Oddly enough, the most talked about lefty arm on the New York Mets this offseason has been…Steven Matz? This is the case because Matz reupped with the team after settling for a $5.2 million contract at the arbitration table. Other than that Matz, whose career has been marred by injuries and inconsistencies, has seen his popularity amongst fans tumble. Other than some of the stellar work he has done in the community, which shouldn’t go unrecognized, Matz hasn’t brought much to the mound for the team. In other words, unless James McCann brings some serious magic to his game, Matz shouldn’t be the lefty we’re talking about.
That title belongs to David Peterson. The lefty from California had a solid rookie campaign, pushing a 3.44 ERA and 1.208 WHIP, with 40 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched. Peterson recorded a WAR of 1.5, the second-best of the entire Mets pitching staff. At only 25 years old, Peterson should be in position to be a perfect candidate to round out the Mets pitching rotation for the upcoming season.
The main question surrounding Peterson is whether he should be the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, given that Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, and Marcus Stroman will all take their turn ahead of him. The answer is completely dependent on who the team signs. There’s been reports that Steve Cohen isn’t ready just yet to close his wallet to splash signings, which is a welcomed feeling for Mets fans. This could mean that the Mets still make a splash and sign Trevor Bauer. That expensive scenario would guarantee that Peterson receives the five spot in the rotation until the return of Noah Syndergaard, at which point he could line up to be a long man out of the bullpen that provides rotational depth.
Looking past the Bauer wildcard, there are tons of veteran options out on the market that make the question of where Peterson fits into the rotation more difficult, or whether or not he’ll get bounced from the rotation when Syndergaard returns. Although it has been reported that the thought around the MLB is that Masahiro Tanaka will return to Japan to pitch, Tanaka is also a pitcher that could bump Peterson when Syndergaard returns to the rotation.
Other options though, like Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton would pose a more difficult decision. It was tough sledding for those two veterans last season, as they combined for a WAR of -.4, and battled through slews of injuries that prohibited them from ever getting comfortable on the mound during the season.
For a more accurate picture of what the pitchers can bring to the table, a look at their collective resumes does the trick. Odorizzi pitched himself into an All-Star appearance in 2019, throwing a 3.51 ERA on his way to recording 15 wins. Paxton held a 3.82 ERA over 150.2 innings in 2019 for the Yankees, and pitched two complete games in 2018. As for Kluber, his two Cy Young awards do all the talking. But would any of them pitch well enough in 2021 to supplant Peterson in the rotation once Syndergaard returns?
The one advantage that all of them hold over Peterson is experience. The two veterans combined have pitched 1,795.2 career innings. With all of the duels and big situations they’ve been in, including a deep postseason run from Paxton, it could be a great idea to have a veteran anchoring an already strong front of the rotation. Looking at the innings pitched from the opposite side of the spectrum, that is a lot of miles on the tank for two pitchers who are returning from injuries. Signing any of those veterans also comes with the risk of signing a player who just doesn’t know their tank is out of gas yet. Peterson is healthier than all of them, and is less likely of a candidate to break down at the end of the season when innings start to feel heavier.
Acquiring Carrasco was a great move for the Mets, as it began to plug the holes of last year’s swiss cheese rotation. While acquiring a veteran starter should be on the to-do list, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Mets have a quality starter in Peterson who should not be ignored. In the 2020 season he was the second-best pitcher on the Mets staff, and while he will understandably take a backseat to pitchers like Stroman and Carrasco, it should come as no surprise if his game improves even more during the 2021 season.
It seems like just yesterday that there were rumors swirling that the New York Mets wanted to acquire All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The Mets were on the cusp of their magical 2015 season, and the addition of a player like Tulowitzki would have added verified star power to the lineup. Instead, the Colorado Rockies decided to trade Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, which he helped reach the ALCS before the team fell to the eventual World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. The Mets ended up trading for Yoenis Cespedes, and well, we don’t need to re-explore what that would mean for the team.
