When Noah Syndergaard left the New York Mets to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, one of the talking points was the Mets are going to benefit from the draft pick acquired. The way things are going that may need to be their focus.
Syndergaard leaving is another big hit to the Mets already thin pitching depth. That’s problematic given all the question marks that rotation had even when Syndergaard was expected to be a Met in 2022. If this rotation falters, this is a team who is going to be given no choice but to rebuild.
Jacob deGrom and Carlos Carrasco are coming off injury plagued years, and they are 33 and 34 respectively. With deGrom having an opt out after the 2022 season, they can both be free agents. Taijuan Walker can also be a free agent after the season. Walker had a great first half in 2021, but he faltered in the second half and would ultimately finish the season with a 90 ERA+.
As stands right now, the last two spots in the rotation would go to David Peterson and Tylor Megill. Peterson followed a poor 2020 from a peripheral stat perspective with poor 2021 stats and a season ending injury. He showed flashes, but ultimately, he looked like he was not ready. Megill burst onto the scene, but he tired quickly and fell apart at the end of the season, which is quite understandable.
Given the dearth of Triple-A pitching depth, the Mets need to sign two starters to allow Peterson and Megill to further develop and try to limit their innings a bit. Given where the prices are now, Marcus Stroman is going to need around a $25 million AAV to re-sign. Realistically speaking, it’s going to cost at least $40 million to fix the starting pitching.
Keep in mind, starting pitching is far from the Mets only problem. With Michael Conforto a free agent, and the Mets never getting a left fielder over the last three years, they need to fill-in two-thirds of their outfield. Left field could potentially be filled by Jeff McNeil, but the team needs to both hope they fill in two infield spots while also hoping McNeil rebounds from a nightmare 2021.
That is also before you consider Brandon Nimmo is going to be after the 2022 season. In reality, the Mets will have to figure out how to fill out an entire outfield over the course of two seasons. While McNeil may be the proverbial cheap choice, he is now an arbitration eligible player and will be more expensive. Thanks to Brodie Van Wagenen, the same goes for Pete Alonso.
While the Mets are figuring out how to pay two more starters, having to pay arbitration salaries to Alonso and McNeil, they will also have Robinson Cano‘s salary on the books. Unless Cano has a Jenrry Mejia situation, he is going to get $24 million in 2022 and 2023 ($3.75 will be paid by the Seattle Mariners).
Maybe Cano can take over second or third. Maybe he is a utility player. If the DH comes to the NL, he could be the DH. It’s also possible he’s just an overpaid pinch hitter or a player who will need to be released. In any event, that’s a lot of dead payroll weight when the team is potentially looking to re-sign Javier Baez to play alongside his friend Francisco Lindor. On Baez, he’s projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a $20 million AAV.
Before the Mets look to rebuild their bullpen with Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup being free agents, or build depth with Jonathan Villar being a free agent, they will add at least $84 million to the payroll to add two starters, re-sign Baez, and do whatever they are going to do with Cano. Again, that is before building a bullpen and depth, and it is also before arbitration.
From a competitive balance tax threshold, the Mets payroll is $128.45 million before arbitration. Adding $84 million puts it at $212.45 million. According the MLB Trade Rumors model, the arbitration salaries could increase the payroll by an additional $49.4 million. That puts the Mets payroll at $261.85 million before they fill in their vacancies at second, third, left field, right field, the bench, and the bullpen.
That’s also before they figure out potential extensions for players like Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Nimmo. It’s also before they try to figure out a way to get deGrom to decline his opt out. The question is do the Mets really want to have a payroll around $300 million for the 2022 season? Based on what we saw in 2021, the answer is a clear no. However, we heard some rumors as to why the Mets didn’t go past the threshold.
Sure, with some creativity and shrewd moves, the Mets may not need to get to the $300 million threshold to compete in the NL East. Then again, this team is going to hire Billy Eppler as the GM. Taking a look at the complete picture, the Mets realistically have two options: (1) spend like no one has before; or (2) rebuild. Losing Syndergaard tilted it a little more towards rebuild, but it is still early in the offseason.
