If you don't frequent the Twitter-verse, or any comment section that's even remotely Mets related, you can be forgiven for missing out on the wildest of reactions to an MLB Draft selection.
With the 11th overall pick, the New York Mets select: Kevin Parada, catcher, Georgia Tech.
Then Twitter, Facebook, and social media decided it was time to go absolutely nuts about the selection. Not cause we just nabbed a potential top 5 pick at number 11, the frenzy was related to top prospect Francisco Alvarez. It was actually so wild of a frenzy, a lot of people took a quick glance at Williams and then went back to going off the walls.
Some variations of: "The Mets drafted a catcher, Alvarez is gone!", "Welcome to NY, Juan Soto!", or "This is clearly because Alvarez is going to be packaged for Soto."
All of them concluding that the taking of the top player available, at a position that needs significant help, was almost a full confirmation that Alvarez would be the center of a package that would land Soto in a Mets uniform. But is that really what is was?
Wherever the 23 year old slugger winds up, the acquiring team will have to pay a mountain of their future away to be able to pry him away. He's not a free agent for another couple years, he's only 23, he's an elite player, which all adds up to the price tag being enormous. Not to mention the actual price tag that it'll cost to sign him to an extension. So what does that mean for the Mets specifically? Let's break it down.
1. The Mets would need to part ways with multiple top prospects. Even if they can avoid putting Alvarez in the trade, Brett Baty and multiple others would be the ones being sent away. Keeping someone like Mark Vientos sounds great if Baty were the one in the trade, except that Vientos is a defensive liability at third base, which means the lack of a good bat there could last awhile longer. Same goes for trading Alvarez. The catching position has been much maligned this season due to the significant lack of production, even if Parada goes through the minors quickly, it's still another 2-3 years before he makes it up to the big leagues. Does anyone really want another 2-3 years of James McCann being the "best" option at the position?
2. It could just be the old fashioned depth approach. Catchers aren't the same as they used to be. They don't catch every day, and when they do, it's shown that their less productive. Alvarez is known for his bat, Parada is known for his bat. Is it far fetched to say that the plan to have two hitting catchers is actually a good idea? The Mets haven't had stability at catcher since arguably Mike Piazza. The Oakland A's are on the opposite end of the spectrum, but they had a quieter draft moment because of that. The A's have Sean Murphy at catcher, and two highly respected prospects in Shea Langeliers and Tyler Sordstrom, and yet, they drafted a catcher in the first round. Almost as if depth is important. Go figure. These moves often get overlooked but considering how the catching position has looked in the last decade, it could be the brightest move possible to build depth that way.
3. The other reported interested teams all have flaws in their interest. Naturally the media says the usual culprits will be interested in acquiring Soto from the Nationals. Those would include the Dodgers, Padres, and Yankees. But there's flaws of their own to each of them that are similar to the Mets.
The Dodgers traded Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Donovan Casey, and Gerrardo Carrillo away to the Nationals in order to rent Max Scherzer and acquire Trea Turner. The price tag for Soto would be even greater. Do the Dodgers really want to tax the rest of their farm system in order to grab Soto? They currently have another catcher as their top prospect, does he get added to it? If not, why would the Mets have to add Alvarez? The Dodgers seem to take the most aggressive approaches so it's not too far fetched to assume they would pull the trigger on a deal that would evaporate the top of their farm system to a team on the opposite coast. The Mets on the other hand would need to at least consider that they're sending future potential to a division rival even if the return is for Juan Soto.
The Padres reportedly want to pair Soto with the other young phenom, Fernando Tatis Jr., but given that there would be an extension in order for Juan Soto, just how much of money do they want to commit to only 3 players? Manny Machado signed a 10 year, $300 million contract in February of 2019, Tatis Jr. signed a 14 year, $340 million contract before the 2021 season, Juan Soto would probably be looking at those contract numbers in the rearview mirror. Even in a sport with no salary cap, having three players with contract numbers exceeding $300 million would still be a ridiculous amount of money thrown around, even if they are great ball players. It's going to take a heavy sum to even acquire him, but only having him for 2 years isn't ideal. So would the Padres really be willing to commit another number north of $340 million to another player?
