Baseball is a funny sport. You can have a player sitting there for years eligible for the Rule 5 draft with teams passing over him time and again. As that player sits in the minors, you now have 30 teams who have overlooked how much that player can contribute at the Major League level. Finally, when there are no other options left, that same player can push your team into the postseason.
While that may or may not seem farfetched, that is essentially the story of T.J. Rivera.
After the Mets won the pennant in 2015, the team didn’t take that next step forward as they intended. Part of the reason was the Washington Nationals signed Daniel Murphy, and the Mets had replaced him with Neil Walker. While Walker had played well early in the year, it all fell apart for him as he suffered a season ending back injury.
Really, the Mets were dropping like flies across the infield that season. That also included players like David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Wilmer Flores. As the Mets headed into September, they really didn’t have a second baseman, and they needed one to emerge.
Rivera had a cup of coffee due to these injuries earlier in the season, and he had played well. That included a four hit game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Still, he had been sent down, and he wasn’t given the initial or even the second or third crack at the job. Finally, on September 13th, he was inserted into the starting lineup, and Rivera responded by going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in the Mets 10 inning victory against the Nationals. That homer Rivera hit was a game winning homer in the top of the 10th inning.
From there, Rivera was the second baseman as the Mets rode the very hot hand. Over the final month of the season, Rivera hit .358/.378/.552 with two doubles, a triple, three homers, and 13 RBI. With that, Rivera would be in the starting lineup in the Wild Card Game.
To put things into perspective, entering the ninth inning, there were just seven hits total in that game as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner were absolutely dominant. Through those first eight innings, Rivera was the only player with an extra base hit. The real shame in that game was no one could score Rivera after his lead-off double in the fifth.
While Rivera did not secure a starting spot on the Mets 2017 roster, he did secure a spot on the Opening Day roster. Due to a number of roster issues, he was shuttled back-and-forth between New York and Las Vegas a bit. That said, when he played, he hit. In his 73 games, he hit .290/.330/.430 with 13 doubles, a triple, five homers, and 27 RBI.
Unfortunately, he was done in late July with an elbow injury which would eventually need Tommy John surgery. When Rivera went on the DL then, it effectively ended his Mets career. Currently, he is fighting to get back to the Majors, which is currently being made difficult by the COVID19 shutdown.
Even though Rivera had a shorter than anticipated Mets career, he was a driving force to getting the Mets to the 2016 postseason. He proved to be a good hitter, and ultimately, that is why is the best of the five Mets to wear the number 54.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
If you were a Mets fan looking to latch onto something to give you hope that Carlos Beltran was the right hire, he gave you the line. Standing on the stage, wearing his old number 15, Beltran said, “I just can’t wait to rewrite our story.”
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone Beltran said that wearing the Mets pinstripe uniform. During his playing days, Beltran did not wear them often. Back then, the Mets mostly wore their black jerseys and the Brooklyn Dodger style jerseys. Going to the 2006 postseason, the Mets would not wear them until Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS. As we know, that series would end with Beltran striking out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball.
That could be one way Beltran looks to rewrite our story.
But it’s more than that. Late in his Mets career, Beltran had to deal with injuries, and he would clash with the front office over career saving knee surgery. In the ensuing years, it does not seem the Mets have learned from this experience.
Matt Harvey‘s TOS was initially described as a mechanics issue, and he would pitch the ensuing year with what was described as an atrophied throwing arm. Noah Syndergaard was allowed to pitch without an MRI. The team fought with Yoenis Cespedes over his double heel surgery. The list goes well beyond this group.
They could rewrite that story too.
In 2011, Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is now a free agent, and he appears set to get a big free agent deal. For many, this is because Wheeler is the free agent who is most likely going to take off next year. This is not too dissimilar from Daniel Murphy.
Murphy was on the precipice of being an All-Star caliber player, and the Mets opted to let him walk and just take the draft pick compensation. The balance of power in the NL East shifted back to the Nationals when Murphy went there and the Mets thought they could replace him with Neil Walker.
The Mets learning that mistake and investing in their own players is a good place to rewrite the story.
Drawing that Murphy parallel out further, the Mets drafted Anthony Kay with that compensation pick. Kay had a great year in the minors this year leading to his being traded with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. Like with the Walker trade and with the team trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, the Mets were looking for shortcuts to building a competitive roster while also not spending money.
This is a free agent class with Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, and a whole host of other players who could significantly improve this Mets team. In signing those players, the Mets will begin to rewrite the story.
Mostly, the Mets can rewrite the story by investing financially in their team, making smart moves to build a complete roster, allowing their injured players to heal, and by allowing their new manager to lead this team. If you look at it, the last time the Mets really did that was building that 2006 New York Mets team.
