New York Mets (70-92), 4th in the NL East
Free Agents: IF Jose Reyes
The Mets’ 2017 season can be described in two words: Murphy’s Law.
That’s because anything that could have went wrong did go wrong. The Mets, who entered the year as legitimate contenders to reach the World Series for the second time in three seasons, had over 10 players miss significant time with injuries, including starters Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores. The injuries, along with poor play all around the diamond, led the Mets to their first 90-loss campaign since 2009.
If there is one silver lining out of this terrible season, it is that the Mets have started to make some changes. The first was not bringing back Terry Collins as manager and hiring former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway to lead the club in 2018.
One of Callaway’s big tasks will be to build this club’s pitching staff back to being the strength of the team like it was in 2015 after it ranked near the bottom in the majors in batting average against (29th with .273), hits (29th with 1,538), ERA (28th with 5.01), walks (27th with 593) and OPS (27th with .794). Last year with the Indians, he guided a pitching staff that set major-league records in strikeouts (1,614), strikeouts per nine innings (10.1) and WAR (31.7) plus led the majors in ERA (3.30).
The Mets have virtual locks in the rotation with Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. After them, it depends on the health and performances of Harvey, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler and Seth Lugo. Which is why the Mets may target a veteran starter on the free agent market to provide consistency on the staff, something general manager Sandy Alderson has previously talked about doing.
In addition to a starter, the Mets may look into signing another reliever, a big bat to put in the middle of the order and either a second or third baseman, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Though the Mets plan to have their payroll for next year trimmed by $20 million, Sherman says the Mets can find effective relievers on the cheap in order to make a bullpen that features Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins a strength and alleviate some of the stress on the starters. Some names Sherman threw out there were Pat Neshek, Bryan Shaw, Joe Smith, Tony Watson, Oliver Perez. Brandon Morrow, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Dunning, Addison Reed and Mike Minor.
As for the bat, the Mets are in desperate need of one, but top-notch bats such J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer will command a ton of money. If they can, they may try to reunite with Jay Bruce, who they traded to the Indians in August. Bruce, who finished the year with 36 home runs and 101 RBI, would provide flexibility in the outfield and at first base, even though Dominic Smith played the latter position down the stretch. Bruce even said he would “absolutely” come back to New York if possible, giving them some incentive to try to go after him. They could also look into adding Lorenzo Cain so they could add depth to their outfield in case Conforto is not back for spring training.
As for the second or third base situations, the Mets can solve one of those by picking up Asdrubal Cabrera’s $8.5 million option. Cabrera can play either position and would allow the Mets the flexibility to try to pursue one of the two in free agency or trade for one. If they go the free agency route, Sherman said could try to pursue Howie Kendrick, Eduardo Nunez or even Zack Cozart, who they can try to move to either position plus give a backup to Amed Rosario in case he gets hurt. If they try to trade, they could take a shot at a big name like the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson, as Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe suggested. But, the Mets may not want to deal three top-10 prospects and/or an established pitcher — the probable asking price for Donaldson — in order to get him.