Once again, there are rumors the New York Mets are pursuing Trevor Bauer, and once again, there is a debate whether Bauer is worth it. While most of those debates focus on the personal, it rarely focuses on the budgetary.
Yes, we all know Steve Cohen has more money than the Wilpons, and he’s far more invested in winning. That said, even he has his limits, and he didn’t get this wealthy by just throwing money around like the Yankees when they see a Boston Red Sox player past their prime.
For the Mets, they have to best decide how to invest in players and the team. Looking at it from that perspective, you really have to wonder why the Mets would even bother contemplating signing Bauer.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Bauer could land a four year deal with a $32 million AAV. There have been claims Bauer could surpass Gerrit Cole‘s record $36 million AAV. Long story short it appears it’ll take approximately $30 million per year to sign Bauer.
Looking at the current Mets pitching staff, both Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That means the Mets will need to make a decision whether they want to re-sign one, both, or neither.
With Stroman and Syndergaard missing 2020 for differing reasons, Zack Wheeler is an interesting comp. Entering free agency, Wheeler had a strong season-and-a-half. From June 1, 2018 through 2019, he had a 3.26 FIP, and there was the expectation he would improve.
As a result, entering his age 30 season, he received a five year deal with a $23.6 million AAV. Syndergaard, 27, and Stroman, 29, ate slightly younger than Wheeler when he hit free agency. Syndergaard (3.25) has a better FIP than Wheeler over his last two years, and Stroman’s (3.79) is worse.
Given that and a number of other factors, we could well see Stroman and Syndergaard sign deals with an AAV comparable to Wheeler. For the sake of using round numbers, let’s say it’ll take $25 million per year to extend both Stroman and Syndergaard.
In 2020, because Stroman accepted the qualifying offer, he will make $18.9 million. Syndergaard and the Mets settled his final year of arbitration at $9.7 million.
That means, if the Mets were looking to give Stroman a deal with a $25 million AAV, he’d get a $6.1 million raise. For Syndergaard, that’s a $15.3 million raise. Combined, that’s $21.4 million.
Looking at it purely from a pitching perspective, the Mets could give Bauer $30 million, or they can use $21.6 million to keep Stroman and Syndergaard. That’s $8.4 million which can then be used for a Brad Hand or another area of need.
Keep in mind, that $30 million doesn’t have to be used for starting pitching. In addition to Stroman and Syndergaard, the Mets will see Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Seth Lugo, and maybe even Jacob deGrom hit free agency over the next few years.
Taking all that into account, you really have to wonder why the Mets would be pursuing Bauer. In reality, it’s a gross misallocation of resources. For what the Mets could give Bauer, they could keep two better ones and have money left over to further invest in the team.
Maybe the Mets still want Bauer, and maybe, they even sign him. Whatever the case, the Mets really have to make sure he’s worth all that comes with him, and given the expiring contracts, all that will likely go.
In reality, it’s far better to keep Stroman and Syndergaard than to sign Bauer. Hopefully, that’s the path the Mets pursue.
When evaluating what the New York Mets do this offseason, the team has to balance building a competitive 2021 roster with their ability to re-sign players. Part and parcel of that is building a sustained winner and not a typical Wilpon style one and done team.
As noted previously, the Mets have to evaluate their priories when looking to extend Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard. Keeping that quintet is going to be difficult.
That is going to become all the more complicated based on what the Mets continue to do this offseason. Players like Brad Hand and George Springer will be expensive. That affects the Mets ability to spend in 2021 and the ensuing years.
Sure, you can point out the Mets have money coming off the books at the end of the year. It’s a significant amount too with Jeurys Familia ($11.67), Dellin Betances ($6), and Brad Brach ($2) in addition to the aforementioned players.
However, as noted, the Mets have significant players who will require significant money. On top of that, after 2022, key players like Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo are free agents. Exacerbating that is Jacob deGrom having an opt out, and the Mets having a team option on Carlos Carrasco.
You really have to wonder how the Mets are able to keep this going without surpassing the luxury tax threshold. On the other hand, why are people so concerned when the Mets aren’t?
Jared Porter on luxury tax threshold, "No, it's not something we have to have a line in the sand on."
