Jacob deGrom

Mets Need A Mike Piazza Statue

Later today, the New York Mets are going to have a press conference with the City of St. Lucie to announce the street address of Clover Park, the Mets Spring Training facility and home of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, in honor of Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. This is similar to how the Mets worked with the City of New York to change the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way to honor Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

With respect to Seaver, the Mets old standard for retiring player numbers was induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why up until later this year Seaver and Piazza were the only Mets players who had their numbers retired by the team.

On that point, the Mets have changed their long held standard. At sometime during 2020, the New York Mets are going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. This means an honor which belonged solely to Hall of Famers is now going to be applied to Koosman as well as other Mets whose numbers should be retired in the ensuing years like Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright.

While it seems like the Mets pivot on the singular honor given to Hall of Famers is a street address, it does seem like there should be more. After all, aside from Spring Training and the occasional rehab stint, St. Lucie is the domain of minor leaguers only. More to the point, driving down 31 Piazza Way is not going to be a part of attending a New York Mets game.

There’s also the matter of what happens after that. Will there be a 48 deGrom Way in Syracuse or Brooklyn one day? Really at some point, there is going to be diminishing returns on this plan. When you break it down, the only real way to honor the Hall of Famers is to build a statue in their honor.

Currently, the Mets are in the process of building one for Seaver, and there will be date when it will be installed and unveiled. While the Mets are involved in this process, they should also be making plans to build and install a Piazza statue.

It some ways it is fitting given how Seaver and Piazza combined for the last pitch in Shea Stadium, and the two of them walked out together. They also came together for the first pitch at Citi Field. Overall, these are the two giants in Mets history, and having statues for both of them make sense.

In the end, Seaver getting his statue is long overdue, and the Mets finally came to their senses and built one. With the Mets retiring numbers for other players in their history, they should now go forward and build statues for Hall of Fame players so to make them really stand out as the giants in team history. That means after Seaver’s statue is built, Piazza’s should be next.

Mets Needed To Agree To Long Term Extensions With Arbitration Eligible Players

Like it has been for most of their history, the Mets are currently build on starting pitching. That presents a problem for this organization because they will soon be in the unenviable position of having to rebuild their rotation over the ensuing few offseasons.

After the 2020 season, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello are going to be free agents. As a result, the Mets are going to have to address 2/5 of their starting rotation after the season.

The Mets will have to face the same exact situation the ensuing offseason as both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will be free agents after the 2021 season. That means over the course two years, the Mets are going to have to address how they want to handle 80% of their starting rotation.

Complicating matters is Michael Conforto hitting free agency the same time as Syndergaard and Matz as well as the shallow upper parts of the Mets farm system. How the Mets choose to address their rotation will be vitally important as Jacob deGrom has an opt out after the 2022 season.

After that 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo will be a free agent, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil will be first time arbitration eligible, and Amed Rosario will be heading into his last season under team control. This means the Mets core is going to be quite expensive and on their way out to parts unknown over the next few seasons.

At this point, we should all be wondering what exactly is the plan here.

At times, the Mets seem all-in. We saw that not just with trading away prospects to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, but we also saw that with the Mets trading away prospects like Blake Taylor, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Adam Hill for what amounted to be nothing more than complementary pieces.

On the other hand, the Mets don’t see remotely all-in when they fail to address the back-up catching situation and let Zack Wheeler, their second best pitcher over the past two years, leave the Mets to go to the Philadelphia Phillies. Couple that with the Mets not making a push for players like Gerrit Cole, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado, or being active on the trade market for players like Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, or Francisco Lindor, this seems more and more like a team without a clear direction.

Now, part of that can just be a result of how ineptly the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen have run this organization. Another aspect can be this team being in a relative holding pattern until Steve Cohen’s purchase of the club is finalized and approved. There may be other factors at play, and really, at this point, we are all just guessing.

