The New York Mets made several smart moves in the offseason yet many of those were quite obvious ones to make. They signed Starling Marte, the best center fielder available. Although he has gotten comfortable as the club’s right fielder instead, he was an important player to add to their outfield mix.
Signing Max Scherzer was a no-brainer and trading for Chris Bassitt looks like an absolute win for the Mets. Along with some other moves, the Mets seemed to have a perfect winter.
One gamble they did take was putting trust in second baseman Jeff McNeil. A trade candidate throughout the cold winter months, they never did pull the trigger on any deal involving him. Thank goodness they didn’t. Keeping McNeil was a smart move and it has paid off big.
The Mets gambled on Jeff McNeil rebounding and it has paid off
McNeil is seemingly back to his old ways. He’s batting .321/.390/.443 in his first 106 at-bats. Equally as promising, he has 11 walks and only 13 strikeouts. It shows off his ability to put the bat on the ball and give pitchers the satisfaction of awarding him with a walk of shame back to the dugout.
If the Mets had the option of doing something different at second base. Remember our old pal, Javier Baez? A candidate to return to the team for 2022 and beyond, they let him sign with the Detroit Tigers instead.
While McNeil has regained his reputation as a uniquely gifted hitter with the ability to find hits, Baez has struggled with the Tigers this season. He is looking like a pricy signing with little payoff for a team hoping to accelerate the rebuild process.
Baez’s time with the Mets was uncharacteristically good. A lifetime hitter of .262/.303/.474 in over 3,000 plate appearances with the Chicago Cubs, he batted .299/.371/.515 for the Mets in 186 chances. Certainly not a major factor into what the Tigers ultimately gave him, they might feel a little bit of buyer’s remorse given his slow start in 2022.
Baez is batting .222/.263/.344 after his first 90 at-bats. He has just 2 home runs for the Tigers in his first 23 games for them. This isn’t starting off like one of those all-or-nothing seasons. It is mostly nothing.
Second base has been an odd position for the Mets in recent years. Just as McNeil was establishing himself, they went out and traded for Robinson Cano. With him gone now too, it’s looking like McNeil can homestead on the property.