Amed Rosario

Keep Curtis Granderson

As the Mets head to the trade deadline, this team is clearly in a position to sell, and they should look to sell every player they have on an expiring deal.  Certainly, if the Mets are offered a good return for Curtis Granderson, the team should trade him.  But with him being 36 years old and with his being a fourth outfielder at the moment, are teams really going to offer the Mets something of value for Granderson?  At this point, it doesn’t appear likely.

And in some ways that’s actually good for the Mets.

At the trade deadline, it is eminently possible, the Mets will move Jay Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Lucas Duda.  If the Mets are able to move these players, it will create an opportunity for the Mets to play Gavin Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo (once he returns from the Disabled List), Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith. It will be a small sample size, but we will find out if these players are ready to be big pieces of the Mets in 2018.

One of the ways the Mets can make their transition to the majors smoother would be to have a strong veteran clubhouse presence to show them what it takes to succeed in the major leagues.  We saw how Cliff Floyd took a young David Wright under his wing, and we have seen Wright become the consummate professional.  Obviously, you would want Wright to be that for another player.  Unfortunately, with the myriad of health issues he faces, it is difficult seeing him be that player.  With that being the case, the best player to do that for the Mets would be Granderson.

And really, who better than Granderson?  In his time with the Mets, he has done everything the team has asked.  He’s moved all over the batting order.  The team has shifted him across the outfield.  This year, they made him the fourth outfielder despite his arguably being one of the top three outfielders on the roster.  This is exactly the type of guy you want around your young players.  You want them speaking with Granderson.  You need to have Granderson showing them what it takes to succeed in the major leagues.

It is also a reason why you want to keep Granderson beyond this season.

Re-signing Granderson not only means you’re bringing back the player.  It also means you are bringing back the man.  The man who does everything right on and off the field.  He is a model human being that has played in New York for eight years.  He should be telling players how to prepare for a game, how to deal with teammates, how to balance being a ballplayer and helping your community, and how to deal with the press.  Having Granderson around will help put the young players in a position to succeed.

Another consideration is you probably need Granderson the player next year as well.  Considering Granderson will be 37 next year, it is not likely he will get many offers to be a starting outfielder.  In fact, he may very well get none.  If that is the case, re-upping with the Mets is likely his best bet.

Since coming to the United States, Yoenis Cespedes has had chronic leg issues.  We have seen that arise the past two seasons with Cespedes landing on the Disabled List.  While he’s still young, Michael Conforto has been snake bitten a bit with a wrist issue last year and a bone bruise this year.  Certainly, with their health issues, you want a fourth outfielder whom you can trust to play everyday.  You can trust Granderson.

Look, if the Mets are blown away with a trade offer, you have to trade Granderson.  If Granderson gets a starting outfielder job, especially one for a contender next year, he has to take it.  With both situations unlikely, the Mets should be talking about a contract extension with a player who they need to have a profound impact next season.

What Do We Make Of Wilmer Flores?

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets made the somewhat controversial move to make Wilmer Flores the everyday shortstop for a team that believed they could compete for a spot in the postseason.  As the season progressed, Flores would lose his job to Ruben Tejada.  From that point forward, Flores has had opportunities to prove he is a starting player in the majors.

Starting with Lucas Duda‘s back injury on May 20th last year, the entire Mets starting infield would go on the Disabled List for an extended period of time.  With David Wright going out for the year on May 27th, there was a permanent spot open in the starting lineup for Flores.

For the most part, Flores earned that spot.  From May 29th until his ill-fated slide into home plate on September 10th, Flores had good overall numbers that masked his extreme platoon splits. Flores hit .373/.409/.807 with three doubles, 11 homers, and 28 RBI in 88 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.  Comparatively, Flores hit a meager .241/.297/.362 with nine doubles, four homers, and 19 RBI in 192 plate appearances.  Put simply, with splits like that, Flores proved he was nothing more than a platoon bat.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t even been that in 2017.

So far this season, Flores is hitting .281/.311/.448 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 25 RBI.  Against, left-handed pitching, he is only hitting .292/.304/.462 with five doubles, two homers, and six RBI in 69 plate appearances.  Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting better than his career numbers, but he’s still only at .276/.314/.441 with seven doubles, one triple, five homers, and 19 RBI.

