3 players the Mets correctly passed on, and 1 they should have signed

Kris Bryant, Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies
Kris Bryant, Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The New York Mets have emerged from a volatile offseason significantly improved – but it’s fair to wonder whether they were right or wrong in passing on some big-name players.

Yes, there were plenty of headlines for the Mets this winter. They have new leadership in the front office with general manager Billy Eppler and in the dugout with Buck Showalter. They added future Hall-of-Famer Max Scherzer and first-time All-Star Chris Bassitt to a rotation recently named the best in baseball. They fortified the lineup with veterans like Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha.

But for all the work done, there were just as many names linked to the Mets who won’t be calling Citi Field home in 2022.

Several key holdovers from the 2021 team like Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto, Javier Baez, and Aaron Loup did not break camp with the Mets in Port St. Lucie this spring. Other notable free agents such as Kris Bryant, Kevin Gausman, and Carlos Rodón were rumored to be in talks with the Mets, but ultimately signed elsewhere.

Did the Mets make the right choices? Were there missed opportunities, or conversely, opportunities rightly left alone?

The perception of a team winning or losing the offseason, as the saying goes, doesn’t necessarily predicate future performance. No one will really know the answers to these questions until games are played. With that said, let’s look at three players the Mets were wise to pass on in free agency and one who they might regret letting go.

Wise to pass on: Kris Bryant

Bryant was linked to the Mets as a potential trade deadline target back in early 2021 before going to San Francisco and helping the Giants win a division title. Naturally, rumors connecting Bryant and the Mets resurfaced once the four-time All-Star hit free agency this past winter.

The second overall pick in the 2013 draft made an immediate impact upon debuting with the Chicago Cubs just two years later. Bryant won National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 and the Most Valuable Player award the following year as part of the Cubs’ first World Series championship team in over a century.

After a top-10 MVP finish in 2017, however, Bryant hasn’t quite reached the high bar he set for himself since. He was limited to 102 games in 2018, rebounded to a .903 OPS in 2019, but then sunk to just a .206 batting average in 2020 as the Cubs’ championship window came to an end.

Bryant has enhanced his value in recent years with defensive versatility, having played six defensive positions in 2021. And yes, he did have a productive year offensively, with 25 home runs and a .835 OPS split between Chicago and San Francisco.

But the reality is that Bryant’s stock has changed as he enters his age 30 season. After averaging over 6 Wins-Above-Replacement his first three seasons (per Baseball-Reference), the veteran has just 10.5 WAR total in the four years since.

Ultimately, Bryant parlayed that performance into a seven-year, $182 million deal with the Colorado Rockies – a surprise considering the team’s faint chances of competing in the short-term. While he certainly would have added versatility and an experienced playoff bat, the Mets were wise not to overpay.