Now, half a decade later, the Mets and the Rockies have been once again dragged together by trade talks. This time around the block, the conversations have revolved around All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado. According to Jon Morosi on MLB Network, the Rockies would like to have the Mets as a potential trade partner for the seven-time Gold Glover. MLB Pipeline sums it up nicely in this tweet:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 16, 2020
While at this point it is just a rumor, it is always good practice to explore what a trade of that magnitude would mean for the franchise. At face value the Mets would absolutely have to get the Rockies to absorb Robinson Cano’s contract, which will be massive to undertake next season once the 39-year-old will be able to retake the field following his season-long suspension for PEDs. Should the Rockies be willing to take on that contract, they’ll want a haul of prospects, which the Mets aren’t exactly stocked with. The Mets would have to part with an MLB-ready player such as Brandon Nimmo (who holds a ridiculous .706 slugging percentage lifetime at the hitter-friendly Coors Field) as well as a prospect such as Brett Baty.
Even with bringing all of those chips to the table, the Mets would probably still have to sweeten the pot more. But say the Rockies did end up sending Arenado to the Mets. Instantly, the team would receive one of, if not the best, defensive players in the MLB.
I have complete confidence that Arenado’s defense will transfer over to Citi Field, as he has won a Gold Glove in every season he has played so far. The largest concern for many is whether or not his bat will transfer as well. This is a valid concern, as Coors Field can sometimes be a cesspool for inflated batting statistics. There are some important numbers to look at when thinking about Arenado’s offense.
The first statistic that should jump out is the low strikeout numbers that Arenado puts up. Arenado struck out only 20 times last year, four less than the contact guru of the Mets, Jeff McNeil. For the amount of power that Arenado produces, that low number of strikeouts is impressive. The item that concerns people however is Arenado’s numbers at Coors Field against numbers at other parks. Let’s focus on how he has done at Citi Field when he has played there.
At Citi Field, Arenado’s numbers have suffered. He has played 23 games there, and has a slash line of .229/.275/.410. His OPS is a measly .684, which is far below his overall career mark of .890, which is good enough for 73rd all-time. So, why so different? Well, it has to do with the gaps. Below is Arenado’s spray chart at Citi Field since the 2015 season. All three of the home runs were no-doubt shots, with the home run to deep center even bouncing off of the apple. What stands out besides those long home runs is the two doubles Arenado has recorded, both down the left field line. Outside of his home runs, those doubles were the only two extra base hits he has recorded since 2015. It is evident that Arenado does not utilize the gaps at Citi Field.
Now, we’ll look at the last full season he spent at Coors Field, 2019. He uses the left-center gap at a consistent clip, and was rewarded with a high amount of doubles in that area. Of course, Arenado had more at bats at Coors Field. But what I get from this chart is that the climate truly did impact the way the ball carried into the gap for Arenado. He won’t have that benefit if he comes to Citi Field, and he will have to really put a focus into adjusting to life without that Colorado air.
Although the rumors for this trade are in their infancy stage, there isn’t much debate that Arenado would be an impact player for the Mets. As I pointed out above, there would most likely be an adjustment period for the slugger, given the way that he has performed at Citi Field in the past. Regardless, should the Mets find the opportunity to get a hold on him, they should absolutely take a shot. Players like Arenado, who are consistently healthy, impactful, and strike out at a low rate, don’t come around very often. As confident as I am that his defense will carry over, I am just as confident he will be able to produce in the lineup.
Arenado has won a Gold Glove in every season he has played in.
Arenado has the 73rd highest OPS in MLB history.
Arenado has five extra base hits since 2015 at Citi Field.
As the Flushing Faithful start prepare for the first season of the Steve Cohen regime, the excitement is extremely plausible. A large number of articles have been released regarding the potential acquisitions that the New York Mets could make this offeseason. While Cohen is expected to make waves this offseason with acquisitions, it is first important to understand that there are necessity players as well as luxury players. The necessity positions for the Mets are certainly starting pitching, catching ,and center fielder; while a luxury addition would be adding Francisco Lindor. In addition to Lindor, the Mets have been linked to the likes of J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and Trevor Bauer.
While it is important to think about how those players will potentially fit onto the roster, it is also important to think about how they will fit into the Citi Field. Being that the Mets play 81 games at Citi Field, it is important that a player is not only comfortable playing there, but that their style of play will translate to the dimensions of the field. Luckily, Baseball Savant gives us the ability to look at anyone’s spray chart, and plop it down on any MLB field. For the purpose of our study, we’ll use Citi Field.
Perhaps the flashiest free agent on the market, Bauer is looking to cash in on his NL Cy Young Victory season. With a 1.70 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for the Cincinnati Reds last season, he will be commanding top dollar this offseason. While Bauer is known for the entertainment value he brings, he would undoubtedly be a great help to a Mets rotation that crumbled behind Jacob deGrom last season. A 2021 rotation of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bauer, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson could reinvigorate the mound presence of this team. How would Bauer’s pitching style translate to Queens?
Looking at the home runs that he gave up last season, they all would have been home runs at Citi Field as well. An important point to pull from his chart is that he did not give up any doubles down the right field line. This is important because of how pesky balls that are driven down that line can be. The foul line is so close to wall that the ball often juts off of it. These juts seem minute, until it assists a runner getting an extra base on a ball down the line. With a small amount of batted balls going in that direction off of Bauer, he could continue his dominance at Citi Field. The former Golden Spikes winner has never pitched at Citi Field, which adds to the intrigue of his potential success in a Mets uniform.
With a need for a true centerfielder at the forefront, it is easy to say that Springer should be the top priority for the Mets this season. He proved last season that he is elite at the plate, even without the banging of trash cans. Springer finished 12th in AL MVP voting, finishing with 14 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage. In looking at his spray chart, it is evident that he would have actually had more home runs if he played at Citi Field.
Springer hit six balls last season that would have been home runs if they were hit at Citi Field. Outside of that fact, the righty showed that he is a major pull hitter. But, he also knows how to find that gap out in left-center field. There have been many balls smacked into that alley that have resulted in extra base hits, and with Springer’s speed, he should be a constant threat for a triple if he signs with the Mets this offseason.
Outside of his excellent ability to frame pitches behind the plate, Realmuto is known for being a threat in the batter’s box. This makes him the top catcher in this year’s free agent class. The Mets missing catching stung even more during the postseason, as Travis d’Arnaud bursted onto the scene for the rival Atlanta Braves. With that sour taste in their mouth, it makes perfect sense that the Mets have been linked to the two-time All Star.
A common concern with sluggers coming out of Philly is that their home run numbers are inflated because their ballpark is a bam box. Oddly enough, Realmuto would actually have had three more home runs last season if those balls were hit at Citi Field. All of the home runs Realmuto hit last season would have been home runs at Citi Field, which should alleviate concerns that his numbers were inflated because he played at Citizens Bank Park. Having a veteran like Realmuto who shows legitimate power, who also expertly fields his position would have significant upside, even if the price tag is a little high.
While not a free agent, the stove has been hot this season regarding the Mets acquiring Lindor. The Mets have Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez to play shortstop, but it goes without saying Lindor would be an instant upgrade at the position. His spray chart is a thing of beauty, displaying his ability to hit in all areas of the field.
What is also encouraging is that he is another one of those players that would have more home runs if his balls were hit at Citi Field last season. In addition to the seven would-be home runs, Lindor displayed an excellent tendency to be able to work both foul lines and gaps. With the spacious outfield grass at Citi Field, there is not much doubt that his game would translate well to New York.
Bauer is the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner
Springer finished with 14 home runs in 2020
All of the home runs Realmuto hit last season would have been home runs at Citi Field