Sure, the 2022 season has barely even started and the Mets are playing well. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look toward the future.
This roster could look very different next season. It might even look very different by the time September rolls around. But for now, it’s time to focus on one big-name free agent the Mets should shoot for each of the next three offseasons. Oh, and it excludes players who the Mets need to re-sign, though they will be mentioned.
Joe Musgrove would be a great addition to the Mets rotation in 2023.
The 2023 offseason is a massive one for the Mets. Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo and Chris Bassitt will be free agents, Jacob deGrom has already said he plans to opt-out and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Taijuan Walker opt-out as well.
Obviously, the Mets need to do everything they can to keep deGrom. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. He wants to be here. And they obviously have the money. He’ll be back. With how he’s pitching right now, Diaz should also be a no-brainer. Elite closers are extremely valuable and hard to come by, and that’s what Diaz is — elite. Yes, he technically has three blown saves, but if you watch the games you know he’s really had only one bad outing. At this point, he’s proven he’s overcome the struggles he had in 2019, knock on wood.
Nimmo is an interesting case because he’s bordering on elite when he plays, but he also has had legitimate injury concerns throughout his entire career. In seven seasons, he’s played more than 100 games just once. That’s bad. A long-term deal for him will likely be impacted by how Nimmo’s health holds up in 2021, but there’s a good benchmark already out there. Something in the area of Byron Buxton’s 7-year, $100 million extension is probably fair. Buxton is the better player, but he has also had even more injury issues than Nimmo throughout his career.
Bassitt is another interesting case, and he’s the first one whose future with the team right now is really a toss-up. We’re not going to really be able to gauge it until much later in the season, but if he finishes the way he’s started, I’m sure the Mets will want to bring him back as well.
That leaves Walker as the player who is most likely not to be back next season. He’d only be opting out of one year and $6 million and will likely be able to make more than that on the open market, both in and years and AAV. If he does go that route, the Mets should target Musgrove as his replacement.
For now, let’s operate as if the Mets retained deGrom and Bassitt but lost Walker. Keeping those two is far from a guarantee, but this article is about what the Mets should do — and that includes extending deGrom and Bassitt.
That would leave them with a very good five-man rotation of deGrom, Max Scherzer, Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Tylor Megill. That’s excellent, but they also will be 35, 38, 34, 36 and 27 years old respectively. Three of them are also currently hurt, including the now-26-year-old Megill who is out with an arm injury. You need more than five major-league caliber starters to be a good team.
If the Mets add Musgrove and everyone is healthy then that’s great, just use a six-man rotation. But odds are that isn’t going to be the case. Adding an arm like Musgrove would make it so that the Mets have five quality starters even if one is hurt — with David Peterson still waiting in the wings.
Musgrove will only be 30 years old next season, which is relatively young when compared to most options on the free-agent market. He was always a solid starter, but really elevated his game over the past two seasons. He put up a 3.18 ERA in 181.1 innings in 2021 and a stellar 1.90 ERA through his first eight starts of 2022.
He’s a borderline ace, and adding him to the Mets rotation would give them the unquestioned best staff in the league. It won’t be cheap, with Scherzer already making a historic amount and whatever the new contracts look like for deGrom and Bassitt, but it will be worth it — and Steve Cohen can afford it.