Mets Can’t Forget Veteran Leadership
In Marc Carig’s Newsday post-mortem on the 2017 season, he detailed how the trades of Jay Bruce and Neil Walker helped deteriorate the clubhouse. With the Mets so heavily invested in Amed Rosario to be not just a big part of the 2018 season, but the next decade, the Mets need to make sure they bring in character guys this offseason to not only improve the clubhouse culture, but also provide the leadership that Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and other Mets young players could benefit.
The hope is that David Wright could help serve that role in some respect, but with his health issues, no one can be sure he can provide anything next year. Fortunately, for the Mets, there are plenty of other guys available this offseason. Better yet, they could serve roles beyond providing leadership:
OF Curtis Granderson – Granderon was seen as a leader on the Mets clubhouse, and he helped a young crop of Mets players reach their full potential helping them win the 2015 pennant. Putting Aprils aside, Granderson is as reliable and clutch a player as the Mets have ever had.
RHP Bartolo Colon – Even with Colon having a poor year last year, there were signs his leadership among the pitching staff was missed. One area that was pointed at was walks. From 2015 to 2016, Mets pitchers gave up the fewest walks in the majors. Last year, the Mets gave up the fourth most. In terms of leadership, Colon could help, but the Mets need to be cautious to not promise him anything more than a chance to compete for a spot on the team as the soon to be 45 year old is nearing the end of his career.
3B Todd Frazier – In addition to his being a clubhouse presence, Frazier is a plus defender at third base posting the third best DRS among MLB third baseman with over 1,000 innings at the position. He’s also in the top half of batters per wRC+ and OPS+. Additionally, with his first base experience, he could serve as a platoon partner for Smith, or even take over if Smith should prove not ready to play a full season at the MLB level.
UTIL Howie Kendrick – Kendrick put a tough 2016 season behind him, and he had one of his better offensive seasons, albeit an injury prone one. With the Mets having a number of holes, Kendrick could slot into any number of them. That includes RF with the uncertainty as to when Michael Conforto could begin the season. In addition to that, Kendrick has been long considered a positive presence in the clubhouse.
DH Carlos Beltran – It’s not likely Beltran is going to play next year with him being over 40, coming off his worst season, and with him already having won his World Series ring. Still, if he’s available, and the Mets have struck out other fronts, the team should consider a reunion with a player who had a profound impact on a young Astros team. He could do the same with the Mets playing the 1984 Rusty Staub or 2006 Julio Franco role.
Overall, the Mets have viable veteran options to help the team. If not one of these players, the Mets need to find another player who could serve that role.