Right around this time, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun bringing darkness across the country . . . or as Mets fans like to call it, the perfect euphemism for the 2017 season.
We’ve seen Noah Syndergaard go down for the season, and we are not sure when Jeurys Familia can come back. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were mishandled coming back from their injuries. Steven Matz had another injury plagued year. We never did get to see David Wright play this season, and we do not know if we will ever get to see him play again.
With the poor season the Mets are having, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Rene Rivera, and Neil Walker have been moved and are now playing for teams with an actual shot at the postseason. The moves didn’t bring back much, and there were rumors the Mets were more interested in salary relief than anything causing fans to go back to a dark place they resided at the inception of the Madoff scandal.
The thing is, the eclipse today will last just a brief time. Sandy Alderson has an entire offseason to get to work. If ownership lets him spend the money, and with a little help on the health front, the Mets dark period will last just for the 2017 season. If it is business as usual, this isn’t an eclipse – we’re back to the Dark Ages.
The Mets organization is worse off today because it traded away Curtis Granderson. Simply put, you do not lose a human being the caliber of Granderson and are better off for it.
There’s a reason why he won the Roberto Clemente Award last year. He’s dedicated himself to helping others.
His Grand Kids Foundation has helped educate children in New York and Chicago and get them interested in baseball. To that end, he donated $5 million of his money to his alma mater, the University of Illinois, to build a ballpark where both the college and city kids could play baseball.
In addition to this, he’s an International Ambassador of Major League Baseball, a former ambassador for the Let’s Move! campaign, and is a spokesperson for the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Drink Up water initiative.
Long story short, Granderson is a great human being. Perhaps the only thing that could challenge Granderson the man was Granderson the ball player.
During Granderson’s three plus year tenure, Granderson established himself as one of the best free agent signings in Mets history. He was certainly one of the most important.
While Yoenis Cespedes got all the glory, Granderson was the most important player on that 2015 team.
For much of that season, Granderson was the only credible bat in that lineup. Between his offense, defense, and leadership, he helped keep the Mets afloat until the team for healthy and could make trades to make that run to the World Series possible.
When the Mets got there, Granderson was the best player in that series. In that series, he tied Don Clendenon, the 1969 World Series MVP, with the most World Series homers in Mets history. Each one of those homers by Granderson either tied the game or gave the Mets a lead.
On a personal note, Granderson’s home run is one of my favorite memories. It’s not just because I got to see it at Citi Field, it with my father and brother, it’s because of how my son reacted at home:
The 2016 season didn’t go as smoothly for Granderson, but there he was again when the Mets needed him most.
As the Mets were scratching and clawing to get back to the postseason, Granderson hit .302/.414/.615 with four doubles, a triple, eight homers, and 21 RBI over the final month of the season.
Behind Granderson’s play and leadership, the Mets did return to the postseason. In the Wild Card Game, his amazing diving catch robbed Brandon Belt of a go-ahead sixth inning RBI extra-base hit. That catch kept hope alive.
Hope was something Mets fans were allowed to have once Granderson came to the Mets as a free agent in 2014.
The Mets had a plan to build around all this pitching with only Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler being the only ones to make their debut. The question was really who was going to play behind all this pitching.
As it turns out, Granderson was the first one to sign on to be a part of all of this. He was going to be the guy to join forces with the pitching and David Wright to win that World Series. And the Mets were so close too.
They were close because Granderson did whatever was asked of him. One minute he was a clean-up hitter, and the next, he was a lead-off hitter. He would play all three outfield positions. This year, he willingly moved into more of a fourth outfielder, which allowed the Mets to give Michael Conforto more playing time.
To that end, Conforto seemed moved by the trade. He spoke highly of Granderson, and he made specific mention about how Granderson helped all the young guys on the team. What Conforto was describing was a true leader.
That’s the same leader Lucas Duda talked about in his Player’s Tribune article. Specifically, he stated, “Then when Curtis came over, that just made everything even better.” Duda went on to say, “I owe so much to Curtis and the other guys because they really helped me to grow up.”
The sheer mention of Duda should also elicit memories of the We Follow Lucas Duda Instagram account. The account was hilarious, and it always left fans smiling. That’s another area where the Mets will miss Granderson.
From the very minute he signed with the Mets, he endeared himself to the fans saying, ““A lot of the people that I have met in New York have always said that true New Yorkers are Mets fans, so I’m excited to get a chance to see them all.” (New York Post).
And Granderson really was excited to see Mets fans. If you’ve attended games, you see him doing more than any other player in baseball to interact with the fans. He took time to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. Occasionally, while in the on deck circle, he’d greet a fan or two.
