It was a bleak year for the New York Mets. Finally, first baseman Pete Alonso recognized the reality of the situation, stating “it’s unlikely” the Amazins’ season ends in a playoff berth. A fact that most fans and people outside of the organization has been aware of for a while now.
That being said, the focus has already begun to shift what will be a monumental offseason this winter. In year two of the Steve Cohen era, it is no longer about making a splash. Rather it is about making the moves that will turn this talented team into a legitimate threat.
Who will earn the New York Mets biggest contract this offseason?
Before even looking at who will be available on the free agent market, the Mets must consider who to prevent from signing elsewhere. After all, the Mets have numerous starters and role players whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
Let’s break down who will receive the biggest contract of the 2022 New York Mets free agents…
It will not be Noah Syndergaard or Michael Conforto
At this point, it goes without saying that the largest contract will not be going to Noah Syndergaard or Michael Conforto. In large part, because they both had the worst possible outcomes for their 2021 season.
Needing Tommy John surgery prior to the shortened 2020 season, Noah Syndergaard has not pitched in the majors since 2019. Over that two-year break, people have forgotten about the Cy Young-caliber “Thor”, who is attempting to pitch by the end of the season out of the bullpen.
Meanwhile, Conforto came into the year as a dark horse MVP candidate following a fantastic 2020 season. With Scott Boras as his agent, the expectation was Conforto would finally piece it all together in 2021. Instead, he has 12 home runs, 50 runs batted in, and a .223 batting average.
Even though his production has improved – .250 batting average and 25 runs batted in since August – Conforto’s market is expected to look bleak compared to what it was expected entering the season. Meaning, New York will not need to break the bank to retain him.
If either of these players were to return to the Big Apple in 2022, it will be on a qualifying offer. Chances are, Conforto will decline as he can earn more elsewhere, but Syndergaard is a more realistic candidate to accept, given a one-year prove-it deal could be up his alley.
It could wind up being Javier Baez
When the New York Mets acquired Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez at the trade deadline, it was for two reasons. The first is the team was without Francisco Lindor, who was out with an oblique strain. The second being the team hoped to run away with the National League East.
Obviously, the second part of the plan did not work out, as the Mets are unlikely to play postseason baseball in 2021. However, despite the Mets downfall, Baez’s elite play could lead the Mets to re-sign the infielder.
Through September 23rd, 2021, Baez has nine home runs, 19 runs batted in, 29 runs scored, and a .307 batting average in 39 games played. To put that into perspective, Baez has never hit over .300, even back in his back-to-back All-Star seasons in 2018-2019.
An elite defender too, Baez could be the missing piece in the Mets infield in 2022. Already, Pete Alonso will be at first, Lindor will be at short, and the team has options at second base with Jeff McNeil and the return of Robinson Cano. Not to mention, Baez is open to returning, and Lindor wants to see his best friend back.
As valuable of a player Baez is, he may not be the most important free agent on the team. He has had his headlines during his short time with the Mets, whether an injury or a thumbs down.
With Baez possibly earning one of the largest contracts of the offseason, the Mets may opt to distribute that money elsewhere. That is unless the Mets believe they cannot contend without his offensive output. For that reason, the Mets biggest contract could easily go to Javier Baez.
It should be the king of consistency Marcus Stroman
There is one man with a case to steal the Mets biggest contract from Javier Baez this offseason, and it is Marcus Stroman.
Is he an elite pitcher considered among the Jacob deGrom’s and Walker Buehler’s of the game? No. But Stroman is one of the top pitchers in the game, especially when it comes to consistency.
In 32 starts this season, Stroman has a 3.00 earned run average and the second-highest WAR amongst the team’s pitchers at 3.4. He took a chance on himself by accepting the Mets qualifying offer last offseason, and now he is going to cash in.
Next year, Stroman will be 31-years-old but is coming off arguably the best season of his career. He has 23 starts allowing no more than two runs and is easily the team’s best pitcher not named deGrom.
To even think about letting him walk would be foolish by the Mets. Their other potential starts next season include Taijuan Walker, Tylor Megill, Carlos Carrasco, and more – all of who have had their ups and downs in 2021.
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Simply put, Marcus Stroman, the Mets bonafide number two starter, should earn the Mets biggest contract of the offseason. Nevertheless, the firepower Baez brings to an otherwise inept offense may be too much to let walk in free agency.