There are only 17 days remaining until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie for 2020 spring training. This past week, they seemingly filled the final, very important vacancy in hiring Luis Rojas to be their new manager. They also resigned Rene Rivera to a non-guaranteed contract with big league incentives to provide catching depth for the upcoming season. At first blush, the roster looks set. It’s not hard to envision the opening day roster. However, that may be less of a luxury and more of a problem.
Ideally, there should be some competition in spring training. And there should be depth for when injuries inevitably hit. And with some big names being run through the rumor mill, the Mets owe it to themselves to explore opportunities to upgrade their lineup, rotation, bullpen, and bench. With two and a half weeks til spring training, the Mets front office cannot sit on their hands. There’s work to be done.
Beef up the roster
Last off-season the Mets wisely stashed a bunch of veterans in AAA Syracuse. Outfielders Carlos Gomez, Rajai Davis, and Gregor Blanco; infielders Danny Espinosa, Ruben Tejada, and Dilson Herrera; catcher Rene Rivera; and pitchers Hector Santiago and Luis Avilan were all signed to minor league deals and several of them got pressed into duty. So far, the Mets have signed Rivera, the lefty reliever and reclamation project Chasen Shreve, outfielders Jarret Parker and Ryan Cordell, infielder Max Moroff, and pitcher Pedro Payano. If you haven’t heard of those last few guys, don’t feel bad. Neither did Matty Mets.
As of now, the active 26-man roster will likely look like this:
others in the mix: Jarrett Parker
others in the mix: Andres Gimenez
others in the mix: Rene Rivera
The projected starting rotation, lineup, bullpen, and bench all look good to very good, but there’s little room for injuries and not enough competition. The Mets have too many older and injury prone players to not add more insurance to the roster. Most of the names listed as “others in the mix” are uninspiring. Right now the roster is less than 30 legitimate players deep. It needs to be closer to 40.
A quick glance at MLB Trade Rumors shows that there are still some free agents available who could make solid additions. Obviously, Nicholas Castellanos won’t settle for a minor league deal, but many of the others might. When the game of musical chairs nears its end, these guys get nervous and want to keep their careers going. Two names that jump out at me are versatile utility man Brad Miller and starter/reliever Collin McHugh. There are still plenty of available outfielders, infielders and right-handed relievers from which to choose.
Names that have been floated in trade rumors include All-Stars Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Kris Bryant. These are among the best of the best. The Mets may not have any glaring holes, but any one of these players would immediately become one of, if not the best, players on our team. Betts is in his walk year and the Red Sox reportedly want any trade partner to also take on David Price‘s gargantuan contract, so this might not be a match. Bryant’s situation is in limbo as he may be entering his walk year or have two years of arbitration remaining depending on the long-awaited league ruling. Lindor may be the best shortstop in baseball and would not only represent an offensive and defensive upgrade over Rosario (who would certainly be part of the trade package), but he’d immediately be our best player.
Arenado may be the one the Mets should really think long and hard about. He’s already under contract, just entering his prime at 28, and is a super star. He’s a legitimate MVP-caliber, #3 hitter and widely considered the best defensive third baseman who’s ever played the game. He’s unhappy in Colorado and the Rockies need to move him. The Mets would have to be willing to go over the luxury tax threshold for one year until some salaries come off the books and reset it next off-season .It would only amount to about a $4 million penalty. The bigger question is, what would it take?
The Rockies want to save money and stay young, but don’t seem to be primed for a rebuild with a solid rotation, Trevor Story and a number of other quality players on the roster. We could help them reset by offering a package around the young and controllable J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith, as well as someone like Robert Gsellman and a prospect or two. In return for all that plus taking on every penny of Arenado’s contract, we could help balance the books a bit by having them take on Cespedes as well. McNeil would move to left field in this dream scenario in which we’d greatly improve our defense and suddenly have one of the most feared lineups in the National League. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly worth exploring.
Less than three weeks to go and this team is not quite ready for prime time.