By Zach Gewelb
With Thanksgiving officially over, the MLB hot stove is primed to heat up.
The Braves announced the signings of free agents Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson earlier this week as baseball prepares to see a flurry of moves in the weeks ahead.
Let’s take a look and dissect the recent rumors surrounding the Yankees and Mets.
Mets listening to offers for Syndergaard, cut ties with suspended pitcher
Noah Syndergaard remains one of, if not the most valuable starting pitchers seemingly available this offseason. The Yankees traded for James Paxton, while pitchers like Madison Bumgarner Patrick Corbin remain on the market.
Syndergaard is younger and cheaper than both Bumgarner and Corbin, which makes him a more attractive target for teams eyeing young, high quality starting pitching. While losing him may be tough for Mets fans to swallow, the team must consider dealing him if the return package is right.
In return for Syndergaard, the Mets likely seek major league pieces — someone like Nick Senzel (Cincinnati) or Fernando Tatis (San Diego). A package headlined by either one of those pieces would be a worthy return for Syndergaard and the Mets could sign a starter such as J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton or Marco Estrada to a short-term deal to replace him in the rotation.
New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen can make a statement by bringing in a home run package for Syndergaard that can keep the Mets competitive while adding elite young talent to a roster desperately in need of some new blood.
In a move that should’ve been made two years ago, the Mets officially cut ties with Jenry Mejia, the team’s former closer who received a lifetime ban from MLB in 2016 after having been suspended three times for drug use.
Mejia was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007 and last pitched for the Mets in 2015. The club had kept him around for the remainder of the 2016 season and for the 2017 campaign, but with Mejia eligible to pitch in the majors next year, the Mets made the call to release Mejia.
The Mets need to change the culture of their organization, and taking a strong stance with Mejia shows the club will not tolerate drug users. The Mets should double down and announce they will not re-sign Jose Reyes, who had been suspended for 51 games in 2017 for violating MLB’s relatively domestic violence policy while with the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies released Reyes, who signed with the Mets when he was eligible to return and he has been with the club ever since. Announcing that Reyes will not be welcomed back would show the Mets are serious about changing the culture of the organization.
Yankees discussed Cano-Ellsbury swap, eye Gray trade
Having already completed one trade with the Mariners this offseason, the Yankees reportedly discussed a potential Robinson Cano for Jacoby Ellsbury trade.
While the thought of getting rid of Ellsbury’s contract (two years, $47.2M remaining) is appealing, adding Cano’s remaining money (five years, $120M) makes no sense for the Yankees. At this point, the Yankees are better off releasing Ellsbury when he’s healthy.
Ellsbury missed the entire 2018 season due to various injuries, which allowed the Yankees to collect insurance money rather than pay his contract. They should wait for Ellsbury to get a clean bill of health before releasing him.
Swapping his contract for Cano, even if the Mariners were to split the difference in the two contracts does not make sense given the three additional years on Cano’s contract.
Cano can still hit and the Yankees have a need in the infield with shortstop Didi Gregorious expected to be out for the first half of the season following Tommy John Surgery, but there are other answers.
Meanwhile, general manager Brian Cashman is patiently waiting for Sonny Gray’s trade market to develop. As many as six teams are reported to be interested in Gray, who fell out of favor in New York with a terrible 2018 season. If Cashman can obtain two or three intriguing prospects in return, he should be applauded.
Plus, the savings in a Gray trade — if the team doesn’t take on MLB salary in return — would effectively pay for Paxton. A win-win, if you ask me.
Stay tuned as the hot stove season continues.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe