The New York Mets will enter the 2024 season with drastically lower expectations. The team expected to be right in the thick of World Series contention each of the last two seasons, but now it'd be surprising to see the Mets even make the playoffs, let alone compete for a World Series.
Expectations are lower because of what's transpired over the last season. The Mets underwhelmed in a big way in 2023, finishing with a 75-87 record and being big trade deadline sellers. This offseason, instead of just spending truckloads of money to fix the weaknesses the Mets have, Steve Cohen and David Stearns have taken a more conservative approach. They've signed a slew of players to one-year deals they hope work out in their favor, but won't be disastrous if they don't.
This season is more of an evaluation year. The Mets are looking to see what they have with the players in their organization. They expect to be somewhat competitive, but this isn't a season where expectations will be super high. With that in mind, some players will perform well, earning a spot for the entire season and potentially the future. Others, unfortunately, will begin the year on the roster but won't end it there.
1) Phil Bickford
The Mets were major sellers at the trade deadline, parting with a slew of veterans including Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in exchange for prospects. While they were obviously sellers, the Mets did make one trade that helped them in the short-term, acquiring Phil Bickford and Adam Kolarek from the Dodgers in exchange for cash. This was a trade to get the Mets arms that they needed to get them through the remainder of the year, but they also clearly saw something they liked with these arms in particular.
Kolarek was a player the Mets were fine parting with as they DFA'd him less than a month after acquiring him. Bickford on the other hand, the Mets kept up the entire year and have kept him even through the offseason. Both Billy Eppler and David Stearns see something that they like in Bickford, but it's a mystery as to what that is.
Bickford was outstanding for the Dodgers in 2021 but struggled in 2022 and last season for them before the trade to the Mets. Once the Mets got him, it was more of the same from Bickford who posted a 4.62 ERA in 25 appearances down the stretch.
Bickford's strong finish to the year (0.84 ERA in September) allowed him to survive the tender deadline and will earn him a spot on the team's Opening Day roster. The fact that he's out of options will keep him around for a little bit. Unfortunately, the reality is he's just not good enough to stick around. He's 28 years old and has a 4.43 ERA in four MLB seasons. He is what he is at this point. He's fine to keep around for depth purposes but is far from safe on the active roster. Eventually the Mets will realize that, and part ways with him at some point during the season.