After a season of disappointing endings, at least from the individual perspectives of the Mets and Yankees, it was a pivotal offseason to improve upon their foundational rosters in hopes of capturing the World Series title.
The Mets, concluding the 2019 season at 86-76 and finishing three games back of the second wildcard spot, had to address their weakness within the bullpen. After Edwin Diaz’s ERA regressed from 1.96 in 2018 to 5.59 in 2019, the closer never provided New York with the bullpen backbone they sought out for. Jeurys Familia, brought back for the 2019 season on a three-year, $30 million contract after being traded to the Athletics midseason in 2018, struggled immensely as well. The former all-star had a 5.70 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP, cementing himself as the second reliever blunder for the early general manager career of Brodie Van Wagenen.
To combat the disaster from relievers, Van Wagenen decided to sign former crosstown rival Dellin Betances, despite the 32-year-old playing in one game for all of 2019 due to a shoulder injury and torn Achilles. Betances, who made four straight all-star appearances from 2014-17, has the potential to be the centerpiece of the Mets bullpen if he can return to form healthy.
Other notable pitchers added to the Mets roster were former Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Porcello is expected to fill out as the bottom of rotation starter while Wacha will most likely be put into the bullpen. There were also no major additions to hitting side of the team, who are already loaded with depth and talent throughout the offense. The Mets addressed their main issues and continued to keep in place a team that almost snuck its way into the playoffs a year ago.
The Yankees offseason was distinguished by one player – Gerrit Cole. In need of a frontline starter the past few years, New York finally acquired what they sought out for with a nine-year, $324 million contract. Cole, who led the American League in ERA last year and has been an all-star the last two seasons, will head a pitching staff consisting of Mashario Tanka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ.
Lacking the heavily valued ‘ace’ of a pitching staff even as a perennial contender, with their new addition, the Yankees are now heavy favorites to take the American League pennant.
Although top of the line pitching was secured, injuries have already begun to hurt the Yankees once again. The long list includes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Zach Britton, Aaron Hicks, and Paxton. The injuries are lengthy as well. Severino will be out for the year, Hicks is out until July, and Paxton is expected out until at least the middle of May.
Even with a plethora of injuries, New York displayed how their depth last season can carry them when needed. Last year’s journeyman heroes, Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman, will once again have to step in and provide offensive sparks as they did last year.
Both New York teams have the talent to make deep runs in the playoffs after completing their short list of needs. The Mets, in perhaps the toughest division in all of Major League Baseball, will look to continue last year’s late season success and propel themselves into the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Yankees, the juggernaut of the AL, will look to extend their playoff streak in hopes of returning to the World Series for the first time since 2010.
Robert Fallo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @robert_fallo.