The Mets have had a very busy offseason. They have signed nine players to major league deals, overturned almost half of their 40-man roster, and made a blockbuster trade. The new regime has come in and fostered an era of big-time change. However, some fans have pointed to the fact that the Mets didn’t sign a big-time free agent as a failure.
Mets Front Office Doesn’t Deliver With Big Free Agent Signing
There were high expectations when Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson were introduced as the new owner and new Team President. Alderson said the Mets would be very active and would be shopping in the “gourmet” aisle, to put it in his words. As we look ahead four months later, the Mets did not deliver on any big-time free agents, but they created a lot of depth for a team that really hasn’t had that in the past.
They also acquired the biggest trade piece of the offseason, in Francisco Lindor, along with a quality starter in Carlos Carrasco. Therefore, the Mets have done a lot this offseason, more than any other offseason in history. But as the Mets GM said just a few days ago “We’re not done.” We don’t know, specifically, what remains on the Mets docket, but there are a number of possibilities. These include positions of need such as another reliever, starter, and possibly a third baseman.
While I think the Mets could have one last big trade up their sleeve, whether it be with Oakland, Cincinnati, or Chicago, we’re going to focus on some last-minute signings that could really help fill out the team for 2021.
Mets Lose Out On Hand, Wilson
The Mets were in need of another reliever even after they signed Trevor May back in December. This area became even more of a need once Seth Lugo went down with an injury related to his bone spurs in his right elbow. The Mets bullpen has been a major reason due to the Mets’ struggles in the past four years. Four years and three regimes have been met with the task of building up the bullpen and ensuring it can be an area of strength.
The top two relievers on the market were Brad Hand and Liam Hendriks. The Mets’ top target was Brad Hand, who signed with the Washington Nationals, where he could be their closer. The Mets also lost one of their relievers who succeeded well in Queens in his two years. In 68 games pitched, Wilson went 6-3 with a 2.91 ERA and had 67 strikeouts. Now he heads to the Bronx after signing a really cheap deal.
The Mets now have their sights on Trevor Rosenthal, and if the Mets fail to sign him, disappointing would be an understatement. The Mets have been “in” on virtually everyone this offseason, and they have missed out on some key guys such as Hand, Bauer, Springer, etc. Trevor Rosenthal would be a great addition to this bullpen, which is a little thin now that Lugo is down for about a month. On the other hand, if the Mets could get the better versions of Familia and Betances, rather than the versions we have seen in the last two years, then the Mets bullpen can be very formidable.
Rosenthal had a very difficult 2019, however, bounced back in a huge way in 2020 with the Padres. Rosenthal was 1-0 in 23 games pitched with 17 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA. He also put up a 1.2 WAR, which is insane considering he only pitched in 23.2 innings. His advanced statistics were also strong, as he was in the 95th percentile and above in seven of the twelve categories. Given that Rosenthal is a Boras client, Rosenthal may be asking for multiple years and 10+ million per year. Hopefully, the Mets can work out a deal with him on something less and the Mets bullpen can be a strength for the first time in a while, once Lugo is to return.
The Mets currently only have three left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster. These include Aaron Loup, Stephen Tarpley, and Daniel Zamora. However, they have other lefty pitchers that could step up and fill a reliever spot, if necessary, These include Joey Lucchesi and Thomas Szapucki.
However, I think the Mets should go out there and make a move for free-agent reliever Tony Watson. Watson, 35, is a veteran reliever that has been in baseball for ten seasons. He has sneakily been one of the most consistent relievers over the course of his career. He has had an ERA below 4 in nine of his seasons and below 3 in six of his seasons.
The Mets could use another established lefty in the bullpen and Watson would be a great addition to that. He pitched in 21 games and 18 innings and put up a 2.50 ERA and a 174 ERA+ (100 is average), which is his best since 2015. The Mets would be smart to give him a chance.
One last relief-pitching option could be Jose Alvarez. Alvarez is 31 years old and has pitched the last two seasons in Philadelphia. In a bullpen that was absolutely dreadful, Alvarez succeeded and was one of their best relievers. He put up a 3.36 ERA in 2019 and followed that up with a 1.42 ERA in only eight games.
If the Mets would like to add another left-handed reliever, they could turn to Alvarez, who like Watson, would be a good get for the bullpen. He also could be got at a good deal, provided that the Mets are worried about the luxury threshold. His underlying stats from his last full season in 2019 are pretty strong, especially with hard hit%, exit velocity, and barrel %.
Another position of need is in the starting rotation. The Mets did a good job of accumulating bullpen and starting pitching depth this offseason. Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto were the Mets’ main depth starter acquisitions. They have also signed and traded for several for others who will be used as depth. Sean-Reid Foley, Jerad Eickhoff, and Mike Montgomery head that list.
Also, the Mets have some players in the minors who can come up and get a shot. As a result, it’s evident the Mets have been successful at signing and acquiring pitching depth all-around. However, they are still in need of another starting pitcher, who will be the 4th or 5th starter until Noah Syndergaard returns.
After missing out on Trevor Bauer and James Paxton, the next best option of the Mets should be Jake Odorizzi. Taijuan Walker is another option, however, considering he is asking for $10 million+, he may not be desired at that price. His underlying stats were not good this past season and the Mets wouldn’t be comfortable paying over $10 million.
Therefore, Odorizzi is the best option remaining, and the Mets should sign him unless they acquire another starter via trade. Odorizzi had an injury-riddled 2020 campaign, however, is coming off an All-Star appearance in 2019. There is hope that he could recreate those numbers as he would be matched up with current Mets pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner. Hefner was a big reason for Odorizzi’s success in 2019 and would be re-unite with Hefner in NY. If the Mets can get Odorizzi at a good deal, they should be all over it.
Aside from pitching, the Mets have really done a good job at adding depth to all their positions. They have recently signed two outfielders in Albert Almora Jr. and Kevin Pillar, also picked up Jonathan Villar, and signed Jose Martinez earlier in the offseason. This is likely to be the deepest Mets team in years, with a lot of potential on the bench.
The one thing they have been able to add this offseason is a capable starting center fielder. A big reason for that was the Mets missing out on George Springer, who went to Toronto. The Mets have kept tabs on JBJ, however, the uncertainty of the DH means the Mets can’t sign him yet.
Another issue is that Bradley is seeking a relatively lucrative contract, similar to other free-agent center-fielders in the past such as Michael Bourn, who got 4/$48 million, among others who received three years. The Mets have only been willing to go two years with Bradley, and likely around $20 million. However, until there is a more definitive decision for the DH, it will be a waiting game for both parties.
Bradley would be a huge help to the Mets problems in center field, as he was tied for first in outs above average this past year, along with Luis Robert and Cody Bellinger. He also came into his own offensively, as he slashed .283/.364/.450 with a 118 OPS+. It washis best since his All-Star campaign in 2016. He also put up a WAR of 2.1 in just 55 games so maybe there’s more untapped potential there.