That team came within an at-bat of a World Series. With this Mets team having Beltran’s experience from that at-bat and all the ensued after, including his finally getting his ring with the 2017 Houston Astros, perhaps things will be much different. Hopefully, it never comes to that. In the end, that’s all the matters. We all want to see Carlos Beltran win a World Series ring with the New York Mets.
If that happens, Beltran will finally get the love and adoration from this fanbase like he always deserved. Sure, there is a significant portion of the fanbase who have and always will. Still, there are those who never let him off the hook for that strikeout or other events. If Beltran leads the Mets to victory, he will be universally beloved.
That would be the best way to end this story. Sorry, rewrite our story.
Yesterday, the New York Jets traded Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams to the New York Giants for a 2020 third round draft pick and a conditional 2021 fifth round draft pick. This is a shocking trade between teams who don’t just share a city but a building.
It was a gamble for the Giants in taking on an enigmatic player who is a pending free agent. For the Jets, this was seen as a coup to get a good return for a player they were not re-signing. However, if the Giants are able to get Williams to play like someone who was once the third overall pick in the draft, the Jets will constantly be reminded of their failure.
At the end of the day, who cares? Both the Giants and Jets did what they thought was best for their franchises. They put the fears aside, and they made a football trade just like they would’ve done with any other team. Somehow, this concept eludes the Mets.
Back in 2017, the New York Yankees were rumored to have interest in Lucas Duda. However, rather than trading Duda to the Yankees, the Mets opted to trade him to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith. There were rumors the Yankees could’ve bested the offer of what was just one relief prospect, but there was no real confirmation of what that return would be.
The Yankees were also to have been interested in Neil Walker. The Mets eventually wound up trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Eric Hanhold, a player the Mets recently designated for assignment so they could keep pitchers like Drew Gagnon, Donnie Hart, and Chris Mazza. In terms of the Yankees, we are not sure what they would offer, and there are some rumors the Yankees backed out of their deal because of Walker’s medicals.
Over the past few years, the Yankees have been rumored interested in a number of Mets players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler. Those trades never materialized, but then again, no trade ever materialized between the Mets and another team with those players.
Still, the point remains there has long been a hesitation between the Mets and Yankees to make a trade. While it does seem to mostly come from the Mets side, there is assuredly some hesitation from the Yankees as well. That may be in no small part due to their Pedro Feliciano experience, or inexperience as it proved to be, and they may also harbor the same issues which are imputed on the Mets.
Whomever is to blame, they need to get over themselves, and they need to make smart trades between themselves to benefit both teams.
The Yankees have seen former Mets like Carlos Beltran, David Cone, and Darryl Strawberry play well for them. The Mets have seen former Yankees like Curtis Granderson, Orlando Hernandez, and Al Leiter play well for them. This is of little surprise as good players who can handle New York can play well for either team.
Given how that is the case, perhaps it is time both teams benefit from these players switching teams rather than seeing other franchises serve as the beneficiaries of being the ones who get these players in-between stops.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 10, 2019
By the time the first inning was over, it was 8-0 Mets, which essentially meant it was game over. Really, the Mets abused Lopez. The young pitcher allowed 10 earned over two innings.
Conforto crush job. 😳 pic.twitter.com/W0bmgxJaSP
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 10, 2019
Conforto snapped an 0-for-12 streak heading into the game. He would not make an out going 3-for-3 with a walk, HBP, three runs, and the aforementioned homer.
Later in the game, Jeff McNeil hit a homer of his own, and Nimmo had an RBI single giving the Mets an 11-2 lead.
Every Mets starter, including Wheeler, reached base safely. Pete Alonso was the only Mets starter without a hit, and he’d still walk twice and score a run.
Overall, a Mets team scuffling and incapable of scoring runs got real healthy against a terrible Marlins team. This is what the Mets are going to have to continue to do to not just get to .500, but also make headway in the division.
At this moment in time, with perhaps a very minor move or two, it would appear the Mets are done adding pieces this offseason. The different holes in the roster have been noted, but what we have not really seen done is an examination of the Mets decision making process. It is something which should be done more earnestly.
Dumping Swarzak’s And Not Frazier’s Contract
Purportedly, one of the selling points of the trade to obtain Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz was to move the contracts of Jay Bruce (2 years, $28 million) and Anthony Swarzak ($8.5 million). While moving Bruce was certainly understandable, it was curious the Mets moved Swarzak instead of Todd Frazier ($9 million).
As we have seen relievers tend to be mercurial, and it is quite possible with a healthier season, Swarzak could have been much more productive in 2019. Depending on the moves the team made in the offseason, he reasonably could have been the last man in the bullpen.
