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NY Mets Monday Morning GM: 1 strategy that shouldn’t change this winter

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Jonathan Villar #1 of the New York Mets and Kevin Pillar #11 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on June 12, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets won 4-1. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Jonathan Villar #1 of the New York Mets and Kevin Pillar #11 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on June 12, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets won 4-1. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
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The first offseason under the ownership of Steve Cohen didn’t go the way many New York Mets faithful had expected. The club didn’t spend wildly in free agency. By far their biggest signing took place when they gave Francisco Lindor a franchise record extension before Opening Day.

A sign of some future deals to come, it’s not these big splashes I want to talk about. Those are too easy. Convince the owner to spend money, spend it, and hope it all works out.

This strategy of buying a winner is the simplest way to a championship—although it doesn’t guarantee a thing. Rather than spend some time discussing which big splashes to make, I want to focus on something the Mets did to near perfection this winter: they built a fantastic bench.

One of the best things the Mets did last offseason was load up the bench with talent

The Mets didn’t undergo any major overhaul this past winter to revamp the bench. What they did do was add some pieces missing from the formula.

Signing Kevin Pillar to be their fourth outfielder was one of the wisest moves possible. Even more effective, they did the same with Jonathan Villar to fill in as their fifth infielder.

Pillar’s season numbers might not be too glorious but he has been a big contributor for much of the season. Whether it was Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto on the IL for a period of time, Pillar has been the guy to step in and get those innings.

The same has happened to Villar with even better results. He has unofficially won the third base job over J.D. Davis. In the time between Francisco Lindor’s injury and the arrival of Javier Baez, we even got to see Villar play a lot of shortstop. It was his bat, however, that did most of the talking. Villar has probably played his way back into a team’s starting lineup next year.

The success for the Mets bench didn’t end there

Deciding to keep Tomas Nido as the backup catcher was pretty easy because of his familiarity with the pitching staff already. When Nido has been healthy, he has been all you could ever want from a second-string catcher.

Luis Guillorme has also been an effective player for the Mets—again, when healthy. He, too, has been bitten by the injury bug plenty this year. But when off of the IL and on the 26-man roster, Guillorme has continued to blossom into more than just a superb glove.

The other spot on the bench has rotated through a little more. Jose Martinez suffered a spring training injury which limited him to this year’s Jed Lowrie award of playing zero major league games. Albert Almora did get some action, but his bat was pretty silent throughout the whole season.

Knowing this was indeed possible, the Mets sought out some other players over the winter with major league experience. Jose Peraza had an incredible number of clutch at-bats for the team. Billy McKinney played his way into our hearts when all of the regulars were hurt. Then there’s Brandon Drury. The Mets took a chance on him. In mostly pinch-hitting opportunities, Drury showed he might be one of the minor league signings to hold onto for next season and possibly open the year with on the bench.

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It’s easy to be critical of what the Mets did or didn’t do last offseason. In the case of building up their bench, they did a lot right.

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