The end result is a player with just a 97 wRC+.  That’s not a bat the Mets can keep in the lineup, especially when Flores has a glove that shouldn’t be in the field:

Innings DRS UZR
1B 244.2 2 1.9
2B 633.0 -6 -0.2
3B 893.0 -15 -4.4
SS 1313.2 -15 -0.2

At this point, Flores has been in the majors for five years, and he has yet to truly make a case for the Mets to keep him around.  All we get out of him is glimpses.  We do not see any sustained success.  That’s problematic considering the Mets are in a strange place as an organization.

The team needs to start making some decisions on some players.  They need to decipher who can be a part of the next World Series Championship team.  With the emergence of T.J. Rivera coupled with Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith awaiting their own opportunity to prove they belong in the majors, it becomes harder and harder to keep Flores on this roster.

Still, Flores is still just 25 years old.  It is quite possible he may still figure things out and become a good major league ball player.  The unfortunate reality is he’s running out of time to prove it.  He is already in his arbitration years, and he is due to be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Sooner or later, the Mets will have to make a decision on Flores.  Is he a piece of the Mets next World Series title?  Is he a guy who can become the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy?  At this point, we don’t know, and we are running out of time to find out.

Everyone But The Mets Wants Rosario To Play For Them

Mets uber prospect Amed Rosario has been extremely busy of late.  Last weekend, he had to fly out from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Miami, Florida to be the starting shortstop in the Future’s Game.  From there, Rosario would fly out to Tacoma, Washington to be the starting shortstop in the Triple-A All Star Game.  Over the past week, Rosario literally played shortstop from coast to coast.

It seems everyone wants him to play shortstop for their team.  That is everyone but the Mets.

As it turns out, Mets fans aren’t the only ones perplexed over why Rosario is in Triple-A.  Former Major Leaguer Billy Ripken was puzzled why Rosario was in the Triple-A All Star Game instead of playing in Flushing.  MLB Pipeline‘s Jim Callis pointed out Rosario is ready to be an everyday shortstop at the major league level right now.

On the very first play of the game, Rosario showed us all why he is major league ready.  On a routine fly ball to medium depth left field, Rosario was in position to make the play himself.  Later in the game, he stole a base against Rays prospect Mike Marjama, who has throw out 48% of base stealers this year.  Overall, in a game where he was 0-4, Rosario showed the skills that will make him a special major league player.

Watching the Future’s Game and the Triple-A All Star Game, you realize there are just no excuses remaining why Rosario is not in the majors right now.

We know he can hit.  On the season, he is hitting .327/.365/.474 with 16 doubles, seven triples, seven homers, and 52 RBI with 16 stolen bases.  Over his past nine games, he is hitting .415/.432/.537 with a double, two triples, three RBI, and three stolen bases.

We know he’s an upgrade defensively.  Mets shortstops have combined to post a -15 DRS, which is the worst in the majors.  Seeing his range, and the scouting reports, Rosario has the range to play the position, and play it quite well.  He would be a boon to a pitching staff that has been struggling.

And it’s not like the Mets shortstops have been making up for the poor fielding with their bats.  The shortstops have combined for an 85 wRC+.  That’s why their -0.4 combined WAR is the among the worst in all of baseball.  Arguably, anyone would have been an upgrade.  Rosario should be a massive upgrade even if he struggles out of the gate.

Between him being an upgrade and the Super Two deadline having passed a long time ago, it really is time for Rosario to come up to the majors.  The Mets need his offense and defense.  Rosario could also benefit from being mentored by Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Considering the Mets are intent on selling, the time for such an arrangement could possibly be dwindling.  Between that and the Mets coming up on a soft part of the schedule now is a good time to call him up.

Now would be a good time for the Mets to find out why everyone but them want Rosario to be their shortstop.

Mets Whimper Into The Break

After the Mets pulled out a 6-4 win over the Cardinals, there was hope for the team to at least take the series and leap over one team ahead of them in the race for the second Wild Card.  As Noah Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are the second half team.  If you wanted a glimmer of hope, here it was.

On Saturday, there was hope.  Zach Wheeler turned his season around allowing just two earned over six innings.  When Jay Bruce homered to start the seventh inning, and the Mets knocked Adam Wainwright out of the game, there was a chance.  Then Fernando Salas came into the game.  He was dreadful as usual, and the relievers that followed weren’t much better.  A one run deficit became a three run lead too much for the Mets to overcome.

