Our owner made his fortune on Wall Street by buying low and selling high, we’re going to apply the same idea to building a roster for today and tomorrow. When looking at the 2022 Mets and trying to determine where improvements are needed, we need to start with the recognition that winning 101 games in the regular season is proof that the team, as constituted, was already really good. With that being said, we are set to lose most of our rotation and bullpen to free agency, as well as one key offensive player in CF Brandon Nimmo. In my opinion, we must bring Nimmo and Diaz back, regardless of what else we do with the free agent market. Nimmo has worked hard to turn himself into a solid center fielder with elite on base capabilities and some pop in the bat, he is quite simply the best option for center field available. He also has the intangibles working for him – his boundless enthusiasm and hustle. Relief pitchers are notoriously volatile in performance, but even in off years Diaz has always had elite stuff, I would like to see him anchor the bullpen for years to come. I would love to see deGrom as a Met for life, but with 13% of my budget already tied up with one aging ace, tying up another 13%+ for a second seems a poor allocation of funds. If super-fan uncle Steve wants deGrom back, he’s going to have to pony up a lot more than $325M. Beyond those two, we also have an aging pair of players in the corner outfield positions, with Marte prone to injuries and Canha needing regular rest, and though he avoided the DL for most of 2022, Nimmo has a history of being injured regularly too. We need a better 4th outfield option than Naquin or Jankowski. We also need to have some high-upside options in the pipeline for when Marte and Canha leave in a couple of years. Finally, the right-handed DH position was something of a black hole all season long. Ideally, we find a solution for that with some serious pop in the bat to add some protection behind Alonso in the lineup.
1. Nimmo and Diaz need to be Mets for life
2. Fill out rotation and bullpen
3. Add some power to protect Alonso
4. OF depth – Marte / Nimmo injury prone, Canha needs regular rest, Marte/Canha not LT solutions
5. DH solution
6. Preserve / enhance the minor leagues pipeline
1. Mets send Mark Vientos (#7), Nick Morabito (#14), Heyden Senger and Gregory Guerrero to Royals for Kris Bubic, Tyler Gentry (#8) and Alec Marsh (#19). Royals have a surplus of pitching and OF prospects, need ML ready power bat, which Vientos provides. Bubic, a LHP who was a first-round draft, has been up and down last few years with flashes of brilliance but has so far not produced sustained success. With his salary starting to climb in arb, the Royals reportedly are ready to move on from him. Gentry is a corner outfield prospect with power, contact, speed and arm that should start 2023 in AAA. Marsh is AAA RHP with 5 pitches in his repertoire, including 99 MPG fastball, working on his control. He was selected in the second round in 2019, but injuries have impacted his development. His upside is mid-rotation starter, but he could end up a high-leverage relief pitcher. Bubic slots in as #5 starter, but still has options if needed. I am selling high on Vientos, buying low on Bubic, trusting our pretty good record of developing pitchers.
2. Mets send Eduardo Escobar, Lucchessi and Montes de Oca to Orioles for Anthony Santander. Orioles need to open a COF spot for top prospect Colton Cowser. Santander, who is not a very good fielder, is also getting expensive in arbitration ($7.5M this year). They need pitching and infield help. Escobar gives them a versatile infielder with some pop in the bat. Luccessi gives them an affordable starter for 2 years, and de Oca is a potential BP pitcher. Santander hit 35 HR last year and is one of the best hitters against lefties in baseball. He will be my primary DH, with the occasional play in the corner outfield in a pinch. I am no a big fan of DH – only players, I prefer to have folks who can rotate out in the field as well.
3. Mets send Ronny Mauricio (#6), Matt Allen (#10), Ruf and Vogelbach to Oakland Athletics for Ramon Laureano, Seth Brown and A. J. Puk. The trade simulator has this as a big over-pay by the Mets, but in this instance, I don’t think the simulator is realistic. I am buying low on Laureano, who 2 years ago would have been one of the most valuable center fielders in baseball. Then he tested positive for steroids in 2021 and was suspended end of ’21 and beginning of ’22 and ended up with a poor year at the plate this year, significantly reducing his trade value. He is still an elite defender, and there’s a chance the bat comes back around, especially with him part of a much stronger lineup. I am putting Laureano as starting center fielder and moving Nimmo to left field. Brown is a solid left-handed bat who can play first, corner outfield or DH. Though 30 years old, Brown is pre-arb for ‘2023. Down the stretch last year Alonso looked tired, but we really didn’t have a good backup option at first to give him a break. Brown can both do that periodically as well as serve as a fourth outfielder. Nimmo is a good center fielder, I think he will be elite in left, and it will reduce the probability of injuries. If Laureano craps the bed, Nimmo can move back over and Brown can start left, making Laureano the fourth outfielder. The options will give Buck plenty of flexibility to give guys rest and backfill injuries without losing a step. Puk was a former first round selection who has struggled as a starter, and with injuries. In 2022 he was moved to the pen to put less strain on his arm, and he has thrived in that role, giving us a very solid left-handed reliever. Puk will also be in his last pre-arb year in ’23. The A’s are in full rebuild mode, neither Laureano or Brown is likely to still be around by the time they field a competitive team again, so trading them for high-upside prospects like Mauricio and Allen makes sense. They still need to field a team, in Ruf and Vogelbach they have a couple of guys who, if they perform reasonably well, they can flip at the trade deadline for additional prospects. I’m selling high on Allen, anyone’s guess how he comes back from the DL, could be a TOR starter, could be Szap 2.0.
