Happy New Year, Mets fans. We are now only three months away from Opening Day. 2020 was a disappointment for the Mets as it was for many around the world, but now that 2020 is behind us there is a lot to look forward to as a Mets fan. Here are my bold predictions for the Metropolitans in 2021.
1. Starting off with what almost every Mets fan wants, the signing of superstar center-fielder George Springer. Springer is the top free agent on the current market, and fans have been waiting for months now with the thought of bringing him in and I think it is going to happen. Steve Cohen wants to make a major splash and this fits that perfectly.
However, a couple of days ago there were reports indicating that the Mets and Springer are far apart on a deal, but a deal is still very much on the table. This means that Springer wants some more years on the deal, while the Mets want to pay him more over a shorter period of time. This happens with almost every free agent of this caliber, but money should not be that the reason the Mets lose him if that is the case.
There’s no real reason to worry as of yet though, and the team has a good amount of money left to spend until they reach the $210,000,000 luxury tax, and they’re in need of a defensive center fielder and Springer checks that box, so the Mets should absolutely sign him.
2. Jeff McNeil will win the NL batting title and be an All-Star. The “flying squirrel” has been one of the Mets best players since he made his debut in 2018, as he is an above average defender that plays a numerous amount of positions. What is most impressive about him is his bat though. He’s not a monster at the plate like his teammate Pete Alonso, but he sure does get on base often. In 2018 he played in 63 games after being called up after the trade deadline. That year he had a batting average of .329 and finished 6th in the rookie of year voting. He shocked many and became an instant fan favorite.
In 2019, he quickly made his way into the starting lineup and a “top of the lineup” guy. Once Brandon Nimmo got hurt, McNeil was given the opportunity to be the leadoff hitter for the team, and he flourished in that role and finished the 2019 season with 133 games played and an average of .318. He made the All Star Game that year and I expect to do the same thing this year. Just this past season, he batted over .300 for the third consecutive year. McNeil is a guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform well every single night and I think this will propel to his first career batting title.
3. Steven Matz is going to have a big bounce back year. As mentioned earlier, the Mets had a disappointing 2020 and Matz was no exception. He posted a career low 9.68 ERA and was demoted to the bullpen midway through the season. Most fans have given up on Matz already, but that is premature. Many have forgotten how good he finished the 2019 season. The first half did not so well, but he really turned it around after the All Star break, he had a ERA of 3.52 and showed a lot of promise while doing so. He was the Mets best pitcher during that stretch and looked great.
It’s not right that fans and people all around MLB are dwelling on poor performances this past season. It was a shortened year where teams only played 60 games. It is very possible that players like Matz were going to fix their performance as the season progressed. Matz has shown that he can be a very reliable pitcher and he is going to have a better 2021 season. He is working with former Mets pitching coach Phil Regan during this current off-season, and hopefully that will give him his spark back. Regan was the pitching coach in 2019 when Matz had one of his best years.
4. The Mets will trade JD Davis for prospects. Earlier this week new owner Steve Cohen indicated that the team will not be making a blockbuster trade similar to the Blake Snell to San Diego deal. Cohen later in that same tweet said “the Mets farm system needs to be replenished,” and he is 100% right on both of these points. The Mets should not be looking to acquire Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor at this point in time, since the farm system is simply depleted. The farm system is currently one of the worst in the league, and rather than trading more prospects away the team should look to add more so in the future they will be able to afford superstars that are on the trading block.
JD Davis may have no spot on the roster if and when the team signs George Springer, because that would leave JD Davis with no spot to start. Rather than have him come off the bench, the team should trade him for some prospects that would help “replenish” the farm system. Davis has been one of the team’s bright spots during these last two seasons, but sadly the Mets have to move on.
5. The Mets will be playing late in October. While I have this prediction/dream almost every year, 2021 may actually be the year when the team wins their third World Series. Assuming Springer does become a New York Met, the team will have a stacked lineup. Michael Conforto and Dom Smith both had tremendous 2020 seasons and there is no reason to believe that they will not be able to repeat that in 2021. The Mets have the 2019 home run champion Pete Alonso, although he had a down year last season, but all signs are pointing to a bounce back year. Not saying that he is going to have another 53 homerun year, but only a slight bounce back would mean a big boost for the lineup.
As mentioned earlier Jeff McNeil provides the team with a very reliable hitter at the top of the lineup. Adding Springer would give the team another big bat at the top of the lineup. No pitcher is going to want to face this lineup and it is going to propel the team to a big run in the postseason. To go along with this great lineup, the team will also have one of the deadliest rotations. A rotation of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard (once healthy), Steven Matz and David Peterson may very well be the top rotation in baseball. This rotation consists of three All-Stars and two guys that very well could be all stars in the near future.
The Mets also now have a solid bullpen with the addition of Trevor May. May now joins Seth Lugo (likely to be in the bullpen), Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances and Brad Brach as the prominent relievers that will be used. If the Mets can just get a little bit more from Diaz, Familia and Betances, that would help tremendously and make this one of the top bullpens in all of baseball. The team as a whole is stacked, and this may very well be the team goes all the way.
Hopefully, 2021 is much better than 2020 and the Mets will be world champions.
Photo credit: The Athletic