Jacob deGrom

Johan Santana Should Be In Mets Hall Of Fame

June 1, 2012.

Johan Santana was 10 starts deep into the season as he tried to make the fairly unprecedented step of returning from anterior capsule surgery in his pitching shoulder. On this night, this one glorious night, he would do something no one had ever done before:

The Mets history is one of great pitching. There were great pitchers both before and after Santana. There were many close cases, but Santana was the only one who threw a no-hitter.

This is just one part of his legendary Mets career.

Santana initially came to the Mets after the dismal 2007 collapse. He came to the Mets as the piece meant to not only ensure there wouldn’t be a second collapse, but also to get them to the World Series.

Santana would more than hold up his end of the bargain. That season he was arguably cheated out of the Cy Young after he led the NL in ERA, GS, and IP.

Even if Santana didn’t win the award, he proved himself to be an ace’s ace and arguably the best pitcher in baseball. In a game the Mets had to win, Santana took the ball on the penultimate day of the season despite his being on short rest and his dealing with a knee injury. It was a virtuoso performance:

In that game, Santana registered the last great performance by a Mets pitcher at Shea Stadium. It was the last complete game shut out, and he would pick up the last win by a Mets pitcher in the ballpark.

The Mets were in the position for that heartbreaking loss because Santana was phenomenal down the stretch. In the second half, he was 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP.

Sadly, it was the last chance for him to pitch in a pennant chase for the Mets. Poor roster decisions, an ill conceived ballpark, a Ponzi scheme, and flat out bad ownership cost the Mets and Santana the opportunity to again compete for a postseason berth.

Despite that, Santana was good when his health allowed him to pitch for the Mets.

To this day, he is still the Mets best left-handed pitcher in the Citi Field era. Since the ballpark opened, he leads all left-handed pitchers in ERA and FIP. Overall, he’s fourth and sixth in those categories respectively.

Looking past that with an eye towards Mets history, Santana still rates well. He’s sixth all-time in ERA+ and 10th in K/BB%. He’s 11th in pitching WAR despite having fewer starts than anyone in the top 10. In fact, he has the second fewest starts out of any Mets pitcher in the top 20.

As if this convincing enough, Santana’s impact on the Mets is still felt to this day. Back when Santana was rehabbing his shoulder injury, a then unknown prospect by the name of Jacob deGrom was rehabbing from Tommy John.

As detailed by Tim Rohan, then of the New York Times, Santana taught deGrom how to throw his change-up. That helped deGrom set on the path to not only make the majors but also become the best pitcher in all of baseball.

In a nutshell, that shows how much of a profound impact Santana has had on the Mets organization.

He delivered the last great moment in Shea Stadium history. He’s thrown the only no-hitter. He and his change-up helped deGrom. When you break it all down, it’s just impossible to tell the history of the Mets without Santana.

Overall, he’s one of the best starters in team history, and he’s done things no one has done in Mets history. As a result, he belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Mets Need To Extend More Than Francisco Lindor

Now that Francisco Lindor is a member of the New York Mets, the team now has to try to find a way to sign the 27 year old superstar to a contract extension. This is the move the Los Angeles Dodgers made with Mookie Betts just last year.

Its also what the Mets once did with Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza. Those moves resulted in a World Series, two pennants, two NL East titles, and four postseason appearances. Keeping Lindor can very well have the same impact on the Mets going forward.

However, it’s more than just Lindor. The Mets have key pieces of their core ready to hit free agency after this year.

First and foremost is Michael Conforto. In 2020, Conforto emerged as a true leader for this team and a potential future captain. Since moving past his shoulder injury, he’s re-established himself at the plate with a 135 OPS+ over the past two seasons.

Another homegrown Mets player who will be up for free agency is Noah Syndergaard, who will be returning from Tommy John at some point in 2021. Before suffering that injury, he was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.

From his debut in 2015 – 2019, Syndergaard was 10th best in the majors in FIP and WAR while having the second best hard hit rate. He’s also a pitcher who thrives on the big stage. He was the last Mets pitcher to win a postseason game, and in the last Mets postseason game he arguably out-pitched Madison Bumgarner over seven innings.

At 28, he’s still young and in his prime. This is the type of pitcher teams usually move to make a part of their franchise for as long as they possibly can.

Joining Syndergaard near the top of the Mets rotation and free agency is Marcus Stroman. Like Syndergaard, the 2017 World Baseball Classic MVP was born to pitch in the big game and on the biggest stage.

