As the 2022 MLB offseason approaches, rumors have begun to swirl about where free agents could land. It goes without saying that the New York Mets should be a popular landing spot, given the financial side of playing in the media capital of the world and the talent already present on the roster.
Then again, the Mets have numerous key free agents due to hit free agency. So, what do the Mets do this offseason?
Mets starting pitchers: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, Eduardo Rodriguez (signed)
The first area the New York Mets are going to need to address this off-season is their starting rotation. Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are set to hit free agency. Meanwhile, Jacob deGrom (injuries), Taijuan Walker (horrid second half), and Carlos Carrasco (injuries and poor play), all dealt with their issues in 2021.
The latter three remain the only three under contract for 2022, and likely will hold down spots in the starting rotation. As much as insurance is necessary, the Mets have a handful of spots on the team that they must upgrade at. So, with Tylor Megill and David Peterson starting the year in the minors, they can step into the starting rotation when necessary.
In essence, the Mets off-season could and should revolve around what happens with Stroman and Syndergaard. With rumors swirling about the qualifying offer, it seems more and more likely Syndergaard returns to Queens next season. Whereas for Stroman, it’s less certain.
After taking the 2020 season off, Stroman’s gamble of accepting the qualifying offer last off-season paid off. The 30-year-old righty started 33 games, finishing with a 3.02 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.145. If the Mets were to keep him around, it’d be with a massive paycheck.
So, New York may wind up having to look elsewhere for a number at worst a number three starter. In need of consistency, the Mets could go the veteran route in free agency by looking at Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, or Justin Verlander. Or the more realistic route – investing in a younger starter, like Kevin Gausman, Carlos Rodon, or Eduardo Rodriguez.
Next up: Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi (IL)
Closer: Edwin Diaz
Look, Edwin Diaz is not perfect. But he is the closest thing the Mets will come to it compared to any potential replacement.
In 2021, Diaz converted 32 saves in 38 tries, posting a 3.45 earned run average and 1.053 WHIP. His strikeouts per nine innings were down to 12.8 from 17.5, but he is clearly doing something right as his home runs, hits, and walks per nine innings decreased.
Obviously, having Diaz in the closer role it the only option for the Mets. There is not another reliever on the team who can perform in the role at the level he can when he is on. That being said, expect number 39 on the mound in the ninth in 2022.
The bullpen: Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Miguel Castro, Drew Smith, Brad Hand (re-signed), Sean Doolittle (signed), Tyler Duffey (via trade)
Here is where things will get interesting for the club this offseason. New York does not have any top relievers waiting in the minors. With Jeurys Familia hitting free agency, Drew Smith will likely get a nod to step up. All while Seth Lugo, Trevor May, and Miguel Castro combine to form an experienced trio.
With three more bullpen spots to fill, the Mets could go in multiple directions. Do they retain Familia? Do the Mets re-sign Aaron Loup after a career year that would demand a substantial pay raise? Or maybe they bring back Brad Hand, who performed admirably for the Mets late last season.
The Mets could also take a look at the free agent market to find a second left-handed reliever to join, say Brad Hand. Veterans Sean Doolittle, Tony Watson, and the Mets’ old friend Luis Avilan are all free agents.
The final bullpen arm, ideally in this scenario a right-handed pitcher, the Mets do have options. Robert Gsellman could come back, but injuries and uneven performance make him a non-tender candidate. New York also has Trevor Williams under contract, who could transition from a starter to a multi-inning reliever.
Maybe, just maybe, the Mets even look to add a reliever via trade. Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, who bought May from Minnesota, could want to make a deal to acquire another arm he used to work with. Say, Tyler Duffey, who is coming off a 64-game, 3.18 earned run average season.
Next up: Trevor Williams (RHP), Yennsy Diaz (RHP), Jake Reed (RHP), Sean Reid-Foley (RHP), Corey Oswalt (RHP)
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At the end of the day, the Mets have a handful of great arms already on their roster. However, free agency is going to lead the Mets to a revamp of their starting rotation and bullpen in 2022.