Hot Stove Begins And We All Become GM’s

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Count the days. We are 119 days til Opening Day but baseball season is a year long process. For many this is the best time of year because the Hot Stove league is complete with rumors, transactions. And there is more before teams assemble for spring training in early February.

So don’t predict now as to what two teams will meet next October in the World Series. This is a business, as we are aware. A billion dollar baseball industry and as General Managers meet this week for annual meetings all are concerned about one thing.

And one thing only is winning. They want to keep this game thriving and filling the roster spots because the right players will get you to the top. In New York, which happens to be the prime market, that means two teams. The process has started for the Yankees and Mets to make the necessary changes and play baseball deep into October.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, two of the biggest names on the free agent market, and will command that big contract. Who gets one or the other?

The Yankees, and according to a report from colleague Wally Matthews of the Daily News, are looking into Harper more than Machado. Though, Harper, an all-star seven years with the Washington Nationals is an outfielder and a proper bat to hit the home run ball at Yankee Stadium.

Harper in pinstripes? Not out of the question, though the Yankees are in need of improving the pitching, two quality starters that could be obtained via free agency. Of course, it was the Yankees failure of starters that once again sent them home early in October.

But to get Harper, as has been reported, the Yankees  need to move Giancarlo Stanton out of the Bronx and there are some takers. The Los Angeles Dodgers would need to rework Stanton’s 13-year $325 million contract and the Yankees would seek something in return. The move would pave the way for a Bruce Harper move to the Bronx.

Realize, Stanton, a notorious strikeout and home run hitter, did not live up to expectations, especially in those important October games. Though, overall it was not just Stanton, The Yankees did not pitch and failed to hit in the clutch with that  reliance on the home run ball.

So this hotstove season, and for the Yankees, it’s obtaining the pitching and are Harper or Machado headed to the Bronx and Stanton out?

With a new GM in place, the Mets won’t sit still. Similar to politics and election Day, it’s a guessing game for the Mets. However, Brodie Van Wagenen did not take this job without a commitment to spend and win.

Harper or Machado to the Mets? Highly doubtful, though a new GM can make things happen and a Harper bat at Citi Field makes more sense than Manny Machado. With Todd Frazier at third, Amed Rosario and short, a need for Machado in the Mets infield is not logical.

Harper in the outfield at Citi Field? The Mets are in need of a right handed bat in the outfield. Harper bats from the left side. Regardless, it’s a matter of spending, thus the Mets would need to break open the bank and spend for Harper or another high profiled free agent.

And they need to fill a void with Yoenis Cespedes. The often injured and highest paid on the roster will not be available until July or August after two surgeries of the left and right heels. Revamped bullpen and a catcher, possibly another starter for the rotation, those are the needs.

The Mets should be active. Again, names and rumors are a part of hotstove. And in the next few weeks the process will increase as other teams make their moves. Who comes, who goes?

Welcome! This is the hotstove part of the baseball season.

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