The free agency of George Springer is likely to come down to the Mets and Blue Jays.
Jon Heyman’s tweet on December 31st claimed the two franchises are in a bidding war for Springer that has gone north of $100 million.
The stakes in the National League have been raised further by the Padres’ pair of headline trades for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. The Mets have work to do, and it’s no surprise to see them in the mix for Springer. He was 96th in xwOBA last season, and even into his thirties, he remains a plus defender, which would be a marked upgrade on Brandon Nimmo, who has struggled in center.
Adding arms behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman in the starting rotation is tempting. Swinging a trade for an infielder cannot be ruled out either. With Steve Cohen’s riches, the Mets are in position to take on salary even with $132 million already committed next season, putting them ninth in MLB payroll.
Mets’ elite outfield
Going five or six years for Springer, at well over $20 million per season, is not outrageous. The Mets might not have the prospect depth to trade like the Padres have, but they have the financial backing to pick up elite players. And, make no mistake, that’s exactly what Springer is. He’s a top tier offensive player, even if his performances have at times been overlooked on a stacked Astros team.
The Mets had great outfield production last season. Put Springer in the outfield alongside Michael Conforto, with Nimmo and Jeff McNeil getting plenty of time, and you have potentially the best outfield group in MLB (or at least a close second to the Dodgers’ all-time combination of Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger).
J.T. Realmuto is not going to be a Met. Trevor Bauer‘s contract demands are likely far beyond what Springer wants, and Bauer brings his own catalogue of challenges. With McCann signed long-term, Springer is the marquee free agent who makes most sense for the Mets. After all the expectation, not signing any of this offseason’s ‘big three’ would be a disappointment.
The Phillies are cutting payroll. The Braves keep getting better. The Nationals are trying to be good and the Marlins are hoping to build on a strong 2020. Cohen and the Mets can set a marker down in the NL East by signing Springer.