The time has come for this Mets fan to think about what could have been. The players the team let walk, for better or for worse. Here is a rundown of ex-Mets looking to make a deep playoff run with their new teams.
Philadelphia Phillies (87-75): Zack Wheeler (RHP), Noah Syndergaard (RHP)
Zack Wheeler spent five years with the Mets as a decent starting rotation pitcher, boasting a 3.77 ERA with a 1.294 WHIP. Wheeler was a reliable player and entered free agency in 2019. The Mets didn’t want to pay him, so he signed a five-year, $118 million contract with an NL East division rival in the Phillies where he blossomed into a dominant threat every time he stepped on the mound. During his tenure in Philadelphia, he lowered his ERA to 2.82 and his WHIP dropped to 1.045. Wheeler pitched game one of the Wild Card series against the Cardinals and did not concede a run over 6.2 innings of play. He general relies on five pitches in his arsenal: a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. A one-time All-Star, the 32-year-old has a promising future ahead of him. It’s just too bad it isn’t going to be with the Mets, but rather against them.
Noah Syndergaard had a rather bad departure from New York following an abysmal overall season by the Mets in which he didn’t pitch at all due to rehabbing an injury. Syndergaard rose to prominence as a starting pitcher with the Mets during the 2015 World Series run and was an All-Star in 2016. From 2017 to 2019 he was limited due to various injuries spanning from a hamstring issue to biceps discomfort to a torn torso muscle. He suffered elbow discomfort during spring training of 2020, and it was revealed he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, which required Tommy John surgery. Syndergaard returned to the majors after nearly two years and had two starts before the season ended. The Mets tendered him a qualifying offer for the 2022 season, but Thor took whatever talent he thought he had left in the tank to Los Angeles to join Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and the Angels. He signed a one-year, $21 million contract in November 2021 and was traded to the Phillies before the deadline this past August. Since joining Philadelphia, his ERA went from 3.83 (Angels) to 4.12 over 54.2 innings. It seems as though the days of Thor are long gone, and he will just become another legendary tale for Mets fans due to lingering injuries and a tremendous ego.
Atlanta Braves (101-61): Travis d’Arnaud (C)
Travis d’Arnaud has become an absolute weapon since being designated for assignment by the Mets in April 2019 then released a few days later. He signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Braves at the end of November 2019 after a short stint with the Rays, and the rest is history. The injury prone catcher Mets fans grew to scorn improved his play in every aspect. In 2020 he had a breakout season, batting .321/.386/.533 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 165 at bats. He also won a Silver Slugger Award as the best offensive catcher in the NL. The Braves and d’Arnaud agreed to a contract extension in August 2021 worth $16 million over two years and includes an $8 million club option for the 2024 season. d’Arnaud and the Braves went on to win the NL East that year and won the World Series. He was named to the 2022 All-Star Game roster as a reserve catcher. It seems d’Arnaud comes up big every time the Mets face Atlanta, providing clutch hits—something he came up short with in Flushing. d’Arnaud, like Wheeler, is another fever dream player for Mets players, turning into a “what could have been but never was” player after leaving the Big City.
Cleveland Guardians (92-70): Amed Rosario (SS), Andrés Giménez (Utility)
Amed Rosario made his Mets debut in 2017 and had a .268 batting average with a .705 OPS and 32 home runs over his four seasons in New York. The Mets shipped him off to Cleveland, along with Andrés Giménez and others, in a blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in January 2021. In his first season, he finished with a slash line of .282/.321/.409 with 11 home runs, 57 RBI, 77 runs, and 13 stolen bases in 141 games. Overall, since joining the Guardians, Rosario has been a key piece in the team’s success.
Andrés Giménez debuted for the Mets in 2020 and was hyped up to be a real game-changer for the team following a strong showing in the Minor League system. But his time with the Mets was short-lived, along with the expectations that he was the guy who was going to be the difference maker for New York. He had a modest .263 batting average with 12 RBI over 49 games. The young utility player was traded in the package for Lindor and Carrasco and was named an All-Star in 2022, because that’s what happens when you leave the Mets—you bloom. This past season, he batted .297 with 17 home runs, 69 RBI, and 20 stolen bases and as mentioned earlier, became a “what could have been” player.
New York Yankees (99-63): Miguel Castro (RHP)
The Mets acquired Miguel Castro in a trade at the end of August 2020. The reliever posted a 3.52 ERA over two seasons with the team, including a career-low 3.45 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 43 walks in 70.1 innings in 2021. In April 2022 he was traded to the Yankees for Joely Rodriguez in a rare move as both teams were looking to bolster their bullpens with different throwing side arms (Mets needed a lefty, Yankees needed a righty). With the Yankees, Castro spent time on the injured list and his ERA moved to 4.03 over 34 games.
Seattle Mariners (90-72): Paul Sewald (RHP)
Paul Sewald spent four years in the Mets bullpen before being non-tendered in December 2020. During his time with the Mets, he earned his first MLB win in a walk-off against the Marlins in 2019. But the reliever struggled in 2020 with a 13.50 ERA over six innings. As a Met, his ERA was 5.50 across 125 games. He signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in January 2021 and had a breakout season with a 10-3 record and a 3.06 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. This season, his ERA improved to 2.67 in 65 games with a 5-4 record.
San Diego Padres (89-73): Brandon Drury (Utility)
Brandon Drury’s stint with the Mets was short-lived. He had a .271 batting average across 51 games in 2021. He was designated for assignment on October 2 and elected free agency. Drury signed with the Reds and was in the All-Star snub discussion this past season after a breakout year as the starting third baseman. Before the trade deadline, he was sent to the Padres and hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw on his new team.
Los Angeles Dodgers (111-51): Justin Turner (3B)
Justin Turner is another case of the Mets not doing their due diligence. He was claimed off waivers by New York in 2010 and set a team rookie record for most consecutive games (seven) with an RBI in 2011. Turner was named NL Rookie of the Month in May 2011—the first Met to win the award since its inception in 2001. After the 2013 season, he was non-tendered and became a free agent despite hitting .265 in 301 games as a utility player. The Dodgers picked him up on a minor league contract in February 2014 and went on to have a breakout season, playing 109 games. He led the team with a .340 batting average and hit seven home runs with 43 RBI. The Dodgers signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in 2015 and became the starting third baseman for a majority of the season, hitting .294 with a career-high 16 home runs and 60 RBI. Los Angeles liked what they saw and offered him a four-year, $64 million contract at the end of 2016. He started the 2017 with a .379 batting average before injuring his hamstring. He was a 2017 All-Star and finished the regular season with a .322 batting average, .415 on-base percentage, and had 21 home runs with 71 RBI. Turner would go on to win the World Series as a Dodger in 2020 and make a second All-Star appearance in 2021 after re-upping his contract on a two-year, $34 million deal with a $14 million option for a third year. Add Turner to the list of players the Mets let walk away without seeing their true value and potential.
(Featured Photo: MLB)
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