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) January 8, 2021
At some point, everyone became concerned about the luxury tax threshold. Maybe, it was watching the Wilpons operate the Mets for a decade. Maybe, it was the rumors floating around the owners were going to limit the Mets ability to spend as a condition of his buying the team.
Whatever the case, there is only one man who has concern about the Mets spending, and that’s the man cutting the checks. At the end of the day, the only person who truly knows the Mets ability and willingness to exceed the threshold is their owner Steve Cohen.
That’s nothing to say of the expiring CBA. For all the hand wringing about the current constraints, those parameters are going to be readdressed and reset after this offseason. On that front, it makes little to no sense to get over wrought about provisions not set and not really dickered.
At the moment, the only people who should be concerned about the Mets ability and willingness to surpass the luxury tax threshold in 2021 and beyond is the Mets front office. Well, them and the National League East who has to contend with the sudden Mets juggernaut.
For the rest of us, the luxury tax threshold is merely a talking point with only guesses as to the Mets true intentions.
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.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 29, 2020
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.
When the New York Mets pulled off that surprise blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Indians, they obtained Carlos Carrasco to be a mid-rotation starter. For the Mets, Carrasco is a perfect fit.
The 33 year old pitcher is on an extraordinarily team friendly deal. He’s owed just $12 million per year for each of the next two years with a third year option for $14 million. Historically, he’s outperformed that.
From 2016 – 2018, Carrasco averaged 15 wins a season posting a 3.39 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 10.1 K/9. He averaged 6+ innings per start.
In terms of advanced stats, he had a 134 ERA+ and a 3.21 FIP. That FIP was the 10th best in baseball meaning he was pitching like a number one starter.
Carrasco struggler in 2019, but that was due in large part to his battling leukemia. Carrasco entered 2020 healthy, and he was great again with a 157 ERA+ and a 3.59 FIP. In essence, he was Carrasco.
Looking at it Carrasco being Carrasco is being a better pitcher than Bauer.
For that same 2016 – 2018 period, Bauer averaged 14 wins per season posting a 3.57 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. He also had a 125 ERA+ and a 3.45 FIP. Basically, across the board, Carrasco was better.
Now, if we shift the three year period to incorporate Bauer’s Cy Young winning 2020, things change a bit.
From 2018 – 2019, Bauer had a 3.18 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and an 11.2 K/9. He had a 144 ERA+ and a 3.38 FIP. Across the board, these stats are better than Carrasco, and more to the point, Bauer showed a level in 2020 which Carrasco has never come close to reaching.
It should be noted that Bauer’s 2020 season came against really poor competition, and it was over the course of a 60 game season. Still, it did happen, and Bauer is four years younger.
The question is what is that worth.
With Carrasco, he’s being paid a relatively paltry $12 million per year. According to projections, Bauer is seeking to make north of $20 million more than that.
Yes, the Mets parted with players in the deal to get Carrasco and Francisco Lindor. Looking at that deal, Carrasco was almost treated as a throw-in. Of course, given his ability as a mid to top of rotation pitcher, you can never say he’s a throw-in.
And yet, the deal the Mets made to obtain him and Lindor was such a bargain you could perceive it as such. Taking that into account, Carrasco is a far better option than Bauer.
Taking everything into account, Carrasco was a far superior option for the Mets than Bauer. Not only is Carrasco arguably a pitcher who will provide similar production, but he will also do so at a much cheaper price.
Getting Carrasco over Bauer means the Mets have the ability to keep their core as well as add to this team. Every way you break it down, obtaining Carrasco was a stroke of genius and a far, far better move than signing Bauer.
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:
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:
- Brandon Nimmo, CF
- Michael Conforto, RF
- Pete Alonso, 1B
- Dominic Smith, LF
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Jeff McNeil, 3B
- James McCann, C
- 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!
When it comes time for Michael Conforto to make the decision about whether or not he wants to sign a contract extension, there is one interesting consideration for him – his legacy.
Right now, Conforto has his name scattered across the Mets record books, but at the moment he’s not in a position to overtake the lead in any major statistical category. Part of the reason is he only has one year remaining on his contract.
However, if he were to sign an extension, he’d have a real chance to own the Mets record books.
On that note, here is where he currently stands.
