The Yankees could have Aaron Decide as a free agent. The Dodgers could have Trea Turner and Clayton Kershaw plus Tyler Anderson to fret about.
However the Mets are the one crew that may severely ponder — and certain give — the qualifying provide to as many as 4 gamers: Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo. The one query there entails Bassitt. But when the Mets are effective choosing up their finish of a $19 million mutual possibility for 2023, then they gained’t blink in making him the $19.65 million qualifying provide when Bassitt turns down his facet of the choice.
If the Mets’ solely subject have been coping with the financially weighty a part of their offseason, that may be difficult sufficient. As a result of there is no such thing as a manner they will preserve their 4 foremost free brokers plus fill out the remainder of the roster and keep throughout the parameters of a $300 million payroll, which Steve Cohen indicated was his plan a number of weeks in the past on “The Present with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman” podcast.
However that is removed from the Mets’ lone subject. There are compounding issues. For example, it’s not simply Bassitt and deGrom who’re free brokers of their rotation, however Taijuan Walker and maybe Carlos Carrasco, too, if the Mets discover his bodily assessment too troubling to select up a $14 million 2023 possibility (it’s actually an $11 million choice as a result of there’s a $3 million buyout). It isn’t simply Diaz who’s a free agent within the bullpen. It’s Seth Lugo, Trevor Could, Adam Ottavino, Joely Rodriguez and Trevor Williams, too, plus Mychal Givens when the Mets reject their finish of an $8 million 2023 mutual possibility. After which there’s the actual fact the Mets would love to seek out energy bats within the market.
Making an attempt to retain Edwin Diaz is just one aspect of an advanced and probably costly Mets offseason agenda.Jason Szenes
Thus, they simply can’t purchase their solution to a deep roster for 2023 except Cohen needs to go to $350 million or extra in payroll (uncertain). So it’s not solely very important that the Mets dance nicely with the highest of their very own free-agent class, however that Billy Eppler’s baseball operations division has the type of offseason on the margins it did in going 6-for-6 in huge acquisitions final offseason (Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Bassitt and Ottavino). They’ve to seek out cheap or cost-neutral methods to revive contending expertise and depth to the roster.
For instance, the most effective of the Yankees bullpen this yr got here by means of minor trades and minor league signings. The crew’s most trusted playoff trio arrived by way of a small deal for Mike Tauchman (Wandy Peralta), a small deal for Diego Castillo and Hoy Park (Clay Holmes) and a minor league signing from 2016 (Jonathan Loaisiga). The Mets should hit on these sorts of maneuvers as a result of, at current, their finest reliever beneath management is Drew Smith, and their minor league system just isn’t able to ship productive energy arms to the majors.
So suppose minor league free-agent signings, small trades and the Rule 5 draft. Additionally they are going to want ingenuity. With so many key roster spots to fill, is that this the second, for instance, to grab on a Jeff McNeil batting title and robust Wins Above Alternative marketing campaign to see whether or not he will be changed into a number of items? The Rays, for one, have lengthy preferred McNeil and stay offensively challenged. Might the Mets get a number of pitching items from Tampa Bay’s deep reserves to make sacrificing a homegrown asset akin to McNeil worthwhile? The Mets then might signal somebody akin to Kolten Wong in free company to play second (if the Brewers don’t decide up his 2023 $10 million possibility).
Or the Mets would possibly determine that McNeil is a core piece too central to what they do and keep away from any daring exploration of the commerce market with him (my intestine says they not less than take heed to see if the curiosity is nice sufficient to unravel a number of points).
Jeff McNeil’s batting title helped the Mets get to the playoffs, although the crew is likely to be higher served sooner or later seeing what buying and selling him might carry again.Michelle Farsi
One merchandise the Mets ought to pursue is to attempt to transfer the 2 years at $24 million owed to James McCann for the same contract(s). The thought could be to remain cost-neutral whereas enhancing the general roster.
By season’s finish, Tomas Nido had usurped McCann because the beginning catcher, and Francisco Alvarez lurks. Alvarez simply had ankle surgical procedure. The Mets say he will probably be a full participant in spring. However does the surgical procedure trigger any trepidation about whether or not he will probably be prepared for the 2023 main league season?
And that doesn’t even contact on the massive query with Alvarez: Can he deal with the defensive finish of his place at a excessive sufficient stage for a championship contender in what will probably be his age-21 season when that facet of the ball just isn’t his energy? With the bodily and psychological tasks layered on catchers these days, it’s arduous to have a defensively poor catcher and anticipate to win on the highest stage — even when that catcher would possibly be capable to outhit many shortcomings. The Astros frequently persist with Martin Maldonado regardless of his lack of offense as a result of the employees believes a lot in him. The terrific pitching and wins preserve flowing.