From there, things fell apart.  For the first time all season, Steven Matz just didn’t have it allowing five runs over 4.1 inning.  The Mets offense could only muster three hits off of Lance Lynn.  With that, the momentum from Friday night’s victory was gone.  Quite possibly, hope for the Mets making any sort of run in the second half of the season.

Heading into the break, the Mets are 39-47 getting outscored by their opponents by 47 runs.  They are 12 games behind the Nationals in the National League East.  The team is 10.5 games behind the second Wild Card.  Worse than that, the Mets are 5-21 against teams with a winning record.

Every time you want hope, the Mets make sure to take it away.  Perhaps, it is better this way.  It is time for everyone to admit this team is going nowhere.  It is time to sell.  It is time for Dominic Smith, Gavin Cecchini, and Amed Rosario to show the Mets what they are capable of doing.  With them playing everyday, it is possible we can all begin to hope again.

Time To Move On From Terry Collins

If the Mets are really looking to sell, it is time to get rid of everyone that doesn’t have a contract beyond this season.  This means the Mets should part ways with Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Rene Rivera.  Once Neil Walker is healthy enough to play, the Mets should trade him as well.  With the Mets having team options on both Jerry Blevins and Asdrubal Cabrera, they should also get moved in the right trade.

But it’s not just the players.  The Mets should also part ways with Terry Collins.

When Collins signed his two year contract in the wake of the 2015 World Series, Collins had indicated it could very well be his last.  Even if Collins relented from that position, with each game, it becomes clearer and clearer that Collins will no longer be in the dugout for the Mets in 2018.  If that is the case, the Mets should part ways with Collins sooner rather than later.

The perfect time would be as the Mets head into the All Star Break.  This could allow the Mets to re-calibrate the coaching staff.  Internally, the Mets have some managerial candidates.

First base coach Tom Goodwin was given the opportunity to manage in the Arizona Fall Leauge this past offseason.  While he was removed from the Mets coaching staff in the offseason, Tim Teufel has remained with the organization.  Both are certainly candidates for the managerial job should it ever open, and both should provide the Mets with as smooth a transition as possible.

There are also minor league managers Luis Rojas and Pedro Lopez.  With the Mets likely turning to young players like Gavin CecchiniBrandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith, it would be helpful to have a manager with whom they are familiar to ease their transition as everyday players in the majors.

It would also serve as an opportunity to see how any of the aforementioned would serve as a manager at the major league level.  If you like what you see with the replacement, you have your answer as to who should be the Mets manager in the future.  If that person doesn’t perform well, you at least know you need to move on from that manager and look in a different direction.

Point is if the Mets aren’t going anywhere, they should best utilize that time.  That means giving young players an opportunity to establish themselves as everyday players at the major league level.  That should also mean finding out who the manager should be in 2018.

It’s time for the Mets to thank Collins for his service as the Mets manager, and possibly find a role for him in the organization.  It’s time to close the chapter on his Mets managerial career, and it is time to usher in a new era of Mets baseball.

I Still Have Hope . . . Sandy Shouldn’t

After a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, fans could allow themselves hope for the 2017 season again.  Yes, the Giants are a dreadful team, but there was a lot to like about the Mets in that series.  If you dig deeper, there is still things to like about this Mets team.

Jacob deGrom is in a stretch where he has gone at least eight innings in three consecutive starts.  This could be the best stretch of his career, which is certainly saying something.

Rafael Montero has now had three consecutive strong outings allowing just two earned runs over his last 14.1 inning pitched. In this stretch, he not only finally looks like a major league pitcher, he looks like a good major league pitcher.

Curtis Granderson has been the best hitting National League outfielder in the month of June (204 wRC+), and he’s been hitting .297/.408/.595 with 13 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 23 RBI since May 1st.

Jay Bruce has been resurgent hitting .315/.358/.629 with four doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI.  He’s on pace for his first 40 home run season and just his second 100 RBI season.

While acting unprofessional about the switch to second base in the clubhouse, Asdrubal Cabrera has been nothing but professional on the field going 7-14 in the series and playing a very good second base. 

Lucas Duda is flat out raking hitting .375/.474/.813 over the past week, and as we know when Duda gets hot like this, he can carry the team for a long stretch.  Just ask the 2015 Nationals.

