The offseason might be ending, but the New York Mets seemed to be more active this past week than at any other time this winter.
Under the leadership of Team President Sandy Alderson, the front office demonstrated their commitment to contending in 2021 with a flurry of signings aimed at bolstering all dimensions of the field: outfield, infield, backstop, bench, bullpen, and rotation.
In short, it’s never been a more exciting time for Mets fans to stay up to date with their team.
Trevor Bauer apologizes to Mets fans
The Mets front office missed the mark in their pursuit of RHP Trevor Bauer, but they may have dodged a bullet.
Per usual, Bauer’s social media page got him into trouble when his website advertised a Bauer-signed Mets hat giveaway on the same night of Bob Nightingale’s infamously incorrect tweet about the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner reaching an agreement to sign with New York.
Although his apology to the fans who signed up for the giveaway demonstrates his class, it’s time for Mets fans to forget about the pitcher they didn’t sign and shift their focus to the rotation set to take the mound for them in April.
According to MLB.com the Mets pitching staff ranks No. 3 in the top ten best rotations heading into this season. Plus, there’s always the trade deadline in July if they wish to add another arm in a potential pennant race.
For now, however, they should focus on the strong rotation they have without Bauer: Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and Joey Lucchesi; with RHP Robert Gsellman and RHP Jordan Yamamoto in reserve, and Noah Syndergaard when he returns (expected) in June.
And I’ll take that staff in a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, or any other team, any day of the week.
Michael Conforto expects contract extension talks to start soon
On February 2, Mets beat writer Tim Healey of Newsday reported on Michael Conforto’s expectation that contract extension negotiations would begin with the front office soon.
While not closing a deal with Bauer caused some fans to roll their eyes, failing to lock up OF Michael Conforto (and SS Francisco Lindor for that matter) to long term deals would be unforgiveable.
Without Bauer’s $40 million plus weighing heavy on their payroll for these next two seasons, the Mets should have ample space to maneuver below the luxury tax and sign these franchise players before even considering other moves.
Like Lindor, this season is Conforto’s “walk-year,” and if the Mets don’t reach an agreement with him on a long-term deal before the end of the season, he can choose to become an unrestricted free agent and listen to offers from any team.
Interestingly, Conforto noted that he is not looking to compare his deal to any package that Lindor might be offered. But the fact remains that this signing should be at the forefront of Mets fans’ minds and above any other roster moves the team is planning to explore next.
Critical Depth Moves you may have missed
Mets made a string of minor additions this week, beginning with hearing the decision of J.D. Davis’ arbitration case, which was decided in their favor on Feb 5.
While this news ensures the team will have his services once again at the price they wanted, it also signals the likelihood that he will perform as their starting third-baseman unless another move is waiting in the weeds to bring in Kris Bryant, Eduardo Suarez or Matt Chapman; as currently seems the case.
One of the most intriguing stories that occurred this week regarded Dominic Smith and his workout with Mets No. 5 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. This is an encouraging sign to all Mets fans that one of their premium hitters is already comfortable filling a leadership role in working with the next crop of amazin’ talent.
With a starting role in left field awaiting him this season, Smith is poised to build upon his breakout 2020 performance. Dom slashed .316/.377/.616 at the plate last season while driving in 42 RBI and 10 HRs in just 50 games. And with a full season, and more consistent playing time, the fanbase should expect him to continue raking at the plate; especially with the strong protection in he’ll have in the lineup around him.
In a mellow signing, the Mets added former Chicago Cubs back-up CF Albert Almora Jr. to compensate for their need of an everyday center fielder. It also supplemented their depth of right-handed bats off the bench. As a lifetime .271 hitter, however, the deal promises to shore up their defense, which is no less important.
The Mets also signed super utility infielder Jonathon Villar on Feb 9 in a surprising move that added a quality bat off the bench, an all-around defensive player to move around the diamond, and speed demon on the basepaths.
However, their latest move came on Feb 10, when they participated in a three-team trade for Kansas City Royals No. 8 outfield prospect, Khalil Lee. He has an ETA scheduled for 2021, and could be seen relatively soon unless the Mets plan to use him as part of their potential next deal. Stay tuned.
Overall, each of these signings bolster the Mets roster at the plate and in the field due to their versatility. As a result, I expect Manager Luis Rojas to have a lot to work with this season.
RHP Jake Arrieta, LHP James Paxton, CF Jackie Bradley Jr. speculation
The Mets front office hasn’t given any indication that they’re done tinkering with the roster. Currently, RHP Jake Arrieta and LHP James Paxton are rumored to be possible targets for Alderson and staff.
But after shoring up the rotation with Yamamoto and Luchessi, it’s hard to see any logical reason to target pitchers past their prime; especially since these specifics pitchers will not make any tangible difference in the rotation.
With regard to Jackie Bradley Jr’s availability, there can be no denying that the Mets need a true centerfielder. But Bradley Jr. is not the answer. Even if the league approves the universal DH, which seems to be the only scenario that could lead to the Mets offering a contract), he’s not worth the money he’s looking for.
Overall, the speculation is a non-starter, especially after the moves they made to add depth to the bench. With Nimmo and Almora Jr. filling the centerfield role, they no longer have the need for him.
So until more news is available, here’s Jeff McNeil driving a golf ball to send you into the next week, which I hope is filled with more one or two more roster shakeups and news about the alignment for next season.