The offseason for the New York Mets will be the most pivotal and intriguing offseason in the history of the franchise. The Mets new owner Steve Cohen is a billionaire who has vowed to make a big splash. Sandy Alderson has returned for his second stint running the Mets. In his first official move, Alderson promptly cleaned out the front office in one swoop. The Mets have the bones of a playoff team but are missing some key ingredients.
The top free agents are all players that fill holes the Mets have. But more than just signing free agents the Mets may to have to make a couple of trades to solve log jams at certain positions. This offseason has several questions still left to be answered. But two questions have already been answered. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen was let go after two years. Mets manager Luis Rojas will most likely retain his job. Alderson confirmed this in Tuesday’s first official press conference of the Steve Cohen era. Alderson also said he is in the process of building his front office but that will not set the Mets back once free agency gets started.
The future at shortstop is a position the New York Mets were going to have to make a decision on eventually. Amed Rosario has been the Mets starting shortstop since 2017. Two of the top Mets prospects are shortstops in Andres Gimenez and Ronny Mauricio. Clearly, all three players can’t be the future at short. Rosario made great strides in 2019 to solidify his stake at short. However, in 2020 Rosario has regressed which has opened the door and the discussion for Gimenez to take over the position.
Gimenez made the opening day roster this past season and was supposed to be strictly a defensive replacement late in games. But Mets manager Luis Rojas who has known Gimenez his whole career gave him two early season starts and he played well. Once the calendar turned to August, Gimenez was getting regular playing time which increased when starting second basemen Robinson Cano landed on the injured list. Just like that Gimenez became a player the Mets had to find a way to get into the lineup. Gimenez plays three different infield positions which further increases his value.
The question is not if the Mets are trading one of the players away but who are the Mets going to keep? The Mets are already linked to a possible trade with the Cleveland Indians for All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Rosario is the more established player and will make 2.2 million dollars in 2021 before heading into his arbitration years. Gimenez earned 563 K in 2020 and is still several years away from arbitration. The Indians are looking to shed salary so would that indicate the Mets potential package of players going to Cleveland would include Gimenez.
Alonso Or Smith
This might not even be a question but it is worth noting that by the end of the season Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith were platooning at first base. Both players were still in the lineup every day with the National League using the designated hitter and Smith also playing some games in left field. Despite Smith playing a good amount of games in left field over the last two seasons, it is clear Smith is not meant to play that position.
The designated hitter has not been made permanent in the NL as of yet. There are still discussions that will happen in regards to that. Knowing that this is another position where the Mets have two players for one spot and without the DH do the Mets make a trade. Alonso would command more in a trade because he is the better player. Both players will be eligible for arbitration in 2022 and Smith’s 2021 salary is 2.75 million and Alonso earned 652 K in 2020. It is highly unlikely that Alonso gets traded which makes Smith a very big trade chip.
Behind the Dish
There is no question that the New York Mets will have a new catcher in 2021. The only question is who will it be. J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher in the sport and he is a free agent. But he will not come cheap. Realmuto will be 30 years old when the 2021 season starts. There has not been any indication of what Realmuto will want in his next contract. Do the Mets give Realmuto a seven or eight-year contract? The back end of that contract could see Realmuto playing another position.
There are other less expensive options on the market. James McCann, 31 and Mike Zunino, 30 are two who come to mind. Both are good players who could serve as a bridge for the Mets until MLB’s 58th ranked prospect Francisco Alvarez is ready to play in the majors. But the Mets will have a new backstop in 2021.
The New York Mets have not had a five-tool centerfielder since Carlos Beltran. Brandon Nimmo is the current centerfielder who knows how to get on base and also has some pop in his bat. But he is not considered a top centerfielder. Michael Conforto is entrenched in right field. Leftfield has been a disaster with the Mets substituting defense to get their big bats in the lineup. It is now time to put a legitimate outfielder in left. There is a top 5 centerfielder on the free-agent market who happens to be a local kid from the Tri-State area. Do the Mets break the bank for George Springer?
Signing Springer allows the Mets to slide Nimmo to left which upgrades the outfield in two positions. Or the Mets can simply package Nimmo in a trade for a bigger upgrade in left. Nimmo is no stranger to trade rumors. Every offseason it seems as Nimmo’s name is always in every trade rumor involving the Mets. This offseason could be more of the same.
Robinson Cano & Jeff McNeil
The Robinson Cano trade will always be a constant reminder of the failed Brodie Van Wagenen era. With Edwin Diaz also a part of that trade and being a player the Mets really can’t trade away does Cohen and Alderson get creative and find a way to get Cano off the roster? Cano has three years left on his contract for a total of 72 million dollars. Clearly, if the Mets were to try to trade Cano they are going to have to eat a big chunk of that money.
Cano is blocking Jeff McNeil from playing his natural position of second base. McNeil has been used largely as a super-utility player who is in the lineup every day but at different positions. In the last two seasons, McNeil has started 25 games at third, 33 games at second, 71 games in left field, and 42 games in right. This was after being used exclusively as a second baseman after getting called up in 2018. The point is McNeil is too valuable to the future of the Mets to not have a set position. The Mets can also use third basemen J.D. Davis as yet another trade chip and slide McNeil into Davis’ spot. Davis is set to make 2.3 million dollars in 2021 and McNeil made 617 K in 2020.
Who will be the Mets five-man starting rotation in 2021? This is perhaps the biggest question the Mets have right now. We know ace pitcher Jacob deGrom will anchor the rotation. On Wednesday, Marcus Stroman officially accepted the Mets qualifying offer of 18.9 million to return to Queens. Rookie David Peterson also has a spot in the rotation. But that’s it. Does Seth Lugo move back to the bullpen? Are the Mets ready to give up on Steven Matz?
It is certainly possible that the remaining two spots in the rotation will go to pitchers who are not even a part of the Mets organization yet. Outside of Trevor Bauer, there are a lot of solid but not spectacular starting pitchers available. With Stroman back with the Mets does this mean New York will not be in on Bauer? With Stroman taking the one-year deal does this mean the market will be soft in both dollars and length of contract?
The New York Mets have a lot of holes to fill. But for the first time in franchise history, they have an owner who will not be outbid. At least that’s the rumor about Steve Cohen. The truth is no one knows what kind of an owner Cohen will be. Cohen is a lifelong Mets fan who is now living the dream that every fan always has. What if I owned my favorite and could do as I please?
In his introductory press conference, Cohen stated the Mets will act like a big market team who is not afraid to spend money. However, Cohen did say the Mets will not spend like drunken sailors. Sandy Alderson loves to build his team through the farm system but did say the Mets will trade prospects if there was a specific player of need available.
All signs are pointing towards the Mets signing one of the top free agents available. Also previously mentioned the Mets have a log jam at shortstop. Additionally, there could be a potential log jam at third base. The Mets have the necessary pieces to make two significant trades as well as the deep pockets to sign a superstar player. All eyes will be on Queens as this offseason rages on.
All salary amounts are courtesy of spotrac.
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