What we do know is based on the control over the current core, the Mets window to compete for a World Series is right now, and the team has done little to push the team over the top. We also know that until this core is extended, the Mets window is going to be limited to just these two years.

When you look at things through this prism, you see the need to give extensions to at least some of your core. Certainly, that is the case when the goal is sustained winning and not just short windows. In theory, there is still 10 months to do that, but at the moment, the Mets have missed their biggest and perhaps best opportunity to do it once again leaving the impression this is an organization without a clear direction.

Mets Should Pursue Nolan Arenado At Almost Any Cost

Unless you are the Los Angeles Angels with Mike Trout or maybe the Boston Red Sox with Mookie Betts, no baseball team can definitively say they have a better player on their team than Nolan Arenado. Since 2015, he has been a top eight player in the league in terms of fWAR, and he has been a top six player in terms of DRS.

Arenado has won seven straight Gold Gloves, been an All-Star for five straight seasons, and he has won a Silver Slugger in four of the last five seasons. It should come as no surprise he has been a top five finisher in the MVP voting over that five year stretch.

Arenado has proven himself to be the rare player who has the ability to impact the game in the field and at the plate. He is one of the best in the sport, a future Hall of Famer, and at 28 years old, he is in his prime. When players like this are available, you do everything you can do to acquire them.

That should include the Mets.

If Arenado was on the Mets in 2020, his 5.7 WAR would have been the best on the team. To that end, the Mets have not had a position player have a WAR over 5.0 since Juan Lagares in 2014, and they have not had a position player with a WAR better than Arenado’s 5.7 since David Wright had a 5.9 WAR in 2013.

If you think about it, that’s what Arenado is. Both are Gold Glove caliber and Silver Slugger players who are top 10 players in the sport. The key difference is Arenado is healthy and playing now. When players like Wright come along, and Arenado is that level of player, you do what you can to get him.

When you look at the Mets roster as a whole, the only player they have better than Arenado right now is Jacob deGrom. When you consider deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball right now, and he is signed to a very reasonable contract extension, you cannot trade him for Arenado.

Any other pitcher on the Mets roster, Noah Syndergaard included, can and should be considered in a potential Arenado trade.

As for the rest of the Mets team, you can and should consider trading all of them if the price is right.

Yes, that means you should consider trading players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. It would hurt to lose either player, but you will have one entrenched in one of the corner outfield spots, and you can move Jeff McNeil to LF on a permanent basis to accommodate that loss.

For what it is worth, the Mets should be willing to trade McNeil for Arenado as well. After all, Arenado is a better baseball player than McNeil, and if you’re going to choose between the two as who you want to be your third baseman for the next five years, you are going to chose Arenado.

Finally, yes, you can also consider trading Pete Alonso. If the Mets traded Alonso for Arenado, they still have Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis (who is really only just a first baseman) to play first. At the end of the day, you hate losing Alonso who has proven to be not just a very good player, but also one who has captured the hearts and minds as Mets fans.

That said, Arenado is a better baseball player than Alonso. More to the point, the Mets are a better team with Smith/Davis at first, Arenado at third, and an outfield of McNeil-Nimmo-Conforto than have a team where they either play Jake Marisnick everyday or have a platoon of first basemen in left field.

They’re also a better team with Alonso and Arenado at the corners. To that end, if you can swing a deal without giving up Alonso, or any of their other core players which include Conforto, McNeil, Nimmo, and Syndergaard, you do it. The problem is the Mets don’t necessarily have that farm system after all the damage Brodie Van Wagenen did last offseason.

To that end, if the Rockies want a player the ilk of Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez, Matthew Allan, Brett Baty, or whomever else the Rockies inquire, the Mets should be willing to listen. Of course, if the Rockies want to go this route, the caliber of Major League player the Mets should be willing to part in such a trade comes down a significant peg from the aforementioned core.

Now, it should be noted Arenado has an opt out after the 2021 season. If you are the Mets, you don’t disrupt your core without getting him to waive that or renegotiate the contract. That is where Steve Cohen and his money should hopefully come into play.

