It’s a big offseason for the New York Mets. Free agency, contract extensions and front office changes are all on the agenda, as outlined by Craig Singleton…
Every Mets fan would have taken this outcome at the start of 2020. Having missed out on a place in the largest playoff pool in MLB history with a top five offence, this probably isn’t the expected conclusion, but it just shows the relief in Queens at the impending end of the Wilpon’s ownership.
The general assumption is that hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen will gain the support of 23 other owners and take control of the underachieving franchise and become the richest owner in the majors. As with the majority of billionaires, his past is chequered, so the first priority is making sure he is approved.
After that, there figures to be a great deal of optimism in Queens, and the news that former GM Sandy Alderson will return as president will reassure fans that baseball people will begin to make the decisions for the first time in many years.
The Mets priorities should be as follows…
Fire Brodie Van Wagenen
This analysis of his tenure by Mike Puma in the New York Post tells the story pretty well. The length of the successes compared to failures in the piece shows how disastrous his tenure has been.
The successes Puma identified were: signing DeGrom to a below market extension, (which he had to recuse himself from as his former agent), not trading stars Dom Smith and Jeff McNeil (that not trading two of your best players is on there says it all), and trading for JD Davis, which is marginal since he has no defensive position and does not hit enough to make up for it.
The failures are too long to mention here, hence linking the article, and doesn’t even include trading seven prospects for three reserve outfielders (Jake Marisnick, Keon Broxton and Billy Hamilton) or the Travis D’Arnaud fiasco.
I’m prepared to believe that BVWs hands have been tied by the meddling of the Wilpons, but he has been given larger payrolls than Sandy Alderson, yet has spent all of it badly, leaving a mess that a new GM should have the chance of fixing.
Boost the Analytics department
In Sandy Alderson’s first stint with the Mets, his Front Office spoke of implementing ‘moneyball with money.’ Unfortunately, the Madoff scandal happened and the money disappeared.
Joe Patorno has reported Cohen’s first priority is to boost an analytics department that has not seen much investment. This makes sense given Cohen’s reliance on analytics in his hedge fund business and Aldersons history in baseball.
The idea that spending money aimlessly is a way to win is false, just look at the money wasted in Anaheim and how they are wasting Mike Trout’s prime. The Dodgers should be the model for the Mets. They are great at finding unheralded players with potential, whilst also spending when it is necessary (see Mookie Betts).
The Mets cannot make the same mistake they did with Zack Wheeler.
Michael Conforto is coming off a season that he truly broke out, is a homegrown star and a leader in the clubhouse. He should be a Met for the remainder of his career, and Cohen’s money should mean the Wheeler situation doesn’t happen again.
Sign a big Free Agent
There is no point spending for the sake of it, or on positions that aren’t needed, but the Mets’ season was derailed by terrible starting pitching and defence. The two biggest names in free agency happen to be likely Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, and the best catcher in the game JT Realmuto.
Only Jacob Degrom and David Peterson are sure to start 2021 in the rotation, and with upper level starting depth depleted, internal help isn’t on the way. Pairing Bauer and Degrom would solve their biggest weakness, and create the best 1-2 starting pair in baseball.
It was difficult to watch Wilson Ramos behind the plate at times in 2020, and the Buffalo is now a free agent who will almost certainly not resign. Realmuto would give the Mets another big bat in the middle of the lineup alongside his excellent defence, and will almost certainly be on the list.
If the choice is between the two, I would go with Bauer since rotation is the biggest need, and the Mets’ projected lineup is strong enough to have a defensive minded catcher hitting 8/9 every day. Of course the preference would be both, but it is questionable whether Cohen would want to come in and spend that much in the midst of the pandemic.
It’s an exciting time to be a Mets fan, with big change expected in the coming month. The end of the Wilpons failed tenure is something to celebrate, even if the 2020 on field product was not.