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NY Mets: Options to replace New York’s big free agents in 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Marcus Stroman #0 of the New York Mets in action against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 28, 2021 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Marlins 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Marcus Stroman #0 of the New York Mets in action against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on September 28, 2021 in New York City. The Mets defeated the Marlins 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 24: Javier Baez #23 of the New York Mets tries to catch rain drops leaking through the roof in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on September 24, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

If the Mets move on from Javier Baez, his replacement is likely already on the roster.

The Mets first acquired Javier Baez at this season’s trade deadline, in the hopes of him jump-starting the team’s offense in the hopes he could help lead them to the playoffs. Things, unfortunately, didn’t go as planned, but that’s not to say Baez didn’t perform well.

Appearing in a grand total of 47 games for New York, Baez posted very impressive numbers, hitting .299 with a .371 OBP over that span, hitting 9 home runs with 22 RBI. Beyond that, he also showed versatility in the field, able to play at both shortstop and second base in the infield.

The Mets certainly got a lot out of the former All-Star during his stint in Queens, however as previously stated, his efforts weren’t enough to get them to the post-season, and he’ll now be hitting free agency for the first time in his career.

Baez has been compared very closely to fellow Met Francisco Lindor for much of his career in terms of production, and the Mets handed Lindor a 10 year $341 million extension last off-season, so we can only assume Baez will want something similar…which is a problem.

While the Mets’ owner is a billionaire, that doesn’t mean the Mets have an unlimited payroll. As stated, Lindor already commands a large salary, and something many are forgetting is fellow infielder Robinson Cano is set to return from his suspension in 2022.

The Mets will be paying Cano $48 million over the next 2 years, all fully guaranteed, so in the unlikely event the Mets can find a way to trade him away without eating the bulk of his salary, the Mets already are committing $58.1 million between Lindor and Cano next season, so at that point, resigning Baez does not make financial sense.

Baez also does have some issues in terms of his ability at the plate that should be concerning. While he is a big power hitter, he strikes out a lot and has a very low OBP of just .307. While he played very well for the Mets over his 47 games, based on his career track record, he likely will not maintain that same productivity over the long term.

Beyond that, with no DH in the National League, and All-Stars Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil at 1st and 3rd base respectively, there is not additional room to scuffle around the infield, so unless some blockbuster trade can be made to open up a spot, it appears the Mets’ best option is to let Baez go.

As for replacing him, Robinson Cano will most likely shift right back into his old spot at second base. While he missed all of the 2021 season, in 2020 he was the Mets’ top hitter, posting a .316 average with a .352 OBP. He most likely will not hit at that same level in 2022 after missing an entire season, but if the Mets are playing him, he may as well play.

In the event Cano is unable to play for whatever reason, the Mets can always shift McNeil back over to second base and plug in JD Davis at third base, so nevertheless, replacing Baez with “in-house” options appears to be the way to go.

Javier Baez performed very admirably during his time in Queens, but as the Mets look to be competitors in 2022, unless some blockbuster trade can be made to free up both positions and salary, the Mets best move may be going both parties going their separate ways.

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