If the Mets can get Arenado to waive his no trade clause and opt in to his contract, short of Jacob deGrom, there is no one the Mets should not discuss in a trade because at the end of the day, the Mets do not have a player as good as the one Nolan Arenado is.

Mets Have Built Ultimate Boom Or Bust Bullpen

Just look at the names: Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, and now Dellin Betances. That is a list of names which is the envy of each and every Major League team, and when you break it down, it has the makings of being an all-time great bullpen.

In 2018, Diaz was as dominant as we have seen any closer be. In 73 appearances, he recorded a Major League leading 57 saves with a 1.96 ERA, 0.791 WHIP, and a 15.2 K/9.

Familia is the best right-handed closer in Mets history. From 2015 – 2016, he was second in the Majors in saves while having the third most innings pitched and ninth best ERA.

Lugo has been as dominant a reliever as the Mets have ever had, and really he has emerged to be as dominant as any reliever in the game. To put it in perspective of just how dominant and overlooked he has been, over the past two years, he has a better FIP while throwing more innings than two time All-Star Josh Hader.

As great as this group is, you can argue none of them are anywhere near as good as Betances has been. From 2014-2018, he was quite possibly the best reliever in all of baseball. In fact, his 11.2 fWAR was second best. He was best in innings pitched, third in K/9, fourth in fWAR, and fifth in appearances.

When you can line-up this level of relievers in a row, you’re making every game a 5-6 inning game for a starting staff which includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. That is not only a recipe for success, it is a recipe for pure dominance.

However, it is important to note next year is 2020, and based on the last few years, only Lugo has been pitching at this high a level.

Last year, Diaz had a career worst year. After the offseason, he talked about how he struggled handling New York, and as reported by Laura Albanese of Newsday, the Mets finally admitted he had been dealing with some health issues.

Familia also had a career worst year. With his having an arterial clot removed in 2017 and his dealing with shoulder issues again last year, you wonder if he can ever get back to the pitcher he was in 2018 (3.13 ERA) let alone his dominant form of 2014 – 2016.

Finally, there is Betances. Before partially tearing his Achilles last year, Betances had been shut down at the beginning of the 2019 season due to a bone spur issue in his shoulder, inflammation in the joint, and a strain to his his right latissimus dorsi muscle. When he finally came back, he had lost velocity on his pitches.

That was also before partially tearing his Achillies. The good news on that front is it did not require surgery, and he is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The downside  is no one can quite be sure what type of pitcher he will be in 2020.

Long story, short, this all means Jeremy Hefner has his work cut out for him. He has been handed an incredibly gifted bullpen which needs a lot of help getting back to their respective levels of dominance. If he is able to get this group at or near their apex, this Mets bullpen will be the best in the game, and when you factor in the talent and potential of relievers like Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, you could have an all-time great bullpen.

On the other hand, it is difficult to coach away injuries and diminution in stuff. To that end, no one can be quite sure how this bullpen will perform. As such, this “boom or bust” bullpen will be one of the key reasons why the Mets succeed or fail in 2020.

Mets Best Moments In 2010 Decade

As this decade closes out at midnight today, the Mets will actually enter their seventh decade of baseball. Before proceeding forward, let’s take a look at the best moments from each year of this decade:

2010

We didn’t realize it at the time, but the best moment of the year was the Mets drafting Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom.

On the field, it was Angel Pagan hitting an inside-the-park home run and starting a triple play in the same game.

2011

In a moment no one saw coming, Chris Capuano had a two hit shutout where he struck out 13:

2012

Johan Santana pitches first no-hitter in Mets history with a little help from Mike Baxter.

2013

This was the year of Harvey, and there was a lot to choose from with his near perfect game, bloody nose game, Harvey’s Better game, and others, but it’s hard to top him and David Wright starting the All Star Game at Citi Field.

