During the 2017 season, the Mets traded a majority of their players who were set to be free agents come November. Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, and Jay Bruce were traded for a total of seven relief pitchers. The Mets finished the season 70-92 and need to revamp their team if they wish to compete in 2018. The question is: should their offseason plans include any of their recently traded players?
Lucas Duda- No
The Mets have their first baseman of the future already manning first in Dominic Smith. While some people have already given up on Smith after he batted .198/.262/.395/.658 in 167 at-bats and played poor defense (-1.0 dWAR), he has only played in 49 games. His physical conditioning needs to be monitored, but you can’t give up on a top prospect that soon.
Now if the Mets wanted to delay their full-time commitment to Smith or give up completely on him, they’d need to do better than Duda. Duda was a fine power-hitting first baseman for the Mets, but he wasn’t an All-Star.
The Mets already have sufficient insurance at first with the likes of Wilmer Flores who played 56 games at that position the last two seasons combined. He is more than capable of taking over if Smith isn’t up for the challenge. Duda wouldn’t be a clear upgrade over Flores and with finances being limited, the Mets would be better off spending their money elsewhere.
Addison Reed- Yes
Reed was a decent reliever when the Mets traded for him on August 29, 2015. The moment he got to the Mets however, that changed. He went from decent to lights-out. In 145 games over parts of three seasons, Reed pitched to the tune of a 2.09 ERA, a 1.014 WHIP, and a 9.9 SO9 in 142 innings pitched.
It wasn’t easy for many Mets fans to see him go in the summer, but it made perfect sense. They got Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek from the Red Sox which was a solid haul. Now they have a chance to justify the trade even further by not only getting all three relievers, but by getting Reed back after all.
The biggest question here is whether it is wise or not to spend money on a reliever after trading for seven of them. The answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes.’ A good bullpen isn’t crafted by quantity, but rather quality. In 2017, Mets relievers combined for a 4.82 ERA which was 29th worst in the majors. That ERA would’ve been even higher had it not been for Reed.
Reed should be a top relief target of the Mets in free agency. He has clearly proven he can pitch in New York and would be a good leader to have around for all the young relief prospects.
Curtis Granderson- No
In his nearly four seasons with the Mets, Granderson had been an extremely streaky hitter who was good for about 20-30 home runs a year. While he wasn’t a terrific defender, he also wasn’t a big liability in the field either. What set him apart was that he didn’t struggle with injuries like many of the other Mets.
Whether he was worth his four year, $60 million contract is debatable. However, if they choose to bring him back, he’d only be paid a fraction as much due to his age.
The way the Mets outfield is constructed doesn’t make Granderson a great fit. There are two All-Stars currently manning the outfield in Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, which leaves one spot. That spot could be capably held by Brandon Nimmo or Juan Lagares. An argument can be made that Granderson would be an upgrade over the two, but even so it would merely be a minor upgrade.
Neil Walker- No
Walker also falls under the category of ‘not bad, but not worth bringing back.’ He hit .264/.339/.442/.780 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 73 games before being traded to the Brewers. He provided the Mets with a 1.0 WAR. This all came while he was earning $17.2 million after accepting the Mets qualifying offer.
Similar to Granderson, he won’t get nearly as much money if the Mets were to bring him back, but they really don’t need him at this point.
It wouldn’t be worth the Mets time and money to get an aging vet whose production is on the decline. Also with Smith and Amed Rosario taking care of first base and shortstop, the Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera, T.J. Rivera, Gavin Cecchini, Matt Reynolds, and Flores all as options for second and third base. That doesn’t include a potential David Wright return or the fact that the Mets have interest in bringing back Jose Reyes as well.
Jay Bruce- Yes
Bruce would be worth bringing back if the price was right. He would be a clear upgrade over Lagares and Nimmo unlike Granderson. After struggling in his small second-half stint with the Mets in 2016, he performed exceedingly well in 2017. He batted .256/.321/.520/.841 with 29 home runs and 75 RBI in 103 games played before being shipped to Cleveland for Ryder Ryan.
Bruce was a nice power threat for the Mets and would be welcomed back to Queens with open arms after the show he put on for the first four months of the season for the team. He will obviously cost more than anyone on this list, but it’s all about using money wisely. The Mets have plenty of average players on their team and not many extremely weak ones. They need to target clear upgrades in the offseason in order to do better in 2018.