National League

With Some Creativity, The New York Mets Could Win The Winter

More than any franchise in baseball, the New York Mets can’t seem to get out of their own way. I wrote a lot about the Mets over the past year, not much was positive. Between the Matt Harvey saga, the Noah Syndergaard disaster, and all the other nonsense around this team last year, 2017 was a complete disaster for a team that went into the season thinking it had a real shot at contention.

The Mets’ best move this winter was their decision to hire Mickey Callaway as manager. But other than that, all they’ve done is resign Jay Bruce (to a pretty reasonable contract) and Jose Reyes, who seems destined now to be a Met for life, and add Adrian Gonzalez, who isn’t very good anymore.

The thing is, this winter’s Cold Stove has created a real opportunity for a team with the means and motive to scoop up some players that may have otherwise been outside of a given squad’s budget. As the second team in baseball’s largest market, the Mets certainly have the means (whatever the Wilpons say notwithstanding), so the question is: does GM Sandy Alderson have the creativity and the testicular fortitude to become a major player in the last few weeks before Spring Training?

Instead of the little moves that have provided “highlights” this offseason, the Mets should be in big. While the Washington Nationals are clearly the best team in the NL East, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ prognosticated crown as the best team in the NL West didn’t stop the Arizona Diamondbacks from trying to compete. The Diamondbacks won the Wild Card last year. I bet their fans liked those playoff games. In fact, the Nats seem to be at the trailing edge of their current window as real contenders with Bryce Harper set to test free agency in less than 12 months.

The Mets have what everyone wants- good, young, cheap starting pitching. Either they should build around it or trade some of it to bolster other parts of the roster.

Are you telling me the Mets couldn’t have put together a better offer for Giancarlo Stanton than the New York Yankees did? The Mets have a mediocre farm system, but the top is strong with Gavin Cecchini, Ahmed Rosario, and Dominic Smith all poised to contribute to the 2018 team. Sure, the Mets would want to hang on to Rosario at all costs, but the right deal could pry Cecchini or Smith away.

They missed the boat on Stanton, but what about Manny Machado? The Andrew McCutchen trade established that the market value for an MVP caliber player 1 year away from free agency isn’t all that high. Though Machado would undoubtedly require more talent heading to Baltimore than McCutchen did to get the center fielder from Pittsburgh, the Mets could and should be dealing from their stock of starting pitching to try and get what could be a difference-making infielder while he’s available.

How about Cecchini and Matt Harvey and some other mid-level prospects for Machado? That should be enough, especially considering the Orioles need all the pitching help they can get.

If the Mets were able to swing that, they’d have a hole in their rotation all of a sudden and that’s not good. Oh wait! Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, and Jake Arrieta are all available! A team from New York should be able to fit one of those guys into their budget considering the deal they’d likely get at this late date.

Basically, the Mets absolutely should trade from their stable of outfielders (they have Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto penciled in as starters but Juan Lagares [especially] and Brandon Nimmo [probably] are good enough to play on most teams) and starting pitchers to get something that can help them now.

Thinking a little bit smaller, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez don’t really make sense for this roster, but Todd Frazier is a better third baseman than Asdrubal Cabrera. Why isn’t he a Met? Jonathan Lucroy is a better catcher than Kevin Plawecki and might even better than Travis d’Arnaud.Why isn’t he a Met?

Is Jose Reyes really the best the Mets can do at second base? I don’t know why they weren’t all over Dee Gordon when he became available. Eduardo Nunez is still unsigned and would be a great addition at the top of the order in Queens. Why isn’t he a Met?

Why are they so conservative? They could do so much with their talent-laden-but-definitely-not-perfect roster; they just need to try.

-Max Frankel


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