The Mets have mentioned all the correct issues about Alvarez’s development as a defender. However what do they consider internally? The Blue Jays stored saying Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was a 3rd baseman till he was a primary baseman. Will the Mets preserve saying Alvarez is a catcher till he’s the common DH? That might put a distinct worth on him and lift the necessity for a distinct type of catcher they could must pursue. A free-agent starter kind akin to Omar Narvaez or Christian Vazquez turns into extra entrance and middle then. Or do they load up high-end prospects to commerce for a two-way catcher akin to Oakland’s Sean Murphy?
If the Mets legitimately consider Alvarez can quarterback championship-level run prevention, then they will attempt to signal a minor league take care of a stopgap veteran akin to Sandy Leon. Or is there a crew on the market with a defense-first catcher who would possibly need to see whether or not they can regenerate Dom Smith? Might the Mets commerce Smith to the Brewers for Victor Caratini? To the Marlins for Nick Fortes? Groups, although, may wait till the Nov. 18 deadline and see whether or not the Mets tender Smith a contract. If not, he turns into a free agent.
Questions on Francisco Alvarez’s protection could persuade the Mets they should add a extra skilled backstop.Getty Photos
No matter how they strategy the catcher place this offseason, a part of the plan ought to be to discover whether or not they can swap McCann to see if they will deepen the roster, particularly their pitching.
What follows are calls I believe the Mets ought to make to see whether or not there may very well be traction on a McCann deal, quite than something I’ve heard is a risk.
Here’s a actuality, although: McCann is now usually considered as an overpaid backup catcher. Eppler talked about after the commerce deadline that the Mets had not sacrificed any of their prime 19 prospects in offers. Somebody decrease on that checklist could need to be paired with McCann to make a commerce possible. A membership might simply go into free company and get his talent set in, say, Roberto Perez (albeit after hamstring surgical procedure) for a heck of so much much less. Actually, that is about whether or not there are groups on the market that may see using $24 million on McCann as higher than on a distressed merchandise they’ve at an analogous price.
These are simply 3Up concepts:
1. McCann to the Cardinals for Steven Matz.
Did the Cardinals see sufficient in Matz’s injury-laced, disappointing 2022 season to need to transfer on from his remaining three years at $34 million? The venerable Yadier Molina is retiring. Do the Cardinals consider Andrew Knizer is really a beginning catcher, or might he use a defensively robust companion akin to McCann?
The Mets truly thought they’d Matz signed on a three-year contract final offseason, and Cohen publicly ripped his representatives for — within the Mets proprietor’s perception — reneging to take 4 years at $44 million from the Cardinals. Would Cohen forgive and neglect?
Matz had two prolonged IL stints in 2022 (as a consequence of knee and shoulder accidents) and pitched to a 5.25 ERA (5.70 ERA as a starter). Do the Mets really feel like he will be regenerated right into a back-end starter to switch, say, Walker? If not, might he be a lefty reliever and be a greater use of $11 million-$12 million per yr than having McCann because the backup catcher.
Steven Matz struggled this season with the Cardinals, however is likely to be the type of stable back-end starter the Mets must get by means of the lengthy common season.Getty Photos
The Blue Jays are in an analogous scenario with one other failed lefty starter out of final offseason’s free agent class. Yusei Kikuchi has two years at $20 million remaining, and — in principle — may very well be deployed by the Mets in the identical style as might Matz. However no crew could also be deeper in good catching choices than Toronto. So there is no such thing as a room at that inn for McCann.
2. McCann to the Mariners for Chris Flexen or Marco Gonzales plus Jesse Winker.
Cal Raleigh emerged because the Mariners’ long-term No. 1 catcher. However Curt Casali is a free agent, the Mariners misplaced religion in Luis Torrens and Tom Murphy is a non-tender candidate. There’s a position for McCann as Raleigh’s backup.
Winker is owed $8.25 million in 2023 and is coming off a poor 2022 season. He had knee surgical procedure to finish his season and faces neck surgical procedure. I’d guess Seattle wish to see the ultimate yr of his contract go poof.
Winker has emerged as a small-time villain at Citi Area courting to 2019, when he waved to the followers after homering for Cincinnati — a gesture he has repeated just a few instances since. These are the type of look-at-me theatrics Buck Showalter wouldn’t like. Plus, he has an analogous profile to Daniel Vogelbach — a lefty hitter who you need nowhere close to the sphere defensively. However Winker did hit 24 homers with a .949 OPS in 2021 for the Reds, and that was not all of the product of Cincinnati’s dwelling bandbox.
