If any of the highest paid members of the New York Mets have another bad year in 2019, they must move to the bench. Next year has to be about playing the best players, not the richest.
All of the New York Mets free agent signings from the past winter failed. Whether it’s a guy who never played for them before or they reunited with a familiar face, the result went bust.
The biggest issue with several of these contracts is they extend into 2019. Some even go beyond. If those players don’t get their act together, the Mets shouldn’t shy away from benching them more often in the future.
The three guys who should specifically sit a bit more are Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas. As a pitcher, Vargas is different. I have no doubt the Mets will do whatever it takes to let him win the fifth starter job in 2019. Otherwise, they will need to find a place to stash him in the bullpen.
Bruce and Frazier are the pair that allows the Mets a little more flexibility. Each is a little more costly than Vargas, so the pain of benching them is tougher on the egos of the front office.
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Frazier hasn’t lost his third base gig quite yet. I’m not sure he’s in danger of doing so either. The franchise lacks a suitable replacement. Their best prospects who play the hot corner are not ready to come up quite yet.
The same is not true for Bruce. As a left-handed hitter, there’s always the excuse to sit him against southpaws. The problem the Mets face here is they have an abundance of lefty-swingers already on the roster. With an outfield next season that should include Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo already, the three lefties cancel each other out from working as a platoon.
When the 2019 season begins, I do expect to see Bruce and Frazier in the starting lineup. The only thing that could change this is if one of them is hurt. The likelihood of that is good.
Bruce should see a lot more first base next year with Wilmer Flores accompanying him. Peter Alonso could always win the job, but it seems more likely that he becomes a midseason call-up than an Opening Day starter.
With no one behind him adding to the pressure of playing in New York, Frazier won’t move from third base. We’ll see Flores and the usual cavalcade of misfits take over whenever he needs a game off.
Even though there’s a small chance the big contract busts take a backseat at the beginning of the season, it’s important the Mets don’t hesitate to pull over and move them back there if they struggle. Sadly, at this point, a .230 season with 20 home runs is a good thing.
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Vargas is even harder to predict. Nobody could possibly have a season as bad as this one two years in a row, can they?