The Mets have mounted a strong start to their offseason. They first hired former Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway to fill their managerial vacancy, who has groomed one of the best rotations in the league in his time in Cleveland and helped them win the American League pennant in 2016. They have then hired former Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland, who helped cultivate one of the stronger bullpens in the majors a couple of years back, going to the point of beating the team he now coaches in the World Series in 2015. Now with free agency on the horizon in this young offseason, the Mets have several holes in their team that they need to address in order to compete in 2018.
Signing a strong middle-innings reliever
The 2017 Mets bullpen has been ranked as one of the worst pens in the majors last season. They flaunt a morbid 4.82 ERA and .312 BABIP, 2nd and 3rd worst in the league, respectively. Many of the difficulties faced by this bullpen have been caused by an over-reliance on their bullpen arms, especially in the middle of the bullpen, which has led to fatigued relievers who have allowed many runs. We’re most likely going to see a slight progression in both the rotation and the bullpen after the dreadful 2017 season with pitchers Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz all returning. Nonetheless, picking up a strong middle reliever that can blank a team for an inning or two will be paramount to this team’s success in 2018. In the emergency scenario where one of Blevins, Ramos, or Familia goes down with an injury, that reliever can also step up and be a strong late-innings arm, too. Names like Pat Neshek and Steve Cishek pop up as players that can be insanely productive in relief and will carry a meager price tag.
Signing a strong back-end starter
Beyond the potent 1-2 punch in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard lays tons of uncertainty in the back-end of the rotation. While Matt Harvey still brandishes elite stuff as a pitcher, he has struggled to regain the dominance he had in 2013 and 2015. With Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman all struggling with injuries throughout the entirety of the 2017 season, the Mets need to find a reliable starter that can give 180 innings while carrying a lean price tag. Although Lance Lynn has been a strong and reliable pitcher last year, he will likely demand the cash that a star ace would net and he carries a lot of uncertainty after coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2016. Tyler Chatwood would be a perfect signing as a 3rd, 4th, or 5th starter. He has been a workhorse in the past two seasons, pitching 158.0 and 147.2 innings respectively, while carrying a slimmer price tag than someone like Lance Lynn. It also has to be noted that he has pitched in the pitching graveyard of Coors Field, which is evident in his bloated numbers at home. If he dons the blue and orange in 2018, he will see a definite increase in production, especially in the pitcher-friendly ballpark of Citi Field.
Trading for Dee Gordon
This will be a wild card move that the Mets should pull this offseason. The Marlins have been vocal about trading their top players in order to rebuild their team for the future. One of those names is second baseman Dee Gordon. If the Mets do trade for Dee Gordon, he will bring blistering speed to a team that is in dire need of it, and is an immediate defensive upgrade at second. The only problems that face the Mets will be what the Mets are willing to give up for Gordon, and whether the Marlins will even pull the trigger on this deal. After the graduation of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to the big league level, the Mets farm system is dilapidated at this point, with their top prospects being an oft-injured Thomas Szapucki and “poor-man’s Amed Rosario” Andres Gimenez. These prospects still have good upside, but they may not be enough to sway the Marlins’ front office. However, the Marlins are adamant about moving their players, so the Mets could have the leverage at the negotiation table.
Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan