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.
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 Noah Syndergaard returns, that’s a tremendous top three. The question is what the Mets should do for the last two rotation spots.
Both pitchers are coming off injury riddled seasons. Instead of cashing in on free agency, they’re having showcases to prove they can return to form. Those forms are better than anything on the market.
Before being traded to the Rangers and suffering a tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in the majors.
In 2017 and 2018, he had a 172 ERA+, 2.82 FIP, and a 7.0 K/BB. If he can be anything close to that, he’s taking the Mets to the World Series.
However, there’s no knowing if he can get anywhere close to that. He struggled in his six starts before he suffered a broken arm from a comebacker. He never made it back that season due to injuries, and he lasted one inning in 2020 before the muscle tear.
If Kluber can get anywhere near his 2018 form, he’d be great. That 2018 form makes him well worth the gamble.
The same thing can be said about Paxton.
When the Seattle Mariners did their great sell off, Paxton went to the New York Yankees. In 2019, he had a 117 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, and a 3.38 K/BB. He showed he can handle the stage not just in that regular season but also with a big win in Game 5 of the ALCS.
Over a three year period (2016-2019), Paxton had a 120 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, and a 4.1 K/BB. That’s a very good pitcher.
What wasn’t good was Paxton’s 2020. He had a 6.64 ERA in five starts in an injury riddled season before shutting it down with a flexor strain. At the moment, his velocity isn’t all the way back with him throwing 94 MPH in a throwing session. Still, he’s getting there.
If Paxton’s ready by Opening Day, you want him in your rotation. Unfortunately, the only way you can really figure that out is by signing him. Teams have the right to be leery, but he’s well worth the risk.
If you’re the Mets, adding Kluber or Paxton to deGrom and Stroman is awfully enticing. That goes double when they would slot into the rotation as a three or four.
Adding both allows them to put Peterson in the minors as insurance and to permit him to improve in the areas where he needs to improve. In the event, Kluber or Paxton falter or aren’t quite ready for Opening Day, the Mets have Peterson.
If they work out and Syndergaard returns as planned, Matz becomes a weapon out of the bullpen. Alternatively, the Mets can cycle through all of these starters to keep them fresh and to the finish line much like they did in 2015.
That said, if you really believe Kluber and Paxton are healthy, and you believe in Jeremy Hefner, you roll the dice and add both. You give them the incentive laden deals they merit/want, and you allocate your funds towards George Springer, Brad Hand, and third base.
Ultimately, that’s just one of many paths before the Mets. Fortunately, they have the people in charge and the resources available that you can trust they’re going to make the right decisions to make the Mets a real contender.
Before the change in ownership, there was a belief the Mets might non-tender Steven Matz thereby making him a free agent. Certainly, given Matz’s nightmare of a 2020 season, it would’ve been a defensible position.
However, instead of going that route, the Mets not only tendered him a contract, but they also make steps to aver their belief in him and his ability.
That started almost immediately after the 2020 season. As reported by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Matz began working with Phil Regan. When Matz last worked with Regan in the second half of the 2019 season, Matz had seemed turn his career around.
In fact, in the second half of that season, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, and a 3.26 K/BB. For several reasons, Matz wasn’t able to build on that. However, with his working with Regan again, he very well might.
No, Matz wasn’t the reason the Mets signed McCann. However, that is a perk of the signing as Matz will be throwing to a better framer as well as to someone who he already has a comfortable level.
This will put Matz in the best possible position to succeed. Hopefully, this will translate to success. From what we saw from the Mets offseason thus far, they seem to believe it.
They further proved that when they didn’t trade him. As reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Toronto Blue Jays we’re interested in Matz and reached out to the Mets to engage in trade talks.
If you’re a team not interested in keeping a player, another team reaching out to have trade talks for someone you’re intending to non-tender is a godsend. It’s an opportunity to get something, anything for a player you don’t want.
That’s not Matz. The Mets wanted to keep him and weren’t trading him for it’s own sake. They had him working with a pitching coach who got the most out of him. They then signed a catcher with whom he already has a rapport.
Ultimately, in what is his final year before free agency, the Mets are doing all they can to help Matz reach that ceiling they know he’s capable of reaching. They’re letting him know they’re still very invested in his success, and maybe, just maybe, he’s a part of their future.
All told, this is going to be a very interesting year for Matz and the Mets. Maybe this could be the year he puts it all together. Certainly, the Mets are doing all they can to make sure it happens because they clearly still believe in him.
When you look at David Peterson‘s Rollie season, there is plenty of reason to be excited for 2021. The 24 year old rookie posted a 123 ERA+ in nine starts and one relief appearance, and he finished the season very strong.
Over his final three starts, he was 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA while striking out 16 batters. Over that stretch, you understand why Marcus Stroman said Peterson “is going to be one of the best in the league for years to come.”
Despite all that, Peterson should begin the season playing for Triple-A Syracuse instead of looking to build off his impressive rookie campaign.
First and foremost is Peterson could benefit from additional time to develop. Remember, prior to pitching in this haywire 2020 season, he had never pitched above Double-A.
As a result, while we saw he had talent, we also saw he was still raw. When looking at his Baseball Savant page, you see some real issues with his performance.
Peterson had a very poor walk rate and low spin on most of his pitches. He also had low fastball velocity and didn’t generate many swings and misses.
Again, we saw glimpses of what Peterson could be like when he struck out 10 Braves over six innings. Of course, he also had 2+ walks in all but two appearances.
His 10.2 HR/FB% was below average. There should also be expectation for a significant regression from his .233 BABIP against. All told, he may be much closer to his 4.52 FIP than his 123 ERA+.
That 4.52 FIP is quite poor and is really indicative of a pitcher who should really be moving to the bullpen. However, that doesn’t really apply to Peterson who is still a developing pitcher with a lot of promise.
It’s better to let Peterson learn from 2020 and continue working to improve as a pitcher in the minors in 2021.
Aside from the need to permit Peterson to continue his development, there’s another and perhaps more important reason for him to start the season in the minors.
As an organization, the Mets are severely lacking in pitching depth at the upper levels of their organization. As a result, they’re going to have to manufacture starting pitching depth.
Arguably, we saw the first move in that direction when the Mets tendered Robert Gsellman a contract. Starting Peterson in the minors would be a second very strong move in that direction.
Right now, Gsellman and Franklyn Kilome is the extent of their MLB ready pitching depth. Given their performances last year, that’s not quality depth. They need to do better, but that’s extraordinarily difficult to do in free agency.
With Steven Matz, the Mets only need to sign two more mid-tier starters. The Mets can afford to do that now with Steve Cohen in charge.
If you have no faith in Matz, it’s understandable. However, if he falters, you can go to Peterson. If Peterson opens the season in the rotation and falters, the Mets are picking between Gsellman or Kilome which is a much steeper drop-off.
Fact is, whether it’s the ineffectiveness of one starter or an injury, the Mets are going to have to dip into the minors for a number of starts. If they’re reaching back for Peterson, they’re giving their team a good opportunity to win. If it’s another option, they’re just rolling the dice.
Ultimately, if you want to build depth to help fix what Brodie Van Wagenen destroyed, the Mets need to put themselves in a position to have Peterson start the year in the minors. It’ll help them over the course of the 162 game season, and it will also help Peterson be an even better pitcher when he is needed to start again.
With reports the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to entertain trades for Blake Snell, this would seemingly be the perfect time for the New York Mets to act. When you look at it, Snell would presumably fill a short and long term fit for the franchise.
Even with Marcus Stroman in the fold, the Mets need to find at least one more starting pitcher. Ideally, they would want two more. Snell would not only fill that need, but he could help make the Mets rotation once again the envy of all of baseball.
Snell also would fill another starting pitching need. After the 2021 season, Steven Matz, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That will leave the Mets looking to fill at least 2/5 of their 2022 starting rotation. If you have Snell in the fold that will lessen that burden. The question for the Mets is how much Snell would be worth pursuing.
When many look at Snell, they see the pitcher who won the 2018 Cy Young Award. Our lasting impression of him was his dominant performance in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series before he was inexplicably lifted early. When you look at him from that lens, Snell is an ace level pitcher. When an ace level pitcher available, you need to pursue that pitcher heavily.
However, there are real questions if that is what Snell truly is. Really, when you break it down, Snell’s 2018 Cy Young award winning season has been a complete outlier in his career.
In Snell’s first two seasons, he had a 108 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9 while averaging 5.0 innings per start. In the two seasons since winning his Cy Young, Snell had a 111 ERA+, 3.65 FIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9 while averaging 4.2 innings per start. Certainly, these past two years have been a significant improvement over what he was over his first two years, but those stats are not remotely indicative of an ace level pitcher.
Of course, this is the Rays, so the analysis is not that simple. Remember, the Rays focus on not allowing their pitchers to go through the rotation a certain amount of times, and they are very strong believers in bullpenning. As a result, it is very arguable their handling of Snell has stunted his ability to again be what he was in 2018.
Taking a deeper look, Snell does have good stuff. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, Snell has elite to near elite fastball velocity and spin, and he has terrific whiff numbers. However, that is only part of the picture. When you dig deeper, you see his spin rates on his change and curve have significantly worsened since his Cy Young season. That said, after struggling with his slider in 2019, he was able to regain his slider spin rate in 2020.
