As the Mets start to head to Port St. Lucie, let’s look into their offseason, and upcoming year.
Brodie and the rest of the front office acted quickly to sign a new manager, after parting ways with Carlos Beltran, and they made the right move signing Luis Rojas. He has already managed many of the Mets core guys and he is already familiar with the roster. Even if the Mets were to hire a experienced manager, them too would have a tough time getting to know the whole organization and getting the team ready for this upcoming season; in such a short period of time. Rojas was the best guy for the job as he already has been in Florida studying the players and looking for ways for them to improve. Rojas also believes in analytics – and as Mets fans know, Mickey Callaway was not into the numbers at all; which caused the Mets many losses, and was also the reason they did not make the postseason. It is also an encouraging sign to see many players excited for their new manager.
Let’s now jump into the roster, as the Mets have built a strong team across all the aspects of the game.
First off, they have one of the top rotations in the whole MLB.
Starting of with the best pitcher in baseball Jacob deGrom. Jake had one of the best performances by a pitcher in a recent memory posting a ERA of 1.70 and finishing 5th in the MVP voting in the 2018 season. He also had a WAR of almost 10. He did not disappoint in 2019, winning the Cy-Young award for the second straight year – posting a ERA of 2.43. He also increased his win total from 10 to 11 as well as striking out hitters 255 times.
The Mets #2 pitcher – Noah Syndergaard – is coming off one his worst seasons ever. He posted a ERA of over 4. Syndergaard has the potential to be a top pitcher in this league as he has had some phenomenal performances throughout his career. In 2016 he was able to provide a big boost to the starting rotation and he was a big reason the Mets were able to make the postseason.
Marcus Stroman will serve as the third pitcher in the rotation. The Mets were able to acquire the former gold glove winner at the deadline, but the cost was high as the Mets had to part ways with 2 of their top pitching prospects. Stroman must bounce back from a rough start to his Mets career. This is going to be a very important season for Stroman because he is going to be in his contract year.
Steven Matz will likely be the 4th pitcher in the rotation. Matz has had his struggles especially in the first inning. This led to Matz coming out of the bullpen before the all star break. But he was able to have a better second half of the season and finished with a winning record of 11-10.
Even though the Mets lost Zach Wheeler to the Phillies. They were able to add former Cy-Young award winner Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to 1 year deals to try and negate the loss of Wheeler.
The Mets now have something they did not have in 2019, which is solid pitching depth. The Mets now have 6 starting pitchers. Definitely a wise move, as the Mets now have a starting caliber pitcher that can come out of the bullpen and pitch multiple innings, or a solid backup in case of injury.
Wilson Ramos will have the opportunity to catch these talented pitchers. He is a defensive liability, but his bat gives the Mets lineup a big boost. He finished his first season with the Mets with a .288 batting average, and enjoyed a 26 game hitting streak that included some huge hits late in the game which gave the Mets several big wins. The Mets have Rene Rivera, as well as Tomas Nido to back up Ramos. The Mets will be able to play Nido late in games as he is the team’s top defensive catcher.
The Mets infield consists of 3 extremely exciting and young stars and a very experienced veteran.
It starts with Pete Alonso. He had a marvelous 2019 rookie season. There was a tough decision the Mets had to make before the season started, and that was if Alonso should start in the Majors. If the Mets kept Alonso in the minors for a couple of weeks the Mets would gain 1 more year of control on his rookie contract. The choice that was made to have Alonso start in the Majors could not have turned out any better.
He led the league in home runs with 53, and won Rookie of the Year. Additionally, he broke the rookie home run record, won the home run derby and he also was able to improve his glove as the season went on. Alonso after just one season is now the new face of the franchise.
Last offseason the Mets traded multiple prospects as well as veterans for Robinson Cano (and Edwin Diaz). Cano unfortunately faced multiple injuries throughout the season, that ruined his year. Despite having injuries, Cano was able to provide leadership to a rather younger team. He was also able to play in 107 games.
To the left of Cano, the Mets have Amed Rosario. The young shortstop is coming off of his best season offensively. He had a .287 batting average and was able to stay healthy the whole season. His glove was a problem, however, he is still very young and has a lot of time to develop. Ultimately, if his glove doesn’t get better, there is no need for the Mets to trade for a replacement because 2 of the Mets top prospects are shortstops; including Andres Gimenez, who is expected to make it to the majors this season.
At 3rd base, the Mets have plenty of options. There is Jeff McNeil who is one of the best contact hitters in the game. He is the most versatile player on the team. He can play 2nd, 3rd and both corner outfield spots. McNeil also batted .318 this past season and will definitely be in the starting lineup.
J.D. Davis is another option. He too can play both 3rd as well as left field. There is also Jed Lowrie, who was signed last offseason to a 2 year / $20 million deal. However, he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out for almost the whole season. He returned in September and got 6 at bats but did not have a hit.
In the end McNeil should get the starting job at 3rd. At all of these infield spots there are plausible backup options. On Alonso’s days off, Dom Smith or newly acquired Matt Adams can slide right in. At 2nd the Mets can slide McNeil over and put Lowrie or Davis at 3rd. Rosario stayed healthy throughout the whole last season, but just in case Luis Guillorme or young Gimenez would both be solid options. The infield has many electrifying players and there is no reason for a change.