Lost in all of that is Yoenis Cespedes being Cespedes, Addison Reed being a dominant closer, and Seth Lugo stabilizing the rotation.  There is even the specter of David Wright returning to the lineup.  When you combine that with the Mets schedule, this team is primed to reel off nine straight wins.

If the Mets were to win nine straight, they would be just one game under .500.  At that point, the Mets will be red hot heading to another big series in Washington.  Last time the teams played there, the Mets took two of three.  After that is a bad Cardinals team before the All Star Break.

Combine this hypothetical Mets run with a Rockies team losing six straight, and the Mets are right back in the mix with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 for a shot at the postseason.  Last year, the Mets were under .500 as late as August 19th, and they still made the postseason.  Throw in a potential Amed Rosario call up, and you really have things cooking.  Why not this year’s team?

Well, that’s easy.  The bullpen is a mess.  You have no idea when Noah Syndergaard and Neil Walker can return if they can return at all.  Jose Reyes is playing everyday.  The route to the postseason partially relies upon Montero being a good major league pitcher, and the Mets calling up Rosario.  At this point, those are two things no one should rely.

As a fan?  We should all enjoy the ride for as long as it will carry us.  As Mets fans, we have seen miracles.  We saw this team win in 1969.  We saw a team dead in the water in 1973 go all the way to game seven of the World Series.  We watched a Mookie Wilson grounder pass through Bill Buckner‘s legs.  We saw Mike Piazza homer in the first game in New York after 9/11.

As fans, we can hold out hope for the impossible.  We can dream.  Sandy doesn’t have that luxury.  He needs to look at the reality of the Mets situation and make the best moves he possibly can.  That includes trading Bruce, Duda, Granderson, and any other veteran who can get him a good return on the trade market.

That still shouldn’t stop us from dreaming.  Who knows?  Maybe Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Dominic Smith can led the Mets to the postseason after Sandy is done selling.

Mets Were Right To Move Cabrera to Second Base

For starters, lets concede that Jose Reyes has been playing so poorly he should unseat no one for a starting position unless he was going to play for the Long Island Ducks.  In turn, it also needs to be conceded Asdrubal Cabrera is no longer a major league caliber shortstop.  In his interview on the topic, Cabrera admitted as much saying, “I think next year, I have to go – I have to move to another position . . . I’m fine with that.”

Cabrera needs to be fine with that as he’s not a shortstop now.  His -10 DRS is the worst among shortstops with at least 100 innings played at the position.  His -5.5 UZR is the second worst in the majors among players with 100 innings played at short.  But it’s more than the advanced metrics.  Visually, you can see he no longer has the range.  His sure hands aren’t so sure anymore.  His 11 errors are the third most in the majors and are four more than he had all of last year.  The final indignity for him came when he had his Luis Castillo impersonation.

It was time to move Cabrera to second base.  With the team having an eye towards the 2018 season, it was time to see if the team should pick up his 2018 option in the offseason to play him alongside Amed Rosario.  With the team looking to sell, it was also a chance to improve his trade value.

Now, this isn’t the first time the Mets have asked Cabrera to change positions.  Earlier in the year, they asked him to move to third base.  He wasn’t amendable going so far as to demand the team pick up his 2018 option if they planned such a move.  Rather than promote discord throughout the clubhouse, Terry Collins dropped it.  The team had to know moving him to second base was going to create issues.

And it did.  Cabrera demanded a trade from the team.  Sure, part of it could be the Mets didn’t give him the courtesy of speaking with him first, or the team not giving him the opportunity to play some games at second base during his rehab stint in the minor leagues.  Still, even with the Mets mishandling the situation, given how Cabrera responded to moving to third base, this incident was going to happen anyway.

It is better for that incident to have occurred with Reyes supplanting him than Rosario.  It is hard enough for a rookie to get acclimated to playing in the major leagues.  It is even more difficult with a disenchanted veteran angry you took his job.  This is the same veteran you would want to mentor a young Rosario to help ease his transition.  Seeing Cabrera’s actions, this was not going to happen if Rosario was the one who replaced him.

That is why having Reyes take over at shortstop made sense.  Reyes is a veteran better capable of handling the situation, especially when he previously faced the same situation when the Mets signed Kaz MatsuiLet Reyes deal with the fallout now so all issues are resolved by the time Rosario is called up to the majors.