This offseason, the New York Mets have a number of holes to fill in free agency. Chief among them is third base as the Mets have not had a third baseman since 2014 when David Wright was yet to be diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Since then, the Mets have better filling around the edges and singing players like Todd Frazier, who struggled to stay on the field.
Looking at the free agent landscape, it appears the two best options are going to be Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. While Correa is a shortstop, he has indicated his willingness to change positions like Alex Rodriguez once did. With that being the case, Correa instantly becomes the top third base option available.
Correa just turned 27, and he is on pace to have his best ever season as a Major Leaguer. Currently, he has a 6.9 WAR, and he should meet or surpass the 7.0 he had in 2016. Notably, with Correa having three seasons of 6.7 WAR or better, we are talking about a future Hall of Famer.
The reason is Correa does not have a real hole in his game. This year, he has a 135 wRC+. This will mark the fourth time in his seven year career he has had a 135 wRC+ or better. Putting aside the 60 game 2020, he has always been above league average at the plate, and only one time has he registered a wRC+ below 123.
In the field, Correa is a great defensive shortstop. After his struggles in his rookie season, Correa has a a 47 OAA and a 62 DRS at shortstop. That puts him at a Gold Glove level at the position.
All told, Correa is a Silver Slugger level hitter at the plate and a Gold Glover in the field. He could be a right-handed balance to the Mets heavy left-handed hitting lineup, solve the eternal third base woes, and add yet another MVP caliber player to the roster.
Despite all of that, many are hand wringing over the likelihood Correa would have a qualifying offer attached thereby putting the Mets in a position to forfeit a first round pick. In the alternative, they suggest Kris Bryant.
Unlike Correa, Bryant has actually won an MVP award, and like Bryant, he has a World Series ring. While the Mets would be better for adding Bryant, he is not the same caliber of player as Correa, and he probably doesn’t solve the Mets third base question.
After being traded to the San Francisco Giants, Bryant has split time between third base and the outfield. That is much akin to what he did in Chicago. Part of the reason is Bryant is a versatile player which is a bonus. However, it is also the result of his not being a very good third baseman.
Since 2017, Bryant has not posted a positive OAA at third accumulating a -9 OAA. Over that time, he also has a -2 DRS. In the outfield, he has posted better numbers in left field with a 2 OAA and a 6 DRS. Looking at the numbers and the trajectory, you could argue Bryant is really a LF at this point in his career.
Now, you could try him at third for a while, especially if your confident in your shifting, but Bryant doesn’t quite have the bat he used to have which allowed him to offset his poor defense. Keep in mind, he is still a terrific hitter, just now the 144 wRC+ he was over the first three years of his career. In fact, since 2018, Bryant has been a 126 wRC+ hitter.
That is largely why we have seen Bryant fall from being an MVP caliber player to being “merely” an All-Star caliber player. After posting an 18.3 WAR over his first three seasons, Bryant has posted a 10.5 WAR over his next four seasons (with the 2020 season caveat). While Bryant has had strong seasons, and he has a 3.3 WAR so far this year, he’s just not the caliber of player Correa has.
We should note that disparity is likely only going to grow. Next year, Correa will be 27, and Bryant will be 30. Bryant is nearing the end of his prime as Correa is just entering it. As a result, you are likely going to get far better production from Correa over the course of their respective contracts. Indeed, Correa is better now and will very likely remain better.
If you’re a Mets team with not much help on the way from the minors and the impending free agency of players like Carlos Carrasco, Jacob deGrom (player option), Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Taijuan Walker coupled with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith being arbitration eligible, you are a franchise very much set on expanding this window. That goes double with Javier Baez, Michael Conforto, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard as free agents this offseason.