2014

Every single defensive play made by Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares:

2015

With this being the fifth pennant in Mets history, there are many moments, but perhaps the biggest is Daniel Murphy‘s postseason heroics:

2016

The Mets would need to make a late charge to make the postseason in consecutive seasons for the second time in team history. The lasting image from that run was Asdrubal Cabrera‘s walk-off homer:

2017

After an injury plagued 2016, Michael Conforto would emerge as an All-Star, and his season was highlighted by an impressive homecoming:

2018

It was melancholy, but we got to see Wright play one final game as a member of the New York Mets:

2019

This was Pete Alonso‘s year, and the biggest moment of the season was his breaking Aaron Judge‘s rookie home run record:

Mets Best Draft Picks Of 2010 Decade

One of the best parts of the Mets organization this past decade was how they drafted. In fact, the only first round draft picks to not make the majors were in the past three years, and all three of those players appear on their way to be Major Leaguers.

It’s difficult picking out who was the best pick.

Matt Harvey started the 2013 All-Star Game and had big starts in the 2015 postseason. Brandon Nimmo has a career .387 OBP, and he was the second best hitter in the National League in 2018. Michael Fulmer won a Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star. There’s also Jarred Kelenic who has quickly made his way through top 100 rankings.

Keep in mind, these are some of the impressive draft picks who didn’t make the top five. Here are those who did:

5. Pete Alonso

In one year, Alonso set the all-time rookie home run record and the Mets single season record. He’d be the first Mets position player named an All-Star in his rookie season, and he’d win the Home Run Derby.

Alonso was more than just the outlandish numbers. He emerged as a young leader. He responded to MLB’s absurd First Responder caps by getting cleats for the entire team.

More than being a great player, he is someone who truly gets it. The fact he was a second round pick makes him an absolute steal of a pick.

4. Seth Lugo

No, Lugo is not the best player on this list, but it’s important to remember he was just a 34th round draft pick.

Players picked in that round are not expected to make it to the majors let alone have a significant impact at the Major League level.

In 2016, he helped save the season pitching to 2.67 ERA as a reliever and starter helping the Mets reach consecutive postseason for the second time in team history.

Over the past two years, he’s emerged as arguably the biggest bullpen weapon in the game. For instance, he was the only reliever last year to finish in the top four in the league in innings pitched and FIP.

3. Jeff McNeil

In short order, McNeil went from “just a second baseman” to a jack of all trades akin to Ben Zobrist in his prime.

On top of that, his 141 wRC+ since his MLB debut is 13th best in the sport. It’s one of the reasons he was an All-Star this year.

When you get a player who is a good defender at multiple positions and is one of the better hitters in the sport with a first round pick, you’re thrilled. Getting that from your 12th round pick in the 2013 draft is the stuff of legends.

2. Michael Conforto

Very rarely is a player ready for the Majors one year after being drafted, but Conforto isn’t most players.

Conforto was a godsend in 2015 providing an offensively starved team with a potent bat. More than that, in the 2015 World Series, he was actually led all players in OPS. That was highlighted by his hitting two homers in Game Four.

While he had some injury issues, he’d be a 2017 All-Star, and he’s now all the way back from his shoulder injury. His value goes beyond his bat as he has played all three outfield positions to help the team with their needs.

So far, he has the ninth best wRC+ among Mets with at least 500 games played. He’s top 20 in WAR among position players, and he’s on the cusp of the top 10 in a number of categories including homers.

So far, he’s been a key figure in a pennant winning team, and he’s already a top 10 offensive player. That’s all before he’s reached his prime.

1. Jacob deGrom

The 2014 Rookie of the Year. Struck out the side on 10 pitches in the 2015 All-Star Game. Beat Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the NLDS. Won back-to-back Cy Young’s.

Not only has deGrom emerged as a top three pitcher in Mets history, but with him being drafted in the ninth round of the 2009 draft, he’s not only the top draft pick of the decade, he’s also the best draft pick the Mets organization has ever made.