Even before he packed his bags to head to LA to join the current World Series favorites, he took time to send a message to Mets fans:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 19, 2017
In every sense of the word, Curtis Granderson is a class act. If anyone deserves the opportunity to win a World Series ring, it’s him. Here’s hoping he gets it.
Thank you for all that you were and for the ride. The entire Mets organization was better for you being here, and you will be sorely missed by the fans. Hopefully with you being a free agent, you find your way back to the Mets.
If not, hitting a grand slam in your final at-bat is quite a way to end your Mets career:
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) August 18, 2017
Good luck and thanks for the ride Curtis Granderson.
Before yesterday’s game, Matt Harvey threw from the mound for the first time in what could have been the first step towards a rehab assignment. In fact, after the session, Harvey said, “I’m on track to get back hopefully pretty soon.” (Anthony DiComo, MLB.com).
Of course, Harvey is in this position because he was put on the disabled list with a stress injury to his right scapula. While we cannot state anything with certainty, there is the distinct possibility the stress injury was the result of the muscles in Harvey’s shoulder being roughly half the size of the muscles in his left shoulder. This could stem from the fact Harvey had surgery to alleviate the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), and he was unable to have his typical offseason workouts.
It should be pointed out that Harvey was not expected to be full strength in May. As Pitching Coach Dan Warthen said, “History says with that surgery that it’s 10 months out. That’s when you really start to feel strong. Generally when you open a season you gain two miles per hour. If he’s playing at 94, 95, it’s a completely different story.” (Mike Puma, New York Post).
Harvey was a different pitcher to start the season. He wasn’t just sitting at a lower velocity, but he was also unable to strike batters out. He tired as the season progressed to the point where he wasn’t even hitting 90 MPH anymore. It was at that point everyone had to face the truth – something was wrong.
However, that something wrong began in the offseason. The Mets knew Harvey wasn’t going to be at full strength, and they put him in the Opening Day rotation anyway. They did it because Steven Matz and Seth Lugo had injury issues. He was put in the rotation because the Mets refused to add a veteran depth to the rotation to protect against a rotation with a number of injury issues heading into the season. Frankly, Harvey was in the rotation because he pushed for it, and there was no one standing in his path telling him it was a bad idea.
There was no repeat of the 2015 Scott Boras controversy. The Mets were unwilling to sit back and wait to do what was best for Harvey and really for the team. Harvey being the competitor he is wasn’t willing to wait.
In the end, the Mets got 13 starts from Harvey, and he went 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, and a 6.9 K/9. That’s not Harvey.
Overall, the Mets pushed Harvey forward because they didn’t want to wait for him to be 100%. Harvey pushed because he was a competitor. In the end, it became a forgettable season for both parties. Hopefully, they both learned from this season, and they will be smarter going forward. However, based upon past history, it is unlikely to happen.
While many Mets fans wanted Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith to be the first major call-up of the 2017 season, with Zack Wheeler‘s potentially season ending injury, that honor is going to go to Mets right-handed pitcher Chris Flexen.
Heading into the 2017 season, Flexen was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, and Mets Minors rated him the Mets 20th best prospect. As noted in the prospect analysis, Flexen had all the tools to be a good starting pitcher. His fastball is the mid to upper 90s. His curveball was a devastating out pitch. What was holding him back was the refinement of his change-up, and his delivery.
In 10 starts this year, Flexen is 6-1 with two complete games, a 1.76 ERA, 0.815 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9. For a pitcher that spent much of his professional career struggling with control he has dropped his BB/9 from 3.4 last year to 1.5 this year. Opposing batters are hitting just .183/.217/.260 against him. Put simply, Flexen has been a dominant starting pitcher this year who has certainly earned a call to the major leagues.
When he toes the rubber on a major league mound for the first time tonight, Flexen brings not just his big right arm, but he also brings hope in what has been an otherwise dismal 2018 season.
He brings the hope Matt Harvey did when he went from a start in 2012 to starting the 2013 All Star Game. He brings the hope we saw when Jacob deGrom took an unexpected opportunity and became the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. Noah Syndergaard and his 100 MPH gave you hope the 2015 Mets could win a World Series, and he did his part being the only Mets pitcher to win a World Series Game at Citi Field. We also had hope that hot June afternoon when Steven Matz and his grandfather become beloved figures.
All four of these pitchers turned that hope into a National League Pennant in 2015. It has been a rough road since, but the Mets are not far away from returning to that point. Seeing Flexen toe the rubber tonight, we can once again have hope and dream the Mets can return to the World Series.
Flexen has a big arm, and he has been dominating the minor leagues. He is joining a pitching staff who very well know what it is like to dominate hitters. He’s joining a pitching staff that wants to get back to that point. If he pitches well enough tonight and for the rest of the season, he may very well be a member of that rotation in 2018.