This is a Mets team which needs to focus on winning in 2022 or tearing it down to rebuild. If you are really focused on winning now, Correa is the far better option than Bryant regardless of the qualifying offer being attached. The Mets should not be overthinking it. Go get the far better player and make this Mets roster the best it can possibly be.
There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.
This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.
Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning
As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.
Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.
Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.
In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.
The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.
This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.
On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.
Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.
Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.
With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.
This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.
That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.
Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.
Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.
Before the suspended game from April 11 resumed, there was the theatre of the absurd where Javier Báez and Francisco Lindor were forced to apologize for the thumbs down controversy. Their qualifying the apology certainly didn’t help matters.
What really didn’t help was the Mets falling behind 5-1 to the Miami Marlins. It also didn’t help Jesus Aguilar was taunting them during the game.
Worse yet, this was the same old story with the Mets blowing chance after chance after chance. That includes the eighth when Báez was announced as a pinch hitter. He was booed lustily by the sparse crowd. It’ll probably be the last time he’s ever booed.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
Báez hit an infield single scoring Smith pulling the Mets to within 5-4. Michael Conforto followed with an opposite field single easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. When Jorge Alfaro, a catcher somehow thrown to left, bobbled the ball, Báez made a mad dash for home.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 31, 2021
It was a run arguably only Báez could score. It involved a player with speed who always hustles, and a player with a high baseball IQ willing to take calculated risks. The end result was a win and a great call from Gary Cohen.
Michael Conforto blasted one a long way in Tuesday's nightcap, so here's another Gary call and pen slam for your timeline 🎙️
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 1, 2021
This was a win which flipped the script. Not only did it take a bad loss and make it a great win, but it changed the narrative and reaction towards Báez.
It was also a win with legs. The Mets would get off and running in the fourth with a Conforto two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 1, 2021
Later in the inning, Jeff McNeil would double home Báez. It was 3-0, and the Mets would hold on.
Edwin Diaz came in the seventh and retired the side in order for his eighth consecutive save. With that, it was a doubleheader sweep.
This day had all the feel of the Wilmer Flores walk-off. With the Mets 5.5 games out of a postseason spot with a month left in the season, who knows?
Doubleheader Notes: Jeurys Familia picked up the win in the first game. Loup won the second game. Between games, Luis Guillorme was activated off the IL, and Brandon Drury was optioned. Yennsy Diaz was the 27th man.
For the first time in the second half, and the first time in nearly two months, the New York Mets swept an opponent. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
He had shut down the Nationals for four innings before getting in trouble in the fifth. In that inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with one out. With the Mets only having a 2-0 lead, Luis Rojas tabbed Seth Lugo.
Lugo, who hasn’t been great inheriting runners this year allowed a sacrifice fly pulling the Nationals to 2-1. The Mets would get than run back and then some on a Jonathan Villar two run homer in the sixth.
JONATHAN VILLAR WITH THE INSURANCE RUNS! THE METS LEAD 4-1 pic.twitter.com/ssJeFmTx5Y
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2021
While May has been great in the second half of the season, he didn’t have it in this save opportunity. He loaded the bases with one out leading Rojas to tab closer of yore Jeurys Familia.
This was one of those frustrating Familia blown saves of yore. First, he had a wild pitch scoring run. Truth be told James McCann should’ve had a better effort blocking that ball.
Familia navigated his way through the inning to keep it tied into the bottom of the seventh. After McNeil grounded out, Pete Alonso ended the game.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 12, 2021
Back when the Mets suffered a brutal loss, Alonso told fans they shouldn’t believe. They should know. Seeing this fame, Alonso gave the Mets reason to know they’re making the playoffs.
The Mets swept the Nationals like they should. Now, they’re in second place with things getting more interesting in the NL East. Now, it’s time to step up and win.
Game Notes: Williams was called up as the 27th man.
The Philadelphia Phillies went after it at the trade deadline while the New York Mets didn’t. Tonight, Kyle Gibson got the win, and Ian Kennedy earned the save, two players the Phillies obtained at the deadline, as the Phillies took over first place from the Mets.