As for Frazier, we have seen the Mets make his spot on the roster tenuous. Pete Alonso appears poised to be the first baseman sooner rather than later, and the Mets brought in Jed Lowrie with the purpose of playing him everyone, albeit at different positions across teh diamond.
Seeing there being a multitude of free agents who could play third base, wouldn’t it have been better to move Frazier over Swarzak? As we saw, the Mets could have replaced Frazier with Lowrie. Other options included Mike Moustakas, Marwin Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Neil Walker. The Mets could have accomplished the same versatility they sought to accomplish by signing multiple players from this group, and they could have had platoon options over Frazier’s bat. It’s noteworthy with the exception of Moustakas these are switch hitters making them more useful bench players than a player who has never played a reserve role in his career.
Why Didn’t McNeil Play Winter Ball?
The very minute the Mets obtained Cano, it was clear Jeff McNeil was going to play some outfield. Now, it could be argued the amount of outfield he played depended entirely on the other moves made this offseason, but nevertheless, the plan was always to have McNeil see some time in the outfield.
Considering McNeil played exactly 17.0 innings in left field in Triple-A last year and just 56.1 innings in the outfield in his six years in the minors, you would have thought the team would have found a spot for him to play winter ball to hone his craft. After all, the team did try to get Dominic Smith time playing outfield in the Dominican Winter League (it didn’t work out).
Now, because the team couldn’t make any moves to improve the outfield, they are going to play McNeil in left all Spring with the hopes he can get up to speed over the course of less than two months worth of games. It should also be noted this decision is moving Michael Conforto from his best defensive position to right, and it is forcing Brandon Nimmo to center, a position the Mets have been reticent to play him at the Major League level.
Why Trade Plawecki if d’Arnaud Wasn’t Ready?
In his four year career, we have all seen Kevin Plawecki‘s warts, but through it all, he has established himself as a viable backup catcher at the Major League level. While the Mets may have felt the need to choose between him and Travis d’Arnaud, that decision would not have been forced upon the Mets until the moment d’Arnaud was ready to play. As we see now, d’Arnaud is not ready to play.
Instead of keeping Plawecki, they traded him for an underwhelming return in the form of Sam Haggerty and Walker Lockett. The only player of value in the trade was Lockett, and he had been previoulsy traded for Ignacio Feliz, an 18 year old who signed for an $85,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic two years ago.
Instead of hedging their bets wisely, the team instead signed Devin Mesoraco. Say what you will about Plawecki, but he is far superior to Mesoraco. He’s a better pitch framer, and he is the better hitter (93 to 92 wRC+). And before anyone invokes Jacob deGrom, you need to explain how Mesoraco was the reason why deGrom was so great.
Where Are the Extensions?
There has been a growing trend in baseball for teams to lock up their young players. For example, the Yankees have already locked up Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks, and they are working on locking up Dellin Betances as well. These actions promise to keep the Yankees core together while keeping them cost controlled to what promises to be a team friendly discount.
At the moment, the Mets have free agency concerns of their own. After 2019, Zack Wheeler will be a free agent. After 2020, deGrom will be a free agent. After 2021, a significant portion of the Mets current Mets core will be free agents with Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz will be headed to free agency.
We know deGrom has put himself on the front burner, but what are the Mets doing besides him? After all, if CAA is in town, it means the team can negotiate extensions for both deGrom and Syndergaard. There is also nothing preventing them from reaching out to the agents for the other players.
Really, this is the biggest part of the offseason which needs examination. What exactly is the plan going forward? Do the Mets have intentions of building something much sustaining, or is this a one year gamble? Are the Mets playing things out in 2019 and reassessing. At this moment, we don’t know. Hopefully, the Mets do.
The first to go was Daniel Murphy. That was the result of the Mets deciding they would rather have Ben Zobrist then later Neil Walker as their second baseman in 2016. Juan Uribe would also depart via free agency as he would pursue an opportunity to be the Indians everyday third baseman.
Kelly Johnson would leave via free agency, but the Mets would soon realize their mistake by not re-signing him. As a result, they would trade Akeel Morris to the Braves to reacquire Johnson. That move would be a key factor in the Mets making it back to the postseason in 2016.
While Murphy, Uribe, and Johnson left via free agency, the Mets just plain got rid of Ruben Tejada. Even with Chase Utley destroying his leg, the Mets would tender him a contract. On the eve of Opening Day, the Mets would opt to release Tejada thereby saving them some money.
Lucas Duda lasted a little bit longer. In 2016, he would suffer a back injury, which cost him most of the season. He would rebound in 2017, but the Mets wouldn’t. As a result, he was moved at the trade deadline in exchange for Drew Smith.
