Let’s face it, Mets fans were disappointed with the lack of big moves before the trade deadline. This isn’t news. The additions of Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin, Darin Ruf, and Mychal Givens didn’t fix the team’s needs, neither short- nor long-term.
As it stands, the Mets have big decisions ahead this offseason, with many players set to hit free agency. Some of them will be missed greatly if a deal isn’t reached, while others I will personally pay for their trip out of Flushing.
Let’s dive into it, starting with position players, then looking at pitchers.
Brandon Nimmo (OF): Brandon Nimmo is coming off arguably the best season of his career, blasting 16 home runs in 151 games with a .274/.367/.433 slash line. He produced 5.4 wins above replacement, better than his previous career-high of 4.8. Nimmo has been an integral part of the Mets over the last few seasons and improved mightily in the outfield. Previously there were questions about whether he was the right guy for center field and he proved many wrong, making many clutch, and game-saving/lead-preserving, plays at the wall.
Nimmo is a homegrown player that was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft. He debuted in June 2016 and has become a staple both on the roster and as part of the culture of this team. The Mets organization sees his value, and Nimmo wants to stay in the franchise, even saying he was open to a contract extension at camp before the season and reiterating such after the season.
A deal must get done to bring him back, as he will be sorely missed if they can’t come to an agreement.
Daniel Vogelbach (1B/DH): Acquired at the trade deadline this past August, Daniel Vogelbach quickly won the hearts of many fans. The hope was for Vogelbach to be an offensive weapon at the DH position and as a left-handed option in pinch-hitting situations. And although Vogey had his best career statistically, he came up small in big moments, including during the heat of the pennant race and the Wild Card series. A journeyman in the league, having played on the Mariners, Blue Jays, Brewers, and Pirates before being shipped to New York, Vogelbach had a slash line of .255/.393/.436 with six home runs in 183 plate appearances—a tremendous improvement on his career totals of .218/.343/.411.
Vogelbach has a $1.5 million club option for 2023. But it’s important to note that while he fills a void in a weak spot for the team, he isn’t the best available option. The Mets can look to free agents like J.D. Martinez or Trey Mancini to provide an offensive spark in a roster that desperately needs reliable and consistent players.
Tyler Naquin (OF): Tyler Naquin was another player added before the trade deadline. He had a hot start with the Mets, hitting a double, two triples, and three home runs with seven RBI in 10 games.
But after that, he produced virtually nothing. In 123 at-bats, he had a .203 batting average with 13 RBI. There is no way the Mets pay for him to stay with the club. Good riddance.
Jacob deGrom (RHP): Probably the biggest free agent in all of MLB, aside from Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom’s career with the Mets may be over. If that’s true, it will be hard to replace him. deGrom has been a vital member of the starting rotation and the franchise since being called up in 2014. His accolades with the organization include back-to-back Cy Young Awards, Rookie of the Year, four-time All-Star, and the ERA Title. Here’s the truth though: deGrom has been plagued with injuries that have kept him out of the rotation regularly for the past few seasons. And he isn’t getting any younger. Now at 34 years old, deGrom is coming off a season in which he had a 5-4 record with a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts. Over the last three seasons, he started in 12 (2020), 15 (2021), and 11 (2022) games. Prior to the COVID-shortened season in 2020, he started in at least 30 games going back to 2017. It’s a sad reality that deGrom, who helped lead the Mets to the World Series in 2015, might not be donning the blue and orange next year. If that’s the case, some of the free agents on this list might just stay with the team out of necessity to have a decent starting rotation.
Taijuan Walker (RHP): Taijuan Walker enters free agency with a $6 million player option for 2023. He is coming off one of the best seasons of his career—157.1 IP (29 games started), 132 strikeouts, 12 wins (career high), 3.49 ERA (tied for career high), 1.19 WHIP, 13 quality starts, 0.86 HR/9, and a 2.2 fWAR. Although he didn’t necessarily excel in the second half, with a 4.80 ERA over 65.2 innings, including a terrible month of August in which he posted a 6.98 ERA over 19.1 innings, Walker’s two years with the Mets were average.
I don’t see him as someone necessary to retain, as there is a vast number of starting pitchers set to hit the market, including Carlos Rodón (11.1 WAR), Aaron Nola (10.7 WAR), and Nathan Eovaldi (6.7 WAR).
Chris Bassitt (RHP): The Mets traded for Chris Bassitt in March 2022 and the parties agreed on a one-year, $8.8 million contract. The deal included a mutual $19 million option for 2023, with a $150,000 buyout. It was reported earlier in the season Bassitt was open to remaining with the team long-term. “From my standpoint, I am very surprised at how much I like it here, to be honest,” Bassitt told Joel Sherman of the New York Post in May. The 33-year-old starting pitcher was a great addition to the rotation and he held his own in a large market. He performed well—for the most part—under the pressure that comes with pitching in a city like New York. Bassitt stepped up when deGrom and Max Scherzer were injured and posted a 3.42 ERA with a 15-9 record. He had a 3.2 WAR and 1.145 WHIP with 19 quality starts—a career high.
