Saturday, February 6, 2021

Where Do We Go Now?

The New York Mets will not be employing Trevor Bauer in 2021. If the details are important to you, you've already had plenty of time to read at least some of the many thousands of words written on the subject. I don't really have much to add, as most of what I would say has already been said by others. I have no idea how Trevor Bauer may have performed with the Mets had he signed here. I don't think that's something that you could extrapolate based on his performance this season with the Dodgers. Every situation is different. The Dodgers are a better team and won last year — both truths add up to less pressure on Bauer out west than there would be had he signed with the Mets. And maybe that contributed to his decision, who knows? We'll never know if Bauer would have helped the Mets contend for a championship or just flopped in New York, or more likely somewhere in between those possible outcomes.

What I do know is that I tired of Bauer's act long before he made his decision, and feel somewhat grateful that I don't have to pay too much attention to it anymore. If, on the other hand, you had really hoped for Bauer to land in New York, my condolences. Most of the chatter leading up to Bauer's decision seemed to point to the Mets signing the pitcher. It sucks to lose out on something you really wanted, particularly when your hopes were inflated. I won't be the one telling you how the Mets might have dodged a bullet, because that probably doesn't matter to you if you had your hopes set on Trevor Bauer. And, to be honest, those of us who didn't want his baggage on the Mets moved on already.

Some out there among Mets fans and even in the pundit class have dubbed the offseason of 2020-2021 a failure, primarily based on not signing one of the big three free agents — Bauer, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto. This rather conspicuously ignores the additions of Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, Trevor May and some of the lesser pickups. The Mets are significantly better than they were heading into the offseason. The real question is whether they can move on from the Bauer melodrama and put the finishing touches onto this roster. If they fail to do that and are unable to compete for the division then this whole offseason really will be a failure. On the other hand, if they do finish off the roster strongly, they can compete against the Braves and have a chance of winning the NL East. Forgive me for restating the obvious, but the true test of "winning" the offseason is graded by the W's and L's tallied up when the games count.

If the Mets went into the season with their roster as currently constructed, the biggest concerns would seem to be their bench players. As it stands now, the Mets 40-man roster has 26 spots taken up by pitchers. Of the other 14 spots, depending on how it goes with the DH rule either 8 or 9 spots will be taken up by starters. Let's say there won't be a DH and assign 8 spots to James McCann, Pete Alonso, Dom Smith, Jeff McNeill, J.D. Davis, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. Of the remaining 6 spots, 3 are backup catchers Tomas Nido, Ali Sánchez and Patrick Mazeika. That leaves 3 spots for backup infielders and outfielders. Luis Guillorme, José Martínez and Guillermo Heredia occupy those 3 slots currently. Guillorme will be a valuable contributor to this club. Martinez is most likely a RH pinch hitter, occasional outfielder and DH (provided that there is one). Heredia is a 30-year-old journeyman who has never hit at the major league level and is just an okay outfielder.

My first thought in looking at this is wondering when some of those fringe pitchers start to go. My second is, do the Mets really want to go into 2021 depending on Guillermo Heredia to be a key contributor? My third is that I doubt both Ali Sánchez and Patrick Mazeika survive the season on the 40-man, and the catching depth is still very shaky. Fourth, I assume the Mets will get a temporary spot on their 40-man by putting Noah Syndergaard on the 60-day Injured List to start the season. Even under the most optimistic scenarios he's not expected to pitch for them before June.

Okay, so here are a few thoughts:

  • I'd like to see the Mets pursue Jackie Bradley Jr for CF. He'll be a huge upgrade defensively, and they could live with another LH bat. I wouldn't give him more than 3 years however, even if it might frustrate some of us to see another target sign elsewhere.

  • Marwin González is a guy the Mets have been linked to, although it remains to be seen if that's because the club is really pursuing him or just because it seems to make so much sense with Kiké Hernández off the board. González is a major league bat who can play multiple positions. The Mets have a real need for that kind of player.

  • There have been plenty of rumors of the Mets looking to deal one or more from the group of Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances and (possibly) Brad Brach to clear some salary. If they do this, I would like to see them go after one more established reliever. Seems unlikely that they'd be able to trade Familia or Betances without taking on someone else's bad contract, however, but you never know.

