Fellow MMO writer Chris Gaine recently wrote a wonderful article outlining why it would be a good idea to pursue Lorenzo Cain this offseason. Sure, it would be awesome to have him hitting atop the lineup every day, however I don’t believe it would be a good idea to spend all that money on an outfielder.
If the season were to start today, the outfield would be Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo. That consists of two Gold Glove winners, one of which might be the best defensive outfielder in the Major Leagues and the other having the potential to put up MVP-caliber offensive numbers. The last is still young, but has shown tremendous promise on both sides of the ball.
Looking at those three names, while they are not terrible, it is very easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s not nearly enough and the Mets must sign an All-Star outfielder to get to the playoffs. Cain would fit that description, but aren’t we forgetting someone?
Michael Conforto will be back from his shoulder injury sometime early next season. In all likelihood he won’t be ready for Opening Day, but a return in May is not too much to ask for. When he does come back, the Mets will have the four players mentioned and that is a pretty darn good outfield. Cespedes and Conforto on the corners with Lagares and Nimmo sharing time in center field.
What would happen if the Mets were to sign Cain or another starting outfielder? When Conforto returns there would be a logjam in the outfield, something that burdened the Mets last season. Add Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson to all those names mentioned above and it was a true fight for playing time. The odd men out got rusty with less playing time as they were accustomed to playing every day which led to the Mets only being able to get a minor league relievers in return for Granderson and Bruce at the deadline.
The Mets have a small amount of money to spend this offseason, and frankly, the outfield should be low on the list of priorities when it comes to spending money. The money they can spend, estimated to be $30-40 million, should be spent mostly on pitchers.
The bullpen needs at least one outstanding arm to augment Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins. There are many top-notch free agent relievers available such as Wade Davis and Greg Holland, but the Mets don’t need a closer. They need a lights-out setup man. Why not try and get the same man that was truly dominant in that role for almost two seasons?
Addison Reed was traded to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline to set-up Craig Kimbrel. At first he struggled in Boston, but ended up being a solid reliever for them down the stretch. Because he was acting as the Mets closer for most of the season, that could explain the turbulence in his moving to a new role in a new city.
Teams that need closers will probably bid on Holland and Davis, however there will definitely be some setting their sights a bit lower on Reed. It would be foolish not to assume he would want to close somewhere, however the inning he has been most successful in is not the ninth inning, but the eighth in front of Jeurys Familia. Bringing Reed back to Flushing will surely cost some money, but would be worth it.
Going into next season, the Mets rotation has sure-things in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are on the next tier down as they should be totally healthy going into spring training and pitched fine in 2017. Then there are Steven Matz and Matt Harvey and nobody has any clue how effective and/or healthy they will be next season.
To be safe, the Mets should add one reliable starter. And if they’re going to spend money on a starter, it might as well be on a real good one, not R.A. Dickey or Bartolo Colon (as fun as those reunions would be). I’m not saying they should pursue Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, though I certainly wouldn’t complain if they did.
Names like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn stick out to me as both the most realistic and helpful options on the market. Neither are aces, but both are solid middle-of-the-rotation guys who are certainly capable of making an All-Star Team.
The problem with Cobb and Lynn is that they both were extended qualifying offers, which means the team that signs them would have to surrender a draft pick in the 2018 Amateur Draft. This could make them sign for less money, however the Mets must refurbish their farm system. Forfeiting a high-level draft pick would be counter-productive no matter how good the signed starter would be. It will be a difficult decision.
The rest of the budget could be spent either on the free agent market or in trades. I would love to see the Mets trade for Dee Gordon, who has three years and $37 million remaining on his contract — not including a vesting option for 2021 worth $14 million if he makes 600 plate appearances in 2019 or 1200 between 2019 and 2020. The Mets could probably afford that contract as is, but with the Marlins in full fire sale mode, they would probably eat some of the contract depending on what the Mets offer.
The outfield could use a hand, but nothing too expensive. How fun would it be to see Ichiro Suzuki in a Mets uniform to finish off his Hall Of Fame career? Rajai Davis is always a fun name to toss around and Ben Revere could be an interesting option as well.
As I said in the beginning, the Mets have more pressing needs than adding an All-Star outfielder and creating a logjam. Sign a reliever, add a starter, bolster the outfield with a fourth/fifth man, then, if possible, add to the infield. Sandy Alderson is a very smart man and could absolutely accomplish what needs to be done. It will be interesting to see how he goes about it, but on the other hand, it will be heartbreaking if he puts his priorities where they shouldn’t be.