Following the Yankees most recent signing of reliever Adam Ottavino to a three-year, $27 million contract, Red Sox manager, Alex Cora made a bold prediction despite his club staying relatively quiet this winter.
Despite straying from making one “major” splash this offseason, the Yankees have made incremental acquisitions that appear to have them set up very nicely for the 2019 season.
Thus far, general manager Brian Cashman has re-signed C.C. Sabathia (one-year, $10M), Brett Gardner (one-year, $7.5M), Zach Britton (three years, $39M plus a $14M option for 2022) and J.A. Happ (two years, $34M plus a $17M vesting option for 2021).
In regards to free agent acquisitions, not previously associated with the Yankees, all three men at one time played for the Colorado Rockies; Troy Tulowitzki (one-year, $555k), D.J. LeMahieu (two years, $24M) and Adam Ottavino (three years, $27M).
Throw in the trade for James Paxton and his one-year, $8.5M pre-arbitration contract — and that makes eight acquisitions that positively affect the Yanks’ 25-man major league roster. There’s also been a slew of minor league deals with invites to Spring Training given out, not to mention a potentially imminent trade of Sonny Gray and the medical clearance of Clint Frazier.
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Suffice to say, Brian Cashman has been — and will continue to stay a busy bee.
However, Red Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t concerned — at least that’s what he wants the world to believe. Speaking to reporters at the Boston BBWAA dinner, Cora had this to say about his reigning World Series-winning club.
"You guys might write this somewhere, I don’t care. If you thought last year was special, wait till this year.”“They’re never satisfied,” Cora told reporters. “If you start looking at some of the players we have . . . I do feel we’re going to be better, we’re going to be better. And hopefully we have some good luck in October.”"
I get that the Red Sox are coming off 108 regular season victories and more importantly, a world championship. But if you’re a Boston fan, you’ve got to be a bit concerned that the only acquisitions made to-date are bringing back Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce.
Sure, both were vital keys in the 2018 cog, but these two veterans are far from locks to duplicate that type of success in the coming season.
While the Yanks’ bullpen is already being forecasted as one of the all-time best by David Adler of MLB.com, let’s compare it to the Red Sox — whom Alex Cora believes will be even better in 2019.
According to Fangraphs preseason 2019 projections:
"Yankees relief pitchers (top ranked bullpen in baseball)LHP Aroldis Chapman: 2.0 WAR (65 IP, 2.76 ERA, 13.4 K/9)RHP Dellin Betances: 1.8 WAR (75 IP, 2.84 ERA, 13.4 K/9)LHP Zach Britton: 1.1 WAR (65 IP, 3.14 ERA, 8.6 K/9)RHP Chad Green: 1.1 WAR (70 IP, 3.32 ERA, 11.3 K/9)RHP Adam Ottavino: 0.8 WAR (65 IP, 3.63 ERA, 11.4 K/9)RHP Jonathan Holder: 0.2 WAR (60 IP, 4.32 ERA, 8.8 K/9)RHP Tommy Kahnle: 0.2 WAR (50 IP, 3.93 ERA, 10.3 K/9)Red Sox relievers (21st ranked bullpen in baseball)RHP Matt Barnes: 1.2 WAR (65 IP, 3.27 ERA, 11.4 K/9)RHP Ryan Brasier: 0.5 WAR (65 IP, 3.94 ERA, 8.8 K/9)RHP Tyler Thornburg: -0.1 WAR (50 IP, 4.80 ERA, 8.1 K/9)RHP Steven Wright: 0.0 WAR (50 IP, 4.46 ERA, 7.3 K/9)LHP Heath Hembree: 0.3 WAR (60 IP, 4.05 ERA, 9.4 K/9)RHP Bobby Poyner: -0.1 WAR (50 IP, 4.52 ERA, 7.7 K/9)LHP Hector Velazquez: 0.0 WAR (50 IP, 4.40 ERA, 6.6 K/9)"
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the projected effectiveness of the two staffs is wildly different. Even if the Sox were to re-sign Craig Kimbrel, that bullpen isn’t intimidating anyone in the American League.
So while we’re all fully aware of the monumental achievements of the Red Sox and their MVPs last season, that was then, and 2019 is now. Let Alex Cora be as boisterous as he wants; I’m pretty sure he’s overcompensating for something.