Mets World Series Window Is Just Two Years

For a moment, let’s assume the 2019 season was similar to the 1998 or 2005 season in that it was a stepping stone to real World Series contention.

There is legitimate hope for that. Pete Alonso had an all-time great rookie season. Jeff McNeil proved his rookie year wasn’t a fluke.

Amed Rosario seemingly turned the corner. Michael Conforto looked completely healthy, and Brandon Nimmo showed in September he’s healthy and ready to perform again at his 2018 level.

Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in the game, and Seth Lugo is the best reliever.

There is reasonable expectation for bounce-back years from Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Noah Syndergaard. That goes double with Jeremy Hefner as the new pitching coach.

While we can and should dicker about whether the 2020 team will be better than the 2019 team, there is hope for optimism as Carlos Beltran begins his second act in a New York Mets uniform.

Behind that optimism is a cold dose of reality.

We didn’t know it in 1998, but that Mike Piazza led team had two seasons as a contender. That was basically the same case with the David Wright and Jose Reyes led 2005 team we all thought would be good forever. This will likely be the same fate this core faces.

After the 2020 season, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents leaving the team to try to scramble to either re-sign them or attempt to sign a starter from a free agent class nowhere as good as the one which saw the Mets lose Zack Wheeler.

After 2021, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That leaves the Mets looking to invest in four spots in the rotation over the next two years as the farm system is not prepared to provide that help in a way it could’ve if Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson were still with the organization.

Yes, we should see David Peterson grab one of those rotation spots, and a Stephen Gonsalves or Franklyn Kilome may emerge. However, they likely don’t have the same ceiling the 2015 – 2019 rotations had thereby eliminating the key competitive advantage the Mets had.

If you really want a heavy dose of reality look a year past that, and you’ll see Nimmo and Lugo will be a free agents, and deGrom can opt out of his deal. That’s going to happen as Alonso, McNeil, and Rosario are likely getting big arbitration salaries.

This means by 2022 this entire core could be completely gone with Alonso being the player designated to build around much in the same way the Mets opted Wright for that honor.

Overall, this means unless things change dramatically, the Mets have a two year window. That could be opened longer if Steve Cohen flexes some financial muscle, and/or he opts to bring in an actually qualified and competent GM to replace Brodie Van Wagenen.

To that end, there’s hope even if Jeff Wilpon will be running the show. On that point, we can all hope it’s just a title with no real opportunity to drag the organization down.

No matter what the case, it’s imperative the Mets realize this is their shot, and they need to start acting like it instead of making a series of half measures hoping it adds up to a whole competing roster.

Thank You Zack Wheeler

Last week, Zack Wheeler signed a five year $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, unlike in 2015, a phone call to the General Manager would not be enough to continue his Mets career. The shame there is in many ways Wheeler always represented hope to Mets fans.

Back in 2011, we were already in the wake of the Madoff Scandal, and it became increasingly clear the Mets were not going to build upon the current core. The first player gone from that core would be Carlos Beltran. With the Beltran trade, the rebuild was officially on, and due to Sandy Alderson’s shrewdness, he was able to acquire Wheeler, who was the sixth overall pick of the 2009 draft.

With Wheeler, the Mets had real hope for the future. With him was a plan to contend once again. We could see the plan was to build a great rotation around him, Matt Harvey, and back then it was Rafael Montero as part of the group. That was the Mets future.

While Harvey burst onto the scene, Wheeler’s was more of a steady rise. His Major League debut was promising with his having a 104 ERA+ in 17 starts. He had a mediocre start to his 2014 season, and then suddenly in his last start of June something seemed to click. From June 30 to September 7, he would go 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.

With that finishing kick to the season, you could see him pairing with the returning Harvey and reigning Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom to form a dominant top of the rotation which could bring the Mets back to the World Series. As we know, the Mets did win the pennant in 2015, but Wheeler would not be a part of it.

