With the bitterness of how 2022 finished for the New York Mets still fresh, it’s important to step back and realize how much progress the organization has made – not just in what they did, but equally in what they didn’t do.
A busy offseason last year brought many big names and key contributors to Queens, while a few the Mets passed (or lost out) on chose opportunities elsewhere. And in many cases, those other opportunities proved fruitless.
There were a few notable former Mets – players who had a realistic chance to return to the team in 2022 – that greatly underperformed expectations in their new homes.
1) Former NY Met who failed in 2022: Javier Baez
One of the key questions surrounding the Mets prior to 2022 was whether they would (and should) bring back Javier Baez. Acquired in a deadline deal in 2021, the middle infielder had a productive two-month stint with the team, with an .886 OPS in 47 games despite causing some drama along the way and being part of the Mets’ late season swoon that year.
With several offensive additions made early in the winter and an indication that Jeff McNeil would return to second base, it quickly became clear the Mets did not intend to give Baez the long-term deal he sought. In turn, Baez would sign a six-year, $140 million deal with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers.
Outside concerns about Baez’ history of being a streaky, undisciplined hitter proved true in 2022. He slumped mightily to a .671 OPS in 144 games, more than a hundred points off his career OPS entering the year (.783).
Frankly, there weren’t many bright spots at all for Baez in the first year of his new contract. While his strikeout rate of 24.9% was below his career norm, it still put him in the bottom third of the league and was magnified by deficiencies in getting on base (.278 on-base percentage) and hitting for power (just 17 home runs in 550 at-bats). Defensively at shortstop, he graded at minus-5 defensive runs saved, which was statistically the worst single season of his career.
With the Tigers coming off a 96-loss season and not expected to contend anytime soon, Baez can opt-out of his deal after 2023 if he chooses, although it might be wiser for him to continue playing at his current guaranteed salary if his struggles continue. Either way, it’s a problem the Mets are surely glad to have avoided.