In the outfield the team also has many options.
Brandon Nimmo will likely start in center field. That is where many fans want a change. Starling Marte looked like a guy the Mets were interested in. But there was no benefit to doing it. Marte is coming off a decent season offensively, having a batting average of .295 – though he also had his defensive struggles. Taking out 26 year old Nimmo and replacing him with 31 year old Marte who is making over $11 million this year just doesn’t make sense. Marte was traded to Arizona earlier this week, which is a huge relief to Mets fans.
There is truly no need to bring anyone in, as Nimmo is a guy who will likely be hitting towards the top of the lineup. Plus, the Mets already traded for a center fielder earlier this offseason. 2 prospects were traded in order to bring in Jake Marisnick from Houston. He has a above average glove, so the Mets can always just put Marisnick in late in games.
In left field will be J.D. Davis. He was also brought in from Houston. He had a fine first season in Flushing, hitting 22 homers and having a .307 batting average.
There is also versatile Dom Smith, who is a natural 1st baseman – but as Alonso is likely to be keeping that spot for the foreseeable future, that leads Smith to the outfield.
Yoenis Cespedes is another player that can play that position. The problem is no one really knows if he is fully healthy and will be ready for the start of the season. He didn’t play at all last season, as he was originally out with an ankle injury, and then he was involved in an incident on his ranch which he injured his other ankle which officially ended his season.
Michael Conforto will have the starting spot in right. Conforto is one of the top hitters on this stacked offensive team. The 2019 season was one of his strongest seasons in the majors so far hitting 33 home runs, 92 runs batted in, as well as staying healthy – playing 151 games.
Come Opening Day, the starting outfielders will likely include J.D Davis, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. The team will definitely be fine, despite that trio not being he best defensively, because they will always be able to make switches late in the game to get the best fielders in the outfield.
Now to the part where the Mets had the most problems last year: the bullpen.
Going into last season, the team – including myself – had thought they have acquired the closer of the future, Edwin Diaz. Coming off an All-Star season with 57 saves and only allowing 5 home runs, Diaz was horrible, to say the least, for his first season in New York. He didn’t even have half off his saves from 2018 with 26 out of 33 opportunities, also letting up 15 homers. He was moved out off the closer’s role, which led to Diaz playing all over the bullpen ranging from pitching in low pressure spots to being the set up man. Diaz will presumably not start the season as the closer. Though, there is reason for optimism for him, as he has been working with former Met, Pedro Martinez during this current offseason.
The closer will likely be Seth Lugo. He ended last season in this position and he exceeded expectations, finishing off with 6 saves and also winning 7 games throughout the process. He even won Reliever of the Month in July. He was definitely the most reliable guy out of the pen last season; but Justin Wilson was right there with him.
Wilson was brought in on a 2 year deal last offseason. He was injured and out for an extended period during the season, but when he returned – he was dominant. Towards the end of the season, the Mets heavily depended on Lugo and Wilson. On one night there would be Lugo pitching the 9th, and if he was rested he would also be out for the 8th. On the following night, Wilson would be put in the same role. If the team is fortunate enough to do this throughout the whole season, that would put them in a great spot later in the year.
Another set up man was Jeurys Familia. The Mets traded him to the A’s during the 2018 season, but when Brodie Van Wagenen became the new GM, he decided Familia is a top reliever in the league – so he gave him a 3 year contract worth $30 million. As of now this has not looked like a good signing. Familia let up 38 earned runs and 7 home runs during his 2019 campaign. Familia has been losing some weight in hopes to have a bounce back 2020 season.
The Mets best signing of the offseason was Dellin Betances. Despite only appearing in one game last season due to a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon, this deal has so much upside as Betances has already succeeded in the New York market; as he has spent his whole career in Pinstripes. Appearing in 4 All-Star games, and having a strikeout to 9 inning ratio of 14.6/9 – which is 3rd best in MLB history – does not hurt at all. Betances can also be moved around in the bullpen. Maybe a 7th inning guy to start the season; a set up role to Lugo is definitely a possibility. He also has some closing experience. If Lugo or Wilson can’t close on any given night, maybe Betances will get a shot. These guys will definitely be the focal points of the bullpen.
Though, guys like Robert Gsellman, Brad Brach, Paul Sewald, Walker Lockett and Tyler Bashlor are all likely to have a spot in the bullpen in some capacity. One of the starting pitchers – likely Michael Wacha – will also start the season in the pen.
The Mets have upgraded their bullpen for this season and has some serious potential. If the Mets can have bounce back seasons from Diaz and Familia, as well as getting Betances healthy, this bullpen will be one of the top ‘pens in the MLB.
Overall, the Mets front office has created a team that is ready to compete and have a chance to win a pennant. Luis Rojas looks like the right guy for the job. They have a rotation filled with veterans including 2 Cy-Young award winners, that will be caught by a top hitting catcher Wilson Ramos. The Mets have many young versatile players with lots of potential. With many depth pieces, the team will have options on where to play players – and now the Mets will have a strong bench. With a strong bullpen, the team can expect a higher win total than last year.
The 2020 team will look drastically different, and adding these players will help the team significantly as the team is solid in all departments. The Mets truly do not have to trade any more prospects; because all the pieces are already here.
(P/C: Jim McIsaac – Getty)