On the eve of the 2015 season, disaster would strike as Wheeler would tear his UCL. He would miss the entirety of the 2015 season. Due to multiple setbacks in his recovery, he would also miss the entirety of the 2016 season. While he was gone, it does not mean it was an uneventful recovery.

On that fateful July night, it was Wheeler who was supposed to be the key piece in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers reuniting the Mets with CF Carlos Gomez. While Wilmer Flores was crying on the field and Gomez’s medical records were being perused, Wheeler was trying to let the Mets know he wanted to be a part of this team. He wanted to be a New York Met.

Wheeler got through to Alderson, and for his part Alderson made sure to make Wheeler a part of the Mets future. He held onto Wheeler during his struggles after a two year layoff which included his dealing with a stress reaction. Still, the Mets believed in him, and in 2018, the Mets faith in him would be rewarded.

In 2018, Wheeler would emerge as an ace level pitcher. What is odd is it wouldn’t start out that way. He would first begin the year in the minors only to come up to the majors to take Jason Vargas‘ spot in the rotation, and he woudl stay there despite some early season struggles due to Harvey’s being designated for assignment.

Much like 2014, something clicked at the end of June. Over his final 15 starts of the season, he was 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 0.924 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9. What is interesting about that finish is even with deGrom clearly being the best pitcher in baseball, Wheeler would have a better second half ERA than him.

Once again, Wheeler’s second half gave hopes for the Mets return to the postseason. This time, Wheeler would be healthy, and despite the Mets nearly playing themselves out of it in the first half, he would get his opportunity to pitch in a postseason race.

Wheeler stepped up his game. From June 22 until the end of the season, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.192 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and an 8.2 K/9. While the Mets didn’t get that second Wild Card, he was rewarded for his faith in himself and this team.

The Mets were also rewarded in their faith in him. As alluded to earlier, Wheeler emerged as an ace over the past two seasons.

Wheeler has emerged as a pitcher who gives you 30 starts a year and over 180 innings. That’s equivalent to 6.1 innings per start. His 3.37 FIP over the past two seasons is 10th best in the Majors ahead of pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, and Madison Bumgarner. His hard hit rate put him ahead of everyone except his teammates deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

In total, Wheeler became exactly what was promised when the Mets obtained him from Beltran in 2011. What was promised was not just the hope Wheeler had provided but also the great pitcher they believed he could be. It may have been a turbulent road to get there, but get there he did.

For that, every Mets fan should be grateful to Wheeler. We should be grateful for his giving us hope for nearly a decade, especially at those time when it seemed the most bleak. We should be grateful he became that great pitcher we all hoped he would be. Mostly, we should be grateful he wanted to be a Met, even at the very end when he came back to the Mets and asked them to re-sign him.

To that end, thank you for an eventual Mets career, Zack Wheeler. You were a class act, and you deserve nothing but the best in the future.

Recalculated Mets 2019 Payroll

There are some who want to push the narrative the Mets spend. After all, they gave Jacob deGrom a contract extension. They took on the bulk of Robinson Cano‘s contract.

When you break it all down, it appears the Mets had a high payroll. In fact, Spotrac had the Mets with a $146.3 million payroll which was the 12th highest in the sport.

About that.

For starters, David Wright‘s $15 million salary was included. As reported by Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, that was renegotiated down to $9 million with deferred money. That drops the payroll down to $140.3 million.

That alone drops the Mets from 12th to 14th in payroll. If you back out Wright’s entire $15 million, the active payroll would be down to $131.3 million, which would rank 16th.

Like with Wright, Yoenis Cespedes was injured and could not play. With him injuring himself on his farm leading the Mets to challenge and renegotiate Cespedes’ contract. All said and done, his $29 million salary in 2019 was reduced to $14.8 million.

Taking that money away from the payroll, which includes Wright’s renegotiated deal, the Mets payroll drops from the original $146.3 million to $126.1 million. That’s a figure moving the Mets to just the 18th best payroll.