  • The Mets should at least be talking to some of the upside starting pitching candidates. Right now it looks like David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi are the fourth and fifth starters. Why not try to lure a James Paxton or Taijuan Walker here? The benefit to them would be a great chance to earn a rotation spot out of spring training. If they get hurt, there's reinforcements coming.

  • Trades are still a possibility, particularly if the Mets can pull it off without asking another team to take on a lot of money. I think they want to be careful about giving up too much in the way of prospects.

  • I'm not a big advocate for signing Justin Turner. He's not likely to take a 1-year deal with the Mets, and signing him to a multi-year contract at this stage of his career would be as dumb as letting him go the first time around.

I'd be shocked if there weren't more additions before spring training. Given that we're only a couple of weeks out, I'd expect to see some moves soon. They don't have to spend the whole $40 million they saved when Bauer signed with LA, but it would be baseball malpractice not to make some additions to this roster.

To finish up, I'd like to complete a point I started making about Bauer at the beginning of this post. When he signed with the Dodgers, my first thought was playing for the Dodgers was the easier choice for Bauer. Like I said, the Dodgers are coming off a championship and have so much talent in place already. His big contract inherently puts pressure on him, but not the kind of pressure that signing with the Mets would have brought.

If Bauer had signed with the Mets, put up top-of-the-rotation numbers and was a key contributor to a Mets playoff run, possibly even a World Series, he would have been a huge rock star here. That same opportunity doesn't exist in LA, where they already have huge stars and a championship. Conversely, however, not pitching to the level of his contract would definitely have brought down more heat on Bauer here than it would if it doesn't go great in LA.

You can't convince me that those obvious facts didn't weigh in his final decision, which brings a couple of questions to my mind. The first is, do you really want to pay $40 million to the guy who elected not to perform on the greatest stage? The second is, for everyone that wants to win now, win now, f**k the future, can you see that the machine that took the Dodgers years to build is very much preferable in the long run? The Dodgers weren't an instant success once their new ownership took over, but folks weren't so fast to declare failure every time things didn't come out their way. This is only year one of the Cohen ownership. There's a lot of work still to be done. If they do it right, it will be easier to convince free agents to come here. They'll be able to be a bit more discriminating on who they pursue, also.

By the way, to lighten things up, for those of you who weren't entertained by Trevor Bauer's sophomoric attempts to go viral, here's an example of social media that's much more entertaining and truly cool:


That will do it for me today. Please stay safe, be well and take care.



 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

6 comments:

  1. Excellent .. both the words (I agree with it all) ... and the bat!

    I want to see better outfield defense, but I am more worried about the depth and a 6 week injury to either McCann or Lindor.

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  2. I am happy they didn't spend that kind of money on a third or fourth starter. After all, many one hit wonders won awards and faded into oblivion.

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  3. I just saw that they signed Albert Almora. I don't know that he's that much of an upgrade over Heredia. Better defender, but his bat has been so bad for the last 2 years he'd be almost unplayable. Maybe change of scenery gets him back to close to an average hitter.

    Reese, I don't often root against guys, but I'd love to see Bauer fade into oblivion

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  4. I am not crazy about the Almora signing - I thought Bradley was a better option, but looks like they aren't going there now.

    For Almora, I suspect the incident where his foul ball hit the little kid got into his head. It also looks like he might change his approach to try for more power in 2019. Maybe a reunion with his old hitting coach Chili Davis will help.

    I agree about Bauer - really hoping that both Carrasco and Stroman outpitch him this year.

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  5. IMO, Bauer to LA is the best possible outcome for the Mets. Now they can go on with filling the roster holes with quality while remaining under the CBT limit.

    Looks like the JBJ ship has sailed. I'm not a fan of the Almora signing, but without a resolution if the DH question, it will have to do. I am still hoping that Drew Ferguson emerges as the best CF backup during spring training. If the powers that be decide that the DH returns in 2021, they can always trade for Randal Grichuk. I think Toronto would love to unload his salary.

    I would love for Sandy's next act to be a trade for Gray and Suarez from Cincy. (Castillo instead of Gray is probably too much to hope for.) Maybe they could involve Cleveland in a 3 way, sending Rosario to the Reds, with us including Familia to Cincy as a salary offset.

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  6. I like your proposal, Herb. I do think a trade like that one is a real possibility.

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