No baseball executive has a completely clean resume. There's a coffee stain or four on everyone's record. At some point, even the most clever front office personnel sliced their finger on the corner and dabbed a little bit of blood over their high school GPA. Newly appointed New York Mets President of Baseball Operations David Stearns has a few blunders he'd like to forget.
The Mets are no strangers to roster mistakes. With only one playoff win in the last 8 seasons, there have been plenty of errors with roster construction and the choices they’ve made to fill out the spots.
Stearns is no wizard. This doesn't mean he'll be stuck getting hit with repeating mistakes made by Billy Eppler or his predecessors. Knowing his recent Mets history will help him from quickly repeating some of those same trappings that hurt the team. We can only hope that this offseason and moving forward he’s smart enough to avoid repeating these ones that still hurt.
1) Letting the wrong free agents walk
One of the best recent moves the Mets made was trading for Chris Bassitt. Their mistake was letting him leave. Bassitt was a perfect Mets pitcher whose only smear was coming up short in his final starts for the team. Sadly, being the starting pitcher on their 2022 elimination game hasn't worn off even if he’d need to have been nearly perfect to overcome the one-hit performance his offense assisted with.
Still, the Mets should have kept him around. The ball club chose to go in a very different direction with their starting rotation. They replaced three of their free agents with three others. Only Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco, whose option was picked up for the 2023 season, slid over to the next year. Imagine if the Mets chose to keep Bassitt over Carrasco or free agent addition Jose Quintana.
It was probably never meant to be as the Mets instead went for cheaper contracts, bringing in Kodai Senga (awesome) and Quintana who looks much more expendable for the long-term outlook.
The Mets didn't give up a whole lot to get Bassitt so perhaps there wasn't the struggle to keep him longer to justify the deal. Either way, this may have been a case of the Mets ignoring the consistent numbers Bassitt had been posting for years at the risk of him becoming a payroll burden at the end of his contract.
Bassitt falls right there in line with Zack Wheeler and Daniel Murphy before him. Bassitt led the American League with 16 wins and 33 starts in 2023. His 3.60 ERA was only slightly higher than the 3.42 he had in his one year with the Mets. He went up against a league-high 826 different batters. On a team like the Mets with a whole lot of questions in the bullpen, Bassitt would have made a difference.