Looking at the Spotrac calculations, it actually includes the deferred monies owed to Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen. When you remove those amounts, the payroll is reduced by $1.4 million. That $124.7 million payroll would drop them down to 19th.

That’s right. In terms of expenditures to players actually with the organization in some capacity, the Mets had the 19th highest payroll. That kept them JUST outside the bottom third.

Of course, if you back out the whole of Wright and Cespedes, who were insured and did not play, the ensuing $102.3 million payroll would rank 25th.

Depending on how you choose to analyze it, the Wilpons pocketed at least $20 million between Wright and Cespedes, perhaps more.

Fact is, the Mets actually spent money in line with the bottom third in the league despite mortgaging the future to try to win in 2019, telling the fans they were all-in, and boasting “Come get us!” to all of baseball.

How Brodie Van Wagenen Damaged Mets Rotation

When looking at the Robinson Cano trade, the main focus has been on Edwin Diaz‘s struggles as well as the loss of Jarred Kelenic. Lost in that is just how much this trade has impacted the Mets starting rotation, which has been the strength of this team.

This offseason, the Mets have already lost Zack Wheeler to the rival Philadelphia Phillies. Wheeler desperately wanted to stay a Met, but he was not offered a contract to stay with the Mets despite giving the team the last chance to sign him. That decision was made all the more damning when you consider Wheeler was not taking the largest contract offered to him, and the $118 million deal he accepted was really less than he was worth.

Realistically speaking, the Mets passed on Wheeler because the team is estimated to be roughly $17 million under the competitive balance tax threshold, and indications are the team will be unwilling to raise their budget to those heights. Signing Wheeler would have required them to go over that threshold. Of course, the Mets would have more money to spend if they were not paying Cano $20.25 million per year. Had the trade not transpired, the Mets could have just reallocated that money to Wheeler.

With this being the Mets, the team let Wheeler walk in free agency because the team does not typically like to invest that much money in free agency. Had the Cano trade not transpired, the Mets could have looked to have Justin Dunn replace him in the rotation.

In fact, Dunn made his Major League debut with the Mariners last year. In his four starts, he held his own going 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. The Mariners had him on a very limited pitch count, so really this served nothing more than to get his feet wet and show he could potentially be a part of the 2020 rotation. Arguably, Dunn did that.

In addition to Dunn, there was Anthony Kay, who was traded along with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. As noted by Andy Martino of SNY, one of the reasons the Mets obtained Stroman was to prepare for the eventuality of Wheeler departing in free agency.

There’s some problems with that rationale. First and foremost, Stroman isn’t really a replacement for Wheeler when both were in the same rotation last year. The other issue is Stroman is a free agent after the 2020 season, which just delays the problem by a year.

Looking towards 2021, both Dunn and Kay should be established Major League starters. Like Dunn, Kay would make his debut last year, and like Dunn, he would really show he could be a part of a 2020 rotation with his allowing two runs or fewer in two of his three starts.

Ideally, the Mets could have had both Kay and Dunn in the rotation with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz in 2021. That could have proven to be a formidable rotation, and going back to the Cano trade, Kelenic would have been primed to make his Major League debut playing in the outfield between Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto while also appearing in a lineup with Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.

However, by 2021, the Mets will likely have a rotation without Wheeler, Stroman, Dunn, and Kay. They will also be in a similar position to where they are now looking for a way to replace Syndergaard and Matz in the rotation. Sadly, while we all focus on Kelenic, and justifiably so, the real ramifications of the Cano trade will be the impact on the Mets rotation.

The only hope we have at the moment is Steve Cohen’s purchase of the team will allow him to keep this core together and build off of it in free agency. Of course, with Van Wagenen remaining the General Manager, the Wilpons staying in charge for five years, and with the team still on an austerity plan at the moment, the hopes seem to be further out than the near distant future. As such, all that Van Wagenen has wrought is still a significant issue.