The 2021-2022 New York Mets class of free agents was quite popular. Many have already signed new deals with a new team. Notably, none have returned to the Mets.
That doesn’t mean all of the free agents from the 2021 roster will tweet out the token “farewell” to the fans. There are two Mets free agents that could still return for all of the fun in 2022.
There’s an outside chance Jonathan Villar could return to the Mets
Just because the Mets have Eduardo Escobar to play third base or possibly even second base doesn’t mean Jonathan Villar’s stay with the team is completely over. As doubtful as it is that he ends up back with the Mets at this point, he is one of only two free agents that could be a realistic fit for the club.
Right now, I have the expectation that Escobar plays third base and Jeff McNeil is the second baseman. Each day, I’m a little less sure of the McNeil part of the equation.
It seems as if his days with the Mets could be numbered. If he does end up traded, the Mets have a couple of directions they could go. One of which involves bringing back Villar for a whole bunch of starts at second base.
Escobar’s time as the starting third baseman already feels like it could be short-lived with the potential rise of Mark Vientos or even Brett Baty in 2022. Unless he’s having a career year as a starting second baseman, it’s not absurd to at some point move Villar to the bench.
The problem with this plan is it doesn’t exactly fit in with the motif of the rest of the moves the Mets already made. They’re gearing up to be all in for next year. A temporary second baseman to then pave the way for a young third baseman doesn’t mesh well. While not impossible to convince fans this is the best move to make, I find it highly unlikely and a big swerve of the direction this club was headed in before the lockout.
More likely than anything else, Villar ends up as a starter with a little more guaranteed playing time. Bad teams need veterans, too. He was good enough in 2021 to get a bigger role next season.
Brad Hand is the only other Mets free agent to consider re-signing
Michael Conforto isn’t coming back. Kevin Pillar already had his chance. Don’t even get me started on Jeurys Familia.
This leaves the Mets with only a small number of reunions to make happen this winter. Free agent reliever Brad Hand is the one that makes the most sense.
Hand was a white whale for the Mets ever since Sandy Alderson rejoined the organization. They eventually landed him after some tough times with the Toronto Blue Jays post-trade deadline. His performance was far from excellent but good enough to consider him as the second lefty in the bullpen next season.
The most competition the Mets could have for Hand may come from a bad team (those bad teams LOVE getting in the way of depth moves) who give him another shot to close. Even a desperate organization (here’s looking at you, Philadelphia Phillies) may consider such a role for a befallen ex-closer with a shiny resume.
Over the last week, the stock market has taken a nosedive but reminded us of something important: buy low, sell high.
Buying Hand this winter is doing so at a low point. We’d just have to hope none of those $50 million payroll teams get any funny ideas to make their new closer 10% of the payroll.