Winker, on this development, is actually the mandatory evil for the Mets to get their arms on a back-end starter in Flexen or Gonzales. The Mariners have their 4 foremost starters — Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby and Robbie Ray — beneath management for years, to allow them to profit from reallocating their cash to different areas by shifting a starter.
Flexen is due $8 million subsequent yr. Gonzales is assured $18.5 million for 2023-24 with a $15 million 2025 crew possibility with no buyout — there’s a $250,000 project bonus if Gonzales is traded. Flexen and Gonzales will not be the type of miss-the-bat energy pitchers that Eppler favors. However the Mets won’t be capable to financial institution precisely what they need in each occasion to construct pitching depth.
Jesse Winker isn’t a perfect match for a Buck Showalter membership, however the Mets might tackle the outfielder to to pry a high quality starter away from the Mariners.Getty Photos
If the Mariners took on the project bonus, between that and McCann’s wage, they might be including $24.25 million in commitments the following two years. If the Mets took on Gonzales and Winker, it will imply taking up $26.75 million in commitments the following two years. So a close to wash. Gonzales additionally has began the Twelfth-most video games (131) within the majors over the previous 5 seasons. The Mets might use that type of sturdiness and dependability.
The Mariners, to commerce a starter in a market by which so many groups will need that commodity, most likely will want one other piece coming again, even for a league average-ish arm akin to Flexen or Gonzales.
3. McCann to the Giants for Anthony DeSclafani.
DeSclafani had his finest season in 2021 (13-7, 3.17 ERA), and rolled that right into a three-year, $36 million free-agent deal to stick with San Francisco. The righty handled proper ankle issues in 2022, pitched to a 6.63 ERA in 5 begins and was shut down in late June to endure surgical procedure. He’s anticipated to be prepared for subsequent season.
He’s a wage mirror of McCann — each are owed $12 million in 2023 and once more in 2024. The Giants had hoped Joey Bart, the second total decide in 2018, could be the inheritor to Buster Posey. However within the first season following Posey’s retirement, Bart struggled. There is no such thing as a certain factor he’s a starting-caliber catcher, and the Giants, hoping to get again to high-level rivalry in 2023, want a veteran to guard them.
DeSclafani is within the vein of Matz and Kikuchi — a distressed asset you’ll attempt to return to being a helpful back-of-the rotation piece.
As a result of we love you on this little nook of the world, we’ll add yet another (a 3Up additional):
4. McCann to the White Sox for AJ Pollock. Or a extra fascinating model is likely to be a catcher-for-catcher deal: McCann to the White Sox for Yasmani Grandal.
Yasmani Grandal’s offense cratered in 2022, however the veteran can be just one yr faraway from having slugged 23 homers.Getty Photos
Within the latter proposal, the White Sox would lower your expenses this season as a result of Grandal is due $18.5 million. However then his contract ends whereas Chicago would nonetheless have McCann’s $12 million on the books in 2024.
The Mets, when Brodie Van Wagenen was GM, made a four-year, $60 million provide to Grandal after the 2018 season. Grandal needed north of that. The Mets have been involved about being shut out on the place, and signed Wilson Ramos for 2 years at $19 million. Grandal ended up signing a one-year, $18.25 million pact with the Brewers, and turned 28 homers in that 2019 season right into a four-year, $73 million contract.
Subsequent yr he will probably be coming into the ultimate season of that deal having cratered from probably the most offensively productive catchers within the majors. In 2021, he hit 23 homers with a .979 OPS. Final yr, that fell to 5 homers and a .570 OPS. If the Mets thought Grandal might recapture his energy, would they pursue him?
McCann had his most efficient two years with the White Sox in 2019-20 (the second yr as a sidekick to Grandal), and parlayed that right into a four-year, $40.6 million take care of the Mets.
However maybe swapping him for Pollock could be extra possible. Pollock, who turns 35 in December, is owed $13 million within the last season of his contract, plus there’s a $1.5 million project bonus if he’s traded. Pollock is probably a greater Darin Ruf (I do know, nearly anybody could be higher than the Mets model of Ruf). Pollock is a righty swinger with a historical past of hitting lefties (.935 OPS final yr) who just isn’t pretty much as good a defender as when he was youthful, however nonetheless is much better than Ruf as a nook outfielder.
Only for thoroughness, if the White Sox traded Grandal and Pollock (and took on Pollock’s project bonus) for McCann and Ruf, it will web out because the White Sox assuming $28.75 million and the Mets $31.5 million and probably getting a bit extra of the ability they crave.