That’s what Flexen’s start tonight is. It’s hope. Hope that the 2017 season was just a one year blip. Hope the Mets have another big arm who can complete the rotation. Hope the Mets can win the World Series as soon as next year.
Everyone has an opinion on why the All Star Game isn’t as popular anymore. For some, it is due to the free agency because it allows players to shift leagues. For others, Interleague Play has taken the fun out of the one time we see American Leaguers play National Leaguers. Finally, there is a case the accessibility of games with cable and the internet takes some of the interest out of the All Star Game because you can see the best players of the game whenever you want.
Despite the passing interest, for me, it is always exciting when you see a young Mets player make his way to the All Star Game for the first time.
Back in 2006, we saw David Wright help launch himself into superstardom. In his first ever All Star at-bat, he hit a homer. In 2013, Matt Harvey got the the start before the home crowd, and he pumped up the home faithful with two scoreless innings. It was Jacob deGrom‘s turn in 2015 when he became the story of that All Star Game striking out the side with just 10 pitches.
Now, it is Michael Conforto‘s turn.
The last time he was on a big stage was the 2015 World Series. In that World Series, he was one of the best Mets on the field with a .333 batting average. In Game Four, Conforto had seemingly propelled the Mets into tying the series hitting two home runs. The point being Conforto will not shy away from being on the big stage. This is his chance to once again make a name for himself.
What better time to do it than right now for the 24 year old budding star. He will be on a field with the biggest names in the game. Right now, Bryce Harper, Jose Altuve, Daniel Murphy, Buster Posey, Nolan Arenado, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and even Aaron Judge are his peers. Like Wright, Harvey, and deGrom before him, Conforto has a chance to have a moment tonight that sets himself apart, to have the whole world take notice.
We know Conforto is capable. We’ve seen him do it. He has been great all year hitting .284/.403/.542 with 14 homers and 41. That is why he is the youngest Mets outfielder to be named an All Star since Darryl Strawberry. That is why I’ll be watching tonight.
Tonight can very well be Conforto’s moment, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
For those that don’t follow the Mets minor league system closely, Thursday was about as bad a day as one organization could possibly have.
The day began with the Mets announcing Cameron Planck, last year’s 11th round draft pick, is going to undergo season ending shoulder surgery. Planck is undergoing shoulder surgery before ever throwing a pitch as a professional.
Ironically, the Mets didn’t pitch him last year to protect his arm. The Mets invested heavily in the high school arm paying him $1,000,001 to keep him from going to the University of Louisville.
Before the surgery, Planck had a mid-90s fastball, a terrific change, and a developing knuckle curve. Hopefully, he can not only be this pitcher once again, but also fulfill the destiny he had as a potential front line starter.
Another potential front line starter in the Mets organization is Thomas Szapucki.
Last year, Szapucki was 4-3 with a 1.38 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, and a 14.9 WHIP in nine starts between Kingsport and Brooklyn. The 21 year old lefty has a mid to high 90s fastball and a curveball that baffled both right-handed and left-handed batters alike.
Things have not gone as well for him this year. His 2017 season was delayed due to a shoulder impingement in his pitching arm. After five good starts, Szapucki left Thursday’s game.
Initially, it was believed he left the game in relation to his getting hit with a line drive. No such luck. As it turns out, Szapucki left the game with left forearm discomfort. Many times a pitcher’s complaints of forearm discomfort is a precursor to Tommy John surgery.
If that’s the case, on one day, the Mets may have lost two pitchers who were on the path to one day being top of the rotation starters for the major league club.
While we rightly focus on the issues the major league rotation has had staying healthy, there needs to be focus on the Mets inability to keep their minor league pitchers healthy. If the past few seasons is any example, the Mets NEED a strong group of minor league starters when the major leaguers get hurt.
Szapucki and Planck should be front and center among internal candidates. Hopefully, Thursday will not stand in the way of that happening.
This past week my Dad turned 70 years old. It is because of him that my brother and I have been lifelong Mets fans. For that, I’m not sure to thank him or to curse him. All joking aside, some of my fondest memories with my Dad have involved baseball.
There were the Mets games through the years. We were there for Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. We saw Todd Pratt‘s homer ending the 1999 NLDS. We were there a year later as Bobby Jones propelled the Mets to the 2000 NLCS. There was the last game at Shea Stadium, and the first game at Citi Field.
We saw Matt Harvey come so close to pitching a no-hitter against the White Sox. We loved see Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero have their first ever start at Citi Field in the 2013 Future’s Game. Our favorite moment at a Mets game hands down was Game 3 of the 2015 World Series.
But it was more than the Mets games. There were the catches he used to have with my brother and I in the backyard. There was him throwing pitches to help try me to become a catcher. There were the times, he would throw batting practice to my brother and I.
When it came time to give him a gift, my family wanted to give him more than a present. We wanted to give him a memory that would at least rival the fond memories we had of him. With us not having 499 friends to invite to a Mets game, or the money to purchase those tickets, that left us with the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Brooklyn in and of itself was fitting. It was the place he would commute over an hour each way in order for him to support our family, to put my brother and I through school.
After speaking with the Cyclones, Joe Senis specifically, we were able to arrange for my father to throw out the first pitch before Saturday’s Cyclones game. Not just that, but at my Dad’s request, they allowed his grandson to take the mound with him (and throw out a pitch of his own):
Personally, I think they both did a great job:
Also, great job by Kurt Horne catching both of those pitches and for taking a brief moment to shake my Dad’s and my son’s hands. It was also great Edgardo Alfonzo, one of my Dad’s favorite Mets, gave us his autograph.
That’s not all the Cyclones did for us. They also sent the mascot up to where we were sitting for some family photos . . .
and they put on a great postgame fireworks show:
Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot. Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base. Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate. Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident. Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview. That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field. More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played. Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:
1. They Can’t Pitch
The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets. It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year. That ERA is just inexcusable. There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible. Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.
2. The Defense Is Terrible
The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball. Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th. At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th. Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore. Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers. Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position. Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.
3. They’re Always Injured
Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List. For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June. The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries. In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one. If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.
4. They’re Under-Performing
So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100. Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average. Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP. Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.
Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard. After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94. There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0
We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified. Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing. That’s on all of them.
5. They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games
It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races. They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own. Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces. In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22. It is one thing lost six of seven. It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.
If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves. They are allowing the homers. They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis. They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.
For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.
Stop it. The notion is insane. In fact, it is completely preposterous. No self respecting Mets fan should even broach the topic. Before even pursuing further, we should all stop while we are ahead.
Except the Mets aren’t ahead. They’re way down in the standings. They are eight games under .500 trailing the Nationals by 11.5 games in the division. Things are worse for the Wild Card. They are behind the Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card by 12.5 games with five other teams ahead of them. Seriously, at this point what is there to lose?
And that right there is the Mets best rationale to finally seeing what they have with Rafael Montero.
Let’s dispense with what we all know. Montero has been absolutely terrible in his time with the Mets. In his major league career, he has pitched in 39 games going 1-9 with a 5.51 ERA, 1.756 WHIP, and a 5.7 BB/9. Each year he pitches in the majors, he has arguably gotten worse. What makes that all the more frustrating is when he gets sent down to the minors, he dominates. This has led the Mets to keeping him on the 40 man roster while getting rid of valuable pitchers like Gabriel Ynoa when it had come time to clear space on the 40 man roster.
It has been a frustrating four years. However, in that time frame, the Mets still see something in him that leads to them keeping him on the roster. They have given him chance after chance after chance. About the only thing they haven’t given him was an extended shot. Maybe it’s time they give him one.
For the first time, Montero has earned the shot. Due to Matt Harvey‘s injury, Montero was recalled, and he has pitched well.
On Thursday, after Robert Gsellman was only able to pitch five innings against the Nationals, Montero came in and pitched surprisingly well. In three shutout innings, he didn’t allow a hit, and in a complete shock, he didn’t walk a batter while striking out three.
On Monday, when Zack Wheeler couldn’t get out of the second inning, Montero came in, and he pitched well again. Over 3.2 innings, Montero allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out five. The only run against him was a Justin Turner home run in what was the last batter Montero would face in the game.
In those two combined outings, Montero has pitched 6.2 innings allowing three hits, one run, one earned, and two walks while striking out eight batters. If that was one start, it would be an outstanding start.
It at least seems like Montero is a different pitcher over those past two appearances. He has been throwing more strikes, and he has been trusting his stuff. These are exactly the things people have been waiting for him to do for years. It appears now he’s finally doing it, and in this ever so brief sample size, he appears that he could be an effective major league pitcher.
Fact is, we don’t know if this is for real or not. This could be another one of his mirages. It could also be him FINALLY figuring things out. If he has figured it out, the Mets owe it to themselves to finally see the fruit of their patience. With the Mets being so far out, now is the time to give him that chance. With the Mets going nowhere, you need to find out who can be piece of the future. That is especially important with Montero being out of options. Next year, he has to be on the roster or exposed to another team on waivers.
At this point, the Mets need to use the rest of the season to find out who is a part of the future. For the longest time, the Mets assumed that would include Montero. It’s time to find out if he is.
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 Greinke. There 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.