the Yankees and Mets must accomplish this offseason.

The Mets, first and foremost, need to name a new general manager.

Sandy Alderson stepped down due to his health situation early last season. The Mets responded by using a three-headed approach to replace the veteran executive consisting of J.P. Ricciardi, Omar Minaya and John Ricco. Neither of the three seem primed to step into the full-time gig.

The Mets have conducted interviews and reportedly narrowed their search down to three: Brewers senior advisor Doug Melvin, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom and CAA baseball co-head Brodie Van Wagenen, according to sources. Whoever they pick should be named relatively quickly, as the offseason kicks off right after the World Series.

From there, whoever the general manager is will be tasked with fixing the Mets. There should be a focus on building depth — both in the minors and at the major league level — as well as deepening the bullpen. These issues have plagued the Mets for years, yet the organization has failed to find a solution. The new GM needs to acquire more depth to protect the team when injuries strike, while a deeper bullpen should guard the club against late-game collapses.

Lastly, the Mets need to do something with Jacob deGrom. The likely NL Cy Young award winner is starting to get expensive through arbitration and every year the Mets don’t extend him or trade him, the less valuable he becomes. The organization needs to either sign their ace to a long term contract or deal him for a boatload of prospects to jump start a speedy rebuild. Whatever decision it made, it has to be the right one, otherwise it could set the team back for years.

As for the Yankees, it’s no secret they remain one of the most talented clubs in baseball. That doesn’t mean they don’t have holes to fill.

General manager Brian Cashman is tasked with improving the Yankees’ roster. His first step needs to be to address the starting rotation.

Luis Severino returns after a mostly good season — he had a dominant, Cy Young-worthy first half followed by a subpar second half. Masahiro Tanaka is slated to return, but his elbow is still hanging by a thread. After that, there are only question marks. CC Sabathia, Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ are free agents. Jordan Montgomery will miss most of the season rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees have a couple of young arms — headlined by top prospect Justus Sheffield — who could make an impact in 2019, but a World Series contender needs more starting pitching depth to reach their goal and Cashman needs to bring in another arm or two to replenish the Yankees’ staff.

Sabathia should be brought back on a one-year deal and Cashman should look to a free agent like Patrick Corbin to add to the rotation as well.

Next, the Yankees need to fix Gary Sanchez. The troubled catcher endured a yearlong slump at the plate in 2018 after slugging 33 homers in his 2017 All-Star campaign and his defense is still not up to par. The Yankees must help Sanchez rediscover his mojo at the plate and work on his blocking techniques during the off-season.

At his best, Sanchez can carry a lineup and keep opposing teams honest on the basepaths with his cannon arm. If the Yankees can help Sanchez reach his potential, the team is that much more dangerous.

Cashman also needs to focus on retooling the bullpen, which was one of the league’s best in 2018. David Robertson and Zack Britton are free agents, and the Yankees can probably afford to sign one while letting the other go. The safe bet is the club re-signs Robertson, while Britton signs elsewhere to be a closer. If that’s the case, look for the Yankees to sign another reliever at a cheaper price, or go after someone like Arizona’s Archie Bradley to acquire via trade to fill Britton’s role.

Each team has more they need to accomplish, but these are some of their biggest needs that must be addressed early in the offseason.

Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewelb@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4539.