4. Jeff McNeil, Mark Canha and Khalil Lee to White Sox for pitcher Michael Kopech and prospects Lenyn Sosa (#4) and Yoelqui Cespedes (#12). I’m selling high on McNeil. Sox are in win-now mode and need both 2B and OF help, McNeil and Canha solve both problems. Sox had the worst defensive OF in all baseball last year, Canha adds a solid, veteran presence and Lee could be defense-first 4th outfielder for them. Kopech is the main prize here, another former first round pick, as a fly-ball pitcher pitching for the team with the worst fielding OF in baseball, still managed 3.5 ERA. I expect he will be much better with a better defense behind him. I think there’s a lot of upside there, he’s my #4 starter, just entering his first arb year so under control for the next 3. Cespedes is the younger brother of that Cespedes, an outfielder with speed, power, glove and arm, very high upside, though he struggled a bit in AA last year. Sosa had a breakout year in AA last year, outstanding bat-to-ball skills with 15-20 HR power potential, he’ll start the year at AAA playing third for Syracuse.
1. Nimmo, 5/110
2. Diaz, 5/102
3. Trea Turner, 8/268 to play second base. Bumper crop again this year of middle infielders, I went back and forth between Correa and Turner, went with Turner because he has already transitioned successfully to second and I love the speed. A couple of folks have us signing Turner and putting him in center field, but he has only played a handful of innings there some years ago. Picking him up is why I was willing to trade McNeil and Mauricio.
4. Taylor Rogers 3/30, best lefty RP on the market
5. Bringing back Trevor Williams, 3/21, long relief / spot starter. This is a tough role, and he filled it well
6. Rodon, 5/140 best lefty starter on the market. He will be especially valuable when we face lefty-heavy teams like the Braves and Phils. Scherzer/ Rodon is as good a 1-2 punch in the post season as anybody
7. Jurickson Profar, super utility, 2/20. A switch hitter who can play multiple positions well, best possible insurance for injuries
8. Bring back Ottavino, 2/14, setup man
So instead of spending $45M/year on deGrom, I’m getting an elite everyday player in Turner + the best lefty starter available in Rodon.
1. Baty gets the starting gig at third base, which is what made Escobar tradeable. If he falls flat, Luis "the human highlight reel" Guillorme stands ready to step in, with Sosa in the wings in AAA as a fall-back option.
2. I’m keeping the McCann / Nido catching tandem for another year. Catcher is the most important defensive position in the game, the only one literally involved in every pitch. Our 20-year-old phenom simply isn’t ready, I’m giving him another year in AAA to refine his game. McCann has been a disappointment, but he is still a fine defensive catcher and that has value, especially with the pitching staff almost wholly turning over. The Astros won the world series with a glove-only catcher, we can survive if 1-8 in the lineup are strong. If Alvarez comes along and forces our hand by the trade deadline, odds are someone’s going to have lost a catcher to injury and will be desperate for someone, we might be able to unload McCann then.
3. Cookie returns, option is worth it
4. Nogosek is out of options and pitched reasonably well last year, I’m giving him the last bullpen spot. Not all your relief needs will be high leverage, he’s a cheap option to do mop up / eat innings in a blowout win or loss.
5. I’ve traded away four ranked minor leaguers in Vientos, Allen, Mauricio and Morabito, but added 4 ranked minor leaguers in Gentry, Marsh, Cespedes and Sosa. Two of them, Gentry and Cespedes, are high-upside outfielders; added to Ramirez and Fanas, gives us a pretty good chance of developing excellent in-house options by 2026, when both Marte and Laureano hit free agency.
Your 2023 New York Mets: