“This article was written on November 5th and further
moves could have been made before its release.”
The end of the regular season is the perfect time for teams that missed the playoffs to take a step back and evaluate the direction of the organization as a whole, from coaches and staff, down to the players on the field. Whether you finish the season as the best team to miss the playoffs or the worst team in your division, there is always a long list of questions that need to be addressed and perhaps no team has more questions to answer heading into this off-season than the New York Mets.
Heavily considered the “winners of the off-season” a year ago, the Mets finished the 2021 season with a 77-85 record, placing them 3rd in the National League East Division. To put it straightforwardly, this season was a major disappointment for the Mets under first year owner, Steve Cohen. Along with a long list of pending free agents, the Mets also need to find a new President of Baseball Operations, as well as fill their head coaching vacancy after Luis Rojas was let go as manager after just two seasons.
To this point in the off-season, the Mets have had little success finding candidates to fill their President of Baseball Operations position. Theo Epstein, Billy Beane, David Stearns, and Matt Arnold have all reportedly turned down the opportunity to fill the Mets executive position. Tampa Bay Rays VP of Baseball Development Peter Bendix and San Francisco Giants General Manager Scott Harris remain possibilities to fill the position.
Javier Baez, Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard are among the popular players that the Mets must make decisions on going forward. Baez, acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline, hit .299 with an .886 OPS and 9 home runs in 47 games with the Mets. A popular player around the league, Baez won over the Mets fan base after the thumbs down controversy with his stellar defensive play and flashy base running skills. Is that short sample size enough for the Mets to commit to him long term? If it is, Baez, along with his good friend Francisco Lindor, can be one of the most dynamic middle infielders in the Majors.
A longer tenured Met, Michael Conforto, established himself as a threat in the heart of the Mets lineup and one of the key pieces of the franchise through his first 6 seasons. After an extremely underwhelming 7th season that saw Conforto hit just .232 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs, the front office is left wondering whether or not Conforto really is the key piece they once thought. If the Mets do indeed decide to move on from Conforto, they will obviously need to fill the outfield void left by his departure. Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, Charlie Blackmon, and Avisail Garcia are just a few of the possible free agent outfielders that the Mets could look to as replacements.
On the other hand, pitcher Marcus Stroman is coming off of one of his best seasons to date. In his first full season with the Mets, Stroman dealt 179 innings over 33 starts in a year where the Mets injury plagued rotation desperately needed all the help it could get. Stroman’s 3.02 ERA in 2021 ranked 8th amongst the National League ERA leaders. While it would be extremely difficult to justify not resigning Stroman, he is due for a massive raise in his next contract after his brilliant 2021 campaign. Can the Mets afford to keep Stroman around while also needing to spend money elsewhere? With so many questions regarding the Mets rotation in 2022, it would be wise for them to do whatever they can to keep Stroman around.
While Stroman gave the Mets plenty of innings, Noah Syndergaard only appeared in 2 games this past season. After missing the whole 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery, Syndergaard was supposed to return to the Mets at some point in the middle of the 2021 season. After a series of setbacks on his road to recovery, Syndergaard was only able to make two separate 1 inning starts during the last week of the regular season. Those two starts show that Noah still wants to compete, but does not warrant enough for the Mets to dish out a long term contract to Syndergaard since it is so unknown as to what he can contribute to the team over a full season. Extending Syndergaard to a 1 year $18.4 million dollar qualifying offer seems to be the best bet for both sides. It allows the Mets to see what they have with one of their fan favorite pitchers and it allows Syndergaard the opportunity to prove his worth and reestablish his value.
No matter how this off-season pans out, the Mets 2022 success depends heavily on bounce back years from star acquisition Francisco Lindor, as well as Jeff McNeil, assuming he is still with the club next year. Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo will both need to contribute what is expected of them over a full 162 game schedule and most importantly, ace Jacob deGrom needs to stay healthy so he can continue to shut down opposing lineups every fifth day.
Check out these videos on Jacob deGrom, Javy Báez, and Francisco Lindor!