Here is where Conforto is and how far behind the leaders he is:
- HR 118 (134 behind)
- R 348 (601)
- H 556 (1,221)
- RBI 341 (629)
- 2B 121 (269)
Now, when you look at some of those totals, he is really far behind Wright and Strawberry. However, Conforto is in the early part of his prime. That puts him in an excellent spot to make his climb.
Over the past three seasons, Conforto has 162 game averages of 154 hits, 95 runs, 30 doubles, 32 homers, and 93 RBI.Assuming he keeps that pace, here’s how many seasons he’d need to play to become the all-time leader in each category:
- HR – 5
- R – 7
- H – 8
- RBI – 7
- 2B – 9
One thing of note is that three year period includes time from when he was coming back from a devastating shoulder injury. With his clearly rushed back, he struggled until late in the 2017 season.
If we look just at the 162 game averages of the past two seasons, we see Conforto has averaged 163 hits, 105 runs, 33 doubles, 34 homers, and 98 RBI. With that pace, he would not need as much time to grab the lead:
- HR – 4
- R – 6
- H – 8
- RBI – 7
- 2B – 8
Looking at this, if he were to receive a five year extension, he will likely be the Mets all-time home run leader, and he’ll be knocking on the door for the runs lead.
He’d still need a few seasons hitting at a high level to catch Wright in hits, doubles, and RBI. While difficult, it could be done. What matters there is Conforto’s ability to play at a high level for a sustained time period, and just as important, how long his extension (if any) would be.
If Conforto’s extension is indeed long enough, and he is blessed with good health, he’s going to make a serious dent in the record books assuming he isn’t atop all of them. If he can get a World Series ring and close that 34.6 WAR gap between him and Wright, we may very well one day talk about how Conforto is the best position player in Mets history.
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.
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.
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.
When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”
When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.
When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.
In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.
He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.
He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.
Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.
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.
In his introductory press conference, new New York Mets GM Jared Porter spoke about building depth across the 40 man roster. One area which desperately needs attention is the outfield.
Assuming the Mets sign a center fielder like George Springer, the team will still need a viable fourth outfielder who can step up and start on an extended basis if needed.
And no, Dominic Smith (-2 OAA) and J.D. Davis (-2 OAA) are not outfielders. Smith is a good defensive first baseman, and Davis is a DH. Instead of a first baseman in left, the Mets need an actual outfielder.
Looking at the free agents, there is one name which stands out – Yasiel Puig.
Puig is looking to return to baseball after missing the 2020 season. He had missed out for a variety of mostly inexplicable reasons.
First, he wasn’t signed during the original Spring Training. Then, he would sign a deal with the Atlanta Braves in July. However, that deal fell through when Puig tested positive for COVID19.
Likely, that leaves Puig looking for a one year deal to rebuild value. In the event there are no starting jobs available, the Mets would be a good fit.
When Puig last played, he still had very good speed. He also had improved defensive numbers in right after an unexpected one year drop off in 2018.
In 2019, he struggled offensively by his standards. His 101 wRC+ was tied for a career worst. That was surprising partially because he posted a career best exit velocity. Whatever the case, at worst, Puig can be anticipated provide league average offense. He has a much higher ceiling than that too.
Puig also has some defensive versatility. While he’s spent most of his career in right, he has played center and left. On that point, Puig has been playing center in the Winter Leagues.
Yasiel Puig, playing for the first time since last September, made this athletic play to rob #Angels Luis Rengifo of a hit in LIDOM tonight.
Puig’s initial read wasn’t great but the correction worked out
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) December 11, 2020
That work helps him be more versatile. Having a bench player who can play all three outfield positions would be of an enormous benefit to the Mets.
Puig does seem well suited to play in New York as he thrives in the spotlight. He possesses all the tools to be successful with good speed as well as a history of playing good defense and posting strong offensive numbers.
All told, this would make him a great bench option and insurance policy against a Nimmo or Conforto injury. If MLB refuses to acknowledge reason and instead implemented the universal DH, Puig can help be part of that rotation.
There’s a lot of ways Puig can help the Mets, and he’s the best option available for this role. The only issue is whether he’s willing to accept this role. Given his year away from baseball, he might. If so, the Mets should push to sign him.