By all accounts, the New York Mets have had a fantastic offseason so far. Still, there’s still a relatively prevalent attitude that the Mets need to do more. Specifically, fans seem to think that the Mets absolutely, 100% NEED another bat in the lineup.
However, that’s just not the case. The Mets don’t NEED another bat.
Sure, they could use one, any team in baseball could. Theoretically, no team should be satisfied until their roster looks like something out of MLB The Show with force trades on and budget turned off.
Sadly, that’s not how it works in the real world. You’re more than entitled to want another bat, but realistically, the Mets already have a very, very, very good team on paper.
As it stands right now, here is what the Mets lineup is probably going to look like on Opening Day according to Fangraphs.
RF Brandon Nimmo
CF Starling Marte
SS Francisco Lindor
1B Pete Alonso
DH Robinson Cano
3B Eduardo Escobar
2B Jeff McNeil
LF Mark Canha
C James McCann
As for the bench, Tomas Nido, Luis Guillorme, J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith are all-but-guaranteed roster spots.
Nido is the backup catcher, so he’s not going anywhere. Guillorme can play second, third and short, and play them well to boot. Besides, he’s probably the only person on the roster besides Lindor who can even play shortstop at all, so he’s needed.
As for Davis and Smith, while they were rumored trade candidates earlier in the offseason, it now looks very likely that they’re staying in town.
That’s also just clearly the right move. There’s no reason that any of McNeil, Smith or Davis should be traded unless the Mets get an offer they can’t refuse. At the very least, they’ll make up one of the best benches in baseball. The sheer volume of injuries the Mets suffered in 2021 is evidence enough as to why it is important to have a major league caliber bench.
As of now McNeil isn’t even on the bench, he’s the starting second baseman. He was a career .319 hitter with an OPS+ of 139 over his first 248 career games before slumping last season. It would be shortsighted to just cut bait after one down year.
It was reported that Smith was playing through a partially torn labrum last season, which could be an explanation for his struggles. He was also just so good in 2019 and especially 2020, that just like McNeil, he deserves another chance before the Mets let him go.
As for Davis, well, I’ve already made my thoughts on him very clear in an article back in December, take a look at it here. The rundown is this: Davis was also playing hurt last season, but when healthy, he is the perfect candidate to DH. I believe he has the most offensive potential of the trio and can be a really valuable piece to the lineup.
So, if the Mets were to add another bat, where exactly does the roster spot come from?
There are already 13 position players who will be taking up roster spots. The other 13 spots will go to the pitchers — five starters and eight relievers.
Yes, it was reported that the rosters will expand to 28 players through May 1, but those extra spots will almost certainly go to an extra two pitchers in an attempt to alleviate stress on arms and help make up for the abbreviated spring training.
All that aside, who would the Mets even bring in at this point? There’s really only one obvious option, and that is Michael Conforto.
Conforto is the last big free agent left unsigned, but he really doesn’t make much sense for the Mets. To put it simply, the Mets have replaced him already. By bringing in Marte and Canha in the offseason, the Mets acquired two everyday outfielders to pair with Brandon Nimmo. If anything happens to them, McNeil, Smith and even Davis are all capable of playing the outfield (to varying degrees).
Sure, Conforto or one of the other outfielders could DH, but then what do you do with Cano? At this stage in his career, he’s probably not able to play second base every day, even if he might do so from time to time.
There also might not even be interest from Conforto. After his really subpar 2021, he might want to sign a 1-year deal somewhere he can start every game and rebuild his value. With Canha, Marte, Cano, McNeil, Smith and Davis, that place likely isn’t the Mets. This isn’t a video game — there has to be interest both ways.
Aside from Conforto, there really aren’t any good options left in free agency. There are some former Mets like Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, Joe Panik, Wilson Ramos or (shudders) Jed Lowrie. Or they could turn to some veterans like Mitch Moreland, Dexter Fowler, Khris Davis or Albert Pujols. No one here, at this point in their careers, is better than who the Mets already have.
That leaves one more option — a trade. Sure, technically everyone in baseball is a possible trade candidate, but there’s no one who is realistically available that would be a significant upgrade — if even an upgrade at all. There are only a few players where it would be worth it, like Ketel Marte or Jose Ramirez. Even then, Arizona and Cleveland will probably be asking for a king’s ransom in return, and what the Mets would have to give up might not even be worth the upgrade from what’s already in house.
I know Mets fans are craving another move, but just because the big moves happened before the lockout doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything! It’s just been a while because baseball took a three-month hiatus. The Mets were actually proactive and got the signings done early — that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.