Still, when the Mets needed him to produce late in the season, he squandered the opportunity in big moments. He went 6.2 innings and allowed seven runs in his last two starts of the season. Despite all that, Bassitt needs to be one of the Mets’ top priorities to bring back next year.
Carlos Carrasco (RHP): Carlos Carrasco came to the Mets in 2021 as part of a blockbuster trade with the now Cleveland Guardians. He spent a majority of his first season on the injured list, only making 12 starts for an abysmal 1-5 record with a staggering 6.04 ERA. He pitched much better in his second year with New York, maintaining his health and starting 29 games for a 15-7 record with a 3.97 ERA and 11 quality starts.
If the Mets choose to stick with him, the final year of his deal originally signed with Cleveland could pay him $14 million in 2023 on a team option. The Mets could also pay $3 million to buy him out. The Mets need to bank on Carrasco staying healthy for it to be worth keeping him with the organization next year.
Trevor Williams (RHP): Trevor Williams signed a one-year, $3.9 million contract with the Mets and is an unrestricted free agent. Williams was a multi-faceted addition, making starts and coming in for long-relief when needed. His 3-5 record and 3.21 ERA don’t tell the whole story of his season. He was a reliable tool in the 30 games he played. In 89.2 innings, he had 84 strikeouts with a 1.5 WAR and 1.227 WHIP.
Along with him being welcome to a return to the Mets, I would retain him on a cheap short-term contract as he serves multiple purposes.
Trevor May (RHP): The Mets and Trevor May agreed to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. He had a decent first year in New York, with a 7-3 record, four saves, and 3.59 ERA. But his second season left much to be desired. His 2-0 record meant nothing as his ERA ballooned to 5.04 in 25 innings. May spent time on the injured list and allowed 14 earned runs with four home runs.
There are plenty of relievers to choose from this offseason. So long, Trevor.
Mychal Givens (RHP): New York acquired Mychal Givens in a trade with the Cubs prior to the 2022 deadline on an expiring deal with a $3.5 million mutual option for 2023. With Chicago, he pitched to a 6-2 record with a 2.66 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 51 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. Givens was added to bolster the bullpen and did well under the bright lights of the big city. He had a 7-3 record with two saves, a 3.38 ERA, 71 strikeouts, a 0.8 WAR and 1.321 WHIP in 59 games.
As mentioned before, there is a large pool of relief pitchers that could make a bigger splash than Givens—especially a lefty, as the Mets need more in their bullpen. Sayonara.
Seth Lugo (RHP): Seth Lugo signed a one-year, $3.925 million contract with the Mets before the 2022 season and is now an unrestricted free agent. Over the years, Lugo has gone from Mr. Dependable to a streaky bullpen pitcher. He has left plenty to be desired, with a career 3.48 ERA since 2016—3.60 ERA in 2022 in 62 games. In 2022, he allowed 26 earned runs and nine home runs across 65 innings. It seems like his time in Flushing is coming to an end.
This tweet pretty much sums up Lugo this season.
Adam Ottavino (RHP): The Mets added an experienced arm in Adam Ottavino to strengthen the bullpen ahead of 2022. He signed a $4 million, one-year deal. Ottavino’s pitching arsenal features a breaking slider that leaves batters in a tizzy. This season, he was the perfect set-up pitcher for closer Edwin Díaz. He had a 6-3 record with three saves and a 2.06 ERA—his second-best ERA in 11 seasons in the Majors. Over 65.2 innings, he allowed 15 earned runs with 79 strikeouts.
Ottavino’s track record shows he can handle pitching in New York and the Mets need to do whatever they can to keep him in the bullpen next year.
Edwin Díaz (RHP): Last but not least is closer Edwin Díaz, who came to the Mets in a blockbuster trade with the Mariners, that also saw Robinson Canó in a Mets uniform. When the trade first took place, Mets fans were stunned the organization gave up one of the top prospects in baseball in Jarred Kelenic. And it seemed as though the Mariners pulled a fast one on the Mets and won the trade easily. Despite Díaz being underwhelming initially, he finally turned into the cornerstone of the Mets and the closer the team has been searching for for years. Díaz came into his own in New York and every time he entered the game, Mets fans expected electricity. From his entrance to Narco by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet to his scorching fastball and slider, Díaz became one of few legends to don the blue and orange.
This season Díaz had 32 saves in 61 games with a 1.31 ERA and 3.2 WAR. As if those stats don’t speak for themselves, here are a few more: 0.90 FIP, 50.2 K%, 42.6 K-BB%, and 24 FIP-. He is by far the best free agent closer, and the Mets know this. Steve Cohen will dole out the money to keep the fan-favorite Díaz, who could become the highest-paid reliever in baseball history, and wants to work out a deal to stay in New York.
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