What truly stands out with Stroman is not just his positivity, but his tireless pursuit to improve as a pitcher. That is exactly the type of pitcher who not only tends to improve as years progress, but he’s the type of pitcher who has a positive impact on teammates.

In terms of advanced stats like FIP and WAR, he lines up as a number two starter. However, he’s someone who you trust against another team’s ace. He’s not good, and he’s not getting outworked by anyone.

Right there, the Mets have four extremely important pieces due for an extension. After 2020, their two best position players, and two of their best three starters hit the free agent market. If the Mets truly want to rival the Dodgers, they need to move to lock these pitchers up long term.

That’s easier said than done. Some of these players may want to test the free agent market. Steve Cohen’s pockets aren’t bottomless. There’s also the matter of other players on the team.

Steven Matz will also be a free agent. After the 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can opt out of his contract after 2022, and the Mets have a team option on Carlos Carrasco.

Overall, the Mets have to make a number of extraordinarily important decisions on players on their roster over the ensuing two seasons. They need to balancing being able to extend those players with adding another huge contract.

By the looks of it, obtaining Lindor hasn’t completed the big moves for this Mets offseason. Rather, it means their work really has just begun.

Mets Make Themselves Real World Series Contenders With Francisco Lindor And Carlos Carrasco

In case you were skeptical this was indeed a new era of New York Mets baseball, the Mets just acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, the Mets added a top five player in the game at short, and they added a top of the rotation caliber pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

When you add these players to a core with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Whether or not the Mets add another starter, bullpen arm, third baseman, or center fielder, the Mets already have the pieces in place to be a true World Series contender.

Just think about it for a moment. Assuming Noah Syndergaard returns this season, this is currently the Mets rotation:

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Steven Matz/David Peterson

Even if the Mets don’t go out there and sign a George Springer or add a third baseman, this is what the Mets lineup could look like during the course of the 2021 season:

  1. Brandon Nimmo, CF
  2. Michael Conforto, RF
  3. Pete Alonso, 1B
  4. Dominic Smith, LF
  5. Francisco Lindor, SS
  6. Jeff McNeil, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Luis Guillorme 2B

Sure, this Mets team could definitively stand to get better defensively in the outfield. That said, that infield defensive alignment is quite good, especially up the middle, and that lineup is as strong and deep as they come. This is a team who can go toe-to-toe with the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, this is a great baseball team.

What’s even better is the Mets are not done with their offseason. They are still going to add more pieces. That could include Springer, and it could be a reliever like Brad Hand. There are are likely going to be depth pieces added beyond this group. When all is said and done, the Mets with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter have already done and will continue to do what Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen could never even dream of doing.

Today is a great day in Mets history. Today is just like the day the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. The Mets got a future Hall of Famer in his prime, and they completely changed the trajectory of the franchise both this year and in the years to come.

Lets Go Mets!

Mets Corey Kluber/James Paxton Plan

The New York Mets are in an interesting position with their rotation. They’re set at the top with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. That could be the best 1-2 combination in all of baseball.

When Noah Syndergaard returns, that’s a tremendous top three. The question is what the Mets should do for the last two rotation spots.

Given the presence of Steven Matz and David Peterson, you could argue the Mets have the luxury of taking a shot at pure upside there. That brings us to Corey Kluber and James Paxton.

Both pitchers are coming off injury riddled seasons. Instead of cashing in on free agency, they’re having showcases to prove they can return to form. Those forms are better than anything on the market.

Before being traded to the Rangers and suffering a tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in the majors.

In 2017 and 2018, he had a 172 ERA+, 2.82 FIP, and a 7.0 K/BB. If he can be anything close to that, he’s taking the Mets to the World Series.

However, there’s no knowing if he can get anywhere close to that. He struggled in his six starts before he suffered a broken arm from a comebacker. He never made it back that season due to injuries, and he lasted one inning in 2020 before the muscle tear.

If Kluber can get anywhere near his 2018 form, he’d be great. That 2018 form makes him well worth the gamble.

The same thing can be said about Paxton.

When the Seattle Mariners did their great sell off, Paxton went to the New York Yankees. In 2019, he had a 117 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, and a 3.38 K/BB. He showed he can handle the stage not just in that regular season but also with a big win in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Over a three year period (2016-2019), Paxton had a 120 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, and a 4.1 K/BB. That’s a very good pitcher.

What wasn’t good was Paxton’s 2020. He had a 6.64 ERA in five starts in an injury riddled season before shutting it down with a flexor strain. At the moment, his velocity isn’t all the way back with him throwing 94 MPH in a throwing session. Still, he’s getting there.

If Paxton’s ready by Opening Day, you want him in your rotation. Unfortunately, the only way you can really figure that out is by signing him. Teams have the right to be leery, but he’s well worth the risk.

If you’re the Mets, adding Kluber or Paxton to deGrom and Stroman is awfully enticing. That goes double when they would slot into the rotation as a three or four.

Adding both allows them to put Peterson in the minors as insurance and to permit him to improve in the areas where he needs to improve. In the event, Kluber or Paxton falter or aren’t quite ready for Opening Day, the Mets have Peterson.

If they work out and Syndergaard returns as planned, Matz becomes a weapon out of the bullpen. Alternatively, the Mets can cycle through all of these starters to keep them fresh and to the finish line much like they did in 2015.

Of course, the Mets can sign a more reliable option like Masahiro Tanaka or Jose Quintana to pair with one of Kluber or Paxton. You can understand that path.

That said, if you really believe Kluber and Paxton are healthy, and you believe in Jeremy Hefner, you roll the dice and add both. You give them the incentive laden deals they merit/want, and you allocate your funds towards George Springer, Brad Hand, and third base.

Ultimately, that’s just one of many paths before the Mets. Fortunately, they have the people in charge and the resources available that you can trust they’re going to make the right decisions to make the Mets a real contender.

Dawn Of A Potential Mets/Dodgers Rivalry

The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have an interesting history. For fans of the original Mets team, many of them were originally Dodgers fans.

That includes Fred Wilpon, who built a ballpark in testament to those Dodger teams. Of course, that was resented by younger more modern Mets fans who have zero recollection of those Brooklyn teams.

For Gen X fans and younger, the history of the Mets and Dodgers is quite different.

There was the Dodgers upsetting the 1988 Mets. That was a painful series highlighted by David Cone perhaps riling up the Dodgers, Davey Johnson leaving in Dwight Gooden too long with the ensuing Mike Scioscia homer, and Orel Hershisers virtuoso performance.

The 2006 Mets got some measure of a payback in the NLDS sweep. That was a total beatdown with former Dodgers Shawn Green and Jose Valentin relaying to former Dodger Paul Lo Duca who tagged out Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew at home plate.

Things between these two teams really ratcheted up in the 2015 NLDS. That all began with Chase Utley living up to his reputation as one of the dirtiest players ever with his tackling Ruben Tejada at second thereby breaking Tejada’s leg.

Utley would go on to cowardly duck the Mets in New York. Ultimately, the Mets won that series behind the brilliance of Jacob deGrom and the postseason heroics of Daniel Murphy.

The bad feelings of that series carried forward into the next season when Noah Syndergaard was ejected during a nationally televised game after throwing a pitch behind Utley. Utley would get the last laugh with Terry Collins being revered years later when the ejection video was released.

After that, things calmed down. That was due in large part to the Wilpons ineptitude taking the Mets out of contention. During that time, the Dodgers became the model franchise finally breaking through and winning the 2020 World Series.

Now, with Steve Cohen at the helm, things promise to be different.

With Cohen comes real financial heft which arguably surpasses what the Dodgers have. We’ve seen early on what that means with the Mets already signing Trevor May and James McCann as well as being in the market for George Springer and Tomoyuki Sugano.

But, it’s not just the financial strength. It’s also the scouting and analytics. The Dodgers have used that to identify players like Max Muncy and Justin Turner who have become relative stars. They’ve also developed an enviable pipeline of talent with young players like Gavin Lux and Will Smith.

The Mets have started heading in that direction by bringing back Sandy Alderson. They’ve also hired Jared Porter as GM and Zack Scott as Assistant GM.

Of course, the Mets have retained perhaps the best draft scouting with Mark Tramuta, Tommy Tanous, Drew Toussaint, et al. That group is responsible for great talent like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith. That’s nothing to say of the talent still left in the system and traded away.

The Mets have the core, financial resources, burgeoning front office, and now the right ownership for the Mets to become a juggernaut like we haven’t seen from this franchise since the 1980s. They will very soon rival the Dodgers on and off the field.

That is going to lead to some more postseason run-ins. With that will be the heightening if tensions between these franchises which have already had their moments.