Again, we saw the Mets load the bases with no outs and fail to score. Its depressing to think that’s now become the expectation. It certainly didn’t help matters Marcus Stroman was told not to swing when he recorded the first out.
Speaking of Stroman, he pitched well, and he really gave the Mets a chance to win. Unfortunately for him, he made just two mistakes, and they came back to haunt him.
The end result was a Miller triple. Later in the inning, Gibson, who was actually allowed to hit, drove an RBI single through that drawn-in Mets infield increasing the Phillies lead to 2-1.
Diaz didn’t. Yes, we know the defense he doesn’t pitch well in non-save chances, but this was a huge spot. Jean Segura hit a hot shot, which ate up Jonathan Villar. It was a tough play ruled a single, but a better third baseman (an area of need the Mets didn’t address) makes the play. Bryce Harper followed with a two run homer giving the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
Villar led off the ninth with a homer off Kennedy making it 4-2. The Mets got nothing going after that, and as a result, lost by that score.
It should infuriate every Mets fan the difference in this game was allowing the pitcher to swing. Stroman isn’t incapable with the bat, and he has speed, but he was told not to swing to avoid a double play. As an aside, a double play probably scores a run which is something the Mets can’t do.
Frankly put, when you’re not trying to win games, you don’t deserve to win them. That goes for not letting Stroman swing and how the Mets approached the trade deadline. Whatever the case, they’re now in second place as a result.
The New York Mets talking points entering the trade deadline was they didn’t want to disrupt their team chemistry. The trade deadline came and went, and they didn’t disrupt it.
They left their holes in the rotation and bullpen unaddressed. Arguably, they didn’t address third base. But, they didn’t disrupt that team chemistry. Now, they’re losing games.
Taijuan Walker wasn’t great, but it was a step forward for him. Again, the big issue is the long ball. The Miami Marlins two homers accounted for two of the four runs he allowed over 5.2 innings.
Seth Lugo was pushed for two innings again even if he’s showed he can’t really do that since his surgery. He’d let up what proved to be a crucial run in that second inning of work.
Offensively, they cracked the three run mark for just the fourth time over their last 13 games. It all came down to Brandon Drury in the ninth. He couldn’t drive home the game tying run from second, and so, the Mets lost 5-4.
The Phillies won putting the Mets only 1.5 games ahead of them. Unlike the Mets, the Phillies actively worked to address their needs. They’re ascending, and the Mets are on the verge of collapse.
The good news is if the Mets do collapse, they have a great clubhouse to help each other get through it.
Now, this is overly sarcastic, and the Mets can still very well win this division. That said, they didn’t try to win it. The Phillies did, and the Mets team, who can’t get out of their own way or get healthy enough, is in very real trouble.
When making decisions at the trade deadline, it is not just about where your team is in the standings. It is also about where you are at as an organization. Right now, the Mets are 4.0 games up on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams who are under .500. As for the organization, well, they are in a much more tenuous spot.
After this season, Michael Conforto, Jeurys Familia, Rich Hill, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jonathan Villar will be free agents. After the following season, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can also opt out of his contract, and Taijuan Walker can decline his player option.
Focusing more narrowly, after two years, the Mets could lose 2/3 of their outfield and 4/5 of their starting rotation. They can also lose four key set-up men as well as their closer. Put another way, this team is on the precipice of losing very important pieces of a team which is going to take it to the postseason this year.
Now, this is certainly a much different proposition with Steve Cohen at the helm than it was with the Wilpons. There is an implicit trust Cohen will continue trying to win. However, as we know, you’re not always successful identifying who to keep and who to let go as well as who the right replacements are.
When we look back to the early 90s, the Mets were coming off their best stretch in Mets history. They made the right decision letting Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez go. However, they made some bad calls like thinking Vince Coleman could replace Darryl Strawberry. They over relied on their belief Kevin Elster, Dave Magadan, and Gregg Jefferies could be first division starters. Of course, there was also the Worst Team Money Could Buy.
All told, when the Mets switched from build around a core to replacing and altering the core, things fell apart. We can look at other points in Mets history when that happened. It happened again when the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez as part of a calamitous offseason after the 2000 pennant. The 2009 Mets made the mistake of keeping Oliver Perez. The 2017 Mets got their money tied up in Neil Walker, and they saw Robert Gsellman and Lugo couldn’t hang as starters for a full season.
In some ways, that leads us to now. The Mets have extremely important decisions to make on who stays and who goes. They need to see who the correct replacements are. From what we’ve see from this front office, we should have faith they are up to the task. That said, we all had very well placed faith in Frank Cashen, and he blew it up.
Seeing where the Mets are, the best decision they can make right now is to absolutely go for it. Yes, that may very well require overpaying for players and rentals. Back in 2015, that didn’t make much sense. It was year one of contending for a young core who was cost controlled. Their decisions, including letting Daniel Murphy walk, turned it into a two year window. That window slammed shut without a World Series.
Right now, the Mets window is definitely open, but it’s being propped open. Without the right options, this window can slam shut after this year. It may well be that after the 2022 season. The Mets definitely need to keep this possibility in mind as they look to add at the trade deadline.
Players like Kris Bryant and Trevor Story dramatically changes the fortunes of this team. The same can be said for a player like Jose Ramirez. It may hurt to overpay for Max Scherzer or another top of the line starter, but imagine a two headed monster of deGrom and Scherzer (and having deGrom insurance) as the Mets look to win a World Series.
Ultimately, the Mets are going to see radical changes to this roster over the next few years. They’re in first place now with a team capable of winning a World Series. They need to make sure they do everything they need to do to get that World Series, or they may be ruing the missed chance for a team in transition over the next few years.
For reasons which defy logic, the New York Mets offense just stops scoring runs all together. That was exactly the case today.
In the first game, the Atlanta Braves scored a run in the second and third off Marcus Stroman. That gave them a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the Mets offense just shot themselves in the foot. In the third, Stroman got it started with a bunt single, and there were two on with one out. Peter Alonso and Michael Conforto struck out to end the inning.
Alonso failed to come through again in the fifth. With two on and one out, he hit a ball down the line which Austin Riley made a 5-5-3 inning ending double play.
The worst one of them all was in the bottom of the seventh. After Tomas Nido singled with one out, James McCann pinch hit for Luis Guillorme (who has been clutch all year) and hit into the game ending double play.
The Mets really wanted that one because not only did Stroman pitch well, but the Mets were also bullpenning the second game of the doubleheader.
Alonso lost a Riley pop up in the lights. Then Dansby Swanson hit what should’ve been a double play, but J.D. Davis couldn’t catch the ball on the dive for a ball literally any other third baseman easily fields for an around the horn double play.
Familia rebounded to strike out the next three batters to end the inning. Anthony Banda followed with two scoreless innings. Of course, while this was happening, the Mets offense wasn’t delivering.
In the first, Davis grounded out with RISP. In the fourth, Jonathan Villar struck out swinging, and McCann followed with an inning ending double play.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 27, 2021
Speaking of Freeman, earlier in the game, he had some fun with Nimmo after Nimmo drew a walk:
Freddie Freeman looks up to the sky with Brandon Nimmo 🤣 pic.twitter.com/7S2zMvrXTv
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 27, 2021
After Freeman long flyout, Riley hit into an inning ending double play. That set it up for Edwin Diaz, who struck out the side for his 22nd save of the season.
The Mets avoided near disaster in this game in advance of a potential bullpen game tomorrow. Things could’ve gotten ugly quick for a team who scored once in 14 innings. Instead, they got the split, and they fend off the Braves for at least one day.
Game Notes; The Mets have not been swept in a doubleheader this season.