Overall, while we can quibble with how the Mets handled moving Cabrera to second base, we can all agree they made the right decision.  They got to find out more about Cabrera both in terms of his ability as a second baseman and how he handles a change in his roles.  More importantly, they made Rosario’s transition to the major leagues that much easier.

Mets Need To Play Their Veterans Everyday To Maximize Trade Value

It is interesting to hear the Mets are selling because the news came just one day after the Mets said they were going to move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base to allow Jose Reyes to stay at shortstop when Cabrera comes off the disabled list.  Naturally, this move blocks both Gavin Cecchini, who has played fairly well over the past four games earning him a longer look at the the position, and Amed Rosario, who is considered an Über prospect.

If you are team looking to sell, you have really announced you want to clear your veterans out of the way to both get some prospects in return and to give your young players some time at the major league level.  However, it could behoove the Mets to play their veterans as much as possible now to increase their trade value.

For example, in the outfield, the Mets have four caliber starting outfielders.  There is no way the team is going to bench Yoenis Cespedes under any circumstances, nor should they.  This means the team has two spots for three left-handed hitting outfielders.  The Mets have control over only one of them after this season.

For the long term, the Mets need to get Michael Conforto as many at-bats as possible.  With that said, would it harm his development to be a part-time player for the next month?   He has suffered a back injury to some unspecified severity.  He has slumped in June albeit while keeping a more than respectable OBP.  If sitting him potentially leads to a better return for Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, shouldn’t the Mets at least try to get the most value from those players?

Same goes for the infield.  The Mets are going to have to clear some room for their presumed infield of the future including Dominic Smith, Rosario, and possibly Cecchini to take form.  If playing Reyes for the next month gets some major league team interested in him as a late inning pinch runner or utility player, shouldn’t the Met do that?  Maybe that seemingly low rated prospect becomes something.  Remember, Wuilmer Becerra was seen as a throw-in to the R.A. Dickey trade, and he has become a real prospect over the past few years.

The same thing goes for Cabrera.  The Mets need to get him going to get teams interested in him.  Presumably, moving him to second has more to do with showing teams he can be the answer at second as well than making a spot for Reyes.

Overall, the Mets need to maximize the returns for everyone to build up the team not just for 2018, but for the oncoming seasons. Up until the trade deadline, getting the most in return for the veterans has to be the Mets singular focus.  Conforto can sit for a while or go to Triple-A.  Rosario and Smith can wait an extra month.  However, the veterans cannot wait.  The Mets need to get them going to try to maximize the return on them.  To do that, they need to be in the lineup everyday.

However, once August 1st rolls around, those veterans not shipped out needs to be put on the bench.  At that point, it is l about playing Conforto, Cecchini, Brandon Nimmo, Rosario, and Smith.

Eleven Mets Minor Leaugers To Protect In An Expansion Draft

In the NHL draft tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights will be drafting players from each of the other 30 NHL rosters.  There is a provision that players who have less than two years of service time are automatically protected thereby not making a team choose between a significant player and a huge prospect.  It does beg the question about what would happen if that provision were removed.

Better yet, what would happen if teams were forced to protect just 10 of their best prospects in an effort to permit the new team to stock their minor league system.  If the Mets were put in the position to select eleven players with under two years service time, who should they select?

1.   SS Amed Rosario

By any account, Rosario is among the top prospects in all of baseball if not the top prospect.  He has more than justified that billing this year.  Through 69 games, Rosario is hitting .325/.368/.479 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 48 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.  He’s great, and there is no circumstance in which the Mets should even think about losing him to another team.

2.   1B Dominic Smith

The Mets have been aggressive promoting their 2013 first round pick through the minor leagues.  Last year, he was the youngest player in the Eastern League.  This year, he has been among the youngest in the Pacific Coast League.  Through it all, he has held his own, played a terrific defensive first base, and is developing power at every stop.  He is the first baseman of the future for a team who will likely lose their current first baseman at the trade deadline or free agency.

3.   RHP Justin Dunn

Last year’s first round pick has terrific stuff, and he showed it off last year.  While he struggled this year, he has been better off for those struggles.  Since being demoted to the bullpen to help him find himself, Dunn has gone 3-1 with a 0.86 ERA and an 8.1 K/9.  When you have a player that struggles and improves this much, this is a player you make sure to keep.

4.  RHP Robert Gsellman

Gsellman started last year pitching in Double-A, and he finished it helping pitch the Mets into the postseason.  He’s had an up and down 2017 season, but he has shown flashes of his tremendous talent.  He is just 23 years old, and he still has the stuff he did last year when he posted a 2.42 ERA in eight games.  With a better infield behind him, which we should see with a Rosario promotion, we will likely see a return of the stats we saw last year.

5.   SS Andres Gimenez

The 18 year old dominated the Gulf Coast League last year showing off his skill set that had him one of the highest regarded international free agent signings in 2015.  He has skipped short season ball and held his own during his 37 games for the Columbia Fireflies.  He has a good bat regardless of position.

6.   LHP Thomas Szapucki

Szapucki is potentially a top of the rotation starter with a mid to high 90s fastball and a very good curve ball.  He used that to be completely dominant in rookie ball.  After an injury to start the year, he has just returned from the disabled list, and he is rounding into form.

7.   CF Desmond Lindsay

The man dubbed as the “Offensive Machine” when he was drafted has certainly taken off lately.  While he struggled to start the year, he has adjusted to the Sally League, and he has begun dominating.  Since June began, he has been hitting .333/.400/.694 while playing a good center field.  It seems he may have put his leg issues behind him, and he is taking the next step.

8.   C Tomas Nido

After years of struggling at the plate, Nido broke out last year winning the Florida State League batting title.  After a slow start to the season in Double-A, he is once again showing he is as complete a catcher as they come hitting .300/.353/.483 with 10 doubles, four homers, and 22 RBI in his last 32 games.  He is proving last year was no fluke, and he is the Mets catcher of the future.

9.   RHP Marcos Molina

Despite missing a year due to Tommy John surgery, the Mets believed enough in Molina to add him to the 40 man roster.  They were right to do so.  In five starts for St. Lucie, he was 2-3 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.767 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9.  That has earned him a promotion to Double-A and a clear path towards the major leagues.

10.  RHP Seth Lugo

With spin rates, we know Lugo’s curve ball is the best in the majors.  He has used that to help propel him not just to the majors, but also to have success in the majors.  In addition to that, he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s when he needs a big out.  He used this repertoire to help pitch the Mets into the postseason last year.  He has used it again this year to be effective in the rotation upon his return to the rotation from his elbow injury.

11.  LHP Anthony Kay

The Mets have long wanted him.  After failing to sign him out of high school in 2013, they made him their second first round draft pick last year.  That is because he has a fastball he can get into the upper 90s with a promising curve ball and change.  Like many college pitchers, his arm was abused by his coach, and he has suffered an injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  He should be able to bounce back and be the pitcher the Mets have long thought he could be.

In the above list, the Mets have lots of pitching talent, but that would also leave a lot of pitching talent exposed.  If the Mets went this route, they could lose a Harol Gonzalez or Jordan Humphreys, both of whom are having terrific years.  There is also the potential position player cost.  Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini are both former first round picks who are close to being regulars at the major league level.

Even if you were to make some amendments to the above list, you are still going to leave a very talented player exposed.  This speaks to the depth of the Mets farm system that the Mets continue to improve with each draft and each international signing period.

Eight Players The Mets Should Protect

With the NHL having their expansion draft tonight, each of the pre-existing 31 teams will sit and wait to see which one of their players will be selected to became an inaugural member of the Vegas Golden Knights.  With the Golden Knights being required to select one player from each NHL team, each franchise is going to see a player depart their franchise.

Occasionally, there have been discussions MLB will expand.  Whenever that happens, each MLB team will have to go through the same exercise each NHL team just did.  If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see exactly who each MLB team would protect.

In terms of the NHL draft, teams can protect somewhere between eight to 11 skaters and one goaltender depending on who the team decides to protect.  Given an NHL has a maximum roster size of 23 players, the 8 – 11 paradigm is a good framework for a potential MLB expansion draft.

Assuming MLB lands upon eight players, it would be interesting to see who the Mets decided to protect.  Now, where the Mets are lucky is players with less than two service years are automatically protected.  As such, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and any other young player you would consider protecting are already protected.  With that in mind, here are the eight players the Mets should protect should such a draft take place:

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022

Last year, Syndergaard emerged as the ace of the Mets staff with a repertoire that has never been seen by a Major League Starting pitcher.  He has a fastball that tops off at 100 MPH and a slider that he can throw in the mid 90s.  He also has a swagger on the mound, and he gets up for the biggest games.  Again, like Cespedes, this is a no-brainer even with his lat injury this year.

2.  LF Michael Conforto

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

Conforto has been around for only three years, but it has been a whirlwind.  In 2015, he was a budding superstar.  In 2016, he had a wrist injury, struggled, and was demoted to Triple-A multiple times.  In 2017, he has emerged as an All Star.  Even with a rough June, there’s reason to believe in Conforto being a budding superstar, including but not limited to his ability to hit left-handed pitching.  Conforto is a foundation piece and should be the Mets right fielder for decades.

3. LF Yoenis Cespedes

Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million

Given the fact players with no trade clauses must be protected in an expansion draft, the Mets would be required to protect Cespedes.  Even if that wasn’t the case, the Mets need to protect Cespedes.  He’s been a superstar with the Mets hitting .286/.354/.565 with 56 homers and 146 RBI since joining the team.  More than that, he puts fans in the seats.  You have to protect him at all costs.

4.  RHP Jacob deGrom

Free Agent: 2021

After an injury riddled year, and some ups and downs this year, deGrom has rediscovered himself, and he’s back to pitching like an ace.  That is evident with his being the National League Pitcher of the Week last week.  We also saw what deGrom was made of during the 2015 NLCS when he outpitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack GreinkeThere are only a handful of the pitchers on the planet that can do that, and when you have one of them, you don’t let them go.

5.  LHP Steven Matz

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

When Matz is healthy, he has the potential to be an ace.  Before his bone spur issues arose in late June last year, Matz was 11-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  In his return from season ending surgery, he has pitched well lasting seven innings in both of his starts.  Overall, when he’s healthy, he’s terrific, and he’s not someone you part with so easily.

6. RHP Jeurys Familia

Free Agent: 2019

When you consider the Mets bullpen is in shambles, and they are going to have to rebuild it in totality, the Mets need to keep Familia at all costs.  It is also important to keep in mind that despite his injury this year, Familia has been an absolute work horse for the Mets with his making the most appearances out of the bullpen and pitching the most innings from 2014 – 2016.  If the medical reports are promising, there is every reason to believe Familia can return to being that pitcher again.

7.  C Travis d’Arnaud

Free Agent: 2020

There is every reason to leave him unprotected.  He has regressed in most aspects of his game, and he had yet another stint on the Disabled List this year.  Still, d’Arnaud is a good pitch framer, who still has offensive upside.  Before injuring his wrist, d’Arnaud was hitting .270/.357/.541.  While his stats have dropped precipitously, his .223 BABIP suggests d’Arnaud is due.  More than that, there’s really no better options available.  The catching across Major League Baseball is on a downturn, and you need someone to bridge the gap until Tomas Nido is ready.

8.  3B David Wright

Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million

As noted above with Cespedes, the Mets would have to protect Wright due to his no trade clause.  Even without it, there is a case for keeping Wright.  Wright is the team captain, and he is the guy you want leaving an impression on Rosario and Smith when they get to the majors.  His contract is insured, so if he can’t play, you can reallocate the money.  More to the point, could you possibly imagine Wright in another uniform?  Me neither.  Is this all a stretch?  Sure, but fact is Wright will remain with the Mets until he finally decides it’s over.

As with any decision like this, there were hard choices.  Matt Harvey has been a cornerstone of the Mets rebuild, but his injuries and impending free agency, you’d be forced to expose him.  Zack Wheeler has had a strong return from the Disabled List, but even before he was injured, he was 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, and a 100 ERA+ in 49 career starts.  In 2017, he has not appeared to be more than that.  That coupled with the rise of Gsellman and Lugo as well as other pitchers in the Mets farm system, you could very well expose Wheeler.

Overall, the hypothetical player that would get taken from the Mets roster would be damaging.  That includes Juan Lagares, who is a Gold Glover that showed some promise this year, but still has a terrible contract.  That also includes Wilmer Flores who still doesn’t quite have a position.

With all that said, it does speak to the talent Sandy Alderson has brought to this organization that the Mets could lose one of the aforementioned players and still have a team that could compete for a World Series next year.