With Steve Cohen and his billions replacing the Wilpons and their Ponzi schemes, a lot has changed around the Mets the last few months. There’s being attached to every major free agent available, there’s blockbuster deals and there’s the beefing up of off field departments. Those are all great. But one thing that’s changed and maybe not for the better – at least for the newshounds among the fanbase – is that the info coming to the public domain is neither as voluminous nor as accurate as it was for at least the past 10 years.
When R.A. Dickey was being shopped and ultimately traded, it seemed like we had regular briefings about what was going on. When the Edwin Diaz trade was in progress, we knew days ahead of time what was coming down the pike. Now, in 2021 the Mets can trade for Francisco Lindor and while not exactly from out of left field, the contrast between the info being reported with Diaz and Lindor was striking.
And it’s not just trades. The intel in the public domain on free agent acquisitions has been shaky, at best. James McCann was supposed to be a done deal and it took about 10 days for it to get done from a point where it was portrayed as imminent. It seems that George Springer has been coming here for awhile and now odds are against it happening at all. Then two sources indicated Brad Hand was all but signed, sealed and delivered and then that had to be walked back.
It’s likely that the pandemic is affecting the quality of reporting in the hot stove season. It’s also likely that someone high up in the Mets’ structure is no longer around to give out details the GM would prefer to keep quiet. A reasonable guess would be Jeff Wilpon or a subordinate that the younger Wilpon would feed info to that would find its way to the beat reporters. Maybe it was someone else entirely. Whoever the source was, they don’t seem to be sharing the latest news. No doubt Sandy Alderson is relieved, even if the rest of us feel just a tiny fraction of remorse.
METS SETTLE ARBITRATION CASES – WELL, MOST OF THEM – After their non-tenders and the Lindor trade, the Mets had 12 impending arbitration cases. Some of them came to terms before the Lindor deal went down but, still, that seems like a large number of cases. The Mets work very hard not to actually go to a hearing with their players and they got deals done with 11 of their arbitration-eligible guys. Now, some – like Robert Gsellman and Steven Matz – should be grateful for whatever offer came their way. But others are at least a little surprising didn’t try to roll the dice. The lone holdout was J.D. Davis and he’s the first player since Wilmer Flores not to settle with the club. Michael Conforto, health permitting, will get more PA than Davis. It just seems odd that Mets could reach agreement with a guy like Conforto coming off a great year, while they couldn’t do the same with Davis, who was nowhere near as good. Of course, Flores took the Mets to arbitration coming off a season with fewer than 400 PA. Maybe it’s harder to come to an agreement with a role player than a star or starter.
UPDATE ON INTERNATIONAL SIGNINGS – Because of the pandemic, the July 2 date for signing international players was pushed to January 15. It’s been a roller coaster ride for the Mets in this department. For years, we heard about how good and connected Omar Minaya was in this area yet the best international signing under his tenure was Jeurys Familia – a solid MLB player but hardly in the Ronald Acuna or Juan Soto level of stardom. Then after a slow start with Sandy Alderson, it seemed the Mets built up an impressive cache of prospects from the international levels. The Mets continued to sign big-name guys with Brodie Van Wagenen. But this year, the Mets did not get a single guy considered to be among the top 50 players available. Friend of the site Mack Ade has a list of players the Mets signed but it’s unlikely you’ll know any of the names. As anyone who followed Alex Escobar or Fernando Martinez or Flores can tell you – being ranked high as a 16 year old does not guarantee future success. It’s just been a few years since the Mets were shut out of the top international players.
CHASE FOR A LEFTY RELIEVER – With the new rules in place that eliminated many chances to deploy a LOOGY, the Mets had pretty good production from the lefty relievers in 2020. But Justin Wilson’s contract was up and the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve, leaving them without a lefty reliever among the club’s top 10 bullpen guys. A few days ago, it seemed Hand would replace Wilson but it seems there’s a stronger market for Hand than originally thought. It’s at least a little curious that there’s been no talk of reuniting with Wilson, who was very good in his two years with the club. In 68 games with the Mets, Wilson had a 2.91 ERA, with 67 Ks in 58.2 IP. Hand is better, so it’s not surprising the Mets are showing a preference for him. But if another club ends up with the former Padres and Indians closer, hopefully the Mets will bring back Wilson. And while they’re at it, they should look to bring back Shreve, too.
CENTER FIELD RANKING BY MLB NETWORK– Brandon Nimmo was recently ranked as the fifth-best center fielder by MLB Network’s The Shredder. This seems to have caught some people off guard. Last year, Nimmo was much worse than expected defensively. Everyone thought he’d be below average defensively in center. Instead, he was the worst defensive player among center fielders with enough playing time to qualify for the leaderboards. On top of that, Nimmo had a BABIP 16 points below his career average coming into the season. Despite these things, Nimmo finished the year with the eighth-best fWAR among MLB center fielders. With positive regression in both of these areas, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Nimmo put up an even better season in 2021 than he did in 2020. If he kept up his pace last year over a 162-game season, Nimmo would have finished with a 4.1 fWAR. In his last healthy season, Nimmo had a 4.5 fWAR. There have been only 28 seasons since 2015 where a CF has posted a 4.0 or greater fWAR and five of those were turned in by Mike Trout.