The new Yankees? Meet the Mets

The Mets have showed guts this winter, while the Yankees have mostly played small ball. In the cutthroat world of Big Apple baseball, the Mets -- the class of New York's 2015 regular season and postseason -- have won the offseason, too. Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Between the end of their 2015 season -- a three-hour, four-minute throttling by Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in the American League wild-card play-in game -- and today, the New York Yankees have signed 14 free agents, traded for seven players, bought one and claimed one off waivers.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets, who came within three wins of their first world championship in 30 years, signed Yoenis Cespedes.

Slide all the beads over to Flushing and rack 'em up.

In the cutthroat world of New York City baseball, the Mets, who won the 2015 regular season and postseason, have won the 2016 offseason, too.

It will be interesting to see how New York baseball fans respond to that turn of events, and the apparent seismic shift in the balance of power from the once-mighty Yankees to the kid-brother Mets.

It is obvious from their respective offseasons that the two organizations have shifted positions. The Yankees, whose free-agent signings were all of raw players to minor league deals, are clearly trying to get younger and cheaper -- their focus aimed squarely at the future.

The Mets -- who also signed big league players Asdrubal Cabrera, Alejandro De Aza and Antonio Bastardo while trading for Neil Walker and re-signing Bartolo Colon to go along with Cespedes -- are looking no further than the upcoming season.

They are the ones, not the Yankees, who are rolling the dice on 2016 and are built to win now.

And while the Yankees are hoping that a truly formidable back-end bullpen -- a strikeout-heavy relay of Dellin Betances-to-Andrew Miller-to-newly-acquired-Aroldis Chapman -- will shorten their games and ease the burden on their suspect starting staff, they are decidedly peering into a more economical future.

Such a turn of fortune would have sent George M. Steinbrenner III into a frenzy of rage, buying and firing. That would not necessarily have been a good thing.

His heir, Hal Steinbrenner, has taken a more cautious and patient approach to building his ballclub, even if he spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on four ballplayers just two years ago.

It remains to be seen whether any of the Yankees' 14 free agents -- Pete Kozma, Vinnie Pestano, Donovan Solano, Anthony Swarzak, Francisco Diaz, Cesar Puello, Juan Silva, Sebastian Valle, Jose Rosario, Jhony Brito, Spencer Mahoney, Daniel Marten, Tyler Jones or Kyle Higashioka (a re-signing) -- will ever see the inside of Yankee Stadium without buying a ticket.

And of the three main players acquired by trade, one of them, Chapman, still is not assured of starting the season with the team. Major League Baseball is investigating a domestic dispute between Chapman and his girlfriend, and could discipline the left-hander under its new domestic violence policy.

Starlin Castro, also acquired via trade, is being asked to play a position (second base) he only began to learn last season, while Aaron Hicks is penciled in as the fourth outfielder.

Pitcher Kirby Yates (bought from the Cleveland Indians), center fielder Lane Adams (claimed off waivers) and right-handed pitcher Chad Green (acquired in a trade for Justin Wilson) might turn out to be useful players, but none of them is likely to make the Yankees World Series contenders.

According to some analysts, in fact, the Yankees are the only one of the 30 big league clubs that has not signed a major free agent this offseason, and while the word "major" certainly is subjective, the point is not. After merely dipping their toe into the 2015 playoffs, the Yankees basically sat out the 2016 offseason.

The Mets, who took their season all the way into November, made the kind of move no one thought they had the guts or checkbook to make. The kind of move the Yankees used to make all the time.

In his brief time in the big leagues, Cespedes has bounced around -- the Mets were his fourth team in two years -- and has attained a reputation that may or may not be valid.

But there is no question that when he came to the Mets at last season’s trade deadline, he transformed them from a nice little team into a truly dangerous offensive ballclub. And it is no stretch to say that without him -- along with their dynamic young starting staff -- the Mets are probably getting nowhere near the playoffs, let alone the World Series.

The Yankees passed on Cespedes the first time around, when he came out of Cuba on a speedboat in 2011 with just a highlight-reel videotape and a nickname ("La Potencia"). Given a second opportunity, they passed on him again this winter, as much an indication of their new way of doing business as the hard fact that right now, they have no spot for him on the field or on their roster.

In the past, none of that would have mattered. The Yankees would have found a spot for Cespedes, even if it meant disrupting payroll and causing them to part with a player -- in this case, probably Brett Gardner -- who is both well-regarded and relatively affordable.

But that is not the way the Yankees do business anymore.

They leave the expensive long-term contracts to other organizations, teams like the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and yes, New York Mets.

It is the kind of prudent course of action that would have seemed unthinkable for them just a few years ago, and like all long-term plans, it will be a while before a verdict is in as to whether it truly was the right way to go.

But for now, the two New York baseball teams seem to have swapped identities, and for at least one of their fan bases, that is going to take some getting used to.

Want to hazard a guess on which one?