Sunday, November 1, 2020

Decisions, Decisions

The Mets made a qualifying offer to pitcher Marcus Stroman today. If he accepts, he gets $18.9 million to stay here for one more year. If he rejects the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mets get a draft pick. This is a no-brainer for the Mets, who retain Stroman for a year at a fairly reasonable price if he accepts their offer.

Given the current climate, it might actually make sense for Stroman to accept the offer and reenter free agency after next season. The economic outlook will likely be a bit brighter. The Mets can't make a second qualifying offer to him, so there will be no loss of a draft pick for any team signing him then. Stroman has 10 days to accept or decline the offer, which gives him and his agent some time to feel out the market. If he does decline the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mets get draft pick compensation. That would come in handy to offset a loss of a pick if they sign a free agent who had a qualifying offer.

Dellin Betances also exercised his $6 million player option, which could be good for the Mets as long as he bounces back at least closer to what he was with the Yankees. If he continues to struggle to regain velocity, not so much. Brad Brach also exercised his $2 million option. He was good for the Mets in a small sample size at the end of 2019, then pretty bad in a small sample size this past season. $2 million would be life-changing for most of us, but it's chump change in MLB. If things play out the way I hope, Betances and Bach will have a good amount of competition for bullpen slots next season.

Now things start to get much more interesting. It might be a done deal, but I'll still breathe a sigh of relief when all of the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed and Steve Cohen officially takes over this team. That has obvious implications for the pursuit of free agents, but there are other things to watch for, too. The Mets will look at the players who become unrestricted free agents when teams decline their options and decide if they are interested in any of those players.

A complicating factor here is that there is no guarantee that there will be a DH in the National League in 2021. It would have to be negotiated with the players as it was this season. The players will want it, as it creates a starting job with all of the NL clubs. I assume the League will attempt to negotiate some sort of expanded playoffs for 2021 in exchange, but nothing is certain here until an agreement is reached. NL teams like the Mets are likely to base some of their offseason activity on what they see is the most likely outcome for the DH rule next season.

December 2 is the non-tender deadline. Teams will have to decide whether to offer a contract to pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players on their roster, i.e. all of the young players with less than six years of service time. If they don't, these players become unrestricted free agents. Teams will likely be cutting loose a record number of these young players this season, and this is a good place for a team like the Mets to deepen their roster. For what it's worth, there is somewhat of a consensus that the Mets will be more aggressive in deepening their 40-man roster than in pursuing top free agents.

I said Friday that I believe the most likely scenario is that the Mets sign one top free agent and devote the rest of their efforts to deepening their roster. Honestly, though, it wouldn't shock me if they signed a couple of top guys or, conversely, they didn't sign any of them. I suspect Alderson and his team will put value on free agents they will pursue. If the bidding stays reasonable, they might snare a couple. If the price gets too high, they'll let them go.

The one guy that interests me the most is George Springer. I've read conflicting reports on how much longer he can remain a viable centerfielder. If the Mets evaluate him for at least a couple more seasons there, I think he'd be my #1 target in front of Realmuto. He's a better hitter than Realmuto. Springer's bat in the middle of the lineup would look mighty good, and he'd make them less lefty-heavy. With Céspedes gone, the only impact right-handed bat is Alonso, provided he bounces back. Take this with a grain of salt, obviously, as I am the guy with a blog, not a front office job.

I do think that it's really likely that the Mets will prioritize roster depth over big-name signings. It's their most obvious weakness and the biggest flaw that has kept them out of the playoffs in recent years. What I really wonder about is trades. I think they're going to make some, but I don't feel confident at all in predicting what sort of deals they would be willing to do. If they trade major league players such as Nimmo, Rosario, and Davis, that's going to obviously have a negative impact on roster depth. If they trade from the small number of impact prospects they have, that's going to deplete talent from a system that is in desperate need of adding talent. A key part of roster depth is to have some talent at least near Major League ready, and you can't keep trading it away and hope to get there.

Man, I'm really champing at the bit to see what the new regime does. Can you tell?

I'm going to check out for today. I have a little bit of a crazier week coming up this week, but I'll figure out a way to keep some new content flowing. Please check back soon.

Please stay safe, be well and take care. Let's go Mets!

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos


  1. Is "roster depth" what they called going after the nth-level free agents during the Wilpon years? I'd sooner see them hit one or two prizes and then prioritize rebuilding the farm for the future.

  2. Well, I certainly didn't mean it that way, Reese, and I wouldn't be in favor of just accumulating a roster full of mediocrity.

  3. I can see adding some bargain-price veterans on the down side of their careers if they are only biding time for youngsters to evolve, but not to make it the core part of the rebuilding strategy as it was under they who shall remain nameless. They are like Candyman. If you say the name three times rapidly they may wreak havoc again.

  4. I'll definitely make sure not to do that :)


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