That left just Flores and Wright. With Wright going down just 37 games into the 2016 season, it was really just Flores remaining. Even with the Mets not winning the past few seasons, Flores was a reminder of that glorious 2015 season with a number of walk-off hits and game winning RBI. Those memories are now history as Flores was non-tendered, and he signed a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks.
Really, when you look at the Mets team, 2015 seems forever ago.Looking at the current roster, the only position players who will be active on Opening Day are Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. If Travis d’Arnaud is healthy, that makes three, and when he returns, if he returns, Yoenis Cespedes will make four. There isn’t much remaining from the pitching staff either. From the starting rotation, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz remains, and in the bullpen, Jeurys Familia is only one remaining, and that is because he was brought back in free agency.
It really is a shame too. That 2015 group was very likeable. It was a team who electrified not just Mets fans, but all of baseball. At the time, it seemed like this was going to be the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. If things broke right, it could be another run like there was with the 1980s Mets teams. Sadly, it never happened.
Still, we have the memories. Hopefully, the Mets now have a team who could win. And who knows? Perhaps we will one day talk about how the players who got their experience with the 2015 team being the players who leaned on that experience to help put the Mets over the top in 2019.
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
When looking at Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, you would have to say one of the best moves he made was signing Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason immediately after the Mets pennant.
When you look at Cabrera’s Mets career, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is how he almost single-handedly carried the Mets to the 2016 postseason.
At that time, the Mets were down Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom in the rotation. The team had no third baseman for most of the season. Lucas Duda was essentially done for the year, and James Loney was doing a bad job offensively and defensively at first. Neil Walker would go down with a season ending back surgery. The prior year’s hero, Yoenis Cespedes, was in and out of the lineup with quad issues, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy he was in 2015.
After what was a largely disappointing injury plagued year, Cabrera came off the DL on August 19th, and he went on an absolute tear. From that point until the end of the season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.
In that insane stretch, the Mets went from two games under .500 to finishing the year 87-75 with the top National League Wild Card. Not only did Cabrera fuel that run, but he might have also given us one of the greatest bat flips in Mets history:
From there, things haven’t been so great with the Mets. Unfortunately, it did lead to Cabrera demanding a trade when the team wanted to move him off of shortstop. With the Mets unable to move him, the team did pick up his option, and he returned.
It is a good thing he returned because Cabrera has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. His 122 wRC+ is sixth best among Major League second basemen, and it is second best among players on the Mets Opening Day roster.
Whatever issues Cabrera may have caused with his demands, he is a guy who came to play each and every day. No matter what the injury or issue, he wanted in the lineup. More often that not, he contributed.
Part of the reason why is Cabrera is that rare breed of player who actually raises his game in New York. His 116 OPS+ with the Mets is better than any of his previous stops. He averaged a higher WAR with the Mets than at any other stop. It’s impressive he did this as a player towards the end of his prime as opposed to one entering his prime.
Overall, the New York Mets organization has been better for Cabrera having been a part of it. He was a player born to play in New York, and he had the opportunity to show it with a great pennant run in 2016. For that run alone, Mets fans should be thankful.
In the end, we should all wish Cabrera good luck in Philadelphia, and yes, given his play here, there Mets should consider bringing him back next year.
Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a walk against Yankee starter Domingo German. After that leadoff walk, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and third baseman Jose Bautista hit RBI doubles giving the Mets a quick 3-0 lead.
That lead would grow to 4-0 when Cespedes had a Yankee Stadium special ding off the foul pole:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 21, 2018
That 4-0 lead was good for Syndergaard who had another five inning effort where he could not get that 1-2-3 inning.
Fortunately, Syndergaard, who was popping off at the mouth before the game, was able to navigate through the jams effectively. The only damage against him was a Giancarlo Stanton third inning sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Cespedes led off the inning with a walk, advance to second on a Wilmer Flores one out walk, and he’d score on a Conforto RBI single.
Bautista walked to load the bases, and they’d come away with just one more run. With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, you knew it was a tight margin for the Mets pen.
Amed Rosario didn’t help matters playing poor defense and going 0-4 at the plate.
With that, the Mets carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth. With the team producing a run with Cabrera getting on, Flores going the opposite way to get him over, and a Conforto sacrifice fly would get him in.
Game Notes: Conforto had a terrific night going 2-4 with a run, double, and three RBI. Bautista has a nice barehanded play. Bautista started at third over Jose Reyes.
Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart. When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history. He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.
Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field. In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI. The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.
To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.
Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS). What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching. Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.
Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix. He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.
Realistically speaking, that will never happen. The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench. The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes. So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.
However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.
The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games. With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.
With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago. With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.
If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base. If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base. When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker. He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.
With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering. Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.
Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post