Coming off of a disappointing 2017 season, the Mets made a couple of moves in the off-season to try and add to the team. As the first half comes to a close and the second half begins, we have a pretty good idea of how these moves have turned out for them. Unfortunately, things have been sub-optimal, to put it lightly. Just about every single player has been injured at some point or bad. Or in some cases, they’ve been both.
When reviewing the players the Mets acquired, it only makes sense to start off with the guy who is making the lowest amount of money. A month after being released by the Braves, the Mets picked up Adrian Gonzalez for league minimum with hopes of him competing for the first base job come spring training. One Dominic Smith injury later, Gonzalez ended up being the starting first baseman for the first couple months of the season. To be fair, Gonzalez ended up giving the Mets more than they expected considering his lackluster 2017 season with the Dodgers. In 54 games as a Met, Gonzalez hit .237/.299/.373 with six home runs and 26 runs driven in. While not great, those numbers were, for the most part, better than he had done in an extra 15 games the year prior. The advanced metrics were less forgiving as Gonzalez racked up -0.7 bWAR and an 82 wRC+ during his time in the orange and blue. The Mets moved on from Gonzalez after the game on the night of June 11th.
The next highest-paid free agent pickup, making $2 million this season, is everyone’s favorite utility infielder, Jose Reyes. By this point, you know all about how badly Reyes is doing and how badly he needs to be off the team. Coming off of a below-average 2017, Reyes found a way to be even worse this season. In 152 plate appearances over 70 games, Reyes is hitting .181/257/246. with one home run, six runs driven in, and four steals. For one of the starting pitchers, those stats wouldn’t be half bad, but for a guy getting regular at bats for the Mets, that’s extremely bad. In the first half, Reyes put up -1.1 bWAR and a 42 wRC+. Out of the 314 players in baseball with at least 150 plate appearances this season, Reyes’ 42 wRC+ ranks 309th. His fielding hasn’t been much better as he has accumulated -7 defensive runs saved in his time between second base, third base, and shortstop. The closest thing to a compliment you can give him is that he’s pretty cheap, so he isn’t hurting the payroll too much, but even that’s a stretch.
Going up the ladder, the next player that the Mets committed the most money to is reliever Anthony Swarzak. Right after the winter mettings, the Mets signed Swarzak to a two year contract for $14 million dollars. For most of this season, Swarzak has been injured. During the times that he hasn’t been hurt, his performance has been disappointing. Swarzak seemed to have figured things out last season, posting a 2.33 ERA with 91 strikeouts, a 1.034 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR, and a 2.47 FIP in 77 innings between the White Sox and Brewers. In limited time, this season has been a totally different story. In 15 innings as a Met, Swarzak has a 7.47 ERA, a 1.979 WHIP, -0.5 bWAR, and a 7.04 FIP. If you’re digging for something positive, he does have 17 strikeouts, but even those come with 10 walks. For a team that’s been so against signing relievers for more than a year, this Swarzak signing may be the last one for a while.
Next up on the list is the 2017 major league leader in wins Jason Vargas. The Mets went through with this signing despite some resistance from their analytics department and it’s apparent now that maybe they should’ve taken their advice. Splitting time between the disabled list and the starting rotation, Vargas has pitch 37.2 innings over the course of nine starts. In those starts, Vargas has a 8.60 ERA, a 45 ERA+, a 1.832 WHIP, and -0.9 bWAR. Even Vargas’ win total has fallen off a cliff, only earning two wins through the first half. Who could’ve seen that coming? Vargas’ contract is one of the longer ones that the Mets dished out this offseason, taking the lefty through the 2018 and 2019 seasons with a team option in 2020. All things considered, the deal adds up to $16 million guaranteed with another $8 million if the team option is picked up, or a $2 million buyout if it is not.
The second most expensive contract the Mets gave out this offseason was the two year $17 million deal that they gave to third baseman Todd Frazier. Out of all the contracts that the Mets gave out this past offseason, Frazier’s is the best by a mile. Frazier’s problem this season has been less to do with his performance and more to do with his health. In his seven big league seasons before coming to the Mets, Frazier never once went on the disabled list. So far in his first half as a Met, he has been on it twice. That’s not to say that his performance has been what the Mets expected, because it isn’t at all, it’s just that Frazier is the only one of these guys that’s putting up a positive bWAR. In 61 games as a Met, Frazier is hitting .217/.300/.385 with 10 home runs, five steals, a 90 wRC+, and 1.1 bWAR. Just about all of these stats fall below Frazier’s career averages, except for maybe steals. A lot of Frazier’s value comes from his three defensive runs saved over at the hot corner.
The last, and possibly most disastrous, of the Mets’ six major league signings was that of outfield Jay Bruce. Signed to a three year $39 million deal, Bruce was expected to be the magnum opus of the offseason and be an offensive anchor. Let’s just say that really didn’t work out in the way they hoped. Jay Bruce played 62 games for the Mets this season before going down indefinitely with a hip strain and foot troubles. In those 62 games, Bruce hit .212/.292/.321 with only three home runs and 17 runs batted in to go along with his -1.0 bWAR and 70 wRC+. Other than his on-base percentage, Jay Bruce was on pace to set a career worst in every single hitting stat listed. Bruce unsurprisingly turned back into a pumpkin in the outfield after randomly being useful out there during his time as Met. So the Mets have themselves a guy who can’t hit and can’t field getting $39 million from them and taking up a roster spot. Put that together with his balky feet and strained hip, and the Mets have themselves a regrettable two-plus years ahead of them.
With everything put together, the Mets had a terrible offseason. They signed six players to major league contracts for about $88 million and in return they have gotten -3.1 bWAR. When you consider the players that the Mets chose not to pursue, such as Lorenzo Cain, J.D. Martinez, Carlos Santana, Jake Arrieta, and Brandon Morrow, it’s hard to consider the 2017-2018 offseason to be anything but a total disaster.