All told, it is really difficult to ascertain what Snell’s trajectory will be. You could argue this is a pitcher who needs to get away from Tampa Bay to permit him to really focus on being able to become the ace level pitcher he can be instead of a five inning starter. You could also argue the Rays know his limitations and that their handling of him allows him to put up such high strikeout numbers, and as a result, with another organization, he may truly suffer.
In some ways, when you see the Rays dangling Snell, you can’t help but be gun shy due to the Chris Archer trade. For many, Archer was a pitcher who could thrive away from Tampa Bay. He was a pitcher with a similarly team friendly contract, and as a result, the Rays were able to extract a kings ransom for him. Now, Archer had his option declined due to TOS issues, and the Pirates are routinely chided for giving up Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz.
That’s not to say or suggest the Rays knowingly traded damaged goods. That is an unfair and unsubstantiated claim. Rather, this just highlights how well the Rays self scout their team, and it shows their ability to extract a significant price in return for their players. Assuredly, if the Rays do in fact trade Snell, they are likely going to try to command an Archer like return, and really, they should do that.
If you are a team like the Mets, and you want Snell, you better be right. You need the utmost confidence in Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and Phil Regan in their ability to not only return Snell to his 2018 form but to keep him there for the ensuing three seasons. If you are not, the Mets as an organization should not be pursuing Snell. Instead, they can look towards a very interesting starting pitching market which still has Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jose Quintana, and others available.
Better yet, they could be using their financial capital to give Stroman and Syndergaard extensions while keeping their player capital in place to swing deals for other areas of need. That said, adding Snell to those two starters and Jacob deGrom is awfully enticing . . . .
With Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer, the Mets have another top of the line starting pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom. Arguably, their rotation is fine as is, especially with Noah Syndergaard due to return after the All Star Break. That said, ideally, the Mets want Seth Lugo in the bullpen meaning the team needs to sign one more starter.
Right now, the popular choice among Mets fans is Trevor Bauer. For a few reasons, he’s not the ideal choice for this team.
First and foremost is cost. Yes, this is no longer the period of austerity with the Wilpons. Still, even Steve Cohen presumably has his limits.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bauer will sign a deal in the vicinity of four years $128 million ($32 million AAV). That is a lot of money to tie up in a soon to be 30 year old pitcher. That goes double when you consider the Mets other needs.
This offseason, the Mets need to probably add at least one more starter. They also desperately need a real CF and a catcher. Past that, the team needs to build a bullpen again. Bauer at $30+ million a year encumbers the ability to build a complete roster.
When you look past 2021, Bauer further damages the Mets ability to build a complete team.
After the 2021 season, Stroman, Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz will be free agents. After that season, deGrom can opt out, and Brandon Nimmo will be a free agent. This is part of the core of this Mets team. It may be difficult to keep all of them as is. With signing Bauer to a mega-deal, it really restricts the Mets ability to do that.
This is especially noteworthy because Brodie Van Wagenen stripped the Mets farm system. The players the Mets could’ve had come through the ranks to replace some of these players are gone. That puts an increased importance on keeping the talent on the roster on the Mets.
Another important note with Bauer’s expected contract is it may very well be a poor investment relative to what’s available on the market. Consider the numbers of the following pitchers over the last four years:
- Bauer – 132 ERA+, 3.52 FIP
- Charlie Morton – 127 ERA+, 3.27 FIP
- Masahiro Tanaka – 103 ERA+, 4.23 FIP
- Jose Quintana – 106 ERA+, 3.86 FIP
- James Paxton – 115 ERA+, 3.30 FIP
That’s just five of the options in a fairly deep middle of the rotation market. Looking at Bauer, he may be better than the group, but he’s not $20 million better. Not even close.
That goes double when you consider his numbers prior to his beating up on HORRENDOUS offenses in a shortened season. From 2017 – 2019, Bauer had a 124 ERA+ and a 3.60 FIP.
Those numbers put Bauer a clear step below Morton who is likely to sign a shorter term deal for roughly 1/3 of the AAV Bauer is going to receive.
Yes, it can be argued Bauer is younger and might’ve unlocked something. However, it’s far from a guarantee, and his expected contract will pay him like his 2020 will be repeated over the next 3-4 seasons.
If you’re the Mets, that’s a bad bet to make with so many areas of the roster to address this year and with their need to lockup their homegrown stars. Taking all that into account, the Mets really need to pass on Bauer and get an equally talented pitcher which would also permit them to truly pursue J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and the other top free agents.
We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.
However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.
Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.
That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.
No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.
Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.
The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.
This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.
Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.
If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.