If the Mets make the right moves, we’ll see an epic postseason clash between these teams come October not just this year but in each of the ensuing seasons. The seeds are already there, and so, with more epic postseason series, we’ll see the makings of a bitter Mets/Dodgers rivalry.

Mets 20 Best Moments In 2020

The year 2020 was hard on us all, but there were some truly outstanding and unexpected uplifting moments scattered throughout the year. In no particular order here were some of the best moments for the New York Mets in 2020:

1. Steve Cohen purchases the Mets ending the Wilpons reign.

2. Dominic Smith finds his voice and that next level in his game.

3. Michael Conforto emerged as a real leader and showed he’s the star we all hoped he’d be.

4. While not winning the Cy Young, Jacob deGrom continued to prove he’s the best pitcher in the game.

5. Yoenis Cespedes gave us one last thrill with an Opening Day game winning homer.

6. Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant form.

7. Amed Rosario hit a walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium to beat the New York Yankees.

8. David Peterson and Andres Gimenez made the jump from Double-A and had strong rookie seasons.

9. Mets were once again allowed to wear the first responders caps.

10. Sandy Alderson returned restoring credibility to the franchise and was given the opportunity to win a World Series with the Mets.

11. Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer to return to the Mets.

12. Players like Trevor May and James McCann were excited about the new era in Queens and wanted to be a part of it.

13. Pete Alonso proved his rookie year was no fluke putting himself on what would’ve been a 42 home run pace.

14. Although in a circuitous route, Luis Rojas got the manager job he earned and did enough to earn at least a second season at the helm.

15. Luis Guillorme was great with the glove and better than we ever anticipated he’d be at the plate.

16. Brandon Nimmo proved his neck problems were no more while remaining an on-base machine.

17. Rick Porcello got to live out his dream by pitching for the same Mets team he loved as a kid.

18. The 1986 Mets were dubbed the best team ever.

19. Alonso honored the greatest Met ever by hitting a walk-off homer the first game the Mets played after Tom Seaver passed.

20. It was only 60 games and the Mets finished in last place, but we got to see Mets baseball. For at least those 3+ hours a day, we felt normal.

If you’re reading this now, chances are you went through a lot this year. The good news is you’re reading this meaning you’ve survived the year and can have hope for a better 2021.

God willing, that 2021 will be our best year ever, and we will see a Mets World Series title.

Mets Only Have Three Untouchable Players

The concept of the untouchable player is a fallacy. That goes for any player including Mike Trout. For the right price, even he could be traded.

That said, when we talk untouchable we mean a player who can’t be replaced on the roster. In terms of the Mets, there’s only three such players on the roster.

First and foremost, Jacob deGrom is untouchable. Not only has he established himself as the best pitcher in baseball, but he’s also on a very reasonable contract. There’s nothing on the free agent or trade market available where you can replace him.

The next untouchable player is Seth Lugo, and last season is exactly the reason why. In Lugo, the Mets have one of the best and most versatile relievers in baseball. He can pitch multiple innings, get a key out, and get the save.

If you’re in a jam, Lugo can also start. No, he is not nearly as dominant as a starter. However, he can be stretched to be either a dominant opener or a competent fifth starter. Looking across baseball, there really isn’t another pitcher who offers that, not even Josh Hader.

Finally, the Mets last untouchable is Jeff McNeil. He’s that mostly because his versatility allows the Mets to build the best possible roster.

McNeil is a good defender at second and left. He can hold his own at third and right. He’s a unique batter in this era in that he’s up to hit, and he puts the ball in play. In McNeil, you’re getting a modern day Ben Zobrist in the field and a slower version of Ichiro Suzuki at the plate.

In these three players, the Mets have truly unique players whose skill sets cannot easily be replicated. In fact, you can argue, their skill sets cannot be replicated. At their relative prices, it’s nearly impossible.

As for the rest of the roster, while there are extremely good players across, they just don’t rise to this level.

While you may want to argue Pete Alonso or Dominic Smith, they are both first baseman. In fact, they’re both All-Star caliber first basemen. Unfortunately, there’s just one first base, and there’s no DH.

Andres Gimenez is very promising, but this is an organization with a lot of shortstop talent. That includes Amed Rosario, who is a capable MLB starter, and Luis Guillorme, who deserves a fair shot to play everyday.

Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are approaching free agency soon, and the corner outfield position is one which can typically be filled easily. On that note, McNeil can fill one of their spots if necessary.

