As we develop a clearer understanding of the Yankees’ and Mets’ offseason plans, one point emerges that would have seemed surprising as recently as last month: It’s hard to see either team pursuing star free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Both have needs at the position, but early indications are that both will be more aggressive elsewhere. The Yankees, who have already conducted the annual pro scouting meetings that launch their hot stove season, have to figure out the construction of their middle infield, and perhaps add depth to the starting rotation.
Their first priority is attempting to re-sign DJ LeMahieu. If that happens, it will likely be their most significant expenditure. If LeMahieu leaves for another team, the Yanks would move Gleyber Torres back to second base and look for a shortstop like Andrelton Simmons or Brandon Crawford. A trade for Francisco Lindor, of course, also hovers as a moonshot possibility.
With the Yankees operating on a tighter than usual budget, this all leads to a more modest solution at catcher. The team still believes in Gary Sanchez’s upside, though Sanchez is hardly untouchable in trade talks anymore. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a tandem of Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka next season, with the latter receiving more playing time from the start, as he did this October.
As for the Mets, they appear more focused on outfielder George Springer. Fans expecting new owner Steve Cohen to sign multiple big ticket free agents this winter will likely be disappointed; as Cohen himself said at his introductory news conference, he is not planning to spend “like a drunken sailor” on free agents.
The Mets and Trevor Bauer are also making eyes at one another; perhaps Bauer would sign the type of short-term, high-dollar contract that he has talked about in the past. Maybe the Mets end up pursuing him over Springer for a long-term deal.
See why we’re having a hard time seeing Realmuto in New York? Both teams simply have other expensive desires, and neither is operating with an unlimited budget.
The Mets will need to find a starting catcher one way or another. Free agent James McCann could be a fit, as could Austin Romine. Tomas Nido remains a capable backup.
None of these players is as good as Realmuto, but even with the wealthiest owner in the sport, the Mets can’t have it all