Major League Baseball’s deadline by which teams must decide whether or not to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players is tomorrow evening. And while the Mets can certainly afford to tender contracts to all of those players and figure things out later in the offseason, it wouldn’t be shocking if the team were to non-tender one or more players.
Pete Alonso is in entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, and he’ll obviously be tendered a contract. And let’s just assume the team will tender Joey Lucchesi a contract, too, as he performed well at the major league level this year and can—at minimum—provide some much-needed rotation depth, especially in the wake of David Peterson’s hip surgery.
Peterson himself is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and as frustrating as his first two months of the 2023 season were, the team will surely retain him. Let’s take a look at the rest of the arbitration-eligible players on the roster to see which ones might be non-tendered tomorrow.
Daniel Vogelbach: The 30-year-old designated hitter hit just .233/.339/.404 with 13 home runs in 319 plate appearances, and if a team is going to carry a platoon DH, it really needs to get more than that out of the roster spot. While he’s only projected to earn $2.5 million in arbitration, a non-tender to free up spots on both the active and 40-man rosters wouldn’t be surprising. If the team has reason to believe he’ll bounce back in a significant way, he is under team control through the 2025 season.
Trevor Gott: The Mets ate Chris Flexen’s contract to get Gott from the Mariners this year in what remains a bit of a bizarre trade. In 29.0 innings following the trade, Gott had a 4.34 ERA and a 3.43 FIP, and the 31-year-old hadn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA in a full single season since his rookie season in 2015. Even if he’s tendered a contract, he probably shouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. The 2024 season is his final year of team control.
Luis Guillorme: After establishing himself as a league average hitter over the course of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Guillorme was limited to 120 plate appearances this year and hit .224/.288/.327 with a 70 wRC+. The Mets picked up Zack Short on waivers recently, and he has some experience playing shortstop, but Guillorme’s defensive capabilities and better track record with the bat at the major league level suggest that he’s the team’s best bench/utility option in their infield right now. The 2024 season is also his final year of team control.
Drew Smith: Mets fans couldn’t stand watching Smith pitch this year, as he always seemed to find the worst time to serve up home runs. He finished the year with a 4.15 ERA and a 4.55 FIP in 56.1 innings of work. Of his full major league seasons, it was his worst year, and home runs have always been something of a problem for him. He’s still one of the better relievers on the Mets’ roster right now, though, and the team might not sign six or seven relievers who are clearly better than him over the winter. He’s set to hit free agency after the 2024 season, too.
DJ Stewart: Nobody had a more surprising good stint with the Mets this year than Stewart, who hit .244/.333/.506 with 11 home runs and a 130 wRC+ in 185 plate appearances in the late part of the season. Right now, he’s slotted into a starting outfield gig on the Mets’ depth chart because the team doesn’t have too much else in the outfield after Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte. Per FanGraphs, he has one year of options remaining, so the Mets could retain him, give him a shot at making the Opening Day roster, and send him to Syracuse as depth if he doesn’t make it. It’s always hard to tell if a stretch like his is the mark of a true breakout or a flash in the pan, but it seems like the Mets should keep him on their roster to figure that out.
Jeff Brigham: Before the 2023 season, the Mets’ trade for Brigham and Elieser Hernández seemed like a good one. But Brigham was downright awful out of the major league bullpen with a 5.26 ERA in 37.2 innings, and Hernández was already outrighted this offseason and elected free agency. Brigham had a 3.38 ERA in 24.0 innings with the Marlins in 2022, and like all of these players, he could be kept now and cut later if the Mets are so inclined. But a non-tender wouldn’t be surprising if they want to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. The 31-year-old has options remaining next year, per FanGraphs.
Sam Coonrod: Another acquisition ahead of the 2023 season, Coonrod only threw 6.2 innings at the major league level this year with a staggering 9.45 ERA. And he didn’t pitch much in the minors, either, and struggled there, too. He’s out of options and doesn’t figure to make the Opening Day bullpen. Maybe the Mets will non-tender him.
Phil Bickford: Picked up after the Mets sold at the trade deadline this year, Bickford had a 4.62 ERA in 25.1 innings with the team after posting a 5.14 ERA in 42.0 innings with the Dodgers earlier in the season. Add it up, and he had a 4.95 ERA on the season—coming off a 4.72 ERA with the Dodgers in 2022. He’s out of options, too, and would figure to be far from guaranteed a roster spot if he’s retained.
Sean Reid-Foley: The 28-year-old with the funky mound presence had a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings out of the Mets’ bullpen this year with super high strikeout and walk rates. It was, of course, a small sample. He’s also out of options, and his 4.96 ERA in 16.1 innings with Syracuse this year might be more indicative of what the Mets might realistically to expect to get out of him if he’s kept.