Like Conforto, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are pending free agents making them more movable than they otherwise would be. Also on the pitching front is Edwin Diaz. You’ve seen reason to believe in him and believe he can’t handle New York. At the end of the day, he’s a good closer, but the Mets can always obtain one of them in free agency.

So, overall, the Mets have a deep and interesting roster. However, there are many holes across the roster. Looking at this roster, short of deGrom, Lugo, or McNeil, any of these players should be on the table to address any of the deficiencies this team has.

Nolan Arenado Perfect Fit For Mets

When analyzing the New York Mets roster, there are a few things they need to transform a strong core to a true World Series contender. Some of those things are a third baseman, improved defense, and more right/left balance in the lineup.

That perfectly describes Nolan Arenado.

In his latest presser, without mentioning him by name, Sandy Alderson intimated Arenado would be the type of player the Mets could look to trade for this offseason. It should come as no surprise the Mets would.

Since the Mets last made the postseason in 2016, their defense has been an embarrassment. In fact, their -242 DRS over that timeframe is by far the worst in the majors.

One of the problem areas has been third where the team has accumulated a -26 DRS. That includes the -17 DRS the incumbent third baseman, J.D. Davis, has posted over the past two seasons.

Conversely, Arenado is an eight time Gold Glove winner. In fact, he’s a perfect 8/8 in his Major League career. Since 2017, he’s easily been the best third baseman in the NL with a 55 DRS. Replacing Davis with him would just be a staggeringly defensive upgrade.

Arenado isn’t remotely slipping defensively. In 2020, he had a 15 DRS and a 7 OAA. The previous season, he had an 18 DRS and a 16 OAA. By OAA, he’s been the best defensive third baseman in each of the past two seasons.

In addition to the phenomenal defense, Arenado is a good hitter.

No, he was not remotely good in a bizarre 2020 season. All of his offensive numbers cratered. However, this past season is a complete anomaly from what we’ve seen from him in his career.

Over the three previous seasons, Arenado had a 130 wRC+. That’s 29th best in the majors over that stretch. In terms of the Mets, only Brandon Nimmo has a better wRC+ over that stretch.

This means that quite arguably if the Mets were to obtain Arenado, he’d become their best player not named Jacob deGrom. Certainly, none of the current Mets can match Arenado’s ability to field and hit.

For those who are concerned his offense won’t translate, they’re worrying too much. Yes, like every other Rockies player, he’s always had pronounced home/road splits. However, as noted by Mike Petrillo of MLB.com, “there’s no evidence that a Rockies hitter who goes elsewhere and gets regular playing time is going to fall apart.”

So, essentially, if Arenado were to leave Colorado, we should anticipate him performing the same way he always has. There’s the obvious and fair caveat here that he really struggled in 2020. Although on that point, he has a shoulder injury to his non-throwing shoulder which could’ve impacted his performance.

When you boil it all down, Arenado is a great fit for the Mets. He vastly improves the defense, and he promises to be another right-handed threat in the lineup. In terms of fit, the Mets could not do any better.

Really, the question is what will it take to get him. He’s got a no trade clause and an opt out looming. Like last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested. While the Rockies may be reticent to trade Arenado intradivision, the Dodgers present real leverage to extract the most value.

We can debate just how much the Mets should give up to obtain arguably the best third baseman in baseball. What isn’t up for debate is just how much of an improvement Arenado would be over what the Mets have had at third since David Wright.

Marcus Stroman, Trevor May Phenomenal Start To Mets Offseason

With the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets, this was an organization in desperate need for pitching. On that front, the Mets under Sandy Alderson’s competent leadership, the team is off to a great start.

Of course, the Mets were helped by Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer. When Stroman did that, he gave the Mets a real solid number two behind Jacob deGrom.

Yes, Stroman is that. From 2014-2019, Stroman is in the top 30 in WAR and top 40 in FIP. There’s other ways to quantify, but this firmly establishes him as a clear cut number two.

Stroman is only part of the solution. Beyond him, the Mets still need to build the rest of their pitching staff. On that note, the Mets just signed Trevor May. Simply put, that was a great move.

May has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Over the last three years, he ranks 12th among all relievers in K% and 13th in K/BB%. His 3.24 WPA ranks 22nd among relievers in this time frame.

Over that time frame, May is 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9. He also has a 3.56 FIP and 140 ERA+.

This is a process helped along by his working with Jeremy Hefner. The two worked well together in Minnesota, and they promise to do so again in New York.

This is the type of reliever you can plug into the eighth inning in front of Edwin Diaz. With those two innings fully accounted for, Seth Lugo can be better unleashed as the weapon he can be out of the bullpen.

This singular signing moves the Mets bullpen from giant question mark towards solid to reliable. This is exactly how to start building your team.

That’s an important note too. Unlike prior years with the Wilpons, this is the start, not the finish. Typically, May would be the coda to the Mets free agent shopping, not the salvo.

Right now, the Mets have Stroman and May. That significantly improves the 2021 roster. It’s just a start, but it’s a fantastic one at that. Seeing how Alderson has begun, we should be excited for the next move.

Mets Need To Be Careful Pursuing Blake Snell Trade

With reports the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to entertain trades for Blake Snell, this would seemingly be the perfect time for the New York Mets to act. When you look at it, Snell would presumably fill a short and long term fit for the franchise.

Even with Marcus Stroman in the fold, the Mets need to find at least one more starting pitcher. Ideally, they would want two more. Snell would not only fill that need, but he could help make the Mets rotation once again the envy of all of baseball.

Snell also would fill another starting pitching need. After the 2021 season, Steven Matz, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That will leave the Mets looking to fill at least 2/5 of their 2022 starting rotation. If you have Snell in the fold that will lessen that burden. The question for the Mets is how much Snell would be worth pursuing.

When many look at Snell, they see the pitcher who won the 2018 Cy Young Award. Our lasting impression of him was his dominant performance in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series before he was inexplicably lifted early. When you look at him from that lens, Snell is an ace level pitcher. When an ace level pitcher available, you need to pursue that pitcher heavily.

However, there are real questions if that is what Snell truly is. Really, when you break it down, Snell’s 2018 Cy Young award winning season has been a complete outlier in his career.

In Snell’s first two seasons, he had a 108 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9 while averaging 5.0 innings per start. In the two seasons since winning his Cy Young, Snell had a 111 ERA+, 3.65 FIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9 while averaging 4.2 innings per start. Certainly, these past two years have been a significant improvement over what he was over his first two years, but those stats are not remotely indicative of an ace level pitcher.

Of course, this is the Rays, so the analysis is not that simple. Remember, the Rays focus on not allowing their pitchers to go through the rotation a certain amount of times, and they are very strong believers in bullpenning. As a result, it is very arguable their handling of Snell has stunted his ability to again be what he was in 2018.

Taking a deeper look, Snell does have good stuff. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, Snell has elite to near elite fastball velocity and spin, and he has terrific whiff numbers. However, that is only part of the picture. When you dig deeper, you see his spin rates on his change and curve have significantly worsened since his Cy Young season. That said, after struggling with his slider in 2019, he was able to regain his slider spin rate in 2020.

All told, it is really difficult to ascertain what Snell’s trajectory will be. You could argue this is a pitcher who needs to get away from Tampa Bay to permit him to really focus on being able to become the ace level pitcher he can be instead of a five inning starter. You could also argue the Rays know his limitations and that their handling of him allows him to put up such high strikeout numbers, and as a result, with another organization, he may truly suffer.

In some ways, when you see the Rays dangling Snell, you can’t help but be gun shy due to the Chris Archer trade. For many, Archer was a pitcher who could thrive away from Tampa Bay. He was a pitcher with a similarly team friendly contract, and as a result, the Rays were able to extract a kings ransom for him. Now, Archer had his option declined due to TOS issues, and the Pirates are routinely chided for giving up Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz.

That’s not to say or suggest the Rays knowingly traded damaged goods. That is an unfair and unsubstantiated claim. Rather, this just highlights how well the Rays self scout their team, and it shows their ability to extract a significant price in return for their players. Assuredly, if the Rays do in fact trade Snell, they are likely going to try to command an Archer like return, and really, they should do that.

If you are a team like the Mets, and you want Snell, you better be right. You need the utmost confidence in Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and Phil Regan in their ability to not only return Snell to his 2018 form but to keep him there for the ensuing three seasons. If you are not, the Mets as an organization should not be pursuing Snell. Instead, they can look towards a very interesting starting pitching market which still has Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jose Quintana, and others available.

Better yet, they could be using their financial capital to give Stroman and Syndergaard extensions while keeping their player capital in place to swing deals for other areas of need. That said, adding Snell to those two starters and Jacob deGrom is awfully enticing . . . .