The Yankees clearly want to win. They clearly want to put themselves in position to end the World Series drought that dates all the way back to...2009. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that they would part with some of their prospects in order to get their hands on Soto, the only problem is that this isn't the Yankees of old. They're not the same franchise that handed Jacoby Ellsbury a highly questionable contract, but with that comes the current situation that they find themselves in. The Yankees have this one guy, kind of tall, big bat, wears the number 99. His name is Aaron Judge, he's a legitimate slugger, and has shown that he's one of the best at it when he's healthy. But the Yankees previous reported offer of 7 years, $213 million for an extension wasn't enough to entice him to sign. So with the struggle of trying to sign Aaron Judge to what will almost certainly be a megadeal based on his performance so far in 2022, would the Yankees be willing to break the bank of their farm system and then break the literal bank with a second megadeal to keep Soto in pinstripes?
The Mets have a culmination of the problems. Do you want to send your best prospects away considering how limited youth is going to become a problem the farther down the line they go? The Mets have Francisco Lindor on the payroll for 10 years, $341 million, would they want to add another megadeal to that framework with Juan Soto?
4. What does that mean for pending free agents? If the Mets were willing to pay the price to acquire Juan Soto, what does that mean for Pete Alonso? Jacob DeGrom? Jeff McNeil? Brandon Nimmo? If this was basketball or football, it'd be easy to say that they'd take a pay cut in order to play with Soto and try to win. But that's not how it seems to work in the MLB. Alonso should be in line for a big payday, but if Soto gets mega bucks, why wouldn't he ask for big money too? Even with a super billionaire who isn't afraid to spend as owner, you'd have to imagine that blowing past the luxury tax threshold by hundreds of millions probably isn't on the list of things he'd be willing to do.
This was all because they drafted a catcher at 11th overall. We haven't even gotten to Jett Williams yet, that's how crazy everything has been since the Mets made a move to take the best overall player available at their best overall draft pick. The Rangers taking "Met for a Minute" Kumar Rocker at number 3 should've been the bigger story, but that's not how we operate here. Kevin Parada projects as someone who can stay at catcher, or move around due to his athleticism, and his bat should play wherever he ends up. Parada comes from a catching prospect factory at Georgia Tech where he slashed .361/.453/.709 with 26 home runs, and only 32 strikeouts to 30 walks. The kid gets on base. There is a ton of upside to his game, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the right time and choice to move on from a prospect viewed extremely high and is only 20 years old.
With the 14th overall pick, in what was probably the least surprising pick if you've looked at any mock drafts prior, the New York Mets select: Jett Williams, SS, Rockwall-Heath High School (TX).
Sound the alarm, we're trading Lindor! See how ridiculous that sounds? There was less hysteria surrounding this pick. Williams is "only" 5'8" tall, but had he been a prototypical height, he would've gone higher. There was one name consistently linked to the Mets leading up to the draft and it was always Williams, the only thing that fluctuated was whether the Mets took him at 11 or at 14. For what it's worth, Parada was mocked to the Mets multiple times if he was to fall.
Williams may be small, but he plays hard and plays tough. He finished his junior and senior years hitting .347 with 5 home runs, and .411 with 7 home runs, so his bat to ball skills were consistent at the high school level. His ability to use the entire field while having an advanced eye is also a big plus for Williams, coupled with his speed and arm strength, he could have a future around the infield or even out in centerfield.
What does it mean for Alvarez? Nothing. But it could mean something for Ronny Mauricio. With the assumption that they both sign, and the Mets expected to be heavy in the trade market, Mauricio isn't necessarily expendable with Williams in the fold. But if he is moved, it's a little less hard to swallow with the influx of talent that Williams has, and that big brick wall named Lindor holding down that position.
Whether they both sign remains to be seen, the Mets probably don't want to play the Rocker game again. Whether their selections lead to a massive trade, remains to be seen as well. But if they stand pat and the farm system stays nearly complete, then the selection of multiple college pitchers with high upsides and the two aforementioned draft picks should put the future in a very bright spot with significant depth that it hasn't seen in awhile.