New York Mets (70-92)
Additions: OF Jay Bruce, 3B Todd Frazier, RP Anthony Swarzak, SP Jason Vargas, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, IF Jose Reyes, SP A.J. Griffin (minor-league deal), C Josh Lobaton (minor-league deal)
Subtractions: RP Josh Edgin, OF Norichika Aoki
After having a 2017 season in which anything that could have went wrong did go wrong, the Mets needed to make some changes in an effort to get back to being a championship contender in 2018.
The Mets did so by first hiring former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway as their manager for this season. Then, they went out and signed eight players, including Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak, Jason Vargas, Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Reyes.
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 Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. After them, it depends on the health and performances of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zach Wheeler and Seth Lugo, which is why general manager Sandy Alderson went out and signed Vargas — an All-Star last year with the Royals — to a two-year, $16 million deal with a club option for 2020 so they could possibly have an innings-eater in case one of those four don’t pan out.
The Mets brought back Bruce on a three-year, $39 million contract after trading him to the Indians in a waiver-wire deal last August. Bruce, who turns 31 in April, helps give them a bat they desperately wanted to get for their lineup this year after he finished last season with 36 home runs and 101 RBI. He also provides flexibility in the outfield and at first base.
Frazier comes to the Mets on a two-year, $17 million deal after splitting time with the White Sox and the crosstown rival Yankees, who he helped reach the ALCS before they fell to the Astros in seven games. Frazier was among four infielders the Mets were interested in adding along with Eduardo Nunez, former second baseman Neil Walker and Pirates utility man Josh Harrison, but Frazier’s intangibles and versatility in the infield can help the club in the long run.
Swarzak signed a two-year, $14 million deal with New York after having a breakout season while splitting time with the White Sox and Brewers. The Mets want to have a stout bullpen this season to help out their rotation. They missed out on top relief targets Bryan Shaw and Tommy Hunter, but they now believe they have a quality bullpen with Swarzak, closer Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
The Mets signed both Reyes and Gonzalez on the cheap (Reyes for one-year, $2 million; Gonzalez for one year at the league minimum), but they are hoping the two can maximize their efforts to fill the club’s holes at first and having a good bench player. As long as he is healthy, Gonzalez is looking more and more like he will start at first for the Mets to begin the season, while Reyes will provide a utility infield role and come off the bench for Frazier, Asdrubal Cabrera or Amed Rosario.
As of right now, the Mets don’t look they will add any more big-time free agents. Alderson said during the press conference introducing Vargas that he was “confident” with the roster moving forward. But, if they have another season like they did last year, there may be more changes to come.